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The New Evil Empire: Google displaces Microsoft
by Kismo Friday, Sep 14 2007, 1:55pm
international / imperialism / opinion/analysis

In today’s digital world of networking and information access, corporate interests that are able to control and manage the flow of information place themselves in immensely powerful positions – far more powerful than any State, government or traditional Corporation. Since its introduction – only two decades ago – the Internet has become an indispensable feature of our lives. In fact, if the plug was pulled on the net the world as we know it would come to a standstill, such is the importance of the flow of information today.

googlevi.jpg

Into this massive potential power sphere/space, enter a smart Russian kid and friends who developed a general Search Engine and offered it free to users (in order to capture a very sleepy market). The open source community was initially pleased as the spirit of google seemed at the time to embrace the ethics of free and open access, BUT NOT FOR LONG!

Today, google has proven itself to be a self-interested extremely dangerous totalitarian presence in the world yet its practices remain largely unscrutinised! Its 'new ethic' of pandering to the wishes of any State allow it to spread its tentacles into areas that affect all our lives. The reader will note that google has no social conscience or moral standard whatsoever, google happily acquiesced to the ‘special requirements’ of the Chinese dictatorship and other governments known for their abysmal human rights and civil liberties record.

google now supplies the search records of individual users to government agencies and other bureaus, it is clear this unsavoury practice does not advantage the individual user, in some cases citizens risk incarceration or even execution if this information is made available to certain governments – google already has blood on its hands!

The myth of a level playing field in relation to search rankings/exposure has been blasted by google’s now known interventionist practices; site rankings are manually manipulated according to positive financial or negative political considerations. A recent case in Australia exposed the myth of fair practice in google searches -- specific site searches were re-directed to a paying customer rather than to the literal/exact site. google is easily able to advantage or disadvantage any site if it wishes or if authorities request it.

google’s ambition to digitise every major text on the planet has been temporarily curtailed – but for how long? As google continues to grow fat on its ever-increasing revenues, its power increases as a result – soon smaller independent companies may not able to withstand the huge financial pressure from the information juggernaut. Nothing less than total control of all information is google’s ambition and company ideal!

The sleepy market that allowed google to grow disproportionately and at speed is also extremely slow to wake to the fact that google’s practices remain beyond accountability, most of its sordid practices are shrouded in secrecy or hidden behind existing corporate privacy laws, which are entirely inappropriate when dealing with public information management companies such as google!

More court actions and greater accountability are required to allow for a freer and fairer market place and eliminate sordid or unfair practices. Companies should not be allowed to threaten or manipulate the free flow of information or to tamper with PUBLIC knowledge for their own personal gain.

IT professionals and geeks alike are acutely aware of the power that google is able to wield; its ever increasing wealth endow it with the ability to buy whatever it desires and to remain largely unaccountable to outside regulators.

A legal requirement to justify any obvious manipulation of search results, would be a good start.

The geek community, hackers, IT professionals, user groups and every citizen who believes that (unhindered) public information access is a right not a privilege are united in their call for accountability.

In the immortal words of Uncle Ho, now directed at google, “you will never succeed!”

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Google turns 10
by ABC via rialator - ABC News Saturday, Sep 15 2007, 9:44am

[The public face of $US164 billion dollar Google. The largest Search Engine in the world continues unimpaired in its pursuit to corporatise/privatise public information. Ed.]

Born 10 years ago, the Google Internet search engine has grown into the electronic centre of human knowledge by indexing billions of web pages as well as images, books and videos.

On September 15, 1997 Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two 24-year-old Stanford University students, registered the domain name of "google.com."

The word is a variation of 'googol,' which refers to the number 10 to the power of 100, a term popularised by US mathematician Edward Kasner.

Mr Page and Mr Brin incorporated Google one year later, on September 7, 1998, in a household garage in northern California.

News of Google spread largely thanks to the efficient way the search engine classified results through algorithms, and it quickly became one of the most used methods to find information on the Internet.

From the beginning Mr Page and Mr Brin considered their role as global Internet researchers was crucial.

"We thought research was really important," said Mr Brin in a recent interview.

"The other search engines stopped research on search. They thought that 'if our search engine is only 85 per cent as good as the next guy, it's good enough for us'."

To search for Internet documents it is necessary to permanently contact each site and memorise its pages, a colossal task for the Google data bank, which is constantly renewed, allowing the users to search for key words.

Google needs several weeks to troll the Internet and renew its data bank.

Soon after its launch this search engine became a motor that "absorbed" web pages across the Internet, at a rate of billions per day.

Google has become the most popular Internet search engine in the world outside of China, Japan and Russia, handling more than 500 million visits a day.

In 2000 Google began to sell ads linked to key words. At the time, as the dot-com bubble was bursting and scores of web-based operations were declaring bankruptcy, Google was making a healthy profit.

When Google went public in August 2004 its shares initially sold at $US85. Today its shares are valued at $US525, and Google has a stock market value worth some $US164 billion.

In 2006 Google reached $US13.4 billion in revenue - the third part based on Internet ads - and profits of $US3.7 billion.

In the past years Google has expanded at a breakneck pace, and currently has some 13,700 employees.

The company thrives on a culture of innovation: the best example is that it asks employees to dedicate 20 per cent of their time to develop ideas for the company.

Mr Page and Mr Brin, now in their mid 30s, each have some $US16 billion in personal wealth.

In 2006 Google bought YouTube, the largest and most popular video exchange website, and soon after bought DoubleClick, one of the Internet's most powerful ad services.

Google also launched free e-mail - Gmail - as well as a word processing program, picture editing programs and a calender that competes directly with products from software giant Microsoft.

Despite the company motto of "Don't be Evil," it seems that the Google's ubiquitous presence increasingly generates hostility. Both Google and YouTube have been sued by media groups that charge that they have stolen content.

Its ads are directed at a very specific public based on their Internet searches.

Google's photographing of city streets has also been criticised, but also admired and widely used.

-AFP

© 2007 ABC

There is some hope!
by David Gow via reed - Guardian Sunday, Sep 16 2007, 5:20pm

Microsoft loses antitrust appeal

The European commission today hailed a key ruling by the court of first instance, Europe's second-highest court, that upheld its March 2004 decision to fine Microsoft a record €497m (£345m) for abusing its dominance of the software market and force it to share critical information with rival companies.

After securing a comprehensive victory in its nine-year battle with Microsoft, Brussels is now free to pursue other high-profile cases against hi-tech companies such as Intel and has emerged as the world's leading antitrust authority. The company founded by Bill Gates will have to alter its business model as it faces stiff competition on new markets from the likes of Google and Apple.

The court, headed by retiring president Bo Vesterdorf and based in Luxembourg, delivered its long-awaited judgment in little more than four minutes before a packed grande salle, including Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and architect of its fruitless appeal.

The company may appeal - only on points of law - to the European court of justice, Europe's highest court, but sources said before the hearing: "The company's done fighting. We have to move on; the market has moved on and there are new competitive pressures out there." Mr Smith said he and his lawyers would read the 248-page judgment before deciding.

Microsoft, fined an extra €280.5m in July 2006 for failing to comply with the remedies imposed by Mario Monti, the then-EU competition commissioner, secured only a minor victory when the CFI ruled that Brussels had been wrong to force it to accept an independent trustee - Prof Neil Barrett of Imperial College - to monitor its compliance though it will now have to propose its own trustee - and pay for him or her. The court told it to pay 80% of its own costs and of those of the commission, with Brussels meeting the rest.

On the critical issue of interoperability, the core of the commission's case, the court ruled that the commission has not tried to order Microsoft to disclose the source code behind its Windows operating system to its rivals - a strong element of the case brought by the world's biggest software group.

"The court also considers that the aim pursued by the commission is to remove the obstacle for Microsoft's competitors represented by the insufficient degree of interoperability with the Windows domain architecture in order to enable those competitors to offer work group servers operating systems differing from Microsoft's on important parameters.

"In that connection, the court rejects Microsoft's claims that the degree of interoperability required by the commission is intended in reality to enable competing work group server operating systems to function in every respect like a Windows system and, accordingly, to enable Microsoft's competitors to clone or reproduce its products," the CFI ruled.

It added: "The court considers that the commission was correct to conclude that the workgroup server operating systems of Microsoft's competitors must be able to interoperate with Windows domain architecture on an equal footing with Windows ... if they are to be capable of being marketed viably. The absence of such interoperability has the effect of reinforcing Microsoft's competitive position on the market and creates a risk that competition will be eliminated."

It threw out the company's key argument that the commission was damaging its intellectual property rights (IPRs) and patents and damaging its ability to innovate on behalf of customers. Its dominance of the workgroup server market has grown from 40% to 80% since the case began in 1998.

Upholding Mr Monti's second remedy, the CFI ruled that the commission was right to force the company to sell a version of Windows without Media Player, its video and audio streaming software, already embedded - or tied. The commission and most lawyers thought Brussels might lose this part of the appeal.

Instead, the CFI comprehensively ruled in favour of the commission, saying that bundling Media Player appreciably altered the balance of competition in favour of Microsoft and to the detriment of other operators. "The court considers that that practice enabled Microsoft to obtain an unparalleled advantage with respect to distribution of its product and to ensure the ubiquity of Media Player on client PCs throughout the world, thus providing a disincentive for users to use third-party media players and for OEMs (PC manufacturers) to pre-install such media players on client PCs."


© Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Google goes to war with Microsoft
by David Frith via ned - news limited Monday, Sep 17 2007, 1:57pm

GOOGLE, no longer just a souped-up search engine, is really beginning to get under the skin of Microsoft, it seems.

At stake is the future of how we interact with software: by logging online to free applications provided by groups such as Google, or by buying costly boxed software from behemoths such as Microsoft.

For the past year or so, Google has been quietly promoting its online range of free software, including the Gmail email service and its Docs and Spreadsheets programs for creating Office-style documents.

But its executives have denied they're trying to take serious business away from the omnipotent Microsoft Office: just providing a handy little service for consumers, they have said.

Suddenly it's got a lot more serious than that.

Google is looking to make a major drive into the business environment where Microsoft makes most of its money, and the software giant is fighting back.

Earlier this year, Google began pushing into the corporate space with Google Apps Premier Edition, a bundle aimed at small-medium business, schools, universities, health services and other outfits that includes Gmail, Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, Google Talk (an instant messaging and voice-call service) and Page Creator, for designing web pages.

Bundled with support services and 10GB of online storage for each user, this lot doesn't come free.

Customers pay about $59 a head a year for the bundle, but that's a heck of a lot less than a business would pay to keep an office worker loaded with the latest Office products from Microsoft.

Australia's Macquarie University, with about 68,000 users, is among those who have signed up with Google.

Last week, Google upped the ante again, signing a deal with Capgemini, a global provider of IT services to very-large businesses, to market expanded GAPE services to its customers, who include many of the big names in banking, finance, automotive and telecommunications industries. In Australia, they include Optus and the Australian Rugby Union. Microsoft appeared stung.

The giant fired out a statement, listing 10 questions it reckons would-be Google Apps users should ask, and blasting some of its products as "incomplete beta software".

On the other hand, Google Apps offer some benefits in which Office is lacking.

Docs and Spreadsheets for instance are far better set up for easy collaboration on documents by a number of workers.

This battle is just beginning.

ASUS, one of the major Taiwanese laptop makers, has done a deal with Vodafone to pop the mobile phone outfit's 3G SIM cards into selected notebook PC models.

No, the idea is not to make mobile phone calls via your laptop, but to allow users to get internet broadband access on the move: anywhere in range of a Vodafone mobile tower.

According to ASUS, the laptops will sell for less than $2000 and if you sign for the Vodafone service, the carrier will very nicely send you a $250 cashback cheque.

Nor will Asus notebook owners be tied to Vodafone, because the technology inside the laptops is said to work with the high-speed downlink packet access platform used by Telstra's Next G network and Hutchison's "3 Mobile" operation.

Hopefully, Next G users would be able to whip out the Vodafone SIM card, pop in a Telstra card, and log on pretty well anywhere in Australia.

The SIM card option would certainly be a cheaper alternative to Telstra BigPond's PCI and USB card modems, more conventionally used for connecting notebook PCs to Next G.

BigPond charges $299 for these plug-in gadgets, although you can sometimes pick them up for a bit less on eBay.

© 2007 News Limited

[Google's reach would then extend into your private affairs -- information acquisition/control such as this should be viewed with the utmost suspicion and legislative responsiblity from government! Ed.]


 
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