Mary Jo Foley raises the issue of whether Microsoft will have to respond to a Google browser. Now we have already speculated here that a Google Browser is a sure thing – Google cannot allow Microsoft to dictate how its main vehicle will be carried. Especially given the great neglest that Microsoft has shown for IE – no functional updates since 2001. But Microsoft cannot afford to lose control of the browser market just yet. It needs a Longhorn “there” to go to – and a dominate share to transport “there”.

So Microsoft and Google will re-enter/enter the standalone browser market strictly for MAND-Mutually Assured Non-Destruction purposes. But a third party, a relatively small outfit called Copernic in Quebec City Canada may be forcing both parties to pull the browser trigger a little sooner than either intended.

We said small, but Copernic has a base of 30,000,000 million users for its Copernic Agent Uber-search program which polls dozens of web search engines for your search terms, eliminates the duplicates, ranks the returned entries by relevance and number of search engine hits. But Copernic has more than an Uber-search engine (Note: Microsoft and Google will be hardpressed to copy Copernics Agent as their competitors will hardly let the Google or MS CopyCat Uber-Search engines use any search facilities except for a handsome fee). Copernic has Tracker which tracks and reports by email with highlighted sections any changes to a designated websites pages. Copernic Desktop Search does that for desktop, Office, text, and email content transparently. Copernic Summarizer does very clever statistical association analysis to condense and summarize web page content.

In short, Copernic is doing a lot of the search value adds that Google and MS had planned to have on tap in perhaps a tit for tat battle for allegiance. But now Copernic has first starter advantages in a number of key arenas. Can Google and Microsoft idly stand by ?