back to article Rivals torture consumers via Microsoft

It looks like you can start thanking Google for making Microsoft's Vista operating system even worse. Microsoft has given in to demands that it afford rivals a more direct path for providing desktop search functions to users via Vista. The concession underscores Microsoft's revulsion for federal regulators. It will cede a …


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  1. TNT

    You're missing the point... OS provider (that is OPERATING system provider) shouldn't be involved in user level things such as search.

    This is why M$ is a convicted monopolist: they leverage their monopolistic position to extend their monopoly to encompass non-OS areas.

    An OS provides (should provide) an abstraction of the hardware in a consistent manner. There is no hardware involvement with wordprocessors, spreadsheets, web browsers, data search engines, or the delivery of entertainment.

    If the EC or DoJ required M$ isolate the OS from its other areas of interest/business, not only would the monopoly be broken but the rest of M$ would be able to go out there and innovate, without being hamstrung by backwards compatibility with DOS.

  2. wibbilus maximus

    Don't Know What I Have.....

    "The desktop search function in Vista happens to be one of the best features in the new OS".

    I have no idea what i have then because the search feature in MY copy of vista is a total joke! It takes 15 times longer to find what you are looking for then XP.

    I have to keep a copy of xp installed on virtualpc with access to my hard drive so that i can find anything. My biggest regret about upgrading to Vista is the fact that the search feature is so COMPLETELY TERRIBLE!!!

  3. Joe Cassara

    Google Desktop is a Joke?

    Sorry -- you've totally missed the nail on this one. While I agree Microsoft (and Apple, and Sun, etc...) should have a right to do whatever they darn please with their software, OS and otherwise, your entire argument is null and void by the premise that Google Desktop search is broken. It clearly isn't. Period. And shelling out $300 for an OS that *is* broken for its search capabilities is laughable.

    Ashlee, honey, sober up after playing the slots before you type up your articles.

  4. Eloi


    I never find myself in the need to comment to El Reg articles. But this one I had to come in and say it: ditto to TNT.

    If MS does crappy software, everybody came and complain that they are monopolist. But if MS does good software, "poor thing".

    Let's be consistent.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What utter tripe!

    Whether or not Google's search functionality is better or worse is beside the point. 1) What Microsoft was doing was illegal. Google just has the clout to make sure they don't get away with; and 2) Users have a right to decide for themselves what search functionality to use. Microsoft should not be deciding this for them.

    You said: "Having Google and other sub par competitors throw their search bars at users will only confuse the average PC customer."

    So average users will be confused by choice?!?!? Since when should consumers only have one choice? Consumers have a right to have choices to be confused by; it is certainly better than having their decisions made for them by a convicted monopolist.

    You mention "foisting". Why is it okay for Microsoft to foist its search tool on users but not okay for other options to be available? Just because a user chooses to use MS's OS doesn't mean they should have all of their other decisions made for them. If a user chooses to use the Google option it can hardly be considered "foisting".

    You said: "This is unfair even for a convicted monopolist."

    No it's not. They have broken the law in the past and they managed to get away with it. This time they didn't get away with it... thanks to Google.

    You said: "The federal Microsoft watch should result in better operating systems. Even the staunchest Microsoft critic can agree to that. So, let Microsoft have a chance at making quality code rather than having rivals add more cruft."

    Wrong! The federal Microsoft watch should result in preventing MS from breaking the law. MS has BILLIONS of dollars to spend on getting their software right. If they make a good product then they can spend some of that money making it good. They choose to spend money on cutting out competitors, having BS white papers written, paying bloggers and so-called "journalists" like you to flood the web with FUD like this article. If they spent all that money on development, then they would make money regardless of their competitors. If you make a good product it will sell itself. If you make the best product people will choose you over your competitors and you don't need propaganda, a gigantic marketing budget, government bribes, and all those other dirty tricks to stamp out the competition so people think they only have one choice.

    Note to other readers: Microsoft wants to be the only choice. They want to make all of your decisions for you. They want to be in control of you and your machine. But, there are alternative operating systems to choose from that give you choice and control, which are more stable, are free from viruses and spyware and are hackproof. These operating systems in the past were difficult for normal people to use but many of them are now easier than Windows to use. If you haven't heard of them it's because their makers don't waste their time and money on advertising, propaganda, government bribes and dirty tricks; they spend their time and money making their operating systems better for you. Many of these are also free (the companies that make them make money by selling services and doing development for big business but they give the software itself away for free). If you are interested, I recommend Ubuntu.

  6. Steve

    re: TNT

    Your use of dollar signs to spell "MS" is very clever, it is as if you are trying to claim that Microsoft is a for-profit company, and is somehow motivated by profit. Yes, very clever indeed.

    The point the article is making is that desktop search IS an OS function, or at least it should be (and has been in the past, for a long time). What would you think if you loaded an OS that had no capability to search for files and directories on the hardware? Would you go happily download whatever search software you want to run, or would you think to yourself that it might be nice if the OS included a search capability so that you didn't have to do that? What about Joe User? What if the average person got their new computer and could not search for anything? Would they even know that they can install a third-party search application, or would they just be irritated at the OS vendor for leaving out that feature?

    I don't like the monopoly that Microsoft tried to set up with IE and Office. But searching your computer? Cmon, that is such a simple concept that it should definately be included in the OS installation, even tightly integrated with the OS. Next you're going to say that an OS should not include a calculator or text editor, because that's also userland software, and it's not the responsibility, and there's a monopoly, and waaaaaaaaa!

  7. Luke

    Hmm wouldn't a more open search be helpful?

    The fact is the more people who compete for anything produces a better product by competition. If we have a choice we have a choice to choose what we want so they have to provide us with what we want or we choose something else. This isn't going to mess up Vista's search one bit. Just as you can choose multiple search engines for your web browser. Microsoft might try to make it customers suffer to try to prove thier way is better. But in the end competition keeps them creating better and newer ideas. Cause the fact is if they don't and someone else does, I have the ability to choose something i want. I am amazed by all these stories putting down the power of competition. Ever seen how much apple effects windows? You get alot better quality anything cause of competition not the lack of it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vista "features"

    I work in IT support & have had the misfortune to be issued with a Vista PC at work. I don't share your admiration of Vista's search facility. As was custom on my previous XP machine I hit "Windows F" to bring up the search facility, type the desired details into the box & hit enter. What resulted was several hundred entries gleaned not only from the hard drive but also from my Outlook folders which it seemed to deem a legitimate source. There is no way I would recommend any feature of Vista to anyone.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like Google Desktop

    Google Desktop has a slightly clumsy interface, but it's free and works very well for me.

  10. Andy Bright

    Google / Microsoft.. hate them both

    I find both these companies make shite desktop search software, both are slow and clunky, both litter their results with crap.

    Microsoft caches locally, Google caches online. In my line of work, Google is absolutely not allowed for this reason alone.

    But even if Microsoft produced the best desktop search ever, that still wouldn't mitigate Vista. Vista is just about as bad as an operating system can be. Bloat has reached epic proportions, inefficient use of hardware has been a Microsoft legend for decades, but with Vista they've excelled themselves. They deserve some sort of award just for the innovative methods they've used to slow down hardware and swallow inconceivable amounts of resources.

    I guess they were hoping we'd be so distracted by shiny things we wouldn't notice how they nerfed the entire OS.

    I never thought I'd say this, in fact I'm almost retching as I speak.. but they've actually produced an OS that makes XP look like a work of genius...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hot Topless Chicks On Page 3

    Well that's about it for The Reg, isn't it? I'm, of course referring to the post titled:

    "What utter tripe!

    "Note to other readers: Microsoft wants to be the only choice


    there are alternative operating systems to choose from that give you choice and control, ...

    "Many of these are also free (the companies that make them make money by selling services and doing development for big business but they give the software itself away for free). If you are interested, I recommend Ubuntu."

    When an anonymous poster, perhaps not a Reg regular, feels s/he has to qualify h/er/is comments by advocating, almost evangelically, that there are OSes of freedom out there then obviously the Reg is past coming across as an IT site. It's over, the envelope was pushed to far with irrelevant humour and naughty innuendo. Rather than morn the death of the Reg I suggest it goes all out in an effort to usurp Fark's position. I suggest Hot Topless Chicks On Page 3.

  12. Kurt Guntheroth

    damned if you do, ...

    Some people would complain if Microsoft did anything at all. If they're closed, they're pigopolists. If they're open, they're letting idiots flood the market with dreck. This would be a better article if it had a point other than to poke at microsoft.

  13. Dean Clemmons

    A mass of contradictions

    "Vista does not have much going for it. At present, the OS mutilates my dual-core Athlon box from HP. It shuns software such as Adobe's Audition sound package or the even more "Vista-ready" Cubase software. Worst of all, Vista boots slower and slower with every passing day as new applications add to its bloat."

    And yet you say that it would be wrong to blame Microsoft if Google desktop doesn't work properly? Vista can't handle it's own bloat, don't blame third-party developers if it doesn't have room for anyone else's software.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stop crying

    That was probably the most infantile, whiny read I think I have ever seen on the reg.

    3 points

    1) competition is a GOOD thing.

    2) learn to use the uninstall function in your control panel (its under uninstall label)

    3) If you are sick of vista going slower because of new programs adding to the bloat, then STOP INSTALLING them.

    One more thing Please stop...

  15. Lord-a-miytee

    MS search works?

    Have none of you used SharePunt? MS couldn't find their own rear entrance.

  16. Mike

    Choices Good

    If I take everything in this article as a fact, here's the problem with it. Right now, MS's search might be better than Google's. But in 5 years, when I'm trying to search my holographic ogg vorbis identity cube, or whatever the cool thing is at the time, I want to be able to switch out MS's search for the new, cool one by yet-to-be determined super hot startup company of 2012.

    Its like Internet Explorer. Biggest malware vector in the world, and if you have a Microsoft System that isn't DOS, you can't get rid of it. That's not what I bought Windows for. As a consumer, I want to be able to use the operating system for my benefit, not for the vendor's benefit. If that means mandating that the architecture be modular, so be it -- it's the sane way to design software anyway.

    Makes no difference to me, I made the jump to Linux already. Still read articles about Windows though. Old habit, I guess.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HA, HA!

    Thus saith Simpsons character Nelson Muntz. Well said, Nelson!

  18. Dann

    I disagree with this article

    I don't usually comment, but this article is wrong.

    I have used Vista and the desktop search was useless.

    I have used Google desktop search and it was really good. (This was on XP)

    I won't detail all the other (numerous) failings of Vista here because I have said them so many times. Suffice to say that Vista is the only reason I am now running Ubuntu as my main OS.

    To summarise;

    Couldn't play DVDs all the time with Windows media player

    Networking was a pain

    search was next to useless

    Eye candy slowed normal use

    Copying was very slow. (I have heard of the bug since but not heard that it has been fixed yet)

    Oh and installing was only better than Gentoo. (vista business took 3 days to install properly - I gave up on Gentoo after 2 days)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't know what you poor people are all on about.

    * You don't need search if you organise your files properly - I don't use either Google or Vista search, I don't need to

    * Vista runs at least as fast if not faster than XP on my laptop

    * It handles a whole raft of things better (multiple network settings, extra monitor configuration etc) than XP

    * I love the Widgets sidebar

    * The "Profile" layout (Users folder) is heaps better

    And as for Unbuntu, I installed it on my laptop, setting up separate partitions so I could dual boot between Vista and Ubuntu and here's a run down of what happened:

    It chose which boot loader I wanted to use for me

    It ignored the separate partition with Vista on it and installed itself without the possibility of dual booting

    There was no Grub package installed so I could not alter the boot configuration

    Then when I restarted my computer the next day, it couldn't load the graphics driver and left me with a lovely command window thinking I would know what to do.

    Well screw that! I started again with Vista and guess what?

    Everything works! Without a problem.

    Go Vista!

  20. Chris


    I hate a lot of Microsoft's practices but at what point do you stop overcompensating for past injustices? Google can easily install a find in the start menu and override the windows-f for fucks sake. And to claim that microsoft find automtically makes google search slower? how? by constantly running in the background? consumers can turn of ms indexing and google could too if they wanted to.

    At what point do you finally say wtf? Technically neworking is not part of n OS so why not sue ms for writing winsock and not telling people how to write replcement stack with the same dll sigs? Or maybe ms needs to allow people to inject code into their currently running dlls? If you want open source run Linux. No one bitches about apple's proprietary DRM. Maybe Google should be forced to display other companies image/newsgroup searches on their results page since they have similar monopoly of the search engine business. Hell their desktop search automatically sets my browser search to google.

    If you want to rail on MS for forcing pc manufacturers to use MS then fine. Monopolistic practices. But saying that MS is monopoly because the bundle find or internet exploder is insane. A cup holder is separate product than a car but I can't sue toyota for making it difficult to install aftermarket cupholders. It's a lot easier to install a new browser or find. The reason ms find makes other finds slow is not intentional. It's because ms find is so bloated to begin with.

    If I was microsoft I'd just rename find microsoft find and bundle an uninstaller. Sometimes I think they get spanked so hard by the tech community more for their market strength and less for their crap products.

  21. David

    What on earth are you searching for?

    I must be so old fashioned, had no idea. As the years go by I've simply maintained my structure of directories containing squillions of files (all with meaningful file names of course), as a result I've hardly ever had to 'search' for anything. So I couldn't care less if there was no search facility.

  22. Grant Alexander

    Why search

    I am totally in agreement with David. Microsoft has created the need for search with its moronic "My Documents", "My Pictures", "My Music" 'folders'. Anyone with half a brain ditches that and creates a directory and uses a proper structure. I, too have no problem locating files that I create, or even files that other users have created. Maybe I am showing my age.

    But as a suggestion for those who have to, I suspect that if you reverted to 8.3 naming you might find that searching would be faster (since the OS is creating 8.3 pointers in memory "on-the-fly").

  23. Herbys

    What's an OS?

    > OS provider (that is OPERATING system provider) shouldn't be involved in user level things such as search.

    I think you are confusing an Operating System with a Kernel.

    Microsoft is an OS provider, not a kernel provider. An Operating System can include anything that's not application specific and still be an OS.

    Search is not application specific, as isn't TCP/IP or a browser.

    BTW, Desktop Search in vista is easy to disable as is. There's nothing today that prevents you from disabling Vista's DS and installing Google's. The move is about what comes enabled by default.

    Since DS is NOT a business for Microsoft, how can you claim that they are "extending" their monopolu to other "businesses".

  24. Rich

    Unix had search

    In 1973:

    find -name '*' -exec grep <blah> \1';'

    or something like that..

    Microsoft have been alleged to have a monopoly for the last 20 years, during which time two competitors have thrived. One is for geeks and the other for metrosexuals.

    Leaving Microsoft with the substantial non-geek, non-metrosexual market. If Linux or Apple wanted to broaden their appeal they'd no doubt eat into Microsoft's market share.

  25. Rick Damiani

    MS = Bad, Apple and Open Source = Good?

    I don't get it. Apple kills a small and popular software company by adding Spotlight to Tiger and everyone is happy about this and lauds Apple for it's innovation. MS does the same thing a couple of years later, minus the killing a small company part, and it's the bad guy.

    Imagine what MS could do with Vista if it were as free to act as - say - Apple.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google....on a mac?

    Why isn't google whining about mac? oh, are they in the same bed? Where's al gore and his comments on their locked down OS...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft has had plenty of chances.

    I cannot think of any reason to believe that MS will ever create any original quality code. They have had their chance and we have been stuck with the results for 20+ years. I'm thankful that someone is out there building new software. Thanks Google!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Many people will end up picking a really crappy desktop search tool because HP, Dell or whoever signed a deal with Google or because Google managed to foist its software on consumers via some web delivery mechanism."

    Just like many people end up picking a really crappy antivirus package and ISP because...

    I'm lost here. Did Ms. Vance expect MS to care about the good of the customer, or the quality of its product presentation in this one instance, and not in those others? The hilarity of that proposition is enough for me. And that's not to mention the fact that so many others have pointed out: that search is not an OS function (and the monopolistic implications of course).

  29. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Desktop search "only" available for Vista???

    Where do people get the daft idea that desktop search is "only available for Vista?". It's a free download that you can add to Windows XP as well...

    While the functionality of desktop search to easily search the contents of documents is a *very* useful one, it's mind-numbinq slowness when doing directory searches and point blank refusing to search anything other than where it's configured to index and has already done so makes it next to useless at times. Want to search your entire hard disk for documents? Then you have to index your entire hard disk, which takes a VERY long time even on a vanilla installation, quite apart from the overhead of the sheer database size and maintaining the index.

    Here's an example of speed, searching "c" header files in a an entire source tree for a particular word:

    Desktop Search - no go, directory not indexed - use "search companion" instead (yes, that dumbed down dog)

    Windows Search - 5 minutes later, 2 matches, still going

    Textpad - 20 seconds, 20 matches, all listed ready for viewing

    Yes, the above is a simple case but it's an example of how entirely useless the desktop search is if you don't, erm, store EVERYTHING on your desktop / My Documents directory. It also highlights just how pathetically inefficient the traditional desktop search is - I don't remember it being so useless, but it's not beyond MS to "accidently" break something down to make another technology look better...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does not know the difference between OS and a application

    An Operating system does hardware resource management, Application do the rest. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, they are like a child molester, they don't change. If they had been broken up in the beginning then I would say fine, but because they control both the OS and the applications, then need to be watched.

  31. Charles Langer

    Totally disagree with article

    And i'm connected with MS... Vista desktop search blows, i utilize Google's instead.

    If you want a low-resource alternative, try locate32:

  32. Steven Hewittt

    Original Code?

    Um, just so you all know guys, MS came up with the cache desktop search engine before Google or even Apple. Just so happened that Apple released SpotLight before MS. Google just joined the bandwagon and also forced other crap as well (toolbars, changing home page etc.)

    MS 'innovated' this, Apple got it to market first, Google jumping on the bandwagon.

    So knock the 'original' comments on the head guys.

  33. Martin Owens


    >> MS 'innovated' this, Apple got it to market first, Google jumping on the bandwagon.

    I dunno, the locate and updatedb commands have been all the rage on gnu systems for years and years and I wouldn't bet against one of the other unixes.

    As for gui indexed search tool, it's probable that several third parties have invented it first

  34. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Can't understand what the fuss is about

    I use XP, and when I need to search for something, I do a quick Win-E and open the folder the something is supposed to be in and I find it.

    No trouble with Vista, I won't ever use it. Searching takes me all of two seconds, every time.

    My guess is that there's a lot of people that don't classify their data. I suppose they don't do backups either ?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Solve this once and for all . . . .

    lets solve this tedium once and for all.

    The question, as always, is "what can a vendor bundle with an OS?".

    Is Notepad OK? Is a TCP/IP stack OK?, Is a music player OK? Is a GUI OK? A Memory Manager? Paint? Search? PDF writer? Calculator? Virus Scanner? Backup tool? What else???

    The answer is to have an agreed and consistent set of utilities and functions that are OK, and allow *EVERY* vendor that ships an OS deliver whatever they want form that list. That list is based on whatever *ANY* vendor is already shipping, added with whatever a vendor adds that no other vendor challenges.

    Lets start with Apple. What do they bundle with MacOS?

    A music player you say? OK - That's now allowable for ANY OS vendor.

    "Search" is either OK for Mac, Linux, etc (and Microsoft) - or it's disallowed for *all* vendors.

    Lets have one set of rules, consistently applied.

  36. Chad H.

    exactly what are you trying to say?

    So, are you trying to say that because Vista is Shoddy.... they should get a free pass on desktop search?

    Abuse of Market power is Abuse of Market Power, no matter how bad the products that its based on are.

  37. Steve Button Silver badge

    Ashlee is doing this for a bet?

    "Hey guys, let's see who can write the article that generates the most comments"

    I know, let's dis' Microsoft and Google. Oooo, and throw in some nice stuff about Apple Spotlight.

    That'll get the geeks writing in.

  38. Mark Rendle

    This is a complete waste of time

    Why even have the comments section, when every single time it degenerates (usually at the first post) into Microsoft-bashing and people whining because their PCs can't run Vista properly (Ultimate runs fine on my Optiplex 745).

  39. Gordon

    Microsoft *aren't* a "convicted monopolist"

    That makes no sense, there's nothing illegal about having a monopoly. However, if you do have a monopoly then you are held to higher standards and responsibilities than other companies, one of which is that you are not allowed to abuse your monopoly position to stifle competition.

    Microsoft were convicted of *abusing* their monopoly, not of having one.

  40. Gilbert Wham

    Hear Hear, here...

    ...for Hot Topless Chicks. Too much of this technology flummery on here by half says I.

  41. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    In reply to TNT

    Do you think that the Dir command should also be removed from Windows? That is also a form of searching (e.g. "dir file*.* /s") .

  42. Core

    It's about choice !!!

    Ashley - IMHO you completely missed the point . This is about fair CHOICE.

    Third party tools should have same access to underlaying OS functions as Microsoft does !

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not impressed with Vista search

    I suppose Vista search works almost as well as search works in XP... That is if you don't mind Vista grinding away at your hard drive 24-7, in every spare instant, constantly trying to keep its search index at the bleeding edge of currency. I have a single-core Athlon machine with a decent video card, fairly fast HD, and 2GB of RAM... When I boot XP it takes ~15 seconds, then settles down and the drive is quiet. When I boot Ubuntu, it takes a little longer, but rarely needs to even use its swap partition--the drive only is active when you call an app or are actively writing to it. And because it's as unencumbered as it is, it runs FAST. (although I do have to tinker with the video when Ubuntu installs a kernel upgrade--no likey) When I boot Vista, it generally takes around a minute to be usable at all, and constantly fusses and fights like it's trying to calculate the first name of every particle in the universe. Using a 2GB memory stick and 'winboost' speeds it up slightly--like having a tailwind for your Pinto while trying to drive up the side of Everest. And I especially loved it when it told me I had to have permission from 'Everyone' to read files on my FAT32 secondary drive. It's also so amusing when it periodically gives me tips on how to fix the issues that are causing it to run slow... kind of like the person that farts at the dinner table and then points to the person next to them >>> "He did it!"

    Perhaps I'll give Vista another go after the first service pack comes out...

  44. Robert Long

    Originality as defined by MS/Apple fanboys

    The desktop search (or, rather, the "whole-hard-drive-cached-text search", since desktops were rare back then) idea was introduced, at least to me, by a Byte article in the early 80's, complete with a fully working source code implimentation of the indexing and search. I think that claiming Microsoft are the original and Apple jumped on the bandwagon is really straining historical fact. What MS *have* contributed is the ability to so badly organise your files (and programs-see "Start menu") that you really, really need something to tame it. Pity it'll take you three hours to delete that incriminating file once you have found it!

  45. Zeb

    About time

    Its about time M$ got a taste of it's own medicine.

    I would reword it if I was writing this article:

    It looks like you can start thanking Microsatan for making FOSS adoption even worse.

  46. Paul Blain

    Not the most impartial article about Vista, is it?

    Am I missing something? Did the author of this article really suggest that (if I haven't already purchases the new hardware that Vista requires to run on more comfortably) this magical thing called "Desktop Search" is the reason I should consider making the jump (and financial investment) to Vista?

    File name or string searches have been around forever - in Windows 3.1, 95 and so on. In Apple. Unix, Linux, etc. This is laughable.

    THIS is your fancy schmancy reason for touting Vista? And touting that the option to CHOOSE your default search engine takes AWAY from Vista?

    Google Desktop Search is very highly configurable - when I want to use it I enable it, when I don't want to use it, I don't enable it. But I'm using it on everything from Win98 to XP.

    The author gives the nod to Apple for their innovative search options, and alludes to yet another way that Microsoft attempts to convince people that Vista is the next pair of cat's pajamas.

    Desktop Search? You've gotta be kidding me. I suppose I should be grateful that Vista doesn't DENY the ability to search for files or information. THAT would be more newsworthy. The author sounds like an absolute Microsoft fan.

  47. Gary Riches


    To Google, that's fine. Just let me access Hotmail from the Google website rather than making me use your GMail.

  48. Sean Healey

    Desktop Search = Gimmick

    As at least one other poster has commented already, I have no idea why everyone finds 'desktop search' utilities so useful.

    On my system, even with 250GB drives full of files, I know exactly where everything is because its sensibly organised.(No, there is no 'Z' in organised).

    Since everyone is getting so wound up about why desktop search utilities don't work very well - can someone please post a rational explanation of why they are really needed in the first place??

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There's nothing stopping Google building and releasing their toolbar for OSX. The Spotlight and metatdata stuff is all exposed in public APIs, and details of how to use those APIs are documented on the Apple developer site (as well as a local copy on any OSX machine that has developer tools installed)

    Got a new type of data that you want spotlight to index for you? Hey, you can do that too, there's a whole type of subproject in XCode specifically for that.

    Not terribly hard to leverage, really. Or terribly hard to research, if one were a tech journalist.

  50. steve

    re Desktop Search = Gimmick

    Many posts here are confusing the search for files (if you can't remember where you left it then it's probably your fault!), and searching for content. I may need to search through hundreds of properly named files in a well structured directory for some information that may appear in several of the files, I just don't know which ones - yes I do need a decent search facility.

  51. Steven Knox

    Article and Comments Prove Benefit to Consumer

    To sum up your article: you prefer Vista search to Google search, therefore allowing Google search to take the place of Vista search (at the choice of the consumer) is bad.

    To sum up the comments: some people prefer Google search; some prefer a different option altogether; some don't even use desktop search. Therefore they should be able to chose.

    This is exactly what antitrust law was created for. It's not about mandating specific choices; it's about preserving the ability of the consumer to choose (and ensuring that their choice actually means something.)

  52. Ian Michael Gumby

    Too much fun in the sun for Ashlee?

    One has to wonder if you've spent too much time on the left coast and have lost your midwestern sensibilities. (Ashlee used to be based in Chicago.)

    Now you're soundling like you're on Microsoft's payroll.

    Ask yourself, why Microsoft, which has been intentionally slow and reluctant to cooperate with the world's courts on their anti-competitive behavior, suddenly roll over on this one?

    When you think about it, you'll find the errors in your point of view and why you need to rewrite your article.

  53. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    find / -name 'mah_uber_file'

    I for one, agree with the article: find functions are part of the OS.

    By the way, someone said networking is not part of the OS ... really?? I'd like to see how UNIX would fare without networking...

    Anyway, search capability has always been at least somewhere in *any* os. Well, maybe not DOS, but usually there. I've seen /bin/find since the beginning of time...

    Don't like Desktop Search?? Download M$ SFU (Services For Unix, that is ... not Shut the F*** Up as the acronym might sound like) and voila! the Interix Subsystem gives you a POSIX-compliant UNIX that can see your HD's. Now you can

    find /dev/fs/C -name '*mah_file*' with UNIX-ish efficiency.

    I usually frown upon "enhancers" for windows that end up being adware, spyware, or crappily coded "solutions" that cause more grief than help: anything-toolbar for IE, desktop "search", alledged "internet accelerators", and more.

    And, as others have said: If you have a good directory structure, you won't need a search feature that much anyway.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too bad...

    I am complete advocate for Linux in the datacenter, in fact that is my bread and butter, but still prefer to use windows at home (it is more wife-friendly) and on my laptops, as it still supports more usable business apps (visio, project, for two big ones).

    I haven't used Vista yet, but don't feel inclined to judging from the comments. As far as Linux for laptops, I tried the latest Ubuntu (after the Dell announcement) on a Dell laptop, and found that it still didn't come with the drivers needed to run the wireless and bluetooth hardware...Other than that the Ubuntu worked ok, but its update utility broke (corrupted cache) after about a week of updates...I could fix it - having come up through the ranks as a unix/linux sysad... and did... but really,... not quite there as far as I can tell, also boots about as slow as XP.

    My favorite linux desktop is SLED (Novell SUSE)... clean, fast, very usable, but alas a victum of the driver issue wireless unless you install a wrapper and use the windows driver... again doable, but just not interested in doing that to make my laptop simply work... so back to XP.

    Works well, and I must say the wireless/bluetooth implementation is about as flawless as is available from what I have seen.

    Moral to the story: The linux would work fine (and out perform XP) if the politics of driver propriety could be solved (also need more apps ported -- can't run cakewalk at all on linux and never could get linux Rosegarden to install as freeware - perhaps if I shelled out the $$) oh well...

    Never thought I would come to regard such a predatory company as MS as an asset, but I would hate to see them wimp out of the OS market....unfortunately Vista appears to be a step in the wrong direction.

  55. Majid

    Bit of a lame duck...

    Unfortunately desktop search by whatever provider is a bit of a lame duck without winfs. I think most of the handy features like cross-referencing your pictures, Images etc, so that you can perform SQL like queries giving you all instances of pictures or images in which PersonX and PersonY are present, are offset by the fact that with ntfs you don't have a database but just a normal file system, which has to constantly keep updating the indexes by monitoring the file system, and thus slowing down your whole machine. When it would have been a real database all your indexes on your meta data would be automatically filled on file creation.

    Maybe Microsoft couldn't get the 'normal' use of WinFS (serving files) fast enough, and delayed(/canned?) the new file system because of that. It seems like a difficult job to me, creating a file system/database system which performance is up to par on both tasks (serving files, cross referencing over meta data).

    Ps. If you want to tweak it just key in indexing options in the "Start Search" and you can exclude directories etc you don't want to have indexed.

  56. Bruce Leyden


    "I must be so old fashioned, had no idea. As the years go by I've simply maintained my structure of directories containing squillions of files (all with meaningful file names of course), as a result I've hardly ever had to 'search' for anything. So I couldn't care less if there was no search facility."

    Hear hear!

  57. Keith Doyle

    What search?

    I agree with all the posters that ask what the heck are you searching for that you can't find? While think competition in searches is a good thing, I don't need either of these particular products.

    On the other hand, if Microsoft REALLY wanted to do something useful for its users WRT file organization, it would dispense with the "My Documents" tree. Everything likes to default there but I never use it-- I put all my stuff in my own folders and it irks me to no end that things don't default to somewhere where I've *actually* saved files before, instead sticking me somewhere in the idiotic "My Documents" tree.

    The one thing that the MS OS still has that Apple doesn't, is choice. With Apple, *you* have to conform to how the system works. With MS, you can configure the system to conform to how *you* work, for the most part. Forcing stuff like search & directory trees on you is counter to that philosophy though, and it is that kind of stuff that I always disable or uninstall on MS as soon as possible. I suppose we should be thankful that you can still turn off indexing and UAC in Vista...

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are people so religious...

    I can't understand why people here need to get religious about these corporate wars...

    To those people who think MS (not M$) is a big bad monopoly and are all praise for google (the upcoming giant):

    One of the primary goals of companies like MS, Apple and Google is to make profit for their shareholders and grow. Yes, each one has their motto to fullfill and therefore might use a different approach. I have noticed the trend of siding with the underdog always. MS is a tech giant wielding a lot of power I agree, but at the same time Google and Apple are no angels. It's my personal opinion that had Apple won the PC wars, the consumers would be paying a lot more for the computers and hardware. Honestly, I don't see any point in taking sides with technology firms here. They have their own agenda to deliver their vision and in the process make money. Based on various factors and circumstances, some are more successful than others in different aspects. I'm just happy to soak in what they give us. If you don't want to participate in their _sale_ of software, I suggest you look towards Linux and other free software movements.

    To those that think search is not a part of the OS:

    I guess the definition of OS has been conveniently changed to suit the argument. Is an OS just hardware abstraction software? If it is and should have no more, why include a file system in it? Why include a shell (command line or GUI) in it? Personally, I feel the loose and evolving definition of an OS is that it is the software platform and services that organizes and provides access to the hardware and data stored. In that context, search is very much a part of this evolutionary definition. At this point, if you still feel that the OS is strictly the hardware abstraction layer, you have the choice to experience that; Linux allows you to just choose the Linux kernel and mix and match any of the plethora of available software on top (right from file system, shells, GUI and drivers all the way to your media player and browser). In my opinion, the average consumer does not care about what pieces are used in an OS and the OS definition tends to be everything under the skin of the machine; it's main requirement is to provide a useful and pleasant user experience.

    To those who complain and moan about Vista's search:

    I have used MSN search and Google search on XP. Each one had it's own pain points. I switched over to Vista and was skeptical about the search considering my previous experience. However, to my pleasant surprise Vista's built in search was dialed in at a very comfortable level. It did not index the whole world, but if you wanted to, you could have it do that. At the same time, the search was seamlessly built in the local context of OS browser (explorer). I'm happy that I can access obscure things like power settings much quicker now in the control panel. Having used Vista for a while now, I would say that's the only reason I would recommend people to upgrade. For that matter of fact, spotlight also achieves the same and I'd recommend poeple upgrade to that if that's more of their preference.

    And now for the main argument: Google vs MS

    I personally see this as a low light for Google; having to approach the federal government to make this happen. What should Google have done (in my opinion)? I think it should have approached MS and talked about the prospect of opening up their OS search hooks so that Google could be plugged in. Given how Microsoft has reacted to the current move, I think Microsoft would have worked out something. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to portray Microsoft as a better company, but actually trying to expose Google as a company that's no better. I have great admiration for both companies for what they have delivered to the consumers. Had google worked on making their desktop search engine eons better than Vista and used that approach to dominate, I would have a lot more respect for them. As for now, in this matter, they want to rely on a legal crutch as opposed to unleasing innovation.

    I can see flames brewing already... bring it on. Everyone here has their right to opinion. These were mine.

  59. M Howlign


    Just a passing thought but why does nobody ever moan about googles practices. I've lost track of the amount of times I've had to untick the "Install Google Toolbar" when installing some other piece of software.

    As for the whole OS Search debate, Yes it should default to MS Desktop Search but allow you to unistall it completely and (if you require) install a third party product.

    But I think the point the article was trying to make is that for people who buy a computer from a manufacture may not get that choice.

    It seems that no manufacture gives you an unmodified install disk of the OS any more. Whenever I have to set up a laptop I have to spend half the of the time removing all the bloated crap that the manufacture has choosen to install on it. And some manufactures have specific deals with google or yahoo so the machines come with there products installed. If manufactures are going to do this they should at least provide a blank OEM copy of the OS you purchased.

  60. Gregor Kronenberger

    Choice is a bad thing

    I am sorry Ashlee, but since when is choice a bad thing? I have not used either Google desktop search or Vista's search feature. Being able to chose what tool I want to use is important to me, since I prefer to be in command of my PC. I want to make informed decisions myself.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a bitchy bunch you lot are!

    Here I was, vainly hoping to read some enlightened commentary from my peers about MS NOT fighting Google in court and instead are opening up Vista to Google and other parties.

    Instead, I get posts that are actually quite disturbing in the amount of vitriolic content they contain.

    I get visions of people hammering at their keyboards in a fury, with the veins on their foreheads protruding and going a deeper and deeper shade of purple.

    Do yourselves a favour and calm down!

  62. Not Needed

    Vista search is OK

    Actually, google desktop (which includes an indexed searching service like that built into vista) comes pre-installed on quite a few retail PCs (mainly Gateway).

    As for the Vista search feature, I agree that its actually pretty good. Its the same thing as MSN search available to xp users but it is built into the start menu. Anyone who claims it takes longer than XP is doing something wrong. XP doesn't index your files, e-mails, etc like Vista does. My Vista searches are exponentially faster than my XP searches. Leaps and bounds.

  63. Summa

    Pity the Reg

    You'll publish almost anything these days, no matter how ridiculous. Sad, really.

  64. Uwe Dippel

    Moderation needed

    Now, at > 60 posts, El Reg should introduce a moderation system (/. anyone ?).

    Many of the posters are just OT here. Or Flamebaits. Or shills. (I am not using any desktop search.)


    Because the question has never been if Microsoft may or may not ship a desktop search. Neither, if desktop search is part of the OS or the kernel.

    Not even Google has complained about Microsoft shipping a desktop search. Take a rest.

    The whole thing can be distilled (yes, it's a Friday) down to the question if Microsoft can be permitted to throw obstacles at third party desktop searches or not. And they do (try to impede on competition at desktop searches). Similar to what they did for Samba, or in my case: Exchange, from whose monopoly I have been suffering the last 6 years. If their mail server is better than ABC or XYZ, so be it. But they don't allow ABC or XYZ to interoperate.

    Back to desktop search: If Vista's desktop search is as great for you as it is for Ashley, by all means, go and use it ! - If however, you consider it crap and/or slow, any third party should be able to come up with a better one. And the user must be given a clear choice and chance to completely switch any of the unwanted searches off. It seems Microsoft doesn't want any of that; claiming it was 'part of their OS'.

    That's the same level as when my preferred car manufacturer, Volvo, come up with a tank inlet - as 'part of our unique automobile concept' - that can, for instrinsic technical features, only be filled at Shell stations.

    I'd never ever want to have of that type of cars again. Luckily, they can't afford it. Because their market share isn't 90% and above.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Blah Blah Blah... Apple's first search tool was Sherlock in OS 8 many many moons ago.

    Who cares that one would-be monopolist is angry at another?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, they are like a child molester"

    Please remove this post! It's offensive to anyone with a brain. Nothing is "like a child molester".

  67. gaz

    make your own

    just as you can add your own options for the hardware when getting a computer can't the same be done for all the software instead of the one size fits all

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "So, let Microsoft have a chance at making quality code rather than having rivals add more cruft."

    I was in complete disagreement with the entire article until the last line, then I saw that it was a satirical piece and had a good laugh. The clue to the joke is in the above quoted last line.

    "let Microsoft have a chance at making quality code..."..hehehe...cracks me up every time I read it :) Yes, lets "let" them write some quality code. I mean, the fact that they are a new company and therefore not had a lot of opportunity to write code means we should ease up on them.

    The fact that they took soooooo long to release the model, and that it's so obviously wall-to-wall quality code......never mind....

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, lets be consistent?

    Then why hasn't Apple faced the monopoly attack. If Vista is such a rip off or OSX then wouldn't that mean that OSX is attempting to become a monopoly as well? In some points I would have to say that I agree with Eloi in the fact that we do need some consistency. The live search feature in Vista is definatly better than the Google search tool. Maybe if you would stop messing up your registry it would work for you.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple reason why Apple don't face the same problem...

    You can wholly replace the use of Spotlight with Google Desktop, you dimwits.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft was first with desktop search. Get the facts.

    It all starts back in 2004. In the wake of Microsoft's US antitrust settlement (from 2002) and a related antitrust slap-down by the European Union (EU, from March 2004), various Microsoft competitors approached regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to complain about Microsoft's plans for Windows Vista (then known by its codename, Longhorn). Given Vista's long gestation period, it's hard sometimes to remember the climate of 2004: Microsoft was still riding high on its first exciting public revelations about Vista's feature-set, which came at the October 2003 Professional Developers Conference. It was a heady, almost giddy time, and it seemed like Microsoft could do no wrong. Back then, the OS that would be Vista was full of promise.

    One of the major Vista features Microsoft showed off, incidentally, was instant desktop search. Not surprisingly, after the PDC, Microsoft competitors tripped over each other announcing their own desktop search products: Google shipped a beta of Google Desktop Search in October 2004, while Apple announced its Spotlight feature for OS X in June 2004 but didn't release it until April 2005. So the record shows that Microsoft revealed its plans for instant desktop search for Windows before any of these companies. But with Vista increasingly delayed over the years, Microsoft shipped its own instant desktop search add-on for Windows XP, called Windows Desktop Search. That product was announced in July 2004.

    Given that Microsoft had announced and fully divulged its plans for instant desktop search before any of its competitors, it makes sense that the Vista antitrust complaints that began appearing that year concerned other issues. The EU antitrust complaint from March 2004, for example, included a dramatic functional change that required Microsoft to ship a version of Windows that did not include Windows Media Player. (This change, incidentally, met with massive resistance from consumers and PC makers, neither of which ever actually purchased the stripped-down Windows version. Furthermore, in the years since, Apple's iTunes product has completed its domination of the digital music market, rendering the EU verdict moot.)

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