Is Microsoft starting a "proxy war" with Google?

Is Microsoft starting a "proxy war" with Google?

Summary: What the heck is a proxy war? And why would Microsoft not just have a regular old war-o'-competition with their number one rival?  It's an interesting idea floated by Google and the Wall Street Journal this weekend in response to domestic and international antitrust actions that have people asking if Google is the new Microsoft.

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What the heck is a proxy war? And why would Microsoft not just have a regular old war-o'-competition with their number one rival?  It's an interesting idea floated by Google and the Wall Street Journal this weekend in response to domestic and international antitrust actions that have people asking if Google is the new Microsoft (this link, by the way, is an interesting read and worth a few moments of your time).

ZDNet's Editor in Chief, Larry Dignan, already described Google's position on the international investigations last week:

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.

Fellow Googling Google blogger, Garett Rogers, hit the nail on the head with his aptly titled post, "The EU eyes up Google, Microsoft giggles a bit." Small domestic companies now seem to be coming out of the woodwork with antitrust complaints as well. According to the Wall Street Journal,

Seeking $335,000 in unpaid advertising bills, Google Inc. filed suit against a small Internet site in Ohio in October...Google never expected the response it got. Last month, the small Internet site countered with a 24-page antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the search-engine giant of a litany of monopolistic abuses.

More interestingly, though, the lawyer filing the complaint was Charles Rule, Microsoft's chief outside counsel on competition issues. As with the EU complaints, Google claims that the US complaints are being orchestrated by Microsoft. That, of course, is the proxy war I mentioned above. Microsoft, no stranger to antitrust investigations itself, can do far more to damage Google's growth, brand, and reputation by burying it in investigations and complaints from its many potential partners than it can through direct competition. Bing vs. Google? Who cares? Google Docs vs. Sharepoint? In many ways, they target different markets. And yet, Google is Microsoft's biggest threat in the tech world. Could this threat be neutralized to some extent by repeated antitrust efforts on many different fronts? Probably.

Microsoft obviously denies any role in the rash of complaints and investigations. And while they clearly have motive, it's also possible that Google's extraordinary size and success have simply made it an easy target for regulators and lawyers. We'll have to see how this shapes up, but Google may find itself forced to at least ease up on its aggressive growth models as governments begin to look more critically at the Internet giant.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Google, Security

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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18 comments
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  • Microsoft is denying nothing and Google brought it on themselves

    Google started this with all their whining about MS and Yahoo.

    Three words for Google. DEAL WITH IT
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • So what you are saying Christopher

    is that is it fine for Google to repetedlly run to the DoJ, yet somehow not right for Microsoft do do the same the other way?

    Even though Google has a monopoly in search and advertising?
    GuidingLight
    • Completely agree

      Rearrange the following words to form a complete sentence:
      The
      Goose
      What's
      Good
      Is
      Gander
      For

      (words may be repeated)

      Did Google REALLY think that MS was going to continue taking the punches laying down? I think Google can now start expecting MS to come back with a few well-placed blows of their own.
      de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
  • Starting? No, Google started it. Now maybe MS can finish it.

    Do remember Google was the one WHINING to everyone (DoJ and EC) about MS and Yahoo search.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • Google so deserves this

    Stay classy Google!!! Google virtual monopoly on the keyword search business means most keywords cost 10-15$ PER CLICK making it nearly impossible for small businesses to compete and locking up the internet. If one can't afford 10$s per visitor one might as well not have an online presence since Google is the internet gatekeeper.
    What proof does Google have that MS is behind it?? I for one wish MS is, Google was sitting in the other camp for pretty much every legal batter MS had to face now its being a cry baby!!! Shame on you Google.
    OneSaneGuy
  • Opera and Mozilla used before as Google proxies !!

    Remember that the browser complaints to the EU were made by companies that are financially tied with Google.
    Both submitter Opera and supporter Mozilla rely heavily on Google funding.

    Result of the complaint.
    A browser 'choice' screen that shows prominently 4 out of the 5 prominent browser effectivly being Google funded browsers that have Google as default search engine.
    IE11
  • Google should be saying ...

    ... "Thank you sir, may I have another!" If Google can't take something (antitrust complaints), it really shouldn't have dished it out in the first place.
    P. Douglas
  • Yo Chris, looks like no one feels bad for Google

    And that's exactlly as it should be!!!
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Honestly, I don't either

      Google will come through this just fine; in fact, so will Microsoft. We've
      already seen the results of serious competition between the two
      companies in the web-based/-enabled office suite space and they're
      both driving hard to create great products.

      Do I want to see Google's expansion slowed? Not really - I value their
      products too much. Am I thrilled at the competition, both for the sake
      of MS creating better products and Google continuing to innovate? Yes!

      Not suggesting anyone should feel bad for GOOG, though - just hoping
      that these developments foster competition and don't stifle
      development.

      cad
      mrdatahs
  • Is Microsoft starting a proxy war with Google?

    It serves them right. No longer will Google be able to walk the earth just because they are "Google". If Microsoft has to follow all the European laws so does Google. The best part is that its going to come down on their employees as well. The days of sitting around playing with office toys is over. I laugh at you Google, HAHA!
    Loverock Davidson
    • I'm happy

      you finally concur that MS should have to follow European laws, though I think you would hold Google to complying with laws even while demanding MS get a full pass to set its own standards.
      Viva la crank dodo
  • RE: Is Microsoft starting a proxy war? GOD I HOPE SO ...

    ... it's about time Google had a capable challenger to compete with them. They've had it WAY too easy for WAY too long.
    de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
    • That's hilarious

      "it's about time Google had a capable challenger to compete with them. They've had it WAY too easy for WAY too long. "

      This is what people have been saying about MS for a long time.
      Viva la crank dodo
  • I see the usual...

    Windows fan boys are all here ranting like fools again. This is
    nothing new Microsoft has been waging ?proxy wars? for
    years. Why compete on merit, when you can bury the
    competition in legal paperwork? I for one hope this blows up
    in Microsoft?s face.
    Rick_K
    • What goes around comes around, for sure!

      And those who pee on their customers and competitors continuosly will wake up one day with no customers because they couldn't compete.
      Ole Man
      • I hope it does.

        Nothing would be funnier, than to see Microsoft?s actions come back and
        bite them.
        Rick_K
  • Why is Dawson blogging on "Googling Google"?

    Hmm
    markbn
  • Of course they are, and they have more proxy wars on the boil.

    If you understand the history of the way Microsoft does
    business you know that Microsoft is behind this and it
    doesn't have to be 100%, it just needs to be a significant
    proportion. Those that deny this, doesn't not know how the
    real world works with regard to large, powerful, monopolistic
    corporations and proxy wars is a method of maintaining this
    size.
    root12