updated 10:45 am EDT, Wed June 20, 2007
Vista Allows Google Search
Windows Vista's next major update will let users choose a service other than Microsoft's for system-wide searches, Microsoft and the US Justice Department announced today. Responding to accusations by Google that Vista's Instant Search actively interferes with other search tools, the Redmond software developer says that Service Pack 1 for the OS will let users choose which search is the default. Links inside the Start menu and Internet Explorer will also make it easier to launch a third-party search without other companies modifying the interface themselves. The move is a "step in the right direction," Google chief legal officer David Drummond says, but should be improved to ease access to rival tools even further.
Microsoft's decision enforces a 2002 antitrust consent decree, which had been imposed to stop Microsoft from deliberately excluding outside utilities (such as Netscape's web browser) in Windows. Google in particular said that while its Desktop Search tool would run, the inability to disable Microsoft's search and a lack of customization meant that Desktop Search would slow down dramatically, making it impractical to use. Developers also can't integrate the search tool into Windows itself with the current implementation, Google says.
Although Microsoft has previously complained that the demand for a software change had no connection to the antitrust case, its test version of Service Pack 1 should arrive late this year with the change in place. A final version of the Windows update should be available early next year.