Google Inc. has won a key ruling in its lawsuit against the US Interior Department, two months after the Web giant accused the agency of improperly favoring rival Microsoft Corp. in a contract bid to provide a new email system, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Susan Braden, a federal judge in Washington, on Monday issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the Interior Department from deciding to use Microsoft's email and collaboration tools for its 88,000 employees as part of the federal government's move to Web-based software, sometimes known as cloud computing.

In an order unsealed late Tuesday in the US Court of Federal Claims, Judge Braden wrote that Google had made a preliminary showing that the agency "violated the Competition in Contracting Act," which was passed in 1984 to promote "full and open competitive procedures" for federal contract bids.

A spokesman for Google, which filed the suit in October of last year, said in a statement: "As a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general, we're pleased with the court's decision."

A spokeswomen for the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service, declined to comment. A Microsoft spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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