Print 29 comment(s) - last by Master Kenobi.. on Apr 1 at 9:08 PM

Google appears to be on a quest for world dominance, and Microsoft is ready to stick its foot out to trip up those efforts.
Once the focus of antitrust complaints itself, Microsoft sets its targets on Google

The tables -- or in Microsoft's case, chairs -- can turn quickly in the technology sector. It was just over a decade ago that Microsoft found itself under close scrutiny for monopolistic behavior with its Windows operating system and Internet Explorer web browser. Now, the Redmond, Washington-based company is crying foul over Google's dominance in the search market (among other areas).

Microsoft has filed an official complaint with the European Commission against Google, saying that the Mountain View, California-based internet giant is violating European antitrust laws. 

Brad Smith, Microsoft Senior VP and General Counsel, starts off in a blog post praising Google for a decade of innovation in the marketplace and its efforts to "organize the world's information", but quickly moves in on what he feels are the company's moves to squash the competition at every corner. 

For starters, Google has roughly a 65 percent share of the internet search market in the United States (Microsoft holds a 26 percent share in the U.S. when you account for Bing and its stake in Yahoo's search engine). "At Microsoft we’ve shown that we’re prepared to work hard and invest literally billions of dollars annually to offer Bing, a search service that many now regard as the most innovative available," said Smith. "But, hard work and innovation need a fair and competitive marketplace in which to thrive."

In Europe, however, Google's share is a whopping 95 percent according to Smith. Google is accused of using this enviable position to corner the European market with regards to search advertising.

It understands as well as anyone that search engines depend upon the openness of the Web in order to function properly, and it’s quick to complain when others undermine this.  Unfortunately, Google has engaged in a broadening pattern of walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers 

Smith even goes so far as to say that Google doesn't offer competitors enough access to produce credible YouTube clients for smartphones. Google of course provides a powerful YouTube application with its Android smartphone/tablet operating system, and Google's long-running deal with Apple allows iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad to contain highly functional versions of the YouTube application.

Microsoft complains about YouTube openness, stating:

Unfortunately, Google has refused to allow Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do.  As a result, Microsoft’s YouTube “app” on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube’s mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones.  Microsoft is ready to release a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone.  We just need permission to access YouTube in the way that other phones already do, permission Google has refused to provide. 

Google's dominance in search and its unwillingness to share the wealth when it comes to YouTube are just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft has a long listen of grievances including Google's venture into the books arena, restrictions on customer/advertiser data, content control, and unfair advantages when it comes to advertisement positioning. You can read all of Microsoft's complaints here

"We readily appreciate that Google should continue to have the freedom to innovate," Smith concludes. "But it shouldn’t be permitted to pursue practices that restrict others from innovating and offering competitive alternatives.  That’s what it’s doing now.  And that’s what we hope European officials will assess and ultimately decide to stop."

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Anti-competitive practices
By nafhan on 3/31/2011 7:22:08 AM , Rating: 4
While, the amount of control Google has over the internet and people's data is worrisome, I feel like - more important than marketshare in these cases - is anti-competitive behavior, and the examples MS has given of Google's anti-competitive behavior are pretty weak.

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By omnicronx on 3/31/2011 11:10:04 AM , Rating: 5
Compared to previous cases against MS, I completely disagree.

If packaging a browser with your OS is considered anticompetitive in the EU, then many of MS claims clearly could hold some merit.

Google holds a very large share in the EU, and they should not be able to leverage said dominance to lock out competitors, whomever they may be. Allowing third party access to your API's to some and not to others seems like a power play to me.(From my understanding they would not give any kind of deal, whether there was a monetary agreement or not)

Had it been the opposite with MS blocking Google from doing something, everyone would be up in arms.

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By omnicronx on 3/31/2011 11:23:44 AM , Rating: 5
AND FYI.. the article kind of misses this but Google specifically blocked MS from using Youtube metadata.

The article also does not mention the orphaned book plan from the last few years in which the US essentially forced them to allow other parties to search these orphaned books. It seems as though they have blocked such access in Europe which had no stipulations as part of the deal.

The big part the articles misses is the search data stored on Google servers. Advertisers are not allowed to use their own search data to use on other engines. This serves no other purpose than to stop advertisers from making their data multi-purpose. From a monetary perspective it makes little sense for most advertisers to spend the time to move their ad campaign to other search engines. As a result, many just don't.

I love Google as a search engine, but if they truly are the 'best and most innovative', they should have no problem opening themselves up as it should be this 'great innovation' that keeps them so high on their pedestal, not what seem to be borderline business tactics at best.

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By BZDTemp on 3/31/11, Rating: -1
RE: Anti-competitive practices
By omnicronx on 3/31/2011 12:13:27 PM , Rating: 3
There is a huge difference between what you let somebody access on a website and using your hold on a OS to shoot down competitors.
No there is a huge difference between disallowing access to a website when you are a single entity. (nor is this what is happening here, most of the things mentioned here are external services)

Google is just as much of a giant in the web space as MS was/is in the desktop space.

The idea remains the same, both companies are using their market dominance to push things upon users. (in this case it means the Youtube experience will be better on the the devices Google has chosen to open it up too)

The fact that many users like Google products is completely irrelevant. You may like what they are doing now, but that's not the point, 10 years down the line when everything flows through Google and everyone will not be signing the same tune.

As for Google blocking access to data that is not what I see. We see fine in SiteCatalyst when our visitors come from Google including search words and so on.
Not what the article is question is discussing. What is being discussed is the data pushed to Google ad servers. Not even close to the same thing, what you are talking about is merely personal monitoring of your site.

As for you last line, you clearly don't seem to understand what MS was doing. They were tracking click through results, it has nothing to do with openness as anyone can do that, with or without consent.

By Master Kenobi on 4/1/2011 9:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
On point. If Google is preventing access to metadata that allows MS to make an actual Youtube player for their platform just as iOS and Android have then Google is abusing their market position. Ironically while Apple won't allow Adobe Flash to be loaded on their precious little iOS, they did allow Google to stick a custom app to play youtube (flash) videos. Clever strategizing by Apple to give users what they want, and Google for sucking in a usergroup that has basically no alternative as flash can't run on the platform. Windows Phone 7 has every right to its own youtube application just as iOS and Android. If the EU is applying a standard policy approach to Monopoly suits then Google will likely be forced to open the metadata up for Microsoft and other companies to utilize in their products to stream the youtube videos as well. Ironically Google had no problem providing such an application for Windows Phone 6.1 and 6.5, back when they didn't have Android.

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By inighthawki on 3/31/2011 1:58:09 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft used Windows to push IE and Windows Media Player killing a market where Netscape, RealPlayer and others had build a business selling software.

If either IE or WMP weren't free than I may be inclined to agree, but including more (free) features in your OS is the definition of better competition .

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By drlumen on 3/31/2011 5:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that free is anti-competitive too right? Netscape was selling for $40-$50 before M$ decided they wanted the stranglehold on the browser market (for fear that the browser would displace the need for windows). How could Netscape, with a browser as their main revenue stream, compete with free?

M$ is the LAST to talk and complain about openness. NOTHING they release IS OPEN. Even between M$ products... Ever tried to open a Works document in Word or vice versa?

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By inighthawki on 3/31/2011 11:24:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's hard to take you seriously when you refer to Microsoft as M$ and make it sound like a free browser and media player are a bad thing. Also last I checked, I CAN open works documents in office, and the fact that works has been discontinued and is being phased out, it doesn't surprise me there would be little support.

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By Lazarus Dark on 3/31/2011 9:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I never agreed with how MS was treated, even though I am not fan of MS. I always felt it was MS's duty and responsibility to offer a browser and whatever else prepackaged in their OS, because that's what you WANT in an OS. You want everything right there and ready to go. That said, I was an early adopter of Firefox as I was never really happy with IE. Now, if MS had put code in Windows that prevented another browser from being installed, that would be a big misuse of their monopoly, but they never did any such thing. I think the EU way overstepped their bounds as decisions like those that they made had an affect on how MS operated from then on, the EU market was too big to ignore and they just couldn't try to make a seperate OS just for them, so MS had to change the way they do things across the board and I believe that Windows is the worse for it and it pisses me off that the EU can affect MY operating system, giving me a lesser quality experience, by their decisions.

So I will be equally if not more pissed if the EU tries to mess with my Google services. Google has yet to do anything I dislike, I love every service they provide and I especially love getting all that service in ONE place. Call it a monopoly if you want, but this is a monopoly I CHOOSE. There are PLENTY of alternative sources for services like those Google provides, but Google does it better, cheaper (free) and with better integration. Thus, I choose Google.

And who cares about Bing anyway. It sucks. Maybe if MS made a better product they would get more business. And has anyone pointed out that the REASON MS has less market share of search over there is because of the EU? Because of the EU's intervention in the browser market, thus MS has less browser share and... wait for it... less search market share. DUH. Because most people use the search that comes with their browser

RE: Anti-competitive practices
By Fracture on 4/1/2011 11:47:13 AM , Rating: 2
I know - Microsoft can just go an use their own video hosting site for their smartphones. Oh wait, that's right - despite having access to the product itself, Microsoft wants to reap the benefits of another company's work.

This situation is parallel to the numerous requests asking Google to share its search engine algorithms so that people may better game their products.

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