Microsoft takes Google complaint to Europe

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The Independent Online

Following a decade of battles with the European Commission, Microsoft has surprised the market by calling on its old foe to rein in Google, claiming the search engine giant was engaging in anti-competitive practices.

Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith yesterday revealed that the company is to file a formal complaint to the commission, saying Microsoft was "concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative".

He added: "There, of course, will be some who will point out the irony in today's filing. 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. This is the first time Microsoft Corporation has ever taken this step."

The complaints include Google allegedly blocking certain content from its YouTube site from emerging in rival search results. It said Google had blocked its Windows smartphones from properly operating YouTube, and raised concerns over its dominance of the search box on websites.

The commission started looking into Google's behaviour last November following complaints from three companies over alleged anti-competitive behaviour. One of the complainants was a subsidiary of Microsoft. The larger complaint will form part of the commission's investigation.

Google hit back after yesterday's statement: "We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants. For our part, we continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we're happy to explain to anyone how our business works."

In the US, Microsoft has about 25 per cent of the search market through its Bing engine and a tie-up with Yahoo. However, the Commission believes that Google owns about 95 per cent of the search market in Europe.