Google complains to EC about IE-search link

Google Inc. said Tuesday that it has complained to the European Commission about the way that Microsoft Corp. bundles its own search mechanism in the newest version of Internet Explorer.

Google said it has spoken with the European Commission (EC) as part of the EC’s examination of Vista, Microsoft’s operating system expected to become available to consumers early next year.

As part of those discussions, Google told the EC that it is concerned that the way that Microsoft sets search defaults in Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) benefits Microsoft and removes choice for users.

IE7, currently available as a beta, includes a box where users can enter search terms to conduct an Internet search. The box by default uses Microsoft’s own MSN search engine. But a drop-down menu allows users to find other search providers and set the search box to use other search engines, including Google.

The setup is similar to Mozilla’s Firefox browser, which comes with Google as the default search bar. Firefox users can also choose to change the default search engine. MSN is not included in a drop-down list of other providers but users can choose the “add engines” option, which takes them to a separate page where they can add MSN or others as their default search engine.

Google also said that it commends the EC’s work in helping to preserve competition and encourages the EC to closely look at behavior that undermines fair competition.

The EC last month said that it had sent a letter to Microsoft outlining concerns that it has with Vista. One of the concerns is Microsoft’s plan to bundle an Internet search function into Vista. The EC hasn’t launched a formal investigation.

Bundling multiple Microsoft products into Windows was at the heart of the EC’s antitrust ruling against Microsoft in 2004 which centered on the bundling of Windows Media Player into Windows.

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