RealTime IT News

Microsoft Relents - Will Make Vista Google-Friendly

Microsoft has agreed to make changes to Windows Vista's desktop search capability in the wake of antitrust accusations by Google made public last week.

The announcement came Tuesday evening in a regular six-month status report that Microsoft, along with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the 17 states and the District of Columbia who were party to the antitrust suit, filed with the judge overseeing the antitrust settlement.

Google had complained that Microsoft "hard wired" Vista's desktop search so that using another desktop search engine – Google's, for instance – is extremely difficult for users to accomplish.

According to a press release Tuesday night, the DoJ said that the agreement "will resolve any issues the complaint may raise under the final judgments [the antitrust settlement]."

Google wasn't quite so bullish.

"Microsoft's current approach to Vista desktop search clearly violates the consent decree and limits consumer choice," said David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, in a statement emailed to internetnews.com.

"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."

Microsoft has specifically committed later this year to enable computer makers and consumers to "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," according to a company statement.

Additionally, the status report itself states that "the default desktop search program will be launched whenever Windows launches a new top-level window to provide search results."

Further, Microsoft will provide links to the default desktop search program on both the Start menu and in Windows Explorer windows, the company's statement says.

Finally, the report states that Microsoft will provide desktop search competitors with technical information to enable them to optimize performance of their products running on Vista.

Microsoft has committed to release the changes in Vista Service Pack 1, which is due out in beta test by the end of the year.

The report will be the topic of a quarterly hearing before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who oversees compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement, on June 26.

"We’re pleased we were able to reach an agreement with all the States and the Justice Department that addresses their concerns so that everyone can move forward," Brad Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement.

Meanwhile, California's Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said, "This agreement, while not perfect, is a positive step towards greater competition in the software industry. It will enhance the ability of consumers to select the desktop search tool of their choice."