OK this is the latest that has hit the wires:
Microsoft Changing Vista Desktop Search
Microsoft's compromise with the U.S. Justice Department, detailed in a report released late Tuesday, allows Windows Vista users to set a non-Microsoft program as the default search engine on hard drives. Microsoft will also add a link to that alternate program in the Windows Start menu, but will not change the way Vista "Instant Search" technology works.
Recent concessions by Microsoft are part of a broader battle between the two companies. While Windows continues to dominate the desktop operating system market, Google's ability to make money from search advertising has left Microsoft scrambling to catch up. Google has also stepped into traditional Microsoft territory in the past year with a set of free, Web-based programs for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.
Tuesday's regularly scheduled status report came after Google filed a 49-page document with the Justice Department in April, claiming that Vista's desktop search tool slowed competing programs, including Google's own free offering. Google also said it's too difficult for users to figure out how to turn off the Microsoft program.
It is interesting to see how millions of us are closely following the so called 'crusade' between Microsoft and Google. In the not so forlorn past we can trace a similar analogy that prevailed between Apple and Microsoft.
Its easy to see that every attempt of Microsoft to provide default Ms tools to its users has created a hunch for many other software providers. consider these for eg:
Computer security software companies testing early versions of Vista last year also believed that the operating system might interfere with users' ability to chose products other than Microsoft's.
Also last year, Google told the Justice Department it was concerned that Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft's latest Web browser, made it harder for PC users to install toolbars of competing search engines. Regulators declined to intervene, but Microsoft still changed the way Explorer worked. And at the request of antitrust authorities in Korea and Europe, Microsoft released versions of Vista without the Windows Media Player.The instant search technology so ambitiously flouted in the new vista release has been said to have existed in the Mac since prehistoric times (A very huge fan following would resist any of your attempts to prove otherwise). However, software developers have a different take to it:
Microsoft is enmeshed in a similar battle with the European Union, which has levied more than a billion dollars in fines against the software maker for depriving competitors of technical information, and charging too much for some licenses.
In response to claims that Vista's "Instant Search" slows other products, Microsoft agreed to give competitors technical information to help optimize performance.
Google had initially raised concerns about desktop search in December. The April complaint that drew public attention to the skirmish was filed just days after Microsoft called for antitrust regulators to scrutinize the search company's planned $3.1 billion acquisition of online ad service DoubleClick Inc. (That was a big story in itself).
More of an interesting read here.
Here is the Antitrust case filings (for those of you too interested!).
As I said it will be interesting to see how the two companies continue their skirmish. As users, of course, Its a pleasant ride all the way to the end. The more the competition, the more the options we have and the better it is. All we can do is spectate, comment, participate and enjoy the ride!