June 25, 2007 / 4:57 PM / 13 years ago

Google seeks to extend Microsoft antitrust decree

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google Inc. asked a federal judge on Monday to extend the consent decree that settled the landmark antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. in order to address competition concerns involving the Windows Vista operating system.

Sixteen aerialists perform on a giant billboard at the the launch of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office in New York, January 29, 2007. Google Inc. on Monday asked a federal judge to extend the consent decree that settled the landmark antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. in order to address competition concerns centering on Microsoft's computer search function in Windows Vista. NO SALES NO ARCHIVES FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/Keith Bedford/Microsoft Corporation/Handout

Google told the judge overseeing the 2002 consent decree that even though Microsoft has agreed to modify Vista to address the concerns, “more may need to be done to provide a truly unbiased choice of desktop search products.”

The court brief was filed by Google less than a week after Microsoft agreed to modify its Windows Vista operating system in response to a complaint by Google that Vista’s computer search function put other potential rivals at a disadvantage.

The agreement was announced last week with the Justice Department and 17 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia. Microsoft promised to build into Vista an option to let users select a default desktop search program on personal computers running Windows.

The Vista function, known as “Instant Search,” allows Windows users to enter a search query and get a list of results from their hard drive that contain the search term.

Under Microsoft’s agreement with the Justice Department, the changes to Vista will be introduced in a service pack, or updated version of Windows Vista software. Microsoft said it anticipates a test version of the Vista Service Pack 1 to be ready by the end of the year.

On Monday, Google said some of the steps Microsoft has agreed to take are “only vaguely described” and that by the time it goes into effect, the consent decree will have already have expired.

The consent decree restricting Microsoft’s conduct, which settled the government’s antitrust case against the company, is scheduled to expire in November. However, some provisions have already been extended to November 2009.

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said in a statement on Monday that the company had addressed the concerns raised by Google and opposed the idea of extending the consent decree.

“The government has clearly stated that it is satisfied with the changes we’re making. Google has provided no new information that should suggest otherwise in their filing,” Evans said.

Shares of Google hit a new intraday-high of $534.99 before settling back to trade around $528, up 0.6 percent on the day, in afternoon trading on Nasdaq. Microsoft shares were up 10 cents to $29.59, also on Nasdaq.

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