Descriptions of Microsoft's plan to file a formal complaint against Google with antitrust regulators in the European Union have been varied. CNET News says it's ironic. The New York Times calls it history coming full circle. Over at AllThingsD Kara Swisher points out that Microsoft has never before filed a formal antitrust complaint, and that even Microsoft attorney Brad Smith admits the irony.
The one thing they have in common? No one is particularly surprised. Not even Google. A company spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal:
We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants ... We continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we're happy to explain to anyone how our business works.
The complaint originated with several smaller companies in EU member countries, which argue that Google's search engine unfairly promotes its own products and prevents smaller sites' search results from showing up early in the lists. Price comparison site Ciao is reportedly the Microsoft subsidiary in the bunch.
Microsoft wasn't the first to voice antitrust concerns about Google. More than one observer has expressed concerns about the company's obvious dominance in the search space, as well as its tendency to try to get a toehold in as many different markets as possible. But think about it. Who better than Microsoft to file the formal complaint?
In the last two decades, the company has become intimately acquainted with antitrust enforcement proceedings in the U.S. and the EU. Microsoft knows what the regulators look for, what's acceptable and what is not, and just how much it will take to appease them. The question is whether Google paid enough attention to Microsoft's experience to learn from it as well.