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Microsoft To Change Desktop Search After Google Complaint 286

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the we-didn't-mean-it-honest dept.
Raver32 writes to tell us that Microsoft will be making changes to their desktop search tool in Vista after a 49-page antitrust complaint was filed by Google. "Microsoft initially dismissed the allegations, saying regulators had reviewed the program before Vista launched. However, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said in an interview last week that the company was willing to make changes if necessary."
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Microsoft To Change Desktop Search After Google Complaint

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  • Let me guess... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:26PM (#19584031) Journal
    ...they'll make the same changes that they did when ordered to remove IE from Windows 95?

    ( "what? We did it because we were told to! Not our fault your desktop is all broke now!" )

    Okay, so prolly not like that. But seriously; they could've avoided the bad PR by just responding to a quiet request in the first place, instead of being pushed into it... as usual.

    I realize there's prolly some sort of 'we only do it when we have to' mentality prevalent in Redmond, but when is someone there going to realize that maybe, you know, they can take a chance and do The Right Thing - when the asking is being done quietly and politely, and not finally and grudgingly do it later when there's a big fat lawsuit or four hanging over their heads?

    I know, I know... but I still have some small bit of dreamer left in me.

    /P

  • by mushupork (819735) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:38PM (#19584211)
    Kneel before Google!

    The omnipotence of GOOG is starting to get just plain scary.
  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:42PM (#19584267) Homepage Journal

    Contrary to the title of the article...

    Microsoft To Change Desktop Search After Google Complaint

    ...MS hasnt agreed to do anything...

    However, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said in an interview last week that the company was willing to make changes if necessary.

    (Micorsoft,) Please define "if necessary"... is it:

    • If Google continues their anti-trust case?
    • If enough end-users complain
    • If they are forced to because of the results of the anti-trust case
    • If BillG feels "charitable" towards his competition

    Until such a definition is announced by MS, this statement doesnt mean much of anything - except perhaps as an attempt to make the general public think they are addressing the issue of choice on the public's behalf (as most of the general public will probably read into their statement in the same way that happened when the article title was created).

    Just my thoughts on the matter...

    -Robert

  • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HellFeuer (1032042) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:48PM (#19584339)
    well do you really expect anyone to integrate a third party search into their OS?
    why dont people sue apple for Spotlight?
  • Re:Let me guess... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by weicco (645927) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:50PM (#19584367)

    It's interesting to see what they'll do. There's numerous things to do just the thing Google asked. There's at least 4 different ways to stop Vista's search, all accessible by installer software. There's at least 2 different ways to make queries to Vista's search and a way to plugin 3rd party search agents (I don't think this was requested by Google but some were asking this in the previous Slashdot article).

    So unless they remove Vista search alltogether, what's there to do? Tell Google's developers how to read MSDN?

  • Sheep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wasabii (693236) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:58PM (#19584461)
    Man, ya'll must be sheep. Seriously.

    Look. MS wrote the OS. MS owns the OS. MS can do whatever they want with it. If that means integrate whatever the **** they want, then piss off. If you don't like it, don't use it. It is not drinking water. Yes, you can live with MS. I don't use Windows, but I will do whatever it takes to make sure MS does not loose this fundamental freedom.

    I find it quite unbelievable some people's feelings of entitlement. No, you are not entitled that somebody provide an OS that does what you want how you want it.

    Your job depends on using Windows? Quit. It's not that hard. You are not under threat of violence. There are other jobs out there. Start your own business. Mow a lawn, I don't care. You are free people in a free society. Just choose not to participate in what you disagree with. What are you, sheep?

    No, mostly you're just arm chair pundents. Debating the evilness of some entity but not getting up long enough to do something about it.
  • by My name is Bucket (1020933) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:01PM (#19584519)
    "Desktop Search" is what you turn off to gain HDD access speed, because you actively organize your personal files (unlike other schmucks).
  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by catbutt (469582) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:07PM (#19584605)

    well do you really expect anyone to integrate a third party search into their OS?
    If they want to conduct business in a country where I'm a voter....well, yes, I indeed expect them to do whatever the hell I want them to do. If they choose to do things that don't benefit me, I have the right to elect leaders that make and prosecute laws that prevent them from continuing it. Luckily, many of those laws are already in place since the days when Standard Oil, AT&T and others tried to abuse their respective monopolies.

    why dont people sue apple for Spotlight?
    Apple hasn't been been convicted as a monopolist. Also Google search seems to integrate well with Spotlight....Apple apparently did a decent job of exposings it's innards to 3rd parties in this case.
  • Re:Sheep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Critical Facilities (850111) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:13PM (#19584687) Homepage
    You know what? I gotta say I agree with you. I'm no Microsoft fanboi (though I do admit to using it for work, pro audio, etc). I think it's unreasonable to expect that Microsoft should be barred from being able to make their products work better on their operating system. While the practice is unsavory at best, I don't know if I can buy into this "illegal" or "monopoly" thing.

    There are loads of things on the market that are proprietary and no one balks at all. Try sticking a Square D circuit breaker in a GE electrical panel, using a Schlage Key on a Kwikset Lock, or (to use the trite Slashdot analogy du jour) buying Ford parts for your Chevy car. It ain't happening.
  • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HellFeuer (1032042) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:16PM (#19584763)
    why the hate?
    do u think saying fuck a few times will prove u correct?

    MS bashing is fun, but do realize, that the line between added application and OS feature, is really not that clear cut. i could take things to their logical extreme and argue that everything other than the kernel is not part of the OS.. of course i would be wrong, but the point is, "this is an OS feature, not an application" can sometimes be a very valid argument..

    my point about spotlight was this: spotlight and the vista search are the SAME, in terms of the nature of the functionality they offer to the end user... why is one considered an added application while the other is an OS feature?

    and just to be clear... I do not know the law, and I am not arguing about the law... it is simply that this time i feel microsoft is justified, and being forced to provide even a link to someone else's program is unfair, and has the potential of being taken to ridiculous extremes..
    and no i am not a microsoft fanboy.. in fact i am not even a windows user .. (except for gaming of course)
  • Re:Let me guess... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@chrBOHRom ... minus physicist> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:18PM (#19584787)
    To damage competing tech/ products? Huh? The product was easily disabled. Google's complaint, as it is, was that it "wasn't easily disabled enough" (not sure what they were looking for, a Big Red Button on the desktop, or more likely, something that sits in the bowels of Add / Remove Windows Components, not installed by default, so people think that functionality is missing from Windows, and so download GDS) and that it "slowed GDS down" (well, yes, two programs indexing the hard drive will have to share access to it. I'm confused as to why this is MS's problem - you'll note that Windows Desktop Search is equally impaired - actually, even less, because it yields to everything including GDS, whereas GDS won't yield to Windows Desktop Search - this is a fairly understandable concept) - again, not sure what Google's preferred course was for MS, "invent a hard drive indexing routine that doesn't need to read the hard drive" (now that WOULD be innovation).

    This is one I'm disappointed MS caved on. Google is doing little more than using the court to proactively hurt competitors, something most people here are usually against.

  • Re:Sheep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yorugua (697900) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:21PM (#19584837)

    There is no law prohibiting a monopoly.
    There are laws prohibiting from abusing a monopoly. I guess that's the case here.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:49PM (#19585213) Homepage Journal
    Cheering for either company is ridiculous. So Bill Gates has a few more billions than Sergei and Larry, but so what. It's not like any of us have our own private 737 to fly around in.

    I like an OS to come with more stuff out of the box with every release. It's just less complicated to put in one CD and get everything - that's why I like Linux and OS/X. People have a right to make their products, however they want them. It sucks to bolt rear views on a car after the fact, and it sucks to go and download a bunch of unintegrated utilities onto your drive.

    Google could have been proactive and released a Vista Upgrade for their search, with an Aero look, that shuts of Microsoft search. They could go and see every OS out there, and for Vista owners, drop down a new FireFox and a new Google Search FOR VISTA. But instead of being agressive, they cry to lawyers just like Netscape did. The result will be the same.

    Microsoft delivered a new search experience with their new OS, and it is time for Google to respond with product.

    I'm waiting for a new Google Search for Vista.
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:53PM (#19585279)
    I mean, they have Spotlight and that's Apple-only and bundled, right?

    To have an embedded search utility on an OS just seems logical. Microsoft may be hated around here, but for an OS maker to change the default search to something else just seems stupid. They are bundling it because it's an OS and it needs a desktop search.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:54PM (#19585293)
    > I mean, we're not talking about middleware like WMP here -- we're talking about finding files on the user's hard drive.

    Well, that's not ALL we're talking about. Remember, this was an MS-made replacement for Google's desktop search and Microsoft only made it AFTER seeing Google's product, at which point they merged it into Windows at a fairly deep level.

    In other words, I don't really care what they put into their OS, but WHY they put it in there: to kill off competitors (Google) and their products.
  • Re:Let me guess... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @04:14PM (#19585591)
    Except that Google immediately filed an anti-trust suit. There's no indication from Google's statements that they made any effort to deal with Microsoft directly with this. This and other writeups on this story all point to Google's first attempt being a lawsuit and big press.

    Sort of hard to respond to a quiet request in the first place when it doesn't exist.
  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by endianx (1006895) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @04:46PM (#19586149)
    Because you are in the minority in your disapproval of those companies. You won't get the government to do anything about it either if that is the case.
  • by chubba27 (978581) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @05:13PM (#19586575)
    Does anybody actually read these, or just start bashing? Microsoft does not *prevent* anyone from adding a different desktop search. They have not "added locks to the fridge" so that you can't add Pepsi. They've just made it so that you have to bring in your own Pepsi and stock it yourself. If you're too lazy to do that, that's your problem. You have that choice. If you went into a Chevy dealership and bought a Corvette and then told them that you wanted a Ferrari engine instead of the Chevy engine, do you think they'd change it for you? Did you see an option for the Ferrari engine on the sticker? Doubt it. You can replace it, but you'll have to get off your lazy ass and replace it yourself. Don't want to go through the hassle? Then buy something else.
  • Re:Let me guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@chrBOHRom ... minus physicist> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @05:26PM (#19586757)

    Desktop search is not new, yet Microsoft did not allow for a preferred search facility which disabled their builtin search.

    Any application installer can disable the builtin search. This was discussed extensively previously - "GDS has noted that Indexing Service is on, and this will hamper performance. Would you like to disable?" Seems pretty straightforward. After all, the hooks to disable Indexing Service are publicly available and work.

    Or should the WDS facility seek out other Desktop Search apps and disable itself if it finds something running? No. If you mean "Search" on the Start Menu, that's fairly encroaching. What next? Should the entirety of the OS be extensible? (Well, it should, but you know what I mean) Should there be an integral API allowing anyone to hook anything into anything? Filesystem? Maybe a competitor could release a new kernel for Vista, should that be allowed to hook into the UI?

    They must all competitors to compete.

    Show me how GDS is prevented from running? Oh, it's impeded from running at full performance? Guess what, so is Indexing Service. GDS is a user's choice to install? Guess what, the user can also uninstall Indexing Service. That Google have chosen to seek (questionable) legal redress for what is clearly a simple issue to resolve (and one that DEFINITELY would have come up in any usability testing) speaks volumes.

    To me, it only looks like it's forcing Microsoft to obey anti-trust laws and provide a means for competitors to play in the desktop search market instead of harming others by making it look like the competitors software is massively slowing down the OS by having two indexing systems.

    FUD. For one, it doesn't slow down the OS per se. It slows down the indexing system of two separate applications. GDS and Indexing Service. MS isn't spinning it to say "GDS is slowing down your OS, get rid of it". It's simple resourcing.

    IMO, Microsoft should be required to take Vista off the market until this is fixed. They are doing exactly what they've done for years in regards to harming competition on the Windows OS monopoly and they are currently still under sanctions from previous illegal anti-trust actions.

    Off the market? Pardon me while I cry with laughter. Harming competition? I guess you mean by putting in an unremovable, un-disable-able indexing service that slows down a competitors desktop search app. Except, what's that, oh, yes, it IS removable, by USER or by EXPOSED API. And it is disable-able, by USER or by EXPOSED API. Remind me again how you think this should be dealt with.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @05:34PM (#19586855) Journal
    I don't give a damn what Apple does. They're influence on the market is next to insignificant. I don't use Apple hardware or operating systems on a regular basis. Apple could shut down tomorrow and it would adversely effect less than 10% of all PC users out there.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @06:09PM (#19587331)

    Well, that's not ALL we're talking about. Remember, this was an MS-made replacement for Google's desktop search and Microsoft only made it AFTER seeing Google's product, at which point they merged it into Windows at a fairly deep level.

    Rubbish. Microsoft first said Vista (Longhorn at the time) would have "Desktop Search" a year before before Google's first GD beta (and two years before Apple released Spotlight). Further, they'd been talking about the broad concept since at least the mid 90s.

    In other words, I don't really care what they put into their OS, but WHY they put it in there: to kill off competitors (Google) and their products.

    The idea that it was a "response" to Google's product (and hence some deliberate, targeted attack), doesn't even pass the laugh test.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Thrip (994947) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @07:16PM (#19588125)
    Most companies don't require a majority of consumers to patronize them in order to stay in business. If I open an arcade where people pay me to skin sweet little baby bunnies alive, it doesn't matter from an economic standpoint that 95% of the town is against me, as long as the other 5% pay me enough to stay in business. However, a majority of consumers certainly can push through any legislation they care enough about. Bunny killer :p
  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:08PM (#19589615) Journal
    MS bashing is fun, but do realize, that the line between added application and OS feature, is really not that clear cut.

    It is clear cut in this case.

    MS didn't provide this feature in their OS.

    Admittedly, they should have done so decades ago, but they didn't need to because they have a monopoly, and developing features for customers costs money. Instead, third parties, including Google, invested time and effort to provide the feature to Microsoft vict\\\\ customers, and by doing so added value to the Windows platform.

    Microsoft then belatedly implemented their own version of the feature, and therefore became competitors to the desktop search providers. In addition, they made sure their own search tool also connected to their MSN search if the customer performed an internet search using the same tool.

    In other words, they leveraged their ownership of the Windows operating system to install their own search tool in a way that made it unlikely their prior benefactors could continue to provide competing desktop search tools, and recoup their investments. They also leveraged their monopoly of desktop operating systems to undermine their competitors Internet search businesses by linking the Vista desktop search to their own MSN Internet search.

    The lesson for potential partners/competitors of Microsoft? Don't add value to Windows.

    and no i am not a microsoft fanboy

    All Microsoft fanboys say that. It's damn near a signature for them.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:05AM (#19590331)

    MS didn't provide this feature in their OS.

    Microsoft have been providing some form of search in their OS since at least Windows 95. Since DOS 1.0, if you consider dir [/s] *file* a "search" (and given how many people seem to consider find / -name "*file" a "search", that's not unreasonable).

    The indexing searching of Vista is a clear and predictable evolution of functionality that's been present in Windows since before Google even existed.

    Admittedly, they should have done so decades ago, but they didn't need to because they have a monopoly, and developing features for customers costs money. Instead, third parties, including Google, invested time and effort to provide the feature to Microsoft vict\\\\ customers, and by doing so added value to the Windows platform.

    This is a non-sequitur. Pretty much every piece of moderately advanced functionality in every OS appeared via "third party" software first.

    Microsoft then belatedly implemented their own version of the feature, and therefore became competitors to the desktop search providers.

    False. Microsoft announced "desktop search" would be in Vista (then Longhorn) a year before GDS was even available as a beta.

    In addition, they made sure their own search tool also connected to their MSN search if the customer performed an internet search using the same tool.

    I.e. just like Google do with GDS.

  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:22AM (#19590411)
    Who the hell modded this "insightful?" First, Apple is not a monopoly, so they cannot illegally leverage that monopoly via bundling, hence there is no legal action that makes sense.

    Ok who the hell modded this "informative"... Of course, you do realize that Apple has a complete monopoly on software, bundling AND hardware in its own niche, never mind of the law is shortsighted enough to miss that.

    Apple users use anything Steve feeds them and Apple's solution is far more locked down than Windows ever was.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:24AM (#19590423)
    Apple fits into neither of those categories. Google has an indexed search on OS X and it uses the same API and hooks as Spotlight, resulting in no slowdowns for Google's tool and no disadvantage given to them.

    Apple works tightly with Google, so that's given. I want to know: how I set Live.com as the search engine in Safari?

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