Microsoft defends its Google complaint

Microsoft is trying to blow through Google's PR smokescreen following the news that the European Commission is looking into competition complaints against the search giant.

Deputy general counsel David Heiner, in a blog post, accused Google of trying to spin Europe's investigation into a Microsoft stitch-up.

“Google is telling reporters that antitrust concerns about search are not real because some of the complaints come from one of its last remaining search competitors,” Heiner said. He admitted that Microsoft has raised concerns about Google with EU and US regulators. “Complaints in competition law cases usually come from competitors,” he said. “Believe me, I know: I’ve been chief competition counsel at Microsoft since 1994, so I’ve seen plenty of competitor complaints.”

If Google attempted to portray itself as a victim of the bully of Redmond, Microsoft now appears to be portraying Google as Microsoft's second coming. Heiner noted that “Google’s business is helped along by significant network effects (just like the PC operating system business)” due to the “network effects” of its commanding market shares in search and advertising. Google's ad network learns what users are interested in buying by looking at their search queries.

Google revealed last week that the European Commission is looking into competition complaints from three companies: Ciao, which is owned by Microsoft, as well as vertical search engines eJustice.fr and the UK's Foundem. Google attempted to connect Foundem to its arch-rival via its membership of industry group ICOMP, which is funded by Microsoft.

The complaints chiefly centre on claims that Google search results sideline vertical search rivals in favour of its own products, such as Google Shopping. Foundem, a product search engine, reckons that Google almost ruined its business by excluding it from search results. The Commission has stressed that its probe is at an informal stage, and that it's not an official “investigation” yet.