EC rejects Microsoft's browser promises
Smoke + mirrors
The European Commission seems unimpressed with Microsoft's chest-beating - the company said yesterday it would release versions of Windows 7 without Internet Explorer in order to comply with EC competition law.
The Commission has rejected Microsoft's pre-emptive move, announced yesterday, to give computer manufacturers the option to buy Windows without a browser. The Commission said it was still deciding whether Microsoft's behaviour since 1996 had been anti-competitive, and if so what remedy would be required to improve consumer choice.
But it said: "If the Commission were to find that Microsoft had committed an abuse, the Commission has suggested that consumers should be offered a choice of browser, not that Windows should be supplied without a browser at all."
The Commission statement dryly notes: "Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less."
The Commission made clear in its Statement of Objections in January that its prelimary finding was that Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to its operating system broke EC law on abuse of a dominant position - you're allowed to monopolise an industry in the EC, but being in that position brings special responsibilities.
The Statement of Objections outlined concerns that Internet Explorer enjoyed "an artificial distribution advantage" which protected IE from head to head competion with other browsers, which therefore reduced product innovation to the detriment of consumers. The investigation followed complaints from rival browser maker Opera.
The EC also said, perhaps rather ominously, that it would be guided "by the principles laid down by the Court of First Instance in its judgment of September 2007 in the Microsoft case regarding the tying of Windows Media Player and the Commission's experience with the remedy in that case."
Of course that case, based on tying of Windows Media Player, and leveraging its desktop monopoly into the market for workgroup servers, ended up costing Microsoft €497m for the original offence and another €899m for not complying with the judgement. ®
@Jedi Name Germinator
Yep couldn't agree more!
Please lets all write to MS and the EU and ask them to do just this, stop selling in the EU! Do us all a favour, then at least we can stand a chance to get some decent kit in the hands of the great unwashed masses!
Windows 7 should come with a copy of the latest popular browsers and let the user decide. Why not?
Many Windows users would have no idea how to download a new browser and often no idea what a browser actually is. No, really! I am talking about real everyday normal people. They are not IT literate, not at all. Often there is confusion between what is a browser, word processor and operating system. Whatever is provided is what they will use. These are in the majority!
As to updates and patches - forget it!
How they will choose between browsers is unclear to me. Coolest icon, most fashionable colour, best advertising - WHY.
Nobody actually reads the article.
No matter how much you bitch and whine about it, the EU case against Microsoft is *not* about Apple, it is *not* about how Joe Schmoe downloads a browser, and it is *not* about money either.
Why is it not about Apple? Apple has Safari, but lacks the market dominance in any direction to be considered a candidate for a case of anti competitive behaviour.
Why is it not about Joe Schmoe's ability to download a browser if none is supplied with the OS? Because a simple desktop shortcut to an FTP resource would work too, but if you don't like that, do you want another dozen solutions to this non-problem?
Why is it not about money? Microsoft sure has plenty of it, and while the fines that have been set upon them (which have *not* been paid by Microsoft so far) are quite large, what else would you suggest punishing a corporate body with for ignoring anti competition laws? Trade ban perhaps? Think about that one.