Microsoft has agreed to make changes to Vista in response to a complaint by Google alleging that Vista’s inbuilt search functionality competed unfairly with Google Desktop Search.
According to a NY Times report, Google’s complaint was made confidentially in line with rules established as part of a previous settlement over anti-competitive behaviour by Microsoft. The settlement between state prosecutors, the Justice Department and Microsoft will avert the prospect of litigation over the matter.
The changes Microsoft will make to Vista have not yet been made public.
It’s an interesting case. Microsoft has a long history of anti-competitive behaviour however in recent years the company has been a far better corporate citizen, in large part due to the terms imposed on it by previous settlements. On the surface it seems a little strange that Microsoft could be in this position; Vista’s search capabilities really do nothing more than deliver decent search functionality out of the box for Windows. Search functionality has been available in some form or another in ever version of Windows since Windows 95, the difference being that previously those search capabilities have been substandard compared to offerings from Google and Yahoo with their own respective desktop search programs. Whatever the actual details of the case may be (and we may never know) it’s a win for Google. For Microsoft, questions remain: is this simply a case of Microsoft waiting to fight another day, or is the company now seriously spooked by both the threat of anti-competitive litigation and Google? It’s certainly very un-Microsoft like to simply settle without a fight.