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|Google Applies For 3rd Party in E.C. Proceedings Against Microsoft|
Google Applies For 3rd Party in E.C. Proceedings Against Microsoft [googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com] in Antitrust Case
|Last month the European Commission confirmed that it had sent a statement of objections to Microsoft about the tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system, which it said "harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice." Then in a blog post earlier this month, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker weighed in, saying that "Microsoft's business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet." |
We are applying to become a third party in the European Commission's proceeding. Here's why:
First, browsers are critical to the Internet -- they enable us to surf the web, search, chat, email, watch videos, or connect to our social networks. And because they are so central to every user's web experience, browsers are crucial to innovation online.
Second, Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.
Mozilla Gets Seat On E.U. Microsoft Antitrust Case [webmasterworld.com]
i guess they don't the same thing to apple due to safari because they don't have as much of the market;
sux microsoft doesn't make ie available for mac.
|sux microsoft doesn't make ie available for mac |
They did from 1996 to 2003 - and it was the default Mac browser for the last five of those years.
Microsoft chose to discontinue it, and as far as I am aware IE has never been available for Linux.
The dispute is not about bundling a browser but the integration of IE with the Windows OS (essentially that it cannot be uninstalled), the argument being that this stifles competition and holds back innovation. There are counter-arguments and Microsoft is sure to put them to the court.
My prediction: no lawyer will lose financially.
Pot calling the kettle black [in different markets].
|Pot calling the kettle black |
Coulden't have put it better myself!
And as for being a third party, they are in direct competition with MS in 3 markets, browsers, search and online advertizing.
Its not often I will take the side of MS, but this is one instance where I will. IE is an integral part of the OS, it is used as the file explorer. Put simply it is ofered as part of the OS, there is nothign to stop a user installing anotheer browser if they choose.
The main argument in all these cases seams to reflect the Windows OS market share. What do these other browser developers want MS to doo, ship their browsers along with Windows? So will they then contribute towards the development of Windows. Why when MS develop an OS woulen't they ship their browser with it. Would they rather Windows didn't come with web browser?
What do they see as a solution to this?
|The dispute is not about bundling a browser but the integration of IE with the Windows OS (essentially that it cannot be uninstalled), the argument being that this stifles competition and holds back innovation. |
so mac is doing the same thing with safari - i don't know if can be uninstalled; but who cares?
|Put simply it is ofered as part of the OS, there is nothign to stop a user installing anotheer browser if they choose. |
i'm on firefox right now on ms! sorry bg. but i still use ie to test-cross browser functionality on all kinds of things; or if i just don't want to log in to another google id without logging off.
|mac is doing the same thing with safari |
Not so - as Mack (with a K) explained:
|IE is an integral part of the OS, it is used as the file explorer. |
It wasn't always the case, and that is essentially what the dispute is about - the back story is the old "browser wars" of the 1990s and various rulings in the area of monopoly and anti-trust legislation.
I am not taking sides.
IE only became an "integral part of the OS" in new NT 4.0 SP4 installations or so, and if you installed a NT 4.0 with an earlier SP already applied to the CD, you could actually and easily hold off installing IE in NT while still getting the service packs.
IE isn't used for the local file explorer up to at least XP (never looked at vista), it are different processes, one can crash without affecting the other.
The integral argument is what MSFT used in US courts to get out of their scrutiny. This time they're talking to the EU, who are used to fry governments themselves, and have attributed MSFT record setting fines for similar past abuse of monopolies. While it takes time, MSFT might get hit again with huge fines and be forced to separate out IE from the OS if they want to do business in the EU. (Just like was done for the previous case with the media player)
Apple will not have the same problem as long as it isn't using a monopoly in one market, to gain unfair advantage in another. Apple by no means has a monopoly in the OS or browser world (otherwise Microsoft would not have it there). Now apple potentially faces future trouble from their ipod/itunes huge market share if it continues to grow and they abuse it into other markets.
I think it's a smart move by Google to apply for the 3rd party status, they are after all not just affected by the limits of the current IE versions and its lack of support for standards, but more importantly in this case as a competitor in the browser market with chrome.
It's not up to Google to act as protector of the browser world. They have a search engine and what people use to access it has very little to do with their business model.
This is just an opportunistic gouge at a perceived competitor. They may be right, MS may be wrong, they may be saving the day, but the purpose behind this is none of those. They're seizing the chance to sucker punch MS.
Oh yeah, and pot calling the kettle black :).
|This is just an opportunistic gouge at a perceived competitor. They may be right, MS may be wrong, they may be saving the day, but the purpose behind this is none of those. They're seizing the chance to sucker punch MS. |
I would agree.. What is Google getting involved in this for... Just so they can put in their own punch and sneak a bit more market share for their own browser... And I know its a bit off point but if you ask me Googles tactics are no better than MS's.
Google is Evil..
I might be missing something here, but if I get MS without IE pre-installed .... how do I download any other browser?
Taken to extremes it is like finding that your new car hasn't got any tyres leaving it down to you to go and buy some and fit them yourself before you can drive it. The showroom should be able to give you a choice but should supply the car ready to drive away.
|I might be missing something here, but if I get MS without IE pre-installed ... |
I think you (and some others) are missing the point.
It's not about bundling a browser (which Apple, Ubuntu and others also do) but about making that browser an integral part of the OS that cannot be removed without disabling OS functionality.
In the old days you bought an OS and installed web browsers (if required) separately - they were additional pieces of software that sometimes had to be paid for. Netscape was the dominant one.
As internet access became popular browsers became free, and IE was bundled with the OS. Neither of the main players were much concerned with adhering to standards, each introducing proprietary tags.
I well remember having to write two versions of my HTML to accommodate them, and elsewhere the web was full of notices saying "this site is best viewed in Internet Explorer" (or Netscape). It was hopeless, and the obvious answer was browsers that adhered to common standards (which already existed).
The main reason that IE won in the "browser wars" was its (technically unnecessary) integration into the OS, and Microsoft subsequently lost an antitrust case which found it had abused its monopoly to eliminate competition. But Netscape also scored some spectacular own-goals in version 4, which contributed to their demise, so the legal victory was Phyrric at best.
Having achieved market dominance Microsoft released IE6, a dreadful non-standards browser that was left to stagnate for many years while Opera, Firefox and others adopted the long-published standards (which benefit us all) and also brought in many popular innovations. But they felt the market was unfairly stacked against them, potentially in violation of the laws on monopoly practices.
That is where this case begins. Opera lobbied for it, Mozilla got on board, and now Google want in.
|This is just an opportunistic gouge at a perceived competitor |
I don't disagree, but it should be seen in context.
I am happy to accept corrections to the simplified and hastily written outline above.
There was a time when MS Windows 98 put install shortcuts to AOL's browser and Netscape Navigator.
It did not help them much as history has proven.
(So Far)Mozilla's Firefox with a helping hand from Google and the nerdery of the net accually is doing it right without underhanded lawsuits.
And continues to gain marketshare.
This is about Opera and whatever opinion you may have about the browser, this is not the way to win people over IMO.
Samizdata hit it on the head. It is not about bundling an application, it is about infusing the app in to the os.
I use Macs exclusively, and do not use Safari. My Mac's are not impaired in any way.
Forgive me a brief reality check...
|Pot calling the kettle black |
For everyone who posted some version of this, please read samizdata's posts and then explain how hard coding a web browser into a dominant OS is in any way comparable to... running a popular search engine?
I'm not saying that Google isn't evil, or that Microsoft is, I'll stay out of that debate... but I can't see how comparing what MS did (and in some ways does) with IE to anything Google has done thus far makes any sense.
|It's not up to Google to act as protector of the browser world. They have a search engine and what people use to access it has very little to do with their business model. |
This is just an opportunistic gouge at a perceived competitor.
I could swear I heard something about Google releasing their own web browser... Chrome was it? :-)
Which (they said) is an attempt to encourage/support user interface innovation.
I've never understood any of this, even with the initial browser wars.
If I built an OS and decided to support some apps and not others, why should anyone be allowed to tell me any different? If someone came up to me and told me they didn't like how my OS was doing something, I would tell them to go find another OS to use.
If you are so against using Explorer on Windows, don't use Windows.
I'm sorry but the "infusion" is complete crap.
My home PC runs Win XP and with auto-updates turned on, I haven't opened IE for any reason in at least two years.
It does not impair Windows in any way. However, I've been trying to eliminate Quick Time for just as long and it keeps coming back.
And yes you CAN uninstall IE7, you will be left with an unpatched version of IE6 and from there to a nonfunctioning IE5.
And Trace, it's not a choice of running an OS, it's a personal browser preference. You can run whatever browser you want on Windows.
You have more choices on Windows than any other OS in existence.
|I've never understood any of this |
With respect, that is a good reason not to make comments on the case.
On the other hand, it is a good reason to ask questions.
|If I built an OS and decided to support some apps and not others, why should anyone be allowed to tell me any different? |
Because the person (potentially) telling you different would be a judge upholding the law.
The law applies to you, me, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Opera, Mozilla etc etc.
|I'm sorry but the "infusion" is complete crap |
See United States v. Microsoft (1998).
I would advise against telling a judge that his findings were "crap" (even if they were).
I don't care which side (if any) people choose to take in this dispute.
But this is WebmasterWorld, and we should at least get the basic facts right.
My prediction (as above): no lawyer will lose financially.
The key here is the effective monopoly held by Microsoft over operating system use. If Microsoft Windows only represented 20% of systems, then the arguments in their favour would be fine... but with monopoly comes the responsibility to manage your monopoly fairly, in particular by not using it to influence any other part of your business.
Here's a key point: Today, Firefox represents a more stable and standards compliant browser than IE7 at this time; however, Windows Vista chose to have IE7 as the default browser and did not even preinstall Firefox. That was not a decision made to benefit the end user of an operating system by providing them with the best choice of supporting software - it was a commercial decision to abuse the Microsoft Windows monopoly to further the penetration of their own Browser Product. Even in financial terms; the funding to develop IE further comes from OS sales at Microsoft - a clear motivation here to use IE in the OS. Firefox could have been included without any licensing payment being made - leading to a cheaper Vista license (or more profit)... IE would suffer a lack of development funds but the keys is that the health of other parts of a business must not be a concern when you have an effective monopoly.
@Samizdata I would advise against telling a judge that his findings were "crap" (even if they were).
Well I did and would again, the EU and the US have already gone down this path over and over.
Think about Real, Quick Time and WMP as an example of outdated web technology now that we have Flash.
I know for a fact that IE remains dominant not because of a monopoly, but because so many now near decades old and unlicensed enterprise software was built based on the funky old code.
I hear so much hash about MS holding back progress, and MS has no special place in my heart.
But could it be the endless lawsuits holding back progress just a tiny bit?
One major point regarding this whole issue, is who owns the operaing system? Yep Microsoft.
Does this mean that If company X where to design and develop an opperating system they would NEED to allow third party aplications? I would say no.
In my previous post I mentioned IE being an integral part of the OS, it was brought up that this wasnt always the case. I agree with this statement but Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Iternet Explorer are very different applications, so this is very much about now and not the past.
The main argument being brought forward appears to be the inability to remove IE from the windows opperating system. Windows IE is a browser, not just a web browser. If MS places IE in the add remove programs section and allowed users to simply uninstall it, they would have no way of accessing any web content or access to the file manager. It would render the systen unusable. It makes sense to not let users kill their systems, might as well add a self distruct shortcut key whilst we're at it.
In reality there is nothign to prevent you from installing Firefox, Opera, Safari or any other browser you want. Then simply set your choosen browser as your default and you're set.
|the EU and the US have already gone down this path over and over |
My understanding is that the US went down this path (browser monopoly) only once and that Microsoft was found to have acted illegally by due process - including appeal - in a properly constituted court of law (see the case I cited above).
My further understanding is that the first similar case in the EU is at the preliminary stages and has yet to actually commence, let alone be decided (see the opening post in this thread).
|I know for a fact that IE remains dominant not because of a monopoly |
Presumably Microsoft's lawyers would love to have you as a witness in the case at issue.
I suspect, however, that they will offer similar advice to mine on how (not) to address a judge.
Unless I am much mistaken, they will want to win.
|The main argument being brought forward appears to be the inability to remove IE |
Apologies Mack, that was my shorthand description, and it does not fully describe the argument.
As I understand it the point argued by Opera/Mozilla/Google is that the (technically unnecessary) integration of IE into the Windows OS is and always was a deliberate attempt to stifle competition.
This involves such things as the blue E always appearing on the desktop, Windows Update not working with other browsers, and the questionable notion that a web browser is not an additional application but a feature of the operating system.
The result is that many people do not even know that they are using something called a browser, let alone what its name is, or that there are alternatives available - and even if they are aware, they must have IE for the OS to function, so they might as well not bother with other browsers.
There is also the question of OEM distributors - they commonly offer the Windows OS with additional or custom software, but they can't currently replace IE with another browser of their choice, which some might say is anti-competitive.
I am no expert on monopoly legislation but Microsoft was found to have acted illegally by the US courts insofar as their practises were designed to thwart competition, and I believe that the EU courts have the power to order them to change.
Whether they will do so remains to be seen, but if Google is allowed to join the proceedings (as another browser manufacturer) then both sides will have access to as many lawyers as they want, and the contest will be between two 800 lb gorillas rather than David and Goliath.
I only joined this debate because the opening response was so obviously wide of the mark - there seems to be a widely held misconception that the case is simply about bundling a web browser with the OS, which I doubt that anyone objects to.
It is about monopoly and competition, and the obscure laws that govern them.
Ya know, Google is today's Microsoft. They are shooting themselves in the foot here. Once the DOJ gets their hands on Google, I am sure Microsoft will be happy to return the favor. Microsoft may had been evil in the 90's. Google does evil in the 21st century. They will be stopped. Just a question of time.
|But could it be the endless lawsuits holding back progress just a tiny bit? |
All else aside... yeah huh?
Let's wait until Google starts doing evil to start despising them.
Let's wait until Microsoft does something that's not evil, before beginning to justify them.
Either one COULD happen in my lifetime. (I know my father didn't expect IBM to do anything non-evil in HIS lifetime....)
With all due respect hutcheson.
Does not jumping on the lawsuit happy bandwagon by Google show they have evil intent.
Their interest is Chrome ech! I'll stick with Ironware, call me non Googlebot.
Will Google squash MS as they have not so privately stated is their aim not evil.
Over and out. There is no middle ground in this discussion, which is what I was shooting for but most are so bent on their opinions in this latest deception, we are all to be blind until the evil A/B/C is vindicated.
I develop software and by far MS is the easiest to deal with, lately going out of their way to please everyone. I truly believe they are turning a corner.
At least give 'em a chance?
I assure you Google could NEVER crush Microsoft. Never happen. With two years you will see Gates come back and remove Ballmer. Then the fun (and Karma) begins against Google. Rest assured, Google is poking the giant and it is only a matter of time until Microsoft puts Google back in their place. One would think Schmidt would be smarter than that. Guess he's still pissed at Microsoft from his Novell days.
Google will never crush MSFT in packaged software but as the game changes they will give them a run for the money outside of that arena. It's kinda hard to drush someone who has a monopolistic multi billion dollar annual revenue stream. MSFT would be well served to get Balmer off to the side and bring Gates back in.
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