Microsoft loses top software engineer to Google

Is it time for Microsoft to be afraid?

A distinguished engineer at Microsoft is jumping ship to join Google.

Blaise Agüera y Arcas originally joined Microsoft in 2006 after the software giant acquired his Seadragon startup. He was a key architect in the development and building of Microsoft's Bing Maps service and its image-stitching Photosynth software.

The New York Times reports that Agüera y Arcas will work on machine learning at Google, something that Microsoft research teams have been focusing on heavily recently.

Agüera y Arcas described the decision to leave Microsoft as "the hardest decision of my life" in a blog post that confirmed his departure. He wrote: "It's painful to leave behind so many wonderful ongoing projects, and even more so to leave behind such a great team."

Shuffled pack

The loss of Agüera y Arca will be seen as a key one for the software giant as it continues to reorganise its employees around 'devices and services'. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the departure, saying "we wish him the best in his future endeavours."

It is rare for senior Microsoft employees to join Google - especially distinguished engineers. Agüera y Arcas is the third notable transfer between the two rival companies. It is safe to say that these affairs do not go entirely swimmingly.

The software giant has previously sued Google after the company hired former Microsoft vice president Kai-Fu Lee in 2005. Another former Microsoft employee, Mark Lucovsky, claimed that CEO Steve Ballmer threw a chair across the room when he revealed he was leaving to work for Google in 2004. Ballmer was also said to have called Google chairmen Eric Schmidt a number of expletives before announcing he was going to kill and bury the search engine.

Microsoft's latest battle with Google comes in the form of its 'Scroogled' campaign, in which it seeks to undermine Google's policies and products through a series of online ads.