I read the details, and I'm sorry, but I just don't see why this is so wrong. I certainly don't see a reason to "retract" the article. Microsoft is building off the work of Google. How is anyone worse off here?
So if someone copied your article, "improved" a few paragraphs, and published it on another site, you would be OK with that? How would anyone be worse off? They're just building on your work.
This is the part that I don't get. Can you explain why you think this is the case? I mean, by the same argument, I could say "if I develop a website with tons of great content for years, Google shouldn't get that work for free. Google should have to develop their own content; otherwise the web is poorer as a result."
The difference is pretty big. Websites typically *like* to get indexed by Google, as traffic it brings them helps them in some way. And, importantly, if they *don't* want to get indexed, they can just use robots.txt.
I would argue that it's pretty simple - if you use someone else's stuff when they don't want you to use it, that's at least unethical. Similarly, published research is published because they *want* people to build on top of it. Hence there's no ethical issue in using it.
I also think people are missing the whole innovation issue. If Google's goal is to stay ahead of their competition, and their competition is copying everything they do (which is not the case here, but this is an example), then Google should have all of their engineers work on ways to stop their competition from copying them - and no engineers should work on improving the search algorithm. How would that be good for the industry?
Put another way - imagine A learned from B, and B learned from A - then no one would learn anything, and search results would stagnate...
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