Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

EU to Test MSFT's Browser Ballot Screen Solution

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 42 comments

Despite complaints from Microsoft's competitors it looks like the European Union is all but ready to approve the Redmond-based company's ballot screen proposal.

In July of this year, Microsoft proposed shipping a modified version of Windows to European customers. This version would include a ballot screen that would appear when the user tried to connect to the web, allowing them to choose a browser other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The European Commission this morning released a statement detailing the satisfactory changes made to the proposal since it was first announced. The Commission went on to say that it would begin market testing the screen and on October 9, would formally invite comments from consumers, software companies, computer manufacturers and other interested parties.

Among the changes made by Microsoft is a brief explanation of what a browser is, as well as a "Tell me more" button for each browser.

EC Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes expressed positive opinions about the ballot screen proposal at a press conference today.

"We believe this is an answer," said Kroes. "I think this is a trustful deal we are making. There can't be a misunderstanding because it is the final result of a long discussion between Steve Ballmer and me."

Read the full statement from the European Commission here.

Display 42 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 7 Hide
    viometrix , October 7, 2009 1:37 PM
    so they finally got their head out of their A$$ES and accepted something, which i believe was rediculous to start with. we here dont complain that we get internet explorer, we know we can still download another browser if we choose. and to think europeans call americans stupid.
  • 7 Hide
    Jerky_san , October 7, 2009 1:38 PM
    still don't understand why a company must offer its competitions products in its own..
  • 4 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , October 7, 2009 2:04 PM
    Jerky_sanstill don't understand why a company must offer its competitions products in its own..

    You might try reading the summary of their decisions:
    EU - What MS did wrong and why it was bad.
    MS - Ballot, IE uninstallation, and API disclosures proposal.
    EU - Why they went with the ballot screen suggested by Microsoft instead of letting MS just drop IE entirely.
    And the latest press release by the EU is at the bottom of the article we're commenting on.
  • -7 Hide
    tektek , October 7, 2009 2:07 PM
    so.. you need to remove IE to make it fair for all .. so people can go out there and buy a car by searching the net.. but they cant go online via IE to search for other browsers?
    This brings up the saying
    "You need a drivers license to buy a car but any idiot can be a dad"

    Dunno how the hell that fits in..but i think we need to ban idiots from using the net till they know what its all about... get internet certified!
  • 1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , October 7, 2009 2:07 PM
    Damn Google .doc->HTML + Tom's emotes broke the link.
    Here's the MS proposal that the EU accepted: link (.doc)

    Understand now?
  • 0 Hide
    trinix , October 7, 2009 2:11 PM
    Internet explorer, unlike wordpad and paint, is a full version of a browser. The browser isn't considered an essential part of the OS and there are other companies who offer alternatives and want to be able to get a fair chance too.

    With IE pre-installed it offers an unfair advantage for IE. It's irrelevant that MS has done everything in it's power to put IE as the backbone of their entire OS, they choose to do so, it's not a requirement to build an OS.

    Now these companies are getting a fair chance to compete. And everyone can get the car examples out there and say but I get a BMW chair with my BMW, but it's a different product. The OS and the browser are (or should be) independent.

    The EU's way to deal with these problems with fees and things isn't the greatest way either and luckily for once it resulted in something good. But they are right and the other browsers asked the EU to try to find a way to solve the problem for them. It's not just the EU who wanted this change.
  • -1 Hide
    Kelavarus , October 7, 2009 2:28 PM
    I think this whole anti-trust case is bull. Rather than forcing a company to actually advertise competitors, the EU should take it upon itself to educate the people who they think are suffering.

    Yes, IE should not form the backbone of Windows. That's all they should have to reconfigure, and make IE easy to uninstall.

    It's a shame for Microsoft that Europe forms a large part of their market. Otherwise I'd be all for the idea of yanking Microsoft products out of Europe. The EU right now is showing how money oriented it is in these cases, and at the very least if they're forcing this through, they should not be imposing fees at all.
  • -1 Hide
    trinix , October 7, 2009 3:08 PM
    KelavarusI think this whole anti-trust case is bull. Rather than forcing a company to actually advertise competitors, the EU should take it upon itself to educate the people who they think are suffering. Yes, IE should not form the backbone of Windows. That's all they should have to reconfigure, and make IE easy to uninstall. It's a shame for Microsoft that Europe forms a large part of their market. Otherwise I'd be all for the idea of yanking Microsoft products out of Europe. The EU right now is showing how money oriented it is in these cases, and at the very least if they're forcing this through, they should not be imposing fees at all.


    It's not about money, it's about rules. The rules dictate how the game is played. The person who makes the rules has to have a way to enforce the rules. They use money.

    Other option would be to exclude a product from the market, but that won't benefit the people who they represent. They don't have a good alternative.

    So while money isn't the most ideal system (it will force prices up as the company never pays for it), there has to be some form of punishment for breaking the rules.

    And these aren't European rules, the European Government just want to show that they have a reason to exist and they want to have fair trade within the borders of Europe. Why other countries are ignoring this and letting big companies prevent smaller companies from having a chance is a mystery, but in stead of pointing a finger at Europe and saying they are doing bad, maybe these changes will in the end help everyone.
  • 0 Hide
    noob2222 , October 7, 2009 3:19 PM
    If these companies want to compete with thier browsers so badly, .... where are they making thier money off of us using them? They are all free, so how is it a free product can be considered for competetive commerce? Much more, how can they impose a fine on a free product.

    Man, I never want to offer anything for free simply because some idiot will sue you for it.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2009 3:22 PM
    "EU to see EU's own stpidity in action"
  • 3 Hide
    invlem , October 7, 2009 3:39 PM
    Is this still going on? I thought this was solved weeks ago...

    My system has firefox and chrome on it, yet it still works just as well as it did in the past...

    Its not like MS is forcing us to use IE and crippling windows abilities if we use another product on the side.

    *Cough, nVidia Physx, cough*
  • 0 Hide
    ravewulf , October 7, 2009 3:45 PM
    Are they done bitching about this now?
  • 0 Hide
    Assmar , October 7, 2009 3:55 PM
    Crap, I thought the EU was going to try to do some online voting stuff, that would have been much more interesting than this continued anti-trust stuff. I mean, I understand the complaints and all, but what's the alternative, really? MAC? Hah, those yuppie fucks can keep that shit, if I can't even buy computer parts and install it myself. And I'm too stupid to understand linux.
  • 5 Hide
    wildwell , October 7, 2009 4:32 PM
    I'm still wondering if the EU will ask Apple to add a browser ballot screen when Safari launches for the first time too.
  • 0 Hide
    veryed , October 7, 2009 4:57 PM
    wildwellI'm still wondering if the EU will ask Apple to add a browser ballot screen when Safari launches for the first time too.


    Agreed. What about all Linux distros?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2009 5:54 PM
    Honestly, I'm not too happy neither when I want to install firefox, a lot of my diskspace is still taken by internet explorer (which I ONLY use to manually update Windows, or when a certain script is not working on FF)!
  • 0 Hide
    rocky1234 , October 7, 2009 7:21 PM
    This is stupid but if it shuts the EU up then I guess that is a good thing I personally do not feel that MS should have to change their own software to make other companies happy if these said companies want to be added to the install screen then they should have to pay a small fee to have that right it is only fair. I also think that Apple should be forced to do the same thing with their OS as well that would also be fair to everyone & when Google comes out with theit so called Chrome OS they should have to do the same thing. That way everybody is treated the same & I do not think that just because MS has more of the market share that they should be singled out from the rest of the companies that have OS's on the market.
  • -2 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , October 7, 2009 7:42 PM
    wildwellI'm still wondering if the EU will ask Apple to add a browser ballot screen when Safari launches for the first time too.

    veryedAgreed. What about all Linux distros?

    Show me the monopoly.
  • 0 Hide
    noob2222 , October 7, 2009 8:17 PM
    Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods.

    Economic competiton for free software ... doesn't apply as far as im concerned ... unless the competitors are wanting to start charging for thier software, but they would need Microshaft to quit supplying it for free.

    AHHHH so thats their plan.
  • -2 Hide
    everlast66 , October 7, 2009 9:06 PM
    wildwellI'm still wondering if the EU will ask Apple to add a browser ballot screen when Safari launches for the first time too.


    I can not understand which part about MONOPOLY and the EU commission decision appears to be so complcated to these americans.

    Microsoft is a MONOPOLIST in the OS market and by selling their OS and IE as a package, MS can bankrupt any IE competitor. Of course IE is not free - there are people working on the project and they are being paid wages by MS - but the price for IE is included in the price of your Windows copy.

    The only thing the EU commission wants is for MS to offer a Windows version without IE (cheaper - less the cost for making IE) and a version with IE (prised to include IE production costs).

    BUT MS DOES NOT WANT TO SELL YOU THE TWO PRODUCTS SEPERATELY!

    And because MS is a MONOPOLIST in the operating systems market - they FORCE more than 90% of computer owners to buy IE as well, i.e. MICROSOFT USES ITS MONOPOLY TO GET UNFAIR ADVANTAGE TO OTHER BROWSER MAKERS AND SELL IE.

    Apple's OS X and Linux distros together hold less than 10% of the OS market and they do not threaten to harm any other browser makers.

    For example, imagine your local water company (usually a monopolist) starts making beer and does not whant to give you water supply if you don't also buy from them a 100 cans of beer each month. Wouldn't this bankrupt all competing breweries as well?
    This is what using monopoly to gain unfair advantage means.
Display more comments