Google unhappy with IE7 search field

Google has expressed concerns over the search field in Microsoft's upcoming Internet Explorer 7 web browser, whose Beta 2 release became publicly available last week. Because the search field defaults to using Microsoft's own MSN Search, Google says, it allows Microsoft to "unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors." Google supports this statement by saying that search fields in browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Apple's Safari, and Opera—which all default to Google—account for 30-50% of user searches. A study sponsored by Google also found that only a third of users were able to set up Internet Explorer 7 to use a search provider other than MSN. According to Google, the best way to circumvent this problem would be to make IE7 ask the user to key in or choose their favorite search engine from a list when the browser is first run.

In response to this suggestion, Microsoft says asking user input could "add complexity and confusion to the browser set-up process," and that offering a list of choices would be "arbitrarily limiting." Microsoft adds that "people seem to be doing OK" with the browser's current approach to changing search providers, which lets users choose from six search engines and 16 "topic searches" when they click on the arrow next to the browser's magnifying glass icon and select "Find More Providers..." Not content with Microsoft's implementation, Google has already contacted antitrust authorities in the US and Europe. System integrators will have the ability to change search providers when pre-loading Windows Vista onto their machines next year, and Microsoft expects this option to result in search companies "bidding aggressively in that space."

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