"Microsoft has expressed its antagonism for far larger, but this is the first time I know where Google is fighting back in a public way," said Gottheil in a Thursday interview.
Google's CEO Larry Page, speaking at his company's I/O developers conference yesterday, called out Microsoft for not reciprocating.
"Take something as simple as instant messaging," Page said. "We've kind of had an offer forever that we'll interoperate on instant messaging. Just this week, Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse. That's sad."
He attacked what he called "people milking off one company for their own benefit" as he referred to Microsoft's integrating Google Chat into its Outlook.com email service last week, while at the same time blocking efforts by others to tie into Skype. "We certainly struggle with people like Microsoft," Page added.
Microsoft made hay off that remark in its statement yesterday. "In light of Larry Page's comments calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers," Microsoft said.
Gottheil saw Microsoft's move as another poke at Google but declined to speculate whether it was a strategic move, and whether Google's response was likewise. "But I don't see this as a net loss to Google," Gottheil said of the Mountain View search giant's cease-and-desist.
In fact, the two companies rely on each other more than the public dust-ups indicate. "There's a lot of contested territory, but for Google to run their fundamental business model, they have to provide support for multiple platforms. So it's not a zero-sum game. Windows benefits from YouTube on it, and Google benefits from YouTube on Windows."
Google and Microsoft have squabbled over YouTube before. In March 2011, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, announced that Microsoft had filed a formal complaint with European antitrust regulators, and credited Google's blocking of YouTube metadata as the reason.
"Google has refused to allow Microsoft's new Windows Phones to access this YouTube metadata in the same way that Android phones and iPhones do," Smith contended. "As a result, Microsoft's YouTube 'app' on Windows Phones is basically just a browser displaying YouTube's mobile Web site, without the rich functionality offered on competing phones."