Microsoft this evening criticized the U.S. Federal Trade Commission‘s newly announced antitrust agreements with Google — calling the outcome of the 19-month investigation into the search giant “weak,” “unusual,” and “a missed opportunity” to truly reform the way the search giant does business.

The agreements, announced earlier today, included commitments by Google to license its key patents to competitors on non-discriminatory terms; to make it easier for advertisers to run campaigns on competing ad platforms; and to stop improperly using content from competing shopping and travel sites in its own services.

The agency said it did not find grounds to mount a legal challenge over allegations that Google biases its search results toward its own products.

It wasn’t that long ago that Microsoft found itself the subject of antitrust allegations, and complaints from its rivals that the government didn’t go far enough to stop it from leveraging the dominant Windows operating system. But now the company is on the other side of the fence, as a competitor to Google’s dominant search engine.

“We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree,” writes Dave Heiner, Microsoft deputy general counsel, in a blog post this evening. “The FTC’s overall resolution of this matter is weak and—frankly—unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address.”

On the subject of standard-essential patents, Heiner notes that a similar commitment by Microsoft is simple and straightforward, spanning two sentences, whereas Google’s agreement is 13 pages, full of exceptions that would allow Google to file lawsuits over patents deemed essential to industry standards.

Heiner also points to Google’s own blog post as evidence that the search giant considers the outcome a victory. Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, wrote in that post, “The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.”

Writes Heiner, “In other words, there appears to be no reason, despite the FTC’s optimistic statements this morning, to believe that Google recognizes its responsibilities as an industry leader. That is certainly consistent with the lack of change we continue to witness as we and so many others experience ongoing harm to competition in the marketplace.”

He concludes by noting that other antitrust agencies in the U.S. and oversees are still investigating Google.  He writes, “We remain hopeful that these agencies will stick to their established procedures, ensure transparency, and obtain the additional relief needed to address the serious competition law concerns that remain.”

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Fallfromtheheights

    The simple fact is that here too Google played a better game than Microsoft.

    When the history books are written the AT trial will go down as the first stumble for Microsoft. Gates leaving another (sped along by frustration and fatigue from the trial). And the Ballmer era as the third and most catastrophic.

    From Windows 95 to Windows 8. A high tech tale of Icarus.

  • AyaisMUsikWhore

    Ugh Microsoft us making me hate them everyday with this baby whining and complaining about stuff. Why is Google there main target? What’s wrong Microsoft, someone used your dirty tricks clean and your mad they got off.

    • Guest

      If you can’t innovate, whine and litigate.

      • VHMP01

        Just like Apple…

        • Guest

          I personally despise Apple for their corporate arrogance and walled garden approach, but if they didn’t innovate throughout the last decade, then who did? Don’t be blinded by your bias.

      • Guest

        So what’s your excuse for why the FTC’s own staff recommendation was to prosecute and also the State of Texas?

        • Guest

          I’m not happy by any means that Google’s lobbying avoided a prosecution, but Microsoft should stop whining and instead focus on convincing customers with true innovation. The former makes them look really really bad, nobody likes a sore loser. No comment on the mental State of Texas.

  • Guest

    Shame on the FTC for failing to convict Google of its crimes.

    Fire Obama. Fire the cabinet. Start over.

    • asok14215

      How you doing today, Mr. Ballmer?

    • guest

      Shame on MS for having a competitive strategy that was almost totally dependent on Google getting into regulatory trouble. Will Steve finally do the right thing and pull the plug on money losing Bing? What am I saying, of course he won’t.

  • Tim Acheson

    This outcome is unsurprising when Google executives and lobbyists are firmly in bed with key personalities within the US administration. This is a text-book example of a major corporation subverting democracy and due process.

    • Guest

      Did you have the same opinion when MS was doing the exact same stuff?

      • Tim Acheson

        I hear what you’re saying, but Google’s “lobbying” (a euphemism for the subversion of democracy) and is in a different league. This is an area in which Microsoft has failed.

        E.g. Google spends more on lobbying that Apple + Microsoft + Facebook COMBINED:

        And it’s not just about money. E.g. Google execs hold fundraising parties for politicians — often in the exec’s own homes.

        • asok14215

          Microsoft would have cranked up the lobbying machine in the exact same way if they had in-house counsel who had half a brain. This is just sour grapes that they couldn’t handle the anti-trust investigation with as much finesse as Google did.

          • Tim Acheson

            No, no other company would do this to the same extent as Google. That’s why Google spends more on lobbying each year than Microsoft, Apple and Facebook put together. Google has done more than any other corporation to ensure that money and power controls government instead of ordinary voters.

      • guest

        This is much bigger than just MS and Google. It effects the entire industry, small players as well as large ones. And the FTC’s final result is pretty hard to justify. It’s not even consistent with their own previous settlements.

    • Guest

      It’s not just what you do but how you do it. Google has approached their lobbying with finesse and expertise. Microsoft first ignored DC, then attacked it trying to bully it, and now is yelling at it.

      Even if you have concerns about Google (and everyone should) you can’t help but hate Microsoft more with their whining, foot-stomping response to this. All it does is make me what them to STFU.

      • guest

        Keep telling us than in a few months when the EU rips them a new one.

  • freeiam

    This is the end of M$

Job Listings on GeekWork