Google vs. Microsoft : Internet Explorer, Firefox & MSN Search

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Google vs. Microsoft : Internet Explorer, Firefox & MSN Search

Like the battle over search engine and keyword advertising partnerships (see my previous post on the Windows Live & partnership), the Microsoft vs. Google feud is also escalating to the “no turning back” level on the browser front. Microsoft apparently has the plans of embedding a Live Windows / MSN Search search box in a prominent location of their IE 7 / Windows Vista browser.

With somewhere around 90% of Internet users surfing with the IE browser, the mass updates from IE 6 and IE 7 to Windows Vista will bring a new “in your face” searching option to those users. Such a MSN Search only option could threaten Google’s hold on the search engine market. Microsoft currently only holds 11% market share.

Google, the premier distributors of the Mozilla Firefox browser and its default Google search box (which does offer other options if the user selects other engines via a drop down menu) recently did some complaining to the U.S. Department of Justice and European Commission about Microsoft’s plans, which has backfired a bit to make Google’s intentions seem to have more of an agenda than battling evil doers.

Google’s Marissa Mayer told the New York Times : “We don’t think it’s right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN. We believe users should choose.”

This quote may have held its own water one year ago, but Google no longer enjoys the status of academic loving do-no-wrong garage based group of college kids trying to index the world’s information in the most relevant way possible – Google is now quite a different animal indeed.

After negative press over entering the censored Chinese search market with Google China, privacy issues with some of its Web Accelerator and toolbar services, and the widespread quarterly earnings results of the Google AdWords search media network hitting unthinkable Billions of Dollars margins every three months [Not to mention that Google’s browser partner Mozilla Firefox is a multi-million dollar profitable force in its own right with its new corporate image to deal with] – the public perception of Google and Firefox are changing.

The unthinkable has happened : this latest complaint against Microsoft is beginning to pit Google as the big business bully and Microsoft as the search loving underdog.

Here’s a rundown of some of the blog coverage on the Google Complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice :

Internet Outsider “Careful What You Whine For:

Hats off to Google for keeping a straight face while complaining about this. Microsoft’s monopolistic bullying, apparently, threatens to boost MSNs 11% share of search while chipping away at Google’s 50%-share–so it’s clearly worth tax-payer dollars to get the regulators involved. Also, the Google toolbar that Google smuggled onto my PC in a “Java update” package last week has not only embedded a Google search window in my (Microsoft) browser but made it look like the browser was made by Google (the word Microsoft is nowhere to be seen).

…. even if Microsoft does what it plans to do, I don’t see this as a major game-changer, at least not re Google. For most people, Google equals search, and no window is going to change that (unless it’s Google’s). I get the sense that many of Yahoo!’s searches, however, are driven by convenience–MyYahoo users using the closest box–and if an embedded window in IE is even more convenient, then that could be bad news for Yahoo.

Jeremy Zawodny “Google’s Double Standard” :

Google has been pushing their toolbar for Internet Explorer very aggressively ever since information about Internet Explorer 7 was first available several months ago. The writing was on the wall and they could see it as well as anyone.

If Google actually cared about user choice, they’d have asked the Mozilla Foundation to configure Firefox to prompt you to choose your favorite search engine the first time you ran it. You know, a level playing field.

Did they do that?


Instead they bought their way into the default position with a revenue sharing deal. And now they’re upset because they can’t do the same with Internet Explorer. Well, they can but they’re gonna have to pay OEMs like Dell, Gateway, HP, and so on. That’s a lot of deal making and a lot more money that’ll hit their earnings in the form of TAC (Traffic Acquisition Costs).

Don Dodge “Google supports choice…except on FireFox and Opera“:

Political double speak has been part of PR for a long time, but Google has raised it to new levels today. The New York Times article “New Microsoft Browser Raises Google’s Hackles” reports that Google has complained to the US Justice Department and the European Commission that Microsoft’s IE7 comes with MSN Search selected as the default search service.

Of course the defaults are easy to change…but that doesn’t matter. And of course the FireFox, Safari, and Opera browsers come with Google set as the default search service…but that doesn’t matter either.

Michael Davidson IE7 and Search Defaults: Not a Whineable Offense

If Google was so concerned about this, why haven’t they used a few hundred million dollars of their war chest over the past year or two to help turbocharge the relatively blasé Firefox adoption rates we’ve seen lately? Google has always said they don’t need to make their own web browser, and they are right… but they *do* perhaps need to make someone else’s irrelevant.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • So that’s why Google is so forceful in advertising for Firefox on its website to IE users.

    Google wants the customers to choose? Is that why Google is the default in Firefox? Is that why Google is advertising for a Firefox version that has Google Toolbar included?

    They don’t want the customer to choose, they want the consumer to choose them.

  • Google is currently making billions of dollars a year. Once Google became that large and publicly traded, they became a GIANT whether they like it or not. Things change and the company is run a lot differently because of all the money they are making. They are going to fight and they want to keep their search market share.

  • Lawrence Herman

    This is somewhat inaccurate, I just installed IE7 and the default search was Google which was imported from Firefox. Further you can certainly choose…

  • Some time ago, someone in Google apparently decided there would be more profit in leaving the do-no-wrong and relevance school. I might be naive about this, but I think there is a huge marketing benefit in going the pure relevance road.
    Anyway, if Google goes too far away from that track, another SE will take it.

  • At first glance, it’s both surprising and interesting to see the player with five times the search market share choosing to take this tactic. However, a quick glance shows Microsoft had about six times the earnings of Google in 2005. While Google is presently rapidly closing that gap, they are still a less diversified company at this juncture in terms of revenue streams and this might be where Google perceives a bigger threat.

    In my opinion, the strategy both companies should be pursuing is differentiating their products in a positive manner by continually educating their customers and making transparent both the value proposition and benefits of their offerings. Listening to and learning from customers to determine future resource allocation for innovation focus and prioritization is also critical to future success.

    David Dalka
    Free Agent

  • K

    Microsoft previously put IE into their operating system, and even though it was easy enough to change browsers, it still allowed the “i will do the easiest thing” users push MS’s broswer so far into the market it nearly squashed all others (even those with 80%+), who are just now coming back from the bring of extinction.

    MS is still a monster in size compared to Google, and they are starting down that same path, hoping to use their size to wipe out the competition.

  • Balaji

    Even though Microsoft has made MSN as default search, most of the users will prefer Google as their search engine.

    They will choose Google as the search engine in the IE. Lots of people know about the search results produced by Google and MSN.

    So I don’t think Google needs to worry about this…Google is the Best search engine….No doubt in this

  • Don Carr

    Don’t forget, Google does not have a monopoly. Bundling is only illegal if you have a monopoly. And, even then, Google is NOT bundling. Firefox is open source, and Microsoft or anybody else is free to create and distribute versions with their search engines as the default.

    It is illegal to use a monopoly to gain market share in another area. Exactly what Microsoft wants to do by bundling their search with Windows. They should compete with tool-bar downloads just like everybody else. Heck, they should create a version of Firefox with the MS tool bar and make it available on MSN.

  • bebesvin

    Yes, I am more than annoyed that Google hijacked my browser one day, but I soon fixed it back the way it was. Even so… one reason I prefer searching via Google, and I have for years: search engine is WAY BETTER. MSN just never finds what I am searching for. End of story.

  • bebesvin

    ps. Europe has noticed MS not complying with non-monopoly standards… and yes there are consequences. Something no one talked about in the news, the day before MS announced 5k people would be laid off and they would be .02 cents off their projections, a federal judge ordered Microsoft split in two. They will appeal of course, but when will Microsoft learn to comply with what seems logical and fair?

  • I want to change my search engine back to internet explorer. I do not know how google became my search engine. How can I change back to IE?

  • I do not know how Google became my web browser. How can I change it?

    I am not computer savvy. I do not have a particular website