06.08.09

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Does Microsoft Break the Law in Search of a Future?

Posted in Antitrust, Law, Microsoft, Search, Windows at 3:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bongs
Bongs

Summary: Microsoft may be breaking competition law by routing users to its Web sites

SEVERAL DAYS ago we showed that Microsoft had allegedly forced IE6 users to embrace its rebranded “search engine” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which the company vainly and callously calls “decisions engine” (because it lets Microsoft make decisions). The issue is now pretty much confirmed:

Microsoft Tries to Force You to Use Bing

According to reports, a glitch in Internet Explorer 6 forced Bing onto users as the default search engine. Even when users manually altered their preferences, Bing emerged once again.

Search Engine Land contacted Microsoft about the bug. Microsoft acknowledged the problem and responded at 2:45 a.m. that the bug is now fixed. End of story, right?

Perhaps. But when you take Microsoft’s history into consideration, the force-feeding of Bing almost makes sense. I am not suggesting Microsoft intentionally created this bug to get people hooked on Bing. I am saying there’s a correlation between the problem at hand and problems Microsoft have encountered in the past.

Are regulators paying attention?

Microsoft’s desperation is no excuse and if it tries to game the system to falsely claim growth, then punishment is in order. According to this new article, it’s too late for Microsoft.

MICROSOFT has been warned it is haemorrhaging almost £750 million ($1.2bn) a year by failing to secure a tie-up with Yahoo.

The investment bank Credit Suisse used an internet blog website to urge the US software giant to strike a deal and finally bring an end to on-off talks that have lasted well over a year.

It claims Microsoft cannot survive in the global search arena on a standalone basis, despite launching a £61m advertising campaign for “Bing”, its new search engine proposition.

Whether Microsoft gains market share or not is not so important. The company is already using this illusion of a “decisions engine” to deceive a lot of people. The engine is biased by design (in Microsoft’s favour) and we already know that Microsoft is making search results advance OOXML, for example. A few days ago, Pamela Jones wrote in Grokaw, “I suggest you search for ODF on both Bing and Google and see which one is more informative.”

It was the same with Microsoft’s Live (same engine under the hood) just over a year ago, so people complained. “Decisions engine” as a name is an excuse for delivering man-made results. Nowhere is there a claim that there will be no bias. Someone in a USENET newsgroup posted the following yesterday:

Search word: lady

Google: 333 Million
Yahoo: 898 Million
Bing: over 263 Million

Search word: chrysler

Google: over 90 Million
Yahoo: 475 Million
Bing: over 52 Million

Search word: ubuntu

Google: over 90 Million
Yahoo: over 200 Million
Bing: over 100 Thousand?

Does Microsoft has selective sight? It sure does. And its ‘new’ product (more of a predatory new strategy than a product) deserves the ire of regulators. Too little is said about the violations involved so far.

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5 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 8, 2009 at 4:22 am

    Gravatar

    It would seem that the noise is about saturating the media with chaff about the new name for MS old search product. The purpose of that would be to use up any possible quota dedicated to search services so that Wolfram Alpha is over-shadowed.

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/

    Wolfram Alpha is quite interesting and seems to show some *very* interesting potential. Right now it looks to focus within the hard sciences, but the service could expand to other fields.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Despite Wolfram Alpha being hilariously bad as a search engine, I’ve actually found it useful for scientific questions that would otherwise occasion dredging through Wikipedia, e.g. the surface area of a human body – WA comes up with a *calculator* to answer the question!

    It’s a small niche, but it’s a niche, and it’s good at it. That’s quite enough to start from.

    Bing lacks a niche. There’s no unique value proposition. There’s talk of one in the marketing, but none evident in using it.

  2. twitter said,

    June 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Gravatar

    Regulatory attention to M$’s search efforts is long overdue. Wired has covered M$’s attempts to kill Google but this only scratches the surface of M$’s usual practices. It is inexcusable for the US government to allow a company that’s been judged an abusive monopoly to use it’s monopoly position to fund invade yet more fields and services in support of it’s original and harmful monopoly. M$’s search efforts have all been failures but failure is not a useful criteria to judge criminal intent. A person who fails to extract money from the corner grocery store is still an armed robber if he pointed a gun. M$ has astroturfed, modified it’s software, sabotaged other’s software (.NET stuck into Mozilla), and probably does a whole lot more to push it’s way into search. Society should move quickly to protect itself from this kind of abuse. The first and easiest move is to quit purchasing M$ software and use free software instead.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It seems as though US-based regulators got paralyzed in the sense that regulatory agencies got captured by cronies. I hope the EU Commission will respond.

  3. contextfree said,

    June 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Gravatar

    “A few days ago, Pamela Jones wrote in Grokaw, ‘I suggest you search for ODF on both Bing and Google and see which one is more informative.’”

    erm, I get pretty much the same stuff, except google has a couple of links to Microsoft’s Doug Mahugh’s blog on the first page, actually, while the first page of bing results contains no MS-affiliated sites. not sure how that fits into your narrative.

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