After all the furor in recent days over Google's ongoing complaints that the Instant Search feature in Windows Vista was anticompetitive, the US District Court judge overseeing Microsoft's consent-decree compliance has chosen to ignore those complaints. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Tuesday said that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and various US states that allied in the prosecution of Microsoft half a decade ago represent consumers, not Google. And from what she can see, the DOJ and states back the steps Microsoft has already taken to address Google's concerns.

"Google is not a party in this suit," she said yesterday, during a regularly scheduled hearing to address Microsoft compliance. "As far as I'm concerned, \[the DOJ and states\] stand in the shoes of consumers."

Google had complained that Microsoft hardwired Instant Search into Windows Vista, making it impossible for third-party desktop search products, such as Google Desktop Search, to integrate into the new system efficiently. After initially downplaying these concerns, Microsoft surprised many by making partial concessions to Google: Vista SP1, due in beta form by the end of 2007, will allow third-party desktop search applications to work somewhat more effectively in Vista. However, Google complained that Microsoft's changes were not enough. At yesterday's hearing, Kollar-Kotelly revealed she's not interested in arbitrating that complaint.

Google says it's not surprised by the judge's decision and noted that the changes Microsoft has already agreed to will at least offer consumers more choice. Meanwhile, Microsoft says that the current version of Instant Search doesn't violate its consent agreement. However, it made concessions to Google "in the spirit of cooperation."