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This article was published on November 23, 2009

Microsoft, Don’t You Dare

Microsoft, Don’t You Dare
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]


Surely you heard the news that Microsoft is contemplating a deal with News Corp to pay the news giant to pull itself from Google.

Bing, of course, would still be able to spider News Corp properties, giving Bing a major competitive advantage.

From myself, and the rest of the internet community: Microsoft, you must not do this.

Doing so would set a precedent that content should charge search engines for the right to be spidered. What you are doing is just that, attempting to buy exclusive rights to News Corp online. This is the proverbial slippery slope.

Openness is one of the most important concepts on the internet. If you create content, it is searchable. Google brought this revolution, and made the internet not just live up to its potential, but made it useable. Pre-functioning search, the internet was just an idea with potential. Search unlocked the dragon, in the best way possible.

By beginning to close search, by hitting other engines with a dollar-war, you, Microsoft, are going to destroy the open internet. If News Corp wants to not play, fine. Let them leave. They will suffer more than they are supposing. But by paying to get an exclusive, you are tearing the fabric of the free exchange of content and ideas that the internet stands on.

What is next? Once News Corp is bought and paid for, what is to stop Google from opening its wallet and buying exclusive access to half the internet, effectively killing Bing? They have the market share to bludgeon enough publishers into making that happen.

You are creating not just a rod for your own back, but for the whole internet.

Am I going to have to think, “well, I need that article. I wonder which search engine has paid for the rights to find it?” That is the future that you are painting. And, with Bing still being so new (but full of promise), you lack the clout to win this war.

Just don’t Microsoft, in the short-term it makes a splash, doesn’t cost too much, and gives Bing a shot in the arm. But look at the larger picture. I make you  a small promise, do this, and watch a boycott of Bing start the next day. Think about it.

Image via ICanHazCheezburger.

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