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  • (01. January 2010., 10:27:49)

Author Topic: One way or another, Google will fight Vista search integration  (Read 3071 times)

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Google has not walked away from its quest to force Microsoft into giving more concessions on integrated search in Windows Vista.
The search giant filed a brief this week detailing why it should be considered a "friend of the court" in the Justice Department's 2002 settlement with Microsoft. At stake is Google's legal standing to object to and shape Microsoft's compliance with its own settlement agreement with the government. The filing comes in response to Microsoft's argument that Google should not be granted standing, standing that is based on who represents the interests of "consumers."

In mid-June, Microsoft and the DoJ agreed to a handful of mostly minor changes to Windows Vista in response to complaints from Google about potential anti-competitive behavior. At the time, we predicted that Google would find Microsoft's compromise to be no compromise at all, and a day later, Google came out swinging, saying that it expected more. This put Google in a difficult position, because the DoJ and all 17 state attorneys general agreed with Microsoft's proposal. As an outsider looking in, this rendered Google's objections practically meaningless.

Google's next move was to ask that the consent decree governing the antitrust settlement between the Department of Justice and Microsoft be extended. The company filed an amicus brief arguing that Microsoft's proposed remedy is "only vaguely described in the status report, and it is not immediately apparent that they will give users and OEMs the rights to which they are entitled under... the Final Judgment."

Then Google got a rude awakening, as Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly told Google that it should bark up a different tree and continue working with the DoJ over their concerns. Kollar-Kotelly, in essence, told Google that they have no standing in the settlement and that coming to her with their concerns was a waste of their time when they should be talking to the DoJ.

Then, just before July 4 holiday break, Google filed a response. Because it is solely up to the judge to determine which parties may be able to provide "timely and useful" information for the purposes of the enforcement of the settlement, the filing attempts to convince Judge Kollar-Kotelly that Google "offers an important and useful perspective."

"As the developer of a major desktop search product and the company that brought the desktop search issue to the attention of the plaintiffs, Google has familiarity with the issues raised and is well positioned to provide information to the Court," the filing reads.

It continues: "Google worked with the plaintiffs for an extended period of time to ensure that Microsoft's violation did not go unaddressed, and nothing in Google's request for leave to participate as amicus curiae is inconsistent with the plaintiffs' fundamental role in enforcing the Final Judgment, as confirmed by the fact that none of the plaintiffs opposes Google's motion."

The company reiterated its view that Microsoft's new search integration qualifies as "middleware," making it subject to the stricter provisions of the 2002 settlement. Furthermore, the company complained that the recent search settlement was brought about too quickly and without the full consultation of Google.

"Desktop search, however, is the first new technology since entry of the Final Judgment to qualify as middleware. While all parties have given attention to the issue of Microsoft's violation over many months, the remedial measures appear to have been settled upon very quickly, and few details have been provided to Google, the public, and the court," reads the brief.

Google's position on these matters has not changed, but the company does make it clear that it will not press the issue if Judge Kollar-Kotelly persists in her view that the DoJ is sufficiently representing consumers' interests. Yet Google also says that they are firm in their belief that their views should be considered. "Google would not suggest that the Court consider using this authority to require additional information if the matter at hand were minor or routine," the brief states.

Nevertheless, the brief makes it clear Google will not press the issue should the judge not relent on her decision. In that case, Google says that it will follow up with Microsoft and the DoJ on the settlement, as the company plans to scrutinize the technical details as soon as they are available. In either case, this is not the last we'll hear from Google on this matter.
ars technica
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