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EU Could Force Bundling Firefox With Windows

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the could-they-force-me-a-sandwich dept.

Mozilla 650

Barence writes "The European Commission could force Microsoft to bundle Firefox with future versions of Windows. The revelation came as part of Microsoft's quarterly filing with the Security and Exchange Commission. Among the statements is a clause outlining the penalties being considered by the European watchdog, which recently ruled that Microsoft is harming competition by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs."

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And What of the Others? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607851)

The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

What about Maxthon [wikipedia.org] , Flock [wikipedia.org] , Amaya [wikipedia.org] , SeaMonkey [wikipedia.org] or Avant Browser [wikipedia.org] ? And that's just to name a few ...

I think you're kind of riding a slippery slope with this mentality--how could another browser (like Firefox's rise to marketshare) ever make it now that the top few are being bundled? You're not fixing anything. I would argue that they shouldn't release it with any browsers default installed and instead give them a package manager (similar to many Linux distributions) that allows them to step through a wizard process to download browsers from trusted sources based on an ever changing list (or conf file if they really want to change that).

Re:And What of the Others? (1, Insightful)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607873)

How does this action satisfy the Opera folks who requested it?

And some of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608007)

were complaining that this was just Opera being arseholes.

Well, if that were true, then this would be a great way to make sure that Opera doesn't unfairly gain market share using the courts, wouldn't it?

Come on, make your bloody minds up.

Re:And What of the Others? (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608093)

How does this action satisfy the Opera folks who requested it?

By forcing the users to make a choice, it allows Opera to attempt to sway users to choose them.

If the EU were wise, they would establish a repository that they fund, obligate MS to have their OS connect to this repo when offering the user the choice of browser, and allow browser creators to have their offering added to that repository. They could keep network costs low by allowing ISPs to mirror the repository, and they could offload administrative costs by requiring the browser creators to pay a reasonable fee when their browser is added.

The solution they're describing isn't really going far enough, because in a sense it transforms a monopoly into a cartel, with members chosen by the EU.

Re:And What of the Others? (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608151)

How does this action satisfy the Opera folks who requested it?

It doesn't completely, but it does help them significantly. Bundling Firefox with Windows means developers can count on all new machines shipping with a reasonably standards compliant browser and they can instruct people on how to switch to using it if they visit a age using IE without them having to download and install software. This promotes standards on the Web and means Opera can start spending less development money on working around the intentionally broken Web and more making real improvements to their products. If you recall, intentionally subverted standards were a big part of Opera's complaint.

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608443)

Except that things are already changing; FF has been gaining marketshare, and the web is becoming more and more compliant.

Re:And What of the Others? (0, Offtopic)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607875)

Never forget, computers are wonderful tools, but for most subjects students learn at that point in their lives (middle/high school in the US), computers aren't necessary. [zoy.org] Think about the primary subjects - Math, Science, and Literature/Writing - where do you see the benefits in using computers? Obviously for English classes, having access to computers to type papers is handy, but it's hardly necessary. Computers can be used in math to help illustrate concepts, but you don't want the students using computers to do their work, otherwise they won't know how to do it without them. And much of science is math - again, not something you want students using computers for.

=Smidge=

Warning: link is a Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608349)

Don't click the link unless you have NoScript or similar software. Leads to gay porn, tabs opening, and other bad stuff. (Was discussed the other day but I can't find the more informed warning.)

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608375)

This has got bugger all to do with the topic at hand, I don't really know what your game is but please, quit now.

Re:And What of the Others? (4, Insightful)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607921)

It's not about fixing anything. It's about being childish and spiteful.

And goddamn, it's funny.

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Informative)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607935)

Maxthon is a shell, Flock - Firefox, Amaya... that's not really a 'browser', etc.

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Insightful)

jerep (794296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607957)

Actually I'd be glad if they shipped windows with anything else than IE, I really could care less if it's Firefox, Opera or lynx.

Seeing IE's market share drop is always nice for us web devs.

Re:And What of the Others? (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608333)

Seeing IE's market share drop is always nice for clueful web devs.

Fixed that for you.

I know plenty of web developers who create horrible, broken pages because they render nicely on IE. When I say something along the lines of "you're not even close to being XHTML complaint" they respond with something along the lines of "I hate Firefox! I can never get my layouts to look nice."

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

jerep (794296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608437)

Haha, good one, you're absolutely right.

Dunno why it got modded +Funny though, it deserves +Insightful.

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607961)

I like having IE pre-installed...it gives me a way to go to mozilla.org and download firefox. Your method works also. From my understanding Windows is fully integrated with IE. Meaning removing IE would require a huge reworking to windows. FireFox seems to be doing fine on its own. Opera/Safari is doing fine for Mac. I believe Safari comes standard on a Mac...will the EU require Mac to carry IE so IE can have a chance to being competative on the Mac?

Honestly - for all the talk of "open market", "less regulation", "get off my lawn", etc - we sure are big on "force MS to integrate". Either we are for less regulation and let the market decide, or we are for gov't intervention. Again - FireFox has a pretty good market share without gov't intervention.

By forcing MS to put in FireFox, as the OP said, what about the other browsers? I do not want 50 browsers on my computer. I enjoy FireFox and ONLY use IE when I have to (MS Exchange for work).

Re:And What of the Others? (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608057)

From my understanding Windows is fully integrated with IE. Meaning removing IE would require a huge reworking to windows.

All they really need to do is remove the executable. While the executable is little more than a wrapper for the HTML rendering library and most of the code that makes IE what it is is in this library, they could remove the executable, and probably satisfy the EU (and Opera for that matter). Microsoft like to fudge the issue by suggesting that any library that IE uses is part of IE, but really that's just to suggest it's more tightly integrated with the OS than it actually is.

Re:And What of the Others? (5, Insightful)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608255)

I know this gets brought up ad nauseam, but it is pertinent to your comments : MS is a monopoly, and as such is regulated by a different set of rules and standards.

NOT regulating a monopoly leads to disastrous consequences for all involved.

Re: IE integration with Windows (3, Insightful)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608267)

It's not so much that IE is integrated with windows, but instead Windows ships with a bunch of toolkits, one of which is a toolkit containing library routines for Web access. This includes establishing HTTP connections, doing the low level HTTP get, and a rendering engine to do something with HTML documents.

So this toolkit is used as a primary component of IE. Parts of it is also used by various other OS components, such as Windows Update (uses the HTTP libraries), the File manager (HTML rendering engine), etc. And, obviously, it is the toolkit that is used to build IE. So what Microsoft means by "removing IE will break Windows" is removing IE and it's associated librarys/toolkit will break the other components. But the part of IE that contains "main()" could be removed without affecting anything else.

But now we have another problem. Is a web browser a stand alone application, or is it a necessary part of a modern OS, same as a file manager and command shell? This gets down to the basic debate of what an OS is. Here's my definition:
OS Kernel -- the low level component that connects applications to hardware devices (device drivers), and defines / maintains data structures on those devices (think "file system" layer).
OS Utilities -- programs that allow a user to manipulate data structures the Kernel maintains (such as a file manager), and programs that facilitate user interaction with the hardware the kernel interfaces to (such as a utility to talk to a modem, or send a file to a printer port).

So an operating system is composed of the Kernel and OS Utilities. An Operating Environment (OE) is a combination of an OS with a set of applications that facilitate performing tasks that nearly all users of that computer would need to do. So text editors and paint programs fall in this category (although a text editor may straddle this category and OS Utilities).

Now the question is, where does an ftp client, telnet, ssh, etc. fit in? And does a web browser fit the same category as ftp?

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608295)

will the EU require Mac to carry IE so IE can have a chance to being competative on the Mac?

There is no modern Mac port of IE.

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Funny)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608461)

Damn. I just bought a mac, but now I learn that IE isn't available for it, I'm going to have to put it on e-bay.... ;)

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608345)

Either we are for less regulation and let the market decide, or we are for gov't intervention.

Or we look for a middle ground. Black and White never work all that well, shades of gray however do.

If we are for open markets - we should have let the banks die. We did not, we looked for a middle ground.

Re:And What of the Others? (0, Redundant)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607983)

Who maintains the source list for this package manager? What requirements should be in place for addition of another package? What punishments should be in place if $MAINTAINER doesn't update the source list within a set amount of time? Who gets to decide what browsers get onto the list?

Or in other words, most of the same issues as you pointed out...

Re:And What of the Others? (1, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608005)

I agree entirely with your point, their is no way all browsers could be included and to exclude any is just as much a problem as the current situation.

However, I'd take this logic even further. Surely if bundling browsers in Windows is bad, the it is bad in all operating systems, and this rule should apply to all operating systems. Secondly, surely if it is bad for browsers it is bad for other additional features such as media players, calculators, ftp clients, image viewers etc.

Also I do not think the package manager idea solves the issue, people would still want to install software when not online and who decides what limited set of media can be on the disc, and who gets to decide which programs are included in the online package manager?

I know there is a view among many Slashdotters that any measure that harms Microsoft is good, and any excuse for doing so should be used to the maximum extent. However in this case I can see no reason to treat Window's inclusion of IE any differently to OS X's inclusion of Finder.

Re:And What of the Others? (2, Insightful)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608307)

It isn't bad in operating systems that are currently incapable of abusing a monopoly position because they have such a low market share.

I think that all they are really doing is having fun with the precedents they set way back when they forced MS to release a version of windows without media player. Remember that this isn't yet decided on, it is very likely that this is just a reminder not to complain about penalties imposed being unreasonable, demonstrating in advance that it could have been a lot worse.

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

twowoot4u (1198313) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608343)

Its not necessarily the sheer fact that windows ships with IE pre-installed, its the supposition that Windows cannot function properly without IE because it serves a core function of the OS. That is what was claimed ages ago, and that is where it treads on thin ice with respect to monopoly laws.

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608435)

The EU could simply require that a competitive browser be installed either by MS or by OEMs, while not specifying which browser that is. IE will be installed anyway.

I don't think that the question of whether MS used its monopoly OS position to destroy the browser market can be realistically raised since the evidence is public and almost a decade old now. There have been legal decisions on this matter in both North America and Europe. Are you too young to remember these?

Re:And What of the Others? (5, Insightful)

Frag-A-Muffin (5490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608027)

I would argue that they shouldn't release it with any browsers default installed and instead give them a package manager (similar to many Linux distributions) that allows them to step through a wizard process to download browsers from trusted sources based on an ever changing list (or conf file if they really want to change that).

Right. Cause this is oh-so-user-friendly. If you were to ask 1000 "regular computer users", I'd bet over 50% wouldn't even know what a browser is. They think their computer *IS* the internet!

The only real solution is to let the VAR (ie. dell, hp, compaq, gateway, etc. etc.) bundle whatever they want. (which is what they've wanted to do for a while, but couldn't, else they'd get hit for higher prices for their OEM deals on the 'doze licenses)

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608339)

They think their computer *IS* the internet!

Well, it kind of is. Or at least, it's the same as all the other computers making up the internet, just different software. ;)

But I agree wit hyou premise that the "browser wizard" is ridiculous. Just what we need, ANOTHER installation step just to get online to do whatever we want... like download firefox or go to gmail.

Re:And What of the Others? (5, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608097)

Well, lets see.

Maxthon and Avant are based on the Trident Layout Engine built into Windows. So including them in the list wouldn't exactly resolve the "You are forcing IE on people" complaint. While they do have their own code base, it's still based on the same engine from Microsoft.

Amaya is a test bed application for the W3C, I'm sure it's lovely for the few people who use it as their main browser, but it's not exactly what you'd foist onto the general poplulace.

Flock and SeaMonkey are both based on Mozilla (aka Firefox). And while they add value to the Firefox proposition, if the point is to provide an alternative to IE then both of them are 'over qualified'.

And while I agree with the arguement that a solution would be to not ship with anything installed and simply install their own, there are numerous disadvantages to that that you are overlooking. Such as the fact that most people new computers aren't going to know which one they want and simply pick the top one on the list. Who do you think that's going to be?

In fact, while I also agree that if this happens and the list is codified as the summary and article presents, it would hamper new comers, the truth is that covering the 'top' browsers also covers the top engines that 90% of the rest of the crowd use anyway.

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608103)

Agreed. All that bundling the major browsers would do is increase bloat and software on systems that most users don't need. What's one of the first thing that you do upon getting a new (premade) computer? Remove the bloatware that comes with it. We need fewer programs preinstalled, not more. Leave the system with one browser and point the user to other options.

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608301)

But whose browser goes at the top of the list of the package manager?

Which browser on the list do you think your average Joe will pick?

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

andereandre (1362563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608331)

well, after you install IE7 you first get a setup screen asking which search engine you want as default (a list of the better known ones, but with the option "define your own"). They could easily run something like that during Windows installation for browsers. And no, you don't need IE to download another browser. But for the bandwidth impaired they could easily put all the current ones on the DVD (soon out of date however).

Re:And What of the Others? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608355)

Avant Browser is just an MSIE wrapper, so that is not a solution to the EC's concern.

Maxthon, Avant = IE (1)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608365)

Maxthon and Avant are just IE shells, so they shouldn't be considered.

SeaMonkey isn't yet ready for prime time (2.0 is not release-worthy and 1.x is woefully outdated).

Amaya is meant as a tech demo and to check code, not as a daily browser.

The only one on your list that would be considered would be Flock.

Realistically, Safari should be removed from the original list because it's such a clusterfuck on Windows.

Of course, you're right... it's all moot and a rather slippery slope.

And My Browser Too! (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607865)

The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

Don't forget to also bundle my browser, MSBlastWorm32.exe! Tell all the naive people that it's the hip new botnet way to see the interweb!

Lynx (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607883)

... computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

And also Lynx [isc.org] , I would bring me great joy to see a video of an average Windows user trying to use Lynx.

Re:Lynx (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608019)

I would bring me great joy to see a video of an average Windows user trying to use Lynx.

Yeah, I mean, using those arrow keys and pressing enter is way beyond the comprehension of anyone who has ever used a computer regardless of OS. Oh how the laughter over frustration will spread! Haha!

Re:Lynx (-1, Flamebait)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608051)

It would bring me great joy to see a video of you trying to arm wrestle an average high school football player.

Re:Lynx (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608227)

As a browser Lynx has been surpassed by better text browsers such as Links [sourceforge.net] .

And really, I don't think anyone would have a problem using it.

I wish they'd force Microsoft to make windows work (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607925)

The Microsoft monopoly wouldn't be so bad if Windows didn't suck as much.

Why so hooked up on the browser? (3, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607953)

Why is the EU so hooked up on what browser is being used? Why not e.g. the productivity tools being bundled, or the kind of media center/player to play videos and music?

Sure, from a technical standpoint, it's always nice to see more competition here, as that would probably put pressure on Microsoft in making IE more standards compliant, but... Somehow I don't think the EU is thinking that far.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607997)

The EU already made them offer Windows without MS Media Player. I've heard (on slashdot, fwiw) consumers don't prefer the bundled version.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607999)

They are thinking let's bash the top dog. It's not uncommon for the number 1 guy to get all the flak - even if its unwarranted. Now MS is guilty of doing some shady stuff, but really - to force them to install multiple browsers on their product? So the next time I buy a car, say a Toyota, should the US gov't force that Toyota to come with the same features/products that a Lamborghini has? I mean the Lamborghini is a better product - so maybe Toyota should be forced to bundle in a v12 engine in there for me.

No I do not want multiple browsers on my computer. IE is fine for me - i will then go to mozilla and download firefox. IE will be used for MS Exchange and other similar restrictive sites that I utilize.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608055)

I see what you mean to a certain extent, but given how the browser is becoming a platform in itself - one that can encompass both the productivity tools and media player that you cite in your examples - this has to be of far more relevance.

I think the EU are doing the right thing here, but something tells me this isn't going to be plain sailing until every Windows PC has alternatives to IE available by default.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608457)

True, that's possible, although I feel that's possibly an even more "geeky" reason to why they're doing it (i.e. are they even thinking of services like Google Docs and "the cloud"), but maybe I'm just not having high thoughts about the EU. ;-)

Anyway... I also don't think this is the right way to achieve that. If anything, they shouldn't bundle Firefox in that case, but remove IE and when clicking on an IE icon, direct the user to a website offering a number of web browsers. That would be the "clean" way of doing it IMHO. Otherwise, imagine the fuss that would rise from the web browser competition if MS had to include IE and Firefox and that's it. :o

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608089)

Why is the EU so hooked up on what browser is being used? Why not e.g. the productivity tools being bundled, or the kind of media center/player to play videos and music?

Gee, I don't know, maybe because the lawsuit that started this was filed by Opera because of IE? Just a hunch.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (2, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608127)

I don't understand all the hubbub either. So MS bundles a browser with their operating system ... so what?

Back in the DOS days, word processing software didn't have a spellchecker built in. You had to buy a separate spellchecker if you wanted that functionality and the spellchecker companies had a nice little profit centre for themselves. Then one day, word processing software started coming with a spellchecker built right in! Sure it was bad for the people selling spellcheckers, but it was a win for the consumer.

Operating systems evolve ... they start including things that weren't included in the past ... things like internet browsers. If the (free, bundled, zero cost) browser doesn't suit your needs or tastes, it takes less than 5 minutes to download and install Firefox or Chrome.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608129)

Windows ships with few "productivity tools", beyond the occasional Microsoft Works install which in my experience is unable to compete with Notepad, never mind enforce a monopoly. So that's not an issue. The browser's the big, obvious target.

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608173)

True. The browser is not so important. Who uses that anyway? Much more interesting would be to add different versions of DRM as a bundle, or put it as optional add-on. For example the DRM from Apple and Sony. I'm curious of how they would try to convince the customers to install that as optional and suggested extension. But wait a sec, they would probably have to rewrite half of the os for that. It's much easier with the browser - oh, wait..

Re:Why so hooked up on the browser? (5, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608231)

Why is the EU so hooked up on what browser is being used? Why not e.g. the productivity tools being bundled, or the kind of media center/player to play videos and music?

First, the EU already convicted them for the bundling of their media player. Second, the media player market is horribly broken anyway because of certain cartels and forcing MS to change will make less of a difference especially with Apple leveraging their near monopoly to promote a different player.

With the Web however you have just Microsoft as the stumbling block preventing fair competition. You have an open and shut case with fairly straightforward remedies available. You have a complaint from effected competitors. You have already discovered evidence of MS's intent to maliciously break the market. It is an ideal market to fix and actually help both other companies and the people in general.

It still amazes (4, Interesting)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607993)

me how Internet Explorer is such a big deal for the EU. IE is free. Microsoft is bundling their browser with their OS. KDE bundles Konqueror. Gnome has Epiphany. There are on binaries for Windows for either of them. Is that bad? Everyone has a choice to download the equally free Firefox for any OS. If you want to go after Microsoft, then go after them for the things that are truly evil. The monopolization. The insane licensing prices. The unfixed bugs. The embrace, extend and extinguish. And the countless other things [wikipedia.org] . Forcing vendors to bundle other browsers won't do anything. Do you really think Microsoft fears this?

well (5, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608025)

there is nothing to get amazed. KDE, Gnome any other distro that bundles a single browser to their product will probably be asked to bundle more.

this is not an 'equality' matter. this is a matter of monopoly. microsoft is almost a practical monopoly in the market. therefore, anittrust laws apply to it. if linux had the same place, and had a virtual monopoly, they would go after it first.

antitrust laws are not fair. they are not supposed to be fair. they should not be fair. they are equalizing moves that are used to whack down on the biggest shareholder in a market if they do anything wrong, illegal, or unethical. any corporation that is vying for the top market positions has to make peace with that fact, and get its act together. microsoft didnt. it doesnt have an affinity for coherent, orderly, ethical conduct.

Re:It still amazes (2, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608391)

KDE bundles Konqueror. Gnome has Epiphany. There are on binaries for Windows for either of them.

FYI, Konqueror has been ported to Windows as part of the "KDE on Windows Project [kde.org] ".

(Not that I'm arguing Konqueror should be bundled with Windows; I'm merely pointing out that it could be done.)

Re:It still amazes (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608405)

It still amazes me how Internet Explorer is such a big deal for the EU. IE is free. Microsoft is bundling their browser with their OS. KDE bundles Konqueror. Gnome has Epiphany.

FAIL!

I'm sorry, but if you're going to post about a proposed remedy to antitrust abuse, you should know what antitrust abuse is and why it is illegal in the first place. If you're amazed, please go educate yourself so you know what you're talking about.

If you want to go after Microsoft, then go after them for the things that are truly evil... The embrace, extend and extinguish.

The "embrace, extend, extinguish was a comment revealed in the US court case about MS's strategy of bundling IE to break standards and prevent the Web from being a way to bypass Windows.

Forcing vendors to bundle other browsers won't do anything. Do you really think Microsoft fears this?

If you understood why the action was illegal or how their embrace, extend, extinguish strategy worked, you'd understand that this can help repair the market and make the Web better for everyone. It also has the potential to make Web apps work a lot better and allow people to be platform independent. MS fears that greatly.

Choice to the user (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608001)

There should be Windows-Distros. Each distro has its own set of software installed, and the manufacturor chooses which distro's of Windows he offers. E.g. a manufactorer can create a distro with firefox and one with chrome, and let the user choose which distro he wants. I think a distro with IE (as long as there also exist others to choose from), or with multiple browsers (including or not including IE amongst them), should also be allowed. This can be applied to other software too, e.g. a distro of Windows with Audacity, Gimp, OpenOffice, ... preinstalled.

Re:Choice to the user (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608213)

You don't think six versions of the current version are enough [wikipedia.org] ? And who's going to explain to the average user what the differences are and why are they better? And who's going to support these?

Re:Choice to the user (1)

twowoot4u (1198313) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608373)

I think they already tried this, read about the Vista fiasco. I think there are 20 different 'distributions' of vista, each offered by various vendors at various prices. They are all pretty much the same thing, unless you are talking about Vista Ultimate, which has fantasticly awesome extra content that never was released.

Restricted browser (2, Insightful)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608035)

If the user is provided with a list like:
Choose browser to install:
(1) Internet Explorer 8.9
(2) Firefox 3.6
(3) Opera 9.2 ....

Which one will they choose? I would say most likely, 1, because it's from Microsoft (and it will be top of the list) - even if it is a piece of rubbish.

It would be far better if Microsoft provided a restricted simple browser that could be used to download other software - a sort of graphical version of lynx.

Re:Restricted browser (3, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608153)

It would be far better if Microsoft provided a restricted simple browser that could be used to download other software - a sort of graphical version of lynx.

A simple and restricted browser? IE6 perhaps? We already have it and look what it does [howtocreate.co.uk] .

Re:Restricted browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608209)

It would be far better if Microsoft provided a restricted simple browser that could be used to download other software - a sort of graphical version of lynx.

And a couple of years down the line you'd find that 70% of users would be browsing the net with this "restricted simple browser".

Re:Restricted browser (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608403)

And a couple of years down the line you'd find that 70% of users would be browsing the net with this "restricted simple browser".

Oh what a glorious thought!

Re:Restricted browser (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608299)

In the case of search engines the courts decided even that was an abuse and offerings had to be listed in alphabetical order.

Turn it upside down (1)

sepelester (794828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608041)

Bundle Windows with Firefox instead.

Why just microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608053)

I say if Microsoft can't bundle a browser, no OS should be able too.

That includes any linux distro available.

Re:Why just microsoft? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608191)

It's often been argued that Windows' sheer, crushing ubiquity means that it has an undue and unique influence on the rest of the software field, and therefore must be regulated in a similarly unique manner. If a product expands to the stage where it's as important to your day-to-day life as the power supply, you can bet it's going to be subject to the same sort of oversight.

Also (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608063)

How 'bout requiring that each copy of Vista ship with a Ubuntu disk labeled 'Vista Service Pack 2'.

Bundling everything... (5, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608081)

I can see it now... the Linux masses (or /. crowd) asking for alternatives to everything...

Notepad? Bundle Vi/Emacs for windows
MediaPlayer... bundle VLC & mplayer
Solitaire...
Instant Messenger? Bundle Pigdin...
MSPaint? Bundle GIMP

And we complain about BLOAT now? Wait till you see all the crap that gets bundled. And the MS products will still get used more? Why, because Joe Sixpack will look at the NAMES of the applications and won't have to guess what they do? Can you look at 99% of the linux apps out there and guess what they do? Notepad/MediaPlayer/Instant Messenger/MS Paint are pretty obvious what they do. GIMP? I'm not explaining that one.

Safari on the mac by default... (0, Troll)

jbeale53 (1451655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608087)

So I guess that Macs will have to go along with this too? I hate the fact that Mac has Safari pre-installed, so I have to go and download another browser. It isn't fair!!!1! I mean, they forced MS to build "Windows N", which doesn't include Windows Media Player. Why didn't they insist that they install WinAmp, MusicMatch, iTunes, etc., instead of removing Media Player? This is just stupid. Hey, European Union - You're stupid.

So when I buy a car.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608091)

So when I buy a car in the EU instead of having the factory built radio, are they going to have 3rd pardy radios installed in it as well?

While I dislike IE... (2)

Ninety-9 (1207808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608105)

and prefer Mozilla Firefox, both Windows and IE are Microsoft products and they have every right to bundle their products. Also, why Firefox? What right does the EU have to decide Firefox is what the people want? Why not Chrome or Safari or Opera? You bundle in Firefox instead of IE, you're still hurting the competition. Some people are just going to use what they're given, what does it matter WHICH one comes bundled?

Also, Firefox isn't supported by Microsoft. Why would MS release Windows bundled with programs they do not support?

Windows is not bloated enough. (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608123)

Yea... Please install N different browsers with Windows. I didn't think all the default services took up enough system resources to begin with.

I don't know why they would try to force the user to have X browsers rather than allowing user to have equal opportunity to pick from any browser. This is the opposite of enforcing a competitive market - it's encouraging of a oligopolistic market.

They should force Google to drop Chrome (1)

htnmmo (1454573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608125)

and work on Firefox instead.

Seriously, chrome has some nice features but I can't use it as my workhorse browser. I'm not talking about advanced features or plugins. Just simple stuff.

I like how it manages tabs as a separate process that releases memory back to the OS when it's closed. Firefox could really benefit from it. But there are so many simple things missing.

Now I have 2-3 browsers running all the time.

Firefox for my main surfing.

Chrome, if I want to look something up and not worry about Firefox getting bloated and having to restart it.

IE when I'm developing sites.

If Google worked on putting some of the good features of Chrome into Firefox, you wouldn't have to force anyone to use Firefox.

Re:They should force Google to drop Chrome (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608175)

That's missing the point. Should we force Microsoft to drop IE and work on Firefox instead? They'll bring lots of legacy features (actually I can't think of any useful ones) and in the end you won't have to force anyone to use Firefox.

compatible (5, Insightful)

cekander (848307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608133)

As a web developer, all I want is for MS to make IE compatible with standards. I'm sick of giving their browser special treatment, and I wouldn't if it didn't represent over 50% of my users.

I feel the EU's efforts would be better focused on this issue instead. I think MS consciously chooses to keep IE incompatible with the standards so that sites developed for IE don't work in other browsers that are standards compliant. It's a monopolistic abuse of power.

Un-bundling would be better (2, Interesting)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608157)

Rather than add even more unnecessary software to already bloated to the point of being crippled systems (I'm looking at you Dell, HP, etc..), why not force MS to unbundle IE ?
This would:
  • Force MS to use an actual app instead of the activex in IE for windows update. Why anyone thought it was a good idea to use a web browser to do a system update is beyond me.
  • Allow users to completly remove IE (save for the rendering engine - which good programming practice dictates should already be separate from the browser).

OK but if the system doesn't come with a web browser to begin with, how do I install FF ? I like the idea of this being a setup wizard. On first boot it asks which browser you want to install, downloads the appropriate files, and installs. By all means have IE as default, but allow the user to select another browser if so desired. This would also I hope get rid of the 10 000 (slight exaggeration) different browser add-ons commonly found on new systems.

Re:Un-bundling would be better (2, Informative)

jbeale53 (1451655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608189)

Force MS to use an actual app instead of the activex in IE for windows update. Why anyone thought it was a good idea to use a web browser to do a system update is beyond me.

Windows Vista has a specific application for updates, it no longer uses a browser with active x.

Re:Un-bundling would be better (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608273)

Cool, this means they have even less work to do !
I never kept Vista long enough to do an update ...

Re:Un-bundling would be better (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608211)

Windows update in vista doesn't use IE.

Re:Un-bundling would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608279)

You can browse the web using:
Internet Explorer (Internet connection required)
Mozilla Firefox (Internet connection required. Download fees and bandwidth costs may apply)
Google Chrome (Internet connection required. Download fees and bandwidth costs may apply)
Opera Browser (Internet connection required. Download fees and bandwidth costs may apply) ... (Internet connection required. Download fees and bandwidth costs may apply)

Why not use windows update? (2, Insightful)

adonoman (624929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608187)

Windows already has a package-manager sort of thing build in with windows update. I won't argue about how it compares to the various linux offerings, but it would certainly work for this.
They've already removed IE from the Windows Update process - why not put IE and third party browsers up there and let people decide for themselves. Third party drivers are available there, so the process to decide what gets on there is already in place.

And Apple? (1)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608219)

Note: I am an Apple user. If the EU required MS to bundle other browsers, then should they force Apple to do the same? And yes, I know Safari is not tied into the OS like IE is.

Re:And Apple? (1)

headLITE (171240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608429)

Apple doesn't have a semi-monopoly. This is about abusing a predominant market position in one area to gain an unfair advantage in a different one.

Pretty sure MS could get out of this easily by changing the IE start page to a page that links you to download locations for the latest IE, Firefox, and Opera releases or something like that. I think that makes way more sense than including ten different browsers.

Btw., Safari *is* tied into the OS in the exact same way. Removing Safari.app is like removing iexplore.exe, you'd still have WebKit and removing that would break a bunch of other applications. (But possibly not Finder.)

Re:And Apple? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608433)

Safari isn't tied into the OS, but safari is basically a wrapper over WebKit, which is a part of the OS and something some other apps depend on. That's not terribly unlike Windows/IE/MSHTML or KDE/QT/Konquorer/WebKit.

More crap (2, Insightful)

0prime (792333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608221)

Great, just what I'd want, more crap pre-installed on a factory built computer. Will they also have to install the yahoo searchbar, google searchbar and msn searchbar in each browser they install? Explorer is too proprietary of a file explorer, they should have to bundle ExplorerXP, freeCommander, and A43. If anything, it seems like all the EU is trying to do is make Windows so unusable that the eventual move to linux will be a godsend.

Discourage dependence on the browser? Bootstraps? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608223)

One thing that irked me about XP was that updates were shacked to a web browser and an ActiveX control, which was inelegant (why was a critical OS function not "baked in" to the OS?). If MS aren't allowed to bundle IE, it would mean that they can't assume the existence of a web browser on the system, and might avoid decisions like that in future. I mean, if IE is essential to basic OS functions, it probably shouldn't be, and if it isn't, then there's no real problem with unbundling it. Except I just realised it would leave you with no way of accessing a web site to download a new browser, and including some sort of comprehensive "browser chooser/fetcher" app (or expecting MS to do so) would be equally absurd.

This is just so much hooey (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608251)

The thing is, I, for one don't want five browsers put on my machine by an OS. It's bad enough the clutter they do put on... One browser, let it be IE and then I will go download FF. I choose that way. I'm pissed enough that iTunes keeps trying to shove safari on my machine that I have blocked iTunes. More browsers... whoopie! Why not add everybody's tool bars to the OS too, and everyone's messenger service... and how about five or six calculators...

As for the argument that most people will only use what came with the machine, well, you can't legislate against stupidity. I doubt pre-bundling everybody's browser into the OS install package will help. This is just legislators trying to do something no one cares about so that they will look like they are doing something while taking no politcal risk.

I don't get it (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608253)

Why should MS be forced to do anything other than make other browsers usable on their OS as the default browser. As far as I have seen this has been working for years. Oh, occasionally I might run into something that does launch IE rather than my default, but it's so infrequent that I could care less and all this time and money being wasted requiring more is silly.

Ugh. (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608271)

Ok, I hate IE as much as any other self-respecting geek, but I also hate bloat. Bundling 4 or 5 browsers with Windows just doesn't make sense. You're duplicating what most users will consider exactly the same functionality several times over!

If they set it up so that the setup (or the computer store if you're buying a pre-loaded system) will optionally install only the browsers you want, this could be a good thing. Having them all installed by default, though... not so much.

first troll of the thread .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608361)

"Ok, I hate IE as much as any other self-respecting geek, but I also hate bloat"

Your life must be very circumspect if you have to expend energy hating a browser. Firefox comes in at about 70mgb, hardly going to take up much room and it isn't stealing process time in the background when it isn't running ..

What goes around... (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608319)

So what happens when Google OS is released in the EU? Will they be required to bundle IE?

What exactly is the point of all this? Web browsers haven't had a retail value in over a decade. The EU certainly knows how to stage an exciting race for zero revenue. I guess they have to keep their lawyers employed somehow.

Good and Bad (1)

MazzThePianoman (996530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608321)

Maybe they should also include info on how to get OpenOffice, Star Office or access to Google Documents. Also along with Windows Media Player they should include VLC, iTunes, Divx ..... hey how about dual boot with Linux, BSD, OSX? Really? Yes I believe Microsoft has a clear advantage bundling IE with Windows but bloating the install up with tons of various other software is not the way to go.

a good idea .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608419)

"Maybe they should also include info on how to get OpenOffice, Star Office .. Also along with Windows Media Player they should include VLC, iTunes, Divx"

Good idea, they should include all this software and the OEMs pay a percentage to the developers.

Where will it end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608347)

By the time the EU is done forcing all these software into new PCs, My 500G Dell PC will arrive on my front door with 640K free space left.

Re:Where will it end? (0, Offtopic)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608409)

...which should be enough for anyone!
I'm here all week, try the veal.

Why? (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608369)

Why bother.

At the Rate IE is losing market share, it's only a matter of time before Firefox has a solid share of the browser market.

And it's not like Opera will take up the slack anyways. MS would side with Firefox anyday over the other competition if it was forced to bundle.

What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608379)

I mean, really.

It's not like the Firefox people (or the Opera people, or Google...) are losing money because users can get IE for free, because those browsers are free as well.

How is market share relevant for free products?

what? (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608413)

This makes no sense. I thought the whole point of this was to stop bundling altogether. Instead during setup of Windows why not offer the choice in the install for the preferred software:

Choose Your Media Player:
Windows Media Player 11
VLC Media Player
MPlayer

Choose your Email Application:
Outlook Express
Thunderbird
Eudora

Choose your Browser:
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Firefox
Opera
Chrome

Now people are aware that they have a choice. The problem with bundling is that it makes it harder for someone to be aware of the fact that choice exists. So whether Windows ships with IE or ships with Firefox, if they aren't made aware that a choice exists between the two, then the whole endeavor was for nothing.

Astroturfing? (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608471)

Okay, I'm really concerned. In the last three or four articles we've seen on this topic, we see dozens of posts all repeating the same nonsense that was debunked in the first discussion. Every time the topic comes up people immediately reference legal bundling by other companies (OS X and Safari or Linux and Mplayer). Are people really so incapable of learning and ignorant that they don't understand even the most basic aspects of antitrust abuse? And they all did not see any of the umpteen explanations in previous discussions?

I'm beginning to hope there is some serious astroturfing going on because the alternative is worse.

The actual text (5, Informative)

morn (136835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608475)

The linked article is rather sensationalized, the summary even more so

Here's the actual text. It's from Microsoft's own SEC filings [shareholder.com] , in the "Contingencies" section of the notes, not from the EU - this is Microsoft's opinion of what the European Commission might require, not something from the Comission itsself.

While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any Web browsing software on Windows, the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC. Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser.

Note, in particular, no mention of specific other browsers.

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