Google accuses Microsoft of ‘naked corporate opportunism’

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Microsoft famously started running the Scroogled attack ad campaign almost a decade ago, and has recently been targeting Google again in front of governments in the realm of the news media. Ahead of congressional testimony today from Redmond’s president, Google published a scathing rebuttal that goes after Microsoft’s “naked corporate opportunism.”

For the past year, Google (and Facebook) have been fighting a since-passed law in Australia that requires search engines and social networks to pay when linking to news sites. Many have criticized a link tax, among other requirements, as breaking a common, fundamental action on the web that helps surface content and drives views. Microsoft entered the fray to support the Australian proposal in a move that many saw as opportunistic just to counter Google. Microsoft has since shown interest in having American lawmakers take up a similar bill with identical aims against its rival.

Google’s SVP of global affairs Kent Walker this morning repeated how the company is committed to supporting journalism and the news industry. They cite its ad networks, initiatives to help develop new revenue streams (like easier subscription log-ins), and the $1 billion News Showcase to pay publishers for articles that appear in a new card-based format.

Google repeated how its against “proposals that would disrupt access to the open web,” believing that link taxes “hurt consumers, small businesses, and publishers.”

The company then makes the case that Microsoft’s participation in the discussion is not being done in good faith, with “self-serving claims” that are “just plain wrong.”

They have paid out a much smaller amount to the news industry than we have. And given the chance to support or fund their own journalists, Microsoft replaced them with AI bots.

It also argues that Microsoft has a “spotty” track record supporting the news industry despite running LinkedIn, Bing, Microsoft News, and MSN.

We respect Microsoft’s success and we compete hard with them in cloud computing, search, productivity apps, video conferencing, email, and many other areas. Unfortunately, as competition in these areas intensifies, they are reverting to their familiar playbook of attacking rivals and lobbying for regulations that benefit their own interests. They are now making self-serving claims and are even willing to break the way the open web works in an effort to undercut a rival. 

Google’s defense later switches to offense and makes the bold claim that Microsoft is trying to distract from the ongoing SolarWinds attack fallout:

…it’s no coincidence that Microsoft’s newfound interest in attacking us comes on the heels of the SolarWinds attack and at a moment when they’ve allowed tens of thousands of their customers — including government agencies in the US, NATO allies, banks, nonprofits, telecommunications providers, public utilities, police, fire and rescue units, hospitals and, presumably, news organizations — to be actively hacked via major Microsoft vulnerabilities.

Microsoft was warned about the vulnerabilities in their system, knew they were being exploited, and are now doing damage control while their customers scramble to pick up the pieces…

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