Print 29 comment(s) - last by karlostomy.. on Dec 21 at 1:34 PM

Modified ballot box proposal accepted by EC

The European Union has now dropped the antitrust charges against Microsoft. The EU has agreed to accept the amended offer from Microsoft that will hit Windows users with a ballot box allowing them to choose their browser.

The antitrust charges have been a long running legal row between Microsoft and the EU. The web browser industry's smaller players have complained for years that the dominance of the Windows operating system allows Microsoft to abuse its monopoly power and effectively prevent other browsers from being used.

Microsoft offered the ballot box for browsers in October after the European Commission asked for the ballot box to be used. There were complaints about the first iteration of the ballot box with competitors claiming it didn’t offer enough information on the alternative browsers.

Earlier this month reports came in that the EC was set to approve the modified proposal from Microsoft that offered more detail on browsers and randomized choices. Today the proposal has been approved. Starting in March, the ballot box will be sent out as an update to Windows computers and will show users a pop-up window that offers the  a browser choice. The ballot box will offer up to 12 other browsers for users to choose from. The deal also allows Microsoft to escape other massive fines as long as it meets the conditions of the deal.

EU competition commissioner Nellie Kroes said, "The (European) Commission has resolved a serious competition concern for a key market for the development of the Internet." She called the deal an "early Christmas present" for Europeans.

Kroes describes the problem with Microsoft's IE browser as, "It is as if you went to the supermarket and they only offered you one brand of shampoo on the shelf, and all the other choices are hidden out the back, and not everyone knows about them. What we are saying today is that all the brands should be on the shelf."

The ballot box pop-up screen will be downloaded to Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 machines that are using Internet Explorer as the default browser.

About 100 million computers are expected to display the ballot box by mid-March with 30 million new machines displaying the ballot box over the next five years. If rival browser makers can’t grow their market share after this deal goes into effect, they have no one to blame but themselves. Microsoft will meet with EC members again in six months to assess how the compliance is going with the new deal.

Yahoo News reports that Microsoft is happy with the deal and general counsel Brad Smith said, "[Microsoft is pleased with] final resolution of several long-standing competition law issues in Europe" [and looks forward to building] "on the dialogue and trust that has been established between Microsoft and the Commission."

Microsoft isn’t completely out of the woods yet in Europe though. Kroes says that complaints from rival software makers that Microsoft is not sharing key information with them that is needed to make their software work with Microsoft products is still being investigated.

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RE: Hidden?
By rudy on 12/16/2009 9:48:45 AM , Rating: 3
And only one supermarket has to follow the rules the other apple and linux super markets do not.

RE: Hidden?
By ImSpartacus on 12/16/2009 9:56:30 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly! This is just retarded.

The people that only use IE8 don't know any better. I seriously doubt they would really care about what browser they are using.

Hell, at work I had to help an older Mennonite (think soft-core Amish) woman e-mail a word doc to herself because she didn't bring a flash drive or floppy disk to take her file home.

People like that struggle getting the basics down. One more option/step for them when they install Windows adds an exponential amount of stress. It's very difficult for people like us to understand what normal people go through with computers. BS like this doesn't help things.

RE: Hidden?
By T2k on 12/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: Hidden?
By Orpheus333 on 12/16/2009 10:50:31 AM , Rating: 2
For what its worth, we have a mennonite couple working in our universities biology department.: He is a professor of molecular biology and she is a professor of developmental biology/geneticist.

Their kid has the bar set pretty high. Anyway, they are not at all 'crazy' and as you can probably guess, not Amish like.

RE: Hidden?
By fatedtodie on 12/16/2009 10:33:59 AM , Rating: 2
"The people that only use IE8 don't know any better. I seriously doubt they would really care about what browser they are using."

You sound like a fanboy there. Especially since Firefox is a ton bigger vulnerability vector than IE8 (the programs that suffer from the most vulnerabilities are IE 6, Adobe reader, then firefox 3, IE8 isnt even in the top 10).

So before you make statements like that try to ammend it to take out the stupid.

say something like "people using IE8 use it because that is what they choose, I choose differently and would rather not be retarded and say bold statements about either side as it is not relevant to this issue"

RE: Hidden?
By drycrust3 on 12/16/2009 11:44:38 AM , Rating: 3
only one supermarket has to follow the rules the other apple and linux super markets do not

There isn't an IE8 Linux version available, but you are correct in that when you download a Linux distribution many will only have Firefox as their browser (although most have other browsers in their repositories).

But it does raise another point, which is how long will it be before new computers come with a Linux distribution on it, and when it does will it include the "ballot" option as well.

I know this won't be a popular concept, but isn't it time people considered the EU as a country and the nations of Europe as states?

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