Google, unsatisfied with changes Microsoft is making to Windows Vista's desktop search feature in response to an antitrust complaint, said in a court filing that it is pressing for an extension to the U.S. Justice Department's oversight of Microsoft Corp.'s business practices to ensure it is adhering to a 2001 antitrust consent decree. Most of the decree's provisions expire in November. Google, however, is not a party to the lawsuit.
"Google doesn't have the power to enforce the consent decree," said Herbert Hovenkamp, who teaches antitrust law at the University of Iowa and has consulted on the case for the states. If US and state regulators, who are parties in the case, don't recommend extension, "Google can file a new antitrust case," he said.
Based on reports out of a hearing taking place in Washington, D.C. this morning, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said Google should take its concerns about Vista to the Justice Department and the states, adding that Google is not a party in this case. Kollar-Kotelly did say, however, that she would hear the government's views on how to deal with the concerns, and would rule in the future on whether to consider Google's views on the matter.
Last week, an agreement was announced where Microsoft promised to build into Vista an option to let users select a default desktop search program for personal computers running Windows. But Google argues that even though Microsoft agreed to modify Vista, more action may be needed to give consumers a "truly unbiased choice" of desktop search functions.