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back to article Microsoft offers EU choice on Windows browsers

Microsoft has offered to let European PC customers pick the browser they want running on Windows PCs, hoping to placate anti-trust regulators. Users will be able to pick one of five most popular browsers via a proposed Ballot Screen, which will be available for download to Windows Vista and Windows XP via software update, …

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and ms update

and will we be able to access and install updates without IE ?

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No IE? Yeah right.

"Microsoft has also promised a mechanism for PC manufacturers and users in the EU to turn off its browser, IE, and to make IE unavailable from launch. ... IE would not be turned on through anything other than user action, and there won't be any icons, links, or short cuts in Windows to download or install the browser."

I'll believe that when I see it. Maybe IEXPLORE.EXE won't launch explicitly without user action, but Internet Explorer most certainly will. It's tied too closely to Windows.

1. Windows Explorer (EXPLORER.EXE) *IS* Internet Explorer. Open Windows Explorer, go to the address bar and type in a URL. Once loaded, go to the Help menu and see "About Internet Explorer. Now open Task Manager and notice that IEXPLORE is nowhere to be found. So, what, you're running Internet Explorer, but not really? Is Microsoft having a 1984 moment?

2. Internet Explorer is the engine used for Windows' help system.

3. While not directly Microsoft's fault, let's not forget the thousands of apps which use Internet Explorer via OCX/DLL linking. A vulnerability in IE can be exposed through any of these apps as well.

Also, if there are no "icons, links, or short cuts in Windows to download or install the browser", does that also mean that IE will not be updated via Windows Update? After all, if you're installing an update, that clearly indicates that the product is installed (as we all know it will be). But if you do not at least allow the user to install the updates, then you are leaving the system vulnerable to known problems.

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Top 5

So that'd be Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari and it's own then?

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Top 5 most popular browsers?

Sounds fair. Of course Opera *still* won't make the cut...

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Gates Horns

I'll believe it when I see it

I'm wondering what trickery they have up their...sleeve.

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yeah, right...

' disclose all the Windows APIs that IE relies on in a "complete, accurate and timely manner" '

Because the worked so well with the file and print API...

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Happy

Finally MS is reasonable ...

This isn't about forcing Microsoft to play fair from now on, its about attempting to in part undo some of the damaged caused by its past misbehavior.

They rigged Windows so it would break if IE was removed, they forced OEMs to offer IE as the only browser choice ... they blocked other browsers from accessing the windows update site ..

Now they have to bend over backwards to make sure the end user gets to chose what browser they want to use.

Seems fair and reasonable.

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The five browsers

So that will be IE8, IE7 IE6 Firefox and Chrome

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Not worth it

Microsoft will own 90% of the OS market. Google has a chance but it has to avoid Apple & IBM mistake.

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Happy

Based on use-share data...

So are IE8, IE7, and IE6 going to be the top three choices?

I smell a prank opportunity... If we can get enough Firefox users to change their user agents to indicate that they're using Netscape Communicator or something equally embarrassing for MS to offer :)

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Wonder if Google is watching

They probably are I guess. So one also wonders if Google's mooted OS will also come, for the EU, with the choice to select browsers or if it will be integrated with it. So if it is the latter, one wonders whether the mighty EU will look at this with the same level of scrutiny. Anything else will smack of imbalance.

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Gates Halo

Brilliant!

This is excellent news for everyone, Microsoft seem to be the good guys after the EU say they were being stubborn for not complying. The EU gets what they want. The consumers will benefit overall.

Let's hope they'll start to reprint those Win7 discs for the EU edition.

I am completely surprised that Microsoft decided to change their mind over this, perhaps some bizarre Public Relations, by offering the customer choice after seeing so many comments and suggestions? In any case, I hope this works out well for everyone.

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Megaphone

Spot the bleeding obvious solution anyone?

This is one of those situations where everyone knew the answer already -we just had to wait for various committees to huff,bluff, dive and jive only to come up with the bleeding obvious solution.

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Unhappy

ambiguous reassurance from Microsoft

"without first giving written notice of the reasons of any cancellation"

They didn't actually say that they wouldn't use it as the reason though.

"Dear OEM,

This is our written notice of cancellation of your Windows license, due to installing someone else's browser on your machines.

yours sincerely, B.Gates esq."

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Flame

You can lead a horse....

Yay more people in the world will be using a 5 year out of date version of firefox because they dont know or want to patch it. Browsers and Antivirus should be part of an OS. Screw the EU

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Linux

IE

Does this mean that if you have windows and do not use IE? that the updates will happen as it did not before as you had to have IE to do any updates?

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WTF?

Why?

I really don't understand this. OK I accept that they may have abused their monopoly and they have obviously buried their rather unpleasant browser in the O/S, but is this really necessary? Leave MS alone for flips sake!

Why haven't they had a go at Mac for Safari and Linux for FF/Konquerer?

I use a Mac and Linux, so this doesn't really bother me directly, just stop picking on MS!

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Unhappy

Bet opera will still....

...find something to moan about....they just will....

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WTF?

Erm...

I like the idea, but:

"Once a browser is picked, an install link will connect the user to the browser manufacturer's site to begin download, Microsoft said."

Isn't that link useless unless you have a browser installed in the first place???

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Anonymous Coward

What about Windows Update

Doesn't that use IE exclusively ? Or have they relaxed their stance

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Anonymous Coward

oo

oo another one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH5ZIXItkS8&feature=related

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Happy

Opera you're out of there!

So if it's based on the top 5 in monthly usage share, the list will look something like

1. Internet Explorer 8

2. Internet Explorer 7

3. Internet Explorer 6

4. Firefox

5. Safari

I can't wait to see what Opera would do then. Probably have a fit of hysterics so bad that its head explodes en-route to Brussels ;)

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WTF?

WTF?

Does this mean it will download all 5 then install the selected one? I don't want an installer from crapple or opera to go anywhere near my PC (asssuming s***fari is one of the 5 browsers)

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Stupid

What a silly idea I can't think of another situation where a company is forced to promote rival products, "I notice that you bought some Fosters, wouldn't you rather try a Guiness or a glass of wine maybe?"

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Alert

The EU will never be happy

Still wont make the EU happy because they make too much money from companies like Microsoft with fines, Intel the latest with the €1 BILLION fine!

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Stop

Hate M$

But I find it a wee bit harsh to have them cater for competitors through their updates.

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Happy

MS Whimps Out to EU! *WHOOT!* EU FTW!

Sorry couldn't resist it :D

But on a more serious note:

MS are still trying to control their own punishment.

They know there are going to be forced to at least implement a Ballot of other browsers... so they try to push their own least worse solution, before the EU lowers the boom on them.

This is a good development but remember that if this was allowed:

MS wont have set the precedent of carrying competing software in their OS build disk( something they desperately want to avoid).

IE would still be built it to the OS as the default, it can just be changed. So it still has a privileged position over other browsers.

Most users get their OS with the PC set-up by their OEM... ms is known to have a LOT of influence over their decisions.

If the OEM chooses IE do users still get the Ballot screen?

Will the Microsoft update be marked Critical?

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Coat

"...five most popular browsers..."

Which translates to:

IE8

IE7

IE6

IE5

Safari

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FAIL

Really?

Aww shucks, gee thanks Mr Ballmer. Actually I've got OS X because your last operating system was a complete bunch off arse and as a result of purchasing it I felt like I'd had my wallet raped. So please forgive me when I say - go fuck yourself!

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Ed
Happy

Well...

I think we knew this would happen, eventually. Everyone could see that Microsoft's "We won't ship any browser at all" policy was just a bit of show.

Is it enough? What if you start a new browser - you're then at a competitive disadvantage until you're in the top 6.

I think it's certainly a step in the right direction, but I think it'll really confuse consumers. How are they meant to choose between browsers? Surely if they used IE before, they'll click the nice IE icon they normally click to get to the internet. Or they'll get confused because they didn't know IE wasn't The Internet. Or they'll click the pretty fox because it looks nicer than the big blue e...

I'm not sure it'll really make much difference - people don't switch from IE because they don't know any better - a ballot screen from Microsoft is not going to change that.

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FAIL

title

I don't care what web browser they ship with.

Just don't ship Windows 7 E without any web browser, as the current plan looks to do.

If you're building your first computer, or in a location without any computers, how are you supposed to get online to download a web browser?

This is insane. I thought we left this kind of crap back in the early 90's when I got shipped a CD-ROM Drive.. with the DOS Drivers on CD.

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Dead Vulture

Erm...

"Windows 7 will still ship with Microsoft's own browser, IE."

I suggest you go take a look at Windows 7 E... the version that will be on sale over here and then rethink this sentance ;)

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Windows updates?

Will they still be IE only?

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Linux

Why not a choice of OS?

Dear EU commission,

it is nice and cute to have the choice of browser when you first start a new system. To install another browser has always been possible, though. And they don't even cost much.

A real change towards more competition, enhanced user experience, freedom of choice, etc. would be if you forced the hardware manufacturers to offer multiple choices of operating system when buying the machine.

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Gates Halo

Let me guess

Oh how I would laugh if Opera were somehow accidentally forgotten on that "List"...

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Silver badge

So, if accepted, is this likely to replace the initial E versions?

Or will it be merely a subsequent release? And is it something Microsoft plan to implement globally or just for the European market?

So much left to know...

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WTF?

EU = Pathetic

Why should MS have to punt other companies' products as part of their OS? Sure, make it so that IE can be disabled, but you've got to wonder why you don't see the EU chasing after Apple, demanding that they include various browsers as part of OS X. You also don't see anyone complaining about default browsers bundled with particular Linux distros.

Picking the "top 5 browsers for the past 6 months" is just as anti-competitive to new browsers as the current situation. Why should it be 5 browsers? Why not 10? 15? 20? It's Microsoft's product, they should be able to bundle their own browser with it, with effectively a killswitch, and to hell with everyone else. If you don't want to use it, you don't have to - download something else and install it yourself.

The EU is wasting time and money (and even if they fine MS a fortune, that cost just gets passed on to the end uers eventually) fighting a cause that only Opera really give a damn about. If Opera's browser was a good enough product, it'd be number 1 regardless. It's not, therefore it isn't. The fact that Firefox has a near 50% market share at the moment is a clear demonstration that this isn't a problem that needs solving - the competition is already perfectly healthy.

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Gates Horns

Which browsers?

"The five browsers offered will be determined by averaging monthly use-share date for the past six months."

What, for http://update.microsoft.com?

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If Microsoft have to do this...

Then surely Apple should be forced to do the same - Safari is not the only Mac browser out there! IMO Apple are far more controlling of the end user experience than MS.

And which browsers will we get a choice of then? Who will make that decision?

I know IE is hated by many, mainly because of previous versions, and the fact it came out of Redmond, but this is just going to generate a lot of confusion for joe public when they buy a new Windows 7 PC. Another decision they have to make instead of simply getting on with it, when in reality they couldn't give two hoots!!

This sets a dangerous precident - bullying tactics by the EU. Sadly yhey appear to have successfully got away with this, what will they try in the future?

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Gates Halo

You know...

give the EC idiots a few more days, and they'll dream up yet another way to move the goal posts.

5 most popular browsers hmm, you know Opera is very close to falling out of that list hehe. That would be just to much poetic justice though hehe.

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Silver badge

Surely not?

Surely Microsoft isn't actually beginning to start to understand the concept of misbehaviour followed by subsequent punishment then being a good little child? That the fines were not victimisation by the EU but punishment for being arseholes?

I think I just saw a pig flying past moments before hell froze over. Some phrase containing "leopard" and "spots" or "battle" and "war" springs to mind.

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Anonymous Coward

lol

lol it's all such junk - most people don't even know what a web browser is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEt0N3xu0Do&feature=related

85% of people don't care. They just don't. It's not important.

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Jobs Horns

At last!

Now maybe more people will start to use FF and Opera which are better browsers. I know too many people who use IE just because its familiar.

Steve Jobs devil just because I have been seeing so much Apple propaganda I'm gonna use the icon whether its related or not.

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Paris Hilton

Question here

If they are going to do a ballot system of the top 5 browsers being used on the net and offering them up as choices* Does that mean that the top 3 options will be IE 6, 7 and 8 followed by Firefox and Chrome? Or are they going to limit the choice of IE versions just to the current? On a side note from what it appears (if they only go with one IE version) that Opera will actually make it onto the list but will there also be the percentage of people using it listed there as well? Double edged sword for the whiners at Opera, you made it on but now the whole world can see your no where near the top of the list.

*http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

/PH because Im sure shes about as clueless on this one as I am

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Congrats, EU consumers!

Looks like your EU bureaucrats have finally succeeded in forcing you to waste more time setting up your PC! What's next, a ballot screen to choose a media player and a email program? How about the calculator? I know there are lots of alternative calculator programs and other little Windows programs in download.com. Don't they deserve it also?

Seriously, all EU is doing is giving huge free advertising to all MS competitors at MS expense. That's as unfair and stupid as it gets in my opinion. If they are going to force the ballot screen, at least they should make it a paid spot where companies have to bid for it. In fairness, MS should keep the money. But in EU's spirit, maybe the money raised can go to schools or something. (I know EU would rather funnel the money straight to Opera folk's pocket but hey, they can't be too obvious.)

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That'll be..

.. a win then. EU-2 MS-0

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Stop

but IE remains a forced sale

Nothing Microsoft agrees to would ever permit fair and open competition.

Even under the proposal Microsoft remains the only company that sells its browser too all consumers even if not enabled. It is called a forced sale as it has always been.

ISV will known that Microsoft continues to force the sale of IE even if disabled.

Only an idiot, fool and uneducated would think that solution will result in a fair and open marketplace for browsers.

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About time

Now this only needs to happen for the rest of the world.

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Gates Horns

Releasing the APIs

... in a "complete, timely and accurate manner" (IIRC) means that either

a) MS won't be doing it and they are putting one over the industry - AGAIN

or

b) MS will be doing it THIS TIME which must be interpreted as a clear indication that the war has shifted to another front - possibly Linux and the GPL as seen by the "release" of heaps of code (see other articles at Vulture Central).

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Pirate

I am not a MS fanboi

But this is stupid. Should MS also offer to install Ubuntu rather than windows if you prefer, or (God forbid), iTunes instead of Media player. IE is part of the OS, just like (I'm guessing), Safari and iTunes is part of the MAC OS, or Firefox and Open Office is part of Ubuntu. Are they also to stop bundling their software?

And being that IE is so built into the OS, the probability is that the only thing missing from Win7 E is the bloody icon.

The first thing I do when installing Windows is download Firefox, reload my bookmarks and install my favourite addins, it's not hard, MS don't block the Firefox site or anything. I then DL VLC.

Finally - seen on the internet so unsure of its validity, we may not get the family pack (3 installs for $149 US dollars), supposedly because of this anti trust ruling: Way to queer the pitch Euro Overlords

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