It's Official: Microsoft To Provide Browser Choice In Europe To Avoid Fines

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News Posted: Wed, Dec 16 2009 8:09 AM
Who knows if this whole "end of an ordeal" has anything to do with the current season, but it looks like the European Union is in the giving mood. Today, the EU announced that it would be dropping the pending charges against Microsoft regarding its decision to force Internet Explorer upon poor, lost European Windows 7 buyers. If you'll think back, the EU was putting pressure on Microsoft for months to give users a choice when it came to selecting their browser.

After lots of work and a few rejections, it seems the two have finally reached a compromise. The Union will be walking away from the antitrust charges that it was filing after Microsoft agreed to give buyers (in Europe) a choice of up to 12 other browsers. And you better believe that Microsoft is thankful--the EU is the same entity that fined Intel well over $1 billion earlier this year, which the chip maker is still fighting tooth and nail.

So, what does the deal consist of? Under the terms, Microsoft will avoid fined if it provides a pop-up screen that lets its European customers replace IE or add another browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox. They don't have to implement the change until March, but the move will enable PC makers in Europe (and even outside of Europe that are shipping into Europe) sell PCs without the iconic Internet Explorer browser.



Of course, it's not all bad. IE has been lagging behind the other guys for quite some time, and even the newest version feels slow and bloated compared to Chrome and Firefox. Still, Microsoft could eventually face more fines if it doesn't stick to this plan for the long haul, and who knows if this decision will lead to similar fates in other nations (like America). The EU argues that this move is one that doesn't block competition and innovation, and we tend to agree. Of course, the first thing we do upon receiving a new PC is to use IE to download Firefox, but it's nice to give people a choice who may otherwise not know about their options.
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3vi1 replied on Wed, Dec 16 2009 9:36 AM

It still seems a little Dilbert that they designed the "choice" process such that _relies_ on IE. Also, note the IE is not in the list of programs you can uninstall.

MS wins again.

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

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I would be very happy to see the same 'browser-choice' option offered here in the US.

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mhenriday replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 8:49 PM

I fear that nothing similar will be seen in the US until the anti-trust people in the (In ?) Justice Department get their act together. Holding one's breath would not be a wise career move....

Henri

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Dec 18 2009 9:06 AM

- They had their act together, found them guilty, ordered them split into 2 companies on April 3, 2000.

- Then MS donates millions of dollars to G. W. Bush's election campaign and the Republican convention.

- MS somehow get D.C. appellate court to overturn breakup decision under a "drastically altered scope of liability".

- Bush wins.

- Newly reorganized Justice Department (You know, that great machine that would eventually employ Alberto Gonzalez) suddenly decides not to pursue the original issue further. DoJ reaches a settlement with MS; MS gets proverbial slap on wrist.

Nothing will change with MS as long as they have their financial resources.

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

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mhenriday replied on Fri, Dec 18 2009 12:41 PM

The new 're-organised' Justice Department is to my mind little more than a reflection of the golden rule in US politics - who has the gold rules. It is not Microsoft's financial resources in themselves that are the problem, but the fact that those who possess such resources are allowed to determine policy choices at all levels - federal, state, and local in the United States (and here in Europe as well). Government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, to paraphrase a US president....

Henri

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