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Microsoft Jabs Google Over Business Products, Privacy Strategy

MSFT belittles Google business apps as a sideshow, plays on concerns about Google’s privacy policy plan


As Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) grapples with concerns over its privacy policy plan, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has decided the time is right to take a few swings at the search giant.

One jab has come in the form of an advertising video titled “Googlelighting,” a portmanteau of Google and “moonlighting” intended to suggest that Google’s software applications for businesses are sideshows to its search and advertising products.

In particular, the video targets Google Apps products that compete with Microsoft’s own Office products. Tom Rizzo, senior director of Office products, wrote an accompanying blog post in which the company brags about attracting 40% of the top 100 brands while, according to Gartner, only 0.5% of Google’s revenue comes from Google Apps for business, even five years after its launch. Gartner does point out in its analysis, however, that Google isn’t necessarily aiming to knock Microsoft off its business-software perch. Rather, it just wants to keep its competitors “off balance” enough to distract them from pursuing search technology.

The Microsoft blog post goes on to discuss privacy, with Rizzo claiming, “We store your data only for your use, while Google reserves the right to use your data.”

The jab refers to Google’s much-maligned Google privacy policy plan that was announced last month and is scheduled to go into effect next week. The plan, which would create a single policy covering all of the company’s dozens of services, has prompted the advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy to urge the Federal Trade Commission to stop Google from implementing the plan and to sue it for violating a settlement reached last year that bars the company from sharing user data without explicit permission.

Miscalculations, or calculated strategies?

Under the plan, collected data would be shared between Google services, such as YouTube and Gmail, instead of separated into individual silos. Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s vice president of corporate communications, wrote that his company takes “…a different approach – we work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both.”

Google responded by mentioning that Microsoft’s own privacy policy expressly states that “information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services.”

That counterpunch wasn’t as effective as it might have been, though, because another privacy issue involving Google came to light.

The search giant was caught using a coding workaround to track users of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari web browser on mobile devices. Google claimed that the tracking, done using a known flaw in Safari’s design, was merely an attempt to keep users connected with advertising and social networking features to which they had already consented.

Microsoft popped up again, accusing Google of using a similar workaround with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser. Google responded that Internet Explorer is using an outdated specification that most sites would have to work around simply to provide up-to-date Internet functions. In the end, Google’s take on the situation turned out to be correct.

The back and forth between the two companies is likely to continue for months—or at least until the fall launch of Windows 8. While there are valid points that Microsoft can make regarding Google’s shortcomings, Microsoft would do well to not look overeager to engage in a PR battle. Google has proven skilled at providing its own bad press lately; Microsoft doesn’t need to help out.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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