‘Don’t be hypocritical’…

… should be Google’s new motto, now that it has given up on “Don’t be Evil”. The company’s lobbyists have been creating a bogus stink in Washington, complaining that Microsoft is up to its old tricks by making MSN search the default in Internet Explorer 7.

It’s not often I feel sympathy for Microsoft, but this one of those times. Google’s whinge is ludicrous. Here’s Good Morning Silicon Valley on the issue:

Right now you may be fighting tears, more likely from convulsive laughter than sympathy. For starters, users can choose; I made Google the default search engine with a couple of clicks right after I downloaded IE7. Not simple enough, says Google; users should be forced to declare their search affiliation the first time IE7 runs. Mind you, Google has benefited for quite a while from being the default search engine offered in the Firefox and Safari browsers, but the company’s now willing to let those users make an upfront choice as well. For its part, Microsoft says, “The search box in IE7 is not Microsoft’s. It belongs to the user.” MSN is not really the default, says the IE team; the browser just picks up whatever preference the user had set in IE6’s AutoSearch options.

Nicholas Carr has a nice take on this:

But what’s the most powerful and influential default setting in the search world today? It’s not – at least yet – in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It’s on Google’s home page. I would guess that a strong plurality, if not a majority, of web searches are done through Google’s home page, at least in the United States. As “Google” has become synonymous with “search,” people head to its home page as much out of habit as anything else. It is, quite simply, where you go to search the web. But Google doesn’t give you any choices when you arrive at its home page. There’s a default engine – Google’s – and it’s a default that you can’t change. There’s no choice.

If Google wants to fully live up to its ideals – to really give primacy to the goal of user choice in search – it should open up its home page to other search engines.

Amen. Sauce for the goose… and all that.