Microsoft has once again found itself under scrutiny for alleged antitrust violations, this time by the internet search giant Google. With web-based applications becoming the new battleground for consumer dominance, Microsoft has found itself pushed into increasing competition against Google to ensure its continuing rule over the operating system market, leading to conflicts ranging from Google's Book Search to personal productivity applications.
In the latest salvo between the two behemoths, Google has filed a confidential antitrust complaint against MS with the US Department of Justice, alleging that Microsoft Vista's inbuilt search engine slows down Google's competing Google Desktop Search (GDS) program and cannot be turned off, forcing users to either forego GDS or put up with reduced performance. As a basis for the complaint, Google cites the 2002 antitrust settlement prohibiting MS from designing an OS which limits consumer choice, a settlement originating from Netscape's own antitrust complaint against MS. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has found that both Netscape's and Google's complaints are eerily similar, stating "In concept, if not directly word for word, it is the Microsoft-Netscape situation."
However, as deja vu as the situation may seem, the current DoJ's reaction is quite different from that of the pro-competition Clinton administration. Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett, who coincidentally is the former Vice Chairman of Covington & Burling, a law firm which represents MS, has urged state prosecutors to dismiss the case, though his request seems to be having the opposite effect: many states are now considering possible actions against the software giant, despite Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith's assurances that MS engineers and lawyers are working with "both state and federal officials" to find an accommodation to Google's complaint.
News source: InfoWorld