Google Names Microsoft In Antitrust Matter

    June 11, 2007

Google filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft, in secret, several months ago; the complaint suggested that Vista’s desktop search function is too hard to turn off. 

Now, as you might have noticed, the complaint has become public, and several interesting details relating to the matter have also come to light.

Google Names Microsoft In Antitrust Matter
Google Names Microsoft In Antitrust Matter

Chief among them is the fact that “the top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google . . .

” What’s more, the official (Thomas O. Barnett) used to work at a law firm “that has represented Microsoft in several antitrust disputes,” according to The New York Times.

Barnett seems to be innocent of any mischief or conspiracies, but the Times’s Stephen Labaton adds, “Mr. Barnett’s memo appears to have backfired . . . .  Prosecutors from several states said they intended to pursue the Google accusations with or without the federal government.  In response, federal prosecutors are now discussing with the states whether the Justice Department will join them in pursuing the Google complaint.”

That leaves the subject of the complaint itself, then. 

As mentioned earlier, Google has implied that Microsoft’s new operating system isn’t playing fair. 

“The search boxes built throughout Vista are hard-wired to Microsoft’s own desktop search product, with no way for users to choose an alternate provider from these visible search access points,” a Google spokesman told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  “Likewise, Vista makes it impractical to turn off Microsoft’s search index.”

There’s no telling which company will win this dispute – given the armies of lawyers that each of them have at their disposal, it may not even matter which corporation is “right.” 

Each has its own supporters, however, and it seems that the early edge has gone to Microsoft’s side.

Hat tip to Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson.