Have some Mozilla with that Windows

Have some Mozilla with that Windows

Summary: Mozilla is complaining of massive losses due to a Microsoft technical error. Yes, it's as silly as it sounds.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows

The only way I can describe this to you is that it's the most idiotic ruling ever handed down by any group or judge anywhere. I'm shocked that it's really come to this. OK, the story is this: The European Commission (EC), whoever they are and whose real purpose and power is questionable, handed down a ruling that stated that Microsoft has to give Windows users in Europe a browser choice. And, the fact that they didn't in Windows 7 Service Pack 1, means that Mozilla lost millions of downloads of its Firefox browser. Mozilla estimates that loss in the range of six to nine million downloads during the non-compliance timeframe.

My answer to this consists of the following:

  • A clinched fist to the heads of the European Commission board members.
  • A big, fat "So the hell what?" to Mozilla.
  • A "Tell them to use another operating system," if I were Microsoft.
  • An open message to the EC: "You don't need an invitation to use another browser, just go get one."
  • Another message to the EC: "Does Volkswagen have to offer Fiat engines as an option?"

Seriously. How dumb do you have to be to a) Not know how to download another browser if you want one, and b) Realize that this is really that stupid?

I'm thinking dumb. Box of rocks dumb. Blue-green algae dumb. European Commission dumb.

I remember Bill Gates answering this question in the late 1990s with the same logic as mine: May 22, 1998 – Bill Gates contends that asking him to include Navigator with Windows is like asking Coca-Cola to include three cans of Pepsi in every six-pack.

Does Mercedes-Benz offer a voucher for other brands of tires since they come pre-installed with Michelins or Pirellis? 

I think you get my point here.

Who are these people that think this is a good idea?

To the European Commission:

Not only can I not understand your reasoning in your ruling about forcing Microsoft to provide the ability to download other browsers, I have to say that your efforts were wasted. Wasted because it isn't necessary to mandate this kind of thing. People are free to download any browser they want. Microsoft doesn't stop them.

If you open Google.com on whatever browser you use, you'll see a link there to download and install the Chrome browser.

You should be glad that I don't control Microsoft. If I did, I would tell you that I will stop selling Windows in Europe or that buying Windows is optional. There are alternatives. So, being that buying Windows is optional, you can't tell us what to package with our operating system. Go control someone else's business.

On your homepage, you discuss job creation and business but do you realize that what you're doing is actually anti-business? Well, it is.

You're essentially telling any entrepreneur that if he or she is successful and creates a great product that everyone wants, they also have to boost the competition by allowing competitive products to mix with theirs.

I don't know how things work in Europe but I'm convinced that maybe this is why your damn countries are all going bankrupt--one after the other.

I think that what we need in this world is fewer bureaucrats and self-appointed do-gooders and more people who want to work and make an honest living and not spend time placing limitations and sanctions on those who are successful. 

If Windows users want Firefox, great. If they want to use Internet Explorer, awesome. If  they want to use Chrome, that's cool too. Frankly, I use Lynx on Linux more often than I use anything else. Is there an option for that browser too? Well, there should be.

Yours truly,

Ken Hess

The point is that people do have a choice of browsers, of office suites, of accounting programs and of every other type of program. If Microsoft doesn't stand up and fight this or tell the EC to kiss off, then it's their own fault. Where does it end, otherwise?

You don't have to provide access to your competition's products. It's just silly to expect it.

What do you think of the ruling and the Mozilla complaint? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Pathetic diatribe

    Laws matter.

    Agreements matter.

    You are not as smart as you think you are.
    • In princable I agree with you.

      But sometimes dodgy laws get made and passed, this in my humble option is one of them. Needs to be changed. Laws can and do get change if enough people complain about it. I myself was involved in a long running campaign to change a dodgy road law in Australia.
      We changed it, and MS should challenge it. No one else in the tech industry seems to be on a similar rule, not even the fruity one that dominates the Tablet market.
      • Antitrust laws are not "dodgy"

        They are extremely important to make sure competitive markets continue to function. MS agreed to a settlement and failed to live up to it.

        The incessant whiners here do not seem to have any clue of the case history. They are mostly talking through their hats.
        • You're missing the point!

          I didn't say the laws were dodgy, simple meant that particular law is dodgy. If it's such a great rule why is it only in EU and why aren't some of the other monopolies being targeted? I suspect you don't have an answer for those questions.?
          I use Firefox by the way, it's my main browser and I'm posting from it. If we are going to have laws then they should be metered out fairly to all,
          • Not a law...

            You are missing the point, this was the agreement that Microsoft and the EU came to, when Microsoft was found guilty of using its monpoly position to force competition out of the market (Netscape).

            That said, by the time Windows 7 SP1 came along, the market for alternative browsers was healthy and I think Microsoft would have been justified to go back and make a case for dropping the voting screen. But they quietly dropped it instead...
          • No your still missing MY point!

            I don't disagree with laws as they stand, I just believe the law is WRONG! Yes as it stands MS has to pay, what I'm saying is they should fight to overturn the law. I remember Netscape as I used it for many years, 2 things lead to it's down fall.
            1st: You had to pay for it, well most of the time. You could get free copies.
            2nd: MS got it's act together and started to improve IE.

            You lot either don't know or conveniently forget that Netscape ruled for a long time because IE was RUBBISH in it's early forms, I mean really rubbish. I remember Using Netscape with my 28k modem, wouldn't even bother clicking on IE any-time.
            Again, let me state it's not the laws per say I'm against but sometimes you have to make a stand for changing something which is not fair and EVEN. This one is not.
            Still notice no one has bothered answering the following 2 points.
            If it's such a great rule why is it only in EU and why aren't some of the other monopolies being targeted?
          • They can't...

            overturn the law, the law is industry independent. The only thing they can do, and should do, is approach the EU and make a case that the agreed resolution to this part of the punishment is no longer valid.
        • EU antitrust laws are not to protect consumers...

          ...but to protect competitors, regardless of product quality.

          In other words, quality doesn't matter which means that consumers don't matter, only companies matter and if you, as a company are too useless or stupid to actually make something that people will look for, something that people will want, don't worry, we'll adjust our interpretation of the law, or make a new law and save you from yourself!

          How do I know? I read them (you can too).
          • Like the USA

            the laws are there to protect competition.

            Just imagine what state the USA would be in, if the USA hadn't used similar laws against Standard Oil.
    • Agreed

      Microsoft signed the agreement with the EU. It stated they had to provide the browser choice screen. It was Microsoft's idea to include the browser choice screen. Then, Microsoft broke the agreement.

      A real simple analogy is a payment schedule. I bought, let's say, a car. I agree to make monthly payments for 4 years to purchase this car. But after 18 months I added some seat covers, a steering wheel cover, upgraded the speakers and repainted the car. Then I stopped making payments on the car. Guess what? Doesn't matter about the changes made - it matters that I signed a contract to make the payments.
  • Well, I don't

    I just seem to have a few more neurons firing than you do, and apparently a bigger vocabulary too.
    • This should also have been deleted by the moderator

      It was a response to an f-bomb (deleted) dropped on me in response to my fist post.
    • @D.T.Long

      You're still missing the point. Your position is: Microsoft agreed to this and did not comply - end of discussion. I guess if you look at the world through child-like eyes where everything is black & white then this makes sense.

      For those of us who are able to think outside of these limitations, this still seems wrong. The author is correct - Microsoft may not be including other browsers in the default installation of Windows, but EVERY user has the ability to freely download and install ANY browser they like. Or to repeat the statement from the article above - would it make sense to require Coke to include 3 cans of Pepsi with every 6 pack they sell? Just because something is on the law books somewhere doesn't make it right.
      • More missing the point.

        The issue was whether competing browsers -- in practical, real-world terms -- were competing on a level playing field with IE, when IE was the default browser, pre-installed on every computer (or close enough, with Microsoft's de facto effective monopoly position on the consumer desktop).

        In the real world, "ordinary" or "typical" users were ignorant of or not effectively able to exercise their browser options, or leery of actually installing an "alternative" browser, themselves, when they already had a working browser on their system.

        The proof of the pudding was what happened when the Browser Choice Selection Screen was actually implemented -- this resulted in a large and immediate growth in "market share" of non-Microsoft browsers.

        Add to this the "dirty tricks" MS employed to establish IE as the default browser in the first place (which after all is why this EU legal settlement came about to begin with) and it becomes clear that any moaning about MS actually being held responsible for failing to keep its promises (and legal commitment) to ensure a somewhat level playing field for competing browsers is revealed to be mere "special pleading" (We're Microsoft, we shouldn't have to compete. No Fair! Wahhh!)
        • Why are they going to choose?

          What makes anyone think that those "ignorant" consumers are going to choose anything else on the selection screen. If they don't know to go download it, they are probably not going to do so in a lineup.
          • Because it's a real, accessible option

            Whereas before it was merely a theoretical one, which they didn't know about, didn't understand, didn't know how to do, or didn't dare to.

            Or did you miss the part about how access to the Browser Choice selection screen actually results in a significant proportion of the users people choosing something other than Microsoft's default. Internet Explorer?

            The fact that this is true, shows that the browser market is not a level playing field, and favours the established monopoly.

            The additional fact of MS's established monopoly-abuse and anti-competitive tactics, is why the EU insists that Microsoft comply with this simple measure, which gives all the browsers roughly equal access to the customers. And it's hardly unfair to Microsoft, as Microsoft still has the advantages inherent in being the OS-supplier and it's "prestigious" brand-name.

            If Microsoft had gained its advantageous position fairly, rather than by abusing its monopoly position, then the story would be entirely different -- Microsoft's browser would have gained its market share by out-competing its rivals, and that would be not only fair, but beyond the preview of the EU's legislation. EU interference would then be mere political meddling, rather than restorative justice and well-earned regulatory supervision.

            But since MS has, in fact, been found to have gained its advantageous position by avoiding == and preventing -- fair competition (sometimes via actually illegal methods), the measures are merely "just compensation" or more precisely "restorative justice" and unfortunately necessary regulation to "make the market whole".

            Whining about this is either historical forgetfulness, or else just special pleading.
  • I agree

    It's actually even worse than that - there is no law that says an OS requires a browser! The idea that a company has to provide competing parts for their product is absurd - should GM be forced to offer you Honda steering wheels? What the EU should look into is how these free features are generating income - did GM ever sell you a brake but tell you to pay more because you are using it a commercial purpose? Let's face it, tech laws are broken.
    • Look at the case...

      This case and the resulting decision was made at a time where Microsoft had killed off Netscape and had around 98% market share in the browser market.

      The case was about monopoly abuse. If GM had forced Honda, Ford etc. into bankruptcy and had 98% market share for their models, then the government would step in and come up with sanctions to force them to compete. That is why countries, including the USA, have monopoly laws. Just look at what they did with the oil companies during the late 19th and early part of the 20th century (look up Standard Oil).
      • That would just mean the competition is over

        If one company can not keep up and they lose then the competition is over. We dont punish the winner of a marathon because everyone else couldn't keep up.
        • A monopoly...

          is not good for anyone.

          It means higher prices and less choice. Products and services that only meet what the monopolist wants to deliver, not what the average person wants.

          Quality can also suffer, because there is no competition to keep service quality or product quality up where it should be.

          When a company exploits a new market, then they are automatically a monopoly, until the competition turns up. They get to make some extra money for discovering the market and being the first there.

          But, if they start to use their market position to exclude others from the market, so that they retain their exclusivity, that is where the monopolies' commissions around the world start to get involved.

          Good cases to look at are Standard Oil in the late 19th Century, IBM in the 70s, Microsoft in the 90s. Parallels can also be drawn with Google, who are facing problems with the FTC, Facebook and Apple today.

          They are all being obnoxious in their own ways in certain sectors of the industry. The monopolies' commissions and trade commissions are starting to look at them.