The market share war for browsers, word processing suites, and other products wasn't much of a war when it came to Windows in the mid to late 90s. Microsoft was producing full-featured products which it increasingly tied to its own operating system. At the same time, it blocked or slowed the development of would-be competitors by withholding information on the OS.
This strategy, either brilliant or anticompetitive, depending on your viewpoint, landed Microsoft in hot water in 1999 when U.S. Federal Courts ruled that Microsoft was a monopoly which had used its powers to crush threats to the monopoly. In the decade since, Microsoft has been forced to make a number of reforms. While it has mostly avoided additional charges in the U.S., it has continued to run into trouble with the European Union, which has picked up where the U.S. left off.
The EU has already fined Microsoft over $2.4B USD for not making its interfaces open enough and refusing to comply with its rulings. As a result Microsoft has been forced to pay these massive fines and offer new services to competitors to make their products more compatible with Windows.
Now, following a fresh round of accusations which included criticism of Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, the EU, according to reports, has reached a new decision which may set a new worldwide precedent.
The EU will require Microsoft to package third party browser software with Windows. Furthermore, it will require Microsoft to provide further support efforts to make third party browsers' interface with Windows components like Windows Explorer as efficient as Internet Explorer's. The ruling is set to apply to both desktop Windows OS's and to Windows Mobile for cell phones.
Jonathan Todd, spokesperson for EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes states, "If the Commission's preliminary conclusions as outlined in the recent statement of objections were confirmed, the Commission would intend to impose remedies that enabled users and manufacturers to make an unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing third party web browsers. (Microsoft will have to allow users) to choose which competing web browser(s) instead of, or in addition to, Internet Explorer they want to install and which one they want to have as default."
EU officials propose a ballot screen when first using the OS which will tailor it to a specific browser of the user's choice. Another possibility, it says, is for Microsoft to negotiate with its OEMs who manufacture computers or phones with Windows and have them select the third party browsing software. Among the browsers considered as candidates are Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera.
The move comes at seemingly strange timing, when Firefox has finally established a solid foothold against Internet Explorer, which happens to be at a decade low of around 60 to 65 percent. However, the decision represents long standing complaints from an EU. It also marks a change in policy from previous rulings on Microsoft's Windows Media Player. With Windows Media Player, the EU required Microsoft offer a version of Windows without it. Of course, almost everyone picked the version with it, though. States one anonymous EU official, "That remedy was rubbish."
Microsoft has until March to draft a formal response to the EU's latest charges. A final decision from the EU is not expected until then, but there appears to be a consensus that offering competitive software appears to be the best idea. Microsoft reacted to the news with little emotion, stating, "We are committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law. We are studying the statement of objections."
Some speculate that the EU could bring similar regulations against Apple, which practices similar bundling of its Safari browser. However, Apple computers continue to be a bit player in market share, so such a move seems unlikely, as the primary argument here is based on Microsoft's dominant OS position.
quote: As you said, 3 or 4 Os choices is all the market can really support. Linux is for the Techies,
quote: What I want to know is...WHAT other browsers are they going to make Microsoft bundle? We thought Vista was big but now you are going to see 15 different browsers, 10 different media players, 8 different security protections, 500 free games, 32 different ways to connect to the internet (netzero, aol...) and anything else to make Windows bigger and more cluttered. Hay they could do a Vista Home Firefox edition and a Vista Home IE edition. 1000 editions of Windows to choose from!!!!
quote: Apple does not allow MacOS to run on non-Apple computers
quote: Actually, a monopoly is having the majority share of the market, specifically it means having enough control over a market so that you can lock competitors out.
quote: Apple does not allow MacOS to run on non-Apple computers
quote: Last I checked, you can run Windows on an Apple... so your arguement is not quite right.
quote: If you want to participate in the computing activities/products/services of virtually the entire world, you have to use Windows.
quote: Yea actualy the only thing i used the emulator for was WoW, and Word.
quote: as the primary argument here is based on Microsoft's dominant OS position.
quote: The difference is that Apple doesn't force you to use Safari on Mac. Microsoft forces IE by making it the only browser compatible with their website. Try downloading something from MS using Firefox and you'll find out.
quote: HTML and the web HAS (HAD) standards, Microsoft broke those standards. So many sites have to run "broken" on purpose to be compatible.
quote: They will after OS X hits more than 60% marketshare.
quote: Oh, and resellers are probably free to bundle alternative browsers on the Mac as well, Apple doesn't prohibit that.
quote: Web Applications would be 1000x further along if IE did not have the dominant position(or any position for that matter).
quote: MS thinks their Silverlight platform is worth a damn. It's not.
quote: Still as I mentioned before. Given equal opportunity IE would probably have half that market share.
quote: Obviously the EU isn't happy yet.
quote: So what? If Pepsi doesn't have the advertising budget of Coca Cola, should Coca Cola be forced to make up the difference so that Pepsi has an equal opportunity????
quote: So extra thought would be needed for a way to present this to the user.
quote: No they won't put "recommended" because that's a lie, there's no reason for one to be recommended over the other. They wouldn't be allowed to do that.
quote: Each vendor would offer their own information about their product, the user clicks which one they would like to be installed as default. This choice alone would lower IE's market share significantly.
quote: Or do you not believe consumers should have choice?
quote: So Microsoft won't be able to recommend their own product? How kind of you. That's truly fair.
quote: No they wouldn't because they don't have a good reason to recommend IE over FF or Chrome for example.
quote: Ok let's imagine the following example of a commercial.We recommend you buy and iPhone because we (Apple) believes it is the fastest phone for browsing the web.
quote: I believe vendors need to back up their opinions based on facts.
quote: the user clicks which one they would like to be installed as default
quote: Or do you not believe consumers should have choice?
quote: What happens when they click cancel? They're left with a system without a browser?
quote: There's little point in trying to explain this further if you don't see the point already.
quote: You need to separate Microsoft's Opertaing System business from their Web Browser business.
quote: Would IE be as successful as it is today if it were not developed by the developer of Windows and not bundled with it?
quote: Hate to side with Steve, but you're the one not getting the point.
quote: You can't use the car examples. Ford doesn't have a monopoly that it is using unfairly.
quote: The EU doesn't care about wordpad because there's no significant market there at stake.
quote: You know where to get it, but not everyone with a Windows PC knows that. It took me a while to find FF and when I did I switched immediately.
quote: This would apply to more people if they had been shown any alternative. There's still lots of people going "what? alternative browser?", because they don't even get the concept of there being anything else then IE. MS should give everyone on Windows the chance to experience alternative browsers.
quote: An OS is an OS, a browser is an app.
quote: Yes. Typing "firefox" into google is a pretty difficult task. I concede.
quote: And why is it up to MS to advertise for these alternatives? Are they going to be reimbursed for their services?
quote: If you don't like it, download a basic Linux distro.
quote: I am not saying advertising, simply present links in the preinstalled IE and say it is due to EU regulations or so.
quote: I just don't see the point other than trying to harrass MS.
quote: Microsoft is in no way, and should never be, obligated to provide anything with their OS that they don't choose. Other industries aren't burdened with such requirements......A perfect example is the auto industry.
quote: many of you are commenting while having a misunderstanding of what monopoly is or can be.
quote: Another possibility, it says, is for Microsoft to negotiate with its OEMs who manufacture computers or phones with Windows and have them select the third party browsing software. Among the browsers considered as candidates are Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera.
quote: With Windows Media Player, the EU required Microsoft offer a version of Windows without it. Of course, almost everyone picked the version with it, though. States one anonymous EU official, "That remedy was rubbish."
quote: And as has been shown in courts of law, Microsoft, in using this bundle definition of an "OS," is, in fact, abusing a monopoly position.
quote: How in the WORLD is the end user negatively effected by MS throwing IE in with Windows ? What abuse ?
quote: I'm sure Bill Gates sat in a smoky dark room one night and proclaimed "Gentlemen, it's time to change what the definition is of an OS ! ( evil laugh with henchmen joining in ) " Give me a break you idiot.
quote: They realized that they could use the ubiquity of their OS platform to gain control of other application spaces - in this case, specifically media players and web browsers. It was absolutely a calculated move, and it was absoutely intended to get people to use MS applications instead of opting for something else.
quote: ...you would feel differently if you worked for one of the vendors who are effectively shut out of the majority of their potential market by MS forced OS bundle.
quote: Well, sounds like you've solved the problem then. Kudos to you.
quote: You give that a shot and let us know how it goes.
quote: My OP was largely a review of perfectly verifiable history, and then my own opinion of what a court should do with MS. Other than that last opinion piece, the rest of the OP is absolutely irrefutable. 100% on the mark.
quote: The abuse of their monopoly position is against other software providers.
quote: If they didn't include wmp or ie, a lot of people might complain about not having "standard features" that every other OS comes with
quote: MS has already been convicted of using it's OS monopoly position to shut out vendors of applications that compete with stuff the force into the Windows bundle. This has already happened - you don't get to disagree with that fact.
quote: In this way, by changing the definition of an "OS" to a *bundle*, Microsoft has fundamentally shut out publishers of alternative applications to the VAST majority of users. And as has been shown in courts of law, this is an abuse of a monopoly position.
quote: Look at it this way though...if you could look at 12 different Windows PCs at Best Buy, and each of the 12 had a different bundle, wouldn't that be better for you as a consumer?
quote: Things that you don't even think twice about, like downloading and installing a new browser, are absolutely petrifying to the average consumer.