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Microsoft Giving Rival Browsers a Lift

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the thanks-for-the-add dept.

Windows 272

gollum123 tips an article at the NY Times on the progress of the European Windows browser choice screen that we have been discussing recently. "Rivals of Microsoft's market-leading Web browser have attracted a flurry of interest since the company, fulfilling a regulatory requirement, started making it easier for European users of its Windows operating system to switch. Mozilla, whose Firefox browser is the strongest competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer worldwide, said that more than 50,000 people had downloaded Firefox via a 'choice screen' that has been popping up on Windows-equipped computers in Europe since the end of last month. ... Opera Software, based in Oslo, said downloads of its browser in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland, and Spain had tripled since the screen began to appear. Microsoft said it was too early to tell whether the choice screen might prompt significant numbers of users to change. The digital ballot is being delivered over the Internet with software updates, and it is expected to take until mid-May to complete the process. The browser choice will also be presented to buyers of new Windows computers across the European Union for five years."

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Opera with or without ads? (0, Troll)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407890)

I wonder if users getting Opera in this way will have to suffer the advertising?

Way way back I tried Opera but got totally sick of the ads... Have things changed at all?

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407906)

I tried Oepra recently on Snow Leopard and saw no ads in the browser itself, unless I'm just so used to seeing ads on the web that I just mentally blocked them out. I didn't like it anyway and stopped using it after a giving it a shake for a couple of weeks, though.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407978)

Opera is not ad supported anymore. It does seem to render some pages wrong though. From my understanding it is the pages fault and not Operas.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408248)

From my understanding it is the pages fault and not Operas.

It's the page's fault the same way it's the river's fault that my car isn't a boat.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1, Redundant)

228e2 (934443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408630)

Parent is modded funny, but hes right.

If it is the page's fault, then they should render wrong in FF/IE/etc, not just Opera.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (3, Funny)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409020)

so you're saying that it's actually your car's fault that the river isn't a road?

Re:Opera with or without ads? (5, Informative)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407924)

Opera hasn't had ads for years. It is totally free as in beer.

September 20, 2005
Opera Software today permanently removed the ad banner and licensing fee from its award-winning Web browser.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408190)

I wonder how much money they ever made from ads, and if they regret it, given that 5 years on they're still trying to lose the bad aroma it produced? It was bad enough wading through all the ads on the net, without extra ads built into the browser - what were they thinking?

Opera - the browser that could have been king.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408354)

I wonder how much money they ever made from ads, and if they regret it, given that 5 years on they're still trying to lose the bad aroma it produced?

Given that Opera has not had ads for nearly 5 years, it would probably be fair to say that many Opera users today have never used a version that did have ads. In fact, Opera has been ad-free for long enough that I'm genuinely surprised when I see someone (like the OP) who still thinks it's ad-supported. I would think that anyone who would have been using Opera 5 years ago would at least be up to date enough to know that it doesn't have ads anymore. But, apparently, I would be wrong, as the OP appears to be one of those people. Sort of makes me wonder if the browser he's using is branded "Phoenix" or "Firebird".

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408442)

The whole point of the GP's post was that perhaps Opera's long term flirt with ads has permanently tarnished the name, meaning it doesn't even matter what they've done in the past 5 years.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408540)

Right, my point is that 18-25 year olds using their Wii or Nokia phone have probably never even heard that Opera was ad-supported. Kids in high school now who sort of "came online" as Firefox was gaining popularity may hear about Opera at some point online (such as.. here) and would be hearing about what it's doing now, not what it was doing in 2005. The only mentions of Opera using ads, like here, also point out how it hasn't been doing that for 5 years.

The old guys? Even though I would expect most of us to know that Opera doesn't use ads, I can expect there to be a group of people who probably hate them for ever advertising in the first place. I don't think that's a very large group, though. There are other, more worthy corporations to focus our hate on now, such as Sony and Apple.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408734)

Development costs money. Linux itself couldn't have come as far as it has so quickly without corporate investment. They took a shot at an ad-supported development model and it didn't work. I can't blame them for trying.

We can't all have sugar daddies like the Mozilla Foundation.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Insightful)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408850)

and his point is that he, like me, hasn't had a problem with Real Player crashing my machine in years.

Because I won't install Real Player on my machine after past issues.

There are many browser options, as this article is about. The OP does not owe Opera the opportunity to be installed on his machine when such quality choices exist.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408500)

I would think that anyone who would have been using Opera 5 years ago would at least be up to date enough to know that it doesn't have ads anymore.

I don't know, I haven't used Opera in years and I did have a vague Opera-"ad supported" association in the back of my mind. People will naturally expend only so much effort keeping up with marginal web browsers, and first impressions can stick with you for a while. I couldn't, for example, tell you if Konqueror has stopped sucking in the last 5 years (not to pick on Konqueror in particular - just an example).

And yes, I remember the Firebird fiasco, too - six years is not that long a time.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (4, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408866)

Since when are one or two people enough to assume a globally smelt “bad aroma”??

Actually those are the first two I know, who even know or remember Opera having ads. Geeks.

Meanwhile, my whole family loves Opera. And in Poland, I hear, it’s the number one browser.
Also, everybody here who tried surfing over the phone, has heard of Opera. :)
So that’s what most people know of it.

I usually get two reactions from people I recommend Opera to:
1. They don’t know what it is. But since I show that I like Opera, and they can feel it, they get drawn in.
2. After a week or so, they wouldn’t want to miss it.

For some it’s Firefox, and that is just as good.
Only for IE users I have no heart at all. Since I used to be a webdev. And that thing has caused my nights to be nightmares for years. I would right here sign a law that said that every person using IE past next month will get shot. Without blinking. That’s how horrible it was. Like a war wound kinda...

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408912)

"I wonder how much money they ever made from ads, and if they regret it, given that 5 years on they're still trying to lose the bad aroma it produced?"

If the "bad aroma" of advertising on nearly every web page a person has seen on any browser isn't a problem, I doubt that most people would worry about it.

In fact, it's possible that non-technical folks running Opera in the old days didn't notice if the ads were generated by opera or the web page they were viewing. Only fanatics get excited by these issues.

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407938)

yes there haven't been ads since 2005
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_browser#History

Re:Opera with or without ads? (1)

Alien1024 (1742918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407986)

Opera on desktops has been free (as in beer) and ad-free for a long, long time, and the fastest browser until Chrome came along.

BTW (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407960)

The script on that page uses a proper shuffle algorithm now (Fisher-Yates/Durstenfeld). If the page is viewed without Javascript, the order is fixed though, with IE being in the leftmost spot...

Re:BTW (3, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408262)

I have to wonder, why would a brand new installation of Windows have javascript turned off?

Re:BTW (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408320)

Sensible default? I'd think the better question would be why does a brand new installation of Windows have javascript at all if none of the browsers are installed.

When I think about it, on some level it seems wrong that browsers default to having javascript enabled and to doing stupid things like saving form data. At very least make those things options available to turn on during the first time you open the browser. Or more specifically directing you to do it yourself with adequate instructions.

Re:BTW (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408534)

Because having a javascript support is as essential as implementing the IMG element in a modern browser. If you want to surf web without javascript, you'll have to invent a time machine and go back to 1998.

Re:BTW (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408808)

I knew javascript was used on a lot more pages lately, but I had no idea just how much it is used until I installed noscript. Now I find myself constantly re-enabling various webpages when I need that functionality.

Re:BTW (2, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408826)

Windows script host is an integral part of the windows operating system. Most scripted automation tasks rely on it in Windows.

WSH, by default supports both JScript and VBScript.

Re:BTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408566)

This is bootleg.

There is no standard here, and Europe is making it seem like it is easy to make a choice that can already be found in another way. Why not just policy, and get the icons on the desktop.

This is a way to boot into other Operating Systems within Windows, and that is a living nightmare. Delta rolling Windows is not the thing to do with a browser.

informed decisions? (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407968)

Not being from Europe, and also having no intention to use Windows 7 any time in the near future, I haven't seen this "choice screen" until I just searched for a screen shot of it. There appear to be little one-line descriptions, but nothing really substantive from which to base a choice upon if you didn't already know the differences between the browsers to some degree anyway (in which case, you'd have probably downloaded whichever one you want to use separately regardless of this court-mandated action). So, to my question: is there any way to measure how many of these downloads were due to users making an informed choice rather than just "clicking something" like they do with the "next" button on most graphical installers? And what happens if you just click "select later?" Does it still install IE and default to that?

Re:informed decisions? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408044)

The choice screen is turning out to be a complete mess. I have friends/family calling me saying their "internet" is different, and they don't know what to do. As usual, the uninformed are just clicking away until the pop-ups disappear. Although most people on /. might say IE is the root of all evil, something in me thinks this should have been an opt-in for current users & required during a Win7 installation.

Re:informed decisions? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408336)

That would be the reason why the change was necessary. MS doesn't do a particularly responsible job of supporting IE, and way too many people think that IE is the internet and Outlook is email.

I doubt this will change much other than possibly making it so that fewer people that don't want/need IE have it on their computer and possibly making MS provide a better option for updates rather than via an activex website.

Re:informed decisions? (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408842)

Indeed. I helped my girlfriend's mother access a website and she was freaking out saying she broke the internet. I walked her through getting to the website she wanted to see without getting sent to a phishing site(she clicked a bad link in an email to her bank).

She simply could not get her head around the concept of distinguishing between IE and the internet. To her, IE IS the internet. To her, you can't see websites without IE.

Re:informed decisions? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408928)

Your girlfriend's mother is an idiot. I hope it's not catching.

Re:informed decisions? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408276)

There is a "find out more" link under every browser description in the selection screen.

That said, of all browsers, IE seems to have the most coherent and persuasive page linked from there.

Re:informed decisions? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408586)

That said, of all browsers, IE seems to have the most coherent and persuasive page linked from there.

This leads me to ask who wrote the descriptions of the various browsers.

How is this news? (5, Interesting)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407998)

We all knew it would happen. If you know that X leads to Y and you also know that you will be doing X in Z time, then you know that, in said Z time, Y will happen.

X Y Z Means eXtreme eYebally microZoft, of course.

Seriously, though, this was really expected. It's not that people actually like the browsers in such cases, but they just randomly click. I've had my grandfather randomly picking Firefox already; I've had my grandmother clicking an add that says "You are visitor 1M, you win a big prize!". It's the fact that many people are still "ignorant" or careless towards this question.

The dialog pops-up: "CHOOSE THY BROWSER".
Reaction: "What the hell is a browser? Choose? I just want to 'surf' the 'internet'. Hell, this one with the shiny colors and the fancy name should be good, I'll click it. [double-clicks instead of single-clicking]."

All in all, I'm glad that people are being given the choice. But, really, those of us who care about it, already had the means to do it; it's the fact that we're fucking upset that other people don't get pulled into using them...
Jorl has spoken. Now mod up/down/sideways.

Jorl has spoken indeed .... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408328)

but i wonder what are Harald and Jarlssen doing. they havent been around since the last pillage ....

(sorry i couldnt resist)

Re:How is this news? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408800)

The dialog pops-up: "CHOOSE THY BROWSER".
Reaction: "What the hell is a browser? Choose? I just want to 'surf' the 'internet'. Hell, this one with the shiny colors and the fancy name should be good, I'll click it. [double-clicks instead of single-clicking]."

Funny that you say this. Even as informed techies we are humans still reacting this exact in daily life. The way our procedural minds handle a completely uninformed choice process is what sets us appart from Joe Sixpack.

I had an itch and bought a random Gundam game without any prior review or series info other than having watched a 10 year old part of their universe (Gundam Wing.) That put me in a real-life position of having a desire, like "I just want to '[shoot mechs and have fun on my 3D console.]' I was met with surprise when I first ran the game... they just said "CHOOSE THY [CHARACTER]" and gave me 5 or 6 different pilots, so you see the parallel with giving someone browsers they have no idea about.

I made a random guess based on looks the first time around. I can see that people feel this exact way when presented a browser screen on a new PC. I would later end checking on wikipedia and realizing that Gundam has so many characters and YEARLY new installments of their universe, that a newbie would have little chance of knowing the backstory and playing with the one guy they like most first. What my geek self did is play a few sessions with each character, feel their weaknesses, strengths, backstory and mech's cool factor, and then try the others more or less systematically.

An average person in this situation (where it not a game you'll play through with a choice to make a change of choice) is just going to pick one and stick to it unless the experience is really bad. So, let me ask you this... is there a way to "try" before you keep on this whole ballot screen business? It sounds like a "set it and forget it" thing from the news we've read so far.

Re:How is this news? (2, Insightful)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409096)

it actually explains what a browser is and does not actually uninstall ie, it just removes it from the shortcuts bar. to be honest i don't see the down side, user clicks a blatantly obvious browser picker screen to choose their browser, which includes the friendly old ie "e for internet" logo, and microsoft get's one less place to abuse their monopoly.

Opera download numbers (1)

tronicum (617382) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408002)

Opera also released its version 10.5. Their increase in downloads might not be only the result off being linked by the Broswerchoice [browserchoice.eu] Site, but people upgrading their browsers.

Re:Opera download numbers (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408286)

Presumably they can track where the users come from via referer HTTP header.

Re:Opera download numbers (2, Informative)

aylons (924093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408522)

Pay attention: they said that the download rate increased 3x compared to other main releases.

Overreach. (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408028)

I am aware Microsoft has been a little overreaching with their software practices in the past, but damn if it isn't contributing to the combined lack of intelligence of the computer illiterate populace when organizations like the EU force things like this on Microsoft.

EU: "Hey Microsoft, people are too ignorant to do research and realize there exist alternatives to IE"
M$: "So what."
EU: "Give them the option to use third party software options other than the installed feature built into your OS, or else pay up!"
M$: "Ok, we'll buckle, we don't need any more bad press waxing possible monopolist practices."

What if I started a class action suit against Apple because Itunes is installed by default, and that is a "monopoly" on digital music storefronts? Would Apple have to install a Media Player Choice(TM) screen, allowing customers to choose Windows Media Player for OSX, RealPlayer, or WinAmp because they are too ignorant to do the research themselves? Yes Microsoft is huge. Yes they are the main provider of consumer level OS's to the big-box retailers. So let them package and run by default the software of their choosing. People don't have to buy M$. This would be like forcing a leading car manufacturer to offer brakes from 3rd party companies, because the buyers are complacent enough to accept their shitty factory brakes, but litigation hungry enough to file complaints about them.

What the fuck is society coming to.

Re:Overreach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408140)

Microsoft's been putting a "digital music store ballot" in Windows Media Player for quite some time now. It would be hilarious to see Apple have to do that in iTunes.

Re:Overreach. (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408196)

Your post is modded down. You should have used "iChoice" rather than "Media Player Choice(TM)".

Re:Overreach. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408264)

I guess I didn't wax eloquent enough about Apple for the iSlashvertisement team.

Re:Overreach. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408370)

Just be happy they aren't still doing that iAnalProbe promotion. 1 iAnalProbe with the purchase of any copy of Windows 7.

Re:Overreach. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408378)

Is my tinfoil hat that shiny?

Re:Overreach. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408302)

Dude, get your grammar right, it'd have to be iChoose not iChoice...

Re:Overreach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408390)

OK mods! Where's all the mod-nuking for the use of "M$"? Or is it OK if we're using it to pretend like we're not supporting Microsoft?

Some things, you need to 'force'. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408396)

the food health standards are forced too. despite most of the populace knowing no shit about them. but, it is necessary.

same thing here.

Re:Some things, you need to 'force'. (2, Informative)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408740)

Well you could argue about food safety standards too...

But no, I don't see how this crap is necessary at all, and I'm saying this as a long time Opera user.

Either the clueless people will be clicking randomly, which won't result in any improvements since they'll just stick to whatever they picked initially, or the were already familiar with that browser and would have downloaded it anyway. Then there's the fact that the top five vendors felt it's cool to keep everybody else out of the view, nicely hidden by some horizontal scrolling and not in the same shuffling pool as the top five. Yeah, that's fair.

Re:Some things, you need to 'force'. (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408860)

Don't you get it? It's not for the benefit of the clueless users, it's for our benefit, by having an internet less dominated by IE. Maybe its market share will drop enough to justify the usage of technologies like HTML5 which IE doesn't support.

Re:Some things, you need to 'force'. (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408786)

it's not necessary at all. You think the milk you drink is fresh and ok because the FDA makes it, or because you wouldn't buy it, if it wasn't?

This is even more ridiculous, because no one's health is at stake. It's a friggin browser, and all of the major ones are available for free anyways.

Re:Some things, you need to 'force'. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408854)

...Um, if the FDA would go away tomorrow, most things would still remain the same, only a lot more people would be aware of what they were eating and tainted foods would go bankrupt.

Re:Overreach. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408490)

"People don't have to buy M$"

Yes they do. Oh, certainly there are individuals who can choose not to. On slashdot they're probably the majority. But the general population? If they want a computer, they go to a computer store, where they're offered a choice between Vista and Windows 7, if they're lucky. They might realize that a mac is an alternative, but they'll quickly find out that they have hundreds of dollars of software that won't run on it. They might realize that Linux is an alternative, but finding a place that sells a computer without Windows (or OSX) on it is very difficult for the non-technically-inclined, especially once they realize it'll cost at least as much as the version with Windows. They teach MS office in public schools, and then there are all the businesses that are locked into windows by custom applications that won't run without Windows.

Apple has nowhere near the monopoly that MS does, and they haven't tried to leverage it to nearly the same extent.

Re:Overreach. (0, Troll)

gangien (151940) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408804)

So what you're saying, is the the MS platform is essentially superior to Apple/linux and thus people choose to buy it. Really, sounds fine to me.

Re:Overreach. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408578)

I am aware Microsoft has been a little overreaching with their software practices in the past

Congratulations, sir, for winning the understatement of the day award.

They barely got off in 1991, thanks to a deadlocked panel. They settled with the DOJ in 1994 to end their investigation into abusive monopoly practices, and then they breached that settlement, prompting the trial in 1998 involving 20+ states and the US Department of Justice.

In that trial, witnesses intentionally failed to answer questions, claimed not to recall, and provided answers directly contrary to the documentary evidence. Microsoft submitted falsified video evidence and edited demonstrations regarding the operation of its software and the process involved in switching to that of competitors.

They were convicted of abusive practices, a finding not overturned on appeal.

Similar EU proceedings produced the ballot screen, also a minor slap on the wrist.

What if I started a class action suit against Apple because Itunes is installed by default, and that is a "monopoly" on digital music storefronts?

It's not. It's a dominant player, but it's not a monopoly, and even if it were, it has not engaged in unlawful leveraging of that power.

Microsoft's IE trouble isn't because it's included with Windows--it's because they launched IE as a separate product and then violated their DOJ agreement when they started integrating into Windows. It took seven years of legal action to get them to un-integrate it.

Had they complied with their original obligations and kept the products separate while allowing OEMs to bundle other browsers without being penalized, they wouldn't be in this situation and no one would care that MSIE is the default browser on MS Windows.

Yes they are the main provider of consumer level OS's to the big-box retailers. So let them package and run by default the software of their choosing. People don't have to buy M$

Contradiction of points. The difficulty of avoiding Microsoft and their misconduct in prior settlements is the major reason they face this penalty.

This would be like forcing a leading car manufacturer to offer brakes from 3rd party companies, because the buyers are complacent enough to accept their shitty factory brakes, but litigation hungry enough to file complaints about them.

Ah, the inept car analogy. Now I know I'm just feeding the trolls.

1. No leading car manufacturer uses first-party brakes.
2. Brakes are an integral component of a car; IE was a separate product that Microsoft decided to weave into Windows specifically to quash competing products, using their captive monopoly audience (both OEMs and customers) to do so.
3. MS is not being punished for its selection of a shitty browser, but for its repeated breach of legally-binding settlements requiring that they not bundle any additional products with Windows. Trying to tie the IE codebase into the OS was an attempt to dodge that bullet by calling IE a "feature" and not a product.
4. Unless that car company was using its cars in order to squeeze out other brake manufacturers, and made it such that installing third party brakes meant adding an extension onto the axles, with the MS brakes still mounted to the wheel, and then forcing all of its dealers and licensed maintenance shops to use MS brakes and not offer any others for aftermarket installation, it would not be engaging in similar conduct.
5. Even if the car company did engage in that conduct, if it complied with the original penalty (no mandatory bundling), it would still more than likely be permitted to install its brakes as the default choice.

Re:Overreach. (1, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408710)

There isn't a problem with being a monopoly. There is a problem with abusing a monopoly. Monopolies are dangerous things in a market economy. Ideally, they shouldn't exist. If you are have a monopoly, there are some legal restrictions on things you can do with it. One of the things which is illegal is using your monopoly presence to squeeze competitors out of adjacent markets. Microsoft did this with Netscape. They used their desktop OS monopoly to squeeze Netscape out of the browser monopoly. This was illegal; they are now being punished.

Your car analogy is even worse than such things usually are. This isn't about "market leaders". This is about "monopolies". Windows is a monopoly. Mac OSX isn't a competitor - a Mac is a piece of hardware. If you want an OS for your commodity x86 hardware, you can't go buy OSX. Brakes are also not a good example, as they are an integral part of a car, and always have been. Back when the browser bundling occurred, browsers were "aftermarket" components of operating systems.

A more apt analogy would be if Holden was the only manufacturer of cars. There exists a market for car MP3 players. Holden starts manufacturing their own MP3 players, installs them in all their cars, and bakes the cost of them into the price of the car. All the third party MP3 players then go out of business, because the only cars people can buy all come with MP3 players. Holden now has an additional monopoly in car MP3 players, not because they have a best-of-breed product, but because they leveraged their existing monopoly. It would be entirely appropriate to force Holden to make MP3 players optional extras, and restore the market.

Note this doesn't apply if Holden is "the largest car manufacturer"; it applies if they are "the only car manufacturer".

Re:Overreach. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408946)

"If you want an OS for your commodity x86 hardware, you can't go buy OSX"
-And that failing by Apple to open up to independent builders will keep Microsoft happily on top.

" Brakes are also not a good example, as they are an integral part of a car, and always have been."
-To the average consumer, brakes are as important to the car as the browser is as important to the OS. How else would they access Facebook?

And to your Holden argument, well, you are suggesting that because a manufacturer is the 'only' one in the playing field, they have to accommodate other companies in on their revenue stream because its 'unfair' to default to their built-in features.

The more market intervention by governments, the less incentive there is for folks to create and sell (or even distribute) better operating systems. If Microsoft is continually nitpicked to make all these 3rd party company's happy, in effect making consumers-rights groups happy, to the point that everybody is just 'satisfied' with Windows, why even try making a better operating system? Why even bother developing Linux, if everytime Microsoft makes a sale they have to accomodate choice. The more choice that is litigated into the operating system, the less incentive there will be to choose a different operating systems in the first place, cascading into less developer drive to even work on other operating systems.

Re:Overreach. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409054)

So because something may not be integral, it is a requirement that it be made explicitly optional? And to play devil's advocate, if agreeing with your argument that the browser is not an integral part of the OS, if Ford was the only manufacturer of automobiles, would you suggest litigating Ford into offering different sun-visors from different manufacturers? Hell, what if Ford decided to use tires that were required at $5000 dollars extra per tire? You either buy a car or you don't. Eventually somebody else will come along and make another one, and if its a superior product, people will switch to it. But along your logic, if they are forced to offer a tire/sun-visor choice, then why would anybody bother creating and selling another car, if the market leader will be forced by law to 'do the right thing', removing incentive to create new car companies, and removing the incentive for people to consider switching.

Owning a computer is not a constitutionally derived right, it is a decision-purchase, and as with automobiles, is up to the manufacturers what and what they don't package with their products. Its the FREE MARKET. The moment you intervene is the moment things slide down the slippery slope and destroy competition incentive.

Re:Overreach. (5, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408792)

What if I started a class action suit against Apple because Itunes is installed by default, and that is a "monopoly" on digital music storefronts?

You have your cart and horse backwards. First, iTunes the application is not a monopoly of any sort. OS X is not a monopoly of any sort. That leaves iTunes the service, which as a lot of market share in the US. That means Apple can't bundle OS X with that service, but they don't they bundle the application with the OS and tie the service to the application.

If Apple required OS X to use iTunes, you'd have a case. If Apple forced people to buy a copy of OS X to buy a song on iTunes, you'd have a case. In fact though, Apple is moving iTunes to a Web interface to remove the tie with the application as they approach monopoly levels of market share... Which is probably the best you could hope for from any lawsuit regarding it. Apple can't leverage OS X's monopoly influence to promote iTunes because OS has no monopoly influence. Apple isn't leveraging iTunes service monopoly to promote anything in particular.

What the fuck is society coming to.

It is now and always has been a clamoring crowd of ignorance. People who insist on expressing their uneducated opinions without bothering to understand the topic even superficially first.

Re:Overreach. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409008)

No Apple can't leverage an OS monopoly but they certainly are starting to get there in the media player space. They also don't seem to have any qualms about trying to use that to their advantage either. My problem is I like the iPod but have a strong aversion to iTunes. It continues to be a pain to manage devices with.

Re:Overreach. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409060)

No Apple can't leverage an OS monopoly but they certainly are starting to get there in the media player space.

Umm, the Windows Media Player has more than double the share if iTunes. How exactly does that constitute a monopoly?

My problem is I like the iPod but have a strong aversion to iTunes. It continues to be a pain to manage devices with.

So use something else. Seriously WMP, Amarok, Banshee, Floola, gtkpod, MediaMonkey, Rhythmbox,SharePod, Songbird, Winamp,YamiPod all have support for iPod integration. Why are you using iTunes if you don't like it?

Re:Overreach. (0)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409050)

Except that Windows (and IE) are not a monopoly. Are they the largest player? Yes, but there are alternatives (for those who really care, there's Linux), for everyone else there's Apple. Unless you can prove that MS forces stores to sell Mac's for more money (they don't, Apple gladly artificially inflates their prices on their own), then you can't claim that Windows is a monopoly. Just because it's the easiest to use cheaper alternative to a Mac doesn't mean it's a monopoly. IE is also not a monopoly since you can download a different browser any time you choose. The overwhelming majority of people who use IE WANT to use it - I can't count how many people, even in IT, say "Why would I use something other than IE?" even after you give them an hour long dissertation on why IE is one of the worst browsers.

Yes, I realize it's Trendy and Cool TM (Apple owns this TM, probably has it copyrighted too) to hate anything from MS, but they have done nothing wrong by bundling a browser with their OS - people expect a browser and media player with their OS, plus there's nothing stopping companies such as Dell from installing different browsers if they choose (most new Dells have Chrome installed).

Re:Overreach. (1)

onenil (624773) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408874)

I had this exact conversation just one week ago, with a friend who was playing devil's advocate - the answer to your questions (specifically on iTunes) is that iTunes performs specific functionality.

What Microsoft did with their web browser is effectively force out the competition with anti-competitive behaviour. They took marketshare from Netscape by imposing Internet Explorer on users of their OS.

Monopolies are allowed in a capatilist society - they are required, however, to not ABUSE their monopoly status. Microsoft did this, as an effective monopoly on the OS market, they abused their position in that market by forcing everyone via various mechanisms to use their web browser (the broswer market is not the same as the OS market).

Apple have what could be called a monopoly on media players with iPods and iPhones, but they do not abuse this monopoly by forcing you to use something else in a different market. iTunes facilitates core functionality for the market in which they operate / have a monopoly in.

To apply it to your car analogy: Microsoft put a standard stereo system into their car (which in itself, is OK), but they also didn't allow you to remove their standard stereo unit in favour of another one. Furthermore, even if you as the consumer installed an additional third party unit - and installed it in front of the standard unit, every now and then you would be forced to use the standard unit anyway, because that's just how they wired it up behind the scenes.

The fact that they're a monopoly is not the problem in the eyes of the law, it's the fact that they abused their monpoly in one market to dominate another. The EU is now attempting to remedy this.

You're missing your history lesson here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408884)

Microsoft is just now having to pay a ridiculously small price for some very monopolistic practices they used to strong arm PC manufacturers, support vendors and their own customers into a complete MS lock-in scenario. We came perilously close to having no browser choices at all when M$ all but strangled Netscape out of existence by bundling internet explorer (and falsely claiming it was inextricably tied) into Windows. They tried, and are still trying (unsuccessfully) to do this with Linux as well.

Once they have a dominant market share, M$ has demonstrated, repeatedly, that they do not know how to handle it in a way that is in the consumer's best interests. And this is all about consumer choice.

Business is important, but if push comes to shove it's a secondary priority to consumer choice. End of story.

Re:Overreach. (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408954)

That's really BS. The same will happen to Apple, if they have 90% of the market and forcing everyone to use Safari. There is nothing wrong with have a monopoly, but if you are abusing it like MS did and do than this browser choice windows is the least thing the government should MS force to do.

What the government really should do is to split MS apart, make the whole OEM deals transparent to the customers and force MS to use open standards (or force MS to open up theirs).

Re:Overreach. (3, Insightful)

randallman (605329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409036)

A little? They've used their monopoly to dominate the browser, office software and corporate email. They go out of their way to avoid interoperability with their protocols and file formats and use vertical integration in addition to lock users into the Microsoft world of software. They have a history of unethical practices and continue today (OOXML, Linux patent threats). Many of their offerings have superior alternatives, but fitting them in with Microsoft's closed ecosystem is too difficult so people just do the easy thing and buy they stuff that works with their Active Directory, Exchange and Desktops.

In the browser market, Microsoft has clearly shown abuse of their Desktop monopoly with their lack of standards compliance and proprietary extensions. Tell me why MS can't build a standards compliant browser with their resources. Even today, they're trying to push Siverlight to hold the keys to the web's multimedia and with MS holding patents, there will always be a cloud over compatible implementations like Mono. And don't say they won't play that card. They already did it with their Linux patent threats. They've been anti-competitive with I.E. They deserve this.

Opera downloads tripled (3, Funny)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408048)

Opera Software, based in Oslo, said downloads of its browser in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland, and Spain had tripled since the screen began to appear.

So now that makes six Opera users. And they'll all be crowing that this was all due to a complaint raised first by Opera!

Re:Opera downloads tripled (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408402)

downloads of its browser in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland, and Spain had tripled

So now that makes six Opera users. And they'll all be crowing that this was all due to a complaint raised first by Opera!

I just want to point out that would be a minimum of 15 users, if each country started with 1 and went to 3.

Also, this was all because of Opera.

Posting from the US. 16, bitches!

Re:Opera downloads tripled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408440)

Seven with me!

Re:Opera downloads tripled (1)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408468)

Seven, if you count the fact that I test my websites (for a max. of 1 minute) in Opera!

Awareness is the best result. (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408052)

The best outcome of this in light of Microsoft's monopoly position is that it breaks how they got there: many people use Internet Explorer simply because they are unaware of alternatives. This puts that front-and-center. No longer will a more experienced user get strange looks when they mention another browser with a funny name. Instead quite a few people will have seen the ballot screen and especially initially it will raise the talk about them. Long-term it is good as well, once people become aware they have a choice in browsers they may also as well begin to wonder if they have choices elsewhere.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408096)

It is a shame it takes this sort of spelling out to make people understand. Instead of spreading computer literacy, lets just continually dumb down our systems. Idiocracy, here we come!

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408398)

If you want everyone to understand Moby Dick, you're going to have to make it a picture book [wikia.com] . If you don't, you're an elitist [insidehighered.com] .

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408458)

Educate the masses.

Moby Dick isn't the only book in the library. Is Charles Dickens to be blamed writing above the average reading level? Or is it the library's fault for pushing the book to hard on the ignorant masses?

Neither. Same applies to Microsoft.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408462)

But it contains Electrolytes!

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408820)

Well, some people here still prefer KISS to actual efficiency and elegance. As if it were something good.
Idiocracy here we come, indeed...

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408830)

It's a shame that people don't understand what? that they have a choice of a browser? and that all those choices, are for the most part almost identical?

Seriously, it's not a shame, it's people choosing what they do or don't invest their time in.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409086)

If I choose not to invest my time in automotive research, should I have the government come down and force the largest automobile manufacturer to hand out a 'these are your automotive options' because I am unwilling to do the research?

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408348)

many people use Internet Explorer simply because they are unaware of alternatives.

Did they want to be aware of alternatives? Or is this something where we are deciding they SHOULD be aware whether they want to be or not?

Which does not sound very consumer-oriented.

Why didn't the EU just force Microsoft to pass a certain set of standards with their browser or give users the choice? At least then they'd allow Microsoft to prevent the confusion by producing a quality product.

In my experience, the general user would rather not have to deal with the browser thing. Most people that aren't computer literate enough to download one they like (Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome, Firefox, etc) or be able to talk intelligently about said choices usually just call it "the browser" or "the firefox" or "that icon" or "the Internet." They don't care about WHAT it is. They aren't interested in using a browser. They are interested in accessing the internet, usually very specific pages on the internet.

It's only the geek population that cares which browser they use. Unless they have security issues, of course... in which case I still say my choice to MS is better: make a secure browser or give a choice.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408576)

The reason why so many push for getting rid of IE is because the browser itself sucks. Microsoft isn't improving it fast enough, or in the right places. Web developers want to get rid of it.

Most JS has to be written twice in order to work with IE, and getting CSS styled pages to render correctly in IE takes a whole lot more work. IE has too many rendering quirk that don't exist in other browsers - margins where there shouldn't any, flat out rendering the incorrect number of pixels in padding and margins in some cases. And the tools for IE aren't where they need to be, so fixing it is a game of whack-a-mole. Best day for the web is the day IE dies.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (0, Flamebait)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409026)

It's politically incorrect to say it, but the introduction of Firefox and its subsequent growth in the market is what made the extra work. Web standards are useful but they haven't made web development easier, they just bifurcated the web site design process.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408622)

many people use Internet Explorer simply because they are unaware of alternatives.

Correction: many people use Internet Explorer simply because they don't care about alternatives. Seriously, to you it might be a big deal whether you're using Firefox 3.0 or 3.5 or Chrome's latest beta... for most people out there it's just the logo you click to get through to Facebook.

Re:Awareness is the best result. (2, Funny)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408890)

I think you're overestimating the average user's aversion to reading.

"Firefox? I think I saw that in a popup once. It was anoying, so I just clicked Internet. Stupid Microsoft"

Admiral Akbar says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408082)

It's a trap!

People are probably just picking the first item (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408092)

I think the browser ballot screen fails a pretty important UI feature: a sane default. I imagine many people are just choosing the first browser in the list since they don't know any better and usually the first one is the "recommended" one.

So? (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408210)

They're all sane.

Re:So? (2, Funny)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408472)

They're all sane.

No they're not, IE is included in the list.

Microsoft Giving Rival Browsers a Lift? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408214)

I think you mean the European Union is giving rival browsers a lift.

Re:Microsoft Giving Rival Browsers a Lift? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408926)

It's called patching up the bruises that MS left behind when it hit them below the belt.

let's see how random users react to browser change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408226)

i want my old facebook back. i don't like this green layout!

Re:let's see how random users react to browser cha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408322)

http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1575530&cid=31408044

What about Opera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408308)

So when will Opera allow browser choice on all the various platforms they have exclusive contracts to be the only browser?

Re:What about Opera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409042)

If a company has a near-monopoly in one field, then antitrust laws forbid it from using its position to gain an advantage in another field. The court ruled that Microsoft has a near-monopoly on operating systems and that it can't use that position to push its browser.

Opera is not in the same position so the argument doesn't apply.

TV Ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408432)

Aha, so this is why Microsoft have started advertising IE on TV (here in the UK, at least)?

Just a thought (2, Interesting)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408452)

Just a thought, how many people would use Internet Explorer if it didn't come with Windows? (And assuming that they have some way to get it, through some other browser)

Re:Just a thought (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408632)

> Just a thought, how many people would use Internet Explorer if it didn't
> come with Windows?

Thousands. Probably even some who don't work for Microsoft.

Re:Just a Nightmare (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408950)

Dang.... i wouldn't even live on the same planet as Microtoft if i could get elsewhere...
Come on Kirk... scoot back in time and pick me up.

I'll be the one willing to exchange a nice stout for a Romulan ale.
Linux... Live long and prosper!

Not a metric that makes me want to buy stocks. (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408480)

After all, most people I know that buy new computers and don't like IE only start up IE in order to download another browser. All this version really does is take one step out of the process. People who aren't as computer literate would probably already have a preference for IE anyway and just stick with it out of fear of the unknown. I doubt a lot of grannies who have used IE for the past 6 years are getting their new computer, looking at the browser selection screen, and saying "hmm. Maybe I should give this one a try now". Besides...IE has always had less user share in Europe than elsewhere, partially as a result of paranoia towards the scary foreign corporation and partly because of warm cuddly feelings about using a browser developed by devs all over the world or one that is basically a European-built browser.

EU (4, Interesting)

Exception Duck (1524809) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409010)

kudos to the European union.

this and reading they will oppose ACTA's 3strike rule makes me want to join

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