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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 1:08:23 PM , Rating: 5
They (the top 6) in fact have (collectively) a monopoly over the PC market.
There is no such thing as a collective monopoly. I assume you mean something similar to a cartel. Those are some pretty hefty charges though, as you are essentially claiming that OEMS are price fixing, which i do not believe to be the case. OEM's actively compete against one another these days, price fixing would just allow a smaller competitor to become more prevelent in the market. You cannot compare OEM's to say the oil cartels whom actually control the market.
I may reject 1 OEM's pcs, but when all of them indulge in the same practice,then what choices are left.
I don't really understand your point here, its called market demand and the price someone is willing to pay. Pricing is not running out of control in the PC market, quite the opposite actually, so your claims see to be nothing but opinionated paranoia.

All candy stores in my area sell single pieces of gum for 25 cents.. Perhaps I should raise questions about price fixing =P

RE: Capitalism
By crystal clear on 10/7/09, Rating: -1
RE: Capitalism
By omnicronx on 10/7/2009 2:31:47 PM , Rating: 3
Dont expect the OEMs to openly admit the above facts. Hey if you compare prices all these OEMs match each other prices plus/minus around a certain price range,ofcourse depending on matching components (cpus/memory/Hds/gpus etc etc)
Once again.. paranoia, OEM's don't control the parts market, its not like we don't know the cost of a single component. We don't know the bulk deals OEM's get, but it is very easy to ballpark their margins, and it does not fit in with anything you say.. As usual, baseless comments based on nothing but paranoia.

With OEM's you are paying for not just the parts, but a service (support etc). This is a business strategy, hardly price fixing.
Small competitors just cannot match the top 6 (heavily subsidized/sponsored) in their offerings & prices.
Gee you think? You mean the more you buy/sell the bigger discount you get? Someone call the cops as the owners of Costco could be in big trouble. If a small competitor wants to compete with the big boys, it has to offer something innovative or different, otherwise they will have to except the far lower margins.
There is NO market demand for bundled software-nobody asked for it, neither wants it leave alone paying for it.
Thats irrelevent, and a business decision of the OEM. Getting 3rd party companies to pay you money to get their product out on the market is not illegal, nor will it ever be. Its an advantage of being a bigger player, plain and simple. This holds true in pretty much any market, big players will often be used to push other products. Its not collusion, its not price fixing and it sure as heck is not anti competitive behavior. (assuming they do not hold a large portion of the market, which in this case, they do not)

MS with their monopolistic positioning cannot use their product to push another, this is a completely different situation. 6 different OEM's regardless of their similar business practices, cannot be a monopoly, so its not a double standard, its just a completely different situtation.

RE: Capitalism
By omnicronx on 10/7/2009 2:42:23 PM , Rating: 2
The E.U. demands from Microsoft the ballot screen, whilst lets the OEMs sell the choice of the default browser to highest bidder.
Thats merely an assumption, as Windows 7 is yet to be released, you have no idea what OEM's will do. Its just is not in the best interest of OEM's to exclude IE from their installations. Perhaps they may include more than one browser, but if you really think EU OEM's are going to stop selling PC's with IE installed, I think you are heavily mistaken. Its still an industry standard, especially in business, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. The EU may be able to force MS to give single consumers the choice, but theres no reason to believe that OEM's will follow that path.

It has far more potential to be a money loser than a money maker. Business is still the majority of the OEM market, and excluding IE would be a fatal mistake, one which OEM's surely won't practice.

RE: Capitalism
By afkrotch on 10/8/2009 5:48:51 AM , Rating: 2
There is NO market demand for bundled software-nobody asked for it, neither wants it leave alone paying for it.

Thanks for your opinion there, but guess what? A lot of ppl want that bundled software. They don't want to have to go out and search for anything. They want a computer, with any kind of software they may or may not need. For them, they don't care if that software is good or not.

Why do you think IE has majority marketshare? If ppl care, they would have gone out, researched, and gotten a better browser, but they don't.

When it comes to computers, most don't care for choices.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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