Microsoft calls for Google competition probe

Microsoft has made its most vehement, public attack on Google, calling its rival’s actions potentially anti-competitive and urging victims to file complaints to regulators.

Microsoft calls for Google competition probe

The broadside comes days after a Microsoft-owned business, along with two other small online companies, complained to European Union regulators about Google’s operations. Microsoft is also fighting a plan by Google to digitise millions of books, currently under scrutiny by the US Department of Justice.

As Google’s power has grown in recent years, we’ve increasingly heard complaints from a range of firms about a wide variety of Google business practices

“Our concerns relate only to Google practices that tend to lock in business partners and content – like Google Books – and exclude competitors, thereby undermining competition more broadly,” wrote Dave Heiner, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, in a blog published on the company’s website. “Ultimately the competition law agencies will have to decide whether or not Google’s practices should be seen as illegal.”

Google declined to comment on Microsoft’s blog.

For the past two decades, Microsoft has been among the prime targets of competition regulators in the US and Europe, over the way it handled its near monopoly of computer operating systems.

Microsoft now seems keen to direct regulatory scrutiny onto Google, by far the world’s biggest internet search company. “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,” wrote Heiner.

“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.”

Heiner said Google’s way of working with advertisers and publishers makes it hard for Microsoft’s competing Bing search engine to win search volume.

He suggested firms who feel they have been hurt by Google should complain to “competition law agencies”. The European Commission has not at this stage opened a formal inquiry into Google after it received complaints this week.

Microsoft’s attack is certain to heat up relations between the two companies, which now compete on a broad spectrum of technology products, from software applications and mobile phone OSes to internet search and email programs.

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