It didn't end there. Microsoft and Google then took this fight to Twitter, where Microsoft uber-flack Frank Shaw claimed "Google had employees log onto ms customer feedback system and send results to Microsoft."
To which Google engineer Matt Cutts replied: "Normal people call that 'IE8'." Oh, snap.
Shaw's riposte: "Hey, if this whole engineering thing doesn't work out for you, try PR – you've got the chops for it." Oh double snap!
Google's Singhal told Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan that while Microsoft's alleged theft of Google search results may not be illegal, it sure ain't kosher:
It's cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work. I don't know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it's like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line.
I can totally see that. Or maybe a horse race is a better example -- a sweaty Ballmer riding Larry Page like an orangutan on the back of a Shetland pony.
Out on Quora, former Google search engineer Edmond Lau weighs in, saying essentially that yes, Bing copied Google, but so what? It's what a smart search engine would do. And as ZDnet's Larry Dignan points out, it's not like Google wasn't aping the iPhone when it built Android, or Overture when it developed AdSense. In the tech world, imitation trumps innovation 9 times out of 10.
Still, there's a fine line between imitation and outright theft. I don't know if anyone can "own" a search result, but if anybody could it would be Google. In the meantime, it's fun to sit back and watch them claw at each other.
Do you care if Microsoft Bing does its thing with G strings attached? Weigh in below or email me: email@example.com.
This article, "Microsoft Bing: Powered by Google?" was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Track the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.