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All posts tagged Antitrust

EU Says No to Microsoft

The EU Slapped Microsoft Yet Again.

In what seems to be a bad flashback to the 1990’s the EU has fined Microsoft $731M for inhibiting user choice of browser in Windows 7.

According to Venturebeat the fine stems from a bug in Windows 7 SP1 that disabled a browser choice screen. The EU claimed this was a breach of an agreement Microsoft made with them to prevent Windows users in Europe from simply defaulting to Internet Explorer.

You Want the Truth…

The EU seems obsessively fixated on massively fining American multinational technology companies. Microsoft are not alone here, companies like Google have also been subject to the whimsy of the EU Anti-trust “cops”.

The other ugly truths here are: –

    • The people suing Microsoft are the same people deciding if that case has any validity. As the Roman poet Juvenal asked Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the Watchmen?)
    • This case seems to rest on the flawed premise that Europeans are simply too inept to know how to install a different browser. Really?!??
    • Browser usage statistics over the past several years have indicated a world-wide downturn in use of Internet Explorer. This sort of undermines the premise of this case too. Why? Because other desktop browsers have seized a greater market share and because of the increase in Smartphone browser use.

The Warptest POV

The EU is not exactly displaying enlightened self-interest by fining Microsoft $731M for what was not a malicious or intentional breach of agreement. Whilst this bug should not have slipped thru the testing cracks I still maintain that the underlying premise(s) of this case are so flawed that they would be better served working with Microsoft on what the EU wants for Windows 8.

One could accuse the EU of a pattern of pathological behavior that displays xenophobic, Euro-trash tendencies designed to undermine foreign companies operating in Europe or worse that this is a cynical attempt to line the empty coffers of the EU at the expense of private enterprise.

If Steve Ballmer Skype’d me now to discuss this my advice would be simple: the cost of doing business in the EU just got too high. Microsoft cannot allow a situation where the wolf is guarding the sheep.

Steve Ballmer onscreen at Discovery 2012

In an ideal world I would recommend shutting down all Microsoft offices in the EU and moving the jobs to neighboring countries. Microsoft would have to be sadomasochistic to continue the existing relationship with the EU. Let the EU Competition Enforcement Department run a Linux or Mac OS X computer and see if the same inhibited choice of browsers exist there.

Was this Avoidable?

Possibly if Microsoft had fixed this bug on the spot but somehow I feel that past behavior of the EU indicates that one way or another Microsoft were going to get fined.

vader as google

Google Lashes Out Again At Windows Phone…

..Shutting down Windows Phone access to Google Maps. Eventually having been called on this they recanted and claim that Windows Phone Users will once again be allowed access to Google Maps.

You can read all about the background to this and some interesting claims made by Google via TheNextWeb  including allegations that this all happened as a result of testing Google Maps on IE for Windows Phone. Based on my own experience with Google Maps on Windows Mobile and Windows Phone I’m struggling not to come right out and suggest this might be so much <fill in as you deem fit>

So, let’s keep this in historical context:

  • In my post of December 19th I spoke about Google’s Winter Cleaning which includes shutting down Windows Phone access to ActiveSync with Google services. Unless Microsoft is prepared to adopt Google’s new CardDAV then consumers will either have to choose between a Windows Phone or Google services (unless you are a paid G-Apps user).
  • Microsoft’s shiny new YouTube App for Windows Phone runs aground. Why? Because according to WPCentral Google allegedly blocked Microsoft access to many of the features other phones have.
  • The FTC shut the book on an antitrust investigation against Google with pretty much a slap on the wrist, a grin and a wink.

Why are Google behaving this way?

Darth Vader clip with thanks to YouTube User sasukeshippuden

Google’s Selective Ethics or <redact YOU!> Windows Phone

Far be it from me not to cite Google’s Code of Conduct or to refer you to their “Ten things we know to be true” but go ahead and read these and ask yourself if Google aren’t embracing the Dark Side just a little bit?

Screencap of Google Code

Google Code

 

What are Google’s management so annoyed or afraid of when it comes to Windows Phone?

I don’t believe that this is about Microsoft making more money through patents or licensing on Android than Google or the Google Mail Man ads that snipe at Gmail for indexing your mail.

Is Google Losing Their Grip?

There are very few products that Google does not have to compete with Microsoft over the market share. Some of them Google seems to be winning at.

However, the open warfare in the mobile arena seemed to really start up when Microsoft announced that Office was coming to iOS and Android in early 2013.

Office 2013 live tiles

Microsoft is slowly gearing up for competition in the arena of handsets and tablets and so far the future has possibilities. Now couple that with Office, real Microsoft Office on Android and maybe what we are seeing from Google isn’t aggression, its abject fear over losing the productivity market.

Office as the frontend app of choice is also going to influence servers, cloud infrastructure and many other strategic (read big money) purchasing decisions.

Whatever Happens and for Whatever Reason…

Google seems to have confused  attacking Microsoft and attacking consumers. Whilst most Windows Phone users have very little interest in using Google Maps (from what I have seen in forums and comments on other blogs) this seems to indicate a bigger problem ahead for consumers.

My advice to Microsoft is simple. The best response here is to ensure that Office for iOS / Android is a killer product that wows Android users away from Google services. The best payback is winning and winning with class.

Note: I wrote this article over the weekend when Google had already promised to revoke the block on Google Maps on Windows Phone. As of now tests on Google maps on .com, .co.uk, .co.il and several others show this is still in place.