Take the money
And donate it to FOSS projects.
Antitrust watchdogs in Europe could soon slap Microsoft with a massive fine for the software maker's browser-choice gaffe last year. The company was caught steering its Windows operating system users into loading up Microsoft's Internet Explorer even though Redmond had previously agreed - in an earlier regulatory ruling - to …
FOSS shouldn't need EU handouts...
Not handouts, no. Investment, yes. In that context I must actually give a thumbs up to the German government. Most people know of the Munich project, but few seem to realise that GPG also received a good boost from the German government in what I consider a very intelligent use of tax funds. They needed crypto they could trust, so they took an Open Source project and sponsored it. Win win idea.
There are plenty EU-level uses FOSS could have, provided someone with a clue keeps a bit of an oversight. However, I can imagine the moment someone as much as sniffs at doing something like the German government at pan-EU level they will be either politically manoeuvred out of the way or otherwise neutralised - far too dangerous to profit margins.
Why on earth would EU MEP's want to waste money on FOSS projects when they can use it for overseas 'business' trips, fine dining, high quality booze, new designer furniture, personal financial subsidies or even supporting those woefully inefficient French farmers who would all be of of business were it not for the CAP?
The EU, do something sensible?
And many companies worldwide are thankful that it demonstrated beyond doubt that migration to Linux on the desktop is expensive, difficult, painful, functionally limiting and of little practical benefit.
The Munich migration still isn't complete after over a decade, and ten of millions were spent by IBM and others in getting there - vastly more than the expected 'savings'. And what has been migrated still mostly has to access Windows based VDI / Citrix etc. when they need a version of Office that works!
First time round = pittance fine.
Failure to comply + bullshit excuses = unless the second fine is like say 2 or 3 billion euros, then Team Sleaze at Microsoft will just say, "Oh a choice of browsers, umm yes... the intern had that job, but she left and didn't tell us...., and we did take a puff on a joint, but we didn't inhale...."
Yes global price gouging, product lock in licences, USA Naziware goes global and the planet goes Linux.
Cmon, who honestly believes the browser choice screen had any real impact anyway?
IE is a piece of sh*te and should lose market share anyway until it can do better.
The only reason I can almost forgive the commission's bureaucratic meddling is that it may have introduced a few ignorant souls to something different.
Other than that, it was just another Windows installation annoyance.
"Microsoft claimed it failed to spot that it was no longer including the browser choice screen for 17 months: the vendor has described the apparent mishap as a "technical error" rather than a deliberate action to push Internet Explorer."
They've admited to it. Strict Liability crime - purported lack of Intention is irrelevant except to the determination of the fine. No intention but a clear admission of Recklessness. MSFT have form. Expect a massive fine. Too right.
They're no longer the incumbent, other than on the "dying" desktop. Fighting for eyes on a dying platform is largely irrelevant. The battle has moved on.
Please get a clue before posting, the desktop is FAR from dying, despite what some paid-shrills will say, the mobile phone is NOT the successor to the PC, it just supplements it for on-the-move people like commuters and nomads.
Besides, I'd much rather use a laptop than a stupid locked down fisher price tablet anyway. If some people actually prefer to use locked down devices, more power to them, at least they won't have a PC/Laptop choke full of malware to wreck havoc on the internet, leaving us who actually KNOW how to use a PC/Laptop to get on in piece.
Sorry Microsoft, you've backed yourself into a corner here - either it was deliberate, and you're over the barrel with the anti-trust issue, or it's a technical error - just like the azure outage and all the rest.
Whichever way, it's another knock to Redmond credibility - which appears to be flagging pretty badly at the moment...
All we learn is that the two sides are equally incompetent.
Please explain how the European Commission has been incompetent.
Anyway ignorance or incompetence have never been valid defences before the law. Sounds like someone is going to have to do some explaining to the shareholders.
A couple of ways the EC were incompetent -
a: the rule was ridiculous in the first place.
b: it took them 17 months to notice too.
Also no normal person cares, I'll spare the bad analogies, but most just use what they want, and most will end up using chrome as the giant ad vendor google pushes the masses towards its own products.
The time to deal with MS was 20 years ago, Google and Apple 10 years ago (in different fields) and, likely which ever cloud vendor wins should be dealt with 5 years before it wins. But oddly enough time and technological advances do more to curtail these behemoths than anything else.
Well there has to be some explanation for why not only MS but apparently world+wife+dog failed to notice this snafu. After all the competition authorities are supposed to police these agreements and apparently were completely oblivious for about a year and a half. This of course does not in any way excuse Redmond's cluster-fuck and it is to be hoped that they will indeed be very heavily fined. However, to paraphrase one of Conan-Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes short stories we still have the mystery of the dog(s) that did not bark. How is it that, apparently, nobody noticed for seventeen months?
It was neither deliberate nor a "technical" error. It was a management error, pure and simple. You would think that MS, with the threat of a large fine hanging over it should they commit a specific misdeed, would make very sure that that misdeed did not occur by accident. But no, someone deep in the technical hierarchy in Bellvue was given the authority to okay an update without the point being made "make absolutely certain browser choice is still there for European customers."
My impression of MS is that its management is utterly chaotic, with nobody in particular actually in charge. MS isn't "too big to fail". It's "too big to succeed".
RW: It was neither deliberate nor a "technical" error. It was a management error, pure and simple. You would think that MS, with the threat of a large fine hanging over it should they commit a specific misdeed, would make very sure that that misdeed did not occur by accident.
MS is probably assuming that it will not be a large fine, probably only a few million, which they can well afford - especially considering that it will not actually "cost" them that much after tax deductions etc. It's likely worth it to them. If it turns out not, only then is it a management error.
Of course fines are in order because the EU needs the money. Heck, although I think its a good thing that customers are being protected against monopolies or unfair businesses I do place some question marks behind this particular ruling.
Not because I think its bad perse; but because the timing was pretty poor. Because the EU started flexing its muscles when the damage was already done. Even more funnier: where other browsers such as Firefox and Chrome had already managed to gobble up huge chunks of Microsoft's market share. And only then the EU kicked in with their browser choice demands.
Is this about protecting the EU civvies or another good attempt at grossing in some extra (desperately needed) cash ?
I think it may hep you to read a bit about the history of this issue. You'll find that the original fine was given before Chrome, for example and that the fine would have been given earlier had MS not fought it tooth and nail.
Arguing that it is no longer relevant is a bit like saying that the person who stole and smashed up my car should be let out of jail because it was two years ago and I've got a new one now.
Sorry, but that's not a very good analogy. That would be more closely equivalent to Microsoft receiving back some or all of the fine they paid initially.
A better analogy would be if the person who stole your car was let out of jail (after their sentence - equivalent to the fine in this case) and then allowed to steal your car and smash it up again without further retribution because they've already "paid their dues" for doing so the first time.
Not sure I agree as the fine and the choice window were both part of the punishment. Nicking a car was probably not a good analogy however :-)
I suppose I feel that the point of the fine and the conditions is that they are there to put others off similar behaviour although it seems the fine wasn't big enough, given that other like Google seem not to have learnt a lesson.
Any regulator is in a difficult position here as they can't know in advance how long it will take to break the monopoly by pushing choice and even if market share dips they can't know how long it will be before it recovers, if it does.
All in all I think MS got away lightly given what they did and that if the regulator is to have any chance of putting others off they've got to go through with the punishment and ensure that the company being punished keeps to the conditions imposed. I've seen from my own children that idle threats don't work!
Google dominates search and is using the search home page to plug their browser. I don't see the difference... Monopoly is bad, and google certainly have that in search.
The EU rules don't make sense. If they are concerned about windows monopoly they should have links to Linux and apple, not chrome and firefox.
Similarly the google home page should point out that you can also search at Bing, Yahoo, etc.
Yep, I think every software installation program should give you the opportunity to install competing products.
You have just paid 300 bucks for your Office CD and clicked Setup
"Hey did you know there are competing Office productivity tools such as Libre Office, Star Office .... click on the links below to discover them"
You have just kicked off the Ubuntu server install....
"Hey did you know there are other Server OS systems such as Microsoft Server 2012, Red Hat.....
click on the links below to discover them...
Puhleeeze.... Stop the Madness.........
'I don't see a "Browser Choice" screen on either Apple or Android devices either.'
Android is Free Software, not a commercial product restricted by proprietary licensing, so there's no antitrust issue to consider, since there's nothing to stop any of Google's competitors (including Microsoft) from using it without incurring any financial obligations (or ceding any market advantage) to Google. Indeed several vendors have already done so, including Amazon.
Apple "bundles" its *own* OS on its *own* hardware, so that can't be a "conspiracy in restraint of trade", because one can't be engaged in a conspiracy with *oneself*. Obviously.
Windows, OTOH, is a proprietary, commercial product that's "bundled" without option on hardware that has nothing to do with Microsoft, to the near-total exclusion of all competitors in that (albeit rapidly declining) market segment called the "desktop". That's what makes this an antitrust issue, because it's "tying", collusion, or IOW a "conspiracy in restraint of trade". The universal "bundling" of any third-party software on that system is therefore a significant antitrust issue. That includes the OS itself and any applications, by Microsoft or otherwise.
The only problem I have with the EU's sanctions against Microsoft is that they keep targeting relative trivia like browsers and media players, when they should be targeting the root of the problem, Windows itself. I assume that's because Opera raised a complaint specific to browser competition, and no one (in the EU at least) has done likewise for OS competition. It does seem like they're pussy-footing around the problem, however.
What the EU needs to do is unbundle Windows from PCs, then they can stop wasting their time with a company as recalcitrant as Microsoft, as the Windows Tax problem will be solved once and for all.
Bring a case to the EU courts. Until someone actually bothers to sue, it's not a problem.
People reported Microsoft to the courts, hence the action it took. It would also have to be proved to be an anticompetitive action (MS were primarily monopolist because they forced computer manufacturers NOT to install other browsers or give a choice, etc.) rather than just a company advertising its own products.
There's a BIG difference which, if you don't understand, then you're probably not the right person to ever sit on a jury.
Now if Google were forcing all their adsense advertisers to make websites that ONLY worked in Chrome, then you might have a similar problem.
Wrote : "I don't see Google home page offering for me to install other browsers. It just says click here to install chrome."
I just checked and do not see that (www.google.co.uk in case your home page is different). I need to follow an intermediate link to get to such a page. Same with Microsoft's home page as it happens, but I have no issue with either. You will have chosen to go to either company's page to seek their offerings.
It is different with buying almost any new PC - Windows is first up on the screen whether you would choose MS's offerings or not, and, if it were not for the EU ruling, IE along with it.
I look forward to the day when a new PC offers a choice of operating system, not just the browser.
I don't see Google home page offering for me to install other browsers.
Yeh, the EU lost the plot ... but so have you.
The real issue was never one of making it easier to install other browsers, the real issue was that it was impossible to completely remove Internet Explorer from Windows. What the EU should have demanded was that all web-using Windows components -- Windows Update, for example -- be rewritten to be able to use other browsers, so that every last vestige of Microsoft's browser could be removed from the system should the user decide that that was what he wanted.
The current position is that the user has to have IE installed (though not necessarily present as an icon on the desktop) in order to make Windows work, and it was to that dependency that the EU originally objected.
About the only thing you can do to IE is disable it, un-installing it (like fear) does not seem to be an option.
IE is just too deep in the bowels of the OS. I blame that more on sloppy Windows development than an Evil Empire even if strong arming PC manufacturers into pre-installed Windows was just a tad too much,
I for one, would like to see IE become a layered product that could be removed or added at will or not purchased in the first place. But I am not sure whether the court room is the place to decide that.
Active Desktop, Windows Milleniium etc... it is much better to vote with your mouse. When MS makes a better browser than Chrome or FF, I might install it again.
Personally I'm sick to death of seeing the browser choice being forced onto PC's.
I'm all for choice and cracking down on anti-competitive behaviour, but can't those in Europe come up with a better way other than forcing on users something that they don't necessarily want?
Hell I can turn a new PC on, install Chrome, set it as a default browser and then the browser choice window is still forced down to the PC. Fuckwits.
I totally agree, the browser choice is now just a nuisance, it served it's purpose at the time as did the hefty fine both of which made sense.
However the EU should now acknowledge the game has changed and the other players are on an even playing field with a prevailing wind behind them.
We've now entered a curious world where my grandparents know IE is bad and that they should install Chrome but they don't know why and Google programmaticly bitch slap slightly older versions of IE whenever you access Gmail even though until recently most Windows users couldn't get past 8.
Personally I'd quite like it if someone collected up all the toys and put them back in the cot and we all just get along.
Pint for bygones and a happy Friday!
Wrote ; " the EU should now acknowledge the game has changed and the other players are on an even playing field with a prevailing wind behind them."
The fact that the playing field is more level is due to the browser choice screen. Sounds like it should be kept in place to me.
Here's an analogy to your argument :- "Now that the murder rate is down to only 1 per 100,000 per year, we don't need a law against murder any more."
Just my gut feeling but I suspect peoples choice of browser has little to do with the pop-up, 17 months of not functioning yet IE still losing ground strengthens this feeling, but rather the wider spread of browser usage is more likely down to better consumer awareness, impact of mobile devices and the perfectly understandable negative attitude towards IE.
Also doesn't using murder as an analogy for this seem a bit ott?
I do see the perspective of not getting away with a punishment, I just think the browser choice pop up is a bit clunky...
Maybe they should have compelled MS to have the major players browsers all pre-installed.
"Personally I'm sick to death of seeing the browser choice being forced onto PC's."
How can you characterise being given a choice as "force", as opposed to being denied that choice, and therefore being forced to take the only option?
This "anti-choice" mantra is self-defeating and therefore highly irrational. Worse still, if that choice were removed to appease the anti-choice fraternity, you'd not only be denying yourself that choice, but everybody else as well, which is an extremely selfish attitude.
They entered into an agreement as some form of plea to avoid further punishment. They then ignores the agreement made, whether thru error or deliberate choice is irrelevant. I hope they are stung with the full 10% fine. The EU really has to set an example here or appear utterly toothless.
Hea should roll for this but I imagine the only people to take a hit will be the stockholders and the EU customers who can expect to see their already ludicrous license fees climb even further to cover the fine.
Why is no one facing criminal charges. Surely someone signed a legal agreement that Microsoft would offer the choice en failed to ensure this was carried out?
LOL, that would be actually quite a fun way to go about it, but may I offer an alternative:
1 - Fine the screaming crap out of them. No excuses. They spent years fighting the fine, so it's not like they were unaware of the issue (BTW, bad marks for EU enforcement, but it was up to MS to comply)
2 - Charge 10% interest for every month they are late paying. Because they will. I am not sure how the EU is going to compel payment, but shutting the door of every national MS outfit might work.
3 - use at least 50% of this fine to sponsor beneficial FOSS projects. I know this will start a fight for pork, but a good start would be staying existing projects such as SAMBA, LibreOffice and a DECENT replacement for Outlook. Oh, and forcing MS to make their products provably, fully compliant with MS OOXML or the OpenDocument format or lose government contracts - after all, that was the reason MS started that game.
FTFA : - "The issue is only really relevant in the case of very non-savvy or terminally lazy users, as it is trivially simple to install alternative browsers with or without the EU choice dialogue."
It might be trivially simple to Kelly Fiveash, and indeed to myself and no doubt most reading here, but it is far from trivially simple for a large proportion of users. They would be terrified of it.
Sounds like Kelly Fiveash is living in a bubble isolated from many PC users in the real world. Without the browser choice screen they are no more likely to change their new PC's browser than they are to replace the software in their new Volvo's engine control system.
A typical comment I get from friends (in the photography world, so a bit technical but not PC technical) when I suggest Firefox instead of IE :- "But won't that invalidate my guarantee?"
As for "only relevant", we are talking about 80% of PC users. Some "only".
It's relatively Okay, what is much more aggravating is the new Win 8 EULA. Upon the first use of a Windows 8 bundled (or imposed rather laptop), such as Asus branded ones, you are welcomed with a new MS EULA screen and the "accept it or decline it" message.... wait a minute there is no DECLINE or DO NOT Agree option anymore. You have to agree to it, period!
I am not surprised ... not too much really. This is Microsoft we are talking about. What is strange though, is a bad terminology. Why is it EULA? It should indeed be EULU, since there is no agreement part of it anymore, it is now an ultimatum.
At the same time, I'd like to call for some clemency on the EU watchdogs' part. Com'on, don't you have some provisions for the dementia or Alzheimer clients? Microsoft did indeed forget to offer more than one browser. This multi billion worth corp. don't remember to sign their own ssl certs and totally forget about the leap year. What would you expect from them?
The sooner MS fix this the better. The average user needs to be offered alternative Browsers at start-up!
IE9 obfuscates its Add-Ons. For instance sneaky GOOGLE updaters, unknown SKYPE objects, and shaky UBISOFT Uplay plug-ins lurk under the hood hidden away...
I had a call from a relation asking me why their fav laptop was always crashing. I asked if they had disabled all unnecessary scheduled tasks, registry run commands, Services etc... They said they had. Them I got them to check IE. Only Microsoft would have an option called ALL ADD-ONS that DOESN'T INCLUDE ALL ADD-ONS!
Tools menu -> Manage Add-Ons -> Toolbars and Extensions -> All Add-ons
DOESN'T INCLUDE ALL ADD-ONS FOUND IN:-
Tools menu -> Manage Add-Ons -> Toolbars and Extensions -> Run Without Permission
The only way, under God that Microsoft in particular or any of the other very large aggressive and bullying USA technology corporations will retain any semblance of respect for and cooperation with the European Union (EU) is if the EU imposes the maximum penalty for regulations violations in this case of Browser Choice omission, even if the fine amounts to $$billions of dollars.
Nothing less will stop their shenanigans and idiotic, illegal behavior.
Microsoft has consistently shown disdain for the European Union and every other civilization on earth in it's attempts to dictate the terms and conditions of technology sales and practices of how it uses any technology to it's ultimate financial gain. To hell with the consequences of disadvantages and detriment to every one else, even on a legality basis.
The fine should really be small. During these 17 months the competition had no trouble taking huge market shares away from IE, showing that the commission should have analyzed other anticompetitive behaviors such as tool bundling as far a msdos 6, a market killing behavior unfortunately shared by many, such as the chocolate factory. As well as abuse of dominant position in the case of monopoly iTunes.
What is this obsession with letting bureaucrats define market choices?
The world economy and in particular the EU have enough things to worry about without having to tax or fine every thing that moves. That is no way to rebuild the economy.
It's getting downright medieval and will only stifle trade and economic growth further. One of the many reasons the Great Depression became Great was because the major trading nations of the era decided that the best defense was a good offense. The resulting trade and tariff wars only worsened the situation further. It took a World War before the world economy could get off the ground again.
The best thing these clowns can do is get out of the way and let the market decide. Given the current state of affairs and most IT budgets, my money is on FOSS and lower cost, cloud based solutions. Bring it on, and may the best browser win.
The fine should really be small. During these 17 months the competition had no trouble taking huge market shares away from IE
That is at this point irrelevant. First of all, we are past the point where the offence was committed and the market has moved on, but that was partly because MS could not afford to engage in its usual tactics for fear of aggravating the monopoly commission. Secondly, MS was told to do something as part of a settlement that would have otherwise been far more expensive. In other words, the reduction in fine was contingent on an activity that has now been found not to have taken place. This will have consequences. Now they will pay properly, and given how many other US companies are presently trying to game their way past EU regulation I suspect MS will be used to set a harsh example.
We have laws in Europe, and companies wishing to operate here have to follow them. If a EU company tried to do the same in the US they would be fined out of existence, hell, even if they do NOT operate in the US the US is trying to impose US law so I'm perfectly OK with the EU commission being harsh. It's well overdue.
"Microsoft claimed it failed to spot that it was no longer including the browser choice screen for 17 months: the vendor has described the apparent mishap as a "technical error" rather than a deliberate action to push Internet Explorer."
Do they seriously expect us to believe that Florien and the rest of the Microsoft legal division didn't notice?
Something I cannot understand...
I don't see the big deal in having Internet Explorer installed with Windows or any other programs that comes with Windows. The user can still go out on the net, and download and install any other browser or program he wants. Windows does not block any other browser or programs from going in.
When I install Windows on any computer I find IE a convenient starting point. I then install Chrome and Firefox because I like them. I end up using all three browsers. I found some have weak and strong points for different approaches in how I like to cruse the net, and use the user groups.
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