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Monday, March 02, 2009

Google joins force with EC against Internet Explorer

Web search giant, Google incorporated has indicated interest to be joined in the anti-trust case instituted against Microsoft Corporation before the European Commission.

Google officials said that it has already solicited for a ‘third party’ in the European proceedings, which will entitle it to receive access to confidential documents in the case and the ability to voice objections.

Vice President at Google for product management, Mr. Sundar Pichai, said the company’s rationale in Google blog that they believe the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, thus hindering innovation.

“Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer (IE) is tied to Microsoft’s dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers”, he stated.

Also, he compared desktop-market situation with the mobile market, where IE is not tied to the dominant operating system.

Microsoft’s browser, he, therefore, said, has a much lower usage.

“ The value of competition for users is clear: tabbed browsing, faster downloads, private browsing features and more,” he further state.

As said by Pichai, the request follows the Commission’s recent decision to grant third-party access to Mozilla, the organisation behind the popular Firefox browser.

Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s chairman, voiced concern is similar to Google’s in that tying IE to the Windows operating system harms competition for web browsers and reduces consumer choice.

ITRealms Online recalls that the Commission had formally notified Microsoft mid-January concerning objections to the bundling of the Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system.

The Commission’s decision, which initially stemmed from a complaint filed by rival browser-maker Opera, gave Microsoft two months to respond to the allegations, and also opened the case up to third-party involvement.

Microsoft’s share of the browser market has been declining steadily during the past year, largely due to Firefox’s growing popularity.

For instance, in January, IE controlled 67.55 per cent of the global browser market share, a drop of more than seven per cent points in a year, according to web metrics company Net Applications, even as Firefox gained more than three per cent points to 21.53 per cent.

Apple’s Safari rounds out the top three with 8.29 per cent of the browser market. Google’s Chrome browser, launched in September 2008, has 1.12 per cent of the market share, while it reportedly overtook Opera in November last year.

Opera’s share of the market share at the press time was estimated at 0.7 per cent.

This is not the first time Google and Microsoft have locked horns on antitrust issues. In 2006, the search giant expressed concern over Microsoft embedding web-search functionality into its Vista operating system. Microsoft ultimately agreed to make changes to the desktop search feature to head off a further antitrust battle with United States (US) regulators.

Google also opposed Microsoft’s failed bid to acquire Yahoo, saying it raised “troubling questions”.

Microsoft recently opposed Google’s proposed ad-sharing deal with Yahoo, which Google ultimately abandoned in the face of anti-trust scrutiny.


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