Print 30 comment(s) - last by PrezWeezy.. on Dec 9 at 2:17 PM

Approval expected as early as today

Microsoft has been facing legal problems for years that stem from the bundling of its Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system. The bundling of IE with the OS has long been called unfair by other browser makers.

Back in October, Microsoft presented the European Commission with a proposal that would have Windows 7 offer users a ballot box to choose the browser that they want to install from IE and competing offerings like Opera and others. The proposal received some complaints from other browser companies who believed that the ballot screen didn't offer enough information about the browsers available among other complaints.

Reuters reports that three people familiar with the situation have said that the European Commission is expected to approve a new proposal from Microsoft as early as today. The new proposal from Microsoft will use the same ballot screen, but rather than presenting the browsers in alphabetical order the browsers will be randomized.

If approved, the new proposal will let Microsoft escape another massive fine. The software giant has already been fined $1.35 billion for violation of EU antitrust rules in 2008. The Commission still reports that it is assessing the offer and comments made by Microsoft. Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said, "The Commission will not accept any commitments unless consumers are ensured a real, viable choice."

Feedback on the Microsoft proposal had been sought by Microsoft rivals until November 7 reports Reuters. Opera was one of the companies with complaints against Microsoft that helped start the inquiry in 2007. Opera CTO Hakon Wium Lie told Reuters, "Those two changes, if indeed it appears to be the case, are an improvement on the previous proposal. They are significant and would be helpful to users."

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By bbomb on 12/8/2009 10:41:21 AM , Rating: 5
So all the other browser makers want Microsoft to be the distribution channel for them in the EU free of charge?

RE: .
By bug77 on 12/8/2009 10:49:21 AM , Rating: 2
Think of this as raising awareness.

The vast majority of Windows users don't even know what a web browser is. They think IE is the Internet. And all because the way IE is distributed, so the distribution method had to change. IMHO they took this too far with randomization, but it's still better than what it was previously.

RE: .
By VaultDweller on 12/8/2009 12:57:59 PM , Rating: 4
Think of this as raising awareness.

So they want Microsoft to both be their advertising agent and their distribution channel, still free of charge? That's so much better.

RE: .
By PrezWeezy on 12/9/2009 2:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget who they will call when FireFox doesn't work right. It's completely stupid to make Microsoft the one who gets the blame. MS already gets blamed when someone else’s software doesn't work, now they have to support their competition's products too? I think if FF and Opera want their browser bundled they should setup a fully funded support center for people who call about browser problems and pay for it out of their own coffers.

RE: .
By Noliving on 12/8/2009 1:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
That is true to some degree, however though with Firefox making up over 25% of the market share along with all the other browsers added in, I think the majority of windows users are indeed aware that there are other browsers, however though they may not be comfortable with switching to a new browser.

RE: .
By HotFoot on 12/8/2009 10:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah - normally I'm more hands-off about how other places run their markets, as in, I'm not in the ECM and they can do as they please.

Sometimes, though, it seems like they want to just see how far they can push a private entity. Of course, it's their back yard and they can do as they please, but it seems to me this is a lot of rigmarole over basically nothing.

In Canada, IE has come bundled with every version of Windows I've bought since I don't know when. This doesn't stop me from being aware of competing products, and in fact I use Firefox. I don't see the downside of this situation. Are folks fighting for the less informed? If someone doesn't care enough to desire a different browser or even consider that there are other choices, then they're probably not bothered by the existing, simple solution. /shrug. I guess I just don't see what the big deal is.

RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2009 1:29:59 PM , Rating: 1
The bundling of IE with the OS has long been called unfair by other browser makers.

So why don't they make their own damn OS and bundle their crappy browsers with it ?

RE: .
By drycrust on 12/8/2009 1:51:39 PM , Rating: 5
Good point. This does raise two important questions:
1) Who decides what is and what isn't a browser? For example, should a text only browser like Lynx be included? According to Wikipedia's article "Comparison of Web Browsers" there are arguably 18 current browsers for "Windows". And what happens if a criminal organisation builds their own browser (which includes an option (default setting "yes") to feed "user information" back to the developer so they can "improve their product")? Will MS be forced to include that with their software?
2) Who decides where the browsers will be sourced from? While it makes sense that most will be on the HDD, why should a user have to pay for 17 browsers to waste space on their hard drive?

Oh! I forgot, that is the price of freedom of choice.

I wonder how long it will be before the EU start to look at other operating systems e.g. Ubuntu, OSX, because most currently come with just one default browser. Will they have to include a "ballot" so a user can choose which browser to use?

RE: .
By damianrobertjones on 12/8/2009 1:59:50 PM , Rating: 2
I can see it now, "We've contacted a solicitor today as we've lost market share due to not appearing on the MS ballet screen"

RE: .
By Drag0nFire on 12/8/2009 2:18:37 PM , Rating: 4
I think if I were Microsoft, I would start shipping Win7 to the EU without a browser. See if people like that.

RE: .
By Penti on 12/8/2009 6:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares? It's only relevant to retail copies of Windows which nobody buys. OEMs (now) has the capability of choice as you can uninstall/not install IE. That also applies to Large medium size enterprises.

People wouldn't notice if retail Windows copies didn't have browsers. It's now up to the OEM to choice for them.

RE: .
By OCedHrt on 12/8/2009 7:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
At the most, Microsoft should have only been required to provide the hooks necessary to have a distribution ready integration of any browser.

It would then be up to the browser producer to negotiate distribution via the distributors (i.e. Dell, HP, etc).

Should be in an OS
By CColtManM on 12/8/2009 1:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
An internet browser should be bundled with an Operating System. It is a vital component to the computer world and is needed by every user. If I buy Microsoft software, they should be free to bundle their software with their software.

It's not like anyone is making money on IE, or FF, or Opera.

RE: Should be in an OS
By nshoe on 12/8/2009 1:39:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's not like anyone is making money on IE, or FF, or Opera.

Actually, that is not entirely true. Microsoft does make money off of IE. With MSN usually being the default home page and BING the default search engine they make money from advertising. (and for the record Google does make money from FF and Opera default search engine settings)

RE: Should be in an OS
By CColtManM on 12/8/2009 3:01:50 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected.

But couldn't they advertise on any sites (that allow them to do so)? I mean, a lot of people have hotmail emails, so they would find MSN's site sooner or later, but I won't aruge, because I see the reasoning, it's search.

So, are these search wars more than they are browser wars? How does FF make money off of a Google homepage?

RE: Should be in an OS
By nshoe on 12/8/2009 3:07:41 PM , Rating: 2
The Mozilla Corporation gets money from Google for assigning the default search engine to Google and for click-throughs on the ensuing search pages.

RE: Should be in an OS
By bug77 on 12/9/2009 7:02:52 AM , Rating: 2
Fair enough.

However, it should not be a part of the OS. The user must be able to completely remove (you can only IE's UI in Win7) one browser and install another one as they see fit. The same goes for media players, text editors and anything that is not vital in any way.

I mean, look at how Linux does it: it's simple, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Fwiw, it helps that there are multiple linux distros, otherwise, a single distro shipping with FF by default may raise the same concerns Windows does.

By eddieroolz on 12/8/2009 12:44:52 PM , Rating: 5
So from now on, with every iteration of new Windows, we can expect EU to shove down more unreasonable requests down Microsoft's throat, and if they object -

"don't you dare object young man, we can fine you $1.5billion if you'd like! Now listen to our outrageous demands or pay up".

RE: So
By camylarde on 12/9/2009 10:07:51 AM , Rating: 2
Outrrrrrrageous demands you silly kniggits!

blame opera
By rika13 on 12/8/09, Rating: 0
RE: blame opera
By HotFoot on 12/8/2009 10:58:32 AM , Rating: 2
Did you miss your rabies shot or something? Try foaming at the mouth a little less.

Surprise surprise, there's power-tripping people in government or regulatory bodies. Europe doesn't have the monopoly on that.

RE: blame opera
By rika13 on 12/8/09, Rating: -1
RE: blame opera
By HotFoot on 12/8/2009 11:39:11 AM , Rating: 5
Both Norton and McAfee have their headquarters in the U.S.A.

I did not notice you going on a rant about the U.S.A., generalising an entire mass of people according to the actions of a select group.

Look, I agree with your points with respect to Vista/Win 7. I just don't think it needs to spiral into decrees about an entire continent being full of radicals conspiring against your nation. Come back to Earth.

No point?
By awer26 on 12/8/2009 11:42:25 AM , Rating: 5
I really don't see the point in this. MS creates a product that spans many different areas of the computer what? Why should they have to offer competitors products regarding IE? You don't see Apple being pressured into giving installers (if you could find any) the option of Safari. It's not like the other browsers are unadvertised. Whenever you use IE to visit for example, there's a big button in the top right corner that says "A faster way to browse the web...install Google Chrome".

Furthermore, why stop there. I mean, they could go ahead and do the same with the Games - offer the MS version of hearts and minesweeper, or some other package of Ebaumsworld-esque options instead?

Truthfully, if you don't know about Opera, Firefox, Safari, etc, you probably just don't care. You want to get on the internet and check your AOL email address that you got in 1994. More choices being randomized before using Windows for the first time won't make your experience any better either. Just sayin'.

By Abrahmm on 12/8/2009 11:42:56 AM , Rating: 3
This is really one of the dumbest things I have ever seen. Every single version of Windows I have owned has come with IE, that hasn't once stopped me from getting and using FireFox. Why is it that it's no issue for Apple to bundle Safari with OSX, or Ubuntu to bundle FireFox, but it's not fair for Microsoft to bundle IE? Something isn't right here.

It's a shame that Microsoft is forced to put up with this crap.

I Wonder...
By DtTall on 12/8/2009 1:46:35 PM , Rating: 3
How long will it be before complaints start rolling in that people can't find IE on their machine. They'll just pick the top item for browser and keep on going with no clue what they just did.

Also, given that the browser is such a critical component to a computer (as proof by Google coming out with a browser only OS) it seems not all that unreasonable to let Microsoft keep bundling it.

By camylarde on 12/9/2009 9:29:17 AM , Rating: 3
So, microsoft gives for free something that is not to be bought. Fine them 1.4 billion for it? Shouldn't winamp, a free audio player sue them for including free media player? Hoyle for including free solitaire? And whoever else for including free calculator, free firewall, free antivirus,etc. I DONT GET IT.

What is the foundation for fining them for including the IE with windows? Please use plain words for the description.

Never mind
By damianrobertjones on 12/8/2009 11:16:35 AM , Rating: 2
10 This can ONLY end up a win for MS. Maybe.

Let everyone and anyone have whatever browser they choose, let the market share divide and the malware writers do their thing.

Bam. Market the living back end out of Internet Explorer 9, heck, call it something new and it'll hit and probably be the safest browser at that time. The masses will then probably install, via updates or some other facility and we're back to square one.

20 Goto 10

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