back to article EC will force users to pick a Windows browser, says Microsoft

The European Commission may force PC users to choose between Microsoft's Internet Explorer and other browsers when they set up a new machine. That's according to Microsoft's second-quarter 10-Q SEC filing, which claims the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and PC vendors to "obligate" users to chose their browser …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. RW
    Happy

    Gonna be funny

    Since Windows Update only works with IE (prolly because WU uses ActiveX, that invention of the devil). MS will have to rework WU to work without IE and ActiveX.

    I'm sure they'll make a complete hash of it. Deliberately or through sheer incompetence I can't say.

    Hardy, har, har!

  2. Christopher Martin

    Harder than it should be?

    This would be so simple if Windows just came with a package manager.

    Put a little MakeTheInternetsWork.BAT script on the desktop, it prompts you and runs sudo apt-get install your-favorite-browser, and you're off and running.

    "Where did the internets go?"

    "Double-click MakeTheInternetsWork and click on the E or the fox"

    "Okay."

    Instant crazy-legislation compliance, easy to install a browser without bogging down the install process, and it only cost you maybe a day of some intern's time.

  3. raving angry loony

    Warming.

    So long as they still don't force users into IE when we visit Microsoft sites, that'll be good. However, I can still see all sorts of ways for Microsoft to corrupt this particular solution to their illegal/unethical business practices w.r.t. browsers. Still, it's nice to see at least ONE government putting its people (the consumers) first and taking a hammer to this company. Warms the cockles that does.

  4. Martin Silver badge
    Flame

    and updates

    They might also allow updates to be run from another browser, rather than the current 'sorry you must be using the world least insecure browser to downloads these security updates' message you now get.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the best

    I want MS to unbundle IE from the OS. Not because of the legal reasons stated here but because IE's integration is probably responsible for 90 percent of most infections on PC's since windows 98. MS spends millions trying to secure IE and they never can. In the end, its always IE getting infected and then taking the whole freaking OS down with it. MS should be doing this willingly. Not just in the EU either.

  6. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Down

    The EU is truly the land of the whackies!

    In my case, it's a "PC". A Personal Computer = I make the choices of software to load and run.

    I hate IE, but what if I wanted to install ALL compatible browsers?

    EU = supreme asshats.

  7. Bunglebear

    Apple - Safari

    I am assuming that the same will apply to Apple and Safari?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    pft

    So why don't they sue Apple for supplying OSX pre-loaded with Safari or any of the choose-your-own distos lumped with FF. Hell why don't the force them all to offer at least one additional choice. Whats good for the goose and all that crap.

  9. R Cox

    Not so easy to avoid safari

    It is not so easy to avoid safari on Macs. The default is Safari unless the user changes it after install time. Even if the user changes the default away from Safari, I find that the defaults will occasionally magically revert back to Safari. Safari is never gone, many parts of it appear to be as entwined into OS X as IE is in MS Windows. If MS manages to make a browser other than IE the true default, it will have done something that Apple has not done. Even pre-Safari the default was whatever browser happened to have control at the time.

  10. Gareth Edwards

    Why only MS?

    I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed - does this mean that it will have to be removed now? Surely in the interestes of fair legislation, this would have to be the case.

    I know I'll get a response along the lines of "you can just install a different browser with the package manager", but I can just as easily install a different browser by going to Firefox.com or any number of other sites, on a Windows machine as well.

    Whilst I'm not a big fan of MS, this seems to be a case of attacking them just because they are the biggest and yet letting others (Apple comes with Safari after all) do exactly the same with no penalty.

  11. Steve Roper
    Alert

    So what will the choices be?

    So when Microsoft set up their "Please choose a browser" panel of the Internet Setup Wizard (which is probably the form this will take), how will it know what browsers to push? Will it just be the Big Four (IE, FF, Opera, Safari) or will it have to fetch a list from... somewhere? What happens when some other minority-browser company releases their own "SurfXtremePro 1.0" and then complains because their 0.00001% market-share browser isn't included in the setup? Will Microsoft charge rival browser companies to have their browsers listed in the setup wizard? (Yeah, most likely!) How will the EU react to that kind of behaviour - especially if the fee (as is likely) is beyond the means of a lot of other browser vendors? How many dozen browsers will the user have to pick from if it isn't? What if Microsoft place IE in the first position knowing that most users will just automatically pick the first one in the list - especially if it's selected by default? (You know how it is: Next... click 'I Agree', next... next... select connection type, next... enter username and password, next... next... finish) What will the EU do about that and other similar egregious marketing exploits designed to maintain IE market share?

    While I certainly commend the EU on its valiant efforts to rid the world of the digital pox that is IE, I can't help thinking that this legislation is going to open a huge can of worms down the track, and Microsoft will in any case find a load of little ploys to circumvent it anyway...

  12. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Money back?

    If someone chooses not IE, will they get a proportion of their money back? I seriously doubt it. Even if the law required it, Microsoft would make it more hassle than it is worth.

    The real solution is to do it the other way around: OEM's should be forbidden from paying Microsoft. If they want to install windows, it should be a free demo version only. Customers who want Windows could then pay Microsoft directly to get an upgrade.

  13. David

    The biggest problem is the reliance on IE for Windows Updates etc

    Safari in Mac OS X can quite easily be changed from being the default browser when you install something else e.g. firefox. I've never noticed an issue where it will start to make itself default again.

    IE in Windows however is so embedded into the system that you can't avoid it as it's used for software updates. I have never understood why Windows simply can't have something like Mac OS X where software updates are done by a stand-alone application. They really have no business being done by IE, which is known for massive security holes!

    There are various other installation processes which seem to insist on using IE.

    Also, Hotmail suddenly seems to only work with IE. I had terrible trouble using it with Firefox and with Google Chrome recently, yet it flies along on a Mac in Safari and in Firefox... strange?!

    MSN Messenger also opens IE whether you like it or not if you click on any links that fire up a browser.

    The other one that really annoys me is that Office 2007 ignores your choice of default email application and will open Outlook if you try to do email something as an attachment from inside word, excel etc

    Yet, Office 2008 on Mac OS X will use Apple Mail or Thunderbird and not open MS Entourage (Outlook for Macs) if you do the same thing.

    I think the EU's right on this. MS is still ignoring the rulings.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @Gareth Edwards

    > I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed

    What a silly knee jerk response!

    And blatantly untrue. When installing KDE version of Ubuntu for example, the default browser is Konqueror.

    But besides that, the issue here is a legal one. Monopolies are not illegal. Yes Microsoft owns the desktop o/s market. But it is illegal to use your monopoly in one market (desktop) to monopolise another market (desktop browser). Illegal in the EU. Illegal in the US. Illegal most elsewhere in the world.

    And this is not the case with Ubuntu - if anything, apt-get (with is various front-end GUIs) give you the user an incredible range of choice of what s/w you want on your desktop.

    Unlike Microsoft (that does *not* provide you with the choice of installing and using a different browser, or media player.. or anything else for that matter).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Gonna be funny

    Without ActiveX, they won't be able to force WGA on people anymore. It will not be missed.

  16. E

    @Flocke Kroes

    Good point.

    Betcha MS values the invaluable browser at $0.00 though.

  17. Tone

    This would be so simple if Windows just came with a package manager

    It does - msiexec.exe

  18. Rob
    Happy

    @Gareth Edwards and "Why only MS?"

    Why is Ubuntu a monopoly as well? You can't have 2 monopolies. Corrective action: make the browser an option. BTW Did MS ever pay the billion Euro fine they received about a year ago? I can't remember what that was for. Maybe everyone else has forgotten as well, and they've got away with it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's good for goosing?

    > So why don't they sue Apple for supplying OSX pre-loaded with

    > Safari or any of the choose-your-own distos lumped with FF.

    > Hell why don't the force them all to offer at least one additional

    > choice. Whats good for the goose and all that crap.

    What you are missing here is that Microsoft is a convicted monopolist. Separate rules apply to convicted monopolists to deter (in theory, prevent) them from using their power to further distort the market and destroy competition.

    Your remark is rather like suggesting everyone should be banned from living near schools rather than just convicted paedophiles

  20. Russell Howe
    Stop

    Re: Gonna be funny

    Windows Update doesn't run from the browser any more - in Vista, it gets its own control panel applet (although it may well use IE to render the interface under the surface)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @Moss Icely Spaceport

    Maybe it's just Microsoft weasel words, maybe it's they (Microsoft) that are being forced to give users a choice.

  22. Tim99 Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Safari

    To everyone who whines about Apple should be made to unbundle Safari from OS X - The reason that they don't have to is "because 95% of the world's personal computers run Microsoft's Windows PC operating system" (Neelie Kroes - European Commissioner for Competition Policy).

    http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/539&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

  23. Andy Worth

    Re:Money back?

    IE is free anyway. I can't remember them ever charging for it, or for new versions of it. So I don't know what money you would like to reclaim on it. Do you ask for a part-refund on every car you buy, just because you don't take it to its top speed every day? (Not that I'm suggesting IE is equivalent to top speed, just equating the similarities in using all of the available features).

    As for Apple, well this ruling means bugger all unless it applies to everyone and every OS. MS should retaliate by making the same complaint about Jobs' lot.

    As Steve Roper says though, how are they going to regulate who and which browsers get included? What happens when some minority browser demands to be included? There will have to be some fairly strict methods in place to evaluate each candidate to decide which get in and which don't. I forsee many small legal battles resulting in a list of shitty browsers, pages long to choose from.

    The funny thing is that most people will still choose IE, quite a few choosing Firefox or Chrome, and still hardly anyone will use Opera.

  24. Eric Van Haesendonck
    Thumb Up

    Most linux distros include serveral browsers

    Most Linux distributions install several browsers. If you install a KDE based distro you usually have koqueror and Firefox installed and enabled by default. Also most open source browsers are featured in the package managers (or in the add / remove programs on Ubuntu) and can be installed without having to fire the default browser even once.

    You can also remove Firefox from most distros, and you (or PC manufacturers) can easily make a custom install CD that doesn't install Firefox at all., so you have a lot more freedom of choice with Linux.

    The idea of having a demo version of Windows instead of everybody having to pay for the full version weather they need it or not is quite nice. People without an internet connection could just buy an activation code at the shop, and anybody installing Linux wouldn't have to go through all the trouble to get reimbursed.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who decides?

    Which browsers appear in the setup menu? Does anything stop an OEM just creating an unattended.sif file that choses IE for you? Almost certainly not. If you don't chose IE during setup, can you get it back later if you need it for something? For example, if FF won't start, and you don't have another browser installed, can you just add IE from Programs and Features? Does anything stop an end user from removing all their browsers?

    The question I'm most interested in, is why does anyone honestly think this makes any diference? All US copies of Windows will still have IE as the default, almost every pirate copy will be ripped from a cheaper US DVD, and the retards that have been using IE all this time will still pick it from their choices in Europe. The only people who'll pick something else are people who either would have installed it anyway, or techies forcing not-IE their clients.

    That's assuming Windows I Edition (or whatever it ends up being called) is even widely available. Did anyone who doesn't build PC's for a living even so much as SEE a copy of Windows N?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: Why only MS, why not [...]?

    Because only MS (not Apple, not Canonical/Ubuntu/Linux) have been tried and found guilty of abuse of monopoly. LiSTeN uP at the back, paytards.

  27. Trygve

    @Gareth Edwards

    Why only MS? Possibly because they have been busted multiple times by the EU (and the US, for that matter) over dodgy business behaviour, and never made any significant effort to toe the line despite being fined billions, whereas Apple and Canonical haven't (yet). Or maybe it's because they are the only company with a 90% market share on the consumer desktop. Or maybe it's a bit of both.

    Similarly, I'm sure Mr Vikram Patel's phone-booth sized corner shop might be able to bend the employment rules a bit more than, say, Wal-Mart. Once you become a globe-straddling colossus of capitalism, you need to mind your step, because people will be watching you.

  28. TeeCee Gold badge

    Eh?

    ".....as this already happens for Firefox users on the Mac...."

    Windows too, I think you'll find. In my brief flirtation with FF not so long back, I had it as the Default browser and didn't see IE fire up once throughout the entire time I had it installed (a period of several weeks). Even the nice little address bar at the bottom fired FF by default when it was so set (yup, the one that was removed in SP3 'cos the EU thought it represented IE integration - incompetant lackwit fucktards that they are).

    If you want a real target here, try a few of the Linux distros with FF installed and KDE as the desktop and see how many times Konqueror sets off into web land rather than handing over gracefully to the browser of choice.......

  29. Andy Larter

    Another EC farce

    Isn’t this all a farce?

    Regardless of how much you like IE, the rendering engine behind IE is a core part of the operating system. Even if Microsoft removed all references to the engine, they would still need to include it in the OS just to keep 3rd party software working. Tons of applications use IE in their user interface. (I’ve used it many times to get a fancy GUI or for easy printing).

    The most that Microsoft can do is to remove the IE icon from the desktop but there is nothing stopping users from doing this anyway. There will always be free alternatives to commercial browsers so I don’t see how any of the browser developers can hope to build a business model around selling a browser.

    The EU rulling stands to just confuse users and provide no benefits to either users or browser companies. At least give us the IE icon so we can download our favourite browser.

    European Commission = Clueless numpty asshats

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Safari is Crap!!

    But is still forced on Mac users. One rule for everyone.

  31. spegru
    Gates Horns

    @gareth edwards

    The reason that MS is under this regulatory focus where others (ubuntu, apple etc) are not is because they do not have 90% or so market share.

    That's what happens in democratic countries: If you get too big, you get regulated - just like BT in the UK. It's about extending choice.

  32. Simon Painter
    Flame

    EU is trolling

    The EU is trolling. Microsoft have got a few quid in the bank and the EU sees it as a cash cow they can tap. So long as a browser (and for that matter a media player) is not actively prevented from working on a platform there is no problem. MS sell the OS and they bundle some stuff in with it. By this token surely we should be suing all the companies that include the crappy google toolbars rather than offering a choice of which crappy toolbar we have on our new PC.

  33. Alan
    Jobs Horns

    <title>

    How many users really want this choice. Most people use IE7 because all they want is a tool to access Facebook

    Secondly, how many people have their PCs connected to the internet during setup? How will the installation routine download the requested browser?

    Finally, I'll add my name to the list of people requesting the same treatment for Apple with their Safari/iTunes monopoly. I'm not sure the same is true for Linux, because all flavours I've used generally have at least two browsers installed, FF and Konquerer...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Gareth Edwards

    Why only MS? because they are the only OS producer that is installed on 90%+ of computers, i.e., a monopoly. So yes, this IS a case of attacking MS because they are the biggest. You also have to take into account that this is the leftover of the "browser wars" of the 90s, but the legal wheels do not turn as fast as the IT wheels.

  35. Mr Spoon

    @Anonymous Coward, @R Cox, @Gareth Edwards

    The point isn't that it's illegal to bundle software with an OS, it's that if you have a monopoly in one area then it's illegal to leverage it to gain a monopoly in another.

  36. Nick
    Alert

    honestly!

    shenanigans!

    what if i dont like the calculator bundled with windows?

    should i get a choice of other vendors calculators apps at install time?

    wheres the perspective? as previously pointed out, whats good for the goose should be good for the gander...!

  37. lIsRT
    Joke

    Random!

    Simply have the install process select a random browser from everything that's had a release within the year previous to the install time.

    Sorted.

  38. Lionel Baden
    Flame

    Im Sorry

    Why the F$ck should they have to supply a OS with competitors products onboard !!!!

    This really pisses me off this is the politicians trying to get a little bit of limelite by pretending to be there for the little guy striking out at the evil corperation.

    jeez is it that hard / Unethical to open IE to download firefox ???

    for the record i dont use IE i just think its bloody stupid that they have been attacked.

    And as for web standards ??? dont even get me started

  39. Allan Rutland
    Thumb Down

    Bonkers

    An OEM can already choose, they want Firefox, they ship Firefox. Ok, most don't because its easier not to fiddle and end up just shoving on the usual crap bundled software.

    This is nothing more then and EU trying to do what they did with WMP. They forced MS to ship a version without it, and what happened? everyone ignored it since users wanted it integrated (shipping a handful licenses across the EU in 18 months is not a sign the EU did what consumers wanted), they wanted a media player integrated.

    We have Windows shipping with IE, we have the whatever Apple products shipping with Safari, we have every Linux distro shipping with some browser justable (and yes, some ship without but the majority come with one). Is this about allowing us to choose at first boot a Mac running Firefox or IE? no it is not. Is it about allowing me to choose Opera on an iPhone on first boot? no it is not. Is it about allowing me to run a browser other than the distro comes with on first boot on Linux? no its not.

    Like them, or loathe them, Microsoft provide everything Joe Public wants out of the box (and a lot more for when they want more later), but they fit the market. The EU running around after a couple of companies is just crazy when it will result in nothing but a harder time for the public. Yes people will whine its in there best interest, yet the majority of users like not having to think. They like everything just to be infront of them.

    Flocke, shipping a demo version of an enter OS again does nothing but aggrevate the customer. Windows is a component, the OEM and in the end the consumer already chooses to pay for it. We have a choice of machines shipping with Linux, which are cheaper. But do they sell as much? no. Because no body wants them! Dell allows you to choose your OS on some machines. HP does the same. Many others also. If you really want no OS at all, just buy the components yourself and build your machine your way, or get an independant retailer to do so for you. There is realistically only one walled in garden and thats the Mac, but as always everyone just ignores them as they never do anything evil or find new and innovative ways to extract huge amounts of cash from its userbase.

    Sony at one point shipped Vaio's with Firefox preinstalled. They then changed back to IE. To be honest have no idea why, but the choice is there for an OEM to ship an alternative browser out of the box. The majority don't and frankly can't be arsed to do so.

    Shipping a browser integrated is a huge aid to the consumer. Without one you bring in a confusing choice for many. And that scares many users who want as few questions as possible. They don't want some browser, to them they have no clue what a browser is and will end up saying no to installing one, then wonder 10mins later why the internet no worky, and insist they never clicked anything. If the consumer wants an alternative browser, nothing is stopping them from getting online once the machines installed and installing whatever they like. They have the choice already!

  40. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Linux

    Stop with the 'other OS' crap

    Before we get a bridge load of trolls complaining about Apple & LINUX having a default browser, please remember that Windows is the only system you CANT remove the default, and even if you try some programs still start up IE instead of the one you selected as default.

    Add to that the 'feature' that most MS sites won't work with non-IE browsers and you should see the problem here: it is all about MS making it impossible to fully use Windows without it, as well as the issue of suppressing other browsers through this means.

    With Apple or LINUX you can change browser and it still ALL works.

    As already pointed out, had MS separated the OS and browser years ago when the US asked and then capitulated on this issue, MS would have benefited by having a less insecure OS and happier customers. But bad anti-competitive business practice is hard to give up, a bit like smoking I suspect.

    Tux, cause he knows about secure browsing for speciality bird videos...

  41. Chris Leuty

    Re: Not so easy to avoid safari

    R Cox says "It is not so easy to avoid safari on Macs." FWIW, I maintain several Macs and they've all used Firefox as the default browser for years with no mysterious switching back to Safari. On some I still use Safari as a secondary browser and if it wanted to change the default on the sly it would have plenty of opportunity to do so, but it doesn't happen. I also don't see Safari entwined with MacOS like you do.

    As for Windows Update requiring IE, why not use the Automatic Updates control panel and bypass IE?

  42. Thomas

    @the various Apple bashers and other people who can't read

    Per the very article you are responding to: "Opera alleged Microsoft was continuing to abuse its dominant position by tying its browser to Windows and by not following web protocols."

    From this article we therefore must assume that the EC's decision is based on the findings that (i) Microsoft abuses its dominant position by typing its browser to its operating system; and (ii) Microsoft abuses its dominant position by having its browser not follow web protocols.

    Neither OS X nor Ubuntu have a dominant market position. They are therefore not in a position to abuse their dominant position. This law is evaluated from the point of view of end effect on the market, not hypothetical abstracts.

    The issue is not merely that the browser is installed with the OS, it is that it is tied to it. So the degree to which the OS is set up to break if the browser is uninstalled is relevant. Things like having Windows Update work through Internet Explorer only are presumably relevant.

    Also part of the decision is Microsoft's unwilligness to follow web protocols. Conversely, both Apple and Canonical ship browsers that try very hard to follow web protocols.

    Furthermore, the EC have made the ruling on the basis of a complaint. At present no complaints have been lodged against Apple or Canonical.

    If you try to argue that this shows anti-Microsoft bias for the pure reason that Apple and Canonical bundle web browsers then all you are showing is that you aren't even close to understanding the issues at and and are probably just spouting your own prejudices.

  43. Alex
    Stop

    Some less equal than others?

    > If someone chooses not IE, will they get a proportion of their money back? I seriously doubt it. Even if the law required it, Microsoft would make it more hassle than it is worth.

    Even if the law did require it, why should they? IE is offered by Microsoft as a free product, even if it does end up not being bundled with Windows itll still be a free product, why should they charge you less for not giving you something free?

    Frankly as much as most people despise IE this entire legislation around not bundling it for competition reasons is nuts. What Microsoft do bundling IE with their software is no different whatsoever to what countless vendors do with countless products across all market sectors. My recently-aquired brand new Fiat came included with a Fiat-branded Blaupunkt radio. There was no option to not have this radio and I wasnt given a checklist on purchase to select the radio manufacture I wanted, but curiously I fail to see the EU injunction forcing fiat to allow me to choose between their preferred Blaupunkt, and a competing Sony, Kenwood, Pioneer, JVC et al. Hell, the car even came with half a tank of fuel, yet those evil bastards at the showroom never gave me the choice of whether it was BP or Shell fuel in the car.

    I bought a Coolermaster PC case the other day. How dare Coolermaster strap 4 Coolermaster case fans inside it, when obviously the choice should be there on purchase for me to choose between their own fans, and ones made by Akasa, Zalman, Silverstone, and Sharkoon?

    Oh wait, I guess they didnt because providing their own products included with the thing i'm buying rather than those of a competitor is the *bloody sensible obvious thing to do*, yet somehow only Microsoft get criminalised for it?

  44. Rob Beard
    Linux

    Multiple browsers

    Not sure about having multiple browsers pre-installed. I'd rather have it run a wizard and offer up a selection of browsers (a bit like IE 7 does with search engines, you can choose an alternative from about 6 or so different search engines). As long a Microsoft don't make IE whatever the default choice then great. There is the issue though of banking sites and even some other sites only accepting Internet Explorer because the developers are too lazy to create a cross browser web site (Job Centre Plus I'm looking at you!).

    With regards to Windows Update, Vista (and presumably Windows 7 and Windows 2008) don't actually use IE for Windows Update anymore. It has it's own program in control panel. In fact if you go to Windows Update in IE on Vista it tells you to use the Control Panel option.

    And finally, with regards to Ubuntu and other Linux distros shipping Firefox (or Konqurer by default), again they could do the same and have some first run program which installs the users choice of browser, but then you could argue that the EU aren't as fussed about this as the Linux distro producers aren't abusing their position by now allowing the browser to be removed as it currently stands on Windows.

    Rob

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Why not do the most simple of things.....

    ....force MS to change the default homepage of any installation to be a page where all browsers are listed? Make it into a "How Do You Want To Surf The Internet?" thing and then bada-bing bada-bing - the unknowing user is using lynx.... :-O

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ R Cox

    Getting rid of Safari on the Mac is as easy as dragging the application to the trash and emptying it (you can trash the various preference files as well if you want to be ultra-thorough, but they don't do anything other than use disk space). What is "entwined into OS X" is actually Webkit, which is a completely separate HTML rendering engine that any application can make use of (Entourage and Mail being the most obvious examples) without developers having to roll their own.

  47. Mike Dyne
    IT Angle

    Is it just me....

    but who thinks this is all a little silly now?

    Let's make some real sweeping generalisations here. There are 2 types of people who use computers, us IT goons on here and every other IT site, and then the rest of the world.

    Now, we obviously care about which browser we use. Some of us want addons, some want security, others want porn mode. But the other people, those normal people who know that the internet works by clicking the "Big Blue E", do they really need this? Do we really need to bamboozle them further.

    The way I see it is that by bundling one browser, MS are giving everybody all they need. Lets face it, if you don't like IE, you fire it up once, download the setup file for your browser of choice, then leave IE to rot in software hell.

  48. Richard Kay
    Happy

    @Gareth Edwards

    "I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed - does this mean that it will have to be removed now?"

    Install the Konqueror package:

    sudo apt-get install konqueror

    And this includes a great alternative browser and many other useful things, e.g. file browsing, the fish protocol for access to files on a remote ssh server and ability to create image galleries. Firefox isn't a monopoly regardless of alternatives like Konqueror anyway, because by being open source any company can sell and support their own version of it, or the mainstream version for that matter.

  49. Andrew Duffin

    Redundant?

    And there was me thinking I could already choose which browser I wanted to use.

    Clearly this "Firefox" thing on my PC is a mirage.

    Why don't the EU grow up and learn something about computers?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Pants

    Nice to see all the billions we pay to the EU being used for such ultra important decision making. What an absolute load of bo**ocks. Presumably Brussels thinks that computer users are incapable of downloading FF etc on thier own?? ( and yes, i know that there will be plenty of mouth-breathers who probably struggle to differentiate between the left and right buttons on a mouse but how is giving them a choice of browser going to improve things?). Whilst i have no love for the megalith that is MS this just smacks of giving them a kicking just for the fun of it.

  51. Filippo Silver badge

    @Flocke

    Why should you get a proportion of your money back? IE is free.

  52. Test Man
    Stop

    Re:Gonna be funny

    Actually, Windows Update hasn't used IE and ActiveX since Vista came out. So no problem at all. Things have moved on years ago already, you should stop thinking Windows XP is the be-all and end-all.

  53. paul
    IT Angle

    @Flocke Kroes

    Best idea I have heard in ages.

    If people had to pay MS extra money to carry on using windows. People would seriously think about alternatives. Merits of the OS , cost of the OS and need of the owner would be the major factors rather than MS money + its army of sales drones / OEMs.

    Oh and for people moaning about firefox in linux, safari in mac.

    * IE4 used to come bundled with a mac. MS stopped making it. Apple stopped bundling it. (Apple should bundle firefox and/or opera it you ask me)

    * Firefox does come with ubuntu and most linuxs. IE and Safari are not available. The only other major browser for linux is Opera. As its not GPL / Open source it doesn't come as this would break lots of what linux stands for. Some other linux's come bundled with another browser called konqueror. (What webkit is based upon)

  54. Edward Rose

    Not sure how it will work...

    @SR, read most of your comment, can't help to agree with what I read. I can only assume it'll be the big three or four.

    Good luck for the EC in making it work though...

    @Moss Icely Spaceport

    You choose which is the default for install. You can install whatever you like after.

    @The 'Why don't other OSes suffer this' clan.

    It's not exactly about the bundling. It's about using its position as a monopoly to push its own software to maintain that monopoly. If it was a large company with one or two rivals, with vaguely equal shares of the market, each would be allowed to bundle what it wanted. It is purely a measure to break the monopoly - nothing else.

  55. Lozzyho
    Flame

    What a crock of EU shite

    So tell me, EU tosspots, exactly how many people bought the "N" versions of Windows?

    Precisely fuck all, that's how many. The EU are wasting their time (and our money) trying to force users into doing something that 99% of users won't want/need to do.

    Us techies who don't like IE (including me) are 1% of computer users, if that, and forcing the rest to choose another browser is acting in the interests of Opera and Mozilla, NOT the users.

    Seriously: Will your aunty hilda be able to make an informed decision? You could argue that FF/Opera are better, but I'd argue that others (including Safari) are far worse, especially for a Windows user.

  56. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    Miocrosoft is a monolply

    So why the FUCK do you twats keep bleating "What about Linux? What about Apple?".

    And El Reg, what the flying monkey-fuck do you think you're doing letting that shit through?

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Safari & techies..

    Did Safari even exist when the EU started this? This whole thing spun out from the browser wars when netscape was a significant force.

    Right, hands up any techie who will not select IE during an install? Now consider that you can download the latest FF or whatever and install it afterwards and that you're going to want to check something with IE at some point.

    It's typical EU, mince about for 20 years and then do something ineffectual. The fine at least is a positive move though.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    More MS bashing

    "Not because of the legal reasons stated here but because IE's integration is probably responsible for 90 percent of most infections on PC's since windows 98."

    Surely the vast majority of infections are caused by users lauching GiveMeFreeStuff.exe?

    "The real solution is to do it the other way around: OEM's should be forbidden from paying Microsoft. If they want to install windows, it should be a free demo version only. Customers who want Windows could then pay Microsoft directly to get an upgrade."

    Brilliant idea - I buy a PC and it stops working after thirty days. That's very good for consumers.

    The EU has it wrong, is wasting money needlessly on this. When most people buy a PC, they expect Windows and Internet Explorer. Don't try to force consumers to use other things, as they won't like it (look at the women who got Ubuntu instead of Windows).

    Don't force your "Linux and FireFox is better than everything" attitude on people who don't really care about it; average users just want to be able to use their computers without having fifty different choices of OS and browser.

  59. Toastan Buttar
    Gates Halo

    "world's least insecure browser" ?

    If only that were the case...

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    monopolisic abuse

    "I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed - does this mean that it will have to be removed now?"

    Yes, as soon as Ubuntu hits a 90% market share, Canonical buys Firefox, and attempts to use its desktop monopoly to obtain a browser monopoly. The law on monopolistic abuse applies to everyone.

    I thought that Ubuntu users would be a bit more clued up than most, or perhaps you are just a shill.

  61. Adam West

    hang on

    The basis of this case is that Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop. Except it doesnt. If you dont want to buy a PC with Windows on, dont. Buy one with something else, or nothing, installed. Buy a Mac. There are other viable options out there and Microsoft arent preventing anyone from pursuing those options.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Barmy

    I have no great love of Microsoft, and their OSs are on only about a third of the computers in my life...

    But this hounding of them is barmy. It is perfectly natural to integrate the browser in the user shell. Every mainstream consumer OS does it. Smartphone OSs do it. If we're going to have an OS/shell architecture designed by a committee of Eurocrats, heaven help us.

    Sure, I'd like my mother to be able to choose Firefox instead of IE. I'd like the wizzard that comes with it to be able to tweak all the UI settings appropriately. Oh, yes, it does. I don't particularly want my mother to be faced with a barrage of nonsensical questions (mandated by law????!!!) when she first turns on the computer and wants to use it. Why shouldn't she be able to delegate pretty much all of those decisions to the OEM?

  63. Jason Togneri
    Boffin

    @ various incorrect assumptions so far

    "Since Windows Update only works with IE"

    There are several options, quite apart from the fact that Windows Updates works for all the critical security patches if it's enabled to download automatically, so you're only missing 'optional' updates - there's a third-party updater called AutoPatcher (which has been shut down, officially, but is still available in places), and also alternatively IETab addon for FF.

    "I use Ubuntu and it comes with Firefox pre-installed - does this mean that it will have to be removed now? [snip] "you can just install a different browser with the package manager", but I can just as easily install a different browser [...] on a Windows machine as well. [...] this seems to be a case of attacking [Microsoft] just because they are the biggest and yet letting others (Apple comes with Safari after all) do exactly the same with no penalty."

    a) it's not a case of market monopoly laws, because the Mozilla Corporation do not build operating systems, and the Ubuntu people don't make Firefox. The legislation doesn't say "no browsers may be bundled with the OS", it's rather saying "you're not allowed to make your OWN browser be the default, pre-installed one".

    b) attacking Microsoft, yes, but just because it's Microsoft/the biggest? I doubt it. I'm sure it's got to do with the fact that they have a known history of taking advantage of the end user and inserting their own monopoly in anti-competitive practices. I'm sure that if the EU wins, Apple will be scrutinised more closely.

    All of this aside, it's a great idea - half the reason that IE exploits = Windows exploits is because the browser is so tightly integrated with the OS (IE <-> WE). If the browser would be a completely *seperate* application, most of these problems would disappear. I understand why they did it from a useability point of view, but it just doesn't work any more, so they should stop.

  64. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Stupid EU

    You can embed IE in any app and get web pages up in about 10 lines of code. Now you have endless COM interfaces to control the browser. You can't do any of this in Firefox or Chrome or Opera. They are just browsers, not OS-level HTML rendering services.

    What the EU are saying is that this fundamental approach to software design is illegal. Maybe some other guy wants to write an HTML rendering layer and make money off it.

    This is stupid for endless reasons.

    Are the EU going to now mandate that Opera, Firefox and Chrome provide the IWebBrowser2 and all the deeper DOM-level COM interfaces? Or are they mandating that Windows should henceforth provide less built-in functionality?

    I'd love to write a kernel. Can I get the EU to make MS's Windows kernel monopoly illegal, and force them to make all of their software work with my kernel? I'd love a slice of that Windows pie.

  65. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Miocrosoft is a monolply

    Flying monkey-fuck yourself. We are very busy and important.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Bunglebear

    If Apple had a monopoly (i.e. over 70% market share) then sure, it would apply to them as well.

    I have Firefox as my default browser. However, when Messenger tells me I have an email, hotmail launches in IE. I also have google chat but not many other people use it so I'm stuck with Messenger.

  67. Big Bear

    RE: Money back?

    MS would probably make IE “free” in that case… so the payback idea doesn’t really pan out that well…

    Unless it was for the OS itself!! OEMs preinstall a multiboot Win/Nix OS that requires you to choose one (or both even) on first boot and if you want Windows you contact them and pays your money for the key or whatever activation method before the OS opens up. Ergo the hardware is cheaper, MS sell you their OS directly but with an OEM facilitated “easy install” path, and hopefully there should be less bloat, and for those geeks out there you can have your nix with the hardware fully compliant and happy. Maybe have legislation that this method cannot cost that much more than the MS Tax on OEMs, but even if not, the competition will mean that MS can’t really overcharge for their OS anyway…

    Of course, 99% of the purchasers out there will still choose MS anyway since that is what they are used to and comfortable with…

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Why do people freak out about things like this?

    If I buy a box of Velveeta shells n' cheese, and it comes with Velveeta cheese sauce, should I be unhappy because I wasn't given the choice of Kraft cheese? Last I checked, IE was free, Firefox is free, Safari is free, many others are free, and if you want to pay, there's always other choices as well. Are people really that bent out of shape about a company including their own browser with their own operating system?

    Thus far "Flying monkey-fuck yourself" is about the only rational comment I see here :P

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    For all the people who do not realize..

    ..the reason is simple - you CANNOT (I repeat for the stupid) CANNOT remove IE from Windows without the os crawling up its own arse and dying. THIS is the reason why the EU is going after them.

    Sure, you just download another browser and use that but a lot of programs specifically MS programs like Messenger etc still will open IE when you click on a link REGARDLESS of whether you have set the default browser setting <----- frakking useless if you ask me.

    Microsoft should concentrate on the OS and nothing BUT the OS, and not forcing peoples PERSONAL computers into having software that they do not want and is full of bloody holes.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How will new users get onto the internet?

    I need a web browser to configure my router's account name and password, before I can connect to a download site and install a browser. I would love to have to talk my mum through setting this up via telnet.

    @"What about the other OS's"

    If I buy an apple computer I don't get a choice by default. Apple dominate that market, so should be subject to the same rules.

    @"On Ubuntu use Konqueror"

    "includes a great alternative browser and many other useful things, e.g. file browsing," That is exactly what MS is being accused of; embedding the browser in everything.

    @"Not following Web Standards"

    OK, so if this is implemented 100%, it would mean that IE would not be able to implement any feature until it has completed the standards ratification process. If they implement anything prior to that point they are not following web standards. What about innovation? Is that allowed any more? What happens if there are multiple, valid, ways of rendering a particular item, do MS fail in the eyes of the law because IE take one approach and the others take a different one?

    If you want to beat MS in the browser market make a significantly better browser, that makes it a no brainer to change. As it stands at the moment, the others do basically the same stuff, but in a different way, and many people say better; but there is no major difference between them that the end user can see. They all generally work; but where is the step change?

  71. Steve

    Get worse

    So if MS are not allowed to ship any broswer with windows BUT you need to go online to get a browser erm how the hell you sodding ment to do it (And dont say go round a mates house!!)

    Reminds me of that stupid argument I had with Pace when I had my 56k Dial up modem.

    I had damaged the drivers disk so I rang em up to have a new one sent. But they was insistant I go online and download the driver. But I could not get online to get the driver as i needed the driver to get on line lol took me 30 mins for the woman at the other end of the fone to click on. and yes this was back in 1997/8

  72. Jonathan Adams

    Opera Browser

    Since Opera has been in the market for years and remembering that they are multi platform ... then why has Google Chrome, a relative newcomer, on only one platform got a greater market share.

    Could it be that Opera isn't actually much cop as a browser nowadays :)

  73. Thomas

    @Simon Painter, Lozzyho, an AC, Nick, Eddie Edwards, Allan Rutland, JonB, Adam West

    @Simon Painter (and, I guess, AC "Pants" and Lozzyho)

    The EU responded to a complaint filed by Opera. If you consider this trolling then I guess in your preferred world, the various legal bodies set up to oversee things just ignore complaints if they relate to rich people?

    @Nick

    The word used is TIED, not BUNDLED, and the issue is the market effect of tying that particularly non-conformant browser to the OS. What's good for the goose is good for the gander; any company that causes damage to the market by abusing a dominant position is liable to face similar findings. I'd be interested to hear your argument about how the Microsoft calculator is tied to Windows and has failed to conform to relevant standards thereby distorting the market.

    @Eddie Edwards

    Largely as above. And the EU have ruled only on the actual browser, not on the framework.

    @Allan Rutland

    As per the above, long discussions about whether or not vendors should be able to bundle browsers are purely straw man arguments.

    @JonB

    Per the article, this judgment was "sparked by a complaint by rival Opera Software in January 2008". I therefore believe that Safari did exist - if that makes it 20 years old by your personal arithmetic then so be it.

    @Adam West

    The word monopoly has been used by the commentators; the law speaks only of a dominant position. So you're correct, but it's not relevant to the EU ruling.

  74. Thomas

    @Anonymous Coward "How will new users get onto the internet?"

    Your argument is that Apple are a monopoly because they are the only people that make Apple computers? Some sort of satire perhaps?

  75. Wortel
    Flame

    Because I say so. Bitch.

    What a load of willies!

    It's the anti-Linux ad campaign tactic all over again. Yawn.

    Oh you wanted to stir up a discussion about how the hell you should be able to install shit without a browser?

    How about Microsoft just, for once, follows common sense and brings pack the pre-install package manager they ditched all those years ago? Does anyone even remember that thing? Yes, it still looks the same as it does in Windows 2000 and XP, but you can only access it -after- the lot has been installed, not before.

    So how about it, common sense right? bring back the package manager and bring it up to par with the rest of the more intelligible tools out there available in other systems. You've had quite enough time to ogle them all over and copy the tech for yourself by now.

    No need for no steenkin' browser to download anything if you have a package manager. No! end of story, they could have done this years ago, it's called innovation! But guess who took the ball when you dropped it?

  76. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: Get worse

    Well, how did they get any browser before there was IE? How did they get one when IE was available but not bundled?

    a) Bought something that came with a browser

    b) All ISP's included a browser on the Setup CD/floppy

    c) FTP'd

    d) Copied from a friend

    e) Cover disks

    etc.

    Or do these no longer work any more? Which then brings up the question about how you get a browser for a computer that doesn't come with a browser, like, oh, Solaris.

  77. Whitter
    Boffin

    Cut to the quick

    I suspect "Users" means direct sellers, OEMs and so on. Not the end-user per-se.

    The issue with MS is that IE is (s) inbuilt (b) effectively required and (c) MS has a reputation for seriously anti-competitive bully tactics when it comes to what software is installed by OEMs / distributers etc.

    The EU wants (a) Window OS to be browser-neutral and (b) to stop MS's abuses of distribution channels.

    The sales channels can then install whatever browser (or set thereof) they want to: and lo!, there was compition in the market.

  78. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    "If you want to beat MS in the browser market "

    There used to be IE for Mac, produced by Microsoft.

    They stopped.

    What did they say was the reason for stopping?

    "We cannot compete with a browser that comes with the operating system".

    If Microsoft don't reckon you have a chance to beat a browser even if you start with a 90% market share if that browser is built in to the OS, what chance does a browser with less than 10% market share have to do it?

  79. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: Re: Miocrosoft is a monolply

    Well why the flying monkey wank-fuck does it say "Thank you for your comment. We will moderate it as soon we can. If it is accepted then it will appear on the comments page."

    If you're busy moderating, that's what you should be doing. If you're busy doing something else, don't say stupid shit like that.

    Deal?

  80. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: Stupid EU

    And Microsoft used to be able to expose a HTML API so that other browsers could replace IE seamlessly.

    They dropped that.

    Plus, I can do exactly the same with KDE. Probably fewer lines, though. Doesn't have to be IE.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    After the horse has bolted...

    I can't see how it makes sense for an OS to come without a browser these days. OS X, many flavours of Linux, almost all mobile devices and even OS/2 have an inbuilt browser, and in this age they should have.

    The EU are trying to fix this too late, it's not worth bothering with now. If they'd acted when MS clubbed Netscape to death, then they might have been able to stop MS in it's tracks and prevent them ruining web standards for a decade.

    Just leave it EU. Also, stop interfering with the volume control on my iPod. How dare you!

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Thomas

    You have a point.

    We all know this has been going on much longer than 2008 though. Originally complainant was Sun I believe back in '98. (Yes, yes, still not 20 years).

  83. Francis Boyle

    @ Steve & others

    If you read the article you'll see that no one's talking about taking anything away from users. The relevant sentence is: "According to Microsoft, such a ruling might require that OEMs distribute browsers from the company's rivals along with IE on new PCs". So users get a choice of bundled products. Which will confuse the hell out of them. Or they will just click on the big blue 'E' because it's what they know. In any case it's hardly more onerous than clicking on the 'accept' button on the eula that you haven't scrolled through let alone read. All in all, it amounts to a "hey, mate, you got a choice" disclaimer. So please stop crying for the 'poor user' because it's not going to hurt them.

  84. Michael Nielsen
    Thumb Up

    Free, IE and WMP

    The interesting thing in here is I've read several people saying that IE and WMP is free, well yes and no, if You own a windows operating system, then yes they are free, if you do not, I would not be so sure. I was using IE4Linux and read some of the EULA for IE, which unless I misread it, actually said, that you were not to use IE unless you had a fully licensed version of Windows..

    That is Free, as long as you've paid your Windows Tax, similiarly with the media player.

    EU stuffed up badly, in the medie player debaucle, because they forgot to find out what the value of the Medie player was, and the price for Windows XP without the Media Player, should have been decreased accordingly, however, they did not, and therefore the consumes received the following choice.

    XP with medie player costs Y

    XP without medie player cost X

    X =Y

    So from the consumers point of view there is no difference in price, except you get less for the same amount of money when you buy XP without medie player.

    If they do the same with IE, then it is going to fail as well.

    XP without IE = y

    XP with IE = x

    then x > y is required, otherwise it's only signal politics and not real.

    As Microsoft requires you to have a windows license for you to use IE - you can run IE on linux, I do that for compatibility testing - then IE is not free, and it has a cost.

    This is the problem with Monopolies.

    If I had a monopoly, and If I wanted to push in a new product, but I do not want to give it away for free, I'll bundle it with my monopoly item. Then increase the price for the bundle, but in a new release so it's not clear why the price increased.

    I then, make money from my new product and on my monopoly, however my competitors are now having to compete against a "Free" product, and cannot make money, and will leave the market.. Then after my competitors are gone, I split the product and make it an add on, all in the name of choice, for a higher price than the bundle - a win-win for a company with a monopoly, except for those Darn Monopoly laws, that keep tripping companies up.

    People who keep complaining that Microsoft is being singled out, obviously have not read their history.

    1. IBM has tried it, decades ago.

    2. AT&T was split up because of it.

    there are litterally dozens of examples of companies who have grown to monopoly size, and have been throug the wringer both here in EU, and in the US, as well as local regional monopoly laws.

    The reason:

    It is simple, if a monopoly is allowed to do as it pleases it will soon take over all adjacent markets to it's original monopoly, and thus stifle innovation, and press prices through the roof, why do you think most countries have gone from one telephone company to many - because they like complexity, no because competition encourages innovation, and brings prices down for consumers, a monopoly though not illegal, is never desirable in any market, because it harms society and the consumers.

    Though I first heard it in a spiderman movie, it does have merit "with great power comes great responsibility", this applies to monopolies (power), however, most monopolies do not behave responsibly, as they seek to maximise profits, irrelevant of the harm they're doing. This is why the rules for a monopoly is different from that of an non-monopoly.

    So please "pro-microsoft", or "poor microsoft" communities, do some research on monopolies and find out what it means, before you start jumping down EU's throat for investigating illegal monopoly activities. Microsoft is not the first, nor the last company to be subject to monopoly laws.

  85. Red Bren
    Linux

    @AC - 10:39

    "Brilliant idea - I buy a PC and it stops working after thirty days. That's very good for consumers."

    No it doesn't, it means Windows stops working after 30 days. Isn't this exactly what happens if you don't go through the windows activation process?

    Install some penguin flavoured O/S and a demo version of Windows with the option of paying to activate and consumers can make an informed choice based on experience, need and cost.

    That's what the EU should be enforcing.

  86. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    re: Re: Miocrosoft is a monolply

    You're quite right. We've been meaning for a while to alter that text so it more accurately reads 'Thank you for your comment. We will moderate it as soon as we're finished with your mum.'

    I wear several hats here. Can you guess what this one says on it?

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FFS

    What's with eurocrats intefering is every aspect of our lives? It's a poxy browser, if you don't like IE, use another one.

    It seems the various jihadists can't resist having a pop either. Who cares if you run a different OS or browser? Why do you care if Joe Bloggs can't be arsed to change the default settings? It's not your PC, it's not your problem so get off your bleeding soap boxes and get a life.

  88. Charlie Mason
    Paris Hilton

    @Unable to remove IE

    So if the problem is not being able to remove IE from the OS... why isn't that the charge then?

    Paris: Cos she seems to make more sense.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Here we go again

    "So why don't they sue Apple for supplying OSX pre-loaded with Safari "

    Apple is not a monopoly. That damned difficult to understand, is it.

  90. W. Anderson

    Microsoft and the EU antitrust

    It is fortunate for all European Union computer users that the EU Antitrust Commission has taken

    a strong, common sense approach to the problems posed by Microsoft continuing to abuse it's position in the technology marketplace to the detriment of all citizens.

    Unfortunately this story, as well as what is similarly transpiring in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, South Africa is not well reported i the USA technology or general media. Many suspect this is because of the "Iron Fist" control and suppression Microsoft has over most all of the commercial media in that country, who attempt to publish any report critical of or negative about their unsavory actions.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Red Bren

    When will you Linux jihadists realise that Joe Bloggs doesn't want the complication of selecting his OS? If the average user was running Linux, how long do you think he'd last before he tries to do something beyond his ability and deletes essential files? Who will he ask to sort it out?

    What would you choose:

    PC a with Windows pre-installed that _just_ works and cost x

    or

    PC b without Windows pre-installed that cost y

    Where x-y is a very small sum because the cost to manufacturers for the Windows licences they bundle is peanuts. In the UK it is single figures (ie, less than 10) for an OEM licence for bulk builders.

    The bottom line is the OS/browser war was lost in about 1890 when Microsoft gave away DOS to consumers.

    For those bleating "Monopoly", try learning some basic truths, there is _NO_ fscking monopoly - mono means one, ie no choice. Consumers have a choice and a significant percentage exercise that choice. You've all done so if you're using Linux or Apple.

    We El Reg readers are a tiny minority that can make informed decisions on IT matters. The average user isn't and all you do by forcing him to decide is make access to technology a bit harder. Will you all be crying that mobile phone providers give consumers a choice of OS? Even if it's obvious that consumers do neither know nor care which OS their phone is running.

    Now, as the previous poster says, get off your soapboxes and do some bloody work!

  92. natxo asenjo
    Happy

    package manager

    @Tone, msiexec is *not* a package manager. Try doing something like this with msiexec.exe

    for debian distributions (ubuntu, ie):

    apt-cache search firefox [enter]

    apt-get install firefox [ enter]

    for redhat distributions (redhat, centos, fedora):

    yum search firefox [enter]

    yum install firefox [enter]

    And the package manager searchs the online software repositories for firefox, and when you ask it to install it, it downloads all the necessary software dependencies to install the package firefox.

    replace firefox with any word you like (rss, dns, mail, ..., you get the picture) while searching for software. Once found, install it with another command. Now *that* is a package manager.

    IInstalling software in linux is way easier than in windows.

  93. Mark

    Buy a pre-installed Linux machine

    Oh, hang on, if they do that, they don't get marketing money from Microsoft, so they either have to charge more for all their PCs or drop the profits.

  94. /etc
    Gates Horns

    Don't forget the cloud

    Thomas's responses to previous defenders of Microsoft are very good and well-informed.

    It's sad that nonsense should continue to be posted after that. I'm particularly thinking of the Anonymous Coward who posted about "Linux jihadists". What's in question here, what's before the EU, is browsers not operating systems.

    One aspect that I think has been missed in the discussion is that:

    "In its original complaint, Opera also accused Microsoft of stymieing the development of Web standards by forcing site designers to adhere to IE's own implementation of certain protocols."

    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9126299

    Now if Microsoft is able to control the browser most users use, through its control of the operating system (and its hold over OEMs, including the sanctions it's able to bring to bear on those distribute anything else) then it indirectly controls how websites are written. This means:

    (a) that it can lock users into IE - and hence Windows. In other words, it can use its market domination with Windows to push IE and then use IE round the other way to keep users on Windows.

    And (b) that it can exercise control over the increasingly important area of web applications.

    Even Joel Spolsky, who used to work at Microsoft and most often acts as a defender for them has admitted that part of the purpose of pushing Netscape out of the market was to protect MS's desktop-based applications from the threat of web applications. Furthermore, he adds:

    "The Internet Explorer team seems to have disappeared; they have been completely missing in action for several years. There's no way Microsoft is going to allow DHTML to get any better than it already is: it's just too dangerous to their core business, the rich client."

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html

    Note this was written in 2004. That was then; this is now. Now IE has been brought out of mothballs, because MS knows that web applications are coming like it or not. But IE can be used in different ways to further Microsoft's interests in the cloud. There's everything to play for there with Google offering Google docs, Yahoo offering a range of services, Apple dipping its toes in with MobileMe, and so on ...

    It's important for us all that these new web applications use standards and work with any standards-compliant browser. Microsoft could use IE to derail that.

    Once again. The EU is acting on a complaint from Opera Software, which it must in good faith look into. That's its job.

    Once again, like the US DoJ, it is trying to prevent Microsoft from using a dominant position in one market to gain dominant positions in another (or others).

  95. Tone

    package manager

    It is a package manager - it may not wander offline and get packages but msiexec.exe manages installation\upgrade\removal of msi packages down to the component level..

    If the browser vendors supplied validated MSI's to MSI they would get installed something like:

    msiexec /i firefox_3.0.5.msi /qb!

  96. RW
    Boffin

    A little history

    Around 1997, MS embedded (or, if you prefer, deeply intertwingled) IE with Windows as a way of overcoming Netscape's dominance in the browser market. Remember that the first release of Win95 didn't even include a TCP/IP stack -- you had to use Trumpet Winsock.

    It was exciting bootstrapping a non-Internet system into a state of Internet awareness. I remember logging on to a dial up bulletin board system (anybody else remember those?) in order to download Trumpet Winsock and Netscape 0.99 in 1995.

    Just as with ActiveX, which was derided as a major security hazard when it made its debut, so the tight coupling of IE with Windows was viewed as a very serious mistake by commentators of the day. However, Redmond in its usual arrogant we-know-everything way blew off both of these warnings. The entire world has been paying a high price every since in the form of major insecurities in Windows due to ActiveX and IE integration.

    It appears that some chickens are coming home to roost.

  97. Ian
    Flame

    can we have some different posts on this topic

    and variants thereof.

    1 Linux, Apple, no complainrts have been made.

    2 Microsoft, is a convicted monopolist STILL not following the terms of its sentence.

    To the rednecks, Microsoft is still investigated for openness in the US, this is to verify that there are as few naughty bits of code as possible

    To the Linux guys.... don't bait the rednecks, the E numbers in the mountain dew will kick in and we will never shut them up.

    To the Apple guys... read the linux bit....

    Basically, all you folks are doing is rehashing the same stuff time and time again.. Am sure Sarah Bee is fed up of reading it. Do her a favour, don't write it and let her go home earlier!

  98. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Sigh ...

    @ Allan Rutland

    No, OEMs aren't (or at least, for a long time weren't) allowed to install any other browser - that is a key part of the complaint.

    For those that don't do history, this is a rough condensation of what's gone on.

    Microsoft (by illegal means, they've been found guilty in the US and EU and other places) made Windows the dominant OS on the desktop. By using closed and proprietary protocols, they've used that dominant position (not monopoly) to make themselves similarly dominant in the network server market.

    So, with this dominant position, they know that people will want Windows on their PCs - because nothing else 'works properly' on the corporate networks due to the closed and proprietary networking etc. OEMs get a HUGE discount for their bulk installed software, and Microsoft told them that they had a simple choice - don't install ANY competing software or lose your OEM deal. Losing the deal would kill any OEM's market by adding a significant chunk to their selling price. At one time, an OEM had to pay MS for DOS/Windows for EVERY machine they made, even if it didn't sell with them - and that was how the killed of DR-DOS and OS/2.

    So now, MS have abused their dominant position to make sure that virtually all PCs ship with IE and NO OTHER BROWSER. Naturally, given the choice between "what's there" and going off to download something else, most people would use what's there. IE is now the dominant browser and the whole business kicks off again.

    MS go off and make IE non-standard. The result is that people writing web sites end up supporting the non-standard protocols in IE rather than the "open and work in any compliant browser" standards. And guess what, MS just happens to have servers and software that work very nicely with those.

    Now, not only do standards compliant browsers have to compete uphill (download and install vs already there), they have to compete in a world where uneducated users perceive them as broken because they don't render the "broken by design" websites properly.

    And the whole cycle keep going around, with MS keeping itself dominant by making sure that nothing else "works properly" - and in many cases, if someone dares to make their competing product "work" then they get busted by legalised bullying, and MS can use their dominant position to force a new broken protocol on the world to make sure competing products suddenly break.

    This latest action isn't against IE, it's against MS using it to lock out alternatives - by forcing alternatives to be offered, it prevents MS using hidden threats to prevent OEMs exercising their newly won freedom to install a competing browser, because that is the behaviour that many might expect from MS. You know, the account manager casually mentioning something like "well of course, by law you can install Firefox, but we're just working on some new marketing kickbacks and I'm sure you wouldn't want to miss out now would you ?" - which incidentally is exactly what Intel is accused of doing to keep AMD down in the market.

    The same complaint doesn't apply to Apple (or any other manufacturer) for the simple reason that only MS has such a dominant position that it can effectively dictate terms to the world. If Apple were to, for example, try and subvert the HTML standards to lock out other browsers then the world would simply tell them to **** off. When Microsoft does it, the rest of the world follows because they know that the majority of users won't be able to use their website if they don't.

  99. Lars Silver badge
    Gates Halo

    COMP/C-3/37.792

    For those of you who find the EU/Microsoft so hard to understand.

    Please Google for COMP/C-3/37.792. The text, bye the EU is +300 pages long.

    Well written and interesting. It is also IT history many of you where too young to know anything about it, and many have forgotten all about it.

    And if you want to look and listen to Saint Bill, then Google for the videos from the similar case

    in the USA.

  100. Walking Turtle

    @TeeCee: Choose Your Default Browser Here:

    @ TeeCee Posted Thursday 29th January 2009 08:38 GMT

    "If you want a real target here, try a few of the Linux distros with FF installed and KDE as the desktop and see how many times Konqueror sets off into web land rather than handing over gracefully to the browser of choice......"

    Per Mandriva 2009.0 and KDE 3.5.10 (but going a few years back from that; it was no different then), here's the GUI solution, my friend:

    Kmenu > Tools > System Tools > Configure Your Desktop pulls up the configgerator.

    Then System Settings > Default Applications > Web browser puts in in the face.

    Mine's set for Konqueror @ the mo'. But if I really want FF, Galeon or any of I forget how many others, of all I loaded up with Just In Case One Dies Someday (or I Want To Try Something Completely Different, Lynx included), I can just fire up that fine KDE rejiggerer-thingie, go to the Right Place (although many in the US just HATE reading ANYTHING, no matter how succinctly informative), then click the handydandy LOWER of the two radio buttons so as to make for free choice (thus overriding the default). Next it is merely to key the appropriate browsername + miscellaneous %syntax% stringie-bits into the string-gadget (so called 'cuz Amiga runs deep in me soul) that is indeed quite thoughtfully provided.

    There is no trouble in my world with this approach. I like it because it works, idiotech-y tho' typing a line of invocation may seem to some. (Next version might just present an array of icons, one for each user-installed and thus available browser, for all I know.)

    So: I can enjoy the best of 'em all, default to the one I like best, and swap that one out for any other on Earth at will - as default or whim, depending. Life is sweet. So is this-here "K"-brand desktop environment.

    The which need not even run atop Linux. - <gasp> -

    Ayup. I read a few months back of a KDE3.x-for-Windows release available for free download, too. I dunno any more than that; I keep strictly to Linux for me health's sake.

    The license fee for the Redmond product is well beyond my frayed-out shoestring money+time budget, y'see, Guv, as are the solicitor's fee structure and corpy-lawful Court-imposable penalties (on top of that) for getting caught out with a non-registered Windows installation; better to be penguin-safe than crim-dodgy and worried sick all day+night long. Also, the relatively virus-free aspect of such a tricked-out Web-cruiser box is very good indeed.

    So I dunno' fer sure re KDE-for-Windows, but I reckon it's prolly fair decent at least. I would expect the range of browser choice I enjoy on the Linux platform's prolly there in the Windows version too.

    At least the updates and patches have proved reliably timely on my end; I'd be deeply surprised if Team KDE ever slacked on that aspect regardless of the target O/S. 0{;-)o<

  101. Mark
    Gates Horns

    Weird innit

    The same sort of people who say "MS has a monopoly??? When did THAT happen? You can just use some other program" are also the same ones who say "Open Office DOES NOT WORK!!! It's not going to work and will never work for 'real' people" etc.

    So when MS get kicked in the metaphorical nuts they say you can easily use any other program. And when someone says that you can use any other program and get away from MS, they tell you that there is no replacement.

    Weird,

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like