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NYT: The Valley v. MSFT, Round 2

By - February 01, 2004

Markoff gets ahold of an internal Google memo, throws in some Davos scenery and a few very interesting and fresh facts, and voila, the Times has a piece on The Coming Search Wars.

The Google Might Be The Next Netscape meme is warmed over, as is the MSFT Might Integrate Search Into Longhorn concept. Might? Will….The IPO As Disruptor idea is also given a curtain call. This piece proves once again that the Times can’t get enough of Google stories. Or, more to the point, we as readers can’t get enough.

Regardless of whether the typical outside-the-Valley reader cares, Markoff has some really good stuff in here. Eric Schmidt on MSFT’s open source views:

“Based on their visceral reactions to any discussions about ‘open source,’ ” Mr. Schmidt wrote in his e-mail message, “they are obsessed with open source as a business model.”

Good anecdote about keeping people:

For the moment, though, Google’s lead seems formidable. Last year, Rick Rashid, a Microsoft vice president in charge of the company’s research division, came to its outpost in Silicon Valley to give a demonstration of an experimental Microsoft Research search engine. Shortly afterward, however, Mike Burrows, one of the original pioneers of Internet search at Digital Equipment who later helped design Microsoft’s experimental search engine, quietly defected. He joined Google…..

…Microsoft has already begun a recruitment campaign aimed at demoralizing Google employees, several Google executives said. Microsoft recruiters have been calling Google employees at home, urging them to join Microsoft and suggesting that their stock options will lose value once Microsoft enters the search market in a serious way.

Alsop (who backed TiVO) claiming victory over MSFT (just watch out for Comcast…):

In other words, rivals have fought Microsoft and lived to tell about it. “At TiVo, we managed to stare down that $40 billion barrel,” said Stewart Alsop, a venture capitalist who helped finance the creation of TiVo’s digital video recorder, which allows TV viewers to easily record hours of video programming for viewing at other times. “We dodged that particular bullet,” Mr. Alsop said, when Microsoft “shut down Ultimate TV and got out of the business.”

An interesting new project I had not heard of:

Google has embarked on an ambitious secret effort known as Project Ocean, according to a person involved with the operation. With the cooperation of Stanford University, the company now plans to digitize the entire collection of the vast Stanford Library published before 1923, which is no longer limited by copyright restrictions. The project could add millions of digitized books that would be available exclusively via Google.

And new information on how many computers Google has, a stunning increase from the 10,000 CPU estimate bandied about (I find that nearly all of Google’s statistics are one to two years old, from how many folks work there to how many searches they do each day. It’s way more than 200 million, which is what the article is saying still).

Google has been quietly developing what industry experts consider to be the world’s largest computing facility. Last spring, Google had more than 50,000 computers distributed in over a dozen computer centers around the world. The number topped 100,000 by Thanksgiving, according to a person who has detailed knowledge of the Google computing data center.

That’s 10x what has been reported in the past.