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Opera Files EU Complaint Against Microsoft

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the reopening-the-browser-wars dept.

The Courts 455

A number of readers have sent word about Opera Software ASA's antitrust complaint against Microsoft filed with the EU. Here is Opera's press release on the filing. The company wants the EU to "obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop" and to "require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities." The latter request makes this a case to watch. Will the Commissioner take the Acid2 test using IE7?

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I don't get it (1, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683841)

Why should Microsoft do that? It's not like you can't install another browser if you don't want. Unbundling it would mean the OS doesn't have a functioning browser (not to mention it's built-in to the OS, so removal would be only a cosmetic feat (removing the icon) not actually removing the browser). Including other browsers makes more sense, but won't it make Windows even more bloaty? Is this just a sandy vagina move, or do they have a point?

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683943)

I think internet explorer can have a number of it's components, more than just the icon unbundled. Still the other point is quite good.

Name one OS that doesn't bundle a web browser? Some bundle several, but to my knowledge, proprietary and semi proprietary usually bundle their own browser, and no other.

Of course, getting MS to make their browser follow standards better is definetly a good thing. It's not that bad getting things to work well in IE and most others (in my experience), but at the same time, it shouldn't require much effort either.

And there are a few things that don't work well between any two browsers, IE not being the only player on the block with it's quirks and oddities.

Re:I don't get it (5, Informative)

loconet (415875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684305)

People forget quickly [wikipedia.org] . Yes, most OSs bundle a web browser but they don't hold a desktop monopoly. My guess is Opera wants to revisit that story in Europe.

Re:I don't get it (1, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684461)

It's not forgetting, it simply not agreeing.

I don't see bundling software with your OS abuse of a monopoly if you OS has a monopoly. I do see bundling software that corrodes standards, as abuse however. You can add artificially high prices, artificially low-and-non-profitable prices to eliminate competition, forcibly preventing competing software for working on your platform, etc. as bad monopolistic practices also.

In this case, poorly followd standards, there are two fixes. An option should be given, rather than forcing a company to do one (or in this case both). Fixing the softwares compliance is certainly acceptable, but forcing them to stop providing their choice of a piece of software that provides a major portion of the functionality in any modern comptuer (the web browser), is not.

Re:I don't get it (1)

devjj (956776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684389)

Except that when using an alternative OS, you've already made the decision to use something that isn't the "default." For most people the question of which OS to use never comes into the picture (unless of course the question is XP vs Vista, in which case your choice of browser isn't really a choice at all). The overwhelming majority of people simply buy a computer from a well-known name like HP, Dell, etc., and they get Windows with it. When the question of which OS to use isn't a question at all, it could be fair to say that an illegal-gained monopoly is keeping alternative browser vendors out of the market. It's natural for the average buyer to simply click "the internet icon" and assume that that is how the internet is accessed.

To be fair, most of these people probably wouldn't understand the usefulness or benefit of using something other than IE, but you could argue (successfully, IMO) that they know no better because Microsoft has made it that way. With the browser wars heating back up, it might behoove us to revisit the topic. It wouldn't be difficult for any OS vendor to have a simple 1-window dialog upon first post-installation bootup that asks "Which web browser would you like to use?" with a tidy list of the top 5 browsers by marketshare. The Randian in me hates the idea of forcing a company to advertise competing products, but again, courts have already ruled that Microsoft broke the rules in the first place.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684409)

Some bundle several, but to my knowledge, proprietary and semi proprietary usually bundle their own browser, and no other.
The most common OSes at this point are: Linux, Windows, and Microsoft. Most Linux distros come with a variety of browsers and at a minimum you will usually have an option to install two during install Konqueror and Firefox. (Or some derivative of one of the two.) To my knowledge, OS X only has Safari. We all know Windows only has IE. The reason they care more about Windows is because they have a monopoly sized market share in the PC market.

It should be noted that other proprietary OSes do not use their own browser. AIX, Solaris and HPUX have used the Mozilla browser for as long as I can remember.

Re:I don't get it (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684597)

Regarding Solaris; that's more or less native, since Mozilla itself is derived from Netscape, which was Sun's browser.

Linux misses the point, since I'm talking about proprietary and semi-proprietary, which they aren't, and almost everything in Linux can be considered "3rd party" to the actual OS anyway - Most distros are just cherry picked 3rd party software packages, with a few bits of custom code and some distinct aesthetic flare. Lynx, Galleon and Opera probably should be added to your list of the options in Linux.

Although it's old, I remember BeOS had it's own proprietary browser (a fairly good one for the time too).

So, some use their own, some don't, but usually there's only one browser by default with a proprietary OS, chosen by the manufacturer still.

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21683981)

It'd be like your Ford car coming with XM radio [suppose Ford dominated the market]. It would make it near impossible to position Sirius in the same market.

And no, IE is not "core" to the OS, nor should it be. The OS is just the kernel and drivers. It's the desktop that is the GUI [explorer.exe], and tray and all that stuff.

It's most likely a better solution to unbundle IE and WMP [among other things] from the install media and let users choose which they want during install. Chances are if you're going to decide which browser to use, you probably have net access. Why would it be so hard to have a "choose a browser, firefox, ie, opera, 'other'" during the install?

As for the "following standards," that's harder to enforce. They're not legally obligated to follow shit all, they're just not allowed to abuse their market position. if they gave the users a choice to use other tools during the install then I think that would remedy the problem.

Re:I don't get it (1)

bshellenberg (779684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684173)

Right analogy, wrong direction. It would actually be like Ford being forced to take the CD player and FM radio out of all of their cars because it competes with XM or Sirius radio. The idea is ludicrous. Why should Opera get a free (forced) ride for distribution? Next, you'd have to assume, it would be unfair for Toshiba to make a bedroom tv that has a built in DVD player because it locks out all other DVD player manufacturers. I could think of a 1000 examples without even trying.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684323)

um no. CD and XM are different technologies and are NOT competitors. That's like saying doors and elevators perform the same operation. Sure they let you "go somewhere" but they do different things. XM and Sirius do the same thing (satelite radio) and are therefore direct competitors. Just like IE and Opera.

I think the best solution is to not include ANY browser with the install media and instead let the user pick one during the install [of the OS] process.

Theoretically, by removing IE, Windows should be cheaper too. So you could say that IE shouldn't be free anymore either (since they're basically "dumping" it on the market they already own).

Re:I don't get it (1)

bshellenberg (779684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684381)

Ok, if you want to be picky. It would be like Ford having to take their CD player and FM radios out of their cars because it locks Alpine out of the marketplace. Does that make the situation any different for you? Why on earth should Microsoft be forced to provide distribution for another company's product? They pay for the media. They make the deals for distribution of their product. They spend the cash on marketing, promotions and advertising. What does Opera do in this? Just get a free ride?

Re:I don't get it (1)

LordEd (840443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684287)

Why would it be so hard to have a "choose a browser, firefox, ie, opera, 'other'" during the install?
Which browsers make the list? Why? Who decides? This would have to be written into the installer. Its not like they can't just go download what they want because at this point, they have no browser at this point.

Re:I don't get it (1, Flamebait)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684455)

Because it's impossible to download a file without a browser?

cmd
ftp
open ftp.mozilla.org
cd pub
cd /rightdir/rightdir/
get Firefox.exe
Run Firefox.exe
????
Profit

Re:I don't get it (2, Insightful)

HistoricPrizm (1044808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684659)

Try explaining that to my mother.

I understand the complaint, but I'm not sure that it's a problem that most computer users care about. The population here on slashdot is a bit different, but most slashdot users know they can get alternative browsers, what the relative strengths and weaknesses are, and have an opinion on which they use and when.

The average computer user given the option to install a different browser during installation (or, considering the population, first boot on a Dell/HP/whatever) isn't going to know about those things, or probably care, but is going to want to stick with what they know or have used before. Those users want to know that it will work with their favorite websites and that they'll be able to find the favorites, history, preferences, etc. Why confuse them? As has been pointed out, it's pretty easy for a user (one that cares) to find a new browser and set it to the default browser and ignore the fact that IE is even installed.

Re:I don't get it (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684037)

Well the point is the Microsoft is leveraging there monopoly on Operating Systems to try and control other markets. Microsoft used to offer IE for Mac and I think Solaris way back when. This was so Microsoft could try and control the standard.
Microsoft has forced IE into a "defacto standard". Now every web designer has to write code that works on IE and browsers that are not broken. Often you will see web pages that only work on IE.
Silverlight is the next step. Flash is bad enough but Silverlight will make it even harder to keep the Internet OS neutral.
To solve the no browser issue is real easy. Just provide an Icon for that will download Firefox, IE, Opera, or Safari from the desktop. Let the user decide at runtime.
Of course you will then have to change the HTML help system so it can work with any browser and not just IE.

I am all for requiring IE to follow standards. Not bundling would be great IMHO but I just don't think it is practical.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684157)

People dont buy/install basic windows install media anyway...
They typically install a windows "distribution" supplied on a computer by an oem such as dell or hp.
Windows should come without a browser, leaving it to the distributor to install a browser of their choice, this is how it used to be and many distributors bundled netscape.

Re:I don't get it (5, Insightful)

slittle (4150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684521)

And that's why this unbundling crap is so retarded and has been since the American antitrust case. OEMs will go right ahead and install the full suite of MS freebies anyway, even if they install others as well.

The good news is someone's finally getting it: they finally want to force MS into standards compliance. That's all that really matters. I don't see the browser application itself (or media player, for that matter) as a monopoly abuse - it's the content that's the abuse. IE/WMP both play proprietary content, using Windows as the vehicle.

Sabotaging Windows' built-in media capabilities only harms consumers. Preventing MS from leveraging those capabilities to push their own proprietary, non-interoperable formats helps them and everyone else.

Re:I don't get it (1)

gowakuwa (1199733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684039)

The fact is that most computers use Windows. So Microsoft not following standards with their software effectively renders them useless.

Re:I don't get it (1)

syntaxeater (1070272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684059)

Being an Opera user myself, I do have to admit MS is making the effort. They shouldn't have to do much more than give you the option in "Set Program Access and Defaults." The more I see articles and complaints like this, the more it sounds like these competing companies are expecting Microsoft to do their marketing for them.

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684127)

It's the built-in aspect which is the problem...
Apple bundle Safari, but it's trivial to remove in it's entirety (or simply not install), different linux distributions bundle different browsers and they can always be removed/replaced easily... What windows distributors (ie OEMs) really need is the ability to remove ie completely and replace it with a third party browser, instead of being forced to install the third party browser alongside the buggy outdated one that's built in.

And as for not having a functional browser, there are many many other areas where windows lacks functional apps in comparison to other systems, they don't bundle a functional spreadsheet (or even a facility to view spreadsheets) for instance, nor do they bundle an ssh client/server (everyone else does, and ssh is becoming the standard for remote admin of network devices, replacing telnet), they don't even have a secure erase tool by default and many other shortcomings compared to other systems.

Re:I don't get it (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684301)

And as for not having a functional browser, there are many many other areas where windows lacks functional apps in comparison to other systems, they don't bundle a functional spreadsheet (or even a facility to view spreadsheets) for instance, nor do they bundle an ssh client/server (everyone else does, and ssh is becoming the standard for remote admin of network devices, replacing telnet), they don't even have a secure erase tool by default and many other shortcomings compared to other systems.


That almost strikes me as an argument for MS to bundle more (hey, others are doing it without issue), or others to bundle less (hey, you're doing even more than MS!), although I know you meant the opposite.

SSH is fairly (completely) irrelevant, since MS has their own protocols they use (rdesktop). It affords the same functionality you can get from SSH, though it does have more overhead without a text only interface. Then again, would you really want to ssh into a Microsoft server? I know I wouldn't, not with that command line shell. Most systems simply provide the remoting tools used for themselves only, and the other remoting tools are are extras or third-party creations.

Also, what's wrong with having both IE and another browser installed? It's easy enough to set up something to keep you from accidentally opening up IE, and with current the windows patching system and help system, IE does have some useful functionality. In my use at work, it is not terribly buggy (it crashes less than firefox, and doesn't grind to a halt over time like FF, although I do use Firefox more), broken or outdated.

Re:I don't get it (0, Offtopic)

theskipper (461997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684177)

Is this just a sandy vagina move

Out of curiosity, what was Sandy's position at Netscape?

Re:I don't get it (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684229)

Opera doesn't care about Bloat. they just want to be integrated even though no other OS forces this on it's users.

Simply put, third party app developers aren't going to be happy with MS until they implement some sort of Marketplace / Ubuntu Software catalog like functionality, where people can search and automatically install software just by clicking a checkmark. And even then, they'll flip out because "their" Icon isn't already there or MS didn't allow them to join, ETC.

Re:I don't get it (1)

nerdyalien (1182659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684507)

of course.. there should be somekind of a browser to access internet and download Opera (or any other browser.. assuming they are free).

I adore Opera and I am writing this reply using Opera browser. I wish IE and other browsers would follows the Opera browser as the role model in browser designing.

But I honestly fear about Opera's actions. Afterall, they got to sit on top of M$ OS if they really want to triumph. No question, M$ owns the OS market with 90+% share. Engaging these kind of actions may push them to lower market shares like Apple, Linux... which is not so healthy.

Anyway.. when think about it... why M$ vista.. how about Apple Safari and Linux browser?? are they gonna go through this same thing (removed from the OS) ???

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684579)

why is everyone so down on M$ and their web browser. It's real simple, buy a new computer, USE IE to download another browser, close IE and remove its icon from the desktop. Damn litigation crazy people. Get a life and advertise your shit before whining to a court.

Is this what people actually believe? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684621)

It's not like you can't install another browser if you don't want.

Well, that's semantically weird. Why would I install another browser if I "don't want"? Or do you mean "don't want IE"?

Unbundling it would mean the OS doesn't have a functioning browser

Read TFS, at least? Here, look:

obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop

In other words, nothing to prevent them shipping Opera and/or Firefox with Windows, whether or not they unbundle IE.

(not to mention it's built-in to the OS, so removal would be only a cosmetic feat (removing the icon) not actually removing the browser)

And that is absolute bullshit. It is not now, and never was, "built-in to the OS".

There are quite a lot of programs that use the IE ActiveX plugin, but in almost all cases, that works perfectly well using other browser engines instead. For instance: Steam embeds IE, but I can run it on Linux and have Gecko (the Mozilla/Firefox engine) render those message-of-the-day windows.

Or maybe you're confusing Internet Explorer with Windows Explorer? Wouldn't be the first time.

I should also mention that, at least back in Windows 98, someone actually wrote some software which removes IE from the browser, which proves Microsoft was lying (and you believed them, you idiot) about Windows being so tied to IE.

Including other browsers makes more sense, but won't it make Windows even more bloaty?

If you're talking about RAM, you're a moron.

If you're talking about disk space, does that really matter, at this point? Manufacturers frequently sacrifice a few gigabytes for a "restore" partition, and Windows itself is a multi-gigabyte install. Both Firefox and Opera are about five megabytes. I imagine they spent more on Aero graphics.

Is this just a sandy vagina move, or do they have a point?

Are you just an astroturfer, or do you have a point?

Microsoft should've lost the antitrust suit in the US, but then Bush got elected and the suit was "coincidentally" dropped. So give me one good reason why Opera shouldn't be doing this.

Re:I don't get it (5, Insightful)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684677)

You are right. The part that might surprise you is that I think Opera is counting on that. I am currently doing some web development work. The biggest problem we run in to is the weird crazy shit that IE does. I run our pages on IE, FireFox, Safari, and Opera. By far IE is the BIGGEST pain in the ass. Why? It does not follow the standards at all. It just laughs at you. "oh you want that over there. Haha that's funny. Keep dreaming." It flat out ignores some HTML. Your code can be fucking perfect according to the W3C standards but IE just does not care. So what happens? People have started to code to IE and just IE. I know for a fact that I am the only person here who even tried to use Safari and Opera on our pages. The result is that our code ONLY works right in IE. This is why FireFox dominates the alternate browser market. It's slower, bigger and just not as cool as Opera but it can work like IE to the point where finding a page that it does not render correctly is a rare thing. The problem with IE's browser dominance is not that other browsers want to get shipped with Windows but that they get thrown to the side for doing the right thing.

Good PR for Opera (2, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683843)

Since no publicity is bad publicity, this is a cheap way for them to shout from the rooftops "We exist, we're a better browser than IE, IE sucks!! "

Oh, and their lawsuit has merit, as well.

Re:Good PR for Opera (1)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684107)

It's also a way to point out to the uninformed masses that Opera is the only browser for Windows right now that passes the Acid2 test.

Under Windows:
Opera passes, Firefox 2 does not, IE6 and IE7 do not.

Under Linux (Fedora 8):
Opera passes, Firefox 2 does not, Konqueror passes, Epiphany and Galeon do not.

Lynx doesn't either. ;)

I don't have a way to test Safari, but according to the Acid2 site, it fails as well.

Re:Good PR for Opera (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684271)

It's also a way to point out to the uninformed masses that Opera is the only browser for Windows right now that passes the Acid2 test.

I would be surprised if this is the case - Gran Paradiso certainly passes Acid2 under Linux so I see no reason why it would be different under Windows, and I was under the impression that Safari passed Acid2 as well.

Re:Good PR for Opera (1)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684535)

According to the Acid2 site, Safari does not pass the Acid2 test.

Gran Paradiso is alpha software, and as such is not ready for prime time. So while I'm glad that Firefox and other Mozilla based browsers will pass the Acid2 test eventually, the fact remains that they don't have a stable release that passes today, 12/13/2007.

Of course, once KDE4 is out and it's possible to run KDE Apps under Windows with the QT4 support - Konqueror will join Opera in the group of browsers passing the test.

Re:Good PR for Opera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684661)

"I don't have a way to test Safari, but according to the Acid2 site, it fails as well."

What makes you claim that? And how can you know if you don't run it? I can't see that said anywhere on the site. Besides, the only reference I can see on the site to Safari at all is to Safari 3 beta and to problems claimed to be specific to the Windows version. Maybe that information's accurate and maybe it's not. In any case Safari 3 is out of beta. I'm running 3.0.4 and have been for some while.

I can't recall whether Safari 2 or the 3 beta on the Mac passed the test, but 3.0.4 seems to -- although when I view the page the nose looks rather slightly smaller compared to the PNG (which is probably irrelevant).

isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (2, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683845)

From the article:

First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop.
Wasn't this part of the settlement before? I often wonder why we have to see other countries doing the heavy lifting to throttle Microsoft. Microsoft lost, was set up for some pretty severe controls to be administered and lucked out with a changing of the guard and a Justice Department that lost any appetite to really control Microsoft.

Also,

Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities.
This one does get interesting. Maybe this is the avenue required to get Microsoft to move closer to compliance on the accepted standards. There certainly hasn't been any bending to pressures from developers.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (2, Funny)

kylben (1008989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683919)

...require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities...

This one does get interesting. Maybe this is the avenue required to get Microsoft to move closer to compliance on the accepted standards. There certainly hasn't been any bending to pressures from developers."

Yeah, that's what we need, governments enforcing coding standards. Just wait till you get fined $100 for using 4 spaces instead of a tab.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684065)

I don't think it's coding standards that are the point here, or aesthetic standards. It's the functional standards of a published format that is in question here.

Your example would be to require houses to have a certain brand or color of paint.
This is more like requiring certain house surfaces be rated to carry minimum weights, be within a certain margin of level, etc.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (1)

kylben (1008989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684167)

I don't think it's coding standards that are the point here, or aesthetic standards. It's the functional standards of a published format that is in question here. Your example would be to require houses to have a certain brand or color of paint.
Once they open the door to regulating code, there's nowhere it will stop. But more importantly, they are not competent to regulate even functional specs - and never will be. They'll spend six months debating the minimum diameter tube the browser must support.

There are in fact towns where the color you can paint your house is regulated by the government, and not just historic preservation districts.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684351)

I understand there are towns like that, but regulating functional specs is still not regulating code, and yes they may mess up sometimes (requireing a type of light bulb rather than a minimum luminance to energy-consumption ratio), but they usually do provide an improvement. Don't judge a whole group due to a poor analogy made by one idiot in the crowd.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (1)

kylben (1008989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684513)

but they usually do provide an improvement.
No, they usually improve the most visible part of the problem space just slightly, while wreaking havoc across the less visible portions.

Don't judge a whole group due to a poor analogy made by one idiot in the crowd.
I've judged them on their own merits - that "one idiot" is a fair representation of their typical character and competence, even if he is an extreme example specifically in terms of general tech knowledge.

Not more Government interference (1)

PadRacerExtreme (1006033) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684557)

I wish I had mod points....

Yeah, that's what we need, governments enforcing coding standards.

Interesting how the generally feel of the /. crowd is less government interference until it is anti-MS. After hearing a million comments about government bloat, bureaucratic in-efficiencies, and such, we want the government to mandate this??

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (1)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684011)

Perhaps it is just me, but I don't see where the EU should be able to FORCE Microsoft to make their browser more standards-compliant. If Microsoft CHOOSES to do things proprietarily and therefore serve an inferior product, there should be nothing stopping them.

Further, I don't see why MS should be forced to "bundle" other browsers into the OS itself, since OEMs can already choose to add them to a standard install. Or do most European customers buy a retail copy of Windows?

Actually, regardless of right or wrong, this ends up being just plain stupid. The first part of the complaint seeks to give them more equal footing on customers' computers. The second serves to weaken that footing by removing one of Opera's only advantages through draconian measures.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (0)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684307)

Exactly right. Government has absolutely NO place dictating the manner in which a company chooses to distribute their software.

I fail to even grasp how this would benefit makers of other browsers like Opera, anyway? They seem to be working on the concept that users won't bother installing other products, if a comparable one is already included with their OS. That's logically flawed in several ways! #1. If you really build the "best in class" browser option out there, you're in a great position to bargain with the OS developer to buy the rights to include YOUR browser in a future OS version! #2. Opera costs money. IE doesn't. That won't change a bit if MS is forced to un-bundle it from the OS. People prefer free products to commercial ones, if there's no compelling benefit to paying the money. #3. A law requiring a software product be "unbundled" wouldn't likely extend to governing how much advertising they can do for the unbundled product. If MS was forced to remove IE from Windows, they'd simply design it with shortcuts or URLs to conveniently click to "get IE", and most people would still do that. EVEN if the law forced them to place shortcuts for the competing browsers on the desktop too - I'd bet MOST "average users" would select the Microsoft-branded offering over the others, assuming it was "more compatible" with their Microsoft-branded OS.

IE vs. Adobe (1)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684041)

Ever since Adobe sued Microsoft for bundling a PDF writer in with Office 2007, Microsoft has been pushing out a series of patches that breaks Flash Player content in IE. I'd love to see someone smack them with the equivalent of a cast iron skillet just because of how miserable they make every web developer world over.

2 cents,

QueenB.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684319)

Heh - if they somehow force MS to make IE standards compliant, then that also means that MS can sue the bejeebus out of all the other browser manufacturers when their browser has an issue with some standard...they all have issues.

Basically Opera is suing to try and get some money, simply because their browser, for all that it is, costs $40 to buy, when IE and FireFox are free (IE technically since it comes with Windows).

Fuck the EU. MS should pull all their licenses from every EU country, then force the EU to help them sue those that don't relinquish their licenses. Let's see how functional the EU is after that.

Re:isn't MS already supposed to have unbundled IE? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684499)

Wasn't this part of the settlement before?

I'm not sure about the browser (which MS have always claimed is "integrated" and can't be removed). However, I believe they were required to unbundle things like Media player. I believe this resulted in them producing 2 versions of Windows, one with Media Player and the other without (which was ok per the ruling since they were providing an unbundled option), at the same price. So of course, given the choice, how many people are going to pick the version that is missing some functionality and costs the same?

Really, I think they should be forced into pricing the 2 versions significantly differently to compensate for the missing software, but who's going to decide what is an appropriate price difference?

Rehash (4, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683881)

This seems like a rehash of the Netscape suit years ago. Didnt that jumpstart the initial monopoly case? Anyway I find it more interesting at this point that they want for force IE into compliance with a standard that is defined and regulated by an open assembly. I think that is more important as that will ensure that web 3.0 doesn't use mono/.net, Silverlight or some proprietary based framework that forces us back to the days when you can't go to a bank, school, work, website w/o IE.

Re:Rehash (1)

was kroepoek (1098895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684243)

Actually, you've probably come across a website that runs .NET many times by now. Just like you've seen websites that use PHP or RoR. I prefer the LAMP stack and its variants, but if some admin/programmer decides to use ASP.NET, C#.NET or whatever.NET for a website then that's fine with me (as long as I'm not involved in the project ;). The important thing is that W3C standards are implemented, and that goes for any server-side scripting tool.

But ofcourse MSFT is still trying to make the web theirs, thank Google they're not very succesful at it as of lately.

Re:Rehash (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684665)

The important thing is ensuring that MS complies with open standards. Previous court cases involving IE and Media Player etc. seem to miss this point: The reason that MS creates their own software is to mandate their own formats (wmv, wma, .doc, tainted html etc.) so that they can ensure lock in. If you can enforce open formats, then this creates a level playing field for the software.

Great plan (3, Funny)

farlukar (225243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683885)

Antitrust cases worked so well for getting WMP removed :)

Re:Great plan (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684119)

I assume you are sarcastic - but know that now THERE ARE WINDOWS VERSIONS without Media Player - XP Home Edition N and Professional Edition N

Re:Great plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684407)

If there were a Windows Server 2003 N that would be useful.

Re:Great plan (1)

Darkon (206829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684411)

THERE ARE WINDOWS VERSIONS without Media Player - XP Home Edition N and Professional Edition N
And do you know a single person who uses either of them? Making something available doesn't oblige computer makers to install them.

This is a great idea and all, but... (4, Insightful)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683911)

How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Operating System has no way of browsing the Internet?

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (2, Informative)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683965)

wget or cURL with a very good memory.

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (1)

stuporglue (1167677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684001)

Oh that's easy. Just open COMMAND.EXE and download it over FTP. Isn't that what everyone does anyways?

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (2, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684019)

Well, I see two ways:

  • OEM's bundle the browser of their choice for you.
  • Microsoft designs a system by which you can install binary software packages on Microsoft servers (or third party servers) using some program that ships with the OS. Then, that program could periodically update the OS.

Personally, I think the latter option is more appealing, but only because we've been doing with with Linux for more than a decade.

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684147)

Microsoft designs a system by which you can install binary software packages on Microsoft servers (or third party servers) using some program that ships with the OS. Then, that program could periodically update the OS.

Great idea! They could call it "Windows Update" or "Microsoft Update" or something like that. ;-)

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684273)

Microsoft designs a system by which you can install binary software packages on Microsoft servers (or third party servers) using some program that ships with the OS. Then, that program could periodically update the OS.
Fantastic! Maybe they could call it ... uhh... Windows Update! Or Microsoft Update! Yeah!

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684023)

In the old days, we used FTP to download a web browser. :P

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (2, Informative)

d3m0nCr4t (869332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684071)

How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Operating System has no way of browsing the Internet?
How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Microsoft Windows has no way of browsing the Internet? There, fixed that for you.

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (4, Funny)

varmittang (849469) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684139)

How am I going to download an Internet browser if my crappy Microsoft Windows has no way of browsing the Internet? There, fixed that for you.

Re:This is a great idea and all, but... (1)

gowakuwa (1199733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684141)

I usually download Firefox through FTP. I don't dare to do even the slightest browsing in IE. I keep it for some non-compliant sites, but even then feel dirty.

Likely to succeed (1, Insightful)

say (191220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683961)

IANAL, but I think Opera might win this war. Netscape lost a similar battle, but they couldn't leverage the power of EU like Opera can. The EU is also likely to be biased towards Opera because it's a European company (although it is Norwegian, and Norway is not a member of the EU).



On the other hand: the precedence from the media player debacle points to a possible "solution" (forcing Microsoft to release a special version without IE) which in practice means a loss to Opera. The potential buyer of such a product does not exist: He needs to be both knowledgeable about Opera and not knowledgeable enough to know how to install Opera himself.

As much as I hate IE (3, Insightful)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683969)

Some people actually like the browser. If microsoft had the choice of including other browsers or just not bundeling I'm pretty sure they would go with the no including one. That way they can start selling IE as its own piece of software getting them a couple bucks here and there. Think about it in these terms a typical home user is most likely to use windows. If a browser wasn't included they would have no idea how to get some free version browser like firefox. Thier only option would be to go down to the store and pick up a copy of IE. Granted I'm sure some people wouldn't buy windows if they started doing something like that but people in general are not aware of the alternatives to windows and IE. Also I enjoy Windows enough to deal with some of the problems but if they were to do something like that it would probably give me enough of a reason to start dual booting and just using windows strictly for games.

Re:As much as I hate IE (1)

say (191220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684367)

You are vastly underestimating the importance of "owning" an industry standard like MS wants to do with IE. A web browser isn't of any use in itself [to MS], but by controlling the entire market they can do "interesting" stuff like forcing people to use Windows because no other browser than IE can render the pages people need to/want to use. That's pretty much the recipe on how to unfairly take advantage of your position as a monopolist, but it is extremely profitable.

It's not MS that does the pre-install... (1, Flamebait)

Rafe_Aguilera (987284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683995)

...it's the OEM. That part of the suit should be tossed immediately. Now, if MS has some highly restrictive distribution contract that stops the OEM's from installing anything else, then fine. Otherwise, that's a pointless thing to try and make MS do, since MS doesn't control what the OEM does.

Re:It's not MS that does the pre-install... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684303)

The OEM has a limited choice...
1, Just have IE installed...
2, Have both IE and a newer browser installed...

Number 2 is more work, wastes drive space and creates additional support burden.
If they could choose a browser then great, but as it stands theyre forced to include ie wether they want to or not.

Re:It's not MS that does the pre-install... (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684341)

The pre-install of IE? Last I checked, Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP (don't care for Vista) all came with a nice little E on my desktop. I just checked and when I clicked on it Internet Explorer came up. So maybe they should have IE as a separate product and make the OEM install IE as part of their bundle and also include FF and Opera. I bet the OEMs do not worry about installing another browser because the OS comes with IE so why bother.

Vista (-1, Troll)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684035)

Vista won't even allow you to choose alternative browsers as the default. Even with Firefox installed, and you choose IE to not be the default browser, Vista still uses IE for all web access.

Its like Microsoft think they're so big they can just ignore the legal rulings from all the cases they've already lost about this. Every time a new version of windows comes out its worse than before.

Re:Vista (2, Interesting)

heffrey (229704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684121)

I simply cannot believe this. Does anyone have a link to anything which gives reliable evidence that this is the case?

Re:Vista (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684231)

Not true if you are talking about front-end stuff like browsing web pages. Making things up?

If you are talking about back end stuff like Windows Update, that's not even done through a web page in Vista anyway. Maybe it uses some IE components in the background but I doubt the Firefox people want to make a module to update Windows anyway and updates to the OS is Microsoft's space anyway - a basic part of the OS. Not sure what else you could be referring to. Web based Help for Windows? Same idea.

Re:Vista (2, Informative)

loconet (415875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684417)

Apparently that has been fixed now [mozillazine.org] ? A change on the way [mozilla.org] Vista stores settings for default browser it seems.

Re:Vista (4, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684445)

This is demonstrably false.

I have Vista and Opera, and Opera is set as default. If you click a link anywhere in Windows, it launches Opera. For example, if you get an error there is a link to an appropriate KB article on microsoft.com. Clicking this for me launches it in Opera.

The only programs I've found that don't honour the default are Yahoo Messenger and City of Heroes - apparently they prefer to hardcode to launch IE, which is their choice.

Re:Vista (2, Informative)

tecmec (870283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684469)

Well, I will tell you right now that this is not true. I have Firefox installed and set as my default browser right now. Any link I click on opens in Firefox, any time a program calls a default browser, Firefox opens.

There are a few rare cases when IE opens to display a website, but this is only when following a link from a really crappy program. I can only assume that this would be due to the programmer of said app hard coding the app to use IE (which is retarded, but has absolutly nothing to do with Vista). I can't even give an example of a program that acts like this, because it is so uncommon.

Re:Vista (2, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684523)

So tell me then... Once the OS and the Internet start to become seamless (as if they aren't aleady getting there)... Are you going to ask Microsoft to unbundle its OS from itself? This is bullshit, and I like Opera, but fuck them. And fuck the EU for even considering this. This is Microsoft's OS, and they can ship it however the hell they want. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Or are you forgetting that there are actually other options, like OS X and Linux (of many flavors)?

You know what this is? It's jealousy, and it's greed. It's not ethical. It's not reasonable. And I am saying this despite the fact that I don't even like Microsoft all that much.

But people who support this bullshit, they are even worse than MS. I couldn't even begin to imagine what Microsoft would be like if it was run by people like this. You think Microsoft is bad now? ROFL.

My question. (1)

SlipperHat (1185737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684079)

Isn't this a bit too late. IE was sold with new computers shipping with Windows since 1995 [wikipedia.org] . And now (more than ever) Windows and IE have what appears to be a necessary/symbiotic relationship. I think in Windows 95 you could *probably* remove IE and have a functional operating system. I think that it is no longer the case.

What would be the solution/ruling? Force Microsoft to remove IE, or install every other browser by default. I'm just speculating here; please feel free to correct me or offer an alternate viewpoint.

Another injunction was filed.... (0, Flamebait)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684117)

for KDE to stop shipping with Konqueror.

Seriously, If you are selling or giving an OS, is it that bad to bundle a browser of your choosing?

If M$ bundled firefox,or opera, or even an ancient version of netscape, would there be such an uproar? This article is simply FUD.

Re:Another injunction was filed.... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684551)

It doesn't matter what other OS makers do in this case. It's not about whether or not an OS should come bundled with a browser, a media player or several choices of each.

It's about a convicted monopolist leveraging their market dominence to force people to use their software. When a company does something that is good for their business (ship a browser with their OS) we can not compare it to what a monopolist in the market place does. By definition such actions by a monopolist cause harm to competing businesses and the marketplace in general.

We could argue the merits of whether or not MS deserve to be called a monopolist. But as it stands now the EU and the US have ruled that they are and therefore the typical regulations that apply to businesses don't necessarily apply to them. Earning this title has put them into a postion where they will be regulated differently, even uniquely, in an attempt to curb their absolute control over the desktop PC market.

Just shut up already (0, Flamebait)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684151)

Microsoft has every right to create a web browser and integrate it into their other products. It is no fundamentally different than Konqueror being the default browser within the KDE environment. If Dell and others feel comfortable distributing **Linux**, what makes you think they wouldn't distribute Opera and Firefox if there were a demand for that? The catch is, there isn't a demand for that because the very people who would use Opera and Firefox instead of IE wouldn't have any problems installing it on their own. The people that Opera is whining about not having access to, are largely the people who think that Internet Explorer is "The Internet."

Re:Just shut up already (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684297)

There is a decent history and many good arguments for treating a company that holds a monopoly differently than others in its field.

Monopolies are not good for consumers and not good for an industry as a whole. Government regulation probably won't be perfect, but I'd at least prefer that they try.

Re:Just shut up already (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684361)

It is no fundamentally different than Konqueror being the default browser within the KDE environment.

KDE is not a monopoly.

Pointless (1, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684163)

I dislike MS's monopolistic practices as much as anyone. But really, there's not much harm in bundling an OS with a browser IF they don't prevent OEMs from including other browsers or from removing the IE icon from the desktop.

Even if MS were forced to include some other browser along with IE, that probably wouldn't help Opera. Unless, of course, their actual goal is to simply force MS to bundle *their* browser. And that would seem to be a fairly ridiculous demand.

Re:Pointless (1)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684651)

I dislike MS's monopolistic practices as much as anyone. But really, there's not much harm in bundling an OS with a browser IF they don't prevent OEMs from including other browsers or from removing the IE icon from the desktop.
It's not about dislike, it's about illegal. MS is a convicted monopolist and the rules are different for them. They are leveraging their OS monopoly to dominate the browser market, and they are using their dominance in the browser market to damage competitors.
Without the lever, the intentional incompatabilities of IE would make it 3rd choice or drive it into extinction. With the lever, web designers are forced to adapt to the "quirks" instead, producing webpages that work well on IE but not so on other (standards-complient) browsers, which in turn drives more people to IE, creating a lock-in effect.

And somewhere along that route, a dozen or so laws have been broken and the only reason MS hasn't been drawn and quartered in the courts is that they move faster than the court system and will probably be bancrupt long before the final, crushing verdict is rendered.

president gore can't wait for /. interview (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684175)

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Acid 2 Test! (1)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684227)

Even at version 2.0, firefox does not handle the acid 2 test, so does it mean that it should not be bundled with lets say, ubuntu or otherwise?

Re:Acid 2 Test! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684343)

Even at version 2.0, firefox does not handle the acid 2 test

But Firefox 3.0 does :)

De Facto Standard (5, Insightful)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684251)

They might want to specify that Microsoft should be compelled to follow published w3c standards, not just accepted standards. The "standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities" today are pretty much "Code everything for IE6. If there's free time after that's done and the pub isn't open yet, test in Firefox"...

Opera on Linux (1)

suitti (447395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684259)

Are there any Linux distributions that have Opera pre-installed? Most of the distributions i've used of late come with Firefox. My Nokia 770 (Linux based) came with Opera. I assumed that was because Opera has a smaller footprint than Firefox (but none too small for my 64 MB RAM (and no swap) pocket computer). However, it might be that Opera was written with GTK, or had been optimized for a stylus based user interface, or something.

Re:Opera on Linux (2, Informative)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684391)

it might be that Opera was written with GTK

I think the opera browser for desktop is linked to the QT libraries, at least so on a Fedora distro. Not sure whether this is true for Windoze or mobile phones.

Re:Opera on Linux (1)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684435)

It is, and statically in most cases. Apperantly QT can be lean and mean.

Re:Opera on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684429)

Opera is:

Written with Qt (think KDE).

Not open source.

My view ... (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684277)

Only people on acid use IE so it does indeed pass the "ACID TEST"

In other news... (0, Flamebait)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684357)

In other news:

Network companies sue Microsoft for bundling TCP/IP.

Editor companies sue Microsoft for bundling Notepad and Wordpad.

Clock software companies sue Microsoft for bundling a clock on the desktop.

And so it goes...

This is just stupid. This is not 1990. A browser is an integral part of an operating system in 2007. It's a standardized document display application. The operating system depends on it being there.

Re:In other news... (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684485)

In TFA it says:

The complaint describes how Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted Web standards. Opera has requested the Commission to take the necessary actions to compel Microsoft to give consumers a real choice and to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer.

Opera ASA is also suing M$ for "not following accepted web standards", which is not a part of an OS.

Re:In other news... (1)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684565)

This is just stupid. This is not 1990. A browser is an integral part of an operating system in 2007. It's a standardized document display application. The operating system depends on it being there.
The rules change for monopoly corporations.

Like the tax laws, you don't have to like it, but that's the law of the land.

Fine (1, Troll)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684403)

But also require Apple to unbundle Safari from MacOSX and Redhat to unbundle Firefox from Fedora (I don't think Opera would mind either development at all). Once upon a time Microsoft killed the market for alternative commercial browsers by bundling free IE. But times have changed. These days a browser is a requirement rather than an optional add on. Unbundling it would mean that users will not be able to use their newly installed operating system at all, even to find out where to buy/download a browser.

However, OEMs should be permitted to bundle an alternative browser and de-emphasize IE by removing it from Start menu.

Firefox, Opera, ...? (2, Interesting)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684487)

The easy solution rather then removing IE - why not just include two browsers on your operating system? I seriously think most users would like for the 'e' on their desktop regardless. I think a pretty interesting question would be: If MS was forced into removing their browser for some reason - what do you think they would bundle with their OS?

MSFT should unbundle the recycle bin! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684529)

I got a great recycle bin application but no one will use it because they get one for free. Now tell me, what's a "recycle bin" got to do with operating systems?

How do I file a complaint in the EU? Do I need to be a unemployed socialist to file?

Jeeeeez- Opera is a nice browser, but not nice enough for a business model ... get a life folks.

No IE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21684547)

How do you download Opera?

MS is only sort of winning the browser war (1)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684567)

I love Opera, and I use it for most of my browsing, but I think it's silly for them to try to get MS to unbundle IE or make IE conform to web standards. MS is winning the browser war only among people who don't really care that much about what browser they're using. Almost every single one of my tech-savvy friends (with a few exceptions) uses Firefox or some other alternative browser. If all of the casual internet users weren't tallied up, I'm sure Firefox and Opera would have a much greater percentage of users.

MS is only sort of winning (0, Redundant)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684643)

MS is winning the browser war only because there are so many people who are don't know or don't care that there are better browsers out there. Almost every one of my tech-savvy friends uses Firefox or some other alternative browser (right now I'm using Opera). If it weren't for all of the casual internet users who don't know any better than to use IE, Firefox and Opera would represent a much greater percentage of users.
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