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One week without Google

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A Microsoft executive recently compared quitting Google to quitting smoking. As I approach the 10th anniversary of my last cigarette, I decided to put that to the test.

If it weren't for hyperbole, of course, marketing wouldn't be nearly as effective. But Google's presence across the Web does provoke that sort of response from competitors and even friends. From search and Google Maps to Gmail and YouTube, it can be difficult to steer clear of the Google experience during a daily trip around the Internet.

But it's not impossible, and it's not even remotely comparable to giving up one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. During a week in which I pledged to avoid using anything made, owned, or otherwise produced by Google, it was surprisingly easy to cut ties.

Google is a habit; smoking is an addiction. And for the most part, Google lives up to its pledge to avoid locking users into its system. I only missed a few Google products during a week in mid-February and mostly because I was unfamiliar with their substitutes.

I could have picked a better week to quit using Google. Between buying a house, planning a wedding, and a trip to Lake Tahoe, my normal routine was already out of whack. And the launch of Google Buzz meant I had to break my pledge on occasion to stay on top of the changes Google made to that service.

But if you're one of those people freaked out by Google and its expansion across the Web, fear not: you have a wealth of options.

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