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Google has welcomed Microsoft's proposed modifications to Windows Vista which make it easier for third parties to conduct desktop to third-parties' search. But it says its rival must go further.

The internet's number-one search engine and aspiring Microsoft productivity challenger, has reportedly called for unrestricted search access to the desktop and for Microsoft to simplify the steps users take to disable Windows Vista's search.

Seattle PI has quoted David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, saying: "These remedies are a step in the right direction, but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to alternate desktop search providers."

Drummond was speaking after Microsoft agreed to modify Windows Vista's default search options with the operating system's first Service Pack, due later this year. The changes follow Google complaint to the US Department of Justice that Windows Vista's search violates the terms of Microsoft's anti-trust agreement with the US government and prosecuting states intended to close the company's long-running browser court case.

Despite the changes, revealed as part of the US government's six-monthly status update on Microsoft's compliance with the settlement, it's unclear just how much of the Windows Vista desktop Microsoft is opening up.

While Microsoft will "create a mechanism" allowing OEMs and users to register their own default search over Windows Vista's own search, some areas will remain off limits. According to the Joint Status Report on Microsoft's Compliance with the Final Judgments searches conducted using Explorer Windows and the Control Panel "will continue to display the search results using the internal Vista desktop search functionality."

However, Microsoft has agreed to "add a link that if clicked will launch the default desktop search program and display search results from that program," the report notes.

Otherwise, the default desktop search program will be launched whenever Windows launches a new, top-level window to provide search results. "This will include an existing location on the Start menu that a user can select to display additional search results in a new window," the report says.

The DoJ has put the onus on Microsoft to provide technical information to help other desktop search providers build products for the Windows Vista desktop that work without encountering the kinds of performance problems that might deter usage.

Full text of the government's joint status report is available here. ®

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