the autolink battle is over
of course, as a user, i actually like the feature. but i recognize the danger in giving a tool that kind of control and it just gives me a bad gut feel.
the next logical step? MSN should immediately add smart tags into their toolbar - they wouldn't even have to write it, it's probably sitting around in some old, archived repository. then, when the user navigates to google.com and is about to attempt a search, the MSN icon on the toolbar should begin to blink and animate, begging users to click on it. when they do, it imperceptibly changes google's search page so that queries are actually directed to MSN search. additionally, they could even release a "security update" to IE that prevents google from blocking the smart tags like publishers are blocking autolinks.
those who don't believe in the slippery slope arguments are really blinded by the brand. we're not at the top of that slope, we're already more than halfway down!