May 11, 2006 3:00 PM PDT

Ballmer: Google wants special treatment in IE

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Google seems to want special treatment on Internet Explorer, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

His remarks centered on the default search engine in the Web browser. Right now, when people update their version of IE to IE 7, the software won't change their default search settings. "If you pick Yahoo, it will stay on Yahoo," Ballmer said in a hallway conversation Thursday, after a speech he gave at the Churchill Club here.

Google, however, has complained about how the system works. The complaints could be taken as a disguised way to help that company grow its segment in search, Ballmer suggested.

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"Google wants us to prompt the users to change the defaults. They want to see a list of search providers, with the No. 1 search provider listed first," said Ballmer, who was speaking generally and not recounting a formal meeting or discussion with Google executives.

IE 7 offers a list of search sites that can become a user's default search engine. The list is alphabetical, so Google is listed after some (such as Ask.com) but before others, including MSN.com. IE 7 also doesn't actively suggest to a user that they can change their default based on their recent search histories or other behavior.

Sergey Brin, one of the co-founders of Google, used the "M" word--"monopoly"--to describe Microsoft at a press event on Wednesday and said the software maker didn't necessarily play fair in certain situations.

Google and the growth of the advertising market were one of the primary topics of discussion at the Churchill Club event on Thursday. Microsoft is third right now in Internet advertising. The Redmond, Wash.-based software company hopes to turn that around by developing its own ad network to create a mass marketplace on the Web. It's also working on software tools and alliances with content providers and online stores to push the effort.

"We want to make sure there is good, healthy competition in the advertising space," Ballmer said. "Everybody deserves good competition. People have been telling me that for years."

Not every bit of technology will be supported by advertising, he said. Even though Microsoft will have ad-supported applications, a lot of people will want a standard desktop Office.

"Can you imagine writing a letter to someone," he said. "'Hey, Mom, I am upset with the gun policy.' Then an ad pops up and says, 'Hey, do you want to buy a gun?'"

The Microsoft chief spoke on a range of other topics:

• Ballmer likes social-networking site FaceBook. "I've spent a lot of time studying FaceBook. I think there is a lot we can learn from the FaceBook concept."

• As for file-sharing service BitTorrent, it's "very interesting, but I'm not sure where is goes as a business," he said.

• Ditto for YouTube. "It's fascinating. Anything that can capture consumer interest like that," he said. But it remains unclear how to turn the video Web site into a business proposition.

• Microsoft will continue to buy start-ups, of which it bought 22 last year, he added.

• Open source keeps Ballmer awake at night. Right now, Microsoft trails the open-source community in software for high-performance computer clustering and some other server technologies, he acknowledged. But future versions of Windows will try to close that gap, he said

The competition between Microsoft and Linux, he added, is based mostly on technology and not philosophical differences. Ultimately, that helps Microsoft, he indicated, because it then becomes a battle over features.

"We looked at open source and said, 'Is this a religious competition? No, it is a good old-fashioned engineering competition,'" he said. "It is hard to beat open source for cost of acquisition. It is not hard to beat open source on total cost of ownership."

Microsoft, however, doesn't have a lot of interest in dipping deep into that area. "We can't embrace the open-source business model. That is inconsistent with being a commercial company," he said.

• Meanwhile, IBM remains one of Microsoft's biggest challengers in the corporate space. The competition comes either directly from Big Blue or from companies that have adopted its technology, Ballmer said.

• Microsoft is still a growth company, he noted, saying that in the past five years, its profits have grown 80 percent. The company's percentage of the profits of the top 23 tech companies has also increased, from 18 percent to 23 percent.

The software maker won't likely see 20 percent growth because of its girth, but 8 percent to 10 percent annual growth is realistic. "I think our numbers are pretty good," Ballmer said.

• The Vista update to Windows and the upcoming version of Office will cost about the same as current versions once they are released. The student/teacher version of Office will also be folded into the home edition, he added.

• Microsoft's secret weapon? It doesn't sleep. "We have a tenacity and a persistence and patience to stay after it and stay after it and stay after it," Ballmer intoned. The company, he added, is quite patient. Patience "is what distinguishes us from many technology companies that are important," Ballmer said.

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31 comments

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Stupidity
Google's antic moves drive users like me to embrace other search engines. Don't ever think end users are ignorant, they know what are best for them.
Posted by iRhapsody (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HA!
Most end users are ignorant and MS tells them what is best for them. You are funny.

MS is a convicted monopolist. They are yet again trying to leverage that monopoly to push out another company. It is that simple and is illegal, hence the lawsuit.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
DEFAULT settings, DEFAULT settings, DEFAULT!!
Am I getting through to the Windows apologists?
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you getting through?
No you are not. See atkoj's post to know why.

People are upset by Google's heavy-handed tactics (jumping straight to the EU) and, if Ballmer is telling the truth, trying to get preferential placement in a competitor's product.
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Link Flag
No, and here's why.
IE7 at this time does not change your default search engine, so if it was Google or Yahoo then it stays that way. When you go to select a new search engine it gives you the options listed in alphabetical order. Google is crying because they want it listed by order of market share. So Google is the one trying to leverage market share here, not MS.

If you dont use any MS products thats fine, and judging by your level of reading comprehension Id actually say its just great.
Posted by Bob Brinkman (556 comments )
Link Flag
Throw a chair at them...
You're not doing it right. If you throw a chair at them and swear to "F'ing bury them" like their imperious leader... THAT'S WHEN the apologists (either paid shill or sycophant) will start to get the message you are sending.
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Link Flag
its not default bonehead...
IE7 doesn't default to MSN.com bone head. If it actually did default it would go to ask.com, but it doesn't.

I'm a Certified Google Professional, and I don't even like google's tactics. They want everything to be fair for everyone else, besides them. Kind of sounds like Bush... go figure :)
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Link Flag
I've been using Firefox
screw IE!
Posted by microsoft slayer (174 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Right on! ;)
Right on!

I'm on Firefox too. In fact, my operating system doesn't even run IE. Oh what a bliss!

Yes it's GNU/Linux. :)

Cheers
Daniel
Posted by cosmicall (27 comments )
Link Flag
google doesn't know what it's talking about
MSN is NOT the default search engine in IE7 for the vast majority of users.

There are 4 ways to get IE7:

(1) Upgrade from IE6 - IE7 respects previous user preference, so for most users the default will actually be Google!

(2) User buys a retail copy of Vista, and does an upgrade from XP/IE6 to Vista/IE7 - IE7 respects previous user preference, so for most users the default will actually be Google!

(3) Installed on a new PC as part of Vista - in this case the OEM (computer manufacturer) decides which search engine is the default, not Microsoft (the OEM may well make Google the default).

(4) User buys a retail copy of Vista with IE7, and does a fresh install (wiping hard disk). This is the ONLY scenario where MSN is the default search engine. This scenario represents a tiny minority of all IE7 users. It takes a mere TWO MOUSE CLICKS to change the search engine to Google. TWO MOUSE CLICKS!
Posted by atkoj (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Clarification
"(3) Installed on a new PC as part of Vista - in this case the OEM (computer manufacturer) decides which search engine is the default, not Microsoft"

This sounds like the real crux of the issue. MS has twisted seller's arms in the past and most likely they still do. How many are going to **** them off and set Google as the default? What is the default if they do nothing?

The majority of new IE7 installations are going to eventually come from new OEM systems, that is why Google wants an equal shot at being the default. I can't understand all the rants against Google when MS is the proven bad guy time and again.

And they are still at it...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&#38;articleId=111186&#38;source=NLT_AM&#38;nlid=1" target="_newWindow">http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&#38;articleId=111186&#38;source=NLT_AM&#38;nlid=1</a>
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
Google is Evil!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://noluv4google.com" target="_newWindow">http://noluv4google.com</a>

what about options in FireFox ?
its default there and you can't change it easily!
Posted by (128 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Melodrama...
Google does not own Firefox. Yes they contribute to it, but they do not control how it is written. If you have a problem with the interface, you should take it up with the Firefox developers.

There is also a favorites list with various search engines, you can add whatever you want to it.
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
It IS easy in firefox!
&gt; what about options in FireFox ? its default there and you can't change it easily!

How come you can't change it easily. You simply click on the logo of the current one and a menu pops up where you can select the new one you want to use. It's so simple a baby could do it!

However, Mozilla does indeed ship firefox with google set by default, but it is because Google pays them to make Google searches through that firefox bar. As far as I know Google doesn't have such a deal with MS.
Posted by cosmicall (27 comments )
Link Flag
Well IE does chane Home Page
There is a point in this, since every time I updated IE6 over the years on my system it would always rest my home page to MSN.com, which no other browser would do. I could not comment on the default search setting.....
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does anyone think just for a moment...
How old Ballmer has gotten in the last year? He has put on 10 years. His enthusiasm is more fake. His spirit is bruised.

How about if Microsoft is indulging in creative PR. For example, imagine Google are Microsoft's biggest competitor... would Microsoft allow Google to place any pressure whatsoever that allowed their products to outweigh Microsoft's? I really think not.

Microsoft appear to be hurting. It's a shame, but growth causes pains... and so does degeneration.

Let's see what the future actually holds, instead of listening to more Microsoft spin.
Posted by reaxion (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here's what the future holds...
Google, a one trick pony that derives 99% of its revenue from advertising and depends on a major competitor's platform for access to its customers, will shrink under pressure from Microsoft on the access front (Vista will incorporate search in ways that bypass the browser entirely) and on the revenue front (Yahoo and Microsoft). Actions taken taken against Microsoft for anti-competitive behavior will drag on for years. Years Google doesn't have.

They will seek entrance into the enterprise space but find that deeply entrenched vendors (like SAP and Microsoft) can match their offerings closely enough to keep conservative CIOs from flipping.
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Link Flag
The 'G' in Google represent "greed"
... Sergey Brin, one of the co-founders of Google, used the "M" word--"monopoly"--to describe Microsoft at a press event ...
someone should tell Sergey the story about people who live in glass houses.

Forgive me, if I use the 'G' word --"greed"-- when I refer to Google.
Posted by CJS-Florida (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perhaps because...
Moneysoft was actually convicted over a long drawn out expensive 8 year court costing the tax payers millions? ...and Google has yet to have even a single charge pressed against it for being a monopoly? If you want Google broken up as a monopoly then go ahead. Become a lawyer and prove your case.
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Link Flag
I can't believe
people still use that piece of **** browser. That thing has got to be the worst, most flawed, featureless piece of crap browser out there.
Posted by (461 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google - The Greatest Cover Up Ever Known!!!!!
Not only do they organise a Quest (Da Vinci Code promotion) where UK and Australians cannot answer questions because the answers lie in Google Books that only can be seen from the US. They close the UK competition 24 hour early leaving thousands of questers not being able to complete the quest. Google you need to get your act togethor, as you are losing it.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=507663&#38;p=22#r425" target="_newWindow">http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=507663&#38;p=22#r425</a>
Posted by nirving (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Default" Search Engine
The "default" search? Most people don't even know that IE 6 has a default search engine, and much fewer know how to change it, since changing it is hard.

That means the default search engine in IE 7 will be MS for almost everyone. And again, changing it will be relatively hard. It won't just be a drop-down next to the search widget.

So most Windows users will continue to use the MS search engine, because that is what's fed to them. Just like most Windows users use IE instead of better browsers like Firefox.

So in a subtle way, MS is leveraging their Windows and IE monopolies to steer users toward the MS search engine. That is what Google is complaining about.

I'm not taking sides. This doesn't directly affect me, since I use a Mac. I just hope MS doesn't crush Google, since Google offers pretty good Mac support and MS doesn't.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft FUD about FOSS, again
Ballmer says:

"We can't embrace the open-source business model. That is inconsistent with being a commercial company,"

This is an outright lie that Microsoft keeps telling. Free Software (aka the "open source" representing its non-ideologist camp) isn't about price, but about freedom and as such it indeed is suitable for commercial ventures. It has and continues to be the crucial part of many know companies' business models, such as RedHat, Novell, Mandriva, JBoss, IBM etc.

In this particular case about the default search engine in IE I can't come to a definite conclusion on who is right and who is wrong. It is true that Microsoft's desktop monopoly puts it in a possibly unfair advantageous position over Google and that having MSN as default would mean leveraging that monopoly. It is also true, however, that including Google as a default may not be entirely fair either, not only to MSN, but to other engines such as Yahoo. The only fair thing to do seems to be not to have a default at all. Maybe Microsoft should just have IE ask users what search engine do they want as default when they first start IE having *nothing* preselected as default.

In any case, I've pretty much lost my respect for both companies. Microsoft is still the number one bad guy in most areas if you ask me (and alot of other people without a doubt). It is a convicted monopolist who will do all it can, be it legal or illegal, fair or unfair, harmful for the society or not - to get them on the top of everything. This is why I use Free Software and GNU/Linux and why it hurts me when Microsoft starts throwing lies around to twist people's perception about this liberating software.

Thank you
Daniel
Posted by cosmicall (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I like this comment
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://spaces.msn.com/techmoments/Blog/cns!B874277322574975!193.entry" target="_newWindow">http://spaces.msn.com/techmoments/Blog/cns!B874277322574975!193.entry</a>
Posted by sanjayb (538 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I like this comment
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://spaces.msn.com/techmoments/Blog/cns!B874277322574975!193.entry" target="_newWindow">http://spaces.msn.com/techmoments/Blog/cns!B874277322574975!193.entry</a>
Posted by sanjayb (538 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The first salvo has been fired....
Google needs to provide us with a truly secure web browswer. This allows them to control the browser, allows XP users access to a secure browswer without having to upgrade to the latest resource pig (I mean operating system) from Microsoft, and helps keep Microsoft "honest."

I mean, if anyone needs to be kept honest, it's Microsoft.

Google needs to fire a return salvo. A really big one.
Posted by drfrost (467 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gagging on Google - Try Copernic
Picasa is OK. Google Earth is over-hyped. The search engine: way overhyped.

The last PC I bought, a Dell eneterprise laptop, had Google installed for desktop search, the search engine, the toolbar, etc. I had to switch 'em to Copernic ... which by virtue of its capabilities alone is the best search method for desktop and Internet.
Posted by pmchefalo (135 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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