The difference between sour grapes and just complaining about something that sucks

Interesting NYT front-pager pushing a Google-is-the-new-Microsoft thesis that I think is totally wrong.

Gary Rivlin cites two reasons why Silicon Valley is down on Google: (1) Google is moving into too many markets, which makes life worse for anyone else who wants a slice; (2) Google is hiring all the good programmers, driving up salaries.

I'm not denying that people complain about Google along those lines -- I've heard them do it myself. But when you examine them, the two points add up to sour grapes: I want a piece of the [local search/messaging/whatever] market, but Google is competing for it! And they've got money and skills! How am I supposed to compete with that? In any industry without a gold-rush mentality, this would be laughed off the court.

So how is this different from the Microsoft-bashing that's been a feature of the industry for decades? The complaints about Microsoft certainly include the two cited above, but they're supplemented and legitimized by a couple of others: (3) Microsoft makes crappy software; (4) Microsoft uses its desktop monopoly to establish its crappy software as standard, preventing superior products from getting a foothold and forcing programmers to work within the ugly, clumsy, bloated Windows framework.

In other words, programmers (as opposed to entrepreneurs) hated Microsoft because it made the software environment massively worse. Google is making the environment better. (Just three examples: (a) Remember pre-Google search engines? (b) Try comparing Google's web apps, like Google Maps and Gmail, with competitors like Mapquest and Hotmail. (c) Most telling of all: right below the jump of Rivlin's article is a piece on Google's new IM software, which uses the open-source Jabber standard. For Microsoft to do that would be a 180-degree reversal of their business model.)

To sum up, here's one programmer's take on Google and Microsoft:

Google is much more dangerous to Microsoft than Netscape was. Probably more dangerous than any other company has ever been. Not least because they're determined to fight. On their job listing page, they say that one of their "core values'' is "Don't be evil.'' From a company selling soybean oil or mining equipment, such a statement would merely be eccentric. But I think all of us in the computer world recognize who that is a declaration of war on.