Microsoft hits out at Google, saying Bing is ready to fill the gap if Search pulls out of Australia

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  • Microsoft has signalled its Bing search engine is poised to fill the void left by Google Search if the latter withdraws from Australia.
  • Google says the new draft media bargaining code, which would compel Google to pay for displaying links to Australian news content, would make the product unworkable.
  • But Bing would be “willing to live by these rules if the government designates us,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said on Wednesday.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Microsoft is aggressively positioning its Bing search engine as a viable alternative to Google Search, publicly declaring it would operate under contentious draft legislation which led Google to threaten the withdrawal of its flagship product from Australia.

Microsoft President Brad Smith issued a company blog post on Wednesday recapping a recent conversation between himself, CEO Satya Nadella, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about Australia’s draft media bargaining code.

The code would compel internet giants Google and Facebook to pay news publishers for the links shared on their platforms.

Google has publicly declared that if the current draft code becomes law, “we would have no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

Microsoft sees it differently.

Smith said he conveyed to the government that while “Microsoft is not subject to the legislation currently pending, we’d be willing to live by these rules if the government designates us.”

The tech juggernaut also said the draft legislation “reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses.”

“We believe that the current legislative proposal represents a fundamental step towards a more level playing field and a fairer digital ecosystem for consumers, business, and society,” Smith added.

On Google’s statement that Search could depart the Australian market, Smith said “Microsoft will never make such a threat.”

The blog post follows Fletcher’s Monday declaration that Microsoft, and its Bing search engine, are poised to fill any gap left by Google Search vanishing from the local market.

“At the moment they have a small market share in search,” Fletcher told ABC News’ Patricia Karvelas.

“But they’re interested in expanding that, they’re interested in developing the presence of Bing here.”

Google Search is estimated to control 94% of Australia’s search engine market share. Bing currently holds 3.6%.

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