Software giant Microsoft has filed an official complaint to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices in the online search market.
In an official blog post, Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith lists six ways in which he believes Google unfairly disadvantages its competitors in the search market. These are:
Restricting access to metadata from popular video site YouTube, which Google acquired in 2008
Limiting the functionality of YouTube on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system
Seeking to acquire “exclusive” access to books that have fallen out of copyright
Preventing advertisers from switching to other online advertising platforms (such as Microsoft’s) by withholding key data
Preventing website operators from including multiple search boxes on their sites by demanding exclusivity
Making it hard for competitors to achieve high rankings in Google’s web search results
“We readily appreciate that Google should continue to have the freedom to innovate,” Smith wrote. “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.”
The European Commission is already investigating Google’s web search practices, and Microsoft is one of a number of competitors to have complained.
In November 2010, Google responded to some of the concerns that the Commission had raised. It said that users, not websites operators, were the priority in designing its search algorithms; that it makes it clear when material on its search pages has been paid for; and that it tries to be as transparent with advertisers as possible.
Google has yet to respond to Microsoft’s complaint.
The complaint will be seen as ironic by many, as Microsoft has itself been the subject of a number of anti-competition cases. In 2004, the EC fined the company €500 million for having bundled Windows Media Player with its operating system. It later addded a further €900 fine for failing to comply with the original ruling.