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I take it back. Europe isn't dumb. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is.

Yesterday, the search king petitioned the European Commission to join its antitrust case against Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and its Internet Explorer (IE) browser. The EU accuses Mr. Softy of stifling competition by tying the browser to its Windows operating system.

Google would be the third browser vendor to become a complainant, joining Norway's Opera Software and The Mozilla Foundation, creator of the white-hot Firefox browser. Internet Explorer dwarfs all three in terms of market share. According to researcher Net Applications, IE was responsible for 68.2% of web searches in December.

So, the filing makes sense, right? Wrong. As startling as that 68% share looks, it's down eight percentage points from the year prior. Competition is taking a toll.

But don't tell Google that. Company Vice President Sundar Pichai mostly toes the EU party line in a blog post. Quoting:

Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.

Specifically, IE's advantage is that it comes with your PC. Whether you buy from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , or Lenovo, your first browser will always be IE. Want a different one? Boot up Windows, open Internet Explorer, and go download one.

Yet, this is a very easy thing to do. That's why IE's search share fell from this December to last.

And even if you buy the argument that Microsoft is a browser bully, isn't Google crazy to be pointing fingers? Mozilla, yeah. But the Big G? The company that's being sued by TradeComet for (gasp!) antirust violations? I just don't get it.

If irony serves -- and it usually does -- Mr. Softy will soon declare its support for TradeComent. So will Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) . So will IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI  ) Because Google is an advertising atlas, and it must be stopped.

Please drop this silliness, Google, before real investors get hurt.

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Dell and Microsoft are Inside Value picks. Google is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Try either of these Foolish services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy will trust, but verify.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (0)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2009, at 2:44 PM, capitalistparty wrote:

    Interesting, so the company that built up-- through their own ingenuity and determination-- a monopoly in search is suing a company that built up-- through a superior product that no one, in 25 years, has been able to duplicate-- a monopoly on operating systems. Some things in this world you can't make up. Still, I am long Google and I really like Chrome.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2009, at 3:34 PM, ByrneShill wrote:

    ...This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system...

    As soon as Chrome gets distributed on any flavor of Linux or BSD this argument gets shot.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2009, at 7:28 PM, forever4now wrote:

    Microsoft has roughly 90% of the desktop OS market. Bundling IE & not allowing it to be uninstalled definitely gives them an unfair advantage. This situation also encourages websites to develop to IE (versus open web standards), since they know 90% of the users have it.

    I think the following actions could help alleviate this problem:

    1. Force Microsoft to make IE uninstallable (or at least inaccessible to users) via Add/Remove Programs.

    2. Require PC vendors to limit the installation of any browser to say 25% of all new machines. This would prevent any browser vendor with deep pockets (Microsoft, Google,...) from “purchasing” 100% of them.

    The browser bundling situation with Apple, Linux, etc., that people sometimes try to compare this to, is not the same because:

    1. the browsers can be uninstalled.

    2. they don't have a monopoly share of the desktop market. If they did, they would probably be scrutinized as well.

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