by CIO Staff

Dept. of Justice Downplays IE Search Box Concerns in Microsoft Antitrust Case

May 15, 20062 mins
Enterprise Applications

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) will not pursue complaints about Microsoft’s decision to include search functionality in version 7 of its Internet Explorer browser, despite concerns raised by search competitor Google, the DoJ said in a court filing.

The DoJ, in a court document released late Friday, said it and other plaintiffs in the U.S. government’s antitrust case against Microsoft has finished its look at the IE search feature, which can default to Microsoft’s own MSN Search feature in some cases.

This month, Google said it complained to the European Commission about IE7’s search defaults, saying the defaults benefit Microsoft and remove choices for users. The commission is examining Microsoft’s plans for its Vista operating system, expected to be released next year.

But the DoJ and other plaintiffs in the U.S. antitrust case said IE7, now in beta, makes it easy for users to change the default search engine within the browser. Computer makers can select the default search engine for IE, the DoJ said, although some machines with IE6 installed may have not included a default search engine because IE6 did not have a prominent search box.

“Internet Explorer 7 includes a relatively straightforward method for the user to select a different search engine,” said the DoJ in an antitrust compliance report filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “As Microsoft’s implementation of the search feature respects users’ and OEMs’ default choices and is easily changed, plaintiffs have concluded their work on this matter.”

On Friday, the DoJ asked U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to extend parts of her antitrust order for at least two years because of Microsoft’s delays in supplying technical documentation to licensees of its communications protocols. Microsoft agreed with the request to extend the order two years beyond its scheduled expiration in November 2007.

Kollar-Kotelly is scheduled to preside over an antitrust settlement compliance hearing Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST. She approved a sweeping antitrust settlement between Microsoft and the DoJ, and a group of state attorneys general in November 2002.

Grant Gross, IDG News Service

For related news coverage, read Dept. of Justice Asks Court to Extend Microsoft Antitrust Judgment.

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