The Bush administration seems to be softening its stance on Microsoft and the company's anticompetitive conduct, reports the New York Times
This change in attitude mirrors the market shift from desktop software to Internet search and web-based software, which circumvents Microsoft. The recent rejection of an antitrust complaint filed by Google exemplifies the change. The complaint accuses Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google's desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.
Assistant attorney general Thomas O. Barnett, who had been a top antitrust partner at a law firm that represented Microsoft in several antitrust disputes, wrote a memo to prosecutors around the nation, dismissing Google's claims.
Prosecutors from several states, however, said the case has merit and they intend to pursue the Google accusations with or without the federal government.
Google's complaint is that their desktop search tool is slowed down by Microsoft's competing program. The complaint has not been made public and will most likely be the topic of discussion at a hearing this month.
"With the change in administrations there has been a sharp falling away from the concerns about how Microsoft and other large companies use their market power," said Harry First, a professor at the New York University School of Law and the former top antitrust lawyer for New York State, who is writing a book about the Microsoft case. "The administration has been very conservative and far less concerned about single-firm dominant behavior than previous administrations."
Microsoft stated that it had not violated the consent decree, and had already made modifications to Vista in response to concerns raised by Google and other companies.