Google CEO Larry Page got tripped up by a bit of hypocrisy during his appearance at his firm’s annual Google I/O developer conference. At an event during which the firm didn’t announce a single product or service that runs natively on Microsoft’s Windows platforms, Page complained that Microsoft recently added support for Google Chat to Outlook.com without enabling the reverse.
Google has no problem supporting users on Apple’s iOS platform, and at Wednesday’s opening day of Google I/O, it unleashed a blistering array of new and improved products and services for Chrome, Android, and iOS. But Windows users are relegated to web apps via a browser. And Windows Phone users, almost universally, are simply ignored.
At the end of the opening day keynote, Page appeared on stage and offered up a uniquely Google-centric view of the Microsoft/Google relationship, such as it is.
“If you take something as simple as IM, we've had an open offer to interoperate forever,” Page claimed. “Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us. This is really sad, and not the way to make progress. You can't have people milking off of just one company for their own benefit.”
Of course you can: That’s the other edge of the open software sword, Mr. Page. Microsoft and Google are competitors, and Microsoft is understandably trying to get users of Google’s Gmail service to switch to Outlook.com. So Google Chat interoperability is one way to make that happen, just like Google’s policy of not creating native Windows applications is one way to make it easier for users of its services to move to non-Windows platforms while continuing to use Google’s services. And Google is busy building products and services like Google Apps, Chrome OS, and Android, which are aimed right at Microsoft’s core markets. Again, Google isn’t a partner, it’s a competitor.
“Every story I read about Google is 'us versus some other company or some stupid thing',” Page said. “Being negative is not how we make progress. The most important things are not zero sum. There is a lot of opportunity out there.”
These are interesting comments coming from a guy who leads an industry goliath that is clearly hell-bent on destroying Microsoft. As I wrote in "Google Throws Down the Gauntlet, Kills EAS Support" in December 2012, Google has in fact declared war on Microsoft. The company just doesn’t discuss it publicly that way, preferring to pretend that would like to partner, not compete.
And on the same day that Page made his comments about Microsoft, Google sent a cease-and-desist order to Microsoft, demanding that the latter firm immediately remove its recently released YouTube app from the Windows Phone Store. According to the complaint, Microsoft’s YouTube app—which is excellent, by the way—“allows users to download videos from YouTube, prevents the display of advertisements in YouTube video playbacks, and plays videos that our partners have restricted from playback on certain platforms (e.g., mobile devices with limited feature sets).”
Microsoft provided the following response to Mary Jo Foley with regards to the YouTube app snafu. As you might expect, the firm is also calling Page on his hypocrisy.
"Google has refused to work with us to develop a [YouTube] app on par with other platforms. Since we updated the YouTube app to ensure our mutual customers a similar YouTube experience, ratings and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. We’d be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs. In light of Larry Page’s comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers."
OK, Google did actually release exactly one native Windows application at Google I/O: It's called Android Studio, an application that helps developers create apps that run on Android, Google’s answer to Windows. But don’t worry, Microsoft fans: Internet Explorer (IE) flags the Android Studio download as potential malware.
Related: "City of Boston Drops Microsoft for Google"