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How Microsoft Pays Big Money To Smear Google In European Parliament (falkvinge.net)
185 points by patrickaljord on Mar 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

Microsoft still seems to have that culture of playing dirty tricks on competitors. It has stuck with them.

> What did Google have to do with this discussion in need for regulating governments’ appetite for citizen data and corporations abusing their privacy policies?

Everything. I would not be surprised if Google knew more than your government knows about you. Hopefully that does not sound sensationalist. Google also has come under a fire for their privacy policy changes, so that seminar was certainly not baseless, and I think it was a bit naive to assume a seminar about privacy wouldn't focus on Google. Maybe not the entire focus, but surely it would take up a noticeable chunk.

Coming from Microsoft, however, I could see why the author walked out. The goal was not to educate the government or its people; the goal was to scare people into using Microsoft products.

Vilify Microsoft if you like; I won't object, there's plenty there to work with. But really, what's the core problem here? The core of it is that the government is able to use force to control people/corporations. You might be OK with that when it works for you but when it goes the other way you might want to pay attention as well. Does anyone really expect that politicians from Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) are going to make correct decisions about regulating the internet? Well, given their stellar record I suppose they'll do a fantastic job. Much better to let consumers decide.

Government use of force allows corporations to exist. Carried to its logical conclusion your argument calls for the elimination of corporations as legal entities. Corporations can't use force to control people without force of law, and if the corporations themselves control the law then the corporations become governments and suddenly you have the same problem.

The "core problem" is powerful leaders seeking more control over the world. That problem can't be addressed with a philosophy of government, it can only be addressed by holding leaders like Steve Ballmer accountable for their actions.

I'm not sure I recognize what system of thought you're using. Why does the existence of corporations require a "government use of force"?

It seems your entire argument is based off the assumption that corporations must be able to control people, or else they wouldn't exist. Hasn't the ideal always been "the market controls the corporation"? If you make a product that fulfills a need of the market you are rewarded, if you make a product people don't want then you fail.

If a corporation has control over consumers then the market fails, this is part of the reason why we have anti-trust laws.

I agree with you that one of the forces we're fighting is leaders trying to take too much control, but the answer is not to "hold them accountable," it's to not give them power in the first place. That's the whole point behind the structure of almost every modern government. In America, for example, the federal government is broken into three parts with a system of "checks and balances" to stop any one part from getting too much power.

I'm not sure I recognize what system of thought you're using. Why does the existence of corporations require a "government use of force"?

Corporate charters are special privileges granted by the state.

Well sure, corporations can be recognized by the state. That doesn't mean they require the state. There's nothing about legal personality or limited liability that requires "use of force"

Every law is underwritten by the potential use of force by agents of the state. Sometimes you have to go through several laws to see that (you ignore liability -> you get sued -> you ignore lawsuit -> you lose -> you are ordered to pay -> you ignore payment -> (if you have money in bank, it is taken from you; go to beginning of loop, this time with respect to bank | if you don't have money in bank, but do have money and spend it, you'll be eventually likely be arrested for contempt of court, but an agent of state applying force)

Law without an underwriting by law enforcement is not more than convention.

Well sure, corporations can be recognized by the state. That doesn't mean they require the state.

Of course they require the state. They are an invention of government.

This argument is tautological and IMVHO disingenuous. Yes, governments do provide legal protections for corporations but it's not the essence of what a corporation is. It's capital and a group of people which is perceived as separate in some aspects from its members.

I would guess that even hunter gatherers were organizing limited liability ventures like hunting parties.

This. Large corporations are always going to attempt shitty legal maneuvers out of self interest. The real questions is whether the information revolution will succeed creating a more informed society, changing the way people vote and the way politicians legislate, bringing crap like this mostly to an end because of increased transparency.

That, and so long as political mores remain unchanged, year after year we'll see scandal after scandal.

+1 to that. In other comments people discuss if Microsoft was "convicted monopolist" or not - but much more important point is that all those convictions were absolutely useless and only represented chest-pounding and money-grabbing. What undermined Microsoft grip on OS and browser markets wasn't EU parliament or US DOJ. It was enterprising people offering viable alternatives. It is said that there's no bigger enemy of capitalism than capitalists. Big established businesses hate competition and would be much more comfortable enjoying lunches with government officials then competing with thousands of new kids on the block threatening to undermine them. So no wonder Microsoft seeks this route when it is available to them and wants to leverage politicians into competitive advantage. The power is out there, do you expect them just to ignore it? If the politicians take on themselves to be the judges of the markets, no wonder major markets players come to them and try to make them see things their way! This is happening and will keep happening inevitably. Of course, these tactics look stinky to the public, and it's proper to expose them - but don't expect them to go anywhere as long as there are politicians that have huge powers over the markets and players there. It's not like Microsoft is unique in doing something like this - every major player is doing it every day.

Yea, I know about the cookie law fiasco.

Is the definition of lobbyist different in Europe? Is the Pirate MP just not subjected to lobbyists otherwise or is this just mock outrage? It is very hard for me to believe this kind of anti-competitor lobbying doesn't go on all the time at the EP. It certainly does in Washington.

I imagine this article was intended as PR for the Pirate Party.

"This is the kind of stuff we do not like, vote for us if you also do not like it."

I think it targets their core demographic quite well. Whether it is mock outrage or not is a moot point.

Whether anti-competitor lobbying goes on regularly is also a moot point. Being an MEP does not disqualify you from disliking parts of or associated with the EP.

As an extreme example, the UK Independence Party (who want to leave the EU) have several elected MEPs. As such I feel confused by what the grandparent comment is trying to express.

It does if all you're doing is singling out one specific participant and ignoring all other examples. Because then it becomes clear that you are just looking for either a good reason to trash that party or rush to the defense of the aggrieved. Which wouldn't be surprising, considering Google is most definitely spending their own lobbying dollars.

A good lobbyist doesn't lie, doesn't FUD and maybe even doesn't exaggerate. Are your expectations different?

This seems like some relevant history on your point. June 22, 2000: "Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, says she does not see her constituent companies worried about DOJ antitrust scrutiny."


The slanderous words used at this seminar, which is brought together by many companies, with one being the convicted monopolist Microsoft...

> in Google’s latest privacy scandal

> Google made the headlines again

> allegations that Google has downranked relevant search results

Who wouldn't be enraged! Look. At. Those. Words.

> designed to plant ungrounded ideas in the audience’s mind.

Now. Think. Of. The. Children.

And then they had the audacity to call the Google representatives to speak!

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” - Gandhi.

I would like to insert "then they slander you, " right after the last comma.

Can we please not equate Google to Gandhi? Google is a corporation every bit as large, and every bit as purely self-interested, as Microsoft.

One wonders if a proper reaction would be to separate personal beliefs and a desire to build away from the effects of PR schemes and people. It seems like the current state is absurd, and that acknowledging this and getting on with making stuff is the easiest thing to do. The worrying part of ignoring, is not knowing what kind of impact these acts will have on oneself and the products one produces.

"The Economist" on a similar Microsoft/ICOMP/Burson-Marsteller anti-Google event that took place in London:


Thank you for this little gem. I have added it as an update.

I am sure Google only says good things about MS during its hifi lobbying efforts. Right?

Imagine a convicted monopolist arguing that it's rivals be held to the same standard as it was. Not that is going to get much traction on this antiMS and proGoogle site.

I'm not sure that Google concentrates it's lobbying efforts to say anything one way or the other about Microsoft. It seems it's biggest efforts were in trying to prevent SOPA/PIPA.

Google outspent Microsoft in lobbying efforts spending in the US in 2011.

Also, it has a commercial interest in SOPA not passing so their opposition is to be expected for their bottomline.

If you think lobbying isn't done to enhance any company's bottomline at the expense of everyone else, then you're mistaken.


Sure, maybe Google spent a lot on lobbying in 2011, but you don't know that any of that was smearing Microsoft from behind a sock puppet in the way that they have against Google here. While I don't like lobbying, I accept that Google needs to play the game while the rules are the way they are, and they don't necessarily have to badmouth Microsoft to do that - as you admit, they have presumably focused more on SOPA.

And I don't see the huge problem with the link you present - in fact I don't think I'd call it "lobbying" at all. Google had a potentially legitimate complaint in asking that the court overseeing a convicted monopolist considers a particular part of their behaviour which obviously has the potential to impact on Google. It's up to the court to decide if they're infringing or not.

Can you show me a single example where Google did anything like this?

You could bing for incidents like this.

You are so funny.

So what? The most important is the content. Did they give wrong examples about Google? This is similar to when giving Coca-Cola as an example of how bad soda drinks are. It does not mean that Pepsi is good.

> "It does not mean that Pepsi is good."

But yet, that is exactly what MS is implying. Check out the shameful "Google salesman" ad that MS put out lately for more of the same.

The salesman ad was shameful but Mac vs. PC was fair game. Why? Just because of your technical convictions?

... I don't recall ever saying that Mac vs. PC was fair game. Please don't project onto me.

I thought they were in poor taste - as it tends to be when a company spends more time trashing a competitor than touting its own products. I for one am happy that Apple has moved past that marketing tactic.

That said, even Mac vs. PC was better done than the salesman ad - PC was always the well-meaning, wholesome, but hopelessly out of date buffoon... whereas Google here is being portrayed as slimy, dishonest, and malicious. There's a difference - in my eyes this is incredibly poor form on MS's part.

well-meaning, wholesome, but hopelessly out of date buffoon? More like:

"Two men stand side by side in front of a featureless, white background. "Hello, I'm a Mac," says the guy on the right (who is much younger and dressed in jeans). "And I'm a PC," says the guy on the left (who wears dorky glasses, ill-fitting khakis, and a jacket and tie). The two men discuss the many advantages of using a Mac and seem to agree that Macs are "better" than PCs"

>Google here is being portrayed as slimy, dishonest, and malicious.

The salesman is being projected that way, and I hope you know how IT salesmen work, they're just maybe one notch above used car salesmen, You can take it as a parody if you will. And it wasn't plastered all over prime TV like the Apple ads were, it was just a video uploaded to YouTube(atleast for now).

If you have any beef with misleading or wrong content in the ad(like there was in some Apple ads) I am willing to take a look at your argument.

I think we need to declare some things here: looking at your comments throughout this thread I'm going to ask you straight up: are you employed by, or affiliated with Microsoft?

It seems like you're the only here leaping to MS's defense at every turn. I'm willing to accept that's simply your stance, but we should put this to rest.

I'll go first: I am not employed by Google, nor have ever been employed by Google, nor by any subsidiary, nor have I ever worked for a Google affiliate (marketing firm, contract firm, etc).

> "who wears dorky glasses, ill-fitting khakis, and a jacket and tie"

That's the point. PC was always the "nice guy" - PC was never portrayed as slimy, perverted, belligerent, or even stupid. He's the hopelessly out-of-date nerd, which in itself is not a fair characterization of Windows/PC users, but at least doesn't have the malicious implications that you get with a very obvious "used car salesman" character.

> "The salesman is being projected that way, and I hope you know how IT salesmen work"

You're applying this standard to Google, but not in reverse to MS. The whole ad in summary was "Google is slimy. Their products suck, and they are willing to lie and swindle you to get you to sign on the dotted line". You're saying that all IT sales is like that - yet the clear implication in the ad was that Microsoft is not like this.

So if we're taking you at your word that all IT sales works in slimy ways and that this is true across the board, then Microsoft lied by implying that their own sales guys aren't.

> "If you have any beef with misleading or wrong content in the ad"

Oh here we go. This is the same lame defense political attack ads use: "there's nothing factually inaccurate in this ad! What're you complaining about?! We didn't say that our opponent goes easy on rapists, who cares about tone, connotation, and implication?"

As always, attack ads (whether political or commercial) are in general in poor form, but MS has really crossed a whole other threshold with this one. FWIW, it really takes away from their products and good work that is being done at MS. The more MS attacks its competitors directly in its marketing message, the less consumers will perceive MS products as good in their own right.

The Google Salesman ad was done in incredibly poor taste, shows very poor judgment on the part of MS marketing, and is not only unfair to Google, but more important is unfair to Microsoft, who is working on some genuinely kickass products. They blew an opportunity to brag about the superior features of Office and instead spent it slandering a competitor in the most hamfisted manner imaginable. The Office team at MS is probably the most innovative team in the realm of their core products. They're the ones who voluntarily threw out years of UI and went back to the drawing board for the ribbon (which despite the mocking of its competitors, *works really well). They have shown a tenacity for constant product improvement that deserves to be recognized, and instead MS is spending its time doing "hurr Google evil, incompetent, and would probably steal your stapler if he could".

The fact that you have to question the integrity of someone who says something positive about Microsoft in an anti-Microsoft post, while people defending Apple and Google and piling on MS in every other story get a free pass, is very telling about the nature of the community and it's biases. (As if it wasn't evident already in the story selection and comment moderation).

Lets hunt down this person who doesn't seem to fit in our community! Okay I am kidding about that, but yeah, the closest I ever was to Microsoft was when I interviewed for Amazon at Seattle. I've never directly or indirectly received a penny from them and I don't own any stock either(and never did).

First of all, the ad doesn't really qualify as an ad, right now it's just a video uploaded to YouTube and thus gets minimal exposure. Microsoft is known to make weird and funny videos for no purpose really(it is part of their company culture), and I found the videos mildly amusing, especially the Gmail man one. None of them are particularly well-made, or are likely to swing people.

People who make purchasing decision are knowledgeable enough about slimy MS salesmen to fall for any of this. I don't know if MS got sore after losing some big contracts and felt that the customers were misled into choosing Google apps inspite of some disadvantages and made this video, but I sure don't find them reprehensible enough to lose sleep over about which multi billion corporation is more right. I just don't see why everyone gets into a hissy fit and seem to lose all sense of proportion when it gets to MS, but other companies get a free pass for similar tactics.This is the reason I make the comments I do. We need Bing if only to keep Google honest and innovative (atleast till DDG or the next thing picks up).

Did you know Winsupersite.com is shadowbanned on HN? I wonder what crime it committed in the eyes of HN'ers, go visit the site and tell me if you can discern why it can be possibly be completely banned from ever showing up on HN. It's one of the only Windows enthusiast sites on the Internet which comes out with breaking Microsoft news and leaks. Maybe that's reason enough for people here to banish it from visitors seeing it :) Paul Thurott is a respected author, blogger and Windows enthusiast and even has a weekly podcast on TWiT with The community seems to be more spiteful towards anything MS than MS towards Google!!! :)

I would love to be a fly on the wall when Google salesmen push their products, do you think they would be completely honest about informing the customer about the disadvantages mentioned in the video? If so, if they lose a sale because of doing that, would you be okay with Google disciplining them not to do that next time? Or would they just say, "Hey, that's fine, add some more points to the list of our disadvantages compared to Office for the next client call".

That is what I meant by sales is a dirty job, akin to a lawyer or a used car salesmen, it's just the nature of the job to bolster yourself and slam the competition.

>They blew an opportunity to brag about the superior features of Office and instead spent it slandering a competitor in the most hamfisted manner imaginableThey blew an opportunity to brag about the superior features of Office and instead spent it slandering a competitor in the most hamfisted manner imaginable

What? They talk positively all the time. For example see the other videos in their YouTube account, you wouldn't know would you. That's not news, really and those videos don't get many views. So I don't see a missed opportunity here. You're hyping this up as if this was a 2 minute Super Bowl ad. Or maybe it was one and I missed it and the HN'ers watched it.

I am not vouching for MS nor Google. I don't take sides. All what I am interested in is to know wether the examples given about google were valid or not.

oakgrove, you appear to be hellbanned. copying your useful comment:

In the context of the situation it doesn't matter. This person is a member of parliament who's time presumably is valuable and shouldn't be wasted listening to propaganda. Furthermore the person also said that the meeting was purported to be about one thing and when he went in to listen discovered that it was actually about something completely else. So they were dishonest in getting him to listen in the first place. I don't want a member of the government being duped into listening to anything via dishonest means and then sitting around thinking "Well they lied to me to get me in here but maybe they have some good points." If anything it's a shame the organizers of the event can't be brought up on charges. Criminal lying with the intent to deceive or something. /s

Oakgrove is specifically banned because he's a hateful anti-MS troll on multiple sites. Pasting his messages and informing him about the banning goes against the express wishes of those who work hark hard for all of us to have a nice and civil site to use.

He is now going to use different accounts to troll HN. Do you think someone collects -31 karma from HN moderation for making great comments or reddit type attacks? Please at least read through someones comments before informing them as a knee jerk reaction. I am disappointed.

Given Google's arrogant "we piss on stupid EU privacy sensibilities" stance, I wonder why Microsoft even bothers to poor gasoline on a an already raging fire.

Besides, Google's anti-piracy and anti-privacy stance is largely opposed to everything Falkvinge stands for, whilst Microsoft has been playing relatively nice with civil rights for the past decade or so.

The only problem I see here is that Microsoft is hiding behind some fake lobbyist front. What they are lobbying for sounds mostly factual to me.

This guy doesn't know the definition of 'monopoly.' Neither MS nor Google qualifies: http://alpha.fdu.edu/~koppl/note19.htm

The courts have, for the most part, disagreed with your analysis.



Judge Jackson issued his findings of fact on November 5, 1999, which stated that Microsoft's dominance of the x86 based personal computer operating systems market constituted a monopoly, and that Microsoft had taken actions to crush threats to that monopoly, including Apple, Java, Netscape, Lotus Notes, Real Networks, Linux, and others.


However, the appeals court did not overturn the findings of fact. The D.C. Circuit remanded the case for consideration of a proper remedy under a more limited scope of liability. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly was chosen to hear the case.

The DOJ announced on September 6, 2001 that it was no longer seeking to break up Microsoft and would instead seek a lesser antitrust penalty. Microsoft decided to draft a settlement proposal allowing PC manufacturers to adopt non-Microsoft software.



On 27 February 2008, the EU fined Microsoft an additional €899 million (US$1.44 billion) for failure to comply with the March 2004 antitrust decision.

Microsoft may have been a monopoly 13 years ago but they aren't today.

Europe ruled that a primarily foreign company owed them 1.44 billion dollars and forced them to put out a product that no consumers wanted and retailers refused to stock.

The claim in the article was that they're a "convicted monopolist" and I just gave you two convictions.

Nothing I wrote and nothing the article wrote requires them to be a monopolist today. The OP said the article writer didn't know what monopoly meant. I'm pointing out that they know perfectly well what it means and that the OP merely disagrees with their conclusion.

A US court made a finding of fact that MS was a monopoly.


Not that they were a monopoly, that's not illegal per se. The charges brought against them were related to the abuse of said monopoly.

I never said that being a monopoly was illegal. But they were found to be a monopoly. That's a necessary condition for finding someone guilty of abuse of a monopoly position.

I see "convicted monopolist" and "monopolistic behaviour" in the article. Where is he saying that either of them is a monopoly?

Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly over operating systems in general, and google doesn't have a monopoly over search. But I think microsoft does have a monopoly when it comes to running most of the programs that a business already has. You can more or less replace unix with unix but you can't replace microsoft with anything and expect existing systems to still work. Hopefully reactos will reach this point but it's not there yet.

>>you can't replace microsoft with anything and expect existing systems to still work. Hopefully reactos will reach this point but it's not there yet.

That will be impossible in practice.

It is in a monopoly's interest to not be compatible, so they will make complex systems that will be expensive and take a long time to be bug-compatible with. And when the APIs are cloned, they will have gone to something else. All this will also be well locked down with patents.

The worst part (well, worst for me) is that the resulting systems will be unnecessarily complex and hence unpleasant to use for developers. That is, it lowers my life quality if I work with their systems.

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