Google Plans Joining EU Case vs. Microsoft

February 25th, 2009 at 12:00 am

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In what might be called a battle of the online giants, Google may be set to lock horns once again with software giant Microsoft over antitrust issues concerning the latter’s dominance over the Web browser market. This time, the search engine giant is set to apply as a third party on the European Commission’s case against Microsoft. This will effectively give Google the right to voice out objections as well as be granted access to confidential documents pertaining to the case against the software giant.

Google’s request came in light of the recent decision of the European Commission to grant Mozilla, developer of the popular Firefox Web browser, third access to the confidential documents. Both Google and Mozilla believe that the long running practice of Microsoft bundling their league leading IE browser to its Operating system software constitutes an unfair business practice.

The European Commission has notified Microsoft last January that it is opening its investigation over the software giant’s bundling of its IE web browser with its Windows operating system and whether it is a violation of the antitrust laws in the said region. The European regulators believe that this practice may distort healthy competition between Web browsers. The Commission believes that, due to the popularity of the Windows operating system, tying the Internet Explorer to it would effectively shield it from going into head to head with the other web browsers, enjoying undue advantage in the process.

Sundar Pichai, Vice President for Product Management, issued a statement on Google’s Public Policy blog regarding this move. He stated that "Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft’s dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.

Compare this to the mobile market, where Microsoft cannot tie Internet Explorer to a dominant operating system, and its browser therefore has a much lower usage. The value of competition for users (even in the limited form we see today) is clear: tabbed browsing, faster downloads, private browsing features, and more. Even greater competition will drive more innovation within browsers themselves – as well as in web design, enabling sites to load faster and offer new kinds of interactive tools and applications."

The move may be in light of Google’s entry into the web browser market with the recently released Google Chrome browser. With IE having a huge share of the browser market, it certainly will affect how the competition would be accepted despite the unique innovations that the new entrants bring along with them. How this case pushes through would be something worth expecting.