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Leaked Gates Memo Highlights Perceived Threat From Google

An email from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and a related memo from Ray Ozzie, one of the software giant's three chief technology officers, have been leaked onto the Web. The documents are kicking off intense interest in the company's apparent internal discussions about missed opportunities in the wake of Google's success.

The Ozzie memo, and Gates's email, can be found on Dave Winer's blog.

"While we continue to make good progress on many fronts, a set of very strong and determined competitors is laser-focused on Internet services and service-enabled software," Ozzie wrote in the memo directed at Microsoft's executive staff. He then singled out several rivals, Google in particular.

"Google is obviously the most visible here, although given the hype level it is difficult to ascertain which of their myriad initiatives are simply adjuncts intended to drive scale for their advertising business, or which might ultimately grow to substantively challenge our offerings," he continued. "We knew search would be important, but through Google’s focus they’ve gained a tremendously strong position."

The Microsoft-Google rivalry certainly isn't news -- the recent Microsoft launch of its Windows Live and Office Live services were seen as direct response to Web-based, service-oriented vendors like Google -- but Ozzie's comments were the most specific to date on the threat Microsoft sees in the search leader.

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