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back to article Microsoft to EU: Cut me down, and Google will rule the world!

'Cut me down, and Google will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine,' Microsoft claims in its latest submission to the European Commission. Force Microsoft to carry rival browsers in Windows, says the underdog formerly-known as The Borg, and risk making Google's position in the search market even more dominant. …

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Stop

i dont fricking care - just make them work!

I don't care what search engine my browser defaults to. I'll change it.

i don't worry because I'm gonna use an open source browser that I know will be less evil than IE (hellfire, google chrome allows you to pick a search engine to use - wow including, it tells me, el reg!)

I do care if I can't process system management without using a tied-in browser.

Just untie the fricking thing from Windows Update and we'll all be happy bunnies.

someone just slap them with.. well a 100kt haddock and tell they to just piss off.

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Star Wars reference

The quote sounds unmistakenly like Obi Wan Kenobi's words to Darth Wader: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine".

Except that Microsoft has reversed the sentiment of the original. I guess they are not strong in The Force. :-)

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We're scared?

To me, this looks like an attempt at 'displacement activity' from frightened entity. It's not likely to work.

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Flame

But we want a search monopoly... *waaaah*

Are Microsoft seriously trying to say to the EU that the reason they should be allowed to keep a browser monopoly is because they have plans to use that to create a search monopoly?

Isn't that kind of behavior what got them in this mess in the first place?

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Opera's default search is actually Ask

Hit ctrl-Tab in Opera, and an Ask.com search input, is the first thing you see in the new Speed Dial window that opens. Most people use the search that is built into the chromework at the top right of the pane, of course, and Google is, indeed, in the dropdown list of options in that, search box. Uou can set it as your default search, but I can't recall whether it was Google, or infact, Ask, that was preselected at install time. Likewise, the search box in Firefox is actually a drop down, offering a list of options.

People tend to have these search boxes set to Google, simply because they want to be able to find the answers they need. Search isn't an ideological battle. Do a better job, and people will use your service. Before Google, everyone used to use Alta Vista - remember them?

Microsoft should really do more to get Live Search, or whatever they are going to call it next, added to the list of options in these browsers, rather than seeing the ownership of the browser as some sort of backdoor to owning the Web. The latter accusation tells more about Microsoft's intentions, than anything else. Sure, Google gets the top spot in Firefox, but then Google keeps forking money in Firefox's direction. It doesn't stop Firefox also having Yahoo and answers.com in it's list of alternative Search engines.

The real problem for Microsoft is it's track record, which iis what they are being judged on, here. On winning the browser wars, Microsoft did not respond with some huge Renaissance of ideas and fresh technologies: far from it. Instead, what we got was a near decade of stagnation and decline: a Web of Flash intros and kittens websites. Ten years on, and people are still getting excited about forms-based CMS, for goodness sake!

Microsoft doesn't want to own Web search because they have some serious and exciting ideas for it: it's so that Search can sit there in a corner of the screen in a dull grey rectangle, serving up apporoved content. The very best we could expect, is that there would be some registry hack, you could put in, to make the search look like a badly animated yellow dog.

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Anonymous Coward

You don't cut them down

you cut them up into a lot of different companies, and stop the monopoly position.

That is normally how these things are done, in fact doing it to both companies might be a wise move for everyone.

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Anonymous Coward

actaully

to all the haters this is perfectly valid, if you want to force ms to carry alternate brwosers and FORCE the user to select, each of those browsers should have multiple search options and FORCE the user to select which one. I don't really see a problem with that, only people that would have a double standards issue :P

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Star Wars reference

For the avoidance of doubt, that was not a quote from Microsoft. It was what I would describe as an imaginative paraphrase. (-:

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Flame

@By Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 11th May 2009 13:06 GMT

you mean google or microsoft? which one is in a monopoly position? I would think neither, actually...

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Alert

Why do all others default to google?

Is it because Microsoft serve thier customers with the best available? or the most self-centred greedy approach of using thier own low quality product as it earns them money?

Having paid microsoft real cash for a product I really dont want them serving me adverts. google are welcome to supply adverts as I have paid them nothing.

It would be interesting to be able to have an ad free account with google, I wonder how much the subscription would be? its never going to happen though as the biggest user base is what makes google attractive to advertisers.

If Microsoft actually had a useable search engine perhaps others would use it too...

There are four core problems:

Microsoft are shit at search.

Microsoft are shit at browsers.

Microsoft are shit.

Microsoft are greedy shits.

I dont see a problem with Google.

'Microsoft' software for idiots designed by commities of middle managers.

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Paris Hilton

I don't see the problem here.

So what if both Firefox and Opera have agreements with Google to default to Google for search, and Google has agreed with itself to do this with Chrome.

I am sure that an agreement with Mozilla and Opera could be reached, whereby Microsoft would pay a pre-determined sum of money and Mozilla / Opera would change their default search engine to Microsoft's offer (whatever it is). It is purely a matter of business. It is Microsoft's problem if they are not willing to pay this sum* in order to inconvenience Firefox and Opera users by making them change their search engine back to Google.

And I also think that even Microsoft knows that any user who tries both options will realize that:

1. Firefox is better than Internet Explorer

2. Google is better than MSN.

Microsoft's has to limit market exposure to the competition, or force users to use their products through web site incompatibility - but both of these approaches are failing.

* Please note that I do not in any way suggest this sum is small or reasonable, just that there is a sum which would suffice. Whether it would bankrupt Microsoft is a matter of conjecture...

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Anonymous Coward

well

"IE clearly still has a lot more of the market than it would have if it had to compete on a level playing field,"

Actaully in theory the playing field is quite level, as they are all bundled with different OS's (in operas case it is the sole option for the wii, not much of a OS as its a games console but still a fairly large user base for it!)

for the playing field to be level NONE of them could be bundled with ANY OS at all (including any linux distros).

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Let them compete equally.

Who says a home page has to be a search page?

Maybe all browsers should instead point to a page that then lists a load of potential homepages, sorted by category, so that people could then choose 'where they wanted to go today'.

Or maybe a list of popular ones (http://lifehacker.com/software/reader-poll/reader-poll-whats-your-browsers-homepage-247479.php)

Or maybe a quick wizard to determine a shortlist of suggested homepages.

Or maybe just some random website/page combo (http://www.labnol.org/software/browsers/change-browser-homepage/8139/)..

The possibilities are almost endless (http://www.endoftheinternet.com/)

maybe someone should start a homepage wiki.

ttfn

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Tom
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@Paul Murphy

'Where do you want to go today?" is a rhetorical question - I mean we wouldnt want anything nasty to happen to your data now would we?

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Boffin

Theory

"Actaully in theory the playing field is quite level, as they are all bundled with different OS's (in operas case it is the sole option for the wii, not much of a OS as its a games console but still a fairly large user base for it!)"

Your theory is dependant on the mistaken presumption that all operating systems have equal distribution on web-browsing devices. Microsoft's operating systems still enjoy much wider distrbution in that area than those of their respective competitiors, thus giving IE a competitive advantage as long as it is bundled in.

@Paul Murphy -- You may want to look at Opera's SpeedDial, which provides much of this functionality already. It doesn't have any default pages in it, but it does allow you to set up some (9 by default) web pages to come up as buttons to chose from, rather than a single home page. OEMs could certainly set up a pre-install image which filled those with search engines, their home page, etc.

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Thumb Up

It's true!

At the end of the day Microsoft are correct. The thing that annoys me is the only people complaining are the also rans and the nutty Linux geeks

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Thumb Up

I guess I was being sarcastic.

@Tom

A bit tongue in cheek - after all the company that used that slogan would like to force you to go to a particular page of their choosing, or at least not visit another particular page :-)

A bit like jumping into a taxi and the driver saying 'you don't want to go there (where you have asked to go) mate, why not go to (another destination) instead.' could you really believe the driver has your interests at heart?

Another approach would be that each browser had to go to the home page of their respective manufacturers site, at least that way everyone would be consistant and it's easily measurable.

ttfn

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Tom
Silver badge

@Paul Murphy Pt II

More a case of jumping into a taxi and having MS shoot the engine - in case you somewhere and discover you never wanted to go where MS took you in the first place. They tried to own the internet, and when they couldnt they tried to make sure it was of as little use to anyone as possible.

There should only ever be one broswer homepage on startup - about:blank. You'd get annoyed if you started your car for the first time and it drove you to the manufacturers accessory showroom wouldnt you?

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Silver badge

I for one welcome...

our monopolist Redmond and Mountain View-based browser and search overlords.

Actually I don't, but its the Reg comments section so someone had to say it.....

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Linux

@Defiant

Eh? Has "MS Word" been correcting your language so much you have lost the ability to flame Linux effectively and coherently?

I didn't notice any nutty (or otherwise) linux geeks or comments here.

I find that MS search is pretty poor at finding things myself, and it is not the default search on any of my ilnux installations.

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Stop

Don't Fill my new system up with more crap

I want IE. I don't want the choice forced onto me y filling up my shiny new computer with crap I didn't ask for. I am happy to have IE on my system and choose the browser by downloading the one of my choice,

The OS is already bloated enough without more shite installed. Under Windows 7 I can install Opera and remove IE or choose to keep it. I would much rather that than setup a new PC and then go an remove all the stuff I DIDN'T ask for.

If you cannot manage the simple task of installng a browser without someone spoon feeding it to you then quite frankly you didn't need or want it in the first place

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Bronze badge

at the knees

I can only hope that not only does Microsoft get cut down, but that they get cut down at the knees then some guy in a trenchcoat comes and kicks them in the balls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M8xJgQvbvc

Because it's what they DESERVE for putting me through 27 years of fucking pain dealing with their crap.

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Anonymous Coward

@James harrington, @ACs et al.

@James:

"If you cannot manage the simple task of installng a browser without someone spoon feeding it to you then quite frankly you didn't need or want it in the first place"

Which is rather missing the point here. You or I or anyone reading El Reg can do exactly as you suggest. However the 90% of users out there who have no IT knowledge beyond putting paper in their printer cannot. And do not need to. And these people are the ones that MS are concerned about with the creep to Googlifying everything. Most people use computers as tools, they have no desire or requirement to change their browser but they do pretty much all still need and want a browser in the first place.

@AC: RE Why do all others default to google?

"I dont see a problem with Google."

then you really need to get out more. Google are _really_ not a nice company, look up (Google if you will.....) their record on privacy / adwords / payments to ad subscribers etc. to see what I mean.

Regarding MS Monopoly:

it seems that there is always one player or another in the IT market with a monopoly. When I was at University (late 80's / early 90's) all the things people complain about MS doing now, people were complaining about Apple (desktops) and IBM (Servers/mainframes) doing then. In reality MS were the good guys breaking Apple and IBM monopolies. Now it is the other way round, with doses of Google (Good guys), Novell (Good guys and Bad guys) thrown in for good measure.

Sooner or later MS will lose their monopoly, this is a simple fact, either people will stop buying MS products or FOSS will finally get its act in gear and produce products that the majority of people want*. Then someone like Google or Apple or Oracle or IBM or Redhat or Ubuntu or Novell will be dominant** with a monopoly and everyone will hate them instead.

*Not a comment on whether linux is any good or not*** this is a comment on whether the majority of users use FOSS or MS products, and clearly the majority use MS.

**If linux takes over the OS crown then it is inconceivable that there will be anything other than one dominant distro and a bunch of niche / statement distros.

***Linux is actually not any good when all is said and done though. If you disagree ask yourself why people and companies believe a product that will cost them a lot of money and comes with very restrictive license terms is better value than one that is both free and free.

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Happy

@Daniel

"...rather than seeing the ownership of the browser as some sort of backdoor to owning the Web. "

What a charming and positive view of human nature you do have. It's quite beautiful.

Sadly past experience of MS is that is *exactly* what they view the browser market as being for. It it the reason a chunk of web sites don't render properly on other browsers, because their owners have skewed them to *need* IE.

One of the lessons of studying monopolists is that unless force is exerted on them from outside they lack *any* will to innovate. They prefer to spend the money on marketing incentives to lock people out. Why compete with someone who might challenge you when you can kill it in its cradle. It's the King Herod school of Management.

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Flame

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or MS just admitted that without their anti-competitive bullying methods they would just bite the dust?

Morning, napalm, smell of gasoline, victory, all that stuff. Burn'em, burn'em good!

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Anonymous Coward

Consistancy

Really, I'm hoping that the comission decides to do the same thing it did with WMP and just tells MS to produce a version without a browser to sit on the same shelf with regular Windows. The only result is that there's another box on the shelf at some stores. Noone ever buys those, since they don't cost any less than the regular version and it comes with less toys in the box. The end result is that nothing changes, but all the whiny people have to go away because they won the argument.

The idea that MS should just include other browsers in the install is absurd. Wikipedia lists a couple dozen browsers that are currently available for Windows. Which wouldn't include any homebrewed "I can haz browzerz now?" type browsers. At best the list for which browser to install would turn into the same kind of mess that Apple has with its app store.

Certainly a better solution would be to have two or three installers included in the OS and a short list of popular browsers to install if internet access is available. The first part needs to be there for all those people that need to use a browser before they get internet access. Yes, there really are webpages designed to be used offline. As an example, some video games package their manuals this way. The second part gives you the ability to get the latest updated version of a wider range of browsers.

Unfortunately, this doesn't actually solve the problem that the comission is faced with. Including anything short of a comprehensive list still amounts to favortism and they'd end up hearing the case again every time some whiny guy decides to foot the bill to bring the case to trial again, when his browser isn't included in the list. It would also decrease their credibility at it would end up appearing as though they're only looking at the short term and pandering to the complaintants, instead of actually addressing the issues that they brought up.

Only a couple more weeks to go before we know though...

In the meantime, I'll keep using IE, because it does what I tell it to. Opera usually gets the job done, but FF just can't seem to figure out that I'm not a card carrying nerd and that I don't want to be treated like one.

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@James

"I am happy to have IE on my system"

I know it says James Harrington, but is that really you Bill?

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Something in the water?

If only someone could figure out what the management and owners of Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Google have in common....

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Jobs Horns

Google monopoly better than M$ one!

At least Google develop products that work!!!

People use Google because they _want_ to, not because they _have_ to through devious lock-in tactics. M$ have abused their monopoly status at every opportunity, corrupting standards, and doing their very best to break inter-vendor interoperability.

Google have succeeded through excellence at what they do.

I've never been against a big software company doing well if they deserve it. Micro$oft don't.

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@Lee

"***Linux is actually not any good when all is said and done though. If you disagree ask yourself why people and companies believe a product that will cost them a lot of money and comes with very restrictive license terms is better value than one that is both free and free."

Several reasons:

1. MS is the incumbent OS, what people have used, what they're used to etc

2. Inertia on the part of users - if they use it at work then they'll generally stick with the familiarity at home. Do not estimate the inertia of users to relearning.

3. Try buying a PC without an MS OS on it - before you answer this think about where ma and pa will buy their machine (PC World etc) or Dell (didn't they do Linux at some point)

4. Where noobies can find help - if your home machine screws up and it's windows then just about anyone will have a crack at fixing it whereas they'll be quite a few blank stares if you say it's <insert distro here>. Also most linux help is on forums which is a PITA if the problem is network connectivity - I had such a problem with Network Manager for a USB mobile broadband device when my landline went down and was screwed until it came back and I could sort the machine out for next time (when it worked perfectly).

You can tell this is mostly on the money by the fact that despite having to fork out annual payments for software to "keep their system safe" which often cripples it (Norton, I'm looking at you) then still getting screwed by viruses they stick with Windows.

When it comes to software, inertia rules. Not just OSes but commercial packages etc as well (Word instead of open office etc). People just don't want to spend the time relearning even if there are obvious benefits. MS rely on this and OEM bundling.

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Anonymous Coward

Remember all you MS and Google fans together

Google and Microsoft are monopolies but only one company is abusing its position so far, twisting arms and harming consumers. That's what EU seems to say, it is fine with us to be a monopoly but we will come down on you hard if you're trying to abuse your position.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Graham Whiteside

"M$ have abused their monopoly status"

"I've never been against a big software company doing well if they deserve it. Micro$oft don't."

you were doing so well until you included those dollar signs. Now all i can see is a raving internet retard who has some unnatural hatred towards a company that actually does a lot of stuff for the computing market, and basically has made computing as it is today (for better or worse, we will never know, the market would be VERY different today if it wasn't for MS, notice i used a S there, not a dollar sign).

Bearing in mind of course that google have a terrible record on privacy, they have some ethics and competition issues of there own (look at the google/apple thing). And there products are ok, but they have completly destroyed a important part of the computer software development lifecycle through there abuse of the word, the "Beta".

No company is perfect tho, MS have made faults but in fairness to them they are trying to do the best they can within the limitations that they have.

Oh and just FYI, you do not HAVE to use MS at all.Yes it comes with most machines, but you can build your own, most people who are not able to build there own are also not able to use any other OS anyway!

Actually as this is a english site shouldn't people be using the £ sign instead?

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Flame

Hypocritical...

So basically they're saying, that were they to open up to alternative browsers then Google would have the same ability to set the default search engine as they do?

That's an extremely arrogant attitude... It would be an open market, where search engines could bid to become the default in Opera, Firefox or any other browser that comes along.

The shear arrogance of MS, claiming they have some inherent right to be the default search engine, and that google should be denied that same right.

Besides, if Google become too powerful then the EU can start their own antitrust investigation against them.

You can see where MS are coming from, their previous strategies have always been to have an inferior product, but bundle it because a large enough section of the population are too lazy to look for alternatives. If they lose this (somewhat unfair) advantage they would actually have to compete based on the value of the product itself. And it says quite a lot about their search engine that they are still failing miserably despite having the bundling advantage.

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Flame

Do not have to?

"Oh and just FYI, you do not HAVE to use MS at all.Yes it comes with most machines, but you can build your own, most people who are not able to build there own are also not able to use any other OS anyway!"

This is exactly the point...

It is entirely possible to ignore Google, or Apple, or any Linux distro... It is not possible to ignore MS - sooner or later you will receive a file in a proprietary format, or try to access a website that is locked in to MS browsers or such. So even someone who wants nothing to do with MS, and who runs Linux or OSX exclusively will at some point be forced to compromise.

This is what makes a monopoly, when something is unavoidable.. Come the day when MS is one choice of many and you can make that choice based on value and not lock-in, then those who hate MS products will simply ignore them, they will no longer be forced to deal with them and thus feel no need to complain about them online.

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Alert

As far as I can tell

There is nothing preventing Microsoft distributing a Firefox installation with its own search engine as default. I presume the same is true for Opera etc.

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Happy

I suggest a technical challenge

One of MS objections (which for some reason I hear being delivered in a high pitched whinny voice) I will paraphrase as "We can't put all those browsers on there because it'd would take up too much space. And our users *have* to have a browser to access the internet"

Nevertheless my PC's keep coming with a dozen icons to ISP services which I can just click on and hook up with. Most of which I will dump at the first opportunity. But won't all of these use the same TCP/IP stack that's built into Windows anyway?

So how about a folder full of browser icons as well? Once you chosen your ISP (click on icon) you choose your browser to download (click on icon). Most of which I will also dump at the first opportunity. Naturally one of them will be for IE. Of course deciding which others are on the list will be a PITA. Some minimal level of market penetration and must support automated downloading of a complete basic package might weed out the unfit. If it's good it'll will grow onto the list.

I haven't played Windows developer for a long time and sorting downloads were never part of my brief. So, Reg readers can you do a (very minimal) download client using just features and support built into Windows by default? No compiled binaries or umpteen MB of DLLs, but assuming an ISP has been selected. If not what bits of Windows make it impossible?

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Stupidity

The discussion is just as crazy as the forced dismemberment of Bell Telephone. Is the world a better place without Bell as a prime company? No other telco now has any research that is worth mentioning.

The same goes for Microsoft. From the comments - especially out of the Open Source area - I get a strong impression that the majority is jealous of Microsoft's success and wants to vandalize the company, just like Bell has been. Well, especially the Americans had better be glad about Microsoft being a strong company. There are not many American companies in IT that are worth mentioning, or will be able to compete in the global market when China grows stronger. For sure Opera, Mozilla etc. will not be able to.

Let Microsoft keep their own browser bundled with the OS. If somebody really wants to use another browser for some obscure pathological or other reason, that is not difficult to do with Google advertising their joke of a browser. Or with the Open Source crowd loving Firefox for some strange reason.

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Stop

Hypocrite

Linux is distrubuted with it's own browser (different depending on distro and yes sometimes firefox) Apple Distribute with Safari on the system and iLife, and Mobile Me integration and yet we are bashing Microsoft for doing the same thing. I have been working with small and medium size businesses for over 12 years and the most stable configuration I ahve ever deployed on a network is Windows XP, IE, Office 2003, and with a network running 2003 Server.

I am not suggesting Microsoft should be able to restrict users ability to choose, but Apple doesn't exactly help users choose any more than Microsoft does. In fact when you setup an apple system you are FORCED to enter your name address and telephone number to which there would be outcry if Microsoft did the same thing.

I am not saying MS are not evil, I am definately NOT Bil Gates despite the fact I like IE all I am saying is Apple do the same thing and are not bashed for it. The the crows od MS bashers that want firefox installed on their system know how to install it, and should get Windows 7, install their inferior browser choice and remove IE or even use Windows XP and one on the multitude of apps designed to remove internet explorer.

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Happy

@Albert Stienstra

"The discussion is just as crazy as the forced dismemberment of Bell Telephone."

Actually it is somewhat less crazy. My impression of the Bell System was that it was a US government regulated monopoly which did innovate. IIRC the US MS / DoJ anti-trust suites were shut down by one of other assorted Republican presidents in the last 20 years.

"There are not many American companies in IT that are worth mentioning, "

Which suggests you know little outside of PC land. You should know IBM and HP (and that they bought up DEC and EDS) and of course Oracle. But do you know Computer Associates, Computer Sciences Corp or SAIC? Unisys? I'd suggest their combined revenues run over a trillion dollars, weather you have heard of them or not.

If you admire MS as the Bell telephone of IT you are comparing apples with oranges. MS has no where near the track record for innovation that Bell Labs had. Its major skill has been to use a huge budget to club rivals (in whatever sector) to destruction. Only an effective monopolist hell bent on protecting a monopoly in all but name can afford to do this. And it still fails sometimes.

Sure its got a strong Marketing and Legal team. Does that make it a strong innovative company that will compete with the Chinese. Time will tell.

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