The Dan Charny Factor in the Google/Microsoft Browser Spat

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-01 Print this article Print

When all else fails, ask your dad.

Dan Charny, the author's father, is no dope. He got a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and since then has been a lot of other things. Old dog, new trick: at 84 years old, he's Internet-savvy.

So he seems the perfect foil for an interesting rubric pointed out by the New York Times in its Monday editions The Old Gray Lady reports that Microsoft's latest Internet Explorer browser, according to Google, allegedly limits consumer choice when it comes to what search engine to use.

As the Times points out, Microsoft has embedded its own search engine into the new browser, meaning search queries can be made at any time, rather than having point the Web browser to a Microsoft Web site.

This kind of juxtaposition of browser and search engine is nothing new. But the rub, Google reportedly is telling U.S. and European agencies, is that to replace the Microsoft search engine with a competitor is a four-step process that's such a burden it essentially locks the search engine to the browser. Google's is much easier to swap out, the search engine reportedly claims. (And so do a bunch of readers, please see the comments below.)

It'll be interesting to see if the U.S. and European agencies that Google's been speaking to, according to the Times, can get past the "pot calling the kettle black" element of the spat.

Indeed, Google's search engine is the default for Firefox and Opera, browsers that compete with Internet Explorer. So in a way, it's doing the same thing as Microsoft.

This is where Dan Charny comes in. He was asked if he knew how to change the search engine embedded in his favorite browser, Firefox. His answer? A blank stare. So, judging just from his reaction, Google's benefiting from the search engine embedding, just like Microsoft.

There's plenty more evidence to cite in this case, but Dan Charny's reaction is a rather revealing one that seems to suggest some people outside the technology circles are unaware they can even change these things, let alone know how to do it. So in a way, everybody's guilty and everybody's innocent to some degree. |

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