(CNET news.com) Google searchers can now refine their search results based on location. The new "Nearby" feature is available in Google's Search Options panel. It defaults to users' current location, which can be further refined to include their city, region, or state.
(Guardian) Google is facing a preliminary anti-monopoly probe by the European Commission into its dominant position in online browsing and digital advertising following allegations that it demotes competing websites to the lower echelons of customers' search results. The Silicon Valley internet company revealed that the commission has sent out formal questionnaires seeking information about complaints from three firms ? the British price comparison site Foundem, a French legal search engine called eJustice and a shopping site, Ciao, which is owned by Microsoft. The complaints centre on the way in which Google's search results are compiled and on the terms and conditions the company attaches to deals with advertisers. Although the commission's investigation is only at a tentative stage, the fact that Brussels is taking the issue seriously is likely to set off alarm bells at Google. See also Exclusive: How Google's Algorithm Rules the Web (Wired) and blog post by Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow responsible for ranking, explains the principles behind its algorithm.
(RAPID) The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the internet search and search advertising businesses of Yahoo! Inc. by Microsoft. The Commission concluded that the concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
(SC Magazine) The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is working with Microsoft to produce a version of Internet Explorer 8 that will give parents and children easy access to advice and information. The customised 'Click CEOP' browser has been developed by Microsoft to provide users with the opportunity to customise their browser so that they can get direct access to CEOP's advice pages. There they will see all issues covered from cyber bullying and viruses through to sexual abuse and inappropriate content - advice that is kept contemporary by signposting to and input from organisations such as Childline, the Internet Watch Foundation, Get Safe Online and Beatbullying. see also Government advice: Browse safely with Microsoft (BBC) by Rory Cellan-Jones.
(New York Times) 83 children, ages 7, 9 and 11 participated in a study on children and keyword searching. Sponsored by Google and developed by the University of Maryland and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, the research was aimed at discerning the differences between how children and adults search and identify the barriers children face when trying to retrieve information.
(RAPID) The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding commitments offered by Microsoft to boost competition on the web browser market. The commitments address Commission concerns that Microsoft may have tied its web browser Internet Explorer to the Windows PC operating system in breach of EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position. Microsoft commits to offer European users of Windows choice among different web browsers and to allow computer manufacturers and users the possibility to turn Internet Explorer off. Microsoft is also publishing an undertaking whereby it commits to make far-reaching interoperability disclosures. See Your Internet, Your Choice: Microsoft web browsers decision (RAPID) Opening remarks by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy at press conference Brussels, 16th December 2009.
(BBC) Newspaper publishers will now be able to set a limit on the number of free news articles people can read through Google. The concession follows claims from some media companies that the search engine is profiting from online news pages. Under the First Click Free programme, publishers can now prevent unrestricted access to subscription websites. Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages.
(Net Family News) Google has a new feature that lets parents lock the computers kids use into the strictest SafeSearch setting. All parents need to do is log into their Google account on any computer the kids use, click on Settings, then Search Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the page. On the page that takes you to, scroll down to SafeSearch Filtering and click "Lock SafeSearch." Here's a little 95-sec. demo and Google's Help page on the locking tool. The only thing to remember is that you need to do this with any browser used on that computer - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.
(Business Week) Google and Microsoft will incorporate information culled from social media sites into search pages. Microsoft said its Bing search engine will let users search for Twitter posts known as tweets and, later, for status updates posted to Facebook pages. Google will also include Twitter updates in search results and that it will begin offering a social search tool that delivers information posted by a searcher's friends on social sites.
(BBC) Yahoo and Microsoft have announced a long-rumoured internet search deal that will help the two companies take on chief rival Google. Microsoft's Bing search engine will power the Yahoo website and Yahoo will in turn become the advertising sales team for Microsoft's online offering. Yahoo has been struggling to make profits in recent years. But last year it rebuffed several takeover bids from Microsoft in an attempt to go it alone.
(RAPID) The European Commission can confirm that Microsoft has proposed a consumer ballot screen as a solution to the pending antitrust case about the tying of Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser with Windows. This followed extensive discussions with the Commission which centred on a remedy outlined in the January 2009 Statement of Objections whereby consumers would be shown a "ballot screen" from which they could - if they wished - easily install competing web browsers, set one of those browsers as a default, and disable Internet Explorer. Under the proposal, Windows 7 would include Internet Explorer, but the proposal recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of web browser, and sets out a means - the ballot screen - by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved. In addition OEMs would be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and disable Internet Explorer should they so wish. The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice.
(EPC) Senior members of the publishing world are presenting to Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding and Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, a landmark declaration adopted on intellectual property rights in the digital world in a bid to ensure that opportunities for a diverse, free press and quality journalism thrive online into the future. see the Hamburg Declaration. The declaration started life as a regional initiative in Germany and then enjoyed nationwide support. Now, with the support of members of EPC and WAN-IFRA, the "Hamburg Declaration" has become an important international initiative. see also Working with News Publishers (Google European Public Policy Blog).
(Computerworld) Microsoft has added a separate domain to its Bing search service just for pornographic images and video. No, Microsoft isn't getting into the smut business. Instead, the company is trying to make it easier for companies and organizations to filter explicit images out of search results. Mike Nichols, general manager of Microsoft Bing, said in a blog post that potentially explicit images and video content now will be coming from one separate domain - explicit.bing.net.
(Economist) The latest internet search engine is Wolfram Alpha. Instead of serving up a list of popular links to other sites that contain the search term picked by a user, Alpha is a more-or-less closed system. It tries to dissect a question into its components and then performs calculations, using its own source materials, to compute an answer. The results are presented as a sleek collage of tables, charts and graphics. Alpha takes a different approach to the automation or "crowdsourcing" normally used to generate knowledge from the web. In that sense it is more like (and may be more threatening to) Wikipedia than Google.
(BBC) Google has launched two experimental products it hopes will change the way users search for pictures and news. A feature known as Similar Images uses a picture rather than text to find other matching images. Timeline presents information already available in Google News but organised and displayed chronologically. Alongside these features is a new version of Google Labs, in which users can take a peek at what its thousands of engineers are working on. Amid past criticism that Google has wasted too much time and effort on projects that have little impact, the aim of the Labs upgrade is to make prototypes available earlier.
(FT) Google has sought a seat at the table in influencing the new restrictions that European regulators are set to impose on Microsoft's browser business, as it officially staked out a position against Microsoft in the software company's latest anti-trust battle with Brussels. The move comes after the European Commission filed a statement of objections against Microsoft, taking issue with its practice of "tying" its Internet Explorer browser with its dominant Windows PC operating system. In a blog posting, Sundar Pinchai, product manager for Google's Chrome browser, said that the internet company had applied to become a "third party" in the case.
(New York Times) One day last summer, Google's search engine trundled quietly past a milestone. It added the one trillionth address to the list of Web pages it knows about. But as impossibly big as that number may seem, it represents only a fraction of the entire Web. Beyond those trillion pages lies an even vaster Web of hidden data: financial information, shopping catalogs, flight schedules, medical research and all kinds of other material stored in databases that remain largely invisible to search engines.
(BBC) The European Commission has accused Microsoft of harming competition by bundling its Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system. The commission said it had reached the preliminary view that the US software giant had undermined consumer choice and infringed EU rules. See Antitrust: Commission confirms sending a Statement of Objections to Microsoft on the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows (RAPID). The Commission believes that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world's PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match. The Commission is concerned that through the tying, Microsoft shields Internet Explorer from head to head competition with other browsers which is detrimental to the pace of product innovation and to the quality of products which consumers ultimately obtain. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the ubiquity of Internet Explorer creates artificial incentives for content providers and software developers to design websites or software primarily for Internet Explorer which ultimately risks undermining competition and innovation in the provision of services to consumers.
(Economist) Google's new web browser is its most direct attack on Microsoft yet. Several years ago, Silicon Valley was rife with rumours that Google, then primarily a search engine, might be building a new web browser to rival that of Microsoft, called Internet Explorer (IE), or even an operating system to rival Microsoft's Windows. Google mocked those rumours and they died down. But if Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, is to be believed, the speculation itself made him think that "maybe it's not a bad idea". And so this week Google did launch a new browser, called Chrome, that is also, in effect, a new operating system. The rumours, says Mr Brin cheekily, "just happened to migrate from being false to being true."
(Economist) And so Yahoo! survives. The internet company?which, at the age of 14, is one of the oldest?appears in the end to have rebuffed Microsoft, the software Goliath that wanted to buy it. It has done so, in part, by surrendering to Google, the younger internet company that is its main rival. In a vague deal apparently designed to confuse antitrust regulators, Yahoo! is letting Google, the biggest force in web-search advertising, place text ads next to some of Yahoo!'s own search results. Google thus controls some or all of the ads on all the big search engines except Microsoft's. Yahoo! lives, but on the web's equivalent of life support.
(OUT-LAW News) Three major record labels have launched court actions against three Chinese internet companies accusing them of building a business on copyright infringement. One of them is China's biggest search engine, Baidu.com. Music trade body The International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) said that it, Warner, Sony BMG and Universal have all filed suits against Baidu, Sohu and a company associated with it, Sogou. The actions demand that the internet firms remove links from their services to copyright infringing material in which the three firms hold rights.
(BBC) Google has launched a new search service for mobile phones, promising "faster" and "more relevant results". The facility gathers regular and mobile web results, news, images and local listings, meaning people no longer have to specify a type of search. An improved "local search experience" is based on Google's belief that mobile search is more often used to find area information such as cinema listings. The service is now available in the UK, France, Germany and Canada. It has been available in the US since March last year.
Hackers loaded up more than 40,000 Web pages with malicious software and thousands of common search terms. They then employed an automated network of malware-infected computers--known as a botnet--to link to those sites in blog-comment spam and other places. The mentions elevated the position of the poisoned sites in search results, often to the first page.
(The New York Times)
Google seems to be doing everything. It takes pictures of your house from outer space, picks fights with Hollywood and tries to undercut Microsoft?s software dominance. But Google remains a search engine. And its search pages, blue hyperlinks set against a bland, white background, have made it the most visited, most profitable and arguably the most powerful company on the Internet.
(Reuters) The art of trend-spotting is set to take a more scientific turn as Google, the world's top Web search company, is expected to unveil a service to track the fastest-rising search queries. Google Hot Trends combines elements of Zeitgeist and Trends--two existing Google products that give a glimpse into Web search habits, but only in retrospect based on weeks-old data.