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Did Google Tip Off EU About Microsoft Browser Ballot? 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the tattle-tail dept.
Dupple writes with a story about the latest in the Google-Microsoft feud. "The tired spat between Google and Microsoft just got a lot more interesting after reports that the search giant tipped off European authorities to antitrust concerns, a tip that will now cost the Windows-maker nearly a billion dollars. When news of the fine levied by the European Union's competition watchdog broke on Wednesday, nobody was too surprised that the European Commission was punishing Microsoft for bullying consumers. But with a recent headline-stealing dispute between the Redmond, Washington company and Google, it's competitor down in Mountain View, California, bloggers got curious. Early Wednesday evening, The Wall Street Journal's Tom Gara wondered, 'Did Google Snitch?' According to a Financial Times report published a few minutes later, the answer is yes."
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Did Google Tip Off EU About Microsoft Browser Ballot?

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  • Obvious troll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:16AM (#43113771) Homepage

    This story is an obvious troll. There was no need to "tip off" the EU, it was plainly obvious to everyone the browser ballot disappeared and the EU obviously monitors compliance with its rulings.

    Furthermore when did â500m before "nearly a billion dollars"? Someone can't do maths.

    • Re:Obvious troll (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:41AM (#43113857)

      That and so what if Google did tip them off?

      Microsoft has been paying millions to lobby EU staff and politicians to attack Google over non-issues, that's far worse than Google pointing out to the EU that Microsoft was in breach of it's obligations as a result of the investigation against them.

      I assume the nearly a billion dollars thing comes from the exchange rate as I believe the figure you quote is euros no?

      • Neither company should be using government to hamper its competitors, and government shouldn't have the power to be the servant of interests trying to hurt others to give themselves economic advantage.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I couldn't care less who tip them off, but in the same line, I need Adobe to stop forcing me to install Chrome on my pc with every flash update!
        • by RMingin (985478)

          Lucky you. I at least use Chrome. Since I have Chrome, it asks me if I want the Ask Toolbar and homepage.

    • Re:Obvious troll (Score:5, Informative)

      by Raumkraut (518382) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:45AM (#43113873)

      Not only that, but the article linked provides no actual background to how it is "known" that Google "snitched" - just an unsourced quote.
      A little digging indicates that the quote comes from a Financial Times article [ft.com] (registration required). Here are the relevant paragraphs:

      Brussels punished Microsoft for failing to give at least 15m consumers a choice of web browser - a violation of a voluntary antitrust pact that was spotted and raised by Google and Opera, according to several people familiar with the case.

      The US software group was left to police its own compliance and Mr Almunia said the lapse was brought to his attention by a Microsoft rival. According to people involved, Google and Opera informally provided the tip-off and helped investigators.

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        This is very informative. It tells us that the only source for the 'snitch' allegation is a quote from another Murdoch publication.

        Once again the Murdoch empire shows its true colours. Given their behaviour, and Rupert's insatiable hunger for media monopoly, I will assume until I have seen proof otherwise that this is an orchestrated hit piece to slander the legislative process in the EU, in order to deflect attention away from the rapaciousness of News Corp and its subsidiaries.

    • Re:Obvious troll (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:34AM (#43114023)

      I think you're incorrect on the first part. From the linked FT article:

      "The US software group was left to police its own compliance and Mr Almunia [EU competition supremo] said the lapse was brought to his attention by a Microsoft rival. According to people involved, Google and Opera informally provided the tip-off and helped investigators"

      Another fun snippet:

      "The episode was cited as a reason for giving Steve Ballmer, chief executive, only half his potential bonus last year."

      Cry me a river.

    • by Threni (635302)

      > plainly obvious to everyone the browser ballot disappeared and the EU obviously
      > monitors compliance with its rulings

      Wasn't it missing for 14 months?

    • It takes somebody (who has their own share of EU investigations going on) that know how to say the RIGHT WORDS to get the courts action.

      Of course Microsoft is happily making up FUD and telling the people regulating Microsoft to go big Google and Apple.

      The moral of the story is that the tech companies have grown up and learned to use regulators as their personal toys. Of course if the companies all "did the right thing" there would be fewer things to snitch on.

    • This story is an obvious troll. There was no need to "tip off" the EU,

      Even if Google complained to the EU that Microsoft wasn't complying with the browser ballot agreement, how is that a "tip off", let alone "snitching"?

      Furthermore when did â500m before "nearly a billion dollars"?

      Try "&euro;".

    • by terjeber (856226)

      Wow. You're a moron. Everyone very clearly didn't notice since it didn't disappear for "nearly everyone". In fact it disappeared for almost nobody. Your ignorance is even worse than your ability to convert EUR to USD.

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sofar (317980) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:17AM (#43113775) Homepage

    Microsoft were fined for a reason. Who cares that google complained? They make a browser... this is sooooo non-news.

    • by shellbeach (610559) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:49AM (#43114065)

      Microsoft were fined for a reason. Who cares that google complained?

      I don't think you quite understand how the tech world has changed. With the rise of Android, iOS and OSX, Microsoft has become the new underdog. It's only right and just to give minority OSes your support when big corporate bullies try to take them down.

      Remember the love, people. When new items of hardware are released, make sure the question is asked here on /., "Sure, but can it run Windows??"

      • by rvw (755107)

        I don't think you quite understand how the tech world has changed. With the rise of Android, iOS and OSX, Microsoft has become the new underdog.

        Microsoft the new underdog? With 90% userbase on desktops I can hardly believe that. They cannot keep up with online services like Bing and Hotmail loses ground, and even Windows is losing to OSX, Chrome and possibly Ubuntu, but that doesn't count until Windows dives below 50% on the desktop.

      • MS still has a near monopoly on the computers people use for office and engineering work. Yes a lot of people have andrios or iOS smartphones but they are in addition to a windows PC, not instead of a windows PC.

      • With the rise of Android, iOS and OSX, Microsoft has become the new underdog.

        The evil, destructive, rich underdog. Underdog isn't good enough, Microsoft needs to be completely exterminated for the good of humanity.

      • Remember the love?

        I'm trying really, really hard, but I can't remember any love from Microsoft toward it's customers. Ever. Back in the day, ***DOS was available from a variety of sources, free or dirt cheap. MSDOS cost over a hundred dollars. I picked up a package at my local computer store, inspected it, read the marketing hype on the label, and told the wife, "I think I'll get this MSDOS 5.0." I got to the counter, and when the sales clerk told me that it cost something like $125, I put it back on

    • by fermion (181285)
      It would be news if Google or some other competitor did not, because that would be collusion, or cartel behavior. In the free market we have competition, and part of competition is ratting out your competitors when they don't follow code. On problem we have is that so many firms just go along with illegal behavior, joining in because everyone else is doing it, and that means honest firms often get left behind, leading to the kind of dishonesty that harms people and forces the taxpayer to bail out industri
      • Good point. Collusion will get you in a lot of trouble in the US. I can't believe it's not a crime in the EU. Had Google NOT snitched, they'd likely be setting themselves up for charges against themselves.

  • Snitch? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:18AM (#43113781)

    A competitor violates the rules to ruin a company and if you call the cops you are a snitch?

    Are you a gang member or just a moron?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by black3d (1648913)
      Because Google is in ruins? I don't disagree that them "snitch"ing is a non-issue under the circumstances, but they're not exactly falling apart here.

      Looking at it from another perspective, Google have a fairly strong grip on the search market (not monopoly-esque, per se, there are available alternatives but the fact that people don't tell you to "search for it" but "Google for it" demonstrates their entrenchment in the marketplace). They certainly don't *advertise* other browsers in their products, exce
      • the real shame here is that the EU still considers Microsoft's position to be an unfair advantage over its competitors browsers

        It was and still is monopoly abuse. The fact that browsers exist on mobile devices where Microsoft is a laughing stock because its not an entrenched monopoly is just an aside. The reality is perhaps the EU should take a closer look at iOS and Android, to ensure that users are given a choice there, as we have seen the damage that Microsoft did [does] to the internet should not be allowed to move to other devices.

        The shame here is it took browsers generation ahead....and a complete paradigm shift in computin

      • I did a search in Google. When searching for "Web browsers" IE was an extra small link at the very bottom of the page. Top result was Wikipedia, which I'm sure lists them a.. (i didn't bother to check), but just food for thought.
        • by ibwolf (126465)

          I did a search in Google. When searching for "Web browsers" IE was an extra small link at the very bottom of the page. Top result was Wikipedia, which I'm sure lists them a.. (i didn't bother to check), but just food for thought.

          And if you search for "web browsers" on Bing IE doesn't show up at all except in a side bar under 'related searches'. Seems MS hasn't done any SEO for IE under the term 'web browser'.

          • by nukenerd (172703)

            if you search for "web browsers" on Bing[,] IE doesn't show up at all except in a side bar

            It's not a browser. It is part of the operating system.

      • Does apple ever get in trouble for bundling safari? Do they offer a choice? I don't apple so I don't know.
        • Nope. Apple don't have a monopoly and certainly aren't abusing a monopoly in one market to get ahead in a different market (which is what Microsoft where found guilty of).
        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Does apple ever get in trouble for bundling safari?

          Altogether now: Apple is not a convicted monopolist so they can do what they like.

          • Does apple ever get in trouble for bundling safari?

            Altogether now: Apple is not *yet* a convicted monopolist so they can do what they like.

            FTFY

      • by nukenerd (172703)

        Because Google is in ruins? Nobody's in ruins over it.

        Nospam007 said "A competitor violates the rules to ruin a company and if you call the cops you are a snitch?"

        I did not read that as Google being in ruins. I read it that MS were violating the rules with that aim. As in "I drank the snake oil to give myself eternal life".

    • Yes - when did big business become the playground again?!

      What I want to know is when the EU will investigate other possible anticompetitive practices such as:

      Customers being unable to not purchase Microsoft Windows from many of the OEM PC manufacturers.

      Secureboot

      D

  • by detain (687995) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:19AM (#43113787) Homepage
    Its too bad slashdot has been reduced to articles like. I applaud google for helping out the individuals rights to choose what software they run on the computer, and find it shocking that the new slashdot owners are posting an article trying to shun google for helping in an anti-trust case. Aren't we supposed to be on the side of those people fighting for things like this? Next up our new slashdot overlords will be poking fun at the EFF.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      You've got that wrong.

      Google is a service which gets its audience by doing nice things for people. (read: providing value) For all the things you might fear Google, they keep people coming back with pretty neat and entertaining stuff. They are capitalizing on good will and will defend that whenevery and whereever possible. It is their business model. (Exceptions exist... China)

      In my mind, this is more "Tom and Jerry." Tom has spent billions on lawyers, lobbying, bribes/donations/contributions, pulling

      • by terjeber (856226)

        Google is a service which gets its audience by doing nice things for people

        You couldn't possibly be this dumb.

        • by erroneus (253617)

          Google most definitely does things which people like. I'm not saying it does ONLY stuff which people like. But what keeps the people coming back are useful services including, but not limited to, search, email, chat, forums, shopping... things people like with a quality they can appreciate.

    • by nukenerd (172703)

      Its too bad slashdot has been reduced to articles like. I ... find it shocking that the new slashdot owners are posting an article trying to shun google for helping in an anti-trust case.

      Eh? I had not realised TFA was meant to be anti-Google.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:33AM (#43113827) Homepage
    Sad, sad, sad submitter. Reflects the intellectual poverty of one who has no other idea of this action than "snitching". The very word is negative and implies something is wrong with informing the authorities that Microsoft is breaking the law (again - what a surprise). Where did this even come from? Oh yeah, "snitches get stitches". Who created this meme? Oh yeah, drug dealers who wanted to intimidate the local population into silence. And now the media is going along with it without even thinking of the implications. Good job everyone.
    • And now the media is going along with it without even thinking of the implications.

      Anyone who writes a blog for The Wall Street Journal ought to know about the power of words, so perhaps the author just wanted to appeal to the criminal nature of his typical readership.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      drug dealers who wanted to intimidate the local population into silence

      Drug dealers are on the side of freedom in the war on drugs. If it weren't for drug dealers putting their freedom and lives on the line, we wouldn't be seeing the tide turning away from prohibition.

      If someone lives in a neighborhood terrorized by drug dealers, the right thing to do isn't snitch. It's to lobby to end the war on drugs. Change drug dealers from outlaws to businessmen. After all, when was the last time someone died in a

  • by Psychotria (953670) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:42AM (#43113863)

    Who is Adam Clark Estes? I'd really like to know, because his "article" reads like it was written like a 5-year-old. "Ooooh, you can't snitch on people; the honour code is not to snitch! They are is not are playing fair! They is are doing what they're s'posed to do! They stoled my donut and lunch money but I didn't snitch! Snitches is are naughty!" Is he still in kindergarten?

    His closing words in his "article": "Well, who looks triumphant now?"

    Not you, Adam. But you do look like a moron.

    • by Lorens (597774)

      Who is Adam Clark Estes? I'd really like to know, because his "article" reads like it was written like a 5-year-old.

      At five, it is true that children usually do not know the difference between "its" and "it's". I tried to parse "down" as "party-time" before my eyes went back and decided there shouldn't be a verb before "competitor". I thought it was the submitter, but it's from the TFA.

  • So somebody allegedly told the EU something that the EU would have found out if they did a minimum effort to monitor the agreement.

    Big deal.

    Next on Slahshdot: Where is my ass?
  • by edelbrp (62429) on Friday March 08, 2013 @04:55AM (#43113901)

    I don't get it (I'm not in the EU), but you might have thought more people would have noticed besides Google that the Browser Ballot was missing for 17-18 months? Seems odd.

  • by Faluzeer (583626) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:27AM (#43113997)

    According to reports, the ballot was out of action for 14 months before the EU noticed. So if Google really did snitch, they most certainly did not do so in a timely manner.

    This just seems to be pure speculation, given the length of time the ballot was down, it could be anyone or no one...

    • by IICV (652597)

      I imagine whoever "snitched" only did so after they realized that the EU was being completely idiotic and not checking up on their own.

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:55AM (#43114097) Journal

    If Google told on Microsoft, I have no problem with that. Now, Google should inform on Microsoft on trying to control the entire PC market and squash Operating System competition with "their" hated "Trusted computing" platform http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusted_Computing [wikipedia.org] ..

    Based on Microsoft's track record, how can you a) Trust Microsoft b) Trust ANY company .c) Leave control of your hardware to a corporation that does bidding of governments / media cartel - especially if they are foreign governments.

  • Competitors dobbing on each other to regulators. Shock horror.
  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Friday March 08, 2013 @07:39AM (#43114381) Homepage
    "Brussels punished Microsoft for failing to give at least 15m consumers a choice of web browser - a violation of a voluntary antitrust pact that was spotted and raised by Google and Opera, according to several people familiar with the case."

    "Opera said it was "happy to see that the Commission is enforcing compliance with the commitment, which is critical to ensuring a genuine choice among web browsers for consumers". Google declined to comment."

    Google tip-off leads to Microsoft EU penalty [ft.com]
  • Copyright and Patents are not a human right, or an undeniable/natural right. They are a made up concept, a contract between society and the copyright/patent holder. "We will allow you to restrict usage of this particular work if you continue to make other works like this for the benefit of society". Sure, it doesn't work that way, but that's what's supposed to be anyway. So, since we are giving someone a privilege, society should be able to set the rules, and take back the privilege if the rules are broken. So the contract should be more like "We will allow you to restrict usage of this particular work for a limited period of time, but you must offer this work under reasonable prices and policies, you must respect your users, and you must play nicely with the rest of the market. Also, you have to deposit all of your source code and any other information you used to create your work, and after that period expires, or if you break the contract, they'll be released to the public domain.". That sounds like a much more rational contract. You want the privilege of copyright or patents? Great, we'll give it to you. We'll give you anywhere between 5 and 15 years of copyright or patent protection, how much will depend on the kind of work you are releasing. In exchange, you have to deposit with us all relevant information regarding your work, for example, source code in the case of software, manufacturing procedures and blueprints in the case of hardware, etc. If you breach this contract, you'll lose all protection, and after the the original protection is over, we'll still release all that information. If your breach of contract is bad enough, we'll also release all those secrets early.

    This fine is like making the penalty for bank robbery 25% of the money stolen. Everyone will be robbing banks ... it's not a penalty, or a fine, it's a tax. Well, microsoft's benefit from locking down the market far exceeds 731 million dollars, so it's not a fine, it's just tax.

    Threaten companies with losing copyright and patent protection, and see how quickly they start to behave.

  • Microsoft's been posing shit about Scroogled so its just fair play that Google should tip off the EU that Microsoft isn't respecting their legal responsibilities

    Don't you love it when billion dollar corporations act like children?

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce

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