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11.29.11

Microsoft Search Front Ends

Posted in Microsoft, Search at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: DuckDuckGo and Yahoo! as search engines lead to Microsoft and provide watered down results for FOSS subjects

THERE is reason to be concerned about Microsoft turning Yahoo! Into a purple (ish) Microsoft front end.

There is a reason to be suspicious of DuckDuckGo as well. A closer look helps us understand that when Microsoft killed Yahoo! it basically eliminated another competitor — a malicious move which hurts the industry as a whole (destroying jobs, hurting customers, and so on). “DuckDuckGo needs to wash its hands of Bing,” wrote one of our readers earlier this evening. A recent article outlining how DuckDuckGo (DDG) gives Microsoft-generated (read: censored) results much of the time gave more room for discomfort and we are now seeing Microsoft play more anticompetitive games in search. Some months ago I was shown by a friend how his Windows/IE combination could not retain the choice of Google as a default search engine. He just couldn’t get it to work, so instead he was channelled into Microsoft and its front ends every time he started the Web browser. Design flaw? Surely not, it was clearly deliberate. According to another new testimonial, this is a widespread problem. To quote: “I recently had to install windows on a computer. This involved all the updates and bells and whistles. One of those is what some love to call internet exploder :) When starting up internet explorer for the first time it asks you to go through some hoops to set up some settings. If you were to just accept the default settings then you would be using all microsoft search engines. Naturally I did not want to use bling so I decided to choose a custom setting. I wanted Google to be my default search provider.

“I was a bit miffed that there was not a choice for Google right there. Instead I had to wait until all the settings were configured and microsoft opens up a page for me to choose the search provider I wanted. It would have been much easier if I could choose it right there. I could live with it though so I finished all the setting up of internet explorer and waited for it to open up the page so I could choose the Google search provider.

“Lo and behold the page opened up and right there in front of my eyes were a stack of icons of different search providers. The second one, with the Google colors and the Google ‘g’ and the name of Google.com seemed to me to be a good bet that this was the Google search provider I was wanting. I looked at all the other search providers and there was no other Google search provider listed. So it must be that one right? Wrong! Here is the page pointed to by the microsoft internet explorer setup program.”

Somebody ought to investigate this. Microsoft used tricks like these before and was forced off them. While the Microsoft boosters spin hard to pretend Microsoft honours competition, the company is just the same psychopath is has always been. Apathy towards Microsoft is a recipe for trouble, not peaceful coexistence.

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14 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    November 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft.
    Yahoo.
    DuckDuckGo.

    Everyone but Google. Do not trust them. They are not working to boost open source.

    Do you have any idea how paranoid you present yourself as?

    FUD:

    Some months ago I was shown by a friend how his Windows/IE combination could not retain the choice of Google as a default search engine.

    This is utter and complete nonsense. Just insane.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i–yNnC60_c

    Easy. The idea that you cannot set Google as the default search engine of IE is just nuts.

    FUD:

    He just couldn’t get it to work, so instead he was channelled into Microsoft and its front ends every time he started the Web browser. Design flaw? Surely not, it was clearly deliberate.

    Deliberate lie on your part. Sure!

    mrkennie Reply:

    I gather you have read how Balmer intends to destroy google? Also have you read the so called Halloween documents? With their attitude towards Google and FOSS in general, this would not surprise me at all.

    I am unfortunate to have to use ie to test websites, and I found that its almost impossible to even locate google in the given list of providers.

    Michael Reply:

    The video I linked to proves it is easy, if not quite “trivial”, to accept Google from the list of providers… and to add it to the list if it is not there.

    There are many things to bash MS over – but let’s not make things up just to bash them!

    mrkennie Reply:

    Not sure where you’re from but in the UK it seems more difficult than you think.

  2. mcinsand said,

    November 30, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Gravatar

    First, this guy cares at all about what he’s doing and he uses IE?!?!? He has friends that are acquainted with the computing world, and he uses IE? Either he is as dense as a cinderblock or his friends aren’t trying to get through. No-one that cares about security at all should ever use any browser so (anticompetitively,) integral to the operating system as IE is.

    Next, this could be very good information for antitrust if someone can collect some metrics with documentation. Search providers business models do depend on advertising and, for most I think, they charge for having customers’ sites bubble to the top more frequently during searches. At least this is what my brother ran into when he was investigating why his business didn’t show until the second or third page of search results. That is just the business model and, to me, it is much like charging for a larger ad in the old phone books.

    HOWEVER, where this could bit MS is that there is a world of difference between supporting your customers and suppressing the market. Granted, market suppression is all that keeps MS afloat, given that they have abandoned a competitive business model. Anyway, documentation could help fuel antitrust action.

    Michael Reply:

    You can pay for sponsored links but not organic links. I know my business shows up on the first page of most search engines – based on content of my sites. I never paid a dime to have my organic links bumped higher – and could not if I wanted to. If any of the major search engines were found to be doing so it would be huge news.

    twitter Reply:

    There are actually two users quoted above and a first hand account, so it’s safe to say the report is well validated. IE with the patches involved won’t let people use Google as a default search engine.

    We should not assume these people are as “dense as cinderblocks” because they fiddle with IE. They might do this on behalf of stubborn customers. Those customers should be convinced to abandon IE, Windows and all non free software, but fighting Microsoft and Apple’s billion dollar propaganda stream is difficult. Most people who use non free software have simply not understood the personal and societal implications. Everyone in the field should understand this and carefully explain it to their customers.

    Michael Reply:

    There are actually two users quoted above and a first hand account, so it’s safe to say the report is well validated. IE with the patches involved won’t let people use Google as a default search engine.

    I am not going to deny there may be isolated incidents – that can be true of almost anything – but for Roy to claim this as though it is not norm and not an odd occurance (perhaps even based on user error) is simply disingenuous. As proved in the video I linked to, it is not that hard (though it is not as easy as just clicking a check box).

    We should not assume these people are as “dense as cinderblocks” because they fiddle with IE.

    Well, they do use IE. :) One need not be stupid to make errors.

    Those customers should be convinced to abandon IE, Windows and all non free software, but fighting Microsoft and Apple’s billion dollar propaganda stream is difficult.

    Should be convinced? By what? By better products that offer a satisfying experience and/or cheaper options? If so, then sure. But so far, on the desktop, OSS does not do that well in most areas. The browser is actually an exception to this: Firefox and Chrome (which is largely open source) do very well. Things such as OpenOffice/LibreOffice and GIMP do not do so well; they have not earned a place on users’ desktops. They need to improve their products to do so (which is not to say their current products are not good – they are – and for being free they are amazing).

    And you grouped Apple in with IE. Apple does not make IE nor ship it with their OS. What do they have to do with IE? Apple does make generally high end products which almost always earn some of the highest user satisfaction ratings in the industries they are in. Good for them. But why bring them up and why talk about trying to “convince” people to use less satisfying products?

    Most people who use non free software have simply not understood the personal and societal implications. Everyone in the field should understand this and carefully explain it to their customers.

    I am “in the field” and I suggest to my customers (and use myself) whatever will serve me best: open or closed source. I also, of course, take price into the equation. I work to make myself and others be productive and pleased with our tools – not to push some ideology. If your ideology is more important to you than your productivity, though, then of course you should go with tools you will be happy to use, even if they are intrinsically inferior.

    Before that last sentence is twisted: I am *not* saying all open source software is “intrinsically inferior”, but if you limit your options to only open source (or only closed source) then this is what you are going to end up – some software that is intrinsically inferior than the alternatives.

    twitter Reply:

    People who advocate non free software use are unreasonable perfectionists in things that don’t matter while they ignore the intentional waste and privacy issues non free software owners force on them. A person who chooses nothing but free software may miss a few software features but on the balance will gain just as many or more that are not available in non free software. Being away from the intentional waste of non free software has saved me all sorts of time and trouble over the last ten years which did not force me to change everything several times because new versions of text and photo editors came out. The social implications of non free software control are more important than performance and features.

    There’s a breaking story about non free software phones spying on their users right now.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/secret-software-logging-video/

    These devices form a spy network that dictators in former Soviet Republics could only dream about. That power is being abused as you contemplate the half a second you might save by using one photo editor over another.

    Michael Reply:

    People who advocate non free software use are unreasonable perfectionists in things that don’t matter while they ignore the intentional waste and privacy issues non free software owners force on them.

    What? This is some of the most extreme nonsense I have ever read.

    Is wanting image manipulation to work being an “unreasonable perfectionist”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ootjP-cFVO8

    You are tacitly acknowledging that when you restrict your choices – limiting your freedom – to using only open source software you are going to have a less “perfect” experience.

    I say open choices up… increase your freedom… and have better products.

    The social implications of non free software control are more important than performance and features.

    As I said: “If your ideology is more important to you than your productivity, though, then of course you should go with tools you will be happy to use, even if they are intrinsically inferior.”

    And that is the choice you make. Oh, and productivity is not restricted to “performance and features”. This is a common mistake people make, looking at bullet points on a feature list and assuming that equates to how good a tool is. A very naive way of looking at a tool, esp. a complex tool such as software.

    There’s a breaking story about non free software phones spying on their users right now.

    Funny – the one major OS not lists is iOS, the OS from Apple. The one from the company Roy and his cult hate.

    That power is being abused as you contemplate the half a second you might save by using one photo editor over another.

    1) My photo editor is not a cell phone.
    2) The “free” cell phone choice, Android, has this software you are complaining about
    3) I said nothing about only saving “half a second”.

    Again: You choose to follow your ideology and limit your own choices, freedom and productivity. That is your choice. But do not expect me to join you in your religious desire to limit myself as you do.

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    November 30, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Gravatar

    “I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”
    – Jean-Louis Gassée, then CEO of Be.
    http://www.birdhouse.org/beos/byte/30-bootloader/

    mrkennie Reply:

    Can’t say it better than that. Oddly, canonical seem to believe in original belief

    mrkennie Reply:

    Sorry, I mean in Jean’s original belief.

    Michael Reply:

    Jobs was right when he talked about how for Apple to win MS need not lose. Sadly many in the open source world – or, more directly, the free software world – do not get this. Stallman, for example, makes it very clear he wants everyone to agree to his whims and only use software he approves of. Amazingly anti-choice and aggressive.

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