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Google has unceremoniously, and without comment, yanked its latest labs "project" after less than twenty four hours. In 'Google X' a software engineer had replaced the main text navigation bar on the Google home page with a Mac OS X-style dock. A row of eight icons zoomed and shrank as the mouse hovered over them, the row itself shuffling to make room for the expansion - exactly like Mac OS X's dock.

"Today is an amazing day," burbled software engineer Chikai Ohazama on the Google weblog. "It's fulfilling to have the opportunity to reach the audience we always dreamed of when we started Keyhole five years ago, and that by itself is absolute coolness," he continued.

"I hope all of you enjoy it - especially Mac users, who I'm sure will appreciate its lineage."

No, really.

In case anyone missed the Mac reference, a sickly reminder above the Google copyright notice read: "Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you."

Google's Dock homage

Unfortunately Apple legal doesn't quite see user interface clones as an 'homage', but as an excuse to start firing. Google's latest experiment had disappeared by mid-afternoon, Wednesday. Neither Apple nor Google offered any comment why the page had been pulled. Ohazama had described it as "a fun late-night coding jaunt to help me learn Javascript and DHTML."

Leaving only one very puzzling question unanswered.

Apple's litigious defense of its user interface look and feel - which goes back almost twenty years to Digital Research's DOS version of GEM, then its lawsuits against Microsoft and HP over Windows 2.03 and New Wave, right through to skinning sites who dare even post a screenshot of anything that looks like Mac OS X Aqua - is very widely known.

It's known even to remote hill tribes who only have brushing contact with the West. It's known to people who've awoken from 35 year comas. It's known to everyone, it seems, except the large company a few miles to the north in Mountain View. ®

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