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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: Good...
By BZDTemp on 12/16/2009 10:22:50 AM , Rating: 0
Honestly! Is not about time you and the other with similar thoughts realize this is not about the EU grasping for money.

The EU is a bigger economy than the US and while there is a global crisis seen from here it is really more of a US crisis. In other words - we do not need to get money by suing US companies.

EU economy wise there is however one thing that gave me a little fright for a while. The crazy health care system in the US which lets the medical companies charge absurd prices for medication is fueling our medical companies. If that was to end our medical costs would surely rise but since it looks like US public health care is dead in the water we, and the rest of the world, can keep getting US sponsored medication. Thank you for that :-)

RE: Good...
By gunzac21 on 12/16/2009 10:52:15 AM , Rating: 1
an why do they have such a big economy.... because of U.S company court cases

RE: Good...
By Danish1 on 12/16/2009 11:31:07 AM , Rating: 1
You may want to read up on TFT manufacturer lawsuit mr. ignorant.

RE: Good...
By weskurtz0081 on 12/16/2009 11:30:06 AM , Rating: 5
Do you even have any idea what's wrong with the US health care system and why?

Do you know what the average rate of return on investment is for a Pharma company in the US?

Seriously, do you have any idea what you are talking about outside of random crap you have seen on TV or the internet?

RE: Good...
By BZDTemp on 12/16/2009 3:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
Well since I work in the industry I have a very good idea about what is going on. What the ROI in the sector is in the US is pretty useless as an indicator when you are looking at global companies.

As for the US health care system I'd say a lot of things are wrong. For starters the US spends substantially more per capita than other OECD countries and that is while thousands of Americans die each year due to lacking treatment.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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