Microsoft is anticipating great success with its new Windows 7 operating system, but is being wary of any antitrust violations that may occur. The company has already been fined over $2 billion USD by the European Commission for previous infractions, including a record setting $1.4 billion USD fine in February of last year.
Those infractions centered on Microsoft's inclusion of Windows Media Player in Windows XP. After several costly appeals, the firm relented and shipped "N" versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista in order to comply with the European Commission's directives.
Earlier this year, the European Commission moved to require Microsoft to package third-party browser software with Windows. Those rules would also require Microsoft to provide support to make third-party browsers work with Windows components, such as Windows Explorer. Microsoft is currently in litigation to appeal the introduction of those rules.
In order to avoid any potential problems, Microsoft will ship special European versions of all its Windows 7 editions. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 will be available, but will be appended with an "E" at the end of the product name. For example, "Windows 7 Home Premium E" will most likely be the most common edition in Europe. The "E" versions of Windows 7 will ship on October 22, the same time as Windows 7 ships to the rest of the world. Global language support is extensive, and in Europe alone Windows 7 will be available in 23 European languages.
"We're committed to making Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time that it launches in the rest of the world, but we also must comply with European competition law as we launch the product," wrote Dave Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Microsoft.
The "E" versions will be sold alongside new Windows 7 "N" versions in Europe, with the only difference being that "N" versions do not include Windows Media Player. "Microsoft will not offer for distribution in the European territory the Windows 7 product versions that contain IE, which are intended for distribution in the rest of the world," Microsoft said in a memo distributed to its OEM partners. "This will apply to both OEM and Retail versions of Windows 7 products."
OEMs can choose to add any browser they want to their Windows 7 machines, including Internet Explorer, so European consumers who are purchasing new PCs will be still be able to access the Internet. Consumers will also be able to add any web browser to their PCs, to supplement or replace the browsers preinstalled by their computer manufacturer.
"Given the pending legal proceeding, we’ve decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users. This means that computer manufacturers and users will be free to install Internet Explorer on Windows 7, or not, as they prefer. Of course, they will also be free, as they are today, to install other Web browsers," elaborated Heiner.
EU officials have proposed a ballot screen system which would tailor the OS to a specific browser of the user's choice when first using the OS. Among the browsers considered as candidates are Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, and Opera.
In order to meet its October 22 Windows 7 global release date, Microsoft needed to start telling OEMs this week exactly what to expect in Windows 7, so they can begin the software engineering work necessary to have their Windows 7 PCs available in stores on that date. That includes the ballot screen system if OEMs choose to adopt it, as well as legal, financial, and technical negotiations on including the browsers from the various third parties.
Microsoft is moving forward with a collaborative tone: "We will continue to discuss browser issues and other matters with the Commission. But even as the Commission processes continue, we know we need to have a clear plan in place to address the “bundling” issue in Europe because, at the end of the day, the obligation to comply with European competition law belongs to Microsoft alone".
quote: EU is a good thing for the economy
quote: Telling you what kind of bulbs you can have, what animal products you cannot have (seal)
quote: Pulling out of EU would just give you less say.
quote: €100bn - that's 1% of EU27 GDP. EU budget is capped at that and I don't think that's the issue. It's not an awful lot of money.
quote: use right lane instead of left one (this is a joke, of course) ;D
quote: Couldn't MS then make a simple disclaimer telling the user that he is not enclosed to IE and free to choose among other alternatives if he decides he is not happy with IE?-
quote: That's the point of it. Letting the user know that he's not enclosed to IE and he can choose any other thing if he pleases. This would also save MS from to getting in the muddy waters of making themselves a decision for what alteratives the user can get. It's simply up to the user to get into that matter if he minds to.
quote: the EU commission is just out of control.
quote: Seriously, though, I don't think that much market exists for stripped-down Windows. For example, when Microsoft offered Windows in the EU without Media Player, practically nobody bought it.
quote: And besides, many of the items you mention - such as Messenger, MSN, Outlook, are not part of the newer versions of Windows. They are separate downloads.
quote: That would be a start but i doubt that it is true.
quote: It was not offered within normal channels. I found some oem who delivered it but had to buy a complete pc with it. Microsoft is not making any efforts to sell those N versions at the time. Afcourse this is logical. Microsoft wants there media standards as THE standards
quote: Given the pending legal proceeding, we’ve decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users.
quote: Anyway, I'm sure Microsoft won't ship Windows 7 without IE. It will be disabled, but not removed since it's part of the operating system and many Windows components rely on IE objects.
quote: EU officials have proposed a ballot screen system which would tailor the OS to a specific browser of the user's choice when first using the OS. Among the browsers considered as candidates are Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, and Opera.
quote: All MS is doing is offering a IE8 free version if anyone specifically requests it. Hardly anyone will though. Its just compliance.
quote: I format, at minimum once a month..
quote: If Microsoft were smart they would do the Apple thing and include IE in Windows 7 but not imbed it and allow you to download Firefox etc. and then get rid of IE.
quote: so glad that microsoft are not worried about the Apple platform, so we can go on having a very easy, cool computer experience !!
quote: If you have XP or Vista try and get rid of IE, put it in the trash- you can't ! You are not allowed to. So this very leaky browser as regards viruses etc is there for keeps its part of the OS , you can't do anything about it. Now look at Apple you get Safari when you buy it , use Safari to download Firefox, Opera etc then put Safari in the trash and its gone.