back to article WHAT did GOOGLE do SO WRONG to get a slapping from the EU?

Google made the internet a bit more crappy and considerably less diverse, breaking its own vows along the way. That’s what the EU’s competition division declared earlier today, in a formal Statement of Objections. So what’s their beef? If you’ve a long memory, you’ll find uncanny parallels with Microsoft’s behaviour in the …

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Re: Exactly.....@Mine's a Guinness

Why do so many people jump straight into commenting without reading the article?

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Anonymous Coward

@ AndyS

Nobody mentioned UKIP apart from you but as you brought it up.......

I'm old enough to remember the 1975 referendum and it was actually labour heartlands and the traditional working classes that were most against remaining in the EEC. Tony Benn was one of the most vocal proponents of leaving the EEC at the time.

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US officials haven't accepted anything

The FTC takes a much more laissez-faire approach to monopolies, for better or worse. They didn't do much about Microsoft, and one can argue they were proven right as mobile devices broke their monopoly. However that's almost completely due to missteps on Microsoft's part; had they been smarter about their strategies Windows Phone and Android would have their market positions reversed and their monopoly would be stronger than ever. They'd be able to leverage that dominant mobile share to help Bing's fortunes as well.

Google's monopoly will only get stronger until there is a market disruption. You can either hope one occurs naturally, or an external force like the EU can apply it. I think the 10% revenue fine thing they claim to have the power for ridiculous, but even if that was off the table there are ways they could enforce this. Good thing someone is watching out for consumers, the US government only watches out for those with enough money to pay lobbyists and funnel money into election coffers.

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LDS
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Re: US officials haven't accepted anything

Don't you believe that the EU ruling that forced MS to publish its own protocols gave a big boost to Linux, and thereby to Android too, especially when all of them as to talk to some Microsoft system like Exchange or the like? Or Office document compatibility? Would have had Samba and other projects lagged far behind if those ruling were never enforced?

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Re: US officials haven't accepted anything

Only downvoting because 10% from google is far from ridiculous, like they can't afford it or something.

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Re: US officials haven't accepted anything

" I think the 10% revenue fine thing they claim to have the power for ridiculous..."

Claim has nothing to do with it. I think that you will find that the EU actually *does* have the power to fine a company 10% of revenue if found to be in violation of the rules in the EU.

As the old saying goes "If you can't do the time don't do the crime." I'm not saying that Google has done anything wrong, but if it is found that they have then the 10% fine is in my opinion entirely justified. Oh, a final thought, the 10% bit is the maximum that the EU can impose, not the amount they must impose.

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Boffin

@DougS Re: US officials haven't accepted anything

The US did in fact sue Microsoft and win.

That's one of the cases that made David Boise famous.

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Re: US officials haven't accepted anything

ooo...

You mean the protocol documentation that Microsoft had to ask the Samba project for?

No big boost to Linux at all. The major benefit was the blocking of lawsuits that resulted.

Or the Office document compatibility that was already reverse engineered? Again, the only boost was the blocking of lawsuits over the file formats.

Samba was already ahead of Microsoft. Even to the point of becoming a Domain controller before the "documentation" was released.

I repeat, the only thing that was a benefit was the blocking any potential lawsuits.

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10% "not" ridiculous

So if a company has the ability to pay, the fine is not ridiculous? That's pretty much saying the more successful a company is (therefore the better their ability to pay) the more they should be fined. Is that really something you support? Seriously?

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EU claiming the power to fine

I suppose the EU can claim whatever power they want and prevent a company from doing business in the EU if they refuse to comply. I agree that Google is guilty of what they say, but if they try to enforce that 10% fine I hope Google says a big F.U. to the EU and stops doing business there in lieu of paying the fine. Let's see how EU businesses like it when search results stop showing them.

They can hope for an EU search engine to spring up to compete with them, but that won't happen overnight, nor will EU citizens immediately get used to going to www.findit.com or whatever instead of google.com. Probably what would happen is people wanting to search for stuff in the EU would be forced to Bing it, and Microsoft would end up with nearly 100% of the EU search market within five years...

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Re: EU claiming the power to fine

> I agree that Google is guilty of what they say, but if they try to enforce that 10% fine I hope Google says a big F.U. to the EU and stops doing business there in lieu of paying the fine.

There's no way they'd do that.

> Let's see how EU businesses like it when search results stop showing them.

But don't forget, Google would be out of the EU - so would be irrelevant to the majority of EU users who would switch to another search engine. Most likely, I'd expect Google to "go dark" due to legally imposed blocking - as in orders to all the major ISPs that "Google is a criminal organisation, block them".

Google could not cope with that as it would destroy their business model which is to keep competition pinned down leaving them free to dictate the market.

Once Google is out of the running, there are other offerings that would pop up very quickly. OK, there'd be a huge disruption for a short time, but it certainly wouldn't take years. And some of us would be busy with friends/relatives teaching them how to access those alternatives.

As to Bing getting a dominant position in the EU, as much as I "quite dislike" Microsoft and their products and their business practices, I'm not sure it would be that bad a thing. For the reasons given above, Google would soon capitulate - but in the meantime Bing would get a massive boost. Once there is at least one viable competitor then Google's power is vastly diminished. Google would suddenly be competing from the position of weakness.

Ie, if Google aren't the very dominant engine they are now, they'd have to sell mousetraps by being genuinely better, rather than by blocking people from knowing about competing mousetrap vendors which is effectively what they do now.

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Facepalm

"Google's Rachel Whetstone responded to reports of anti-competitive conduct by posting a GIF of a baby."

Well that confirms all I need to know about what Google think of we mere plebs.

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LDS
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She tried to find a clever answer on Google, but wasn't able to find one...

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Context is important.

The pleb in question was Rupert Murdoch. News Corp were playing the 'wounded party'.

If you use meme GIFs in replies, people will use them against you just like this. There's a reason corporate communications are cold and boring.

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@ test man the Microsoft monopoly's Windows Eight desktop is full of bing ... it is hard to avoid.

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@bilium

I suspect MS would have been wary of trying it on, but for the precedent set by the Google monopoly's Android desktop being full of Google.

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Foundem. Unfound.

I put "Compare prices" into Google, and I don't get anything for Foundem, *or* Google.. on the other hand I use Pricerunner and I've never heard of Foundem.

Which search terms are showing the competition problem?

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Microsoft was different

Microsoft abused their position by actively working to degrade competing offerings. They were so blatant about this that they lost the public's trust -- you used their stuff because you had to, not because you wanted to. I think Google understands what Microsoft did wrong and has done a pretty good job of avoiding their mistakes. I don't see blatant favoritism for their products (especially as not all their offerings are the best) and I don't see them actively working to degrade competition. Obviously it pays to be vigilant -- a large company like Google has numerous byways and backwaters so there's always scope for someone to try something on, corporate policy or no, but I think these large scale attacks on the company are a combination of political grandstanding and extortion.

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LDS
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Re: Microsoft was different

Sorry, people used MS stuff because they *wanted* to - they bought them, they *pirated* them by the sacksful, even when they had no real reason to use them - why get something illegally if you don't like it?

Some MS products was barely OK, other were excellent, while competitors like Lotus and WordPerfect actually committed suicide believing DOS would have still been used widely in the XXI century, or that Notes would have made the company rich. IBM believed with OS/2 on its PS/2 machine using the Microchannel bus it would have regained control of the PC market.

Microsoft took advantage of the position it found itself - people meaning "Microsoft" when they said "PC". Nobody was forced with a gun to buy a Windows PC - just very few choose Apple or OS/2 - I bought OS/2 in 1994 to avoid Windows, how many of you did? I bought SmartSuite 95 to avoid MS Office, how many of you - now MS haters and complainers - did? Of you all got your copy of 95 and Office, maybe without paying for it?

Google is doing exactly what MS did, just you don't complain because it's so "smart" to give away some lame free products - and most people are ready to give away their first born as soon as they see the word "free". And of course, Google is useful to find also a lot of other "freeeeee...." software and contents, MS one included. Of course, just because "you have to". Hypocrites are Google best allies.

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Re: Microsoft was different

> Nobody was forced with a gun to buy a Windows PC

If you went into a shop the only products available were Windows PCs (maybe a few Apples at high prices). While you weren't forced to buy one, it was almost impossible to buy anything else.

This was because of several things:

Contracts: OEMs could buy Windows at a discount as long as they were 'loyal' and all computers of a particular model were built with Windows only. 'Per Box Pricing' was a variety of this, MS was paid even if a machine was made with another OS and no MS software at all. These made other systems more expensive.

Profit: Shops put on the shelf what made the most profit. Apple has a big markup. Windows machines gave opportunities for much profitable add-ons, plus upgrades and replacements.

Anti-competitive: Per box pricing was one. DR-DOS was killed because MS announced 'Advanced Server' and said that Novell Netware might not be supported in the next MS-DOS/Windows. Novell bought DRI so that it could offer DR-DOS clients for Netware if MS-DOS failed to work with Netware. MS 'conceded' by continuing to support it if Novell killed DR-DOS (and also DRI's Multiuser-DOS).

The reason that Linux, and derivitives ChromeOS and Android, have survived is that MS could not just buy them and kill them.

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Re: Microsoft was different

"I bought OS/2 in 1994 to avoid Windows, how many of you did?"

Well, me, for one. Later I bought NT4 (because it supported Traditional and Simplified Chinese - which was a crock because you had to reboot to swap between them) and Office 2000. The point is, I moved to Word not because it was a better wordprocessor, WordPerfect 5.1 was all the wordprocessor I needed, but because users at other companies only knew what to do with .doc.

"why get something illegally if you don't like it?"

Many small shops round here were selling no-brand PCs with *cough* "free" pre-installed Microsoft software, not using it would require some technical know-how. Of course, Microsoft didn't approve of the piracy, but it did cement their dominant mindshare position.

Basically, it is difficult for an individual consumer to go against a monopoly. That's why it's useful to have a strong government agency to stand for everyone's best interests.

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Re: Microsoft was different

> If you went into a shop the only products available were Windows PCs (maybe a few Apples at high prices). While you weren't forced to buy one, it was almost impossible to buy anything else.

You went to the wrong shops. I went to shops, bought hardware and built my own. No Windows tax there.

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Re: Microsoft was different

> You went to the wrong shops. I went to shops, bought hardware and built my own. No Windows tax there.

So did I, but that is not what 99% of people who wanted computers were capable of, or wanted to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Odd....

Whenever I read an article like this, the first thing I do is pop over to Google and search for something like Office Appications. They never promote their own stuff, at these particular times. Yet I have done that same search, at other times, and seen Google's own apps near the top. Does Google pull a fast one, whenever regulators make noises? What do you think of the fit and finish of my new tinfoil hat?

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Anonymous Coward

HERE is ok...

Nokia's HERE was Navteq. Navteq shot themselves in the foot when they missed an opportunity to put their maps on the web.

Navteq also supplied Map Data to Google.

So while you can blame Google... part of the blame goes to Navteq's Upper Management.

Posted Anon for various and obvious reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

A meandering discourse as I'm getting on a bit...

I've been out of the MS ecosystem for a long time but here's my thoughts.

MS was all about developers - back in the late 90s early 00s MS development tools where the easiest and most productive to use (although I'm sure someone will assert I was just too stupid to fully master vi/emacs). I remember during my degree teaching myself C# as the IDE was so much better than anything Java had at the time (Sun's Java workbench, J Builder, etc). As a result, back before ubiquitous broadband connections, if you were building Windows apps, MS languages and tools meant you could achieve so much more than with AWT/Swing. And the travesty that was asp.net web forms became very popular as it was very appealing to windows devs as it sort of made the web act like windows apps for devs.

Anyway, back to the point, MS gained traction because people wrote apps for windows and using MS tech as writing stuff in non-MS tech for the Windows platform was tedious, as a result most major apps were windows only. By contrast developing with google APIs and their cloud id far harder/frustrating to use than their competition (try using Big Query and compare the experience with Amazon's Redshift). However, GA is the only game in town so I'm stuck using BigQuery even though the user experience is frustrating and I've got a choice between a web UI and the command line for running queries.

Note: MS did a lot of dodgy things, not denying that at all. I'd just rather be locked into a monopoly because it made my life easier.

If you read this far, I apologise as I've barely been on topic.

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Taxes

However, Brussels isn’t Washington, and despite a huge lobbying effort here, the idea that Google has harmed European startups has proved to be a most persuasive argument.

The fact they haven't been paying any taxes won't do them any favours either.

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It just feels wrong

For me it is hard to understand this information well enough to see fully what google does wrong, but for me google is best that has happened to the world in the last decades.

Anyone buying an Android phone has to pay $10 extortion tax to Microsoft, but gets Android for free from google, so how does that translate to market dominance and taking profits from it ?.

Finally a company constantly investing in innovations instead of next quarter profit and so called "share holder value".

It would be nice if the EU commission disclosed the names of the complaining parties. Perhaps EU and US should adapt to Volkswagen Law, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Law, for google, it is hard to imagine anyone would do better. If they want to destroy google because a few guys have trouble to make www.crapshop.com visible for the average user, it is not going to make the world a better place.

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Monopoly

Sorry about this, but felt I had to do it...

Why is there only one EU?

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Re: only one EU

You obviously don't know how the EU works.

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Google has a shopping site?

Firs I am hearing of this. Furthermore, here in South Africa, if you use Google to search for a product, the top search results include a site called "PriceCheck". Take a guess at what kind of site it is?

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Customisation of search results

Its funny looking at the comments above , I never see xyz vs I always see xyz first.

May I remind the our gentle reader that google looks at all sorts of things before deciding which set of search results to return previous searches, which browser, which device etc etc. I get totally different results searching the same terms at home & work (which is a right royal pain sometimes but very illuminating at other times) - and the kids I teach also get different results for the same terms also which of 3 (work related) accounts I am logged into chrome. Although I must say that since I have started using ghostery the difference between the work/home set is reducing all the time with a much greater overlap on the first 2 pages - and getting "old" google on opera 12 is a positive joy

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"I know someone who, instead of putting in company name and adding a .com to the end will fire up Google and put in company name in there, every single time."

I know someone who brings up the google search form then types in the URL of the site he wants and clicks on the resulting links. When I asked him why he did that, he replied "That's how you get to the website isn't it?" I have since told him the correct way to get to a site if you already know the URL, however I suspect he still goes through google.

"The FTC takes a much more laissez-faire approach to monopolies, for better or worse. They didn't do much about Microsoft, and one can argue they were proven right as mobile devices broke their monopoly."

One can argue that the FTC should've done its job when the circumstances are relevant. If one company had a monopoly on fossil fuels, should the FTC be sitting on its arse and do nothing because in 30 years time nuclear fusion will break that monopoly?

"Sorry, people used MS stuff because they *wanted* to - they bought them, they *pirated* them by the sacksful, even when they had no real reason to use them - why get something illegally if you don't like it?"

If someone sends you a MS Word doc what do you use to view it? The "free" Word doc viewer? But it runs on MS Windows. Some ignorant companies want you to send them your CV in MS Word format, so what's a poor graduate looking for their first job going to do?

"I bought OS/2 in 1994 to avoid Windows, how many of you did?"

I bought OS/2 Warp because it was better than Windows, sort of, the 8MB ram machine I ran it on didn't seem quite enough to take full advantage of Warp.

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