The European Union’s antitrust case against Microsoft’s abuse of its dominant position to bundle software with Windows began in 1993 and wouldn’t conclude until 2009.
The result was that Microsoft had to unbundle software from its platform, share information with rivals and pay a record €1.4bn (£1.1bn) fine.
But the lasting impact of the ruling has been the fear it created around lengthy EU antitrust probes into the practices of a company, exactly the threat being brought against Google today.
“Microsoft was investigated [for] 16 years, which is four times as much as the Google investigation has taken, and there are more problems with Google than there were with Microsoft,” EU commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a masked threat this week.
The EU case against Microsoft consumed the software firm’s attention until long after the practices in question still had any significance in the technology landscape, the internet’s rise quickly deprecating Microsoft’s position as top dog. Google must be terrified this case will do the same.