Users of the popular search engine Google, today, were surprised and alarmed to find their familiar search page altered, almost beyond recognition.
"So, like, I was gonna do a search for Jessica Simpson and Butterball, just to see, you know, how high my site was getting on the list," recalls web master and Thanksgiving enthusiast Brad Guffin, "But when I got to google's page I was like, whoa, wtf, dude."
The page in question has always been a relatively plain one, with a Google logo, sometimes embellished for holidays, a text entry field, and a few links to Google's other services. The page Guffin called up, however, was anything but plain.
"There was like, the regular Google logo, but instead of the two O's, there were these two faces. One was Bill Gates, and the other was this fat-headed guy I didn't recognize. Both of em had this crazy weird grin, like they'd just farted on my food or something. I thought 'that's f'd', but I still just thought it was a joke, you know?"
It was no joke. The grinning, fat head next to Bill Gates' belonged to none other than Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer. Additionally, clicking on this enormous head brings up a video in which Ballmer reveals something quite remarkable: Google has been Microsoft in disguise all along, and details regarding the new pricing structures will soon be available, for every previously free service.
Google users are, for now, more confused than angry. This is due, in no small part, to the videos being in a new Microsoft proprietary format that not even the Microsoft media player can properly display at this time. According to sources in Redmond, a disclaimer at the end of the video gives the tentative date upon which such a player will be released (for a small fee), though we are also told that this date has been pushed back several months.
The two interloping executives' faces are not the only change to the familiar portal, however.
"Yeah, man, after I tried to get this stupid video to play for, like, twenty minutes, I suddenly noticed that my system was crawling. That's when I realized that Google had just finished loading. I looked, and it was like omg, omfg, wtf."
This strong reaction was in response to the overhauled news and advertising engine attached to the familiar google search page. In the new format, the lefthand column consists of Microsoft certified links to reviews of Microsoft products. The righthand column is reserved for personalized advertising based on years of accumulated personal information.
The center of the page features the new Google logo, plus eight to twelve hovering, animated advertisements. Once you prove to Microsoft that you've read the ads, you can close them to reveal the familiar search bar.
"We're glad you've all taken such a liking to Google and its services," and excited Ballmer would say, if the new Google/Microsoft video were playable, "You've seen how valuable these services are, and now is the perfect time to choose a payment plan that's right for you."
Most Google users believe, at this point, that this is all some kind of strange joke from the folks at Google. But this gentle bewilderment has the potential for white-hot geeky rage, should the truth become widely understood. For now, Internet searchers like Guffin will have to make due as best they can.
"Dude, I don't know what's going on, but I seriously have some searching to do. If this wacky shit keeps up, I'll be tempted to actually load up altavista for the first time since, like, 1999."