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Microsoft Ready To Address EU Antitrust Concerns 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the twisting-their-arm dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from a Reuters report: "Software giant Microsoft is ready to introduce measures that would address the European Union's antitrust concerns about users' ability to chose between different browsers, European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Saturday. EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Microsoft blocks computer makers from installing rival web browsers on its upcoming Windows 8 operating system, following complaints from several companies. Almunia is in charge of antitrust enforcement at the European Commission. 'In my personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer he has given me assurances that they will comply immediately regardless of the conclusion of the anti trust probe,' Almunia said at an economic conference in northern Italy, adding that he considered the matter a 'very, very serious issue.'"
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Microsoft Ready To Address EU Antitrust Concerns

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  • Chrome on Windows 8 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This dull reply written in Chrome on activated Windows 8 Enterprise. Chrome metro is full featured and superior in functionality to IE10 metro.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @02:14AM (#41278249) Journal

      Now try doing that on Windows RT (the ARM version).

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Now try doing that on Windows RT (the ARM version).

        That's like Firefox on iOS, but it's ok because it - like WindowsRT - doesn't have a monopolistic position.

      • Who cares about WinRT. Let Apple and google fight for domination of ARM space. I'll still take my 1000x more powerful (according to linpack) x86 processors in laptops.

  • It's a trap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @11:44PM (#41277803)

    He ALWAYS says that, during the last anti-trust case, they lost, they where required to offer a choice. Microsoft would endlessly make some token change, then do a press release saying basically "EU has defeated us totally, we've capitulated, oh how unfair it all is", then a week later they'd quietly release details of the change they'd made and it was nothing, and didn't address the core point.

    They did this 4 or 5 times, each time doing a press release saying they'd totally capitulated, then release the change later only to find they hadn't done anything, then lobby US Senators and Congressmen to twist the law in their favor against with jingoism.

    It's a game he plays.

    • ballot DVD (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sandoval88419 (765880)

      I agree with you, MS have always played the same game, they get a slap on the hand, they promise, then they do nothing.

      Result today : we can't uninstall IE, selecting another search engine is painful, and we are obliged to buy Windows with every new machine.

      As long as MS have their deal with manufacturers to enforce a pre-installed windows nothing will change : Tied sale and MS tax. Which should be punished because MS are not a HW manufacturer.

      Either they do their HW and offer a pre-installed windows, eithe

    • The so-called remedy, the 'Browser Ballot', does absolutely nothing about the original problem. The original complaint is that M$ is abusing its monopoly and bundling MSIE [opera.com]. So the 'Browser Ballot' even when it works does absolutely nothing about the presence of MSIE. Essentially it gives the users a choice of MSIE + another browser, but MSIE there like it or not and no choice. The press has completely dropped this issue. No surprise since so many are beholden to M$ in some way or another.
  • Think About This (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arbiter1 (1204146) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @11:50PM (#41277823)
    Apple's iOS blocks people from changing default browser off Safari, But MS gets sued and Fined for Even Including IE? How da hell does that work?
    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      Even in OS X apple includes Safari in it as default? I know a few ppl will try to use market share agreement but that is not the point if MS can get sued for just including their browser Apple should be sued as well for including safari.
      • Re:Think About This (Score:5, Informative)

        by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Sunday September 09, 2012 @12:13AM (#41277927) Homepage

        I know a few ppl will try to use market share agreement

        This has little to do with market share now. Microsoft consented to a legally binding agreement with the European Commission. You might not approve of that agreement, but Microsoft and their division of anti-trust lawyers did agree to it. Now it would seem that Microsoft is in violation of that legally binding agreement and the EC is rightly talking with Microsoft about that.

        Should companies be able to sign legally binding deals with governments and then simply ignore them?

        • Should companies be able to sign legally binding deals with governments and then simply ignore them?

          No, but maybe governments should be able to react to changes in the market more quickly or stop the meddling.

          The EU agreement came way too late to make any difference in the browser market, but it is now in effect aiding an even worse monopolist than Microsoft, namely Apple.

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @04:51AM (#41278655)
        If your memory is faulty, the problem wasn't that MS included IE for free with Windows. The problem was they strong-armed OEMs into not installing or using Netscape. Like hinting that their OEM prices would rise if they installed Netscape. As far as I know you can uninstall Safari though some of the libraries Safari uses are core OS X libraries and should not be removed. MS tied IE so deep into Windows that it could not be removed and can only be hidden. That's the difference.
        • I always had to laugh at their argument that IE was so deeply embedded they cannot remove it.

          They built this whole plug-and-play architecture with COM and it's descendants, and made the browser a flagship example of using it, then reversed course and started deliberately burying it deeply in Windows precisely to avoid anti-trust issues.

          Fair enough, to possibly get around a regulation that should not be there (nobody's exactly paying for Chrome or most other browsers; these companies supply them for the exac

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          As far as I know you can uninstall Safari though some of the libraries Safari uses are core OS X libraries and should not be removed.

          Nah you can't, it won't let you remove it. Naturally you can force-delete it and all its associated libraries just like you can with IE, but it will break things as those libraries are required by certain OS functionality.

          • Right-click --> Move to trash.
            What do you mean "force-delete"?
            • by exomondo (1725132)

              Right-click --> Move to trash.

              At which point you get a message box (in Lion and Mountain Lion, didn't try it in anything earlier) telling you it's components are required by the operating system.

              What do you mean "force-delete"?

              rm -f the files.

              • I don't know what settings you have but I don't get any warnings at all.
                • by exomondo (1725132)

                  I don't know what settings you have but I don't get any warnings at all.

                  It's a standard install and OSX will give you this message [osxdaily.com] if you try to remove safari (or some other default install apps). It's default behavior in OSX.

    • by asa (33102)

      It's really quite simple, actually.

      You may not agree with the deal that Microsoft made with the EU, but Microsoft and their anti-trust lawyers did agree to it and it is legally binding.

      Any questions?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Apple *makes* their stuff.

      Microsoft is telling a third party what the third party can put on the machines they sell running windows.

      Think about the subtle difference.

      • by arbiter1 (1204146)
        Um look at how much crap companies like dell, hp, etc have loaded on to the machine? not like they don't have a say in the matter/
      • For the record I'm not a Microsoft shill, I don't own any stock, and I could care less how well they do.

        Apple *makes* their stuff.

        Foxconn makes most of their stuff which Apple charges a huge markup on. Microsoft makes lots of stuff too, they're a software company after all, perhaps you've heard of Windows, Office, Visual Studio, and more [wikipedia.org].

        Microsoft is telling a third party what the third party can put on the machines they sell running windows.

        Remind us how that works with iOS again? You want to run software, you download it through the App Store. Who gets to decide what goes onto the App Store? Apple and $100 developers license. Its not

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by symbolset (646467) *
      Mo No Po Ly. Look it up.
    • It is kinda funny that some preemptive tries to block the "market share" argument while that is THE point and they do know it. It is a 'discussion' tactic that I have last seen 20 years ago when I was in preschool ! "I know there is a strong argument out their, but because I really really like to win the argument, you are not allow to use that argument. Lalalala. Fingers in the ears*

      Microsoft market share is about 90% on the desktop, Apple's market share is no way near those percentages. When you speak a
      • by exomondo (1725132)

        It is kinda funny that some preemptive tries to block the "market share" argument while that is THE point and they do know it.

        So if market share is the point then what's the specific amount of market share required?

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      Apple's iOS blocks people from changing default browser off Safari, But MS gets sued and Fined for Even Including IE? How da hell does that work?

      When Apple is a monopoly, they may have to be more careful. It may seem like they are everywhere, but they do not control more than 1/2 of any market (about 33% on smartphones, around 8% on desktops)

      Plus they don't block anyone from installing another competing browser, which I thought this complaint is about.

      • Apple does have a majority marketshare in tablets. And ipod-like devices. And if you lump ipod touches and iphones together as "mobiles", they did have over a 50% marketshare for a few years.

        And they sure do block everyone from installing another competing browser. You can not install firefox on a iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, or any other browser that actually does useful stuff like run javascript.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      But iOS doesn't have a 90% marketshare. And also, many legislators have a hard time understanding that smartphones are actually computers with an OS and software...
    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      Apple's iOS blocks people from changing default browser off Safari, But MS gets sued

      Every fucking time this issue is mentioned someone says this. And every fucking time the answer is still "By the legal definition, Microsoft is a monopoly; Apple isn't".

      Apple has a few percent of the PC market. And virtually everyone else who sells PCs bundles Microsoft Windows. MS prevents other software makers from getting a foothold into selling to OEMs by anti-competitive actions like this.

      • But Microsoft only has a monopoly on desktops. They hold less than 1% marketshare of mobiles. On the other hand, Apple does have a majority marketshare of mobiles (when counting ipod touches, iphones, and ipads -- as they are mobile, run apps, and browse the web)

        • by 1u3hr (530656)

          But Microsoft only has a monopoly on desktops. They hold less than 1% marketshare of mobiles. On the other hand, Apple does have a majority marketshare of mobiles (when counting ipod touches, iphones, and ipads -- as they are mobile, run apps, and browse the web)

          MS Windows doesn't run on mobiles (a different OS with a similar name might.)

          Apple sells hardware, including the OS.

          They're not selling the OS to OEMs and (effectively) preventing other software vendors from entering the market, as Microsoft has been doing for the last 30 years.

          If Apple prevented retailers or phone companies from selling other mobile devices, they could be prosecuted for abuse of their monopoly position in that market.

    • It's because you're too stupid to use Google.

    • One is a convicted abusive monopolist and the other is not. THATS how it works.
  • Yeah, right! (Score:4, Informative)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @11:51PM (#41277829) Journal

    "In my personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer he has given me assurances that they will comply immediately regardless of the conclusion of the anti trust probe," Almunia said at an economic conference in northern Italy, adding that he considered the matter a "very, very serious issue."

    Isn't this the same company that somehow "accidentally" dropped the browser selection process for european installations of Windows 7 SP1?

    • Yup, that is what the talks are all about. MS is in danger of being fined for some multipes of the Greek national debt for that.
    • Isn't this the same company that somehow "accidentally" dropped the browser selection process for european installations of Windows 7 SP1?

      Yes and it's also the one that is still bundling MSIE with each copy of Windows, despite the original complaint about bundling [opera.com]. The so-called remedy, the 'Browser Ballot' does nothing about the actual bundling and gives only the choice of MSIE+another browser. And because an increasing amount of the tech media is beholden to M$, the subject is not given the attentio

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @11:54PM (#41277843)

    Hopefully the EU addresses secure boot on ARM. Locking out all other OSs besides windows on ARM devices is abusing Microsoft's x86 monopoly to attempt to create an ARM monopoly.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Sunday September 09, 2012 @12:12AM (#41277921)

      I wish they could add secure boot to the list that requires a mechanism to disable, such as locked bootloaders. This could be done similar to how the Nexus did the fastboot oem unlock, or similar to the mechanism of entering the IMEI, clicking yes to a series of dire warnings, and then getting a code to type in to unlock the bootloader permanently.

      Maybe it is pie in the sky, but it would be nice to have the ability to truly use a device one purchased as their own.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @02:59AM (#41278367)
      So wouldn't the ipad be effected under this since apple does the same thing on their ARM device?
      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        So wouldn't the ipad be effected

        No, because Apple doesn't have an effective monopoly of tablet PCs.

        • Apple clearly engages in anti-competitive and monopolistic practices at least as bad as anything Microsoft has ever done. If we only intervene once a company has succeeded in offing its competition, we are just going to wander from one monopoly to the next. Interventions like the consent decrees are far too slow to remedy the situation.

          The real solution is to set some basic standards for openness and interoperability: devices should be required to allow installation of different operating systems, devices

          • by 1u3hr (530656)

            Apple clearly engages in anti-competitive and monopolistic practices at least as bad as anything Microsoft has ever done.

            "Clearly?

            Funny how none of the government regulators can see this then.

            Yeah, they do a lot of not nice stuff, but they're not a monopoly, so different rules apply.

            • by arbiter1 (1204146)
              So how does it work MS is doing same thing Apple is doing yet for apple its alright and MS its a gov investigation? seems kinda fishy to me that Apple is allowed to do all this crap yet MS even comes remotely close and they are lookin at possible fines. How does MS have a monopoly in a market they don't even have 1 device released in tablet market?
            • Are you daft or something? My whole point was that government regulators are not intervening because Apple, despite massively misbehaving, hasn't succeeded yet in killing off its competition. That's why I was saying that the time to intervene is now, as opposed to later, as we did in the Microsoft case. Get it?

              • by 1u3hr (530656)

                because Apple, despite massively misbehaving, hasn't succeeded yet in killing off its competition.

                A company can dominate an industry and "kill off" competition quite legally. It's only when they cross the line and abuse their position that "intervention" is warranted.

                • A company can dominate an industry and "kill off" competition quite legally.

                  Have I said anything to contradict that?

                  It's only when they cross the line and abuse their position that "intervention" is warranted.

                  No, intervention is "warranted" much earlier, if the goal is to preserve a free market, competitiveness, and innovation. That was my point: the Microsoft example in the EU shows that legal interventions currently come too late, and hence we should change the laws to allow interventions earlier.

                  • by 1u3hr (530656)

                    hence we should change the laws to allow interventions earlier.

                    So, you're talking about changing the law. I was talking about what the law actually is now.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          So wouldn't the ipad be effected

          No, because Apple doesn't have an effective monopoly of tablet PCs.

          Well in that case Microsoft won't be affected either.

        • No, because Apple doesn't have an effective monopoly of tablet PCs.

          Really? 64% marketshare isn't an effective monopoly?

          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            IANAL, and neither are you, I venture to say. I could look up the percentage, but why bother.

            --30--

    • You are buying a windows tablet why should they be made to let you put Android or whatever on it?

      Apple are not made to allow Android, neither are Nintendo with their consoles. Sony will probably never include other operating systems on their games consoles again (and they will be used as a prime example for generations to come about the minimal benefits and massive risks of opening up a closed platform).
  • Double standards (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Taantric (2587965)
    I can't understand the disconnect between the treatment of Microsoft for this and how Apple gets away with it's 'walled garden'. Could someone please explain why legally one is OK while the other is not.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Pentium100 (1240090)

      Market share.

      In a perfect free market environment (a lot of almost equal choices), no seller would be able to control the market and thus could do whatever they want, the result would just be felt by them (set prices too high - everyone buys from the competitor).

      However, the market for desktop OSs is not really "free". Windows dominate it with a huge market share. As such, whatever Microsoft does will affect not just them. Even if Microsoft does a lot of people do not like, Windows will still hold the domin

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Given that browser restrictions only apply to Win8 running on ARM, we're not talking about desktop OSes here, but rather tablets and such. Where there's no established monopoly as yet (but of all companies, Apple would be closest to having it, rather than MS).

      • In MS's defense, they removed almost all of what made people dislike Vista. Vista was an improvement in terms of end user security. I ended up using vista for a short time and it wasn't bad. They did, however, make an OS that a huge number of people like in 7 by listening to their customers.

  • put them in the app store (with no fees aka 100% free to be in there and no forced metro)

    • And they'd perform like they were running on a Pentium I. The App Store rules forbid any application that compiles it's own executable code at runtime, as a security precaution. For most applications that wouldn't matter - it's a rather esoteric ability, used rarely. But for browsers it is essential for running JIT compilation of scripts. Without the JIT compilation, web-apps would be painfully slow to use. IE gets to use the technology, but MS is denying the same ability to any others browsers running on W
      • That doesn't make much sense. Are you saying MS is denying the JIT compilation of CLR code to native code? That wouldn't be needed for security reasons. Or are you saying the MS is denying people the ability to write their own JavaScript JIT compiler? That wouldn't be much of a restriction, since you can compile JS to CLR/DLR and then let the system JIT compiler compile that to native code.

        So, can you elaborate what it is you think you can't do?

        • As I understand it - which is not very well - the former. It's not targetting javascript specifically, but rather is part of the security model in general. Something like a stricter version of DEP: The apps have code sections and data sections, the code sections are all tagged read-only, and the OS will refuse to execute anything not in a code section.
  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Sunday September 09, 2012 @03:16AM (#41278411)

    Hey! Linux and BSD are Free Operating Systems. If MS is using their dominant OEM installations to leverage IE, then they're doing the same for their OS... So, why not have a ballot when you turn an the PC for the first time that allows you to install a different OS?

    I'll even go one further, why not have MS show a ballot screen that allows you to choose MS Office (trial) or the full versions of Open Office or Libre Office. Instead of PBRUSH.EXE Microsoft should be giving us a ballot box for Gimp, Inkscape, and Photoshop (w/ payment, of course).

    Hey, I know, maybe we can create a repository for all the different software there is and LET THE FUCKING CUSTOMER CHOOSE? Ah, that would be insane! Why, customers couldn't possibly choose what OS they want installed on their systems -- They barely know how to use the damn devices in the first place. I know! Why doesn't someone just take advantage of this fact and leverage it to limit the available software and take a cut of all proceeds via pre-insatalled OS and "App Store" -- OOH! We could even prevent the user booting other OSs in the name of security! You know! Because if something can write to the boot sector, they'd never think of writing to ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING ELSE to infect the system. Why, it'll be the MOST SECURE VERSION of Windows ever released!

    ::sigh:: If only MS were smart enough to do so.

  • From what I can tell (based on what Mozilla and others have said), the root issue is basically that apps written for Metro dont get access to the Windows APIs they need and that developers on ARM get access to even less.

    Will Microsoft actually FIX the problem and allow Metro (and ARM) apps to access the APIs necessary to do JIT compilation of Javascript, spawn plugins in separate processes and the other things a modern web browser (like Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer) needs to do?
    Or will they claim th

  • OK, Microsoft strong armed the PC makers into avoid installing Netscape and competing office suits. They had a pricing policy that has deep discounts for not installing competing products. Clear abuse of monopoly powers and the PC makers succumbed to it. Fine. It is all old story now.

    The PC makers are paying for their sins now. In fact paying for it for some time now. Dozens of them have gone under. The few who are left, Dell, HP+compaq, toshiba, are struggling. They all agreed to have identical offerings and chose to compete on price. Not a single one of them thought, "OK I will bite the extra cost of individual licensing, but install FiredFox+Noscript and pitch it as more secure PC and go for higher margins. In fact I will throw in OpenOffice and GIMP and virtualDub and Handbrake and pitch it as a fully functional PC". No, they did not. They all fell in line with Microsoft. Reduced to competing purely on price, with their margins cut severely, without any brand differentiation or brand identity the PC makers became as indistinguishable as costermongers, blood orange purveyors and the fish and chips vendors on the Piccadilly circus. Serves them right. Now Microsoft wants to get into hardware business and finish them all off.

    But it does not matter any more. PCs are not the most common devices that use the internet. With smartphones, tablets and e-books all having internet capabilities, even if IE regains the monopoly marketshare in PCs it would not matter anymore. With google docs and other on line free tools for document creation available, most households will never ever buy MsOffice suites. Many small companies and some medium companies are switching to alternatives to Microsoft Office. So, make no mistake, Microsoft will continue to make lots of money for a long time to come. But they do not have the power to stifle the whole industry for their personal gain. Idiotic product managers in Microsoft wont be able to make venture capital funding disappear for promising new technologies by press release and vaporware any more.

    And as usual the wheels of government have turned slowly and coming in to rescue us after we have fought back the menace all on our own. Where were they when Microsoft subverted document standards? Where were they when Microsoft deceptively named its shit OOXML? Where were they when we were down and the outlook looked gloomy? These are not the U S Cavalry riding into rescue at the crucial moment. They are the Bollywood cops who come into arrest the villain after the hero has single handedly defeated the villain and his thousand thugs with machine guns with bare hands, just as the credits start rolling.

    • > PCs are not the most common devices that use the internet.

      So far, they certainly are, by a big margin.

      • The number of tablets and smartphones exceeded 300 million in USA alone last year[1]. Add to it the e-book readers and game consoles. The total number of PC installations is considered to be 600 million world wide. Including business/work machines, where the browser ballet is decided by corporate policies. Right now more non-PCs are accessing the internet than PCs. [1] http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/12/technology/cellphones_outnumber_americans/index.htm [cnn.com]
        • The article you linked is the number for all cellphone plans in the US. This include older, more basic cellphones as well. It make sense, because I have a cellphone. I also have a desktop. Everyone I know has both a cellphone and a desktop. None of replaced one with the other, and certainly those who use their desktops to do anything more than check email certainly appreciate a large screen and the 1000x more processing power.

          You're also incorrect about the number of PCs out there. It's actually over a

  • This has been a multi-decade bullshit legal battle between the EU and Microsoft at a time when PC's are becoming irrelevant and Apple is emerging as something worse the Microsoft ever was.

    At a time when the EU is still up in arms about Microsoft embedding a stupid browser and media player into Windows (because the EU assumes all Europeans a retarded and cant figure out how to use a computer properly), meanwhile Apple is securing a market of walled gardens where you can only buy and use content on some Apple

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