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Google sues US government for only looking at Microsoft deal

updated 04:10 pm EDT, Mon November 1, 2010

Google sues US Interior Dept for Microsoft deals

Google today sued the US Department of the Interior for alleged favoritism in picking Microsoft over others for contracts (document below). The complaint accused the government of automatically ruling out Google Apps and other products by requiring that any solution for its messaging service use the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, excluding Google entirely. Limiting the choices to Microsoft was "unduly restrictive" and limited competition, the search firm said.

Attorneys for Google argued that the DOI made nebulous justifications for its decision. Officials had asked for a system with "enhanced security" and a unified mail system without checking how well Google Apps or others would meet the standards. The Interior's phrasing of the Request for Quotation even closely matched the marketing material for the cloud versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications, leading Google to believe that the US agency had defined the project assuming Microsoft would get the contract.

Google had originally tried to protest the contract but was dismissed by the Government Accountability Office as it didn't have a GSA schedule contract and supposedly didn't have a stake.

The lawsuit if successful would force the DOI to honor a more open bidding process and would have an injunction freezing the bid process until Google and others could be involved.

Mounting the legal challenge may test one of Microsoft's typical strongholds for its software business. Although the Obama administration has taken steps to diversify some of the computing platforms allowed in the US government, the majority of software is dominated by Microsoft. Google wouldn't necessarily win the contract if victorious in the suit but could leave the room open for multiple companies and possibly concede some deals to rivals. [via Techdirt]

by MacNN Staff



  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Maybe security and privacy is a concern.

    Should we all trust Google's solutions for everything? Isn't that dangerous?

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    has been up against this IT favoritism in the government for years. It took time and a lot of consumers to get some agencies within Uncle Sam's doors to even look at anything else. How MS could get any contract based on "security" is a mystery to me.

  1. driven

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google & Trust?

    I barely trust Google for my own personal information. (and even then, only stuff that's really necessary.) I certainly don't want our government trusting them.

    In my opinion, Google tripped over that creepy line a long time ago.

  1. solefald

    Joined: Dec 1969



    And I don't want out Government make uninformed decisions based on users (or admins) like you.
    What you fail to recognize is that Googles EULA is completely different for *free* consumer services and for paid Education/Business/Government organizations services.

    I MUCH rather have our Government use Google products than the garbage Microsoft has been shoving down everyones throats for decades....

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A U.S. company suing U.S. government

    .....only in U.S.

    I would like to sue our U.S. President for NOT bailing me out of my own debt!

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    One big edge Microsoft has over Apple...

    Favoritism. Once Microsoft got in, it's nearly impossible for anything else to get in regardless of the changing of times. I'm glad Google is going to take the government to task and Apple should do the same thing (if it's interested in ever gaining enterprise market share). I can't really talk about this because I know nothing of what is required. I know it's a no-brainer to just choose Microsoft because it's easier that way. However, this is one of the reasons why Microsoft and Windows won't ever die. Friends in high places that probably wouldn't turn down a bribe or two. It sure smacks of anti-competitive practices and I don't hear too many people complaining about it. Apple can't run it's own company as it seems fit without outside interference but the government can.

  1. Steve Wilkinson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Kudos to Google

    More people need to do a similar thing. I've been pretty critical of other actions of Google in the last year or two, but major kudos to them for making this move. Spec'ing a project on a basis that will only allow one vendor to bid is just stupid, yet this is how M$ has been keeping a stranglehold on business in general, not just the government. Everywhere you go and look, .doc format is required for almost everything, rather than using a more universal standard (which would allow competition), when there is no good reason to need the other standard.

    The same thing happens in higher education. Students are forced to turn electronic documents in in .doc rather than something like .rtf or .pdf, forcing people to use M$ Word, or at least own a copy. Since I use another word processor, M$ Word is essentially a really expensive translator. Plus, it limits everyone to an inferior format.

    In IS/IT, it is a very similar story for in-office or business to business document exchange. It seems like no-one actually thinks about this to even consider reasonable alternatives. It has been made a basic business requirement, and it shouldn't be, and doesn't need to be. One only has to use Word and compare it to some of the competition that are trying, to see how this has held back our state of word processing today.

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What a load of garbage, first off just because google could provide a lower cost of purchase in a bid like this does not mean its still the right choice. If the majority of the systems are already using Microsoft products and the IT staff are trained around MS products, using something else while cheaper isnt always the best solution. Its no different then say if a government agency put out a order for new Ford Engines in a fleet of Ford trucks and having Nissan sue them to consider a Nissan Engine in a Ford truck even though it will take a lot of work to fit them in when a Ford engine is a direct fit. I hope Google loses. Any company that thinks it can sue a "customer" and force a product on them is asking to be laughed at.

  1. driven

    Joined: Dec 1969



    To further your point ... I'd rather the government didn't use products from either company.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Apple

    Apple has been up against this IT favoritism in the government for years. It took time and a lot of consumers to get some agencies within Uncle Sam's doors to even look at anything else.

    Blame this just as much on Apple as anything else. Apple has never tried to get into government, so it was up to personnel to push them.

    How MS could get any contract based on "security" is a mystery to me.

    It shouldn't be. Windows and other apps might be insecure, but at least Microsoft takes security 'seriously'. You know how long any one of their programs is supported, how it will be supported, and when it will be killed. The best you can say about any Apple product is "Um, they appear to support updates to the previous version and the current version."

    And PC builders are more forthcoming on building-to-order systems over a period of time. If the gov't said "We're standardizing on Snow Leopard", then they need to start buying their computers now, for the second Lion is released, Snow Leopard will no longer be supported on any new hardware (and technically not supported on older hardware bought after Lion is released).

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