The U.S. government has given its thumbs-up to Microsoft’s search box plans for Vista, shrugging off concerns raised recently by Google.
While criticizing Microsoft for its implementation of its existing antitrust accord, regulators appear satisfied with the software maker’s plans for Windows Vista, including a new search box that is part of Internet Explorer 7.
As part of its status report on Microsoft’s antitrust compliance, the Justice Department said that it had reviewed the search box and concluded that Microsoft’s implementation “respects users’ and (computer makers’) default choices and is easily changed.”
Google had recently cried foul over the box, which is set to conduct Web searches from a specified engine, while Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week defended Microsoft’s approach.
How users gets their browser–whether on a new PC, as part of a Windows upgrade or downloaded from the Internet–helps determine which search engine is used in that program. The box also leaves unchanged any default search engine already chosen by the user and can be changed by the user. If no default has been set, Microsoft does slot in its own MSN Search.
Internet Explorer 7 will be bundled into Vista and also offered as a download for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users. A public test version of the browser is already available from Microsoft’s Web site.
In the same report, filed on Friday, the Justice Department said it is seeking to extend by two years the part of the accord that requires Microsoft to license Windows communications protocols to rivals.
The Justice Department had said it received a separate complaint over Vista, related to the ability of computer makers to customize the “first boot” experience within Vista, but said that it has closed its investigation into that issue.
“While plaintiffs were still investigating the matter, Microsoft reached an accommodation that gives all (computer makers) additional flexibility to customize the first-boot experience and to promote non-Microsoft middleware.
The government said this “addressed the complainant’s concerns and resolved any issue” under Microsoft’s antitrust settlement.
Get the job doneAs you might expect, the essential programs in this broad category cover a wide range of functions, including privacy protection, file encryption, and Registry optimisation. You’ll use some of these utilities more often than others, but we consider each of them extremely valuable.
Long known for providing a more secure surfing experience than Microsoft, this top-rated browser has an extremely potent pop-up blocker that has become one of its calling cards. The convenience of tabbed browsing seals the deal. Download now
Online shopping and banking is convenient, but remembering a mountain of logins, passwords and credit card numbers isn’t. RoboForm helps by generating secure passwords, encrypting your data, and automatically filling in Web-based forms for you. Download now
Though many users will never have to create a PDF file, almost every Web surfer will eventually want to read one. To decipher documents in Adobe’s portable document format, you’ll need this free program. Download now
Notepad works fine for simple text-editing chores, but most users will appreciate the additional functionality found in NoteTab Light. The program even provides templates and macros for writing basic lines of HTML. Download now
This free program makes it easy to wipe away your tracks from Internet browsers, various Windows system areas and some third-party applications. Its Registry-cleaning utility scans for invalid entries and backs up your Registry before removing them. Download now
Asmw Eraser Pro
Although you can manually wipe away Web traces by digging through your browser, Asmw Eraser Pro offers a more convenient way to clean your slate. As a bonus, the program removes your fingerprints from a number of other popular applications. Download now
If you have secrets you’d like to keep, encryption utilities work. BCArchive provides all the essentials in an easy-to-use package. The program can even create self-decrypting archives so you can share sensitive data with people who don’t have BCArchive. Download now
We have seen the future of archiving and it has candy-coloured icons. Once you see the size savings of a RAR archive over the established ZIP format, you might be prepared to make the switch. Download now
If you’ve just bought yourself a brand new computer, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve listed 20 must-have downloads for your new pride and joy, including important security applications, system management tools and essential entertainment software.
Safety firstFrom the minute you press the power button, think, “Safety first!” The right security software is a life-or-death matter for your computer, since spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and hackers can quickly send your PC to an early grave. These six security programs ensure your computer won’t become a very expensive doorstop.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
True to its name, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition keeps your computer safe from the Internet’s hazards at no cost. While you may eventually upgrade to the Professional version or another antivirus suite altogether, AVG is a good start.Download now
A firewall is absolutely essential to prevent hackers and other cyberthreats from accessing your PC. ZoneAlarm walks you through the setup process, offers several levels of security, and doesn’t overload you with jargon. Set it and forget it.Download now
This program is extremely effective at finding and removing the Web’s most notorious spyware components, as well as new, deadly threats. You won’t find bells and whistles, but you will get rock-solid protection.Download now
Microsoft Windows Defender beta
Microsoft recently beefed up its free antispyware app with new tools and other improvements, but the verification process is annoying. Still, if your operating system is compatible, Windows Defender provides excellent protection. Download now
This program monitors several computer locations where malware is most likely to invade, including start-up programs, browser helper objects, scheduled tasks, services and cookies. While it won’t cure serious infections, it will prevent new harm. Download now
If your spyware-removal arsenal has failed to defeat a particularly insidious intruder, this program could be your last hope. While you may need to consult a Web-based forum to make sense of the program’s scans, this program will spot almost all potential threats.