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How Europe's Mandated Browser Ballot Screen Works 169

Posted by timothy
from the from-the-top-down dept.
CWmike writes "After an 11-month legal face-off, Microsoft and European antitrust officials signed off yesterday on the ballot screen concept that will give Windows users a chance to download rivals' browsers. But now that the battle's over and the ink has dried, it's time to look closely. Some FAQ examples: What's Microsoft promised? How will it work? How many browsers will be on the ballot? Who decides which browsers? Who will see it?"
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How Europe's Mandated Browser Ballot Screen Works

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  • by omfgnosis (963606) on Friday December 18, 2009 @03:57AM (#30484452)

    Just to add a little clarification: MS discontinued support for Mac IE when their contract with Apple ran out. Apple had a new browser in development for some time before that because they knew Mac IE would be discontinued. It's not as if MS changed course.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:01AM (#30484472) Homepage

    Ahh, yes, because it's so hard to imagine the world is not homogeneous...

    Ukraine, Opera is the number one browser with 35%, ahead of IE:
    http://www.ranking.com.ua/en/rankings/web-browsers-groups.html [ranking.com.ua]

    Russia, number one among alternatives to IE, with 27%
    http://www.rankingru.com/en/rankings/web-browsers-groups.html [rankingru.com]

    And in most of the countries in ma backyard, flags of which you can see at the top of above webpages, it is between 5 and 10%, quite respectable.

    And in all except one Safari almost doesn't exist, with sub 1% share.

  • by iamapizza (1312801) on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:05AM (#30484484)
    That was an interesting question. According to this flickr photo [flickr.com], assuming everything on teh Internets is true,
    • Opera is #1 in Belarus, Georgia and Tajikistan
    • It must therefore be ahead of Firefox
    • According to the map legend, Safari doesn't exist!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:23AM (#30484540)

    Ah hah, so PizzaAnalogyGuy has at least 3 children, at least 2 of whom are sons. Duly noted.

  • No Opt-Out in Europe (Score:5, Informative)

    by andersh (229403) on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:56AM (#30484712)

    In Europe, there's an "opt out" system with 80-90% participation.

    Nonsense, there is no such thing in "Europe" because each country has its own system! Europe is not a country, not even the EU member states have central administration for transplants. You are just making things up.

    You cannot possibly claim 80-90% participation when there is no European common ground on transplants. And there certainly is NO "opt out" system in Europe as a whole. There are only national systems! Your claim is an outright lie. I also checked with the European Transplant Coordinators Organisation.

    Further research shows that just within the EU (27 out of 50 countries in Europe) there are wildly different figures. The Nordic countries show a high degree of willingness to donate organs, but there is still no opt-out system. In fact you absolutely have to choose to opt-in and get a donor card!

    I quote from the European Union's report on organ donations: "Donation rates and transplantation activity varies widely between the Member States, ranging from 33.8 deceased donors per million of population (pmp) in Spain to 1 deceased donor per million population in Romania. Only Spain and few others Member States have succeeded in increasing significantly the number of donors. These increases are linked to the introduction of better organisational practices".

    http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_threats/human_substance/oc_organs/docs/fact_figures.pdf [europa.eu]

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:31AM (#30485158)

    And yet again, someone misunderstands antitrust laws. If you accept that a free market is a good thing, then you also need to accept that regulation is required to keep it free. Without competition, free markets cannot function; monopolies are dangerous and anti-competitive, and mean prices rise for customers in the long run.

    Having a monopoly isn't illegal. Having two monopolies isn't illegal. Bundling isn't illegal. Having one monopoly, then using bundling with that monopoly to gain a second monopoly, and to prop up your monopolies via mutual lock-in IS illegal. A monopoly isn't 100% of a market; it's a large enough share such that it is utterly dominant. 90% of the market is more than sufficent in microsoft's case.

    Apple does not have a monopoly in the desktop OS market, nor is safari a browser monopoly so bundling is ok. Neither paint or notepad have a monopoly in the image editing or document editing markets, so again bundling is A-OK. Free market competition is not threatened by them at this point.

    Microsoft have a desktop monopoly. By bundling IE as the default 'free' browser (i.e. the price is included in windows) they gained a monopoly in the browser market. This in itself is not nececessarily a problem, but given microsoft's habit of also including custom extensions to the spec that promote lock-in, i.e. ActiveX it becomes a problem. Take a real world example; in Korea, online banking almost invariably requires activex, because 'everybody' has it. By having activex tied to the IE monopoly, which is tied to the windows monopoly, it means in order to do online banking there, you need to buy windows. Browser competitors and OS competitors are almost entirely locked out of the market, damaging customer choice and competition. And with no competition, microsoft can charge what the hell they like.

    The same applies to the proprietary codecs bundled as part of media player; there was a real danger a few years ago that streaming video and audio online would gravitate to the WMV and WMA standards, which defacto only work in windows (patents providing lock-in), and mainly in IE. So by bundling media player's proprietary codecs with windows 'for free' there was a danger that microsoft would also gain a monopoly in the streaming video/audio market, and again harm competition and ultimately prices. As it happened, flash ended up winning, but it could have gone very differently, and may still if agreement cannot be reached with HTML5 for cross-platform support.

    Providing a popup choice at first install may not be my preferred solution, but at least it means microsoft don't get an automatic free ride from customers with windows and IE who don't bother to look into the alternatives because they already have a bundled solution.

  • by Hrshgn (595514) <rince2001NO@SPAMgmx.ch> on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:45AM (#30485220)
    Nice try. 1) actually happened in France and we now have a choice of our iPhone provider. Also, other companies than Microsoft have been tried by the EU. It's just that Microsoft is generating more headlines.
  • How they choose (Score:2, Informative)

    by fortapocalypse (1231686) on Friday December 18, 2009 @11:42AM (#30487870)
    "For each of the usage share sources listed in Annex D, web browser usage share will be determined semi-annually by averaging monthly usage share data for the previous six months for which such data is available, with shares for different released versions of the same vendor’s browsers added together to determine a browser’s total usage share (e.g., Firefox 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, etc. all count towards the total share for “Mozilla Firefox”). No more than one browser will be listed per vendor. Other than Internet Explorer, the Choice Screen may not contain any web browser which is based on Internet Explorer’s rendering engine and the development or distribution of which is funded in whole or in substantial part by Microsoft." so IE-engine based browsers are not an option. (+1 Microsoft) See: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/eu-msft/docs/Microsoft%20Commitments.doc [microsoft.com]

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