It seems that Microsoft is now so threatened by Google that they have allegedly hired a high powered Washington lobbying firm to smear Google to government regulators. What's so interesting isn't that this approach is so petty and childish--although it is that--it's that Microsoft, rather than relying on the quality of its own products to grow the company, would rather "screw" one of its chief competitors. It's definitely a "wow" moment.
What They Are Doing
According to the AOL Daily Finance article--Microsoft Secret 'Screw Google' Meetings in D.C.-- where this story broke, the general purpose of this group of people is to talk trash about Google to government regulators and policy makers in order to throw road blocks in front of Google. Writer Sam Gustin says his sources describe the activities this way:
"...Microsoft is trying to harm Google in the regulatory, legal, and litigation arenas because they're having problems with Google in the competitive marketplace."
To Google's credit, the article goes onto say, when asked for a comment, they wouldn't bite (and why would they):
"Of course we keep an eye on what's happening in the industry," Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich says, "but the focus of our Washington advocacy has always been advancing good public policy for the Internet and our users."
Microsoft May Want To Be Careful on That Front
Microsoft has had its share of run-ins with government regulators both in the United States and in the European Union. One of the reasons they were so successful in the 90s was because of well-publicizied anti-trust activities around Windows sales, which the US Government forced them to stop doing. More recently, Microsoft has had even bigger regulatory headaches from the EU. You would think they might be a little sensitive to this approach, given their history.
They Could Try Making Really Good Products
I'm fairly sure that Google and Apple (and other tech companies) are also playing dirty pool behind the back of their competitors. The idea in any capitalist game is to do your level best to wipe out the competition. I get that, but instead of trying to "screw Google" in Washington or try to one-up Apple's 'Get a Mac' ads, Microsoft could just try making products that work, that people want because they're really good.
Instead, the corporate strategy recently seems to be to spend hundreds of millions of dollars hiring lobbyists or ad agencies with the goal of trashing their competitors. It's a sad testament to the current state of the organization, and it's really time for Microsoft to refocus its priorities on its products and its customers.