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Microsoft Looks At Other Search Engines 363

ZuperDee writes "It looks like Microsoft is now looking for another search engine to buy. They are looking at Ask Jeeves and Looksmart, but they recently dumped Looksmart, after deciding that its results don't stack up well. So would anyone be surprised if they bought Ask Jeeves? It can't hurt that according to Netcraft, they already run Microsoft IIS."
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Microsoft Looks At Other Search Engines

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  • by sahonen ( 680948 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:56PM (#7389944) Homepage Journal
    I don't know anyone who uses anything but Google anymore.
    • by BadCable ( 721457 ) <> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:58PM (#7389973) Journal
      There was also a time once when people said "But does anyone use anything but Netscape nowdays anyway?"
    • Anyone who uses the Explore! bar to search, for one.
    • The real question is will anyone use Google once MS integrates their newly acquired search engine into the OS and breaks Google functionality in future releases of IE?
      • The real question is will anyone use Google once MS integrates their newly acquired search engine into the OS and breaks Google functionality in future releases of IE?

        While I wouldn't put it past MS to cheat by breaking functionality of another application (*cough* Netscape *cough*), I think it'd be pretty obvious if they tried to do it to Google.

        How would you break Google functionality? By corrupting IE's CGI support? That'd be pretty obvious (as well as damning to other sites).

        While I wouldn't undere

      • uhm MS already has their search engine integrated into the OS yet everyone seems to forget

        open IE and press the search button, see that page on the left [] ? thats MSN search (complete with encrypted scripts to prevent you from looking at whatever evil they are up to, why else would you encrypt your javascript even though Joe user isnt likly to view source on a page that prohibits right click ?)

        Ok now open a folder in explorer and type a word in the address bar, and hey presto you are redirected again to MSN []
    • If you have your own site, you might want to try Kartoo [], its different and its cool! :)

      (And yeah, it sure as hell is geeky and slick)
      • Kartoo is nifty! (Score:2, Informative)

        by Thud457 ( 234763 )
        Kartoo is helpful when you're not having luck with the obvious google searches. You can start with a more broader search, and then use the results it brings up to refine you search. Errr, just go play with it, and you'll see.
    • I use Altavista for translation and Yahoo for maps.

      Google's still got competition, more or less.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know anyone who uses anything but Google anymore.

      I was using Verisign's Sitefinder for a little bit there but all you guys bitched up a storm and they shut it down. Boo hoo. :-)

  • what will default in IE when you mistype a URL?

    I use win2k and stay away from XP so I don't have any idea if they have done something like that with it or not, so forgive my ignorance.

  • Ahhh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by FunkDaddy ( 556594 )
    "Innovation" through assimilation.
    • "Innovation" through assimilation.

      This isn't the first time an organization has conquered the world without any significant original ideas. Conquest is a skill unto itself. Often those skilled at conquest are poor at innovation, and vice versa. Just think of all the engineers who have gotten screwed by selling the rights to world-changing inventions for next to nothing. On the other side, hell, think of the Roman empire -- they basically stole all their good ideas from the Greeks. Can you name a sing
  • BS based on rumors (Score:5, Informative)

    by melted ( 227442 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:58PM (#7389963) Homepage
    Come on folks, RTFA. The article is just a bunch of rumors carefully worded to sound believable.
    • Yeah. Any your point is? This is /. you know.
    • "Come on folks, RTFA. The article is just a bunch of rumors carefully worded to sound believable."

      What about that disqualifies it as a Slashdot story?
    • by kawika ( 87069 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @06:03PM (#7390567)
      If they are trying to read tea leaves, they focused on the wrong part of the story. MS doesn't need the best search engine. Many MSN subscribers will use the search engine they are given. They want a way to make MONEY off search engines. That's what an Overture exec brings, experience with how to do pay-per-click placements in a search engine.

      This is particularly important now that Overture is a wholly owned part of Yahoo. It is also important because Overture has partnered with Gator (er, Claria []) to pop Overture ads by snooping on users who are using other search engines like Google.

      If you want to talk about scary, think what would happen if Microsoft put a Gator-like ad engine in Longhorn and tied it to their own home grown pay-per-click search engine. Come to think of it, every day at the computer would be like watching a Nascar race. All those pretty logos.
    • Well, it is well known that MS is heavily interested in search technology. Since we're talking about rumors and speculation, here's a bit of mine:

      MS isn't stupid, it knows the desktop is a stagnant market. I think they'd want a search engine for, and heavily optimize it for:

      -The XBox 2 (Slogan: "Your television is now on the internet")

      -Partnership with Comcast, Verizon, etc, as your TV/cable service is soon to be "interactive" and "internet enabled"
      -Every portable, wireless, or non-desktop device that ha

  • Simple to use search engine for a simple to use OS. Not that rate any of them that highly.
  • Tip to MS (Score:5, Funny)

    by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:58PM (#7389968) Homepage
    Try this. []
  • Jeeves (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:58PM (#7389969)
    Should Microsoft buy Ask Jeeves?
    Why not? No one else uses us.
  • Geez, how about buying a search engine that WORKS? I can't find shit on Radio Shack since their search engine was powered by Ask Jeeves.
  • Yea, I can see how you'd go from Google to Ask Jeeves. Maybe they'd be better off with this []
  • by Superfreaker ( 581067 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:59PM (#7389985) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why they need to buy an engine. It may be shortsighted of me, but building one would probably cost less and could be done failry quickly.

    I built a small one and there only seems to be two major components of a search engine service (yes I realize this is very simplistic). The spidering of content (done with sheer horespower) and an indexing and the search algorithm. Seems fairly straightforward to me. What I learned was that the algorithm and indexing was not the problem but the processing power needed to spider the entire net efficiently.

    • No offense, but what you did is equivalent to a kid building a Pine Wood Derby car and a mechanic building a custom car.
    • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe ( 550052 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:19PM (#7390202)
      That's a good question. Why would MS purchase any company since they have the horsepower to build anything that they want?

      I belive the answer lays more in "Who would MS be removing from the existing market?" MS seems more interested in elbowing their way to the table, whatever table that be, than they do in really creating something new. When they do this, they remove the competition and become the defacto leader. Where have we seen this behavior before?

      That seems to be their strategy overall. Simply wait until a new technology starts to catch on, and after the first movers have failed, then swoop in and purchase up everything that's left, forcing their way to "innovator" status....who's gonna say that they are not?...all those companies have been assimilated.

      I'm pleased that google rebuffed them.... I can't imagine MS doing better than Google. They can't under-cut Google on price either!....I think that the only avenue they have open is to force their own site as the default for IE. That would be another anti-trust violation, and easy for even dumb judges to spot as obvious.

      Their options seem pretty limited now, purchase a second rate search engine or develop on their own. Either way, "it's going to be a long hard slog" as Donald Rumsfield would say.
    • Keep in mind that buying a search engine brings with it the set of users that patronize it. Of course this assumes that any changes related to an acquisition don't create a mass exodus of users.
    • and at that a brand name unrelated to them might be far more worth than a really good search engine made in house.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't understand why they need to buy an engine. It may be shortsighted of me, but building one would probably cost less and could be done failry quickly.

      They tried this. I have been contacted no less than three times over the past year by headhunters from Microsoft looking for somebody to architect a new search engine for them. Given the timespan it would seem that they aren't having much luck finding qualified people. I told them to bugger off myself because I wouldn't want to work for Microsoft

    • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether@tru 7 h .org> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:25PM (#7390269) Homepage
      > It may be shortsighted of me, but building one
      > would probably cost less and could be done failry
      > quickly.

      Building one wouldn't remove a potential competitor though. ;)

      If you can get a search engine AND make it easier to dominate the market, AND the price difference between the two is within reason.. why not just assimilate someone?

    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:25PM (#7390270) Journal
      Bandwidth and processing power are a barrier to entry for little guys, but they're not rocket science, and if you can throw money at those problems, they'll go away. That leaves you with a high-powered useless search engine, which can respond to any queries it gets by showing you the 100,000 hits it found in no particularly useful order. You also left out a third major component to a search engine service, which is a business model.

      The reason Google rocks is that Pagerank does a half-decent job of understanding what pages to show people in what order based on their queries, and that's because of a lot of Deep Thought and Experimentation by the Google folks. Another reason they're pleasant to use is that Google doesn't waste page space on clutter - other than a friendly low-res non-animated logo at the top, it's basically just a box for your query, a few links to extra features, and your answers when they come back. (Remember Hotbot, the Wired MegaCluttery Singing Dancing Search Engine?) The initial core of the PageRank algorithm was pretty simple - the concept was that if people build links to a page, it's probably interesting to them, and if lots of people build links to a page, it's more likely to be very interesting than a page that not many people bother linking to. Getting much beyond that is where the Rocket Science happens, and also where they run into occasional algorithm clashes (e.g. Blogger as an edge case), and into conflicts with site promoters who take sites that aren't inherently interesting and try to get Google to rank it higher by trying to put in features Google's robots look for rather than by putting in content that actual people find interesting. (Remember that Search King guy with the link farms?)

    • Well, Microsoft wouldn't want to build a search engine because all the good algorithms are patented.

      If they can't own or steal the IP, Microsoft isn't interested. This has always been their business practice.

      ::Colz Grigor

    • I'm a software developer and I hear managers saying this sort of stuff all the time. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing rings true on many an occasion.

      A simple search engine is simple to create. If it has one user, it only has to contend with one user. Hell, you could even write in VB or Delphi and plug it into a lovely Access database.

      Try scaling your search engine up to thousands or millions of users and millions of pages and see if it still holds up. I'm sure you may come across the con
      • They already have one. It sucks. It's sucked since I first saw it in IIS 2. It's been completely rewritten at least three times and it still doesn't work. The results are crap and MS knows it. Hell you can't even search the MS database with their own product. If you run the same search internally vs. google you actually find usefull articles with the google search.
        They went after the best and google told them to shove it. Now they're looking to see what else they can swoop up.
    • No way.

      Yes, I agree that the two major components of a search engine are hardware and the algorithm, but hardware is the easy part, IMHO. Think about it. Google simply throws away broken hardware instead of trying to fix it, that's how cheap it is. And on balance, how much hardware do you really need? A cluster of supercheap computers doesn't sound like a tall order. They don't even have to be really, 100% reliable. With the dot com crash, there are tons of empty buildings designed to do nothing but hold v
  • If they buy Ask Jeeves, they'll be buying the one 'search engine' that's actually LESS useful then MSN search. Honestly, it's a poor man's Alltheweb metasearch, and the only interesting pre-defined question it's able to answer is Is Jeeves gay? []
  • by supun ( 613105 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:00PM (#7390006)
    find / -name \* -exec grep -i -n $QUERY {} /dev/null \;
  • ... is more in line with Clippy & his pals. Ask Jeeves would be a better fit for Microsoft that most of the alternatives just based on this "aesthetic" consideration...
  • Business Philosophy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dlosey ( 688472 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:03PM (#7390031)
    Most businesses in today's market are trying to retract into their core product. Microsoft is doing the opposite and trying to branch out into as many markets as possible(again). IMHO this may not be the best business approach for them.

    Sometimes it is better to focus on one thing and make a killing at it. Instead they are making a little profit here, a little profit there.. I guess it keeps the government off your back for being an OS monopoly, though. But do they really think that is a problem as Apple and RedHat stock and market share keep rising?
  • Probably about 4 or 5 years back? They were trying to decide whether they wanted to become a technology company selling natural language query stuff... or whether they wanted to become a search engine/portal that was so popular at that time...

    Odd company, never use their site... I think they only exist for a takeover bid.

  • Let's get realistic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by segment ( 695309 )

    I love Google, but realistically speaking, it sounds as if investors are setting themselves up for another Dot com bust. There is no way on the planet Google is worth 1 billion US dollars. Sure they provide an excellent service, but to think that it's worth anything more than a couple of million is a farce.

    Google has around US$700-million in annual revenues, and it makes about US$100-million a year in profits. Google is growing better than 20% every 12 months. source []

    They (Google) should have taken what

    • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:23PM (#7390243) Journal
      I think you are looking it at it differently.

      Imagine what would happen if Google were to vanish tomorrow. It would drastically reduce productivity of organizations the world over, and not necessarily those that are related to computers.

      Today, Google is almost a crutch for a lot of people. Right from Universities to workplaces, its almost like the defacto tool. Don't know an answer? Can't find something? Google it.

      Are companies willing to let this happen? Sure, you have a million other search engines. But it sure as hell would hurt (and hurt badly) if Google were to go.

      This is something that could be leveraged to investors' benefit> Here you have, a *very* large chunk of the Internet being dependent on *one* tool. Who's willing to make sure that it does not go away? Think about it.

      • Imagine what would happen if Google were to vanish tomorrow. It would drastically reduce productivity of organizations the world over, and not necessarily those that are related to computers.

        Same has been said about dozens of other companies, and that argument is null0. You're taking it to the extreme. Sure Google is fine, but their are other alternatives. People will bitch and moan but life will go on.

        Today, Google is almost a crutch for a lot of people. Right from Universities to workplaces, its almo

    • Ummmmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

      The source you cited:

      Google has around US$700-million in annual revenues, and it makes about US$100-million a year in profits. Google is growing better than 20% every 12.

      If that's correct, then Google is worth a lot more than $1 billion. Nitpick: And this is finance, not economics.

      But yeah, that Buffet guy not only picks great stocks, he makes a mean marguerita.
  • by PissingInTheWind ( 573929 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:03PM (#7390038)
    Maybe it's possible that Microsoft will somewhat partially involves itself in a potential business
    relation that would certainly prove to be something undeterminate with uncertain effect on
    search engines and potentially the internet.

    I'm not sure, though.
  • ... why don't they just make one themselves?
  • by ZuperDee ( 161571 ) <zuperdee@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:07PM (#7390080) Homepage Journal
    I think I should also point out that Ask Jeeves also own Teoma [], which is absolutely nothing to be sneezed at.

    Not only that, but Microsoft has a world-class research arm with Microsoft Research []. With Microsoft Research's world-class research, and Microsoft's deep pockets, you can bet that any improvements Teoma would need to compete with Google WILL be made.
    • And that would be great for everyone. Google will not sit still either, so we should expect to see better and better search capabilites from both camps. Real competition. Gee, what a thought. Or has someone already patented it as a business process?
  • it smacks of unfairness to me that a company can leverage its desktop monopoly to buy technology/experience/credibility in a market that it can't penetrate on its own. i understand that many rich companies do it - so this isn't isolated to MS. it just seems that with MS, their strategy of purchase, integrate, become more powerful is inherently unfair.

    someone needs to take MS to court for antitrust. oh wait.... ;)
  • They use the CYC AI database thecnology so that you can ask a question in plain english..(much better than all the over "dumb" search engines combined). I find that the Ask search engine is better at finding stuff that the dumber search engines are not capable of remotely gettin close too. As far as microsoft buying them, I am not too exitied about that company owning more things in the whole universe, it's bad enough that 98% of all computers runs their crap OS's, and that they spend all their time cons
  • Maybe they want Taoma [] which was hyped as using techniques similar to google but seems to be pretty limited by the fact that it seems like the only way to get your site listed is to pay them.
  • for some reason... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mantera ( 685223 )

    I think it's something other than a search engine that they have in mind, for which they need the search engine technology as a component, but i'm not entirely sure what that is. Their recent announcement that they're going to use IBM's PowerPC chips instead of intel for their next generation xbox makes their purchase of VirtualPC's connectix more than just a strategic takeover to threaten apple, as it'll enable them to emulate intel on the powerPC so their next Xbox will be backward compatible with curren
  • by yellowstone ( 62484 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:28PM (#7390292) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft already has a search facility for msn []. They already have their own research arm [].

    I can see why they'd want Google (name recognition + superior software technology). But why would they go after a who-dat like Looksmart? Has it really gotten to the point where 'innovation' in Redmond means 'wait for someone else to invent, then by them out'?

  • by geekwench ( 644364 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:29PM (#7390298)
    If this is an attempt by Microsoft to keep Google's price low, and maybe cripple their IPO; well, it wouldn't be the first time that Gates & Co. played dirty. If it's an attempt to create a pump-and-dump stock inflation, then this is bad news for any potential investors who aren't knowledgable about MS's corporate history (and don't know where to look for the information. Hard as it is to believe around here, there are those for whom just checking e-mail is a serious challenge.)
    Even if this is nothing more than a collection of rumors, as has been postulated elsewhere, the mere possibility that a purchase like this could happen tends to make me think that another DoJ action is long overdue. Although it would be nice to see a decision -- and penalty -- with some teeth in it, this time.

    Here's hoping that someone at the FTC has the sense to say "You've got to be kidding..."

  • Damn. (Score:5, Funny)

    by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:31PM (#7390316) Homepage Journal
    I knew I should have registered -- I coulda made a mint!
  • Google: Mom!! Microsoft is looking at me again!!
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:38PM (#7390376) Homepage

    First of all, Google is something different. 75% of web referrals come from it. 75%.

    This is sort of sad in one interesting way -- The Internet Archive is complete. Without the State of Google at any given time, the archive is incomplete. Archiving the state of Google...

    Now that's a hard problem.

    Google's success did come from their ease of use and their several-order-of-magnitude improvement over their predecessors (Altavista, mainly, but Hotbot too). The Google challenge really was incredible -- "Put in what you're looking for. It'll be one of the top links. Be as obscure as you want." And they won the challenge.

    I'm Feeling Lucky really is an amusingly cocky creation -- "our top link is likely enough to be the right one that we don't even need to show you a list."

    It works.

    Anyway, adoption was driven by the order of magnitude improvement, and is now very hard to clone -- going from 10 to 1000 is easier than 1000 to 1000000, by far. It's not enough to be equal - - you need to be better, at a degree than is actually possible for search to provide.

    But once Google was adopted, it needed to stay in a position of power. Here's where the "niceness" of Google -- "don't do anything evil" -- won. Combine a Stanford Geek lackadasiacal attitude to all corrupting influences, no details about financial hardship, and massive street cred, and you get the snowball that brought us to 75% today.

    Google was even allowed to sell ad space, given the "reluctance" and "geekily targeted" (has anyone else made targeting not seem like a privacy violation?) nature of their system. It's very interesting the nature of identity for a particular behavior -- basically, we assign motive to all actions that we see, as a mechanism for predicting future behavior. Google has motives that align with our interests -- a high quality, stable, authoritative source for what we're looking for. So it gets away with things that...say...Microsoft can't.

    Microsoft would destroy the Google brand. They can't even donate money to schools without people thinking they're trying to brainwash kids! Meanwhile, Apple's been donating systems to grade schools since all of us were in them. The idea of a non-independent Google is fundamentally uninteresting, and really does create a new market segment:

    What Google Used To Be.

    Obviously, this is in nobody's interest, except maybe for other search engines. So shockingly enough, no sale.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • Memo to Microsoft ...

    I know you own a lot of stuff, so it may be simply lost in the pile somewhere... but, you already own a search engine! It's called MSN, and its search functionality is already incorporated in Internet Explorer, your widely used web browser, remember?

    If you can't pull decent marketshare with that setup, I doubt you'll be able to do it with another service!

  • by Iphtashu Fitz ( 263795 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:48PM (#7390463)
    but I have a hard time believing that they run it on the back end. In fact I just did a quick google search [] for and solaris and found a corporate Ask Jeeves website [] listing job openings. Most of their job openings actually sound a lot more like they're doing *nix development than Windoze development. Most of the *nix types of jobs are in Piscataway, NJ, which is where the company Teoma [] that they bought a few years back is located. So I'm guessing that they use IIS to make their pretty front ends but they use solaris and/or linux on the back end. I doubt Microsoft would like that fact if they really are interested in buying them!
  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:57PM (#7390535) Homepage Journal
    That may have made them one of the largest deployers of Linux out there.

    Ironic isnt it. Course I'd love for them to try getting all those google servers to run IIS
  • It seems that every time Microsoft is going to "innovate", all they do is buy something that someone else already came up with (and that someone else may have actually not even been the first) and then use their PR people to give is a shiny, happy, friendly name. Microsoft wants to knock Google out of the water and since they can't buy them, they are going to try and find the second best search engine and buy that instead. Then they will add the MS logo, a nice friendly face and add some new noob terminol
  • Netcraft confirms: *Microsoft is BYING
  • That's what they often do. Scores of Borland people went to Microsoft, for example.
  • One thing that's always amused me is how much easier it is to find Microsoft's own Knowledge Base articles using Google rathen than searching for them straign off the Microsoft Support web page. I can Google for Q303351 (just a random example that happenes to be on my clipboard this afternoon) and I always get what I want. It doesn't always work that way when I search Microsoft. Plus, MS has made their site non-IE hostile, and dumbed-down the knowledge base search interface, making it almost impossible t
  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @07:23PM (#7391152) Homepage Journal
    I love to see competition - Google has been a remarkably good company to its users, but there's no guarantee of that in the future. Having a competitive market in search engines could make sure that all engines do a good job for their customers.

    However, I worry about Microsoft entering the search engine market more than it has. I see a strong conflict of interest between providing good search results and shilling for their company and/or those who pay them.

    There's some evidence that Microsoft is already being tainted by this conflict of interest. On a lark, I went to and used their "Search the Web" option... and searched for information on Microsoft competitors. I found several cases where Microsoft's search engine gave higher priority to what would make Microsoft more money (as opposed to what the user probably wanted to see), such as Microsoft's official position on the matter:

    1. Open Source Software: Ignoring the paid-for links (which to their credit are specifically noted as such), the first few links were specific papers and things, several of which were frankly poor choices. The top ones included (huh?) and a South African consulting company. What's more interesting is that Microsoft's shared source page - their attempt to counter open source - exceeds the ranking of and the web sites. A searcher would usually want to first see the page that directly discussed the searched-for topic, not about a competitor that tries to do something different.
    2. free software only mentioned pages where "free" meant "gratis". The Free Software Foundation and GNU doesn't appear in the first 30 entries. Google, of course, returns the Free Software Foundation's as entry #1.
    3. Linux finds first Amazon (huh?), eBay (double huh?), and then an "Introducing Linux" paper at Microsoft's site,, followed by a Microsoft paper on how to transfer FROM Linux. Only after that do Linux papers from those who advocate Linux appear.
    4. database's first entry is a general site, but the #2 site is (Microsoft's SQL Server) and the #4 site is (Microsoft's Access). #3 is a general directory of vendors. Filemaker is #9, and the web sites of leading vendors Oracle, Sybase, and IBM (DB2), are merely #10, 11, and 12, again far after Microsoft's pages.

    This didn't happen all the time. Searches for specific company names ("Red Hat", "Oracle") did okay. But this happened often enough to make it appear that their search engine intentionally returns Microsoft's "message" first, even if it's not what the user wanted. It smacks dangerously close to censorship. This certainly raises the concern that the conflict of interest might impact what users could see; this suggests that this impact is already occurring. And conflict of interest is always something worth considering.

    If Microsoft was simply one of many search engines that might not matter, but there's a good chance they'd use their dominant desktop marketshare position to inhibit competition by other search engines. Look what Microsoft did with Netscape, integrating a product to make it difficult to use a competing product. Microsoft was convicted, but that conviction did not restore competition in the marketplace (or cause any other real change). If Microsoft became the near-dominant search engine, then this conflict of interest could result in people being unable to speak out or sell a competing product ... because there would be no way for people to learn of the dissent or an alternative product.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.