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Internet search leader Google Inc. has filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department and state attorneys general alleging that Microsoft's Windows operating system impairs the performance of desktop search programs and is in violation with a 2002 settlement of an antitrust case.
According to Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes, Microsoft hard wired its own desktop search software into Vista, making it impractical to turn off Microsoft's search index and offers no way for users to choose an alternate provider. The case might remind some of Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior against Netscape during the browser wars, but according to Microsoft's Rob Helm, that is not the case:
"Microsoft beat Netscape in part by leveraging its relationship with PC manufacturers," he said. "This is a lot subtler." Google seems to be alleging that "if two pieces of software don't play together, then it must be an anticompetitive tactic of Microsoft's," Helm said. "I don't recall any past antitrust cases asserting something so broad," he said.
"Even if Microsoft's software was perfectly written, the way Google interacts with it might be bad, and either company might be at fault," he said. "They could have both done the right things in different ways that might conflict with each other."
Microsoft clearly disagrees with Google's allegations and said that it has worked closely with federal officials to ensure Vista doesn't restrain competition in the area of desktop search or cause any other legitimate problems for that matter. However, they did say they are "committed to going the extra mile to resolve this issue".