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back to article Mozilla mauls Microsoft on IE, Windows 7 bundle

Mozilla has issued a broadside against Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 7 operating system, by claiming it stifles the browser market and gives Redmond’s Internet Explorer an unfair advantage over its rivals. According to the Financial Times, Mozilla’s chairwoman Mitchell Baker said: "Our initial review suggests this is a blatant …

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The wrong solution?

Mozilla should be asking the EU to ban Microsoft from bundling any browser that isn't fully W3C compliant, including backward-compatibility modes for IE6.

Admittedly, half the web might need to be re-written to cope, but that will act as a reminder as to why you should follow recognised standards, rather than the corrupted version of a convicted monopolist. Perhaps MS could contribute towards the costs?

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Wow!

Every single MS fanboi has gathered here to speak the truth. :) I really don't see a problem: User installs OS. A window pops up and ask user which web browser the user which to use. User chooses the "ChocolateMonkeyWebBrowser". OS attaches to the windows update site and downloads said browser and installs it. End of story.

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It ain't just bundling

Back in the day MS included code in windows updates that crippled other manufacturers software so their own looked better in comparison. This was not just a happy accident for them but code along the lines of 'If browser <> ie then pause a while'. These and more subtle methods have been deployed over and over again. Changing key interfaces without telling their 'partners' for instance. There was a case where an interface was left in place but broken and a new secret 'fast lane' method used that only MS apps had access to again made others look bad in comparison.

This is what is meant but anti-competitive behaviour. Using the OS to prevent competitors software from competing. Withholding information, making deliberate changes, lying about what they did, lying about what they plan to do. Ask Lotus, Word Perfect and Novell about anti competitive behaviour and then note that most of MS profit comes from the office suite.

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@Chris Ovenden

I was thinking of something a little more friendly than Lynx, something more like IE2. It's bad enough that the user will want to upgrade, but not so bad that they can't use it at all.

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Go

And only one

Of the commenters asked why no alternative has been suggested yet.

Well, here's one that has already been suggested on a previous article about the same World vs. MS crap:

Microsoft lacks a package manager. A package manager that is capable of installing/removing any and all components of the OS and any applications a user may want or need, coupled with online repositories to get whatever isn't on the install disk and to get updates with.

With that, all that waffle about "how do you download 'X' without a browser??" goes right out the window.

Next!

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Stop

Goddamnit people!

The solution is simple: 1. Make it so you *can* remove IE

2. Make it so the OEM version shipped to manufacturers comes without a browser, and let the OEMs choose which browser to put on it

Then it's simple. Those of us who are knowledgeable users will buy the full version, uninstall IE and add firefox/Opera/chrome/Lynx/w3c/<insert browser here> whilst the less knowledgeable users will get whatever the OEMs choose to bundle with it - be it IE, chrome, firefox or any other browser they choose. The same principle *can* (not necessarily should) be applied to any other component of the OS, from Media Player to Calculator.

Then (Theoretically) the playing field is levelled. N00bs are not confused by having to choose from several browsers, and all the browsers should be competing on a level playing field to get themselves bundled on the OEM machines. Businesses can still come with IE if they need it, but it may well lead to an increase in the number of FF installs.

Note: The same principle can be applied to Apple and linux as well, but as apple doesn't have OEMs, there'd be no change there, and as most linuxes don't ship a browser made by the same company, the issue is not the same.

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hmm...

I've been thinking about this and come to the conclusion its possible a stalemate.

If you think about it from a bog standard users point of view. This is the scene that comes to mind. You buy Windows but it doesn't have a web browser available. How do I connect to the internet? How do I download firefox or any other browser?

In all my experiance normal users are muppets... they won't think about looking for a copy of a browser on a CD (to be fair how many are available on CD/DVDs these days?) so they'd get windows which is fine but they'd have no access to the net to get anything else. People are lazy, they like to have things given to them on a silver platter and if they're not, they wont use it. For that reason alone MS have probably been the best thing to happen to the internet (in as loose a way I can possibly make it) because they've made it easy and convenient for the average person who really doesn't give a crap about how things work or whats best thing to use... to use the internet.

From there they can learn (hopefully) that there are better alternatives around and will (again hopefully) start using them.

To sum up, I guess what I'm saying is without IE being bundled with windows the internet wouldn't be as good as it is today. Yes its annoying that lots of people stick with IE, but without it they wouldn't be around to spend money online, and thats a vital driving force.

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Linux

@Alan W. Rateliff, II

Microsoft use to ship an OS without a browser. They also use to ship their OS without disk compression or media players. Then they saw someone making money from browsers, disk compression and media players so they gave a "cheap knock off" alternative in their product. It's illegal and they were fined for it, it's a form of dumping and it's very anti-competitive.

Ultimately disk compression turned out to be irrelevant as disks grew larger faster than people could fill them up, but in the case of the browser and media-players Microsoft destroyed other peoples business.

For the browser they took extra care to force IE to be impossible to remove, even though it was not an essential part of Windows initially. That's illegal.

If all over 90% of all cars were made by Ford and 100% of them came with a radio and CD player that you couldn't remove or the car wouldn't work, then the other radio/CD makers would complain.

Love them or hate them Microsoft are special and have to be regulated to stop them from exploiting their abnormal position. How do you think you'd feel, if you carved out a little niche with a piece of new software, only to discover that Microsoft will include a "free" version installed by default in Windows 7.

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Dur

Why not make an icon call it internet, and have it pop up a list of sponsored web browsers that you can download and install through the application. I say sponsored as in pay to get included on the listing, that way no one can gripe they weren't included in on something they didn't pay for.

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@everyone bitching about FF/Opera

For the love of fucking god, it's been explained a gazillion times already Microsoft are in a dominant market position (a monopoly), therefore different rules apply - how fucking hard is it to understand that?

Apple can bundle Safari because they're not in a monopoly position.

Ubuntu can bundle Firefox because they're not in a monopoly position.

Konqueror - etc...

It's not exactly complicated.

Since IE is just a GUI for a load of core Windows display functionality, it's basically impossible to get rid of in its entirely - all that's needed is for OEMs to be able to distribute PCs with THEIR browser of choice installed and not IE (I believe you can "hide" IE in Win7 - although that won't stop 3rd party wrappers from using it of course).

Why the hell is it that EVERY time a story comes out about MS abusing their position do we get exactly the same fucking horseshit about "Apple can do it...", "Ubuntu can do it...", blah blah blah - do a little research on WHY different rules apply to monopolies before spouting the same old tired crap AGAIN.

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Anonymous Coward

This is so silly

Everyone who's ever used any other browser knows IE inferior. Those who haven't probably don't care. The vast majority of people in the world use their PC to cruise the net, watch porn, send emails and do Facebook, Twitter and other mundane things. The browser and OS they use and how all of this works is not something they ever think about (which is why there are so many MS viruses and trogans). More sophisticated users will usually immediately install a Mozilla or Orpera browers. Some even deinstall IE altogether. But it is MS's browser and it's their OS, so they can bundle whatever they want. Why anyone cares is beyond comprehension.

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Please Mr/Mrs/Ms Register...

Can we have a FAC (Frequently Articulated Comments (tm)) section that you can point to at the end of certain stories to prevent mobius strip comment trails like this one. You could even make it a wiki if you want... or maybe not. I could suggest a few to get it started.

1. Microsoft is a judged to have a monopoly in certain parts of it's core business and therefore has to abide by more stringent rules. Including not using it's OS to damage competitors to other parts of it's business. Without these rules the consumer would loose out as the competition would be crushed and there would be no price/feature pressure on the monopolist. Microsoft have been found guilty of this behaviour over many years in almost all jurisdictions so people are watching them. Apple and other OS manufacturer are not monopolies and consequently can be anti-competitive if they wish. It would damage them if they did.

2. Internet Explorer cannot be completely removed from Windows OS because the OS has functions that require internet communication. These functions are either so key to the Windows system/MS revenue stream that they cannot be trusted to other browsers or are so underhand that they cannot be made public. They check licences, call home, tell tales on you and allow MS to override your settings or force changes without asking.

3. Microsoft did not invent the Internet. Microsoft didn't even know what the Internet was until the Web bit them on the Arse. Over many years as the premier force in the Computer Industry what they invented could be written on the head of a pin ... in crayon.

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Paris Hilton

@James Butler, @Adam Trickett

The length of time I have been working with computers really is irrelevant. Suffice to say, long enough. What Microsoft used to do is also irrelevant at this stage and in the context I presented, and I believe that my statements may not have adequately expressed my thoughts on the matter.

It is a matter of communication. A modern operating system needs a browser, just as much as a computer in the 80s needed a terminal program, one of which was often bundled with new modems. In the 90s, when I needed to get on the Internet, I had to use a terminal to use IRC, ftp, or Lynx via a local BBS. Some friendly IRC user sent me a free TCP/IP stack which allowed me to then contact the Internet directly. Getting back to my point, the only way I was able to get "online" in the first place was using a terminal program which I would have needed to somehow acquire separately, but was fortunately included on floppy with the full system I purchased.

I suppose the same arguments could have been made when Windows included TCP/IP and DUN functionality, thereby trumping Trumpet.

But to further return to my point, novice users are not on the whole going to buy a computer and then select a browser CD to install. They want that stuff to be already there. Power users, on the other hand, will happily use IE to download Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Galeon, Nutscrape, AOL, or whatever floats their boat. Microsoft may not have allowed alternative browsers to be installed on previous operating systems -- though I recall Nutscrape being used on Windows 3.11 machines, and AOL being bundled in later Windows releases -- and may have prevented OEMs from bundling a preferred browser, but they were tromped for it and Windows still allows freedom for browser selection.

Of course, with the caveat that a default browser change for one user affects all users on the machine. I believe a registry hack overcomes this, but it does prevent one user from preferring IE and another from preferring Safari on the same machine. That is bad mojo. The fact that the Windows 7 /RELEASE CANDIDATE/ upgrade defaults the user to Internet Explorer regardless of the user's preference is also bad mojo, and should be fixed before the final release.

Which is apparently the case: "Microsoft indicated that this only applied to the recommended method of installing the test version of Windows 7, and was unrelated to the experience most users would have when the new operating system is officially released." (Although I do not know what Microsoft means by "most users," and hold that statement suspect.)

I do not know the legal aspects of being a convicted monopolist. In no way defending Microsoft, I have a difficult time wrapping my head around how being a convicted monopolist means Microsoft should be held to a different standard. Instead, the conviction should set the standard to which all companies are held. If being a convicted monopolist means that your company and/or product is shred to bits to allow weaker products to survive, then I truly think we need to take another look at how our system works. Good ideas should and will survive on their own merits, not under the guise of being "fair."

I myself took a whack at Microsoft several years back while working for an ISP for the way Microsoft guided users into MSN with Windows' Internet Connection Wizard. The wording for the ICW lead users to believe that they would be able to choose their ISP when, in fact, they were being herded into MSN. Worse yet, if the MSN icon was still on the desktop, the ICW did nothing more than launch the MSN setup application. That behavior has since been changed.

Now to summarize that: building mechanisms to prevent Windows from running browsers other than Internet Exploder is bad, not bundling alternative browsers while not preventing them from installing and running is good. The difference, I believe, falls directly into the argument of "equal opportunity" versus "equal outcome." In particular, preventing installation and operation of an alternative browser inflicts a loss of opportunity, whereas being required to bundle alternative browsers is the forced attrition of an equal outcome. And, as Richard stated, the average user will opt for the path of least resistance, anyway.

Speaking of bad analogies, comparing the necessity of a browser for communications comes no where near a high-powered audio or word processing suite. Neither of the later are requirements, and even so, the later of which is addressed by the simple editor WordPad. I have actually seen people using WordPad as their processor of choice: no Word, no WordPerfect, no Works, just plain WordPad. Equally as irrelevant is my hypothetical reaction to having a "free" version of a my product, which I would be developing for "free" in this case, bundled with an operating system. As is the comparison of browsers to the file system compression snafu of DOS 6.2.

I must also echo Mage's lament in regards to poor third-party applications which forcefully launch Internet Explorer when another browser is present and set as default. I deal with several of these personally and professionally. In most cases it is a minor annoyance, but an issue none the less.

Paris, because she still is not going to bundle your ex's vagoo when you start dating her.

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@Alan W. Rateliff, II

You don't know what you're talking about. Scraping stuff off the web without any actual knowledge of the events and their history is obvious. Your historical timeline is incorrect and the way you present your bits of scrapings do not connect like you think they do.

'If being a convicted monopolist means that your company and/or product is shred to bits to allow weaker products to survive, then I truly think we need to take another look at how our system works. Good ideas should and will survive on their own merits, not under the guise of being "fair."'

And this is the point, except for the reverse of how you perceive it to be.

Microsoft jammed their web browser down Windows users throats by tying it so tightly to their operating system (a separate product at the time) that it could not be removed without crippling the operating system. This goes beyond 'bundling'. Their (appropriated) product was crap, yet they actively programmed their operating system to discriminate against other browsers, which were usually superior products that users had chosen to install independent of the operating system installation.

It's not a "good idea" that rose to the top, rather it was a *bad* product that was used to destroy competition by creating the misimpression that their competitor's products performed less-well than their own product.

This is not an academic issue to be mused about by the uninformed ... thousands of people's livelihoods have been destroyed by this illegal behavior.

That Microsoft would CONTINUE to tie its operating system to its own brand of web browser, and to CONTINUE to include language in its vendor contracts forbidding them the opportunity to remove that sub-standard browser and give their customers an alternate product themselves goes way beyond "fair" into "unfair" behavior.

The legal world likes to call this "anti-competitive behavior", and it is specifically this for which Microsoft has been penalized by the EU.

You should have been scraping the web for information on this history in order to become better informed, rather than trying to continue your failed attempt to fool us into viewing you as one with actual experience in these issues.

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Paris Hilton

@James Butler: what makes you think I scraped?

"You don't know what you're talking about. Scraping stuff off the web without any actual knowledge of the events and their history is obvious. Your historical timeline is incorrect and the way you present your bits of scrapings do not connect like you think they do."

I lived and worked during it all, so take it how you will. But rather than make false accusations and personal attacks, maybe I could enlist you to help enlighten any incorrect assertions.

"This is not an academic issue to be mused about by the uninformed ... thousands of people's livelihoods have been destroyed by this illegal behavior."

It is actually a very good issue to muse over, and irrespective of your assumptions, I have fairly good recollection of the process and proceedings, and followed the case closely as it unfolded. I find it very easy to present an objectified opinion and analysis as I was not intimately involved in the case, though my industry was affected. I am aware of many of the facts of the case presented against Microsoft. Including the integration of the browser with the operating system. (In fact, I removed a good bit of that information from my post, preferring instead to whittle it down.) That not withstanding, I get the impression that people are holding a grudge and very quick to judge and react to Microsoft.

Really, I do not see where our perspectives differ much. I do not have to agree that Microsoft has been punished for anti-competitive business practices -- that is a matter of fact and record, and I even stated such in my comment. But again, what was perpetrated in the past is not relevant unless Microsoft continues to perpetrate, as you get into with the next bit.

"That Microsoft would CONTINUE to tie its operating system to its own brand of web browser, and to CONTINUE to include language in its vendor contracts forbidding them the opportunity to remove that sub-standard browser and give their customers an alternate product themselves goes way beyond "fair" into "unfair" behavior.

The legal world likes to call this "anti-competitive behavior", and it is specifically this for which Microsoft has been penalized by the EU."

This is where we differ. I do not see where any government has the authority to force Microsoft to allow vendors to remove Internet Explorer. A vendor should be allowed to include any other product of its choice with a system built upon Windows in its entirety, however. For instance, if HP wants to include Opera with its systems, then it should be allowed to do so, as prohibition of this would be an over-stretching of Microsoft's authority over its own product.

If Microsoft suddenly decided that vendors cannot include Symantec or McAfee in favor of its own OneCare product, that would be equally as bad and, again, over-steps its authority. At the same time, I take issues with the idea that Microsoft may be scrutinized more closely for the same activities which other companies may sneak in under the radar, simply based upon Microsoft's conviction.

"You should have been scraping the web for information on this history in order to become better informed, rather than trying to continue your failed attempt to fool us into viewing you as one with actual experience in these issues."

And forceful statements and personal attacks like yours do no good to bolster your credibility, either. I dare not present myself as an expert of anything more than what I see and experience, and of my own opinions and perceptions. As well, I certainly will not apologize for your perception of my statements, and I stand firmly by them. If there is anything missing from my repertoire, I would appreciate that you show me where I might more fully equip myself for future discussions, rather than showing me your twat.

Paris... just fricken because.

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Anonymous Coward

All you lot

Christ I'm getting a headache,

Who care what flavour you get your porn/virus's trojans in so long as you get them right.

Who pays for a browser?

All I care about is whatever browser I use, then after 3 weeks do I have enough virus/trojan shite or porn on my system to warrant a reinatall of OS.

This way I've tested virtually every MS/Linux/Mac system on the market. And for constant reinstall's I can tell you Linux sucks. M$ isn't much better because you virtually have to reinstall it straight away, which is no fun if you cant get to Abbdullah and his mighty anal plug first.

Every browser is crud.

The worst being ie8 with inprivate browsing, because now I have to switch back to unprivate browsing to get my trojans., and it doesn't matter if i uninstall av either.

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Linux

It's all about the bigger picture. Think about it.

Thanks Pheet, some sense amongst all the comments from the MS evangelists. Why is it that the MS crowd don't want to see the big picture. For MS it's all about item 3 in the list below. Make a browser that's got some non standard/non open feature. Get some high profile websites to use this broken feature. Hey Presto, it only works with IE and guess what MS only produce IE for windows. Result Sale of more windows operating systems because it only works with ... ITV.COM etc.... It's called tie-in. Wake up MS fan boys can you not see why this stifles competion !

Every time this story is covered there's always the same BS comments from the ms fanbois.

If anybody bothered to read Opera's original complaint for example, they'd know that it's

1) IE is bundled

2) IE con't be uninstalled

3) IE is NOT standards compliant

4) MS has a monoply position (which Apple & the various Linux distros don't)

_combined_ that is the problem. Point 3, which leads to all those broken "IE only" web site/apps (as mentioned in an albeit backward way by Adrian Challinor) is actually one of the biggest - even when the user installs another browser, they *still* have to use IE for some sites (often MS's own).

Also, anybody who thinks one needs a browser to download & install another browser shouldn't be even *reading* the reg, let alone make comments.

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