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E.U. Fines Microsoft $731 Million Over IE Browser Choice
HuskyPup




msg:4551732
 1:40 pm on Mar 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Microsoft has been fined 561 million euros ($731m; £484m) for failing to promote a range of web browsers, rather than just Internet Explorer, to users in the European Union (EU).


[bbc.co.uk...]
It introduced a Browser Choice Screen pop-up in March 2010 as part of a settlement following an earlier EU competition investigation.

But the US company dropped the feature in a Windows 7 update in February 2011.

Microsoft said the omission had been the result of a "technical error".

[edited by: engine at 5:23 pm (utc) on Mar 6, 2013]
[edit reason] added quote [/edit]

 

graeme_p




msg:4551819
 6:26 pm on Mar 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

They also claim they did not notice for 14 months. How convenient! DO they ever test this stuff?

mack




msg:4551820
 6:35 pm on Mar 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Am I the only person who saw the Browser choice screen as no more that EU scum-ware " in the first place?

Choice is great! but the implementation of browser choice was terrible. Imagine an app opening up on your computer letting you know you can install other programs.

"you have an important choice to make" err I have IE, FF, opera, chrome and Safari.. so actually I donít have a choice to make. Its been made.

To make matters worse if you didnít go through the process an icon was placed on your desktop. To this day I am still finding these icons on desktops where the user has no idea what it is or how it got there.

Mack.

engine




msg:4551836
 7:03 pm on Mar 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here's a link to the E.U. Statement.
[europa.eu...]

It all went wrong when IE was the only choice supplied with the OS.

Savvy users never had a problem finding an alternative, but those with no clue remain in the dark.

This same problem is happening again on other OS, imho, but it's not MS and IE this time.

Yes, I too keep seeing the browser choice appearing on my friends' machines. They don't know what to do and remain wedded to what they know.

Kendo




msg:4551861
 8:06 pm on Mar 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Savvy users never had a problem finding an alternative, but those with no clue remain in the dark.


Those with no clue will not a have a preference for browser and giving them an option will more than likely invite confusion. Ask most users what a "web browser" is and the common answer will be "Huh?"

Anyway, so what if IE gets installed? Well there's NOTHING stopping anyone from installing any other browser of choice, so what is the problem?

And just where does the booty go?

graeme_p




msg:4551869
 8:42 pm on Mar 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

The problem is that many users do not KNOW they have a choice.

I think people who do not know what a browser is need to be told! How can consumer choice (the basis of the economy) work without people knowing there is a choice?

Choice is great! but the implementation of browser choice was terrible.


Is that the EU's fault of MS's?

pawas




msg:4551940
 2:36 am on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

It isn't Microsoft's fault when people don't know how to use a computer.

mack




msg:4552099
 2:08 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

I agree, a lot of people don't realise they have a choice, but in the grand scale of things I don't see it as a biggie.

Browsers matter to us, but not so much to general users. Why fix it if it isn't broken. We view browsers in a very different way to the masses.

There are lots of areas where we have choices, many of them we are blissfully unaware of. Choices are a lot more relevant when its something that matters to the person involved.

"You have an important choice to make". Important to who?

Mack.

JesterMagic




msg:4552101
 2:19 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

The EU sure like to pick on MS (not that they do not deserve it sometimes).

Most users who don't know that there are options really would be just picking an option at random anyways.

Also does Apple offer a choice on their computers, phones etc..?

How about Google? Does their Android phones offer a choice in the EU?

Heck my PS3 has a crappy browser it would be nice to install something else on it :-)

Andem




msg:4552102
 2:22 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is that the EU's fault of MS's?


The issue here is much more deep-routed. The question should be whether the unelected people who came to the decision to fine Microsoft actually have the mandate to force any company to do anything, much less fine them.

This new fine sounds fishy to me. Let's not forget some of these commissioners and their leaders were members of the most corrupt political organizations ever to exist (ie. the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union).

They also claim they did not notice for 14 months. How convenient! DO they ever test this stuff?


Technical error? Perhaps. But perhaps it was also a technical error on purpose. A company the size of Microsoft would have realized it. When and how much will Google get fined for unfair practices by the European Commission?

Lots of questions.. few answers.

Str82u




msg:4552210
 5:33 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

If I built an operating system you'd get my browser too and have to figure that out for yourself. How about MS just doesn't include a browser on one run of Windows, now people have a real choice of browsers as soon as they figure out how to get online.

mack




msg:4552256
 6:50 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

In the whole issue it was the EU that ticked me off and not Microsoft. Browser choice was obtrusive, It was an application that wasn't requested that oppened without the user doing anything. In many ways it was a parasite.

To most people it really doesn't matter what browser they use. It's just a tool for going online. When choice becomes confusion, its not informed choice.

Mack.

swa66




msg:4552317
 10:02 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

For those that forgot: The issue was that Microsoft was abusing their (at the time at least) de facto monopoly on desktop operating systems to create an illegal advantage in other areas such as browsers (and media players - same problem, different deal they made).
They were at the time fined with record breaking fines as well as that they agreed to provide a specific solution. A solution that was to be verified by a person who was sadly on MSFT's payroll.

The solution MSFT went for when it came to the media players was different (and ridiculous IMHO) than what they came up with for browsers.
FOr media players there's the virtually never offered, let alone sold- N version of the OS that lacks the media player but is "sold" at the same price. Well it's not to be found in real life as nobody stocks it due to the pricing.

So the answer to all other OSes/browsers not being handled the same: true, they are not, they also didn't
A. have a monopoly in desktop OSes (there can only be one monopoly in any area at any given time ...)
B. they could not abuse the monopoly they didn't have
C. they never made a deal to prevent even bigger fines and other consequences

I'm sure there's the usual anti-EU politics in here too. But those living in EU member states better understand their local politicians game: they take all the credit for themselves when the EU tells them to implement something that the public at large in their area rather likes. They however pass on all the blame to the EU when they're doing a slightly less popular item for the locals - even if the EU never told them to do it in that particular unpopular way. Some go very far in this game and unfortunately the press more often than not forgets to look past the local politicians' game and tell it all to you from a macroscopic viewpoint. That the press is not doing their part is easiest to spot when you look at the media in other member states where the media/politicians claim the EU is forcing them to do something unpopular. Only to realize since you live in the same EU, your government is implementing the same directives (which are public btw, you can read them in a lot of languages), yet the method of implementation chosen in your jurisdiction is so different that nobody seems to take offence nor even dislike it at all ...

Back to MSFT:
The real mistake I think was made somewhere between NT 4.0 SP3 and SP4.
Till SP3 MSIE was a simple program like any other. You could install it if you wanted it.
Starting with the install NT 4.0 disks that had already applied SP4, MSIE all of a sudden wasn't an optional program anymore: it was installed even if you did not ask for it. Is you upgraded service packs you could avoid installing MSIE, but if you reinstalled with any media higher than SP3 - you were stuck with MSIE on your system forever as NT was also modified to prevent MSIE from being deleted easily.
This was MSFT's "the browser is part of the OS strategy against Netscape at the time. Rather successful as it made them win the browser wars (for quite a while).

Now in doding so it was established that this violated the EU rules on competition for companies that had a de facto monopoly like MSFT had at the time. It's safe to assume MSFT employs enough lawyers to have known of this legal "issue". What I still presume they got wrong at the time was the perseverance of the EU when it comes to dealing with opening up markets for competition.

lucy24




msg:4552347
 11:52 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

now people have a real choice of browsers as soon as they figure out how to get online

You may be too young to remember when America Online kept the whole country supplied with coasters, replenished weekly.

incrediBILL




msg:4552366
 12:42 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Funny that they still have a browser choice which is idiotic because browsers are free and it's costing nobody anything. It's old water under a very old bridge and at this stage in computers the browser should actually be a standard issue component that just works out of the box and can be replaced if you want something better. This ongoing legislation is just silly at best and a lame excuse for the EU to raise lots of money to spend without increasing taxes.

EU, If you really want to strike a competitive blow, how about an Office choice, something that makes billions of dollars with a link out to Open Office or other paid office suite options.

martinibuster




msg:4552400
 3:20 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is beyond silly. The people who decided this must read Kafka as a how-to manual. No choice as to a browser? IE has around 50% browser share in Europe. The evidence of reality contradicts them. Next they're suing Microsoft for the horsemeat scandal, just watch.

swa66




msg:4552490
 9:03 am on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

No choice as to a browser? IE has around 50% browser share in Europe. The evidence of reality contradicts them.

That same fact can also be used to show that the EU has had an impact. It's an impossible to win argument for either side. A choice was made, you cannot know what would have happened if it had been made otherwise.

Regardless, what Microsoft did was to get caught, get fined and agree to do something , then not do it. What authority would be foolish enough to not set an example ?

Or to put it otherwise: suppose you get caught reckless driving your car. You go to court and get a fine and let's say some community service for a few years to come. Then it turns out you did not show up for the community service after the first few months. What do you expect from the courts ? Oh, you didn't drive your car recklessly anymore, but does that matter or does the defiance and evasion of the punishment matter more now ?

incrediBILL




msg:4552641
 3:41 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

That same fact can also be used to show that the EU has had an impact.


Not really because MSIE usage has been dropping globally where the EU has zero impact.

MSIE simply had too many problems and people that got fed up with the unresolved issues and lagging technology moved on to FireFox and Chrome. The marketplace will always decide what they want regardless of what legislators try to do.

At this point it's just silly money grabbing.

graeme_p




msg:4552694
 7:36 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think the launch of Chrome made the biggest impact on E, because Google's marketing made people who did not know what a browser was realise they had a choice.

For a marketplace to function you need information. When economists talk about that they most often mean price information, but the fact that there are alternative products is an even more fundamental requirement.

Also can people please stop comparing MS to Apple or Google. They do not have a monopoly to be restrained in desktop OSes: Google has been a target of the EU in search, and Apple has some pretty anti-consumer practices, they may not fall within the reach of current competition law.

Str82u




msg:4552697
 7:46 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

@lucy24
You may be too young to remember when America Online kept the whole country supplied with coasters
Fortunately not. I washed out on my second interview. After being told I had to be available from home I made the dumbass statement "Oh, I wouldn't install that on my home computer."
Leosghost




msg:4552702
 8:29 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Coasters..They didn't only do it in the USA..and they spawned imitators..

G think a similar tactic will work for them, with adwords vouchers in my snail mail..

Str82u




msg:4552709
 9:01 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

G think a similar tactic will work for them, with adwords vouchers in my snail mail
Did you get a hat?
Leosghost




msg:4552710
 9:08 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

mÍme pas :(

lucy24




msg:4552735
 10:57 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google's marketing made people who did not know what a browser was realise they had a choice

I think it's entirely possible that many of those chrome users still don't know what a browser is. They think they're using a supercharged version of google. And, after all, google = the internet.

Chrome itself reinforces the misunderstanding with features like pre-loading in searches.* Your average user could be forgiven for thinking they've simply moved to a fancier version of the search engine.


* Does anyone know if this applies to the New Improved image search as well? I'd test it ... if only I could think of any picture anywhere on my site that would reliably come up #1 in an image search.

incrediBILL




msg:4552744
 11:55 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

<ot>
You may be too young to remember when America Online kept the whole country supplied with coasters


Are you old enough to remember that AOL was originally called QuantumLink (Q-Link)and was a service for Commodore-64 computers?
[en.wikipedia.org...]

A bunch of us all got banned one day because they had QHelpers like "QHelper Bpb" so a bunch of us coordinated a "QNerd" invasion one fine afternoon a group of us all logged in as QNerds at the same time, I was "QNerd Bill" of course. Within minutes word of the QNerds spread like wildfire and suddenly staff members started showing up and booting us off the site although we were doing absolutely nothing wrong except using a name with a Q in it.

They had no sense of humor, we got banned.
</ot>

graeme_p




msg:4552819
 7:38 am on Mar 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think it's entirely possible that many of those chrome users still don't know what a browser is. They think they're using a supercharged version of google. And, after all, google = the internet.


I once told someone I did not use Windows, and she said "do you use Word instead", so its quite possible. That said, a good many people I know do now understand the difference.

The most annoying things to me about computer ignorance is PC = Windows and Mac is totally different. Given that:

1) Strictly speaking both have always been PCs (Personal Computers). The term pre-dates IBM compatibles PCs.
2) Modern Macs have the same hardware as a PC. The most significant difference is EFI vs BIOS, but if that means they are not PC, neither are machines running Windows 8).
3) Some of us do not run Windows on our PCs.

lucy24




msg:4552833
 9:26 am on Mar 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

The most annoying things to me about computer ignorance is PC = Windows

... which is a pretty nifty way to get this thread back on topic, if you think about it. PC=windows and internet=MSIE.

Bill, I don't remember Q-- I'm sure I am chronologically old enough, but was not, er, a computer geek at the time. But now that you bring it up I do remember AOL's long list of Reserved Names that nobody could use except moderators. I knew a few people who were barred from using their own real names for this reason. Especially if your real name was anything even remotely Slavic, for some reason. Possibly AOL owned the letter Z.

drhowarddrfine




msg:4552930
 8:48 pm on Mar 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

I didn't read through all the responses but, typically, people forget one major point in all this. Windows is a monopoly on the desktop. THAT alone is the reason Microsoft has gotten themselves in hot water with the EU over this and also got themselves into trouble with the US Justice Department years ago. That is the foundation of all this.

No! Chrome and Google and Apple and iPhones and iPads and all that are NOT the same thing or in the same boat or in the same category in any way shape or form. None of those devices or companies are monopolies of their markets like Microsoft is with Windows on the desktop.

Until people understand how Microsoft being a monopoly affects this, they cannot understand why Microsoft is having the problems they are having.

drhowarddrfine




msg:4552934
 9:08 pm on Mar 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've got a minute so I'm going to write an analogy and hope I don't get interrupted.

Let's say you have a grocery store, Al's Grocery, in your neighborhood and everybody goes to that one grocery store because they have everything you want. You could go to the other grocery stores out there but Al's was the first, you're used to them, and they do a good job for you. You especially like Al's Branded Meats. Like I said, everybody uses them.

Now let's say you run a meat packing company. You could sell your meat to the other grocery stores but nobody buys meat there. They always go to Al's. So you go to Al's and ask them to sell your meat. "No," they say.

So what are your options? 1) Sell to the other grocery stores (but hardly anyone buys there) or 2) go out of business. Actually, since you can't make enough sales on the first option, you'll go out of business anyway.

That is how Microsoft locks out competition in the browser market. But what about Apple? Aren't they a monopoly on phones and don't they lock out or restrict competitors on their products?

In many ways they do but let's go back to the grocery stores. One of those grocery stores, Jim's Grocers, also sold meat, but their meat was better than Al's. It was more expensive but Jim delivered and no one ever got less than Prime, juicy cuts, but you paid the price for it!

Now let's say you approach Jim's to sell your meat but Jim says, "No". Jim says he's really particular about what product he sells and he hand selects every cut. He only sells Jim's brand of meat.

So why can Jim get away with that? Market share. You can always go somewhere else to sell your wares and Jim turning you down won't affect you or your competitors much. However, Al turning you down not only affects you but every other meat packer around and, since Al turns everybody down and controls almost all the meat selling business, you have nowhere else to turn!

So, I blurted that out real quick and got it off my chest.

SevenCubed




msg:4552947
 11:11 pm on Mar 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Jim says he's really particular about what product he sells and he hand selects every cut.
...
So why can Jim get away with that?

Because he's the one who stole Aunt Martha's sheep?

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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