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Microsoft to Give EU Users a Browser Choice

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments
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The European Union antitrust investigation into Microsoft and its bundling of Internet Explorer into every installation of Windows has caused the world's largest software maker to re-tool a special version of Windows 7 for the European market.

Microsoft's original plan to appease the EU was to not bundle Internet Explorer 8 with Windows 7 at all. But just last week, Microsoft proposed a new system whereby users would be presented with a choice upon installation of which browser he or she wishes to use.

"Under our new proposal, among other things, European consumers who buy a new Windows PC with Internet Explorer set as their default browser would be shown a 'ballot screen' from which they could, if they wished, easily install competing browsers from the Web," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement in a CNet story.

The European Commission confirmed that it received Microsoft's proposal of having a consumer ballot screen whereby consumers could easily install competing web browsers, set one of those browsers as a default, and disable Internet Explorer.

The Commission wrote in a memo, "Under the proposal, Windows 7 would include Internet Explorer, but the proposal recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of web browser, and sets out a means – the ballot screen – by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved. In addition OEMs would be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and disable Internet Explorer should they so wish. The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice."

Should this be approved, it would be a positive step for European consumers. Previously, those in the EU were faced with a version of Windows 7 that would have no browser at all. This sparked concerns from the European Commission that, "without measures such as a ballot screen, [Microsoft's removal of IE] would not necessarily have achieved greater consumer choice in practice and would not have been an effective remedy."

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  • -1 Hide
    Skid , 28 July 2009 06:14
    Well what do you know, Microsoft is going to share its toys rather then braking them when they can't get there way.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 28 July 2009 06:43
    lets face it this is the most ridiculous case that has ever gone to court. Nobody cared when MS introduced a firewall to its O/S, nobody is slapping Apple for only bundling it's browser or even its own O/S, nobody is slapping fines on car manufacturers for using 1 brand of car stereo or sat nav its cars and not another - yet another case of the EU sticking its nose in where it wasnt needed
  • 0 Hide
    malphas , 28 July 2009 07:12
    It didn't go to court...
  • -1 Hide
    djcoolmasterx , 28 July 2009 07:13
    majorwedgylets face it this is the most ridiculous case that has ever gone to court. Nobody cared when MS introduced a firewall to its O/S, nobody is slapping Apple for only bundling it's browser or even its own O/S, nobody is slapping fines on car manufacturers for using 1 brand of car stereo or sat nav its cars and not another - yet another case of the EU sticking its nose in where it wasnt needed


    QFT
  • -1 Hide
    malphas , 28 July 2009 07:32
    It is totally humiliating for Microsoft that users installing Windows 7 will be presented with the option of opting for competitor's browsers over theirs, but frankly they've only brought this on themselves for their despicable practices over the last fifteen years.
  • 0 Hide
    foldaway , 28 July 2009 07:52
    If this happens would it mean that us EU folk might be able to upgrade from Vista without the requirement for a freash install?
  • 1 Hide
    Clintonio , 28 July 2009 10:57
    Good to see that Microsoft is finally playing fair in the Eurozone a bit more now.

    Still, there are a lot more things we should be going after. And, not just with Microsoft, or even OS companies.
  • 0 Hide
    tinnerdxp , 28 July 2009 14:53
    I agree - completely silly case... And it does not change anything...
    IE will still be a part of the OS and therefore will be installed, used by the windows update and other parts of the system... Why bother?
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , 28 July 2009 15:26
    Idiots.You have always had the option of using a different web browser.It wasn't neccesary for you to use IE in the first place.Stop bitching and moaning about crap.Nothing has change.Ooh yay now you get a ballot telling you that you can use a different browser.WOW.Wake up!!!!
  • 0 Hide
    devilxc , 28 July 2009 19:16
    I wish the EU would just split up already. It hasn't done the UK any good and now it is picking petty battles here and there on successful companies with the aim of a rediculous fine so they can fund their own existance (Intel anti-trust).

    Consumers have there choice to buy Windows, if IE was so offensive the consumer could leave it alone. Any informed consumer can choose the browser at any time. And for christs sake, they're all free. And only a few even make money (e.g. firefox).

    To most people it makes no difference which browser they use. One is the same as the others to the average user.

    I do think the EU should f' off and do something useful.
  • 1 Hide
    gregor , 28 July 2009 20:26
    majorwedgylets face it this is the most ridiculous case that has ever gone to court. Nobody cared when MS introduced a firewall to its O/S, nobody is slapping Apple for only bundling it's browser or even its own O/S, nobody is slapping fines on car manufacturers for using 1 brand of car stereo or sat nav its cars and not another - yet another case of the EU sticking its nose in where it wasnt needed


    First, Apple has nowhere near the market share that MS has but if they had and they used the same dodgy business practices then I would certainly hope they would be slapped down hard.
    Second, why do people insist on likening this case to car manufacturers use of whatever kind of stereo? It's completely irrelevent. No car manufacturer to my knowledge has a monopoly or has been convicted of anti competitive behaviour. They probably dont even make the stereos they fit, they are probably sourced from other companies.

    For those that appear to have forgotten (or were too young to know) what this all was about in the first place, have a look here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft
  • -2 Hide
    Fox Montage , 28 July 2009 21:08
    Can someone please explain how this is any business of the EU's?

    I buy Windows from Microsoft. This is a deal between them and me. Whatever package they put forward I will know before I buy. If I need a different browser, that's my business too. It just seems like an awful waste of resources for such an unimportant, not to mention the completely unnecessary control of a free market. Can you say, "first steps to communism?"

    Sorry this is the EU we're talking about. That should read "yet another small step towards communism."

    I just don't see how this is any of their business.
  • -2 Hide
    skalagon , 28 July 2009 21:18
    This isn't fair at all, asking a company to bundle another companies product with theirs for free is ridiculous. Its not how Capitalism works. The EU were right to punish Intel for their shite earlier this year but this is just plain wrong.
  • 2 Hide
    Skid , 28 July 2009 22:57
    I don't think capitalism does work, pushing out the smaller buisness just because you have more money and can play dirty is not a fair way to trade.

    Also I must point out this whole affair will NEVER of effected most the people that come to this site, we are not the core demography of computer users. Most people that use a computer don't even know what Firefox is, this is because they get presented with a system that already has an browser on it. This means that anyone else making a browser will have a hard time getting to the core market.

    This is why the EU say its not fair trade, not because we, people who know how to find another browser, have to have IE on our operating system, its so that "Joe Public" for lack of a better description, knows that IE is not the only option.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 29 July 2009 01:04
    Seriously I think the EU is going a bit far, I mean, if someone wanted Firefox really badly then it'll only take them about... three minutes to download and install. It isn't like Microsoft is deliberately stopping people downloading other browsers or stopping companies making money as all the other browsers are free open source apps and I don't mind that Microsoft has made an operating system that from as soon as anyone (with and without computer knowledge) logs on can connect to the Internet and be free to do what they want, including downloading a different browser or just logging into twitter and the likes, so in this case I'm on Microsoft's side and what the EU is making them do is pointless.

    Talwoasc
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 29 July 2009 16:58
    "
    First, Apple has nowhere near the market share that MS has but if they had and they used the same dodgy business practices then I would certainly hope they would be slapped down hard.
    Second, why do people insist on likening this case to car manufacturers use of whatever kind of stereo? It's completely irrelevent. No car manufacturer to my knowledge has a monopoly or has been convicted of anti competitive behaviour. They probably dont even make the stereos they fit, they are probably sourced from other companies.

    For those that appear to have forgotten (or were too young to know) what this all was about in the first place, have a look here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unite [...] _Microsoft"

    You have to ask WHY do they have a monopoly? Answer because they make the best product! Fact of the matter is they bundle it because people need the functinoality - look at the fuss that has been created from them REMOVING the browser from their product. What next - they have to bundle a copy of Linux with windows???? Also where does it stop which browsers do they have to include in their list? surely any browser missed is an anti-competitive practice? Is total nonsense
  • 2 Hide
    gregor , 29 July 2009 18:15
    I dont think they bundled it because they thought people needed it, they bundled it to shaft the competition, and the courts in the US and EU seem to agree.
  • -2 Hide
    david__t , 29 July 2009 21:15
    They should have stuck to their guns and removed IE8 altogether. I agree with all the comments about the EU sticking its nose in where it is not wanted, but I don't understand why people still don't get the car analogy - it is a perfect example. The size of the company should not matter - Apple do not get asked to install other browsers so why should MS? Rules should be for everybody - or else who decides what size of company has to have "Special" rules applied to them and who is exempt? Maybe the next time I buy a PC from HP (who own the biggest share of the PC market) I should get the option of different manufacturer's keboards & mice! Come on people, you may not like Microsoft, but this case is setting a bad precedent for the future - Xbox360s with multiple dashboards to choose from maybe?
  • 1 Hide
    malphas , 30 July 2009 00:53
    @devilxc

    The EU just recently told the our government that holding the DNA of innocent people is illegal and that it has to stop (at present if the police take DNA samples from you for any reason, they keep it forever, regardless of whether or not you're even charged of a crime). Seems like they did us a massive favour to me.
  • 1 Hide
    gregor , 30 July 2009 16:42
    @david__t.
    The car analogy would work if after buying the car and replacing the stereo you found that the new stereo was somehow being crippled. Or you couldnt fill your car up with fuel unless you put the original one back in.

    To go to the other extreme of what you are saying, why shouldn't MS be able to block any other manufacturers software from running on windows it sees fit to? Why shouldnt they be able to cripple 3rd party software to favour their own?
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