Microsoft has filed a antitrust complaint to the European commission alleging Google of stopping anyone from ‘creating a competitive alternative’. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Microsoft has upped the ante in its bitter rivalry with Google by filing its first formal complaint to regulators, claiming the search engine giant is restricting competition.
The US technology firm on Thursday filed the complaint to the European commission, which announced a formal investigation into Google in November, adding significant weight to the chorus of opposition which has seen complaints to Brussels from mainly small internet sites such as price comparison firm Foundem and Microsoft-owned firm Ciao.
Microsoft acknowledged the irony of filing an antitrust complaint – the company has itself paid billions in fines and levies in a string of protracted anti-competitive cases over the years.
“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,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, in a blog posting.
In a lengthy and detailed post Smith said that Microsoft had been prompted to act after witnessing a “broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative”.
Smith added that as “troubling” as the competitive landscape is in the US market “it is worse in Europe”. with Google controlling up to 95% of the search market. The company goes on to outline a number of examples of a “pattern of actions” that it claims Google has taken to “entrench its dominance in the markets for online search and search advertising to the detriment of European consumers”.
Microsoft alleges that these anti-competitive practices include stopping its search engine, called Bing, from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from “operating properly” with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals.
“Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe,” said Smith. “They’ve urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials.”
Google said it would be “happy to explain” how its business works. “We’re not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants,” said a spokesman. “For our part, we continue to discuss the case with the European commission.”
A spokeswoman for the European commission said: “The commission takes note of the complaint and, as is the procedure, will inform Google to allow it to submit its own views. No further comment.”