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Why Microsoft's EU Ballot Screen Doesn't Measure Up 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the clever-lawyers-clueless-regulators dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A lengthy interview on Groklaw discusses the EU's case against Microsoft. The case is supported by Opera, Google, Mozilla, ECIS, and the Free Software Foundation Europe. The EU has demanded that users be offered a 'ballot screen' to make it easier for users to select other browsers. Microsoft has responded by implementing the ballot screen as a web page inside IE. While this may nominally satisfy EU's demand, it is unlikely to satisfy users who prefer other browsers. In order to select another browser, users must be running IE. Also, users will be shown security warnings when choosing from the ballot. Microsoft's ability to charge patent fees in Europe is also discussed: why are they allowed to charge patent fees where software patents are not recognized?"
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Why Microsoft's EU Ballot Screen Doesn't Measure Up

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  • Thanks Microsoft. How considerate of you to dirty-up my Windoze with Innerweb Exploder, just so I can download an alternative like Opera or Firefox or Safari.

    I'm sure Microsoft could include a small FTP program in the "choose your browser" screen to go retrieve the browsers directly, but of course they don't want to do that. They want IE on there in hopes you'll use it someday.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      I'm sure Microsoft could include a small FTP program in the "choose your browser" screen to go retrieve the browsers directly

      And just think of what an uproar other FTP program makers will do then.

      You really want to have another ballot screen to select your favourite FTP program before the browser ballot screen comes up?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      P.S.

      IE is an open door that lets viruses through. I was having a problem with viruses, and when I uninstalled IE, they disappeared. What a piece of crap program.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Or perhaps they tailor their product to demand.

      There is a demand for IE.

      I use other browsers about 99% of the time, but I also need to have IE installed.

      A home user might be able to get by with it, but I use a grip of different management tools, some of which require IE.

      Some router config utils don't render properly in FF (and some don't render properly in certain versions of IE.)

      I'd be pretty annoyed if I was doing a new office setup and couldn't install network devices because I needed to download a brows

    • How considerate of you to dirty-up my Windoze with Innerweb Exploder

      It's talk like this that has me siding with the fullback who stuffs the dork in his locker.

      • Really? So if I say "How considerate of you to dirty-up my Window 7 with Internet Explorer" does it alter the meaning? No. Not really. IE is still a door through which viruses leaked onto my XP system, and why I uninstalled it, and why I don't want it installed on my Win7 upgrade *at all*.

  • Lynx (Score:2, Interesting)

    by symes (835608)
    Why can't we have Lynx as an option? Or better - why can't we have Lynx as the DEFAULT from which users make their browser choice?
    • Lynx is cheating. You should have to Telnet to the webserver, manually construct the HTTP headers to request the page and then do the same to make a POST request to select the browser you want. Just think how peaceful the Internet would be ...
    • This...
      http://images.google.com/images?q=lynx+browser [google.com] ...is why.

      If you feel that doesn't answer your question, then you'll have to ask yourself whether you are fit to ask it in the first place.

      • I like to use Lynx. It let's me surf the net, while appearing to be doing work, thereby tricking the boss. It's also ridiculously fast and uses minimal bandwidth.

        The only drawback is the 80-column limit. I wish there was a variant of Lynx that had no limit on how many columns appeared on the screen.

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          elinks doesn't restrict you to a 80 column terminal. To tell you the truth though, I didn't think any of them did...

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Because Microsoft doesn't want their user experience to be shit? Duh.

    • Why can't we have Lynx as an option?

      Because no sane person who wants a text-based browser would pick Lynx over Links.

  • Why IE? Why not create a windows app that provides ballot screen which ftp the browser behind the scenes after user selection. If MS wants to do this there are ways to do it without using IE. But hey EU is satisfied with MS. I think this should be sufficient too. What next, provide ballot screens to select Windowing too.
    • Why IE? Why not create a windows app that provides ballot screen which ftp the browser behind the scenes after user selection. If MS wants to do this there are ways to do it without using IE

      Because it would be a completely pointless thing to do. IE is used for more then web browsing. MS also uses components from IE for the help system and other things where they want to display formatted text. No one has a rational complaint about that. So it is perfectly sensible to use it for this.

  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tridus (79566) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @10:02AM (#29703285) Homepage

    It's not like IE is being removed from Windows anyway. There's other things that use it no matter what your default browser is.

    This is just whining for the sake of whining.

  • ...how and to what extent this "ballot screen" is going to be forced on people. I manage a lot of Windows computers at work and the last thing I want is an automatic update suddenly presenting my users with the invitation to choose a new browser, which they won't be able to take up anyway because they lack the administrative privileges to install one.

    Here's hoping there's a quick and easy way to disable this with group policy or registry tweaks. What makes sense for Joe Sixpack or Granny Crabapple is not
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I manage a lot of Windows computers at work and the last thing I want is an automatic update suddenly presenting my users with the invitation to choose a new browser

      This only happens on new installs I do think your point about corporate enviroments is valid, however i think that is something MS worry about and unless you leave users with default windows installs i don't think having 1 extra command/config option/program to set it will be an excessive workload.

      • by Darkon (206829)

        This only happens on new installs

        Well, according to what I read here [sitepoint.com]:

        The browser ballot screen is a web page that will be shown to any European Windows user who has Internet Explorer set as their default browser. It will appear:

        • following a new installation of Windows 7 during the first automatic update
        • during a future automatic update of Vista and XP, and
        • whenever the user chooses to return to the web page.
  • With a browser installed by default the user can go online and compare the home pages of other browsers.

    He can - if he chooses - seek out independent reviews.

    The more technically minded might be attracted to resources like Secunia: Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.x [secunia.com]

    He is not limited to a screen shot and a paragraph or two of description -
    which will inevitably be fretted and fussed over word-by-word by the anal-retentive geek and EU bureaucrat.

  • by Max_W (812974)

    The real problem is not that the IE8 is installed by default. The problem is that Microsoft does not want the Internet at all.

    Why should they? Web-applications threaten their core business: OS and MS Office. And money talk.

    So they use the Internet Explorer as, speaking figuratively, the Internet's tombstone.

    It is slow, it is incompatible, its interface is extremely confusing. I spend a lot of time to find a command in its convoluted menus; what about less technical users then?

    Microsoft is trying to win time

    • Either you're twelve, or having been living in a cave.

      Win95's success was built almost entirely on the fact that you suddenly had native connectivity to the internet, instead of having to cobble together a daisy chain of utilities oneself.

      If people stopped using the internet tomorrow, PC sales would dry up, taking windows licensing sales along with it.

      They'd still survive, but would take a HUGE hit financially.

      I may have seen a post as completely ignorant as your at some time in the past, but I honestly can

      • by Max_W (812974)

        Yes, Microsoft does need a watered-down Internet, like opening an odd page with a long unreadable URL from time to time.

        But not more. It does not need fast reliable web-OS and web-applications.

        It is obvious and understandable, who would need to install Office then?

        That is why IE8 has got such a latency while opening pages with JavaScript, that is why it is insecure to a degree that people are afraid to use the Internet.

        Add to this millions and millions of pirated Windows installations now without even criti

  • Nerds will download their own browser possibly as the only thing they ever do on IE.

    Most regular people will buy from Dell or some such and never ever see this ballot screen anyways. So how does this help?? I think if they wanted to change what software came with computers they should go to the prefab guys and ban windows taxing. Maybe force them to throw in a ubuntu, FF and openoffice radio button. Seems like it would have way more of an effect than this ever would.

    That said, windows has balls almost spi

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