Microsoft and Google are set to hang up their gloves as they call quits to a six-year legal truce. The software and internet search giants reached the pact in 2015 to end a running battle that had been fought out in courtrooms and in front of regulators around the world.
It was forged soon after Sundar Pichai became chief executive of Google and Satya Nadella took the reins at Microsoft. Now the two sides decided not to renew it. The decision to let it lapse came as regulators around the world seek to challenge practices that may have entrenched the leading tech companies and prevented more open competition. Under the agreement, the companies had settled outstanding lawsuits and agreed not to litigate or complain about each other to regulators without first trying to resolve disagreements at the highest level internally.
The pact also sought to bring closer co-operation in areas of mutual business interest — though people close to both companies have maintained that it did nothing to soften direct competition in markets including cloud computing and online productivity applications.
The deal to give up some of the weapons the tech groups had used against each other prompted questions in some quarters about the impact on competition.
Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, said of the 2015 pact.
“The tricks Microsoft was playing on Google were hurting the entire industry — including Microsoft,” Goldman added.
In one of its most notorious charges, the software company ran a series of attack ads called “Scroogled” that accused Google of employing techniques to boost its profits by “screwing” its users.
There had already been renewed signs of the rivalry spilling back into public feuding.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, came out stridently against Google over its threat to withdraw its search service in Australia rather than bow to a law forcing it to pay news publishers for content, including in testimony before US lawmakers in March.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Smith also complained that Google had “turned a deaf ear” to Microsoft’s pleas that it make its dominant digital advertising services interoperable with other companies, something that would make the industry more competitive.