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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 Yawgm0th on 10/8/2009 12:01:47 PM , Rating: 3
As you may recall, the Commission's position is that PC users should have an effective and unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing web browsers to ensure competition on the merits.
I disagree with the Commissions position on two counts.

A web browser is not a product. It is a part of a larger software suite or a utility that can be added on. It does not need forced competition or government regulation. Microsoft killed the paid browser market in 90s. Let's keep it dead.

Users have an "effective and unbiased" choice amongst web browsers. Users who can even comprehend the choices are capable of downloading them. Those who aren't will only be confused by a browser ballot.


So this crappy practice (as you call it) denies the user an effective/unbiased choice between browsers,as the OEM installs the default browser of highest bidder (Microsft or Google).
It doesn't deny the user a choice at all. They don't need a browser ballot to get an unbiased choice. Have you seen the browser ballot? It's silly. It doesn't tell you anything about the browsers. If people want an unbiased explanation of web browsers they need to read a few reviews or -- God forbid -- download and try the browsers. In any case, they have a choice between PC manufacturers. If a given manufacturer includes an inferior web browser out of the box it will affect sales. It's not necessarily that people will buy based on the default browser; it's that if the browser doesn't work it will affect people's perceptions of that OEM negatively. People still have lots of choices.

OEMs will not give you the ballot screen !

Thank goodness! I'm glad they will spare European consumers that particular pain.

It cleary shows the E.U. is more interested in hitting Microsoft with fines rather than free choices & competition.
Verity! I have no doubt the EU is simply out to fine Microsoft at every turn.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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