Thursday, July 5, 2007

Google v. Microsoft

James Fallows links to this New York Times story about a brewing battle between Microsoft and Google regarding desktop search capabilities. Apparently Windows Vista comes with a feature that allows one to search one's hard drive. (I don't know -- I have a laptop with XP on it, and a Mac, which has its own desktop search capability with which I am more than satisfied.) Google has a competing product, available as a free download.

Microsoft doesn't keep Google's competing feature from working, but, at least according to the report, it slows down the OS, particularly if you run both. I'm not sure why people are complaining about that -- after all, slowing down the computer seems to be the purpose of many Microsoft "features." I don't claim any particular expertise in this are, although I must say that the idea tht the federal and state governments ought to monitor how a company designs its products and demand changes at the behest of competitors strikes me as odious. If Microsoft adds a feature that people don't like, they should buy a Mac, or switch to Linux.

But that's not what struck me the most. What struck me is that Google seems to have set a land speed record in going from "young upstart" to "entrenched competitor going to the government for favors." In the short term, Google may well benefit from this, but in the long term it's not a sign of corporate health, and it's not a great habit to get into.

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