What's Google up to?

The search giant has poached another employee from a tech rival, this time a developer working...

The search giant has poached another employee from a tech rival, this time a developer working on Microsoft's next-generation graphics engine, Avalon.

Joe Beda, a 7-year Microsoft veteran, said on his Web log that Friday will be his last day at Microsoft before he heads to Google.

"It is just time in my career to try new things," Beda said in an e-mail. He declined to comment on his new role at Google, as did a company representative.

Google has been rumored to be working on a branded Web browser, an instant-messaging application and a thin-client operating system that would compete with Microsoft in areas beyond search. Employees of the search company recently filed a patent application for delivering ads to client-side applications that include a Web browser or browser plug-in. Techies have even discussed the idea of Google becoming a file storage system.

Microsoft last week announced it was shaking up its plans for Avalon, the company's new graphics and presentation engine. Avalon, which was originally tied to the next version of Windows, Longhorn, will now be offered also as an option for earlier versions of Windows.

Beda said that the changes are not what caused him to leave the software maker. "As a point of reference, I didn't find out about the Longhorn schedule shake-up until a few weeks after I started the whole (job interview) process," Beda said in his blog.

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