Microsoft, Google to Battle for Geek Crown

As the industry war between Microsoft and Google begins to boil, representatives from the two companies plan to duke it out in less serious fashion at the upcoming Linuxworld show in San Francisco.

At the Golden Penguin Bowl, scheduled for Tuesday, August 8 at the Linuxworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, executives from Google and Microsoft will compete in a trivia game show, an annual event at the show that is often characterized by "funny costumes" and cheeky humor, said Dave Rosenberg, an independent marketing consultant in San Francisco who developed content for the conference and its Web site.

Geeks Versus Nerds

The description for the event on the Linuxworld Web site calls it a "wacky, geek trivia game" involving some "notable open-source personalities."

"Find out if the Geeks or the Nerds will be the next winners of the coveted Golden Penguin award," the site invites Linuxworld attendees.

Jeremy Allison, lead Samba developer at Novell, will host the bowl at this year's show. He told the IDG News Service that Bill Hilf, lead program manager and leader of the Linux/Open Source lab at Microsoft, will captain the Microsoft team, and Chris DiBona, Google's open source program manager, will lead the Google side.

Despite the heated market rivalry between the two companies participating in the competition, Allison said he plans to keep the program light. "I'll be having some fun with it," he said.

That sort of atmosphere is not reflective of the cutthroat business battle that is developing between the two vendors, however.

This Time It's Personal

Thursday at Microsoft's annual Financial Analyst Meeting in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer stepped up his rhetoric against Google and continued to promote Microsoft's aim to topple the Mountain View, California-based company not only in the search space, but also in Web site advertising dollars for its competing search and Internet services site, MSN.com.

"What do we want? More than anybody else has," Ballmer said, when asked by an analyst about Microsoft's goals against Google in these markets. "You might think it's a funny answer, but if you don't set the big, bold goal, the big ambition to be number one, you never get to be there."

Microsoft Thursday also won a small victory in its efforts to keep a former employee from performing his new job functions at Google when a King County Superior Court in Seattle granted a restraining order against Kai-Fu Lee that prevents him from engaging in competitive work at Google.

Microsoft sued both Google and Lee on Tuesday, July 19, after Lee, formerly corporate vice president of Microsoft's Natural Interactive Services Division, took a job with Google to spearhead new research and development efforts in China. The software giant alleges that Lee's employment at Google violates a noncompetition agreement signed when he was hired at Microsoft.

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