Microsoft changes Vista after Google complaint

Microsoft is making changes to its Windows Vista operating system to resolve a complaint from Google.

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By  Peter Branton Published  June 20, 2007

Microsoft is making changes to its Windows Vista operating system to resolve a complaint from Google that a search function in the OS puts potential rivals at a disadvantage.

Under an agreement that the firm reached with the US Justice Department and state antitrust regulators, Microsoft will include an option in Vista that allows users to select a default desktop search program.

Google had complained that Vista's search feature, which allows users to search their computer's hard drive, was anticompetitive as it effectively prevented competition from other desktop search applications. By so doing, Microsoft was breaking its 2001 antitrust settlement with the US government, in which it agreed not to take actions that would disadvantage other software makers.

Microsoft had previously contended that Google's complaint was without merit; CEO Steve Ballmer said as recently as June 15 that the company considered any such claim "baseless".

Now, it appears that the firm has decided to address at least some of Google's - and the US authorities - concerns. "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," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement.

Microsoft will make the changes in the first service pack for Vista, which is expected to be ready by the end of this year. While Vista will continue to display search results, users will be able to access the default search program; Microsoft will also provide additional technical information to third-party developers to help them improve the performance of their search applications on Vista.

Google said in a statement that it considered the changes to be "a step in the right direction" but that it wanted further changes to make it easier for consumers to access the default search service.

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