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Microsoft ends 10-year fight with Europe on browsers
kaled




msg:4044048
 12:30 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

[news.bbc.co.uk...]
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.

Kaled.

 

sgietz




msg:4044131
 2:45 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

In other news:

Carmakers have come to an agreement with European Union anti-trust regulators to allow European drivers a choice of steering wheels. From this point forward, newly manufactured automobiles will no longer come installed with steering wheels. This gives the consumer the freedom to go out and purchase one of their own and have it installed by a certified mechanic.

Consumer advocates hail this move as a bold step toward consumer freedom.

jecasc




msg:4044144
 3:19 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Carmakers have come to an agreement with European Union anti-trust regulators to allow European drivers a choice of steering wheels. From this point forward, newly manufactured automobiles will no longer come installed with steering wheels. This gives the consumer the freedom to go out and purchase one of their own and have it installed by a certified mechanic.

No its more like you choose from available steering wheels and then drive away with the wheel of your choice.

The agreement is, that when you install windows you are shown several browsers and can install one or more of them

kaled




msg:4044210
 4:35 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

You might have an interesting point if you had made a comparison with tyres, since there are no companies that make steering wheels (but not cars).

Opera (who raised the original complaint) took the view that they were disadvantaged because Microsoft bundled a browser with Windows. Presumably, MS recovered the development cost by increasing the price of Windows. Since MS did not offer a reduced cost version (without Internet Explorer) Opera argued that it was disadvantaged i.e. MS was exploiting is position unfairly.

You may disagree with the ruling, but if you developed a spiffy app for Windows I imagine you'd be pretty peeved if Microsoft then decided to bundle a free program with Windows that does much the same thing.

Kaled.

[edited by: bill at 4:07 am (utc) on Dec. 17, 2009]
[edit reason] see sticky [/edit]

sgietz




msg:4044265
 5:59 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well someone had some sour milk in their cereal this morning.

There certainly are companies that manufacture steering wheels, but I won't have a silly argument. The point is clear. You should not be forced to include competitors' products, unless the core product is useless without them.

Whether or not I would be peeved is irrelevant. I can't force you to put my widgets on one of your websites, or would you? Let me send it right over.

kaled




msg:4044273
 6:09 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

You should not be forced to include competitors' products, unless the core product is useless without them.

That's nonsense - you can't sell a product that's useless so you no one is going to force you to do anything.

Kaled.

sgietz




msg:4044278
 6:17 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

you can't sell a product that's useless

You can buy a wireless router that is completely useless unless you also "separately" buy a wireless card, or adapter. So let's say Lynksys were to start bundling all their routers with adapters, should they be forced to include adapters from Netgear and Belkin?

Do you truly believe in this ruling, or do you simply dislike Microsoft?

signor_john




msg:4044301
 6:44 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Why not require Microsoft to offer third-party winsocks, file managers, memory managers, and a host of other utilities and applications that come bundled with Windows? Ah, for those lovely days when I had the freedom to install third-party system utilities like QEMM and 386MAX. :-)

kaled




msg:4044325
 7:12 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

You can buy a wireless router that is completely useless unless you also "separately" buy a wireless card, or adapter.

That's like saying you can buy a copy of Windows but it's completely useless without a PC to run it - it's also beyond irrelevant.

Windows is fundamentally an operating system. MS bundles extras "free" but the reality is you are paying for them whether you use them or not. If you don't want to use Media Player, you are still paying for it - it's not really free.

About ten years ago, a US court ordered Microsoft to be divided into two parts - Operating System and Applications. Unfortunately, this was overturned on appeal but had it been enforced, none of these subsequent legal actions would have been required.

Kaled.

hutcheson




msg:4044333
 7:31 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Nobody is asking Microsoft to offer anything. (If Microsoft stopped offering software altogether and reverted to more traditional forms of brigandage, I can't imagine who'd complain.)

Microsoft, for years, has been requiring (not asking) that its customers (the PC manufacturers, not Microsoft itself) NOT offer (not "offer") competitive products.

Which is illegal in most of the civilized world, and probably even in France.

What the EU is trying to deal with now, is some kind of balance, so future consumers will not be harmed by Microsoft's continuing illegally-imposed restrictions. The concern (inarguably valid, based in previous Microsoft behavior) was that Microsoft would find some new way of forcing the same restriction.

The only solution was to make it illegal to effectively obtain that restriction by any means whatsoever--in other words, to require that every computer shipped with Microsoft software NOT be restricted in browser choice.

[edited by: hutcheson at 7:33 pm (utc) on Dec. 16, 2009]

BillyS




msg:4044336
 7:31 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you had made a comparison with tyres, you might have an interesting point, but since there are no companies that make steering wheels (but not cars) your comparison was not worth the time it took to press the enter key never mind all the other keys.

Why do I have to buy a car with Goodyear tires on it when I want Bridgestones? I hope I didn't waste a keystroke...

Let's get real, maybe 10 years ago this might have been a concern, but we still saw innovation WITHOUT the agreement. So I guess the concern turned out to be incorrect. Flawed logic coming from the EU.

The only thing this will do is cause confusion among millions of consumers. Let the browser war begin.

Why does my blackberry come with their browser? I'm surprised no one has stepped in already.

incrediBILL




msg:4044346
 7:52 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

The whole thing is patently absurd.

If the other browsers want to be on the OS, they should build their own like Chrome OS.

I never paid for a browser, not once, not ever, but I paid for email software, office software and there used to be choices not just one option.

Where was the EU when MS put free email in the OS when email was a booming paid biz?

Where was the EU when MS shoved MS Office "trial" in the distribution package on the desktop? maybe that's just in the US, where there's real money involved opposed to which FREE browser you get.

Replace the FREE browser, oh my.

Big whoop.

For most consumers the PC is an appliance, like a toaster, and the only option they care about is the color of the box itself.

Most wouldn't know an Opera from a Firefox, they think the browser is "Google".

BillyS




msg:4044353
 8:04 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft, for years, has been requiring (not asking) that its customers (the PC manufacturers, not Microsoft itself) NOT offer (not "offer") competitive products.

Which is illegal in most of the civilized world, and probably even in France.

This makes no sense at all. No one is twisting anyone's arm to buy microsoft products.

The average Joe Lunchbox could care less about a browser, people that do care will load what they want.

hutcheson




msg:4044355
 8:10 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

You're abolutely right, Bill, this is just the current example of a very long list of criminally abusive behaviors: many of which have been litigated, and many of which Microsoft has promised not to do again -- all of which promises have been broken faster than a stained glass window in a druglord's neighborhood.

That's why the terms have to be so specific this time.

hutcheson




msg:4044358
 8:19 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

>No one is twisting anyone's arm to buy microsoft products.

That shows how little you know about the personal-computer manufacturing business.

Manufacturing margins are razor-thin. All Microsoft has to do to drive a manufacturer out of the PC business altogether is to raise the cost of Windows licenses by $5-10 per computer.

It is well-known that this is exactly what will happen if a manufacturer starts shipping machines with competitive software--because it's happened repeatedly before.

BillyS




msg:4044369
 8:56 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

>>Manufacturing margins are razor-thin. All Microsoft has to do to drive a manufacturer out of the PC business altogether is to raise the cost of Windows licenses by $5-10 per computer.

My comment had to do with Microsoft operating systems. Consumers can choose Apple computers if they wish. They can even build their own (like I do).

And thanks for calling me Bill. I only chose BillyS because it was available - I really don't like being referred to as Billy. I'm more of a Bill kind of guy.

sgietz




msg:4044401
 9:59 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Besides contentious comments and statements along the lines of "MS is just getting a taste of its own medicine," I haven't heard one rational explanation of why this is a good thing.

Should this apply to everyone, or just MS?

carguy84




msg:4044402
 9:59 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you had made a comparison with tyres, you might have an interesting point, but since there are no companies that make steering wheels

Poor Momo! ;)

Will Chrome OS have to ship with IE and Firefox in the EU now? Can you even run IE on Chrome OS?

It all seems very silly to me.

kaled




msg:4044417
 10:34 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Should this apply to everyone, or just MS?
Who else do you think it should apply to? Just who is "everyone"?

There are laws regarding fair competition. Microsoft has flouted those laws for decades, not just in Europe but in the US too. This decision is probably more symbolic than anything else, however, if it were extended to other products, not just browsers, then it could be significant.

Kaled.

sgietz




msg:4044430
 10:54 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Symbolic? They're being forced to include a choice of browsers, or more accurately, a dumbed down option for users how to choose a browser. Right now I have the power to download and use any number of browsers for free. I just have to open IE one time to download FireFox and be done with it. With this new ruling, I can bypass that one time. Yawn!

Punish MS for their illegal activities accordingly. Don't use asinine rulings to make an example and send a message. What a waste of time and money to come to this absurd agreement.

jwolthuis




msg:4044444
 11:18 pm on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft, for years, has been requiring (not asking) that its customers (the PC manufacturers, not Microsoft itself) NOT offer (not "offer") competitive products.

Which is illegal in most of the civilized world, and probably even in France.

What the EU is trying to deal with now, is some kind of balance, so future consumers will not be harmed by Microsoft's continuing illegally-imposed restrictions. The concern (inarguably valid, based in previous Microsoft behavior) was that Microsoft would find some new way of forcing the same restriction.

The only solution was to make it illegal to effectively obtain that restriction by any means whatsoever--in other words, to require that every computer shipped with Microsoft software NOT be restricted in browser choice.

Replace "Microsoft" with "Apple" in these four paragraphs, and note the irony.

moltar




msg:4044480
 12:45 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

how come apple is allowed to do this on the iphone?

kaled




msg:4044483
 12:50 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Punish MS for their illegal activities accordingly. Don't use asinine rulings to make an example and send a message. What a waste of time and money to come to this absurd agreement.
While I sympathise with this view, punishment doesn't help businesses that suffer from unfair competition. This particular ruling is supposed to make a difference in that regard. In and of itself, it won't make much difference, but, as I pointed out, if this was extended to other products, it could be significant.

With regard to Opera, they could increase their market share by simply adding the option to use ctrl-click to open a link in a new tab (rather than shift-click). Sadly, they don't seem to want to do that!

Kaled.

hutcheson




msg:4044487
 1:03 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

>how come apple is allowed to do this on the iphone?

The difference is that Microsoft has a monopoly on PC Operating System and Office software (not my opinion, that's what courts in several dozen jurisdictions on three continents have ruled). And Apple doesn't have a monopoly of anything (as, coincidentally, courts in two states have just ruled).

The rules are different for monopolies--and again, this is a principle generally recognized across the civilized world. Having a monopoly in one market is legal; using it to suppress activity in another market is most decidedly not.

BillyS




msg:4044517
 3:18 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Imagine how boring the world would be if we all had the same opinion...

Wlauzon




msg:4044557
 4:58 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Who else do you think it should apply to? Just who is "everyone"?

How many different browser choices do Apple computers come with?

This whole suit was absurd from the beginning anyway. Who has ever actually paid for a browser, of any type?

Perhaps nobody noticed that the precursor to this deal was that MS told the EU a few weeks back that it simply would not include ANY browsers with their software. That is when the EU started backing down.

iambic9




msg:4044641
 8:50 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

A large part of the original issue was that Microsoft was using their position in the market to force OEMs to not bundle competing browsers, this is not the same as Apple bundling their browser with their OS. This is also why the tire / steering wheel analogy doesn't hold up Bridgestone (for example) has not been accused of using their position to threaten car manufacturers into not using Goodyear tires.

Additionally Microsoft embedded their browser particularly deep within the OS making it near impossible to remove without breaking parts of the OS itself, that didn't go unnoticed by the EU.

It's not simply a case that end users were / are not offered a choice of browser, instead Microsoft went a long way to make sure end users had a harder time making a choice.

jecasc




msg:4044655
 9:17 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

How many different browser choices do Apple computers come with?

Replace "Microsoft" with "Apple" in these four paragraphs, and note the irony.

Actually the equation is quite a simple one:

Market Share Mac OS X:
8% = not a monopoly: anti trust regulations do not apply

Market Share Microsoft:
91 % = monopoly: anti trust regulation apply

In the European Union these regulations are defined in Article 81 and 82 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community

Article 82 of the Treaty is aimed at preventing companies who hold a dominant position in a market from abusing that position.

Again:
Apple: 8% not dominant
Microsoft: 91% dominant

Bundling the Internet Explorer with Windows was a violation of Article 82 because Microsoft has a dominant position in the Operating System market.

Bundling Safari with Max OSX is not a violation of Article 82 because Article 82 does not apply for Apple since it does NOT have a dominant position in the Operating System Market.

It's that easy. You break the law, you get punished.

Of course if your argument is that Apple is dominant in the Mac OS X market, because its market share on Max OSX is 100% - you got me.

How come apple is allowed to do this on the iphone?

Because apple does not have a monopoly on cell phones and Article 82 does not apply if you do not have a monopoly.

[edited by: jecasc at 9:27 am (utc) on Dec. 17, 2009]

incrediBILL




msg:4044658
 9:19 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Additionally Microsoft embedded their browser particularly deep within the OS making it near impossible to remove without breaking parts of the OS itself, that didn't go unnoticed by the EU.

Again, so what?

With the new Chrome OS the browser *IS* the operating system.

This whole EU mess is just silly, they should've fined MS out the ears when it first came up.

Today it's completely "WHO CARES?", too little, too late.

jecasc




msg:4044659
 9:21 am on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

With the new Chrome OS the browser *IS* the operating system.

OK and what again is the market share of Chrome OS? And does Article 82 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community apply for that market share?

But I agree: 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. I remember I had to buy a computer magazine with a CD to get Netscape at that times. Shipping your browser with your OS was a big advantage in times of 28k modems.

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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