Google has won a crucial win against Microsoft in a contested bid for an important government cloud computing contract.

In a decision handed down this week, a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of the Interior, which prevents the agency from implementing a Microsoft cloud-based email system.

In the decision, Judge Susan Braden wrote that the department’s decision to implement Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite, was made without “proper justification or appropriate approvals.” Braden has ordered the department to redo the criteria for the contract, valued at about $59 million.

Google filed a lawsuit in October along with Onix Networking, a licensed Google reseller, which alleged that the Interior Department had structured its bidding process in favor of a Microsoft-only email offering. Microsoft has long had a dominant position in the federal government market for email, and Google has been trying to break that hold with its cloud-based offering. The department’s deployment would have involved email for some 88,000 employees.

In her ruling, Braden did not find that Microsoft had acted improperly, but said the department did not provide a “full and open” competition for the contract.

Without the preliminary injunction, Braden said Microsoft would achieve an “organizational lock-in” and cost Google the opportunity to fairly compete.

“The Department of 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. 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,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email.

Google issued a statement saying it was pleased with the decision “as a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general.”



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