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EU Antitrust Troubles Continue For Microsoft 593

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-on-the-hook dept.
Julie188 writes "Opera Software's year-old antitrust complaint against Microsoft took another step toward being vindicated, and the Oslo-based browser maker can't help crowing over the European Commission's decision. Opera had filed a complaint with the EC in December, 2007, contending that Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows violated antitrust rules. Yesterday, the EC sent a 'Statement of Objections (SO)' to Microsoft with a preliminary finding that bundling IE with Windows does indeed constitute an antitrust abuse. Microsoft has eight weeks to plead its case and change the EC's mind, an unlikely outcome if ever there was one. Opera's CEO said, 'On behalf of all Internet users, we commend the Commission for taking the next step towards restoring competition in a market that Microsoft has strangled for more than a decade.'"
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EU Antitrust Troubles Continue For Microsoft

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  • Good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:15AM (#26493831)
    Its hard to deny that MS has gotten where is has through quality or good practices. I hope the EU does what we should have, and slaps them hard on behalf of all the consumers and competitors they have swindled.
  • by magsol (1406749) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:20AM (#26493877) Journal
    They might be able to get away with obeying the court's decision (provided that is there decision...there's still time for Microsoft to bribe them like they did at ISO for OOXML) for every release of Windows from 7 onward. I somewhat doubt - unless the EU is really that hellbent on punishing Microsoft for all its evil deeds - that the order would be retroactive for all previous versions of the operating system.
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:30AM (#26493945) Journal
    Nah, they wouldn't have to go that far. I'm sure the nice folks at Opera(and Mozilla as well) would be happy to settle for having Opera and Firefox preinstalled along with IE on a default Windows install, and then letting the user decide which one they wanted. Then they wouldn't have to rip IE out and Opera couldn't claim an unfair advantage, since their browser was right there on the desktop besides IE. Shouldn't be hard to add Opera to the disc image either.
  • solution? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by GarretSidzaka (1417217) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:32AM (#26493967)

    I think that microsoft should make it a one or two click affair to try out different browsers, different programs like open office for trying.

    at least i think this would a reasonable solution to the anti-trust

    (except my fantasy of microsoft getting sliced into little pieces :D )

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:35AM (#26493987)

    Removing IE breaks a lot of functionality in XP, so I doubt they can simply have bundled and unbundled product lines like they do with WMP. Windows would require massive retrofitting to make IE that replacable.

    They tried that defense (intimately tied to the OS) at the original antitrust trials and an expert was able to remove IE back then in less than an hour.

    The FACT that Microsoft has made IE more indespensable to windows, not less, pretty much is giving the Justice Department a big middle finger. No Linux distro I know of nor OS X fundamentally needs it's OS to do updates or anything like that. It's just BS on MS's part.

    I hope they get shafted by the EU, since I feel shafted everytime MS forces me to use IE for one of their piddly little tasks.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:56AM (#26494125) Homepage Journal

    Opera have always been suffering under the delusion that customers would be lining up to buy their desktop product if only Microsoft wasn't "strangling the market". This is such bullshit. Since day 1 everyone has been saying that Opera are on crack. Web browsers are expected to be free. Sure, maybe some people would like to pay for a web browser.. I mean, people pay for bottled water too.

    Every time Opera talks to the press I get the feeling that they would like nothing better than to force Microsoft and Mozilla to charge $99 so they can go back to doing the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @12:57AM (#26494133)

    Microsoft uses IE for a great many things keeping security within windows.

    Besides the fact that you can simply just get firefox and use the IE emulator for anything IE required. I rarely use IE unless it's required and even then it's only 1 click emulation start. Not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    Aren't other browsers already bundled into new PC's anyways? I'm quite content with free browsers out there. I can't see myself ever paying for one in the future. Opera makes a halfway decent browser for mobile phones, but I don't surf enough sites that require it to pay for it so I use IE instead.

  • by RulerOf (975607) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:12AM (#26494603)

    add/remove programs that actually adds programs.

    I was floored when I found out that it actually could. Applications (in the form of MSI files) can be advertised using group policy and made available based on Active Directory group membership. As cool as it is, sadly though, self provisioning of applications doesn't facilitate license compliance or dumb users very well.

  • by VertigoAce (257771) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:16AM (#26494619)

    If you want the terms of use for Microsoft software, here they are: http://www.microsoft.com/about/legal/useterms/default.aspx [microsoft.com].

  • Re:How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by juancnuno (946732) <juancnuno@gmail.com> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:23AM (#26494653)
    With Windows Update? The average computer illiterate can choose from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome... As an additional bonus, users will get used to installing programs from trusted channels instead of from any .exe they find on the Internet.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:31AM (#26494685) Homepage Journal

    I absolutely cannot stand IE as it is today, and so, I'm typing this post using Google Chrome on Windows Vista.

    How does Opera even make an anti-trust argument when FireFox is gobbling up IE market share? For an increasing percentage of Windows users, IE is the thing you use to download some other browser.

    From a consumer perspective, that a Linux distribution comes with Firefox is not really any different than a Windows distribution coming with IE. In both cases, I can go and get and use the browser that I want to use. Really, in that sense, Opera's problem is not so much Microsoft as it is Google. FireFox and Chrome are both better than Opera is too, and that's really what Opera's problem is.

  • Re:How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kwark (512736) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:45AM (#26495275)

    As far as I'm concerned MS still can bundle IE, I only need the ability to uninstall it after downloading $otherbrowser (and no, removing the IE shortcuts is not enough).

  • by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:00AM (#26495591) Homepage
    As a web developer, I really and truly hate Microsoft from the bottom of my heart for the steaming pile of incompatibility that is IE.

    However, I cannot conceive selling a consumer/business OS without a web browser these days. From the end user perspective, browsing the web is simply a piece of basic functionality. What's more, it would make windows the only consumer grade OS that does not have a browser after installing a graphical environment. OS X has safari. The major desktop environments for *nix have a browser by default (galleon or konqueror) or the distro has added one (firefox in xubuntu, for example). Even damn small has dillo.

    Technically, it does not make much sense to yank the browser out. If I understand correctly, Trident draws much of the windows desktop anyway, so it is a small step to wrap a window around it and call it a browser.

    No, today the browser is just part of the OS. The Commission's directorate general of anti-competition (DG Comp, for those who hang out at Schuman) missed the boat on this one. They should have been fighting this fight a decade ago. Today is too late.
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @06:05AM (#26495621)

    Removing IE breaks a lot of functionality in XP,

    You're joking, right? Try XPlite, for example:
    http://www.litepc.com/ [litepc.com]
    Works as advertised.

    Any number of shells exist for replacing windows explorer, too. Most actually have *more* functionality.

    Anyway, they don't need to remove it - just deliver XP - or, probably be more relevant to be talking about Vista - with alternative browers installed as well. Opera, Firefox, Chrome.

  • Re:How? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:04PM (#26498407)

    Microsoft used its monopoly position to FORCE OEMs to not bundle other browsers (or lose their big discount.) THIS is wrong. Including a browser in the OS and using its functionality is NATURAL.

    It sure is. But it also means that people are compelled to use the browser you bundled simply because it's always there. The rules are different when you're a monopolist as even something you throw in as a convenience feature could severely impact markets.

    In this case Microsoft should't even be hit too hard - MSHTML will still be in the OS simply out of neccessity; it's simply the web browser GUI that gets axed. The only thing that would really break are badly programmed applications that ignore the default browser setting and directly call iexplore.exe.

    Otherwise why would KDE and GNOME both include a browser? Trying to make Microsoft remove a part of the operating system (which after all is a way for a user to operate a computer, and includes the UI) is complete bullshit.

    So essentially any program that ships on a Windows install DVD is sacrosanct for all times because it's part of the base install? If not, who decides which programs are neccessary for a modern operating system and which aren't? If we go by the classical OS definition, not even a GUI is required for an operating system; a mere hardware abstraction layer with process scheduling would suffice. We could go for an ISO standard, but that would require a committee and five years of deliberation time (plus ISO has been shown to be bribable).

    It's possible to use Windows productively without using Internet Explorer so I'd guess having IE as part of the base install is not really necessary, especially as OEMs will bundle either IE or other browsers when building their systems.

    I don't buy the argument that it's acceptable because they are a monopoly. Either fine the shit out of them,

    Useless. If the EU whips up fines large enough to destroy Microsoft it'd either get hit by sanctions via WIPO or Microsoft would simply withdraw from the EU and work doubly hard to ensure its monopoly in other parts of the world - and complete incompatibility with all open standards to force Europe to import Windows anyway. If the fines even get through; Microsoft would make sure that the appeals suit would take decades.

    invoke the corporate death penalty,

    Impossible; Microsoft is not a European company and the EU is unlikely to take over the USA anytime soon. The EU can attack Microsoft's local subsidiaries but that's scarcely going to kill the corp - and, again, would probbly create bad consequences as the USA wouldn't appreciate such actions against one of the government's larger sponsors.

    or leave them alone.

    Which essentially means they can do whatever they want because the US government is bought off and nobody else has the power to outright destroy them. That's not a terribly good idea as Microsoft still controls the desktop OS market and is known to put any monopolies it has to their fullest use. Having Microsoft dictate the terms of desktop computing is not going to help the European IT industry in any way so there's little incentive to let it happen.

    I don't mind interfering with their ability to lie, cheat, and steal, but interfering with their ability to legitimately do business (e.g. put together a modern operating system with the features users now expect) is simply not acceptable.

    Completely stopping their business is okay but restricting it is wrong? By that logic, judges shouldn't issue restraining orders anymore because everyone should be either completely free or dead.

    It's not like nobody would buy Windows anymore because it doesn't come with a browser. Every OEM will bundle something so for virtually everyone Windows still does come with one and the rest

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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