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searched its inner hard drive and found the answer: Open Vista to


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The Redmond, Wash., software company will enable its latest operating system to search the user's hard drive with software from Google and other search engines, according to a status report from the Justice Department, which said late Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with Microsoft.

The agreement addresses a complaint Google made in April that Microsoft's Vista effectively violated Microsoft's 2002 antitrust settlement by preventing consumers from using Google's hard drive search software.

Microsoft has agreed to make it easy for computer makers to pick alternate software desktop-search programs as the default and to ensure that the default program will launch whenever Windows launches a search window, according to Justice. The changes are to be delivered in a beta version by the end of 2007.

The status report to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of federal court for the District of Columbia also said Microsoft is on schedule in providing technical documentation for its operating systems, as required under prior decisions of the court.