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EC Considering Removing Internet Explorer From Windows

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the epic-struggles dept.

Government 827

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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Slow Justice is No Justice (5, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521843)

Let's look at the facts:

the EC said tying Internet Explorer with Windows provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage

That's stating the obvious.

Now check out the timeline on this procedure. Microsoft was accused of tying Windows Media Player to Windows in 2004. That's what the current case is based on.

According to a Microsoft spokesperson:

Under EU procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses Microsoftâ(TM)s response

In other words, expect this to last another few years before anything happens. By then, Internet Explorer will have been renamed Windows 8 and Microsoft will argue that the lawsuit is moot. Do consumers win? Lawyers do, that's for sure. Slow justice is no justice.

Expect Microsoft to offer to ship a version of Windows without any web browser. So you won't be able to download firefox either!

--
FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- where geeks are their own boss

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521889)

I guess I'm confused about what Opera expects to get out of this. I know I, for one, would be pretty pissed off to open up my new computer and not have any way to go download Firefox. What exactly are they hoping to gain? Are they really arguing that new computers should ship with no internet browser what so ever?

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522047)

I guess I'm confused about what Opera expects to get out of this

Punitive damages, and their lawyers fees paid.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (3, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522097)

It's an ideological thing, nothing more. For us nerdy types, who cares what browser is bundled with the OS as long as the user has full choice to download and use whatever browser we want. The problem is that people are lazy and will use whatever is bundled because it is already there. IE gains marketshare just because nobody cares enough to switch.

But you're right. Practically speaking, who cares.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522231)

If nobody cares, then what right do you have to make them care...?

Let's build the New Socialist Man while we're at it. The EU can be in charge.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522123)

You could use FTP to grab FireFox off of ftp.mozilla.org Then again, someone would probably sue for distributing an FTP client with MS Windows.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522137)

I guess I'm confused about what Opera expects to get out of this.

That's very understandable given the assumptions made by both the summary and the post you're responding to.

I know I, for one, would be pretty pissed off to open up my new computer and not have any way to go download Firefox.

That's not going to happen. No remedy is going to stop Dell or HP from bundling what they want, just Microsoft. From the end user perspective it means you might get a different browser pre-installed and if you build your own computer from components you may have to burn a CD with a browser on it.

What exactly are they hoping to gain?

Opera's complaint specifically addressed the fact that MS's abuse has resulted in a huge portion of the Web no longer being standards compliant and that this was part of MS's intention as revealed by their internal memos. I suspect Opera hopes for several things possibly including, Windows shipping with multiple browsers and MS being forced to make IE standards compliant and supporting a reasonable level of new standards on par with all the other browsers. Both moves would significantly benefit Opera both in market share and because they would not have to try to write a noncompliant mode for their browser to deal with all the pages designed to work with IE instead of standards and there would no longer be such a barrier to companies looking to switch browsers. Note, Opera said nothing about forcing MS to ship a version without IE, that was just other people's assumption based upon the EU's failed attempt at remedying the media player market.

Are they really arguing that new computers should ship with no internet browser what so ever?

No. That's just something people who don't know what they're talking about and who such a ruling would affect keep mentioning. Ignore them. It makes no sense to anyone who even slightly understands antitrust law and this case.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (4, Interesting)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521895)

Most likely it will just ship with a second or third browser installed. Then when you go to do anything involving a web browser for the first time, it will ask you which you would like to make your default.

As far as I know, that's how the modified version of XP works for Europe, though I have yet to hear of anyone actually using it.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (3, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522037)

Most likely it will just ship with a second or third browser installed.

And how will Microsoft select the alternatives? If they were forced to include other browsers, every dinky browser author and company would be pining to get their browser included in the alternatives list, threatening lawsuits if Microsoft doesn't comply. It would also mean that, since the software is supplied by Microsoft as part of Windows, Microsoft has to keep it updated and has to accept a certain level of liability.

The real solution to this is for Microsoft to allow OEMs like Dell, HP, etc to include other browsers on new machines. This would give users the same choices they have with regards to other bundled software and it also leaves the market open, for example, to allow Mozilla or Opera to pay to have their software installed on all Dell machines. This would also prevent Microsoft from needing to keep the first-party bundled browser up-to-date with service packs and updates.

The only downside is that people who buy retail/OEM versions of Windows will still need to use IE to download their choice browser, but I still fail to see how that impacts anything. If the complete failure of Windows N has taught us anything it should be that customers really don't want a crippled out-of-the-box operating system.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522307)

Microsoft wouldn't- the computer manufacturer would. It would be up to HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc to choose what to bundle. Including the choice of IE. The point being that the browsers would compete in a fair market, rather than IE being installed by default and as the default app.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521939)

Very good point. It seems like the EC is trying to grab some attention, there argument is pretty ridiculous. If they don't like/want IE, then they can go download another browser and then get rid of IE. ALL OS's come with a browser built in, Microsoft shouldn't have to make there's any different.

I don't see them complaining about Ubuntu or OS X. It might be because they only have about 10% of the market, but still.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521983)

All MS will do is put a link on the desktop saying 'Get Internet Explorer', and 10 minutes later, the user will have 'dur internetz' and that will be that.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522163)

then opera will still have a hissy fit since you have to install IE anyway cause without it less you have other browser already downloaded, most people don't know any other way to download say firefox or what ever and they are back in same boat as this bs lawsuit has them in already

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1, Insightful)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522201)

just a thought, a good idea. have MS bring a laptop in to the court room, or a couple of them with a clean install of windows without IE and let them TRY to browse the internet and see what happens.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

Lucky75 (1265142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522223)

Exactly. How, exactly are windows users supposed to download a new browser if the OS doesn't get shipped with one? Ubuntu comes with Konquerer, OSX comes with Safari. Who gives a crap if windows comes with IE?

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

Lucky75 (1265142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522235)

Not to mention that IE is integrated into the explorer shell, and separating them would be rather painful for Microsoft.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522303)

Try to use any of Microsoft's site like updates and templates for office without IE and see how far you get. At work, I use Windowsxp Firefox combination but I have to regress back to IE for certain MS tasks.

Re:Slow Justice is No Justice (1)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522313)

"...ship a version of Windows without any web browser. So you won't be able to download firefox either!"

that's not really what this is about
Desktop machines need a browser
AFAIK, the EU Commission wants an OEM version of windows without IE, so OEMs can pre-load different browsers (as per customer demand)

This is about the unfair advantage MS has in online and search markets due to IE being tied to windows
IE is defaulted to MSN as it's homepage, probably (although, obviously I'm guessing) as part of OEMs contracts with MS

The EU is enforcing fair competition, and customer freedom by moving the decision of "which browser" to OEMs
OEMs will provide browsers based on customer requests

Stupid.. (5, Insightful)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521861)

This is so stupid.

Last time they did this over the "media player", after months of laywers and stuff, Microsoft finally agreed to come out with a version of the OS which lacked the Media player.

And the verdict?

Nobody wanted it.

If you don't want IE, do what I do. Just don't run it.

Re:Stupid.. (2, Insightful)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521937)

The problem was that they allowed two versions of the OS distribution. Obviously, most will opt for more features if the financial difference is small enough. If media player had to be downloaded separately for any version, then there would have been a difference. If this new case again allows for two versions without a significant monetary difference, then it will end in the same way: a dead duck.

Anyway, it drains a good amount of money out of MS each time they have to comply. That has got to hurt in the long run.

Re:Stupid.. (3, Informative)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521997)

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.

Re:Stupid.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522017)

Nobody wanted it, because
a) it had the same price.
b) they not only removed the Windows Media Player, but also Windows Media Codecs. These codecs are next to impossible to get, because they're supposed to be included in Windows anyway. You don't care about windows media files? Neither did I, until I found out, why F.E.A.R. has no sound on N versions of Windows. Microsoft did a good job making sure, that the version without Windows Media Player is also crippled for any alternative.

Re:Stupid.. (3, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522105)

a) it had the same price

That's because Windows Media Player is free [microsoft.com] .

b) they not only removed the Windows Media Player, but also Windows Media Codecs

Good grief. They get forced to remove WMP and then people get mad when then they go and remove WMP. When you uninstall Quicktime are you shocked to learn the MP4 and other Apple codecs are also removed? Besides, they're free too [microsoft.com] .

The whole point was to give consumers "choice" by making them install WMP themselves. Don't ask for something and then cry when you get it.

Re:Stupid.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522277)

Well said!

Re:Stupid.. (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522167)

Strange, most alternative media players had more codecs enabled than the original plain MS media player.

One reason we can all enjoy media on Linux.

Re:Stupid.. (4, Insightful)

florin (2243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522119)

Noone wanted it because the version without Media Player cost exactly the same as the one with. So which OEM in his right mind would put that on a PC? Which shop would stock it?

The EU made a mistake in not forcing MS to lower the pricing on the Windows without Media Player.

How much cheaper could Windows really be if your purchase price wasn't sponsoring the programming teams that are working on the 'free' browser, virus scanner, defragmenter, backup program, touch interface, fax and scan interface, optical burn program, media player, movie maker, speech recognition, java clone, flash knockoff and all the other crap that you get with Vista? None of these programs are particularly good, so let's just see some Win32/MFC/.NET libraries for say 10$ and you can keep the rest of the crap. There are better alternatives which are truly free.

Re:Stupid.. (0, Troll)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522165)

It's not just stupid, it's wrong. In 2008, Microsoft is right: a web browser is an integral part of a desktop operating system. And it's not just the browser as an application, it's the rendering engine that's being used pervasively, from help systems to all sorts of third party applications. Look at how much stuff uses WebKit on OS X: dictionaries, widgets, chat programs... it'd be folly to remove it.

Removing IE poses one very significant problem (2, Funny)

JamesP (688957) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521865)

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

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (3, Informative)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522023)

What if I build by own systems?

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522067)

What if I build by own systems?

Then you are tech savvy enough to use this.

ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/ [mozilla.org]

First they came for the browser... (0, Offtopic)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522149)

Next we'll have the makers of FTP programs whining to the courts for MS to remove all FTP capabilities from windows.

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522199)

...but how am I supposed to find an FTP client? Windows's FTP capabilities are notoriously unreliable.

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

CaptCovert (868609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522241)

Until the command-line FTP client in Windows is removed because some schmuck in Europe whines to the EC.

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

boxlight (928484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522085)

Also, the point was a get multiple Windows vendors. To get two companies both developing and marketing Windows independently of each other. How much better could the product have been if this was going on for the past 10 years.

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

boxlight (928484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522057)

The first thing I do on a new Windows installation is open IE and download Firefox. How would I get Firefox without IE? That is truly marvelous insight!

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522215)

It looks like you are new on the net, http isn't the only protocol!

Besides, you don't need a complete browser to do something like a get command.

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522115)

I had to do that once for a customer while remoted into their machine. They had a virus on their system that shut down IE as soon as the user tried to download any kind of file. The irony of this did not escape me.

(I wish I was making this up, it would've made the call go much faster.)

Re:Removing IE poses one very significant problem (2, Informative)

fenix849 (1009013) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

So what? (1, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521867)

Windows can load whatever it wants on to their Operating Systems. What right does anyone else have to tell them what they can and cannot load? If someone else want's to use Opera, have them download it. It's not like Microsoft is stopping you from doing it.

Re:So what? (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521935)

Windows can load whatever it wants on to their Operating Systems. What right does anyone else have to tell them what they can and cannot load? If someone else want's to use Opera, have them download it. It's not like Microsoft is stopping you from doing it.

Its more that their free product stops people from looking for alternatives.
Not me though, and not, I suspect, anyone with half a brain, but there we are.

Personally I think this is a stupid idea, as was the removal of media player. A more sensible idea would have been to ask that download shortcuts to alternatives be placed on the desktop by default or something.

Re:So what? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522129)

Personally, I think that they should keep the back-end rendering engine (perhaps open the API so it can be replaced with something more secure and standards compliant)

Then they could drop IE as a bundled application, instead provide a very small cut-down browser (like notepad is to word processors) that didn't have javascript, or support for hosting browser objects or activex or java or anything like that. You could download FF or Opera using that, and even use it to safely surf the web :)

But I reckon all that will come out of it is that OEMs will choose which browser to install, and MS will remove the 'make sure IE is the default browser' option by default.

Re:So what? (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522157)

The people who wouldn't go looking for an alternative browser don't WANT something other than IE. Hell, I even know well educated IT people who say ".....why should I use anything other than IE?" and explanations about security and such don't even phase them. It's what they know and they refuse to use anything else. Even if MS would somehow be forced to have windows include Firefox and Opera by default and no IE, many people would rush out first thing and download IE because "it looks right" or some other brain dead argument.

Re:So what? (4, Informative)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:So what? (5, Insightful)

JWman (1289510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522107)

I'm not MS lover, but really, at what point does this stop? What if a company with a desire to litigate decides they want to enter the utilities market, but are hampered by the preloaded utilities available in Windows (defrag, search, etc.). Does MS have to strip out features every times someone calls foul? How far will it go? What if some company decides to make a CPU scheduler, and think that it's unfair that MS includes one with windows? Where's the line?
How many people are there buying computers who would think of thier computer as complete without an internet browser? Is MS evil for catering to this need?

On a related note, will Apple have to stop including Safari with OS X?

Re:So what? (1, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522173)

Yea, MS's "monopoly" sure kept me from downloading Firefox, Open Office, Ubuntu, buying a Mac, etc. There ARE alternatives out there, all the "evil monopoly" bullshit is people who either don't like MS products or (if they're a company or government) just want to steal money from the richest software company out there.

Re:So what? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522299)

They're basically blaming the largest game in town for people's own non-education or laziness. That's really what it's all about.

The left tends to scare me because a lot of what they do (not like the right doesn't do this either) is try to engineer people or force their hands so they attitudes and actions center around making sure all their personal wants and dreams come true.

Re:So what? (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522203)

Microsoft is not running a monopoly in any way, shape or form. Millions of Mac and Linux users would disagree about MS running a monopoly...

Re:So what? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522233)

Sure they can, but they can also be slapped down afterwards.

If the governments don't tell them to stop doing something, then they keep moving forward. If they do tell them to stop, they just appeal and again, keep moving forward.

Either way, Microsoft wins more market share and long term cash flow.

Re:So what? (1)

geekpowa (916089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522243)

I have to agree with the GP - the whole issue around bundling is silly. Where do you draw the line at what should and should not be bundled? Is the TCP/IP stack an antitrust concern for example? R.I.P. trumpet software.

Should I also be upset that there is so much bundling in a popular Linux distro. Fedora favour's Gnome - should I get angry about that?

The only possible issue I could see is if MS made it difficult/impossible to install Firefox and not use IE. I rarely use windows these days, but when I do, installing Firefox is usually the first task and the only thing I use IE for.

Re:So what? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522263)

No, they CAN, but other people tell them what to do, because other people want the world to be a certain way and want to tell individuals, groups, and businesses how to act so the world is more shaped, more in-tune to their liking.

Although I suspect the EU is just trying to milk money out of MS like they did in the past. Extremely wealthy American company, doesn't hurt them so much...

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521995)

The problem is that Microsoft has a monopoly and abuses this fortunate position to push their own products outside of the OS market. In theory, anti trust laws should prevent such a thing from happening.
Obviously they don't work well and asking for an OS to be shipped without any browser these days is like asking for it to be shipped without a file manager.

An anti trust rule that forces Microsoft to make DX/D3D work with other platforms or open up the Windows API would work far better to break the monopoly. A similar thing is being done right now with open document standards (no anti trust laws here but government is moving towards the use of open documents which forces MS to stay compartible).

Re:So what? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522051)

It's not that simple, most developed countries have anti-trust legislation and in this case the EU is trying to make it stick.

Now I'm waiting for a clearer decision on the sale of hardware that's not available without Windows installed...

Re:So what? (1)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522103)

>What right does anyone else have to tell them what they can and cannot load?

Why shouldn't some goverments be able to stop a raging monopolist from leveraging one product (operating system) in order to systematically destroy a market for other products (web browsers, media players, and so on).

>It's not like Microsoft is stopping you from doing it.

They are not stopping their users to use a competing product. They are leveraging their operating system monopoly in order to make the competition in other markets obsolete and thus prevent them from entering the market.

Example: Opera. Opera, a small browser maker is not being able to compete with Microsoft in the browser market, because after bundling IE with windows, for the most majority of people (you know, the ones calling IE "the internet") a browser market ceased to exist.

Laws against monopoly misuse protect the consumers not directly, by chosing whats the best for them, but indirectly by helping the market so the consumers have the ability to choose themselves whats best for them.

And by choosing I didnt mean to "just use what comes preinstalled with windows". IE may not have been bad for the people who used it because it was preinstalled, but it was bad for them in the long term because it destroyed the browser market so badly, that after major competitors vanished, those people _had_ to use the IE, however bad it was, because it was the only game left in town.

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522309)

I really, really hope Windows never, ever loads what it wants onto its operating system. If you thought users loading viruses and trojans was common but stupid (and easily blocked), can you imagine what would happen if the OS kernel decides that it damn well wants some malware and that you've no business telling it not ro?

Oh, you meant Microsoft! Actually, legally, no they can't. They may not use a monopoly in one environment to impose a de-facto monopoly in another market. That is a crime, and rightfully so. Monopolies that try to seize other markets are damn dangerous because you rapidly lack these supposed alternatives. Netscape discovered that one, when Microsoft "knifed the baby" (in Microsoft's own words). Alternative browsers ONLY exist today in meaningful numbers because IE6 was a mess and IE7 took too long to come to market, due to Microsoft having no browser team, having dismembered it. (If you see any suspicious-looking concrete structures with arms sticking out near the Redmond campus, that's probably them.) If Microsoft had kept with IE, then IE would be all that existed. Microsoft would long-since have fixed IIS to never serve a competing browser, and IE would have long-since been fixed to be so non-compliant with standards that IE-capable pages won't work anywhere else. (Actually, that last one is almost the case today.)

No, Microsoft has no business distorting the markets like that, creating monocultures of their choice, exterminating competitors (I suspect at least one MS exec is actually a dalek) and forcing people to only buy what it sells. You're seeing this with the anti-virus market today. MS got information under the false pretenses of working with anti-virus vendors on how the products worked and the data used, then used that information to create a version that it provided ready-installed. Nobody is going to buy software for a few hundred dollars that is not that different from the software that is provided already, which means those vendors are being squeezed out of existance. I expect that, by the time Windows 7 is fully released, very few if any of the current AV suppliers will still exist. Microsoft will have crushed the bones of their business and squeezed the life-blood out of the remains until nothing identifiable without a scanning electron microscope remained.

Now, I would agree with those who say Microsoft is not technically evil, just very very good at what it does. In the same way Nyarlothotep is. Indeed, they're probably related. Bill Gates probably has an actual copy of the Necronomican and his palace, err, home, is suspiciously close to where you might expect Cthulhu to hang out. Not evil, just very very powerful and very very insane.

fuck MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521873)

and while we're at it, fuck EC too.

Re:fuck MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522127)

There's another jackoff I can do without.

Can IE be removed? (5, Insightful)

Onyma (1018104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521885)

I would be very interested to see how Microsoft would go about even trying to remove IE. At best I would think they could extract the GUI wrapper for the engine that most people call "IE"... but the core rendering engine is required for many other components such as the help system for example. Being forced to remove the rendering engine from Windows would be like taking out the bottom brick in Jenga.

Re:Can IE be removed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521941)

who's talking about a "core rendering engine"? people are talking about the package the lusers use to access the web.

it is the human interface that is important, noone in the real world cares about what buggy library does the actual work in the background.

hell, noone normal even knows there's a "rendering engine" in the browser.

Re:Can IE be removed? (1)

idiotwithastick (1036612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522033)

The EU's issue with Microsoft is that it is limiting competition among web browsers by including IE with its product, so a removal of the GUI wrapper would probably be sufficient. Inclusion of the rendering engine won't do anything if you can't use it to browse the Internet in any reasonable fashion.

Re:Can IE be removed? (2, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522275)

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.

B-B-But.. (1)

blool (798681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521899)

Then how would I download firefox?

Re:B-B-But.. (1)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521979)

Use Netscape.

What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521903)

Does that violate EC rules too?

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (2, Informative)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521951)

If Ubuntu shipped on the vast majority of personal computers, then yes it might.

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522159)

If Ubuntu shipped on the vast majority of personal computers, then yes it might.

What's the legal difference?

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522271)

google monopoly -game

kthx

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (3, Informative)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (3, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521961)

Since Ubuntu don't make Firefox, I doubt it.

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522039)

Since Ubuntu don't make Firefox, I doubt it.

I think it would be more accurate as "Since Ubuntu isn't a convicted monopolist, I doubt it."

Monopolies operate under different rules. Comparing monopolies to non-monopolies is just stupid, whether its the Apple-Safari or Ubuntu-Firefox bundles, it doesn't matter. Those aren't monopolies so the rules are completely different.

Re:What about the Firefox I get with Ubuntu? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522099)

No, because there is no sale.

Besides, to mention a few of many you get Konqueror and Opera tossed in as well.

STUPID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521949)

WTF good is an OS that comes without some way to get things from the net. Can't even grab a new browser easily from a clean install. Not everyone has 10 copies of firefox laying around.

Damm. its not like you have to use IE more than once. WTF is the problem EU...

Re:STUPID (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522049)

Us knowledgable lot only use IE once, to download Firefox/Opera/Safari/. It's the 'mindless sheep' that think Microsoft = Computer and IE = Internet that are in the mind of the EU.

Re:STUPID (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522111)

Hmm... something went missing from my post... there should have been an <insert favourite browser here< in there.

Re:STUPID (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522219)

And those mindless people will continue to use IE because it's what they know and they refuse to learn anything new. You can't stop people from being willfully stupid (well, you CAN but it's illegal to shoot someone unless you work for the government).

Re:STUPID (1)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522249)

How do you get updates, download them by hand with firefox?

Utterly brainless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521959)

It's strangely comforting that humans in Europe can be just as clueless as the inbreds here in North America..

I like Opera and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522009)

But this is seriously a little ridiculous. And really, what will this accomplish? The OEM's would just put Internet Explorer on anyway since that's what most people are going to be expecting.

not relevant (2, Insightful)

boxlight (928484) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522025)

Surely this decision is about 10 years too late and such a change would no longer be relevant to the industry.

IE was a massive money pit for Microsoft, and its only purpose was to protect Windows as the dominant application platform. It worked.

But with the rise of Web 2.0 and hand helds like Blackberry and iPhone, Windows is no longer the dominant application platform -- no one is actually building applications for Windows anymore, as far as startups are concerned, it's a "dead" platform.

Therefore whether Windows ships with IE or not is now moot. No one (with the exception of Opera) is trying to make money that way anymore. That ship has sailed.

Clueless (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522069)

The immediate problem there: how on earth is one supposed to acquire another browser without a browser? The browser is a major component of all desktop OS distributions today, so I don't see why it should be unbundled from Windows. True, it may be crap, but at least I can use it to download and alternative.

Re:Clueless (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522179)

There is always FTP. Just keep quiet about it or MS will be forced to remove FTP capabilities too.

Hypocrisy (0)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522075)

I'm not Microsoft's biggest fan, not by a longshot, but the EU is just being stupid.

If the EU goes after Microsoft for including a browser, then they must go after Apple for bundling Safari with OS X, KDE for bundling Konqueror, and so forth.

*Any* operating system needs a browser to run. The internet is an indispensable part of any computing experience.

Microsoft is losing its monopoly on consumer operating systems, and has already lost its monopoly on browsers.

Re:Hypocrisy (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522143)

So you approve of monopolies unfairly leveraging their position to force their way into a market, killing the competition in the process?

Re:Hypocrisy (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522221)

One major difference, though: while Apple, KDE and most Linux distributions include various browsers, none of them force the installation of any of them nor prevent their uninstallation, nor do they force the use of those browsers for certain things even after the user's installed an alternative.

And no, no operating system needs a web browser to run. A user may need a web browser for their day-to-day application needs, but the operating system doesn't in general need it to run other programs. And even where the system may need a web browser (say to display it's HTML-format help pages), it doesn't need a specific web browser to do that. Windows could, for instance, use the IBrowser COM interface (which Microsoft designed) to get an implementation of a browser and then use that implementation to display HTML (exactly as done in Microsoft's example of using the IBrowser interface) regardless of the exact browser implementation behind the IBrowser object (Microsoft themselves described this ability as exactly the reason to use a generic interface, so that you could replace Netscape with IE in a manner transparent to the applications that displayed HTML pages).

Re:Hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522237)

Mod parent up!

I hate the hell spawn that people call "The Internet" as much as the next web developer, but you need to include *some* browser in your OS.

At least I think the OEM people will be able to include their browser of choice, right? After all that's where Google is pushing Chrome.

Re:Hypocrisy (3, Interesting)

uffe_nordholm (1187961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522321)

The problem is not the browser per se, but the fact that it is on virtually every computer out there. For many people IE _is_ the internet. If you removed IE from their computer and installed Firefox, Opera or any other browser they would be lost, and wouldn't know they could still access internet. Since people don't have to choose to get IE, Microsoft has an unfair advantage over the competitors. It would probably be enough if you needed to install it from CD once you've unpacked your computer: it would require people to _do_ something to get IE, and that would expose them to the possibility of choice.

And this applies only to a monopoly: Apple's share of the home or office computer market is small enough that they can get away with bundling a browser. And with any version of Linux you can remove the browser and the OS still works fine (although using KDE without Konqueror could be just a bit frustrating...).

As for the browser being a necessary part of the OS, I don't agree. The way I see things the browser is just another application, just like a game, word processor, database handler or what have you. Granted, the browser will be using the OS to communicate with the outside world, but it isn't (or at least shouldn't be) an integral part of the OS.

EU is right in taking action (-1, Troll)

dotne (1225492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522083)

Microsoft is a serial offender that needs to be punished. They were convicted in the US, but escaped punishment when W. was elected. Removing IE may be one option -- adding other browsers may be easier and better. Or, one could configure Windows Update so that users are asked which browser they want to download and use. There are many ways to download software.

Re:EU is right in taking action (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522193)

I am frankly shocked and disgusted that Microsoft wants IE to be shipped with their operating system. They have a huge market advantage, as consumers overwhelmingly choose to buy Microsoft over Linux or anything else for whatever reason.

I demand that defrag, the default media player, debug and administration utilities, calculator, MS Paint, wordpad and notepad, the unzip utility, the cd burning utility, and any and all default drivers be stripped from Windows distributions to create a more even, more egalitarian, more democratic playing field.

Why don't they simply stop "buying" windos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522087)

It'd be a a lot simplier and more effective, rigth?

Core Component (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522209)

Last i heard IE was a core component in the GUI subsystem of windows..

Makes no sense. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522211)

This makes no sense. Even Linux computers file-system browsers (e.g., konqueror) are sometimes browsers. Microsoft has integrated "Explorer" (explorer.exe) to be both a filesystem and web browser. Microsoft has also, by now, made it relatively easy to not use Internet Explorer, Outlook, Outlook Express, etc., at all. It's easy to change the program defaults.

According to wikipedia, IE has about 68% of the browser "market" share (odd to call it a "market" since they are typically free pieces of software). That other 32% is distributed amongst Firefox (large percentage, 20-something %) and Chrome/Safari/Opera/etc.

So what's the deal? So what if people are lazy and don't look for an alternative?

As an aside, I wonder if the EC distinguishes Microsoft's versions of Windows? Or is it that Microsoft itself isn't allowed to provide this or that software with their OS? What about the calculator that comes by default, isn't that an unfair monopoly to CalculatorMakerCompany2000 (TM) who wants to get into the computer based calculator market?

As one poster said... this makes lawyers happy. That's about it. For the rest of us, we already know how to use Firefox instead of IE.

So.... (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522213)

Without IE on the CD, how will I download my alternative browser of choice? 99% of the times I install Windows, the first thing I do (after patching) is hit getfirefox.com.

Or are they planning on forcing MS to package installers for Opera, Safari, Firefox, Flock, etc. on the CD? Couldn't this backfire on the alternatives since they're updated a lot more frequently than MS prints new OEM/Retail versions of Windows? Or will Billy Bob even notice that his version of Firefox is over a year out-of-date when he gets his shiny copy of Windows 7?

This would also put additional strain on OEM call centers when their users can't figure out how to work a non-IE browser. More training for staff = bigger operating budget. Sad but true.

Apple must be behind it all! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26522217)

They must be! They just don't like us PCs!

Without a media player and IE, how the hell do you listen to music or surf the net?!

Someone tell EC to stfu already. o3o

The EU has to be the most annoying body ever (1)

twofunky (1251880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522255)

If I were Microsoft I would simply stop licensing Windows for any computer sold in Europe. Why screw around anymore - if people are not smart enough to go out and download a browser of their choice why should the company go through any more time or hassle. This should bring computer sales to a screeching halt until software companies can manage to offer anywhere close to the depth of software that is available for Windows. I figure two or three years anyway. The really interesting part is that this is based on Opera whining. Opera is what? Number 4 in the browser market? Next up they will be whining that Google has to be shut down so they can try to out do Chrome.

What about Apple? (1, Redundant)

dustin_c1 (153078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522269)

Apple bundles iTunes, Safari, Mac Mail, iChat and Quicktime with OS X.

But nobody complains.

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

State sponsored monopoly (4, Insightful)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522327)

I'll take these kind of actions seriously when:
- I don't need the Media Player for listening to state sponsored radio programs or television shows.
- Local governments don't rely on the .doc format anymore (although with OO this is less of a problem)
- All government sites run fine in standard compliant browsers
- Applications (like tax applications) are available for a freely available operating system at the same time as Windows
- Schools are pushed to learn people IT skills, not Microsoft skills
- Government and semi-government rely less on Microsoft only products and stops buying billions worth of licensing from Microsoft

Currently it feels like they are slapping Microsoft with one hand while feeding it with another. OK, since the slapping probably also means that Microsoft has to give some money back, it makes a slight bit of sense. But currently it is not a nice situation at all.

At least my bank and the public transport sector are platform independent, so we're getting to our money and somewhere.

Just level the playing field with competiting prod (1)

glacote02 (729278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522329)

Technical impossibility is a non-argument. Strip out perhaps only the most visible things (like the executable). Make it a free, largely advertised download. Just as Opera/Firefox/Chrome. It *does* matter a lot because OEM/developpers/whoever will *not* assume that IE exists by default. However easy it is for it to be installed back. The whole point is that the *user* has to *explicitely choose* MSIE over the competition. That makes a whole lot of difference. Obviously you should not let OEM choose - MS has too much leverage there, as the WMP fiasco has proven.

Windows Update (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522337)

what i dont understand is why Windows Update requires activeX & Internet Explorer, it should be just a dialog box that only connects to Windows Update independent of any browser, i have not used ms-windows in a long long time but i assume Windows Update works the same (through IE) maybe microsoft's way of making sure IE a necessary & integral part of the OS...

i thank the GNU/gods that Linux rescued me from such a kludge of an OS (windows) many years ago...

Internet Explorer linking is deeper than Windows (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26522339)

It is is nearly all Microsoft applications such as Outlook and MS Word. Many developers outside of Microsoft also depend on MSIE for rendering functions. It's a difficult problem to resolve I should think.

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