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Minnow Microsoft v the Google Giant

Rory Cellan-Jones | 14:42 UK time, Thursday, 31 March 2011

It's a familiar story - a scrappy little underdog launches a competition complaint in Brussels about the giant that dominates its industry. Ten years ago it would have been Netscape accusing Microsoft of abusing its monopoly power - today it's Microsoft charging Google with the same crime.

Screengrab of blog outlining Microsoft complaint against Google


Microsoft's first ever competition complaint is not just a wonderfully ironic turn of events, it's a measure of how the balance of power on the web has shifted. A decade ago control of the desktop and what applications lived on it was still all important - now it's the control of search which delivers huge power and billions of advertising dollars to Google.

So, despite the fact that Office and Windows continue to deliver healthy profits every quarter, Microsoft is determined that its Bing search engine should make serious headway. In Europe at least, that's not happening. According to Microsoft, Google has 95% of the search market.

Now it claims that Google is using its power unfairly to maintain that dominance. Its complaint - which as Google points out is just an addition to an existing anti-trust case in which a Microsoft subsidiary was already a complainant - is that the search company is putting walls around content that rivals need if they are to compete.

In a long blog post, Microsoft's chief legal counsel Brad Smith outlines a series of areas where he says Google is impeding competition. He claims that it's very difficult, for example, for rivals to get proper access to YouTube - owned by Google - for their search results.

He points to the Google Books plan - blocked by a US court last week - as another case where any other search engine will get poor access to valuable content, in this case millions of books.

And he says that Google uses its business relationship with leading websites to block them from installing competing search boxes on their sites.

Google is saying very little. When I spoke to the company I was told they still had not seen details of the complaint. Perhaps they should try to search for "Brad Smith blog Google complaint". When I did that, Mr Smith's blog post popped up right near the top of my Google results, but on Bing was much harder to find. I'm not quite sure what that tells us, except that search is a dark and complex art.

Anyway, Mr Smith's blog concludes:

"We readily appreciate that Google should continue to have the freedom to innovate. But it shouldn't be permitted to pursue practices that restrict others from innovating and offering competitive alternatives. That's what it's doing now. And that's what we hope European officials will assess and ultimately decide to stop."

Substitute Microsoft for Google, and that is very much the message that the EU was given year-after-year by companies frustrated by their inability to compete with Windows or Internet Explorer. And when big fines were handed down, Microsoft's supporters in the US lambasted Europe for trying to punish a company that had grown big by taking risks.

Now, though, Microsoft is keen to employ the same EU regulators as a weapon against Google. That could mean a long and tortuous process, or, if Google's lawyers learn from Microsoft's experience, they may try to reach a quick deal with the EU rather than face the risk of a huge fine.

And here's another irony about this case - just as Brussels was still investigating Microsoft's dominance when its power was fading, so the world may have moved on by the time the Google inquiry is over.

The search giant is increasingly nervous about its failure to make a splash in social networking, where Facebook rules the roost. Today's launch of Google +1 - a version of Facebook's "Like" button - is just the latest in a series of moves to try to make the business more social, with little success to date.

So what price, come 2015, another big EU anti-trust case, with Google accusing Facebook of abusing its dominant position in social networking? You heard it here first...


  • Comment number 1.

    Microsoft : We know you're being anti-competitive, you're doing what we did and denied was anti-competitive!

    Hmm. I don't know. I can easily scrape YouTube content should I wish to, and Bing does so. I don't see the YouTube complaint as particularly fair.

    It has already been shown that Microsoft can scrape Google's content for its own search engine after Google injected fake results into their search engine and Microsoft duly copied them.

    There are plenty of things Google needs to fix, but this is just going to open up a can of worms. Apple and its restrictions on its devices are next.

  • Comment number 2.

    MS are full of it recently. They also seem to be intent on taking Apple to task over attempts to claim the term 'app store'. MS are quite happy to claim the term 'windows' though! I have 'apps' running in 'windows' on my desktop and it's GNU/Linux!

    Could this be a sign that MS really are in decline as they're having to take their dirty fighting tactics to their competitors in a defensive capacity as opposed to their usual attacks on the little guys?

  • Comment number 3.

    @peejkerton #1

    You might be able to scrape info, but your IP is not one of known Bing search bots and your user agent is not that of a Bing search bot either, as google may alter what is returned when it detects a bot. Microsoft wouldn't make the complaint if there wasn't a genuine technical reason.

    As for them copying google search results, that's not the case. It was widely reported (and verified) that the data in question had come from the Bing toolbars installed on some people's browsers rather than Bing scraping google results.

  • Comment number 4.

    @linuxrich #2

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If people want a competitive market then that swings both ways. You can't complain that your opponents are being anti-competitive but expect them to turn a blind eye to your own anti-competitive behaviour.

    You basically seem to be advocating hypocrisy? That MS shouldn't be anti-competitive but others can? That others should complain about anti-competitive behaviour but MS shouldn't?

    I guess that like the many comments that will soon follow, you will use a "you did it first" playground slur to mask your true anti-MS bias on the matter.

  • Comment number 5.

    It seems to me that this is less about justice, innovation or competition, and a lot more about using the EU, or indeed any body that will take their complaint, to sap your competitor of cash and time via lawyers. Of course, neither Microsoft nor Google are any different in this regard - indeed, it appears to be standard practice now for most large tech firms. The end-result will be the same as before - very little change visible to the public, assuming the investigation reaches a conclusion, but a lot more bad blood between the combatants.

    It's rather sad in a way, when you stop to consider what wonders we might see if companies like Microsoft and Google spent more time working together to make the world a better place, and less on trying to wrong-foot one another.

  • Comment number 6.

    This made me laugh for the same reasons highlighted in the article. Microsoft of all company's complaining about anti competitive behavior and using their market strength to leverage themselves into new markets? that was their core strategy until they became the minority player. They lost everything because they got too big and corporate. As much as they, like any corporate will try to stay nimble and responsively fast to market opportunities its just not as easy as it was when you were in your pa's garage. Google will be next...

  • Comment number 7.

    Aidy: "That others should complain about anti-competitive behaviour but MS shouldn't?"

    I think it is more a case of hypocrisy on the part of MS, by complaining that they were not being anti-competitive, but then turning full circle and suggesting the behaviour of others is anti-competitive, even though it is, in many people's view, similar to their own.

  • Comment number 8.

    The words `` come to mind! Am I meant to feel sorry for Microsoft? When I can buy a PC without a Microsoft product it might be an level playing field.

  • Comment number 9.

    Another spat that will roll on or years, & nothing of value will come from it..

    It is nice to see the bully getting bullied after all these years....

  • Comment number 10.

    Yep, it is all about hypocrisy. I'm not advocating it, I'm saying (As you suspected.) that M$ (There, I used the $ sign for you!) should shut it until such time as they can prove that they're not anti-competitive.

    As for my anti M$ bias, I like to think I've earned it as I have to deal with their garbage products every day. How I long for the day I can get a nice quite job in a Unix/Linux only environment.

  • Comment number 11.

    By the way, of course Microsoft will be well aware of the irony but this is just the way business works and legal attempts such as this are a key part of competing.

  • Comment number 12.

    For years I have used IE with Google as my search engine of choice. Several times Microsoft's IE has changed my default search provider to Bing without any direction from me. I have never knowingly requested Bing to be installed, or set it as my default provider - but MS has nevertheless done this. It seems to me that MS has been abusing its position via IE to push Bing on users who have not requested it. That is the main reason why I refuse to use Bing - not because of the quality of the search results, but because they blatantly override the user, and abuse their position in the browser market.

  • Comment number 13.

    @2 : Don't forget microsoft wanting to sue Linux for basic hardware interactions in the kernel as well for having a window manager.

    That is like suing a competing glass company because their glass is also transparent. It's evolution. Microsoft is taking legal action because it can't get it's own way in a classic throwing your toys out of the pram tactic.
    Google aren't blameless but compared to Microsoft they're as pure as the driven snow (anyone remember the street view case)

    Microsoft have long been known for extend, embrace, extinguish to the point where once again Microsoft is the only choice. It's plain that pure jealousy is forcing them to sue as well as failing to note that Bing is **** compared to Google.

    To finish on a question (because I don't use windows) does Microsoft allow you to change your default in-browser search from bing? (Chromium does)

  • Comment number 14.

    Yet again Microsoft cannot be happy without total domination. By 'borrowing' Apple's revolutionary and ingenious OS and producing Windows, earning trillions, they now ride on Google's coat tails. They claim unfair trading when plagiarism seems to drive their research and development. Mac's have Applications, hence Apps and App Store. Windows PC's have Programs, so should be Progs and Prog Store!

  • Comment number 15.

    In the old days when search engines were new and google wasn't making a lot from advertising GOOGLE was good, you could find almost anything faster than you would by asking 'the computer' on the starship 'Enterprise'.

    Nowadays, being driven by advertising and sites paying to be up front, there is no such joy.

    What used to be fun and exciting is now a chore.

    A bit like getting sense out of Microsoft's MSDN.

    Google and Microsoft deserve each other in their blind pursuit of proffit at the expense of coinsumer satisfaction.

  • Comment number 16.

    Whatever the right or wrong of Microsoft's past behaviour, surely they have the right to use whatever powers are available to challenge Google?

    Assuming Google does reach an 'agreement' with the EU (i.e. pays a fine without being seen to pay a fine), the EU will be a winner.

    Perhaps the EU will ease up on the collection of Microsoft's past fines as long as MS keep legally challenging Google and generating new EU income...?

  • Comment number 17.

    There's a delicate balance between the large American tech companies. While a lot more preferable to the monopoly of Microsoft a decade or so ago, as consumers and governments we have to be wary of ALL major players - Google, MS, Apple, Facebook - to ensure they do not hold too much influence in the technology sector. That would be devastating in the long run for smaller businesses, much like the large 4 supermarkets have now all but killed off local convenience stores, butchers, bakers, newsagents etc

  • Comment number 18.

    Queenarumlily, exactly. They forced OEM (sticks & carrots) to put Windows on machines to get their near monopoly, then used that near monopoly and other tricks to get IE on all machines and destroy Netscape. Now they try to push Bing in IE.

    Go into PC World and ask for a PC without Windows and you will get a funny look.
    Worst of all they pre-charge you for it. If Windows is so good why can't you pay on activation like other installed software ?

    Whatever you think of Google they attained their position by producing a good product that wasn't foisted upon users on the back of a monopoly.

    Microsoft epitomises anti-trust behaviour and have been convicted of major breaches by the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Anyone wanting a true picture of Microsoft should go here

    and dowload the "ECIS's 2009 paper on Microsoft history of consumer harm"

    They brag about how they haven't changed.

    They haven't.

  • Comment number 19.

    @10. At 18:32pm on 31st Mar 2011, linuxrich wrote:

    How I long for the day I can get a nice quite job in a Unix/Linux only environment.

    If you had the expertise then there are plenty of Unix environment jobs out there, indeed due to its comparative specialist niche you will be more handsomely paid than the more common MS based ones.

  • Comment number 20.

    @8 "When I can buy a PC without a Microsoft product it might be an level playing field."

    Er... You do know you can, right? I'm using one right now. It's called a 'Mac'.

  • Comment number 21.


    You stink of Linux geeky bias. Step away from your android phone and smell the grass! the reviews have proven time and time again that Microsoft produces leading products in several areas, and in areas that it doesn't have the power to force hands.

    Apple put Safari on their machines but Microsoft can't put IE? I have yet to see a MAC without OS but Microsoft isn't allowed to subsidise companies into putting on Microsoft Windows?

    There is a lot of backwash here from days gone by and a lot of naive bashing from people with a completely obvious leaning bias. Google are participating in abuse, so they deserve to be brought to heel for it. Microsoft has been there, so have several others companies. If you do wrong, you deserve to be brought to heel and if you are wronged you deserve to put your complaint in. Regardless of your previous history.

    Obviously for you that would extend to everyone else but Microsoft. I wouldn't be drooling over Google given the amount of data they hoard and abuse without full disclosure in a way the common man can understand.

  • Comment number 22.

    I need a new pair of Wellies before I read about Microsoft quivering over anti-competitive business.

  • Comment number 23.

    Google have spent a long time collecting their traditional search data, refining their algorithms and investing the hardware/infrastructure to scale to the level that requires. They are not going to give away that data to a competitor.

    About the book data: why should Google give that data away that they have paid for and invested in. If you want to compete, help initiatives like Project Gutenberg by providing resources and infrastructure, or by helping convert out of copyright works -- they would get kudos for doing this.

    So create a better search experience -- the HTML5 interactive experience for Bing looked great. Provide greater context -- use rich metadata to expose things like train times, film times, etc.

    Expand that to provide better connected services (e.g. what bus and when do I need to catch it to see film X at my local cinema?) This would be possible with the bus timetable and cinema as metadata and the browsers geographical location. Connect it with maps to show how to get to the different points in the journey.

    Or how about finding the nearest Thai or Italian restaurant using your phone? Or the nearest vegetarian restaurant? What about reviews? What about integrating that into the Windows Phone to provide an augmented reality display, or couple it with satnav and give guided directions?

    Provide better content and better services and people will make use of them.

  • Comment number 24.

    @12 - IE has NEVER altered my default search engine unless I have told it to do so. Neither has FF. I can't comment on Chrome as I hate it and only ever use it for basic testing of my Apps (am I allowed to use that word now?).

    Regarding Google, it's inevitable that they are going to be challenged like this, especially after what happened to MS - it's just ironic that it is MS that is doing it. Let 'em fight it out and hopefully at some point the huge fine Google gets will be put to good use straightening bananas and cucumbers...

    Personally I would like to see Apple up to see the Euro Headmaster - if any company is abusing it's position it is them.

  • Comment number 25.


    I think you miss the point. Apple make the machine as well as the OS, and sell the package as a whole unit. Microsoft make a GUI running on DOS and used brute corporate force to ensure their software was the one loaded on most PC's sold worldwide.

    Your argument could work if they stuck with one PC manufacturer like say IBM.

  • Comment number 26.

    The key point here is justice and freedom in the market, which appllies to all, whether big or small. We should never deny fairness to someone, or to a company just because they are "big". That's the politics of envy not fairness. So yes, Microsoft tried to use power in the market place to their advantage and were penalised in the US and EU. No. 12, that's why your default search has switched to Bing, when Microsoft issued the update that took away IE as the default browser, if IE is selected it does default search to Bing. If you selected Chrome, guess which search it would default to? How many competitor apps do you see on an iPhone? How many music stores? not too many. Microsoft brought mass computing to us all, so please don't beef when they get too big, you can't have it all ways. Imagine if every employer used different word processors and spreadsheets, what a nightmare that would be. So fairness in the market is good and needs to be enforced for all companies, including the new sexy ones, like Google.

  • Comment number 27.

    @21 - Apple are far worse for encroaching on freedom than Microsoft. They just get away with it because they're smaller.

    @20 - You can have a mac, you have to have a huge wad of money though. My custom built PC cost me £800 and while time has moved on (there is no CPU roughly equal to mine) they're at least £1200

    Together Microsoft and Apple have stitched up the out of the box computer. I had to build this one in order for Linux to be on it. What I seem to notice is that only linux users are calling for computers to have NO os on them when bought. Microsoft know that many users don't switch because it's inconvenient to do so. Look at computers advertised for £299 with windows 7 the latter being £110 on Amazon. Are you telling me that MS haven't deflated their price to maintain market share

  • Comment number 28.

    I'd rather see Apple taken to task. If anyone is abusing it's power in the market they are. They effectively shut-out Adobe becuase they had that awful QuickTime product.

    Good on Microsoft I say... We all complained when we felt they were being Anit-Competitive and all those now saying "you get what you deserve" it just goes to show that it wasn;t about the competitiveness, it was becuase you just didn't like Microsoft!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Microsoft could just make their search engine better - when searching for microsoft products on Bing it still can't find them. The reason people use Google is mostly the fact its intuitive searching facility actually works.

  • Comment number 30.

    Please, BBC, would you explain who this very grim-looking chap is on the link from your main news page? Not somebody whom the average customer of either Google or Microsoft would wish to have anything to do with, from the looks of him, poor chap.

  • Comment number 31.

    Microsoft's complaint is total rubbish. They are just making a complaint because they are finding it hard to compete with Google.

    Previous complaints against Microsoft have been genuine. They had been found abusing their desktop dominance. But are we really saying that Google is being anti-competitive just because people *choose* to go to Google's web site?

    Would Microsoft like a restriction to be be put in place so that if people go to it pops up a screen listing alternatives? that would be stupid, nobody wants their HTTP requests to be hijacked.

    Microsoft are just finding it hard to face a future where the mention of an IT or Internet related term doesn't not result in a discussion about one of their products.

  • Comment number 32.

    Frost and Fire, I assume you need to write documents or create spreadsheets on your mac? And every person I know with a mac does this with MICROSOFT word or excel...

    I think its also worth mentioning that all these companies need to grow up and realise that different companies are going to win different battles, apple have the app store, google have the search engine and microsoft have the programs (in my opinion). Each one is guilty of the crimes the accuse each other of...

  • Comment number 33.

    @21 v3vi. Grass? I certainly smell astroturf... Thanks for the geekyness compliment though. Any chance of a list of those class leading products, btw?

    I'm well aware that Google need to be monitored for potential abuses of their dominant search position. I still don't think that companies that live in glass houses should start throwing stones!

    @19 Piggyback. Working on it, trust me!

  • Comment number 34.

    @8 queenarumlily :- The words `` come to mind! Am I meant to feel sorry for Microsoft? When I can buy a PC without a Microsoft product it might be an level playing field.

    I agree entirely with those sentiments. No tears for MS. There is not much choice if you want to buy a PC without Windows. If you haven't seen how it's fairly easy to build your own, there is a firm based in Portsmouth who sell machines without that bloated operating system.

  • Comment number 35.

    @30. That would be Steve Balmer, the CEO. Not as well-known as Bill Gates and nowhere near as charismatic either. Seeing him dance like a crazy person at a Microsoft presentation a few years ago was priceless; if a little weird.

  • Comment number 36.

    @Jamidodger333 - not in my office. We've got Macs and they all run Open Office. The laptop I'm working on was an off the shelf jobbie that was probably badged for the retailer I bought it from. It runs Ubuntu and Open Office and is fantastic.

    I think they're all as bad as each other and far as their plans for global domination (Mwa ha ha ha ha) are concerned. They also all have their faults although Microsoft are probably the worst. As a web developer, there's nothing more heart breaking than writing perfectly W3C compliant code and then having to butcher it because Microsoft refuse or are incapable of following conventions. IE has been described as a virus with a GUI and that's about right.

  • Comment number 37.

    Just bought a new computer, and had to spend ages getting rid of all the MS bloatware on it, including that dire BING bar. I refuse to use MS products when there is a real choice because they have no consideration of the convenience of their ordinary customers.

  • Comment number 38.

    @36 InsightCreative - Of course Microsoft are the worst, they're the oldest and have the deepest roots. I suupose it's no surprise they don't play well with others when for almost the entirety of their life they never even had a competitor in their primary sector.

    But then the other big companies each seem to have their own specialist arena for being unhelpful - google seems obsessed with identity farming and apple seems to have an inate fear of creating an open system. Being anti-competitive seems to be the one area where they all appear agree - everybody is guilty of it but themselves

  • Comment number 39.

    I'd just like to say well done to the guys at Mozilla on their 50 millionth download of Firefox 4, and in just 10 days. It goes to show that you don't have to be an abusive company like Microsoft, Apple, Google or Facebook with their shady deals and control-freak figureheads to be a success. I hope that these four companies destroy each other with their constant backstabbing. Free software is where I started in the early 1970's, and free software is where I am now with Linux. A word of advice to OpenOffice users, it's not safe in Oracle's hands, switch to LibreOffice, similarly dump MySQL in favour of MariaDB. Free and Open Source software, don't you just love it. Even our government thinks so now.

  • Comment number 40.

    It is very difficult to buy a computer without Windows. it was when the Netbooks were first released. Large numbers of people purchased and used Netbooks without Windows until some mysterious incident when they were no longer available.
    I can use Bing, or Yahoo I dont have to use Google for search, I use it because it produces relevant results. I tried using Bing when it came out to find out where to download Open Office. Bing produced pages of results but not the official download page from Open Office Org. With Google the download page was in first place.
    If netiher Google or Bing were engaging in anti competitive practices I would have expected the free download as the first result on both searches, Google has no beef with Open office, Microsoft, owner of Bing has. I wonder what conclusions to bring from this.
    1 Google is a far better search engine than Bing.
    2 Bing was manipulating results for Microsoft's own ends in an anti competitive attack against open office

  • Comment number 41.

    John Le Guen, you are not looking hard enough! I walked into a shop 2 years ago and asked the price of a particular PC. "£425", came the answer. "And without Windows?" "£350", was the reply. "I'll take one". Admittedly it was a small independent company, but the build quality is good and it's still my main client machine in a 5 Linux PC home network. The shop in question is PC Tel in Barnsley, in between "Ferrets'R'Us" and "The Cloth Cap Emporium", but I'm sure there will be one in your neck of the woods.

  • Comment number 42.

    I've just tried searching for OpenOffice using Bing, Google, Ask, Yandex and Baidu and it is on results page one on all of them. The same for LibreOffice as well.

  • Comment number 43.

    In the wider context. The tendency of large corporates to "reach for their lawyers" is a serious crimp on innovation. Not only are they stifling their own efforts but they've also significantly raised the bar for new entrants to the markets they seek to own.

  • Comment number 44.

    '5. At 18:11pm on 31st Mar 2011, Alan Ralph
    It seems to me that this is less about justice[, innovation or competition], and a lot more about using [the EU, or indeed] any body that will take their complaint, to sap [your competitor of] cash and time via lawyers.'

    That... is as poetic a summary as I have read of this situation and [excluding what I bracketed] near every aspect of life today, even as an individual dealing with the state.

    And the latter has more cash (ironically provided in part by guilty until proven innocent defendants), time and lawyers, sadly.

  • Comment number 45.

    I think what Microsoft should do is, rather than trying to sue competition to gain popularity and also trying to shut down Google by being able to get up to 10% of their profits in payment (which is ironic, Google is aparrently trying to stop competition yet Microsoft sueing them does just that.) is that they should make Bing worth using!

    Bing is clunky, inpracticle and just not everyone's cup of tea. Why use Bing when Google is much more popular, much more streamlined and generally a much more better service than Bing?

  • Comment number 46.

    It's interesting how MS is so quick to blame Google for their failure, without realizing that Bing fails because it's utter crap and pretty much useless. You can go on the MS website, and use the Bing search box at the top to try and find MS tech articles, and be guaranteed that most the results it returns are unrelated to your search. Use the same search term in Google, or Yahoo, or one of the others for that matter and you're almost guaranteed you'll get a 100% match - from a MS site - within the first 10 results.

    Micosoft bought a failing search engine and expect it to be able to compete with the biggest in the business, simply because they're Microsoft. They only won the PC users because IBM failed at advertising. OS/2 was always a better system, years ahead of Windows. But MS won due to better advertising and Edison-style contracts. Now they assume they can get the same success on the Internet, with the same half-assed unprofessional attitude they apply to all their software, rather than getting the simple clue that the Internet is relentless and it takes true quality to succeed.

  • Comment number 47.

    @Alan Ralph #5

    "It's rather sad in a way, when you stop to consider what wonders we might see if companies like Microsoft and Google spent more time working together to make the world a better place, and less on trying to wrong-foot one another."

    That's the whole point, MS is *trying* to work with google's services but google are hampering their efforts.

    @AmbientGuy #6

    MS are a minority player who have lost everything? If you keep telling yourself that do you think it will come true?

    @linuxrich #10

    TBH I'm not really interested in what you have to say on the matter as you're simply spouting ill-informed bias and propaganda. As I predicted in my earlier post, your comments are simply advocating hypocrisy and the source is your obvious dislike of MS. You're in good company though, as the same goes for AmbientGuy, queenarumlily, cowboybert, OrdinaryUser, SuperSonic4, Marcus French, Chipesh, Eideard, Giles Jones, Bob Lindsay-Smith, shinyrobthegob, ElephantTalk and John Le Guen.

  • Comment number 48.

    As usual these boards quickly descend into fanboy madness. Brilliant stuff. Just keep arguing amongst yourselves chaps. It's hilarious!

    As an experienced Developer I have no problem with any OS or software/hardware producer. Competition is good, drives improvements and helps the evolution of the industry. Sadly legal cases like this are an unfortunate side effect. Microsoft has suffered from this in the past and now Google is. Apple's time will come. If you don't like the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    You said "As a web developer, there's nothing more heart breaking than writing perfectly W3C compliant code and then having to butcher it because Microsoft refuse or are incapable of following conventions."

    Well as a Web Developer I'm surprised you have W3C issues with "code". I assume you mean the markup of your pages rather than the source code. ;)

    The markup of your pages (including any markup you generate from your code) may be W3C compliant but remember the browser is older than the standards.

    The problem IE has is that it's been about for a very long time (before modern standards came about) and many large corporations keep the old versions in play for legacy applications. Forced browser updates can play havoc with the markup of internal legacy applications used in large corporations, making them unusable. MS has a vested interest in these customers as well as your average web user. Other browser companies do not have the same level of vested interest if at all so they can keep up to date easily. It's also worth noting that MS's browser rendering engine has been used in many places (not just IE) so replacing that creates more challenges. Hopefully from this you can see why MS has so many problems keeping IE up to date.

    No Browser is perfect but check out for some interesting info about IE and how seriously MS are now taking improvements.

  • Comment number 49.

    Has anyone considered that Microsoft might have grown to its position because they delivered products that were better than the competition in the past?
    How about considering that by subsidising the end-cost of PCs by having Windows pre-installed they allowed a lot more people to buy a computer and access the internet?
    What about them being anti-competitive because they were the only company prepared to subsidise the cost of PCs and wanting to give users everything they needed out of the box so they wouldn't feel daunted by having to find and install lots of different applications?
    There are always many ways to look at something.
    I'm not saying Microsoft are blameless, but you also have to consider that no business is blameless and will get away with whatever they can to increase profits.
    Lawsuits are common place in big business, this is no different and everyone is suing everyone over something or other (Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, SCO, Sony).
    If Google are indeed being anti-competitive in their business, then it's only to our benefit that it is challenged in court - and who else could possibly afford to apart from Microsoft?

  • Comment number 50.

    If there was a Like button on here, I'd press it for #48.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Aidy..... Your supposition fails miserably.

    I am a devout Windows 7 user with my homepage set to Google...

    Please now explain how I am the same company as AmbientGuy, queenarumlily, OrdinaryUser, SuperSonic4, Marcus French, Chipesh, Eideard, Giles Jones, Bob Lindsay-Smith, shinyrobthegob, ElephantTalk and John Le Guen.

  • Comment number 52.

    @cowboybert #51

    You wrote "It is nice to see the bully getting bullied after all these years...."

  • Comment number 53.

    Nice to know I'm deemed to be in such good company! That must mean that if you take our individual points of view and average them out, you end up with a pretty solid argument based on what's actually going on.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think that you need to have worked in IT in the 1970's or earlier to have a full understanding of what's going on here. Back then all software was Free and Open Source, it wasn't called that, it was called just software because proprietary software didn't exist. Software written by the scientific community for the scientific community. Software could be copied, changed and re-distributed without having to re-invent the wheel.

    Some people began to see the possibilities of licencing software for a fee by withdrawing access to the source code, especially with the moves towards standardisation in the form of the IBM PC and the need for a portable OS - Unix. Even Microsoft was a *nix company then with their Xenix OS. Other people stayed true to the 'open source' philosophy so we got GNU and then later Linux. BSD was proprietary in those days but is now open source.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    So now we have the situation of mega companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple (they'd all love to be the monopoly) - battling it out for market share with their trademarked, copyrighted and patented proprietary software often using un-ethical business practices. And who loses out? We do because the software suffers in this environment.

    This is why I love, use and promote free and open source software, not because I'm ill-informed or biased (Aidy). But, because I am a scientist and can see that the best environment for thriving and innovative software is in the open source arena.

  • Comment number 55.

    Microsoft are a big part of the problem here. The irony is not that Google is exploiting its market position in the way Microsoft used to do but that Microsoft, due to their own large size and muscling in on the market with noticeably inferior products are impeding smaller rivals who might actually have a better solution.

    I suspect that Microsoft keep a close eye on what goes on in universities and as soon as anyone has a half-decent idea Microsoft are in there with a cheque or shares to take the idea (and probably the developer) into the behemoth and unintentionally suffocate it.

    Despite years of Microsoft attempting to do search, they are just incapable of it. They can't even do it properly on the desktop or in the enterprise, why should anyone think they can do it on the web? If anything should come out of this it's that Microsoft should be forced to admit their own incompetence and clear out of the way for more capable competitors to Google.

    The sad fact is that for all Microsoft's past achievements, nearly all of its success has been built on the work of others and they're simply not an agile enough business to compete on the Internet.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ Aidy ... Not quite sure why you've reposted my line as i doesn't answer my query...?

    Just because I relish the fact that Microsoft aren't the dominant force in all fields, doesn't mean I dislike them. They continue to push boundaries where others seem to fall or fail.

    But what does bug me is the fact that they have the audacity to moan about competition when they themselves have been guilty of the same thing... & even then refused to comply with the EU....

  • Comment number 57.

    Hardly MS first ever competition complaint - they filed against Google in the EU and the US in 2007.

  • Comment number 58.

    @on 1st apr 2011, John Le Guen wrote:
    It is very difficult to buy a computer without Windows. it was when the Netbooks were first released. Large numbers of people purchased and used Netbooks without Windows until some mysterious incident when they were no longer available.
    A very good point. Has anyone actually noticed this?
    When netbooks came out they were really cheap, small devices, with about 4-10GB hard drive a little ram and simple processor and graphics card. If my memorry serves me correct their price was arround 150 EUR and i believe even here on BBC there was talk about 100$ project laptop and how this (first one was EEE) actually made that project pontless. Then first came WinXP on it and they had to increase some specs to fit it in there. Ofcourse WinXP is not being phased out and Win7 is preinstalled on those. Suddenly we have "cheap" netbooks with 120 GB hard disks, 1 Gb ram... that have price over 350 EUR and some have almost same price as regular laptops with much better performance. They cost the same if you can get them with no Windows pre-installed. And then they wonder why sales of netbooks haven't increased as much. It's not just because of tablets (they were there before apple came out with ipad), it's mostly because they increased their price 3x and put on a system that was actually not really designed for such low performance hardware.
    It should be a consumer's choice wheather they want the OS on computer or not. And if they don't want it, the price should be reduced for the price of the OS (e.g 110 EUR) not stay the same or only reduced for couple of EUR.

  • Comment number 59.
    Is Ian Watmore having a laugh.
    "I personally would like to see people move off Microsoft products onto open source or use Apple technology."
    I can see why he is former IT chief. I want to see more red, no I mean blue, would both be seen as being wise or simply covering my bases?

  • Comment number 60.

    Testint testing 123

  • Comment number 61.

    Ok i think Microsoft is feeling burned out after all the massive anti-competitive fines handed down by the EU during the years and she wants Google to feel her wrath or what it is like to be fined to the the sooner these two destroy each other the better

  • Comment number 62.

    Jedra wrote:

    "Personally I would like to see Apple up to see the Euro Headmaster - if any company is abusing it's position it is them."

    How so? Apple certainly doesn't hold a monopoly with any product, service or market. Look up the meaning of the word "monopoly."

  • Comment number 63.

    Looks like the corporate giant has gotten away with stealing lesser company's ideas and steamrollering them in court.

    Well....that's what you'd all be saying if this was Microsoft and not Apple.

  • Comment number 64.

    It's not so much a case of stolen as it is coming up with what they claim is a new idea that someone else already thought of and inadequately protected, in the eyes of one Judge. Please don't mistake me for someone in any way supporting them, as I really don't; also please don't presume to know what I'd be saying either.


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