Microsoft accuses Google of breaking Windows search

18 Jun 2009

Google's new Outlook Sync tool disables Windows Desktop Search upon installation

Microsoft has accused Google of breaking Windows Desktop Search with its new Outlook plug-in for Google Apps.

Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, which was launched just last week, is an effort to tempt companies away from Microsoft's Exchange servers, by allowing employees to use GMail and Google Calendar services through Microsoft Outlook.

However, Microsoft claims an unreported side-effect of installing the plug-in is that it cripples various search tools. "The installation of the Google Apps Sync plug-in disables Outlook's ability to search any and all of your Outlook data," Microsoft claims in a post on the Outlook Team Blog.

"When a Google Apps user installs the sync plug-in for Outlook, the plug-in modifies a registry key which disables Windows Desktop Search from indexing and providing search functionality for all Outlook data, not just the Outlook data being synchronised from GMail.

"Because Outlook search relies upon the indexing performed by Windows Desktop Search, Outlook search functions are broken as a result."

Microsoft notes that removing the Google plug-in won't restore the search feature, because the registry keys aren't fixed during the uninstallation process.

Furthermore, Microsoft claims Google's plug-in also disables the Microsoft Office Outlook connector, which allows Microsoft's Hotmail to synchronise with Outlook.

Google repairs

In a counter blog post of its own, Google admits its sync tool does cripple the search facilities. "Windows Desktop Search will not properly index Google Apps Sync data files, so in order to stop indexing from running indefinitely, the Google Apps Sync installer disables it," the company claims. "We recommend using the default Outlook search."

However, without the pre-indexing, the default Outlook Search will no longer offer the instant search results that Outlook 2007 users may have grown accustomed to.

Google also admits that its sync tool conflicts with other third-party software, including Adobe's PDF Maker Toolbar and PGP's encryption plug-in.

The search giant says it has updated the plug-in so that the necessary registry keys are now put back in place after its uninstalled, although users will first have to upgrade to the latest version of Google Apps Sync before uninstalling it.

The Google Apps Sync homepage still makes no mention of the fact that installing the plug-in will cripple Windows search.

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