back to article Microsoft kills its Euro pane in the a**: The 'would you prefer Chrome?' window

Fresh Windows PCs in Europe will no longer offer to install Google Chrome and other web browsers rivaling Internet Explorer. That change, quietly announced on a Microsoft support website, marks the end of a European Commission-mandated period during which users had to be offered a choice in web browser when they installed …

Anonymous Coward

worldwide IE still holds a dominant stake with a 58.49 per cent share..

Depends on which starts you believe and if you trust Wikipedia - 3 out of the 4 stats providers says Chrome has the lions share.

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Re: worldwide IE still holds a dominant stake with a 58.49 per cent share..

Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

Since we saw ie ads on prime time tv, I think ie hegemony is over, Wikipedia is right.

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Re: worldwide IE still holds a dominant stake with a 58.49 per cent share..

Using full browser usage stats generated including all browsers on all devices and all operating systems in response to an article about desktop browsers on Windows desktop computers will obviously lead to differing results.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: worldwide IE still holds a dominant stake with a 58.49 per cent share..

http://imgur.com/gallery/atDw8XR

(Entirely SFW in case you're wondering)

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Re: worldwide IE still holds a dominant stake with a 58.49 per cent share..

Good stuff - that is so true being so unfortunate to have to use it at work - and one bloody thing I hate with it is the locking up (the Telegraph website does it often) and that stupid dialog 'this webpage is not responding - close/recover' crap.

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iOS, Android - popularising other browsers.

I think the rise of iOS and Android will have made people more aware of Safari and Chrome and by extension the other browser options out there.

Generally the yoof are more tech aware these days (not necessarily at a low level unfortunately) so I think the mandate has probably done its job.

I'm sure these restrictions could be put in place for all time, but that makes no sense to me. The remit has been fulfilled, move on, but with an eye on the rear view mirror in case something creeps up on you. I doubt that will happen though, I think the runaway train has gained enough momentum.

And, I know this isn't strictly relevant, but IE has come on leaps and bounds and is a decent browser these days. I hardly use it, but it is much more compliant than it used to be.

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Re: iOS, Android - popularising other browsers.

Rubbish mobile phone services sent me off looking for compress/proxy solutions like Opera / Coast.

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Re: iOS, Android - popularising other browsers.

I think the rise of iOS and Android will have made people more aware of Safari and Chrome and by extension the other browser options out there.

Yes.

And not only that, but more importantly it's also made more developers (and their bosses) realise that there are other browsers than IE. Back in Microsoft's golden age of XP, I've been bollocked a few times for "wasting time" supporting a <10% browser.

Now everyone (apart from a few corporate numpties) are making their sites cross-browser from the start. We're now at (or very close to) the point where it really doesn't matter what browser you use, which was the whole fucking purpose of the web - and something MS and their fans were trying very hard to prevent.

IE fans: You have IE's dwindling market share to thank, otherwise you'll still be on IE7. You're welcome.

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@ Anonymous Bullard

Please allow me to fix you one mistake:

IE fans: You have IE's dwindling market share to thank, otherwise you'll still be on IE7 IE6. You're welcome.

Otherwise, an excellent post.

Now if only my bank would join the ranks of developers who are browser agnostic.

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Re: iOS, Android - popularising other browsers.

SCOM monitoring

Browsers supported for Web Console:

Web browsers: Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Silverlight 5.0

We were going to use Raspberry Pis running Raspbian with Ice Weasel for Xymon monitoring but we have a requirement to do SCOM monitoring too unfortunately. Pah!

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Coat

Sooooooooo

If I roll back the hardware clock to 2013 before installing windows ........ *cough*

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Re: Sooooooooo

If you are capable of doing that, you also don't need a ballot window to remind you that you can install other browsers than IE.

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Paris Hilton

choice . . .

I never quite understood the issue.

Windows comes with a few applications. So do a lot of other OSs. I can't recall Solaris7 asking me if I want to install a different browser than Netscape. Does MacOS ask you if you might consider not to use Safari as default? Windows doesn't give you the choice of using a different "Notepad", does it? Panasonic TVs dont ask you if you would prefer another UI for the EPG. And so on. And people chose: A lot of them went and bought Macs, because they don't ask that much; they know that you need your bum wiped and just do it for you.

You have the choice anyway. Just go and get something else. If you don't know about something else, then you are probably better off using the default, because you're likely to end up with a mess. I know several people that gave me a blank stare when I asked them which browser they use. Some then answered "Google" (as in search engine, not as in Chrome), or "TalkTalk" (a British ISP). One even said "Dell". Choice looks like a bad thing for these users because they can't make an informed decision anyway.

Thought experiment: Your doctor gives you the bad news and then asks: "Which drug would you prefer for your chemotherapy? You have 5 choices, right now." That must be a similar feeling to what Norma* Normaluser experiences with the browserchoice question. Luckily not so important.

IE isn't bad any more, even though I prefer Firefox personally. Opera seems to have gone "niche" and everthing else is a UI for WebKit. I think it's become a bit of a BMW, Audi or Jaguar choice.

* My apologies to all internet-savvy Normas. And all the other Normas, too.

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Re: choice . . .

The issue is more about long term user choice rather than installation time and it relates back to market power.

If MS is allowed to control the whole stack it gives them leverage into other areas, just as a desktop monopoly lead to a browser monopoly which gave them control of HTML being served. That's why we still have IE6 code/apps out there. They will seek to exclude competition (as all companies would) and this is generally considered bad. In fact, in MS' case, it is demonstrably bad. Firefox came along and injected some competition into the market which got things moving again, but it took a long time. The decision has been made politically that we don't want to go back to that situation, hence the imposition of the choice screen.

If MS wasn't such a powerful company with so much market share and software encompassing clients, servers and dev tools we probably wouldn't need to get involved, but they are, and history shows we do need to get involved or risk stagnation. It isn't really about how good or bad the browser is, its about how much control we want to allow one company to have over the industry.

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Most people never had a choice . . .

So you decide you want to use Midori web browser on you new computer. That is fine, but you have to buy IE because it comes bundled with all new computers. You decide you want to use Vi/Emacs. That is fine, but you have to buy notepad because it is bundled with all new computers. The same used to be true with media players, until an EU court ruled otherwise (Microsoft was required to release an EU version of Windows without a bundled media player. Anyone know if the EU version was cheaper, or if Europeans were still paying for the Microsoft media player that wasn't installed?).

Microsoft required manufacturers to install Windows and a pile of Microsoft software on all new PCs. The famous way to avoid getting caught was to sell Windows at a high price, but offer to pay 'Marketing expenses' to manufacturers that pre-installed Microsoft's software on all new PC's. (Do not bet on this being legal. Intel did the same thing, and had to buy a get out of jail card from AMD for $1billion in cash + buying AMD's old foundries for $1billion over the market value.)

Netscape used to sell Netscape Navigator and had 90% market share. A few years after IE was bundled with all new computers, Navigator's market share fell to 1% - even though the price fell all the way to zero. Navigator was released as open source software in the hope that it would receive development work that Netscape could not pay for. Netscape was bought by AOL, who later ceased all work on Navigator.

These days, the situation is hardly any better. Dell will sell you a Linux PC - if you know it is an option, hunt it down and insist you do not want Windows. It has been a long time since I looked at Dell's web site, but the Linux machines they sold had cheaper hardware than Windows machines the same price. It looked suspiciously like you were still paying for a Windows license, but not actually getting the software. Other PC retailers either did the same, or did not have secret a Linux option at all.

Telecom companies understand how toxic Microsoft made the PC market. Part of the success of Apple and Android was that the networks wanted ABM.

One day, ordinary people might be able to select which OSes are pre-installed, and only pay for their selection. Today, only Techies have a choice.

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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

Thank you Flocke; that saved me making the same post.

I think the argument against IE is relevant only in that it controls the complete stack and allows (allowed) MS to pretend (or insist) that IE is essential to the proper operation of the OS.

The lack of desktop linux as a general purchase option tells us all we need to know: if people don't know about the option, they'll treat a computer purchase as a magic box and think no further.

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LDS
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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

Sure, I want to be able to select what OS to install on an iPhone or Samsung or Nexus - even on a Chromebook... why all those devices force you to use their OS and no one complains? Ah sure, only MS is evil - think, it INSTALLS NOTEPAD AND YOU PAY FOR IT!!! OH MY GOD!!!!

Why MS shoudln't be allowed to install a default browser as long as it doesn't forbid to install other ones? Doesn't your iPhone, Android or Chromebook come with a default browser installed (and maybe a text editor too?) How do you sarch and install other software today without it? How many people are proficient with command line FTP clients today? Through "stores"? Those heavily protected walled gardens that ask you a ransom for every application you sell, and decide what you can install and what not?

Ah, but MS which never forbade you to install whatever software you like is EVIL, Apple & C that forbid you to install whatever they don't approve, or try to force you to be locked up in their "free" applications are of course GOOD.

Also, having a known, default HTML/Javascript engine on a system is good for developers - you don't have to add one to each and every application - that kind of UI fragmentation that makes Linux desktop UIs a pain in the ass to develop and use.

But of course is not Linux desktop crappiness that made most user avoid Linux on the desktop (even OSX has a larger market share despite its cost...), it's because MS PUT IE IN WINDOWS!!!!

Nobody offers Linux as a choice for desktops because nobody asks for it - too little *real* software, frragmented UI, lack *real* of device support from the manufactureres. etc. etc.

Grow up, and stop believing hating MS makes you "cool" and a "techie". And start to ask you why people happily ignore Linux - maybe because Linux never delivered a good "user experience"? Most user don't care at all about kernels, file sytems and the like. They care about their experience. MS understood it - Linux fans are still believing you have to worship open code and use it just because of that....

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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

You were OK in reasoning, but as for

"Telecom companies understand how toxic Microsoft made the PC market. Part of the success of Apple and Android was that the networks wanted ABM."

Not sure where you got that from, the success of Apple had f'all to do with MS, it was simply a good product for it's time and a game changer, backed up with a massive marketing campaign. Android became popular because it was a half decent competitor and it was FREE (excluding the back door way they get you to pay for it). This allowed the rise of no-name brands to enter the market as well as the big boys, bringing up it's market share.

Ironically, IMO the OS with the best to use interface now is MS, but that's just my view. Having used all three, the Win8.1 phone layout just feels more modern and slicker, compared the the little square box grid layout.

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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

Who says no one complains? I personally won't buy any computer (no matter what the form factor) that dictates what I can and can't do with my purchase.

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Re: choice . . .

I never quite understood the issue.

Well, I guess that's why you don't work for any competition authority: Microsoft was using its dominance on the desktop to develop a proprietary version of the internet that was based on its own browser. It was using this proprietary internet to promote its own services.

The browser choice screen was just a small part of the settlement which has also set a precedent for other vendors in all areas such as Google and search.

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Re: choice . . .

"Thought experiment: Your doctor gives you the bad news and then asks: "Which drug would you prefer for your chemotherapy? You have 5 choices, right now."

You have five choices right now, but the NHS can't afford any of the good ones so really there is only one available unless you want to cough up and go private.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

> I think the argument against IE is relevant only in that it controls the complete stack and allows (allowed) MS to pretend (or insist) that IE is essential to the proper operation of the OS.

The real issue was that Microsoft deliberately did not follow the defined standards so only their browser worked for the majority of sites - it was an wilful abuse of a dominant market position, and made compatibility for other software difficult.

As a result of the legal ruling, and increased competition, Microsoft were basically forced to start paying more attention to the standards. Still not perfect, but a lot better than they were ...

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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

@Flocke Kroes "So you decide you want to use Midori web browser on you new computer. That is fine, but you have to buy IE because it comes bundled with all new computers. You decide you want to use Vi/Emacs. That is fine, but you have to buy notepad because it is bundled with all new computers. The same used to be true with media players, until an EU court ruled otherwise (Microsoft was required to release an EU version of Windows without a bundled media player. Anyone know if the EU version was cheaper, or if Europeans were still paying for the Microsoft media player that wasn't installed?)."

Look, a lot of solid arguments can be made for MS's market abuse ten years ago, but these comments are beyond the pale. A desktop OS that doesn't come with a text editor would be laughable, as would one that doesn't come with a media player (and yes, as an EU citizen, I declare the EU Media Player decision was inane), as would one that doesn't come with a web browser.

Trying to attach some monetary cost to Notepad (of all things) that you would rather not "pay" is a poor effort in the ongoing quest to demonize Windows. You might as well complain that you're "paying" for Control Panel when you'd much rather have something else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: choice . . .

NHS can't afford any of the good ones so really there is only one available unless you want to cough up and go private.

We do have a few open homeopathic drugs that aren't patented, and most of them haven't been tested on important animals. The community takes lots of them, they can help with getting the strength right and the side effects aren't usually too bad, although you may have to throw up once a week. They're completely free too, although we do have a consultant who can help you get the dosage right, for a fee.

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Re: choice . . .

If only they had replaced this with a ballot to choose your operating system. Oh, and included a payment adjustment (so you either pay the licensing fee to MS if selected or get it returned if you don't). Bundling Windows "free" through OEM arrangements is a major driver in the monopoly stakes.

Transparent pricing is a rather more important issue than browser choice.

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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

LDS, put your flag and pompoms down.

It's all about giving people choice, and encouraging competition. Without competition or choice, there's no motive to improve and you have stagnation (IE6).

Example: How long did it take them to make IE a viable platform that can support rich client applications comparable to the desktop? It wasn't until they started losing market share.

But don't be sad; you're not "losing" because IE isn't as popular as you like it to be - we're all winners in this game because progress is being made... all thanks to competition and choice, which drives innovation.

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Re: choice . . .

I never quite understood the issue.

I've never thought the EU quite understood it, either.

If IE were "just" another bit of bundled software that came free with Windows (like notepad, as others have said), and one could remove it and install something else in its place and the rest of Windows would still chug happily along there would be no problem. The trouble with IE is that it has its hooks deeply embedded into various Windows system functions -- Windows Update, for example, requires IE to be present and uses IE's code (even if you install another browser).

What the EU legislated for was a tool to help users install another browser in addition to IE, but what I think they wanted MS to provide was a way to install an alternative browser instead of IE.

That, of course, would have forced Microsoft to re-engineer most of Windows's handling of internet connectivity, which I can't see them being happy to do. It might have led to a better-engineered and more modular Windows, though.

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@LDS

Concerning your comments about iOS: Apple can bundle whatever they want and restrict what is installed because I can buy something else.

Concerning your comments about Android: AFAIK, Google do not charge money for Android. If you choose to buy and Android phone, one of the things you are buying is the manufacturer's extensions to Android. I would be happier if you had a choice about that.

All of this stuff about IE was for desktop computers, where customers are required to buy Windows whether they want it or not. If seems that unlike me, LDS and Neil B are happy to pay for software they will never use. I would like the pair of them to put their money where their mouths are and contribute to some open source projects.

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Re: @LDS @Flocke

"All of this stuff about IE was for desktop computers, where customers are required to buy Windows whether they want it or not."

But there are desktop computers available without Windows and that was the case back in 2010 when browserchoice.eu was devised. HP and others have provided computers with just FreeDos at least back in 2005 if not earlier. There are/were plenty of shops that built computers and you could order the hw without sw.

Plenty of people would like to have their Macs without OSX, why don't people focus on that also?

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Re: choice . . .

You are so worng and right. First, most 'Joe Public' don't know what a browser is - they think IE _IS_ the Internet.

Secondly, I had cancer 10 years ago. After surgery my consultant asked me if I wanted chemo or radiotherapy. I said I didn't know, can he advise and he said no, he cannot, it's my choice.

So I thought about it for a few weeks and didn't have a bloody clue, until I had a brainwave.

I phoned him up and asked 'If you have just had what I had, and the same surgery etc., what would _you_ choose?"

He said chemo - I did, and am still here :)

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Re: choice . . .

Nice bit of revisionist history going on in these comments...

Netscape 1 & 2 were great browsers (far better than the original Mosaic browser). The original IE was rubbish, so no-one used them, even though IE3 came with the OS.

Then Netscape released v4, which to put politely, was a steaming piece of dog poo. They stopped updating it soon afterwards, so users had the choice of sticking with a browser that'd bluescreen on windows or even give Linux a kernal panic, most of us had to switch to the only other useful browser which was IE4. Netscape users had to wait for over a year for Netscape 5 & 6, which as you know was sold off to become Mozilla. In the mean-time, they lost substantial browser share & sued.

Someone who is old enough to remember their frustrations with Netscape 4.74.....

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Re: @LDS @Flocke

Not in my country. You go to Staples, WalMart or Best Buy and you have no choice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

Flocke Kroes' post is such a good sum-up of the Microsoft situation over the last few decades, I have to ask - WHO are the people downvoting - please - log in and give your reasons, I just don't understand, are you saying the points aren't true, or what?

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Re: Most people never had a choice . . .

My recollection of when AOL bought Netscape was that they bought it precisely so they could kill it. They wanted to only have to support one browser and at the time were still in the middle of a cross-licensing agreement with MS. It was only after the MS agreement expired that they did anything at all with their Netscape property.

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Re: As a result of the legal ruling

I doubt very much that the legal ruling changed much of anything, but I'll at least give you fellas points for sticking to your guns on this one. MS ran roughshod over the courts on this side of the pond on this issue. At the end of the day, I think the only thing that saved MS was that the DoJ was more interested in running MS than in getting justice for the plaintiffs.

Thankfully Firefox beat MS in the Second Browser War, but I think that was just shear determination and dogged hard work.

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Re: back in 2010 when browserchoice.eu was devised.

Wrong year for your breakpoint. The whole thing started back in 1996 and took until 2010 to work out. And as someone who got stuck paying for Windows a second time because it was bundled with the computer, YES Microsoft was shafting people left and right.

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Mushroom

Re: @Col_Panek

"Not in my country. You go to Staples, WalMart or Best Buy and you have no choice."

So you have no choice in Staples, Walmart and BB.

Sigh. You probably can't buy coyote urine in those stores either but that doesn't mean it's not available in your country.

HP's website offers customization. The default for computers is Win8.1 but you can change it to Freedos or SLES 11 and the price goes down $125. Dell offers computers preloaded with Ubuntu as well, and there's plenty of boutiques that sell fully customized computers with a non-Microsoft OS or no OS at all.

Saying that you can't buy a PC without Windows in the US (I based your location on your comment history) means you're either lying or you just don't know what you're talking about. Which one is it?

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LDS
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Waiting for Google to be forced to offer searches on competiting engines...

... because that's the real monopoly today.

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Re: Waiting for Google to be forced to offer searches on competiting engines...

The question to a large extent isn't whether a company is or isn't a monopoly, but whether it uses it position in an anti-competitive manner. MS with respect to the browser (which was just the latest product bundled with Windows in a move to stifle competition - a practise dating back to at least DoubleSpace), their OEM product bundling deals, and non-disclosure of API's were found to be actively abusing their position, hence court action was possible.

Hence similar applies to Google: Has Google actually used it's dominant market position to actively stifle competitors? Take Google Plus for example, I suggest if it had caused a massive exodus of users from Facebook to Google Plus, Facebook may of had a case against Google, but because it didn't Facebook don't have an anti-competition case.

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Re: Waiting for Google to be forced to offer searches on competiting engines...

Competition law protects the market. As per Roland6 and others, it defines that the wrong is using a monopoly position to distort competition.

So how come Sun didn't get in trouble because Solaris never offered you a browser ballot? Because that was not abuse of a monopoly position. How come Apply don't get in trouble because OS X never offers you a browser ballot? Because that is not abuse of a monopoly position.

Look at the consequences.

Microsoft built a majority market share with a shoddy browser then took steps to lock its platform down and walked away. What effect did the long life of IE6 have on every other part of the internet's technology stack? How much money and how much time was spent dealing with IE6's peculiarities?

Suppose Apple had built Safari not to be especially standards compliant, then baked it closely into the core of OS X and taken market measures to lock out the competing browsers. What effect do you think that would have had on the internet's technology stack? How much money and how much time do you think would be spent dealing with Safari's hypothetical peculiarities?

So, given that the remit is protecting the market, which of those companies was it correct to take action against?

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Re: Competition law protects the market.

That depends on which side of the pond you live on.

On my side of the pond there is no such protection, only protections against a company illegally obtaining a monopoly position. So far Google have their monopoly position via entirely legal means. MS didn't and entered into a consent decree saying they would not leverage their monopoly position into applications.

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Anonymous Coward

Remember when they "accidentally" broke the browser choice and released an update months later to put it back?

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Anonymous Coward

Think more telling was that no one seemed to have noticed the browser choice was missing until Microsoft fessed up to accidentally disabling it.

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The headline for this item is missing an asterisk in 'a**' of course. There should be three. *cough*.

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The headline for this item is missing an asterisk in 'a**' of course.

I thought it was about donkeys.

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The browser choice screen caused me SO many headaches. Profitable ones, because most people thought it was a virus.

I got a lot of work from removing 'that firefox thing that took over my internet' as well.

I just found it irritating as it usually popped up about an hour after I had installed firefox, synced my bookmarks and logged back into all the sites I usually use. IE is a decent browser these days, I just prefer firefox.

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Thank f*** for that

Possibly the single most pointless, annoying screen to feature in Windows. What the courts failed to notice was that nobody aside from themselves and Microsoft's competition actually gave a flying toss. And I do believe if they've stepped back and taken stock they'd have noticed that at the time MS were busy screwing themselves anyway.

I wonder if anyone knows how much that process to stick it to Microsoft cost us collectively? I would assume it cost the EU millions when everything is considered.

In all fairness IE is actually...you know...pretty good these days. Not that I really use it, but at least when I do on occasion I don't feel like I'm being punished for something done in a past life. Except if it's the default 'app' version that pops up on Windows 8 but that's a different matter.

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Europeans got their money back

Step into the TARDIS and revisit the era this decision came from. Last millennium phones were for talking to people and they had physical buttons with numbers on for sending text messages. Apple had a small niche market and Linux was less famous than the BSD Unixes are today. If a techy searched really hard, he could buy a desktop PC with freedos, but everyone else (and anyone buying a laptop) had to buy Windows. By itself, having a monopoly is not illegal. Using a monopoly in one field (ie Operating systems) to gain a monopoly in another (like web browsers) is illegal.

The wheels of justice grind at the speed of a doped two legged donkey. By the time the EU even noticed, Netscape Navigator as a commercial product was already dying. The actual complaints were about media streaming and network file systems. People were using cheap ARM CPUs and SAMBA for NAS instead of power hog Intel CPUs and and expensive NT server licenses. Microsoft fiddled with the protocol to break SAMBA and require people to use Windows. After years of delaying tactics from Microsoft, the EU fined Microsoft €497 million and ordered them to document the SMB protocol (now called CIFS). Again Microsoft took their time, and were fined an addition €1.5 million per day for 187 days before they made the documentation available for purchase (the fine was about to go up to €3 million per day).

That €777 + 80% of the EU's legal expanses were tax revenue that Europeans did not have to pay. It would be nice to claim that Europeans made of profit on the deal, but clearly breaking the law was benefiting Microsoft (and costing Europeans) between 1.5 and 3 million Euros per day.

SAMBA was not made using Microsoft's documentation, which apart from being years later and expensive, was incomplete and inaccurate. SAMBA was in fact made by bugging the network connection between and Windows sever and client, guessing what the packets meant and trying them out to see what the server or client did in response (the result was more reliable than Windows - perhaps because SAMBA devs did not rely on defective docuementation). It would be nice to say that your NAS does not require a €599 Windows server license because of the EU court order, but that would be stretching the truth. Windows licenses prices are kept below €999 per CPU core because Microsoft has to compete with Linux (if they didn't, home users would still be using a descendent of ME). The European Court of Justice are certainly too little and far to late, but they do pay for themselves many times over.

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Re: still be using a descendent of ME

No, ME was even more of a dog than Vista. Some of us think of it as MS's Vista for Windows 9x.

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Personally I do not want to go back to the bad old days where I install a M$ product only to find it has also installed IE as my default browser. However I do feel bad for Redmond, they must look at all the shit Apple gets away and wonder, "who the hell was Job's sleeping with?"

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