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EU Investigating Microsoft Over IE Bundling Again

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the only-28-million-people dept.

EU 299

vu1986 writes, quoting GigaOm: "Microsoft has confessed to violating its browser choice agreement with European antitrust regulators, after they opened up a fresh investigation into the company's behavior. This is a big deal, not least because it means the company could now face a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual turnover — $7 billion at last count." Microsoft agreed in 2009 to inform users they could install other browsers. They did, mostly, but Windows 7SP1 users didn't get the software update. Microsoft is claiming it was just a software bug, and have taken actions to fix it.

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299 comments

what about there boot loader lock in (5, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40677527)

what about there boot loader lock in that is even bigger.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (4, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40677569)

No doubt. I wish they would weigh in on the boot loader issue. It makes the I.E. wars seem small potatoes.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (1)

camperslo (704715) | about 2 years ago | (#40677907)

They also shouldn't get a lock-in on proprietary standards/protocols used for basic functions. Skype comes to mind. While it's good to see a Linux version, there should be full free access for others to code their own apps and inter-operate fully.

I like the idea of hardware being open to other OSes. I'm wondering how much of a role the OS or replaceable firmware plays in power management and battery charge control. If those functions are not handled properly, problems could extend beyond performance issues to safety issues.

Perhaps a restrictive bootloader could allow other OSes, but throw up an advisory flag if the OS doesn't self-identify having certain functionality. At the same time, it might throw up SHA1 check values that could help some confirm that what they're considering installing is not corrupted. Perhaps the hardware could have some protective default fallback limits on things like clock rate, charging current, maximum battery voltage, discharge depth etc for use if more advanced control functionality is not announced by the OS during install or boot?

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677929)

On ARM only and that will be IE only too.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (0)

dc29A (636871) | about 2 years ago | (#40677583)

Where?!

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (-1, Flamebait)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#40677711)

It has replaced the BIOS and i's known as EFI or UEFI and prevents any other OS from being installed unless you pay US$99.- for a 'licence' to MS.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677853)

What the above poster said is complete bullshit, so make sure to do your own research to find out the much more complicated truth. They should still be investigated for it, it's ridiculous.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40677899)

That's not true. At least right now the UEFI will allow to to point to any signing authority or go unsigned. It ships by default pointing to servers which list Windows and a few other OSes.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (0)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#40677985)

You better read up about the MS requirements for secure boot with a pre-installed Win8...
What else you think Canonical and RH are doing spending money, time and effort to make their OS'es install in dual boot mode with Win8?

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (4, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40678257)

They are concerned that people installing will get freaked out by the various warning about turning off security features. It isn't very expensive, so they are just paying rather than have a problem.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677707)

Windows 8 has not been released, and assuming they allow the manufacturer to have a bios configuration option, I think the complaint should go against manufacturers that do not include it.

Apple First (2, Interesting)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about 2 years ago | (#40677783)

Sure, go after Apple's iOS boot loader lock first, since they have several times the number of devices as Microsoft that are affected by a lock.

Re:Apple First (2, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#40677901)

Sure, go after Apple's iOS boot loader lock first, since they have several times the number of devices as Microsoft that are affected by a lock.

Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in any of its market segments, so it doesn't have to play by the same rules. Being a monopolist isn't illegal in and of itself, but it does mean you are subject to more stringent regulations to ensure you aren't using your dominant position to lock out competitors.

In my opinion, the attempt to force "Metro" down everyone's throat should be considered an anti-competitive act: it's an attempt to leverage MS's existing monopoly on the desktop into the smartphone and tablet space. It will probably fail anyway, but even the attempt should not be permitted.

Re:Apple First (0)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40677913)

Huh? Apple not only doesn't lock their machines, they provide software free of charge which allows you to boot to other operating systems. They support technically and sell VM solutions to allow you to host other operating systems in OSX.

Re:Apple First (2)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about 2 years ago | (#40677977)

Re-read my post. I said "iOS", not OSX.

Microsoft is only doing the boot lock on devices that compete squarely with Apple (tablet and phone), not on the desktop.

Tell me again how Apple allows me to run my own OS on the iPhone or iPad?

Re:Apple First (0)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40678239)

Those aren't locked either. Install iPhone Linux or iDroid. Apple doesn't care if you load another OS on their hardware, they get paid either way.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677847)

what about there boot loader lock in that is even bigger.

Amen. That issue is a much bigger deal than the browser. The EU is missing the point, but it's been missing it all along. If they want to do something useful, they should prohibit MS from locking down the boot loader on ARM systems, and from requiring secure boot be enabled by default on x86 PCs. They could also stop Windows installs from stepping all over already installed boot loaders from other operating systems, as a bonus.

(Grammar tip: the word you want is "_their_ boot loader...")

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40677885)

What boot loader lock? On x86, it doesn't exist (yet). Motherboard makers are free to let any OS install or not as they see fit (if the OEM locks it down, bitch to them about it, since they are the ones doing it, not MS). And on ARM, Windows has such a small market share, it can't be considered monopolistic (since MS is nowhere near being able to exploit a monopoly position). MS is free to require ARM tablet makers who make Windows RT tablets lock the bootloader as much as they want, since it doesn't matter, since Windows has, at the moment, about 0% of that market.

If they started asking/requiring OEMs to do that on an x86 system, then you would have a valid point. But they haven't, and they almost certainly won't, because they know they would likely get into a lot of trouble for trying.

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678113)

I doubt they could do anything against that right now, at least not until someone actually turns it into a case, which is unlikely prior to any actual abuse taking place (wait until Win8 goes gold).

Re:what about there boot loader lock in (1)

takiysobi (2542620) | about 2 years ago | (#40678127)

just wait for it. Win7 SP1 came out almost two years ago. When Windows devices with UEFI will hit the markets in Europe, in few years EU regulators will take an issue with that as well. It will be fun if Microsoft will call its UEFI lock a software bug as well =)

On the other hand, EU may want to let Microsoft make some money before they demand the fines again. I am all antitrust and libertarian, but what is in it for me when EU gets more money to bail out Greece and Spain? Will they put all these money to promote open standards and software? I doubt it.

So they going to fine Apple too? (1, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40677531)

Apple bundles Safari with every computer sold, last I checked. In fact, I'm pretty sure Safari is the ONLY browser you can use in iOS (everything else is just a reskin). And I don't recall Apple ever offering a Safari-free version of their OS, or giving me a pop-up screen asking me if I want Safari or not.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#40677605)

I don't recall Apple being convicted of abusing a monopoly. Or even having a monopoly.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677775)

Interesting, but I don't recall Microsoft ever being convicted of being a monopolist in the EU. They did get convicted of it in the US though.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40677969)

Then you obviously need to learn how to use Google. Or Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Or not, since I just gave you the link. If you are to lazy to click on that: they got fined €860 million for anti-competitive practices, plus had a lot of compliance stuff they also had to do.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40678013)

I don't recall Apple being convicted of abusing a monopoly.

Yeah, and that's exactly what I'm questioning, genius. Why is Apple doing the EXACT SAME THING (even *worse* with regards to iOS browser lock-in) and NOT BEING CONVICTED?

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (3, Informative)

yacc143 (975862) | about 2 years ago | (#40678221)

Because to be convicted of monopoly abuse, you need to have a monopoly first.

MS abused it's monopoly (and monopoly does not need to 100% market share, the term is market dominating position, at least here around) in desktop OSes to force IE on users => e.g. it punished OEMs that preinstalled anything not approved by MS. => they basically managed to get that many normal users associated the IE logo as "the Internet", ... => on a standard Win box you need usually IE at least once to fetch an alternative browser, ...

In the browser case where MS was fined, one of parts of the settlements was that MS agreed to offer a selection screen where users can select during the PCs setup what browser they want to use, first to educate users that there are alternatives, and second to help diversity in the browser market.

MS in Win7SP1 just managed to forget that selection screen. It was just a mistake. Well if you are on probation, which MS is, you should really make sure that you follow the imposed sanctions, or you need to pay for your mistakes.

So if it was just a mistake, than obviously MS has not communicated strongly enough to their employees that their are a convicted company on probation, management error by MS, so accept responsibility, pay a 2-3 digit million euro fine, and everything is fine, that should make you remember not to forget the browser selection screen on your next release, ...

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (4, Informative)

Drathos (1092) | about 2 years ago | (#40677633)

There's a bit of a difference. MS was convicted of using their OS monopoly to harm existing competitors in the web browser space. Because of the closed nature of the entire iOS environment, there has never been a competing browser to Safari in iOS.

One could argue that there is an abuse of position by Apple, but unless/until the courts decide there is, nothing will be done.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677855)

Except for example Chrome which I'm using to reply on my iPad. Which won't let me use it as a default.
Don't try to defend Apple - they are worse in every way than MS ever was in terms of behaviour. It's just that people *like* getting shafted by Apple

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677957)

Chrome on the iPad *is* just a safari reskin though.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677991)

Except for example Chrome which I'm using to reply on my iPad. Which won't let me use it as a default.
Don't try to defend Apple - they are worse in every way than MS ever was in terms of behaviour.

Apple is not a monopoly.

It's perfectly all right to try to railroad your customers when your customers can choose to buy an a different device instead. Especially when, like Apple, most customers in the market actually don't buy your stuff, but instead choose from the wealth of Android devices out there.

It's not okay to force customers to use your stuff when every PC, from every manufacturer comes with your stuff whether they want it or not.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40677967)

Apple isn't considered a monopoly. The rules are wholly different.

As for competing browsers of course there are many: Opera Mini, Dolphin, Chrome, Mercury...

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40678107)

Apple isn't considered a monopoly.

Why not? They're doing the exact same think MS did in the 90's. In fact, not even MS had the balls to lock out other browsers the way Apple has with iOS.

As for competing browsers of course there are many: Opera Mini, Dolphin, Chrome, Mercury...

All just reskins running on top of Safari. Except for Opera I think, which uses some trick to actually run inside some server-side process.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40678347)

They are reskins of webkit. Opera you are correct about as well, no other engine has gotten through the approval process yet. But Opera is proof it is possible for Gecko might get through.

Why not? They're doing the exact same think MS did in the 90's.

No they aren't. Microsoft in the 1990s was using their monopoly in operating systems to engage in an unfair trade practice against Netscape. Apple would need to have an actual monopoly for that law to apply.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40678051)

So you're saying it's okay for Apple to COMPLETELY BLOCK OTHER BROWSERS FROM EVEN BEING INSTALLED on their OS's. But MS shouldn't even be allowed to *bundle* their browser with their OS?

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

yacc143 (975862) | about 2 years ago | (#40678375)

Apple is just one of many manufacturers => hence they are rather free to do what they want (mostly, in the early itunes days they did have a near monopoly in the digital music market, and a number of regulations was about to kick in forcing Apple to make their DRM available to competing manufacturers, at least in some European countries, but Apple decided to go DRM-less on their own before any legal rulings happened)

MS is in a market controlling position when it comes to desktop OSes, has been and still is. (On a local price comparison site, I checked laptops, and there are 2600 devices listed with some form of Windows preinstalled, 170 devices that come with something Linux/FreeDOS/no OS, and 114 devices that come with MacOSX [that includes different country versions], that means roughly 90% of laptops come with Windows preinstalled.) => that means that a number of regulations kick in, e.g. they are not allowed to use their control of OSes to leverage themselves in different products => e.g. browsers.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (5, Informative)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#40677645)

It's not the same set of circumstances.

Apple isn't a monopoly and it has not abused a monopoly position, no where near the same market share as microsoft

The choice people have now regarding browsers could be argued is a result of this litigation by the EU. A good over view is here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case [wikipedia.org]

More specifically here

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/09/15&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en [europa.eu]

and here

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/04/382&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en [europa.eu]

I'm probably gonna get modded Troll or something

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40678007)

>>>The choice people have now regarding browsers could be argued is a result of this litigation by the EU.

Doubtful. Interner Explorer share had been eroding for almost 10 years. By the time the browser choice screen started appearing on EU screens, Explorer share had already fallen below 50%. The browser choice screen was not needed since the free market (especially Google and Mozilla) had already erased Microsoft's dominance with IE.

Yet another example of where government interference was not needed, because the market (meaning the People) is self-correcting and will not tolerate a monopoly for long. Over time it erodes and disappears.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677659)

Exactly how stupid are you?

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677771)

Look at his UID, the kid's probably still in high school and doesn't know what it was like in the early 90's this goes way back to MS trying to kill Netscape. The time when Embrace Extend Extinguish came into being.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40678165)

No, it's a RELIC of the 90's. Today *EVERY* OS comes bundled with a default browser. And yet MS is the only company that's still singled out for this practice. In fact, Apple has not only bundled Safari in iOS, but also BLOCKED THE INSTALLATION OF OTHER BROWSERS. And no one has even so much as raised an eyebrow at them.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678231)

If you had cared to click on the first link to the Wikipedia article, you would see that this all began with a complaint from Novel in 1993.

Apple will allow you to install a flavour of Opera, Chrome and there's Firefox available soon(ish). Apple is not a monopoly and isn't under censure from the EU for it's misdeeds.

You don't understand what's happening and why.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677859)

Apple may indeed be engaging in similar behavior regarding browser (and other software) bundling, but anitrust regulation doesn't specifically restrict that behavior.
What antitrust regulation does do is grant prosecutors and judges the ability to render judgements against companies that do engage in that particular type of behavior, if it's found to be causing harm.

Until a judgement is specifically made against Apple what they're doing is legal.

Think of it like.. A restraining order. Say I have a restraining order against Bob because he's a creepy stalker and calls me 50 times a day. That does not mean that Alex, my friend, is breaking the law when he calls me to say hello. Bob is prevented from calling, even if it's an ordinary lawful non-abusive call, because of his past behavior.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (3, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40677937)

Well..... why do you think Apple approved Opera Mini for use on their iOS devices? I'm sure they were very aware that it was Opera who sued Microsoft (and won), and if Apple turned them down then Opera would sue Apple next for abuse of their dominant cellphone position.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (2)

scot4875 (542869) | about 2 years ago | (#40678133)

Opera Mini isn't a real web browser. Opera Mobile is. Good try though.

--Jeremy

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40678361)

Yes I know Mini is not a "real browser", but that doesn't negate my point. Apple had to *approve* Opera Mini for distribution to iOS devices first, and they knew if they did not allow it, then Opera would likely sue them just as Opera sued Microsoft.

Clear? Or do I need to repeat myself a third time before you'll finally READ what I wrote and UNDERSTAND what you read?

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40677943)

iOS doesn't run on computers it runs on phones and tablets. And no there are lots of other browsers for iOS: (out of date list [about.com]).

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (4, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#40678017)

Didn't you hear? Windows doesn't run on computers either. It runs on toys. "Real" computers run things like VMS.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678011)

Firefox, Chrome, and Opera all work on OS X, and Chrome and Opera Mini are available for iOS (I see many other browsers in the app store, but I don't know what they have under the hood). The bundling of Safari is not an issue because Apple only controls 10% of the computer market and less that 50% of the phone market so they don't have a monopoly to abuse. Chrome and Safari both use WebKit (even on Windows machines) but I don't think it's accurate to call Chrome a reskinning of Safari, and Firefox and Opera are different renderers.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40678019)

Apparently you missed Chrome coming out for iOS a few weeks ago? Not to mention Opera mini already being out and a build of Firefox being in development, I believe.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678027)

It's so sad that Apple forces its users to use a standards compliant browser.

Re:So they going to fine Apple too? (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#40678041)

Apple bundles Safari with every computer sold, last I checked.

The issue isn't bundling a browser with a computer.

The issue is leveraging dominant market power in the desktop OS market in the EU in an anticompetitive way in the existing-and-distinct desktop browser market. Something Apple can't do with desktop Safari, since it doesn't have dominant market power in the desktop OS market.

In fact, I'm pretty sure Safari is the ONLY browser you can use in iOS (everything else is just a reskin).

iOS isn't even the #1 mobile OS in the EU, much less as dominant in that space as Windows is in the desktop OS market. Market power in the market that is being leveraged is a key factor here.

When in doubt, go after US companies to look good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677595)

It would be nice if the EU actually bothered to enforce laws against companies in the borders of its countries. I guess anti-US sentiment sells, because we read time and time again how they will go after Microsoft, Google, Motorola, and other American firms, but not bother with much on their side of the pond.

Re:When in doubt, go after US companies to look go (3, Funny)

Picass0 (147474) | about 2 years ago | (#40677705)

Well, to be honest it's not like Britain has any big computer makers. They haven't figured out how to make a PC that leaks oil yet.

Re:When in doubt, go after US companies to look go (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677875)

It's not actually hard, just a variant fluid-cooled system.

Since the seals aren't perfect for any oil with the recommended heat absorption properties, it will come with a pan that you put under the case and a top-mounted reservoir of spare coolant oil.

The other half of the problem is intriducing a new screwdriver that will be neccessary to perform even basic maintenance, and the screws will have an unusual thread so you can't just replace them with metric or US screws.

Re:When in doubt, go after US companies to look go (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40677997)

Just to give an example: EU Battery Directive (2006/66/EC) and Unisys.

Re:When in doubt, go after US companies to look go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678067)

It would be nice if the EU actually bothered to enforce laws against companies in the borders of its countries. I guess anti-US sentiment sells, because if we have blinkers on for any news that doesn't involve the USA, we read time and time again how they will go after Microsoft, Google, Motorola, and other American firms, but not bother with much on their side of the pond.

FTFY.

Re:When in doubt, go after US companies to look go (4, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#40678229)

That wouldn't be because you are using mostly US news sources would it? Which you would expect to focus on things involving the US and US companies.

Like the 900 million euro fine for Saint Gobain, the 300 million euro fine for Air France, and so on. You can count the number of US versus the number of european companies that have had actions taken against them by digging through http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/index.cfm?fuseaction=dsp_result&policy_area_id=1&case_title= [europa.eu]

In 2012... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677611)

What user ISN'T aware that they can install another browser? The dumbest 5%? Seriously--there are ads, links and articles for free copies of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Opera's...Opera browser all over the freaking interwebs, in newspaper and magazine ads--how can you *not* know that you can install another browser?

One might point out that Chrome now has a larger install base than Internet Explorer. I'd think that says it pretty clearly: People KNOW they can choose another browser, and they're CHOOSING it. Jeez.

The EU Browser ballot.... (0)

CajunArson (465943) | about 2 years ago | (#40677635)

proving that, for all their pretensions, Europeans are just as dumb as redneck Americans when it comes to installing software.

Re:The EU Browser ballot.... (1)

CajunArson (465943) | about 2 years ago | (#40677647)

Sorry for the self-response, but I just realized that it might mean Europeans are *dumber* than those redneck Americans. The reason is that in America there's no legal requirement for some browser selection screen, but Firefox and Chrome have huge marketshares that are comparable to Europe anyway and there was no need for some ridiculous "selection screen" to do it.

Break up Microsoft (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40677701)

Like what happened with AT&T.

Re:Break up Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677889)

With as much infighting and conflict at Microsoft, a breakup may be the only thing that can save them. They are their own worst enemy.

Re:Break up Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678045)

Like what happened with AT&T.

Yeah, how'd that work out? I guess with AT&T gone and without them slowly reforming themselves since the second they were broken up, now I've got much better choices for my phone service! Like AT&T! ...wait...

Re:Break up Microsoft (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40678167)

You must live in a shitty town, because instead of just ONE phone company for everything, I can choose between ~50 local carriers and ~20 long distance carriers. I call that an improvement, so the breakup of the monopoly was worthwhile.

Re:Break up Microsoft (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40678207)

At the time of the anti-trust trials that would have been warranted and by breaking them up the different sections may have grown greater than it's current state.

Breaking up Microsoft at this point would not be done to punish Microsoft, but instead to diversify and free the various segments of Microsoft from it's current mismanagement.

Software bugs (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40677753)

Coming from Microsoft, Ballmer could kill someone in front of a lot of public (probably throwing a chair on his head), and could try to get free claiming that it was a software bug. But acknowledging that 3 years late is malice, not stupidity.

Re:Software bugs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677939)

But acknowledging that 3 years late is malice, not stupidity.

How is this acknowledging it 3 years late? The bug is with Windows 7 SP1, which has been out less than a year.

A little too late Microsoft (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40677769)

" 'we learned recently that weâ(TM)ve missed serving the BCS software to the roughly 28 million PCs running Windows 7 SP1.' Microsoft says it started distributing the BCS software to Windows 7 SP1 machines on 3 July, a couple of business days after discovering the problem."

If the users have already turned-on their new machines, then they are already PAST the browser choice screen. It is pointless to install it after the fact and Microsoft is in violation of the terms of the lawsuit. Furthermore does anyone really believe it was a "mistake"? Last time I told a cop I made a mistake and thought the green left arrow w/ red stoplight meant "go" instead of stop, he just laughed and gave me a ticket. There's really no room to let Microsoft go, else it sets the precedent that criminals can just say "ooops I made a mistake" and be left free to go.

Re:A little too late Microsoft (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677925)

It's the 'Google Defence' which seems to work for them

'Rogue Engineer - Ever so sorry - Won't happen again'

Until next time

Re:A little too late Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677959)

If you fine a company because of a bug in their software this is really not understanding how software development works.

Sanction wouldn't be about the bug (5, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#40678121)

If you fine a company because of a bug in their software this is really not understanding how software development works.

Any sanctions won't be for "a bug in their software". They will be for:
1) Violating the agreement they made in place of the fine for the past violation, and
2) Filing a false declaration of compliance with the agreement in December 2011.

When you have a legal obligation to do something, and when you declare in an official legal document that you have, in fact, done what you had an obligation to do, well, the fact that you didn't do what you had an obligation to do and hadn't actually verified that you had before you made the legal declaration has consequences.

Re:A little too late Microsoft (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40678293)

>>>If you fine a company because of a bug in their software this is really not understanding how software development works.

This isn't a bug. This is leaving-out the installation of a distinct piece of software: the browser select program. It would be equivalent to if Microsoft "forgot" to include Windows Media Player for new Win7 PCs. (Which never happens.)

It may have been a mistake due to incompetence, but more likely it was down on purpose. Microsoft is only admitting it now because they were caught, else we'd not hear about it.

Re:A little too late Microsoft (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#40678329)

Yeah, it'd be like fining a company because a bug in their inventory management and distribution system put rat poison in the breakfast cereal boxes they shipped to supermarkets. That'd show a complete laack of understanding of how distribution works.

Re:A little too late Microsoft (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677987)

This is the way MSFT used to operate in order to beat down their competition. "Updates" to their OS that "accidentally" broke their competitors' software.

Interesting behavior for bugs. (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#40677789)

In a Perry Mason novel, (probably The Case of the Ice Cold Hands), the witness in the stand will confess to murder, and the DA Ham Burger would be forced to argue, (because he is charging his sister with that murder), "no you did not!".

In most cases bugs in your code is usually bad for your business. But Microsoft has bugs that are peculiar in that, it helps the company. It breaks competitor's products from the DR-DOS days or help it avoid compliance with court rulings... You know at some point people are going to say, "this level of incompetence is simply not possible, it must be intentional". And Microsoft will pull a Ham Burger and argue, "No! We are that incompetent!".

Re:Interesting behavior for bugs. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40678101)

(young person asks)
Who's Ham Burger?
Where's Perry Mason?
What is this guy is talking about?

Simple Mistake (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#40677801)

I doubt this is anything other than an innocent mistake by MS. Surely nobody thinks MS would be stupid enough to leave out the browser ballot on purpose and risk 10% of their turnover? I fully expect somebody responsible is currently pursuing opportunities outside of MS.

Re:Simple Mistake (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40678063)

Surely nobody thinks MS would be stupid enough to not test the one piece of functionality that could cost them 10% of their turnover!

Euro Mania (3, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#40677823)

28 million PCs sold ---

and no one notices or gives a damn about the missing browser ballot.

Not a word.

Not a whisper from Opera.

Google. Mozilla...

Until today, Slashdot, Ars Technica, The Register and all the rest have been as silent as the grave.

Re:Euro Mania (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#40677941)

The browser ballot isn't aimed at people like us. It's aimed at the kind of people who think that "the big blue E" is "the internet". The whole point is to make inexperienced users aware that there are other choices out there.

Re:Euro Mania (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678023)

and *MOST* do not care...

You know what they do care about? Getting to the web page their friend told them about.

Re:Euro Mania (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#40678203)

The browser ballot isn't aimed at people like us. It's aimed at the kind of people who think that "the big blue E" is "the internet".

Chrome. Firefox. Opera.

They live and die by the add click.

Opera --- the weakest of the lot --- pushed hardest for the ballot.

It is at the very least disingenuous, I think, to claim that the only purpose of the ballot was to serve the interests of the people and not to give a leg up to Microsoft's political rivals and competitors,

Hey EU what about iOS (0)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 2 years ago | (#40677827)

What about iOS and the fact they force safari browser on you. Don't even allow to change it off the default browser? gonna go after apple any time soon? been going over MS for less.

Re:Hey EU what about iOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677917)

Apple's entire business model is all about dictating which software you may run on your own device.

And people eat that shit up, apparently. It's bizarre.

Re:Hey EU what about iOS (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#40678115)

Apple doesn't have a previous conviction on the subject of using it's de-facto monopoly to keep out the competition.

Not understanding antitrust (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#40678163)

What about iOS and the fact they force safari browser on you. Don't even allow to change it off the default browser? gonna go after apple any time soon? been going over MS for less.

Antitrust actions are largely about misusing dominant market power. What market power you have in the market you are leveraging is a key factor. Microsoft Windows is quite dominant in the desktop OS market in the EU. Apple iOS isn't even #1, much less dominant, in the mobile OS market in the EU.

Bundling, as such, isn't the fundametnal issue. Its just the means by which Microsoft was found to have leveraged their dominant position in the desktop OS market.

New European Stimulus plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40677897)

Need money..... must shake down Microsoft..

EU is bitter (0)

chentiangemalc (1710624) | about 2 years ago | (#40677965)

The EU is failing to come up with it's own exciting, innovating tech products that go mainstream, so they love to just keep fining american companies. the browser ballot was a stupid idea, and doesn't do anything to help non-tech users, only makes setup more confusing. maybe one day europe will start producing great products again, and people don't have to be forced 'to choose' they'll just want to choose it...

Re:EU is bitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678131)

Why do all these claims about "only American companies" keep popping up all the time, when it is so easily disproven by official statistics? [europa.eu]

Selection bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40678321)

If a tree falls in the woods and doesn't land on an american, does it make a sound?

Is that still such an issue ? (1)

detain (687995) | about 2 years ago | (#40678159)

Isn't this common practice now? Look at the android platform, its designed to maximize exposure to google products and even now comes with chrome as the default browser. At one point in time the argument made more sense, but now its less of a big deal. They aren't trying to cripple peoples use of other browsers anymore, which was really the biggest concern.

Meanwhile in another part of the forest ... (3, Interesting)

Tim Ward (514198) | about 2 years ago | (#40678217)

... I get a not-very-computer-literate relative asking me "why TF does my new machine keep on and on asking me if I really want to use IE, despite me keeping on telling it yes I do, and please shut up about it?"

I still don't understand what the big deal is.... (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | about 2 years ago | (#40678273)

The EU says M$ has to inform users they can use other browsers. Why? Does Ford, Mercedes, BMW or any other car maker have to inform their owner they can use a different radio in the dash? or that they can use different tires than what comes on them? And why is this not an issue for Apple and Safari? Or better yet, why not an issue for Ubuntu? Ubuntu does not inform me that i can use something other then Firefox when i log in.
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