Google’s unfair practices led to its dominance as a search engine, says Microsoft CEO

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says Google used unfair tactics that led to its dominance as a search engine, tactics that in turn undercut his company’s rival Bing.

WASHINGTON — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Monday that Google’s unfair tactics have led to its dominance as a search engine, which in turn has overtaken his company’s rival Bing.

Nadella testified in a packed Washington, D.C., courtroom as part of the government’s landmark antitrust trial against Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The charges, which echo a similar lawsuit brought against Microsoft in the late 1990s, accuse Google of abusing its ubiquitous search engine dominance to stifle competition and innovation at the expense of consumers.

Nadella said users are essentially less inclined to switch from default web browsers on cellphones and computers.

“We are one of the alternatives but we are not the default,” he said.

John Schmittlin, Google’s lead attorney, questioned Nadella about instances of users switching from Bing to Google even when Microsoft’s search engine became the default on their devices — arguing that Microsoft had done wrong with Bing that prevented it from competing with Google.

When questioned, Nadella denied that Bing’s adoption of artificial intelligence had led to dramatic changes in its market share. Google has argued that artificial intelligence programs like chatbot ChatGPT have increased competition in the search engine market.

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“Even the App Store downloads are interesting but not … something you write home about,” Nadella said of Microsoft’s artificial intelligence-enhanced search engine.

Nadella was called to the witness stand as he testified in the fourth week of the largest U.S. antitrust trial of the past quarter century before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who is not expected to issue a decision in the case until next year.

The Justice Department’s antitrust case against Google centers on the company’s deals with Apple and other device makers to use Google’s search engine.

In the 1990s, Microsoft faced accusations that its Windows software walled off applications made by other tech companies, and Google now faces accusations that it spends billions of dollars each year locking down its search engine. A place to find information online on smartphones and web browsers.

In an ironic twist, the obstacles and distractions posed by the government’s antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft helped give Google a boost to make its search engine a dominant force. By the time Microsoft started building its own search engine, Google had already become synonymous with looking things up on the web.

Still, Microsoft spent billions of dollars trying to mount a serious challenge to Google with Bing, and at one point an attempt to buy Yahoo for more than $40 billion was rejected when Steve Ballmer was the software maker’s CEO.

Nadella, who worked at Microsoft in the late 1990s with the Justice Department, succeeded Palmer as CEO in 2014. During his tenure, he made huge gains in personal and cloud computing for Microsoft, almost driving up the company’s stock price. Nine times since he took over while creating shareholder wealth of more than $2 trillion.

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Despite all these successes, it has not been able to make any significant headway in search against Google, and Bing is still second in the market.

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Associated Press writer Michael Leitke in San Ramon, California, contributed to the report.

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