In its never-ending zeal to combat Microsoft (MSFT), it came out this weekend that Google (GOOG) is raising antitrust concerns with the government concerning the Windows Vista operating system. Vista comes with a desktop search feature that competes with Google's own (freely downloadable) desktop search software. The desktop search in Vista cannot be turned off, and this apparently slows down PCs when Google's desktop search is simultaneously running. Google has argued to officials in the Justice Department and states' attorneys that this crippling of its software harms consumer choice.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt learned how to battle Microsoft on antitrust grounds during his days at Sun. But this time around, Microsoft has more friends in Washington. Reports the NYT:
The top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google that is tied to a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior. Google has accused Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google’s desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.
The official, Thomas O. Barnett, an assistant attorney general, had until 2004 . . . been vice chairman of the antitrust department at Covington & Burling. It represented Microsoft in the antitrust case and continues to represent the company.
It guess it really does pay to get a good lawyer. Will Google fare as well from the Bush Administration as it faces its own antitrust scrutiny (at the urging of Microsoft) over its proposed deal to acquire DoubelClick?