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back to article EC rejects Microsoft's browser promises

The European Commission seems unimpressed with Microsoft's chest-beating - the company said yesterday it would release versions of Windows 7 without Internet Explorer in order to comply with EC competition law. The Commission has rejected Microsoft's pre-emptive move, announced yesterday, to give computer manufacturers the …

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The problem isn't IE ...

The problem is the difficulty in getting a computer without Windows in the first place.

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Pffft

Microsoft are never going to win are they. Will these whiners never be happy? I personally WANT Internet Explorer included with my windows installation, saves me having to download it myself.

I have to test websites in all the major browsers anyway.

I suppose the only way to make these people happy is to have an option during the installation of which browser(s) to install...But then the question is which ones are included. Also if Microsoft are forced to do this then Apple should be too.

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Baaaaawwwww

"The Statement of Objections outlined concerns that Internet Explorer enjoyed "an artificial distribution advantage""

And when MS offer to nullify that advantage by removing IE from Windows, they still won't stop whining. Twats.

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Good

Good on the EU...

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Gates Halo

Yay?

Serves the EU bloody right. Rather than wasting a gross amount of time and money in a stupid lawsuit they should have channelled their efforts into actually educating consumers; which is really what this is all about.

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Gates Halo

Oh come on...

The EU were upset that Microsoft shipped Vista with IE included, and now that 7 is coming out without IE, they're upset?

Personally, I feel that, large as they are and a fairly obvious monopoly with regards to OS etc, Microsoft do not have to bundle 7 with other browsers for more competition. What sane company would do that? "Oh, you've bought a PS3, which as you know has Bluray, don't forget to use the extra HDDVD drive too."

Before people contrast my above point, I know the EU is mainly upset about the software and not expensive hardware, but it seems like the EU really has gone too far with their vague idea of what should happen, just for Microsoft to get a fine...

What next, will EU Win7 need to be preinstalled with IE7, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, ooh, why not the old Netscape, and other Linux flavour browsers? Talk about opening your computer up to vunerabilities from all browsers...

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A step too far..

This is now getting very petty and sounds more like a chest beating exercise by the EU. Just why exactly should MS offer it's competitors products bundled with its own software?

When I bought my new car I didnt get offered a choice of other manufacturers engines to go in it(although I would also be pretty pissed off to discover that the car didn't actually come with an engine).

This whole thing is now utter nonsense and a monumental waste of everybody's time, money and resources. Surely the EU have more important things to do besides bollocksing up MS latest offerings.

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Stop

Lets call the effing WWAAAAMMBALANCE

Oh yeah, have it without IE and everyone uses Firefox, with the amount of flaws being released for Firefox Vs IE (Firefox is winning at the minute with more flaws) how much worse it is going to be? Plus once more average users jump on the skins and plugins world, installing code which has ALL kinds of nasty shit in it, everyone will turn on Firefox saying how bad it is.

It comes down to too many dumb users, all using the same program, one flaw and BOOM HEADSHOT.

I'm not saying IE is brilliant...LOL not a fucking chance...but this is all BS

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Flame

Answer me this

Why is it so important to the EU that Microsoft offer alternate browsers when no one has any problem downloading their browser of choice?

Will someone explain it to me with a reason that actually matters considering that any decent browser is free and can easily be downloaded and installed?

The EU should be more interested in making sure they release a decent product that isn't bloated, buggy, crippled, full of DRM and full of security holes.

Not this irrelevant bullshit, what a waste of time.

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@hmm...

I'm usually very pro EU, but they seem to have it wrong here - the general thrust of what I have read coming out of the EU recently is break MS, make it easier for others to compete, then as soon as MS make a pre-emptive move to ease competition (surely what is really wanted, I can't imagine they want to take MS to court each time they think that something isn't quite right) they get criticised. Odd.

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EC have lost it

So now Microsoft are required to include Internet explorer now? Removing IE puts it on an equal pegging with other browsers. This is incredibly idiotic from the EC and shows up just how stupid this whole investigation is.

I don't want my PCs bloated up with 10 different browsers, I don't want the installation process for Windows to take 3 times as long because I have to choose between 10 or so different text editors, paint programs, browsers, calculators etc.

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Without a web browser...

... How do you download an alternative web browser?

Does windows ship with an ftp client?

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Idiots

That is all.

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Previosu commenters are missing the point...

Its not that EC don't want IE on their windows machine it that they want the CHOICE of browsers to be available on all machines, so the PC comes with IE, FF, Opera and Safari already installed so they are all on an equal footing as far as distribution and public accessibility is concerned.

NO, MS will NEVER win if they insist on making things more difficult for people and not listening to the decision made by law makers.

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Stop

title required

Cue the "But doesn't mac come with safari?!11!" comments. There's already 2 verging on it.

People, grow up. The key is in the article - monopoly companies have extra oversight and legal responsibilities, and for a good reason. While the US seems happy to allow a consortium of big businesses to run government policy, we here in the EU have tended to prefer things like consumer protection, fair markets, etc.

While Milton Friedman may not like it, Milton Friedman's theories don't work.

Grow a set and realise that the market needs regulated.

And then realise that regulations without the teeth to enforce them are pointless, and companies thinking they are the law, or that they can pre-empt the law, are why regulation is needed.

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But what about...

If Windows is provided sans-browser, how is one supposed to get onto the internet to download Firefox / IE / Chrome etc in the first place?

I said years ago, with Vista, that all MS needed to do is offer a choice between browsers at installation. If I pick, say, Firefox, the installer will dash off to get the latest version and seamlessly install it behind the scenes.

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Flame

EC = fail

It's time for the EC to drop this crap - people have a choice of browser, aren't they freely downloadable on the internet (using IE)? If people don't bother to do that, surely that's the fault of the alternative browser makers for not punting their benefits (if any) well enough?

Offering a choice of browser with Win 7 is daft - a load of out of date browsers sound like a security nightmare, and surely the list will only be a selection of the range of browsers out there, so someone else will soon kick up a fuss.

Finally, whatever daft behaviour should be imposed on other distributions such as OS X and Linux - one rule for all is only fair.

IE for Linux FTW!

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Unhappy

So the big question is...

Where the hell do we buy our OEM Win7 US licenses now? since no way in hell are we going to sell this European crap version.

The EC is nothing but a bunch of money grabbing wastes of space. Frankly this is going to do nothing but annoy people...but as others have said, why is this solely about MS? I want a Mac with no Quicktime, no Safari, and no iTunes as thats a captive market to Apples own stores...hell its even more captive than anything MS has done but nope, no one bats an eyelid.

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Paris Hilton

@the 'whiner' babies

@AC "Will these whiners never be happy? " & @Toastan Buttar "they still won't stop whining. Twats."

-- Any old excuse to bash the EU, eh! :rolleyes:

The simple facts are that MS *does* have a distribution advantage, and IE is (was?) tightly linked to the OS.

The way to solve this _isn't_ to remove IE entirely leaving users without a browser (and the suggestion is a huge dick move on MS's part). To solve it fairly they need to:

a) decouple IE from the OS so it can be removed entirely without side-effects

b) distribute Windows with a few browser builds, allowing users to select IE / FireFox / Opera, etc. as and when they want.

Paris, because blonde and dumb

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Either way is fine by me...

Since Microsoft bulldozed their way into the browser garden and then left it to overgrow, anything that either offers people more choice or else leaves it all up to the user is better than being saddled with IE.

Finally a way to reduce the huge amount of wasted effort from countless thousands of developers who have to work around the many annoying IE flaws (or at least a way to kick Microsoft up the arse to sort their pish browser out).

I'd vote to have Lynx and Links, wget and curl installed by default.

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Unhappy

? Que

For the love of the flying spaghetti monster (PBHNA)

fined for putting ie in windows

so they remove it

and will get slated for that

but if they put FF/Chrome/whatever in all the punters of web browsers would bay for blood

What a bunch of tossers

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@Anonymous Coward

This has nothing to do with Apple, as is obvious if you bother to read the article rather than skipping straight to the comments page to post your prejudices. I suggest in particular you read this bit:

"Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to its operating system broke EC law on abuse of a dominant position - you're allowed to monopolise an industry in the EC, but being in that position brings special responsibilities."

Do Apple have a dominant position in the operating system market? Is the browser market substantially affected by Apple's decision to bundle Safari with OS X? The same rule applies to all parties: you may not take advantage of a dominant position to distort competition. Apple are subject to that just like Microsoft are, but are not currently distorting competition. And my understanding of general legal principles is that legislators tend not to pursue parties on account of believing they probably would do something illegal if they had the opportunity.

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Dead Vulture

The EU Is Dead Wrong Here

1. There should be a statute of limitation on this nonsense. When the Netscape-IE wars started *15* years ago, they should have said something. Now, with Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari all doing well they decide to take action? Sounds lke a trip to the ATM to me.

2. It's staggeringly unfair that they can force Microsoft to include an option to install various browsers. If they contend that bundling IE gives it an unfair advantage, then MS removing IE from Windows negates that advantage.

3. A browser is a *required* feature in a consumer OS. Nobody wants to buy a computer and then have to start with installing a browser. That being the case, the 'browser market' is an aftermarket (like car stereos - your car comes with a stereo -- but you can always put in a different one if you so choose).

4. Firefox's success on the desktop and Opera's success on mobiles shows that the pie is big enough for everyone to get a slice. If Opera wants a bigger slice, they need to compete harder. I have never seen one single advertisment (on the net, or in print) for Opera. They are relatively absent from conferences. They don't work with OEMs to present a business case for having their browser pre-installed. If you want the market share, you gotta be prepared to take the effort.

5. Users can always install the browser of their choice and make it the default. Who cares if the trident engine is still on your machine and used to display .chm files? How does that make any difference as long as clicking a link always launches the browser of your choice?

6. OEMs have always been able to pre-install the browser of their choice (or of the users choice). If they don't do that, it just means that there's no business justification/user demand. Users might not be demanding it because most of them simply don't care and those that do can and will just install the browser of their choice anyway.

The EU commission is simply dead wrong. 100% dead wrong. I've not read any statements from them that indicate that they are taking these actions on behalf of consumers -- and that's who antitrust law (or competition law as I believe it's called in Europe) is supposed to look out for! Never mind the fact that economists themselves don't necessarily agree that antitrust law is required for free markets to function. For example, consider this article by Milton Friedman: http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v21n2/friedman.html

Peace out.

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Typical EU duffers

I dont have a problem with IE being bundled with Windows, even if there are better alternatives out there. The real issue (to me) is the fact that IE & Explorer are bound at the waist, or is Windows in for some major surgery here?

By the same ruling OSx be devoid of Safari? or any other OS shipped minus a browser?

How daft.

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Anonymous Coward

@A Person

That's as easy as...well...building it yourself...Numnuts.

This argument is just ridiculous. They moan that MS have IE included, which is totally fair as it's their OS that they sell. So they remove it, and they still moan claiming that MS should offer a choice of competing companies browsers. What a load of horseshit, I personally want a Ferrari, costing the price of a Daewoo, with a lambo engine, jaguar ride quality and honda reliability...But the fuckers at Vauxhall have refused to do this for me...Why the hell not? Oh that's right, because a corporate organisation has the right to sell their own product without a government body coming along and forcing them to sell products made by smaller, less successful and failing companies without the marketing budget or common sense to make their product successful on their own.

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Linux

wont be happy until windows is distributed without windows

The EC wont be happy until Microsoft release a copy of Windows that comes with the option of installing another OS as part of the installer!

The new installer...

STEP 1:

"I know you have just bought a copy of Win7 limited F**k all European edition, but would you like it to install linux, osx or bobs home brew OS in its place?

STEP 2:

"Here is a direcory the size of the yellow pages now please choose which browser, calculator and notepad software you would like"

STEP 3:

"Click here to print out the entire codebase of Windows to your local printer for your review"

Even after that the EC would realise the cash has stopped flowing in so it would be time to after them for something else

"EC vs. MS - monoply of the use of the colour blue in the company logo"

"until MS comply please send 1 billion euros to the EC"

Tossers...

penguin: because he has a rounded head for easy insertion into the EC commisioners ar5e!

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MS can't win...

...the whole thing was about it being bundled. The unbundled and they are moaning saying they want it bundled, but with extra stuff as well...

F**king farce.....

I think they are just short of cash, so when MS release 7 they can go "aaahhh but you should bundle a browser, that'll be another €50billion please....Kerrrching...

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How?

If there is no browser included with the OS how are we supposed to download the one we want?

And are the idiots involved in this "ruling" doing something of use to consumers, really. With everything else that's going on I'm sure they could waste their time in more productive ways.

For example, my car comes with an exhaust - there are plenty of after-market ones I *could* buy but don't because the one it comes with does the job. Should Peugeot give me the option of telling them which company I want to supply various parts when I bought the car? How is this any different?

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Joke

Remove calculator as well

The next step is to force Microsoft to remove the calculator application from Window, this is obviously suppressing the market for calculator applications and preventing users from choosing their own calculator. The same goes for textpad, and while they are at it why should we be forced to use the windows file system, it would be perfectly possible to allow users to choose from the file systems of different vendors.

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*chuckles*

This really will be to Microsoft's advantage - afterall the EU can't have it both ways. If they say that Microsoft's bundling of IE with Windows was anti-competitive then Microsoft's willingness to sell Windows without IE should suffice. On the other hand if the EU are saying "no no, we didn't mean that we don't want you to bundle IE with Windows" then Microsoft can point out that being fined for bundling software with Windows is wrong.

As far as I'm concerned the bundling of applications with an operating system is of benefit to the consumer. If it's fine for makers of Linux distros to choose which third-party apps they bundle, if it's fine for Apple to bundle their own brand apps with OS X, then surely it's fine for Microsoft to bundle their choice of supported apps with their operating system? That's a rhetorical question for those considering a response...

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Another EU power trip

Firefox has demonstrated that there is competition in the browser market. Google, a search engine used by the vast majority of internet users, prominently displays a chrome icon on its home page. There isn't much different to Microsoft prominently displaying an IE icon on their Windows desktop.

As for opera, there's a reason why no one uses that browser, it's crap!

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Bulsh*t EU Court People

Of course they are not happy. If they concede this point they can no longer waste tax payers money on a pointless law suit that is biased against microsoft. Since they are not holding apple to the same standard this bulls**t case should be dismissed immediately. It's not like any of the money they fine microsoft makes it back to the tax payer.

If I where Microsoft I would simply cease distribution of all the next versions MS software in Europe. if business want to "CHOOSE" to buy it they can import it from the US where they will get better pricing and the bloody EU can keep there sticky waste of space fingers out of it.

I am sure once they cannot harrass MS they will just find someone else..... Mozzilla perhaps, they are trying to dominate the market so why don't they stop them before it happens as opposed to suing them after

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Paris Hilton

Huh?

My company has been Microsoft free for a couple of years, I reject their business practices as much as the next guy but I can't see the point in forcing them to offer browser options.

If they want to bundle (and waste money developing) IE let them have at it. It was a shiatty browser last time I looked, I don't presume it has improved since then.

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Anonymous Coward

N choices vs 2 choices

So Microsoft doesn't want you to have a choice of browser, it wants the choice to be between 2 things:

An OS without browser.

or

An OS with Internet Explorer as it's browser.

The ISV's and PC makers, don't get to sell a PC with OS+Firefox for example, or OS+Safari, or OS+Choice of Firefox or IE.... and you aren't allowed to make the choice either. Because if you opted for the browserless OS, how would you get to the website of the alternate browsers?

So really they are offering only ONE choice, get IE and they're doing it in a scamming slimy misleading way to make it appear like a free choice. No doubt their turfers will be along shortly to mislead further.

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Oh, FFS!

Well the one thing the EU seem to be a doing a good job of winning here is the honour of being regarded in greater contempt than MS - Way to Go. I don't normally resort to bad language in comment posts, but it's hard to better Toastan Buttar's eloquent comment above: Twats.

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Alert

Grr..

*apologies for ranting again*

The thing that really annoys me is the the way these regulators sit on their high-horse handing down decisions that can actually add so much cost and complexity to the process (for selling computers) -- and ultimately these costs get passed on to the consumer. They are totally not being consumer advocates here.

For example, who will decide what browsers get offered in the ballot screen option?

What criteria will be used for this decision?

What criteria will be used to maintain eligibility for this ballot screen? This is important because, for example, suppose today browser XYZ is eligible/selected - they might do a terrible job of keeping their browser current or maybe they do a great job of that, but are insecure as hell -- does microsoft still have to offer that browser as an option?

Who does the testing of this eligibility criteria?

What wil be the updating mechanism for these browsers? Will they integrate with Windows Update or will they each do their own ad-hoc thing? (which would mean that Safari, for example will eventually install Quicktime on your machine.. other browsers might try similar stuff)

Will these other browsers respect the default search engine, etc. that the user selects? If I set my search engine to bing, will Chrome try to reset it to Google every time it updates itself?

Will these browsers even give me a choice of search engines, or will they all just have Google as their default (thus using the Windows OS monopoly to perpetuate Google's search monopoly)?

None of this makes any sense at all. Removing IE from windows is bad enough. Forcing MS to add multiple browser choices is consumer-hostile at best.

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Marquis

I have to say I'm with MS on this one.. they never seem to be able to win regardless of what they do.

The fact is that whether IE is included or not people have always had a choice and the other *really* important point in all this is (it seems to me anyway) that the vast majoirty of people don't give a stuff about which browser they use, they just wanna surf the net and download stuff. The ones that do give a stuff are running an alternative... again it seems to me that this is a ruling looking for a problem to solve.

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Anonymous Coward

IE for my iPhone?

Where can I download IE for my iPhone? It only come with Safari, i've got no choice there...

I wish these EU cock suckers would piss off. I like the fact that windows has everything, if I want something else I'll go download it.

I also like the fact that my iPhone has a browser that works quite happily, but if we are going to be anal about it then the iPhone interface is way worse that windows. Why doesn't the iPhone support Flash or Silverlight? Maybe that would be because you could write apps that bypass the app store...

Why do people who don't have a clue have to keep sticking their noese in?

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Paris Hilton

Errrr....

Ok... so the computer comes preinstalled with IE, which I run once to download Firefox (except for this work laptop 'cus they won't let me install a better browser.). I buy a new Windows 7 box and it doesn't come with IE, so I can't get to the website to download IE, or for that matter, Firefox.

I guess I better remember to download it before I do a reinstall....

Paris - because she's as baffled as I am.....

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Gates Horns

A cunning plan....

....so you provide an OS without a web browser, how do you get the browser then? Oh yeah, download it...wait a minute!

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Silver badge

If they do not like the fines, they could obey the law

Microsoft broke the law and caused a lot of damage. If they get fined for their activities, either tax payers will not have to contribute so much to the EU, or the EU will have a bigger budget. Either way, most people do not end up ahead because of all the problems caused by Microsoft's defective browser.

If Microsoft wanted to make me happy, they would have to start obeying the laws that apply to near monopolies (Laws intended to prevent businesses from being able to compete with governments). I cannot see it happening. If Microsoft tried to compete on meritt, they would be a very small company within five years.

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@Pffft

If MS remove the browser entirely, HOW does Joe user download it? USB stick in a different machine at a friends house? Command line FTP from the new machine? Don't make me laugh! I accept that YOU could find a way quite easily, but that's not the market Windows machines are aimed at. The only solution is to allow a choice of browser at installation or configuration, rather than none at all.

Oh, and how should Apple be forced to do the same? With their still-niche laptops and desktops, or with their phones that play in a VERY competitive market?

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Gates Horns

M$

If IE isnt included in winblows then alot of sites will not be able to be accessed, including product activation and updates. Windows explorer is build on the same code as IE so what will happen when you navigate to a URL within explorer? Im guessing it will be BSOD as that seems to be the answer for any problem that comes up for M$.

Also with the monopoly that IE has, so many websites will only work through IE. Yet IE is the most hacked browser!

Id love to see a law suit win against M$, one big enough to change how they do buisness.

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Anonymous Coward

they can't give a choice of browser

because they are not responsible for maintaining them. Would providing an installer for netscape with windows be acceptable, after all that's what started all of this? (or firefox 3.5 when the latest version is firefox 6)

The only browser that Microsoft can supply and keep up to date is their own, even an online installer has to assume that the paths it has won't change. The other alternative is to host the other browsers themselves or maintain up to date links, which would mean spending money to directly promote competitors.

This wouldn't have been much of an issue if they were just providing the other browsers as a coutesy, but now it's all about satisfying lawyers, they aren't going to take any chances.

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Alert

I guess I'll be the first...

I guess I'll be the first to say WHO THE FCUK CARES!?!?! No-one makes money from developing web browsers or media players, or at least I've never had to part pennies for one so who cares if they've got a monoploy? It's a monopoly on a non-revenue generating market.

All this ruling's going to acheive is adding far more bloatware to an already massive piece of bloatware!! 10 out of 10 for the clever, albeit dodgy, way Europe's going to get out the downturn using fines levied against MS.

Does anyone, in any government, have the foggiest idea what IT even is??

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Who services the additional browsers?

So let's say we have a choice of browsers and these browsers are on the installation media. What happens when there are security vulnerabilities in those browsers? Do Microsoft update them before giving the user the choice? And how do you get to be on the list? Think of all the malware / badware browsers that could suddenly want to be on the list.

And how do ISVs even begun to deal with this? The cost of additional validation testing required will far exceed the revenues of Opera.

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Coat

Where’s the choice.. when you can’t get to a download site

nice try by Microsoft.. Windows without a browser would have difficulty downloading FireFox (ftp is really not practical).. but this Windows version would be great for locked-down military environment.. but most of us do not use our PCs to run battleships.

Nobody expects Microsoft to ship Opera/FireFox/Chrome, but vendors should open to bundle a different browser if the want to, safe in the knowledge that some service pack is not going to break the machines.. because MS will do reasonable testing. Time was when you could get Netscape bundles with Win95.. now you can’t even get a Scandinavian Windows with Opera.

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Microsoft is in the right.

Sorry but the EC are a bunch of fucking idiots on this.

They ask for more browsers to be bundled with Windows but how do you choose which? If you keep it to Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, IE there's still alot of smaller browsers left out. If you don't include those then they will simply lose all hope of gaining ground on the "big" browsers who are then placed in a position of having an unfair advantage.

Then what about the fact Mac OSX, Linux and UNIX flavours don't supply browser choice? Why is it only anti-competitive if Microsoft forces their browser on someone but not Apple?

Why do we even care about this when IE is losing ground anyway even though it's bundled and competition is rife?

If the EC wants perfect fairness then removing browsers altogether from Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Unix is the only way to do it, but now that Microsoft is doing this they've realised it's a pretty stupid idea.

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Alert

No to OEM

Put an end to OEM hell with a ban on bundling of generic software and hardware products.

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