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Microsoft May Have to Let Users Choose Browser

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 92 comments

Given the chance to choose, which browser would you use?

Microsoft and the European Union are still fighting tooth and nail over the fact that the Redmond company is bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, and in doing so grabbing itself a pretty huge percentage of the market.

Bloomberg reports that, way back in January, when this whole thing started, one of the proposed solutions by the EU was to offer users of newly purchased PCs a kind of “ballot screen” and let the customer choose which browser they wanted to use.

Citing people familiar with the case, Bloomberg says EU regulators have now sent out questionnaire to computer makers, inquiring if Microsoft pressured them to oppose the idea or more specifically, asking if Microsoft had asked them to make any specific statements to regulators. Representation for Microsoft has said the company has not seen the aforementioned questionnaire, nor has it pressured any PC makers to oppose the ballot-screen idea.

Many of you have suggested that Microsoft offers users the choice when they first try to connect to the web from their new machine and it really does seem like the best solution. That said, if they’re going to make Microsoft offer users the chance to choose, they’d have to insist Apple do the same. If you were offered a choice, would you opt for a browser other than the proprietary browser that came with your OS? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • 14 Hide
    tipoo , June 11, 2009 7:01 PM
    "one of the proposed solutions by the EU was to offer users of newly purchased PCs a kind of “ballot screen” and let the customer choose which browser they wanted to use."



    Thats silly, if people arent savvy enough to switch to another browser, what difference would a ballot make?
  • 12 Hide
    Onus , June 11, 2009 7:20 PM
    That's like buying a Ford, but insisting on a Chevy radio in it, or a Pontiac grill. Microsoft, the vendor, offers "The Product" for sale. You either buy "The Product," or you do not. The choice is entirely up to you. If you don't like some portion of "The Product," the onus is on you to investigate alternatives, or possibly pay a third party to do something about it for you.
  • 11 Hide
    JMcEntegart , June 11, 2009 7:06 PM
    A lot of people don't realise there are other options out there. For ages my friend's mother was using IE ("the internet" as she called it). When I downloaded firefox for her she said she was "using a different internet now and it works better." Some of the not so tech-savvy really have no idea what's available to them.
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  • 14 Hide
    tipoo , June 11, 2009 7:01 PM
    "one of the proposed solutions by the EU was to offer users of newly purchased PCs a kind of “ballot screen” and let the customer choose which browser they wanted to use."



    Thats silly, if people arent savvy enough to switch to another browser, what difference would a ballot make?
  • -6 Hide
    tayb , June 11, 2009 7:02 PM
    Here. Please tell the EU that if they decide to make Microsoft deliver software for a rival company in Safari, Firefox, or Chrome then Microsoft will decide to stop selling and supporting software in Europe. Good luck businesses and governments that rely on Windows.
  • 4 Hide
    daggs , June 11, 2009 7:05 PM
    taybHere. Please tell the EU that if they decide to make Microsoft deliver software for a rival company in Safari, Firefox, or Chrome then Microsoft will decide to stop selling and supporting software in Europe. Good luck businesses and governments that rely on Windows.

    notice that more and more government agencies in europe are ditching windows in favor of linux so the "punishment" is not heavy...
  • 11 Hide
    JMcEntegart , June 11, 2009 7:06 PM
    A lot of people don't realise there are other options out there. For ages my friend's mother was using IE ("the internet" as she called it). When I downloaded firefox for her she said she was "using a different internet now and it works better." Some of the not so tech-savvy really have no idea what's available to them.
  • 4 Hide
    leo2kp , June 11, 2009 7:07 PM
    Um, how would anyone be able to download a different browser if IE wasn't included in the first place? I don't see a damn thing wrong with offering people out-of-the-box internet connectivity. Allowing you to remove it from your system altogether...that's something that could probably be included. And I agree that Apple should also have to follow the same rules then. I want the ability to uninstall Safari because I like IE8. /BS
  • 3 Hide
    dogofwars , June 11, 2009 7:08 PM
    Really stupid, as a tech support agent, I can just imagine the number of calls going up for the company I work for and Microsoft support. For Microsoft support there will be ton of client complaining about not supporting the other browser. Extremely stupid, never seen that before.
  • 10 Hide
    tayb , June 11, 2009 7:10 PM
    Daggsnotice that more and more government agencies in europe are ditching windows in favor of linux so the "punishment" is not heavy...


    LOL. Linux is making progress but I hope you don't honestly believe what you just typed.
  • 6 Hide
    farago343 , June 11, 2009 7:10 PM
    It's also not really fair to Microsoft because it essentially forces them to support browsers they have nothing to do with.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , June 11, 2009 7:18 PM
    Personally I don't even want IE installed on my machine new or old give me the option to un-install Microsoft IE.
  • -3 Hide
    seboj , June 11, 2009 7:19 PM
    farago343It's also not really fair to Microsoft because it essentially forces them to support browsers they have nothing to do with.


    You used the words "Microsoft" and "fair" in the same sentence. LOL
  • 12 Hide
    Onus , June 11, 2009 7:20 PM
    That's like buying a Ford, but insisting on a Chevy radio in it, or a Pontiac grill. Microsoft, the vendor, offers "The Product" for sale. You either buy "The Product," or you do not. The choice is entirely up to you. If you don't like some portion of "The Product," the onus is on you to investigate alternatives, or possibly pay a third party to do something about it for you.
  • 5 Hide
    PraxGTI , June 11, 2009 7:22 PM
    The EU needs to smarten up. Users have the complete freedom to select their browser by simply downloading it and instlaling it.

    If Microsoft disabled the ability to install other browsers...sure...complain away...

    Need we remember how the EU screwed with Windows Vista (and now 7) by not allowing microsoft to lock the kernal. So esencially instead of us getting a PC that is not vulnerable to any really big problem virii, we get a PC that is just as vulnerable because in order for antivirus software to work you cannot lock down the kernal. This was the EU's fault that we didn't get a more secure OS.

    The EU needs to stop thinking about how to increase their budget and needs to start thinking about the users in this whole ordeal. The users are certainly NOT their concern. Once again a government body more concerned with lining its own pockets than protecting the consumer.

    If a company has a monopoly it is because they have a better product, it has nothing to do unfair business practices. You cannot survive with a crappy product even if you do have unfair business practices.

    This is no different than the useless move to aid auto companies to survive their own mistakes. Sure jobs would be lost...but in the end there would be innnovation and far more jobs created. Loss now...mega gain later...but no, lets have government involvement and slow down progress to a dead crawl.

    My rant for the day.
  • 3 Hide
    eddieroolz , June 11, 2009 7:25 PM
    One thing EU should do is stop trying to be a smartass and ask the consumers throughout their member nations about this proposal.

    They claim to be acting for the people, but I don't see them consulting ordinary folks in Berlin, London and Paris.

    Or maybe EU is just full of shit like always.
  • 2 Hide
    tenor77 , June 11, 2009 7:28 PM
    I didn't realize I didn't already have a choice on what browser I use.
  • 3 Hide
    puddleglum , June 11, 2009 7:28 PM
    leo2kpUm, how would anyone be able to download a different browser if IE wasn't included in the first place?

    By using a download tool like, wget, ftp, scp, etc. I don't know why you think you need a web browser to do this. The same tool that gives folks the choice to download can use those protocols to get it.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 11, 2009 7:29 PM
    How does any government tell a company that makes a product that they should somehow link, connect, install, offer, whatever words you wish to use, a competing product within their own!? I don't believe the EU is looking out for consumer protection. I believe they have major control and financial issues. I don't believe very many copies of WinXP N sold. The consumers did not want that crap.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 11, 2009 7:29 PM
    If you offer the choice, where does it stop? Just putting in IE and firefox would make Google cry that they're not in the list. And then Opera would cry, then some totally obscure browser would cry and we'd have a million choices of crappy browsers...
  • 0 Hide
    ezareth , June 11, 2009 7:29 PM
    You gotta love Europe!

    It's a good thing our President is trying to model our country after them.
  • 7 Hide
    Netherscourge , June 11, 2009 7:30 PM
    Why would consumers be against a free, bundled browser? As long as I can go ahead and install OTHER browsers whenever I want to and none of them impede upon the use of the other browsers, then what's the problem?

  • 4 Hide
    adamovera , June 11, 2009 7:32 PM
    "That said, if they’re going to make Microsoft offer users the chance to choose, they’d have to insist Apple do the same."

    I'm not sure that Apple would be considered the same as Microsoft on this one. Apple only sells their OS (bundled with their web browser) for use on their hardware. They sell a total package, plus they have only a fraction of the market share. Microsoft's model is to sell the OS (bundled with their web browser) to pretty much every system builder. System builders have the option to install/uninstall features as they see fit for their pre-configured systems. If there was a huge public outcry for HP or Dell systems (for example) to have Firefox or Chrome installed from the factory, they already would be. Unless the EU can prove that MS is coercing system builders in some way to not do that, I'm not sure how this is Microsoft's fault or problem. If system builders are simply choosing not to, uncoerced, than the market has spoken, so what's the problem?
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