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Search belongs in the operating system

Google has launched an antitrust complaint alleging that Microsoft's decision to incorporate desktop search into Windows Vista is anti-competitive. Their issue?

"The search boxes built throughout Vista are hard-wired to Microsoft's own desktop search product," said Google's Ricardo Reyes, "with no way for users to choose an alternate provider from these visible search access points. Likewise, Vista makes it impractical to turn off Microsoft's search index." 

Having used Vista and Office 2007 for a few months now, I feel pretty confident in saying that search belongs in the operating system for two reasons:

  • In a world where gigabyte email boxes, and terabyte disk storage are both becoming the norm, it's simply impractical to rely on folder and file paradigms to find the information you want.  How many times have you seen otherwise intelligent people claim that the computer "ate" their files when they have simply forgotten where the file was stored? It's common. Desktop search is simply a better user experience. More importantly, however, integrated desktop search is a better experience than the add-on model used before Vista shipped.
  • Integrated search is a "price of entry" feature in the OS.  Macintosh already had it.  To stay competitive, Microsoft needed to provide it. 

I haven't used Google Desktop Search since shortly after Microsoft's own desktop search became available a couple of years ago.  Why?  The Microsoft experience, including the installable filters and a better screen layout, was simply better. When it became integrated with the OS the Microsoft search tool took an even bigger leap forward.

Google should be focusing on improving their own tools, rather than antitrust. Google is barking up the wrong tree.  

UPDATE: WSJ Article (behind firewall)

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jim Courtney June 11, 2007, 12:29 pm

    Reminds me of the time that Quarterdeck (my employer at the time) was developing a web browser and Microsoft decided to offer a free web browser within the OS. Was the web browser a feature or a product? I think we all know which way that went.

    And I seem to recall Alec Saunders was the first Microsoft Internet Explorer Product Manager!

  • Alec June 11, 2007, 12:37 pm

    😉 I’ve always been a bigger fan of competition, rather than litigation.

  • Padmanabha Rao June 16, 2007, 9:30 am

    But litigation is what ensures that the competition takes place. Law is a priori, Competing follows.

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