Pencil pushers and programmers from Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. faced off this week for the greatest of geek glories: the Golden Penguin Bowl.
Techies from both companies — rivals in the emerging search engine wars — matched wits Tuesday over questions about everything from old computer operating systems to the name of the mining spacecraft in the movie "Alien."
The quiz competition's announcer dubbed the matchup a battle of "good versus evil," alluding to Google's famous creed of avoiding evil deeds. But officially, this was a battle of Microsoft employees comprising the "Nerd" team against Google's "Geek" squad.
Microsoft's Rob Curran provided a wealth of science fiction knowledge, buzzing in quickly to answer questions about the TV series "Star Trek" and correctly naming the ore mining ship from "Alien" — the Nostromo. Curran took the stage wearing full Darth Vader regalia, while his teammates donned Stormtrooper costumes. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)
But the Microsoft team bumbled the year their employer released Windows 1.0 (1985).
Google's team correctly answered that the "Debian" Linux distribution was named after Ian Murdock and his then-girlfriend Debra.
Buzzers went silent, though, after a question about science reality. What was NASA's name for the mission designed to explore the comet Tempel 1? (Correct answer: Deep Impact.)
For the record, Google won the contest.
The event took place at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo, which focuses on the Linux operating system and open source software solutions.