Tensions are mounting and the level of rhetoric is escalating as two corporate titans, Google and Microsoft, clash in their efforts to secure lucrative government contracts.
The conflict began last year when Google claimed it was unfairly edged out of competing for a Department of the Interior contract to provide cloud-based email services.
The contract had been awarded to Microsoft, and Google filed suit against the government alleging that the bidding process was not conducted fairly.
Google was pushing the company's "Google Apps for Government" offering, and subsequently made repeated claims that the product was Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certified.
Google’s website states, “Google Apps for Government – now with FISMA certification," and another webpage states "Google Apps for Government is certified and accredited under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)."
As it turns out, a previously released version of the product called "Google Apps Premier" had been FISMA certified, and Google's claims that the government offering was also approved are not accurate.
This detail was evidenced by the fact that Google had submitted a separate application for FISMA certification for Google Apps for Government, which is still under consideration.
Last week some information in the case was unsealed revealing that the Department of Justice had taken note of the fact that Google's claims were misleading.
“We immediately contacted counsel for Google, shared this information and advised counsel that we would bring this to the Court’s attention," the DOJ brief said.
The DOJ’s brief also states, “Google intends to offer Google Apps for Government as a more restrictive version of its product and Google is currently in the process of finishing its application for FISMA certification for its Google Apps for Government... To be clear, in the view of the GSA, the agency that certified Google’s Google Apps Premier, Google does not have FISMA certification for Google Apps for Government.”
Microsoft wasted no time in heralding the DOJ opinion, publishing a blog post by Microsoft's deputy general counsel David Howard.
Howard writes that "Google can’t be under the misimpression that FISMA certification for Google Apps Premier also covers Google Apps for Government. If that were the case, then why did Google, according to the attachments in the DOJ brief, decide to file a separate FISMA application for Google Apps for Government?"
Howard continued to more or less assert that Google had been caught in an outright lie in the face of overwhelming evidence that the claims of FISMA certification are false.
"Nor does it seem likely that Google believes that the two offerings are so similar that the differences simply won’t matter to people. After all, if the facts are so good, why persist in telling a fiction? Google easily could have explained that it had received certification for Google Apps Premier and was in the process of seeking certification for Google Apps for Government. Instead, Google has continued to state that Google Apps for Government has FISMA certification itself," wrote Howard.
The FIMA certification tiff is only one of several heated issues in play between the rival behemoths. Google claimed in February that Microsoft was pilfering search engine results, and Microsoft is filing an antitrust suit in Europe claiming Google is unfairly asserting its market dominance to freeze out other search engines.
Undoubtedly, this clash of the titans will carry on for some time to come.