ad Silicon Tails: New browser plays part in Search war

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

New browser plays part in Search war

New Microsoft Browser Raises Google's Hackles - New York Times

Although Microsoft is facing competition from Firefox it still owns 80% or more of the Browser market - and it intends to use that distribution channel in the search war. The little search box in the new, upcoming version of IE (IE 7) will serve search results - including sponsored links obviously - from MSN Search. Google is protesting by taking the case to antitrust authorities in Europe and the United States. Microsoft claims that it is not intending to use the browser as a weapon in the Search war (duh!) and that it is easy to change the setting after the browser is installed (duh again!). Microsoft and Google are now throwing results from user research studies out there to either attack or defend the claim that these settings are easy to change:

From the NY Times piece:

"Mr. Hachamovitch said Microsoft's user research and early reviews indicate that it is easy to change the default setting. "People seem to be O.K. with what we're doing," he said.

Google counters that claim with a study it sponsored that was conducted by Tec-Ed, a research firm. It found that only a third of users could master the four-click process to change the default."

A four step process to change a simple setting? Of course it is in Microsoft's interest to make it hard to change the setting (even letting users know that it's there in the first place - I doubt that it will be a heavily marketed feature of IE7), but they have to design it in a way in which it is not obvious that they are deliberately making it hard. Oh, the challenges to designers these days.....Obviously, we all know that whether or not it is hard to change the setting, only a fraction of IE7 users will even consider changing it. That's why distribution is so important.

On top of this, Amazon just announced that it has dropped Google as its search provider in favor of Microsoft.