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How Europe's Mandated Browser Ballot Screen Works

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the from-the-top-down dept.

Windows 169

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

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169 comments

Waiting for (-1, Offtopic)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483952)

the "In Soviet Russia.." joke

Re:Waiting for (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483976)

the inevitable First post joke.

Re:Waiting for (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483978)

Ya know, if you are going to go for the cheap one line first post you might as well make the joke yourself. At least that way you'll get a few funny mods on your way to the /dev/null of -1

Let me try one: In Soviet Russia, EU anti-trusts YOU.

I Have a Great Big Cock! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484000)

And big balls too!

Re:Waiting for (2, Funny)

pjtp (533932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484118)

In Soviet Russia, the joke waits for you!

Where were you when the operating system was born? (0)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483974)

Why don't you just write the rest of it and not just one menu.

1 comments (1)

ysth (1368415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483980)

*cough* Lingua::EN::Inflect *cough*

2 comment (1)

ysth (1368415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483994)

Very odd off-by-one?

Quit making it so complicated (3, Interesting)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483982)

Write a 'Portable Application" that is not integrated with Windows System files to web browse to any web site and download any file and then run it. Default the startup page to a Google search for "web browsers" and let the user pick which link to follow and download. Then the 'Portable Application" can be deleted if the user so desires.

I would suggest that the 'Portable Application" be a FOSS web browser like Firefox and licensed from the Mozilla Foundation to work as a one time downloader. Then all web browsers have that annoying feature to detect that it is not the "Default browser" and ask the user to make it default and sets the default to "Yes and never ask again" so the user picks a web browser, downloads it, make it default and then if they want they can download a different web browser later on.

The whole DOJ and EU problem with Windows is that IE is the built in default web browser that is integrated with Windows system files so it cannot be removed. Just make the Windows 7 N-edition versions with the temp 'Portable Application" web browser that can download whatever web browser the user wants and give a system message that a temp web browser will be loaded to find a suitable web browser the user can download and install and then set as default.

That is just about as simple as you can make it. If you make the third part web browsers part of the Windows 7 install DVD they will be old versions and prone to vulnerabilities and skip some FOSS web browsers and any other web browser that comes out after the Install DVD is made.

Re:Quit making it so complicated (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484026)

Write a 'Portable Application" that is not integrated with Windows System files to web browse to any web site and download any file and then run it. Default the startup page to a Google search for "web browsers" and let the user pick which link to follow and download. Then the 'Portable Application" can be deleted if the user so desires.

Gee what would we call this innovative portable application? How about "browser"?

Re:Quit making it so complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484030)

Google search? are you kidding?

Re:Quit making it so complicated (2, Insightful)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484230)

It's one thing when people who feel they have the requisite knowledge choose to locate an alternative browser and install it. If every user had to use Google to locate what they thought might be a web browser and then attempt to install it successfully, a significant percentage would go straight off the cliff.

Re:Quit making it so complicated (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30485262)

Natural selection? Might not be such a bad thing... :)

Re:Quit making it so complicated (1)

Fourpole (1147813) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484258)

FTFA:

The ballot screen will include two links -- one reading "Install," the other "Information" -- under each browser's logo. The install link will take the user to "a vendor-managed distribution server, which, upon the user's confirmation, can directly download the installation package of the selected Web browser," according to the Commitments. The informational link will lead to the browser maker's site for more details about the application and other installation options.

I personally feel that the whole thing is a little silly, but this seems like a decent and fairly simple way to go about it. No mention of what happens if you don't have access to the web when you log in for the first time though.

It's quite easy: (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484862)

Some program on the computer will fire up IE instead of the default browser, and IE makes itself the default browser like it always has. Nothing's changed.

more to the point, is this really necessary? (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30483990)

My computer experience tells me you've got two kinds of users. Idiots and non-idiots. The former category is a lost cause and will just use IE anyway because that's what they know. The latter category is already smart enough to procure an alternate browser without the help of a splash screen.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484016)

So explain very gradual changes in adoption of browsers other than IE.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484074)

That's hard to do when people bitch and moan that the blue "e" is missing from the computer and then fidget whenever you open Firewhatever before they just ask you to just the "e" back in the upper left corner.

Those are the lost cause. Imagine trying to explain chmod or sudo to them.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484126)

It has taken a couple of years, but my brothers and I have managed to train our father - although now he keeps looking for 'Mozzarella Firefox'...

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484540)

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

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484220)

You still haven't addressed how over half of Europe ended up using alternative browsers already (BTW why do you limit yourself and those you're trying yo convert to FF?...) and through very gradual process.

The way you draw the distinction idiots vs. non-idiots (does that make you feel better?) paints the issue of browser share as virtually impossible to modify.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484284)

The way you draw the distinction idiots vs. non-idiots

Hey, Shakrai said it, not me. But now that you mention it, a good computer-wise definition of "idiot vs. non-idiot" would be synonymous with "technophobia vs. open mind to change" rather than I.Q., Slashdot karma, or collection of greased-up Yoda dolls.

Change is not only inevitable--it is necessary.

-- Frank Zappa

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484384)

Sorry, missed change of poster ;)

But why do you limit yourself only to "techno" kind of phobia in determining whether somebody is an idiot? Why not all kind of phobias? After all, whatever the problem people have with their particular kind of phobia is, it's surely a matter of being close minded, right?

And purely of their making, no outside circumstances have influenced this...

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484520)

Why do you limit yourself to phobias? Why not all manners of abstractions irrelevant to the original discussion?

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484532)

Hm, you have a point; we should also throw in identity-phobia...

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484426)

Those are the lost cause. Imagine trying to explain chmod or sudo to them.

Them accepting the mysterious ways of the funnily colored window does not imply that they won't understand and use the all-mighty commandline.

They are spoiled, yes. But salvation is possible.
If must, by force! Install Kubuntu and tell 'em it's windooze 8!

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

D4rkn1ght (800767) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484462)

That's hard to do when people bitch and moan that the blue "e" is missing from the computer and then fidget whenever you open Firewhatever before they just ask you to just the "e" back in the upper left corner.

I'll tell then that the blue e changed their logo to the fox in the glove, or the red O, or the blue compass, or the Simon said game logo! lol ;-)

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484870)

Why not just change the icon? And why do you change things for people they clearly do not want. You are forcing you choice upon them just as Microsoft does. I give people the alternative and if they don't want it, fine by me, but please do not come by and ask for any further help.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (2, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484474)

I've actually had VERY good luck converting the "average Joe" off of IE and onto Firefox, but there is a trick to it, and no, I don't mean hide IE. Anyway here is what I have found: You can't just "make" them switch, you have to give them a reason to switch.

So what I do is install ABP and ForecastFox, set to load at the toolbar-menubar area, and then let them see what a page that is loaded with ads like the Yahoo home page looks like in both Firefox and IE. after they have seen a couple of pages without the annoying as hell ads, and see how ForecastFox gives them their local weather with the nice icons they just don't want to go back. In fact I have had customers call me to say "I'm visiting "insert name of friend/relative" and their PC has only the bad blue E thing. What do I need to do to get them the good one?"

So it really isn't hard to get ordinary folks off of IE. You just need to show them how much better an experience they can have away from IE. I show them how easy it is to add extensions, so if they want to download Youtube videos or any other basic browser task they can just DIY. And of course getting them away from IE makes my life easier, as I don't have to deal with my customers on XP getting drive by downloaded. Better for them, better for me, its a win/win!

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30485114)

No one said the "blue e" has to point to the IE executable...
It does wonders ;-)

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484098)

you've got two kinds of users. Idiots and non-idiots. The former category is a lost cause and will just use IE anyway because that's what they know.

Yep and if I was living in Europe all those idiots who I would've sneakily converted to Firefox will now get this ballot pop up and change themselves back to IE. Will be interesting to see the before and after browser popularity stats.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484886)

Indeed it would be interesting to see. Could be that IEs popularity rises because people make their own choice instead of letting either some geek or some corporation do it for them.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

lemmywrap (1605025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484378)

As a EU citizen, i'm in general very proud with the way the EU sues companies who don't play by the rules. Contrary to what the MS-trolls might claim, they don't target Microsoft specifically, they go after many different companies in various industries. As far as i can tell the EU maintain a fair approach in deciding who to sue.

However, i agree with the parent's sentiment in that i find this compromise ridiculous and unnecessary. Most/all people who install an OS should be/are computer-literate enough to be able to put an installer on an USB stick or CD, so that they can install any software they need after they install the OS. Computer manufacturers like HP, Dell etc have no problem installing all sorts of crap programs with the PCs they deliver, adding a webbrowser to that should be no problem at all, and if MS illegaly tries to force these manufacturers to install IE instead of other browsers, the EU can sue them again.

I see absolutely no reason why a web browser is so vital to a computer that it must be installed at the same time as the OS, especially with such a "ballot screen" which raises all sorts of valid questions mentioned in the summary

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

Flentil (765056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484806)

This is ridiculous. You see no reason why a browser should be installed during installation. Fine, that's a valid point, but it also applies to many many other little programs like media player, notepad, defrag, etc. Following your reasoning all of those are optional, and probably 2 dozen more little bits that make up windows. You could remove them all and have an absolutely unusable piece of crap for a computer until someone who knows what they are doing ads all those little programs that make a computer useful. Microsoft realized this from the beginning and put all those things into the OS for customer convenience. I understand that there were some companies who tried to cash in on the holes and cried foul when MS put them in for free. Buggy whips come to mind if get my drift. As I said in the beginning, this is ridiculous, and is only hurting the people who want to buy a computer and use it out of the box. All this BS will drive those people to use macs. This isn't helping anyone but apple.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484456)

The first category probably wouldn't even realise they are working with FF or Safari instead of IE.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (4, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484566)

My computer experience tells me you've got two kinds of users. Idiots and non-idiots.

This is a common mental mistake of Slashdotters. Of course there is a scale of various levels of knowledge. Perhaps even more importantly, a person can be an expert in some subjects and an idiot in others.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (2, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484852)

This is not about the idiots making stupid choices. This is about the idiots having the ability to make a stupid choice. Perhaps there will be idiots who say "Finally I can have my IE back and not that firething my geeky neighbour forced down my throat."

This is not about forcing people to use alternative browsers. It is about giving people a selection to choose from. Just like you can select to eat in a fancy restaurant (or even cook your own food) does not mean McD is out of business any day soon. It means it is you can pick your own poison.

It would be great if the next step would be to have a selection of various operating systems to select from at first boot.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484866)

Or more importantly, it's not necessary because Netscape failed because it was crap, not because of Microsoft's situation, and Firefox is killing Microsoft's marketshare even though IE has the same supposed advantage over it that it had over netscape.

Opera are pushing this because their browser is in the non-factor segment of the market when the real solution is to just do as Firefox did- build a better browser, and spend some time convincing people to adopt it.

I actually feel sorry for Microsoft because this is a waste of their time and a waste of our time, Firefox has proven that all along it's just about building better software and marketing it and the sooner other browser vendors realise this the better because otherwise, even with this screen, they will still remain non-factors.

What next, a ballot screen for alternatives to calculator? notepad?

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (2, Insightful)

saintm (142527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484916)

Yeah, because knowledge about computing has everything to do with intelligence, eh?

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484984)

You are right about the idiots, non-idiots part, BUT... What will happen when Mr. Idiot first sees ballot screen? Mr. Idiot panics, then Mr. Idiot picks up phone, and calls Mr Non-Idiot for help. Mr. Non-Idiot says: "Choose [some non IE browser], it would be fine". Mr. Idiot proceeds as instructed, and the world is saved.

Re:more to the point, is this really necessary? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485118)

Depending on how its presented, there is a good chance people (who would normally only use IE) might see Google Chrome and go "I know Google, I use it to find stuff all the time, I am going to pick the Google option"

The proper Solution: (0, Flamebait)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484002)

The proper solution would have been for Windows to go back to the while idea of there being a "Windows Explorer" and an "Internet Explorer". Like 95 had. Windows explorer (explorer.exe) just ran the GUI Shell. The Ballot screen would be a small program that downloads the programs and installs them.

But that really wouldn't have dented MS's near-monopoly.

If governments really wanted to give MS a run for its money, the following stigma would have had to be made:

Makers of x86 applications should have been mandated to produce a (Generic) Linux, Windows, and OSX port of all their software. That means Quicken, that means Adobe, that means, everyone else. Makers of hardware needed to be mandated to make a Windows, Linux, and OSX driver for their device. Before the fanboys who talk about how the Linux Kernel changes so much, Nvidia does this very well with the Dynamic Kernel Management (DKMS) Shim. And the rest of their driver stays closed source. So we know this works annd can be done.

Re:The proper Solution: (5, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484036)

Makers of x86 applications should have been mandated to produce a (Generic) Linux, Windows, and OSX port of all their software.

that will swiftly and very effectively kill off most FOSS projects, as OSS developers do so as a hobby, and often have no clue about the operating system they DONT use.

Re:The proper Solution: (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484214)

But on the other hand its the cool thing to do nowdays. Have a problem? Legislate something!

Re:The proper Solution: (1)

54mc (897170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484538)

I think he means something more along the lines of sellers of applications. As a fan of linux, I can see this being awesome, but it would have a huge dark side. All the *nix only programs that are used to do important thing (like, you know, run the entire internet) would have to be released in Win and OSX forms. (nb, this would still only apply to the ones that actually cost money)

Re:The proper Solution: (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484664)

I'm pretty sure they can only mandate it if you SELL the software. Besides, I can see everyone just making a "well, it installed didn't it?" version and the linux/mac versions being UTTERLY useless. Think ie6 for mac. Not that we ever really wanted that anyways...

Re:The proper Solution: (4, Insightful)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484444)

Makers of x86 applications should have been mandated to produce a (Generic) Linux, Windows, and OSX port of all their software. That means Quicken, that means Adobe, that means, everyone else. Makers of hardware needed to be mandated to make a Windows, Linux, and OSX driver for their device.

I don't think that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.... but it's damn close.

Re:The proper Solution: (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485036)

Makers of x86 applications should have been mandated to produce a (Generic) Linux, Windows, and OSX port of all their software.

That would be a pretty shitty way to do it, as you would end up punishing everybody except Microsoft. A proper solution would simply be to force Microsoft to open up all their documentation or even source code, to make it easier for competing products to stay compatible.

In general I never really liked focusing so much on the browser, as Microsoft really isn't doing anything wrong there, they are just doing the same thing everybody else does, as a browser these days is simply expected to come bundled with the OS.

The ballot screen is Europe only (3, Interesting)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484006)

The bad news is that, the screen is to appear only for users in Europe. I hope the US anti-trust takes hint a from their European counterparts and mandate in the US too.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (3, Funny)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484046)

The bad news is that, the screen is to appear only for users in Europe. I hope the US anti-trust takes hint a from their European counterparts and mandate in the US too.

I believe deliberate, artificial market segmentation is a violation of the sherman anti-trust act. It merely needs to be actually pursued by the justice department.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484058)

I disagree. The really bad news is that this let's microsoft off the hook completely for the mess they have created.

No matter which browser you choose on this ballot, IE is still going to be present on your machine and ready for internal idiots or external criminals to use. This changes nothing whatsoever.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484116)

Maybe you should RTFA. I know, I know, new here and all that, but in Win7 and any Windows version after you will be able to disable IE.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484148)

Disable but not remove.

Removal is nigh-impossible for Microsoft to do now.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484526)

It's also irrelevant, as disabling is just as good. It keeps the very much needed browser control while removing the actual Internet Explorer application.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484586)

Well, they can't remove the HTML rendering engine because so many things depend on it. But by and large they hook directly into the engine, they don't call iexplore.exe (which is essentially a frontend to it). So it may well be practical to remove that.

Re:The ballot screen is Europe only (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484680)

Disable but not remove.

Removal is nigh-inconvenient for Microsoft to do now.

How about the same - for computers? (3, Interesting)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484012)

I really think the EU is missing the point in this "anti-trust" case: the fact that the consumer doesn't have a choice in what OS comes with his computer doesn't bother anyone?

Re:How about the same - for computers? (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484040)

I really think the EU is missing the point in this "anti-trust" case: the fact that the consumer doesn't have a choice in what OS comes with his computer doesn't bother anyone?

I think the reasoning is that it's not illegal to have this sort of monopoly (on OSes), but it's illegal to abuse it in such a way that you leverage it in order to dominate other markets, like browsers. Since they leveraged the Windows monopoly to make IE a dominant browser, the government is focusing their anti-trust efforts on browser choice specifically. At least that's what I think their reasoning is, though I'm no lawyer.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (4, Interesting)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484076)

As a law student that has taken Antitrust law, I can confirm that that IS the logic. Essentially, it is not illegal to maintain a policy by historic accident, market preference, or even government fiat. However, it is illegal to leverage your monopoly in one area to create a monopoly in another field or to use anticompetitive tactics to maintain your monopoly.

For example, if MS refused to sell Windows 7 licenses to companies that also sold pre-installed Linux computers, that would likely be an antitrust violation, because MS would be maintaining its monopoly by anti competitive means rather than maintaining it as a result of mere customer preference.

However, IE would not be in the dominant position it is today if it weren't for MS's use of its OS monopoly to create a monopoly in the browser market. The EU wants users to have a choice of browsers to prevent just this behavior. Europe also generally has much higher Firefox penetration than the US, so I would not' be surprised if this does have an impact.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484170)

IANAL or a LS, but what is the EU's goal here? To shove other browsers in the faces of people who would otherwise be oblivious to their existence? In that case, does userbase ignorance count as anticompetitive practices on MS' part? IE comes installed by default, but MS makes it very easy to install other browsers as the default.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (2, Interesting)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484208)

The EU believes that simply making it obvious to users that a) there are choices and b) that installing and using another browser is easy to do, and in no way abnormal or dangerous.

If MS thought that the ballot screen wouldn't affect it's IE user base, than it wouldn't have fought so hard to ban it. In fact, they offered to sell the OS with NO BROWSER as an alternative to providing a ballot screen!

In addition, MS has refused to provide a ballot screen to non-EU users. North America, for example, will NOT get the ballot. Why fight the ballot so hard if it's going to have no impact? I think MS believes it will have an impact, and therefore is attempting to limit it to as few users as possible.

It's incredible how few people know that alternative browsers exist. I've heard people refer to IE as "the internet" or alternatively refer to any browser as IE/Explorer/Internet Explorer. IE, to many non-technical users, is synonymous with the browser. It's like saying "kleenex" whem you mean "tissue".

And there are a LOT of users that use IE, with knowledge of alternatives, out of sheer resistance to change. If they saw a ballot screen when they got a new computer rather than just IE, they might be willing to try something else.

Behavioral Law & Economics has shown that pretty much any default position is going to significantly impact user decisions. For example, in the US we have an "opt in" system with regard to organ donation and around 10-15% participation. In Europe, there's an "opt out" system with 80-90% participation. There may be cultural differences, but it's likely that most of the difference is merely due to the impact of opt-in/opt-out.

That's why academics like Cass Sunstein at Harvard have suggested that a default position of doing nothing is actually a non-neutral starting point. He argues, for example, that employees should automatically be signed up for a 401(k), and have the choice to opt-out, because when individuals are asked in studies whether they want to participate in such a program, the vast majority say yes, yet participation is FAR higher when opt-out is the default.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484342)

For example, in the US we have an "opt in" system with regard to organ donation and around 10-15% participation. In Europe, there's an "opt out" system with 80-90% participation. There may be cultural differences, but it's likely that most of the difference is merely due to the impact of opt-in/opt-out.

i'd like to understand this better, because (at least in my county dmv) the process is quite simple. the person making your license asks "would you like to be an organ donor?" and you answer "yes" or "no". very simple, and i wouldn't really qualify that as an "opt-in" system, as everyone is asked the question. you don't have to specifically ask to be an organ donor and answering "yes" is in no way more complicated than answering "no". perhaps it's done differently in other dmvs, i can't say as this is the only one i've gone to for 10 years.. how is it in europe? do they not ask you if you would like to be an organ donor? is everyone automatically listed as an organ donor unless they bring it upon themselves to specifically request not to be?

whenever i'm at the dmv and person after person responds "no" i always want to pipe up and ask them "why?" but it would be horribly out of line. i just can't understand the reasoning.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484352)

That's actually neither "opt-in" nor "opt-out". In that system, you are forced to choose, whereas in either of the former systems, you can do nothing. Sunstein argues that many people would rather the decision be made for them because the topic of organ donation brings up terrible thoughts of one's death and mutilation. I don't really buy that. As far as I'm aware, in the US, you are not asked. You have to ask to be an organ donor.

However, if you die in a hospital, the doctor will likely ask your family to donate your organs.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484380)

I was never asked if I wanted to be a donor in NJ. I doubt all of Europe is opt-out, but that seems to be the dominant position.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484458)

As far as I'm aware, in the US, you are not asked. You have to ask to be an organ donor.

FYI, since DMVs are state-run bureaus, that subject is up to the state to decide. In California, you are given a Yes/No option on every Driver's License registration and renewal form.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484486)

As far as I'm aware, in the US, you are not asked. You have to ask to be an organ donor.

like i said, where live (dallas county, iowa) everyone i've ever seen getting a license, including myself, is asked something along the lines of "would you like to be an organ donor?" or "would you like it to state on your license that you are an organ donor?" i don't know if this is the standard just in my county or all of iowa, but apparently it's not for the whole usa. i definitely think it should be though.

personally i don't have any bad thoughts when asked the question as i'm more than willing to possibly prolong someone else's life in the event of my death which to me evokes good feelings. i know it's not something people like to think about all the time, but everyone dies and that's something we as rational people shouldn't have a problem discussing when necessary. maybe a rewrite of everyone poops is in order.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484394)

To be clear, Sunstein argues against the model you discussed because he believes that forcing people to simply elect a choice may have 2nd order externalities - in this case - the psychological harm of having to think about your potential death.

Sunstein actually spoke to my Behavioral Law & Economics Class at Yale Law School, taught by one of his colleagues, Christine Jolls. I proposed precisely the system you described, and that was his response. I don't buy it. I think asking people maximizes liberty, and the cost of making a decision is nominal.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

peter318200 (812109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484446)

"whenever i'm at the dmv and person after person responds "no" i always want to pipe up and ask them "why?" but it would be horribly out of line. i just can't understand the reasoning."

How about I have Hep C? Not that its any of your business.

No Opt-Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484754)

Each country in Europe has its own system, there is no general opt-out system at all. That is just fiction without any basis. Each country and culture has very different laws, rules and customs, and organ donations are no different.

Check out the European Union's (not Europe in general) report on organ donations:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_threats/human_substance/oc_organs/docs/fact_figures.pdf [europa.eu]

To quote the report: "Currently, demand for organs exceeds their availability in all EU Member States and demand increases faster than organ donation rates in most Member States".

No Opt-Out in Europe (5, Informative)

andersh (229403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484712)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484276)

The problem is not just that IE is installed by default, but that MS long time has prevented resellers to install another browser, let alone make another browser the default.

Yes it's easy to install another browser, but it's even easier to use the one that comes installed by default, is used by other parts of the O/S for various display tasks, and will nag you to become the default every time it's invoked even if not for browsing the Internet.

Partly thanks to this policy of having IE installed and preventing any other browser to be present, many people don't realise there are more browsers.

And finally installing software in Windows may be reasonably easy, it's still harder and less straightforward than the dead-easy GUIs and linked software repositories that most Linux distributions come with. If I want to install some software, I fire up "Add/Remove Software", and can browse and install easily. I don't have to know the name of the software, or which website to download it from, etc. I can look for "image editor" without having to know it's called "The Gimp" or so - searching for some decent software that way in Google is way way harder!

Re:How about the same - for computers? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30485196)

it's easy to install another browser

preventing any other browser to be present

contradict yourself much?!

And finally installing software in Windows may be reasonably easy, it's still harder and less straightforward than the dead-easy GUIs and linked software repositories that most Linux distributions come with

this must be a joke. have you even used windows in the last 75 years? installing most windows software takes a few clicks if you're satisfied with defaults, and even beyond that it's incredibly simple. package handling is one of the reasons i've nearly abandoned linux. a thousand distros with a thousand ways of managing software, everyone claiming their way is best. so, i guess if you want to sit around and just watch your machine compile the latest open source fad that will be dead in six weeks, then linux is your OS. seriously, the MS hatred here is absurd. while you fanbois are getting off on recompiling your kernel, i'm getting shit done and getting paid.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485112)

Politicians or other middle men may get a commission (or other benefits) from Microsoft in order to promote the use of Windows. Browsers don't cost anything, and so politicians can play the political game of fairness.

Consumers do have a choice (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484316)

The problem is they don't want a choice. There are plenty of other operating systems for PCs, Linux of course being the one everyone around here would think about. However consumers don't seem to want any of those. There is just next to zero demand for Linux on desktop systems. Companies have tried it, and their sales have been abysmal. Workstations and servers are a different story, and indeed you find it often IS an option. However on the desktop, people want Windows.

Re:Consumers do have a choice (1)

Changa_MC (827317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484488)

You're ignoring many factors in reaching your idea that "people want Windows."

First, do people know they have choices? Many people don't know what linux is, thinking it's some type of application that operates a system of some kind. under windows, obviously, since they're a PC.

Second, windows machines are ubiquitous. I go into Best Buy, I see nothing but MS Windows or OS X machines. I choose the $300 one. What did I buy?

Third, most preinstalled linux machines are truly pathetic. If you buy a laptop with Linspire and a bad wifi driver... why would you not return it and get the not-broken/windows version?

There is no product that competes with Windows in the consumer market, except OS X.

Re:Consumers do have a choice (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484758)

most preinstalled linux machines are truly pathetic.

Hear, hear. That's true. I've seen some preinstalled linux machines, most were some obscure distros, and none of them properly detected the resolution in wide monitors. This certainly gives a bad impression about Linux.

Re:How about the same - for computers? (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484402)

They cant fix everything at once. So far they fixed Samba documentation and browser thing AFAIK, Thats more then other countries combined

Not fair if Lynx is missing (4, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484052)

Their hegemonic empire will not be torn down in the name of equality if Lynx isn't included in the list of choices. They should also be forced to include alternatives to Paint and Notepad. That they have the audacity to continue bundling these applications is a slap to the face of every righteous EU official. They may also want to look into rumors that Apple is bundling a single web browser into their own OS at the expense of other meritorious alternatives.

Re:Not fair if Lynx is missing (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484092)

Apple actually bundled MS IE for many years, until MS announced it would discontinue support.

Re:Not fair if Lynx is missing (2, Informative)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484452)

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

Re:Not fair if Lynx is missing (5, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485158)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Not fair if Lynx is missing (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485256)

They should also be forced to include alternatives to Paint and Notepad.

Riiiight... because if you have Paint and Notepad, why on earth would you want any other graphics or wordprocessing software? Adobe must be quaking in their boots (and guess who pwn3s the wordprocessing market anyway). Oh, plus, those apps were part of Windows since before Windows had any market share (pretty sure they were in Windows 1.0 in the late 80s). IE, however, was parachuted in circa Windows 95 when the MS monopoly was at its height and Netscape, Opera et. al. had established businesses producing web browsers.

They may also want to look into rumors that Apple is bundling a single web browser into their own OS at the expense of other meritorious alternatives.

Oh ye gods and little fishes, how hard can it be? These are antitrust/monopoly abuse rulings - Apple doesn't have a near-monopoly in the desktop operating systems market so they can't use their OS monopoly to foist Safari on the masses.

Oh, and FWIW if you fire up your Mac and go to "Apple Menu*" => "Mac OS Software" => "Internet Utilities" you'll find an Apple-hosted page [apple.com] which currently includes Firefox and Chrome on page 1 and Opera on page 2.

(*Thats the OS X equivalent of the "Start" menu)

This just in from Opera (-1, Troll)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484106)

Opera is planning to launch another antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft for not making their browser the first item on the ballot screen. Once the EU rules in their favor once more, they are planning another series of lawsuits that's going to unbundle Windows from Windows. I say this is a great day in the world of software - you can use lawsuits to hide your unpopularity. Wish I knew this when I was in school.

Re:This just in from Opera (0, Flamebait)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484328)

Your point is very valid indeed.
Also, where are the news posts about Apple being sued for it's operations regaring:
1) The iphone monopoly per provider per country
2) The appstore
3) Various applications in OS X

It feels like the EU actions are very one-sided.

Re:This just in from Opera (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484552)

Where is Apple monopoly in the Smartphone or OSX apps market?

Re:This just in from Opera (3, Informative)

Hrshgn (595514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485220)

Nice try. 1) actually happened in France and we now have a choice of our iPhone provider. Also, other companies than Microsoft have been tried by the EU. It's just that Microsoft is generating more headlines.

Re:This just in from Opera (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484422)

...and yet you suddenly forget, on Slashdot, that other browsers had a hard time largely due to practices of MS.

And no, it isn't a case of "well, but only Opera has such pitiful market share of all the alternatives" BS. You seem to also forget that Europe is not US; there are countries here where Opera is far ahead of FF, for example. And Safari generally doesn't exist.

Re:This just in from Opera (1)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484428)

Opera far ahead of FFand Safari doesn't exist? Either name those countries or imma call bullshit on this one.

Re:This just in from Opera (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484472)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:This just in from Opera (2, Informative)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484484)

That was an interesting question. According to this flickr photo [flickr.com] , assuming everything on teh Internets is true,
  • Opera is #1 in Belarus, Georgia and Tajikistan
  • It must therefore be ahead of Firefox
  • According to the map legend, Safari doesn't exist!

Too many choices overwhelms (1)

distantbody (852269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484132)

Thats MS's desire. Its been shown that when people are overwhelmed with choices they go with what they know.

Ballot? (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484182)

Ballot? It's a menu.

Nice choice of words trying to spin this as a democratic / freedom / choice thing.
It's simply MS being forced to help their competition.

Whether or not you agree with the reasoning behind it is irrelevant - there's no reason to call a simple fucking menu a ballot.

I believe that IE should be the only browser provided by MS, and no menu should be forced upon them. But IE should be completely removable (in Vista and 7 not XP; XP needs it for updates) via the ol' add/remove windows components thing. Leave the files around by default, just uninstall the thing. Hateful users can delete the actual files too, and then pop in the installation disc if they want to re-add it later.

Apps that die because they depend on IE being installed? Well, you simply can't make everyone happy in this scenario. Eventually that problem will go away.

But this is a menu.
Not a ballot.

Re:Ballot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30484228)

There is an even more pressing reason this isn't a ballot: the choice you make is guaranteed to affect you in the way you want and not affect anyone else. This in contrast to a ballot, where Microsoft would gather up the votes, total the numbers and force the winning browser upon everyone. An actual ballot would ironically enough be very anti-freedom.

Re:Ballot? (1)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484460)

Voting doesn't necessarily mean majority-rule.

Re:Ballot? (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484490)

Well, that assumes that it actually works properly. Perhaps they'll overcomplicate things and you'll never be able to be sure about which browser you're actually going to end up with.

I just had a great idea for the EU regulators: force Microsoft to install a randomly-chosen browser as the default on every new install of Windows. That way you'll get a nice even distribution of browser usage and everyone will be happy.

Why is it that everyone always misses the point? (1)

chucklebutte (921447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484376)

People bitch and bitch, look paint/notepad/IE/any shitty MS product comes bundled with the OS because it makes sense! Just like OSX comes loaded with a ton of shit and Linux distro's do the same, why? Because shit works better that way! Duh!

Yes IE blows, and MS fixed it for the most part... I bet it runs pretty smoothly in windows based OS's, Same why my Linux distro comes with FF3.0.15 instead of whatever it is now, why? Probably cause it is the most compatible, meaning it will work the best with my OS. I can change my browser but why? It works great, I can use all the plugins I like to have all in all my system is stable aslong as I keep to specific distro based app's. Just like if you use a windows box with strictly MS apps and MS certified hardware. Same with Apple.

Dont bitch when your shit works! Be happy! If you dont like MS go to Apple, or Linux easy as that! Suing businesses to push your shitty software should be a wake up call! If you software sucks that much that you have to sue to get it out there, then try making better software!

Waste of Time (3, Insightful)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484594)

...for most users I'd imagine. The number of people I've seen close Norton/McAfee messages that say "For Gods' sake man, you're trial-ware virus subscription have expired - your computer could literally be ass-raped any minute!" leads me to think most users won't give a shit about other browsers.

What happens if you close the ballot screen? Nothing I suspect. This'll just be a case of all but mildly technically curious people closing it and clicking the blue "E" anyway.

Anyway, after all this I think it's for the good. If nothing else it makes Apple seem a little more evil; I hope all the fanbois realise the same shake-down will happen to their beloved MacOS X should ever come close to the domination it apparently deserves.. Anyway, I for one don't miss the days of pure IE domination & 'marque' tags floating around, so again this is a good thing.

The choice will be too late (2, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30484860)

At no point will Microsoft "slipstream" the ballot into a production version of Windows -- say, Windows 7 Service Pack 1, or Windows 8. The ballot will always be delivered as a Windows Update item.

In other words the user will have already been using the machine for some time, they will have got used to clicking the IE icon and ... this pesky ballot appears ... oh, well, these mysterious things happen, just wait for it to complete ... go back to using IE as he was used to.

This should have been included at first boot time, along with asking you for your timezone, etc.

Way Too Many Browsers (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30485028)

How many browsers will be on the ballot? Twelve altogether, but just five on the first page.
The first five are Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, Microsoft's IE, Mozilla's Firefox and Opera. On a second screen, the ballot will list AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir and SlimBrowser.

Seriously? They should just have stuck with the first five. Plus IE will *still* be installed by default, so this won't solve anything.

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