In 2009 the European Union ruled that the design of Microsoft’s Windows operating system software violated the E.U.’s antitrust rules by integrating its Internet Explorer browser into the system. It was the second time Microsoft had lost an antitrust case in Europe; the first had come in 2004. Indeed, Microsoft spent the better part of a decade fighting antitrust actions across the Atlantic.
Microsoft’s reaction: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. At the end of March, the software manufacturer urged European regulators to go after one of its biggest rivals, Google, declaring that the search giant was engaging in illegal practices to “entrench its dominance” on the Internet. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, accused the search company of “walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers.”
Google has shrugged off the charges. A spokesman told The New York Times that the company was “not surprised” at Microsoft’s push. But the potential ramifications for the search engine’s business are substantial: If the E.U. finds that Google, like Microsoft before it, has violated its antitrust rules, the company could be fined as much as 10 percent of its $29 billion in total global revenue.