Sorry, Microsoft Surface Users: No Google Search App For You

Got a shiny new Microsoft Surface with Windows RT and want to search with Google? No can do. The Google Search app is only for Windows 8, and it seems like — amazingly enough — that’s because Google hasn’t gotten around to making one.

Postscript (Nov. 13): This is now finally available. See our story, Google Releases Search App For Microsoft Surface & Windows RT

Anyone searching the Windows Store for the Google Search app and using Windows 8 will find it easily, as shown below:

Google’s new “Get Your Google Back” site is even promoting a faster way to find the app, pointing people to this page:

As you can see, that page suggests that the app will work with both Windows and Windows RT. However, if you try to find the app by searching from Microsoft Surface, it doesn’t appear:

That’s because, as it turns out, the Google Search app doesn’t work with Windows RT. In fact, if you try to load it directly using the aforementioned app page, you get this error:

What’s going on? About four hours after initially posting this story, Google told me:

We always aim to have our products available to as many people as we can and plan to launch updated versions of the Google Search app over time.

Was there any reason it wasn’t up yet? Google gave no further answer. Google wouldn’t say if there was a delay because it hadn’t gotten around to making a Windows RT app or if perhaps Microsoft just hadn’t approved it for Windows RT.

I figured a Microsoft denial was more likely than Google not being on the ball enough to have its app ready for Windows RT. After all, Google already missed an opportunity to provide Apple iOS 6 users with a Google Maps app by apparently not anticipating one would be needed. Why would Google make the same mistake with Windows RT?

But that seems to be the case. About an hour after Google’s statement came in, Microsoft told me this:

You’d have to ask Google, but apparently their search app doesn’t work on ARM devices. We just checked the app details in the Windows Store and ARM is not listed as a supported architecture.

In other words, Google has the Google Search app approved and listed in the Windows Store, and the reason it doesn’t appear for Windows NT users is because Google itself has tagged that app as not being supported for them.

Until Google creates a Windows RT version, those who want to search with Google on Surface and other Windows RT devices will have to go to Google directly and search from its home page.

Alternatively, there is an option to change Internet Explorer to use Google by default (initially, I thought this wasn’t the case). There’s no native control for it, but it can be done if you know to go to the Internet Explorer Gallery, then find the Google add-on. Even then, on Surface, I couldn’t get this to install. The button wouldn’t click.

As for Chrome, Google also told me this:

Our understanding is that Windows on ARM [Windows RT] will not support a version of the Chrome browser. Internet Explorer will be the only desktop web browser on ARM-based devices.

Won’t support an alternative browser because it’s not technically capable of it or because it’s not being allowed? Again, Google wouldn’t say. But Microsoft suggests this isn’t something it’s blocking, telling me:

With Windows RT we’re committed to meeting customer expectations for core experiences while also giving customers the choice of a wide range of applications and services from other providers, all easily accessed from the Windows Store. If developers want to build a browser for Windows RT devices they can do so through the Windows Store, similar to other mobile device ecosystem

Postscript (8:15pm ET): Joshua Toplosky from The Verge tweeted to me there is a way to change, if you go to Internet Explorer via the Windows RT desktop, rather than trying to change it through the native “Modern UI” interface. Right now, I can’t test that this works.

There are two methods, the same as described here by Microsoft for Internet Explorer 9. In one, you select control gear icon, then Manage Add-Ons, then Search Providers, then Find More Search Providers. That should load the Google add-on I mentioned above. Whether this works, I can’t test, because the entire Internet Explorer gallery is done. The same error happens if I try the other method, to “Add” from the address bar.

Postscript 2 (9:15pm ET): Success. IE Gallery came back up, and I was able to change the default in IE on the desktop. After doing that, and restarting Surface, IE changed when running in the native “Modern” tiled-baed interface, as well. The process could be a lot easier, but it remains there for IE users.

As for searching using the main “search charm” feature of Windows RT, that awaits Google releasing its own Google Search app for Windows RT.

Postscript (Nov. 13): This is now finally available. See our story, Google Releases Search App For Microsoft Surface & Windows RT.

Related Articles

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Internet Explorer | Microsoft: Windows | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • floatingbones

    Paul Thurott said that the Surface has a 30-day no-cost return policy. You could return yours — and continue your tablet search elsewhere (so to speak).

  • Pablo Almeida

    that’s why I hate Microsoft. They don’t understand, we luv Google, we’ll ever use Google!

  • Sprese

    It’s not about understanding. They’re direct competitors to Google and just wanna favor their own product: Bing.

  • Miami SEM

    >>> “However, if you try to find the app by searching from Microsoft Surface, it doesn’t appear”

    MSFT banned /gave Google Search a -950 penalty for having too many ads above the fold, for not adding enough unique and compelling content (just scrapped stuff filled with dozens of deceiving ads on top) and for misleading users on ads vs content, spying on users habits and a lot more. I am sure Danny and Matt Cutts will understand this: it’s Microsoft’s product and they have a free speech right to choose what they show to users. Of course Google can do whatever they want, but MSFT doesn’t have to include or worse, rank them highly. Competition is one click or walk (to the store) away.

    Go Danny, defend MSFT’s right to free speech.

    Freddy Santana (not anonymous so do not delete it Danny)

  • Daniel Haim

    This is so lame.

  • Daniel Haim

    This app is not complied to work with processor.

  • Truthhz

    I guess Google engineers don’t know how to compile to ARM. ;)
    The Google Search app is marked as x86 / x64 ONLY. That’s why it will not appear in Win RT app store. Google should remove the incorrect information from their website or release an ARM version of app.

  • fuyao

    So you love the crap and boring Google.

  • Truthhz

    Regarding browser issue. Anybody can make a browser for RT. The problem is MS like Apple restricts the use of certain APIs to third parties. This would put other browsers at a performance disadvantage compared to IE. But that hasn’t stopped Google from releasing Chrome on iOS.

  • John Whitehead

    Yes, the lack of Google search, Chrome and the ability to use third party video players such as Power DVD is a big disappointment. I bought Surface to use as a travel companion with primary goal of watching VOB files. Hopefully, there will be apps released in the near future to allow this as well. If not, I will be looking at the pro version in January. :(

  • Joshua Coy

    idk why everyone is complaining of Windows RT not having a Google app. You can just open IE10, go to, and search from there. Does everything the app most likely would. Well, that was easy wasn’t it?

  • Saevum DinoMite

    Wait … you hate Microsoft because they allow Google to have an app run on Windows RT, but Google hasn’t submitted an app that will run on Windows RT? Or because Microsoft will allow Google to have a Chrome browser run on Windows RT, but Google hasn’t submitted a Chrome browser that will run in Windows RT? Which is it?

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    google is talking so much crap here… and its funny!
    they didn’t compiled the App to be able to be run in ARM, end. its not Microsoft doing anything.
    i understand games not being ARM compatible before, because there wasn’t ARM hardware (like surface RT) available to test them. but a google search App? well it was googles fault not being in ARM.
    and Microsoft doesn’t stop them from making a browser, but they make excuses and want to make Microsoft look “evil” here, only because they are lazy to rewrite their browser for WinRT.
    and if they cant compile their crappy searching App to ARM, i really doubt they would be able to port their browser to winrt.

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    wow… you dont even know what you are talking about.
    Microsoft has nothing to do with Google not knowing how to make their apps ARM compatible.
    are you being serious or its you just being plain dumb? because i will say it again and in caps so you will understand. ITS GOOGLE’S FAULT, they didn’t sumbit their App with ARM, and Microsoft DONT STOP other companies from making a web browser but it has to be written for WinRT like it or not. so its Mozilla, Google, Opera, Maxthon.. etc, choice, if they want to rewrite or not their browser for WinRT.

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    i dont know whats more silly, the comment above or yours. did you even read the article? have at least seen App details and how it says: x86 AND x64 only?
    so its Google who didn’t compiled their App for ARM!

    well… maybe you should google how to learn to read an article and use your brain before posting a comment? ;)

    oh and its not like the App its the greatest thing on earth, you could just go to IE, pin to your start screen and you can Access it with just 1 click.
    or what now you will say it cant be done because Microsoft wants to favor Bing?

  • Jayme Cousins

    I must be missing something here. No Google App (because Google didn’t make one)? No problem. Use a web browser to do a web search. There’s a site called which might be useful.
    Does the Google App do something different than what the web site offers?

  • warcaster

    Why would you even need a “Search app”. It’s called a bookmark. Geez.

  • warcaster

    But they have no need to endorse Windows RT right now.

  • chromaniac

    I have used the Google Search app on Windows 8. It seems to be running on Internet Explorer rendering engine. Does not make sense why they are not supporting RT yet.

  • Jason Falter

    Microsoft stated a long time ago that IE would be the ONLY browser on RT. That isn’t news. News would be Microsoft lying about others being able too make browsers for RT.

  • Angry Nil

    The only party lying here is you.

  • Danny Sullivan

    I actually haven’t seen a lot of people complaining, but the reason some might is that it’s easier — and in fact become more the default over time — for people to search from built-in interfaces.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Yes. Many computer, either because they were set that way by default or because the user prefers it, will allow you to search against Google or Yahoo or Bing from your browser’s address bar. That’s faster than going directly to a search engine’s home page.

  • Kobe’s Inner Voice

    this is what white people talk about on a Saturday night.

  • quidpro

    OH GOD! What will I do without a Google Search App? On the device I don’t have? Until they make one later?!

  • Ruben Martinez Jr.

    I always download the Google Search app on all my devices: iPad, iPhone, whatever. Never use it. Always go to because it’s easier. Don’t understand what the hubub is about.
    Now, no Chrome browser for RT? That’s a bigger let down.

  • WonTann

    lol, you have to admit that is pretty funny.

  • Danny Sullivan

    You need it because Windows 8 is designed to route people through a common search interface, and without a Google Search app, those who want to use it can’t.

  • narg

    Google has never had an “App” for PCs, why all the bother now?!?!? Idiots.

  • narg

    Firefox is out already isn’t it???? You should do your homework dude.

  • Alberto Duarte Moreira

    As a developer I know how easy is for a app to run in ARM. Just submit the app! by default the app is set to be compiled for all arquitectures, they had to uncheck arm support! About working in Arm, if a app works in Metro Style environment, it works either in metro either in x84! in the limite could exist a performance issue, because x86 processors are faster, but for what I had experienced in the app it does seem to do eavy operations that could ot work well in ARM

  • Danny Sullivan

    I’m not sure who you’re calling idiots. If it’s about why Google doesn’t have an app, and that not being some type of an issue, it is — that is, if Google wants people searching with Google easily. Surface isn’t a full PC. An app makes a huge difference in being able to search with Google. In fact, with the way Windows 8 has changed, it makes a huge difference there, too.

  • narg

    Ok, you made it easy to point out who… Surface RT is not a full PC, but Surface will be. Not to mention all the other 3rd party Windows 8 tablets that are already here and more coming. And App makes a difference on a phone, NOT on a tablet or PC. Please feel free to dig yourself deeper.

  • Shane Peiris

    has anyone managed to get google hangouts working on the surface yet?
    wouldn’t allow me to install the audio/video plugin
    Also haven’t been able to install other activex from other sites I was hoping to use….anyone got any ideas?

  • shenzhen2112

    I just hit the search charm and find what I want… why do I need an app?

  • shenzhen2112

    Google is Evil. Wake up. Have you been reading tech press this year? I used to luv Google. Revise your opinion once in a while buddy.

  • Douglas Kirschman

    Where and when did they say that? Please provide a source.

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