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Emperors Anguish: Google, MS Yet Again!

Google and Microsoft besides loaded wallets also seem to have enormous energy levels to be battling out with each other week after week, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

business Updated: Sep 29, 2005 19:13 IST
CYBERDUDE | Puneet Mehrotra
CYBERDUDE | Puneet Mehrotra

Another week, another battle.Google and Microsoft besides loaded wallets also seem to have enormous energy levels to be battling out with each other week after week. Last month matters reached over the top, literally, when the Chief Executive Officer of the world’s largest corporate, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer reportedly said “'I'm going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f***ing kill Google.”

Now that it isn’t regular CEO speak. What’s making the world’s biggest company so agitated that its top man has to resort to such language, even if privately? What is Google doing that is so terribly bugging Microsoft?Is a crime against Microsoft a crime at all?

The Lee story

Two giants, one of which is the biggest companies in the world, are battling over one man. The man is Kai Fu-Lee. So who is this Kai Fu-lee?

Lee is the former corporate vice president of the Natural Interactive Services Division (NISD) at Microsoft Corp joined the company in 1988 and was the founder of Microsoft Research Asia, which has since become one of the best research laboratories in the world, with a prolific publication and product transfer record. Lee who holds a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor's in computer science with highest honours from Columbia University also worked in Silicon Graphics and Apple.

The problem started when Google announced on July 19 its appointment of Kai-Fu Lee, whose position was the highest among Microsoft-employed Chinese, as its China division president. Microsoft reacted strongly by accusing Kai-Fu Lee of breaking the "non-competition promise" he signed with Microsoft. Google then lodged a counter-charge, kicking off a court battle between the two global IT giants.Microsoft has cast Lee as a highly paid vice president central to its computer search efforts, vital to its strategies in China, and unwilling to negotiate a mutually acceptable switch to Google. For its part, Google claims Lee is "not a search expert" and was peripheral to Microsoft's business in China.

The battle this week

This week’s battle between Microsoft and Google is between VOIP.Microsoft has acquired voice-over-IP startup Teleo, with plans to expand on the Internet phone-call capabilities it offers through its instant-messaging software, MSN Messenger.

Now is this the conclusion of the IM battle or a prelude to what’s about to happen? I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that last week as a bolt from the blue Google decided to enter the IM market. It launched Google Talk based on the open source open source Jabber. Now Microsoft has decided to acquire Teleo.

Worth mentioning are the competitive applications rollouts by the competitors.

The battle for desktop dominance

The battle for desktop dominance heated with Google launching Google Desktop 2 last month. It is the second version of an application launched recently. By using Google's trademark search software, it aims to be a more personalized version of products such as Apple’s Dashboard and Yahoo’s Konfabulator, programs that deliver icons to the screen and keep photo, alarm clock, scheduling, music, currency converters and news applications running while the computer is in use.

Microsoft will soon be releasing a search offering that will be available soon offering similar features.

The Earth is not the limit

Two months ago Google launched Google Earth, a tool that combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips. 3-D maps let users zoom in and out images of streets and buildings.

A month later came Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. A tool that provides directions, interactive maps, and satellite/aerial imagery of the United States.

Competitive talking

Last week Google launched Google Talk. An entry into a domain of MSN and Yahoo of IM and Voice over IP and Microsoft responds with the acquisition of voice-over-IP startup Tele.

The mother of all battles

Is Google trying to aim at the heart of the Microsoft’s empire? Is there is a possibility of Google developing an operating system?

According to a story on, one of the more interesting (and potentially revolutionary) developments to take place this past year is the announcement of a new CPU, the STI (Sony, Toshiba, IBM) Cell processor. Acting like several CPUs in one, the Cell will be able to power multiple operating systems at once, as well as bear the heavy computing load that a single system can place on the CPU. These past couple years have also seen significant shifts in the direction that computers and their operating systems are to take. The articles goes on to add about Google OS system “Google OS on its own hard disk partition, separated from the entertainment”. You can view the article here

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist atwww.Cyberzest.comand editswww.MidnightEdition.comyou can email him

First Published: Sep 07, 2005 12:35 IST