What Google wants is to condemn Microsoft to the electric chair

The dominant technology company of its day finds itself threatened by an upstart competitor that is seizing control of a powerful new network. Microsoft v Google? No, General Electric (GE) v Westinghouse. The continuing Yahoo takeover battle has pushed into public view a broader business conflict that’s been simmering for a couple of years. The internet giant Google has been chipping away at Microsoft’s hold on the personal computer industry, and Microsoft has been struggling to counter Google’s growing hold over our PCs.But this high-tech war is not without precedent. A similar fight between American industrial titans played out more than a century ago.In the 1880s, Thomas Edison’s GE ruled the rapidly growing US electricity industry. It supplied the parts and the plans, the hardware and the software that companies used to build their in-house generating stations. Edison’s direct current systems provided the power that brought factory machines to life and lit lamps across the country.But George Westinghouse had a different idea. Drawing on the inventions of Nikola Tesla, Westinghouse pioneered an alternating current (AC)network that allowed electricity to be served up by huge central power plants. Manufacturers could now just plug into the grid.

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