Google complains (again)

Google complains (again)

Summary: That didn't take long. A week after Microsoft announced it would amend Windows Vista so that its integrated Instant Search functionality won't hamper the performance of third-party desktop-search programs, Google has complained to the government again.

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That didn't take long.

A week after Microsoft announced it would amend Windows Vista so that its integrated Instant Search functionality won't hamper the performance of third-party desktop-search programs, Google has complained to the government again.

In a new, seven-page amicus brief -- a copy of which Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Todd Bishop links to -- Google is asking the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division to force Microsoft to go further.

From Google's brief:

"(F)rom what Google understands of the remedies, it appears that more may need to be done to provide a truly unbiased choice of desktop search products in Vista and achieve compliance with the Final Judgment."

Google wants Microsoft to have to provide a firm date for the final release of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 -- since all Microsoft has committed to publicly so far is a first beta before the end of calendar 2007. (I'll second that request!)

But a couple of other things in Google's brief are troublesome. First, Google says Instant Search is a repackaging of MSN Desktop Search. As far as I can tell, given Microsoft's Live/Windows Live branding confusion, I don't believe this claim is accurate. Instant Search, the technology/feature formerly known as Windows Desktop Search, is related to MSN Desktop Search but is not a repackaging of it.

(The team working on Windows Search 4 -- the next iteration of desktop search, formerly code-named Casino -- is part of the Windows team.)

Google also says Microsoft has been unclear about how it will implement the integrated-search changes it said it planned to make. From the brief:

"For example, it appears that Microsoft will continue to show its own desktop search results when users run searches from prominent shortcuts and menu entries throughout the operating system, though users will now be given a mechanism to request results from their chosen desktop search product by taking a second step after they have first viewed results from Microsoft's product."

I thought Microsoft's four-pronged plan for changing integrated search was pretty clear.

In fact, I think Microsoft has been quite up-front for nearly a year that the company planned to integrate what its execs have been calling "convenience search" into Windows and other Microsoft products. Microsoft officials have claimed repeatedly that they believed convenience search would be more important, in terms of who leads the search market in the future, than "destination search" (going to a Web address specifically to search).

Google never seemed like it took these claims very seriously. So what changed -- and when?

Am I being to Soft on Microsoft when it comes to its strategy to integrate search everywhere? Is Google raising some credible issues (beyond the need for a real date for the final version of Vista SP1)?

Topics: Windows, Google, Hardware, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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