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EU Might Require Microsoft to Bundle Other Browsers

 1:48 am on Jun 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

EU Might Require Microsoft to Bundle Other Browsers [windowsitpro.com]

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, antitrust regulators in the European Union (EU) are preparing to require Microsoft to bundle competing browsers in Windows. This sanction would effectively turn the EU's original complaint against the software giant on its head: "Because Microsoft has gained an unfair advantage over browser makers by bundling its own browser with Windows, the company will have to now bundle competing products, as well."

If this happens, it means the EU has chosen a far more drastic remedy than requiring Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows, a remedy that itself seems a bit far-reaching, even for the regulation-happy EU. But there could be a simple reason for the shift: The EU tried an unbundling strategy with Microsoft before, and that effort failed miserably.

Wow. If the EU can dictate something like this I'm not sure it sets a good precedent.



 10:40 am on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

This thread is getting silly. US posters seem to think that the EU is anti-american, and just beating on a successful US company. That is just completely wrong.

As s previous poster points out, EU companies that fall foul of the EU competition rules get whacked long before they "break America" (which is the EU shorthand for making it in the US, something foreign countries stuggle to do). As such, the only companies international posters see being reprimanded are the ones that did not start out in the EU.

That said, forcing MS to bear the cost of distribution is plain wrong. What they should do is determine the market cost for bundling software (AV products, DVD authoring software etc), and force MS to accept bundling from browser manufacturers IF THEY PAY FOR IT.


 10:41 am on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Perhaps the same anti-American, anti-Microsoft sentiment influenced the EU ruling as well.
I have a very simple question for you...

If I decide to export Widgets to the US from the UK, should I be bound by US law or UK law (with respect to those sales)? I presume your answer will be US law, so kindly explain why you think US law and judicial indecision should apply in Europe.

Any anti-American or anti-Microsoft feeling that does exist is entirely self-inflicted, and caused largely by arrogance - precisely the same arrogance on display in this discussion. When a referee's decision goes against you, even if it's a bad decision, it doesn't mean the referee is biased against you. Some people need to grow up and grow out of their paranoia.

That said, forcing MS to bear the cost of distribution is plain wrong.

Microsoft already charge considerably more for software in Europe, so they can afford this. Also, the cost would amount to only a few cents. The real issues are
1) How should a company apply to have their software included on a Windows CD?
2) Should the onus be on companies like Dell to fulfill this role? (I think not because MS would undoubtedly try to stop them.)



 5:06 pm on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

MSIE is currently at 54.7% on my site (for June, registered at 03 Jun 2009 - 04:03), so the Microsoft browser monopoly is already well on it's way to be broken. This EU ruling is tackling the wrong target - Microsoft's true illegal monopoly is in bundling an OS with a computer.

I bought a new computer from Dell last year. Dell refused to sell me that computer without Windows. That decision was driven by Microsoft, not Dell (remember Microsoft's 'bare computer' scare of many years ago?). The ruling should be to unbundle the OS from the computer.

It seems from past history that the US authorities do not have the guts to tackle that one. Of course, by the time that the EU gets around to it, most of the world will have shifted to doing their computing from a mobile phone, or something, and not on Windows.


 5:29 pm on Jun 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

it means the EU has chosen a far more drastic remedy than requiring Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows

Requiring them to unbundle IE would be beyond idiotic. Here's your new computer, have fun figuring out how to get on the Internets Mr. average user.

Does the article say who gets to choose which browsers are bundled?


 4:18 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I bought a new computer from Dell last year. Dell refused to sell me that computer without Windows.

I have no idea what model PC you bought, but Dell offers Linux and other open source operating systems. Perhaps you didn't look hard enough. Here are just a few references from their site:

  • http://linux.dell.com - Dell Linux Engineering Web
  • http://www.dell.com/ubuntu - Ubuntu for home systems
  • http://www.dell.com/open - Business level Linux support
  • bill

     4:19 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Here's another interesting take on the issue:

    EU anti-trust action would mean more 'crapware' says Microsoft ally [computerworlduk.com]

    "If this case stands, anyone will be able to petition [the commission] and say, 'I'm not getting a fair shake and I want to be part of a must-carry'," Liebeler said. "It's obvious that a browser is indispensable, but we don't see any line between what the commission would think is indispensable and what's not indispensable." He cited anti-virus software as one possibility.

    The result could be anarchy. "Users don't want a computer that comes with 700 default setting choices," Liebeler said, adding that PC makers are already aware of users' resistance to bundled software, called "crapware" by some wags.


     4:42 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    There is a way out... the EUC hosts a website for all the competitors who believe they need relief. They manage the site, the software updates, etc. (from EU tax pockets, of course) and FORCE any OS creator(s) who want to sell in the EU to insert a "live connect" function at new computer first start (requires a telephone connection) that will access that site (at EUC expense, of course) from anywhere in the world. Everybody is happy.

    The only ones who get shafted are the ones who have to pay for this FEATURE in any OS... you know the EUC won't pay for that! (But they could charge some nifty keen fees to be included on that list!)

    Doesn't sound like it will work, right? So why expect MS to do it?

    There's a limit to socialized "spread the wealth" and the money pit bureaucracies that route endorses!


     5:01 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Dell offers Linux and other open source operating systems


    Is that US only? For a desktop system? I bought via a Dell Business-sales rep from the UK. I explicitly asked about Linux, and was told Windows-only for desktop (available on servers, of course). The precise date was very shortly after Vista was released (I insisted--and paid extra--to have XP installed).

    Typical. Two weeks after paying extra for XP it became a same-price option, and now you tell me they have introduced Linux as well.


     5:14 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I have no idea what model PC you bought

    Dell Dimension E520

    I've had a quick look on euro.dell.com (where dell.co.uk gets re-directed to) & no mention of Linux for desktop systems whatsoever. It may be well hidden, of course.

    Again, a fast perusal of dell.com/ubuntu (one desktop only) strongly suggests USA-only. I would like to think I was wrong.

    Thanks for the info.


     5:20 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I've been able to choose Linux for laptops, desktops and workstations from Dell since about 2007 in Japan. I'm not sure what the schedule was for the rest of the world, but I'd assume it was close. The option has been there. Prior to that I recall options to purchase units with no operating system at all.

    Now to get back on topic...

    I don't hear much being made about the fact that Microsoft has already made IE8 optional in Windows 7 [webmasterworld.com]. They've already made it possible for vendors to supply whatever browser they want with the OS. Doesn't this fulfill the spirit of what the EU is after here? IE8 is unbundled from the OS. Shouldn't this be time for their victory lap rather than looking to impose punitive damages?


     6:18 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Microsoft has already made IE8 optional in Windows 7.

    bill... I don't think the EUC is looking at future implementations of Windows. I believe they are going after past policies and the embedded (installed) base. Let's also put this into perspective... this is about Opera, not IE or Firefox or Safari, or any of the other browsers out there. It is about Opera and a "poor me" complaint and was seized as an opportunity to act against Microsoft because of it.

    Rest following is not at bill...

    I have nothing against Opera. I tried it out (twice) and didn't like it. Free Market Choice Made. FF is my chosen, IE is my backup. Those two represent 85%+ of the market. Works for me. Opera and Safari (and I'm not dissing those apps!) do not have anywhere near that market share. With every new computer I've purchased I used IE to download FF. Installed it. Made it my default. Quick, clean, immediate. Thank you MS.

    But I do not expect MS to keep my FF up to date and therein lies the real problem with the commentary and rumors regarding the EUC in this issue.

    The REAL ISSUE will be Windows UPDATE (which I don't think has been taken into consideration). It requires (at this time) IE and ActiveX to get'er done. Turn that off and just how will it be done? Something to think about.


     6:46 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Windows UPDATE

    In Vista, Windows Update was made into its own separate app. If you go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com in IE the app will open. IE is no longer necessary for Windows Update going forward.


     7:26 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Thanks, bill... I have no Vista machines and appreciate the info. But that doesn't change my previous comment about the already broad base of installed systems which are NOT Vista...


     8:32 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Let's suppose that Microsoft only developed the core Windows OS and nothing much more sophisticated than Notepad and a calculator was included by way of applications. In this case, would Microsoft object to bundling software from other sources - answer NO (because the product as a whole would be more complete).

    Microsoft objects because as well as being an OS developer, it is an application software developer. It uses its position as OS developer to give itself an unfair advantage over rival application developers. The US Justice Dept recognised this ten years ago and in 2000, ordered Microsoft to be split into two. However, MS managed to slip out of that ruling - had it been enforced, the EU would not have had to take action.

    Consider this...
    If Microsoft was European and was ordered by US Authorities to bundle software from other suppliers (typically, American ones) would any US citizens that are complaining right now object? I don't think so.

    If you do business in a country, you have to follow the rules of that country. Google recognises this in it's dealings with China, etc. so why should Microsoft be different in its dealings with Europe?



     9:50 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    That doesn't sound right. Any OS developer can also get on board making apps. Free Market once again. Why they haven't is a good question. Last time I looked MS Office was not part of the Windows Operating System, just ran on it. The Linux guys are doing the same thing, perhaps not in one house, but some houses bundle all that joy together under a brand, which is the same thing. Arguing Apples and Oranges only gives us Fruit Punch. And yes, I would object to such high handed tactics if the situation were reversed. As for giggle in china I goggle (sic on both) at the googly (sic again).

    And if MS only made the OS there is no incentive or need to bundle anything else... they could make a sweeter deal with the OEMs with less work and let those fellows bundle to their heart's content... at their expense. Beware the cake and eat it, too. Remember DOS and having to obtain Just Everything To Get Anything Done. Though Edlin wasn't a bad little editor... :)


     11:05 am on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Any OS developer can also get on board making apps. Free Market once again.

    You've entirely missed the point. It's because IT'S NOT A FREE MARKET (in the opinion of the European Commission) that action has to be taken to make it a free market.

    For instance, with minor modifications, a program of mine could be adapted for use as an alternative shell. Unfortunately, the last time I looked, Microsoft had still not published some critical information that would make this practical. Multiply that by a hundred and you'd have some idea of the advantage MS gave itself over its competitors. That advantage has diminished somewhat over recent years as a result of rulings (and fines) imposed by the EU Commission - rulings that have undoubtedly helped US software developers too.

    For instance, JPEG and GIF support has been included since Windows 98, but documentation of the API has only recently been published (not sure when exactly).

    If you want to research the scale of the advantage that MS gave itself, search through MSDN for phrases like "this function is subject to change and may not be present in future versions of Windows". Such text often accompanies information that was previously secret.



     12:43 pm on Jun 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Including myself, am assuming most users default search engine is google, however still based on what you are saying, you also mean that, Google should be required to have tabs like "Results from Yahoo/MSN/... etc for 'Query'".

    Microsoft is not being asked to bundle Linux. Google does not exclude other email providers from its listings, nor does it exclude other map providers, analytics offerings or PPC services from being found through Google.

    Baruch Menachem

     9:19 pm on Jun 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I don't like the idea of the govenrment forcing a company to distribute other people's products. Sort of like making Ben and Jerry's to carry Baskins's Robbins.

    I don't think it is at the level of making Microsoft use someone else's gearbox though. More like making microsoft include the competitor's fuzzy dice in the glove compartment...?

    I just plain don't use IE on any of my machines. It is a bug catcher, and dangerous. But I do think if I were an OEM, I would have a disc with firefox and Sarfari and Opera on it along with the other software given to the customer. And I don't believe Microsoft should be allowed to prevent that.


     1:00 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I would argue that Windows has a HUGE monopoly on the PC market considering that anyone who buys a PC is given Windows. If that isn't the greatest deal around then I don't know what is. However, everything on that OS Microsoft has to be able to defend.

    What if, because of this rule, I (hypothetically) make my own browser (PoopBrowser) and get it on Windows due to this fairness law? If PoopBrowser is awful and annoys everyone that uses it, wouldn't Microsoft be blamed for putting something their OS that crashes constantly? What if PoopBroswer sends me usernames and passwords of whomever uses it, or doesn't hide these secrets well enogh. Wouldn't Microsoft be blamed as well? I would think everyone that comes loaded on Windows Microsoft will be held accounted for.

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