Justice Unworried About IE7 Search

    May 15, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Google had complained to US and European antitrust regulators about Microsoft including a search box with MSN Search as the default in Internet Explorer 7, but the Department of Justice had no problems with the feature.

Justice Unworried About IE7 Search
Judge Thinks IE7 Search Is Just Fine

In early May, we learned Google had expressed concern Microsoft would gain an unfair advantage in the online search market by including a search box in IE7. However, Justice disagreed with Google’s complaint.

A New York Times report said Justice and the states that are party to Microsoft’s antitrust settlement studied the search box feature for several months. They found a couple of reasons why they were not unduly concerned with its inclusion, as cited in papers approving Microsoft’s implementation of it:

The court document noted that personal computer makers are free to set the default search engine to any service they choose. And the Microsoft browser, the filing said, included “a relatively straightforward method for the user to select a different search engine from the initial default.”

The Microsoft design, the government and states found, gives personal computer makers and users choice in search services, and thus raises no antitrust issue. “Plaintiffs have concluded their work on this matter,” the filing stated.

“Changing the search engine may be simple by Microsoft’s standards,” Google said in a statement. “But if it were truly simple, users would be able to change the default with one click.”

However, changing the default search from Microsoft to Google in IE7 is very easy, especially when compared to changing from Google to Microsoft in Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

In IE7, clicking a dropdown arrow next to the search box allows users to select Google or other search options from a list. But in Firefox, where Google arrives as the default, users must click the search box’s dropdown arrow, pick “Add Engines” from the options to navigate to a new page, and select MSN Search from that page.

“We don’t think it’s right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN. We believe users should choose,” Marissa Mayer, the vice president for search products at Google, said in a previous report.

It should also be noted that changing the default search from Google to another engine in the Opera web browser requires substantially more effort than either IE7 or Firefox. Google entered into a deal with Opera last year where Google pays for that default search placement, and Opera was able to offer its ad-free browser at no cost to its users.

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