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|Microsoft ends 10-year fight with Europe on browsers|
|Microsoft has reached agreement with European Union anti-trust regulators to allow European users a choice of web browsers. |
The accord ends 10 years of dispute between the two sides.
Over that time, the EU imposed fines totalling 1.68bn euros ($2.44bn, £1.5bn).
The European Union said Microsoft's legally binding agreement ended the dispute and averted a possible fine for the company.
There's not much detail yet, hopefully more will emerge.
The difference is that Microsoft has a monopoly on PC Operating System and Office software
cause nobody out there can out do them.
|10 years was a little long and the violation was more relevant when you had to get a browser in addition to your OS on an extra CD, because downloading a browser would have taken hours. |
A browser on a CD? I remember downloading Mosaic, Cello, and early versions of IE and Netscape on a dial-up connection. No big deal. Browser downloads were smaller in the mid-1990s than they are today.
It's also worth noting that Microsoft's "violation" (by making the browser part of the operating system) was hailed as a technical innvoation in some quarters. Remember the Windows Active Desktop [en.wikipedia.org]? It wasn't a success, but the idea seemed good to many people at the time, and it went hand in hand with Microsoft's race to embrace the Internet with the launch of Windows 95 and IE. (Back in 1995, Microsoft was training employees and contractors in HTML at every opportunity: I knew a guy who made good money by teaching HTML classes on the Microsoft campus.)
I don't know anyone who bought into the "Active Desktop". The only reason anyone enabled it was to use .jpg images as wallpaper!
The IE rendering engine can be used by programmers but it's not nearly as easy to use as it should be. I believe a compatible interface is also available for Gecko.
I remain of the opinion that continued development of Internet Explorer is a waste of time and money. Other browsers are superior in every way. The only reason IE continues to be developed is corporate pride and stubbornness. If Opera and Firefox did not exist, in all probability, we'd still be stuck with IE6 and all its bugs (instead of IE7 bugs and IE8 bugs). Of course, it would be nice if Mozilla fixed the memory leak and the Vista-ZoneAlarm bug in Firefox rather than deny they exist but that's another discussion altogether.
>was hailed as a technical innvoation in some quarters.
Yes. That says more about the intelligence, integrity, and technical acuity of some quarters than it does about the state of the art.
As a practicing programmer at the time, I thought it was a singularly idiotic way of consuming CPU cycles. As a GUI user, I wanted to make sure it was turned off. As a deliverer of software designed to run on Windows machines, I found it was a significant cost in development time and programmer pain.
OK, so you didn't use or care for the Active Desktop. I didn't, either. But the fact remains was that there was more to building IE into the operating system than merely depriving Netscape of the chance to profit from a knockoff of the Mosaic browser that was developed with federal funding at the University of Illinois.
As for IE vs. other browsers, I prefer Chrome with its clean interface and memory-protected tabs, but I also use Firebox and Opera regularly--which just goes to show that Microsoft's bundling of a browser into the OS certainly didn't keep me from enjoying freedom of choice among browsers (any more than having a "My Computer" icon on my Windows desktop kept me from buying and using AB Commander as my Windows file manager).
The issue was never whether Microsoft prevented users from running other browsers but rather if they exploited their position as a monopolistic operating system vendor.
Integration into the OS achieved two things being HTML help and ActiveX controls. However, had the approach I suggested earlier been followed, HTML help would not have presented a problem, so that just leaves ActiveX controls. Well, probably, the world could have done without these anyway, but if designed properly, it should have been possible to drop them into any browser.
Whilst it is impossible to know precisely why Microsoft chose to integrate Internet Explorer into the OS, there was no significant benefit to users as a result. Perhaps it just happened, perhaps it was a random decision or maybe it was deliberate to try to circumvent legal disputes - unless a smoking gun emerges we'll never know.
Incidentally, it is highly likely that certain features in AB Commander are only possible as a result EU intervention forcing Microsoft to publish more information on the API. One of my own programs has benefited from this but it seems to me that there is still considerable documentation missing or hiding.
|But the fact remains was that there was more to building IE into the operating system than merely depriving Netscape of the chance to profit from a knockoff of the Mosaic browser that was developed with federal funding at the University of Illinois. |
Ummm.... IE was also a knockoff of Mosaic and Microsoft was most certainly profiting from their tight integration of IE into Windows.
|they exploited their position as a monopolistic operating system vendor. |
Exactly - but this issue should've been brought to a boil when MS Office didn't use the same API that the rest of us had to use back in the early 90s.
Lotus was always screaming about this problem WAY BACK and, while working at Lotus, I hacked a couple of undocumented UI things Office did to help some our UI teams keep up with the Microsofts.
So I'm well aware they don't play by the same rules but this browser nonsense is just that, nonsense.
It was a massive waste of time and money, didn't really change anything in the end.
None of the companies or people MS destroyed were compensated and the OS development still hasn't been severed from the APPS development!
I'm not impressed.
When Windows, Office (MS IE included here), MSN/Bing/Live and XBOX are all separate companies, then it'll get interesting.
|Ummm.... IE was also a knockoff of Mosaic and Microsoft was most certainly profiting from their tight integration of IE into Windows. |
Microsoft paid cash ($8 million, as it turned out) to license the original code from the NSCA via Sypglass. Wikipedia's History of Internet Explorer [en.wikipedia.org] has the details for those of us whose memories benefit from hitting the "refresh" button now and then. (1995 is starting to seem like a long, long time ago!)
From the link above
|Internet Explorer 3.0 was released free of charge in August 1996 by bundling it with Windows 95, another OEM release. Microsoft thus made no direct revenues on IE and was liable to pay Spyglass only the minimum quarterly fee. In 1997, Spyglass threatened Microsoft with a contractual audit, in response to which Microsoft settled for US $8 million. |
That seems telling to me!
In law, as in programming, you have three goals--quick, cheap, correct--and you get to choose any two.
Which can make it seem that the law moves slowly--unless it's in the throes of committing a howling injustice. Despite repeated attempts, IBM never got nailed by a CRIMINAL antitrust suit--and now, certainly, the mainframe monopoly is near-as-no-never-mind irrelevant. ("A mainframe is the processor from a game box, running the operating system from a cell phone....")
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