Microsoft worried about EU pressure to bundle alternatives to IE

Microsoft worried about EU pressure to bundle alternatives to IE

Summary: The eagle-eyed folks over at PC Pro have gone through the Microosft's latest filing to the SEC and discovered something interesting - that the Redmond giant is already worried about possible EU penaties that could see competing browsers being installed into the Windows OS by Microsoft or OEMs.

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The eagle-eyed folks over at PC Pro have gone through the Microosft's latest filing to the SEC and discovered something interesting - that the Redmond giant is already worried about possible EU penalties that could see competing browsers being installed into the Windows OS by Microsoft or OEMs.

In January 2008 the Commission opened a competition law investigation related to the inclusion of various capabilities in our Windows operating system software, including Web browsing software. The investigation was precipitated by a complaint filed with the Commission by Opera Software ASA, a firm that offers Web browsing software. On January 15, 2009, the European Commission issued a statement of objections expressing the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the statement of objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer. We will have an opportunity to respond in writing to the statement of objections within about two months. We may also request a hearing, which would take place after the submission of this response. Under European Union procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses our response and conducts the hearing, should we request one. The statement of objections seeks to impose a remedy that is different than the remedy imposed in the earlier proceeding concerning Windows Media Player. While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any Web browsing software on Windows, the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC. Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser. The statement of objections also seeks to impose a significant fine based on sales of Windows operating systems in the European Union. In January 2008, the Commission opened an additional competition law investigation that relates primarily to interoperability with respect to our Microsoft Office family of products. This investigation resulted from complaints filed with the Commission by a trade association of Microsoft’s competitors. [emphasis added]

Microsoft has two months to respond to the charges before the EU makes a ruling. Microsoft could also request a hearing.

This is troubled waters that Microsoft is entering into at a time when the company is gearing up to release Windows 7.

Topics: Software, Browser, Enterprise Software, Government, Government UK, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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84 comments
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  • Other browsers can't compete?

    [i]According to the statement of objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer.[/i]

    I guess no one from the EU has been following Firefox's meteoric rise from 0% marketshare to 20% marketshare in just a few years? Sure, not all of it is on Windows but considering Windows still has 90% marketshare and OS X has 5-10% marketshare and [b]only comes with Safari[/b], Firefox was obviously not "foreclosed from competing" even when it is not installed by default.

    I like Opera and Opera Mobile 9.5 is currently [b]the best mobile browser in existence[/b] (suck on that Safari), but Opera is being a whiny little ***** when it comes to desktop browser competition.
    NonZealot
    • so why can't you uninstall ie, and only ever use firefox?

      there are no technical reasons that ie can't just be removed from windows.
      stevey_d
      • You can remove the browser

        iexplore.exe is just a normal executable. Delete it and IE has been removed from Windows.
        NonZealot
        • and can OEMs ship windows with firefox instead?

          ...
          stevey_d
          • Yes

            If they don't, maybe you need to speak with Mozilla about it.

            BTW My Windows Mobile phone (HTC Touch Diamond) came with Opera Mobile as the default browser. You actually have to go out of your way to start Internet Explorer.
            NonZealot
          • OEMs adding Firefox

            OEMs won't add Firefox. Firefox is open source amd Mozilla doesn't have the bribe money to get Firefox on new computers.

            Meanwhile, Google's toolbar seems to be plastered on every new system.
            Gis Bun
        • And...

          ...your system is borked. It would appear that if you have it, then it's the best. I hope your parents work out the parental controls on your computer soon...
          SimonUK
      • Umm not really...

        Any Windows developer who has incorporated rendered html inside their app (vs. opening a browser window) has likely done so using a web browser control (in .Net, Win32, or equivalent) which just so happens to be IE under the hood. While it might be technically feasible for Microsoft to remove IE from Windows, where would that leave developers who require this functionality inside their applications (for help documentation, reports, general UI, rendering XML via XSLT, etc)? Do you really expect us to develop in an environment where we can't even be certain a browser exists on the system let alone be able to incorporate it into our apps? The problem is many people seem to think the only way IE is leveraged is by users clicking the little e icon in their start menu which is far from the truth.
        cpow99
        • I second your opinion

          ...
          samunplugged
    • LOL

      >>> But Opera is being a whiny little ***** when it comes to desktop browser competition >>>

      Talk of whiny and irony... pot, kettle, black.

      You've become the new Mike Cox, just less funny and more annoying.

      ...
      MacCanuck
  • RE: Microsoft worried EU pressure to bundle alternatives to IE

    Faux Pas? "[B]Microosft?s[/B]" ]:)
    Linux User 147560
  • Insane

    This is insane on the EC's part. MS does not preclude any browser from properly working on Windows. Further, you need IE to get another browser if you choose not to use it (unless you had it pre-downloaded). Mac OS comes only with Safari, arent they in the same boat as MS? On Linux (a traditional 'free' distro), only FireFox is availble - what about Opera [which you must pay for] or even Internet Explorer? This seems like a lot of rhetoric to bilk more $$$ out of MS for running a business.

    This is just like requiring the 'N' versions, stripping out Media Player (for some unknown reason) - MS should just say "we're not selling Win7 over here due to increased litigation by the EC"

    *Addition* To be truely 'anti-competitive' would be to prevent any other browser from fully installing and properly working. No OS does that - it gives the user full opportunity to choose.
    JT82
    • but why can't you just uninstall ie?

      ...
      stevey_d
      • You can still choose not to use it.

        MS offers a widget (in the control panel) called 'Default Programs'. You can simply choose to not allow access to IE and only give access to your browser of choice.

        IE in windows is akin to the same stuff Apple uses in their OS, I believe its called WebKit or something - to make other features work. MS has done their part to ensure that competitors have access. case closed.
        JT82
        • If you're SURE IE isn't being used, then prove it: Delete it

          For confirmation, please give a list of all the files that you delete, and where you deleted them from.

          I was always under the impression that IE was being used [i]despite[/i] what the user chose...
          Zogg
          • you were under the impression

            that users purposefully downloaded and installed Firefox (or whatever alternative browser) and then didn't realize they were still using IE?

            I can confirm, 100%, that I'm using Firefox, exactly what I chose.
            rtk
          • No, you have misunderstood yet again.

            [i]"that users purposefully downloaded and installed Firefox (or whatever alternative browser) and then didn't realize they were still using IE?"[/i]

            When I say "using", I mean that IE's code is still being loaded into memory and executed somehow.

            If you do [b]not[/b] believe that IE is still being loaded into memory and executed then naturally you should be able to delete all of IE's components without risking the stability of your PC...
            Zogg
          • same as webkit on OS X

            you can hack out webkit, but you'll cause other applications to fail.

            The stability of your pc is not affected, just your ability to use some programs.
            rtk
          • Hence "You are still using IE".

            [i]"The stability of your pc is not affected, just your ability to use some programs."[/i]

            "Some" programs, eh? Could you be any more vague ;-)???

            But you're arguing semantics. If your PC's functionality is impaired by removing IE then IE must still be in use, regardless of whether or not you browse the Web with Firefox.

            And if IE is being used then it still be exploited by malware.
            Zogg
          • If you are on Windows XP...

            [i]"And if IE is being used then it still be exploited by malware."[/i]

            Then yes it can be. However if you are running Windows Vista with UAC on IE and its systems run in a sandbox. It must be granted permission outside of that sandbox.

            Btw, C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer delete that folder see what happens.
            logicearth@...