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Microsoft likens Google to knucklehead, then changes its mind

A blog post, critical of Google Apps and written by a senior product manager at Microsoft, appears, and then disappears. But why?

It seems that Microsoft might think of Google in such aggressive terms these days. At least, not the Redmond hierarchy. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Microsoft is like America.

Who are its friends? Who are its enemies? Sometimes, they're the same people.

We watch Microsoft's ads and see it denigrate Apple. At the same time, the company is posting images from a video that happily features MacBooks.

And one always thought that Redmond considered Google to be Beelzebub's dribbling child. Who could forget the gloriously gauche Scroogled campaign?

Now, though, even that's uncertain. Yesterday, the company's blog hosted a post written by Tim Carroll, a senior product manager on its Office 365 team. Currently, the post can only be read on a Google cache.

Its headline was "Google Apps brings families together." Its text was a little less Christmassy. In it, Carroll wrote of his knucklehead son and said he tells this dear knucklehead that he "sounds like Google."

He wrote: "What've I got against Google? Nothing. Not Google at large, the company itself is pretty great in a lot of ways, but Google Apps for work, yeah, I take issue there: I'm philosophically opposed to mediocrity. So I sit my boy down at his laptop to demonstrate the difference between Google Apps and Office 365."

There's evidence that Microsoft took issue with Carroll's lyricism. His post has disappeared. Microsoft offered me this explanation: "The blog post was not properly vetted and has been removed. It was not a reflection of Microsoft views nor in keeping with the tone of how we communicate with our customers."

The company wouldn't be drawn on what the vetting procedures normally are. However, some of its displeasure may be related to this -- perhaps fictional -- exchange with his son presented by Carroll:

Never mind, I'll bet some of your classmates like Google Apps just fine, right?"

"Yeah, they think it's really easy."

"Kind of like sign language."

"Yeah, maybe I should've stuck with Spanish."

Perhaps the comparison with sign language was felt to be more than a touch heavy-handed.

It's instructive that the Scroogled ads have been retired since Satya Nadella took over as CEO. Try going to the old and you are diverted to a very friendly entity called "Why Microsoft."

This does include a page critical of Google Apps. The language, however, is straight from the School of Accountants' Diplomacy.

For example: "While Google Apps for Work leaves workloads unsupported and its terms compromise data privacy, Office 365 delivers the productivity capabilities you need and safeguards you can trust."

Perhaps the fact that Carroll's post appeared at all reflects a certain tension within Microsoft, where the old guard still rails at the ramparts and spits blood, while the battalions of the new smile sweetly and herald a new sunny morning at Microsoft.

It wouldn't be surprising. Some, though, will probably miss the old, combative, slightly curmudgeonly Redmond.

This Mister Oh-So-Nice act might be a little more naturally West Coast, but will it lift souls and spirits?

(Via Business Insider)