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Microsoft Government News

EU Says MS Must Offer Other Browsers; Now What? 911

Posted by kdawson
from the foot-in-the-door dept.
Glyn Moody writes "So the European Commission is going to require Microsoft to offer competitors' browsers with Windows. '...Microsoft will be obliged to design Windows in a way that allows users "to choose which competing web browser(s) instead of, or in addition to, Internet Explorer they want to install and which one they want to have as default..." [Microsoft] now has until mid-March to respond to the Commission, and might also ask for a hearing. Brussels will not adopt a final decision until it has received Microsoft's official reply.' But having the option to install Firefox, say, is useless unless people know what it is. The implication is that we need some kind of campaign to ensure that people understand the choices they will have. How can open source best exploit this latest EU decision?"
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EU Says MS Must Offer Other Browsers; Now What?

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  • Re:That's not okay. (Score:2, Informative)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:49AM (#26966169) Journal

    >>>I certainly notice.

    Me too. I was unable to watch either foxnews.com or cnn.com videos, which required a new install of Flash. This update went flawlessly on my XP PC but for some stupid reason my brother's Vista PC refused to let me to do the update (damn "This program may corrupt your machine" popups). I eventually found the solution by telling him to abandon Internet Explorer and switch to that "other internet" called Firefox which played the videos flawlessly.

    I'm hoping this requirement to include other browsers will lead non-tech-savvy users (like my brother) to try something other than IE, even if it's just our of sheer curiosity or boredom.

  • Re:That's not okay. (Score:4, Informative)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:54AM (#26966191) Journal

    >>>You don't dare click "don't ask me this again" because you can never get that back again unless you know the magic about:: command on firefox.

    False.

    Tools--->Options--->Main Tab--->click the "check now" button at bottom, and that will change all your defaults to Firefox. No need to remember text commands.

  • Re:interesting times (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:13AM (#26966287)

    Seriously, where's the justice?

    The problem isn't bundling. The problem is using an OS monopoly as leverage to foist an inferior Web browser on consumers. This is all to stop development of the Web because it threatens to replace the Win32 API for most applications.

    As a Web developer who's wasted hundreds of hours on that inferior browser, I welcome this decision.

    Just so you know that I'm not a hypocrite: if Apple were in the same position, of having an OS monopoly and using it for nefarious purposes, I would equally support an EU decision against them.

    Remember: the problem isn't bundling, it's leveraging a monopoly in one market to gain one in another. This is particularly important in the case of IE, as it's holding back the an important part in the development of the Web and computing as a whole. It's also still relevant, due to the release of Silverlight and that Microsoft has and will continue to hold back support for competing, open technologies like Javascript and SVG.

    What's wrong with the people opposing this, do they want Microsoft to tie-up the Web with their shitty, proprietary cruft al la Silverlight?

  • by Vectronic (1221470) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:17AM (#26966313)

    Did I miss something, or have you? That is exactly what my Windows does... I'm really not sure how long it's been doing it (as thats something I never do normally), wether it's because of IE8, or XP SP3, but it launches Opera (my default) for any url typed into the Explorer address bar, as well as any shortcuts with urls.

    The only things that force IE, are Microsoft products (MSN, some WMP stuff)... which I'm ok with for two reasons, #1 I think they have the right to do that (provided IE is installed, otherwise it should go to *other* default browser), #2 I don't use them either.

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:31AM (#26966393)
    While I agree the GP is making a silly argument, I also think that you are not evaluating this correctly either. You state that your license should not be restricted in any way, I agree, because you are not a convicted monopolist who has been caught leveraging that monopoly illegally. Face it, MS is forced to play by different rules. Now if you don't agree with the law have it changed, but as it stands, they are on a totally different playing field.
  • by ljw1004 (764174) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:47AM (#26966465)

    A good part of the browser is *NOT* used for displaying other stuff besides web pages.

    IEXPLORE.EXE is the browser. That's used by almost nothing. Almost all applications that use the browser use it by doing ShellExecute("mydoc.html"), which opens the html document in whichever browser the user has selected as default.

    MSHTML.DLL is Microsoft's html/javascript rendering engine. All applications that use it, including iexplore.exe and Help, create it by doing CoCreateInstance(CLSID_WebBrowser). It has a very carefully and comprehensively documented API called IWebBrowser, which the other applications use.

    If firefox/webkit/opera wished, they could wrap their rendering engines into an object that implements the same IWebBrowser API, and they could register their rendering engine under CLSID_WebBrowser, so that now iexplore.exe and help and everything else would use Firefox/Webkit/Opera. But there'd be little point.

    A very small number of applications use the browser itself, i.e. they cause Internet Explorer in particular to pop open, and they manipulate buttons &c. in it. In my experience these are very rare, and are either shoddy or relate specifically to IE-only functionality.

    So no, the browser is used by almost nothing else on a Windows machine. Only MSHTML.DLL is normally used.

  • by atraintocry (1183485) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:10AM (#26966891)

    The internet is my flash drive. :P

  • by bytta (904762) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:39AM (#26967015)

    The EC is demanding that Microsoft "redesign" its OS to allow equal competition of browsers on the desktop. This is sort of like the FTC ordering GM to allow a free choice of stereos in its cars, rather than ship cars with only its (former) in-house brand of Delco.

    No - it's like ordering GM not to weld their stereos to essential parts of the car in a way that the engine dies if it is ever removed.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:35AM (#26967279)
    Microsoft being forced to bundle competing browsers with their product: ALSO BAD.

    Maybe. But despite that being the headline, that IS NOT what is being mandated. From TFA:

    "To this end, Microsoft will be obliged to design Windows in a way that allows users "to choose which competing web browser(s) instead of, or in addition to, Internet Explorer they want to install and which one they want to have as default".

    So, the final result - Microsoft eventually just removes all browsers from Windows, including IE.

    Though this is never, ever going to happen, it would be fine with me. Then the OEMs can install whatever browser they like when they sell the PC. Or none, as not every PC actually needs to be online.

    Let the OEMs add what they want.

    That is EXACTLY what is supposed to happen from this ruling. But sadly, Microsoft FUD seems to be effective, judging from posts like yours, in obscuring the facts.

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:46AM (#26967335)

    Well, obviously, Apple isn't in a monopoly position, and has not been shown to have criminal intent to abuse such a monopoly.

    Microsoft, however, has been found in criminal breach of monopoly and other laws.

    That's a pretty basic difference, right there.

    Leave fanboyism out of it.

  • Re:interesting times (Score:2, Informative)

    by hattig (47930) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:03AM (#26967405) Journal

    "here are two sets of rules, those for Microsoft, and those for Apple."

    No, there is the set of rules for the convicted monopolist Microsoft, and then no rules for anybody else, including Apple, Linux (distributions thereof), BSD (distributions thereof), Sun, ...

  • Re:That's not okay. (Score:4, Informative)

    by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:41AM (#26967591)
    they asked to microsoft to debundle explorer. that was a good decision, they replied not possible and this is the next best alternative. the EU did it to put microsoft between a rock and an hard place.

    also, microsoft could host the signed versions of the binaries, or check the signature (both firefox and opera comes signed by the respective authorities).
  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:49AM (#26968277)

    You cannot remove Safari in OSX. As many have pointed out, OSX needs the webkit rendering engine to function.

    You bring up Google. Why should we be happy replacing one monopoly with another, especially one using it's dominance in the search engine market to conquer other markets?

  • Re:That's not okay. (Score:3, Informative)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:58AM (#26968325)
    "If MSFT hosted them you don't think that Mozilla and Opera and Google wouldn't pitch a fit because they aren't getting the clicks anymore?"

    Mozilla doesn't throw a fit when other OSes (Fedora, Ubuntu, etc.) host Firefox builds. In fact, Mozilla's build team does a lot of work to make that possible. I do not think that Mozilla would be particularly angry if Microsoft hosted Mozilla builds, but if they did get their nickers in a twist, Microsoft could always grab Icecat and use that instead.
  • by RedK (112790) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:26AM (#26968497)
    You can't remove Safari ? Because I'm pretty sure I did. Simply drag it from the /Applications to the trash bin and click empty Trash. No one is asking to remove the rendering engine, only the browser. Right now, it is near impossible to make Windows not pop up IEXPLORE.EXE in certain cases, where it should simply use the default browser. No one is asking that MS remove MSHTML.DLL, which is different component all-together.
  • Re:interesting times (Score:3, Informative)

    by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:47AM (#26968685) Homepage
    No one is claiming IE shouldn't be the only browser bundled because it's crap, they are using the same lame monopoly argument they always pull out and mod down people who disagree.

    Try asking yourself one question: If IE was currently the best browser by your definition would that make it ok for Microsoft to bundle it? If the answer is no then your three questions don't matter.
  • Re:At first... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:04AM (#26968831)

    I know it is common to get mixed up between the EU and Europe, but you do know that Opera is Norwegian, and Norway is not a part of the EU, right?

  • Re:That's not okay. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:53AM (#26969381)

    Sorry, you just don't understand company law at all. IANAL but I *do* know that MS has a 'fiduciary duty' to its shareholders. That means that taking a series of steps (rpeatly refusing to include other browsers and/or pay fines) which deliberately cuts it off from one of its biggest markets is essentially impossible (automatic, huge, and easily winnable shareholder lawsuits follow).
    They will comply - slowly, grudgingly, and to the minimum extent possible as always - but they *will* comply.
    Only private companies have the option of throwing their dolly out the pram in these circumstances and refusing to sell in a major market.

    I don't know how many times I've seen this idiocy repeated...

  • Re:interesting times (Score:3, Informative)

    by CmdrGravy (645153) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:36PM (#26970911) Homepage

    Wrong !

    Microsoft has been found guily of "[abusing] its dominant market position to crush rivals" in the EU by the EU Competition Comission. It has taken the appeals process against this judgment all the way to the top and it lost.

    So once again, and it really really is not that hard. Microsoft have to abide by different rules because they have been convicted of abusing their monopolists position in the market. Companies who have not been convicted of this do not to abide by these restrictions.

    Do you understand ?

  • Re:interesting times (Score:3, Informative)

    by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity@yah ... om minus painter> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:56PM (#26971273) Homepage

    After they crushed Netscape? Maybe you're too young to remember, but Netscape 4 was truly far superior to anything Microsoft had developed up to that point.

    All technical factors considered, IE should have died a slow death, not Netscape. The only reason it continued to dominate was due to bundling with Windows, which attained monopoly status illegally. This is all well documented in the DOJ antitrust suit.

  • Re:That's not okay. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kalriath (849904) * on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:51PM (#26976117)

    It'll be a cold day in hell before Microsoft distributes Iceweasel under the GPL, and provides the source themselves.

    Not actually true. ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/Interix/interix22/ [microsoft.com]

    Pay attention to the copy of "GPL.TXT" and the huge fucking hulking 100MB of GPLed source code. On a Microsoft FTP server.

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