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OP: Why Microsoft is Innocent with IE8

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 41 comments
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The never ending browser wars: Firefox is gaining, Chrome is here, Safari hits version 4, Internet Explorer should be canned. So many opinions, so many rulings.

Microsoft this week announced that it would not ship Internet Explorer in Windows 7 for the European market. No thanks to rulings and regulations by the European Union, Microsoft would face big fines if it decided to bundle IE with Windows 7. Still, Windows 7 shipping elsewhere will have IE--and thank goodness!

I understand the need for competition. But this bashing against Microsoft by the EU is becoming out of hand. Because of the nature of the operating system, it's a matter of convenience for the user to have a browser shipped along. Imagine installing Windows only to find out you can't even get online to grab a 3rd party browser.

To be frank, I like to use Firefox. After a Windows install however, the first thing I do is go and grab the latest drivers. How does the EU expect me to be able to do that without a browser installed? Does the EU expect me to use possibly old drivers from the CD that came with the motherboard, graphics card and whatever else I have? No thank you.

How can I even get Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, or whatever else I wanted without getting to each browser's respective website to begin with?

Here's the kicker though: almost all recent operating systems ship with browsers. Flavors of Linux, Mac OS X, etc., all ship with browsers already packaged. And why does the EU think people lack choice if Microsoft includes IE? I don't. I can still use whatever I wish. Microsoft never forbid me and doesn't forbid anyone from using a different browser.

Removing the browser from the operating system is a disservice to the customer, not a favor. Please EU, get your heads around this. If you're going to force Microsoft to remove something that is a matter of great convenience for me and everyone else, enforce this rule for all operating systems. Imagine getting your Mac home only to find that you can't do jack without Safari installed. Imagine building your custom rig, booting up, only to find that you can't grab the latest drivers because there's no browser.

Is that called choice?

Sorry EU, that's called moving backwards.

I am sure the EU recognizes this issue. So what's the cause then? Could it possibly that companies who develop other web browsers are crying over the fact that their release isn't as popular? Could they possibly be making the claim that they're not shipping enough because Microsoft has an unfair advantage?

Let us be reminded that a long time ago, IE was the arm-pit of browsers, and Netscape was king. What happened there? What occurred was that Microsoft came up with a better and more convenient solution for end users. Period.

Technology and advancements often will make certain business go out of business or become unpopular. But so what? If you can't adapt, you're going to be phased out. That's just the nature of, everything.

I want a browser in my operating system. If I want or need to, I will go grab something else. But don't force me to, EU.

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  • 0 Hide
    timbozero , 13 June 2009 15:07
    I have lived in the EU region my entire life (43 years) and have to admit that I would be a happier Windows user if the various incarnations of IE could have been completely uninstallable. That said , the EU has basically decided to single out Microsoft (because of other manufacturers of browsers bitching) and fine them for 'limiting' which browsers can be used with Windows. I have never found it hard to install another browser nor have I ever been able to completely remove IE. The EU has brought this upon themselves and Microsoft has responded in a somewhat 'childish' but understandable fashion.
    Had users got involved and stated what they actually wanted rather than let regulatory bodies run blind based on competitors whining , we would have Windows (a Microsoft product) shipping with IE (another Microsoft product) in a fashion that users could choose to either install and use it , install and replace and completely remove it or, never install it in the first place.
  • -2 Hide
    kirkncc1701 , 13 June 2009 15:24
    this is oppression. Why should i have to buy an o/s with no browser? Stupid EU doesnt actually think about what the people need.

    would be funny if Microsoft did just not ship seven to the EU out of spite, then claim that apple isnt being fair on the browser market for shipping mac's with safari installed.
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 13 June 2009 17:14
    I can see both sides of the issue here. I don't want to have to use a different PC to download firefox, however, I don't overly wnat IE on there. There's never going to be an ideal.

    Does this mean software like Valve's Steam will have to look around a number of locations for a browser, or user will have to specify during installation etc?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 13 June 2009 17:32
    "Reacting to antitrust concerns expressed by European regulators, Microsoft plans to offer a version in Europe that has the browser removed. Computer makers would then have the option to add the browser back in, ship another browser or ship multiple browsers, according to a confidential memo that was sent to PC makers and seen by CNET News."

    http://tiny.cc/g0YGC

    If you are buying the OS to install it yourself, chance are you will not use IE8 anyway. I'm see no problem in having to install Chrome or Firefox before I download driver updates, because this is something I would do anyway.

    As for consumers buying computers with OS's installed by the manufacturer, I should think it would be common sense for the manufacturer to pre-install a web browser if they wish to maintain their share of the market. Having experience as a sales person I know that consumers will choose convenience every time.
  • 1 Hide
    HosainH , 13 June 2009 18:29
    Well if microsoft really was innocent they would have just given users the option of installing other browsers when installing w7, instead of being stupid and preventing any browser to be installed with it.
  • 0 Hide
    Skid , 13 June 2009 18:56
    You know, people that use this site are not the same demographic as your average computer user, your average computer user isn't aware of anything other then IE, and that type of user will never install an OS themselves anyway they will get is per installed on there system or get someone else to install it. Is it really that much of a hassle to have a copy of the browser you want to use on a pen drive?
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , 13 June 2009 19:49
    I think people are missing something important. The EU are in no way forcing Microsoft to remove IE from Windows 7. This is Microsofts childish reaction to the pressure on them to stop acting in an anti-competitive fashion.

    In the end, this will not effect most consumers as OEMs will install a browser (probably IE anyway) before shipping the product to customers. The only people left without a browser in their Windows 7 will be people like myself, that build their own computers, who are perfectly capable of having the install files for Internet Explorer or Firefox handy.
  • -2 Hide
    mi1ez , 13 June 2009 20:01
    Actually, MS offered to put a load of browssers on but the EU said no.
  • 1 Hide
    Skid , 13 June 2009 20:15
    mi1ezActually, MS offered to put a load of browssers on but the EU said no.


    You can't make a statement like this without giving evidence to back up your claim, because the opposite side simply won't believe you.

    Besides this decision was made by Microsoft to preempt anything the EU might say.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8096701.stm 3rd paragraph, why would the EU act that way if the decision had been made with there knowledge. Also the this website makes no mention that the EU had any involvement with the decision itself.

    Besides, IE8 will be available via Windows Update so there really no moaning about it.
  • -1 Hide
    Clintonio , 13 June 2009 21:05
    Microsoft was the childish one in not offering alternative browsers. I am not pleased at the outcome of the ruling, and say that Microsoft should and must ship with many browsers, rather than one, and have them all completely removable.

    Instead, Microsoft chooses to cripple the Eurozone and further make the EU look like they're being unfair. It's mocking the EU government and it's frankly ridiculous.

    Either way, Microsoft is still acting anti-competitively.

    Toms, please, stop with this reporting. Microsoft is not innocent, and playing the "everyone else does it" card just doesn't work in the real world. This is terrible terrible reporting, and ridiculously biased.
  • 1 Hide
    LePhuronn , 14 June 2009 00:07
    @Clintonio:

    And dare I say your reasoning is naive and somewhat simplistic: Microsoft shipping other browsers with its OS is like Coca Cola shipping a can of Pepsi with every 6-pack.

    Why on earth should Microsoft have to ship competing products with its OS? It shouldn't, and as a computer user I would expect my OS to be fully internet-capable out of the box. That being said, Microsoft have been acting in an anti-competitive manner for a very, very long time.

    The anti-competitive issues all started back around Windows 98-ish when IE4 became a core component of the OS - you couldn't uninstall it and so much of the budding internet connectivity all ran through the IE system. As a result, the average user had no exposure or need to expose themselves to other browser options. Microsoft, quite simply, used its position to force Internt Explorer on its user base, knowing full well that most of them were not savvy enough to entertain the notion of alternatives. We'll ignore for now the ridiculous security holes this opened up and has plagued the OS since those days.

    And now as time's gone on, every OS since has had IE integrated into the OS at this fundamental level.

    This is what the anti-trust case is about, but to be honest it's all gone on for so long and gotten so messy there's no simple route out here an the EU have probably gotten very blinkered.

    Removing IE from the core system and having it a stand-alone application that can be installed and removed as required is a good first step, as that gives OEMs the choice to install whatever browser they want. But to be honest there's no answer other than educating the Windows user base of the existence of other browsers.

    The reason, i feel, that Apple aren't getting the same treatment is that nobody's complaining about Safari - never forget that a lot of the browser manufacturer's complaints about the whole IE thing comes from the fact that IE is a bloated bag of shite that's causing more harm than good. Removing IE as it stands from the internet will be good for us all, however if the EU stick with the anti-competition stuff then they WILL have to address Safari in OSX in order to remain fair.

    It's all just a huge mess to be honest.
  • 0 Hide
    will_chellam , 14 June 2009 00:22
    I reckon this will make no difference whatsoever for the vast vast majority of people who are going to use windows 7.

    Microsoft will simply include a link on the desktop for IE8 when you install windows 7, they are under no obligation to do the same for other browsers, which for a lot of people will make it extremely impractical to install another browser (at least without installing IE8 first).

    More interestingly is seeing how windows 7 will work with IE8 stripped out - it's such an integral part of windows these days that I wouldnt be surprised to see random parts of the core OS simply not working or being unstable.
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , 14 June 2009 04:43
    @will_chellam:

    Entirely agree on the core OS front - as I said above IE has been core to the OS since Win98 and we've seen no end of grief ever since.

    In the real world I think all this is going to be a non-issue. OEMs will more than likely install IE8 because it's going to be familiar to the vast majority of their user base, and is probably easiest for the layman to use. Boutique builders will give their clients the choice because they know what the crack is and purchasers of a stand-alone copy similarly know what they're doing and will have their own preferences and installs.

    The big thing is going to be how Windows works without IE. We'll probably find that the core communication code is still there to power all the internet connectivity the OS will have, but there's no GUI to render content.
  • -2 Hide
    lumpy , 14 June 2009 06:55
    I think it would be fun if m/s told the EU;" Ok weve had it.. as of today micosoft will not sell any products or support any current products in the EU".
    Maybe the constant bitching about M/S will stop.
    If You dont like M/S..just dont buy their stuff.(but You know you still will)
  • 0 Hide
    HosainH , 14 June 2009 06:59
    Gotta love the torrents.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 14 June 2009 09:26
    Good for EU to coach Microsoft on responsiblity whether their perfect or not. For MS size and potential(?) ability they are quite sloppy at writing good software anyway without years of updates. Then when they finally arrive like with XP, they start all over, ha ha ha.

    Forget the compatibility responsibility tears for MS. Computerized testing of software a monkey could do and proving that is they've been to space more times than MS employees. OEM vendors also help out too.

    IE has been responsible for the majority of security updates and "sneak it in" bloatware anyway.

    "Home" version of anything needs to be unlawful for the fact it hasn't included factory restore disk making ability. A HP Vista home laptop blue screened after all the Vista updates. How fabulously helpful.

    Now I don't update if everything is working well from the start. Just give firewall and virus control to somebody better than MS.

    Basically if after so many updates you see how compromised your security was then what are you using MS for anyway? Same as, if I need a 5 year extended warranty then the product QA must suck out of the box. What am I buying it for in the first place?

    Forcing Vista without abilty to switch to XP is scandalous too.

    Intel, another winning above board friend of MS, ha ha ha.

    Yes that 60 day free "trial" install can land MS in court with the EU.

    Bravo! Bravo!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 14 June 2009 14:03
    Where can I get a copy of windows 7 with no stinking IExplorer?
  • -1 Hide
    smartroad , 14 June 2009 16:38
    As far as I can make out from the BBC News item, it is Microsoft that have taken the decision to not ship IE with Win7 not the EU. However MS seem to have taken this choice to preempt the petty minded EU bureaucrats from another pathetic fine for no apparent reason.

    Overall I have been following this on and off, being a UK citizen, and while I really am not keen on MS and its practises, the same could be said of Intel in that it has the market share over AMD and Freescale etc. As far as I can remember this all started about the fact that IE was integrated into the OS and there was no option to remove it. It has now got so out of hand and, as someone else said, messy as well that I can't see MS being about to get away without being fined.

    The thing that really gets my goat is where does all this money that the EU gets in fines go?
  • 1 Hide
    malphas , 14 June 2009 17:57
    Yeah, this article is pretty misinformed. The EU never dictated that Microsoft should ship an OS without a browser, or even without IE. The problem stems from back in the 9x days when Microsoft shell integrated IE into the OS, made it uninstallable, made it the default browser - regardless of what other browsers the user installed, etc. etc.

    Although the EU's ruling will essentially make no difference to anyone - not to consumers, to Microsoft, to other browser developers... - I'm still glad there are some organisational bodies that at least have the will to try and stop unfair practices that harm ultimately consumers (the main reason IE has finally improved in recent years is due to Firefox's increasing market share).
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 14 June 2009 23:33
    We all like to bitch about MS and IE, but have you used the alternatives? I recently tried ditching Vista64 for Ubuntu 9.04 64. On the same hardware Vista was much smoother than Ubuntu, quite the opposite to what I was expecting.

    As for browsers I have tied Firefox and yeah, it's okay. I've not tried Safari in a while, but in early versions my online banking didn't work so well. Ultimately they all have issues, but I don't see why MS should make it easier for anyone of them to operate. Nobody makes it easy for me or anyone else to get another job these days so why should regulators make it easy for poor products to survive? Sorry, but I can't comprehend the logic. If a product is good it will survive regardless of what any two-bit regulators do.
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