Microsoft 's apparent capitulation to Google over desktop search doesn't go as far as many have suggested. The Redmond computing giant isn't going to allow third-parties like Google to override Windows Vista 's default search option.

So if you want to run a desktop search option other than the one that's embedded in Windows Vista, you'll end up running two pieces of software instead of one. And that has obvious consequences for your PC's processing power.

This has led some technology commentators like Ars Technica to dismiss Microsoft's search concession as spin. It's been able to make itself look good by making concessions to its rivals; its rivals have been makd to look bad by asking for concessions in the first place.

Users need greater access to alternatives

For its part, Google has welcomed Microsoft's move over desktop search, but says the proposed change still doesn't go far enough. California's attorney general generally agrees.

"Microsoft's current approach to Vista desktop search clearly violates the consent decree and limits consumer choice," says Google's chief legal officer David Drummond. "[The proposed changes] are a step in the right direction, but they should be improved further to give consumers greater access to alternate desktop search providers."

California attorney general Jerry Brown said: "This agreement - while not perfect - is a positive step towards greater competition in the software industry. It will enhance the ability of consumers to select the desktop search tool of their choice."