Microsoft and Google kiss and make up to avoid tangling with regulators

After years of patent and regulatory complaints against one another, Microsoft and Google have managed to put aside their differences to focus on competing via the “merits” of their products, rather than through legal proceedings.

The move to withdraw regulatory complaints follows a similar one that took place in the fall of 2015, where both tech giants agreed to drop patent disputes related to mobile phones, Wi-Fi technology, and web-based video.

“Our companies compete vigorously, but we want to do so on the merits of our products, not in legal proceedings,” a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends. “As a result, following our patent agreement, we’ve now agreed to withdraw regulatory complaints against one another.”

Related: EU goes after Google again, this time over Android contracts

Microsoft echoed Google’s statements, and said the move to withdraw regulatory complaints reflects “changing legal priorities.”

“We will continue to focus on competing vigorously for business and for customers,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Digital Trends.

The timing is purely coincidental and has nothing to do with the European Commission’s recent accusation that Google is stifling competition with pre-loaded Android apps, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke with Digital Trends. Microsoft likely also needs all the help it can get, as it filed a suit against the U.S. government last week, citing that its customers have the right to know when the government is asking for information about them.

Microsoft’s decision to withdraw from legal battles with Google shows that its legal priorities have changed, the source told us, adding that Microsoft frequently reviews its legal strategy to make sure that it matches its business strategy.

Related: Microsoft vs. Uncle Sam: It’s our right to inform our customers about data probes

But what came from the agreement? The source says Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, is focused more on collaboration, and withdrawing regulatory complaints is one step toward opening more channels of communication between the two companies.

Of course, it takes two to collaborate, and the decision may be due to a change in Google’s leadership as well, now that Sundar Pichai has taken Eric Schmidt’s seat.

Going forward, the Redmond and Mountain View companies will talk to each other to resolve any issues or disputes, before going to regulators. The two have also agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters, the source said. It’s unclear if any other types of collaboration will take place in the near future.

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