European Union Approves Microsoft "Choose Your Browser" Option

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News Posted: Sat, Oct 10 2009 11:58 PM
Microsoft and the EU are finally close to an agreement on how Windows 7's browser should be configured after months of negotiation. Initially, Redmond's idea was to ship the OS without a browser at all, a move the EU nixed, as it felt this would result in consumers being offered less value, rather than more. Microsoft's new idea, unveiled last July and batted back and forth several times since, was to include a "Choose Your Browser" option as part of Windows 7 startup.

After further negotiation, that's the solution the EU is expected to agree to. Consumers who purchase the OS retail will be shown a list of browsers, an explanation of what a browser is, and a link they can click on for more information; users will have the option of installing Internet Explorer plus another browser, or eschewing IE entirely. As for which browsers it might offer, Microsoft is likely to err on the side of caution; Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari are the likely suspects. It's implied (though not confirmed) that the "choose your browser" deal will stretch across all of the flavors of Windows Microsoft currently sells, although the focus to date has been on the upcoming Windows 7.


What EU customers might be seeing in a few short months.

Longer term, Microsoft's antitrust deal with the EU could shed new light on consumer preferences. Traditionally, Microsoft has maintained that consumers have always had a choice of browsers, and pointed towards the success of competitive browers like Firefox as proof that it held no special monopoly over the marker. The counter-argument to that has been that computer users tend to use whatever default has been installed on the system, and that consumers would choose other options if they were aware of them. If the current scheme is approved, both sides will finally have a chance to test their respective theories.

An EU-MS agreement over browser selection would clear the company's table in one area, but Microsoft is already bracing for a fresh round of scrutiny. The company's advertising deal with Yahoo—announced earlier this year—still faces regulatory scrutiny in both the EU and the US; the two companies must prove that their agreement will not harm market competition.
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3vi1 replied on Sun, Oct 11 2009 10:03 AM

Is that picture really how it will work? MS made the choice page rely on IE already being installed to "choose" a browser?

So if you close this window without picking (even IE), you still have IE configured as the default in the registry?

Gotta hand it to MS:  That's a pretty ballsy way for them to keep things the same as they've always been while presenting the illusion of complying with the EU requirement.  Will we need to start WMP to choose an alternate media player?  :)

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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gibbersome replied on Sun, Oct 11 2009 12:23 PM

Was thinking the same thing.

Though I don't know which other way they can do it besides having every browser pre-installed. Most of the masses will be upset if they don't see a browser at all when they first turn on their computer.

Or if you had some kind of program that let you choose your browser, it would be that extra few steps to begin surfing.

I don't know what the solution is, but every Windows OS should be shipped with some sort of browsing capabilities.

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Oct 11 2009 4:03 PM

What I would have done is this:

1) Have no browser installed initially.

2) Give the user an icon for "install internet browser".

3) When clicked, it would use bring up a dialog that uses the standard Windows socket/.Net APIs (or some other free implementation like Wget or Curl) to download a list of available browsers and their info.

4) Display that info in that standard Windows dialog. Let the user choose one, and only at that point would any browser be installed.

That, or ship with all of them installed, all of them ready to take over as default when you launch them.  For non-OEM CDs, just have the user choose/install one browser during the install.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Joel H replied on Mon, Oct 12 2009 2:21 PM

That image was Microsoft's example of what the interface might look like that they sent to the EU for examination. Presumably the real Win 7 flavor wouldn't use IE.

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kid007 replied on Mon, Oct 12 2009 4:30 PM

as long they could save couple of billions they would even put win a day with bill gates :)

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The EU has sued Microsoft way too many times.  It's their OS and they can ship it with IE8 all they want.  My Windows 7 came with it, and I promptly installed Firefox and only use IE8 for compatibility issues.  Microsoft should be so kind as to ship with an Internet Browser, media player (WMP), etc.  Hell if I use them (eww WMP...) but they should be there for the basic users have something.  Sure the "choice" does the same thing, but what the heck gives a browser the ability to be up there for a choice?  It has to fit a certain % of use before it can be made a choice?  Just seems to weird since it is a Microsoft OS.  Should Apple not come with Safari and iTunes?

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Interesting idea, could work for the majority of people.

The only obstacle would be novice users who will cancel the initial dialogue box, then promptly call up Dell CS and complain that they can't figure out how to check their email.

I prefer the idea of being able to choose your browser while installing. But the question becomes which ones should be available upon install. Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and IE of course. An extra 200 MB of space will be required.

Worse, smaller browser suppliers would inevitably band together and file a class action suit to break the Google/Mozilla/Opera/Apple/Microsoft hegemony.

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