Google is failing the Microsoft litmus test

Summary:If you want to evaluate the "evil" quotient of any company's strategy/behavior, consider how you'd feel about it if it were Microsoft in the driver seat. Then ask whether there is there a double standard when it comes to Google and Microsoft. Should there be?

If you want to evaluate the "evil" quotient of any company's strategy/behavior, consider how you'd feel about it if it were Microsoft in the driver seat.

Robert McLaws of Windows-Now.com fame reminded me of my "Is Google evil?" litmus test in his post, "Google: The New Big Brother." As McLaws paraphrased it: "When looking at any new Google venture, swap out the word 'Google" with 'Microsoft' and ask yourself if you're still OK with what's happening."

It's an opportune time for this kind of "evil" reality check. Consider a few recent events:

* Google invests $3.2 million in 23andMe, a biotech startup cofounded by Anne Wojcicki, the new wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. I think there'd be a lot more outcry if Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer invested millions in his wife's start-up. (Granted, some may claim Ballmer did, in fact, do the same, by marrying a member of Microsoft's main PR firm, Waggener-Edstrom....)

* Google bars other vendors from attending its customer seminars. Sure, if we're talking meetings where non-disclosed products are being discussed, barring your competitors is fair game. But a regular sales-pitch kind of seminar? It's common practice for any/all of Microsoft's competitors to attend these kinds of Microsoft-run events, collect the bags and hats and literature, and maybe even snag a sandwich or two. Can you see the headlines if Microsoft started policing these things in an attempt to weed out "non-customers"?

* Google requests its employees refrain from wearing t-shirts from any of its competitors. Can you imagine if Microsoft told its worker bees they couldn't wear any gear from Google, Yahoo, Apple, IBM, etc.? I don't think it would go over really well. In fact, I could envision helicopter drops of care packages from Oracle, Salesforce.com, etc., all across the Redmond campus.)

What do you think? Is there a double standard when it comes to Google and Microsoft? Should there be?

Topics: Microsoft, Google

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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