Microsoft's decision to take Google to the European Commission might sound like an early April Fool's prank, even Brad Smith, after 10 years defending Microsoft against the Commission, could see it.
Smith said: "There of course will be some who will point out the irony in today's filing. Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly."
He added that this was the first time Microsoft has made a formal complaint, although some will say it has worked its will through various lobby groups and other companies – the European Commission is already investigating many of the issues raised today.
Supporters of the case point to what they describe as a pattern of behaviour in different markets which all aim to effectively wall off information and make it impossible for rival firms to access.
The accusation that Google manipulates YouTube APIs in order to lock out rival firms is of course exactly what Microsoft was found guilty of doing with its workgroup servers. The case could even provide a legal precedent for an action against Google.
David Wood, legal spokesman for I-comp – a lobby group sponsored by Microsoft – said today's move was not a complete surprise but did give Microsoft some procedural advantages.
He said he believed the Commission was "not working under any great time pressure" and was looking carefully before deciding on its next step. He predicted it may come to a decision, at least internally, by the summer.
A spokeswoman for the Commission said: "The Commission takes note of the complaint and, as is the procedure, will inform Google to allow it to submit its own views."
The probe remains at a preliminary stage and no conclusion has been reached on whether Google has a case to answer.
Google had not responded to phone calls or emails by press time. ®