What a difference a decade makes. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Microsoft will file antitrust charges against Google in Brussels today. Just about a decade ago circumstances were reversed as Microsoft was the 800-pound gorilla in the operating system world. Today Google is the monster of search and all things related to it and Microsoft is looking to level the playing field for bing, its late entry into the search field. Timing is everything in this business.
From the Times article — Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management who has studied Microsoft said, “The company that was the 800-pound gorilla is now resorting to antitrust, where it is always the case that the also-rans sue the winners.”
That might be a bit harsh on Microsoft but the reality is that it coasted on the success of Windows and Office and a few other products while others invented new technologies. You might also say that the company was involved in a protracted legal tussle with the Department of Justice over its monopoly position in operating systems and browsers during that time. But that would imply the company couldn’t walk and chew gum, not something any self-respecting multi-tasking operating system vendor would willingly admit to.
There’s a lot at stake and search is only one of Microsoft’s beefs. Others include access to YouTube (a Google property) and mobile operating systems. If past is prologue this should provide entertainment for several years.