Microsoft Accuse Google of Anti-Competitive Practices

By Craig Buckler
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Microsoft vs Google fightYes, you did read the title correctly. Dave Heiner, Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, has posted an official blog post following Google’s suggestion that the EU antitrust inquiry was instigated by companies with business connections to Microsoft.

Google’s public response to this growing regulatory concern has been to point elsewhere — at Microsoft. Google is telling reporters that antitrust concerns about search are not real because some of the complaints come from one of its last remaining search competitors.

It’s worth asking whether Google’s response really addresses the concerns that have been raised. Complaints in competition law cases usually come from competitors.

This is absolutely correct. If the EU think there’s grounds for an inquiry, Google should take the allegations seriously and conduct a thorough internal investigation. Fabricating conspiracy theories doesn’t answer the questions and won’t impress the regulators. Just because you’re big, profitable, and providing free products doesn’t mean you’re not “doing evil”.

Heiner’s article continues to criticize Google and advises affected companies to contact competition authorities:

As Google’s power has grown in recent years, we’ve increasingly heard complaints from a range of firms — large and small — about a wide variety of Google business practices. Some of the complaints just reflect aggressive business stances taken by Google. Some reflect the secrecy with which Google operates in many areas. Some appear to raise serious antitrust issues. As you might expect, many concerned companies have come to us and asked us for our reaction and even for advice. When their antitrust concerns appear to be substantial, we suggest that firms talk to the competition law agencies.

It’s unusual for Microsoft to engage in public mud-slinging. It’s not in the company’s culture — you don’t need to undermine competitors when you’re at the top:

  • Microsoft remains one of the most dominant and profitable IT companies primarily because of ongoing revenues from Windows and Office.
  • They’ve beaten dangerous competitors by producing better products, reducing costs, or acquiring the company.
  • You can’t criticize others when everyone is your customer. I’m sure Google buys Microsoft software — even if it’s just to assess the functionality.

However, the threat from Google is different; Microsoft is struggling to compete and is yet to make a profit from online ventures. Although Google hasn’t encroached on their territory yet, Chrome OS and Docs have the potential to disrupt Microsoft’s core revenue base.

It’s therefore understandable if Microsoft are considering dirty tricks campaigns. But accusations of anti-competitive practices? I guess they must be experts in that field!

Has Google become a monopolistic and anti-competitive? Does Microsoft have a duty to publicize the complaints? Or should both companies just grow up and shut up?!

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  • SymbioticDesign

    Google is a master at being a monopoly.

    They allow others to make their own custom search engine tailored as they would like it and allow them to post AdSense ads to monetize it. They allow this because they can increase their search blanket as well as their ad revenue.

    But us Google Group owners are given the lowest priority when it comes to server load, so we are trying to moderate, but have to retry 20 times in order to administrate new messages/users. On top of that, we never get to install our own AdSense code, they just show their own and don’t even allow us to share in the monetization of the group we create/develop/nurture. Didn’t AOL get in trouble for not paying it’s group mods, and here they could, but they don’t.

    And yet you can install adsense on your own version of Google Search, or in Google’s Blogger, or in Google’s YouTube?

    It’s just one example. But they are railroading us all in search, advertising, and more.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like having my groups there because Google seems to be serious about stopping spam. Gmail is my main email address and even handles the mail from my business server. And I love its phones.

    But illogical crap like discounting or even penalizing “paid links” is ridiculous just because Google sells links themselves. And you do NOT need an elaborate redirect system to count or track links. In fact, it is much more honest and direct to show the actual (“direct”) links. I consider the redirect links spam, myself.

    Remember, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s “Web Spam Department” isn’t just saying that Google will penalize paid links, the Google webmaster tools allow anyone to report suspected paid links. And yet they are selling them in another department. How is this not a monopolistic practice? Everyone is scared to advertise with anyone else due to the fear that they will be reported to the one monopoly in Search and Advertising… so they run to Google and have to bid on ads in one spot and that PPC is so over-priced it is out-of-this-world for some industries.

    At a time when individuals and small business need all the help it can get, Google and others are only exhibiting the same corporate greed that has driven America to hate the banks, financial institutions, automotive industry, health industry and insurance empires as they scoop up cash while pillaging their very own customers.

    -Symbiotic Design
    (forgot my login details, but its Me)

  • Anonymous

    It’s unusual for Microsoft to engage in public mud-slinging.

    Are you joking?

  • Bruce Epper

    It was only a matter of time before the king of monopolistic practices decided it was his duty to complain about competitors who learned from the king exactly how to exploit their position in a given market. Microsoft probably sees it as theft of their intellectual property since they are the ones who came up with so many new ways to screw their customers. Microsoft should be the only company allowed to do that!

  • Anonymous

    Are you joking?

    Actually, Craig is right, it is unusual.

    • Anonymous

      Linux violates 235 secret patents, right?

  • @Symbiotic Design

    Their reason for penalizing paid links is that is corrupts the search results and lowers their quality. There is a difference between paid links and other types of adverts. Paid links are paid for to increase your search ranking, other adverts are there purely for the amount of times they are clicked.

    Google Groups is a free service they provide, don’t see why you should expect to make money of it. I would say the other cases are just where Google are being really nice.

    However having said all that, Google’s dominance does worry me.

  • LiquidDigital

    …since they are the ones who came up with so many new ways to screw their customers.

    And how exactly does Microsoft do that? Or are you just joining the rest of the crowd that likes to hate Microsoft for creating a better product?

  • It is funny Apple have avoided all mud slinging, considering they are worse than Microsoft when it comes to money grabbing. Why is it you need the latest Mac OS to create iPhone apps?

  • Good post, I hope Microsoft sues Google! :)

  • antioligopoly

    Microsoft AND Google are OLIGOPOLIES, both should be fighted.

    Behind Google:

    So why would Google not being evil ?

  • @gap_tooth_clan
    Apple avoid mud-slinging? I’m sure Microsoft, Adobe and HTC would think differently!