The European Union and Microsoft have an icy relationship. The EU's business regulatory arm, the European Commission, has fined Microsoft almost $2B USD over the past decade. It is currently hounding Microsoft with allegations that it engaged in impropriety, bundling its own browser -- Internet Explorer -- with Windows.
A number of third party browsers -- including Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari -- can run in Windows. However, only Internet Explorer comes preinstalled with Windows. The third-party developers claim that this bundling is anticompetitive.
The EC had officially charged Microsoft with "[harming] competition between Web browsers, undermines product innovation, and ultimately [reducing] consumer choice" via bundling IE with Windows. It had scheduled a closed doors oral hearing June 3-5 in Brussels, Belgium to allow Microsoft the chance to speak its piece.
Instead, Microsoft has rejected the opportunity to show, insisting it has nothing to worry about. It says it has a sufficient option bundled with Windows 7 that will kill Internet Explorer 8, allowing other programs to be used exclusively (DailyTech verified this -- Windows 7 users go to "Uninstall a Program", then "Turn Windows features on or off" and finally check to remove IE 8). However, this option does not automatically install competitors browsers, it is not presented in the installation of Windows 7 (or at first login), and third-party browsers are not bundled with Windows as the EU hoped.
Microsoft insists the snub of the EC's hearing is unintentional -- it says it can't make it because it has to attend the Zurich, Switzerland, meeting of the International Competition Network -- which it calls "the most important worldwide intergovernmental competition law meeting." Dave Heiner, VP and deputy general counsel for Microsoft states, "As a result, it appears that many of the most influential commission and national competition officials with the greatest interest in our case will be in Zurich and so unable to attend our hearing in Brussels."
A request for reschedule by Microsoft was denied. The EC said the availability of rooms in the courthouse made it impossible to reschedule. Microsoft offered to find an alternate room, but the EC rejected this proposal.
It is unclear what Microsoft's fate will be when the EC makes it ruling. Microsoft appears to be making some steps to allow users to opt out of Internet Explorer, but it still is far from embracing third-party browsers. Furthermore, the EC has a variety of options -- it could fine Microsoft, it could force it (or OEMs) to bundle third party browsers with Windows, or it could even simply ask Microsoft to ship Internet Explorer as a separate install disc in Europe.
The EU has been adopting an aggressive stance on antitrust violations over the last couple years. Just this month it fined chipmaker Intel a massive $1.45B USD, its largest fine to date, for engaging it anticompetitive payoffs and discounting. Microsoft had previously been charged for browser bundling by the U.S. Justice Department, which it reached a settlement with in 2002, pledging to be more open with its interface and accepting of third-party browsers.
quote: Why the Clinton pic?
quote: And, how is a monopoly in the OS area applicable here?
quote: W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to use Internet Explorer, since it comes preinstalled with Windows. Most do not seek out other browsers.These facts indicate that the browser figures above are not 100% realistic. Other web sites have statistics showing that Internet Explorer is used by at least 80% of the users.
quote: Firefox currently holds 47.1% of browsers.
quote: So now that limits MS competitors to... Linux distributors... That means that there are no competing browsers from the EU.
quote: My point is that the EU is indirectly raising prices for the end consumer, in an industry that they have no companies in.
quote: In MS's case, they support nearly ever hardware config, and nearly every modern application.
quote: i don't think they need to fine US companies to generate their revenue,
quote: I think it's pretty clear that the shiny new features you see in IE7 and IE8 would not be there if there had been no competition from Firefox.
quote: 22.48% is insignificant and it proves Microsoft is using its monopoly to keep competitors from succeeding.
quote: ...nobody forces people to buy their software.
quote: An OS should come fully capable out of the box
quote: Well one car manufacturer does not have a 80+ market share nor does this none-existing automaker bundle any boats with it's cars!
quote: The trial is about MS using their Windows market share to push IE.
quote: I don't understand this either.
quote: APPLE DOES NOT HAVE A HUGE CONTROLLING MARKET SHARE IN THE OS BUSINESS. MICROSOFT HAS CONTROL AND ARE FOUND TO ABUSE THIS TO FURTHER THEIR OTHER PRODUCTS
quote: MS including IE in windows doesn't hurt the consumer at all. That's the whole point of Anti-trust laws. In fact, given the importance of the internet, not including a browser with an OS would be of harm to the consumer.
quote: But full-featured browsers like IE, Firefox, Opera, etc. should be sold for money.
quote: If they provide a real reason for me to be annoyed with something then I’ll voice that opinion as well.
quote: Most of the people in whichever country you are from however are not. Those are the people that bodies like the EU (or whoever) try to protect.
quote: As well as people who are completely blinded to the whole point of articles because it doesn't suit their point of view, or are unwilling to think about anyone other than themselves, thinking that everything is about them, and/or if it doesn't affect them then it doesn't matter.
quote: It's a shame that you and many here are not able to think outside your own experience, but hey ho. not everyone is comfortable installing new software (unless it's a browser tool bar it seems) or even knows where to look for one.
quote: If they gave their OS away to home users and only charged businesses for their OSs then you'd have a better comparison there.
quote: It seems that quite often the MS apologists want to have everything their own way. If IE is free, then what problem do MS have with people competing with it on a level playing filed , what do they have to lose?
quote: It doesn't matter whether you like MS or not, this isn't just a Microsoft issue. What kind of precedent does this kind of thinking create? Imagine any other company of your choosing being told it's wrong not to include competing products with your own. Or that it's wrong to include your own free products in a package with a larger product. Imagine yourselves in that place. For some of you I'm sure it's easy to be on the side of the EU because MS is "evil", but how would you feel if was your own company?
quote: To a highly defensive Ms supporting (no doubt American, wanting to defend one of their own against a foreign"aggressor") audience I can see why your view of my comment are tinted, thinking that I'm no doubt some sort of EU commie.
quote: then the solution is simple. Make your own operating system.
quote: So, is the EU going to sue every car maker?
quote: I don't need to explain anything...
quote: Look at Firefox market share numbers, and you see that it is growing, the market is doing fine.
quote: But they build the OS, who the f cares if IE is bundled, it's not like people don't have a CHOICE TO GET ANOTHER BROWSER
quote: The first time you install Google Chrome, it prompts you to select a search provider. This is a good example of how a monopolistic company doesn't abuse its power. It's too bad Chrome will never succeed because of Microsoft's abuse of power.
quote: The fine Intel was given comes to less than 3 dollars per person in the EU so please do tell how this is getting rich on fines.
quote: US good at stopping monopolies. Not so much in the later years. Sure IBM, Microsoft, Ma Bell and others have felt it in the past but fx. Bush actually stopped several states running a case against Microsoft. Also Apple is actually building an Music distribution monopoly so mentioning that is perhaps not a good point.
quote: - Of course I generalize so do you. There is limited room here but I do not just say "This is stupid" without at least saying why. Also what makes you think the EU is not a free market (with regulations in moderation)? I think the sub-prime crisis show pretty well what happens when there is to little regulation - or maybe you disagree?
quote: - Side point. Intel's dirty tricks. There were giving discounts on the condition of not AMD products not being sold. Discounts are fine as long as it is not A. price dumping or B. tied to conditions which hurt the free market.
quote: - Side point two. Ron Paul. I remember reading about him up to the 2008 nomination. Not sure I agree with him very much. I think there should be free health care for all and good social security. Also I am not sure it would be good for US if the federal government is scaled down in a huge way. The later is however certainly interesting because a similar topic is the debate in the EU. As you know the EU is like a club of nations where each has given up some national control for it to work. Something which certainly has both good and sides to it.
quote: Microsoft-Another sponsor of the E.U. taxpayers
quote: What's next? Sue Apple for making the IPhone Safari-exclusive
quote: I see no problem with IE being bundled with windows. If you don't want to use it, just download another browser and never use IE again.