Not to long ago, Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped reported that Google's new link count tools would show the link counts for other sites tool. In other words, you could get (more) accurate link counts from Google for sites you don't own.
The way it worked is that you would get the link from for your site, which would produce a line similar to the following:
You would then take the line and edit it to change the site listed. For example:
But it now looks like this loophole has been closed. So clearly, Google does not want users making use of their new tool for competitive intelligence purposes. You can get the link counts for sites you verify as yours, and that's it.
Still all in all, a very powerful tool. While it's reported link counts are still less than Yahoo's totals, they are much closer than they used to be, and the ability to download your links into a spreadsheet file is really, really nice.
Google, Webmaster Tools, Loophole, Fix+Fixation