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

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

    by PresidentEnder ( 849024 ) <wyvernender@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:39AM (#26965761) Journal
    At least, not by me. I imagine that most users will be confused by the presence of more than one "internet" on their machines, and one browser or another still has to be the default. Does MS have to make Firefox the default browser, too?
  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:40AM (#26965765)

    Microsoft being forced to design Windows in a way that allows users "to choose which competing operating system(s) instead of, or in addition to, Windows they want to install and which one they want to have as default..."

  • by 0prime ( 792333 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:45AM (#26965801)
    with the integration between Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer.

    So... I really hope Microsoft says "sure" and bundles 10-20 really crappy and outdated browsers, with firefox and opera nowhere in sight. The EU deserves a clusterfuck like that for coming out with this stupid decision.
  • by kidsizedcoffin ( 1197209 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:45AM (#26965803)
    Hasn't Mozilla said that they do not want to be bundled with Windows.
  • by relguj9 ( 1313593 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:48AM (#26965819)
    Which browsers make the cut and which don't??

    It's not difficult to install a new browser. Someone who doesn't know about other browsers or how to install them isn't going to be installing Windows out of the box anyways. They're going to be installing a pre-packaged image from some company... or they got their computer built by some technically knowledgeable person who knows about other browsers.

    IE is integrated pretty heavily into Windows as well.

    I dunno, I'm all for people having choices and having knowledge... but this seems stupid. I mean, what's next, make them include iTunes with the default windows package?

    As an IT professional and engineer, I'm not even sure that I would WANT them to have other browsers installed, by default, on a system... I want it to be as clean as possible by default.
  • This stinks... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by relguj9 ( 1313593 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:52AM (#26965853)
    Of non technical people making technical decisions.
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:53AM (#26965859) Homepage
    Mozilla doesn't want to be automatically packaged and there's nothing in this sort of result preventing Microsoft from packaging out of date crappy browsers. Moreover, the real issues are that 1) IE is in many ways interconnected with the Windows operating system and other Microsoft products and 2) IE is set as the default browser. If microsoft keeps a check box that you need to check when installing to make IE not the default browser then it will not get checked by the normal users. It is probably a better idea to just let the free market continue its slow progress. Firefox and others will win out. And that will occur long before the Year of Linux.
  • Microsoft is going to fight this decision tooth and nail. They will appeal it and appeal it and appeal it. Microsoft has no good faith intention of complying with this order, any more than they comply with any other order. Look at what they did with the US anti-trust case. They stalled until W became the unelected US head of state, and then Bush promptly caved in and gave Microsoft everything it asked for.
  • I'm a 28 year old network administrator and software developer. I've been doing this stuff professionally for ten years now, starting with telecommunications programming when I was 18. I'm posting this from an Ubuntu laptop, which has a few terminals open tailing logs on various Debian and FreeBSD servers I manage. I publish most of my software under either BSD or GPL licenses.

    Now that you understand where I'm coming from, let me say that you're partially right when you assert that crippling Microsoft's software is stupid. The fact is, this whole thing is insanely stupid, and reeks of socialism. I've been through Microsoft's lengthy history of pushing shitty software on the masses using grossly unethical business methods, and I still strenuously object to this course of action.

    The fact that you would even suggest forcibly placing a corporation's patents and copyrights into the public domain indicates you're either (a) incredibly young and naive, (b) stupid, or (c) an unfortunate combination of the first two options. Nobody has the right to tell anyone else what to do with the works they create; I'll be damned if anyone's going to restrict my right to license my works as I see fit. I may not like Microsoft as a general rule, but they deserve the same treatment I enjoy under the law.

    I would recommend attending a reputable university to enhance your understanding of basic economics and IP law, but it seems to backfire for a lot of folks who already have warped perceptions in these areas.
  • by FuegoFuerte ( 247200 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:11AM (#26965953)
    Freedom of the people to choose a different browser is great. Somewhere, however, the line has to be drawn. Microsoft is clearly not limiting the ability of other browsers to work with Windows, and is not stopping anyone from downloading and installing a different browser. What happened to the freedom of a company to sell their own product without interference? Why should they advertise for a competing product in their own? Even more, why should they be required to bundle a competitor's product in their own? Should the Adobe Flash installer also include Silverlight? Should RedHat include a Slackware install disk? Really, where does the madness end? I think the appropriate response from Microsoft would be to stop selling Windows in the EU. The EU wants people to see alternatives, so great. Stop making Windows available until there's a public outcry and reversal of these insane rulings.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:19AM (#26965999)

    Heck, Open Source zealots still use IE to post to Slashdot.

    [citation needed]

    Seriously, are there statistics on browser share among posts on /.? (NOT views, posts...)

  • by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:22AM (#26966019) Homepage

    Yet, everyone has been buying programs for video game consoles for almost 30 years

    I think this statement best summarises where you are wrong. You do realise that most people have never owned a console. I am talking about the majority of computer users, not people in some African nation. You really do have a very warped view of the world, if you think 50% of people using computers even know what a browser is.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:23AM (#26966021)

    What part of Windows doesn't allow users to choose a competing web browser?


    Boot you machine, see 3 or 4 icons on the desktop:
    Install Internet Explorer
    Install FireFox
    Install Opera
    Install Safari.

    Problem solved.

    The real question is will they force Apple to do the same, or does the Little dictator of Cupertino get another free pass?

    What about Ubuntu? Does it have to offer a choice as well?

  • by sigismond0 ( 1455695 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:24AM (#26966031)
    I honestly hope it works out with Apple getting its ass kicked for only offering Safari. Seriously, where's the justice?
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:25AM (#26966035)

    If the geek had an once of sense he'd put more distance between himself and the EU bureaucrat.

    There is precedent now for government to add or subtract - mandate anything it wants from any OS distribution - depending on which way the political winds are blowing.

  • by youcantwin ( 1459567 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:28AM (#26966059)
    When will they force Google to have links to Yahoo?

    Even better, why don't they force them to give users the option between all search engines when you go to A nice popup every time you hit the search button would be sweet too.

    I hate microsoft as much as the next guy, but it seems a little silly to ask for something like that.
  • by ThePromenader ( 878501 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:31AM (#26966071) Homepage Journal

    IMHO they're missing the point. How about going all the way: what about shipping computers offering other OS's? Especially if the computer maker and the OS maker are not the same.

    The above suggestion is much like the browser issue is to windows - the EU is ignoring the forest in favour of a few trees.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:40AM (#26966123)

    with the integration between Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer.


    At the end of the day IE is still there and cannot be removed. What I hoped would come out of this was that the EU would force Microsoft to make IE removable. Ubuntu bundles Firefox, Apple bundles Safari with OS X (although the bundling with Craptunes and Craptime should not be happening) but above all else these browsers are removable. IE is the biggest security hole at work, 60% of all viruses found at work are first detected in %UserDir%\Applications\IE\%UserName%\* in both XP and Vista.

    Just being able to remove IE would be a great boon to security (and web standards), then all we'd need to do is wean the corporate world off of Outlook (second biggest infection vector at my work).

    After all this trouble we seem to be back where we started.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:42AM (#26966139)
    If MS is forced to bundle others browsers, they cannot be expected to support them. When regular mostly computer illiterate users have a problem with software they phone support, MS will be more than happy to redirect the calls to opera, (is there even phone support for FF?), and tell them they will have to pay extra thanks to the EU. It is one thing to tell MS to bundle competing browsers, it is another to force them to offer technical support for them for free.
  • by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:46AM (#26966155)

    I make a competing calculator (hypothetically). I want an icon on the desktop for the Windows Calculator, Maxima, Octave and Mathematica.

    I also (again, hypothetically) make a notepad replacement. I want my product, Notepad++, Wordpad, Microsoft Word, and a half dozen scintilla-based knockoffs.

    I also hypothetically make an alternative desktop shell. Because Microsoft FORCES you to use theirs, before you even get to see all of the five BILLION other fucking icons, I want a screen to pop up with only a mouse, and a choice of shells. Mine, which doesn't support UAC, separation of privileges, explorer shells (which will confuse the heck out of people,) explorer extensions (bye-bye TortoiseSVN, TortoiseHG, etc,) or other features. Also included should be shells that barely work.

    And finally, after booting into Windows becomes a clusterfuck of choosing about eighteen trillion defaults, I as a developer expect my users to have a relatively stable and ubiquitous set of APIs available.

    Oh wait, we threw that out the window.


    Here's an idea. Let Microsoft keep doing what they're doing and easily choose between default programs, and even allow those programs to prompt the user to alter their default. Because any other option is fraught with favoritism and is just going to cram OEM desktops with more bullshit than ever before, and make the idea of targeting the Windows desktop from a developer or support perspective laughable.

  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:51AM (#26966179) Homepage Journal

    How can open source best exploit this latest EU decision?"

    More to the point, how is Microsoft going to exploit it? I'm not an anti-MS zealot, but I can completely see them bundling some third-rate thing that still uses the IE rendering engine or something like Safari that's nowhere near usable on Win32.

    That said, if IE is still the default option (or from the user's perspective appears to be), then this judgement really amounts to zilch no matter which side of the debate you're on.

  • by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @01:53AM (#26966185)
    A more realistic solution would be to allow people to permanently uninstall Internet Explorer. This really is my biggest gripe. There is no choice because even if you choose another browser, you can't choose to not have Internet Explorer at the same time.
  • by origamy ( 807009 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:04AM (#26966241) Homepage
    Shouldn't Mac OS also have come with other browsers then?
    What about the iPhone, which does not even allow other browsers to be used in its OS?
    I'm not in favor of Microsoft, but Apple is not that much different.
  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:09AM (#26966265)

    Time and time again... [Microsoft] have shown themselves inept at producing quality, standards-oriented software.

    Depends on how you define 'quality'. For maybe 80% or more of users out there, 'quality' is mostly to do with attractiveness and usability, with security and standards-compliance falling way down the priority list.

    Even though they've been a pack of cowboys and an odious corporate citizen, MS has so often led the field with its usability paradigms - MS Word was leaps ahead of WordStar and WordPerfect, and Excel was leaps ahead of MultiCalc and Lotus. With the OS, a half-intelligent user can find their way around unfamiliar areas in minutes, versus hours of trawling through manpages, weird config files (and all too often, also source files) to do equivalent things in open source OSs.

    OpenBSD might be about the world's best OS out there from an overall technical and security point of view, but to your average Joe Sixpack user, who wouldn't even be able to get through the installer, OpenBSD is a ridiculous load of shit.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:22AM (#26966347) Journal

    I agree with you to a point. The issue that the EU is trying to redress is really a long-past issue of the 1990s. Microsoft's practices wiped out Netscape, but that's ancient history. Firefox, as IE's chief competitor, has made great strides in the market without any help from the EU or anyone else, but by simply being a damned good browser with a good feature set, easy expandability with dozens of rather good extensions. In a real way, the market itself ultimately is correcting the issue.

    But there is a flip side. Just because ultimately the market seems to be making some headway in trashing the Microsoft monopoly doesn't neocessarily mean that Microsoft should not be punished for previous anti-competitive behavior. Quite frankly, this isn't the way to do it. The ultimate problem here is legal systems in North America and Europe that allow companies with large bank accounts to essentially buy the time the need. Microsoft made a mockery of due process, but it's merely taking advantage of a system that is essentially designed to put off justice as long as possible (look at how long SCO could keep an utterly foundationless set of legal claims going).

  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@[ ] ['bea' in gap]> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:22AM (#26966351)

    > What about Ubuntu? Does it have to offer a choice as well?

    You don't force Ubuntu to offer a choice. You package it up and agree to maintain the package. It then gets placed into a repo or onto the base install CD depending on its license, legal status and popularity. I suspect that were Microsoft to package a native IE and offer to maintain it in Ubuntu's distribution that it would be accepted. A Winelib port wouldn't be quite as welcome but would be allowed into the online repos. If it were released under a compatible and approved Open Source/Free Software license then even Debian and Fedora would take it.

    See the difference between a monopoly trying to manipulate the market and a distribution based on Free Software trying to make happy users?

  • At first... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadow7789 ( 1000101 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:27AM (#26966373)
    At first when I read this, I thought, "How could the EU possibly come to this conclusion? Firefox has over 20% market share and is still climbing. Are they dumb?" But then I sat down and thought about it. Who prompted this investigation? Opera. Opera has not had the success that Firefox has enjoyed. Now, most of use don't see this as a problem, but to the EU, it is a problem because Opera is a European company. The way the EU sees this, it's not a question of alternative browsers being able to take root, (Firefox already shows that is possible) it is a question of alternative EUROPEAN browsers being able to take root which has not happened. Think about the consequences of this decision. Considering that Mozilla has already stated that they would not bundle their browser with Windows, what other "major" browsers are really left? Just Chrome, Safari, and Opera, and I have trouble seeing Apple and Google forcing themselves upon MS. Really, Opera is the only browser that would really benefit from this. The way I see it, it's all politics, they want to help Opera, the poor European browser, fend off those terrible Americans who can build better products.
  • by renimar ( 173721 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:30AM (#26966391)

    What's to stop Microsoft from offering a crappy version of Firefox? They've got engineers to spare; they could download the code (ah, open source) and tell their engineers to muck it up so it crashes or mis-renders and so forth. Then install it so IE7/8 looks shiny compared to a rotten turd that they put in because they had to.

    I don't think they'd even have problems releasing their Firefox CE (Crippled Edition) source code to comply with the GPL. ("Here, you guys can have this back!")

  • by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:33AM (#26966415)
    Not to mention that putting a disc in a Wii and installing PC software are about as far apart as changing the oil and just putting gas in the car.
  • by myxiplx ( 906307 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @02:40AM (#26966439)

    Dear god, how this got a +4 Insightful I'll never know.

    Madness? Using an illegal monopoly to muscle into other markets is madness. You're saying you'd be quite happy for the electric company to bundle a crappy washing machine that tears your clothes with your electricity bill?

    Oh, and the electric company have ensured that even if you buy another washing machine, you can't remove theirs. And theirs insists on washing your clothes from time to time, no matter how hard you try to remove it. That's what MS did here - they used one product that you pretty much *had* to buy to bundle in a bug ridden piece of crap and force it on customers.

    You can't remove IE from a system, they managed to bodge it in pretty well. And no matter how many competitors products you install, from time to time IE will pop up again.

    If you're going to talk about the freedom of a company to sell it's product without interference, go speak to Netscape. They deserved to be able to sell their product without Microsoft illegally killing their market. And yes, it was illegal. Both the US and the EU have ruled on that now.

    Calling decisions by some of the top courts on two continents insane just shows how much you're missing the point here. You're right about a line needing to be drawn though; the courts are telling Microsoft they've stepped over it, and it's about time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:05AM (#26966545)

    Exactly. I'm not a MS fan, by no means, I use ubuntu at work and at home, but I think this thing has gotten out of control, kinda like political corectness.

    Why only browsers? Why not calculators, why not packing gimp as an alternative to paint? Why not some of the gnome games along with the usual windows games?

    And if what they really want is a campaign to inform the european user, why not go all the way and inform users about OS's, not about some parts of it. Explain users what an OS is, what alternatives exist, explain what software each brings and let the users choose.

    If they choose Windows then that must mean they are ok with IE or are able to download another one after install.

  • by BarryNorton ( 778694 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:21AM (#26966625)
    A more pertinent question is when iPods are going to ship with an eMusic client.
  • by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:42AM (#26966743) Journal

    When the user clicks a "Internet" button for the first time, they are presented with an option to either install IE or are given links to install files for a bunch of competitors browsers?

    This by itself is fraught with all sorts of potential issues, but the biggest problem is probably one of liability. As I pointed out [] in one of the previous umpteen discussions about this, liability is a very serious matter to a commercial software company like Microsoft. Without rehashing it all, something else to consider is just what you suggested.

    For example, if they had a link to SomeBrowser's website, and was compromised in some way (hacked, registration expired, DNS compromised, whatever), all of a sudden everyone who clicks to install SomeBrowser is installed what could probably be called Microsoft-sanctioned malware. As soon as they transfer control to an external entity, they are at their mercy. Sure, and are probably pretty dang secure, but when you're talking about a potential class-action lawsuit, I have to think Microsoft isn't real keen on the idea of linking to a bunch of third-party executables or sites saying "Go install these programs".

    Much the same can be said for bundled software. Regardless of what the EULA or any other license says, if a program comes bundled with Windows and it is discovered to have some problems, whose responsibility is it to issue a fix? Sure it might be the Firefox browser, but Microsoft shipped it with Windows. Now it's in their lap.

    Regardless, I think this was a poor decision. It shows a lack of understanding and foresight into the precedent and technical/legal problems that will stem from compliance.

  • by atraintocry ( 1183485 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:54AM (#26966805)

    What, Opera?

    Internet Explorer runs faster on Windows than Firefox does. And it works with sites that use ActiveX.

    I use Firefox. But I am not deluded about the percentage of users that know what standards compliance is, let alone care about it. The only way "the other half" is going to switch to another browser is when they discover ad blocking. And if they do that, all that free content I enjoy so much is going to dry right up.

  • by Galois2 ( 1481427 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:58AM (#26966825)

    Open Source zealots still use IE to post to Slashdot. Why?

    Because MS is an OS monopoly that illegally ties its browser to its OS. It's difficult to get away from Windows and IE, because of their anticompetitive behavior. That's the whole point of the EU decision!

    Here comes the worst...OpenOffice file formats are 100% open for years now, i.e., free to implement but there is not a single open source office suite that implements them with 100% fidelity!

    What are you talking about? implements ODF perfectly well.

    Same story on browsers and so on.

    These are folks that talk "vendor lock-in"..."open formats" and all the similar rant. Please give us a break!

    Sorry, but it is vendor lock-in when the file format is not published and has to be reverse engineered. That wouldn't be a problem if the software were well written, but it isn't. MS Office isn't even compatible with itself, as it refuses to open old Word files because MS has determined Office can't do it in a secure fashion. OOo is so far ahead of MS Office that OOo can open the old Word files MS Office won't!

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:00AM (#26966839) Homepage

    Microsoft had found ways to make Java under-perform while promoting their own proprietary and non-compliant Java VM. Microsoft did similar things against DR-DOS. I expect to see the same of any co-bundled browser.

    Any implementation of a browser alternative should be written as a drop-in replacement for the trident rendering engine, not merely the inclusion of some alternative browser package in the add/remove programs list. Part of what is wrong is that too many applications become vulnerabilities by virtue of trident's own vulnerabilities. But if those same API handles were linked over to webkit or something else, then people would have a true alternative that fixes problems not only with the browsers, but within applications that use the rendering of them.

  • by atraintocry ( 1183485 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:21AM (#26966949)

    The market is already doing what they hope to achieve, and it got a nice head start. They should just let it happen instead of legislating it, we're already halfway there.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:36AM (#26967003)

    Exactly. There are two sets of rules, those for Microsoft, and those for Apple.

    Apple can force Quicktime on you in their OS, Safari, Itunes, and many other bundled applications... but Microsoft cant. This is just getting tired and old.

    Lay off microsoft. The OS's features are stripped to shit as it is because of these stupid laws.

    MS may like having IE intergrated into the OS, where as Firefox doesnt like that approach. Why cant MS intergrate the browser the way they want and leave Firefox to develope how they want?

    What browsers CANT you run on windows? Opera, Safari, Firefox... they all run on windows. Where is the problem?

    Perhaps the EU should also force MS to include other operating systems such as OSX and Linux on their install disks for Windows 7. That would be FAIR. (rolls eyes)

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:55AM (#26967085) Homepage Journal


    Same old strawman. How much does MS pay you for posting this each time?

    So, for the reading-impaired, one more time, very slowly:

    Apple is not a company convicted as abusing a monopoly position.
    Microsoft is.

    Other rules apply to the convicted than to the innocent. For example, us innocents can go where we like and eat what we want, while the convicted in prison are locked up and get to eat whatever is on the menu today. For corporations, it works a little different, but the principle is that the convicted have restrictions on their freedoms.

    I'm sure that won't stop you from posting the same comment again next time. Is it more than ten bucks?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:30AM (#26967261)

    A more realistic solution would be to allow people to permanently uninstall Internet Explorer.

    "Uninstall" meaning what?
    Remove the icon from the desktop?
    Or purge the system of anything "IE" related?

    If you purge the system you'll suddenly find a large number of applications will fail to run correctly.

  • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:01AM (#26967393)

    See, this is the stupid part.

    An internet browser is NOT another market. You need an internet browser with an OS, it's a required function that people expect. You need it to perform basic actions just like you need a basic text and image editor. The Netscape ruling was done at a time when the internet wasn't an integral part of the OS because only a minority had the internet. That's not the case today. The Netscape ruling is outdated.

    When I buy a car, I don't have a choice of different radio manufacturers. I'm stuck with whoever they choose, although I may get a choice between different models from that company, I can't request that my bundled radio is a sony instead of a panasonic. The radio is integrated with steering controls and air conditioning and incredibly hard to replace. However you expect a car with a radio, people would be loathe to buy a car without a radio.

    Quite often these radios are awful quality and use non-standard interfaces with steering wheels too.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:10AM (#26967449) Journal

    None of the OEMs are bundling other browsers because IE has a zero cost to them to include, despite it being a non-zero cost to Microsoft to create. I.e., Microsoft are using their Windows monopoly to distribute their web client.

    If the Windows OEM license fee was broken out into a Windows fee and an IE fee, then more OEMs would decide to skip the IE aspect and install Firefox, Chrome or Opera.

  • by uffe_nordholm ( 1187961 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:31AM (#26967539)
    To some extent I agree with you, but I think you miss one important point: this is really just the aftermath of Microsoft bundling IE with W98 (I think it was W98, but might be wrong). At the time browsers were considered an application completely separate from the operating system, but by including IE in W98 Microsoft killed the market for anybody but themselves.

    Since they had a monopoly on operating systems (not entirely true, but they were so dominant the difference is unimportant) they had effectively used this monopoly in one market to get themselves a monopoly in another market. I cannot think that kind of action should be anything but illegal. Had Microsoft killed my company off by producing a better product I couldn't complain. But getting killed by by someone who uses muscle to get you out of the market shouldn't be legal, no matter who does it and in what market/-s it concerns.

    The situation today is slightly diferent, and more or less everybody expects a browser to be installed in their new computer when they unpack it. While this might not be a bad thing, I think browsers should still be an application, as oposed to part of the operating system. in that way I can choose to install what browser/-s I want, and remove any I don't want.
  • by baboo_jackal ( 1021741 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:33AM (#26967543)

    The issue is that you CANNOT uninstall IE. It's been deliberately entangled coreward to prevent that from being doable, even with third party tools.

    I'm not sure where you get this FUD, but yes, you can uninstall it. I think the "entanglement" you're referring to is the fact that there are several DLLs that provide the Windows HTML rendering engine that don't disappear when you uninstall IE. They don't go away because other applications use them. ... *grumble*

    I mean, you're just talking about the small potatoes, here! What about all the other crap that IE leaves laying around? What about that pesky TCP/IP implementation!? You wouldn't believe the pain in the ass it was for me to get rid of that when I uninstalled IE! I mean, heck, IE uses scrollbars, right? So why doesn't uninstalling IE remove the scrollbar GUI component from Windows? No More Bloat!

  • by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:59AM (#26967683)

    Remove calc.exe. It is the default calculator for windows and cannot be removed even if you delete the program filee manually or use add/remove programs. It uses horribly nonstandard math which forced all a lot of scientists to adopt Microsoft math standard, which is incompatible with other calculators. Ir you want your math to be compatible both with microsoft calc and mozilla firepigeon you have to design special equations for these two different programs. While you could do just the standard ones, a lot of users complain that your calculations do not add up because they use "the computer" that is calc.exe. On the other hand, if you do just thenoncompliant equations then only a minority of your users complain, mainly because they use linux and cannot run calc.exe

    MS Paint has all features of Photoshop or GIMP but can only save in proprietary file format known as .msp This has forced all manufacturers of digital cameras to produce cameras that can only save photos in .msp, because if they saved in .jpg, a lot of users would complain that they have to buy Photoshop, which is expensive, or use GIMP, which is harder than programming an OS. So, manufacturers use .msp as standard, because using .jpg in addition to .msp would mean thet their costs are higher while only appealing to a minority of users who use linux and cannot run MSPaint.exe.

    In any case, I will start to use linux as my main os as soon as there is a linux version that:
    (1) has windows UI,
    (2) can run all software I want to use (either runs the same program or has an alternative),
    (3) use setup.exe (.sh, .whatever) file for installation of additional software that do not depend on some third party (apt-get, yum) database and have all needed files included (.so files, .dll files) (can have some exceptions, like LinuxD3D,, LinVBrun),
    (4) is compatible with majority of old software, written 15 years ago,
    (5) uses GUI (for most options) or registry (for obscure options) for configuration, instead of text files,
    (6) supports any currently made device that Windows supports (including a USB thermometer)
    (7) is compatible with games.
    (8) is so better (faster, more stable) than windows that I do not mind reinstalling the OS.

  • by Caue ( 909322 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:02AM (#26967703)
    Wait, what? You can actually use other OS's? So Internet Explorer is to Windows as the default ac is to my car?

    If I don't like that ac, I could buy another car.. or sue the auto maker for not giving me other option except their ac.

    Posts like this make me giddy. I usually forget how much people hate the best player. Netscape was a joke; a far better browser, no questions there. Still, trying to sell a whopper on every mc donnalds in the country is just pushing it too damn hard if you asking me.

    People keep playing the monopoly card without even knowing what it is. Go read a book or two about the balance of entrance and exit barriers for newly developed markets and throw in some Porter just for good sense.

    Ruling in favor of the underdogs is vastly common. It gives people that sense of "democracy applied", "rightful justice" or any other bs we are buying this day. I don't even use ie (firefox is sooo much better) and I install it on every damn pc I have to do work on. People don't seem to complain, mainly because they their PC to look at e-mail, browse a little and eventually buy something. So they don't care if ie is slower, unprotected and violates its own nephew.

    Again, I have to shout: "WINDOWS IS A PRODUCT, NOT A RIGHT". It is a product, you bought it. YOU CHOSE IT. There are other to choose (not many, I know), but you chose windows. Live up to it.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:19AM (#26967785)

    You use the word socialism as if it is a bad word.

  • by oliderid ( 710055 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:24AM (#26967811) Journal

    Well they could simply force any browser on the market to respect standards. A bit like the Euro safety standard: Euro NCAP for cars.

    If the new browser do not respect the current standard like HTML 5 in 2009, it can't be bundled with an operating system.

    Prolem solved. IMHO.

    As a web developer I couldn't care less about browser brand. It can be named Safari, Internet Explorer,Opera or Firefox. Open source or not. I don't care. What matters is the compatibility with standards. Then people could choose their browser for their performance, UI, whatever.

  • by dbcad7 ( 771464 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:03AM (#26968017)

    Is the history of browsers and how Microsoft killed the ones before it.. not by making a better one (actually they did at the beginning), but by first of all Including it with the OS, and secondly tightly integrating it into the OS.. When IE was started, it was a separate but free download.. if they had kept it that way, much trouble would have been avoided.

    Your calculator and notepad examples are relevant.. IF Microsoft had not been suppling these apps since the 3.0 days and there where people selling them as separate apps, you can bet your ass they would be pissed when all of a sudden MS included them in the OS for free. What do you think would happen if the next version of Windows suddenly included a photo editor that was on par or better than Photoshop ?

  • by Weedlekin ( 836313 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:22AM (#26968113)

    "What is next Toyota being forced to put other manufacturers parts in their cars?"

    Perhaps you should do a bit of fact checking before bleating out yet another inappropriate car analogy, because car manufacturers, like manufacturers of everything else from bread to nuclear submarines, use components made by third parties in every product they sell.

    With cars in particular, third-party components make up a very large proportion of the final product, hence the fact that governments in many parts of the world are helping to prop up domestic car manufacturers to prevent the collapse of large numbers of smaller companies who supply them with an extremely wide range of parts, and in aggregate employ far more people than the car manufacturers themselves do. These include (but are far from being limited to): starter motors and generators, electrical systems (including electronic ignition), spark plugs, injectors, hoses, oil filters, thermostats, light bulbs, brake assemblies and shoes, tyres, seats, seat-belts, air bags, instrumentation, carpets, rubber pedal covers, paint, windows, batteries, and lubricants.

    "ll these stupid decisions coming out of the EU is a sick joke. Boycott OK, tax OK, telling someone what they can and can't do with their product not OK."

    So it should be OK for me set up a stall outside a school offering guns and hard drugs to children because they're my products, and nobody should be allowed to tell me what I can do with them.

    "If this keeps up I will be installing Visual Studio and be asked if I want Boreland as my compiler"

    There never was a company called Boreland that made compilers, and Borland sold their development tools division to Embarcadero last year, so you wouldn't be offered any of their compilers because they don't have any.

    "This is ridiculous and stupid. Anyone supporting this is stupid and belongs in prison."

    Whereas someone like you who obviously has no factual basis whatsoever for his opinions isn't stupid, and therefore deserves to be allowed to walk around and spout utter tripe whenever he feels like it.

    "Since they obviously do not like Freedom."

    And you obviously don't like freedom either, because being able to set rules for one's own territory that those who enter it are expected to abide by is the oldest and most fundamental freedom of all.

    "I say let Microsoft put whatever they want in their Software."

    So you'd be quite happy for them to include a lifetime membership of NAMBLA with free subscriptions to a bunch of child pornography sites, and a button that lets people donate money to Al Quaeda, Hamas, or Hezbolla with a single, convenient click. And you would of course oppose any rules that required removing those components before being allowed to sell whatever initially contained them because doing so would infringe on the freedom to include whatever one wishes to with a product.

  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:23AM (#26968115) Homepage Journal

    Every OS in the market probes this, with the glaring exception of MS OSes.

    You can remove the browser in any other kind of machine and your computer will sit there, happily doing anything else you asking it to do, because the browser is an *user level* application.

    If the brilliant Software Engineers at MS do not understand this (ha! As if...) it is not the market's fall.

    Also some people here are way too young to remember how MS *abused* their monopoly in order to obliterate the competition, who were selling a product that threatened to make the Windows platform irrelevant. The threat was so real that now Google may bring that promise to fruition in spite of MS's interference.

    That is what monopolies do, which is illegal, and why governments need to intervene, otherwise such companies would continue to stifle progress and innovation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:28AM (#26968157)

    I think you analogy is pretty weak. Its more like buying a home from a home builder and gasp! someone installed telephone lines. Sure the copper wires may suck for somethings but you can use a cellphone, cb or other things at your own expense. Sure you're stuck with the copper in your walls. You even have to use it for 911 (some things).

    I think it would be rediculuous to sell/distribute an OS in this day and age with out a web browser and I don't see how its ethical to make them bundle another company's browser.

  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:36AM (#26968201) Homepage

    "Yes, but this is the same argument as saying "it's okay to commit a crime, just don't get caught"

    No ! It absolutely isn't the same argument.

    Because Microsoft are a convicted monopolist they have to live by different rules, rules which govern monopolists and their behaviour.

    These rules do not apply to companies who are not monopolists, Apple is not a monopolist so these rules do not apply to Apple.

    "So Apple, Firefox, whoever, can leverage THEIR market share at the detriment of MS, until they are in a position of 49% dominance, and MS is on 51% dominance ?"

    Yes ! Obviously, duh, because Apple & Firefox are not monopolists.

    Do you understand now ? It's really not that hard.

  • by XaN-ASMoDi ( 894073 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:41AM (#26968237)
    Another problem is that in IT classes people are taught microsoft, not the critical thinking required to seek their ideal solution. Microsoft will retain their monopoly until IT education becomes education and stops being indoctrination.
  • by MadKeithV ( 102058 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:57AM (#26968321)
    Every time you paid for a Windows license.
  • by bit01 ( 644603 ) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:46AM (#26968675)

    ... reeks of socialism ...

    Grow up. Might as well say most families are socialist. Children do not contribute and yet they get all these free handouts where the parents will go to jail if they don't. Absolutely terrible.

    Nobody has the right to tell anyone else what to do with the works they create

    Faulty logic. Ownership, by definition, is the right to control something. Any ethical, not legal, argument saying "because they own it" is meaningless.

    All he's suggesting is another, possibly appropriate, way to fine M$ by taking something of value (the monopoly a gift from society at large in the first place) away from them.

    As an aside it is also not unreasonable to say that when patents and copyrights become de facto or de jure standards, just like trademarks and for much the same reasons, they should be lost. Monopolies (i.e. market failure) are unhealthy for exactly the same reason any centralized power is unhealthy and are an unfortunate byproduct of current unstable, winner-take-all intellectual property market structures (it's always going to be more efficient to create "IP" once and copy it n times than to create it m times and copy each n/m times) and we need to find ways of fixing that.


    You communist! Breathing shared air!

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe