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Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions - Updated
Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 06:25 PM EDT

Microsoft has just announced that it will ship Windows 7 in Europe without Internet Explorer:
The worldwide launch of Windows 7 is fast approaching, but a pending legal case raises concerns about the sufficiency of competition among the Web browsers that are available to Windows users in Europe. In January the European Commission provided its preliminary view that Microsoft’s “bundling” of Internet Explorer in Windows violated European competition law.

We’re committed to making Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time that it launches in the rest of the world, but we also must comply with European competition law as we launch the product. Given the pending legal proceeding, we’ve decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users. This means that computer manufacturers and users will be free to install Internet Explorer on Windows 7, or not, as they prefer. Of course, they will also be free, as they are today, to install other Web browsers.

[Update June 12, 2009: Note that the blog has been updated.]

My first reaction was, I guess that means you actually can remove the browser and Windows will still run, despite what Microsoft told the court in the US. My second was, if OEMs can choose to install IE, why wouldn't Microsoft just sit on them in various subtle ways to make sure it's in their best interests to always "choose" to install IE? And does this fix Vista? XP? I have some other reactions for you. Thomas Vinje of ECIS says this is "an acknowledgement of the validity of the EU Commission's case, but it is by no means enough.

Thomas Vinje of ECIS told Groklaw's Sean Daly:

First, this move by Microsoft is an acknowledgment of the validity of the European Commission's antitrust case against it.

Second, this is a step in the right direction, but it is far from enough. Had this step been taken, on a worldwide basis, in 1997, soon after Microsoft began tying IE with its monopoly Windows operating system, it might have been sufficient to remedy its illegal tying behavior. But today, after many years of illegal tying, the effects of Microsoft's abusive behavior are heavily entrenched. By its move today, Microsoft has admitted the existence of an abuse, and in the interest of consumers, antitrust law requires an effective remedy for the abuse.

Third, in that regard, Microsoft must now give users real choice, and not only buyers of new computers, but also existing users. Microsoft should provide a ballot screen through which both existing users and buyers of new PCs can easily select and get a browser of their choice.

Fourth, it is interesting that Microsoft has made this move in light of its oft-repeated assertions to regulators and others that it could not be done. Microsoft has said that IE could not be separated from Windows, but it appears to be possible after all.

Microsoft in its statement did admit that this self-remedy might not be all it will have to do to satisfy the EU Commission:
Obviously, this is a big step for Microsoft. But we’re committed to launching Windows 7 on time in Europe, so we need to address the legal realities in Europe, including the risk of large fines. We believe that this new approach, while not our first choice, is the best path forward given the ongoing legal case in Europe. It will address the “bundling” claim while providing European consumers with access to the full range of Windows 7 benefits that will be available in the rest of the world. Our developers are focused on delivering a great Windows 7 experience to customers and a great browser as well.

Our decision to only offer IE separately from Windows 7 in Europe cannot, of course, preclude the possibility of alternative approaches emerging through Commission processes. Other alternatives have been raised in the Commission proceedings, including possible inclusion in Windows 7 of alternative browsers or a “ballot screen” that would prompt users to choose from a specific set of Web browsers. Important details of these approaches would need to be worked out in coordination with the Commission, since they would have a significant impact on computer manufacturers and Web browser vendors, whose interests may differ. Given the complexity and competing interests, we don’t believe it would be best for us to adopt such an approach unilaterally.

Opera would like a "must carry" solution, according to an interview with Ina Fried:
In an interview, Opera Chief Technology Officer Hakon Wium Lie said that with regulators threatening action, Microsoft was under pressure to do something, but said that its choice wasn't what Opera was looking for. Lie told CNET that Opera wants people to have access to more browsers, not fewer. "I don't believe this is going to restore competition in the marketplace," he said.

Instead, Lie favors a proposal that the European regulators have been considering that would require users to be given a choice to download one or more browsers the first time they access the Internet.

"We would like to give users a genuine choice," Lie said. The remedy that the EC has been discussing, a so-called "must-carry" remedy, would be a better solution, he said.

The special European version will be called Windows 7 E, as in Windows Home Premium 7 E, and Emil Protalinski of ars technica points out that this means customers in Europe will get their computers without a browser to download a browser with:
Microsoft notes that the decision affects both OEM and Retail versions of Windows 7 products. While OEMs will have access to a free "IE8 pack" that allows them to add the browser back in, consumers who purchase retail copies will not have a browser that they can use to download a browser. Therefore, Microsoft will offer IE8 via CD, FTP, and retail channels. It looks like Mozilla, Opera, Google, and Apple will have to do the same if they want European Windows 7 adopters to have access to their browsers.
I should point out that the Internet works fine without browsers. Apple's OSX has phoned home with registration information and fetched patches from a dedicated client (not a browser) for years, just as one example. So you don't need a browser to download a browser. If, for example, Windows 7 E came with all the major browsers ready to connect to a download, at the customer's choice, as in even all of the above, why wouldn't that work? But if IE is easy to install and nothing else is, then what? And if it's left up to Microsoft-dependent OEMs to choose, then what? And what skeptics will be wondering is this: Is Microsoft trying to replicate the failure of the Window N remedy?

[Update: The New York Times reports that is precisely one reason for the cool EU Commission reaction to the Microsoft announcement:

One reason for the quick rejection, according to competition lawyers in Brussels and a commission spokesman, is that the European Commission did not want to repeat a mistake of the first Microsoft case, when it ordered the software maker in 2004 to sell a version of Windows in Europe without its media player.

Microsoft responded by selling its so-called “N” version of Windows for the same price as its full version, and consumers rejected the stripped-down system. The remedy also did not significantly improve the lot of competing media players. Microsoft said it sold only a few thousand copies of the “N” version.

End Update]

One difference is pointed out by CNET's Ina Fried, who broke the story:

In contrast with the "N" version, though, Microsoft will not also sell a full-featured version of Windows that includes the browser.

"Microsoft will not offer for distribution in the European territory the Windows 7 product versions that contain IE, which are intended for distribution in the rest of the world," Microsoft said in the memo. "This will apply to both OEM and Retail versions of Windows 7 products."

No doubt there will be more on this story to come, and as other reactions come in, I'll update the article.

Update: The EU Commission has now responded with a statement. The Brisbane Times highlights this part reflecting skepticism:

"In terms of potential remedies, if the Commission were to find that Microsoft had committed an abuse, the Commission has suggested that consumers should be offered a choice of browser not that Windows should be supplied without a browser at all," it said in a statement.
Ina Fried adds also the more positive parts of the statement:
In a statement, regulators said that the move seems a step backward in the retail software arena, but said it could be more positive in the new PC market, which is how 95 percent of consumers get a new version of Windows.

"As for retail sales, which amount to less than 5 percent of total sales, the Commission had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of Web browsers," the Commission said. "Instead Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a Web browser at all. Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less."

But, as for the new computer market, stripping out the browser might be a good thing, the Commission says.

"As for sales to computer manufacturers, Microsoft's proposal may potentially be more positive," the commission said. "It is noted that computer manufacturers would appear to be able to choose to install Internet Explorer--which Microsoft will supply free of charge--another browser or multiple browsers."

The announcement of a self-remedy comes just as the EU Commission announced it was asking others in the software market for input on what would be an appropriate remedy:
According to an article published in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, the EC sent out a questionnaire on Friday to PC makers and software vendors that, among other things, is asking for recommendations on the best method of implementing what it sees as a remedy to Microsoft's dominance in the browser market, sources familiar with the matter said.
The questionnaire the Commission sent around also asked if Microsoft was putting pressure on witnesses, according to this article by Paul Meller in ComputerWorld, EC: Is Microsoft pressuring witnesses in antitrust case?, so today's announcement comes inside that context:
The European Commission is asking PC makers and software rivals if Microsoft has been pressuring them in connection with the ongoing antitrust case concerning Web browsers, one such company said Tuesday....

"They ask if Microsoft has exerted untoward pressure on us in the market testing process," said the company executive who asked not to be named.

Meller's article indicates what the proposed EU Commission remedy it was asking for input about would be like:
Most of the nine questions seek feedback on the remedy, which would involve the creation of a so-called 'ballot screen' containing a list of browsers that users would refer to when connecting their new PCs to the Internet for the first time.

They ask questions including the following: which browsers the companies feel should be included on the ballot screen, how the screen should be designed, and whether the browsers' software should be pre-loaded in full or if the ballot screen should just include a link that would allow easy downloading of the browsers, according to one executive who has seen the questionnaire.

Todd Bishop of TechFlash asks an interesting question and has more from Opera. The latter first:

"I don't think what they have announced today is going to get them off the hook."

That's the first take from Hakon Wium Lie, Opera Software's chief technology officer, following the news that Microsoft will offer Windows 7 in Europe without Internet Explorer pre-installed....

"I don't think this is going to correct all of what we think is illegal behavior -- the tying over the years," Lie said. "I don't think this is going to restore competition. I think restoring competition is one of the goals of the European Commission. So I don't think this is the end of the case."

What he's pointing out is that this remedy doesn't wipe away past conduct. And he goes on to point out that IE lock-in is a worldwide problem. Next the interesting question, on which I suspect much will depend:
In addition, he said, it remains to be seen exactly what Microsoft will remove from the "E" versions of Windows 7 to be sold in Europe. Will it be just the IE logo on the desktop or will the company take out the HTML rendering engine and JavaScript and HTTP support?

Publicly, at least, Microsoft hasn't gone into that level of detail on what will be removed from the European versions. It's clear that it will be more than just the logo on the desktop, but the distinction between Windows and Internet Explorer functionalities under the hood of the operating system has been a subject of intense debate in the past.

"The E versions of Windows 7 will include all the features and functionality of Windows 7 in the rest of the world, other than browsing with Internet Explorer," Microsoft's Heiner writes. He adds that the European versions "will continue to provide all of the underlying platform functionality of the operating system -- applications designed for Windows will run just as well on an E version as on other versions of Windows 7."

It is so easy to mess with the competition, when you are a monopoly, I guess. There are so many ways.

Some History

Meantime, here's some history for you. It seems relevant particularly in light of what Fried reported:

Microsoft doesn't plan to offer the browser-less "E" version outside Europe, but is also offering an option in all regions in which users can hide IE 8, as part of a control panel that lets users turn on and off various operating system components.
Doesn't that bring you back to the US antitrust case? First, on Microsoft pressuring OEMs to choose IE, that was precisely the allegation in the US antitrust case. Here's an article from 2000, U.S. VS. MICROSOFT: Pursuing a Giant; Retracing the Missteps In the Microsoft Defense by Joel Brinkley and Steve Lohr, that takes you through the history of the how the US case against Microsoft in the Netscape browser litigation came to be. It's a long article, but fascinating, and David Boies, his twin with the halo, so to speak, makes an appearance.

And here's a trip down memory lane, DoJ skewers MS exec over falsified video, an article by John Lettice in The Register in 1999 about the famous demo that went wrong when Microsoft's Jim Allchin tried to demonstrate in court that separating IE from Windows 98 resulted in degradation in performance:

The video had been played by Microsoft's defence on Monday. It ostensibly showed how modifications made to Windows 98 by Edward Felten's IE uninstall program caused severe performance degradation. But the video has given prosecution lawyer David Boies a courtroom scene he can dine out on for the rest of his life. Boies went through the video, freeze-framed it and showed that a title bar had suddenly changed in the middle of the 'demonstration.' It had been edited, and the edit had clearly used two versions of Windows, one of which had not been subject to Felten's modifications. Boies hereby wins our newly-created Register Perry Mason of the Year Award, and should reward his unsung researcher handsomely. There is no question that someone, somehow, had cooked the video at Microsoft.
Here's the DOJ's Complaint in that antitrust litigation, US vs. Microsoft Corp., which included this allegation:
5. To protect its valuable Windows monopoly against such potential competitive threats, and to extend its operating system monopoly into other software markets, Microsoft has engaged in a series of anticompetitive activities. Microsoft's conduct includes agreements tying other Microsoft software products to Microsoft's Windows operating system; exclusionary agreements precluding companies from distributing, promoting, buying, or using products of Microsoft's software competitors or potential competitors; and exclusionary agreements restricting the right companies to provide services or resources to Microsoft's software competitors or potential competitors....

15. Having failed simply to stop competition by agreement, Microsoft set about to exclude Netscape and other browser rivals from access to the distribution, promotion, and resources they needed to offer their browser products to OEMs and PC users pervasively enough to facilitate the widespread distribution of Java or to facilitate their browsers becoming an attractive programming platform in their own right.

16. First, Microsoft invested hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, test, and promote Internet Explorer, a product which it distributes without separate charge. As Paul Maritz, Microsoft's Group Vice President in charge of the Platforms Group, was quoted in the New York Times as telling industry executives: "We are going to cut off their air supply. Everything they're selling, we're going to give away for free." As reported in the Financial Times, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates likewise warned Netscape (and other potential Microsoft challengers) in June 1996: "Our business model works even if all Internet software is free. . . . We are still selling operating systems. What does Netscape's business model look like? Not very good."

17. But Mr. Gates did not stop at free distribution. Rather, Microsoft purposefully set out to do whatever it took to make sure significant market participants distributed and used Internet Explorer instead of Netscape's browser -- including paying some customers to take IE and using its unique control over Windows to induce others to do so. For example, in seeking the support of Intuit, a significant application software developer, Mr. Gates was blunt, as he reported in a July 1996 internal e-mail:

I was quite frank with him [Scott Cook, CEO of Intuit] that if he had a favor we could do for him that would cost us something like $1M to do that in return for switching browsers in the next few months I would be open to doing that. (MS6 6007642).
18. Second, Microsoft unlawfully required PC manufacturers, as a condition of obtaining licenses for the Windows 95 operating system, to agree to license, preinstall, and distribute Internet Explorer on every Windows PC such manufacturers shipped. By virtue of the monopoly position Windows enjoys, it was a commercial necessity for OEMs to preinstall Windows 95 -- and, as a result of Microsoft's illegal tie-in, Internet Explorer -- on virtually all of the PCs they sold. Microsoft thereby unlawfully tied its Internet Explorer software to the Windows 95 version of its monopoly operating system and unlawfully leveraged its operating system monopoly to require PC manufacturers to license and distribute Internet Explorer on every PC those OEMs shipped with Windows.

19. Third, Microsoft intends now unlawfully to tie its Internet browser software to its new Windows 98 operating system, the successor to Windows 95. Microsoft has made clear that, unless restrained, it will continue to misuse its operating system monopoly to artificially exclude browser competition and deprive customers of a free choice between browsers.

20. Microsoft designed Windows 98 so that removal of Internet Explorer by OEMs or end users is operationally more difficult than it was in Windows 95. Although it is nevertheless technically feasible and practicable to remove Microsoft's Internet browser software from Windows 98 and to substitute other Internet browser software, OEMs are prevented from doing so by Microsoft's contractual tie-in.

The historical documents are helpful in providing context to the reactions to Microsoft's announcement, and you may understand why some are so skeptical as to the sufficiency of Microsoft's self-remedy of an OEM-based solution. For example, note what U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson wrote in his 1999 Findings of Fact in United States v. Microsoft:
54. OEMs are the most important direct customers for operating systems for Intel-compatible PCs. Because competition among OEMs is intense, they pay particularly close attention to consumer demand. OEMs are thus not only important customers in their own right, they are also surrogates for consumers in identifying reasonably-available commercial alternatives to Windows. Without significant exception, all OEMs pre-install Windows on the vast majority of PCs that they sell, and they uniformly are of a mind that there exists no commercially viable alternative to which they could switch in response to a substantial and sustained price increase or its equivalent by Microsoft. For example, in 1995, at a time when IBM still placed hope in OS/2's ability to rival Windows, the firm nevertheless calculated that its PC company would lose between seventy and ninety percent of its sales volume if failed to load Windows 95 on its PCs. Although a few OEMs have announced their intention to pre-install Linux on some of the computers they ship, none of them plan to install Linux in lieu of Windows on any appreciable number of PC (as opposed to server) systems. For its part, Be is not even attempting to persuade OEMs to install the BeOS on PCs to the exclusion of Windows.

55. OEMs believe that the likelihood of a viable alternative to Windows emerging any time in the next few years is too low to constrain Microsoft from raising prices or imposing other burdens on customers and users. The accuracy of this belief is highlighted by the fact that the other vendors of Intel-compatible PC operating systems do not view their own offerings as viable alternatives to Windows. Microsoft knows that OEMs have no choice but to load Windows, both because it has a good understanding of the market in which it operates and because OEMs have told Microsoft as much. Indicative of Microsoft's assessment of the situation is the fact that, in a 1996 presentation to the firm's executive committee, the Microsoft executive in charge of OEM licensing reported that piracy continued to be the main competition to the company's operating system products. Secure in this knowledge, Microsoft did not consider the prices of other Intel-compatible PC operating systems when it set the price of Windows 98.

I'm finding all these historical gems on Groklaw's Microsoft Litigation page, and you can too.

What I'd Like:

As for a remedy, here's my input: have scripts that connect to dedicated servers, yes, so users can choose whatever browser they want. Or browsers, but don't preload, or Microsoft might include dated code that doesn't work as well as more modern versions. FOSS in particular revises often and improves quickly, so it would be a mistake, I think, to include code that relies on Microsoft to choose which version. Think ODF.

But I'd like links to descriptions of the browsers too, so users who never heard of Chrome, for example, or Opera, or Firefox, or Safari can learn what the various browsers are like, what they offer, what you can do with them, because IE users aren't used to choice, and they probably don't know how many, many options they actually have in a browser like Opera or the FOSS browsers. Here's the Opera page that describes all the many choices you have in that amazing browser. They tend to be first with innovations, as far as I'm concerned. And there should at least be screenshots that show what they look like, again via links, so the browsers control how they present, not Microsoft.

Update: Here's the EU Commission statement in full:

*******************************************

Antitrust: Commission statement on Microsoft Internet Explorer announcement Reference: MEMO/09/272 Date: 12/06/2009

MEMO/09/272

Brussels, 12 th June 2009

Antitrust: Commission statement on Microsoft Internet Explorer announcement

The European Commission notes with interest Microsoft's announcement of its plans for Windows 7, and in particular of the apparent separation of Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows in the EEA. The Commission will shortly decide in the pending browser tying antitrust case whether or not Microsoft’s conduct from 1996 to date has been abusive and, if so, what remedy would be necessary to create genuine consumer choice and address the anticompetitive effects of Microsoft’s long-standing conduct. In terms of potential remedies if the Commission were to find that Microsoft had committed an abuse, the Commission has suggested that consumers should be offered a choice of browser, not that Windows should be supplied without a browser at all.

At the level of both computer manufacturers and retail sales, the Commission's Statement of Objections (SO) suggested that consumers should be provided with a genuine choice of browsers. Given that over 95% of consumers acquire Windows pre-installed on a PC, it is particularly important to ensure consumer choice through the computer manufacturer channel.

As for retail sales, which amount to less than 5% of total sales, the Commission had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of web browsers. Instead Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a web browser at all. Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less.

As for sales to computer manufacturers, Microsoft's proposal may potentially be more positive. It is noted that computer manufacturers would appear to be able to choose to install Internet Explorer – which Microsoft will supply free of charge - another browser or multiple browsers. Were the Commission to conclude that Microsoft’s behaviour has been abusive, it would have to consider whether this proposal would in itself be sufficient to create genuine consumer choice on the web browser market. The Commission would inter alia take into account the long standing nature of Microsoft's conduct. It would also have to consider whether this initial step of technical separation of IE from Windows could be negated by other actions by Microsoft.

Consumer Choice and Innovation

The development of new online services makes web browsers an increasingly important tool for businesses and consumers, and a lack of real consumer choice on this market would undermine innovation.

The Commission’s preliminary concerns are set out in detail in a Statement of Objections sent to Microsoft in January. The specific circumstances of Microsoft’s tying of IE to Windows in this case would appear to lead to significant consumer harm.

The SO sets out the preliminary view that, should the Commission conclude that Microsoft’s conduct was abusive, any remedy would need to restore a level-playing field and enable genuine consumer choice between Internet Explorer and third-party web browsers, in order to bring the infringement effectively to an end. A potential remedy to these concerns, which the Commission considered in the SO and which would not require Microsoft to provide Windows to end-users without a browser, would be to allow consumers to choose from different web browsers presented to them through a 'ballot screen' in Windows.

Background

The Commission sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Microsoft on 15 January 2009 (see MEMO/09/15 ).

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission.

Microsoft replied to the SO on 28 April 2009. The Commission is currently considering Microsoft’s reply, and additional evidence in the case, and has not yet reached any conclusion.

The Commission's assessment would be guided in particular by the principles laid down by the Court of First Instance in its judgment of September 2007 in the Microsoft case regarding the tying of Windows Media Player (see MEMO/07/359 ) and the Commission's experience with the remedy in that case, while taking account of the specific circumstances of the present case.


  


Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions - Updated | 242 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions
Authored by: Stumbles on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 06:34 PM EDT
I wonder how many security holes IEs removal will close.

---
You can tuna piano but you can't tune a fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 06:38 PM EDT
    No way. They will just hide it. It will be there hauntingly. Plus it will be
    required if you want to add other windows bits and pieces. No I don't know...
    But based on history... this is how it will go.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Chicken and Egg
    Authored by: Steve Martin on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 06:57 PM EDT

    Instead, Lie favors a proposal that the European regulators have been considering that would require users to be given a choice to download one or more browsers the first time they access the Internet.
    Um, but without a browser of some sort already present, just how are we supposed to "access the Internet" and download a browser? That seems to me a fly in the ointment.

    ---
    "When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffe, "Sports Night"

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 06:58 PM EDT
    Windows should come without Notepad, which is unfair competition for other text
    editors.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Plus Pack
    Authored by: Wol on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 06:59 PM EDT
    Given the propensity of OEMs to provide masses of preloaded software, what would
    be nice if they were told to "don't preload the software, provide a
    plus-pack on DVD for the purchaser to put in and select what they want". So
    they could *choose* to install Norton (more fool them), Firefox, Opera,
    whatever.

    And if Microsoft is told (in no uncertain terms, by the regulator) that what
    goes on the plus-pack is none of their business, then things *should* get back
    to some semblance of normality.

    And if OEMs say that providing a DVD is too expensive, then they should be at
    liberty to put all the plus-pack software in a directory on the hard disk, and
    put a plus-pack program on the desktop that says "what extra software would
    you like to install?". This could even be a mini-browser that goes to the
    OEM's website and pulls stuff down from there.

    Cheers,
    Wol

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    First, Europe...
    Authored by: DaveJakeman on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 07:03 PM EDT
    ...but then what? The rest of the world? Or just continue choking the rest of the world with IE? Because they can?

    ---
    The code was clean as clean could be, accounts were dry as dry.
    You could not see a cloud, because attorneys filled the sky:
    No valid claims were overheard -- there were no claims to fly.
       --- The Darlus and the Counselor

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The EU Impact
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 07:05 PM EDT

    I think, considering the apparent "self-initiated" action by MS that this is another sign MS can't just ignore the anti-competition regulators in Europe like they have in the US. They tried, but I feel they had to "sit up and take notice" when the fines climbed past the Billion mark.

    A very good sign for us all so long as the Anti-competition commission continues it's path. Some recommended situations to initiate examination into in order to affect remedies today as though impelementing such a remedy in 1997:

      A) Microsoft Bing, it's relation to the Wikkipedia pages it hosts and Wikkipedia itself. Some interesting questions to ask:
    1. How long after a Wikkipedia page is updated does the "reference page" provided by Bing supply the update?
    2. Why are MS associates updating wikkipedia pages with provably false information that Bing then happens to reflect?
      B) Netbooks. Some interesting questions:
    1. How did MS take over an entire market in a year when it was almost exclusively a Linux market?
    2. After announcing Linux on a netbook, why did the Asus Executive Vice President appologize and the company shelve the product?
    One could also note current events with regards OOXML, however, they may already be under examination since the whole voting surrounding OOXML was initiated.

    I'm sure others could mention more where MS is directly tied in.

    RAS

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 07:08 PM EDT
    There is also still the problem of bundling.

    One of the other monopoly Microsoft have is that Windows is a tax on computers.
    99% of PC (ie not Mac) comes with an un-removable Windows license banning any
    competition on that segment. This bundling has been declared "illegal"
    in most jurisdiction, but they (both Microsoft and the OEM) get away with it.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    In a future millenium
    Authored by: mexaly on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 07:13 PM EDT
    It's an entire archaeological layer of Internet Explorer DVDs. Separated, by a
    thin layer of slightly used cellphones, from a layer of AOL diskettes.

    ---
    IANAL, but I watch actors play lawyers on television.
    My thanks go out to PJ and the legal experts that make Groklaw great.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 07:21 PM EDT
    No, microsoft can't really ship without IE and have windows still work. They
    can leave out the executable (.exe) and icon to launch that, but the DLL's and
    OCX's (or activeX or COM or ugh, DCOM,, a rose by any other name...) that ARE IE
    are used by quite a lot of all their other code -- for example, the HTML
    rendering in Outlook, help rendering, all those things depend on that
    functionality and don't know any other way to get it as of now. They'd have to
    re-write everything to get that, and of course, they won't do that.

    So, the security holes will still be there and so on, and so will the guts of
    IE, regardless. So will the DRM they made everyone put into video and sound
    cards to support Vista, that make my hardware for linux cost more and run slower
    and use more power, even though linux doesn't use it.

    Spoken as someone who programmed windows for a few decades, I know what's in
    there and mostly why. And thanks to MS for making me wealthy, getting paid to
    fix their sorry stuff for customers who needed *useful* software. Not to
    mention reliable.

    No longer -- I use Linux for all that I can now on my large network, only one or
    two percent windows at this point, as I no longer program for customers and only
    keep the 'doze around to run programs from the people who made my mass
    spectrometer and scientific data acquisition hardware, for example. And every
    time I get another solution -- one more windows box is toast, hah.

    coultersmith

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Alternatives - how?
    Authored by: orenwolf on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 07:59 PM EDT
    How will a browserless-os user obtain a browser exactly? Command line FTP?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It's a Scam
    Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 09:16 PM EDT

    I think there are several things behind this:

    1) Get consumers upset at the EU Competition Commission
    2) Gives Microsoft the ability to lean on the OEMS to ship every computer with
    an IE DVD
    3) Blocks other browsers, as they don't have a distribution channel to get their
    browsers to customers
    4) Since it's impossible to remove IE, we may find that the "removal"
    is a fake, in other words IE is still there, it's just hidden.

    This won't fix anything, and is a desperate attempt by Microsoft to avoid having
    to include competitive browsers in Windows. The commission is unlikely to fall
    for this in my opinion, but I've been wrong before.


    ---
    Wayne

    http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Shill swarming...
    Authored by: Gringo on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 09:42 PM EDT

    There is a remarkable phenomenon taking place on Slashdot right now. Microsoft's shills are swarming all over this story. They are deadly afraid that the new adminstration in the USA is going to take notice of the EU initiative against the monopoly, and perhaps follow through with an initiative of their own. [the link just supplied will take you right to the page with the following comments]

    A reader posted this informative comment...

    Yes, every user needs a browser, so isn't it convenient if nearly every computer in the world shipped with IE, then third parties don't need to support the standards, they just need to support IE. They write to some extension specific to IE - like say activeX - and that's the same as supporting everyone by an open standard, and it's easier to just write to one specific browser than test it in a bunch of them. Eventually, when so many websites are written this way, it becomes nigh impossible to use the web without using IE - and then microsoft have a new defacto monopoly with IE, because everyone writes to it because everyone uses it. That makes it extremely hard for any browser, or any OS that doesn't ship with IE to compete - because they don't work on the web without IE. So Mirosoft have leveraged a monpoly in one market, windows, into a monopoly in another market, the web, and that just reinforces their original monopoly and makes windows even harder to compete with. We've seen this in actually happen Korea for example, where virtually all banking websites use activex, making IE - and thus windows - a near mandatory requirement.

    The way to break that cycle is to ensure that third party developers can't take the shortcut of assuming that because 95% of users are windows users, that 95% of people will have IE, by taking IE off the desktop by default, and giving the alternatives an equal platform. The only reason firefox has the market share it does is because IE won, and was left to rot for so very long indeed that users and developers switched to a project with a pulse.to get new features. The only reason we have IE8 at all is because of firefox forcing microsoft to have to compete again.

    Without competition, there is no choice in the market, and with no choice in the market consumers lose their own weapon to force improvements of service - to switch to somebody else. When existing monopolies step into new markets, and compete purely on their existing domination rather than any merit, governments are duty bound to protect the long term interests of the public be ensuring competition is kept fair, even if letting the monopoly do what it wants is easier in the short term.

    And somebody followed up with this... Currently, it's modded troll. How long do you think it will last until it's modded into oblivion?

    In spite of the valued contribution of your well reasoned post, I predict that the Microsoft shills will just go on posting their memes all the way through this discussion as if your post never existed.

    I am really curious as to why some Slasdot participants feel Microsoft needs their support. It is a huge, powerful corporation hardly in need of this constant defence by a cabal of Slashdotters. Why is it so important to them?

    There is a long and noble tradition in journalism of giving more coverage to the underdog - for example - on political issues, where candidates running against a long time incumbent may get more exposure. This is something good for society - that the voice of individuals should get heard and not drowned out the mighty roar of the powerful.

    Slashdot has long been known as a place where such voices can be heard speaking out against perceived injustices perpetrated by the powerful. The defence of Microsoft by some Slashdotters goes directly against the grain here. What bothers me most about these comments by Microsoft's supporters on Slashdot is their subtle nature - not just healthy debate, but rather, as if there was some orchestrated campaign employing techniques such as "Saturate, diffuse, confuse".

    Corporations should not have defenses from the people in the community. They are not equivalent to people, and should not be treated so within that community. The information source was created out of the desire of people who were not paid to share, and injecting thought which is influenced by any monetary bias is by definition sullying a good source of information.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The right to migrate an OS from old to new PC
    Authored by: hardmath on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 09:42 PM EDT
    Of course M$ is trying to frame the issue in terms most helpful to themselves --
    "the EU foolishly wants to strip you of our browser, so suffer at their
    hands, Enduser!"

    But the real battleground is the right to buy a PC with no operating system cost
    built-in. After all, most purchasers already own a PC, and many of the
    non-technical buyers will rely on the paid services of a big box store's
    technical dept. to migrate their user files over from an older PC.

    Why shouldn't the operating system go with them? After all, the operating
    system is primarily a collection of files, and any reconfiguration needed is
    exactly the sort of service (taking advantage of new hardware) that I'd be
    willing to pay a knowledgeable vendor for.

    But then it gets the OEM provider out of the loop in terms of backroom deals
    with M$, supplanting them with frontline troops at the retail outlet who have to
    actually come through for their customers. Let's face, a customer whose only
    choice for redress is to return a PC to the manufacturer will be mightily
    inconvenienced, and thus inclined to accept a fairly unsatisfactory
    configuration because of the opportunity costs.

    regards, hm


    ---
    "Mail-order schools lure fledgling code jockeys with promises of big bucks and
    excitement. But a new survey finds hirings are rare." Computerworld, 12/11/95

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What software would you want to see to be uninstallable from Windows?
    Authored by: Nemesis on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 11:10 PM EDT

    What software would you want to see to be uninstallable from Windows?

    For myself it would be:

    IE. Outlook Express. Mediaplayer. All DRM. Windows Explorer. Messenger.

    Some of those I have no use for and others I use alternatives.

    There are probably others I would dispense with but I can't think of them offhand.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Install *no* browser and no download tool
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 11 2009 @ 11:56 PM EDT
    Ah, I'm beginning to understand which trick they want to play: Microsoft installs no browser at all and also installs no means for downloading anything. However, they are putting a CD with IE into the box together with a cute little tag saying "the dirty European bastards made us to do so". Since users typically don't have Firefox or Opera CDs ready at hand, they will install IE instead. Mission completed, European Community smeared.

    Microsoft is so dirty, this is almost style again.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    So Microsoft lies (yawn). But what about the courts?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 02:07 AM EDT

    I guess that means you actually can remove the browser and Windows will still run, despite what Microsoft told the court in the US.

    So Microsoft lied to the court in the 1998-2000 antitrust case. I don't think anyone will be surprised to learn that.

    But in other countries, perjury (lying to a court while under oath) is a serious crime. In Britain, for example, Lord Archer (millionaire author of "Kane and Abel" and other books) was sentenced to 2 years in prison for perjury in a civil lawsuit.

    In the USA perjury doesn't seem to be taken so seriously (Bill Clinton just had to pay a fine), but shouldn't Microsoft executives at least be indicted? The United States legal system is turning into a bad joke. We knew it was possible to drag people and companies into court for years without valid cause (costs can put small companies out of business). But now, it seems that corporate executives can lie to a court with complete impunity, if they're well enough connected.

    How can anybody think that the US legal system has anything to do with justice?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The problem with the ballot box...
    Authored by: Zarkov on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 02:32 AM EDT
    Microsoft has traded for the past twenty plus years on the apathy of its
    users... They know very well that, given any kind of choice 90% of Windoze
    users will simply click on the first item in the list because any kind of
    research is 'too hard'.

    When they say they are 'giving the users what they want' - what they really mean
    is that the 'users don't have a clue what they want and couldn't care less
    anyway, so they accept any old rubbish we throw at them'

    Therefore - expect to see Internet Explorer listed at the top of every 'ballot
    box' - and expect to see 90% of users click on it.

    This user apathy is not a new phenomenon - how many Win users ever even think of
    trying to install an alternative browser? Some for sure but the statistics tell
    us that they are only a tiny minority of the population. For most its just too
    much hassle....

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Windows update?
    Authored by: attila_the_pun on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:11 AM EDT
    As long as Windows update is tied to IE, Windows users will have to install IE to get their fix patches anyway. Unless that's going to be fixed, it's simply a way of inconveniencing customers, which MS will then blame on the European Commission.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Wow. We forgot the "off topic", "Newspicks", and "corrections" threads.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:25 AM EDT
    I guess this story got peoples blood up.

    I don't have a login so can't create them

    Intersting article looking at DVD's Games and CD sales. The total market has grown, but CD sales have been squeezed. That is why CD sales have fallen. People are playing more games.

    The Guardian

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Any bets IE8 will be a 'critical update' in Windows 7 E?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:32 AM EDT
    If anyone does manage to install a retail Windows 7 E without a browser (hands
    up the three of you that bought the vastly overpriced - in the UK at least -
    Vista retail DVD), I can guarantee that MS will have IE 8 as a critical update
    in Windows 7 and it'll soon end up on the system regardless.

    OEMs are almost certain to apply the IE 8 pack to their Windows 7 E
    pre-installs, simply because they're familiar with shipping IE with Windows. By
    the same token, pretty well zero will ship more than one browser because it
    increases support costs. This move by MS will barely shift the market share of
    IE 8 at all, IMHO.

    As the EU and other people have said, a balloting downloader (that randomly
    presents choices with no default selected - the list of which is maintained by a
    neutral third party) run on first boot of the OS (or at any time later on by the
    user) is the way to go. It's complex to maintain - think of all the Windows 7
    variants plus all the locales - but ultimately the only fair way to do it. BTW,
    the browser selected should be downloaded directly from the browser vendors
    server(s) and not from Microsoft (unless IE 8 is chosen). Also, the initial
    install of IE 8 should not be offered at all by Windows Update (though updates
    to an already installed IE 8 are fine to be in Windows Update), only by the
    balloting downloader, otherwise it gives MS a big advantage.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Corrections
    Authored by: sciamiko on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:35 AM EDT
    About time we had the canonical threads.

    Bad -> Good looks good in the subject line

    s.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OT: Off topic
    Authored by: sciamiko on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:37 AM EDT
    And clickies are good - see red instructions

    s.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    NP: News Picks
    Authored by: sciamiko on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:39 AM EDT
    Comments on any stories in the News picks column.

    Naming the pick in the subject line helps.

    s.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It looks like you're trying to install a non-Microsoft browser. Are you really, really, sure?
    Authored by: kh on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 04:51 AM EDT
    .

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    read the fine print PJ .. :)
    Authored by: emacsuser on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 05:47 AM EDT
    'My first reaction was, I guess that means you actually can remove the browser and Windows will still run, despite what Microsoft told the court in the US ..', PJ

    Now PJ, where does that say IExplorer is actually removed from the OS. And if I recall correctly ever since W2K, Microsoft has embedded the core IE HTML rendering engine into the OS, for instance the help system would cease to function without it. It's also used in plug-in type widgets in other apps. Like embedding search in msOffice for instance. Which of course won't work with Google :)

    'The E versions of Windows 7 will include all the features and functionality of Windows 7 in the rest of the world, other than browsing with Internet Explorer'

    See also .. :)

    'Computer manufacturers will be able to add any browser they want to their Windows 7 machines, including Internet Explorer, so European consumers who purchase new PCs will be able to access the Internet without any problem', Microsoft's deputy general counsel

    What a relief, where would we be without Microsoft's legal department protecting our browsing rights.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    No Browser may mean no Internet connection
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 06:05 AM EDT
    If I recall correctly, my current DSL modem had to be configured with a user
    name and password before it would connect me to the Internet, and the only way
    to configure it was by using a browser to connect to its little built-in web
    server that put up the configuration page. A new computer with no browser would
    not be able to configure a new DSL modem and thus would not be able to connect
    to the Internet to download a browser. (Previous DSL modems used the computer's
    PPPoE support, but this latest one does the PPPoE itself and provides DHCP to
    the computer.)

    It's not a problem for me, since I have never owned a computer with Windows on
    it, and I have old computers around that I could have used to configure the
    modem, but it might be a problem for somebody.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    not the biggest anti-competitive issue
    Authored by: Alan Bell on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 07:52 AM EDT

    My view on this is that it is a historical fact that Microsoft pre-installed the browser to lock out others in an anti-competitive move. However the choice of browser is an easily fixable problem by the end user, and it would be nice to allow uninstallation of the unwanted browser. I don't know what the best remedy is.

    I do think the bigger anti-competitive issue is pre-installing the operating system and the refusal of OEMs to sell a blank computer. This would cost them almost nothing to do. Less cost to the OEM than doing a refund of the operating system cost, which some OEMs are now refusing to do.

    Toshiba now put this notice on computers:

    Quality Seal Importants Notice: TOSHIBA Corporation (TOSHIBA) and/or its subsidiaries currently sell personal computers with pre-installed Microsoft operating system as computing solution. Please note, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the documentation accompanying your computer, TOSHIBA and/or its subsidiaries do not accept the return of component parts or bundled software, which have been removed from the PC System. Pro-rata refunds on individual components or bundled software, including the operating system, will not be granted.

    There is a photo of the statement on the Naked Computers

    site.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    How people will get browsers:
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 08:49 AM EDT

    So, several threads already cry, how do you download a browser without a browser?

    I think even the EU would see the flaw with a big friendly desktop button saying "Click here to download Internet Explorer"which used the 90% of IE that was still installed as part of the OS to grab "ie.exe".

    Lots of people are suggesting FTP etc. without realizing just how far outside the comfort zone of a typical non-techie PC user that would be. Others have also wisely pointed out that some people are obliged to use a browser to get their internet connection going (e.g. to log on to a wireless network).

    However - that issue simply won't arise much, since the vast majority of people get Windows pre-installed on their PC - and PC suppliers will inevitably install a browser (along with all the other bloatware). The bigger box-shifters don't drop a generic Windows DVD in the box, but produce their own "system restore" discs (or, annoyingly, don't give you any discs, but supply a utility for you to burn your own) - which could include a browser.

    If you buy a windows "Upgrade" it will, presumably, preserve your original browser.

    If you wipe your HD and re-install everything from scratch from a generic Windows DVD then, by definition, you're more of a power user and will be smart enough to bootstrap yourself somehow.

    Of course, back in the day when it wasn't assumed that everybody had a browser, it was fairly common to find IE and/or Netscape included on software CDs magazine cover discs, promotional CDs and driver discs so finding a browser was not a problem - not so much these days, but that could soon change (especially if someone offers a wee incentive, or offers them the opportunity to add their own branding or ads to the browser).

    So, the real question is really whether OEMs are going to have a free reign to bundle any browser they like with new Windows PCs. We Shall See.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Divide and Conquer
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 10:05 AM EDT
    The Microsoft license will forbid Windows 7E to be distributed outside of the EU
    and Windows 7 within the EU. With the internet crossing the Atlantic either
    direction in milliseconds this is an absolute dream for the Microsoft litigation
    team.

    Copies showing up in use in the wrong geographical areas will automatically
    constitute copyright infringement without quibbles about contract law.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    type this in
    Authored by: emacsuser on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 10:15 AM EDT
    run 'explorer.exe http://www.groklaw.net/' and a browser pops up. I do know
    explorer will display a web page ever since Ms decided that the 'desktop' should
    look like the web. But how will this work on Windows 7, with the browser
    'unbundled'?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Another bit of history..
    Authored by: Peter Baker on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 11:28 AM EDT
    I was using the Net before Tim Berners-Lee graced us with the URL concept. In
    those days you had to get things like Spyglass and Netscape via FTP.

    Admittedly, FTP is well outside the comfort zone of the average end user but
    it's not rocket science to wrap a simple GUI click-a-button front end around it
    - it's certainly easier than complying with the MSOOXML spec :-)

    However, I think the EU Commission will have to have its say first before we
    think about "solutions". It isn't trivial to create such a
    "selector" in a sustainable way. Even such a basic script will
    require some organisation - which browsers do you include, how do you assure
    it's not a setup where other browsers "fail" or
    "accidentally" get plug-ins installed which render them as unsafe as
    IE etc etc. I'm not saying it can't be done, but this has to be a bit more
    decent than just a vanilla hack.

    I do repeat my observation that MS is really playing a dangerous game here.
    There is absolutely nothing positive I can see in that announcement, and as far
    as I can see the EU Commission is of the same opinion..

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Opera mail compliment
    Authored by: skuggi on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 01:30 PM EDT
    "They tend to be first with innovations, as far as I'm concerned."
    Right on the head PJ. The browser is slick and handy but what I fall flat for
    is the email.
    I work for corporation where good email client is a must. I work in the
    Electronic Industry, manufacturing, dealing with ship loads of mail and
    attachments all day.
    Opera is my main email client and because I use IMAP instead of POP3 I have
    access to all my mail from any mail client from everywhere.(not outlook as it
    can not handle big imap mail boxes)
    Now searching the inbox(15,000 messages) for a message containing specific word,
    part number or sentence in a message only takes a second or so. This is so
    amazing, I don't know how they do it but it is very impressive and helpful. Also
    how it shows out new mail and read mail and so on, tiny things here and there
    but all very handy when dealing with allot of mail.
    I would though like to see more choice regarding tags. Setting my own tags
    instead of presets is on my wish list.
    I also use claws mail, which is another excellent client and libre but that is
    another story.


    ---
    -Skuggi.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions - Updated
    Authored by: TemporalBeing on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 01:35 PM EDT
    My first reaction was, I guess that means you actually can remove the browser and Windows will still run, despite what Microsoft told the court in the US. My second was, if OEMs can choose to install IE, why wouldn't Microsoft just sit on them in various subtle ways to make sure it's in their best interests to always "choose" to install IE? And does this fix Vista? XP? I have some other reactions for you. Thomas Vinje of ECIS says this is "an acknowledgement of the validity of the EU Commission's case, but it is by no means enough.
    Well...I'm no MS insider - and I'm very much a pro-Linux guy - but I do develop for Windows (work) and keep track of some of what is going on, so I'll try to provide a little insight to what is likely the answer to these questions...

    When MS first integrated IE into Windows, it did so very intentionally and very deeply. The dependency graphs were such that it would have required IE to function at that time.

    MS did Vista in two steps. Its first attempt at Vista failed after roughly 2.5 years; after which they started reducing the dependency graph to make it more manageable. This work continued for Win7; and from this we work we get the following:

    MinWin
    Windows Server Core
    Win7 (in all its incantations)


    The fact is, that it is highly unlikely that MS would have been able to rip out IE as they are without this refactoring having been done.

    But wait - it gets better. Even WITH this refactoring, they still can't quite do it - you can remove IE, but it leaves behind the Trident HTML engine for use by some internals (e.g. the Windows Help System) and third party apps that require it.

    With Win2k/XP, you could remove IE - you could even tell apps to use Firefox/Opera/etc, but not every API, not every application honored it - some were hard coded to the 'iexplorer.exe' program, and would use IE regardless.

    So while this is certainly a step in the right direction, it hopefully won't be the last. Now if they would only make this Win7E (or whatever satisfies the EU commission) the standard version.

    Hopefully with Win7 we'll ALL be able to completely replace IE with our favorite browser.

    HTH

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Thomas Vinje is wrong on all points
    Authored by: drorh on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 03:08 PM EDT
    (with the logical solution at the end)
    First, this move by Microsoft is an acknowledgment of the validity of the European Commission's antitrust case against it.

    Wrong. It is a move whereby Microsoft says to the EU: Fine,you think it is illegal for us to provide our browser in our operating system? We still want to sell in Europe so we'll take it out for you. We hope you will like it.

    Second, this is a step in the right direction, but it is far from enough. Had this step been taken, on a worldwide basis, in 1997, ..... But today, after many years of illegal tying, the effects of Microsoft's abusive behavior are heavily entrenched. By its move today, Microsoft has admitted the existence of an abuse

    This is not a step in the right direction as it will hurt consumers (those buying retail since OEM would never consider not installing IE, if only for the support nightmare they will have to deal with). Then, the concept that providing a web browser with an operating system is 'tying' is plain dumb. A non-technical person buying a PC rightly expects to be able to browse the internet from the first moment - why should that person have to choose a browser? how could (s)he?

    Unfortunately, people are looking at the wrong problem. I have recently bought a PC for my folks and installed Ubuntu. It came with Firefox pre-installed and for the most part all is well. What is not so well is that there are quite a few sites that would not work with Firefox - some rely on a proprietary Windows video format, others rely on some IE- only, non-standard quirks.

    The problem is that Microsoft gets to create the notion for people that if they do not use Windows, they will get less optimal experience. I had to grudgingly install Wine and IE6 so they can see some medial site they wanted.

    I did not see the EU making Microsoft acknowledging the real problem which, again, is not 'tying' IE to Windows but using their monopolistic position to undermine other OSes.

    Third, in that regard, Microsoft must now give users real choice, and not only buyers of new computers, but also existing users. Microsoft should provide a ballot screen through which both existing users and buyers of new PCs can easily select and get a browser of their choice.

    Wrong again, this will not help people on Mac/Linux and for most non-technical folks would undermine the use experience. A software should work out of the box without asking questions. Just see how awful is the IE8 first-time experience with all those questions about accelerators, web clips an what not - who can even try to understand this?

    Fourth, it is interesting that Microsoft has made this move in light of its oft-repeated assertions to regulators and others that it could not be done. Microsoft has said that IE could not be separated from Windows, but it appears to be possible after all.

    Microsoft was correct that IE cannot be separated from Windows. It is still true in the sense that shipping an OS without a browser in the Internet age makes sense only to EU bureaucrats who don't care at all about consumers - only about their own European based Opera company (which I never liked - I moved to Firefox years ago and lately I am mostly using Chrome).

    One Possible Logical Solution:

    Since the real problem here is not that Windows has a browser but that that Microsoft gets to use that browser along with related technologies to undermine other OS alternatives (one can install any browser on Windows) then the solution should address the real problem.

    Microsoft should be allowed to market their browser under the condition that it must behave like the next two most popular browser brands (or firmly adhere to existing W3C specs). If they create new technologies that other browsers do not have, they must offer an open-source, royalty free specifications and reference implementations (sorry, life as a monopolistic entity has some rules).

    As for past quirks - those should be packaged as a separate product that will be available for manual download. OEMs must not be allowed to distribute it since the act of going and finding that extra product that gives you those features is the equivalent of the effort to install another browser. This will also put pressure on web site owners that are still using the IE quirks (enterprises must be able to add this separate product to their automated installation processes, of course).

    This solution is fair, reasonable and will benefit everyone (including Microsoft themselves whose bad IE legacy hurt them with their mobile browser just like it hurt others).

    Dror Harari

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    No Difference - Microsoft Announces It Will Ship Without IE in Europe - Reactions - Updated
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 12 2009 @ 11:38 PM EDT
    If Microsoft sells an OS with no browser, and the only browser that can be
    easily installed is IE, how is that providing competition. It just makes it
    harder, not easier to install an alternate browser to IE.

    The only thing this does is prove Microsoft was lieing throught its teeth with
    the US case when it said the browser was in integral part of the OS.

    Of course this is Win 7, maybe they did some decoupling.

    Doesn't matter, it's a pile of ....

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Note - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 13 2009 @ 08:47 AM EDT
    Dialup and Slow Links
    Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, June 13 2009 @ 03:02 PM EDT
    The problem with the download of an option is that some people still do not have
    broadband. A browser is a large package for a modem. Worse, what if you are
    paying for the connection by the byte?

    Do I click on the 100KB IE8 button (that only adjusts a few registry entries),
    or download something else (~5++MB)?

    It is really a pity that all the really clever people at Micro$oft now work in
    Legal and Marketing.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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