Google and Microsoft: The Twinning Is Evident

June 10, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Google and Microsoft have some interesting similarities. Both companies wish they could emulate one another’s most successful products. Microsoft wants search and advertising revenue. Google wants a chokehold on the corporate market for software and services. The senior executives have similar high school academic training. Both companies have oodles of legal processes with more on the horizo9n. Both companies are terminating with extreme prejudice employees. Both companies seem to have some trust issues. You get the idea.


Some neural malfunctions occur when one get too big and enjoys the finer things in life like not working on management tasks with diligence. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough

Google and Microsoft are essentially morphing into mirrors of one another. Is that a positive? From an MBA / bean counter point of view, absolutely. There are some disadvantages, but they are minor ones; for example, interesting quasi-monopoly pricing options, sucking the air from the room for certain types of start ups, and having the power of a couple of nation-states. What could go wrong? (Just check out everyday life. Clues are abundant.)

How about management methods which do not work very well. I want to cite two examples.

Google is scaling back its AI search plans after the summary feature told people to eat glue. How do I, recently dubbed scary grandpa cyber by an officer at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference in Wilmington, North Carolina, last week? The answer is that I read “Google Is Scaling Back Its AI Search Plans after the Summary Feature Told People to Eat Glue.” This is a good example of the minimum viable product not be minimal enough and certainly not viable. The write up says:

Reid [a Google wizard] wrote that the company already had systems in place to not show AI-generated news or health-related results. She said harmful results that encouraged people to smoke while pregnant or leave their dogs in cars were “faked screenshots.” The list of changes is the latest example of the Big Tech giant launching an AI product and circling back with restrictions after things get messy.

What a remarkable tactic. Blame the “users” and reducing the exposure of the online ad giant’s technological prowess. I think these two tactics illustrate the growing gulf between “leadership” and the poorly managed lower level geniuses who toil at Googzilla’s side.

I noted a weird parallel with Microsoft illustrating a similar disconnect between the Microsoft’s carpetland dwellers and those working in the weird disconnected buildings on the Campus. This disaster of a minimum viable product or MVP was rolled out with much fanfare at one of Microsoft’s many, hard-to-differentiate conferences. The idea was one I heard about decades ago. The individual with whom I associate the idea once worked at Bellcore (one of the spin offs of Bell Labs after Judge Green created the telecommunications wonderland we enjoy today. The idea is a surveillance dream come true — at least for law enforcement and intelligence professionals. MSFT software captures images of a users screen, converts the bitmap to text, and helpfully makes it searchable. The brilliant Softie allegedly suggested in “When Asked about Windows Recall Privacy Concerns, Microsoft Researcher Gives Non-Answer

Microsoft’s Recall feature is being universally slammed for the privacy implications that come from screenshotting everything you do on a computer. However, at least one person seems to think the concerns are overblown. Unsurprisingly, it’s Microsoft Research’s chief scientist, who didn’t really give an answer when asked about Recall’s negative points.

Then what did a senior super manager do? Answer: Back track like crazy. Here’s the passage:

Even before making Recall available to customers, we have heard a clear signal that we can make it easier for people to choose to enable Recall on their Copilot+ PC and improve privacy and security safeguards. With that in mind we are announcing updates that will go into effect before Recall (preview) ships to customers on June 18.

The decision could have been made by a member of the Google leadership team. Heck, may the two companies’ senior leadership are on a mystical brain wave and think the same thoughts. Which is the evil twin? I will leave that to you to ponder.

Several observations are warranted:

  • For large, world-affecting companies, senior managers are simply out of touch with [a] their product development teams and [b] their “users.”
  • The outfits may be Wall Street darlings, but are their other considerations to weigh?The companies have been sufficiently large their communication neurons are no longer reliable. The messages they emit are double speak at best and PR speak at their worst.
  • The management controls are not working. One can delegate when one knows those in other parts of the organization make good decisions. What’s evident is that a lack of control, commitment to on point research, and good judgment illustrate a breakdown of the nervous system of these companies.

Net net: What’s ahead? More of the same dysfunction perhaps?

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2024


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