The European Commission may force PC users to choose between Microsoft's Internet Explorer and other browsers when they set up a new machine. That's according to Microsoft's second-quarter 10-Q SEC filing, which claims the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and PC vendors to "obligate" users to chose their browser when …
Gonna be funny
Since Windows Update only works with IE (prolly because WU uses ActiveX, that invention of the devil). MS will have to rework WU to work without IE and ActiveX.
I'm sure they'll make a complete hash of it. Deliberately or through sheer incompetence I can't say.
Hardy, har, har!
Harder than it should be?
This would be so simple if Windows just came with a package manager.
Put a little MakeTheInternetsWork.BAT script on the desktop, it prompts you and runs sudo apt-get install your-favorite-browser, and you're off and running.
"Where did the internets go?"
"Double-click MakeTheInternetsWork and click on the E or the fox"
Instant crazy-legislation compliance, easy to install a browser without bogging down the install process, and it only cost you maybe a day of some intern's time.
So long as they still don't force users into IE when we visit Microsoft sites, that'll be good. However, I can still see all sorts of ways for Microsoft to corrupt this particular solution to their illegal/unethical business practices w.r.t. browsers. Still, it's nice to see at least ONE government putting its people (the consumers) first and taking a hammer to this company. Warms the cockles that does.
They might also allow updates to be run from another browser, rather than the current 'sorry you must be using the world least insecure browser to downloads these security updates' message you now get.
For the best
I want MS to unbundle IE from the OS. Not because of the legal reasons stated here but because IE's integration is probably responsible for 90 percent of most infections on PC's since windows 98. MS spends millions trying to secure IE and they never can. In the end, its always IE getting infected and then taking the whole freaking OS down with it. MS should be doing this willingly. Not just in the EU either.
The EU is truly the land of the whackies!
In my case, it's a "PC". A Personal Computer = I make the choices of software to load and run.
I hate IE, but what if I wanted to install ALL compatible browsers?
EU = supreme asshats.
Apple - Safari
I am assuming that the same will apply to Apple and Safari?
So why don't they sue Apple for supplying OSX pre-loaded with Safari or any of the choose-your-own distos lumped with FF. Hell why don't the force them all to offer at least one additional choice. Whats good for the goose and all that crap.
Not so easy to avoid safari
It is not so easy to avoid safari on Macs. The default is Safari unless the user changes it after install time. Even if the user changes the default away from Safari, I find that the defaults will occasionally magically revert back to Safari. Safari is never gone, many parts of it appear to be as entwined into OS X as IE is in MS Windows. If MS manages to make a browser other than IE the true default, it will have done something that Apple has not done. Even pre-Safari the default was whatever browser happened to have control at the time.
Why only MS?
I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed - does this mean that it will have to be removed now? Surely in the interestes of fair legislation, this would have to be the case.
I know I'll get a response along the lines of "you can just install a different browser with the package manager", but I can just as easily install a different browser by going to Firefox.com or any number of other sites, on a Windows machine as well.
Whilst I'm not a big fan of MS, this seems to be a case of attacking them just because they are the biggest and yet letting others (Apple comes with Safari after all) do exactly the same with no penalty.
So what will the choices be?
So when Microsoft set up their "Please choose a browser" panel of the Internet Setup Wizard (which is probably the form this will take), how will it know what browsers to push? Will it just be the Big Four (IE, FF, Opera, Safari) or will it have to fetch a list from... somewhere? What happens when some other minority-browser company releases their own "SurfXtremePro 1.0" and then complains because their 0.00001% market-share browser isn't included in the setup? Will Microsoft charge rival browser companies to have their browsers listed in the setup wizard? (Yeah, most likely!) How will the EU react to that kind of behaviour - especially if the fee (as is likely) is beyond the means of a lot of other browser vendors? How many dozen browsers will the user have to pick from if it isn't? What if Microsoft place IE in the first position knowing that most users will just automatically pick the first one in the list - especially if it's selected by default? (You know how it is: Next... click 'I Agree', next... next... select connection type, next... enter username and password, next... next... finish) What will the EU do about that and other similar egregious marketing exploits designed to maintain IE market share?
While I certainly commend the EU on its valiant efforts to rid the world of the digital pox that is IE, I can't help thinking that this legislation is going to open a huge can of worms down the track, and Microsoft will in any case find a load of little ploys to circumvent it anyway...
If someone chooses not IE, will they get a proportion of their money back? I seriously doubt it. Even if the law required it, Microsoft would make it more hassle than it is worth.
The real solution is to do it the other way around: OEM's should be forbidden from paying Microsoft. If they want to install windows, it should be a free demo version only. Customers who want Windows could then pay Microsoft directly to get an upgrade.
The biggest problem is the reliance on IE for Windows Updates etc
Safari in Mac OS X can quite easily be changed from being the default browser when you install something else e.g. firefox. I've never noticed an issue where it will start to make itself default again.
IE in Windows however is so embedded into the system that you can't avoid it as it's used for software updates. I have never understood why Windows simply can't have something like Mac OS X where software updates are done by a stand-alone application. They really have no business being done by IE, which is known for massive security holes!
There are various other installation processes which seem to insist on using IE.
Also, Hotmail suddenly seems to only work with IE. I had terrible trouble using it with Firefox and with Google Chrome recently, yet it flies along on a Mac in Safari and in Firefox... strange?!
MSN Messenger also opens IE whether you like it or not if you click on any links that fire up a browser.
The other one that really annoys me is that Office 2007 ignores your choice of default email application and will open Outlook if you try to do email something as an attachment from inside word, excel etc
Yet, Office 2008 on Mac OS X will use Apple Mail or Thunderbird and not open MS Entourage (Outlook for Macs) if you do the same thing.
I think the EU's right on this. MS is still ignoring the rulings.
> I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed
What a silly knee jerk response!
And blatantly untrue. When installing KDE version of Ubuntu for example, the default browser is Konqueror.
But besides that, the issue here is a legal one. Monopolies are not illegal. Yes Microsoft owns the desktop o/s market. But it is illegal to use your monopoly in one market (desktop) to monopolise another market (desktop browser). Illegal in the EU. Illegal in the US. Illegal most elsewhere in the world.
And this is not the case with Ubuntu - if anything, apt-get (with is various front-end GUIs) give you the user an incredible range of choice of what s/w you want on your desktop.
Unlike Microsoft (that does *not* provide you with the choice of installing and using a different browser, or media player.. or anything else for that matter).
re: Gonna be funny
Without ActiveX, they won't be able to force WGA on people anymore. It will not be missed.
Betcha MS values the invaluable browser at $0.00 though.
This would be so simple if Windows just came with a package manager
It does - msiexec.exe
@Gareth Edwards and "Why only MS?"
Why is Ubuntu a monopoly as well? You can't have 2 monopolies. Corrective action: make the browser an option. BTW Did MS ever pay the billion Euro fine they received about a year ago? I can't remember what that was for. Maybe everyone else has forgotten as well, and they've got away with it.
What's good for goosing?
> So why don't they sue Apple for supplying OSX pre-loaded with
> Safari or any of the choose-your-own distos lumped with FF.
> Hell why don't the force them all to offer at least one additional
> choice. Whats good for the goose and all that crap.
What you are missing here is that Microsoft is a convicted monopolist. Separate rules apply to convicted monopolists to deter (in theory, prevent) them from using their power to further distort the market and destroy competition.
Your remark is rather like suggesting everyone should be banned from living near schools rather than just convicted paedophiles
Re: Gonna be funny
Windows Update doesn't run from the browser any more - in Vista, it gets its own control panel applet (although it may well use IE to render the interface under the surface)
@Moss Icely Spaceport
Maybe it's just Microsoft weasel words, maybe it's they (Microsoft) that are being forced to give users a choice.
To everyone who whines about Apple should be made to unbundle Safari from OS X - The reason that they don't have to is "because 95% of the world's personal computers run Microsoft's Windows PC operating system" (Neelie Kroes - European Commissioner for Competition Policy).
IE is free anyway. I can't remember them ever charging for it, or for new versions of it. So I don't know what money you would like to reclaim on it. Do you ask for a part-refund on every car you buy, just because you don't take it to its top speed every day? (Not that I'm suggesting IE is equivalent to top speed, just equating the similarities in using all of the available features).
As for Apple, well this ruling means bugger all unless it applies to everyone and every OS. MS should retaliate by making the same complaint about Jobs' lot.
As Steve Roper says though, how are they going to regulate who and which browsers get included? What happens when some minority browser demands to be included? There will have to be some fairly strict methods in place to evaluate each candidate to decide which get in and which don't. I forsee many small legal battles resulting in a list of shitty browsers, pages long to choose from.
The funny thing is that most people will still choose IE, quite a few choosing Firefox or Chrome, and still hardly anyone will use Opera.
Most linux distros include serveral browsers
Most Linux distributions install several browsers. If you install a KDE based distro you usually have koqueror and Firefox installed and enabled by default. Also most open source browsers are featured in the package managers (or in the add / remove programs on Ubuntu) and can be installed without having to fire the default browser even once.
You can also remove Firefox from most distros, and you (or PC manufacturers) can easily make a custom install CD that doesn't install Firefox at all., so you have a lot more freedom of choice with Linux.
The idea of having a demo version of Windows instead of everybody having to pay for the full version weather they need it or not is quite nice. People without an internet connection could just buy an activation code at the shop, and anybody installing Linux wouldn't have to go through all the trouble to get reimbursed.
Which browsers appear in the setup menu? Does anything stop an OEM just creating an unattended.sif file that choses IE for you? Almost certainly not. If you don't chose IE during setup, can you get it back later if you need it for something? For example, if FF won't start, and you don't have another browser installed, can you just add IE from Programs and Features? Does anything stop an end user from removing all their browsers?
The question I'm most interested in, is why does anyone honestly think this makes any diference? All US copies of Windows will still have IE as the default, almost every pirate copy will be ripped from a cheaper US DVD, and the retards that have been using IE all this time will still pick it from their choices in Europe. The only people who'll pick something else are people who either would have installed it anyway, or techies forcing not-IE their clients.
That's assuming Windows I Edition (or whatever it ends up being called) is even widely available. Did anyone who doesn't build PC's for a living even so much as SEE a copy of Windows N?
Re: Why only MS, why not [...]?
Because only MS (not Apple, not Canonical/Ubuntu/Linux) have been tried and found guilty of abuse of monopoly. LiSTeN uP at the back, paytards.
Why only MS? Possibly because they have been busted multiple times by the EU (and the US, for that matter) over dodgy business behaviour, and never made any significant effort to toe the line despite being fined billions, whereas Apple and Canonical haven't (yet). Or maybe it's because they are the only company with a 90% market share on the consumer desktop. Or maybe it's a bit of both.
Similarly, I'm sure Mr Vikram Patel's phone-booth sized corner shop might be able to bend the employment rules a bit more than, say, Wal-Mart. Once you become a globe-straddling colossus of capitalism, you need to mind your step, because people will be watching you.
".....as this already happens for Firefox users on the Mac...."
Windows too, I think you'll find. In my brief flirtation with FF not so long back, I had it as the Default browser and didn't see IE fire up once throughout the entire time I had it installed (a period of several weeks). Even the nice little address bar at the bottom fired FF by default when it was so set (yup, the one that was removed in SP3 'cos the EU thought it represented IE integration - incompetant lackwit fucktards that they are).
If you want a real target here, try a few of the Linux distros with FF installed and KDE as the desktop and see how many times Konqueror sets off into web land rather than handing over gracefully to the browser of choice.......
Another EC farce
Isn’t this all a farce?
Regardless of how much you like IE, the rendering engine behind IE is a core part of the operating system. Even if Microsoft removed all references to the engine, they would still need to include it in the OS just to keep 3rd party software working. Tons of applications use IE in their user interface. (I’ve used it many times to get a fancy GUI or for easy printing).
The most that Microsoft can do is to remove the IE icon from the desktop but there is nothing stopping users from doing this anyway. There will always be free alternatives to commercial browsers so I don’t see how any of the browser developers can hope to build a business model around selling a browser.
The EU rulling stands to just confuse users and provide no benefits to either users or browser companies. At least give us the IE icon so we can download our favourite browser.
European Commission = Clueless numpty asshats
Safari is Crap!!
But is still forced on Mac users. One rule for everyone.
The reason that MS is under this regulatory focus where others (ubuntu, apple etc) are not is because they do not have 90% or so market share.
That's what happens in democratic countries: If you get too big, you get regulated - just like BT in the UK. It's about extending choice.
EU is trolling
The EU is trolling. Microsoft have got a few quid in the bank and the EU sees it as a cash cow they can tap. So long as a browser (and for that matter a media player) is not actively prevented from working on a platform there is no problem. MS sell the OS and they bundle some stuff in with it. By this token surely we should be suing all the companies that include the crappy google toolbars rather than offering a choice of which crappy toolbar we have on our new PC.
How many users really want this choice. Most people use IE7 because all they want is a tool to access Facebook
Secondly, how many people have their PCs connected to the internet during setup? How will the installation routine download the requested browser?
Finally, I'll add my name to the list of people requesting the same treatment for Apple with their Safari/iTunes monopoly. I'm not sure the same is true for Linux, because all flavours I've used generally have at least two browsers installed, FF and Konquerer...
@ Gareth Edwards
Why only MS? because they are the only OS producer that is installed on 90%+ of computers, i.e., a monopoly. So yes, this IS a case of attacking MS because they are the biggest. You also have to take into account that this is the leftover of the "browser wars" of the 90s, but the legal wheels do not turn as fast as the IT wheels.
@Anonymous Coward, @R Cox, @Gareth Edwards
The point isn't that it's illegal to bundle software with an OS, it's that if you have a monopoly in one area then it's illegal to leverage it to gain a monopoly in another.
what if i dont like the calculator bundled with windows?
should i get a choice of other vendors calculators apps at install time?
wheres the perspective? as previously pointed out, whats good for the goose should be good for the gander...!
Simply have the install process select a random browser from everything that's had a release within the year previous to the install time.
Why the F$ck should they have to supply a OS with competitors products onboard !!!!
This really pisses me off this is the politicians trying to get a little bit of limelite by pretending to be there for the little guy striking out at the evil corperation.
jeez is it that hard / Unethical to open IE to download firefox ???
for the record i dont use IE i just think its bloody stupid that they have been attacked.
And as for web standards ??? dont even get me started
An OEM can already choose, they want Firefox, they ship Firefox. Ok, most don't because its easier not to fiddle and end up just shoving on the usual crap bundled software.
This is nothing more then and EU trying to do what they did with WMP. They forced MS to ship a version without it, and what happened? everyone ignored it since users wanted it integrated (shipping a handful licenses across the EU in 18 months is not a sign the EU did what consumers wanted), they wanted a media player integrated.
We have Windows shipping with IE, we have the whatever Apple products shipping with Safari, we have every Linux distro shipping with some browser justable (and yes, some ship without but the majority come with one). Is this about allowing us to choose at first boot a Mac running Firefox or IE? no it is not. Is it about allowing me to choose Opera on an iPhone on first boot? no it is not. Is it about allowing me to run a browser other than the distro comes with on first boot on Linux? no its not.
Like them, or loathe them, Microsoft provide everything Joe Public wants out of the box (and a lot more for when they want more later), but they fit the market. The EU running around after a couple of companies is just crazy when it will result in nothing but a harder time for the public. Yes people will whine its in there best interest, yet the majority of users like not having to think. They like everything just to be infront of them.
Flocke, shipping a demo version of an enter OS again does nothing but aggrevate the customer. Windows is a component, the OEM and in the end the consumer already chooses to pay for it. We have a choice of machines shipping with Linux, which are cheaper. But do they sell as much? no. Because no body wants them! Dell allows you to choose your OS on some machines. HP does the same. Many others also. If you really want no OS at all, just buy the components yourself and build your machine your way, or get an independant retailer to do so for you. There is realistically only one walled in garden and thats the Mac, but as always everyone just ignores them as they never do anything evil or find new and innovative ways to extract huge amounts of cash from its userbase.
Sony at one point shipped Vaio's with Firefox preinstalled. They then changed back to IE. To be honest have no idea why, but the choice is there for an OEM to ship an alternative browser out of the box. The majority don't and frankly can't be arsed to do so.
Shipping a browser integrated is a huge aid to the consumer. Without one you bring in a confusing choice for many. And that scares many users who want as few questions as possible. They don't want some browser, to them they have no clue what a browser is and will end up saying no to installing one, then wonder 10mins later why the internet no worky, and insist they never clicked anything. If the consumer wants an alternative browser, nothing is stopping them from getting online once the machines installed and installing whatever they like. They have the choice already!
Stop with the 'other OS' crap
Before we get a bridge load of trolls complaining about Apple & LINUX having a default browser, please remember that Windows is the only system you CANT remove the default, and even if you try some programs still start up IE instead of the one you selected as default.
Add to that the 'feature' that most MS sites won't work with non-IE browsers and you should see the problem here: it is all about MS making it impossible to fully use Windows without it, as well as the issue of suppressing other browsers through this means.
With Apple or LINUX you can change browser and it still ALL works.
As already pointed out, had MS separated the OS and browser years ago when the US asked and then capitulated on this issue, MS would have benefited by having a less insecure OS and happier customers. But bad anti-competitive business practice is hard to give up, a bit like smoking I suspect.
Tux, cause he knows about secure browsing for speciality bird videos...
Re: Not so easy to avoid safari
R Cox says "It is not so easy to avoid safari on Macs." FWIW, I maintain several Macs and they've all used Firefox as the default browser for years with no mysterious switching back to Safari. On some I still use Safari as a secondary browser and if it wanted to change the default on the sly it would have plenty of opportunity to do so, but it doesn't happen. I also don't see Safari entwined with MacOS like you do.
As for Windows Update requiring IE, why not use the Automatic Updates control panel and bypass IE?
@the various Apple bashers and other people who can't read
Per the very article you are responding to: "Opera alleged Microsoft was continuing to abuse its dominant position by tying its browser to Windows and by not following web protocols."
From this article we therefore must assume that the EC's decision is based on the findings that (i) Microsoft abuses its dominant position by typing its browser to its operating system; and (ii) Microsoft abuses its dominant position by having its browser not follow web protocols.
Neither OS X nor Ubuntu have a dominant market position. They are therefore not in a position to abuse their dominant position. This law is evaluated from the point of view of end effect on the market, not hypothetical abstracts.
The issue is not merely that the browser is installed with the OS, it is that it is tied to it. So the degree to which the OS is set up to break if the browser is uninstalled is relevant. Things like having Windows Update work through Internet Explorer only are presumably relevant.
Also part of the decision is Microsoft's unwilligness to follow web protocols. Conversely, both Apple and Canonical ship browsers that try very hard to follow web protocols.
Furthermore, the EC have made the ruling on the basis of a complaint. At present no complaints have been lodged against Apple or Canonical.
If you try to argue that this shows anti-Microsoft bias for the pure reason that Apple and Canonical bundle web browsers then all you are showing is that you aren't even close to understanding the issues at and and are probably just spouting your own prejudices.
Some less equal than others?
> If someone chooses not IE, will they get a proportion of their money back? I seriously doubt it. Even if the law required it, Microsoft would make it more hassle than it is worth.
Even if the law did require it, why should they? IE is offered by Microsoft as a free product, even if it does end up not being bundled with Windows itll still be a free product, why should they charge you less for not giving you something free?
Frankly as much as most people despise IE this entire legislation around not bundling it for competition reasons is nuts. What Microsoft do bundling IE with their software is no different whatsoever to what countless vendors do with countless products across all market sectors. My recently-aquired brand new Fiat came included with a Fiat-branded Blaupunkt radio. There was no option to not have this radio and I wasnt given a checklist on purchase to select the radio manufacture I wanted, but curiously I fail to see the EU injunction forcing fiat to allow me to choose between their preferred Blaupunkt, and a competing Sony, Kenwood, Pioneer, JVC et al. Hell, the car even came with half a tank of fuel, yet those evil bastards at the showroom never gave me the choice of whether it was BP or Shell fuel in the car.
I bought a Coolermaster PC case the other day. How dare Coolermaster strap 4 Coolermaster case fans inside it, when obviously the choice should be there on purchase for me to choose between their own fans, and ones made by Akasa, Zalman, Silverstone, and Sharkoon?
Oh wait, I guess they didnt because providing their own products included with the thing i'm buying rather than those of a competitor is the *bloody sensible obvious thing to do*, yet somehow only Microsoft get criminalised for it?
Not sure about having multiple browsers pre-installed. I'd rather have it run a wizard and offer up a selection of browsers (a bit like IE 7 does with search engines, you can choose an alternative from about 6 or so different search engines). As long a Microsoft don't make IE whatever the default choice then great. There is the issue though of banking sites and even some other sites only accepting Internet Explorer because the developers are too lazy to create a cross browser web site (Job Centre Plus I'm looking at you!).
With regards to Windows Update, Vista (and presumably Windows 7 and Windows 2008) don't actually use IE for Windows Update anymore. It has it's own program in control panel. In fact if you go to Windows Update in IE on Vista it tells you to use the Control Panel option.
And finally, with regards to Ubuntu and other Linux distros shipping Firefox (or Konqurer by default), again they could do the same and have some first run program which installs the users choice of browser, but then you could argue that the EU aren't as fussed about this as the Linux distro producers aren't abusing their position by now allowing the browser to be removed as it currently stands on Windows.
Why not do the most simple of things.....
....force MS to change the default homepage of any installation to be a page where all browsers are listed? Make it into a "How Do You Want To Surf The Internet?" thing and then bada-bing bada-bing - the unknowing user is using lynx.... :-O
@ R Cox
Getting rid of Safari on the Mac is as easy as dragging the application to the trash and emptying it (you can trash the various preference files as well if you want to be ultra-thorough, but they don't do anything other than use disk space). What is "entwined into OS X" is actually Webkit, which is a completely separate HTML rendering engine that any application can make use of (Entourage and Mail being the most obvious examples) without developers having to roll their own.
Is it just me....
but who thinks this is all a little silly now?
Let's make some real sweeping generalisations here. There are 2 types of people who use computers, us IT goons on here and every other IT site, and then the rest of the world.
Now, we obviously care about which browser we use. Some of us want addons, some want security, others want porn mode. But the other people, those normal people who know that the internet works by clicking the "Big Blue E", do they really need this? Do we really need to bamboozle them further.
The way I see it is that by bundling one browser, MS are giving everybody all they need. Lets face it, if you don't like IE, you fire it up once, download the setup file for your browser of choice, then leave IE to rot in software hell.
"I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed - does this mean that it will have to be removed now?"
Install the Konqueror package:
sudo apt-get install konqueror
And this includes a great alternative browser and many other useful things, e.g. file browsing, the fish protocol for access to files on a remote ssh server and ability to create image galleries. Firefox isn't a monopoly regardless of alternatives like Konqueror anyway, because by being open source any company can sell and support their own version of it, or the mainstream version for that matter.
And there was me thinking I could already choose which browser I wanted to use.
Clearly this "Firefox" thing on my PC is a mirage.
Why don't the EU grow up and learn something about computers?
Nice to see all the billions we pay to the EU being used for such ultra important decision making. What an absolute load of bo**ocks. Presumably Brussels thinks that computer users are incapable of downloading FF etc on thier own?? ( and yes, i know that there will be plenty of mouth-breathers who probably struggle to differentiate between the left and right buttons on a mouse but how is giving them a choice of browser going to improve things?). Whilst i have no love for the megalith that is MS this just smacks of giving them a kicking just for the fun of it.