Google decoration 60 Google’s homepage is back to its old white self and peace returns to the quiet world of search after 14 hours of sheer, excruciating visual hell.

Gone are the horrible photos - ok, they were rather beautiful photos, better than I could have taken myself, but you know what I mean – and back is, well, nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing. There’s the search box and some links underneath that no one ever looks at, let alone reads or, God forbid, clicks.

Today the Google logo has been replaced by one of those cheesy Google Doodles, which is actually far more aesthetically appalling than the aforementioned lush photographs that graced the Google homepage for all of 14 hours yesterday.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the football World Cup. It’s in the style of those cartoons that only American magazine art editors seem to love but are actually pulled crumpled from the reject bin of the lousiest clipart collections.

(God-awful illustrator of the Google Doodle, please note that either the goalkeeper is a midget or you’ve never seen a proper football goalpost. This is soccer not that other game that laughably calls itself football on your side of the Atlantic. You know, the one without a World Cup.)

Anyway, the photos have gone from Google, and everyone seems pleased.

But why did Google suddenly abandon its minimalist approach that has served it so well and built it into the number-one search engine and eventual conqueror of the known world – known to Google Maps anyway?

Google's photo backgrounds vs Bing

It seemed like a needless surrender to arch enemy and feeble rival Bing. The guys at Microsoft’s Bing offices must have been doing cartwheels as Google both-hands-in-the-air admitted that white is certainly not right. Bing’s bright, expensive stock photography backgrounds had been proved to be best after all.

Except that everybody hated the Bing approach being ported to Google. Or at least everybody who likes complaining about things complained about this thing, too.

It beggars belief that Google should be so unevil that it would gift a victory to its rival search engine so publicly.

Therefore Google must have had a plan, and I can reveal that cunning stratagem now.

Google mimicked Bing’s look and feel deliberately so that its search-hungry masses would shout “Ugly!” and start plucking out their own eyes at the sight of sand dunes and stripes where once there was simple white space.

These poor souls - their vision forever ruined by photos of leaves, decorations and inevitable San Franciscan landmarks – would rush to their rooftops not to take photos of the view to customise their Google pages but to decry this Bing-like monstrosity.

“Google now as ghastly as Bing!”, “It looks as disgusting as Bing!”, “We don’t want Bing!”, “Bring back lovely Google blankness, destroy the Bing thing!”…

It can’t do Google any harm for the world to spend at least a few hours decrying a competitor – especially if you can turn on the Bing hate at the flick of a switch like 1984’s Big Brother did during the Two-Minute Hate.

Google pulled its “experiment” after 14 hours not two minutes, and enraged Google users can now stop taking photos of snow, blank pieces of paper and Englishmen’s foreheads to use as their backgrounds.

The otherwise forgotten Bing has been dragged through the gutter of public outrage, and Google is back to its old, simple, boring, minimal, utilitarian, as bright as your screen can shine white.

Job done.