back to article Microsoft talks turkey in Brussels

Microsoft and the European Commission are back in talks aimed at ending anti-trust investigations against the company. The most advanced probe is the Competition Commission's investigation into the browser market sparked by complaints from Opera, but the Commission is also looking at word processing and spreadsheets. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Grandstanding indeed

    Bastards. Give us a non-choice, will they? I wish the EC forced them to make any and all UI-components truly uninstallable. Then we could install our preferred alternative and get rid of their crud afterwards. Outcrook, Internet Exploder, Mediocre Player etc. are permanent features - hate, hate, hate...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't see an end to investigations anytime soon. The EC doesn't want markets with dominant players (defacto monopoly). Does anyone think MS is suddenly going to fall over and accept a reduction of their current 90%+ market-share to something that resembles an open functioning market (<40% or so).

  3. lukewarmdog

    tis unfair

    Unless they force Apple and all *nix operating systems to do the same.

  4. Jack Harrer
    Thumb Down

    Wrong problem

    Shame she's leaving. I bet the next one will not be so tough, more "corporate friendly".

    She should look at selling Windows with all PCs. That is the real problem, not a browser. They should finally force computer makers to sell PC or without OS and DVD image with ghost so they can install it or providing trial of Windows so interested parties can call and buy it - presumably with a discount as it comes with computer. That would make all computers cheaper instantly and increase a choice.

    Of course that will never happen...

  5. eckythump

    perfectly fair

    When Apple and Linux have become an abusive monopoly - then the same measures will apply to them. (why is that so complicated for some people to understand?)

  6. Chris Miller

    @Jack Harrer

    The reason manufacturers sell PCs with an OS installed is so that their customers can have a working system out of the box. The reason why they don't usually offer a choice is because MS offer better terms for a 'sole use' contract (as happens in many other industries) and because they don't want the hassle of developing and supporting a large number of different builds.

    How many *nix flavours are there currently? I bet if Dell announced tomorrow that they will offer all their systems pre-installed with Fedora, the blogs would be full of Ubuntu enthusiasts wailing "it's not fair"! And that's without even getting onto Gnome vs KDE, and which browser to use.

    Those who are happy to spend time tinkering with Linux are quite likely to build their own systems as well and thus avoid the MS 'tax' (which, last time I checked, ran to about £20).

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Re: tis unfair

    Oh God, not again..... Its all about market share and abusing that position and tying the browser to the operating system.

    On Linux I can go into my app manager, find Firefox and click on "Remove Completely" and its gone, gone totally. It wont suddenly leap out and surprise me like a dose of Herpes which is what IE does. Is there a "remove IE" option in Vista? No, all I can do is basically hide it.

  8. Alex Connor


    not the lukewarmdog from BMMB fame, huh??

    if so, bloody hell! bet you can't guess who i used to be, heh.

    If not, ignore the above bit.

    on topic, this is rubbish. People do have a choice, of course, MS is the main choice cos they have a business model and make money so therefore can spend it on advertising. Same could be done for *nix, but then they'd lose the thing that people use them for

  9. Geoff Mackenzie

    @tis unfair

    If by 'do the same' you mean permit the user to freely choose browsers, and remove bundled applications they don't use, then actually, they already do so voluntarily.

    Also, the usual response applies: Microsoft is a convicted monopolist. Apple, Canonical, Debian, Red Hat et al are not.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @tis unfair

    I think you'll find that (i) *nix come with a selection of web browsers (and all other software for that matter) (ii) *nix has no dependancy upon a browser for the correct functioning of the system etc.

    oh dear i responded to an obvious troll. darn.

  11. /dev/me


    On my *nix system, I have four graphical browsers and two or three textual browsers installed *by default*

    Each and every one of these could have been de-selected during install, and all of them can be removed after install. From the repository I can pull down a broader selection of different browsers, and when I am so inclined, I can install even more from source. Again, all of them can be just as easily removed.

    Of course you can install different browsers on a Wintel too. But people don't. Proving once again that the battle for user base is won in the marketing department and not in the engineering department. In a world where ~70% thinks 'Google' is a browser, and at the same time, the browser is becoming (or rather /has become/) the most important application on any computer, you would wish for more of a 'survival of the fittest' kind of battle between browsers. This can only exist on a level playing field.

    People think they shouldn't have to worry about which browser they use. I beg to differ. It's their most important application. And what with all the web based apps and services, is only becoming more important.


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    So the main problem is the bundling of IE in Windows, so MS removes IE from Windows and therefore removes the bundling component, and still the EU are not happy?

    What the EU want is not competition, they want to give smaller players a helping hand, I don't see them saying to Apple "you must stop bundling Safari with OSX as it harms competition on the OSX Desktop".

    Of course, the other players in the game want Windows to bundle their browser with it, so what they don't want is for MS to unbundle IE as that would ruin their plans, oh no, they want their browser bundled because they want a monopoly.

    Giving end-users the choice is a big no, they automatically connect "the big blue E" with "the internet" so putting a huge list of 5000000 different browsers won't make the slightest difference, all that will happen is they will select, say, Opera and wonder "what the fuck? wheres the bloody big blue E gone? How the hell do I access the internet? Where the number for MS?"

    The only people this *would* effect are people who would choose another browser anyhow, but they are the sort that would bugger off and download the latest version of their browser from the internet and only use IE once, to go to firefox or opera or whatever.

    Me, I'm sticking with IE, at least with IE we know its insecure rather than the "I use x plugin so I can't be hacked".

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @perfectly fair

    'When Apple have become an abusive monopoly'


    hahahaha, good joke I like it!

  14. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    as long as

    When they allow the other packages to be bundled with a first install, they truly truly get rid of those that were not wanted. So when I click firefox or whatever, IE is gone. This includes Instant messenger and all that cruddy media player rubbish (I want my music in a library I can understand, not your version of it)


    When I click on firefox, all web browsing standards are adheered to,

    All functions of firefox present and future are adheered to and there is not bias or later implementation of IE by annoying pop up messages saying "we notice you use firefox, have you considered IE9" everytime I log in. etc etc.

    And more importantly when I choose firefox or opera, ALL the windows resources, drivers, kernal time and coding supports it. Not some windows half hearted attempt to curtail performance underhandedly, thus ensuring people think it is rubbish and go for the fully optimised version of windows IE

    They honour the whole thing on future releases, not just as a gimic for Vista 2 (windows 7) home basic, it should be ALL versions of Vista 2 and whatever follows. Just because Neelie might have left his/her job, doesn't mean the EU public have.

  15. ledmil


    Genius 'When Apple and Linux have become an abusive monopoly ' - I sincerly hope the Apple part of that was extremely dry wit.

    My view on this is that it's like saying that BMW must fit Skoda alloys as it's unfair that all BMW's come as standard with BMW wheels.

    While I personally think that MS does and has acted uncompetitively on a number of occasions I think this is completely the wrongargument to have with them, it just makes it look like a, soon to be out of office, bureaucrat is trying to make a name for themselves.

    Another angle on this, let's suppose MS do include Chrome, Opera , FireFox etc with Windows 7 and let the user choose which to install, what happens if there is a serious security flaw in said browser. From a home user's perspective that would then be MS at fault and would they then be expected to also provide patches for someone elses product too (as they do with their own)?. Not to mention that the Windows 7 compatibility of all preincluded browsers would then become Microsoft's issue as much as the browser developer, which again seems unreasonable.

  16. Fazal Majid

    The EU is understandably wary about Microsoft proposals

    The EU's media player action was a complete failure since no one would buy the WMP-free version if there was no discount involved, but it had the benefit of exposing the EC to Microsoft's deviousness. They are not going to be taken for a ride again on the much more meaningful topic of web browser choice and market distortion by Microsoft.

    The issue with the proposed IE-free Windows 7 is that Microsoft would likely include some mechanism like an automatic download feature to make it easy to add it back. This is just loophole thinking - whether IE code is actually included or not in the install CD or on a network update server is irrelevant, the EU's beef with Microsoft is the making of IE a default through privileged access to Microsoft's Windows distribution channel, including Windows Update.

  17. RW

    It might be good for Windows

    In some ways, Windows 3.1, that ancient piece of crap, offered much more user choice. Take font rendering, for example. You could turn off Truetype entirely, and you had the option of enabling Type 1 and HP's Intellifont rendering if you so wished.

    Likewise, no OS dependence on your choice of web browser (though the choice was Netscape, Mosaic, and perhaps Lynx, Mosaic having not yet morphed into IE).

    For a while there (later than Win3.1 iirc), there were at least three different office suites comprising a word processor, spreadsheet, and database, though Harvard Graphics was nearly the only presentation manager anyone ever used.

    Video and audio players and graphics software abounded, for some values of "abound".

    Debundling all the bells and whistles that currently bloat Windows might (not necessarily!) force MS to get rid of the tightly coupled application-OS system they've imposed on the world in favor of proper procedural firewalls between apps and OS. If my experience is any guide, this would lead to a much more robust, more secure, more flexible system made up of modular building blocks, instead of the current everything-in-one-big-lump approach.

    Why is there no gray-beard icon for old farts' postings?

  18. kain preacher

    @Fazal Majid

    why give discount for removing some thing you can download for free Does not make since dose it. Buy a discounted product, download the missing comments and you have a full version at a discount. Only way that would work is if MS locked that version of windows so it could not use media player. Think the EU would of liked that ?

  19. Cullen Newsom

    @Chris Miller

    That's nonsense. There are plenty of folks who would rather buy a bare PC.

    Some of those folks already own a Windows license or two, or twenty and might not like to "upgrade".

    There are also plenty that would like to buy one with Linux pre-installed. Most of the examples I've seen of an OEM "offering" Linux pre-installed, they've done it giving customers a very limited choice of hardware (usually last year's). I'd personally buy a PC with Linux pre-installed (even SuSE) just to avoid the MS tax. Even if I immediately reinstalled something else. If only they'd offer the full product range for selection.

    While I may indeed be happy "tinkering" and assembling my own PC; I have yet to find a place to purchase laptop components. When's the last time you "tinkered" a laptop together from parts? And since you don't mind the "MS tax" How about if we add a "Linux tax" as well? Or you could just send me £20 for my trouble? Didn't think so.

    MS' bullying OEMs to install only its latest OS, bundling all of its latest "freebies" (and no one else's) doesn't serve the market (us) well, even for users of MS software.

    I don't know whether or not the EU has done any good, or even if they're able to. It's a certainty that MS will do everything that it, can for as long as it can, to avoid having to play nice.

  20. GrantB

    Hrm #

    Bit of a fail for a shill don't you think? Repeating the 'what about Apple' thing, even though a set of posts beforehand already pointed out the obvious differences.

    Then claiming that joe user thinks the internet is a big blue 'e'. That might have been the case 5+ years ago, but in case you have not looked at a browser survey recently, it is getting to the point that IE users are gradually becoming a minority.

    As for calling MS.. who exactly does that anyway? you have to call your computer supplier. Given that the browser is often one of a couple of key icons in the quick launch toolbar, and the user would have made a choice 'How to you wish to browse the Internet?... "Firefox", then I think they would click on the FF icon & find it trying to connect to the internet.

  21. Jonathan Larmour

    @AC "Hrm" and @Chris Miller

    AC: 'So the main problem is the bundling of IE in Windows, so MS removes IE from Windows and therefore removes the bundling component, and still the EU are not happy?'

    Well, duh, how would anyone be able to install a browser if there wasn't one (or more) available to be installed from the media? It's a catch-22 - if you don't provide a browser, you can't install a browser. Unless you think most people should get by with the text mode FTP client.

    Also @Chris Miller:

    CM: 'I bet if Dell announced tomorrow that they will offer all their systems pre-installed with Fedora, the blogs would be full of Ubuntu enthusiasts wailing "it's not fair"!'

    Uh, Dell sells systems pre-installed with Ubuntu:

    and before that for quite a few years they could pre-install Red Hat Enterprise Linux (like commercial Fedora). So there's an existence proof that you're wrong.

  22. Andrew Williams

    Talks turkey?

    More like with forked tongue.

    However, I think it's about time they were trussed, cooked, carved and served like a turkey.

    Ah well, it's a nice thought...

  23. Goat Jam

    Windows Myth#342

    "The reason manufacturers sell PCs with an OS installed is so that their customers can have a working system out of the box"

    This can easily be achieved by pre-loading Windows and requiring the user to activate the OS with a credit card should they decide to use it.

    It can also be achieved by allowing OEMs to, oh, I dunno, preload Ubuntu Linux so that their customers can have that "working PC out of the box" experience as well.

    The problem is that oems are forced to load and *pay* for Windows on every PC they sell (whether it comes loaded with Windows or not) and their OEM agreements do not allow for preloading any alternatives on to PC's, which is a fact that the BeOS folks discovered to their detriment.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again;

    Most Linux users don't care whether Joe Sixpack wants to use Windows or not. We want two simple things.

    1) The ability to buy the PC/Netbook/Notebook of our choice without paying the MS tax.

    2) A free and open internet that is not held hostage by one company and their insistence on polluting it with their own proprietary, patent encumbered and platform dependent "standards"

    It's not much to ask for. One wonders why so many people are so determined to stop that scenario from developing.

  24. Michael 28

    Have the dawn raids started yet?

    @Grandstanding indeed....... I did warn you guys !

    I would suggest the word "probe " in the article was appropriate, but the antitrust commission are only in the foreplay stage yet.. Rubber hoses and bright lights in the backroom next!

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