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Gates Disses Google

Microsoft chairman Bill GatesBefore last week's Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates downplayed his company's beef with Google. "I hear they're coming out with a robot that will cook hamburgers, too," he joked during an interview with The Associated Press before the show.

IBM is Microsoft's biggest rival, Gates insisted. But Google still may be Microsoft's biggest threat. Google and Microsoft really don't compete, unless you count MSN's nascent search aspirations. But as Google improves its ad-supported software and services, Microsoft Office users will have more online productivity application options to explore, to the detriment of Microsoft's bottom line.

With rampant rumors that Google plans to introduce low-cost computing and media-distribution hardware for the home--rumors Google denies--it's hard to believe Microsoft is fixated on the next Lotus Notes release. As for the possibility that Google is planning hamburger-cooking hardware, it's unlikely--that's what all those searing-hot servers in its data centers are for.

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