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Mozilla To Join EU Suit Against Microsoft 422

CWmike writes "The European Commission (EC) has granted Mozilla the right to join its antitrust case against Microsoft, a spokesman said Monday. If the charges stick, Microsoft could be forced to change the way it distributes IE, as well as pay a fine for monopoly abuse. Mitchell Baker, Mozilla's chairperson, said in a blog over the weekend that there isn't 'the single smallest iota of doubt' that Microsoft's tying of IE to Windows 'harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.'"
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Mozilla To Join EU Suit Against Microsoft

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  • by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:35PM (#26801907) Journal

    ultimately reduces consumer choice

    No, it doesn't reduce consumer choice. Many consumers are just to lazy to look or even care. IE does what they want, and IE is on the desktop and doesn't require downloading and installation. Those words alone terrify some users even though they should be more terrified of actually using IE.

  • How, exactly?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TrebleJunkie ( 208060 ) <ezahurak@at l a n> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:37PM (#26801941) Homepage Journal

    I see IE's bundling with Windows as a *boon* for browser competition.

    I mean, without IE pre-installed on the box, how is Joe User going to go and download Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome?

  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chabo ( 880571 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:43PM (#26802095) Homepage Journal

    Great, so now you have to somehow download and install cygwin just so you can download mozilla! ;)

  • by lwriemen ( 763666 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:45PM (#26802159)

    Yes, it does. Your argument is specious and assumes IE will always be/has always been on the Windows desktop.
    What if the consumer had both IE, Firefox, and Opera on their desktop? Why isn't this possible? If installation is such a hardship, then let the computer vendors install one or more browsers. Maybe it would be a point of competition.
    The same is true for all applications. Bundling applications used to be a point of competition for hardware vendors.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:46PM (#26802177)

    Isn't hiding the fact that there is even a choice reducing consumer choice, even if it's laziness on the consumer's part?

  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:48PM (#26802205) Homepage
    Because we know OEMs never install software on top of the default OS.
  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by roemcke ( 612429 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:53PM (#26802333)

    I mean, without IE pre-installed on the box, how is Joe User going to go and download Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome?

    The same way they download drivers for their netework cards?

  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:54PM (#26802353)

    I mean, without IE pre-installed on the box, how is Joe User going to go and download Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome?

    The consumer could choose on the OEM's site what browser to install or the OEM's could make a deal with a browser company to install their browser by default. OEMs make their money through installed software contracts. Very few people purchase computers without a browser these days. If people purchase Windows OS, they could easily put a separate IE instyall disk in the box (like they used to).

    But by separating the browser from the OS and the file browser, this gives consumers the option to attach whatever browser they want to the system rather than having the OS route all calls through their browser by default. And if the OEM's handle the install process and all the consumer has to do is make a choice from the top 5 (opera, safari, firefox, chrome and IE) then you have covered 99.99% of the market. Others can easily uninstall and reinstall their browser of choice.

  • by BlackSnake112 ( 912158 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @03:58PM (#26802431)

    Then shouldn't this be brought up with the OEMs not microsoft? The old argument about microsoft raising the license fees if the OEMs do this or that is gone see linux being offered bt Dell, HP, probable others too. If HP and Dell can include all of this other software (DVD players, DVD/CD recording software, trials of anti virus software, etc.), then the OEMs could also include firefox, opera, or another free software. Come on Dell has an option to install adobe acrobat reader which is free. Adding a check box for a web browser is not too hard. Go after the OEMs. They are already selling PCs with a non microsoft OS, adding a free web browser is not going to cost the OEMs that much more.

  • by tritonman ( 998572 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:06PM (#26802549)
    I just don't get it. How can mozilla, a non-profit organization sue someone claiming they have a monopoly? They are basically asking for free money. They are not meant to make money but they are suing a company because that company does something that limits the amount of money they can make? I just don't get it.
  • by malkir ( 1031750 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:06PM (#26802561)
    Ok, did nobody read the article stating that Mozilla did NOT want their products bundled with Windows? So just what is Windows supposed to do, ship their OS with no way of getting on the web? That's just silly.
  • by Hordeking ( 1237940 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:07PM (#26802583)

    Many consumers are just to lazy to look or even care.

    Bad assumption.

    Quite a few users probably don't think they have a choice or realise that the browser is a replaceable tool.

    If you don't realise there's a choice, you will never get to the point of asking what the choices are.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:10PM (#26802629) Homepage
    I'm genuinely surprised how many simpletons are confused because Mozilla claimed they don't want to be bundled and then the other people wondering how to get online without IE being tied into Windows.

    The situation is not black and white. It's not a case of tying IE to Windows or bundling Mozilla. They're right that in both instances. Mozilla shouldn't be forced on people as well. Nor should IE be tied to the OS. The solution should be that the consumer gets to choose.

    This can be achieved by making IE uninstallable for those that don't want it on their system and by not having it tied to the system the OEM can give consumers a choice in a browser.

    It's not enough to just say "oh well OEMs can just install Firefox now". That is true but it doesn't factor in the fact IE is setup to try to take over as your default browser and it's not even a case that you can to never open IE because even if you don't want to open IE but use something like MSN messenger then it ignores your browser choice and uses IE anyway which will, by default, ask you to change your default browser settings.

    If your parents are too dumb to sort out getting a browser themselves then how are they going to handle the constant nagging from applications to use IE . If half their applications make them use IE anyway then where is their incentive to use something else and put up with the constant changing of the interface depending on how the browser was launched?

    If IE is untied from Windows there is no way OEMs will ship a system without a browser. So I dunno why people worry about that. It'll be better because they'll be able to give people a choice.

    And again Mozilla wanting to see an end to MS' deceptive tactics does not automatically mean they want to bundled. The amount of options as to what people can do will be much larger if no browser is forced on people and they know this. For once a company is being good and why not? They know they have a superior product and don't need to force it on people.

    But they do know there are a lot of people that can't use computers that well and when their PC keeps saying "hey don't you wanna use IE instead?" then they probably will because people hate to be nagged and in the end their choice is limited.

    I would have thought this would be obvious to people on a geeky website.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:10PM (#26802647)

    Apple bundles Safari, Ubuntu bundles Firefox... the whole pissing contest is unneeded and a waste of time. The ONLY thing Microsoft should have to do is give an option to install/uninstall at will.

    I wrote a calculator application, does this mean that I can go after Microsoft too? Or how about my custom Explorer.exe? Hell no.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:14PM (#26802703)

    Microsoft dictating how you can and cannot use your computer is just as bad as the government dictating to corporations how they can and cannot fight their competition. If Libertarians want to be seen as credible, they are going to need to start holding powerful corporations to account for their behavior as zealously they do powerful governments.

  • by tres ( 151637 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:15PM (#26802725) Homepage

    Back when the antitrust trial was happening in the US, it looked like MS was going to be split up... until Bush took over and scuttled the case. At the time many were saying that Gates et al. would regret not being split up just because things like this would happen.

    Being a monopoly has given MS lots of money, but it has effectively limited the ways that they can leverage themselves in new directions.

    Your car analogy doesn't quite work. We're talking about two separate products; the web browser is not a part of the OS.

  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:20PM (#26802805) Homepage

    I mean, without IE pre-installed on the box, how is Joe User going to go and download Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome?

    With an FTP client, like in the old Netscape days. and are still around, ready to serve files.

  • by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:21PM (#26802817)
    That car analogy would fit better if BMW had 90+ percent of the market and is telling consumers to use only their own brand of gas in their vehicles. It's abusing their standing as a monopoly to reduce competition.

    And weren't the original complaints against Microsoft by the EU around the browser being tied to the OS? I think this reflects that they didn't really change it enough and are still discouraging any competition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:24PM (#26802885)

    I don't understand what Mozilla's problem is, they have every opportunity to create an OS and bundle their browser with it. Then they will actually being giving people a choice.

    I have a choice to put either Linux or Windows on my computer when I install it. But when I install Ubuntu I don't see IE on it, I only see Firefox? Where is my choice?

  • Re:My car... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by strabo ( 58457 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:32PM (#26803023) Homepage

    My car came with a radio installed. I'm going to sue Ford for their monopoly on car stereos.

    So if you want a different radio, can you remove the existing radio and install a new one, or do you have to install another radio in addition to the existing radio, or the car stops working?

  • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:45PM (#26803275) Journal

    It doesn't pose a security risk if it's not running. And many widely-used programs use IE embedded in them

    Did you mean to purposely contradict yourself?

  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:57PM (#26803485)

    With an FTP client, like in the old Netscape days. and are still around, ready to serve files.

    Joe User asks: "A whaaa.........?"

  • by FishWithAHammer ( 957772 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @04:59PM (#26803523)

    You do realize that "changing their activex object" means that everybody else has to have a working browser component that can just be arbitrarily plugged in, right?

    And that not even Mozilla has kept a regularly updated component to do that?

    When you plug in MSHTML.dll, you know it's going to work.

    (That's not to say that they can't remove the Internet Explorer executable itself, but trying to change all that is preposterous.)

  • Re:hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @05:01PM (#26803573)

    It strikes me as somewhat hypocritical for Mozilla to join the suit against MS while at the same time saying they don't want any of the viable fixes to be applied.

    What "viable fixes" are you talking about? Did you read the same article as the rest of us?

    This is basically asking for a handout that is only going to see the lawyers win in the end.

    Mozilla has "interested third party" status, they don't get part of reparations in this case. They just get to make comments to the courts about reparations. How is that a handout?

    MS makes money because they make a product that for all its problems is easily usable (apparently) by 90% of the world.

    So are you objecting to antitrust law in general or in this specific case? You are being vague. Do you think if I have a monopoly on something I should be able to use that to drive people who have better products than I do out of a different market, provided my product is "good enough to be usable" even if it isn't as good as the competition?

    For all that we complain here, telling a software company what they need to include in their program in order to sell it does not sound too good to me--I can see telling a company, "don't include viruses" but telling a company it can't include something that is foundational to the system's operation (for most people) is not just 'antitrust' enforcement, it's crippling a legitimate (however much disliked) business.

    Do you even understand antitrust law or this case? Telephone handsets are pretty critical to the telephone system business. Before the antitrust laws were enforced people were paying thousands of dollars over their lifetime to rent a rotary dial phone available only in black with no call waiting, answering machine, caller ID, or even speed dial. It's the same law applied in the same way that is why you can buy a functional home phone with good features for a few bucks. If you're arguing we need to change the law, I hope you have good reason. If you're arguing it does not apply to MS in this case, you'd beetter have a good reason. I'm all ears. Enlighten me.

  • by jasmusic ( 786052 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @05:02PM (#26803589)
    EverQuest 2 uses the Mozilla engine in-game, and IE for the launcher I believe. At work I've written C++ and C# software that uses the HTML control for cleanly auto-formatting status displays and rich inline help information.

    In Vista when you don't have a legitimate product key, the OS opens an IE window for you to buy one online. Likewise, the help files viewed in the HTML viewer optionally connect to the internet for extra or updated content.

    You'd think the people here on Slashdot would actually pretend to be half as fucking innovative and intelligent as they portray themselves, and realize browsers are core to 21st century operating systems.

    Governments need to get their fucking noses out of our shit before they end up with insurrection and overthrow.
  • Re:How, exactly?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @05:03PM (#26803631)

    I'm unclear why this is informative or what you're babbling about. You do know that OEMs are entirely free to do this now, right? The OS only "routes calls" to their browser only if the application developer chose to do so. You can most certainly choose not to use MS's browser DLLs, and only MS apps would use it.

  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @05:18PM (#26803879)

    You guys are like Obi-won Kenobi. You wave your and and spout the magic "they are a monopoly" and think this will win your argument. It doesn't.

    I can't go to a store and choose a different browser or a different operating system.

    Lie: Provably false.

    All new computers have windows.

    Lie: Provably false.

  • by ccubed ( 1337075 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @05:50PM (#26804411)

    I cannot believe that this case is not already closed. Internet Explorer is one of many monopolistic paths Microsoft has pursued. Also, Windows Explorer and IE are very closely linked and you can see this if you type a URL into the address bar of Windows Explorer - surprise, page loaded in IE, even if Firefox is your default browser...

    Really? I just typed into windows explorer and, OMG SURPRISE, it loaded in Firefox, my default browser.

  • by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @06:45PM (#26805275) Journal
    The point is, if they don't know there's an alternative, they won't know if it "does what they need it to do" or not. A lot of technologically inept users treat their computer like some sort of magical device, they recite the magical incantations they were taught by and then are grateful for whatever happens whether it's what they wanted or not. They don't bother to try something new, or even realize that there's more than one way to do something because they don't really understand what it is they're doing in the first place. In that regard, almost anything "does what they need it to do" as they define "what they need it to do" to be to respond to the particular sequence of actions they were shown how to do with the response they've come to expect. These are the sort of users that if you told them 5 years ago that they needed to rub their head before typing their password in so that static electricity doesn't interfere with the password entry, they would to this day rub their head prior to typing their password. Does that mean that a password entry system that requires they rub their head before typing their password is a system that "does what they need it to do"? No, although it's what they expect it to do, because they don't know any better.

    Ultimately though this isn't even about users that don't know any better, it's about the inability of the users that do want something else to actually make that choice (either for personal or security reasons). It should be possible to uninstall IE, and the fact that it's not is equal parts the fault of Microsoft and the software manufacturers that assume it will be available and bundle it into their applications. IE should be an optional part of Windows, with ideally the ability to deselect it as an installed component during Windows installation, or baring that at least the ability to uninstall it after the fact. Software that relies on IE being present should bundle the necessary DLLs, or preferably offer a way for the user to select the rendering engine to use (technical issues aside here). The fact is, if it was discovered tomorrow that IE had some glaring flaw (shocking I know) that allows a machine to be completely taken over and there was already a worm making the rounds exploiting that flaw, you would be vulnerable to that worm until MS decided to release a patch even if you never used IE and didn't want it. Anything that the computer can run without, it should be possible to uninstall (more specifically for anything that has an alternative implementation available it should be possible to install the alternative and uninstall the original).
  • Standards... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yoshi_mon ( 172895 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @06:49PM (#26805331)

    It's not just that MS abused it's monopoly by bundling IE and then further integrating it into Windows. It is that they then made up their own standards so that they could force people to use IE.

    I can't count the number of people that when talking about other browsers say something to the effect of, "Well yeah but some sites don't work in Firefox/Opera/whatever." Which then in effect forces IE's use on people.

    IE needs to be made standard complaint and fully removable. And in that order imo.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @07:25PM (#26805845)

    Oh lord, let's hope there are similar law suites against Safari in MacOS, Iceweasel in Debian, Firefox in RedHat, etc. etc. etc.

    Why, what do you think they have a monopoly on Web browsers or desktop OS's? Do you even know what MS is about to be convicted of? You comment is like saying the police should arrest olympic marksmen because someone else was arrested for shooting their wife with a shotgun. If you think shooting a firearm or bundling two products in the general case is illegal, it makes sense... but of course neither is.

    Just where is the dividing line between package choice in putting together a desktop environment for a user and a monopoly?

    When you gain monopoly influence on a market (usually about 70%) you are then banned from bundling products from separate preexisting markets. It's clear cut and most companies go well out of their way to avoid any chance of violating said laws if they have dominance in a market.

    This whole thing is bollocks to me.

    So you thought you'd come here and tell us your opinions instead of spending five minutes with a book or wikipedia and figuring it out?

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @07:42PM (#26806055)

    Just as I don't support the RIAA trying to litigate its way to market share, I'm not going to support Mozilla/Opera trying to sue IE into oblivion...

    No one is being sued. This is a criminal case being prosecuted by the EU. Opera reported the crime. Mozilla asked the court if they could comment on it since they have expert knowledge of the market.

    IE is a crappy program and with half a business plan and some patience they should prevail without firing the lawyer cannons.

    It's interesting how pretty much every government around the world passed laws to make actions like MS's illegal because trusts proved just the opposite over and over again. But I'm sure you know more about economics than, well all the economists.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @07:48PM (#26806123)

    If Microsoft has to unbundle their browser, then EVERY operating system should be required to unbundle browsers and applications as well.

    If Albert Fish has to spend years in prison, then EVERY person who cut up meat with a cleaver should be required to spend years in prison as well.

    After all, just because Fish was cutting up live children instead of beef steaks is unimportant just as the fact that MS bundled a browser with their monopolized OS and undermined the market is unimportant. We all now it is the act that counts, not the act in context of its effect.

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2009 @10:52PM (#26807601) Homepage

    It was a contradiction. You argued that it is not a security problem sitting on the disk, which clearly makes sense only if you assume it will never run. (And this is shoddy thinking, good security practise recognises that if it's on the disk that increases the chance of it being run, obviously, and thus mandates complete removal. Sure, I can keep thousands of virus samples on my disk with no problems arising as long as they are not executed - but security has dropped a level because someone only needs to execute the code already on my disk, rather than add code to the system THEN execute it.)

    Then you turn around and point out that many (atrociously coded programs) likely to be encountered WILL run that code if it's on the disk. This fact (and yeah, it's very true) is exactly why having the code on the disk is a clear and present security risk - contradicting the first half of your argument very neatly.

System checkpoint complete.