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Justice Department Redux
June 10, 2007 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Google v Microsoft: Fight!
posted by taosbat (26 comments total)

 
If someone would explain to me how Google Desktop beats Windows-key + f? Did they upgrade it or something since I tried it? And what's Vista doin' 'cause I'm still on XP:

"Google complained to federal and state prosecutors that consumers who try to use its search tool for computer hard drives on Vista were frustrated because Vista has a competing desktop search program that cannot be turned off. When the Google and Vista search programs are run simultaneously on a computer, their indexing programs slow the operating system considerably, Google contended. As a result, Google said that Vista violated Microsoft’s 2002 antitrust settlement, which prohibits Microsoft from designing operating systems that limit the choices of consumers.

Google has asked the court overseeing the antitrust decree to order Microsoft to redesign Vista to enable users to turn off its built-in desktop search program so that competing programs could function better, officials said.

State officials said that Mr. Barnett’s memo rejected the Google complaint, repeating legal arguments made by Microsoft.

Before he joined the Justice Department in 2004, Mr. Barnett had been vice chairman of the antitrust department at Covington & Burling. It represented Microsoft in the antitrust case and continues to represent the company.

In a recent interview, Mr. Barnett declined to discuss the Google complaint, noting that the decree requires complaints by companies to be kept confidential..."
posted by taosbat at 9:42 PM on June 10, 2007


It was pretty obvious to everyone in the tech industry circa 1999-2000 that Microsoft had friends in the Bush administration, and that Microsoft would benefit by his election with much less legal scrutiny. Why this is news now, eight years later, is boggling. Google's lobbyists must be throwing more money around.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 PM on June 10, 2007


Who uses Google desktop search? Searching for files seems like a pretty basic OS task, unlike a web browser.

It would be rather surprising for a former Microsoft lawyer in the DOJ to write a letter on the their behalf if it wasn't for the past few months which have really just smashed the bar into the ground as far as unprofessionalism, (not to mention criminality)
posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on June 10, 2007


I like the otherwise sparse FPP having tooltips :)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:00 PM on June 10, 2007


Googlefight: Google vs. Microsoft
posted by umop-apisdn at 10:21 PM on June 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who uses Google desktop search?

I don't because of the resources the indexer uses slows my PC down, but suffice it to say, it is far better that standard MS Search.

Its ability to search within mail body & attachments, as well a searching a host of file types that MS Search doesn't touch makes it far better than Windows Key+ F (or F3 if you like the one-key-cut)

Having said that, I haven't used Vista to any great degree, probably will when I'm forced to, but XP is a fine enough OS for my needs.

Windows searching always sucked.
posted by mattoxic at 11:05 PM on June 10, 2007


Who uses Google desktop search? Searching for files seems like a pretty basic OS task, unlike a web browser. - delmoi

I use Yahoo desktop search (which would probably be similarly affected by Vista) and I find it to be substancially superior to the Windows search. The interface fits-in excellently with the way I search for things. The searches are fast. The results are tabulated neatly and in a way that I can scan-though easily. I suggest you try it , YMMV :-)
"Unlike a web-browser" - Yahoo Desktop Search and Google Desltop Search are not web-browsers, they are search applications running on your computer.
posted by Enucleator at 11:47 PM on June 10, 2007


> And what's Vista doin' 'cause I'm still on XP

Vista has a background process - the SearchIndexer - that is constantly (and I mean constantly) searching you hard disk for data to index, rather like google/yahoo desktop search.

This then makes it fast to search later, and search is emebdded all over vista... eg: press the Windows Key and then type something, and it will search not just your start menu for matching items, but also your documents, emails, contacts, music, pictures ... anything in your user dir.

And no, it is not easy to turn it off, nor customise what to index (it appears to be indexing my Opera web cache at the moment... sigh...)

> Searching for files seems like a pretty basic OS task

Agreed if you mean file *names*, but these searches also index file *contents* making it easy to find things like 'that document that whats-his-name sent me in an email somtime last year about some possible new project... uh I forget the name'
posted by nielm at 12:44 AM on June 11, 2007


It's worth noting that you can turn off Windows Find in XP

If one is really unable to do so in Vista (as opposed to it not being obvious, as is the case with XP), then I can see the parallels with MS's decision to "integrate the browser into the OS" which was the subject of the former Antitrust case.

And I agree that Google Desktop Search is superior to Windows Find.
posted by grubby at 12:46 AM on June 11, 2007


Google complained to federal and state prosecutors that consumers who try to use its search tool for computer hard drives on Vista were frustrated because Vista has a competing desktop search program that cannot be turned off. When the Google and Vista search programs are run simultaneously on a computer, their indexing programs slow the operating system considerably, Google contended. As a result, Google said that Vista violated Microsoft’s 2002 antitrust settlement, which prohibits Microsoft from designing operating systems that limit the choices of consumers.

I'm tech-ignorant here, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Google desktop created recently? In other words, Google is arguing that MS is violating a 2002 settlement because they didn't fix their product to allow a competitive product... that Google hadn't made yet?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:44 AM on June 11, 2007


XQUZYPHYR: The antitrust agreement governs Microsoft's behavior from the time of the agreement onwards. In other words it says the can't use prevent their OS from running competitors Apps at any time in the future.
posted by delmoi at 5:11 AM on June 11, 2007


Why use Google Desktop? Cuz it doesn't have a little fucking animated dog telling you how to go about it.

(Spotlight FTW!)
posted by fungible at 5:42 AM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


mattoxic writes "Who uses Google desktop search?"

Anyone who uses Thunderbird and expects their search program to index their email for them? MS could give two shits about anything other than Outlook. GDS indexes things that XP search won't touch.

The attitude at MS is that any Windows user ought to be happy with MS products and MS products only (that and 640k RAM - who could ever need more?). They then design products that make it difficult for anyone not using MS products. The next step is to point out how much "easier" and "faster" the MS products work than the competitors, without acknowledging that their own business model is the reason other programs take performance hits.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:44 AM on June 11, 2007


Oh, and fungible - don't forget that the little fucking animated dog is turned on by default in XP Pro, supposedly the serious business version of the OS. I find that to be one of the dumbest UI decisions the company has made so far.

Sometime this week or next I'll get a call from my department, telling me my new MacBook Pro is ready. What will I find in Spotlight - an animated tiger? Oh gosh I hope it's a tiger!
posted by caution live frogs at 5:47 AM on June 11, 2007


In other words it says the can't use prevent their OS from running competitors Apps at any time in the future.

But how is that possible? I'm not trying to defend either side here; that just makes no sense to me on a legal or technological level. I'm legitimately curious here.

If Symantec, for example, makes its next version of Norton Utilities and it doesn't work on Vista because the indexing functions break the computer, isn't that a failure on Symantec's part to make a Vista-compatible version of their software? Is it MS's fault that they didn't make a new OS that would be compatible with a product that hadn't been coded yet by an outside vendor?

Google seems to be blaming Microsoft because their product doesn't work. I'm missing the line that was crossed into antitrust violation, I guess.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:29 AM on June 11, 2007


caution live frogs:

http://www.citeknet.com/Products/ProtocolHandlers/WDSThunderbirdMozillaEudoraMailAddin/tabid/70/Default.aspx

http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/1997/01/1484

Sometimes, google is also useful in a non-desktop searching capacity.

Microsoft's desktop search system is built from their acquisition of LookOut, a plugin for outlook designed to index outlook content quickly with natural language searches. This may be why it's so heavily focussed on outlook. The Vista search/start menu is excellent, and performs the job of a number of different applications I used to use.

I'm waay more concerned about Google indexing my machine than MS, particularly after (1) google's announcement that GDS would index across machines (the implication being, your indices move through their network at some stage) and (2) their inability to keep private data private during the web accelerator beta. Very fashionable as it is to beat up on MS, at least they're not an ad company.
posted by davemee at 7:07 AM on June 11, 2007


Agent Ransack has them both beat anyway.
posted by Foosnark at 7:21 AM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Very fashionable as it is to beat up on MS, at least they're not an ad company.

sigh. so anti-trust questions aside, the part about a former MS representative now representing the Justice Department doesn't even phase you, huh?

hey, that's great.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:49 AM on June 11, 2007


Google seems to be blaming Microsoft because their product doesn't work.

Well, that's what I think too. However it's easy to imagine something that would fall under anti-trust. Take something like second life and imagine it's rendered with Open GL. Then imagine Microsoft dumps or messes up the Open GL system for windows at the same time they release their own 3d world. That would be a problem under the anti-trust thing.
posted by delmoi at 7:59 AM on June 11, 2007


Hear hear, Foosnark! Another vote for Agent Ransack here.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:28 AM on June 11, 2007


If I understand the NYT article correctly, what Google is asking is that Microsoft include an option to turn off Vista's built in indexing and allow a third party program to do search indexing instead.

Could you imagine being a product guy or engineer at Microsoft, knowing that every feature and system is going to be inspected by antitrust lawyers? Then again Microsoft brought it on themselves with their illegal predatory monopolistic activities. What a mess.
posted by Nelson at 9:33 AM on June 11, 2007


XQUZYPHYR writes "But how is that possible? I'm not trying to defend either side here; that just makes no sense to me on a legal or technological level. I'm legitimately curious here."

Special rules apply to MS because they are operating under a consent decree as a monopoly. They aren't allowed to use their current monopoly to create additional monopolies in other areas.
posted by Mitheral at 9:49 AM on June 11, 2007


The article suggests that Vista's search slows down Google's search, not that it breaks it.
posted by !Jim at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2007


Litigation: The Last Resort of the Broken Business Model.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2007


Maybe Google could team up with SCO or something.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2007


Microsoft Gives In To Google
posted by taosbat at 8:17 AM on June 20, 2007


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