I don't actually know what the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite is, but if they're already using it for a lot of other stuff, I think it's pretty understandable to want their email system to integrate with it.
In this case, it appears that the DOI actually followed those rules and came to the conclusion that only MS could provide a working solution. Google is essentially saying in the complaint that
a) Their solution meets the stated requirements and the DOI knew about it.
b) It is unclear if Microsoft's solution even meets all the requirements (specifically the security requirements since Microsoft is not currently FISMA compliant and has a bunch of known problems in its exchange server)
therefore the justification for naming Microsoft's solution is invalid and solutions involving Google's product should have been allowed for consideration.
Since I didn't actually read the DOI justification (only Google's summary of it) and I am not familiar enough with the specific regulations that govern this sort of thing to comment on its validity, I simply wanted to point out that "naming the winner" in the RFQ is not enough to invalidate it and is not necessarily a problem if the proper research has been done.
I think the DOI can require that a solution must be compatible with or have the same features as Microsoft's solution.
However, they cannot say the solution MUST be the Microsoft product, and I think that is what Google is arguing.
Then they'd print a bunch of copies of these several hundred page documents up and mail them to IBM, Honeywell, Wang, DG and DEC and so forth for bids.
The guy at (say) DG would get this, see that the Govt wanted a Vax, and toss the RFP. IBM might try a bid, but usually the "Unix" bit would cause them trouble. [This was well before any serious IBM effort in Unix].
Their requirement is a single-vendor, single-source service that can only be obtained from Microsoft. That's naming the winner before you hold the contest.
An RFQ (request for quote) by its very nature is a request for specific commodities from an existing purchase contract, which are evaluated on a cost basis.
In it's simplest form related to IT, a server vendor has an part number for a hard drive listed on the GSA contract. Multiple resellers are able to sell that part. A RFQ is a solicitation that says "We would like to purchase 50 units of part #12345". The reseller with the lowest price wins.
There is a big difference between "should be compatible with" and "must be".
I would be glad if this changed that, though. There's a potential for quite a bit of money to be saved.
It's not entirely unreasonable to see it changing. Plus, as you said, it would save the government plenty of money in licensing and support.
As much schizophrenic as Microsoft's various divisions are, you can't make the Xbox division compete with the Office division on which one wins a contract for adding a feature to the Windows 8 kernel.
EDIT: Note that in general sovereign immunity would preclude a contract suit against the government. The Tucker Act permits several types of claims against the US Gov't.
Note that a lot of http://apps.gov is based around vendors built on Amazon EC2/S3 and Salesforce force.com platform. Microsoft is not a dominate player in government IT, in fact I probably see far more tax money going to IBM and/or Oracle every year if it makes anyone feel better. /s :)
It is true in the area of office apps that Google have an case here, but another way to look at this is that Google are mighty sore for having gone through all that security accreditation (FISMA) without winning more business. They put a lot of effort into the RFQ (as did Amazon, who did well out of this)
The functionality overload in recent versions of MS Offfice was so huge it made Microsoft develop entirely new user interface (`Ribbon') as the traditional pull-down menus weren't able to cope with it anymore.
Are you sure you need Kate the Average Secretary to toy around with countless functions? Will that add to the bottomline?
It's a huge disadvantage if all you ever do is edit existing documents (i.e., you work in government).
But seeing it 3 times in rapid succession feels like fingernails on the blackboard.
However, I assume Microsoft behaves in a similar manner.
IF you don't like that, just get rid of the government agencies.
"Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite is a set of messaging and collaboration tools, delivered as a subscription service, that gives your business rich capabilities without the need to deploy and maintain software and hardware on-premise."
Google's argument is that it wasn't a real RFQ if it was required to be from MS. Perhaps they already decided on Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite but legally had to put up an RFQ and worded it as such that their chosen package was the de-facto winner. I guess we'll find out.
"A minimum seven years" would also have excluded Google.
As would "five."
Google's track record with business productivity apps for large organizations just isn't very long...