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Google-Microsoft dust-up focuses on Vista search

Google claims it's tough to turn off the built-in search; not so, says expert

June 11, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Google Inc. used a 50-page white paper to spell out its claims that Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista violates a 2002 antitrust settlement, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

According to the Journal (subscription required), Google sent the white paper to federal and state antitrust officials in April as part of its campaign to convince prosecutors that Vista makes it difficult for consumers to use rival desktop search software. Google distributes PC search and indexing software in its Google Desktop program.

In its white paper, Google makes two arguments. The first is that Vista's search boxes and bars -- available in several places in the operating system, including on the Start menu and in the Windows Explorer file manager -- work only with Microsoft's search and indexing tool. The second is that it's nearly impossible to turn off Vista's indexing; that means that adding a second indexer -- such as one from Google -- slows down a PC.

While there is no way users can swap out Vista's built-in search and indexing software for another vendor's, the operating system's integrated indexing tool can be disabled, according to experts.

Michael Pietroforte, a systems administrator who heads an IT department at the University of Munich, posted instructions as far back as February that detail how to scale back or turn off Vista's indexer. "There are cases where you might want to disable Vista's search indexing," such as to boost performance or to use a rival search tool, Pietroforte said in a entry on his blog. "I know of three ways to turn off Vista's search indexing."

According to Pietroforte, there are three options for dealing with indexing:

  • To reduce Vista's indexing, select Control Panel from the Start menu, then choose System and Maintenance, then Indexing Options. From there you can delete hard drive locations that are indexed by clicking Modify.
  • To disable indexing for an entire drive, from Windows Explorer, right-click the drive and select Properties. To turn off indexing, clear the box "Index this drive for faster searching."
  • To turn off indexing entirely, "the fastest way is to simply disable the Windows Search service," said Pietroforte. To cripple the service, type Services in the Start search bar, click on Services when it appears at the top of the list, scroll down to Windows Search, and right-click. Choose Properties. Select Disabled in the "Startup type" field. Next, click Stop; click OK.

Read more about Windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.



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