An old adage holds that you can judge a man by the company he keeps.Last night, Microsoft added its name to an antitrust complaint against Google in the European Union.
Former Microsoft manager Charles Fitzgerald quickly picked up on a quote about the lawsuit from MIT’s Michael Cusumano in the New York Times and tweeted it: “The company that was the 800-pound gorilla is now resorting to antitrust, where it is always the case that the also-rans sue the winners.”
Is he right?
Let’s take a look at the companies who complained to the EU about Microsoft in the last 15 years:
- Sun Microsystems. Bought by Oracle in 2009 for a fraction of its peak value. Sun.com — one of the earliest domains on the Internet — is being shut down, and Java employee James Gosling just went to work for Google.
- RealNetworks. Once considered a leader in digital media, it’s struggling to find a new business model. Its CEO just stepped down this week.
- Novell. Pioneered local area networking, but it’s now basically a Linux reseller with some other business management software and services and about $800 million a year in annual revenue. In 1995, it had more than $1 billion in revenue.
- Opera. The other other other other browser. (After IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.)
- Google. Hey, wait a minute! (Yes, Google complained about IE back in 2009.)
So one out of five ain’t bad.
A group called ECIS also participated in the suits against Microsoft, but it’s basically a who’s who of Microsoft competitors — IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Nokia, and many others. Most of these companies never intervened independently in the case, unlike Microsoft here.
Microsoft PR head Frank Shaw responded to Fitzgerald’s criticism, noting that the Times article also said “Google’s large market share in search, legal experts say, does invite antitrust scrutiny.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s a happy day for Microsoft, which has always been above this kind of stuff.
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