if you have nothing to hide...

| 204 Comments
If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines -- including Google -- do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.

That was Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, telling you exactly what he thinks about your privacy. There is no ambiguity, no "out of context" here. Watch the video.

And here's how you can easily switch Firefox's search from Google to Bing. (Yes, Bing does have a better privacy policy than Google.)

204 Comments

Thank you Mr.Dotzler!

I saw Inside the Mind of Google on CNBC. It was great.
Search is just one aspect though. I'm sure that most people don't realize that Google retains your emails and every other thing when they use Gmail, and other Google services. But what do we all do at this point, stop using Google's services? Isn't it kind of too late? Are there better alternatives (besides MS ones)?

I really don't care for Bing at all and very I'm surprised that you're promoting the use of a Microsoft product. Aside from me personally disliking MS, Bing just doesn't offer or provide what I need or expect from a search provider.

Back to the Bing endorsement. Why would you promote it knowing that revenues from it goes to Microsoft that in part goes into the IE marketing war chest and to further MS's efforts to sustain global computing domination? And why would you a person that has credibility and influence with and over tens of thousands of people suggest that people stop using Google in the Fx search box especially when the use of that generates income for Mozilla? I don't understand.

Years ago I stop using shortcuts to Google and other means of accessing its search and started using it from the search box (up until then, I had removed the search box entirely) primarily to support Mozilla. If by chance I do click on an ad, and/or buy something that all stemmed from a Google Fx search, I wanted to be sure that Mozilla got something out of it. Does Mozilla have a deal with Bing?

I have to admit that I'm dumbfounded here Asa.

Here's a nice Bing search for IE users.
Mozilla Firefox Free Download

First result seen
download·IE8.MSN.com
Download the New, Optimized Version of Internet Explorer for Free Now!

Same search from Google.com
Download Mozilla Firefox
www.Mozilla.com/Firefox Get the Latest Version of Firefox. Safer, More Secure, & Customizable.

Ya I know about ads and all, but why do any favors at all for MS.

I like that you are honest even when it doesn't profit you to be. That's rare.

Ken, maybe Asa is trying to give a genuine perspective based on sound rationale, rather than one run through a filter to protect the bottom line. Don't people usually despise that kind of corporate wankery? Don't people blast Microsoft for doing those things?

How can you maintain the credibility of your word, if everyone knows that your motives are ulterior and those words deceptive?

Having said that, I don't much like Bing. I'm interested in results and content from real webpages, not how to find an organization's homepage.

Great post Asa! I've been concerned about Google's incredible power and reach. I think they've been great for the marketplace and are helping to drive innovations out of Microsoft as well. Red flags popped up everywhere when Google started pitching users to use their DNS software for DNS queries. Now google doesn't only want to know what you search, what you email to your friends, but also wants to know exactly what sites you visit. Then they'll use that info to pigenhold you into a type of online user and bombard you with ads at every site you visit.

As far as Bing is concerned. I think you'd be more surprised. For example that first guy was all wrong... here are the correct results for his search example: http://tinyurl.com/yj9kepa That first link is exactly the same as googles. Or better yet just see the results side-by-side: http://www.bingandgoogle.com/bing_google.php?q=Mozilla+Firefox+Free+Download

imho I like the look and feel of Bings results and for about 90% of the general searches I will use Bing.com first. If I don't find a random or obscure search on bing then I'll try google second.

I think since Microsoft after going through all those regulatory problems, anti-trust issues, and EU lawsuits, they are behaving nicer to consumers and to IT Industry. Google is starting to get a bit arrogant and might need a couple lawsuits of it's own to keep it in check. Perhaps they are indexing too much information.

Ken, here are some answers to your questions.

"But what do we all do at this point, stop using Google's services? Isn't it kind of too late? Are there better alternatives (besides MS ones)? "

I have. I've moved from Google Docs to Zoho, from Google Search to Bing, and from Gmail to my own email hosting plus my work email hosting. I'm still using Google Maps because I haven't investigated the alternatives yet and I'm still using YouTube on occasion but I'd love to move to a site that supports Open Video when that becomes possible.

"Aside from me personally disliking MS, Bing just doesn't offer or provide what I need or expect from a search provider."

I find the general search results almost as good and the image search results far far better. In about one out of ten searches with Bing I have to do a re-search to find what I'm looking for. I almost never had to do that with Google, maybe one in thirty. Still, I think it's worth it.

"Why would you promote it knowing that revenues from it goes to Microsoft that in part goes into the IE marketing war chest and to further MS's efforts to sustain global computing domination"

This is tricky. I actually don't mind money going to IE. There were five or six years when no money was going to IE and those years sucked. That they're making it better and taking it seriously is a huge win. I expect IE 9 to join the modern browsers in terms of speed and most standards.

But I think that the browser is not the only area on the Web where competition matters. Search and social activities need competition too and right now Google has little competition so they can do what they want and we're supposed to just accept it. Bing could bring much needed competition to the search market and, as we know, competition is good for users.

"And why would you a person that has credibility and influence with and over tens of thousands of people suggest that people stop using Google in the Fx search box especially when the use of that generates income for Mozilla?"

Mozilla generates revenue from several search partners. Should I have suggested Yahoo instead of Bing because Yahoo pays Mozilla for search traffic like Google does? (Actually, Yahoo is soon to be just a branded Bing, anyway.) I think Bing is the second best search service in terms of search results and far better than Google in terms of user privacy. I think they're a fine second choice to Google and I think Mozilla should consider adding them to Firefox and generating some revenue there.

But in the end, it's about the user experience of the Web, not about the money. I think that Bing's privacy policy is much better than Google's and that's a critical part of the user experience. I personally think that it's worth giving up money to give users a better and safer experience of the Web.

Do you disagree with that?

"If by chance I do click on an ad, and/or buy something that all stemmed from a Google Fx search, I wanted to be sure that Mozilla got something out of it. Does Mozilla have a deal with Bing?"

Me too. But Yahoo would work just as well. No, we don't have a deal with Bing, but I'd personally like to see us make one. My preference would be to replace Yahoo with Bing since Yahoo is now just Bing with a Y! logo anyway (Yahoo has exited the search business and outsourced that to Microsoft) and do a deal with Microsoft instead. Today Yahoo's privacy policy is also better than Google's. Either one is fine, but I think Bing is just more direct and honest since Yahoo is just Bing by a different name.

"why do any favors at all for MS."

Because search is broken like browsers were broken in 2002. No competition means that Google can do what ever it wants and you have to like it. Bing's search is pretty good, in the US at least, and their privacy policy is so much better (they don't, for example, connect your Microsoft email or office accounts with your search results like Google does so search data they collect isn't personally identifiable.)

But actually, Asa, how is Bing's privacy policy better, exactly? It seems like they are doing everything Google does, but the policy is shorter, and more informal, which actually impels me to want to not use it.

The world has gone completely insane when you can truthfully and accurately say that Microsoft has more respect for users than Google.

If the CEO of Google is going to promote a viewpoint identical to what you'd hear from the dictators that have enslaved all of North Korea, then I refuse to have anything to do with that company. Google.com is now in my hosts file.

Ah, timing.

Asa said, "they don't, for example, connect your Microsoft email or office accounts with your search results like Google does so search data they collect isn't personally identifiable."

This seems to be more by happenstance than by policy. If these applications were web apps, in line with the movement a significant portion of the Mozilla community is championing, this wouldn't be the case.

Colby, one very very important way that Bing's policy is better is that they don't connect your search traffic with your Microsoft accounts (email, office, etc.) That means they're not storing personally identifiable search data which Google does.

Rooker, I'm not comparing companies. I'm comparing privacy policies of search services. Google's search service has a privacy policy that has always scared me some and now that I see what their CEO thinks about my privacy, it scares me a lot more. Bing's privacy policy never scared me and their search results are getting pretty good in the US.

Thanks for bringing this to our notice.

I have already moved my default from Google to Bing. I will no more be using google products considering their arrogant attitude. Their end to end stack from Chrome OS to DNS is the last thing that i wanted.
Google was good as search but their recent 'we want it all' attitude is scary knowing they have no experience and commitment towards users.

I am sure if there is any Google service running hidden on my pc it is tracking me as I write this (google says its important to make their products better, at cost of my privacy?) and they may even trace me n torture me some day for writing against them like they did with CNET news website in 2006 (http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/05/technology/google_cnet/).

Happy to have players like MS finally step in the search competition!

Colby, they are web apps. Microsoft Live Mail, Microsoft Office Web, MSN, MSN Games, MSNBC, Microsoft Money, etc. etc. Microsoft has a strict wall between your login to those services and your search data they store.

I left off a few. Windows Live SkyDrive, Windows Live Calendar, Office Live, Microsoft Spaces, Groups, Photos, etc. etc. Microsoft has as many or more online properties and web apps as Google. Microsoft has an intentional policy of not connecting those to your search data while Google has a policy of building up the richest possible profile of you by combining what they know from all of those accounts and services and storing that very personal and very identifiable information for a very long time.

I was sort of OK with that policy because I thought Google cared deeply about protecting my privacy. Now that I see what their CEO really thinks of my privacy, that policy is no longer acceptable to me.

Use AltaVista!

Why Bing, which does not have an absolute privacy policy?

You should check out Ixquick and its privacy policy, which you can see posted on their site here: https://ixquick.com/eng/protect-privacy.html. I already use it from my Firefox search window.

Bing is getting better day by day.. with yahoo next week, it will be really good for both advertisers and users.. so why so much depend on Google now!
Time for a change now...

Bing is getting better day by day.. with yahoo next year, it will be really good for both advertisers and users.. so why so much depend on Google now!
Time for a change now...

Time to move on to Bing..

I think we desperately need an open, distributed, peer-to-peer web index.

Meanwhile, Zuula is an excellent common interface to the various search engines.

Bing is still far far inferior to Google in terms of search results. When I search a software with bing, it always returns a plethora of links pointing to some software download, instead of information sites. Really, when I'm searching about Firefox, I'm not that interested in getting dozens of download links pointing to different versions of Firefox ranging from Firefox 2.0.0.20 to 3.0.15 to 3.5.5, and Bing seems to think those links are more important than recent news and info about Firefox.

@Jwke222
"that first guy was all wrong... here are the correct results for his search example"
Those searches were made on Bing using IE8, not Firefox.
"Here's a nice Bing search for IE users"
Promoting the use of Bing is like promoting the use of IE imo. The only circumstance where I do that is if I can't convince an IE6 user to use Firefox, I tell them to at least upgrade to IE8.

Asa thanks a lot for the detailed responses.

I totally understand why competition is important and good for us all whether it pertains to computing or selling peanut butter and especially as an advocate for Mozilla, but I don't see Microsoft as the one who should be counted on or even trusted to be the great equalizer in this situation.

If they can't make Bing successful and legitimately competitive with Google on their own considering their funds and reach to do so, well then that's just going to be something else that they suck at like trying to get people to upgrade from their broken ass browser or trying to stop people from increasingly migrating to Mac, and Google, and alternative media services, office and email apps etc, etc.

I didn't realize how uncaring and unscrupulous Microsoft was until I heard the other side of things from Mozilla and the open source world, and 5 years later I haven't seen them change a damn thing so I have no intentions on providing support to them in any way, for anything that they produce (I'm seriously counting on Fedora to liberate me). And also MS certainly doesn't lack funds for IE development.

Now I agree that Google is screwing up and badly, but I would much rather focus my energies on creating noise for Google to change their ways than to just jump ship just yet.
Posts with such high visibility such as yours plus a consensus from others and media outlets to pressure Google could bring change. They're going to have to or people will flock to Bing and others. Imagine the stories. Mozilla's Asa Dotzler believes that Google doesn't respect your privacy and recommends using Bing. That should create a snowball effect.
While that is factual, a call for Google to change their practices would be a better way to go imo unless you've given up all hope for Google and you may have much more insight and reason to than I.

The scenario became the enemy of my enemy but who exactly is the enemy now?
The only real solution would be to create or support an existing neutral party. Mozilla has done it successfully for browsers and there's OpenOffice.org and so on.

I see a lot of people jumping on the Bing wagon but there will be many people that revolt and won't simply because it's an MS product. I guess that times have changed so much that not as many people see or realize what a monster MS is as they used to.

For the record, I usually try out most new Internet technology products and services to have an understanding of what's out there, to be fair, and to be able to bitch with legitimacy. I gave Bing a fair chance as I did Chrome and everything else that I've tested so it isn't that I'm just a Firefox or Mozilla fanboy who hates MS, I'm first and foremost a consumer.

Whooh, a tricky topic.

First of all, I support that one should search for alternatives and that monopoly is not desired. That's how I even became part of Mozilla community anyway.

But other than that, I think that this is more Google vs Mozilla stuff and I guess that this is not the way to react on some events (like Google recruiting from Mozilla community, and some changes I would not like to comment as Mozilla supporter) with somewhat flowed arguments. Google was also monopoly 5 years ago and landscape was very similar and no one said a word (and I explored Yahoo then).

If you are concerned with Google linking different accounts, you can use just Google search and not other services, and that way it won't be able to link to your accounts. You can even ban Firefox from storing Google cookies and Google will work.

I mostly agree with Schmidth on what he said. I can't think of situation how I would be in trouble if search engine revealed my data to government. It is a problem mostly for criminals. And I don't see how Microsoft wouldn't do it anyway - according to their policy they can still connect data indirectly, and they would do that if government requested.

This also reminds me on my standings towards Google DNS - I don't use it because it would just marginally improved my speed, and Google would get all data about sites that I visit. But it is not a matter of privacy - I wouldn't have problem if Google got these data (somebody has it anyway), but I just think it is not a fair trade and Google should give me more for that...

Ken, you said "I totally understand why competition is important and good for us all whether it pertains to computing or selling peanut butter and especially as an advocate for Mozilla, but I don't see Microsoft as the one who should be counted on or even trusted to be the great equalizer in this situation."

Who else is there? No one is even close. Yahoo gave up and outsourced search to Bing. Ask is pretty awful. There just isn't another general search provider that's got a prayer of taking on Google.

"Now I agree that Google is screwing up and badly, but I would much rather focus my energies on creating noise for Google to change their ways than to just jump ship just yet. "

They don't have any competition so they don't have any reason to change. They won't change unless a competitor forces them to change -- just like Firefox did to IE. IE is better now than it was in 2002 because Firefox challenged them. They didn't change before that and wouldn't have changed without that. It's the same situation here. Google will not change unless challenged.


Ivan, you said "I think that this is more Google vs Mozilla stuff and I guess that this is not the way to react on some events"

This isn't. This is my personal blog and when I realized that Google's CEO doesn't even understand what privacy means, I decided that I didn't want to trust them with my data. I looked to other services and Bing was the only one with a decent privacy policy and decent search results.

"If you are concerned with Google linking different accounts, you can use just Google search and not other services, and that way it won't be able to link to your accounts."

That doesn't work. They still hold onto your IP address, your search history, and anything they can get from cookies for way too long for no appreciable benefit except for them to better advertise to me. I prefer better search results to better ad targeting. Bing doesn't store as much so they can't give me better ads but the search results are solid for me.

"And I don't see how Microsoft wouldn't do it anyway - according to their policy they can still connect data indirectly, and they would do that if government requested."

Microsoft doesn't connect it to my name, my addressbook, my friends, my email address, my physical location, etc. Microsoft scrubs things like IP address immediately and stores the data for less time. It's not perfect but it is better and better is good.

I need to look into to it all more, but this is pretty impressive even though it's a metasearch provider.
http://us2.ixquick.com/eng/protect-privacy.html
Thanks Pete Cahan

As far as competition, it looks there's a need or room for another player and if an existing one can't jump on the opportunity to attract people that are concerned with Google's policies and increasing arrogance and domination and that don't like or want anything to do with a Microsoft product (the same Google reasons), then one needs to be created. Saying that one isn't possible because it wouldn't be as good as or couldn't compete with Google or MS would be pretty much the same thing as people saying that there's no way that a tiny nonprofit with a handful of people can take on Microsoft.
I don't believe in just settling for what's available or what else is. That's why I dumped IE, and most Yahoo services, and it's why I'm getting familiar with a new OS which is pretty damned courageous imo. I've been using Windows since Win95.

Look, I'm sure that Satan could help me out and heat things up on a brutally cold Winter's day, but I'd rather freeze and find warmth by other means than to get his help.
I'm not ready to dump Google altogether yet. The damage has already been done whatever that may entail or come back to haunt me. There hasn't been a great cover up about how Google handles data what it keeps and what it doesn't so I'm aware, I'm concerned, and I am investing other options, but I do keep in mind that I'd like to continue to give something more back to Google than just my searches for monkey porn and for now, it means giving my support even though I despise many to most Chrome users who take pleasure in trashing Firefox.

I'm not a mathematician but I'd have to say that probably 90% of the visitors that come to my sites are from Google and I'm very grateful for that. It's kind of the same reason why I try and offer support and participate in Mozilla related projects. I'm trying to give back. Although in the case of Mozilla, I believe in their principles and reasons for existing, I don't for Google.

The comment by Eric Schmidt was arrogant, reckless, careless, and outright asinine and I sincerely hope that it comes back to haunt him but I'm hopeful that Google will change but I'm also not stupid and the clock is ticking.

I don't know Asa, after just seeing an old Biography feature about Bill Gates on CNBC shortly after the Google one that only reinforced what I don't like about him or his company (or Steve's whatever), perhaps I'd throw my support behind anyone other than Microsoft.


Please carry on the good fight.

Google's arrogance knows no bounds.

The latest threat, for those who care to notice and understand, is the introduction of Google DNS.

He who controls DNS, controls the internet.

It should not be open to a dns cache operatior to return any result other than what has been fetched from the authoritative dns servers for a domain. By definition, only the authoritative servers can speak with authority for a domain, caches are only supposed to act as repeaters.

Thank you for your post ... the first thing I do in any new browser on my computer is to switch the default search to Bing (yes, on Chrome too ... the irony!). I'm glad to see a Mozillazine article promoting the same thing. Serously, Bing works great! The funny thing is other people's reactions to it, since Search=Google in so much of the public's mind. I overheard someone asking my brother what Bing was, and he said it was the newest version of Google! Come on, switch, and do all of your googling at Bing :)

If you're that worried about Google, here's a thought. Why don't you just make Bing one of the default choices in Firefox, rather than telling people to go get an add-on?

I raised this issue about a year ago, how Firefox doesn't absurdly include Bing. I mean, the most current version manages to decide that Twitter Search is essential, that Amazon search is, that Creative Commons is, that Yahoo gets a nod but still no Bing.

The deal with Google that primarily funds Firefox seems the main reason you've kept Bing out. You want to make a difference? You get Bing as a default. It's long overdue.

Last year, I wrote an article called "Hey Firefox – Let Us Pick Our Own Search Engine!" Bing it, you'll find it.

The point was that Firefox diligently has kept Microsoft out of its browser. Even today, when I look at the current version I use, Creative Commons and Twitter Search get a nod, but not Microsoft.

So you really believe that Google is bad and privacy is better with Bing? Then let's have a pledge that you'll work within Firefox to make Bing a default. Telling people they have to go out and manually find an add-on is absurd.

Of course, since Google funds virtually all of Mozilla -- and has a deal that makes them the default choice in Firefox (except for Asia, where Yahoo won), getting that change won't be so easy. But at the very least, Bing should be included. Go make it happen.

Asa,

I don't expect Mitchell to post offically on something like this to see community reaction on possible collaboration with Microsoft :)

And I am not sure whether we are reading the same policy here, but Bing clearly says that it collects IP addresses and cookies and stores them for 18 months before removing personal data, while Google only says that it keeps it for reasonable time that is best balance between privacy and their need for reasearch and regulation requirements. So, what's the difference concerning these data?

Now, as MS collects cookies from Windows Live service, it should be quite easy to link searches with Live accounts, just this is not stored at the same place and thus requires special authorization etc. But it should be possible.

And as I said, if you care so much about accounts, you don't have to open them to use those services.

But I don't mind collaborating with Microsoft anyway :). It can improve competitive landscape.

May I suggest Scroogle?
In their own words:
"An ad-free Google search proxy which prevents the searcher's data being stored by Google, a Firefox plugin, and tools for webmasters."
http://www.scroogle.org/
Obviously there is no cut for Mozilla either, but at least you're anonymous
Ariel

Asa Dotzler,

Use this addon:
Ghostery - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9609

It's protect: Google Analytics, Google Adsense & other advertising.

Hi Asa,

excellent! I think it is very important that people take a stance in this. Eric Schmidt made a dumb remark and clearly fails to understand what privacy is about. Its not about hiding things imo.

It is about freedom, choice. It is about the user being able to draw a line somewhere. Google provides great and free services, but what most fail to understand is that yo implicitly give up (some) of your privacy. This exchange needs to be an explicit one instead.

I wrote Eric Schmidt an open letter a few days ago asking him to take measures in that direction. It would make the web a better place for everyone.

http://vanelsas.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/an-open-letter-to-eric-schmidt/

Why the move to Bing. http://ixquick.com is the only search engine that's really concerned about privacy (and proves it). But the core of the message is clear. Thanks!

I have a better idea: how about I ditch Firefox for Chrome?

The idea that you would suggest that people support Microsoft-- over PRIVACY CONCERNS no less-- makes me want to gag. I've donated money and time to Mozilla over the years. That's all over now. Have fun with the evil empire.

"Because search is broken like browsers were broken in 2002."

If that were true there would be better search alternatives to Google, there aren't.

Brand familiarity aside, it's hard to argue it's broken when no.1 still provides the most relevant results. I've ended up using Bing on other people's computers as it made itself the default without the user wanting it to be (grrrrrr) and almost every time I've searched I've been sorely disappointed with the results and run straight over to Google and got exactly what I wanted from the same search.

Microsoft has a track record of becoming lazy when they're a monopoly, Google does not, I would struggle to ever seriously support Microsoft products again.

Yeah, right, Microsofr is all about better and fair competition, so let's support them! FFS! They will compete as long as Google is ahead, later, as Bing becomes leader, they will hardwire it somehow to Windows/IE and both Firefox and Google will cry to EU for monopolist behaviour. Yes, Google is making money on ads, so will have always more ads from Google then from Bing. OTOH, there is _NO_ known case of Google providing personal data of customers to 3rd parties, unless when legaly demanded (obviously). MS is making money from SW and fact their SW and infrastructure being never compatible with anything else. So using Bing is helping them achive their ultimate goal: crating MS Internet built right into MS Windows using MSIE. Only reason this is not case as of _yet_ is that MS was late with usable browser and Internet search. Now, they have both, so expect more hardwiring of MS users to MS Internet.

ixquick is certainly better than Bing. Has a FF add-on too.

http://ixquick.com/eng/protect-privacy.html -> Add Ixquick to your Browser

I hate to say it but the problem with Bing is it's utterly reliant on the url rather than say... How many people link to a site (an indication of it's real-world importance) or it's content (and indication of it's relevence).

I'm not Microsoft hater but until Microsoft can put together a search engine that actually works - most people, including me are going to stick with Google.

It is absolutely right to draw attention to this stuff but actually working and finding usable content rather than say, spam, when you're trying to get work done takes priority over all other considerations unfortunately.

Ridiculous statement by Ggl CEO. Not everyone in the world is a USA native and certainly not subject to the 'patriot act'. Privacy matters, hence the laws to protect it.

Switching to Bing now, thanks for the tip!

@ken yeah you are right about the news thingy: http://www.nu.nl/internet/2142065/kopstuk-mozilla-haalt-google.html

The feel of the article is as if Mozilla should be angry at Asa...

I do agree on an open en free internet, I also agree that the search "war" could be more opened. It will be an important issue in the cloud computing thingies to keep the privacy clear and understandable (thus with icon like CC does)...

This whole Microsoft vs. the Forces of Good debate never ceases to amaze me.

Know some history, integrate the information, and see the big picture.

I was at Microsoft early on. At that time, Microsoft played second fiddle to Lotus, Wordperfect and Novell, and there was a nascent war brewing with IBM over next generation operating systems (NT vs OS/2).

People don't realize that Microsoft has as much and more cred as any company in this industry, and it's run and staffed by good people. It is not an Evil Empire.

In 1988, I had a poster on my (Ivy League)college dorm wall from Microsoft (before they hit a billion in sales) that was all about "hard core software." Microsoft built itself by attracting the best talent to the Seattle area to build personal computer operating systems and applications. Apple was really the only competitor. Otherwise, you were going to end up at IBM, Sun, DEC, Apple, Oracle or Andersen consulting (et al). If you really wanted to Change the World by creating Great Software for People at that time, your only real choices were Apple or Microsoft.

Important thing to realize: at this time, there were probably less than 1000 people in the world who were smart enough to write an OS. Those people were divided between Microsoft, Apple, Sun, DEC and IBM. The company with the most talent was going to win.

Fast forward. Apple hires John Sculley from Pepsi. Sculley's claim to fame will be that he dumbed down perfectly good fast food chains like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in an effort to market his crappy second-rate Cola.

Sculley ousted Jobs, and spent a decade beating off, trying to market computers as if they were sugar water, and pissing away Apple's commanding lead in the personal computer OS space.

Steve Jobs started Next, which would have trounced everyone if he could understand the difference between a hardware and software company, which he still can't. (I shouldn't say that. He has a hard-on for great hardware, and more power to him. But it's really hobbled Apple's potential as a software company).

Jobs took pretty much all of Apple's top-tier software talent with him to Next.

Jean-Louis Gassee took pretty much all of Apple's 2nd tier talent with him to Be.

(I know I'm generalizing here, and I'm really, really sorry if I offend individuals who lived through it. I hope you can see the fundamental truths I'm trying to express.)

This basically left Apple's QA staff to build the operating systems. An outside observer could see it happening. It was like the original Mac ROMs built by Wozniak were the magic crystals that none of the apprentice wizards dared touch. Sculley turned a beautiful thing into a decade(++)-long clu5t3r f**k by driving talent out of the company.

At some point during those times, Apple employees learned on NPR on the way to work that Apple and IBM had formed an alliance to build a next generation operating system (Bing: Taligent). My friend in Microsoft HR that day said "our fax machine runneth over." (With Apple resumes). That day marked the ignominious end of Apple's hapless struggle to deliver quality software, which sinking ship only righted upon Jobs' triumphant return.

Meanwhile in the applications space... Lotus 123 owns spreadsheets. WordPerfect owns word processing. Novell owns networking. Note that Novell and WordPerfect are both from Utah, represented by Senator Orin Hatch. IBM owns the overall PC space, though they've made a critical error outsourcing their OS to Microsoft with no exclusivity. They failed to anticipate "clean room" BIOS implementations. Much to their dismay.

Microsoft releases Excel for Windows 1.1, and also Mac. Excel on Mac propels Apple's adoption in the business world. One can actually make a fairly reasonable argument that Apple would not exist without Microsoft Excel / Office applications for Mac.

Microsoft Word is second to WordPerfect. Excel is second to Lotus 123. Peer networking for PCs is expensive and in its infancy, and Novell is the leader.

Things begin to change with the release of Windows 3.1, which has pretty good peer networking, and runs Excel and Word.

Meanwhile, strong public / private key encryption is becoming feasible on personal computers. The US and other governments regard this technology as a "munition" with national security implications since it hampers the ability of intelligence agencies to intercept communications. They still do, though they seem to have given up enforcement. (Bing: RSA munitions t-shirt).

The Clinton Adminstration (who I know lots of modern Firefox / Open Source types probably idolize, but whatever) is all about "key escrow" and other schemes which would enable the government to have a back door into encrypted systems. (Bing: Clipper Chip; CDA) Clinton was not your friend.

The spooks approached Microsoft during this time with the idea that Windows should implement features to make it easy for the government to come in through the back door. They were (and still are; see recent news regarding standard fees for government agencies seeking "private" information) accustomed to communications providers playing ball.

You know, For the Children. Because it Takes a Village. In a Village, everybody knows everybody's business. Right? Bill and Hillary are your friends and neighbors. You've nothing to fear. If you need that much privacy, maybe you should not be doing whatever you're doing.

Microsoft, being a bunch of libertarian capitalists with an eye for international sales, basically told them to go to hell. How do you sell your new OS into international markets when the US government has a back door key? Best not to go there.

The government has a problem now. How do you bring a company in Seattle, which seems to be staffed and run by a bunch of surprisingly wealthy, libertarian, dope-smoking geeks (real geeks, not California hippie posers), to heel?

Fast forward. Excel is trouncing 123. Word is trouncing WordPerfect (Utah). Windows for Workgroups is trouncing Novell (Utah). IBM spends billions on a crash program to build and ship OS/2 Warp. Nobody can install the damned thing. Denver's Stapleton airport baggage handling system is the poster child for Warp, and it pretty much crashes and burns. Epic Fail. NT wins.

Orin Hatch, Senator from Utah, sics the FTC on Microsoft for antitrust. After much deliberation FTC comes down on the side of Microsoft. Bill Clinton wins the presidency. There's a bit of hoopla about his support amongst young Bay Area tech entrepreners (prominent is Jim Barksdale of Netscape, the progenitor of y'alls beloved Mozilla / Firefox). Clinton appoints Janet Reno. One of her first moves it to re-open the Microsoft antitrust investigation under the auspices of the Justice Department. This is unprecedented. Orin Hatch (R, Utah) is right there cheering her on.

Payback for political support? You be the judge.

The Clinton Administration spent most of the 90's trying to break Microsoft into an applications and (more easily controllable) operating systems company. Maybe I'm a wild-eyed, tin-hat-wearing conpiracy theorist, but I suspect that back doors, encryption, and political payola had more than a little to do with that.

I really believe there was a concerted effort to paint Microsoft as the "Evil Empire" at this time, and it has stuck amongst people who regard themselves as intelligentsia, and it has no merit. If you think Microsoft is the Evil Empire, you are the dupe of a much larger propaganda campaign aimed squarely at your privacy, and driven by the fact that Microsoft is one of the only companies in this industry who has ever given two shakes for your privacy.

Fast Forward to present day. Eric Schmidt goes on record stating that maybe your personal privacy ain't that important, and maybe if you don't have anything to hide you have nothing to worry about. Everybody who cares about the relationship between government and citizen should understand that statements like this strike at the very core of liberty.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google has been around the block a couple of times:

From April 1997 to July 2001, Schmidt served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Novell Inc

You think he doesn't know the score? You think he would roll over before he'd be on the receiving end of a government inquisition? I think so.

Microsoft has been there and survived intact. They understand a few things. They know the parameters, and they also know the value of privacy to the consumer.

Can you trust Microsoft? Can you trust Google?

I know two things.

Microsoft is in business to make money, and they understand that they must provide a good product and win my trust. I can relate to that, and I know where I stand.

I also know not to turn my back on anyone who takes extra time to tell me about how good they are. As in, "don't be evil." If you feel the need to say that to me, I'm going to watch you like a hawk.

Also, Bing is easier to type. Which will save many millions of person-hours over the long haul, and probably save the planet from global warming.

To Ken Saunders:

I ran a search for "Mozilla Firefox Free Download" on bing (using firefox of course) and all ten results came up for firefox.

Did Microsoft see your post, panic and immediately rewrite their search algorithm?

It is just silly; if you are concerned about your privacy, then you should better consider a search engine that is not based in the US.

The US still has the Patriot Act, which forces US companies to divulge private information of the visitors to the US government. Both Google and Microsoft are affected, so Bing is not any different in terms of privacy.

In fact, Bing is such a bad search engine, that if you search for "Firefox free download", you get results full of trojan horses and other malware.

It saddens me that someone who works for Mozilla is so out of touch of reality, that cannot see a few steps further that such a post will be perceived in so many dull ways.

Asa has just become the newest Microsoft shill folks... And to think I spent many hours helping to spred FireFox and then for the people at Mozilla to turn around and suggest for their users to use Bing! Are you kidding me?

bahahahhaha. Bing? Bing's about as respectful of your privacy as facebook. The difference is bing can actually cost you money, due to the whole tracking cookies = higher costs on bing cashback websites.

Google has actually saved me money, with google voice I'm saving approximately $30/mo off my cellphone bill.

You are saying, based on a single non-official paragraph, that Google is more evil than Microsoft? Really? I don't buy it.

I've searched for "Mozilla Firefox Free Download" at Bing, and none of the top ten results belongs to Mozilla. One is the Wikipedia article, the rest is various ad-sites with domains like "mozilla-firefox-free-download.…". At least one promises exclusive membership, another promises that the download link will appear in an hour.

Congratulations for your position!

From bing's privacy policy:
"When you conduct a search, Microsoft will collect the search terms you provide, along with your IP address, the unique identifiers contained in the cookies, the time and date of your search, and your browser configuration. You can use your browser settings to remove or block cookies on your computer."

So they store who/where you are, just like Google. How much do I have to pay to get you to plug my site as a Firefox homepage next week?

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