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June 25, 2007

Google pushing for more Vista changes

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 10:27 AM

Not a week after Microsoft agreed to change desktop search in Windows Vista -- in response to an antitrust complaint from Google -- Google has filed an amicus brief with the court overseeing the case asking for additional changes and "continued judicial oversight of Microsoft's practices."

The move signals an escalation in the antitrust battle Google has initiated against Microsoft, which spilled into the open last month but appeared to be resolved a week ago. Microsoft and the government lawyers enforcing the antitrust settlement they reached in 2001 agreed on a handful of changes in response to Google's complaint that the built-in desktop search feature in Vista limited consumer choice and violated the 2001 settlement.

Google found the changes inadequate and filed the brief at about 10:15 this morning. Here's a copy of the filing (Download file PDF, 7 pages).

"The remedies won by the Department of Justice and state Attorneys General from Microsoft are a positive step, but consumers will likely need further measures to ensure meaningful choice," David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said in an e-mailed statement. "Ultimately, these issues raise the need for continued judicial oversight of Microsoft's practices, to ensure that consumers' interests are best served."

Microsoft said it went beyond the requirements of the antitrust settlement in agreeing to the changes to desktop search.

"Microsoft went the extra mile to resolve these issues in a spirit of compromise; Google's refusing to give an inch," Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement. "We believe any additional changes Google may be demanding were rejected for good reason by the government and would be a setback for computer users."

The news of the amicus brief request -- essentially a request by a third party to intervene in the settlement -- comes a day before the parties are scheduled to go before U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for a status conference.

In her oversight of the landmark antitrust settlement thus far, Kollar-Kotelly has been unwilling to allow other parties apart from Microsoft, and the plaintiffs -- comprising the U.S. Department of Justice and 17 states -- to gain standing.

"In the court's view, plaintiffs, having initiated and litigated this suit, are the proper parties to evaluate complaints by non-parties regarding alleged violations of the court's decree," Kollar-Kotelly has said.

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Tricia Duryee
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Kristi Heim
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Benjamin J. Romano
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Mark Watanabe
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