If Microsoft thought it would garner public sympathy by blogging its disappointment over a recent Federal Trade Commission ruling on Google search practices, it better think again. As GigaOM’s Jeff Roberts reported on Thursday, the ruling means Google must change some patent practices but does not force any major change in how Google displays its search results. Competitors charged that Google searches favored its own properties over those of competitors.
But the bulk of the comments to that post — actually all of them right now — show zero sympathy for Microsoft which has faced its own share of complaints over its business practices in the past. In 1999, it was actually ruled a monopoly by a federal judge although that decision was overturned two years later.
A sampling of the Technet comments:
“Apple litigates, Google innovates, Microsoft whines.”
“Microsoft’s whining about Google’s abuse of patents or monopoly in general is a pinnacle of hypocrisy. May be you first should look at your own abuses in the same areas?”
” … ‘Google continues to prevent Microsoft from offering a high-quality YouTube app for the Windows Phone.’ Is there a high-quality Microsoft Office app for Linux? iOS? Android? Office documents can’t even be opened on these OSes (yes, you can import them using other software, but that is a hit or a miss affair) At least Youtube is accesible [sic] through the mobile browser from Windows phone, and Microsoft is whining that a “high quality” app is not available…
“Why is there no ‘Share on Google+’ option from this page … You have every other option available -facebook, redit [sic] , linkedin etc….”
It almost makes you wonder if there’s an anti-Microsoft astroturf campaign going on — which might be poetic justice, given Microsoft’s use of such tactics in the past.
The thing that struck me most about this whole drama were the words used by FTC Chair John Leibowitz in response to complaints about the ruling. Quoting Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, Leibowitz said antitrust laws exist to protect competition, not competitors.
Those were the exact same words Microsoft’s own PR people and lawyers uttered over and over again in its own antitrust battles of the 1990s.