04.11.13

Microsoft is Using Proxies to Fight Linux/Android Yet Again, This Time Alleging ‘Antitrust’ Offences by Free Software

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Convicted monopolist Microsoft, upset that its monopoly is being lost as many OEMs move away to Linux, is trying to use antitrust law to stop this

A rather laughable story is developing in Europe. Microsoft claims to be the victim of antitrust violations. The alleged offender in this case is claimed to be Free/open source software. For a Free/open source system to be ‘too’ dominant when everyone — even the partly Microsoft-owned Facebook — can fork it is just ludicrous. Make no mistake. Timothy B. Lee says that “[a]ntitrust complaint against Android is an attack on open source” and it opens the door to future attacks as such.

The New York Times says “European antitrust regulators have received a formal complaint about Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices, even as they move to the final stages of their inquiry into the company’s search practices.”

Here it is from other, corporate-centric/biased press, CNN and USA Today, which says:

A group of companies led by Microsoft have called on European authorities to launch an antitrust investigation into Google and its hold over mobile internet usage on smartphones.

The “FairSearch” initiative of 17 companies – which includes Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle -claims Google is acting unfairly by giving away its Android operating system to mobile device companies on the condition that the U.S. online giant’s own software applications like YouTube and Google Maps are installed and prominently displayed.

“Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a Trojan horse to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, the group’s Brussels-based lawyer.

As put by this report, it is simple to see that Microsoft is using proxies:

Microsoft not fooling anyone by using FairSearch front in antitrust complaint against Google

Microsoft isn’t fooling anyone by hiding behind a trade group to complain to European antitrust regulators about Google and its Android mobile operating system, a legal expert said today.

“FairSearch.org is seen by many observers here as a Microsoft Trojan Horse,” said Nicolas Petit, a professor of competition law at the University of Liege in Belgium. “Everyone understands here in Brussels that it’s Microsoft versus Google.”

Here is a somewhat sarcastic take on it:

Microsoft was accused by its competitors of using its dominance on the desktop to monopolise the burgeoning online marketplace by requiring partners to offer Internet Explorer, rather than the rival Netscape Navigator, and to grant it “default placement ” on the desktop. Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with every copy of Windows was regarded as giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers; its rivals claimed there was a danger that Microsoft might repeat its “desktop abuses of dominance” as consumers increasingly turned to an Internet platform dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The closeness of the parallels might lead you to believe that the FairSearch group are trying to build on the earlier, successful anti-trust action to bolster their case. But what’s interesting is that among the FairSearch group is Microsoft itself. So I thought it might be interesting to see what the company said when it faced exactly the same accusations that it is now levelling against Google.

Just think what a nerve it takes for Microsoft to file antitrust complaints like it’s the victim. It takes great insensitivity, doesn’t it? Microsoft is also pretending to be European via Nokia, which former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop abducted against employees’ will. AOL cites the much-maligned “Scoogled” campaign as part of it:

Microsoft is skewering Google again with ads and regulatory bashing that say as much about the dramatic shift in the technology industry’s competitive landscape as they do about the animosity between the two rivals.

The ads that began Tuesday mark the third phase in a 5-month-old marketing campaign that Microsoft Corp. derisively calls “Scroogled.” The ads, which have appeared online, on television and in print, depict Google as a duplicitous company more interested in increasing profits and power than protecting people’s privacy and providing unbiased search results.

Microsoft’s attempt to distract from its own offences and refusal to comply with punishment are so recent that it is just crazy to pull off this stunt at this time. It was only weeks ago that Microsoft was fined almost billions of dollars for antitrust violations and failure to comply with suggested remedies. Microsoft’s behaviour is very notable, outrageously so. “Since Google went public in August 2004, Microsoft’s online division has accumulated more than $17.5 billion in operating losses,” says one report. Here is another take:

INTERNET GIANT Google is at the centre of another European antitrust complaint orchestrated by Microsoft, this time relating to its Android software.
The antitrust complaint has been filed by Fairsearch Europe, whose members include the likes of Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle.
The group, which describes itself as an “organization united to promote economic growth, innovation and choice across the internet” is going after Google for its allegedly anticompetitve practices deployed with Android. It’s a pretty ironic moment, after Microsoft recently was slapped with a mammoth fine for monopolistic behaviour relating to browser choice on Windows devices.

Tux Radar intends to dedicate an imminent show segment to this issue as it polls listeners/readers and Pamela Jones calls this “[a]nother Cynical “Antitrust” Complaint From Microsoft and Its Buddies Against Google” (this is not the first).

Evidently, Microsoft and its proprietary friends didn’t get the result they hoped for from their first antitrust complaint against Google to the EU Commission. The latest news is that the first one is being amicably resolved, according to the New York Times. Instead of saying to themselves, I guess we were wrong, instead Fairsearch, the Microsoft-led group that seems to have no other reason for being but to attack Google, files another antitrust complaint.

Meanwhile, reveals this update from Thomas Claburn, Editor-at-Large at a large news site, the antitrust complaints against Microsoft are being kept away from the public. “In June 2007,” he writes, “I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to learn more about the basis for Google’s complaint that Microsoft’s implementation of desktop search in Windows Vista violated the terms of its 2002 antitrust consent agreement.”

Then he says: “After six years, the truth can finally be told. What follows is an excerpt from an email sent by Kulpreet Rana, Google’s director of intellectual property, to Justice Department attorney Aaron Hoag, dated Oct. 4, 2006.”

Microsoft is trying to use antitrust law as an insurance policy as its business is collapsing. Law enforcers are not helping free competition and they oughtn’t intervene with Free software going mainstream.

Originally posted in Linux Advocates

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