Microsoft has agreed to modify its Vista operating system to resolve Google's concerns that the operating systems design hurts competing desktop search products in violation of a 2001 anti-trust settlement. Google claimed Vista made it too difficult for a user to turn off the default desktop search and that Google's desktop search ran too slowly when users chose it as an alternate.
Although Microsoft said such claims were baseless, the software giant has agreed to change the search feature as part of the first service pack to Windows Vista, saying a beta version will come by the end of the year, according to a filing made jointly with the Justice Department.
Under the agreement, Microsoft will create a mechanism whereby both computer makers and individuals will be able to choose a default desktop search program, much as they can choose a rival browser or media player, even though those technologies are built into Windows.
The default search program will be launched to provide search results, however, in areas where Microsoft includes a search bar such as the Windows Explorer Vista will continue to display the search results using the internal Vista desktop search functionality, but will show a link to launch the default desktop search app and display the programs results. Microsoft has also committed to provide technical details to enable rivals to write programs minimizing the performance impact of Vista's own search index.