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Google backs EU's Microsoft antitrust battle

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Google has backed European regulators in their effort to prevent Microsoft from bundling the Internet Explorer browser with its ubiquitous Windows operating system.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Mountain View Chocolate Factory told the world it has applied to become a third party in the European Commission's antitrust proceeding against Steve Ballmer and company.

Last month, the European Commission fired some official papers at Redmond, arguing that the IE-Windows tie-up "harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice." And the Oompa Loompas agree.

"Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users," reads a blog post from vice president of product management Sundar Pichai.

"This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers. Compare this to the mobile market, where Microsoft cannot tie Internet Explorer to a dominant operating system, and its browser therefore has a much lower usage."

You might call it tit for tat. As Google agreed to purchase mega-ad-network DoubleClick and shook hands on an ill-fated search ad tie-up with Yahoo!, Microsoft was the one raving about anti-competitive behavior. And in the case of the GooHoo! pact, Redmond had a hand in snuffing things out.

Google controls over 60 per cent of the search market here in the US. Its share is even higher in Europe. And in DoubleClick, it now owns the web's largest banner-ad delivery network.

With a recent SEC filing, Microsoft divulged that the EC may force the company to ask users which browser they prefer during Windows setup. There could a fine involved as well.

Google's announcement comes two weeks after Firefox-maker Mozilla backed the EC's Microsoft proceeding with a blog post of its own. "I’ve been involved in building and shipping web browsers continuously since before Microsoft started developing IE, and the damage Microsoft has done to competition, innovation, and the pace of the web development itself is both glaring and ongoing," wrote Mozilla boss Mitchell Baker. ®

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