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Microsoft Browser Choice Screen  (Source: Microsoft)
Full roll out will start the week of March 1 in Europe

Microsoft has a long history of accusations that it abuses its dominant position in the browser and operating system markets. These allegations have resulted in several investigations into Microsoft in both America and Europe. One of the more recent investigations happened last year in Europe and was focused on Internet Explorer.

Ultimately, antitrust charges were filed against Microsoft for its practice of bundling IE with Windows in Europe. Microsoft eventually agreed to offer a ballot box that would allow Windows users to choose what browser they want to install on their computer and the charges in Europe were dropped.

Microsoft VP and Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner has posted to the
Microsoft on the Issues blog new information on the browser choice screen for Europe. Heiner wrote, "Over the next few weeks, Microsoft will begin offering a “Web browser choice screen” to Internet Explorer users in Europe, as required by the European Commission. Internal testing of the choice screen is underway now. We’ll begin a limited roll-out externally next week, and expect that a full scale roll-out will begin around March 1, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. If you are an Internet Explorer user in Europe, here is what to expect."

Microsoft will begin testing the choice screen next week in the UK, Belgium, and France. Anyone in those three countries that wants to test the choice screen will be able to download the software update via Windows Update. The phased roll out of the choice screen across all of Europe will kick off the week of March 1.

Microsoft reports that the choice screen will be an automatic download through Windows Update for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Users will either find that the software is downloaded automatically or they may be prompted to download and install the software depending on settings and the version of Windows in use on the PC. 

The choice screen will be shown on all computers running IE as the default browser. Windows 7 users with IE pinned to the taskbar will have the browser automatically unpinned. The choice screen will offer details to users on different browsers and links to download them in a random order.

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RE: Europe is Retarded
By CurseTheSky on 2/20/2010 11:57:46 AM , Rating: 0
So when you guys buy a VW, BMW, Ford, or other car company's product, do you insist that they give you a choice of what air cleaner, tires, and oil it comes with?

If you don't like what a company supplies with their product, either change the item to something else or don't buy the product. How hard is that? Unlike oil, air cleaners, and tires, changing your browser only takes about 2-3 minutes and won't cost you a penny more.

RE: Europe is Retarded
By Nighteye2 on 2/20/2010 2:09:38 PM , Rating: 1
It does, actually, if the browser preloads parts of itself during system boot and continues to consume system resources even when you're not using it. It may not cost you any money, but it does cost you performance.
It is only because of the lawsuits that microsoft has finally made it possible to uninstall IE.

RE: Europe is Retarded
By porkpie on 2/20/2010 3:31:59 PM , Rating: 2
The "parts of itself" that IE loads were core HTTP/HTML functionality that Windows itself uses to grant these services to applications. Removing them would mean Windows apps (many of which were written by companies other than MS) would suddenly fail.

As for "costing you performance", now you're going to fine Microsoft for not making Windows fast enough to suit you?

Sheer lunacy.

RE: Europe is Retarded
By Nighteye2 on 2/21/2010 4:02:26 PM , Rating: 1
It's not much performance, but it's the principle. I want to be the one to decide which programs use my system resources in which way. I want to be in control of my own computer, including which applications and drivers get installed on it and which programs and drivers get loaded when the system boots, or some time afterwards.

That is not an unreasonable demand, is it?

RE: Europe is Retarded
By porkpie on 2/21/2010 4:11:51 PM , Rating: 1
"That is not an unreasonable demand, is it? "

Not if you write your own operating system. If you're buying one from someone else, though, then you don't have the right to tell them how to design it.

Do you have the right to tell Honda what engine to put in your Civic? Or to force Nike to make your sneakers in mauve and lavender?

It's Microsoft's product. They have a right to design it however they wish. Personally, I think offering HTTP services at a very low level is a great idea.

It wasn't that long ago that basic networking wasn't considered part of an operating system. Microsoft made it a default part of Windows...and two dozen network vendors went out of business overnight. Can you imagine if the EU had come along then, and forced MS to remove NETWORKING from Windows?

I'll say it again-- this is sheer lunacy.

RE: Europe is Retarded
By Nighteye2 on 2/21/2010 9:21:42 PM , Rating: 1
Not the engine, but you do get to choose whether or not you want airconditioning, or other optional features.

The purpose of an OS is to be an interface between the hardware and the software/user. Every aspect that does that I have no problems with - including support of network cards, network drivers.

But a browser is an application, it is not an interface with the hardware - therefore, it should be optional, not mandatory.

RE: Europe is Retarded
By porkpie on 2/21/2010 10:02:55 PM , Rating: 3
"you do get to choose whether or not you want airconditioning, or other optional features."

You get to choose IF the manufacturer has made that feature optional. Every car maker, though, has mandatory features on specific models that you cannot alter.

"But a browser is an application, it should be optional"

The browser is optional. The low-level support for HTTP communication and HTML rendering is not.

Remember at one point not that long ago, "support for network card, network drivers, etc" were APPLICATIONS. You purchased them separately, if you wanted them...and they were not cheap.

Microsoft changed making them a mandatory feature. By the EU's current logic, that would have been an illegal move...but it was one that was an incalculable benefit to the consumer.

How many here remember hand-installing the early TCP/IP stacks, and all the thousands of compatibility problems between the stack you had chosen, and the programs that required it? Do we REALLY want the government to be in the business of dictating what should and shouldn't be part of an OS?

RE: Europe is Retarded
By Nighteye2 on 2/22/2010 2:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
It is optional now, yes, with windows 7. It wasn't in XP, for example. And drivers have never been applications - drivers come with the hardware and plug into the hardware application layer, or HAL. Communication protocals like TCP/IP are part of the drivers, or at least equivalent.

Also when optional features are made not optional, in cars you have a choice to buy a different car. For an OS, there is only one that can play all your games. For all intents and purposes they practically have a monopoly, which makes it extra important to be sure they do not abuse it.

RE: Europe is Retarded
By Crystallas on 2/21/2010 11:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, if there was one automaker that was leaps and bounds above all others in terms of ownership and usage, then that one company has the ability to jeopardize any company. This is an anti-trust, and violates choice.

Automakers don't manufacture many of their own parts. The tires, filters, lubricants are all competitive, and users have a distinct choice in which they would choose for their own needs and support. Whereas an Operating system that did not allow a user to uninstall Internet Explorer freely for many years is not anywhere near comparable as a choice, and manipulates the lack of knowledge a user may have to continuously push their own product.

Microsoft's defense at one point was, if you buy Windows, you do not own what you buy from them, but you are permitted to use it. While I understand they need to protect their own IP, Microsoft should never imply that you aren't allowed to use what you have purchased, the way you choose to use it.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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