Google said the European Commission has opened an investigation into the company's power over the advertising industry. Google also said that Microsoft is the driving force behind the company's regulatory headache.
In a blog post, Google said that three Internet companies have filed complaints with the EC. The companies---Foundem, ejustice.fr and Microsoft's Ciao! from Bing---lobbed the complaints.
Google said that it's not surprised that there's the scrutiny given its sheer girth. The search giant said it will also cooperate and that it is confident that its business "operates in the interests of users and partners, as well as in line with European competition law."
The twist in Google's blog post is that it's pretty clear about how it feels about the companies complaining. Google, looking to get ahead of the news cycle, declares that Microsoft is playing a big role. To wit:
Foundem - a member of an organisation called ICOMP which is funded partly by Microsoft - argues that our algorithms demote their site in our results because they are a vertical search engine and so a direct competitor to Google. ejustice.fr's complaint seems to echo these concerns.
Regarding Ciao!, they were a long-time AdSense partner of Google's, with whom we always had a good relationship. However, after Microsoft acquired Ciao! in 2008 (renaming it Ciao! from Bing) we started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions. They initially took their case to the German competition authority, but it now has been transferred to Brussels.
You can expect a lot of back and forth about algorithms and search rankings going forward along with a healthy dose of sniping.
One thing is certain: These EU investigations don't end overnight. These probes take a while and usually end in concessions and/or fines being paid.