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Google Search app for Windows Phone 7, a decent Bing alternative

Windows Phone 7 owners now have another choice of Internet search engine, thanks to Google's new app, available from the Marketplace.

Google has made a search app available for Windows Phone 7 handsets, an interesting move considering its rivalry with Microsoft in terms of both mobile phones and search engines.

The first release of the Google Search app will have a number of features that many of you will be familiar with, such as suggestions appearing as you type, and the ability to check your location to provide more results suited to you. There's no Google Instant for you just yet, though. The app is available as a free download. Just look through the Marketplace for Google Search, download the app, pin to Start, and it'll appear as a tile.

If you've used a Windows Phone 7 device, you'd have noticed the Bing search engine is tied into the experience. Of the three dedicated hardware buttons on a Windows Phone 7 handset, one opens up the Microsoft search engine, and can't be changed. 

Whether that's a good thing or not depends on how much you care about having the freedom to choose your own search engine. Bing does work very well on Windows Phone 7, and it makes sense to put it front and centre, but it doesn't seem fair that Microsoft's own engine is tied exclusively to the hardware button. confirms Bing is also coded into the operating system, so you can't use a different default engine.

On iOS and Android devices, you're free to choose which default search engine you use. Search is a vital part of Microsoft's business, but its exclusive approach could some day lead to accusations of Bing being forced on to mobile users, the same way Microsoft was eventually accused of forcing Internet Explorer on new PCs.

We don't know whether many people will bother going to the Marketplace to download the Google Search app when the OS encourages you to use Bing, but at least it's an option. If you have a Windows Phone 7 handset, give both engines a go, and let us know how they compare.