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Google Says Microsoft Is Driving Antitrust Review

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the water-is-wet-film-at-eleven dept.

Google 295

GovTechGuy writes "On Friday we discussed news that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott opened a probe into whether Google ranks its search listings with an eye toward nicking the competition. Google suggested the concerns have a major sponsor: Microsoft. In question is whether the world's biggest search engine could be unfairly disadvantaging some companies by giving them a low ranking in free search listings and in paid ads that appear at the top of the page. That could make it tough for users to find those sites and might violate antitrust laws. Abbott's office asked for information about three companies who have publicly complained about Google, according to blog post by Don Harrison, the company's deputy general counsel. Harrison linked each of the companies to Microsoft."

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The obvious (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493478)

This is obviously just a clever way to try to get the courts to force Google to reveal their search algorithm so Microsoft can try to do the same in their crap search engine.

Re:The obvious (4, Informative)

wagadog (545179) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493496)

But Google's search algorithm is published -- there's even a helpful book about it, Amy Langville's "PageRank and beyond" which demonstrates that it's no more complicated than the linear algebra you learned in your sophomore year of engineering school.

Re:The obvious (4, Informative)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493672)

The basic idea behind PageRank may be published, but there is a lot more to do with it, such as all the logic for detecting link farms and other forms of intentional manipulation, which Google does not make public.

There is also a ton of logic behind trying to determine in a page what is "important," and that comes down to parsing html and making inferences as to what is the "main part", what is a heading, and so on. And then there is logic for determining what is duplicate content....again a very complex problem. The list goes on. If you think this is simple or straightforward, I'd say you are highly mistaken.

Re:The obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493734)

you're wrong. he posted the most important part. google basically told people how to compete, and it's up to them what they do with it.

Re:The obvious (2, Informative)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493828)

Got a citation for that? Everything I see says otherwise, for instance this [cnet.com] .

Re:The obvious (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493848)

sure do. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20100904101642564 [groklaw.net]

note that it shows a: the antitrust links and b: why anyone can make a google search engine by their own choice

Really, why should google ever publish the "how we do our job"? that's not their job, and it's not microsoft, and it's not anyone's.

Re:The obvious (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494186)

cat butt slaps down dog butt

Re:The obvious (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493688)

If it was a *clever* way then a dolt like you wouldn't have figured out that's what they were up to!

So what? (0, Flamebait)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493480)

Google has its hand in anti-trust proceedings against Microsoft as well. What goes around comes around.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493550)

[citation needed]

Re:So what? (3, Informative)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493572)

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Dayofswords (1548243) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493752)

These aren't comparable, in this case Microsoft is backing lawsuits with their own resources, your linked blog post is about their comment on the matter since they now had experience in the the browser market. Google didn't bring fourth any of the antitrust lawsuits or back them up of support them with their resources. And quoted from the blog "Google's perspective will be useful as the European Commission evaluates remedies to improve the user experience" meaning they will give their comment to the EC in an already in progress discussion on the Internet Explorer browser and it's integration in Windows.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493976)

[citation needed]

Too often this means [google search needed] *cough*

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493556)

No no. You see: ad hominem is not a logical fallacy when used by either google or apple.

Bollocks (5, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493660)

"Google has its hand in anti-trust proceedings against Microsoft as well. What goes around comes around."

I think you are ignoring the fact that Microsoft is actually flamingly guilty of such antitrust. What you are saying is equivalent to saying that if someone accuses a person of rape, who actually in fact commited said rape, then it is a case of "fair is fair" if the rapist then accuses you of raping them.

Re:Bollocks (4, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493718)

I think it's more along the lines that as long as the companies are legally allowed to throw lawyers and regulators at each other, they will. The whole good for the goose/gander junk. Of course, that doesn't mean it's right or ethical, much less 'good', but it is something that's done. (Some would argue that it's actually a form of underhanded evil corporate activity. IMO Google gave up their mantra a long time ago, but I wouldn't call this type of stuff evil, just scummy.)

Re:Bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493788)

I don't think such a silly analysis is worthy of an analogy. It is so absurd on its face, that if you think it is insightful, you probably are not capable of understanding what an analogy is.

Re:Bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494324)

So, you're saying that as long as someone first steals your car, you're then allowed to steal other cars?

Microsoft being guilty or not guilty of such antitrust is completely irrelevant. It doesn't matter who the accuser is; Google is not above the law and should be punished, just like Microsoft should be, if they are found in violation.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493712)

Really? REALLY? This is insightful? The best 5+ slashdot can offer? A kindergartener's level of understanding of life, where "what goes around comes around?" Oh yeah, that's about right.

Re:So what? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493992)

Really? REALLY? This is insightful? The best 5+ slashdot can offer? A kindergartener's level of understanding of life, where "what goes around comes around?" Oh yeah, that's about right.

There are times when the kindergartner is right. Some things are so simple they get overlooked, not so complex that no one can figure them out. This may or may not be one of those times; that's up to the reader to decide. The point is, that isn't an instantaneous slam-dunk dismissal no matter how badly you want it to be.

Re:So what? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494046)

Well, if the infinitely wise AC can't come up with anything to rebut it beyond "da mods are dumb," it must be pretty good.

Instead of sitting around calling everyone dumb, perhaps you could share some of that pent up know-it-all with us. It's fine that you feel GP's explanation is simplistic. However, you seem to be unable (unwilling?) to offer a more complete or alternative viewpoint or explain why you think GP's explanation is too simplistic.

Generally to be useful on /. you need to do more than just bitch about moderation and be insulting. Neither are great for conversation.

Re:So what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493740)

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, Google are getting dangerously big and all-encompassing at a level which can and will affect us all personally. They deserve a little scrutiny even if they're totally innocent, if only to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493798)

Okay true. But in this case, what is being claimed is simply not likely to be true. While I trust google about as far as I can throw it (let it be known and repeated that I distrust ALL marketing/advertising companies) the claims against it are inconsistent with even the most casual observations.

The antitrust claims against Microsoft, on the other hand, were quite valid. And, as it turns out, the remedies against Microsoft were clearly not enough as they haven't yet changed their ways fully. (For example, OEM version of Microsoft Office is mysteriously cheaper when purchased through Dell than when purchased through other sources... perhaps this is "Dell's doing" but then again, to what advantage is it to offer MS Office at a perceived discount? Certainly not the user who doesn't get MS Office and still has to pay a partial price for it as that portion of the cost is rolled into the price of the computer.) And I am sure there are lots more examples of the games they play, but it's close to my bed time and the mind is shutting down.

I'm neither a Google fan nor one of Microsoft. But as someone from the outside, objectively I can't see where the case has merit and it just smells like more of Microsoft's dirty play. After all, this is not the first time we have heard of Microsoft's agenda being pushed by its partners and affiliates.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494112)

The antitrust claims against Microsoft, on the other hand, were quite valid.

Why would I believe that when your own example is specious at best?

I'm neither a Google fan nor one of Microsoft. But as someone from the outside, objectively I can't see where the case has merit and it just smells like more of Microsoft's dirty play.

Speaking as somebody on the outside of you, I can't objectively see why your example has merit, and it smells more like you're randomly ranting about something than objectively demonstrating something that I would consider rising to the level of an anti-trust action.

Perhaps your brain is just shutting down, but really, I see nothing inherently wrong with being able to offer a better price for something. Yet you bring it up as if the mere description of it is enough to condemn them.

No thanks. If you want to bring up evidence of actual nefarious conduct, go ahead. But otherwise, you've got nothing going on. Dell has a lower price. Maybe they manage to make it up in Volume. Or other ways of cutting costs. Maybe they just don't want as much of a profit from that one item. Who knows? Not I. Perhaps there is something going on. But your accusation is not enough to sustain it.

After all, this is not the first time we have heard of Microsoft's agenda being pushed by its partners and affiliates.

And this isn't a time when Google's agenda isn't being pushed?

Re:So what? (1)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494320)

(For example, OEM version of Microsoft Office is mysteriously cheaper when purchased through Dell than when purchased through other sources... perhaps this is "Dell's doing" but then again, to what advantage is it to offer MS Office at a perceived discount?

FWIW, Dell typically doesn't make any money on the MS software they sell--at least not when to comes to volume licensed software. They sell it as cost, as a means of driving other business (hardware). At least, that's the story I've gotten from my sales team in the past, and I believe it--I've gotten another reseller (very large--IIRC, the #2 MS reseller compared to Dell's #1) to match their pricing before, but it took a VP and $100k to do it.

Things might be different in the OEM licensed software, but based on the pricing, I don't think so.

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494060)

That is stupid. Antitrust is not about your competitors complaining about you. Antitrust is when you are so economically powerful that you can destroy the free market and create a situation in which you economically destroy anybody who competes with you.

'What goes around comes around.' reveals a mindset in which antitrust is all part of the normal give-and-take of companies competing against each other. It isn't. Somebody has to engage in a specific set of behaviors deemed anticompetitive for it to be considered an antitrust problem. It's a market distortion, and companies accused of it aren't playing by rules in which capitalism can function properly.

It's possible this accusation against Google is true. But I suspect it's just smoke. If it is true, I will consider Google to have done something truly evil and deserving of this investigation. And it will not be a case of 'what goes around comes around'. It will be a case of a company doing something wrong that should be punished severely.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494356)

MS are being rather hypocritical here. They've been forging Linux search results on their engines to be very negative for many years now. Clearly the massive amount of money they've given to yahoo and apple isn't buying as much market share for bing as they expected. Oh noooes, users are deselecting bing and choosing something else!

What ever happened to making a better product? It's not as if a lot of people aren't utterly pissed off with google and are ready to move elsewhere, once there's a real alternative.

Don't worry Microsoft (5, Funny)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493498)

When I Google "Bing" - you're first in the list of results. And second, and fourth....

Of course that unfairly disadvantages Bing Crosby. But he's dead. Just like Windows Live Search.

It's free (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493500)

Um .. it's a free service - if you don't like it use something else!

Re:It's free (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493738)

Well that's true up to point but if you get too big then you risk becoming an essential utility and the resulting regulation. That's the down side of becoming too popular but that's the way it should work.

Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (4, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493510)

Once again Microsoft chooses to litigate instead of innovate. I guess Bing didn't crush Google quite as firmly as Microsoft hoped so they had to find proxies to launch baseless legal attacks until they think of something else. The technology landscape would be vastly improved if Microsoft would just dissolve and go away.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (2, Insightful)

August_zero (654282) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493564)

Google is hardly some poor little fish lost in a big pond with some big bad guppy bearing down on it. Google can handle itself at this point, no need to drag out the M$ rhetoric again.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493634)

Truth, my insightful friend. Google isn't the typical MicroSoft victim. They have their own huge army of lawyers and deep pockets. It make you wonder what MS's real goals are here. Is it just to spread FUD and hassle Google like they tried with SCO against IBM? Something even more nefarious. It ought to be interesting, eh?

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493636)

The problem is that there is no monopoly here, no lock-in. Lets see here:

A) No "default" lock-in, fire up a new OEM computer and chances are, Google isn't the default home page or search engine. Usually its one of MS's offerings.

B) No e-mail lock-in, Gmail supports forwarding and also standardized access via POP

C) No phone lock-in, Android is by far the most open of the popular Smartphone OSes beating both Windows Mobile and iOS.


The only thing Google should possibly get an Anti-trust suit is with Google Book Search but that is mostly because of how fucked-up the copyright situation is in the US and not because Google is trying to be evil.

Being good at something so people use your site is not a monopoly, it is competition.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (3, Informative)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493846)

I'm not arguing in favor of this investigation and don't believe the allegations, but you're wrong about the monopoly thing. A monopoly doesn't have to be complete, nor does there have to be a lock-in in order to fall afoul of anti-trust law. Standard Oil was not the only oil company, and had minor players. People were always free to buy from them. Windows was not the only operating system, you could always use Linux or buy a Mac.

Standard Oil used its dominant position to stifle its competition. Microsoft used its dominant market share in Windows to snuff out Netscape. I don't think anyone can doubt that Google could decimate a web-based business by demoting them in search rankings.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493870)

> Windows was not the only operating system, you could always use Linux or buy a Mac.

Yes. You could always use Linux or buy a Mac and end up living like the Amish.

THAT was rather the point of Microsoft being a monopoly. I am sure you have grossly misrepresented the Standard Oil situation as well.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493934)

No really, he hasn't misrepresented it. Standard Oil at one point refined 90% of the oil in the US giving it immense power in that field.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493884)

So its Google's responsibility to pay the Microsoft Tax, so Redmond can continue pumping out failed products?

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493920)

Yes it does, Standard Oil was a monopoly because it was not better than its competition but rather relied on the government to fuel its practices, without the government. Plus, by the time Standard Oil was about to be broken up, competitors had effectively nullified its competitive edge.

With Microsoft, it again used government help in the form of government contracts for computers, plus patents and copyrights with OEM bundling meant that it was a monopoly.

Google really uses none of this. Google isn't like MS and uses a few OEMs (which use patents, copyright and government funds to operate) to require bundling.

Don't know much about history. (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494322)

Standard Oil was a monopoly because it was not better than its competition but rather relied on the government to fuel its practices

Petroleum derivatives had a well-earned reputation for being both unpredictable and lethal.

Rockefeller delivered a retail product based on standard formulations and sold in honest weights and measures. "Standard Oil" was trusted.

"Standard Oil" was cheap.

The kerosene that cost 58 cents in 1865 cost 26 cents in 1870. Standard Oil [wikipedia.org]

None too surprisingly, perhaps, the Standard's customers tended to remain loyal to the Standard's operating companies after the break-up. They pospered as would Rockefeller himself.

There would be opportunities for others, but only for the big boys, vertically integrated like the Standard itself.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493984)

Actually, they can't. It's the quality of the results that makes Google search useful. Such an attack would eliminate the value of Google's product- credibility - and only destroy themselves. They would then be just another Bing. They know this, so this can't happen.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494132)

That's assuming they were totally blatant and obvious about it... like it Oracle suddenly disappeared from search results after they filed their suit. But if they really chose to use their search market to, say, dominate the mobile market there are so many subtle ways of doing it. Whenever someone searched for the iPhone, stories about the antenna problems could get higher rankings than their organic ranking would dictate. Stories praising the latest Android-based "iphone-killer" could float a closer to the top.

If they decided to abuse their power, Google could certainly provide an unfair nudge in directions they wanted and it would be extremely hard to gauge that from the outside, especially if they only did it with a very small number of carefully selected areas.

I don't believe they would do such a thing because I do believe the founders do want to do the right thing and not mess with their core product. If Brin and Page decided to leave Google though and leave the company in charge of some random schmo, who knows.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494234)

Standard Oil used its dominant position to stifle its competition. Microsoft used its dominant market share in Windows to snuff out Netscape. I don't think anyone can doubt that Google could decimate a web-based business by demoting them in search rankings.

Assume for the moment that this statement is true (and I would argue that it is not.) Re-read that with the Sesame Street "One of these things is not like the others..." song playing in your head, then tell me why Google deserves to be under investigation again.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494312)

How about you read the very first thing I said my my comment

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494278)

Market share was not the sole factor driving Standard Oil's proceedings. From the suit filed (reprinted from the Wikipedia article on Standard Oil):

"Rebates, preferences, and other discriminatory practices in favor of the combination by railroad companies; restraint and monopolization by control of pipe lines, and unfair practices against competing pipe lines; contracts with competitors in restraint of trade; unfair methods of competition, such as local price cutting at the points where necessary to suppress competition; [and] espionage of the business of competitors, the operation of bogus independent companies, and payment of rebates on oil, with the like intent."

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494282)

Yep, monopolies can be very much defacto situations. I mean technically, there is no barrier for entry to the search market. Just put up a website that does searches, people can use it if they like. No barrier at all...

Except how it really works is that Google has become the one and only place most people go. It is who they trust, who they seek out, etc. What this means is that effectively, there is a nearly insurmountable barrier to entry. You have to make people aware of your site, and convince them to use it. Very hard. Could potentially be harder still since of course people find sites through Google, and Google controls a large amount of online ads. They could black list you quite effectively if they wanted to.

These days, Google really does have control over what people see. If Google knows about it, people know about it. If it doesn't, they don't. That is very much a monopoly position. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but could be abused in many ways, and who knows may be is abused.

I think too many starry-eyed geeks forget that just because Google and Apple don't like MS, doesn't mean that they might not be like MS in many ways. They aren't underdogs anymore, they aren't the little company fighting against the giant. They are both massive, powerful, firms with a lot of control over the markets they are in. That doesn't make them bad or anything, but does mean they deserve the same scrutiny as MS.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493906)

Nope, they could for instance be in trouble for buying Double click, that was definitely a violation of antitrust law which the DoJ should never have allowed in the first place. Also if it turns out that there really is special priority given to their apps, that would also be a violation of Sherman. Not to mention that for the longest time there was some degree of ambiguity between when their apps were popping up alongside search results as a recommendation from Google rather than from their algorithm.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493978)

The problem is, with virtual things there is no monopoly when there is no lock-in look at Standard Oil, they could nearly monopolize the oil industry because there aren't an infinite number of oil wells. On the other hand whats the overhead for opening up a competitor to Google Ads/Double Click, its effectively zero. A monopoly is bad because it monopolizes a limited resource, with an internet company there is no scarcity! Barring government intervention in the form of software patents, there is no barrier to me starting up my own internet ad company.

Pre-digital laws make no sense when transitioning to digital. Monopolies are bad because they monopolize a limited resource, since there are really no* limited resources on the internet, it makes no sense to punish a company for being a non-existent monopoly which can't exist because there are no limited resources to monopolize.

*With the exception of things like IP addresses, bandwidth, etc which will all grow as the internet grows, but in essence the point still stands unless the reason Google is being sued is because of using up too many addresses.

The most open - by far? (0, Offtopic)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493958)

No phone lock-in, Android is by far the most open of the popular Smartphone OSes beating both Windows Mobile and iOS.

Right, that's why Skype is limited to WiFi on Verizon. Or why you can't root some phones. Or the fact you HAVE to root phones to do some things.

I don't think they're any worse than the other platforms listed mind you. But to call them "by far" the most open is simply not correct.

Re:The most open - by far? (1)

dallaswebdesign (1863412) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494084)

Andriod as an OS/Platform is much more open. This openness includes the option to make a crappy proprietary app with vendor lock-ins. He never said every single app on Android was super-duper open. He said that Android is by far the most open OS. It definitely trumps the iPhone in terms of openness, hands down/no questions asked. Windows Mobile is actually pretty open, but it's not open source, which is a pretty bug plus for Android.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494358)

Exactly. What giggles me most is that compliance here means that people should be able to search for Microsoft things on Google and Google should not put in funny routines and block out Microsoft. You see how funny this is? It's essentially whiny baby.

If people are searching for Microsoft things, or searching other things and expecting Microsoft to show up, ON GOOGLE, it's too damn late for Microsoft.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (0, Offtopic)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493948)

On Wall Street they say "buy low, sell high" On the pad we say, "buy high, sell high" Isn't that somehow better?

Is that a one time pad?

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493746)

Once again Microsoft chooses to litigate instead of innovate. I guess Bing didn't crush Google quite as firmly as Microsoft hoped...

I don't know what Microsoft expected with Bing, but I would guess that they are more than pleased with the marketshare they have been able to grab. Some of the things they've had to do to get that marketshare has been quite lame (deals with Verizon, etc), but I would be surprised if Bing's success has not already exceeded their expectations.

Re:Once again Microsoft abandons innovation (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493938)

I'd love to see their stats on what browsers use Bing the most.

I'd bet 95%+ are IE with Bing installed by default and the user hasnt worked out how to change it yet.

I'd also love to know how many searches they get for 'Google' from people trying to get to Google just like how people search for 'Facebook'.

Not Microsoft! (4, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493520)

MicroSoft would never stoop to such a dirty trick. They have a long history of being open and above board in all business dealings. Just look how well they've treated the open source community over the years.

Re:Not Microsoft! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493864)

MicroSoft

Even after all these year I still think that name would be better suited to be the brand name of a fabric softener.

Surprise suprise... (5, Informative)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493536)

...NOT!

* Foundem -- the British price comparison site that is backed by ICOMP, an organization funded largely by Microsoft. They claim that Google’s algorithms demote their site because they are a direct competitor to our search engine. The reality is that we don’t discriminate against competitors. Indeed, companies like Amazon, Shopping.com and Expedia typically rank very high in our results because of the quality of the service they offer users. Various experts have taken a closer look at the quality of Foundem’s website, and New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann concluded, “I want Google to be able to rank them poorly.”

* SourceTool/TradeComet - SourceTool is a website run by parent company TradeComet, whose private antitrust lawsuit against Google was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this year. The media have noted that TradeComet is represented by longtime Microsoft antitrust attorneys, and independent search experts have called SourceTool a “click arbitrage” site with little original content.

* myTriggers - Another site represented by Microsoft’s antitrust attorneys, myTriggers alleges that they suffered a drop in traffic because Google reduced their ad quality ratings. But recent filings have revealed that the company’s own servers overheated, explaining their reduced traffic.

Re:Surprise suprise... (2, Funny)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493620)

Mozilla -- an organization funded almost entirely by Google. They claim that Microsoft's browser unfairly blah blah

What difference does it make even if these companies are Microsoft-backed? How does that affect the merits of their claim?

Re:Surprise suprise... (3, Informative)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493736)

It's like all those doctors that testify on behalf of the drug companies. There is a reason why the law now requires big pharma to disclose how much money they are paying doctors in speaking fees.

So monopolies are ok so ling as they aren't MS? (0)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494198)

Sorry man but you can't have it both ways. You can't say "It would be ok for Google to become a monopoly and throw their weight around as such, but not for MS." The law has to apply to everyone.

Please remember that the people who complained about MS being a monopoly were MS's competitors in various market. Netscape whined and cried that it was unfair they couldn't sell their browser for $50 anymore. Real complained that MS wouldn't include and make their player the default, even though it played only Realmedia files, and so on. None of the parties were disinterested, none of them were companies saying "You know we are on the sidelines here but looks to us like MS is being jerks." They were ALL people who had a competitive interest in things.

So why would it be any different with Google?

To me, this seems like attempted PR spin on Google's part. The merit of the claims is independent from who makes them. Seems to me like they are trying to deflect away form the substance by saying "Look! Look! MS is behind it! You all hate MS right?" Ignore the message, go after the messenger and all that.

Please remember Google isn't the poor little underdog here. They are a massively powerful company, one that probably controls more of the world's data than any other. I'm not saying that it bad, but don't buy in to the "Ahh the big meany MS is beating us up!" crap.

Re:So monopolies are ok so ling as they aren't MS? (2, Informative)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494272)

Sorry man but you can't have it both ways.

Nice straw man you have there - he burns really well!

You can't say "It would be ok for Google to become a monopoly and throw their weight around as such, but not for MS."

Nobody is saying that - and as you so beautifully point out, Google isn't a monopoly. So trying to compare them to Microsoft is disingenuous at best.

Nice try though.

Re:So monopolies are ok so ling as they aren't MS? (0, Flamebait)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494360)

It can well be argued they are. Monopolies don't have to have 100% of the market to be a monopoly, but geeks exhibit bad cognitive dissonance in with regards to that. MS never had 100% of the desktop computer market. Apple has been around since long before the anti-trust issue and Linux has a small share too. So if all you need is for a competitor to exist and sell some products, well there you go, then MS is not a monopoly and all that whining about them needs to go away.

However if you subscribe to the actual law on it, then you can be a monopoly without total control, and thus MS indeed could be a monopoly even though they only have a commanding majority, not a complete lock.

Guess what? Google is the same way. They are the way that people get their information these days. People don't "search" for things, they "Google" them. They have become the de facto search engine for most people. That very well does make them a monopoly, or at least I should say could. Ultimately if they are or not and if they are abusing it is a question for the courts.

Sorry, but this idea that people seem to hang on to of Google being this little company fighting the good fight against the giants is a false romantic notion. Google is massive and they are powerful. Hell they got in a fight with China. They are not some poor underdog, and I would argue they ARE a monopoly in the search world. I can't name a single person I know (including me) that doesn't use Google exclusively for searches.

Re:Surprise suprise... (0)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493960)

Use that argument about any lawsuit, e.g. RIAA ones suing individuals.

"What difference does it make even if these companies are part of the RIAA? How does that affect the merits of their claim?"

If Microsoft catalysed the lawsuits, then it shows that they are pointless lawsuits just to bog Google down and annoy them.
The law may or may not find in their favour, but Google gets quite annoyed either way.

Re:Surprise suprise... (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494104)

If you can't figure that out i'm surprised you managed to figure out how to make that post.

Re:Surprise suprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494212)

I've not heard of any of these companies.

What is going on here? Is every failed internet-related company with a stupid business plan going to sue Google for "unfair" rankings, such as pushing link farms and other poorly-recommended sites further down the list?

Too bad Sergey (-1, Troll)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493562)

Life's a bit tougher in the big leagues, isn't it Sergey?

Most large companies are faced with various crises, even as they grow large and dominant. Get used to it. The real challenges are in the future.

Oh, and your competition won't play nice either. Them's the breaks.

BTW, was it Microsoft or Google's QQ'ing that got Chuck Schumer to act pissy about Apple's app store 'monopoly'?

Explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493568)

Can someone please explain this to me? What company or website am I searching for on google.com where searching for them does not bring up their website?

Re:Explain (2, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493656)

Can someone please explain this to me? What company or website am I searching for on google.com where searching for them does not bring up their website?

When you search for "Macaroni" what macaroni making company's website is ranked first among the many returned? If Google has overwhelming influence on the search market and they change their rankings so that it is a macaroni making company not owned by a company they compete with in another market, then that's against the law. It seems unlikely that is the case in any market, but hopefully the courts will determine the truth of the matter.

Re:Explain (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493658)

www.thissitedoesntexist.com

I have solid reason to believe Google is right. (5, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493576)

I've dealt with Greg Abbott and the rest of the Texas legal system. The Texas court system is so obviously "Justice for those who can pay for it" and Greg Abbott personally only responds to things that will give him good PR or more money flowing to him that I'm surprised there hasn't been a probe. Google is the financial jackpot.

Re:I have solid reason to believe Google is right. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493676)

Yes, well, I'm here to say that your mother gives excellent head.

Oh please. (3, Informative)

technix4beos (471838) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493624)

This is a non-issue. People use google.com's website of their own volition. The search results come from Google's database, there is no hindering of businesses or anti-trust issue here at all since all of the information gleaned on the internet is already present. Google merely presents it how they deem necessary to match the search keywords.

TL;DR: Fuck off.

Re:Oh please. (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493732)

This is a non-issue. People use google.com's website of their own volition.

That has little or nothing to do with it. If Google is ruled to have sufficient market share for selling advertising based on search, then that gives Google a lot of power, including power to distort other markets. The law says, if they do have that power, it's illegal for them to use it to gain, including by harming competitors in other markets. Legally speaking Google cannot rank search results any way they please. They can do it according to impartial rules, but if they have large enough share, they cannot rank certain companies lower as way to gain in other markets.

I seriously doubt, it is the case tat Google is breaking the law here. Likely this is just empty legal harassment, but hopefully the courts will determine that.

Re:Oh please. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493856)

But that doesn't make sense.

Why does Google have marketshare? It has marketshare simply because it is the best. When you get marketshare not from locking-in consumers, not by taking government money, not by getting special legal protection, Google should be able to do whatever they want because customers can switch pretty easily.

It doesn't hurt consumers if Google messes with their search results because of these things. If enough people don't want them to, guess what? People will switch, just like people switched from Alta-Vista, to Yahoo! to Google. The idea that having significant marketshare in competition makes you prone to more things is complete bullshit. Now, granted there are things that companies should be held accountable because of a few things:

A) Have legal protection (like utilities)
B) Have used large amounts of tax dollars
C) Were specifically designed to deny consumers choice

Other than those 3 cases, companies should be able to do whatever they want. And Google falls into none of the 3.

Re:Oh please. (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493966)

It doesn't matter whether or not they're the best, if they have the market share they are prohibited by law from using it to harm the competition. End of story. Additionally, they got to be that large in part by being allowed to violate Clayton and take on the ad space that belonged to Double click, that was a very clear violation of antitrust regulation. You don't just get to be the biggest or the best search engine without spending a lot of money on it, the search engine is paid for via ad revenue.

We'll have to see what evidence turns up and what the court says, but if they really are bumping things in a way which isn't neutral then they are indeed violating the law and may end up being split or facing other sanctions.

Re:Oh please. (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494036)

The problem is that makes no sense. Pre-digital laws when applied in the digital world make no fucking sense and to apply them is stupidity.

Monopolies are bad in the physical world because they take limited resources and monopolize them. There are only so many oil wells in the world, there are only so much (clean) water in the world, etc. when a single company takes control of them they can charge through the roof and make everyone else pay. But this isn't like that.

Barring government intervention in the form of software patents, there are no limited resources when it comes to ads on the web, and barring lock-in with physical things or a -huge- company taking all available IP addresses/bandwidth or something, a monopoly can't exist that harms consumers.

The idea that any company can monopolize infinite resources is laughable. Don't like Google? Use one of their thousands of competitors. Don't like DoubleClick, advertise elsewhere.

The internet allows for unlimited resources, you can't monopolize infinity. Just because the law says something doesn't mean its right, correct and not fucking stupid.

Re:Oh please. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494204)

But that doesn't make sense. Why does Google have marketshare?

Irrelevant. It's like asking why Tom has a rifle. Maybe he uses it for hunting. Maybe he's a cop. It doesn't matter. When you have power, you're prohibited from using that power in ways that harm society. Mike doesn't own a rifle and he can aim his hands at people and squeeze with his finger all he wants. When he buys and is holding a gun, the law sees it differently. It's not illegal to gain a monopoly (in general) just as it's not illegal to obtain a rifle (in general). But you are certainly prohibited from using either in certain ways.

...Google should be able to do whatever they want because customers can switch pretty easily.

But other companies can't. Other companies have to do business with Google because that' where the majority of the ad viewing public is. This gives Google a lot of power over other companies and "with power comes responsibility" or some such cliche... but legal responsibility.

It doesn't hurt consumers if Google messes with their search results because of these things.

It may very well do just that. If Google promotes some specific company with inferior products while making another vanish, most people will never know. They won't switch away from Google, but the free market in which other companies will have been undermined, with the cheapest, best product not winning. That's illegal, and was made so because we had a lot of problems in the past. The free market does not sort out it's own problems when monopolies are involved, which is why we wrote laws to prevent the free market from being broken in that way.

Other than those 3 cases, companies should be able to do whatever they want.

I'm betting you aren't an economist, because what you prescribe is an economic recipe for disaster. But don't take my word for it, read your history books. We tried that experiment and it caused huge amounts of human suffering and economic collapse.

Oh, come on. (5, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493640)

Try finding three major tech companies that aren't linked with Microsoft in some way.

And when the link is "the lawyers hired by TradeComet include some of the same lawyers Microsoft hired to do similar work in the past" and you're getting pretty close to playing "six degrees of Kevin Bacon".

If there's a smoking gun somewhere, this ain't it. If this is the best Google's general counsel can do, maybe there isn't a smoking gun anywhere.

Re:Oh, come on. (3, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493730)

Gotta agree with you on this, even Apple is more closely related to Microsoft than that. :) But this is slashdot where flaming microsoft is an instinctual activity for many people no matter how (in)accurate it may be.

Re:Oh, come on. (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493842)

They managed since the reported connection between two of them and Microsoft is that their attorneys have also represented Microsoft on anti-trust issues.

Because you wouldn't want experienced counsel or anything like that, that's just as good as being a Microsoft subsidiary.

Well let's go straight to the source then. (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493872)

Dave Heiner, Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel [technet.com] . You're looking for Paragraph 6 if the whole thing is TL;DR. Completely admits they've been behind some of these hijinks at the DOJ and the European Commission, and so on.

Re:Oh, come on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494130)

Google
IBM (they do partner with MS, but no way does MS contributed to significant chunk of their revenues)
Oracle
RedHat?

No kidding (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494248)

If the supposed link is just the attorneys then that is beyond stupid. It has to be something more than that.

You have to remember that for major issues, companies almost always retain outside council. There are a few reasons for this:

1) In house council often has little to no courtroom experience. Their job is mainly to advise you, look over contracts, that kind of thing. Fine, but that is real different form the skills needed in a courtroom. So when something is going to court, you retain a firm that regularly litigates in the courtroom. Failing to do so can get you having really stupid motions being filed and things being said (like you see when the RIAA sends their in house people to court) that could lose you the case.

2) The law is complex and nobody is good at everything. Lawyers specialize, just like doctors. If the issue is somethign your in house council isn't good at, and it usually is, you want to hire someone that specializes in that kind of law, so they get it right. This is the same reason why your family doctor isn't going to perform surgery on you. That's not his/her specialty. Likewise the surgeon who might operate on your heart is not the same one who'd operate on your brain. Law is no different.

3) You probably don't have the absolute top notch lawyers in house anyhow. Since their main job is simple stuff, you don't have to go and pay the hefty salaries to get the top of the top. In a trial, you want that.

So that the same company is being retained just says that the company is good at what they do and specializes in this area of law. That is all.

When I was in a car accident and was sued, my insurance company represented me as required by our contract because they'd have to pay out any damages instead of me. However they didn't send any of their corporate lawyers, rather they retained outside council. There was a local firm here who does this sort of thing, and the insurance company hired them. They represented me, and thus the insurance company, in the matter. They weren't employees of the insurance company, they worked for whoever would pay and wanted a case of the kind they did. Other insurance companies, private citizens, whatever. They were just specialized in to traffic accident defense. That was what you could hire them for, and the insurance company thought they were good people to do so.

Re:But it's not 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494298)

It's *ONE* degree of Kevin Bacon. Doesn't that strike you as unusual? Out of all the law firms available, these firms can't find someone to represent them other than the one that's on retainer by Microsoft? 1's maybe a low probability, but all three are connected to Microsoft via the law firm. You don't think that's highly improbable?

The Eagles were right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493696)

...we stab it with our steely knives but we just can't kill The Beast.

Decades have passed and not even anti-trust threats have changed Microsoft's behaviour. Nothing. Welcome to Hotel Microsoftia.

Re:The Eagles were right... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33493860)

eat shit and die cocksmoker.

This is Texas we are talking about (-1, Flamebait)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493744)

are we sure the reason isn't just because a google search for Thomas Jefferson doesn't yield the result, "There never was such a person, now get back to church and vote Republican!"?

Re:This is Texas we are talking about (-1, Flamebait)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494038)

You are of course referring to the Texas textbook liberal misinformation campaign thereby clearly revealing which sources you get your information from. Jefferson was (arguably correctly) only removed from a list of the greatest political theorists of the enlightenment. He was primarily a politician and he didn't write a great deal on political theory and what he did write was of marginal importance and influenced mostly by John Locke. He is of course still all over the Texas history textbooks and is second only to Washington in the number of times he was mentioned, which didn't stop certain progressive sites from blatantly lying [thinkprogress.org] that he was completely erased from history.

Re:This is Texas we are talking about (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494290)

The DeclaratioN of Independence was of marginal importance? Jefferson's influence on post-American revolutions was of marginal importance? His belief in inalienable rights, the cornerstone concept of the founding of this nation, was of marginal importance?

Linux was influenced by Minix and Unix, so by your reasoning is only marginally important. You are the reason why homeschooling is a bad idea.

Microsoft has learned nothing (4, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493826)

The lesson they took away from the antitrust trial was "Antitrust is a way for competitors to use the government to interfere with your business." not "We were being evil and wrong and got into trouble for it.". The wrong lesson. They got off way too lightly and too many people were sympathetic.

Since they took that lesson away, now they think they can do the same thing to Google. They might be right, but I hope not. Though if their allegation has merit (which I strongly suspect it doesn't) I will stop trusting Google and be pretty angry at them.

You have taught nothing! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33494214)

The lesson they took away from the antitrust trial was "Antitrust is a way for competitors to use the government to interfere with your business." not "We were being evil and wrong and got into trouble for it.". The wrong lesson. They got off way too lightly and too many people were sympathetic.

Or maybe...the reason they learned that lesson was because of how it seemed to them, the accuracy of which will be debated, but it should be obvious why it's applicable. You see that's the problem with punishment, if the party being punished is convinced they are being singled out, or mistreated, you do not induce feelings of guilt, but rather outrage, and a desire to strike back, and even use those same tools against your oppressors.

Harsher punishment wouldn't make a difference, if anything, it might have made people even more sympathetic to them since you'd seem even more oppressive, not more just.

If you want to convince people as to their guilt, it requires substantially more effort than just throwing more of the book at them. That's the easy way out.

Since they took that lesson away, now they think they can do the same thing to Google. They might be right, but I hope not. Though if their allegation has merit (which I strongly suspect it doesn't) I will stop trusting Google and be pretty angry at them.

I'm sure the allegation does have some merit, and even if it doesn't, you shouldn't trust Google or anybody else. Trust when it comes to multi-billion dollars corporations is an unaffordable luxury.

Anger is something I'd just advise avoiding anyway. It's just bad policy. It leads to dumb things like thinking you can punish somebody into feeling guilty. That's not how you teach a good lesson.

Gov't killing the market system (-1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33493874)

Gov't antitrust laws are killing the market system, just as everything else it does. If gov't didn't actually participate in economy, there would've been no monopolies except in niche markets. It wouldn't be a surprise if MS was using its gov't ties to try and destroy a competitor, a la guerre, comme a la guerre, but what is this doing to the economy?

My previous comment on this was silenced, let's see how it works out this time. [slashdot.org]

Re:Gov't killing the market system (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494000)

Wow, you really need to go to school or at least read up on the subject. Government antitrust laws are the only reason why we have any free market left. Adam Smith himself was very clear that antitrust regulation was necessary for a free market to exist. In a free market without such regulation you ultimately end up with a single source monopoly over absolutely every item you can buy or sell. It takes a while, but it does eventually happen as it's not in any suppliers interest to have to compete with anybody else. It's usually more profitable to sell out for a hefty fee and a percentage than to see the profits going down the drain as buyers get to haggle.

Re:Gov't killing the market system (0, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494144)

wow, you really need to stop eating gov't propaganda that much and stop assuming things about people you don't know.

Gov't is the actual reasons for having monopolies, except for DeBeers diamond cartel all monopolies outside of niche markets are gov't creations and are supported by gov't taxes, subsidies, regulations, bailouts, etc.

Event the actual antitrust law itself was first created and used for reasons that had nothing to do with monopoly power in the market and was a retaliation against a company wielding political power. Standard Oil wasn't a monopoly by the time it was broken up and even Standard Oil was helped by gov't ties to become what it was, though it was providing services at acceptable to then market prices. When it stopped, multiple competitors appeared.

cheers.

Google has the right to compute whatever they want (2, Insightful)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494150)

Nobody can dictate to you what the output should be when someone connects a browser to your server (or cloud) to retrieve a form, types something into a field and hits submit.

End of story.

Gee, maybe if Bing didn't suck... (2, Insightful)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494316)

The following two aspects of Bing are superior:
Its ability to find porn in the video search is better than Google.
The way the roads are drawn on maps are a bit easier to read than Google (but Yahoo is better still).

Honorable mention: the new version of Google Images brings it almost down to Bing's level.

How Do They Know? (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494348)

All those searches from Microsoft.com for "Google Anti-trust violations"

So? (4, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33494354)

Assuming this is true, so what? Google has tried to get regulator's onto Microsoft's ass. What's wrong with Microsoft returning the favor?

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