Just Browsing? Google, Microsoft and the EU

In a story that seems to have flown under the radar during this busy week, Google has applied to be a thirdmicrosoft party as the EU looks into Microsoft’s apparent stranglehold on the browser market. I am not a lawyer so this whole third party idea was new to me. Whatever it is though the WSJ reports that

By applying to become a third party, Google is trying to gain the ability to see the details of the charges against Microsoft and allow it to submit its observations to European regulators.

This probe started in January as the EU wanted to look into the fact that the Internet Explorer browser is tied into Windows and thus stymies competition. Wait! When did that happen? When did Microsoft start using its product to promote its products? Those fiends! While I am not a Microsoft apologist by any stretch I have never seen this practice as evil since anyone can go out and get any browser they want at any time and render IE useless. It’s not like you can’t use any other browser in an Windows environment. So what’s all the fuss?

Looks like Google may be trying to ruffle some feathers considering the history of legal jousting between these two giants. Remember Microsoft pitching a corporate hissy fit over the proposed Google Yahoo search marketing partnership? That one worked since the Justice Department threatened to sue to block the deal. Microsoft thought that the whole DoubleClick and Google thing smelled bad but couldn’t stop that one.

Google is letting people know their position through one of their many blogs

In a blog post Tuesday, Sundar Pichai, a vice president of product management at Google, wrote that Google decided to participate in the process because browsers are central to users’ experiences on the Internet.

“Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users,” he added. “This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft’s dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.”

This whole thing started in 2007 by a complaint filed by Opera Software ASA following the ten year battle between the EU and Microsoft over media players. I suspect that when this one goes away there will be something else to jam Microsoft with so maybe the line forms here?