Google is failing the Microsoft litmus test

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?

TOPICS: Microsoft, Google

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 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,, 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


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Is there a double standard when it comes to Google and Microsoft?


    Should there be?


    • Unfortunately for MS, they will have to live with the double standard for

      sometime to come. And, MS should not just DEMAND that we trust them, they have to earn it. That takes time. Google has EARNED their respect, and furthermore, have not broken the law, showing no remorse as Microsoft did. If MS wants to get rid of the double standard, they could start by apologizing for breaking the law, and try to show some remorse.

      And, also, do not forget that MS has a Monopoly, and can not use it to gain market share in other areas. Google has not such restriction as they are miles away from being a monopoly in any area.
      • And in exactly what way, precisely

        has Google earned your respect? By not being Microsoft?
        • First, the people running the corporation are not criminals, and the

          company has not been found guilty of breaking the law, with the executives then showing no remorse.

          Kind of like the Fox getting caught eating chickens, then wondering why it takes us so long to trust him guarding the chicken coup.

          But, in any regard, Google does a much better job of walking the thin line between competing aggressively and doing something evil. Partly because the founders are there, and are serious about it, and partly because their whole business is based on trust. Also, do you remember which company was the ONLY one that stood up to the Bush administration and refused to just hand over search queries?

          But don't make me cry about Microsoft not being instantly forgiven for past deeds. Especially since they are doing the same thing in Europe now, showing in remorse, and in fact fighting every little thing tooth and nail instead of apologizing and cooperating.
          • Quite the large assumptions you hold there

            Last time I checked I did not see any one of the corporate executives charged with, or as, criminals in correlation to Microsoft, so what you are posting could be labeled as slander, and quite libelous, which would find you could most definitely be fined for. (guilty of defamation, would that make you a criminal?)

            You know nothing of the inner workings of Google beyond that to which they hand us to put into print, yet vigorously defend them while knowing little, if anything, about their true motives beyond what they hand us to put in to print.

            No one is really asking you to trust Microsoft, that is your decision, but blindly trusting Google as they are not Microsoft is a fool making the mistake twice.

            And you your self have stated it many time before that just because Bill Gates does something good (his philanthropy) does not make him a good man as he may be doing it for all the wrong reasons.

            So why cam we not say the same thing about Google's defiance to hand over search queries? Could it not be Google doing the "good thing" for an "evil reason"?
          • Not the execs... the company

            No, the execs haven't been charged, AFAIK - unless it's something not related to MS.

            The company, however, has been found guilty, and more than once, and in more than one place.

            The only thing that can be said about the execs is that they've never shown any sign of remorse, and kept acting their usual unbearable selves. All in all, not people I'd invite over for dinner, they'd probably keep bragging about how wonderful they are.
          • Minsch

            Stop being a minsch for MS. They were taken to task for being a mononpoly, fathead.
          • I trust google more than M$...

            I trust Google more than M$, maybe I shouldn't, but I do. Microsoft has done dozens of things that make me distrust them. Google has only done two, (so far.)
          • Return to Sender (Elvis)? or No Reply (Beatles)?

            Please see reply with above subject which apparently I misdirected to the main story instead of the above message. Sorry, everyone.
          • Sounds like Google has never given anything to other countries' governments

            like China? Come on!
        • By...

          giving something we can use that actually works.
  • Thanks Mary Jo for keeping Google's feet heald to the fire. They MUST

    continually review their behavior and hold themselves to a higher standard. They really DO need to think about the things you are mentioning.
    • How is their standard lowered?

      I don't get it. If that's how they want to run their business, who cares.

      I couldn't care less if that's they way Microsoft operated, either.
      Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
      • Like it or not, all companies, Google included, live in the shadow of

        Microsoft. They will be watched more carefully, questioned about a lot of little things. I think that is a good thing. Good that Mary Jo is making us aware of these things. Good that Google knows we are watching.
      • I agree.

        Microsoft is suing open source software, because they can't win in the marketplace. What a bunch of cry babies.
        • in what court exactly?

          please get your facts straight. 'tis far better to sit at your keyboard and have someone THINK you are an idiot, then to type, and hit submit- WHICH REMOVES ALL DOUBT!
          toxic psychotic avenger
  • I still like Google

    I am not a big fan of the recent Google investment in 23andMe, but overall, I am still on the Google bandwagon.
  • Well put

    I've had to think of certain vendors in much the way you have described and found several that fall short. High on the (bad) list is a certain North Carolina based producer of statistical analysis software that I find almost indispensible in my line of work (sigh).
    John L. Ries
  • Are corporations Evil?

    I don't really think a corporation can be evil. I think all corporations will trample some competitors and screw it's customers. That seems to be the nature of corporation with thier thirst for every increasing profits to make shareholders happy. Is there double standard though? Not really. It's just that Microsoft has the spotlight on them. In the past it was other corporations and in the future it will be another. Maybe Google is next and then everyone can call them evil for being profitable.
    • Where is this mythical corporation

      Whereof you speak? I would like to meet said mythical creature some day, because
      everytime I run to see the evil corporation people decry, I find instead an individual
      called a CEO.