Microsoft no longer provides financial support to FairSearch

Vu Anh Nguyen

Microsoft has been on Google’s case for a number of years now when it comes to Mountain View’s privacy practices in its ads business. The “Scroogled” ad campaign, led by former executive Mark Penn, has become legendary, and set the stage for a bitter rivalry (at least from Google’s part) that lasts until this day. Microsoft’s recent withdrawal of financial support for Google watchdog and lobbying group FairSearch, however, suggest a softer stance from Redmond, reports Re/code.

For those unfamiliar, FairSearch, established in 2010,  is a group of organizations lobbying against Google in several antitrust cases involving the company’s dominance in search (the most prominent being the EU Commission’s antitrust case), with members including big names like TripAdvisor. Expedia and Oracle. Microsoft, however, had been one of the group’s bigger financial supporters since its participation shortly after the group was formed. FairSearch had since been commonly described as a front group for Redmond, at least until December last year, when financial support from Redmond was quietly removed.

With Microsoft’s withdrawal from the group, Google has lost an opportunity to pin the blame for its legal troubles on another big competitor. There is, however no lack of companies having a problem with Google’s business practices, and even though Microsoft is not in it anymore, FairSearch is not going anywhere soon, confirmed representative Thomas Vinje. In fact, while Microsoft no longer back FairSearch, the company reportedly still stand against Google in the EU shopping antitrust case.

Nevertheless, Microsoft’s action represents a softer approach to competition, and the benefits to Google remains clear. It arguably also suggest Redmond’s effort in resolving old rivalries (something it’s been doing rather well recently with Apple), and gives hope to Google’s involvement in Microsoft’s platform in the future, something the search giant has been very reluctant to do so far.