updated 11:20 am EDT, Mon June 11, 2007
Google Action On Vista
Google has accused Microsoft of anti-competitive behavior with its search tools, according to a new complaint revealed by the New York Times. The complaint, linked closely with a consent decree for Microsoft, charges Windows Vista's system-wide search service with arbitrarily hurting Google Desktop Search. Users who run the latter on Vista frequently encounter a significant slowdown since the Vista search can't be turned off. This discourages most users from staying with the Google option, the company says. The implementation is said to violate the 2002 antitrust agreement that ultimately forced Microsoft to allow rival web browsers and other programs to be set as the factory default for new PCs.
The legal challenge has encountered setbacks, according to the paper. Federal assistant attorney general Thomas Barnett issued a statement in May dismissing Google's claim, arguing that antitrust law wasn't there to "pick who would win" and that the government was not meant to stop companies from "innovating and improving" their products.
Prosecutors in several states have ignored the non-binding statement, however, noting that Barnett may have a direct conflict of interest. The attorney previously stood as a vice chair for law firm Covington & Burling, which defended Microsoft in the years-long antitrust case started by Netscape and kept Barnett in his position until his switch to the US government in 2004. His wording of the most recent letter seemed to echo Microsoft's own approach, according to state officials.
"Eyebrows were raised by this letter in our group, as much by the substance and tone as by the past relationship the author had [with] Microsoft," says Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal.
A hearing is set to address the Google-related antitrust decree this month and will be hosted by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, best known for presiding over the later stages of the Netscape antitrust trial.