Microsoft has announced that users will be able to choose their default search engine for Internet Explorer in Windows Vista. Currently in the IE7 beta as well as previous additions, if a user hadn’t chose a default search engine, it was defaulted to be Windows Live Search.

How did Microsoft make this announcement? In a public policy speech titled, “How Will Microsoft Enhance Windows While Promoting Competition?” This speech was given by Microsoft’s senior vice president Brad Smith who said, “Our goal is to be principled and transparent as we develop new versions of Windows.” Additionally, “These voluntary principles are intended to provide the industry and consumers with the benefits of ongoing innovation, while creating and preserving robust opportunities for competition. The principles incorporate and go beyond the provisions of the U.S. antitrust ruling.”

Another important step for Microsoft is their new twelve-step program called “Windows Principles: Twelve Tenets to Promote Competition.” Clearly the seem to be taking steps to keep them from treading on thin water. Principle #3 says: “Microsoft will design Windows so as to enable computer manufacturers and users to set non-Microsoft programs to operate by default in key categories, such as Web browsing and media playback, in lieu of corresponding end-user functionality in Windows. Computer manufacturers are free to set these defaults as they please when building new PCs.”

Microsoft has been highly criticized in the past for things such as making MSN a default search or making Internet Explorer uninstallable. However, they seem to be taking some important steps to allow and promote fair competition.