Microsoft vs Google: Tale of the tape

As Microsoft and Google go toe-to-toe in more and more areas, we look at how the two tech giants line up today.

Microsoft is one of the biggest brands in the world, but not necessarily the best loved. Staid nerd Bill Gates stepped away from the firm he founded last year, leaving zany Steve Ballmer in charge if nothing else, it's made Microsoft announcements more interesting to watch.

In fact, the Redmond giant has had a decent year when it comes to marketing. It recently topped the Superbrands poll in the UK, coming in ahead of even Google. The firm has benefited from a series of well-reviewed products, namely new search tool Bing and the soon-to-be-released Windows 7.

On top of that, Microsoft has run a series of rather insane adverts. While they often seem pointless and a bit batty, they do make the giant firm seem a bit more human. Microsoft, funny? Who woulda thunk it?

Google has generally had a good reputation. It's previously topped that Superbrands poll, but slipped to third this year. Its "do no evil" mantra, paired with the innovative stuff it releases, have won the hearts and minds of techies the world over. But Google has been hit with scandal, notable privacy concerns surrounding the Street View release in the UK, and even been the target of angry politicians. It used to be the young upstart, but it's increasingly looking like a middle-aged suit these days.

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Microsoft is struggling to seem more human, while Google needs to watch it doesn't come off as an evil corporate entity. While Microsoft is improving, it's still Microsoft. Advantage: Google

Money

Results for Microsoft made the tech industry realise the recession isn't over yet. The most recent results for the company showed it had sold fewer copies of Windows than the previous year for the first time in its history and shares plummeted by eight per cent. However it still made a $3.1 billion profit so, with the release of Windows 7 later in the year, there is definite room for money making back in the near future.

Google, on the other hand, brought a shining light onto a bleak horizon for tech companies, with its recent results. Its revenue reached $5.52 billion, up three per cent from last year, despite the recession with 13 per cent coming from the UK.

Google is topping the money stakes for this recent quarter but Microsoft is the old player compared to Google's new pretender status. One bad quarter for the world's biggest software company does not put it to bed so Google best enjoy the superior place while it lasts. Advantage: Google

The verdict

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It's not an easy pick. On paper, our eight areas were split between the two firms. Microsoft is clearly leading in documents, operating systems, browsers and enterprise, but Google has firm hold of search, mobile, branding and money.

That said, Microsoft is challenging Google in search, while Google's browser really is far superiour, even if it doesn't have market share. And while Google has more cash coming in, Microsoft has a wider reach with install base.

Where this fight goes depends on us - if we all move more and more of our computing work online, Google has the lead. If we stick to our desktops, Microsoft has it.

If we had to place a bet, our money would be on Google to inch ahead a bit more; in five years, we'd see it picking up at least one more of these categories. But it's a tough call, as Microsoft tends to put up a solid fight, and isn't going to go away anytime soon. This battle is going to continue for some time...

But as both sides fight on, it's us on the sidelines who will benefit, as the two firms push each other to do better, to innovate to try to win our support. No matter how the battle ends, that's something to cheer about.

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