Google filed an official complaint when Vista was released over the difficulty users had in using search technology which was not developed by Microsoft.
The search giant claimed that this put Microsoft in breach of its 2004 antitrust settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
"We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with all the States and the DoJ that addresses their concerns so that everyone can move forward," said Brad Smith, general counsel at Microsoft.
Under the terms of the new settlement users will be able to choose which search technologies they use and nominate any as the default, in much the same way as with browser technology.
Links can also be included in the start menu, and Microsoft has pledged to work with developers to iron out any bugs in customising the search tools for Vista.
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