Is Microsoft backing away from the EU anti-trust fight against Google?

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft’s long and drawn out battle with Google over antitrust complaints in the EU may be winding down. Late 2015, it was reported that Microsoft had, perhaps wisely, decided to stop being the front runner in a coalition designed to lobby for an investigative search into Google’s possible antitrust practices in the EU.

For some time now, Microsoft, along with a collection of UK based businesses and companies have pitched the idea to the European Commission that Google is favoring itself in its own search tool. The move, in and of itself, is perhaps meaningless, but with Google possessing well over 85% of the search market in the EU, leveraging its own services and products over local offerings could be misconstrued into a plausible antitrust case.

Now, with a little over five years sunk into the battle, it seems Microsoft is calling back its soldiers and support, content with watching the skirmish from afar. According to a report from ArsTechnica, Microsoft has chosen to, instead, prop up lobbying group ICOMP’s “food, travel and accommodation expenses without having any active involvement in the group.”

As one of the largest financial backers of the lobby group, Microsoft’s rescindment of its front-runner status has rubbed some of the members of the collation the wrong way. A price-comparison site from the UK and member of ICOMP, Foundem, issued a letter where the company implies that Microsoft’s seeming departure coupled with other extraneous circumstances is another sign that ICOMP is being prohibited from highlighting Google’s “immensely damaging business practices.”

As for Microsoft’s ultimate involvement in the continued pursuit of investigating Google’s business practices in the EU, the company has been rather cagey on the matter, deferring comment to ArsTechnica as “Microsoft’s complaint against Google in the European Commission had not been withdrawn.”

While not completely removed, its presence as an outspoken and financial backer of ICOMP has been put into question by Microsoft’s recent movements towards less litigation, more licensing, partnerships and the removal of controversial mud-slinging campaigns aimed at Google.

Google still faces a long road of EU criticisms, investigations and complaints, but for the time being, it looks as though Microsoft is taking a breather from leading the charge.