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Mozilla The Internet Operating Systems Software Windows

EU Could Force Bundling Firefox With Windows 650

Barence writes "The European Commission could force Microsoft to bundle Firefox with future versions of Windows. The revelation came as part of Microsoft's quarterly filing with the Security and Exchange Commission. Among the statements is a clause outlining the penalties being considered by the European watchdog, which recently ruled that Microsoft is harming competition by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs."
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EU Could Force Bundling Firefox With Windows

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @11:57AM (#26607851) Journal

    The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

    What about Maxthon [wikipedia.org], Flock [wikipedia.org], Amaya [wikipedia.org], SeaMonkey [wikipedia.org] or Avant Browser [wikipedia.org]? And that's just to name a few ...

    I think you're kind of riding a slippery slope with this mentality--how could another browser (like Firefox's rise to marketshare) ever make it now that the top few are being bundled? You're not fixing anything. I would argue that they shouldn't release it with any browsers default installed and instead give them a package manager (similar to many Linux distributions) that allows them to step through a wizard process to download browsers from trusted sources based on an ever changing list (or conf file if they really want to change that).

    • by Nicholas Evans ( 731773 ) <OwlManAtt@gmail.com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:02PM (#26607921) Homepage

      It's not about fixing anything. It's about being childish and spiteful.

      And goddamn, it's funny.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dotancohen ( 1015143 )

        It's not about fixing anything. It's about being childish and spiteful.

        And goddamn, it's funny.

        Quite true and insightful. Who _cares_ what the default browser is. If it's Firefox, then Firefox will have an "unfair advantage". Go get your browser packaged in an operating system by virtue of it's quality, not by virtue of law.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @01:06PM (#26608885) Homepage

          > Go get your browser packaged in an operating system by virtue of it's quality, not by virtue of law.

          That never stopped Internet Explorer.

          Of course this is precisely what Opera is "whining" about.

          Microsoft bundled a web browser specifically to kill the market.
          This makes the whole web browser situation different then any
          other slippery slope example you could conjure up.

      • by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @01:01PM (#26608821)

        It's not about being childish. The key problem is, Microsoft is currently using it's monopoly in one area to try to create monopolies in other areas, such as mail (MSN/Exchange), web standards (IE/ActiveX), web framework (SilverLight/.NET), games (XBox), music (Zune), DRM (WMV), office software and document formats (MSOffice, OOXML), etc. Lately, Microsoft has been hobbled in its attempt by the failure of Windows Vista, but if Windows 7 succeeds, you can expect Microsoft to return to its old ways and it may eventually succeed.

        Microsoft's power to create new monopolies, lies in four areas:
        * Exchange
        * IE
        * MS Office
        * Ties to MSN (Not firm, but Microsoft has tried to tie users to Passport in the past)
        Windows Admins and developers can automatically assume that if you have Windows, you'll use Exchange, IE, MS Office, and anything required by these apps.

        If users are given choice, it's no longer a safe bet. It can be done in a fairly straightforward manner. Force Microsoft not to install any of these apps in the default Windows install. Then provide a supplementary CD, whereby users have a choice of picking a pre-selected list of software which would include:
        * IE
        * Opera
        * Firefox
        * Google Chrome
        * Thunderbird
        * Exchange Client
        * OpenOffice
        * MS Works or MS Office Trial Version (which can be unlocked by purchasing an activation code online)
        with a brief blurb by each software vendor (not Microsoft) why you should pick their software over the others.

        In such a situation, Microsoft would be on equal footing as other software, so it couldn't leverage it's monopoly. If people *choose* Microsoft software over the alternatives, then it will win on merit, not tie-in.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

          Nope. In such a situation, most people will not choose what they do not know and so will still choose IE, MS Office, etc.

          The damage is already done for current users. I do agree that new users would be more inclined to choose "anything" since they wouldn't know the options, but even so, you fall into the "I'm using what everyone else is using" and you're back to square one too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by StarReaver ( 1070668 )
          I can see it now.

          Which web browser would you like to install?

          [x] Internet Explorer (Recommended)
          [ ] Firefox
          [ ] Chrome
          [ ] Opera

          Or even worse...

          Choose your installation type:

          [x] Standard (Recommended)
          [ ] Custom (For advanced users only)

          Most people would choose the standard option. Either because it's automatically selected, or because it says recommended, or because custom sounds scary, or simply because the user just wants to get a web browser and just hits "Next".

      • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @02:09PM (#26609893)

        It's not about fixing anything. It's about being childish and spiteful.

        Actually, its about not being able to fix the problem, but still being obliged to be seen to do something.

        The solution would be to split Microsoft up into separate companies so you didn't have the guys with 90% of the operating system market also producing applications - but that isn't within the EU's power.

        So instead you get these half-baked "counting coup" rulings. Betcha that every PC supplier "independently" decides to install IE "separately" due to "customer demand".

        And yes, if Apple ever capture 90% of the operating system market they should be subject to the same sort of rules. They've got a long way to go yet - even iPod/iTunes doesn't compare to Windows' dominance of the personal computer market.

        Whether, say, Canonical could even theoretically reach the same point with Ubuntu is more interesting. Maybe they'd have to offer versions with (say) other desktop managers than Gnome. Oh, wait... :-)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mystra_x64 ( 1108487 )

      Maxthon is a shell, Flock - Firefox, Amaya... that's not really a 'browser', etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jerep ( 794296 )

      Actually I'd be glad if they shipped windows with anything else than IE, I really could care less if it's Firefox, Opera or lynx.

      Seeing IE's market share drop is always nice for us web devs.

      • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:32PM (#26608333)

        Seeing IE's market share drop is always nice for clueful web devs.

        Fixed that for you.

        I know plenty of web developers who create horrible, broken pages because they render nicely on IE. When I say something along the lines of "you're not even close to being XHTML complaint" they respond with something along the lines of "I hate Firefox! I can never get my layouts to look nice."

        • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:59PM (#26608785)

          Come to think of it, it would be poetic if all the EU member states rewrote every single one of their government web pages in order to make them all 100% XHTML 1.0 Strict ... every government service, every government program, every application form, every information page, hopelessly inaccessible unless you are using a browser that actually renders properly.

          Never mind forcing MS to bundle a different browser. Force them to follow standards.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by furby076 ( 1461805 )
      I like having IE pre-installed...it gives me a way to go to mozilla.org and download firefox. Your method works also. From my understanding Windows is fully integrated with IE. Meaning removing IE would require a huge reworking to windows. FireFox seems to be doing fine on its own. Opera/Safari is doing fine for Mac. I believe Safari comes standard on a Mac...will the EU require Mac to carry IE so IE can have a chance to being competative on the Mac?

      Honestly - for all the talk of "open market", "l
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 91degrees ( 207121 )
        From my understanding Windows is fully integrated with IE. Meaning removing IE would require a huge reworking to windows.

        All they really need to do is remove the executable. While the executable is little more than a wrapper for the HTML rendering library and most of the code that makes IE what it is is in this library, they could remove the executable, and probably satisfy the EU (and Opera for that matter). Microsoft like to fudge the issue by suggesting that any library that IE uses is part of IE, b
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by furby076 ( 1461805 )
          Yea but if i open up windows explorer and i type in a URL it gives me a website. Does it need the .exe for that?
      • by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:25PM (#26608255)
        I know this gets brought up ad nauseam, but it is pertinent to your comments : MS is a monopoly, and as such is regulated by a different set of rules and standards.

        NOT regulating a monopoly leads to disastrous consequences for all involved.
      • by tchuladdiass ( 174342 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:27PM (#26608267) Homepage

        It's not so much that IE is integrated with windows, but instead Windows ships with a bunch of toolkits, one of which is a toolkit containing library routines for Web access. This includes establishing HTTP connections, doing the low level HTTP get, and a rendering engine to do something with HTML documents.

        So this toolkit is used as a primary component of IE. Parts of it is also used by various other OS components, such as Windows Update (uses the HTTP libraries), the File manager (HTML rendering engine), etc. And, obviously, it is the toolkit that is used to build IE. So what Microsoft means by "removing IE will break Windows" is removing IE and it's associated librarys/toolkit will break the other components. But the part of IE that contains "main()" could be removed without affecting anything else.

        But now we have another problem. Is a web browser a stand alone application, or is it a necessary part of a modern OS, same as a file manager and command shell? This gets down to the basic debate of what an OS is. Here's my definition:
        OS Kernel -- the low level component that connects applications to hardware devices (device drivers), and defines / maintains data structures on those devices (think "file system" layer).
        OS Utilities -- programs that allow a user to manipulate data structures the Kernel maintains (such as a file manager), and programs that facilitate user interaction with the hardware the kernel interfaces to (such as a utility to talk to a modem, or send a file to a printer port).

        So an operating system is composed of the Kernel and OS Utilities. An Operating Environment (OE) is a combination of an OS with a set of applications that facilitate performing tasks that nearly all users of that computer would need to do. So text editors and paint programs fall in this category (although a text editor may straddle this category and OS Utilities).

        Now the question is, where does an ftp client, telnet, ssh, etc. fit in? And does a web browser fit the same category as ftp?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) *

        will the EU require Mac to carry IE so IE can have a chance to being competative on the Mac?

        There is no modern Mac port of IE.

    • by Frag-A-Muffin ( 5490 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:12PM (#26608027) Homepage

      I would argue that they shouldn't release it with any browsers default installed and instead give them a package manager (similar to many Linux distributions) that allows them to step through a wizard process to download browsers from trusted sources based on an ever changing list (or conf file if they really want to change that).

      Right. Cause this is oh-so-user-friendly. If you were to ask 1000 "regular computer users", I'd bet over 50% wouldn't even know what a browser is. They think their computer *IS* the internet!

      The only real solution is to let the VAR (ie. dell, hp, compaq, gateway, etc. etc.) bundle whatever they want. (which is what they've wanted to do for a while, but couldn't, else they'd get hit for higher prices for their OEM deals on the 'doze licenses)

    • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:16PM (#26608097)

      Well, lets see.

      Maxthon and Avant are based on the Trident Layout Engine built into Windows. So including them in the list wouldn't exactly resolve the "You are forcing IE on people" complaint. While they do have their own code base, it's still based on the same engine from Microsoft.

      Amaya is a test bed application for the W3C, I'm sure it's lovely for the few people who use it as their main browser, but it's not exactly what you'd foist onto the general poplulace.

      Flock and SeaMonkey are both based on Mozilla (aka Firefox). And while they add value to the Firefox proposition, if the point is to provide an alternative to IE then both of them are 'over qualified'.

      And while I agree with the arguement that a solution would be to not ship with anything installed and simply install their own, there are numerous disadvantages to that that you are overlooking. Such as the fact that most people new computers aren't going to know which one they want and simply pick the top one on the list. Who do you think that's going to be?

      In fact, while I also agree that if this happens and the list is codified as the summary and article presents, it would hamper new comers, the truth is that covering the 'top' browsers also covers the top engines that 90% of the rest of the crowd use anyway.

  • The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

    Don't forget to also bundle my browser, MSBlastWorm32.exe! Tell all the naive people that it's the hip new botnet way to see the interweb!

  • Lynx (Score:2, Funny)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) *

    ... computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

    And also Lynx [isc.org], I would bring me great joy to see a video of an average Windows user trying to use Lynx.

    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      I would bring me great joy to see a video of an average Windows user trying to use Lynx.

      Yeah, I mean, using those arrow keys and pressing enter is way beyond the comprehension of anyone who has ever used a computer regardless of OS. Oh how the laughter over frustration will spread! Haha!

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:05PM (#26607953) Journal

    Why is the EU so hooked up on what browser is being used? Why not e.g. the productivity tools being bundled, or the kind of media center/player to play videos and music?

    Sure, from a technical standpoint, it's always nice to see more competition here, as that would probably put pressure on Microsoft in making IE more standards compliant, but... Somehow I don't think the EU is thinking that far.

    • I see what you mean to a certain extent, but given how the browser is becoming a platform in itself - one that can encompass both the productivity tools and media player that you cite in your examples - this has to be of far more relevance.

      I think the EU are doing the right thing here, but something tells me this isn't going to be plain sailing until every Windows PC has alternatives to IE available by default.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oldspewey ( 1303305 )

      I don't understand all the hubbub either. So MS bundles a browser with their operating system ... so what?

      Back in the DOS days, word processing software didn't have a spellchecker built in. You had to buy a separate spellchecker if you wanted that functionality and the spellchecker companies had a nice little profit centre for themselves. Then one day, word processing software started coming with a spellchecker built right in! Sure it was bad for the people selling spellcheckers, but it was a win for the co

      • I don't understand all the hubbub either. So MS bundles a browser with their operating system ... so what?

        The "so what" is that Microsoft has intentionally stopped competing in an attempt to derail the industry. IE7 shipped without a variety of 10 year old standards that Microsoft themselves helped write. IE8 will be released soon with the exact same choices made. About all that has improved is a bit of support for CSS.

        Any other company would immediately lose their market share for pulling such a stunt. But in Microsoft's case, their browser is forced upon millions of users who are unaware that alternatives exist. In result, the market is unable to use competition as a balancing force.

        IMHO, what the EU (and probably the US antitrust division) should do is force Microsoft to remove the IE executable and require OEMs to ship an alternative browser (from an EU/US approved list of competitors) until such a time as IE sufficiently meets the W3C standards to compete. (To be decided upon by the antitrust commission.) Note that I am not suggesting that Microsoft be forced to meet the newer HTML5 standard that other browsers are already participating in. Merely the standards that Microsoft committed to, then failed to follow through on.

        Alternatively, the antitrust commission could force the dissolution of Internet Explorer into a separate company with a new executive team from outside of Microsoft and sufficient initial funding. That company could license the Internet Explorer product back to Microsoft for inclusion into the core of Windows, but not allowed to actually show an IE icon without an OEM deal. Microsoft themselves would be restricted from developing an HTML rendering engine for the next 10 years.

        This would force this new company to compete in the open market. Without the coffers of Microsoft-proper to keep the IE company afloat, I'm sure that it would only be a short while before Microsoft realizes that it would be cheaper to bundle an alternative rendering engine. Meanwhile, the IE company is going to have to work hard on standards, competitive features, and cross-platform support to convince the market that they are worth using.

    • Windows ships with few "productivity tools", beyond the occasional Microsoft Works install which in my experience is unable to compete with Notepad, never mind enforce a monopoly. So that's not an issue. The browser's the big, obvious target.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:24PM (#26608231)

      Why is the EU so hooked up on what browser is being used? Why not e.g. the productivity tools being bundled, or the kind of media center/player to play videos and music?

      First, the EU already convicted them for the bundling of their media player. Second, the media player market is horribly broken anyway because of certain cartels and forcing MS to change will make less of a difference especially with Apple leveraging their near monopoly to promote a different player.

      With the Web however you have just Microsoft as the stumbling block preventing fair competition. You have an open and shut case with fairly straightforward remedies available. You have a complaint from effected competitors. You have already discovered evidence of MS's intent to maliciously break the market. It is an ideal market to fix and actually help both other companies and the people in general.

    • Why is the EU so hooked up on what browser is being used?

      Not everybody uses a "productivity tool." Or a media center / player. Not even a word processor.

      But everybody uses a browser. Using the internet means using a browser at some point.

      Plus, Microsoft has clearly been a hindrance to web development and standards by letting IE6 rot for 5 years. Even IE7 and IE8 are behind the times. They suck rock. Yet they still have huge market share due to the monopoly power.

      This is one of the clear areas where the EU h

  • It still amazes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mikesd81 ( 518581 ) <.ten.nozirev. .ta. .1dsekim.> on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:09PM (#26607993) Homepage
    me how Internet Explorer is such a big deal for the EU. IE is free. Microsoft is bundling their browser with their OS. KDE bundles Konqueror. Gnome has Epiphany. There are on binaries for Windows for either of them. Is that bad? Everyone has a choice to download the equally free Firefox for any OS. If you want to go after Microsoft, then go after them for the things that are truly evil. The monopolization. The insane licensing prices. The unfixed bugs. The embrace, extend and extinguish. And the countless other things [wikipedia.org]. Forcing vendors to bundle other browsers won't do anything. Do you really think Microsoft fears this?
    • well (Score:5, Informative)

      by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:12PM (#26608025) Homepage Journal

      there is nothing to get amazed. KDE, Gnome any other distro that bundles a single browser to their product will probably be asked to bundle more.

      this is not an 'equality' matter. this is a matter of monopoly. microsoft is almost a practical monopoly in the market. therefore, anittrust laws apply to it. if linux had the same place, and had a virtual monopoly, they would go after it first.

      antitrust laws are not fair. they are not supposed to be fair. they should not be fair. they are equalizing moves that are used to whack down on the biggest shareholder in a market if they do anything wrong, illegal, or unethical. any corporation that is vying for the top market positions has to make peace with that fact, and get its act together. microsoft didnt. it doesnt have an affinity for coherent, orderly, ethical conduct.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      KDE bundles Konqueror. Gnome has Epiphany. There are on binaries for Windows for either of them.

      FYI, Konqueror has been ported to Windows as part of the "KDE on Windows Project [kde.org]".

      (Not that I'm arguing Konqueror should be bundled with Windows; I'm merely pointing out that it could be done.)

  • There should be Windows-Distros. Each distro has its own set of software installed, and the manufacturor chooses which distro's of Windows he offers. E.g. a manufactorer can create a distro with firefox and one with chrome, and let the user choose which distro he wants. I think a distro with IE (as long as there also exist others to choose from), or with multiple browsers (including or not including IE amongst them), should also be allowed. This can be applied to other software too, e.g. a distro of Windows
  • Restricted browser (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:12PM (#26608035) Journal

    If the user is provided with a list like:
    Choose browser to install:
    (1) Internet Explorer 8.9
    (2) Firefox 3.6
    (3) Opera 9.2 ....

    Which one will they choose? I would say most likely, 1, because it's from Microsoft (and it will be top of the list) - even if it is a piece of rubbish.

    It would be far better if Microsoft provided a restricted simple browser that could be used to download other software - a sort of graphical version of lynx.

  • Also (Score:5, Funny)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:14PM (#26608063)

    How 'bout requiring that each copy of Vista ship with a Ubuntu disk labeled 'Vista Service Pack 2'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by itsdapead ( 734413 )

      How 'bout requiring that each copy of Vista ship with a Ubuntu disk labeled 'Vista Service Pack 2'.

      Caller: I installed SP2 and it comes up with something called Ubuntu

      Support: Yes, its a new operating system with all the features of Windows Vista and Office 2007

      Caller: but my desktop looks weird, and half my peripherals have stopped working! All the buttons in the word processor have changed, the formatting in my documents has gone funny and nobody can open the files I send them.

      Support: As I said, all the features of Windows Vista and Office 2007...

      Caller: but it won't run this new software called C

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:15PM (#26608081)

    I can see it now... the Linux masses (or /. crowd) asking for alternatives to everything...

    Notepad? Bundle Vi/Emacs for windows
    MediaPlayer... bundle VLC & mplayer
    Instant Messenger? Bundle Pigdin...
    MSPaint? Bundle GIMP

    And we complain about BLOAT now? Wait till you see all the crap that gets bundled. And the MS products will still get used more? Why, because Joe Sixpack will look at the NAMES of the applications and won't have to guess what they do? Can you look at 99% of the linux apps out there and guess what they do? Notepad/MediaPlayer/Instant Messenger/MS Paint are pretty obvious what they do. GIMP? I'm not explaining that one.

  • and work on Firefox instead.

    Seriously, chrome has some nice features but I can't use it as my workhorse browser. I'm not talking about advanced features or plugins. Just simple stuff.

    I like how it manages tabs as a separate process that releases memory back to the OS when it's closed. Firefox could really benefit from it. But there are so many simple things missing.

    Now I have 2-3 browsers running all the time.

    Firefox for my main surfing.

    Chrome, if I want to look something up and not worry about Firefox gett

  • compatible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cekander ( 848307 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:18PM (#26608133)

    As a web developer, all I want is for MS to make IE compatible with standards. I'm sick of giving their browser special treatment, and I wouldn't if it didn't represent over 50% of my users.

    I feel the EU's efforts would be better focused on this issue instead. I think MS consciously chooses to keep IE incompatible with the standards so that sites developed for IE don't work in other browsers that are standards compliant. It's a monopolistic abuse of power.

  • by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:19PM (#26608157)
    Rather than add even more unnecessary software to already bloated to the point of being crippled systems (I'm looking at you Dell, HP, etc..), why not force MS to unbundle IE ?
    This would:
    • Force MS to use an actual app instead of the activex in IE for windows update. Why anyone thought it was a good idea to use a web browser to do a system update is beyond me.
    • Allow users to completly remove IE (save for the rendering engine - which good programming practice dictates should already be separate from the browser).

    OK but if the system doesn't come with a web browser to begin with, how do I install FF ? I like the idea of this being a setup wizard. On first boot it asks which browser you want to install, downloads the appropriate files, and installs. By all means have IE as default, but allow the user to select another browser if so desired. This would also I hope get rid of the 10 000 (slight exaggeration) different browser add-ons commonly found on new systems.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jbeale53 ( 1451655 )

      Force MS to use an actual app instead of the activex in IE for windows update. Why anyone thought it was a good idea to use a web browser to do a system update is beyond me.

      Windows Vista has a specific application for updates, it no longer uses a browser with active x.

    • Windows update in vista doesn't use IE.

  • by adonoman ( 624929 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:22PM (#26608187)

    Windows already has a package-manager sort of thing build in with windows update. I won't argue about how it compares to the various linux offerings, but it would certainly work for this.
    They've already removed IE from the Windows Update process - why not put IE and third party browsers up there and let people decide for themselves. Third party drivers are available there, so the process to decide what gets on there is already in place.

  • More crap (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0prime ( 792333 )
    Great, just what I'd want, more crap pre-installed on a factory built computer. Will they also have to install the yahoo searchbar, google searchbar and msn searchbar in each browser they install? Explorer is too proprietary of a file explorer, they should have to bundle ExplorerXP, freeCommander, and A43. If anything, it seems like all the EU is trying to do is make Windows so unusable that the eventual move to linux will be a godsend.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:24PM (#26608223)
    One thing that irked me about XP was that updates were shacked to a web browser and an ActiveX control, which was inelegant (why was a critical OS function not "baked in" to the OS?). If MS aren't allowed to bundle IE, it would mean that they can't assume the existence of a web browser on the system, and might avoid decisions like that in future. I mean, if IE is essential to basic OS functions, it probably shouldn't be, and if it isn't, then there's no real problem with unbundling it. Except I just realised it would leave you with no way of accessing a web site to download a new browser, and including some sort of comprehensive "browser chooser/fetcher" app (or expecting MS to do so) would be equally absurd.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by D Ninja ( 825055 )

      That was one nice thing that they fixed in Vista - the update mechanism is tied to a tool rather than to the browser and an ActiveX application.

      Now I can only hope they untie the browser from the OS in Windows 7, but I don't think that's going to happen.

  • The thing is, I, for one don't want five browsers put on my machine by an OS. It's bad enough the clutter they do put on... One browser, let it be IE and then I will go download FF. I choose that way. I'm pissed enough that iTunes keeps trying to shove safari on my machine that I have blocked iTunes. More browsers... whoopie! Why not add everybody's tool bars to the OS too, and everyone's messenger service... and how about five or six calculators...

    As for the argument that most people will only use what cam

  • Astroturfing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:42PM (#26608471)

    Okay, I'm really concerned. In the last three or four articles we've seen on this topic, we see dozens of posts all repeating the same nonsense that was debunked in the first discussion. Every time the topic comes up people immediately reference legal bundling by other companies (OS X and Safari or Linux and Mplayer). Are people really so incapable of learning and ignorant that they don't understand even the most basic aspects of antitrust abuse? And they all did not see any of the umpteen explanations in previous discussions?

    I'm beginning to hope there is some serious astroturfing going on because the alternative is worse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hkmwbz ( 531650 )
      I share your frustrations. It is amazing how all these people people are spewing out uneducated nonsense. And to think that some of these people can vote... :)
    • In case anyone is wondering what the bruhaha is all about, every time someone talks about Microsoft and Bundling, someone else has to bring up Apple and bundling, or someone else and bundling, and asking why it's illegal.

      These posts come from a variety of sources:

      1) Free market zealots who think anti-trust laws are not a good idea (you crazy libertarians know who you are)
      2) Anti-Apple/linux/insert-company-here zealots who have a beef to pick with said company.
      3) People who can't wrap their heads around what a monopoly is and can't understand law no matter how many times you beat them with the book.
      4) A few well placed astro turfers who probably get the discussion going in the first place.
      5) Anti-bundling zealots who will slam any bundle that locks in customers.

      Only the last one has a decent argument, and it's an ethical argument not a legal one. Legally, Microsoft is a monopoly. They've been declared so by the state. They have also abused their monopoly power by leveraging their dominance in one market (operating systems) to crush competition in another (web browsers).

      You can't call Apple a monopoly in Macs because macs compete against PCs, so while I agree unbundling the operating system from the hardware could be a boon to customers in the market, you can't legally force it. You might be able to call Apple a monopoly in the music player business. However, I can download any music from any service that supports the MP3 format and push that into my iPhone/iPod. Music from iTunes music store is AAC which is an open standard and any developer could create a music player for that. Also music is no longer DRMed from the music store so that takes "fairplay" DRM out of the mix.

      You might be able to work an argument that Apple needs to open the iPod protocols so that someone can code an alternative to iTunes, because iTunes is very convenient and integrates with the iPod. The iPod is paid hardware, leveraging free software (iTunes). If the iPod had 30% marketshare, I'd say get over it, but it has over 80%, and just maybe someone out there has some innovating to do to make something better than iTunes that can sync music with your iPod.

  • The actual text (Score:5, Informative)

    by morn ( 136835 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:42PM (#26608475) Homepage

    The linked article is rather sensationalized, the summary even more so

    Here's the actual text. It's from Microsoft's own SEC filings [shareholder.com], in the "Contingencies" section of the notes, not from the EU - this is Microsoft's opinion of what the European Commission might require, not something from the Comission itsself.

    While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any Web browsing software on Windows, the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC. Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser.

    Note, in particular, no mention of specific other browsers.

  • by javilon ( 99157 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @01:37PM (#26609353) Homepage

    Is to stop bundling of software with hardware. When you buy a computer, you would get two tickets, one for the computer hardware, and one for the operating system plus applications. And you would have by law the option to buy one without the other. This would have many advantages.

    - You would know exactly how much you pay for windows, so you would be able to make a judgement about utility vs price.

    - it would be your call whether to purchase windows or something else when you buy a computer. Right now, that's not the case, most of the time you will not have the option not to buy windows.

    - It would make much more difficult for Microsoft to link pricing with exclusive contracts, as the operating system would be chosen by the buyer and not the computer maker.

    I think that would work, and considering the different remedies that have been looked at in order to solve the abuse of monopoly position by Microsoft, I think it is not too harsh compared to breaking up the company or forcing some competing software into Microsoft installation disks.

    Once Microsoft stops abusing its monopoly, I have nothing against them bundling whatever browser they fancy on their OS.

  • by Cannelloni ( 969195 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @01:47PM (#26609537)
    I am normally not the one to defend Microsoft, as I think the company, their business practices and almost all of their products suck bad. But I think shipping Windows without a default web browser, or to force Microsoft to bundle in Firefox, Safari or some other browser is problematic and actually unfair. Yes, unfair, because how can Microsoft be responsible for other people's products? Instead, the way to go in my mind is clear: As long as Microsoft doesn't make their own PC hardware, why not simply outlaw the sale of PCs with Windows pre-installed? The customer has a right to choose whether he or she should have Windows, some flavor of Linux or maybe FreeBSD on a new machine. You could argue that Apple should be forced to unbundle Mac OS X so you could install that system on any PC, but I believe that's different: the Mac OS and Apple's hardware can be seen as ONE integrated product, whereas the basic PC is a modular product: hardware plus OS and bundled apps. Unbundling Windows would force Microsoft to a) build their own machines and/or b) sell Windows ONLY in unbundled versions. The latter case would be very beneficial for customers.
  • by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @02:03PM (#26609811)

    Ok, I hate Internet Explorer probably more than anyone else in the universe, and would love to see it exorcised from windows... but this is going overboard.

    It should be OEMs that choose to install Firefox or another browser. Forcing them to install all other browsers is just as bad as MS forcing them to always install IE with windows.

    Besides, perhaps I want a computer with *NO* web browser! (there are plenty of cases where a computer would be used for a specific purpose that doesn't involve web access)

    Now, in all fairness, there is a good likelihood that OEMs are still quietly being pressured by MS to not install other browsers or even other non-MS software. If that is the case then this core issue needs to be addressed first.

    At most, perhaps OEMs should get some incentive to install Firefox/Opera, but should not be required.

    What REALLY needs to happen - IE needs to become a fully 100% add/removable application just like any other normal Windows accessory. Check? It is installed. Unchecked? It is removed. This would be in the standard Windows distribution (not some rare unwanted version like Windows N). CAB installer files would be on the CD or hard drive. OEMs could choose to install IE, if not they would likely install some other browser. That is choice. That is what it should have been like from day 1. (Apps that embed IE need to die off in the long run, but you could go to add/remove programs check the IE box and then they would run)

  • by BUL2294 ( 1081735 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @02:42PM (#26610299)
    Go back to 1996. As part of some sort of agreement, Microsoft included AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, and/or WOW on the Win95B, Win98, and WinMe installation CDs. This was because somebody was complaining about Microsoft using their OS to sell MSN.
  • by malevolentjelly ( 1057140 ) on Monday January 26, 2009 @03:44PM (#26611273) Journal

    I think this is an alarm call for Microsoft to be more proactive on the alternative browser situation.

    First, off, let's discuss a couple of nightmare scenarios that Microsoft would like to avoid:

    - A vanilla copy of Firefox is bundled with Windows. A large sum of users are connecting to the Internet through this browser and there are quality and security issues which Microsoft now has limited capacity to fix or address. If Mozilla, for instance, complemented the Unix security model well while poorly addressing the Windows security model (completely hypothetical), a third party would then be inserting its own Achilles' Heel into the Windows platform. It's not that it WILL but that it CAN.

    - If Microsoft is forced to ship either Chrome or Safari, they will be including products that are actively attacking their product share outside of the web browser market. These are wolves at the door for Microsoft, since Safari is basically a "switch to Mac" ad and Chrome is a "use google instead of Live" ad. I'd also like to point out that Safari does not play nicely with Windows' font rendering or accessibility.

    - A litigatively determined requirement leads to a comical freakshow of third party browsers, leading to a free-for-all user experience nightmare, destroying the unity of the system.

    My proposals for a solution:

    - Microsoft can be proactive on the Mozilla Firefox product right now. They should first focus on having a testing structure for their own release engineered version of Firefox, and second consider placing a few developers on Firefox's security team to look out for their best interests. If Microsoft supports a more "Camino" approach to the Firefox problem, they could support their own open-source fork of the Firefox product that focuses on better integration with the Windows 7 environment while maintaining the standards-oriented compatibility with the web platform. This would be an ideal solution since Windows Live and Silverlight, etc. are already focused on Firefox support for Microsoft plugins, etc. Furthermore, having a presence on the Firefox team would allow Microsoft to address security issues much more quickly while improving face.

    - Alternatively, I believe Microsoft could find an even cheaper and less idealistically challenging approach in simply licensing Opera. Why not? With their small team and focus on professional implementation, an Opera-branded Windows 7 specialized browser could be a ticket out of monopoly-town while not entirely losing the benefits of having an in-house browser team. The Opera team is smaller and centrally managed vs. the Firefox team, allowing Microsoft to work very actively alongside the developer in seeing features and compatibility issues worked out (ie Silverlight compatibility). Perhaps a more controllable and less wild product would be the ideal means of keeping control of the quality and security of the Windows Platform while maintaining a competive edge in usability.

    Also, what Microsoft stands to lose:

    If OEMs are left to deal with the notion of embedding third party browsers instead of Microsoft, they lose their control and their ability to maintain the quality and integrity of their platform. Imagine what OEMs would do with an open source product like Firefox-- there could be Dell Firefox, HP Firefox, etc. Microsoft needs to reign this problem in an preempt it with a workable solution before it falls out of their hands.

    And finally, I'd like to underline the importance of maintaining Internet Explorer as a product: It's of the utmost importance that Microsoft offer a supported way to access the web within their platform for both enterprise IT considerations, which Firefox ignores, as well as the process of support and security patching. Keeping Microsoft branding in the web is important for their company's existing relevance in emerging industries. Also, I'd like to add that Microsoft participating in the "standards-based" web game will result in a better documented an

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