Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have good stories out about how Google is asking the US Justice Department to investigate whether the desktop search tool built into Microsoft’s Vista operating system violates a 2002 anti-trust action settlement that the US reached with Microsoft preventing it from designing operating systems that limit consumer choice.
Google Intensifies Microsoft Fight is the story from the Wall Street Journal that covers how Google sent a 50 page white paper to the Justice Department and various state attorneys in April covering its allegations against Microsoft. Writes the WSJ:
In its April white paper, Google alleged that Microsoft didn’t allow search bars in Vista that consumers can use to initiate searches to work with desktop-search software other than Microsoft’s, said lawyers familiar with the matter. In addition, Google argued it was practically impossible for consumers to turn off the indexing feature of Microsoft desktop-search software that catalogs users’ files, which meant a computer’s performance was slowed down if it used a second desktop-search application.
A Microsoft spokesman said it is possible to turn off its own desktop-search feature, though acknowledged it isn’t easy. The company said consumers can access Google Desktop Search in a variety of ways through Vista, including directly by icons on the desktop and in the "Start" menu. It further said that Microsoft’s desktop-search indexer doesn’t use any computing power when Google’s own indexer or other applications are in use, so it doesn’t affect performance in the way Google alleged.
The allegations are due to come before federal court later this month for a first formal discussion.
Microsoft Finds Legal Defender in Justice Dept. from the New York Times covers how the top anti-trust official, assistant attorney general Thomas O. Barnett, urged state prosecutors to side with Microsoft and drop investigating Google’s allegations.
Postscript From Danny: Google has played the "Microsoft limits consumer choice card" before in terms of Internet Explorer 7, though not apparently so formally. Google & Dell’s Revenue-Generating URL Error Pages Drawing Fire provides some background on this and covers how Google is all for consumer choice, except where it can buy that option away from the consumers by partnering with vendors. Meanwhile, Microsoft poked back at Google as needing antitrust regulation in the case of Google wanting to purchase DoubleClick.