Clues of Microsoft's Hand Behind Google Antitrust Inquiry

New tactics, same old Microsoft

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When the European Commission launched an antitrust inquiry into Google, the company was quick to blame Microsoft for its problems. The Redmond software giant has direct financial ties to two of the three companies who lobbied for an investigation. That's hardly a surprising fact to many business writers, who recall that Microsoft went through its own battering antitrust battle in Europe, and has plenty of motives for instigating an antitrust attack on Google.

  • Microsoft Knows How Damaging Antitrust Battles Are, writes Martin Peers at The Wall Street Journal: "It shouldn't surprise anyone that in the tit-for-tat corporate battle between Google and Microsoft, the latest tactic is a complaint to the European Commission. Microsoft, which is behind at least one of the complaints about Google now being reviewed, knows full well the impact of a European inquiry. After all, for the better part of two decades, Microsoft has been subject to inquiries by European antitrust regulators concerned about its bundling of products like Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system."
  • Personal VendettasĀ  In a Portfolio story, Sam Gustin observed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's disgust with Google CEO Eric Schmidt:
After Google snared former Microsoft China guru Kai-Fu Lee to run its own China operations, Ballmer launched into an expletive-laden, chair-throwing tirade, in which he cursed Google C.E.O. Eric Schmidt.

"I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again," Ballmer raged, according to court documents from a lawsuit over the dispute. "I'm going to fucking kill Google."
  • Antitrust Suits a 'Competitive Weapon,' explains The Economist: "Microsoft and Google's other rivals have a clear incentive to push these issues. Launching antitrust complaints has become something of a competitive weapon in the technology business. Firms often aim to restrain their rivals by tying them up in lawsuits or forcing them to make concessions to appease regulators. Even if Google never ends up in the dock, Microsoft and its allies may still nudge it to change the way it does business, to their advantage."
  • Part of a Large-Scale Microsoft Campaign, suggests Daily Finance's Sam Gustin. Last year he uncovered evidence of company's secret "screw Google" meetings:
Microsoft employs several D.C.-based public relations firms, including Law Media Group, a secretive outfit founded by former Democratic operative Julian Epstein ... One source familiar with the meetings says, "Law Media Group has several people who work full-time on Google-bashing. Everybody knows Microsoft is trying to throw roadblocks at Google and knock them off their game. Microsoft is trying to harm Google in the regulatory, legal, and litigation arenas because they're having problems with Google in the competitive marketplace."
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