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MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Friday, October 31 2003 @ 03:03 PM EST

Groklaw's readers have noticed that MS's search engine in the US and its UK counterpart are providing noticibly different results. It began with a reader posting a comment about a NY Times story that Microsoft had been in talks with Google. Reader tcranbrook expressed alarm at the idea of a MS acquisition of Google and was the first to notice the search engine difference:

"As just a hint of what this would mean. A current search for Linux on google returns 58,500,000 hits. A similiar search on MSN - serach yields 419 hits. And the fourth from the top includes this gem:

Alternatives to Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP

What can we do to initiate and support a move for the DOJ to block any such aquisition? (Ya, ya, I know, we tried this before. But, we have to try again.)"

The Times story indicates that Google wasn't too interested, but what if they had been? Another reader then challenged the result, because a search they did came up with 16,206,703 results for a search for "linux". A third commenter pointed out that it was a matter of which country you used to search, that searching returned 419 results but searching returned 16206703 results. Hmm. Does anyone have an explanation?

The odd thing is that searching for "microsoft" on the two engines resulted in the a wide disparity also, according to another reader:

"I wouldn't read too much into it. A search for 'microsoft' at returned nearly 4000 results, the same search at returned over 20 million results."

Why is that not odd in itself, though? I tried searching for SCO, and the US search showed 48 entries; the UK showed 1,251,184. So they think Americans don't want to know as much as the UK? Is it a different search engine? Someone then tried searching for "linux services" on each and got this result:

"You're right. I ended up with the uk one because I just typed it into the address bar and let the browser auto-search it. Try this out: If you search for linux services you get 3134557 results on the US search (3119410 on the UK search). linux - 419, linux services - 3134557? What's actually going on here?"

My search for "linux services" showed 9,981 for the UK, 10,117 for the US. If I dropped the quotation marks, I got the same figures the Groklaw reader did. Google produced 136,000 for "linux services" and 14,700,000 if you drop the quotation marks. I also searched for Groklaw, and I got 7,439 for the UK; 7,816 for the US. Google produces 71,600. Some disparity in the US/UK MSN results wouldn't be surprising, because there could be differences in how many linux services there are in one place than in another, for example, but then you'd expect "microsoft" to show more results in the US search engine, logically, instead of the reverse. Maybe the UK search engine runs on Linux. (joke) Some of the differences are minor. But the wide disparity in some of the results is what we haven't figured out yet. There is an effort to create an entirely open source search engine, Nutch, I have learned.

While they investigate, and in response to requests for this information, here is how to file a complaint regarding the MS antitrust matter. There was a status conference with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on October 24. She expressed concern that so few companies had signed up for the Microsoft license and she has asked the government lawyers to look into the reasons why and has scheduled another hearing for January when they will report their findings:

"'I think all of us had hoped for more agreements,' Kollar-Kotelly said. 'I am interested in finding out why we don't have more licensed products.'

"The judge said nine companies that already signed agreements 'look like it's pretty much the heavy-hitters.'"

Er, maybe because it costs $50,000? One of the nine companies that signed up is SCO, which only recently signed on for a license. The article continues:

"The judge urged government lawyers to interview companies that decided against licensing Microsoft's technology to determine whether the court should require changes to Microsoft's terms. She said it was unclear whether competitors were unhappy with those terms or simply not interested, adding 'there's not much we can do about that.'"

Evidently she would like to understand what is the bottleneck. The Interim Joint Status Report on Microsoft's Compliance with the Final Judgment, which Microsoft helped to write, and which you can read here, put a rosier spin on things, but evidently the judge wasn't sold, at least without further information. Here is part of what the report says:

"Second, the goal of the Court's remedy was to provide a new opportunity for developers, i.e., to ensure that any developer that wished to do so could develop products that would interoperate with Windows using Microsoft's protocol technology built into Windows. As the Court described, Section III.E , 'ensures that ISVs will have full access to, and be able to use, the protocols that are necessary for software located on a server computer to interoperate with, and fully take advantage of, the functionality provided by any Windows Operating System Product.' United States v. Microsoft , 231 F. Supp. 2d 144, 190 (D.D.C. 2002) (quoting the Competitive Impact Statement prepared by the United States). (6) That goal has been achieved. Microsoft has identified all of the relevant protocols, created more than 5,000 pages of technical documentation describing them, and made available licenses granting licensees the necessary intellectual property rights to implement Microsoft's protocol technology in their own products.

"The Final Judgments, of course, bind only Microsoft and thus do not compel third parties to take protocol licenses nor obligate Microsoft to obtain any specified number of licensees. The focus, rather (as described above), is on creating an opportunity for developers to use the relevant technology if they wish to do so. The licenses that Microsoft has made available effectuate those goals.

"In considering the significance of the number of third parties that have opted, to date, to take licenses, it is important to bear in mind that developers have never needed to license Microsoft's communications protocols in order to interoperate with Windows clients. Third parties can (and routinely do) build products that interoperate with Windows using their own protocol technology or using industry-standard protocols that are built into Windows (as to which no license from Microsoft is needed). The Final Judgments successfully ensure that, in addition to these alternatives, industry participants also have the option of licensing Microsoft communications protocols on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The fact that a larger number of third parties have not licensed Microsoft's communications protocols accordingly does not evidence either non-compliance by Microsoft or a failure of the Final Judgments to achieve their purpose. . . .

"Microsoft has received eleven inquiries and complaints since the July 3, 2003 Joint Status Report was filed with the Court. All of these inquiries and complaints were received through the Web site Microsoft established as described in the last Joint Status Report. As with prior inquiries and complaints received, virtually all of these matters were entirely unrelated to any of Microsoft's compliance obligations under the Final Judgments.

"Only one submission related to Microsoft's obligations under the Final Judgments. It raised a general question about the affordability of the royalties under the MCPP for smaller developers. As to this single submission, Microsoft had already restructured the royalties under the MCPP as a result of feedback it received from the Plaintiffs and third-parties, thus addressing the question raised by this one individual. In addition, as discussed with the Plaintiffs, Microsoft recently undertook even further steps to make it easier for smaller companies to obtain licenses under the MCPP. Of the remaining submissions, four related to class action litigation, four related to product use issues, one related to an ISV's development of an application for Tablet PC, and one raised a general issue about the manner in which Microsoft develops its servers, Web sites and tools."

MS's legal news page says not a word about the judge's reservations. The report has a couple of interesting footnotes. In one, footnote 4, in discussing MS's ad campaign touting its efforts, it says that the company "contacted more than 20 journalists following the launch of the ad campaign to encourage further press coverage of Microsoft's efforts." So, if you wonder why there are so many FUD stories in the tech press, this may be an answer. Not that it's a crime to contact the press. But it shows that contacting more than one or two would be necessary to counteract a FUD campaign. Footnote 5 says this about the companies that signed up:

"5. The Plaintiffs have also questioned the MCPP's progress by noting that three of the eight current licensees (NetApp, Starbak and Cisco) previously held licenses from Microsoft or had other relationships that provided them with rights to earlier communications protocol technology."

Obviously, SCO has a relationship with Microsoft as well, and the AP story notes it:

"To entice more companies to license its technology, Microsoft previously agreed to reduce from $100,000 to $50,000 a prepayment from rivals and reduce the price it charges so that it collects 1 percent to 5 percent of the revenues of the software that includes its technology.

"Since that change, only five more companies have signed licenses with Microsoft, including the Utah-based SCO Group Inc., which has separately threatened to sue companies using the Linux operating system unless they pay a licensing fee."

Not all of us were positive how "separately" it is, after seeing them on this short list.

So, if a person wanted to file a complaint, where can you do it? I looked around and here is what I found. You have a number of choices, which you can evaluate as to how likely each entity is to act on your complaint and also according to the nature of the complaint, but it all seems to end up in the same pot eventually if it's about the antitrust case, so there is no need to file with all of them, with the exception of the information on contacting Massachusetts, which seems worth doing no matter what else you do. First, the states have a very informative page, which lists pretty much all you need to know. You can file a complaint with them using their online form. The settling states have coordinated enforcement. There were two settlements, and you can read the judgments on the California settlement and the New York settlement. Here is what the coordinating states page says you can do:

"If you believe Microsoft is violating either of the state final judgments, you can file a complaint by submitting an on-line complaint or by mailing a written complaint (along with supporting documentation, if available) to:

"Coordinated State Enforcement of Microsoft Antitrust Judgments c/o California Office of the Attorney General 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 11000 San Francisco, CA 94102

"Complaints filed above may be shared with the California Group, the New York Group, the Technical Committee and the United States Department of Justice ('USDOJ'). Complaints filed above must pertain to enforcement of the New York Group or California Group's Final Judgments. If you have a complaint against Microsoft outside of the scope of the state final judgments you should submit it directly to the individual government agency or agencies having jurisdiction."

Massachusetts is involved in monitoring the case and it has its own lawsuit still going forward, and on this page, here's what they suggest:

"In 1998, Massachusetts, together with a group of states and the United States Department of Justice, filed a civil law suit against Microsoft Corporation alleging antitrust violations. In 2000, the Court found Microsoft liable for maintaining an illegal monopoly in personal computer operating systems. In November 2002, following an appeal and several court hearings, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a judgment in the Massachusetts case prohibiting Microsoft from continuing certain unlawful conduct.

"Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly is seeking stricter and more rigorous restrictions on Microsoft's business practices than those put in place by the Court judgment, and has asked the Court of Appeals to consider the matter. Massachusetts is scheduled to argue its appeal in November 2003.

"Even though Massachusetts is pursuing a further remedy, the Massachusetts Attorney General is working to ensure that Microsoft complies with the injunction issued in November 2002. If you or your business have a complaint about Microsoft's business behavior or practices, please complete a Complaint Form (File Size: 26 KB) and forward it to the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division, One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108-1598, Attention: Kenneth Miller, CPAD. If you have a complaint against Microsoft, you also may call Kenneth Miller at (617) 727-2200 ext. 2965."

There is also the Technical Committee, which "investigates complaints from third parties concerning Microsoft's compliance with the Final Judgment". Complaints may be submitted via email to . It is made up of three individuals, one chosen by the plaintiffs, one by Microsoft, and one by both together. The plaintiffs chose Dr. Harry Saal ( as their appointee to The TC, and Microsoft chose Franklin Fite, Jr. Those two then chose Skip Stritter ( as the third TC member. Complaints can also be filed with the Justice Department.

On the SCO v. IBM front, IBM has just served SCO with a third set of interrogatories and requests for documents, according to the court's docket page. It's clear IBM knows how to fight, and they intend to be victorious, whatever it costs, no matter how much effort is involved.


MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery | 109 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: Ninguino on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:06 PM EST
Should the open source community start thinking on creating a new searching

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: Alex on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:09 PM EST

Try typing "SCO" into MSN vs. Google. That's also interesting.


Destroying SCO one bozon at a time

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: rand on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:13 PM EST
Yep, on I got exactly 419 hits
but at ("Advanced Search") I
get 16327729 hits.

"linux AND windows" 26 9105116

Suppose they're dumbing it down for their usual customers? Anybody that
actually uses mfmsn as their home page might need to be sheltered.

#include IANAL.h

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] SCO & the Iraqi Information Minister
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:35 PM EST
Since Darl here is a public figure by now (I should hope) and the following is intended as humour (rather than to depict him as a terrorist or something), your readers might get a laugh out of the Iraqi Information Minister damning IBM to the infinite hell and declaring that Darl will prevail:

Iraqi Information Minister press release on behalf of SCO

(Disclaimer: You can make your own, I made this one, it is intended as pure humour, without malice, to spoof the oppinion of mine that SCO lacks a sound legal case. I am not a lawyer, I just don't want to be sued.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

On the SCO v. IBM front
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:44 PM EST
IBM clearly takes this seriously and will do anything to win. The costs if they were to lose would be enormous. The cost to SCO for losing is also huge -- many fewer dollars --but it will also mean the end of their company. I remain impressed with the sheer professionalism, coolness, and ruthlessness that IBM exhibits in this case.

Given the stakes, SCO should not have expected anything less. Unfortunately for SCO, it appears they are way out of their league. It may be that the IBM lawyers are much better than SCO's. It is more likely that they just aren't severely handicapped by an idiotic case premise and even more idiotic statements from company executives.

I do not worry about the SCO executives. As much as people want to see them in jail or otherwise punished, it just won't happen. Have we learned nothing in the last 2-3 years about executive (non)accountability? They will all be rich coming out of this, regardless of the outcome.

Unfortunately, it will not be pleasant for the regular folks at SCO when the end comes. I do feel badly about that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: tazer on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:53 PM EST
First it was Apple Hardware & Apple Software that monopolized the PC
consumer market. Eventually, IBM goofed and allowed its specifications for the
IBM PC to become publicly available and Microsoft provided DOS for these PC's
and their clones. Apple had proprietary hardware AND proprietary software, the
hardware aspect was overturned by consumer demand for lower prices and IBM (and
its clones) took over as the dominant platform. Being that there was only one
operating system being pushed by IBM, MS-DOS, MS-DOS took over as the dominant
operating system.

Clearly the consumer has GREATLY benefited from IBM's little mistake. They
essentially open sourced their architecture. I think it's safe to say that
consumer economics play a large part in the demand for specific products.
Microsoft Windows OS's are still proprietary, and like Apple, they will
ultimately succumb to open source software, like GNU/Linux.

People want to spend as little as possible and get as much as possible in
return. You could easily spend over $3,000(USD) on an Apple platform whereas
you'd probably spend $2,000(USD) on an IBM compatible platform running Windows
XP. Change that to GNU/Linux and you might be looking at $1,500(USD). People
switched to IBM/Microsoft, even though Apple had superior hardware and superior
software. So, it is not a far cry to assume people would switch from an
inferior proprietary OS to a superior free OS.

This is why Microsoft is worried, they know the end of Windows is coming, but
instead of embracing it, they are going to fight it like IBM did with the PS/1,
PS/2 and OS/2. IBM sank a lot of money into trying to retake the PC market and
to battle Microsoft, but ultimately, they were too late. This time, IBM is
stepping out ahead of the impending pack and taking a lead on GNU/Linux.
Microsoft won't and unless they start porting some of their killer app's to
GNU/Linux, they'll ultimately lose out too.

"Beware my friends as you pass by.
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now so you must be.
Prepare my friends to follow me."
-- Dave Mustaine

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 06:55 PM EST
I second that motion for an open search engine, with absolutely no keyword selling (as MSN, Yahoo and even eBay, the auction house, do).

Selling keywords is a common practice among search engines. Type SCO into and see what you get. A nice prioritized list of SCO web sites. Do it in Google and it appears to be a somewhat random list. MSN's search list did not happen by accident. SCO paid for those nice results.

This is legal, but in my opinion, not ethical.

SCO Antics

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS predicts SCO loss?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 07:13 PM EST
Well, could this be an indication of M$
predicting a SCO loss? Invalidating the
GPL might still kill SCO, but it would
"level" the playing field for Microsoft
(for all practical purposes nor they nor
anyone else could use Linux code).

If they can't get that wish, then maybe the
next best thing is if nobody knows about
linux, then it may as well not exist!

my 2.0x10^-2$

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: fava on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 07:33 PM EST
No conspiracy, simply uses a different (but poor) meathod of estimating the number of results.
First the uk numbers:
 then    -> 54049338 
   purple  ->  3615356 
   strange ->  4823816
linux   -> 16206703
The the .com numbers, notice that across the board the .com version appears to give much lower numbers: 
then    ->   60 
   purple  ->  229
   strange ->  102  
->  419 
However if you hit next a few times the estimates become as follows: 
   then    -> 54067914 
   purple  -> 
   strange ->  4958419 
   linux   -> 16512209
These numbers are quite close to the uk values.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: PJ on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 07:55 PM EST
Well, I did it again. I went to reply to a comment and deleted it instead by
mistake. Pls. repost. It was a comment about there being no trickery involved.
Posted anonymously. Sorry. It was unintentional.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: PJ on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 07:56 PM EST
Well, I did it again. I went to reply to a comment and deleted it instead by
mistake. Pls. repost. It was a comment about there being no trickery involved.
Posted anonymously. Sorry. It was unintentional.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: PJ on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 07:56 PM EST
Well, I did it again. I went to reply to a comment and deleted it instead by
mistake. Pls. repost. It was a comment about there being no trickery involved.
Posted anonymously. Sorry. It was unintentional.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints FWIW
Authored by: p0ssum on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 08:41 PM EST
I really dislike MS. I have had to deal with them in the past and was disgusted
with the way I and my colleagues were treated. And they were trying to SELL us
something. From that point forward I invested all my time into Linux. When I
read the Cringley article(good article by the way), I was just floored, so I
sent this to the address mentioned above. This is what I got back and haven't
heard anything since, but I let them have my 2 cents worth.

Dear Mr. Paul,

Thank you for contacting the Antitrust Division with your additional comments
about Microsoft. The New Case Unit will ensure that the appropriate members of
the Division's legal staff are aware of your concerns.

We appreciate your interest in the enforcement of federal antitrust law.


New Case Unit

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2003 9:34 AM
To: ATR-NewCase Unit
Subject: Anticompetitive Behavior

My name is Not Needeed my original comments on the US vs Microfsoft RFPJ can be
found here:

Microsoft is once again flaunting the courts and acting as a very bad corporate

According to this article:

Microsoft, in a Federal Court, stated that they did not keep a backup of all
email communications. Is this not required by the Court during the period of
Antitrust compliance? They should be forced to provide these records and fined
by the antitrust division for acting in such a fashion. If it is
not stated that they must keep a record of all email for x period of time, then
you have once again dropped the ball.

This goes to show that the consent decree and Final Judgement hold no water.
Microsoft was allowed to trample the courts and is looking to do it again. This
is blatant disregard for the authority of the courts, a slap in the face of the
American people, and another good showing of what Microsoft will do unchecked.
These people need to be monitored closely and punished severely when they step
out of line, they have no fear of the courts, and that needs to change. They are
a vigilante company only worried about the depth of their bank account and the
ability a monopoly
gives them to crush competition.

And YOU let them do it........sad really.

This is most disturbing....



If you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interesting historical links
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 09:16 PM EST
Caldera to change its name to SCO, reemphasizing its dedication to Linux, SCO OpenServer and SCO UnixWare products, and capturing brand recognition of the SCO name (August 2002)

Caldera/SCO Linux obituary (May 2003)

SuSE Denies UnitedLinux Per-Seat License Model (June 2002)

Report from Caldera / SCO Road show (December 2000)

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 09:47 PM EST
Found this funny, MSN search of "SCO"

"SCO Top Pick - Long-time vendor of UNIX for PCs has made the transition to Linux. Learn about their consulting services and their software offerings." They might want to update that to

[ Reply to This | # ]

What are MicroSoft MCPP?
Authored by: Ed L. on Friday, October 31 2003 @ 10:01 PM EST
Sorry, I've been out of the Windows loop for so long I don't even know what
the issue is here. Can someone please clue me in? What does $50K buy you that
MicroSoft Studio.Net does not? I'm concerned with the cost difference of
f'rinstance the "Professional" versions of various Java IDE's
versus their analogous "Enterprise" versions. Is this sort of thing
related? But $2K for an Enterprise XXX is still a far shot from $50K. Whatever
it is that $50K is supposed to buy, it would appear that MicroSoft doesn't wish
destitute Open Source developers any part of it.

On an historical note, I am reminded of a Byte column Jerry Pournelle did years
ago on the demise of OS/2 Warp, which was at the time easily argued superior to
Windows 9x. Jerry's take was simple: IBM didn't want small developers
developing for OS/2. To paraphrase: "I go to an IBM OS/2 conference of any
kind, ask about developing applications for OS/2 Warp, and a salesman
immediately steps up and tries to interest me in an SDK for $5,000. Please. In
contrast, I go to a MicroSoft Windows Developers Conference, and the salespeople
there are actively trying to press their SDK's into the palms of anyone -- even
an idiot journalist like myself -- even remotely resembling a developer, for
free. So how many basement & garage band startups end up developing for each
respective platform, and what is the resulting developer loyalty and number of
applications? You figure."

Any resemblance to MicroSofts current attitude toward Open Source is the purest

"Hold on there. You can't just round up the lyin' bunch of horse thieves
and hang 'em from the highest tree. No, this is America!"

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: Dave Lozier on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 12:46 AM EST
I'm not pro microsoft by no means but I do give them a handicap on search engine results while they still claim their bots are in a beta status. I just looked at their page here and they don't say it's in beta but a prototype... lol I guess that's a step up from the last time I looked.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Nov 1 now
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 02:04 AM EST
It's Nov 1 where I am, now, and no obvious change.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Attention PJ - When did SCO start planning this
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 02:48 AM EST
I found a copy of the May 30 conference call

I can not verify it's accuracy, URL

This is a direct McBride quote: "Last fall we set on a course to go down
the path of enforcing our rights in this Unix business."

Incidentally, doesn't this remind of you of SCO's Red Hat story, oh we had a
great phone call, then they suddenly sued us:

McBride: Here is what was surprising, David. We had a meeting
scheduled with Novell's executives, in this case their vice chairman,
Chris Stone, who said that he was going to come over and take a look at
the.... He had called the week before and said, you know, "what's going

about the source code you're claiming is inside Linux?" And we said
"hey, come on over and we'll be glad to show those to you". And so
set up a time, the time was set for 11:00 on Tuesday. Tuesday came and
went, or actually, 11:00 came and went, they didn't show up. The
secretary called back and said, "Hey, did you ever talk to Chris?",
haven't talked to Chris yet, we're still waiting. And then later on
that evening we found out that Chris had been busy putting a statement
together saying we need to have Novell, that Novell was demanding that
SCO step up and show us the code. So that was the part that was a
little bit surprising. On the day that we were supposed to be showing
them the code, we were set to do that. The other part that was a little
bit dissapointing was the feedback that I had received later that Novell
had in fact timed the, their announcement to coincide with our earnings
release on Wednesday morning to try and screw that up.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Trade secret article
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 03:02 AM EST
"a weapon for the defense when trade secret plaintiffs fail to designate trade secrets with the requisite specificity"

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Good find - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 04:18 AM EST
    • Good find - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 05:33 AM EST
Google IPO
Authored by: geoff lane on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 03:14 AM EST
It's reported that any Google IPO would value the company anywhere between $15 and $20 billion.

Even if only 10% of the company were sold, this would release a huge amount of cash to reward the original Google backers (such as Stanford University and VC firms Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital) plus allow Google to fund new services.

More worrying for Microsoft would be the existance of a strong company that effectively controlled access to the Internet (if you can't find it you can't access it.)

Much as software patents are abused, Google needs theirs to protect themselves from MS just spending huge amounts of money to buy the search business out from under Google by duplicating the indexing model.

In the future the problems with micro-payments may be solved. I for one would be happy to be charged one cent per search for Google quality results. At the current access rate (approx 200M searches/day) that would be $730 MILLION revenue a year!! With that kind of potential, a Google with money in the bank could well be the one company with the incentive and the technological savvy to develop and deploy a workable micro-payments scheme.

That would be a situation that would really scare Microsoft.

[Totally off topic - I'm sitting here watching an unhappy client shooting at his lawyer on TV news. He keeps missing. My emotions are totally conflicted :-)]

[ Reply to This | # ]

MSN handpicks results for popular searches
Authored by: raph on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 03:48 AM EST
I've been looking at search engine results for some time (it overlaps with my
thesis work, which I should be writing up instead of spending my time reading
Groklaw :). It's been pretty clear to me for some months that MSN search
results for popular queries are handpicked.

I don't think this fact involves any intentional wrongdoing on the part of MSN.
That said, it does bring about great temptation for abuse. Google attracts its
fair share of criticism too, but it's manipulation (er,
"hand-tuning") of search results is considerably less heavy-handed.

The main issue is that popular search keywords are the juicy target of
unscrupulous Search Engine Optimizers (SEO's), the Web equivalent of spammers.
These guys will do whatever it takes to get their pages placed, including
"cloaking" (giving different results to search engines than the
actual page contents), fooling relevance scores by generating lots of random
text with the search keywords embedded, scooping up expired domains, and having
large networks of sites (usually with many different domains), each linking each
other. Unfortunately, these techniques are effective even against Google, much
less sites without the same sophistication of relevance ranking.

A few months ago, I used the test query "virgins". About half of the
Google links were high-quality (vestal virgins, virgin records, etc), and half
were SEO'd. The same query on a crude, old-tech search engine such as Lycos was
basically all SEO'd. A reasonable conclusion is that search engines have to do
something in response to SEO's, or their response to popular queries will be
entirely overrun. And, since then, I've seen the SEO's get more and more
effective in getting to the top of Google's rankings (try a search on
"pokemon snes" and you'll see what I mean).

At the time, MSN stood out, because all of the results were high-quality,
including a striking number of religious-oriented sites designed to encourage
teens to stay virgins. My conclusion then, and I stand by it, is that the
results were simply hand-picked. There's simply no way an automated
web-crawling search process would come up with exactly that set of results.

So do I agree with the idea of hand-picked results? I'm not sure. You do have
to admit that it's an effective technique. Indeed, the results can easily be
much better than those produced by automated techniques. The question is: how do
we know that these hand-picked lists are fair, complete, up-to-date, and so on?
The process that MSN uses does not inspire much confidence - there is
essentially no accountability. In particular, hit #4 appears to be a paid link,
with no identification as such.

At heart, I think this issue touches on the same basic debate between free and
proprietary software, and between traditional media and new forms of
Internet-based journalism. Which is better: a large corporation acting in the
role of (hopefully) benevolent dictator, or a wild, wooly process emerging from
the participation of thousands (or millions) of people around the globe, almost
impossible for someone who is not part of the culture to understand? My
preference is obvious, but it's not hard to see how other people will choose

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Nov. 1
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 05:46 AM EST
It's Nov. 1 East coast US... Yes still there at 5:46 AM

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Noddy question/suggestion for PJ - What happened to SCOs response to IBM by the 24/10?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 05:48 AM EST
Sorry I'm getting a bit lost - IADNALTG (I am definately not a lawyer thank
God!) .

SCO won a motion to extend the time to respond to IBM by the 24th. They don't
seem to have filed anything but were they supposed to? (i.e. merely sent it to
IBM so we don't see it).

So would the third request by IBM indicate that they failed to do so or that IBM
thinks what they got was insufficient. I am thinking that it must be the latter
because there is IBM's Motion to Compel floating around (how does that fit in

I was wondering whether the timeline sections could be accompanied by a simple
summary of the action so far for the young and innocent.

My simple understanding is that as part of the legal process there is a lot of
game-playing (e.g. putting forward apparantly idiotic defences just in case it
may have a bearing on the case in the future rather than seriously relying on
them). This generates a lot of interesting comment but the main points get

In the discussion on the search engine issue, a good point was made about
visitors seeing a side of the SCO case other than FUD from the press and hence
PJ should cncentrate on SCO not MS. The point was wrong from the aim of GROKLAW
but correct from a 'wood from the trees' aspect.

Given the large amount of work put in (which is much appreciated), it seems a
shame it gets buried.



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SCO - FSF faceoff on GPL
Authored by: tcranbrook on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 09:46 AM EST
Some enlightenment on SCO's strategy to attack the GPL. AS Lao Tzu would say,
understanding your enemy's thinking is the first step to defeating him.

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Why People Bash Microsoft
Authored by: whig on Saturday, November 01 2003 @ 03:59 PM EST

I don't think most people who bash Microsoft really know, cognitively, why they do it. But there is a social dynamic in effect that causes people to resent, and therefore attack, what they cannot quite understand.

Most people imagine that the United States is a democracy. Others will correct them and say, no, it is a republic. Both of these are really a statement of expectation, not actual fact.

The US is in truth a plutocracy. Firstly, the freedom of the press is only truly open to those who can afford to publish. The emergence of mass media in the 20th century further centralized the primary means of communication in a small number of corporate hands. That person or corporation with the most power, in economic terms, can "speak" with the greatest volume.

The internet has lowered the barrier to communication, and is the leading edge of the revolution (see, it's not being televised, is it?) in terms of giving a greater and increasing voice to those with the greatest persuasiveness, rather than those with the most financial means to promote their message. What will hopefully emerge from this process is a totally new form of government, a meritocracy. In my opinion, music will be the greatest power. Some might suggest pornography will rule. Much of what goes for popular music today (given current media) is some combination of the two.

In the meantime, and returning to the subject of this journal entry, the company with the greatest financial clout in the world right now is Microsoft. Moreover, the company is controlled in large part by a single man, William Gates III. What he says Microsoft will publish, they will publish. When he wants to back a candidate for office, he can ensure that candidate will have the full power of the press behind him.

I am not trying to say that Gates is a bad man, only that he is a man who controls the largest share of the liquid assets which confer power. There are many other wealthy individuals and families, some of whom probably resent Gates. His power is counterbalanced by the old money still very capable of exercising their power.

If my thesis is right, and this is a plutocratic system, then Gates is nominally the king, with no hereditary right of succession as such, unless he can prolong his wealth into the next generation.

Thus the GNU project, and associated free software and open source projects, originally aimed at AT&T, has become a loaded gun pointed at the king himself.

Here's the important thing to note about the SCO case: if we win, and I cannot stress enough how confident I am that we will, we demonstrate that we are already stronger than the king's first soldier.

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MS Complaints, Google, and a Search Engine Mystery
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 02 2003 @ 01:32 AM EST
Looksmart, I think, includes more than one type of listing. Only some of which
are paid for. I'm think Zeal and maybe some legacy listings from they were not
pay per click. Looksmart may (or may not) also include paid listings from
non-Looksmart sources in their search page - however these might not be passed
on to MSN, MSN would have a direct relationship with the provider of those

MSN probably includes only the paid Looksmart listings.

I'm not exactly sure, but the point is, it's complicated, because most search
engines are meta search engines (combining multiple result sets), and which
results set they use at any point in time, or country version, varies even
within a single search engine.

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