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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Department of Interior barred from awarding Microsoft e-mail contract

After Google complained about an unfair contract bidding, a federal court has barred the U.S. Department of Interior from moving ahead with a Microsoft contract to provide cloud e-mail services.

The contract has been sent back to the Interior Department for further investigation and evaluation, the Court of Federal Claims said in an order written by Judge Susan Braden that was issued Tuesday.

Google had complained that it had put in a bid for the contract to provide e-mail and other cloud services to the department, but its offer was not seriously considered.

The court order said that the department began a pilot project for 5,000 users to switch to Microsoft’s cloud e-mail service even while it was telling Google it had not chosen a contract winner.

The two companies have been competing intensely for public contracts with cities, states and universities. Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer even met personally with Deputy Secretary David Hayes in February to pitch the contract. The Department of Interior contract had been Microsoft’s first federal win.

Google said in a statement on Wednesday, “As a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general, we’re pleased with the court’s decision.”

Microsoft said it continues to believe it deserves the contract. “The Department of the Interior determined that the dedicated, U.S.-based cloud solution offered by Microsoft met its minimum security and other requirements after a careful and thorough evaluation, and that Google’s solution did not,” Microsoft said in a statement. “The judge’s decision does not address this fundamental determination. We believe the full record will demonstrate that this award is in the best interest of the government and taxpayers.”

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