Not that there’s anything wrong with copying a good idea, but when it’s Microsoft copying Google, you’ve got to ask: why don’t Microsoft come up with their own ideas?
They’ve already copied Google Maps in the form of Virtual Earth, and now they’ve ripped off Google’s start page too, in the form of Start.com.
I must say though: start.com is nice. Nicer than Google’s original. I think Virtual Earth is pretty crappy, and doesn’t even come close to the niceness of Google Maps - its imagery is horribly out of date, and it just felt clunky. The scroll wheel zoom thing was a good idea, but in practice, it was jerky and thus not at all satisfying.
Start.com, on the other hand, is really nice: you can change the colour scheme clientside, the boxes show their contents when you drag them, you can add and remove columns, and there’s a nice pop-up box thing - click “why preview?” at the bottom of the page. A good showcase for the niceness of DHTML.
I guess if Microsoft actually improve on Google’s ideas, then I’m all for them being horribly unoriginal: a little competition could generate some really cool stuff.