There were so many zingers and (and cease-and-desist orders) flying around between Microsoft and Google yesterday that it might have been hard to keep track. And some errant quotes in the live blogs from Google I/O conference didn’t help.
So what did Google CEO Larry Page actually say about Microsoft during the question-and-answer session at the event? We went back and watched the video to double-check. This was in response to a question from someone who works for Mozilla, who asked Page if the web could ultimately “subsume” individual operating systems such as Android and Chrome as the operating system for everything. Here’s what Page said:
We’ve been really excited about the web, obviously being birthed from it as a company. We’ve really invested a lot in the open standards behind that. I’ve personally been quite sad at the industry’s behavior around all these things. You just take something as simple as instant messaging. We’ve kind of had an offer forever that we’ll interoperate on instant messaging. Just this week, Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse. Which is really sad, right? That’s not the way to make progress. You need to have interoperation, not just people milking off one company for their own benefit. I think Google has always stood for that. I’ve been sad that the industry hasn’t been able to advance those things, I think generally because of a focus on negativity and on zero-sum games.
We try to be on the right side of all those things. We also try to be practical, and look at what other people are doing, and not just rely on our principles to shoot ourselves in the foot, and our users in the process. I don’t know how to deal with all those things. I’m sad that the web is 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. …
In the very long term, I don’t think you should have to think about, as a developer, am I developing for this platform or another, or something like that. I think you should be able to work at a much higher level, and software you write should run everywhere, easily. … That’s how I think about it. It’s a very, very complex and important question.
Microsoft and Google have always been rivals, but the events of the past week amount to the gloves coming off. The next litmus test will be how Google proceeds with its objections to Microsoft’s YouTube app for Windows Phone 8.