Google Microsoft Search

Well, it happened…again. Microsoft lost the war against Google in regards to the integrated search feature that Vista has. Google was upset at just how integrated the search capabilities are in Vista, and wanted a way to implement their own instant search throughout the operating system. An example of this is in Vista’s Start Menu where a search box prominently sits, and is incredibly useful.

Vista SearchThe only area that I thought Google would have a valid complaint is if the "Search the Internet" link in the Start Menu always used MSN for searching. It doesn’t though, clicking on that link will pull up your default browser and shows you search results from your default search engine.

That wasn’t enough for Google though, and so Microsoft plans on making amends when they release Vista SP1 (which they have now said will come this year). Here is a summary of the changes being made:

  1. Defaults: Computer manufacturers and consumers will be able to select a default desktop search program similar to the way they currently select defaults for third-party web browsers and media players in Windows Vista.
  2. Easy Links: Links to the default desktop search program will be provided on the Start menu and in Windows Explorer windows.
  3. Developer guidance: Microsoft will provide information to developers of third-party desktop search programs about how they can optimize their programs to minimize any performance problems.

Here was Google’s response to the ruling:

We are pleased that as a result of Google’s request that the consent decree be enforced, the Department of Justice and state attorneys general have required Microsoft to make changes to Vista. These remedies are a step in the right direction, but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to alternate desktop search providers.

Now I’m all for the power of choice, but there are kind of some double standards going on here. We’ve been having a discussion over in the forum the past few days where we share our opinions on whether it is fair for Microsoft to undergo such scrutiny, and MetaMan couldn’t have put it any better:

In Europe, Microsoft is not allowed to ship WMP with all copies of Windows. However, no one has ever stopped Apple from shipping iTunes with its computers. The US tried to stop Microsoft from shipping IE with copies of Windows, but never questioned Apple’s right to distribute Safari. I feel that everyone should just lighten up, but if they can’t do that, at least hold everyone to the same standard.

Of course the instinctive response to that would be that Apple isn’t close to having the marketshare that Microsoft does, but these proposed regulations should be independent of both the marketshare and the platform. If Microsoft has to open up Vista’s integrated search to outside developers, then shouldn’t Apple have to do the same thing with Spotlight?

Personally I think that this kind of stuff hinders the development of Windows…Apple doesn’t have to worry about whether they are going to please the courts when adding features to their operating system. Frankly I’m surprised that Windows development hasn’t come to a stand still. What do you think?

Kudos to dpotts for the tip!

Source: ZDNet, CNet, and Todd Bishop
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