For several days now, Google and Microsoft have been involved in an increasingly bitter argument over Bing (news, site) "stealing" Google search results. That argument has now gone personal, in public, to the discredit of both companies.
Seconds Out, Fight
Spats between tech companies have been an on-going feature of the industry; Apple vs. Adobe's Flash, AMD vs. NVIDIA over video performance, Microsoft vs. Apple over everything, and Apple vs. the mobile industry. Some arguments rumble on for years, some fade out, only to flare up years later.
This latest scrap has seen Google accusing Bing of stealing its search results from Google's own data. Microsoft replied by accusing Google of poisoning caches and other methods to "frame" Bing. All we need is a butler and a candle-holder and we'd have a great game to play.
Search Getting Personal (But Not Like This)
Most of these arguments are managed carefully via press statements, snide remarks to journalists, keynote off-the-cuff answers and so on. Rarely do we get to see representatives of two companies go at it face to face.
Yet, this is what we get in this video from Big Think's Farsight 2011, an executive from each company trading barbs and getting personal, with some interesting high-level insights in the future of search (which is what the event was about).
Matt Cutts from Google states his position and the history of the issue while MIcrosoft's Dr. Harry Shum seems to think this is a storm over semantics, if anything.
The Bottom Line
At the bottom of this story are some highly technical issues that see Microsoft state that it uses thousands of sources to generate Bing's search results -- and it does not deny that one of those sources might be Google.
Does Google own data that appears in public places or such nebulous concepts as random search strings? There is now endless informed opinion across the Web on the subject but while it makes for good headlines and even some decent amateur theater, it would take an army of lawyers years of work to get to the bottom of this one.