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Search box envy – Google vs. IE7

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Tuesday May 9, 2006 )

Google is a little unhappy that IE 7 Beta 2’s search function defaults to MSN. Personally, I don’t know what the fuss is about. I’ve pretty much well tried to ignore the hooha over the last week; but it’s getting on my nerves a little, so for what it’s worth here’s my view. More noise to add to the fray :)

According to a New York Times story earlier this month, Google lodged a complaint with the US Justice Department and the European Commission about Internet Explorer 7’s search box defaulting to MSN Search.

This is just a tad hypocritical.

The Mozilla browser (Firefox) search box defaults to Google and it’s no secret that Google is an absolutely huge supporter of Mozilla – not just moral support, there’s *big* bucks involved. In fact, I’m quite confident in saying that if it wasn’t for Google, Firefox would not enjoy anywhere near the popularity it does today.

Sure, Firefox isn’t a Google product, but the way the company promotes it, it may as well be – and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was somehow acquired by Google in the future.

I don’t hear any uproar from MS, MSN search supporters or from Firefox users about the current arrangement between Mozilla and Google; if there is any, it’s been relatively low key.

I also notice that MSN is conspicuously absent from Firefox’s default drop down list of search engine choices. No problem, their browser, they can do what they want. Firefox does allow you to easily add engines though, including MSN.

Let’s look at Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 now. Directly next to the IE 7 search box is a dropdown menu that allows you to change your default browser with one click, add new ones etc. It’s very simple to use; even relative newbies could handle it. Great feature, same degree of difficulty as adding/changing engines in Firefox – practically nil.

When I upgraded to IE 7 Beta 2, my Google search toolbar was also left intact. Good.

Seems like MS have been pretty fair about the whole deal actually.

Since upgrading, when I go to the home page, it detects that I’m using Internet Explorer 7 with MSN search as the default in the IE search box (even though I have the Google toolbar also installed).

A box now displays on Google’s home page suggesting I change my default search engine to Google. By clicking a button, a file is downloaded from Google that will do that for me. I’ve seen the same sort of thing on Yahoo. It’s a little annoying, but good strategy on the part of Y and G. I have no real problems with that either.

When I visit using Firefox, I don’t see Microsoft encouraging me to change the default Firefox Google search *or* my browser. Microsoft, come on, join in the game! :).

So where’s the imbalance here? Sure, Internet Explorer has the biggest market share when it comes to browsers, but who has the largest market share by far when it comes to search?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Firefox is a *very good* product, but it’s not a panacea as some would have you believe, and it never was nor will it ever be – no browser can.

What it did do was to provide the market with a real alternative and get Microsoft’s asses into gear to do some serious work on IE – and that they did. Microsoft deserves credit for that, not this “I’m telling pa on you” rubbish. If it allows them to regain some of the browser market share they’ve lost in recent years, good for them. There’s enough staunch Firefox supporters now out there to ensure the longevity of that application. Firefox, nor Google for that matter, will be wiped out as a result of Internet Explorer 7.

If IE7 also allows Microsoft to start capturing more of the search market, great – but MSN search is going to have to walk the talk because they’ll quickly lose any gain if searchers don’t get what they are looking for.

Google and fellow naysayers – this search box envy is just ridiculous. IE 7 does not prevent people from setting Google as the default, nor does it make it a difficult task for people to do so. So what are you whining about?! “Antitrust” I hear???!!! Pffft – this is nothing like the situation was with Windows 95.

I’m not an MSN Search user, I use Google and have done for years. Why? Because it’s the better engine at the moment. Would I switch to MSN? Sure, if their results were better than Google’s – not on the basis of what the default engine was when I loaded Internet Explorer.

Google, get used to the IE search product and focus more on *your* core product, search results. Regardless of what the default engine is in IE 7’s search, if MSN serves up crap results, users will change it pretty quickly – after all, it only takes a few seconds to do so.

Stick to doing what you do best Google, and you have nothing to fear – don’t waste your resources on frivolous complaints to the powers that be. Competition is good, look at what competition from Firefox did in relation to Internet Explorer :).

The Google pot really needs to stop calling the Microsoft kettle black in this instance.

Related: Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 review


2 comments for Search box envy – Google vs. IE7
  1. Update – The Department of Justice states that isn’t concerned about the IE 7 search box issue. Read more:

    Comment by Michael Bloch — May 13, 2006 @ 4:37 am

  2. Google’s IE7 Browser Complaint

    Find more providers…

    The issue is a search box built into the new ie7 browser,
    which enables users to search without opening a search engine directly in the browser.
    The function is already widely available as a plug-in for existing browsers.
    For instance, the Google toolbar will modify Firefox and other browsers to enable
    Google to be accessed in a single click.Ability to change the search providers default
    setting could create another wars, with ie7 search providers working on
    partnerships with the Dells and HPs of the world to convince them to ship machines
    with the search box set to their site. IE7 users can easily add or remove providers
    from or

    Comment by dave — May 20, 2006 @ 10:03 am

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