EU Slams Microsoft Over Lack of Browser Choice

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EU Slams Microsoft Over Lack of Browser Choice

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European regulators say Windows needs to offer more than just Internet Explorer.

Three hazy, distant years ago, the European Union Commission signed a deal with Microsoft in which the software giant agreed to start packaging various non-Internet Explorer web browsers in with Windows. Doing this would save the company from breaching the EU's antitrust laws at the same time as saving Europeans from having to venture into Internet Explorer against their will. If Microsoft failed to abide by this agreement, it could be subject to fines of up to 10% of its annual global revenue. As of this week, Microsoft has officially failed to obey the agreement.

In an formal notice of warning, the EU Commission notes that the "browser choice" screen (above) that Microsoft designed to comply with the terms of the original agreement was nonfunctional for as many as 28 million customers between February 2009 and July 2012. Microsoft blames the outage on a technical error, adding in a statement that it "takes the matter very seriously" and takes "responsibility for what happened."

Following this notice, Microsoft now has four weeks to respond to the charge as it sees fit. Once this time period is up, the Commission will decide how serious the breach was and what kind of fine, if any, it will impose. The upper limit is 10% of Microsoft's annual revenue, which is kind of an eyewatering sum of money. Given that the European Union has to date fined Microsoft €1.64 billion (US$2.1 billion) for various offenses, a fine for this particular breach wouldn't mark a huge deviation from the norm.

In a separate announcement, the EU Commission also announced that it would not be pursuing an antitrust case against Microsoft for only having Internet Explorer pre-packaged on its Windows 8 and Windows RT tablet devices. While I am not a lawyer and will (sadly, probably, crushingly) never be one, my uneducated guess for the reasoning behind this would be that Microsoft's share of the tablet market is small enough that the Commission need not involve itself.

Expect to hear more as the case continues, especially regarding how quickly Microsoft will fix its "browser choice" screen. European Windows users shouldn't have to have that one trip to Internet Explorer to download Firefox or Chrome. Isn't the debt crisis enough? Save us this one last indignity, Microsoft.

Source: BBC News

Permalink

Damn, I want to live in EU now. They seem to have MS by the balls, we should get this option in North America.

This never made any sense to me and continues to make no sense to me. Why do they need to offer anything? Are they requiring, oh I don't know, Apple to provide a choice of browser on their iPhone?

The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

I'd say this was an outdated concept except that it never, ever made any sense to me. They might as well complain that there's no choice of Notepad or Solitaire providers, because I'm stuck with what MSFT gives me when I install it, no matter that I can install all the notepad clones or games I want after the fact.

I have to use Explorer for 5 seconds to download Chrome! OH THE HUMANITY!

Usually, I'm inclined to be somewhat biased against the EU (what with the euro pretty much cursing the world with massive uncertainty damaging other currencies) but I will side with them on this one as Microsoft agreed to it and then broke the terms. The terms may or may not make much sense to me as the idea behind why people can't use IE to get another browser but they were agreed to and were then broken.

It's not like with Browsers they don't make you wave your right to a lawsuit.

Is using Internet Explorer for 3mins until you download Fire Fox really that big of a deal?
I wish corporations would bend over backwards in the West like they do for EU.

Why the hell is this a monopolistic issue?

What, are they going to fine them for not offering Microsoft Office AND OpenOffice on starting builds?

They should include Paint AND Paint.net, while they're at it.

And maybe Microsoft Sam reader AS WELL AS a Brian Blessed reader.

mattaui:
This never made any sense to me and continues to make no sense to me. Why do they need to offer anything? Are they requiring, oh I don't know, Apple to provide a choice of browser on their iPhone?

The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

I'd say this was an outdated concept except that it never, ever made any sense to me. They might as well complain that there's no choice of Notepad or Solitaire providers, because I'm stuck with what MSFT gives me when I install it, no matter that I can install all the notepad clones or games I want after the fact.

Yea I was thinking about the Apple thing. They only come loaded with Safari, so why don't they have these same requirements? Conspiracy I say!!!

mattaui:
The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

For now it doesn't. If Microsoft succeeds at turning Windows into a closed platform, they can exclude whatever the hell they like without consequence.

I'm with the people who think this is slightly silly: As long as Microsoft in no way hampers the rather trivial process of downloading Chrome/Firefox/Opera, I don't see why coming with IE installed is an issue. When you buy an operating system, there shouldn't be a problem if the preloaded apps are from the people who make the system.

in the netscape era microsoft won a trial about not bundling IE with windows, wich would make more sense that bundling other browsers

Whoa Whoa Whoa! Hold up here! You mean that Internet Explorer is a web browser?!? I just thought it was a utility to get a web browser!

WHY. It's a Microsoft created and owned console. IE is a Microsoft created and owned browser. They match perfectly. So then, again, WHYYYYYYYY? There is no bloody point.

the doom cannon:

mattaui:
This never made any sense to me and continues to make no sense to me. Why do they need to offer anything? Are they requiring, oh I don't know, Apple to provide a choice of browser on their iPhone?

The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

I'd say this was an outdated concept except that it never, ever made any sense to me. They might as well complain that there's no choice of Notepad or Solitaire providers, because I'm stuck with what MSFT gives me when I install it, no matter that I can install all the notepad clones or games I want after the fact.

Yea I was thinking about the Apple thing. They only come loaded with Safari, so why don't they have these same requirements? Conspiracy I say!!!

I think the thing is that A) Microsoft, in the EU anyway, has by far the biggest market share in home computing, and B) Windows is spread across a wide variety of machines made by companies other than Microsoft. So that gives them an unfair advantage that, left untouched, could start to look something like an attempt at a monopoly if you squint at it. I think. Or, well, conspiracy. Mmm, tasty conspiracy.

Well, I'm sure there will an equal amount of shite being thrown at Apple for only including Safari on iOS.

*waits*

mattaui:
This never made any sense to me and continues to make no sense to me. Why do they need to offer anything? Are they requiring, oh I don't know, Apple to provide a choice of browser on their iPhone?

The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

I'd say this was an outdated concept except that it never, ever made any sense to me. They might as well complain that there's no choice of Notepad or Solitaire providers, because I'm stuck with what MSFT gives me when I install it, no matter that I can install all the notepad clones or games I want after the fact.

you need to remember that for the most part this agreement was not meant for people that know, and understand the vast workings of how freeware programs like firefox, chrome, and to a lesser extent Opera function, or even exist. this is designed to "protect" those people that might feel forced to use IE, but not realize that there were other options.

Fappy:
I have to use Explorer for 5 seconds to download Chrome! OH THE HUMANITY!

5 seconds what throughput are you pushing? see above

disgruntledgamer:
Is using Internet Explorer for 3mins until you download Fire Fox really that big of a deal?
I wish corporations would bend over backwards in the West like they do for EU.

well the reason for this beside above is based around the way that EU laws are structured. basically if an external entity wishes to do business in the EU it must do so by entering into an agreement with the EU trade commission, and in many cases have to enter into corporate contracts. in the US it is more a matter of "free enterprise" where any company can do business in the country with the only limitations being to copyrights, patents, and IP otherwise its fare game.

Duuudes - this is just a relic from back when MS was pulling shenanigans, Apple was all but dead, Linux was only for servers and Nokia was the metaphorical 800 pound gorilla of the cellular industry.

Times change, bureaucracy stays the same.

Slayer_2:
Damn, I want to live in EU now. They seem to have MS by the balls, we should get this option in North America.

You should but it's an American company in America. So long as it makes money for America the US government will give no shit what it does and does not do. It's like that whole Apple vs Samsung thing that was decided by a court about an hours drive from where Apple's lair is. We all knew how Samsung had no hope of winning that mess.

Though here it's more clean cut. I don't care about the monopolistic bullshit but dear god save people that awful trip into IE to get a good browser!

I keep the latest firefox install data on a pen drive to avoid that horrific torture.

Fr]anc[is:

mattaui:
The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

For now it doesn't. If Microsoft succeeds at turning Windows into a closed platform, they can exclude whatever the hell they like without consequence.

For now, huh? So, they haven't done it since 1995 when IE launched, when is this dark future going to be upon us?

And that's leaving aside the ridiculous concept that MSFT would ever make the PC a 'closed system'. Once again, that's been an option of theirs for decades. Even Apple hasn't ever done that with their desktop OS. Microsoft's bread and butter has long been Microsoft Office, yet I've always been able to install other, much cheaper programs on my PC to do the same thing, just to use another example.

What about mobile computing? Is it a crime for Microsoft or Apple to restrict what I put on my phone? Because that certainly happens. A lot. Where's the government to save all these poor, clueless consumers? Won't someone think of the clueless consumers?

I guess they DID sign an agreement that they aren't honoring for whatever reason. the European Union is well within it's rights to charge the fine.

But really, EU, really? Did Internet Explorer prevent England from using your currency? Is Internet Explorer responsible for Switzerland not joining your Country Club? Are you going to start blaming WW2 on IE now?

"Hello. My name is European Union... you killed my father... prepare to die!"

>.>

Psst... PSSST.... hey EU... I can't help but notice that the Browser Selection Screen... OPENS IN INTERNET EXPLORER! You're tainted by the IE disease from the get-go.

---

You know what this looks like to me?

Given that the European Union has to date fined Microsoft €1.64 billion (US$2.1 billion) for various offenses, a fine for this particular breach wouldn't mark a huge deviation from the norm.

It looks like the EU is searching for every tiny little thing to justify stealing money from Microsoft.

Oirish_Martin:
Well, I'm sure there will an equal amount of shite being thrown at Apple for only including Safari on iOS.

*waits*

I'd love too, I'm really not very fond of Safari and hate how much I use it now, but it's really hard to argue that the second most popular mobile OS is actually a monopoly.

So great, now, rather than having to download Google Chrome when I buy a new computer I'll have to uninstall the 3-4 other browsers that will be bundled with it for no reason. Or, more likely, leave them installed taking up some small amount of space I don't care about. Still, dick move EU, dick move.

And isn't there something else you should be focusing on, like all that debt. . .

Hevva:
The upper limit is 10% of Microsoft's annual revenue, which is kind of an eyewatering sum of money. Given that the European Union has to date fined Microsoft €1.64 billion (US$2.1 billion) for various offenses, a fine for this particular breach wouldn't mark a huge deviation from the norm.

Ohhhh, now I understand

Guys, you need to stop thinking of this like "Why aren't they shitting on Apple for doing the same on their phones?" or "What's so bad about having to use IE for a bit to get a better browser?"

It's a whole different thing on closed systems. A system that is openly intended to be closed (like iOS), doesn't need to offer a variety like this. A semi-open system like Windows, however, should not have the only gateway to said open-ness monopolized by the company behind the OS. At least some variety on the browsers (said gateway) should be included.

Also, what the heck is wrong with all the Americans talking smack about the oh-so-bad debt crisis "destablizing other currencies"? Debt crisis is bad, sure ... But need I remind you who keeps smearing their dicks all over nearly any other country's governments?

I can only think that after Microsoft's efforts, the EUC wants to squeeze every penny possible out of this issue so that they can shore up the mess of an economy that they have right now.

This is like when WordPerfect sued Microsoft for starting to package Microsoft Word with Windows, which they claimed was deliberately anti-competitive, which it was, but still, it's their own product, if they choose to promote their product above a competitor it's their choice.

It's as if these people don't know they can still use other browsers even though IE is the only one packaged in. It's like they don't understand that new software can be installed on a computer that doesn't come pre-packaged.

Oirish_Martin:
Well, I'm sure there will an equal amount of shite being thrown at Apple for only including Safari on iOS.

*waits*

Nobody sues Apple. Apple could murder children to power it's new Ipad and people would claim that it is a stroke of genius.

To everyone asking why this is an issue, several browsers back in the 90's, including one called Netscape, required you to buy a license before using them. Microsoft decided to undercut the competition by producing their own browser for free and bundling it with their OS product - the massive market share they had on the desktop market meant that this totally undercut the competition's business model, causing them to go out of business and giving Microsoft an effective monopoly.

Anyway, the EU courts didn't take too kindly to that and are making sure it doesn't happen again. The only thing the EU needs to do is hurry up their anti-trust investigations for Google, intensify it for facebook, and maybe adopt a sane model on copyright, and they will be perfect.

Yal:
I'd love too, I'm really not very fond of Safari and hate how much I use it now, but it's really hard to argue that the second most popular mobile OS is actually a monopoly.

Li Mu:
Nobody sues Apple. Apple could murder children to power it's new Ipad and people would claim that it is a stroke of genius.

I'm also finding myself reminded of this.

image

lacktheknack:
And maybe Microsoft Sam reader AS WELL AS a Brian Blessed reader.

O_o

I'm....just saying I'm totally OK with the EU forcing them to do this.

mattaui:
This never made any sense to me and continues to make no sense to me. Why do they need to offer anything? Are they requiring, oh I don't know, Apple to provide a choice of browser on their iPhone?

The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

I'd say this was an outdated concept except that it never, ever made any sense to me. They might as well complain that there's no choice of Notepad or Solitaire providers, because I'm stuck with what MSFT gives me when I install it, no matter that I can install all the notepad clones or games I want after the fact.

I know, it makes no sense. Should Windows also come with Linux? Should a 360 come with a Wii in the box?

It makes no sense at all why one company would be strong-armed into including their competitors product.

Is installing Chrome or Firefox on a tablet a big deal? It takes literally 5-10 seconds to install Chrome on a PC.

google.com/chrome

Install Chrome

3 seconds later it's done.

mattaui:
This never made any sense to me and continues to make no sense to me. Why do they need to offer anything? Are they requiring, oh I don't know, Apple to provide a choice of browser on their iPhone?

The mere existence of IE on my PC doesn't prevent me from installing Chrome, Firefox, Opera or anything else.

I'd say this was an outdated concept except that it never, ever made any sense to me. They might as well complain that there's no choice of Notepad or Solitaire providers, because I'm stuck with what MSFT gives me when I install it, no matter that I can install all the notepad clones or games I want after the fact.

The charges were that Microsoft was abusing its heavy market dominance on the PC market to push its own browser by pre-installing it. There are viable alternatives for browsers, so Microsoft was brought to heel in order to improve competition between the browser providers.

Installing another browser is easy, but the mere fact of IE already being installed gives it a fair headstart - especially as the ruling was made in an era where IE still was dominating the market after muscling out Netscape Navigator, and only Firefox was even reaching single-digits percentages of market share.

And as to the comparison with solitaire: as soon as there are multiple large companies making a lot of money of solitaire-equivalents, you'll probably see some anti-trust action on that. The driving force behind the browser action was not that they have a virtual monopoly, but that several competitors were being muscled out - competitors with enough clout to be heard by the EU.

Does the EU really have nothing better to do? Nah, who cares about Eurozone, we gotta nail Microsoft to the wall for making it's browser default on windows! [/sarcasm]

Seriously though, who cares if IE comes with windows by default, you can take a few moments to go grab your browser of choice. And they say Americans are lazy.

Now, I have never been a fan of living in the E.U. but sometimes they are hard to dislike. Or, to put it in youtube clips,

.

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