Microsoft and Google have never been BFFs, but the crew in Redmond really dialled up the trash talk against the search giant last week.
First, there was Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutiérrez, who heads up the company's intellectual property group. He declared in an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle that Google, with its Android operating system, "stood on the shoulder of companies like Microsoft" that have invested billions in making operating systems more efficient.
Then there was Tom Rizzo, director of Microsoft Office 365, who came out with guns blazing in a company blog. He accused Google of a "spaghetti" approach to application development. "Its products are like spaghetti," he wrote. "Google throws them up against the wall to see if they stick."
Rizzo's rant seemed to be targeted at Google's policy of dropping support for older versions of browsers once a new version comes out. Here's what Google's support page says: "We support the current and previous major releases of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari on a rolling basis. Each time a new version is released, we begin supporting that version and stop supporting the third-oldest version."
Rizzo argued that the policy hurt business users who don't have the same flexibility that consumers do to switch to a new version of a browser. "If I were running a business using web-based productivity tools from Google, learning about their discontinuation of support for older browsers would make my hair stand on end," Rizzo wrote.
"I'm sure it is a lot easier for Google to limit the number of browsers it supports than to address differences in the browsers," he continued, "but if I were an institution or business relying on Google Apps, it would be completely unreasonable to force version upgrades, and unacceptable to expect that users will always have the latest browser versions."
A Google spokesman wouldn't comment about the rhetoric emanating from Redmond this week, but he did reference an article titled "This Must Be A Joke: Microsoft Says That Google Is Too Unpredictable" in Business Insider. It presents a litany of sins against business by Microsoft, including Microsoft's ditching a suite of business services and replacing them with Rizzo's very own Office 365.
If you're looking for a reason for Microsoft's sudden ratcheting up of the rhetoric against Google, look no further than reports that Google may have landed a contract with General Motors to provide the auto giant with online collaboration software.
"Assuming Google wins final approval," the Wall Street Journal reported, "the deal could be a watershed moment in Google's quest to challenge Microsoft Corp's dominance in application software, marking the largest deal since the Internet company began selling what it calls Google Apps in 2007."