Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/09/07/microsoft_google/

'China has f*cked us' - Bill Gates

MS infighting tickled PRC Govt, alleges Google defector

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Media, 7th September 2005 22:50 GMT

Microsoft's internal politics - the slipping roadmaps, the meetings about meetings about meetings, and the lack of even a coherent medium-term strategy - are more than just a tech industry soap opera. They're a source of amusement for the Chinese Government, a departing Microsoft exec has alleged.

It's Dr Kai-Fu Lee, the former head of Microsoft's Chinese Labs and now a Google employee, who's at the center of an employment dispute between the two companies. After Google recruited Lee, Microsoft sued, claiming Lee was breaching his contract. Google has countersued Microsoft, in a writ so theatrical it may have been written by Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Just as the Cold War Superpowers fought their wars by proxy, this court battle has been a sideshow. We've looked in vain for glimmers of strategy from either side. If Google plans to reduce Windows to a poorly debugged device driver layer, as Netscape once hoped, or if Microsoft plans an end-run 'round Google's advertising franchising, we're none the wiser. But at least the trivia has been entertaining.

Gates himself said Microsoft has been "fucked" by the Chinese government and the Chinese people, according to Lee, without elaborating how.

We can speculate. Not all CEOs realize that the PRC makes it almost impossible to repatriate capital from China. And China's determination to pursue Linux, for reasons of autonomy and the ability to control its own destiny, has provided an obstacle to Microsoft's continuing growth.

"I wasn't sure if it was a sign of ignorance or a sign of insult," said Lee yesterday. Lee says that "unethical" behavior drove him from Microsoft.

"People in the government joke about Microsoft's internal politics," the AP reports Lee writing in an internal Microsoft memo.

The former Microsoft executive did outline some specific problems. Microsoft had 20 autonomous business groups in China. Although in video testimony, Steve Ballmer insisted the company had a "secret sauce" for doing business in China.

According to another Google defector, Ballmer had broke a chair and vowed to "fucking kill Google".

It's all very silly. Microsoft has a PC operating system monopoly and Google has a lucrative advertising engine - and nothing on the horizon is going to change either fact. They look as snug as two bugs in a rug. Does anyone believe a word of this charade?®