I can only speak for me personally on this. If Jeremy looked into it and says that it wasn’t a template from Microsoft, I believe him. That would mean that the Yahoo! page was used as a template for Google’s IE7 promo page. I can’t say why someone at Google would decide to do that, but to the Yahoo! UI designer whose page was copied: my apologies. In my personal opinion, it sucks when someone else copies a page layout without attribution.
It can take a lot of work to come up with creative HTML. I remember when Google did a bunch of UI research to decide on a distinctive look for AdWords. We decided to go with pastel boxes with a darker border on the right-hand side of the search results:
Not too long afterwards, Yahoo! changed their side ads to pastel boxes with a darker border:
Then at some point, Google decided to go for a fresh look. After a ton of prototypes, testing, and internal research, we decided on a blue background for the top ads, with a blue line separating ads on the right-hand side:
Not too long afterwards, Yahoo! changed their top ads to a blue background, made the right-hand ads on a white background, and added a blue line separating the ads:
Of course, changing the just UI alone can cause weirdness, so it’s good that Yahoo! changed their ads to be the same number of characters as Google.
Yup, getting copied without credit can suck. I’m glad that Jeremy was so observant and pointed this out immediately. Google has already changed the page, but I trust Yahoo will be on the lookout for copying in the future.