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Google Joins EU Antitrust Case Against Microsoft 373

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sure-why-not dept.
gubm writes "Google said it wants to help the European Commission prove its antitrust charges against Microsoft regarding the bundling of the Internet Explorer browser with Windows."
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Google Joins EU Antitrust Case Against Microsoft

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  • Nothing new (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource (238333)

    Companies typically interest themselves with anything that weakens their competitors. Google must be losing confidence in their ability to compete on merits alone.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLinuxSRC (683475) * <slashdot.pagewash@com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:24AM (#26999241) Homepage
      Could be. I tend to think that Google would rather compete on the merits of their products than the lockin of the browser. If IE retained the market share it had just a few years ago, do you not think that MS would have leveraged that market against Google? MS is known for ruthless business practices, not Google.
      • Sure, it's not as if Google was leveraging their market dominance in search against MS.

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:25PM (#27000157) Journal

        >>>Google would rather compete on the merits of their products than the lockin of the browser.

        I agree. Google's browser has little chance of success when it is more difficult to obtain (download/install) than Microsoft's browser (already there and operational). Google simply wants to support the EU's attempt to bring an even playing field to the market.

        • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:44PM (#27000503)
          More important than Google's browser is their web services. Google wants to use new web technologies and wants faster javascript, IE has neither.

          For example, "In order to make Google Maps work in IE, Google had to develop ExCanvasâ"a complex library that implements many of the Canvas element's features with VML, Microsoft's proprietary alternative to SVG."(Article [arstechnica.com])

          In fact, most people seem to agree that Chrome is more intended to push adoption of newer technologies than as an actual end product.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by camperdave (969942)
          Google's browser has little chance of success when it is more difficult to obtain (download/install) than Microsoft's browser (already there and operational).

          Those factors don't seem to be impeding Firefox's progress.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:34AM (#26999401)

      Google must be losing confidence in their ability to compete on leveraged monopoly market positions alone.

      Fixed.

      (As I've noted elsewhere, I disagree with some of the finding-of-fact material used to claim MS has a monopoly. But, the courts disagree with me, both here and in the EU. That being the case, competitors in those markets have every right to expect enforcement of the law consistent with those findings.)

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      some days i would be google searching for things and google would turn up crap on occasion, and i would use various search terms on occasion just to make sure the google's search engine, database [whatever] was understanding what i was looking for, google does look like it is getting swamped with pay click crap websites on occasion, i would guess people in charge of these crap websites are working 24-7 to game google's system for profit...
    • by viralMeme (1461143) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:00PM (#26999747)
      'Google, Yahoo, IAC, AOL, and Lycos -- the major Internet search companies other than Microsoft [informationweek.com] -- on Wednesday filed a motion to compel the Software Rights Archive (SRA) to reveal who is behind its 2-year-old patent lawsuit against them'

      'Microsoft today argued that US House and Senate Judiciary Committees that the proposed Google/Yahoo deal, claiming that Yahoo's agreement to support ads through a non-exclusive deal is anti-competitive and would allegedly hurt innovation [electronista.com]'
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:10PM (#26999905) Homepage

      I guess you're trying to bait people, but I think you're right on both counts. Google has a number of projects that they've been working on that depend on moving web standards forward. Microsoft's inclusion of IE as the default browser in the most dominant desktop OS, paired with Microsoft's refusal to implement web standards, have clearly made it difficult for Google to build the sort of business they'd like to build.

      It seems to me that Google has valid grounds for complaint that they can't increase the merits of their own products, due largely to IE's weakness, so I can't imagine how they could have the confidence to compete "on merits alone"? That's why they need to push anything that might encourage people to use a real web browser that works properly.

    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      Google must be losing confidence in their ability to compete on merits alone.

      I think Google is pissed by Microsofts recent actions* and wants to send a big "How dare you fsck with us!" message back to Redmond. I totally support Google is in this case and even think it is the right thing to do, because Google is a company that is strong enough to fight back where other misfortunate companies could not. To think that (of all companies) Microsoft wanted to sue google for anti-trust.

      Google, give 'em hell!

      * http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10082800-93.html [cnet.com]

  • by Jurily (900488)

    1. What does Google have to do with it?
    2. The browser wars are basically over (the monopoly stage, that is). Everyone and their dog has heard about firefox by now, and how good it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kellyb9 (954229)

      1. What does Google have to do with it?
      2. The browser wars are basically over (the monopoly stage, that is). Everyone and their dog has heard about firefox by now, and how good it is.

      1. Google has developed a browser. 2. If the war is over and firefox has allegedly won, why does the large majority of internet users still use IE?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Slide100 (150632)

        2. If the war is over and firefox has allegedly won, why does the large majority of internet users still use IE?

        Because it comes with the OS that's on that 'puter they bought a Wal-Mart.

        Doesn't MS have, like, a 90% penetration in the market?

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:30AM (#26999347)

          You've answered the wrong question. That would fit the question "If Firefox is superior, why hasn't Firefox won the browser war?"

          And that is exactly why this is still an issue, GGP's assertion that the browser war is over notwithstanding.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:45AM (#26999539)
        90% of people use IE because 90% of people just want a basic browser, and don't really care about things like extensions, better security, better features, etc. that browsers like Firefox provide. IE is installed by default so they just use that. It's the same reason 90% of PC users use Windows Media Player to play their audio and video files rather than one of the numerous other superior media players out there.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TeXMaster (593524)

          90% of people use IE because 90% of people just want a basic browser and don't really care about things like [...]

          Right and wrong. They use IE because that's what the computer ships with their computer, not because they want a basic browser. All the people I've helped set up a computer use Firefox or Opera because that's what I set up for them.

          People don't care about extensions and security (until they need to wipe their system because of infections), but they don't actually care about their browser being basic or not. The important part is that since they don't care they use whatever ships with their system, mostly

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Teun (17872) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:29AM (#26999337) Homepage

      1. What does Google have to do with it?

      They market their own browser?

      2. The browser wars are basically over (the monopoly stage, that is). Everyone and their dog has heard about firefox by now, and how good it is.

      Then why is IE still by far the most used browser?
      Exactly, because it's bundled and because a lot of people wouldn't know how to get on the net without it unless they're offered a 1-click option.

      If it was up to me I'd still insist on unbundling of IE.
      It is sufficiently documented when IE suddenly, and for MS conveniently, became 'part of the OS', no doubt to take away traction from the then running court case.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Lots of your responses to your first question are focused on the fact that Google is marketing their own browser. While that's true, I would go farther than that: Google's entire business relies on web browsers. If lots of people are using a web browser that doesn't function properly, then it's a big headache for Google. If one of the most powerful companies in tech is pushing people to use a browser that doesn't work properly, then I'm sure Google will take an interest.

      And beyond that, Google has been

    • Re:Default search (Score:4, Insightful)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @12:19PM (#27000055)

      IE is the default browser, so MSN is the default search engine. Even though people go to Google automatically these days, I wouldn't be surprised if their new browser is just a cover story. If they work a deal with OEMs, they could have the default browser be Chrome, with the default search engine being Google. Or even if the OEM wants Firefox, Google could still be the default search engine via their past investments and agreements with Mozilla.

      Getting IE off windows, or at least not as prominently featured, is probably seen as a key strategy in the fight for search/ad market.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jaazaniah (894694)

      You make quite a few assumptions in your last statement. There are still MANY consumers here who just use IE because it came with the computer and it works well enough, AND have never heard that there are alternatives, let alone what firefox is.

      As to your first comment, people have pointed out the competition angle, but consider also that when you connect to some site, your browser type is transmitted. Being the dominant search engine on the web, Google is in an excellent position to present statistical usa

    • >>>Everyone and their dog has heard about firefox by now, and how good it is.

      "Firefly? No, never heard of that browser. I'm not even sure what a "browser" is. I just click the picture that says "verizon" on my computer and it works. BTW can someone tell me how to lookup Recovery Gov? I tried typing it but it gave me a error." - typical computer user

  • Company's major competitor promises to do all it can to help in the case against the company.
  • Better Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by TypoNAM (695420) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:22AM (#26999213)
    I found a much better informative article [nytimes.com]. Even though the damn site won't let you see the printable version first since web browsers tell the NYT server you came from slashdot. ;)
  • The choice (Score:5, Funny)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:23AM (#26999229) Homepage

    offer an installation screen that gives consumers a choice of which browser to install.

    Will the masses still opt for IE?
    What if the IE choice says "Choosing IE will give you a substandard browsing experience, plus your computer will be pwned by malware. Oh and also you are holding back the progress of all mankind you douche"

    Bets please.

  • Unfair (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leptons (891340) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:28AM (#26999317)
    If the EU does this, then will they also force Apple to open the iPhone to other browsers? Will they force Google to allow other browsers to be shipped with android? Ok, these are not desktop platforms, but the same should apply.
    • Re:Unfair (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PinkyDead (862370) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:37AM (#26999441) Journal

      Is the iPhone or Android market dominant? Are Apple or Google able to impose their de-facto standards on anyone else?

      • Google is dominant. iPhone is pretty dominant. Or they wouldn't talk about an "iPhone killer." Google seems able to impose standards on many other people. Incidentally, I don't see MS imposing many standards. They are trying, perhaps, sure. But w3c seems to be doing pretty well. Especially with web browsing standards. Why not let IE either die or improve naturally, as already is happening?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by newcastlejon (1483695)
      I agree. But then again a version of Windows that will only run MS software is also fine in my eyes. It's their product, and if people aren't happy then they shouldn't buy it. Does the EU force Apple to unbundle QT and Safari, or what about iTunes? Are BMW forced to fit a third-party stereo?
    • by Pop69 (700500)
      I'm sure that as soon as either of those get convicted of illegally leveraging a monopoly they'll come under the same scrutiny as Microsoft does.

      Until that happens would you like some cheese with your whine ?
      • I'm sure if that ever happens many Slashdotters will find some excuse why it's unfair to Apple.

        In any case, the EU could force Apple to unbundle QT and Safari if it wanted to without any finding of Apple leveraging an illegal monopoly.

    • by Teun (17872)
      Why is this investigation in MS/Windows/IE so hard to understand?
      There must be dozens of makes and hundreds of types of phones on the market with several different operating systems.
      But every time I go shopping for a PC I find they all come with Windows, unless you build one yourself there isn't any choice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If the EU does this, then will they also force Apple to open the iPhone to other browsers? Will they force Google to allow other browsers to be shipped with android? Ok, these are not desktop platforms, but the same should apply.

      The same laws do apply, you just don't seem to have a clue what they are. You first clue should be the word "antitrust". Find out what a "trust" is and you'll be most of the way to understanding why MS's action violates an antitrust law while Neither Apple nor Google's bundling of a browser does.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No. These are different thing, it's like comparing..well you know where that goes.

      Apple is providing the complet experience, MS does not.

      If MS built computers along with putting the code that runs them, then that would be fine.

      This is not the case.

      Using this as a reason to open up any software on the device, is like demanding that the company that makes your TV must allow different software to replace the firmware.

    • If the EU does this, then will they also force Apple to open the iPhone to other browsers?

      I hope so. I generally don't have problem with laws that give consumers more choice. In fact, I hope that sooner or later Apple gives up on this notion of controlling all application distribution for the iPhone.

      But even if they don't address those issues, two wrongs don't make a right. I have no objection to Microsoft being forced to support removal of IE and bundling of other browsers.

  • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @11:36AM (#26999433)

    Well, there are a lot of ways to do that:

    1.You can use FTP.
    2.You can download Firefox installer on another PC and then transfer it using floppies, USB flash memory or some other sneakernet technology.
    3.You can include the Firefox installer to your Windows install CD.
    4.Microsoft may make a program that lets you choose between IE, Firefox, Opera and Chrome.

    Anyway, how do you install network card drivers after installing Windows if your network card is not supported by the default Windows install?

    "But Joe Sixpack will not know how to accomplish options #1-#3 and MS may not make option #4 available to him"

    Well, there is a high probability that Joe also does not know how to install Windows. So he has two options:
    1. Ask a friend to install Windows for him
    2. Buy a PC with Windows already installed by an OEM.

    In case of #1, the friend will also be able to install Firefox, in case of #2. the OEM will have installed a browser for him.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Slide100 (150632)

      1. Ask a friend to install Windows for him
      2. Buy a PC with Windows already installed by an OEM.

      In case of #1, the friend will also be able to install Firefox, in case of #2. the OEM will have installed a browser for him.

      And, the OEM will likely install IE. Joe Sixpack will have no idea that there are other options out there, and continue to use what he's given.

      I have tried to get my wife to use something (anything) other than IE, but she won't. She knows how to use Windows (in a limited way) can get her email and the few websites she is interested in. She also uses Word to do her report cards 3 times a year - and she happy with that. I think she represents the vast majority of computer users out there who aren't intere

    • 4.Microsoft may make a program that lets you choose between IE, Firefox, Opera and Chrome.

      Yeah, it really doesn't seem this hard to me. Microsoft could write a simple application that would present you with a choice of browsers and download the proper browser from that browser's website. I'm sure Google and Mozilla would be willing to provide Microsoft with a static link that would always point to the most recent version of the browser. If you're worried about security, they can even use signatures from the SSL certs to verify that the download was good.

      The amount of resources it would take

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      1.You can use FTP.
      2.You can download Firefox installer on another PC and then transfer it using floppies, USB flash memory or some other sneakernet technology.

      For vast majority of users today, this is an unacceptable inconvenience.

      3.You can include the Firefox installer to your Windows install CD.
      4.Microsoft may make a program that lets you choose between IE, Firefox, Opera and Chrome.

      These two are even worse. Who decides which browsers get to be bundled on Windows install CD and which aren't? Who decides which browsers go on the list of browsers available to install?

  • Microsoft and its monopoly has materially harmed the industry and consumers for so long, it has to stop.

    For everyone that argues that Microsoft innovates or has created the computer market in the first place, I submit that you either don't know the history of the personal computer or choose to ignore it.

    Thin client computers were killed by Microsoft. The "Are you my friend or are you Larry's" asked Bill Gates, and poof the DEC Shark was dead and so, eventually was DEC.

    "Go" computers got killed when Toshiba

  • ...that alone proves to me Windows coming with IE by default doesn't elbow any other browser off the desktop.

    I don't even use IE myself for most sites, but this seems rather like the competition seeing a chance to bash Microsoft and taking full advantage.

  • This slashdot story has Google saying; "This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers."

    While this slashdot story about Chrome on the same front page; http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/26/1323211 [slashdot.org] , has them saying; "The web is becoming an integral part of the computer and the basic distinction between the OS and the browser doesn't matter very much any more" and "I think since the download is just one

  • by mikefocke (64233) <[mike.focke] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @03:55PM (#27003461)

    it is losing market share month by month. And browsers which didn't exist 2 years ago are gaining.

    So the barrier to entry in the browser market must not be so compelling as to prevent another entrant. Nor is the barrier to success.

    And customers/consumers have (and had) multiple choices and are taking advantage of them.

    So why the case?

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