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Microsoft Files Lengthy Complaint Against Google

By - Source: Tech Net | B 40 comments

Microsoft has quite a past with the European Commission when it comes to antitrust suits, but this time the company is on the other side of the court.

Microsoft last night announced that it was filing a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the EC’s ongoing investigation into whether Google has violated European competition law.

Speaking via the company's Tech Net blog, Microsoft's Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Brad Smith, said that while Redmond recognizes and respects its competitor's many genuine innovations, engineering prowess and competitive drive, it was concerned about a "broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative."

"We've therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market," said Smith. "By the European Commission's own reckoning, Google has about 95 percent of the search market in Europe. This contrasts with the United States, where Microsoft serves about a quarter of Americans' search needs either directly through Bing or through our partnership with Yahoo!."

Mr. Smith claims Microsoft has a number of complaints, half-a-dozen of which are detailed in his blog post. The first is Google's 2006 acquisition of YouTube. Smith says that for the last five years, Google has been making it more and more difficult for competing search engines to access YouTube for their search results.

Second on the agenda is the fact that Windows Phone 7 devices cannot operate properly with YouTube. "Google has enabled its own Android phones to access YouTube so that users can search for video categories, find favorites, see ratings, and so forth in the rich user interfaces offered by those phones," Brad writes, adding that iPhone users can do the same. He also implies that Apple was granted this access to YouTube because it doesn't compete with Google in the search market. "We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide."

The third complaint relates to Google's actions regarding its Google Books project. Here in the States, Google was last week denied exclusive access to the large volume of out-of-copyright books. Smith echoes the federal judge's ruling in stating that such an arrangement, which denies competitors the ability to search so-called "orphan books," would further entrench Google's market power in the online search market. Microsoft is calling for similar rulings to be handed down in the EU.

Fourth, Microsoft says Google is restricting advertisers' access to their own data, which in turn makes it more expensive for them to run portions of their campaigns on other search advertising platforms (such as Microsoft's adCenter). "That is a significant problem because most advertisers figure that they have to advertise first with Google," says Brad. "If it's too expensive to port their advertising campaign data to competing advertising platforms, many won't do it."

Second to last, Microsoft alleges that Google contractually blocks leading websites in Europe from distributing competing search boxes. "It is obviously difficult for competing search engines to gain users when nearly every search box is powered by Google," says Smith, adding that Microsoft can't even distribute Windows Live services through European telecommunications companies because they're monetized through Bing search boxes.

Lastly, Microsoft is jumping on bandwagon that left the station in late-2010. In November of last year, several of Google's competitors accused Google of ranking them unfairly in search results and affording its own services preferential treatment.

Google said in a statement that it was "not surprised" Microsoft had filed the complaint and that it would continue to cooperate with the European Commission's investigation.

"We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants. For our part, we continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we're happy to explain to anyone how our business works," the search giant said in a statement.

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  • 1 Hide
    xerroz , April 1, 2011 2:12 AM
    I hope Google loses
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 1, 2011 2:16 AM
    So, Microsoft is trying to tell the EU to make Google suck?
  • -1 Hide
    kcorp2003 , April 1, 2011 2:17 AM
    xerrozI hope Google loses

  • Display all 40 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    _Cubase_ , April 1, 2011 2:18 AM
    And so it begins. Companies Rise, they get get really big, get really nasty, and at the end of the day the consumers are the ones that get the short straw. Ah business...
  • 1 Hide
    dogman_1234 , April 1, 2011 2:33 AM
    ...when do we, the consumers, need to bend over?
  • 3 Hide
    randomizer , April 1, 2011 2:40 AM
    As much as I dislike Microsoft, I think they have some valid points here (assuming this is the full story, which I know it isn't). Google have been perpetuating the idea that they are about openness and freedom when in reality they are not (only a handful of their products/services are partially open). I guess they took a leaf out of MS's book. Embrace, extend, extinguish. Social networking is up next with the +1 thing.
  • 2 Hide
    ventanni , April 1, 2011 2:49 AM
    It's pretty funny to watch large corporations duke it out in poo-flinging contests when both are well known to shit where they eat.
  • -2 Hide
    captaincharisma , April 1, 2011 3:30 AM
    so i guess this means Bing has failed so MS has to sue the company who makes the better search engine
  • 0 Hide
    itchyisvegeta , April 1, 2011 3:40 AM
    Does Google actually sell anything? I don't remember buying anything from the computer sections of stores, or online with the Google brand or anything. I use their search engine a lot, and used to use their 411 service until they took it down.
  • 1 Hide
    sykozis , April 1, 2011 3:43 AM
    captaincharismaso i guess this means Bing has failed so MS has to sue the company who makes the better search engine

    Microsoft isn't sueing least not in this particular instance. They have simply joined the list of complainants against Google in the EU. Google has taken the same path as MS...and as such, should be forced to follow the same guidelines as MS. Google is trying to shut out any possible MS has done at times. The difference here is Google calls this "innovation" while MS referred to it as "business as usual". By Google's beliefs....they're trying to "innovate" their competition completely out of any market they move into. MS did it with buyouts and questionable licensing practices. Google is doing it by trying to lock their competition out of any Google products. ChromeOS will even require the Chrome browser to function....doubt they'll even allow another browser to be installed on ChromeOS if it ever gets released.
  • -3 Hide
    kinggraves , April 1, 2011 3:54 AM
    Microsoft has no business wagging their finger at anyone for shady business ethics and monopolization. Now they know how all their competition over the years has felt.

    Some complaints are valid. Google should not have exclusive access to public domain literature for example. Some of Microsoft's complaints are absurd. Google doesn't owe it to their competition to make their own services easier for competition to use. In the end, making the service harder for WP7 phones hurts Google, because they're the ones losing hits. MS can feel free to offer competing services if they don't like it. Google DOES need to be watched to make sure they aren't preventing competition, but they are where they are because they had a better product.

    If they feel that Google should make it easier for them to access Youtube, maybe MS will start insisting their OEM customers always build dual boot systems with Linux installed as well. I mean, it's only fair that everyone should see how easy the competing product is to use, right? They could also ensure their OS doesn't come with their own preinstalled software. Matter of fact, it could suggest alternatives to using their products, since MS wants to be a champion of consumers having all options set in front of them.
  • 0 Hide
    JamesSneed , April 1, 2011 4:19 AM
    I find it a bit ironic Google is pulling a "Microsoft" on Microsoft and MS doesn't like it. I think its pretty funny MS is griping youtube should be open to them, Google's direct competitor. If Google really went all the way like MS did they would make it so Google and youtube would not work with any flavor of IE and post links for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. That would be about on par with what MS did back in the day with the "free" browser that was non-compliant so everyone had web pages coded just for IE that would not quite work proper with any other browser.
  • 5 Hide
    ThisIsMe , April 1, 2011 4:49 AM
    sykozisMS did it with buyouts and questionable licensing practices. Google is doing it by trying to lock their competition out of any Google products.

    well don't forget these buyouts:

    2004 Keyhole, Inc - The company made Earth Viewer which was renamed to Google Earth

    2006 YouTube - still called YouTube

    2007 DoubleClick - was a widely used advertising and launching point for web developers which was just obsorbed by Google who then gained all of it's customers, contacts and methods

    2007 GrandCentral - they services and products later became known as Google Voice

    2009 On2 Technologies - which was a video software maker

    2009 Aardvark - this company had a social network search engine and was a small player on the social network scene but did have a lot of interesting ideas, and of course now we're seeing Google with it's new social networking products and services

    2010 Agnilux - This was a small hardware startup which, in my opinion, may allow Google to become more like Apple with their own computers and own software running on them. Maybe it's a stretch, but shortly after the purchase we found out about those mysterious Google laptops getting shipped to select testers for feedback.

    2010 Global IP Solutions - a company based in Norway providing web-based teleconferencing and related services which will enable Google to add telephone-style services to its list of products.

    2010 AdMob - another ad network but this time specializing in mobile services and devices

    Now also keep in mind this list does not include the numerous "deals" and "partnerships" that Google has struck to "allow" itself and these partners to has better search results for things like video services, social networking, higher res satellite imagery for itself, advertising, and YouTube access.

    Most of this info can be found very easily, and here I will provide a Wikipedia link as the source for most of what I listed above.

    I hope you all see this as only a chance to be informative and mostly fact based, since I tried to sound non biased or opinionated about any side of this story.
  • 0 Hide
    rebturtle , April 1, 2011 5:27 AM
    "Hey kettle, it's me, pot. Have you been hitting up the tanning beds?"
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , April 1, 2011 6:08 AM
    so here is what im reading.

    microsoft cant make bing work well with youtube, wants google to help them make bing better

    microsoft cant make youtube work to its fullest, well... you don't get youtube than, you don't own it, its not yours. make a competitive service. apple let some version of FLASH on their phones, something they despise, to allow youtube, and sense apple is a non competitive search anything, they got help.

    and they are complaining about windows live and bing... my god make something that people want first. if bing was good it would go viral, and the only thing i like it for is the way images are handled. and that isnt enough to make me use it.

    all i see here is microsoft trying to get google to make bing better by court order.

    if google wanted to they could shut youtube down right now, and i would to spite microsoft if they won. and i would make it public, "microsoft wants us to help them make a search engine better than google, the only way to avoid this was to shut down youtube... complain to microsoft. "
  • 3 Hide
    ericburnby , April 1, 2011 6:48 AM
    What's good for the goose is good fro the gander.

    Since Google is operating like MS was in years past, they should suffer similar consequences.
  • 3 Hide
    back_by_demand , April 1, 2011 7:00 AM
    captaincharismaso i guess this means Bing has failed so MS has to sue the company who makes the better search engine

    No, Bing is just as good a search engine, Google is using its market position to force competitors to the margins.

    All the anti-MS drones know exactly what I mean because they used the same arguement against Internet Explorer, but because its Google they suddenly forget all their old rationalisations?

    Short memory on some people...
  • 3 Hide
    ericburnby , April 1, 2011 7:14 AM
    back_by_demandNo, Bing is just as good a search engine, Google is using its market position to force competitors to the margins.All the anti-MS drones know exactly what I mean because they used the same arguement against Internet Explorer, but because its Google they suddenly forget all their old rationalisations?Short memory on some people...


    I wonder what Google is going to do with Chrome OS and the Chrome browser? Are they going to be allowed to distribute them integrated in the EU, or will they also be required to present users with a "browser choice" window to allow consumers the chance to install a competitive browser?
  • -4 Hide
    ukee1593 , April 1, 2011 10:22 AM
    The funny thing is ... this may actually NOT be an April fools joke!

    With what Microsoft does such as making it difficult to make software compatible with Office and Microsoft products, Copyrighting just about every key on your keyboard so that others cannot use it, etc THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO WHINGE ABOUT.

    Also the way that BING handles Youtube - which definitely isn't too bad you would hardly realize that it is actually Youtube. lots of people these days are now saying "I watched it on BING video" when it was actually youtube!!

    GOOGLE's products are actually very good ... Overall most of their platforms and systems are infinitely more stable that Microsoft's. They deserve a gold star for that ... Just if Microsoft cannot work out how to integrate WP7 with Youtube.

    FINALLY - Think back to the last time that you reformatted your computer ... It was almost impossible to use anything but BING or LIVE SEARCH because MICROSOFT FORCED YOU TO USE IT. Most less experienced users probably don't know how to change their search provider from BING and hence there are more BING users in the USA because there are a lot more computers and CHEAP computers in the USA! Therefore in the EU where computers are more expensive only the people who need computers actually buy them ... WHO are ALSO the people who CAN and DO change their search provider from GOOGLE.

    MICROSOFT ... Go stuff yourselves

  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , April 1, 2011 11:08 AM
    ukee1593GOOGLE's products are actually very good ... citation]

    Oh yeah, Google can make their products spot-on. Easy to do that when you're spying on your users to illegally collect data.

    With that said, I agree with most of Microsoft's claims. I wrote a paper on Google and its breach of privacy earlier this term, so many of these allegations are in fact recognized by not just Microsoft but also by numerous researchers worldwide.

    It is just ironic to see people talking crap about Microsoft and rooting for Google despite being fed spoonful of propaganda. Google isn't all that great of a corporation it says it is...but people still believe it anyway.
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