Google Complains To Feds About IE7

    May 1, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Google has given its new lobbyists in Washington DC something to do, as the company expressed concern to both the Justice Department and the European Commission about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 having MSN Search as its default search engine.

Google Complains To Feds About IE7
Google Has Issues With IE 7

The New York Times carried a story this morning about Google’s talks with both the DoJ and the EC. Both of those government bodies have battled Microsoft over antitrust issues, and Google has seen fit to raise another issue about Microsoft’s business practices.

A bone of contention has jutted from the flesh of the latest version of Microsoft’s web browser, IE 7. The default search engine for the top-right search box, added for the first time with IE 7, will be MSN. Previous searches conducted via the address bar were handled by MSN AutoSearch, a service that tried to match the terms entered with existing URLs.

Having MSN as the default instead of that mostly ineffective AutoSearch poses a distinct threat to Google, one that coupled with MSN’s soon to launch adCenter online advertising product may siphon away some of Google’s multi-billion dollar revenue stream.

“The market favors open choice for search, and companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services,” said Marissa Mayer, the vice president for search products at Google, said in the report. “We don’t think it’s right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN. We believe users should choose.”

“Whatever behavior happened in the past, the guiding principle we had is that the user is in control,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer group, responded in the report.

As Microsoft correctly pointed out, changing the default search in IE 7 is easy to accomplish. It sounds like Google is feeling The Fear that comes with having one product provide 99 percent of one’s revenue, and a competing product arrives to grab for some of that cash.

What should be noted here in terms of fairness is Google’s existing multi-million dollar deals with both the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software. Google pays to have its search engine as the default in both the Firefox and the Opera web browsers.

Neither browser comes close to Microsoft’s IE in terms of dominant market share, around 85 percent globally. Microsoft could certainly step up very aggressively in marketing its adCenter to advertisers; noting that one avenue to its paid search opportunities would be on millions of PCs by default could be a tempting selling point.

“People will be bidding aggressively to get in that space,” Hachamovitch said in the article. “And that’s a good thing.”

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.