IE Blog has a new article on how search works in IE7:
For readers who only skim and don’t want the details, here is how IE7 behaves:
Ultimately, the user is in control with IE7. Adding to and modifying the list of search providers and choosing a default provider is easy, safe, and open.
On upgrading from IE6 to IE7 on Windows XP, IE7 carries forward the user’s IE6 autosearch setting. On a brand new machine from an OEM (e.g. Dell), the OEM has complete control of what search providers are available and which one is the default.
We iterated with many different partners (primarily search providers and OEMs but also e-commerce businesses and end user advocates) and balanced much contradictory feedback en route to this plan.
We rejected requests that threatened user privacy. For example, one company wanted any arbitrary web page to be able to determine what search providers the end user had chosen and which provider was the default. We decided that sites could easily violate the user’s privacy if we provided this functionality. Would you really want anyone to know all of the types of search engines you’ve chosen and use that information without your consent?