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Microsoft formally complains to EU over Google dominance

updated 07:50 am EDT, Thu March 31, 2011

Microsoft accuses Google of monopoly before EU

Microsoft turned the tables on Thursday with a formal complaint to the European Union accusing Google of unfair competition. The filing, backing earlier comlplaints that were partly triggered by a Microsoft subsidiary, insisted Google had systematically excluded competition. Most of the complaints focused on YouTube, which Microsoft said was deliberately excluded from search results for rivals like Bing; Google also intentionally limited Windows Phone's access to YouTube, denying them the searches that only Android and iOS devices had, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said.

On mobile apps, he argued that Google had given Apple the same ability to find metadata as on Android because it didn't have a competing search engine. Google had allegedly obstructed Windows Phone on purpose to punish Microsoft for owning Bing.

"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," Smith explained. "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."

Other accusations argued that Google was blocking access to book publisher content and noted the recent ruling that had shot down its attempts to serve as a repository for books whose rights owners had either been lost or given consent. Google's plan would have allegedly blocked searches from anything but its own engine.

Advertisers were also reportedly being denied interoperable data that they could use with another ad platform besides AdSense or AdWords. The lack of usable information anywhere else means companies often feel they have to advertise at Google first and only consider others later. That limitation hurt the industry since companies didn't or even couldn't spend ad money elsewhere, according to Smith.

The allegations went on to assert that Google was making unfair deals blocking other search engines from websites and that Google was allegedly stacking the deck by hiking prices for competitors looking for ads.

Google took a relatively mild response to the complaint. It wasn't surprised given the Microsoft-motivated complaint from last year, spokesman Al Verney said, and the company was "happy to explain to anyone how our business works."

The EU said it was taking the complaint seriously and would get involved, but wouldn't provide more details of its approach.

For its part, Microsoft was aware of the irony of the complaint. It has been found guilty more than once by the EU for abusing its monopolies with Windows and Office, in one case having been punished for allegedly ignoring an earlier fine and ruling. It had been fined a collective 1.68 billion Euros ($2.39 billion).

"Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly," Smith said. "More so than most, we recognize the importance of ensuring that competition laws remain balanced and that technology innovation moves forward."

By Electronista Staff


  1. krb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2000



    What goes around, comes around.

  1. Geoduck

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Introductions are in order

    Mr. Pot meet Mr. Kettle....

  1. JeffHarris

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999


    Life's a b****. Then you die.

    How does it feel looking in from the outside MS?

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999


    Shoe? Foot?

    It would only be true that the shoe was now on the other foot if Google was actually engaging in unfair competition. Remember, one of Microsoft's complaints is that Google are refusing them access to all the books Google went to the huge trouble and cost of digitizing. What Google points out is that there is nothing stopping Microsoft doing the same thing themselves. It is hilarious.

    The idea, also, that a company must share its API's with its competitors, as is the case with the YouTube complaint, is also staggering in its audacity and hypocrisy.

    The kid in the playground doesn't have to share their sweets with you, especially if you've been the schoolyard bully for thirty years!

  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2004


    While possibly true

    While your statements might be true, and MS may deserve this, it doesn't change the fact that Google is overreaching it power. Just to laugh at MS and get back at them, are you folks really willing to cede that much power to yet ANOTHER company that will end up doing the same thing MS did?

    I have been hearing the same, "It will be different this time" regarding the housing market and its desire for government controls to replace Freddy and Fannie. Give it a few years and the housing market will be in for the same problems...

    ... and Google will have replaced MS after dumping (or simply ignoring) its Do No Evil motto.

    Be careful what you wish for!!!

  1. Lifeisabeach

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2010



    Microsoft. Complaining about unfair competition. That's precious. That's beyond precious. It's flippin' priceless! The icing would have been if Google's response to all this was "Pot. Kettle. Black."

  1. freddymac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010


    LOVE IT!!!!!!!

    So M$, how does it feel to have real competition?

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005


    To Quote Qui-Gonn ...

    ... there's always a bigger fish.

  1. Athens

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2003


    All the power to them

    Im on Microsoft's side here, Google has become a monster.

  1. TomSawyer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2008



    your comment

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