Microsoft isn’t happy that Google will emerge unscathed from FTC anti-trust probe

Jan 03, 2013 9:47 am

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For years Yelp complained that Google was displaying too much of its content, so Google went and bought itself Zagat and Frommer’s. Now that it has its own content, we’re likely to see more of Google’s own stuff and less of its competitors.

— Jason Clampet

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For two years, Microsoft Corp. has urged antitrust regulators to crack down on arch rival Google Inc.

Now that the Federal Trade Commission is poised to allow Google to emerge from the antitrust probe without having to make major changes, Microsoft is crying foul.

Google is set to resolve a 20-month antitrust probe with a voluntary agreement and a consent decree on the company’s use of patents, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

That means Google will voluntarily change some of its business practices, including how it uses content from other websites and allows advertisers to export data. It will also settle allegations that it misused patents to stymie smartphone competitors.

That’s a slap on the wrist as far as Microsoft is concerned. The software giant has accused Google of crushing competitors and harming consumers by abusing its dominance in Internet search and growing dominance in online video and smartphones.

“Hopefully, Google will wake up to a new year with a resolution to change its ways and start to conform with the antitrust laws,” Dave Heiner, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “If not, then 2013 hopefully will be the year when antitrust enforcers display the resolve that Google continues to lack.”

Google, which is facing antitrust probes in the U.S. and Europe, has maintained that it has not done anything wrong. It says it simply gives people quick and easy access to the information they want.

But even under “the bright lights of regulatory scrutiny on two continents,” Heiner said Google is not on its best behavior.

Heiner rehashed complaints that date back from 2011 that Google has not handed over the data Microsoft needs to improve the viewing of YouTube videos on Windows smartphones.

Heiner added a new allegation. “Last month we learned from YouTube that senior executives at Google told them not to enable a first-class YouTube experience on Windows phones,” Heiner wrote.

Google denied Microsoft’s accusation.

“We’ve worked with Microsoft for several years to help build a great YouTube experience on Windows phones,” Google said.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has repeatedly criticized Google for abusing its dominance in search. Microsoft spent the 1990s embroiled in legal fights with antitrust regulators that kept management from focusing on the rise of Internet search and has now seen its growth slow with heated competition from Google.

(c)2013 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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