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Google's filing  (Source: Scribd)
Refusal to consider competitors other than Microsoft partners violates the law, Google argues

Last time a software company this big went to war with the United States government, it was Microsoft Corporation on the receiving end of antitrust accusations.  This time around it is the U.S. government on the defense, as the world's largest internet firm, Google Inc. accuses the U.S. federal Department of the Interior of collusion with Microsoft to illegally hand it email contracts without reviewing competitors products, including Google.

Onix Networking Corp., an enterprise reseller of Gmail and Google's other internet software services is listed as a co-plaintiff in the suit.  Microsoft is not formally listed as a defendant.

The DOI last year went looking for a web-documents service.  However, it decided early along to only consider software offerings that were part of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite, essentially excluding Google and other third parties.  Google called that decision "arbitrary and capricious".

It began by writing the DOI a complaint letter in the spring, in which it asserted:
We believe these Microsoft-based requirements would violate the Competition in Contracting Act because they bear no rational relationship to the DOI's needs, are not written to enhance competition or innovation, and unduly restrict competition.
Google claims the DOI representatives responded with "assurances to Google representatives that DOI would conduct a full and open competition for its messaging requirements."  But no such investigation appears to ever have occurred.

Some observers are surprised by Google's decision to pursue legal action against the U.S. government.  The internet company is thought to be among the highest profile highest antitrust targets in America's tech industry.  The suit strikes some observers as a surprising role reversal.

Google claims claims that its under antitrust suspicions are fallacious and insists that it's still a "small" company compared to other giants like Microsoft.

Microsoft has been feeling the heat from Google and other "free" or ad-driven software makers.  The company recently ran an aggressive campaign attacking Sun Microsystem's free Open Office 3 suite, which some are viewing as a competitor to Microsoft's lucrative Office suite.


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Government Workings
By Luticus on 11/3/2010 5:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
I am not actually Luticus, but his wife. However, I cannot set up an account from work, so I am borrowing his account.

I do not understand all the intricate workings of the software package that is in dispute, but I do know the government (I currently work for them). Any purchase over 3k must be either bid, or awarded with a sole source justification. Considering the dispute, I am assuming that the email client was obtained with a sole source justification. This means that someone had to write down the reasons why this Microsoft product could be the only product considered, or why Microsoft in general could only be considered.

Now the only thing that the government tends to care about more than complete compatibility is security. The government needs to ensure whichever client it goes with uses the high standards of security with its pre-existing networks, especially when email is concerned. Also, since the vast majority of government systems run Microsoft programs, it isn't that hard to consider that they would prefer to use Microsoft to ensure optimal compatibility.

Now whether they were right or not in their thought process is for the government to decide, but I thought I would offer some perspective.




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