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EC Considering Removing Internet Explorer From Windows 827

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the epic-struggles dept.
Itsabouttime writes "In a preliminary ruling, the European Commission told Microsoft that linking Internet Explorer to its dominant Windows operating system violates EC rules. The EC's ruling was triggered by a complaint from IE rival Opera. Microsoft could seek to offer a Windows version without IE, as it did in the EC's 2004 ruling on Windows Media Player."
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EC Considering Removing Internet Explorer From Windows

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  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:09PM (#26521905)

    How am I supposed to download Firefox then?!!? FTP? c'mon!

    Go back to the US antitrust lawsuit.

    The whole point was that the OEMs decide the middleware.

    So you buy a Smell(TM) brand computer and they decide to put Opera on it instead of MSIE, you use Opera to get firefox.

  • by casualsax3 (875131) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:13PM (#26521951)
    If Ubuntu shipped on the vast majority of personal computers, then yes it might.
  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:13PM (#26521957)
    No Windows cannot load whatever it wants to on their Operating Systems.

    They are an operating system monopoly, and they can and DO leverage that to create unfair advantages in new markets.

    Monopolies have to play by different rules. That is what gives the governments the right to tell them what they can and cannot load.

  • Re:Stupid.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Teun (17872) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:16PM (#26521997) Homepage
    The stupidity was in not telling MS to put a price on that media player, in other words the 'light' version should for obvious reasons have been cheaper.

    The same applies for the proposed ruling about IE, it'll especially work when there's a price to pay for that eternally security challenged browser.

  • by fenix849 (1009013) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:25PM (#26522135)
    QFA: The EU released a statement Friday stating, "Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice." It does reduce competition between browsers in the market, because a consumer doesn't need to choose a browse, and when they don't microsoft wins by default. (2 sweetest words in the English language? :-) ) It doesn't quite so much undermine innovation, there _is_ still an active, functioning market, and while theres a functioning market innovation will continue. Previous to say Firefox v1 there wasn't much competition at all, they are guilty of that, but punishing them retrospectively is counter-productive for the EU and internet users in general. If i were in microsoft position, i would be doing this:
    • Make IE be truly uninstallable. Disintegrate it with windows explorer.
    • Create and application that is distributed with windows that gives the user a choice of browsers and automatically downloads and installs thier selection from the relevant (ssl secured) website
    • Put IE at the top of said list, you're still giving people a choice but, your avg pc user will just click the first one.
    • Either way, it'll be interesting to see what comes if the EU does happen to order MS to separate IE from windows.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:27PM (#26522175)

    Problem is not just that it is there, it is also that it is hard to get rid of.

    On my windows box I use firefox and it is the default browser. However, several components of the system use IE for web based stuff. As one of many examples I could give Windows Live Messenger. When it opens up windows live at start up (yeah, it can be disabled and I have disabled it these days) it doesn't use the default browser, it uses IE.

    And it's not just that. I recall seeing some browser exploit that affected IE and FF. It worked through IE but was able to somehow infect IE when you surfed to the malicious site even with FF.

    If the system comes with IE and you can just download an alternative and easily remove the original browser if you feel like it, no problem. If the original is hard to remove, it is a bigger problem.

  • by TimSSG (1068536) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:35PM (#26522273)
    Windows is considered to have monopoly power because below in quote. Tim S http://www.albion.com/microsoft/findings-6.html#pgfId-998632 [albion.com]

    34. Viewed together, three main facts indicate that Microsoft enjoys monopoly power. First, Microsoft's share of the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems is extremely large and stable. Second, Microsoft's dominant market share is protected by a high barrier to entry. Third, and largely as a result of that barrier, Microsoft's customers lack a commercially viable alternative to Windows.

    Tim S

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:35PM (#26522275) Homepage

    Microsoft already solved this problem. Look up the IBrowser COM interface that Microsoft designed way back when they introduced COM. It's specifically designed to allow an application to get an implementation of a browser object and use it to render HTML pages without knowing or needing to know exactly what implementation it got. Their specific example was in fact using IBrowser to create an application that could use either Netscape or IE transparently depending on which one the user had installed. This, of course, was back when Netscape was the default browser everybody used and Microsoft was trying to get IE accepted.

  • by HadouKen24 (989446) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:49PM (#26522433)
    Windows already comes with an FTP client.

    Basic FTP clients aren't exactly a major source of income, so I don't think any sort of anti-trust suit would get anywhere.
  • Re:What about Apple? (Score:2, Informative)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:02PM (#26522639)

    But nobody complains.

    Apple isn't a convicted monopolist. What the HELL makes this so hard for people to grasp.

    If Microsoft can't bundle those apps, nobody else should be able to either.

    Your local convenience store can decide one day that to buy their donuts you must also buy product Y.
    Your local monopoly power company can't decide one day that to receive power you must also buy product Y.

    Why? Because you could easily shop at different convenience store. Or buy a different cake-type snack. Your local convenience store isn't a monopoly.

    If your local monopoly power company decides you have to buy product Y you are stuck. You can't easily switch to another power company (if you could it wouldn't be a monopoly, which, for this argument, it is). And you can't easily decide to switch to an alternative product - the consumer is stuck.

    This why the conveniece store is free to set up any bundles they like, while the power company can't.

    This is why the rules are different for monopolies.

    Now a court determined Microsoft had a monopoly, and so now the the rules that apply to monopolies apply to Microsoft. Apple has not been determined to be a monopoly so it is not subject to those rules. So comparing microsoft to apple here is as ignorant as comparing a local monopoly power company to a local convenience store.

    If you want to argue that Microsoft isn't a monopoly (anymore?) fine, there is even some legitimacy to that argument... but don't go ignorantly declaring that restrictions on monopolies should apply to everyone. The differences are there for a sound reason.

  • Re:1996 called.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by kiddygrinder (605598) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:05PM (#26522683)
    Windows is the monopoly, ie's market share is the result of the leveraging of that monopoly, not vice versa.
  • by CommentThingSucks (1282148) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:26PM (#26522935)
    You are correct in saying that the Explorer can open FTP sites, however this functionality is supplied by Internet Explorer through a shell extension. Remove IE and you also remove the FTP support, leaving you with only the command line FTP command (or whatever you hack together in PowerShell).
  • Re:What about Apple? (Score:3, Informative)

    by c41rn (880778) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:33PM (#26522993)
    It was once true that you couldn't buy the Macintosh OS on its own, but it has been possible to buy OSX without an Apple computer for some time now. Example at amazon [amazon.com].
  • by CommentThingSucks (1282148) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:34PM (#26523009)
    That is because IE is not just the browser frontend, it is an entire framework that a lot of third party applications depend on.

    This was done intentionally by Microsoft, even going so far as making important components like Explorer depend on it. This isn't really the case any more for most of Windows, but the third party programs still need it, so removing it would break a lot of programs people use.

    Firefox is not a replacement either, because it does not implement any of the interfaces that the IE framework does (even though they could go to MSDN and implement them, but we're talking about a lot of work here.)

    Now... you could remove the actual IE program itself, as few other programs depend on it, but what would be the point? To save a few megabytes?

    I mean, there is already the option to remove access to it and use another browser as default. That's really all OEMs would need to ship a third-party browser (it would be problematic for Microsoft to do so.)
  • by breeze95 (880714) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:44PM (#26523123)
    They certainly can ship a browser that is not married to the operation system. The fact that they tied Internet Explorer to the operation system is what started this whole mess. If Microsoft removes the browser from the operation system then every PC maker can ship their pc with a browser of their choice. Those who build their own PC can get their browser of choice on a disk and install it just as they would the operation system in most cases.
  • by CommentThingSucks (1282148) on Monday January 19, 2009 @09:25PM (#26523555)
    You can't, because, oops, that feature is actually supplied by IE (yes, this is true for Vista and Windows 7 as well).
  • Re:Enough crap... (Score:3, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday January 19, 2009 @09:31PM (#26523611)

    ..imagine buy a new PC with Windows and not having a browser?

    Okay I imagined it. Now how does that have anything to do with this article? Microsoft doesn't bundle DVD drives with Windows, but somehow those seem to be in new computers I buy. What makes you think Sony is going to ship computers without browsers if MS is banned from bundling IE and Windows?

    Those who don't like IE can use a different browser and many do.

    But many can't because they have to access IE only Web pages. Those pages exist because MS broke the law and bundled IE. Not only that, MS did that intentionally (as revealed by internal memos) as a way to keep people from switching to other OS's.

    Why is the E.U. not attacking Apple?

    Because Apple hasn't broken the law. You now, the law you didn't bother to gain a basic understanding of before burdening us all with your ill-informed opinions.

    ...and why should the E.U. decide what goes into MY O.S. ?

    The EU isn't trying to decide, they're just making sure MS no longer gets to decide what browser goes on everyone's computer just because they have huge influence in the OS market. Likely they'll leave the decision of what browser to include to OEMs like Dell and Sony so they can compete and so the free market will innovate again.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday January 19, 2009 @10:53PM (#26524343)

    And maybe they are just not that good, maybe their product is not much better compared to the other ones, or maybe their Marketing failed.. who knows?

    Okay, please step AWAY from the Kool Aid slowly.

    It's not about taking IE away from people at all. The real issue here is to make IE as compliant as the other browsers, thereby making a lot of other Microsoft products work on browsers OTHER than Microsoft. Here is an example:

    Microsoft Sharepoint is a totally browser driven application that lets corporate people make business webpages, lists and office type content. Now, if it's totally browser driven, it should work in any browser right? Going a step further, the advertising on the product itself says "compliant with other browsers. Some loss of user experience may occur" - you know what that means? It means that if you use a browser other than IE to try to access this product, nothing works. Not even the navigation works. It's like buying Photoshop, touching up a .jpg file and then ONLY being able to open it again using Adobe Acrobat.

    The point of this who case isn't to stop IE, it's to make use of the browser guidelines that are developed properly, so that if something "works through a browser" it can continue along quite happily no matter what the browser - as long as the browser is compliant. The problem is that folks like Firefox are playing by the rules - and suffering for it.

  • Agreed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday January 19, 2009 @11:06PM (#26524455)

    They should also take notice that XP N (XP with no media player) had next to zero sales. Part of the reason is that apps wouldn't work without it. Why? Goes like this:

    So media player, and IE as well, are actually split in two. There's the actual app you run. That doesn't really do much. It's just a user interface. You can get different ones. Media Player Classic would be a media player example. The actual work is then done by a separate set of DLLs that anything can call. So the media player stuff is the system media playback interface. It is similar to what Quicktime is on a Mac (but not on Windows).

    When MS first took media player out, they just removed the executable. However the EU didn't like that, said it all had to go. They complied. However this means whenever something used media player to play back it's stuff, it broke. Make games were like that. Some included their own stuff, many just used the included Windows stuff. Quicktime and Realplayer didn't help. They aren't full out media layers, they are just players for their formats.

    Well, it's the same for IE. Some programs rely on it. Stardock's Impulse would be an example. It's nearly all HTML and uses the IE DLLs to render it. So if you remove those, programs like Impulse break. Firefox is not a drop in replacement, it doesn't provide the same services in the same way. Now if they don't do that and just remove the EXE, well then that's no different than now, where access to it can be disabled.

    Modern desktop OSes do a whole lot more than just provide access to a disk. They provide rich sets of services that many apps make use of. To remove those is to break the apps that need them. Microsoft isn't the only company that does this. Take a look at OS-X. There are many features built in to the OS. They could technically be removed, but that'd break any app that uses them.

  • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Monday January 19, 2009 @11:10PM (#26524495)
    I guessed it first try... ftp.mozilla.org No brainer. Granted my dad/mom would have been S.O.L.
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday January 19, 2009 @11:32PM (#26524625)

    They want Opera installed on windows by default.

    First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop.

    http://www.opera.com/press/releases/2007/12/13/ [opera.com]

  • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Monday January 19, 2009 @11:45PM (#26524727)

    As I recall, the command line ftp.exe is pretty much straight out of BSD. It is also a single executable that can be removed without breaking the operating system.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:20AM (#26524985)

    You're on crack... The fact that the IE market share is declining is enough to demonstrate to reasonable people that the public IS aware that there are alternatives to using IE, and they ARE able to use these alternatives.

    Actually, it demonstrates some of the public is aware. It is also irrelevant. The test for monopoly abuse is simple. Can Opera bundle their browser with Windows? No. Can Microsoft? Yes. Is it likely that browser gain market share from being bundled with Windows? Yes. Since MS is already a confirmed monopoly in the EU court system, that's all there is to it.

    I've read your posts in this thread, and your whining is incredible annoying. You compare Microsoft's web browser to a murderer killing people.

    No, I compared an idiotic interpretation of antitrust law to an idiotic interpretation of murder laws. You don't seem to understand the difference, probably because you don't have a clue about antitrust laws.

    You also repeat over and over that Microsoft is keeping us 8 years behind in website technology. That's a load of crap. Who added the non-standard features to their browser that makes AJAX possible?

    Gee, what one browser on the market doesn't have a "satisfactory" rating for CSS 2.0 support, let alone CSS 2.1? CSS 2.0 was published in its entirety in 1998, that's more than 10 years ago now. Combine that with documents from MS about intentionally avoiding complete support for open Web standards and I don't see a lot of a case on your side here.

    It was the ubiquity of a browser included in Windows that opened up the web to most of the world. People now realize that there are other browsers available, and they are branching out, no problem.

    Most people never install alternative browsers and don't even know it is possible. Before IE, computers already shipped with Netscape on CD and it was distributed by every ISP I ever subscribed to.

    If Internet Explorer blocked people from downloading other browsers, I would see the point. But otherwise it's just a bunch of complaining from a few also-rans.

    If MS isn't benefitting largely from having IE pre-installed instead of a competitor, what is your objection to competitors being pre-installed instead? After all, since users are so savvy they can just go download IE somewhere.

    You're ignorant and opinionated, a poor combination.

  • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:03AM (#26525267)
    This works great if you have someone that keeps installing or running something you don't want them to... IE for instance.

    Note the SZ value is what is inside the quotes...

    1. Create a registry key with the name of the process you want to prevent to execute. Ex.: iexplore.exe

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\iexplore.exe

    2. Under this new key you've just created, create a SZ value called "Debugger" and set it to the following value:

    SZ Debugger = "cmd.exe /c echo %time% %date% >> c:\ExecBlocked.log"

    That's it. You don't need to restart anything or reboot the machine. From now on you will not only be unable to run iexplore.exe as whenever you try to do it the file ExecBlocked.log will get the attempt to execute recorded with the date/time information.

    To enable the process the run again, simply remove the registry key.

    The beauty is that there is no path, so even if the user does an alternate install it catches the name of the EXE (in the example "iexplore.exe").

    Stolen (well copied really... it's not missing or anything) from:

    http://blogs.technet.com/marcelofartura/archive/2006/10/24/a-virus-infection-contolling-the-outbreak-tip.aspx [technet.com]

    Enjoy!
  • by notrandomly (1242142) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:47AM (#26526307)
    Opera is not going to be paid a dime. This is not a lawsuit. What Opera did was the equivalent of reporting a crime to the police.

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