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Dell-Google Deal dangerous for Desktop Search Industry

When Microsoft revealed plans to make MSN Search the default web search engine of IE 7, Google panicked and ran to the Justice Department complaining of the Microsoft's move. Even Marrisa Mayer remarked that the market favors open choice for search, and companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services.

The "IE default search" controversy subsided a little when Steve Ballmer assured that IE7 would maintain the default search preferences of previous IE versions. Only new installations of IE will have MSN as the default search engine. Even the Justice department rejected Google's complaint as IE 7 "only uses MSN Search if no default has been set."

Now Google has adopted a different approach to become the default search engine on new computers. Google will pay Dell a billion dollars who in return will install Google software on all new machines that leave the Dell Building. Dell rules the hardware market with 1 in 3 PC's sold in US is made by Dell.

A lot of users won't even know how to change a browser's default search engine. So these millions of new Dell users are likely to stick to Google Search and keep the advertising dollars coming.

At the same time, this billion-dollar software bundle deal may prove a big setback to the desktop search industry. Normally, computer users don't fiddle with the default software installations (I still have Sonic DigitalMedia and PowerDVD on my Dell Inspiron notebook though I never opened it). Therefore, if Google Desktop Search comes preloaded with a new Dell computer, users are highly unlikely to try new desktop search software like Copernic or X1 or Windows Live and will stick with GDS. Probably, they will miss the innovations from other desktop search companies.

Though the Microsoft tools will also exist on the new Dell machines but they'll be only visible when user changes the default settings (which is again not likely to happen in a majority of cases). So it may be time for Microsoft to run to the Department of Justice.