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Microsoft Agrees To EU Browser Ballot Screen 438

Posted by kdawson
from the vote-early-and-often dept.
An anonymous reader sends in coverage from Ars Technica of Microsoft's capitulation to the EU, after European regulators requested that Redmond bundle multiple browsers on new PCs. "Microsoft has decided that the last thing it needs in this economy is some combination of the following: fines, legal bills, and a delay of Windows 7. It has offered to adopt the European Union's preferred solution for browser competition: a browser selector screen at startup."
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Microsoft Agrees To EU Browser Ballot Screen

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  • Wimps (Score:5, Funny)

    by Slothrup (73029) <curt AT hagenlocher DOT org> on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:03PM (#28811629)

    Go down fighting!

    • Re:Wimps (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:24PM (#28812033)

      The correct quote is: In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.

      If you're going to bastardize it, at least make it something elegant: The difference between theory and practice is often much smaller in theory than in practice.

      Or even just remove the redundant part of your own version: The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there is no difference.

      For Christ sake, you sound like a retard trying to explain quantum mechanics. "Cows are black and white except when they're brown, in which case they are not black and white because they're brown, unless you put them in a box and then you don't know what color it is unless you open the box which will reveal the color that the cow is, and it will either be black and white or else brown unless it could just be black, or else dead, but only because you looked at it. Anyway, cows have fur..."

      • Re:Wimps (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:58PM (#28815141)
        You know, some of us have sig display turned off. Would you please quote what TF you're talking about. Otherwise you sound like a retard answering a question that no one's asked. This goes double in half a year, when your parent has changed his sig to "This is Bunny".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EvilBudMan (588716)

      I think they should have just been made to do what every other company does. Not a big M$ fan but who decides which browsers get to be on the ballot? This ain't 1996 and it's too late now. I would like to see more interoperability from the M$ servers and the clients. Like if you have a Windows server you can't afford to replace but want to replace your clients then you have to kludge things to get that to work. This really locks in small businesses to using their total solution. I guess Apple is the same in

  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:03PM (#28811635) Homepage

    But but but......Apple and KDE and GNOME and Google don't have to bundle other browsers so the EU sucks and just wants to hurt a successful MERKIN company!!!!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Apple and KDE are valid comparisons. Google would be soon too. They're just not as easy a target, nor as deep pocketed. How the EU can justify forcing MS to do it but not the others, I'm not sure, except by saying "MS has a larger market share." To which I say: So fucking what. A vertical monopoly is still a monopoly.

      • by John Betonschaar (178617) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:33PM (#28812187)

        I'd mod you up if I had points, I don't really get it either. It's a good thing if anti-competetive behaviour is punished but the whole browser story really is beating a dead horse. The EU is trailing reality by a few years again, just like when they forced Microsoft to release a Windows-N without Windows Media Player. All the poisoning Microsoft could have done to the market when it comes to media players is already in the past. There really isn't anything stopping you from installing alternate media players or browsers in WIndows, forcing file associations or whatever. As much as I'd love to see the world move away from Windows and Microsoft, I really don't see the point in making their life hard over media players or browsers right now.

        I expect the EU to be fining Microsoft for deliberately screwing up standardization of office document formats... In 2020...

        • by ID000001 (753578)
          The reason Microsoft is being picked on, is because they are
          a) Biggest
          b) Previous offend
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hkmwbz (531650)
            They are being "picked on" because they illegally abused their dominant position. Just like other criminals are being "picked on", poor things. Evil government, "picking on" innocent criminals like that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hkmwbz (531650)

          It's a good thing if anti-competetive behaviour is punished but the whole browser story really is beating a dead horse. The EU is trailing reality by a few years

          Actually, Microsoft has been violating competition law to this day.

          As much as I'd love to see the world move away from Windows and Microsoft, I really don't see the point in making their life hard over media players or browsers right now.

          So what you are saying that breaking the law should have no consequences?

      • KDE is not, it's just a desktop environment. Kubuntu would be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      perhaps MS should create a system GUI similar to synaptic that doesn't need a browser to download software like pretty much every GNU/Linux distro in use does. That way they can claim one more feature and be able to comply with the EU without bundling software. Each browser that wants to have a shot at it only needs to supply MS with a repo address and maybe a way of verifying software integrity [md5 at the least]

    • by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:31AM (#28816929) Homepage Journal

      MS aren't a successful merkin company. This [merkinworld.com] is a successful merkin company.

  • by gstep (1583577) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:07PM (#28811699)
    My guess is most people will still choose to use Internet Explorer, unless they already use Firefox/Chrome/Safari or whatever. People like what they're used to, even when it's crap. I try hard to convince people to stop using Internet Exploder but they always tell me they like it because it's what they know.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sqrt(2) (786011)

      At the very least it will get them on a current version of IE. IE8 is actually pretty good. MS finally started improving their browser once they had some serious competition, and that's good for everyone regardless of what you use. Outdated IE users are bad for the whole internet.

      • At the very least it will get them on a current version of IE. IE8 is actually pretty good. MS finally started improving their browser once they had some serious competition, and that's good for everyone regardless of what you use. Outdated IE users are bad for the whole internet.

        I don't mean to offend, really; but speaking as someone who does "web stuff" for a living - the only people that really believe "IE8 is actually pretty good" are people who don't know very much about what's possible even in the currently-defined HTML and CSS standards, or those that have never used anything except Internet Explorer. IE8 may be incrementally better than IE7; but Microsoft has a significant distance to cover before its browser is anywhere near feature-competitive with the competition.

        I freely

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by thebjorn (530874)

          At the very least it will get them on a current version of IE. IE8 is actually pretty good. MS finally started improving their browser once they had some serious competition, and that's good for everyone regardless of what you use. Outdated IE users are bad for the whole internet.

          I don't mean to offend, really; but speaking as someone who does "web stuff" for a living - the only people that really believe "IE8 is actually pretty good" are people who don't know very much about what's possible even in the currently-defined HTML and CSS standards, or those that have never used anything except Internet Explorer.

          When I say IE8 is pretty good (or even "great") it's simply compared to previous versions of IE. I recently had a mini-nerdgasm when I fixed an IE7 bug in our dashboard application by inserting a browser check followed by a redirect to the IE8 download page ;-)

      • Perhaps I should upgrade then.

        I'm currently using IE7, and compared to Firefox it's a horrible browser. It frequently freezes for 5-10 second intervals, and also my google searches are being hijacked by some adware that takes me to an entirely different search engine.

        When people tell me "Explorer is not bad" my mouth literally drops open. It. Is. Bad.

        • by QuoteMstr (55051)

          And you tolerade adware being on your computer longer than the time it takes to find a removal tool? Egahds. I don't know how you'd manage to live with the computer equivalent of a brain slug attached to your head.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MathiasRav (1210872)

          I'm currently using IE7, [. . .] It. Is. Bad.

          I hate to ask this, but... why are you still using it?

    • Well it does have the word "Internet" in the name

      so I suppose if someone just glances over and has no clue they would click on IE

      and then the blue E icon is synonymous with internet for a lot of people

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:18PM (#28811901)

      I'm sure Microsoft is hiring engineers from Diebold to implement the ballot. No matter what you click on you will have a 90% chance of getting IE. The interesting thing is that there will only be a 90% chance of installing IE if you click on IE.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by godrik (1287354)

      well, it clearly depends on where you are. I am living in the US for 6 month and I grew up in France. I would say that Firefox has a huge market share in France (To give an idea, I would say something like 70% of computer I looked at used firefox). I was petrified when I saw Firefox was almost unknown in the US.

      certainly people will have a different experience, but I really believe there is a difference. Have other people noticed something similar ?

    • I try hard to convince people to stop using Internet Exploder

      Why? I was the same way towards IE cause I was used to it being piece of crap, but the latest version is not so bad and if people like it better let them use it. The main reasons I use Firefox are the few add-ons that I really couldn't live without (which is why it's particularly annoying that some of them break with each new release) but if they don't need them what's the big deal.
  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:08PM (#28811709) Homepage

    I would select (if I was them)
    IE8
    safari (the first release for windows not the most recent)
    firefox 2 or maybe even a pre firefox name chanage release
    elinks
    and konq

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:20PM (#28811947)

      If I was them (and I'm a nice person, so this comment is written purely as an exercise in evil :) I'd do it like they so the search provider option:

      Choose your internet browser:
          1. Microsoft Internet Explorer, optimised for Windows 7 (tm). Microsoft recommends IE8 for super-fast and safe internet surfing.
          2. A different browser. Note that Microsoft corporation has no control over other browser's safety, speed or features. Packages listed may not be as suitable for Windows 7 (tm) as other browsers, users may use one of these at their own risk.

      option 2 takes you to a list of alternatives, with another option to go with IE8 (of course)

      • by RLiegh (247921) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:34PM (#28812195) Homepage Journal

        Actually, looking at what they do with IE8, I think that you're almost right. To be accurate, what (IMO) is most likely is that when you install 7 you'll get a dialog box that says something like:

        Please set up your browser experience:
        1)Express setup (use default settings for browser, email and blogging)
        2)Custom setup (choose your custom applications for web, search, blogging, email, messaging, help, tags and a variety of other confusing minutae that you really don't want to spend 45 minutes going through.

        They'll make option 2 intimidating and a total PITA that most people will pick option 1 (which, of course, installs ie8.)

  • Google Chrome (Score:4, Interesting)

    by akcpe (1438869) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:12PM (#28811799)
    Here's something I think is interesting but haven't heard mentioned. Since Google Chrome is a likely candidate for the "browser ballot" I can see a scenario such as this: Most people have no idea what a web browser is to begin with as evidenced by: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ [youtube.com] Clearly many people think that "Google" is a browser rather than a search engine. This seems like a great way to exploit that percentage of the population by offering this "browser ballot". Many people will see "Google" and think "Oh! That's what I normally use. I'll choose that" Thoughts?
  • "OK, Joe...which engine do you want in your new Chevy? A Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan, or Honda engine?"

    I (sort of) understand making them not tie IE to windows. But actually using MS resources to provide other browsers?

    Is MS now on the hook to provide the source code for the open source browsers in this bundle? Since they are providing the binaries, I'd say yes.
    • Re:Ballot screen? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by markdavis (642305) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:41PM (#28812305)

      > "OK, Joe...which engine do you want in your new Chevy? A Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan, or Honda engine?"

      If Chevy had 90% of the market, were declared a damaging, predatory monopoly, and you could load a new engine as easily as a browser...

      sure, why not?

  • Why not OEMs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:15PM (#28811845) Journal

    European regulators requested that Redmond bundle multiple browsers on new PCs

    Excuse me? I can understand requesting IE to be unbundled, but telling MS to bundle other browsers is just stupid. Let the OEMs do that. I hope the summary isn't having a rare moment of accuracy.

    • by MrMr (219533)
      That's only fair; They've been slapped for putting the squeeze on the OEM's to install nothing but their product. Now they can repair the damage they've done.
  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:17PM (#28811885)

    Someone on another forum brought this up. Microsoft should offer a list of about 100 browsers in the EU version of Windows. Literally 100. Put IE first and then put the rest in random order.

    Then tell the EU to put that in their pipes and smoke on it.

    • Yeah, and maybe add Mosaic after IE. We don't want to leave that out you know.

  • They'll solve the problem of "how do you download a browser without first having a browser installed?" by providing a minimal front-end whose only purpose is to download a browser:

    That screen would allow users to choose from a number of competing browsers, which would then be downloaded and installed on the machine.

    To allow this, each browser will need to provide a stable, standard URL that will download the latest version of its browser. Hopefully this can be standardized enough that other OS's can use

    • More likely they'll include a semi-recent binary for the installation of each, and assume that the browser will do a fair job of updating itself after it's installed and being used.

    • by MarkLR (236125)

      I don't think you can make the assumption that an internet connection is available during the time of install so a binary will be needed in the Windows image.

      Of course all the browsers included in the ballot should auto update themselves on first run.

      • by AndrewNeo (979708)

        I would hope they would anyway. Firefox always checks, and I assume Opera, Chrome, etc. do too. Probably IE is the only one that doesn't..

  • Utterly stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkon (206829) on Friday July 24, 2009 @03:31PM (#28812143)
    Who gets to decide which browsers are included in this "ballot screen"? Based on what criteria?

    If it's simply going to be the top 5 or whatever based on current market share then this is simply cementing the status quo rather than helping competition and innovation, and if any any every browser gets a look in then what's to stop SuperSpywareBrowser2009 from appearing in the choices?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rsmith-mac (639075)

      Actually you had it right, it is the top 5 browsers. From the AP [ap.org]

      would see a Web page prompting them to pick from five of the most popular browsers in Europe.

      Microsoft said the list of browsers would be reviewed twice a year based on usage data for the previous six months.

      Why the top 5, and not the top 6 or 4? I'd have to assume it's because there are 5 major browsers: IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. This fits all of them, and it's likely that either Chrome or Opera is in the #5 slot, so anything le

  • Time to write a browser (well, do a quick fork of Firefox...) where it defaults to a monetized home page, and then try to get on the list.

    Expect to see 200 "new" browsers available shortly...

  • by Kashell (896893) on Friday July 24, 2009 @04:01PM (#28812727)
    Internet Explorer
    Yeratu
    Swallow
    Tires

    I made these up of course, but to your average user, that's exactly what they'll see when they see:

    Internet Explorer
    Firefox
    Opera
    Chrome

    What browser do you think they will choose? Hmmmm?
  • My fellow Americans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:53PM (#28816219) Homepage Journal

    Please stop being a bunch of douches, asshats, and twats.

    "Oh, those nasty Euros are only doing this because they don't like successful American companies!"

    Give it a BREAK!!

    Only the most fanatical of the fanbois can deny that Microsoft is a monopoly. And, only half of those can do so with a straight face. The US government was first to say so, the EU made the same finging, and any homo sapient with an IQ larger than the number of digits on his hands has to be able to see that.

    If AT&T could be broken up years ago, there is absolutely no reason that Microsoft can't be broken up as well. Short of being dismantled into several smaller companies, they will abide by court rulings around the world, wherever they do business. That is the nature of being multinational, after all.

    And, no, Microsoft is NOT an American company. No matter what it says on paper, Microsoft has offices and subsidiaries around the world. They are multinational, and they take advantage of every loophole that exists in international taxation, money transfer, etc. Microsoft has all but dictated terms to national governments - "take it or leave it" deals.

    All the whining and excuse making on Microsoft's behalf makes me sick. And, whining that the world is picking on an "American" company is worse than anything. Microsoft needs to be put in their place, once and for all.

    Screw 'em all. If Microsoft were all that successful, they would be making all the money they want, and every little peasant among us would be HAPPY to give them all the money they wanted. They've spent a couple decades alienating people, and making enemies, by one means or another. Let them pay the price, and stop whining.

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