Google and Microsoft are at knives drawn. Driven in part by pressure from lawmakers and regulators over the extraordinary power the two technology companies wield over American life, the California-based search engine giant and Washington-based software firm are wrestling to throw each other under the bus.
Tensions between Microsoft and Alphabet-owned Google have been simmering for a while but the rivalry has become unusually public in recent days as executives from both firms have been put on the defensive over competing crises.
Google faces bipartisan complaints – and journalistic ire – over its role in gutting the media industry’s advertisement revenue, the subject of a Congressional antitrust hearing on Friday.
Microsoft, meanwhile, faces scrutiny for its role in back-to-back cybersecurity breaches.
In the first, the same allegedly Russian hackers who compromised the Texas software firm SolarWinds also took advantage of Microsoft’s cloud software to break into some of the company’s clients. The second, disclosed on March 2, saw allegedly Chinese hackers abuse previously unknown vulnerabilities to vacuum up emails from Microsoft customers around the world.
Addressing lawmakers on Friday at a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on news, Microsoft President Brad Smith was due to fire a shot at Google, telling representatives that media organizations are being forced to “use Google’s tools, operate on Google’s ad exchanges, contribute data to Google’s operations, and pay Google money,” according to excerpts of his testimony published by Axios.
Google fired back, saying 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.”