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Europeans to Choose Win XP, Vista Browsers Too

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 15 comments
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Windows XP and Vista to get European browser choice too.

Earlier this week we found out about Microsoft's proposal to the EU to provide a "ballot screen" for those installing Windows 7 to choose which browser, if any, will be installed on the system. This was presented as a possible solution for the EU's antitrust investigation into Microsoft's practices surrounding the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.

According to information dug up by Ars Technica, Microsoft will soon offer current users of Windows XP and Vista the same type of choice to install browsers other than Internet Explorer 8.

The browser ballot program is proposed as "Important" or "High Priority" update for Windows XP and Vista that will run for users who have IE installed and set as the default browser. From there, users will get the option of installing other browsers from a Microsoft-maintained website.

Besides the obvious players of Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera, the ballot screen will reportedly also include other Windows browsers with a usage share of at least 0.5 percent in the European Economic Area (for a total of up to ten different browsers).

This is still in the proposal stage as the European Union has yet to decide whether or not this is satisfactory, but we'll keep you posted.

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  • -2 Hide
    Dame , 30 July 2009 00:32
    So why does Apple not have to do the same thing with OS X...? That comes bundled with Safari and nothing else, what's the difference why is Apple an exception in this case...?
  • -1 Hide
    mi1ez , 30 July 2009 00:38
    Apparently it's down to market share and "abusing a *dominant* position in the market" although I agree it should still apply to Apple.
  • -1 Hide
    Micropat , 30 July 2009 01:48
    I don't know what the EU is up to. As a citizen of an EU member state I don't feel well represented by those who screw with MS so that MS have to screw with us. It's so easy to change to another browser if you really care. It's as easy as Bing Google, Google browser choice, download, install and forget about IE until the next time you (re)install. IE is one of the first programs I use whenever I install windows. I only use it to download firefox and never use it again, but so what. I'm a Linux user primarily and into all the free software idealogies but I don't see why MS shouldn't be allowed to bundle their browser with their operating system.
  • 1 Hide
    Devastator_uk , 30 July 2009 02:44
    I don't agree with how it's being handled by the EU but I do think that people need to know there is a choice, 90% of people I meet have not heard of an OS other than Windows or a browser other than IE. But I don't think government/state bodies need to step in at this point, especially since IE and Windows have lost some market share in the last couple of years.

    Ideally I would want to see about 3 mayor OSs out there and about 3 mayor browsers (about 25% share each, with other more specialised ones taking up the other 25%), that way people would know there is a choice but without having too many to choose from and not being able to decide, and it would also provide a good amout of competitiveness in the market.

    But since I would not want to live in a communist/nationalist country I really think that if it's at all possible leave it to the public/companies.
  • 0 Hide
    Devastator_uk , 30 July 2009 02:45
    Doh, can't edit but meant to type "major" not "mayor".
  • -2 Hide
    wifiwolf , 30 July 2009 05:42
    since apple has it's own market, it should be considered an abuse of a dominant position.

    You can only legally have osx on macs, so it has dominat position in the macintosh market. That means same should apply.
  • 0 Hide
    malphas , 30 July 2009 08:54
    That's a blatant falsehood, wifiwolf. This is an excerpt straight from the Apple website:

    "Have a Windows application you need to use once in a while? No problem. Every new Mac lets you install Windows XP and Vista"
  • -1 Hide
    wifiwolf , 30 July 2009 11:29
    and in that case, can you do the same on your pc and put there mac osx?
    No , you just have to pay apple tax for that
  • 0 Hide
    wifiwolf , 30 July 2009 11:30
    i mean , legally
  • 1 Hide
    thinkerhead , 30 July 2009 18:09
    As usual, government is not even on the same page. The issue now is the control of search engine choice.

    In 5 years time we'll all be wishing the EU had stomped on the MS/Yahoo link at the start. Another 5 years and they may get a smack on the hand for continuing to behave as a predatory monopoly.
  • -2 Hide
    back_by_demand , 30 July 2009 19:14
    What the hell are you on about with search engines? This thread is about browsers. Since when is any of this about fairness, common sense or being helpful to the consumer. The ONLY reason the EU has waded into this is because it thinks it can arbitrarily dole out billion dollar fines. As already posted in other threads, allowing other firms to install browsers at install is the worst of all bad options because of the legal precedent it would set.

    Imagine during the install you are asked to select your favourite from 12 calculators, 35 notepads, 88 paint programs, 134 solitaires - all because other freeware vendors were allowed to do the same.

    Here's a conversation between the EU, MS and the customer ...

    EU - "You will include alternative versions of all this list of stuff in your OS"

    MS - "You are having a giggle right? There's over 12,000,000 programs here"

    EU - "Yes, each one has a legitimate claim to be included because it's something you do already"

    MS - "Have you any idea how much that will cost"

    EU - "About a billion dollars in fines unless you shape up sonny"

    MS - "Whatever you say Jack, here's your library of disks"

    Customer - "Jeebus H Christ, this new Windows comes on 25 Blu-Ray disks"

    MS - "An engineering feat of genius to compress it that small"

    Customer - "After decompressing and installing it's over 2000Gb and my machine chugs like a bitch"

    EU - "Yes, but you have the ultimate choice to pick whatever you want"

    Customer - "Can't I choose to have all this crap elsewhere to download?"

    EU - "No, you can't, shut up and do as you are told"
  • -1 Hide
    Fox Montage , 30 July 2009 21:01
    @ back_by_demand
    LMFAO dude. Thanks for that.
  • 3 Hide
    garydale , 31 July 2009 01:29
    People defending M$ should remember that M$ moves into a market, squeezes out the competition then abandons it. If Firefox hadn't come along, you never would have seen IE7 and 8. And M$'s exclusive licensing arrangements (we'll give you reduced price if you only install our products on your hardware) is a blatant abuse of market position that no other company is in a position to do.

    There's an inherent contradiction in "free market capitalism". In order to keep the markets free, you need laws to prevent monopolies. Unfortunately the U.S. regulators under Regan and Bush failed to do their duty back when M$ was becoming a monopoly. So stop complaining about the EU. They're just trying to keep the markets somewhat free.
  • 1 Hide
    malphas , 4 August 2009 20:44
    @wifiwolf

    "and in that case, can you do the same on your pc and put there mac osx?
    No , you just have to pay apple tax for that"

    I couldn't agree more, it's unethical that Apple should be able to dictate to that extent what users can do with a legally purchased installation disc.
  • 1 Hide
    malphas , 4 August 2009 20:47
    As for the tired, old argument back_by_demand is still using - bundled in applications like simple text editors and calculators don't have a negative impact on an entire ecosystem, the way IE has on the Internet.