IInternet search giant Google has escalated its antitrust battle with Microsoft, revealing that it has been petitioning the US government to extend its oversight of Microsoft's business practices past the November 2007 expiration of that oversight. Google says that the software giant continues to abuse its monopoly and violate the terms of its consent decree. Furthermore, Microsoft's recent revelation about changes to the Instant Search feature in Windows Vista simply doesn't go far enough, Google says.
"Microsoft's hardwiring of its own desktop search product into Windows Vista violates the final judgment \[in the company's US antitrust case\]," Google wrote in its latest complaint, which was filed as a friend-of-the-court document with Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. "It appears that more may need to be done to provide a truly unbiased choice of desktop search products in Vista and achieve compliance."
The timing of this complaint is important: It arrived just one day before representatives from Microsoft, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and various US states were to meet for a regularly scheduled consent decree status meeting. Typically, these meetings have been uneventful, and Microsoft has generally been found to have been meeting its requirements. With this Google complaint, that likely won't be the case this time around.
At issue is Microsoft's lackluster response toward meeting Google's demands. Google has alleged that the inclusion of Instant Search in Vista makes its own desktop search product, Google Desktop Search, run more slowly. Microsoft has made some concessions to Google Desktop Search and other third-party desktop search solutions, but it refuses to allow them to disable Instant Search. "It appears that Microsoft will continue to show its own desktop search results when users run searches from prominent shortcuts and menu entries throughout the operating system," the Google complaint reads. "Users will now be given a mechanism to request results from their chosen desktop search product by taking a second step after they have first viewed results from Microsoft's product."
Microsoft has said that the US government supports the changes it's making and that it went "the extra mile" in meeting Google's demands. But then that's the problem with meeting competitors half-way like this: They always want more. Microsoft would have been better served fighting Google's demands rather than giving in so quickly. Now the argument is about how many concessions Microsoft can make rather than the merit of the original complaint. Also problematic for the software giant is that Google might convince the courts to extend their oversight of its business practices past November.