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Regarding Google, Evil, and the Netscape Factor



Most folks have forgotten Netscape by now, if they had ever heard of it at all.

Google hasn’t forgotten Netscape. Google was formed just as Netscape was tanking due to full-blown embrace-and-extend attack from Microsoft. I saw a boxed copy of Internet Explorer for $30 – Netscape used to charge $40 for Communicator but it was free for college students. Suddenly IE was free, bundled with Windows, and Netscape had no salable product aside from its server software. The company that at the time had the biggest IPO in history was eviscerated by the tiger that was Microsoft. Google doesn’t want to be the next Netscape. They've taken the remnants of the real Netscape -- Mozilla -- under their wing, even, while Netscape as a brand languishes under AOL and Microsoft has bought Netscape's patent portfolio from AOL. Yes, Microsoft now owns JavaScript, for whatever purposes.

15 years later, Google has risen in popularity and its name has become, to the company’s understandable chagrin, synonymous with searching the Internet as a concept irrespective of search engine. Even Microsoft employees admit using the term. You don’t “Bing” something, you “Google” it. And Google is now suffering under some of the same attacks from Microsoft that Netscape did, and weathering them like Netscape didn’t – so far. 

With its Android operating system, alongside Apple’s iOS, have for now at least effectively locked Microsoft out of the mobile operating system space, and Microsoft isn’t happy about that. Sure, it gets Android royalties (again, for now), but the company sees its operating system monopoly in jeopardy and, like a defensive, bald badger, Steve Ballmer has gone FUD all over Google just like he was about Netscape, calling OEMs as he did at the time and screaming in their faces, deliberately lying and saying Netscape was malware – Netscroogled anyone? 

Steve Ballmer says “Google isn’t even a real company” -- as he remakes Microsoft into Google: Office Web apps to counter Google Docs, Windows Store to counter Google Play, Outlook.com to counter Gmail, Bing to counter Google (duh!), SkyDrive against Google Drive, buying Nokia Mobility after Google bought Motorola Mobility -- the list goes on.

I bring all of this up because someone recently used the fact that Google is trying to lock Bing out of the market as “evil” and using Microsoft’s own tactics against itself in an effort to not become a victim of “embrace and extend” like Netscape doesn’t quite ring evil to me. You’re not paranoid if they’re really out to get you. 
 
Whether Microsoft has the capacity to really hurt Google’s advertising revenue with Bing remains to be seen. Integrating it as the default search engine in Windows 8 could seriously harm Google. Whether Microsoft is in a position or not to destroy Google, they’re at least currently doing everything they possibly can to try, or have done under Ballmer, and so seeing things Google does as “evil” need first to be looked through the same lens as that of the company: to protect itself against those who would destroy it and are actively trying to do so.

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