Microsoft and Google: is this war?

google-io-logo_thumb Opinion Some shots were fired back and forth today between Microsoft and Google in a series of exchanges both from the stage at Google I/O, and behind the scenes with some well placed leaks that come perilously close to crossing the “don’t be evil” line, from both camps.

At Google I/O, at the end of a 3 hour keynote that introduced yet another subscription music service, Google Hangouts reinvented as an uber-messaging client, some cool new maps technologies and lots of oohs and aahs from developers, Google co-founder Larry Page took some questions from the audience and some potshots at Microsoft:

You just take something as simple as instant messaging. We’ve kind of had an offer forever that we’ll interoperate on instant messaging. I think just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us, but not doing the reverse. Which is really sad, right? And that’s not the way to make progress. You need to actually have interoperation, not just people milking off one company for their own benefit

…I’m sad that the Web’s probably not advancing as fast as it should be. We certainly struggle with people like Microsoft. We’ve had a great relationship with Mozilla, I think, and value that deeply. I’d like to see more open standards, more people getting behind things, that just work, and more companies involved in those ecosystems. I think that’s why this conference is so important. But I wouldn’t grade the industry well in terms of where we’ve gotten to.

Page was obviously referring to Outlook.com’s addition of Google contacts to its messaging feature, which is just rolling out and was announced only two days ago, and the decidedly non-interoperable Skype.  Somewhat ironically, Google had just announced Google Hangouts, which while bringing together Google’s mishmosh of messaging clients into a more cohesive and cross product whole, will no longer use the open standards XMPP protocol (as Google Talk uses), and while Google has no current plans to shut down Google Talk, it has no plans to bring XMPP to Hangouts.

Shortly after the keynote ended, news broke that Google has filed a Cease and Desist order on Microsoft’s home built Windows Phone YouTube app, because it violates YouTube’s terms of service by not serving ads.  Microsoft was quick to reply that they “would be happy” to comply with the TOS if Google would allow them access.  It hasn’t been made clear by either party why that access can’t be granted, as there is already an Xbox YouTube app, which apparently didn’t have any trouble getting API access or complying with the TOS.

While we’re no fans of Google, and could spend the rest of the day listing ways we think they’re “evil”, we would much prefer that Microsoft would lay off the name calling and potshots and work together with its competitors to create a better web for all of us.  Like Larry Page, we wouldn’t grade either company well, and are a bit saddened by the whole turn of events.  Unfortunately, Google continues to flirt with being “evil”, and Microsoft can’t seem to shake its arrogance, even if it has lost the monopolistic market share.  Both sides have plenty to be ashamed about today.