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Google Claims Microsoft's Violating Its Consent Decree

The Justice Department has brushed off a complaint from Google alleging that Microsoft is violating its 2002 consent decree

The Justice Department has brushed off a complaint from Google alleging that Microsoft is violating its 2002 consent decree because Vista supposedly discourages users from using Google's local desktop search as opposed to Vista's own.

The New York Times broke a story on its front page Sunday saying antitrust chief Thomas Barnett in a memo last month urged state attorneys general to ignore Google's confidential complaint.

It now looks like some of them will pursue the matter on their own, the paper said. A report is also going to federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is responsible for Microsoft compliance with the settlement.

Microsoft's chief counsel Brad Smith said Vista was designed to work with other people's widgetry and that the independent technical committee that oversees Microsoft's conformance to the consent decree had spent years examining the operating system for any anti-competitive hanky-panky.

He also told the Times that even though the consent decree doesn't oblige Microsoft to accommodate Google, its lawyers and engineers have been working with state and federal officials to see what could be done.

Google's problem is that the Vista search can't be turned off, and when the two run together the operation is as slow as molasses in January. It wants Vista redesigned to turn the Vista hard disk search off.

The Times pointed out that until three years ago Barnett was vice-chairman of the antitrust unit at Covington & Burling, a law firm that represented Microsoft in the antitrust case and still handles some of its business.

The paper also pointed out that the DOJ under the Bush administration has criticized the European Commission and the Korean Fair Trade Commission for their treatment of Microsoft.

Of course, Microsoft is opposing Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick as anti-competitive.

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