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Microsoft is accused by EU again

IE bundling

     
3:23 am on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Again? I don't know all the details of this, but all this EU action is starting to look a bit frivolous/opportunistic. Here's what they're up to this time:

Microsoft is accused by EU again [news.bbc.co.uk]

In its statement on Friday the Commission said: "Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice."

Microsoft that it was studying the commission's preliminary finding, and did not rule out requesting a formal hearing.

It has been given eight weeks to reply.

11:59 am on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Microsoft could avoid all these problems. All they need to do is to offer Firefox, Opera, etc. on Windows installation CDs and let the user choose.

If MS dropped their own IE codebase altogether and switched to Gecko they could save themselves a load of money and grief. This would raise problems with html help (with javascript in particular) but overall would be wise in the long term. If this decision had been taken with Vista, the problem would be dead and buried by now.

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10:05 pm on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This may be a result of the complaint Opera filed [webmasterworld.com] almost exactly a year ago. The EC press release doesn't mention Opera, but the complaint was about tying IE to the OS and thus hindering competition.

Perhaps Netscape should have filed a similar complaint 13 years ago...

Edit: in a press release [opera.com] Opera says they are happy with the steps taken by the Commission (my phrasing).

[edited by: RonPK at 10:13 pm (utc) on Jan. 17, 2009]

11:42 am on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I thought they did, with a 1M Euro/day fine. Or was that for something else?
2:09 am on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If memory serves those per/day fines were for late documentation. This IE bundling issue is a whole new accusation for the EU. It's the same one that MS was already fined for in the US years ago.
1:34 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes, from what I can remember, that fine was for not providing developers with sufficient documentation on the API.

Insofar as it is possible to install and use other browsers, it is hard to argue that a browser is an integral part of the operating system. However, in addition to html help (mentioned above) ActiveX browser features are required by some users (and are currently integral to the update process).

However, a media player is not an essential part of an operating system, nor is an email client - these are clearly applications, yet these are also included with Windows. Clearly, this limits the commercial viability of competing applications. You can argue that bundling such software with Windows benefits users but, if users had the option to buy a version of Windows without these applications, the money saved could be used to buy alternatives. Given that Microsoft supplies many versions of Windows already, they would find it hard to argue against this.

Kaled.

4:16 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I would expect an off the shelf PC to be ready to connect to the web. What browser and email client are installed is another matter entirely.
 

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