“Don’t be evil” are the opening words of Google’s corporate code.
When it was framed in the late 1990s there was one company in particular everyone in the tech industry thought of when the word ‘evil’ was being used.
At the time Microsoft defined evil in the technology industry. The main reason was their crushing of real or potential competitors like Netscape, Java or the troubled IBM joint venture of OS/2.
Topping everything though was Microsoft’s tactic of fake error messages designed to scare customers away from the competing DR-DOS system in the early 1990s.
So it’s rather delicious that Microsoft seems to be getting a taste of its own medicine twenty years later as Google Maps returns an error message on Windows Phones.
This is particularly galling for Microsoft as Windows Phone is essential for the company’s resurgence and, as Apple have learned, maps are a critical feature for smart phone users.
It’s too early to accuse Google of having become evil as Microsoft did during their period of dominance as Tim Wu discusses in Why Does Everyone Think Google Beat The FTC but the search giant is flexing its muscles on many fronts.
For Microsoft, they are learning what life’s like when you’re not the toughest, meanest kid on the block.
Karma can be a real bitch.