Some weeks back, Google jumped at Microsoft for – or so the charge goes – making it difficult for third-party providers to implement desktop search solutions – in Windows Vista. Microsoft responded by promising a change in Windows Vista Service Pack 1 where desktop search options will be included in the “Program Defaults” control panel option. From here you can select built-in search, Google Desktop Search and whatnot. Microsoft insists that native search indexing is too baked into the core operating system that it’s impossible to shut it down altogether, but a link alongside each window’s search box results which they will be providing should compensate. End of story? Not just yet.
Google, probably thinking it has one-upped Microsoft, tries to push it even further, and started asking for something more than a link – a “step in the right direction”, but not quite. The funny thing that happened here? In a manner unlikely you expect of the DOJ, they actually sided with Microsoft and declared the concession “enough” already. Google shuts up. Turns out what seemed like a weakening Microsoft, giving in to Google so easily, was actually just being coy about the whole thing. The book of what was bound to be a lengthy series of lawsuits on a matter as focused as desktop search suddenly gets closed, and Microsoft gets away, with Vista relatively unscathed.
While we’re on the topic of Windows Vista SP1, you might have heard that Steven Sinofsky (from the Microsoft Office 2007 group) replaced the reverend Jim Allchin when he stepped out of Redmond’s campus. News is, all the transparency that was while under Allchin gets thrown out the door. No more roadmaps if only to drop features down the pike, no more release dates only to slip, none of that. I specifically remember only three points in Office 2007’s development, what was Sinofsky’s group at that time, where screenshots flooded the internet: (1) a peek at Office 12 immediately after Office 2003’s release, which made sense since people are always on the lookout for what’s next; (2) the limited-group Office 12 beta – which was over a year after the first; and (3) the unveiling of Office 12 at PDC 2005 (or was it WWDC?) with the Ribbon interface and the public beta that followed.
If that’s anything to go by, we’re likely to see less press fodder on a significantly smaller project such as a service pack over a full-fledged suite as Office. True enough, it’s already the end of July and we’ve heard practically nothing – and Microsoft is required by the US DOJ to have some form of Vista SP1 ready by November this year. On a more typical day we would’ve at least heard of a target date. Today? Nada. Zilch.
Turn down the aggression slider a notch, and play smart, not hard with the rest of the tech industry. Under-promise and over-deliver. Maybe Microsoft isn’t so dead after all.