Desktop search programs have become popular as the volume of information stored on personal computers has multiplied. The big money in the fight between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo is over advertising revenue from Web search engines. But desktop search programs help to build loyalty toward a particular search company.
Google maintained that its desktop search program, available as a free download, was slowed by an equivalent feature built into Vista. When the Google and Microsoft search programs run simultaneously, their indexing programs slow the operating system considerably, Google contends. As a result, Google has said that Vista violated Microsoft’s 2002 antitrust settlement, which prohibits Microsoft from designing operating systems that limit the choices of consumers.
Microsoft has replied that Vista was in compliance with the consent decree and that the company had already made many modifications to the operating system, including some that had been sought by Google. In a recent interview, Mr. Smith, the general counsel at Microsoft, said that the new operating system was carefully designed to work well with software products made by other companies, and that an independent technical committee had spent years examining Vista for possible anticompetitive problems before it went on sale.
The changes to Vista would allow consumers to decide which desktop search program they want to use, and selection of the software from Google or some other company would no longer slow down the computer as it does now.