Microsoft bows to Google pressure, changes Vista

Microsoft has agreed to make changes to its Windows Vista operating system in response to a complaint by Google that a feature of Vista is anticompetitive, lawyers involved in the case said on Tuesday.

The settlement, reached in recent days by state prosecutors, the Justice Department and Microsoft, averted the prospect of litigation over a complaint by Google that Vista had been designed to frustrate computer users who want to use software other than Microsoft's to search through files on their hard drives.

Google had made its complaint confidentially as part of the consent decree proceedings set up to monitor Microsoft for any anticompetitive conduct after it settled a landmark antitrust lawsuit five years ago that had been brought by the states and the Clinton administration.

The US government and the states were planning to file a joint status report by midnight on Tuesday in the consent decree proceedings that outlined the changes Microsoft would be making to Vista. State and US lawyers were exchanging drafts of the report Tuesday evening. They said they had reached an agreement on a remedy, although there was still some disagreement over the report's language. The disagreement reflected tensions between the Justice Department, which initially sided with Microsoft in the dispute, and some of the states, which have supported Google and advocated a more aggressive stance.

Mr Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general, said on Tuesday evening that he had not decided whether Connecticut would sign on to the settlement, although most of the other states were comfortable with the agreement.

He said that he was continuing to press the Justice Department to permit Google and other competitors of Microsoft to participate in a hearing on the matter next week. He added that as a result of pressure from the states, the Bush administration had taken a position closer to that of the states that found merit in Google's complaint.

"The Justice Department has moved and so has Microsoft," Mr Blumenthal said.

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