Google Cries Foul Over IE7 Search Box

Google has raised objections over Microsoft's plans to integrate its new search engine into Internet Explorer 7, press reports indicate. The company's concerns have even led Google to speak with the Justice Department and the European Commission.

Much like Firefox does with Google, the new version of Internet Explorer will be set up by default to send search queries to MSN Search. Google contends that this gives Microsoft an unfair advantage over its competitors.

However, questions have arisen as to whether Google has firm ground to stand on when making these claims. The company holds a commanding -- and growing -- lead in the search market, and is the default search engine for every major browser besides IE, including Safari, Opera and Firefox.

Additionally, according to Nielsen//Net Ratings, MSN handles only 11 percent of all Web searches, compared with Google's 49 percent share.

These embedded search boxes are quite valuable; up to half of users' searches start from them, Google''s statistics claim. Additionally, Google relies on advertising revenues shown to these users, another reason why the Mountain View, Calif., search giant is raising objections.

While no investigation is imminent, it does show a willingness by Google is wary of potential competition from Microsoft. But some analysts see it as a bad move.

"This reminds me a lot of the Netscape complaints in the 90's," JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg said. "Didn't help Netscape very much back then and actually made them look quite weak."

Gartenberg also pointed out that Microsoft is making concessions to Google. In the builds he tested, upon visiting Google IE offers to change the default settings to use the Google search engine. He did admit that as Microsoft evolves, it would be harder for the company to "co-opt" the browser and Windows desktop.

"More interesting is what's worrying Google, is it that Microsoft's search has crossed the line to be "good enough" or that there's going to be mass adoption of IE 7 and Vista (or both)?" Gartenberg added.

Microsoft said that Google is misreading the company's intentions completely, and enhancements within the new browser focus on the customer rather than boosting revenues. However, both Google and Yahoo have raised concerns over Microsoft's plans.

Google is also apparently ready to remove any appearance of a double standard by pushing for search choice on Firefox and Opera if need be, a representative told the New York Times. Microsoft says such a method would end up being confusing, and would instead allow changes through the browser's control panel.

Additionally, Microsoft points out that its hardware partners would be free to change the settings. This could set off a potential bidding war between Yahoo and Google as they attempt to sign up the most manufacturers upon Vista's release early next year.

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