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Google is the technology company that is doing with its insanely brilliant engineers, smooth cash flow and cult status amongst techies and finanacial markets alike what Microsoft should have been doing for atleast ten years now. Though I've admired Microsoft for its strengths I've also often felt they could have done far more in computer science research and technical innovation than they have, juxtapose IE against Mozilla FireFox and you'll know what I mean. Comparing MS's achievements with the initiatives undertaken by Google puts this in perspective, consider this,

Google has taken the last 10 years of systems software research out of university labs, and built their own proprietary, production quality system. What is this platform that Google is building? It's a distributed computing platform that can manage web-scale datasets on 100,000 node server clusters. It includes a petabyte, distributed, fault tolerant filesystem, distributed RPC code, probably network shared memory and process migration. And a datacenter management system which lets a handful of ops engineers effectively run 100,000 servers. Any of these projects could be the sole focus of a startup.

From this post on the weblog, via Illruminations.
Two people I've known at USC, who, in my judgement and experience with them, are extremely smart and have had GPAs of 4.0 made it only half way through the Google interview process which, by the way, inspires even more awe and dread than that of Microsoft's. Google has a finger in a lot of pies besides just search, including comparison shopping, news, targeted advertising, blogging, the recently announced mail beta and even what's being called social networking, through Orkut, which as of now is merely a project by a Google employee but could end up as a critical arm of the internet search company.

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