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Judge Sides With Microsoft in Vista Search Complaint

A federal judge has sided with Microsoft in Google's most recent complaint that Microsoft remedies to open Vista search up to competitors don't go far enough.

A federal judge has sided with Microsoft, and against Google, in Google's most recent complaint that Microsoft remedies to open Vista desktop search up to competitors don't go far enough.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly oversees Microsoft's efforts to comply with the 2002 ruling that it remain open to competition. According to various news reports, Kollar-Kotelly said during a Microsoft status hearing today that "The plaintiffs, as far as I'm concerned, stand in the shoes of the consumer ... Google is not a party in this case."

That is essentially what Microsoft argued in a memo to the court yesterday. The memo was in response to Google's "friend of the court" brief, in which Google argued that agreed-upon efforts by the federal and state governments to make desktop search more open to rivals were insufficient.

"Google should not be permitted to create an issue where none exists," Microsoft wrote in the memo, adding that "Google has nothing new to offer the Court, except for the veiled request that this Court go behind the enforcement decision of the plaintiffs and make Google the '20th Plaintiff'."

Kollar-Kotelly's statement is the latest lightning strike in a thunderstorm that has raged for a week now, starting with the agreement on June 19 between the federal government, attorneys general from all 50 states and Microsoft.

One reason for all the furor is that the stakes are so high. Search has made Google one of the most powerful companies in the industry, on a perch right next to Microsoft. Google accounts for nearly half of all searches done by users. Along with search results come advertisements, and Microsoft wants part of that pie, though it has yet to make significant inroads into Google's turf.

Google's attempting the same thing on the applications side, as it wants a cut of the office productivity market. Google Apps includes word processing, e-mail, spreadsheets and other programs aimed directly at Microsoft Office.

In other words, both companies have something the other wants, and they will fight on any turf -- economic or legal -- to get it. In the meantime, Microsoft will continue to build the agreed-on changes into Vista SP1. But they will undoubtedly be very careful, knowing that many eyes will be watching.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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