Could their use of Linux be why Microsoft views them as such a Competitor? I dont see MSN and Google as such since one is a portal and the other is a search engine. If I want news I might go to MSN if I want to search I might go to Google. If I want news I dont go to Google I go to the news sites. Just like I dont go to the news sites for searches. I think thair may be more at play here than we realize!
In the Yusuf Mehdi's article, (Corporate Vice President of MSN), the rationale for describing MSN as a competitor was that they were very much a portal - in that they offer such things as maps, financial info, stock quotes, phone lookups... and news.