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Microsoft and the European Union finally seem to be on the verge of working out their differences, with a new Windows 7 balloting proposal.  (Source: MSDN/Microsoft)
The European Commission and Microsoft appear to finally be on the verge of resolving an antitrust dispute over Windows 7's browser

Microsoft has long packaged its Internet Explorer browser with Windows.  The bundling has given Microsoft's browser a dominant position in the marketplace, despite promising alternatives including Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome.  That cozy position could soon change, though, thanks to action by Europe's antitrust watchdog and business regulatory body, the European Commission.

The EC demanded Microsoft offer a ballot selection screen to allow users to pick their browser of choice with Windows 7.  Microsoft at first refused, saying it would not include IE 8 in European copies of Windows 7.  In the end, though, Microsoft came around and agreed to a ballot screen.

The EC had some minor complaints about Microsoft's first proposal -- mainly its lack of information to users about what the browsers were to help them make their selection.  Under the new proposal, which the EC calls much "improved" users could find out information on what a browser is from the ballot screen.  They would also have access to additional information about each browser they could install, to help them make their decision. 

Under the new proposal, the balloting system would work for five years after purchase on any new install.  Windows 7 and all future versions of Windows would implement this scheme.

EC showed Microsoft some love, with a regulator stating, "The commission's concern has been that PC users should have an effective and unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing Web browsers to ensure competition on the merits and to allow consumers to benefit from technical development and innovation both on the Web-browser market and on related markets, such as Web-based applications."

Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft stated that his company was "pleased by today's decisions."

Microsoft and Europe have had a rocky relationship, with Microsoft fined 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) in 2008 for antitrust violations.  Brad Smith says that situation has greatly turned around, though.  He gave Europe some love back, stating, "It's heartening to see the much better relationship that exists today."

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RE: Capitalism
By omnicronx on 10/7/2009 12:58:45 PM , Rating: 4
OSX does not have to meet the same standards because they don't have a 90%+ marketshare behemoth of an OS to push their browser. Not exactly fair (nor do I agree), but market domination comes with a price. I really think regulations need to be set for OS's in general. Anything considered basic OS functionality should not be subject to these kinds of investigations.

The EU obviously has something against these big American companies. They are trying to cripple MS out of the market position. Just think about it, 10 years from now any new innovation released by a 3rd party developer probably won't find its way into Windows. Yet OSX/Linux will be in the clear to do as they will. Forcing a user to use a browser is one thing, but just think of the repercussions going forward, MS is going to be at a huge disadvantage in Europe. Anti monopolistic laws were not put in place to take market dominance from the biggest players, its there to stop abuse, and from my point of view, including basic functionality should not be covered by this.

This is abuse of the system, and if the EU thinks they can protect their own investments by what are essentially illegal means, they have something coming. Eventually other countries will retaliate in one form or another.. then well all be in for a surprise.

RE: Capitalism
By Blessedman on 10/8/2009 6:50:12 AM , Rating: 1
The real problem with this is you might see 10 new browsers pop up in the next 5 years just to get their name on this ballot list, where does it end for Microsoft? How far do they need to go? Even if these new browsers are complete shit, they will use this ballot system as a way to propel their name.

Another HUGE problem with the idea that an OS shouldn't be monopolistic is compatibility, the nightmare of having 10 different flavors of OS's and 10 different UI's that would drive good idea back to the stone ages to try and develop. One OS should dominate for the sake of innovation in application development. An OS is just that an operating system it is the layer between the hardware and the user... The EU is just mad because they don't have control over such an OS or it's income.

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