Don't expect Obama to object to Windows' browser

Nominee for antitrust chief said in a speech last year she sees more issues with Google than with Redmond, according to Bloomberg News.

While European regulators are showing a continued interest in regulating Microsoft , the Obama administration may have its sights set elsewhere.

In a speech in June, the woman nominated to be the new administration's antitrust chief said that Google, not Microsoft, is the big competitive worry.

"For me, Microsoft is so last century. They are not the problem," Christine Varney said at a June 19 panel, according to Bloomberg News, which unearthed the comments this week. In the same speech, Varney said that Google poses a threat because it already "has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising."

Obviously, those comments were made long before Obama's victory and her nomination, so it's not exactly administration policy. That said, it seems unlikely that Obama would have picked her if he was looking for someone to go after Redmond.

Varney, who has been working as a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, did not return a call from Bloomberg News seeking comment. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told Bloomberg News that the president nominated Varney "to vigorously enforce the law" and "is confident that she can do so in a fact-specific and evenhanded way with every matter she will face."

It's not as if Varney is a blind Microsoft loyalist, either. Bloomberg noted that Varney once lobbied the Clinton administration on behalf of Netscape urging antitrust action against Microsoft.

But, Varney said, times have changed. She pointed to Google as the current threat with its monopoly in online advertising. That position, though lawfully obtained could give the company too much control over the emerging world of cloud computing, she said in the June speech.

"When all our enterprises move to computing in the clouds and there is a single firm that is offering a comprehensive solution," Varney said, again according to Bloomberg. "You are going to see the same repeat of Microsoft."

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Varney's updated world view has not taken hold in Europe, which last month issued a preliminary finding that the inclusion of a browser within Windows violated its antitrust laws. Microsoft cautioned in a regulatory filing last month that Europe might force Microsoft to distribute multiple browsers with Windows and perhaps even disable some Internet Explorer code if a user selects a different browser.

 

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