September 12, 2007 10:24 AM PDT

Microsoft outlines Vista desktop search changes

Microsoft on Wednesday outlined the changes it plans to make to the desktop search feature in Windows Vista to satisfy antitrust concerns.

The software maker agreed in June to make the alterations to the way desktop search operates in response to concerns from Google.

The primary impact of the change is giving Vista users who choose a non-Microsoft option for desktop search more outlets to see those search results, as opposed to the results generated by Vista's built in desktop search engine.

The changes are coming with the first service pack to Windows Vista. Microsoft is launching a beta version of the update in the next couple of weeks, with a final version expected early next year.

The search changes mean that, "in addition to the numerous ways a user could access a third-party search solution in Windows Vista, they can now get to their preferred search results from additional entry points in the Start Menu and Explorer Windows in Windows Vista with SP1," a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail to CNET News.com.

Microsoft said that to enable access to search applications, search providers will need to register their service using the new protocol in Windows Vista SP1.

This week, Microsoft is releasing three documents aimed at helping the industry understand the changes. One, due to go live later Wednesday, is a knowledge base article on Microsoft's main Web site that outlines the planned changes.

The second, to be posted to Microsoft's developer site, is a documentation of the company's search protocols to allow other software makers to take advantage of the shifts. A third item is a paper that describes how services can operate in a way that avoids disrupting overall system performance.

"Following through on the commitments we made in court, this week we are releasing three documents to help our partners modify their desktop search applications to work with the search changes," Microsoft said in a statement. The software maker also said it has provided an interim test version of the service pack to the technical committee that was appointed by the court overseeing Microsoft's consent decree.

"Throughout this process, we have worked closely with the Technical Committee, who in turn have consulted with (software makers), to develop the specification and documentation for these code changes," Microsoft said. "We will continue to work with the Technical Committee to make sure our designs meet the agreed-upon specifications."

A Google representative said: "We look forward to evaluating the proposed changes to Vista desktop search, to ensure they are consistent with Microsoft's obligation to give consumers more choices."

The changes will be visible to those running Vista in a few places. The first of these places is in Vista's start menu. Today there are buttons that say "see all results" or "search everywhere." If a third party search engine is chosen, that engine will launch when the search everywhere button is clicked.

The second place is in the command bar in windows within Vista's explorer navigation system. As you start typing there in the search box, currently there is a dark blue bar with buttons that say "save search" and "search tools." As part of the changes, there will be an added button that says "search everywhere" and links to the default search engine.

News.com's Elinor Mills contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
technical committee, desktop search, software company, antitrust, Microsoft Windows Vista

36 comments

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Why!
Why do I want more options? Why the %$#& do I want Google? or some other search?

Here is what I want; I want you advertisers, software makers, etc to get the hell out of my OS.

I want a 'clean' OS.

I don't want you fighting over who can be in my OS, i want you all out.

I don't understand it, all people I know love tools like ad blockers, pop up stoppers, junk filters, etc etc. Why? cause they do not want to see nor have all this junk you are cramming down our throats.

It sickens me really. Why do I want the option for other search providers, when I don't even want the default one that I must have? Seriously, with the privacy issues laid out by these companies, I would like to keep them as far from my OS as possible.

These companies should turn their respective power and efforts to something usefull, like an 'uninstall' feature.

I am so sick of only reading how companies benefit and weasel their way further into my personnal computing. What ever happened to stuff for the user? this announcement is not for 'consumer options' its a slapping match between Google and MS.

Blegh
Posted by groograms (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Choice is good
The MS offering is very lame.

Yeah, using the Google desktop is as foolish as using Windows. Who wants that spyware? But better bad choices then no choice at all.

If you want a clean OS, why do you use windows?

Seriously
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
MS invented the tech, others hop on board...
Let me get this straight....

MS invented the integrated search technology, demoed it a couple of years ago as a Vista feature, others create similar tools (Apple, Google, even MSN), then MS is forced to go back and re-architect the way their technology works.

Why does this not make sense?
Posted by frankwick (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They invented what !?
Content search functionality has existed since the 70s; even the earliest of early Macs (like the Mac Plus) had it, so did CP/M and a bunch of minis. Microsoft, as usual, borrowed to tweak and improve, but they didn't invent search.
Posted by Rants&Raves (199 comments )
Link Flag
they might not have "invented it"
but they had a search integrated search in some form or fashion for over a decade. now Google is suing them for that, not even funny.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
do your research first
google sued them because MS locked them out!
Posted by juser_bogus (31 comments )
Link Flag
Google searches the web, not Windoze
The search you are talking about (that they've "had for years") is
slow, extremely slow and it searchs the hard disk. That's
completely different from the web based search that the
Stanford PHDs that founded Google developed in Google Search.

The improved search that MS has enhanced is a direct response
to Google's. If Google hadn't done it, Microsoft never would have
worked on theirs - they missed it completely, like they did the
dominant Browser by Netscape.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
I have a clean OS
and I do use windows, thank you for your concern.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wrong place
...
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Double standards...
Why am I stuck with Apple technology in the integrated search tools in MacOS and everyone is accusing MS of "not giving enough consumer choice" in Windows Vista?

Why is OK for Apple to bundle QuickTime with MacOS but in the European Commission thinks that MS doing the same with WMP in Windows in "against competition?"

Why am I stuck with only using iTunes (and buying stuff only in ONE STORE - Apple's) if I buy an iPod?

Oh well, another day, another flame war...
Posted by aemarques (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is because PCs are more prevalent than Macs...
If everyone things Microsoft is being held to a different standard than Apple, that's because this is true... and it's for a reason... that was specifically worked out in various courts years ago. As people became more and more defendant on PCs they became more and more dependent on the primary operating system. Since the primary operating system also drove the majority of the market, everyone became more and more reliant on Microsoft.

To curb this from becoming too much of a monopoly situation where, for instance, Microsoft could just do whatever they want (maybe close their doors, for instance, and stop supporting all of their software), they were held to certain expectations. One of the requirements is that they cannot use the Windows operating system to promote a different product, as this would give them an unfair advantage over the competition.

They were caught breaking this rule a number of times (Internet Explorer was the more prominent case... first they argued it was free, so it shouldn't apply... then they argued it was simply a 'feature' of the OS, not a new application.)

In any case, if Apple becomes the dominant computer over PCs... and the majority of all software is only available for the MacOS... then the governments would step in and regulate what Apple is or isn't allowed to do and Microsoft would be let off the hook. In the meantime, Microsoft is being held to certain standards by governments to maintain stability in the market and to their citizens.
Posted by BIGELLOW (429 comments )
Link Flag
Why would you install a third-party app...
that slows down the search process? Microsoft's integrated search is going to be faster regardless, as it's built straight into Vista. As for me, it works great. WAY better than XP's search function. I don't want Google coming in and screwing that up. No thanks.
Posted by Spartan_458 (254 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For competition, that's why.
You must be young.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Well...
My sister bought a new Dell several months ago with Vista that
had Google Desktop Search preinstalled, which I did find a bit
odd. Windows best attribute is its biggest downfall as well, and
that's all the software options available. Apple can easily
implement their own search function into Mac OS X because
Google and Yahoo and many other (I don't want to say all as I
don't know) search engines don't have software for the OS. Plus,
Windows is competing with Google with its Live search, and as
Microsoft has done in the past their Windows search function
probably has something to do with capturing market share for
Live.
Posted by gsmiller88 (624 comments )
Link Flag
Great
I have nothing against the Windows search in my Vista system but I would love to try out Google's.
Posted by Karl Viklund (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Beware of Google's Desktop
Google's Desktop not only maintains a copy of every document on your system, it creates logs of every website you visit, every conversation via an Instant Messenger client, and keeps track of EVERY file you've got on your computer (unless you tell it to leave it alone.)

I can see where it would be convenient for an OS to include this search feature, obviously its to help the user of the OS find the specific file they are looking for. But why would an on-line Advertising company want to help you with all of that data (Google)?!?! They provide Google Desktop free of charge, and there aren't advertisements on any of the desktop searches you do. So it makes you wonder, exactly how are they using this to make money? I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what they do with ALL of that personal data, but I know as far as I'm concerned, I DO NOT WANT ANY ADVERTISING COMPANIES KNOWING THE CONTENTS OF EVERY FILE, DOCUMENT, WEB HISTORY, AND CONVERSATION ON MY COMPUTER. But you can make your own decisions.
Posted by mvpcarl (31 comments )
Link Flag
go ahea
The try it. Is there any reason you cannot?
Posted by tgrenier (256 comments )
Link Flag
The entire idea is silly
Why would one company be forced to allow rivals to install their applications onto their product?

If this continues, then Apple will be forced to include MS Search, Yahoo Search, Google, etc, all as part of their desktop as well. The exact reasons given apply here as well- and I don't agree with it at all.

It's like Ford being required to make their car's able to use Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota engines under the hood as well to comply with some third party group's requirements.

Google has a great search tool and I use it over the Microsoft one. I don't use *any* desktop search and turn it off when I see it installed. Google has no reason to insist that they get their tools onto another company's product.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad analogy
I thought about it more and the analogy of forcing a vehicle maker to allow anyone's engine to fit in their car isn't a good one. That still is a bit limiting.

Let's try this one instead. The current EU approach to Microsoft, Apple, and other OS makers to force them to include the product offerings of other companies on their desktop is more akin to the drive through of your local McDonald's now being required by the government to include the menus of Burger King, Dairy Queen, and Wendy's on there too.


I'm curious how the EU will choose which companies get included on the desktop search choices? If you include choices A, B, and C, but not D, then why not? If I have my own small company with a desktop search tool, wouldn't I have as much of a right as Google or others to demand that my product be included as well? If the EU is the agency picking and choosing who gets included, then aren't they then guilty of hypocrisy themselves?

It's a curious issue to watch.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
Same Company, same story.
This is, in the end, the same story for Microsoft. They did this with Internet Explorer, remember? They attempted to force you to use their browser, remember America? It seems like Europe was the winner, they gave their fair share of punishment to MS while the good ole USA slapped them on the wrist for their monopolistic ways. They are trying the same thing with your search engine. I do want a choice, I don't want the maker of my OS deciding for me.
And when their is a good graphical interface to a good OS, especially for the home user, there will be one more non-windows user. As it is, because my business THINKS they're forced to use Windows, I have to use it also.
But it's getting closer to the time for me to try Linux.
And so what if Google is about money? I mean it's not like MS cares about anything else. Don't you get it? That is corporate America. They would kill people for a dollar. And they have.
Posted by danielz40 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Quite
I remember running Win 3.11 and with it had Netscape, Emissary and Mosaic all running at the same time. The bundling argument was a pathetic sidelight to the boot loader lock they've got on multi-boot at the manufacturer level even today.

As evil corporations go, MSFT is school-yard level evil compared to say the petrochemical industry or defense contractors or the Wall Street banks. Ballmer in a room with those guys for 10 minutes would be reduced to a pile of quivering. pleading jello.

At some point, we're going to reach a show-down about virtualization and MSFT is going to lose and might even have the boot loader issue finally visited by Justice and resolved. Virtual multi-boot, multi-OS PCs will start shipping like home AV players that run DVD video and CDs today. Windows will literally become just another window among many. We know it. They know it. That's why they're trying to sell cheesy consumer electronics and online applications.
Posted by Sumatra-Bosch (526 comments )
Link Flag
MS wouldn't
kill you for a dollar, or care if you leave. One person more more, or less doesn't matter to MS.
You choose the OS, or search engine, or your business does that you will use.
I have never had browser in Vista, or search engine problem once they supported Vista, or that matter XP. I can still turn off IE and use firefox/mozilla, opera, and netscape.
So go try Linux, which I use too, see how you like it. Many do not..... some do love it. Apple is odd to me, but I know some browsers & search engines don't work in Linux.
Posted by krazyken44 (13 comments )
Link Flag
I would never use the integrated search software cause its features does not satisfy me...
In our company, we use the outlook plug-in LOOKEEN for searching desktop files and outlook mails likewise. so we spare money and nerves (cause you're getting nutz when using the outlook search).
Lookeen provides furthermore features, so it is able to search shared index in network. it offers many more possibilities, just check it out for free:
www.lookeen.net

greetz, jD
Posted by jason_donner81 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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