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Google Drops Cloud Lawsuit Against US Government 86

jfruhlinger writes "A year ago, Google sued the U.S. government because the government's request for proposals for a cloud project mandated Microsoft Office; Google felt, for obvious reasons, that this was discriminatory. Google has now withdrawn the suit, claiming that the Feds promised to update their policies (PDF) to allow Google to compete. The only problem is that the government claims it did no such thing."
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Google Drops Cloud Lawsuit Against US Government

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  • by mat catastrophe ( 105256 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @08:12AM (#37538194) Homepage

    It appears Google's Jedi mind tricks won't work on the US government.

    • by NorbMan ( 829255 ) *

      I don't see why it didn't. Jedi mind tricks always work on the weak-minded.

    • These are not the online productivity tools you are looking for...

      • Re:Well, then... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @08:21AM (#37538268)
        We're talking about Microsoft Office, not productivity tools. ;-)
        • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

          I actually really like Office, even Office 2010 believe it or not. I find Google Docs to be horrible and cause more problems than anything else. Open/Libre Office just isn't there yet. I'm not saying it couldn't be, I'm just saying that its the type of project that requires corporate sponsorship and paid coders because office suites aren't "cool".

          Star Office fell by the wayside and got turned into Open Office in a Netscape-like death-throw. Word Perfect could have won the word processor game, but they sat

          • by bberens ( 965711 )
            For my personal and business (small business owner) I find that open office is significantly more powerful than anything I need. I typically get by fine with Google Docs. The only thing OO and Google Docs don't have perfect is Office file formats, which frankly I can't remember the last time this was an issue.
            • by anagama ( 611277 )
              My business has been using Open Office since we opened it in 2003 (actually, we used Star Office back then). A word processor is the single most important piece of software in my line of work. I don't know what I'd get from MS Office that I don't get with Open Office. Everything we do is text heavy with some basic formatting and we also need to have templates that are able to suck info from a database. Open Office does all this just fine and I don't have to cough up hundreds of dollars for every update
              • One nice thing about the Open Office file format is that it isn't binary -- it's a zip file of plain text files.

                This has been true for MSOffice since 2007, as well.

          • Yeah, I was being snarky and perhaps overly unkind to Microsoft. I never expected to be modded "insightful--" I was hoping for "funny." Often the line between the two is blurry... Anyway, I think the merits of MS Word are debatable (die, ribbon bar, die! die! die!) but PowerPoint is the best software I never want to use. If your boss makes you produce slideware (and mine does), basically, everything else is garbage compared to PowerPoint for features and usability.

        • We're talking about Microsoft Office, not productivity tools. ;-)

          I have to supply documentation to the government that complies with MIL-STD-498. Google Docs, Open Office, LibreOffice, etc do not have enough functionality to comply with the standard. This has to do with sections, table of contents, table of authorities, etc. So you may be joking, but there is a reason that Office is a valid requirement.

          • by SuperQ ( 431 ) *

            So you use LaTeX? Docbook XML? You know, real documentation systems?

            • Perhaps LaTeX and Docbook XML are better at formatting documents, I don't know. I've never used either. But I do know that the people who review, accept, and ultimately use the documentation are often unskilled at computer use, and would likely not be able to use the software in the first place.
              • by SuperQ ( 431 ) *

                Right, neither one of those formats are for the END USER. They're authoring systems that publish content into a different format. You don't give LaTeX to your end users, you render it to PDF.

                • I told you I didn't know anything about them! And honestly, I don't care much. I hate doing these government documents, they never get read and provide way more information than will ever be needed.

                  Anyway, even if we could use those tools for our technical documents at the end of the project, we likely couldn't use them at the beginning of the contract life cycle, which is contract capture. The senior people in charge of writing our business plans have a hard enough time using Office, which they already "

          • So basically they kissed enough ass to allow them to be called 'MIL-STD-498 compliant'.
            Because functionally , there's barely any difference between 'Open Office' and 'MS Office' .

            They probably just payed money for the certification , and maybe did some minor changes to comply to it. Nothing Open Office couldn't do , but they probably can't pay for it.

            • But you've obviously never done advanced formatting, because functionally there is a huge difference. If you took a MIL-STD-498 compliant document and then opened it inside of Open Office, all of the formatting would be ruined. If you tried to create a MIL-STD-498 compliant document in Open Office, you'd find that it is lacking the proper functionality to meet the requirements. It's not a matter of paying for certifications. Its a matter of capability. Trust me, my boss hates Microsoft and would rather
  • This entire story will be riddled with speculations.

    There is Google, ONIX Networking Corp., Microsoft, US federal government (U.S. Department of the Interior), there are too many known and unknown unknowns (to para-quote the former minister of Offense).

    It could be that there is private dealing between Google and MS or between Google and the federal gov't. There could be issues surrounding ONIX. There could be anything, from government threats to personal threats. Too many unknown variables.

    Thus this is a pe

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      Shall we look at the PDF and see if it has been amended, then?

      • by rilles ( 1153657 )
        The government didn't actually change anything, the conversion from microsoft word to google docs added extra "google happy talk". Google happy talk is the text google inserts into anything it gives you to make you feel better, but sometimes it backfires when the happy talk is just made up fluff. ooooh, a shiny ball....
    • Thus this is a perfect story, because all comments will be batshit-crazy.


      • what's the difference?

        • People who are seriously into their politics and sport are often crazy, but I certainly don't find them interesting.. batshit crazy is slightly better I suppose, but it can still be tiresome.

    • by bberens ( 965711 )
      Last I heard Google Docs wasn't "accessible" or whatever the terminology is that says Hellen Keller can use your software. If Google Docs doesn't qualify it's stupid for them to sue.
      • Holly crap, maybe that's a different Helen Keller, but if Google Docs can be 'accessible' enough for use by a person who died back in 1968, then I wouldn't be questioning the ease of use of the software, I'd be more concerned with the consequences to the Google owners of having sold their souls to the devil to make it possible for their software to be used by a dead person.

        (and I am an atheist by the way, I would still have these questions.)

  • Looks like their open-door policy with the DOJ just got them in trouble. Don't be evil--be brutal.

  • I really want to like Google Docs (especially since I have a good friend who works on them at Google). But as someone who uses excel constantly in my job, and Google Spreadsheets a lot for personal use, there's just no comparison. There's zero possibility of doing what I need to do in gDocs, sadly.
    • Yeah, there's a free spreadsheet used in archery, Stu Miller's Dynamic Spine Calculator, which doesn't work in Google Docs --- I've suggested to the author that he contact the developers and try to get it working in Google Docs, but no success thus far.

      • I've suggested to the author that he contact the developers and try to get it working in Google Docs, but no success thus far.

        And why should he? Obviously it works on what 99% of the people use it for, why should he put in extra effort so that a fringe group can use it?

        • Actually, my understanding is the developer _did_ contact Google, but there was no response, and Google Docs spreadsheet still doesn't support the Excel features needed by the tool.

          I know it's not a popular bullet point, but until Google Docs is 100% compatible, complaints like this don't have much grounds to stand on.

          • I know it's not a popular bullet point, but until Google Docs is 100% compatible, complaints like this don't have much grounds to stand on.

            The difficulty: 100% compatibility is impossible even in theory. All that Microsoft need do is push a patch that adds or changes some minor feature, and now its competitor is no longer "100% compatible." So a Microsoft troll can always argue the "100% compatible" point, and win it by moving the goalpost. (I don't argue that you are a Microsoft troll, by the way: merely

  • it's printed on, when one is dealing w/ those whose given word is meaningless, and who don't understand the commitment of a firm handshake.

    Should have gotten it in writing, w/ formal signature, from someone w/ the authority to make that commitment.

  • by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @08:49AM (#37538508)

    Obama should simply invite everyone over for pizza and beer!

    • Because he's such a cool guy so that whatever the output of his intervention is, noone will complain?
      The change you can believe in all you want.

      • I hate that Noone guy, always complaining about everything.

        • Obama at Notre Dame: You can certainly think abortion is murder, but rather than doing anything about it, let's have a discussion. Don't complain now, agree to disagree: You can speak your mind on an occasional talk show while we crush another baby's head.

          Problem solved. Big smile. Confident wave. Applause and approval.

          Hilarious, isn't it, player Disfnord? Well that's the theater of absurd for you.

  • Do you really think that Google will replace Microsoft and do the same job? I don't think so...
    In the last 15 years that I've been working full time with all sort of products (Microsoft, Apple, Google...), I can say that even if Microsoft's products are not necessarily the best products taken one by one, all together they are excellent.

    I've been trying to work with Gmail myself to replace Exchange... this was the worst nightmare... for a small company, support is poor... sync does not work all the time...

    • by bberens ( 965711 )
      If you really need to rely on access to your mail/calendar offline then I wouldn't rely on the browser sync thing, just use your real mail/calendar fat client of choice. I agree though about docs not being "there" wrt offline use.
  • The government has so many legacy documents in Word. The entire defense industry revolves around Power Point (don't get me started, seriously everything is in Power Point). Asking for Microsoft Office as a requirement is completely legitimate.

  • Which is the key phrase in this whole business.

    Among other things, it means that if the feds do not change things so only MS Office is acceptable, Google can restart the lawsuit with no problems.

    Essentially, this is a peace offering by Google - "we want you to fix the objectionable part of your original RFP, and we'll stop suing you to let you do that in peace. BUT, if you don't fix it, we'll see you in court"

  • In the bad old days when IBM owned a monopoly on the computer business, there were a number of Federal Information Processing Standards that all but stated that procured equipment should have on the nameplate the ninth, second and thirteenth letters of the Latin alphabet as used in US English. They were opened for competitive bidding, and you'd think that only IBM could play. But sometimes it lost a bit because it was undercut by either a used-equipment dealer or even one of its own resellers. In fact, IBM
  • Most U.S. government agencies are as head over heals into vertically integrating microsoft solutions as could possibly imagine. Problem is that Microsoft and their zombie government followers (not all are followers but most in IP are) sell office 365 to management as a "cloud" solution when it's obvious that it's just managed exchange with a lightweight web version.

    True cloud versions exist ENTIRELY within the browser without binary executables you have to install.

  • they lost the brief they had saved in Google Docs.
  • Wait for the changes THEN drop suit. Don't preemptively do so on "promises", especially from the USA.
  • They must have settled out of court. :P

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham