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Microsoft Responds to EU Antitrust Case

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 31 comments

Microsoft has reportedly responded to the European Unions antitrust charges.

The hoopla was originally kicked off when companies behind competing browsers accused Microsoft of using the fact that the majority of computers ship with Windows to create a nice little browser monopoly for itself. The European Union issued a preliminary Statement of Objections in January, claiming the company’s practices "undermine product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice."

While Microsoft has said that the next version of its operating system will give users the ability to switch off Internet Explorer 8, it hasn’t stopped companies such as Google and Apple chiming in to complain about Microsoft's dominance in the browser market.

Reuters today reports that the Redmond company has responded to the EU’s antitrust charges and a Commission spokesman has said the response will be studied carefully.

Do you think Microsoft is guilty in this instance? Many of us can claim to have introduced one of our less tech-savvy friends to the joys of Firefox, a browser they had no idea existed because IE had come bundled with their PC. However, without Internet Explorer, we’d have had no way to download an alternative making it a catch 22 situation.

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  • 15 Hide
    dman3k , April 29, 2009 6:47 PM
    If only EU gives Apple equal treatment...
  • 12 Hide
    rooseveltdon , April 29, 2009 6:49 PM
    lol it's funny to me that apple wants to join in on this they are a lot worse with their software.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    dman3k , April 29, 2009 6:47 PM
    If only EU gives Apple equal treatment...
  • 2 Hide
    daft , April 29, 2009 6:47 PM
    yeah, i use IE to watch flash because firefox uses an entire core for some reason. each browser has its place, if the EU wants MS to put multiple browsers on, then it would only slow the computer down more and use up more space
  • 12 Hide
    rooseveltdon , April 29, 2009 6:49 PM
    lol it's funny to me that apple wants to join in on this they are a lot worse with their software.
  • 3 Hide
    tenor77 , April 29, 2009 7:01 PM
    One browser to rule them all!

    Personally while I know a good chunk of people are oblivious to the existance of different browsers I don't see why MS shouldn't include their browser since it's free. That is as long as they're not hindering people from using alternatives.
  • 2 Hide
    rage machine , April 29, 2009 7:05 PM
    I don't think Microsoft is doing anything wrong here with bundling its browser into the operating system. Most the people I help out don't even know what a web browser is, they just know to call it "internet". If anything Microsoft is just helping those users who are unaware of any alternative. Most people who are aware seem to have Firefox somewhere on their PC anyway. I'm not sure how they should respond, if they take off Internet Explorer there is no way to add other browsers for those users who cannot operate a PC very well, if they put on other browsers then it might cause some confusion or even a trust lawsuit. Who knows what will happen :|
  • 0 Hide
    tpi2007 , April 29, 2009 7:06 PM
    Computers with internet access as a mass market product ends up having this sort of problem. Users in general use what the OS comes with.

    Back in the days when IE was in version 1.0 or didn's even exist, people would browse the web using Netscape Navigator, which the OS didn's come with, instead they mostly grabbed a copy from a magazine, or from a friend.

    Now some people are lazy, some just don't have the time to find an alternative. If IE is good enough, they won't switch.

    In spite of this, Firefox has steadily been capturing market share back from Microsoft (ironically IE captured its market share from Netscape, which is now, in some way, Mozilla - Netscape Navigator's engine codename).

    This argument could go both ways, but ultimately I guess it could be easily solved: Microsoft could bundle a very basic Internet Explorer which could basically access Windows Update, the Microsoft site (for download of windows related programs), and finally a shared site, maintained and paid for by Microsoft and all other browser manufacturers interested in adding their name, with a brief description of each broswer, and a link to the respective download. The browser names would display in a random order, each time the page would load, so as to avoid having the discussion "who goes first".

    I think this would solve the problem.
  • 1 Hide
    Sicundercover , April 29, 2009 7:26 PM
    So why is this MS's responsibility?

    Why not the OEM's? Hell they already install a bunch of their own propriatary garbage. There isnt even anything in the OEM agreement that prevens you the OEM from doing so.

    Dell disables Windows Gadgets and installs Googles instead as the default handeler. Acer installs that garbage bar of theirs, which does little more then screw with your boot time and mess with your networking.

    So again, why is this being blamed on MS and not the companies who actually install, Package, Sell, and ship the products world wide?
  • 1 Hide
    hotroderx , April 29, 2009 7:32 PM
    tpi2007and finally a shared site, maintained and paid for by Microsoft and all other browser manufacturers interested in adding their name, with a brief description of each broswer, and a link to the respective download. The browser names would display in a random order, each time the page would load, so as to avoid having the discussion "who goes first". I think this would solve the problem.

    That is pretty much the best solution available the majority of people are not tech savvy enough to go out and figure out which browser best meets there needs.

    But I still feel this is going to be a attempt futility. Most companies will continue to use IE because there local Intranets are setup for it and there security policies are written for it since most companies will still be using it most people will feel most at easy with it and feel safer and more secure. You will have more people who will be happy to see the change but I have a feeling just as many if not more will be upset they will few this as just more bloat wear to windows. Windows is starting to become the new AOL. If you ever played with old AOL Software like ver. 8 it was a dream come true it was enjoyable to use it had just the right features for someone who wasn't really tech savvy but wanted a good browser. Then they started adding more and more features and look where they are now.
    I feel the truly best solution for this issues is to have the ability to turn Microsoft's Internet Explorer completely off and have it removable so that if someone does choose to use a different browser they can do so with out having extra bloat on there PC. But I do think it should be up to the person to find there new browser seems like society today is becoming lazy not ever thing should be handed to us.

  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2009 7:33 PM
    I have a very easy solution to this problem.

    Microsoft: STOP DOING BUSINESS IN THE EU. Leave the marketplace all together.
  • 0 Hide
    hotroderx , April 29, 2009 7:34 PM
    Sorry to those who will say I contradicted my self I don't mean to I just kinda feel split both ways I feel one reason why people are not more tech savvy when they should be is because ever thing is so easy now days
  • -1 Hide
    davewbrown , April 29, 2009 7:38 PM
    So you go after number one and leave everyone else to do as they please. Then when they drop to number 2 or 3 do go after the new number 1 or just smile because you real just don't like Microsoft? Or maybe you just like the attention and need to justify your job.
  • 6 Hide
    bigpoppastuke , April 29, 2009 7:40 PM
    Apple does the same thing with safari! what are they bitchin about!?
  • -2 Hide
    the_one111 , April 29, 2009 7:48 PM
    Wow.

    So Apple can do it but not MS?

    FAIL.
  • 1 Hide
    jeraldjunkmail , April 29, 2009 7:58 PM
    My mom got herself her first computer ever, and is going through the process of becoming computer literate. Because it is a netbook (samsung NC10, sweet lil NB) the screen resolution is only 1024x600.

    SO, i installed google chrome on it so she could see more of the web pages and less of the title bar and other junk. She is obliviously happy with it. However, I think that MS would have limited her satisfaction with the internet because it takes up more than 1/3rd of the screen...

    Having choices is good, but since most people don't know they have one, they will just use whatever they have immediate access to. Why doesn't MS just install Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, (all told less than 100MB of data) and run the user through a selection wizard? Antitrust issues? Solved...
  • -1 Hide
    superblahman123 , April 29, 2009 8:12 PM
    Ya know, Microsoft could make alot of money off of this case. They could offer other browsers with their OS, but charge the browser makers for advertising them. So to meet the standards of EU, they could charge companies to do so. I see good coming out of this in MS's way :-D
  • 3 Hide
    SAL-e , April 29, 2009 8:16 PM
    Microsoft has earn their troubles with EU. Here is my problems with IE:
    1. IE is artificially build in to the OS. This is the main reason why Windows is so susceptible for all kinds of attacks.
    2. Because the #1 the Windows some time is crashing completely after IE crashes.
    3. IE do not follow established Internet Protocols and as result forces all web sites to developed multiple versions of their sites. It is huge expanse and as result many of them a dropping the support for other browsers.

    All three items are done by MS in order to establish monopoly over the Internet. Their strategy partially succeeded. They did the same thing with many other programs and technologies. Remember how many Fax programs was out there before MS included build-in FAX software. This time they got caught and they will pay the penalty imposed by the bureaucrats in EU.
    They play dirty game now the going to be played dirty.
    The fix is very simple, but for some reason MS is refusing to execute it:
    1. Remove the IE from the core system and made it available as option program.
    2. Make sure that IE complies with all Internet standards and if the current standard is not working for the new features create new open royalty-free standard that everyone can implement.
    If they ever do that the Internet will be much better place then today. By the way MS is going to make good money on it, but of course not all the money will go in to their pockets.
  • -1 Hide
    daft , April 29, 2009 8:33 PM
    here's another idea, how about MS just doesn't let the IE shortcut be displayed on the desktop unless the user wants it, which could be a question during setup. after all, 97% (random number pick) would think that the internet has been deleted if the shorcut isn't there. and thats from personal experiance
  • -4 Hide
    BallistaMan , April 29, 2009 8:43 PM
    I think that this is the EU stepping over the line. IE is part of the product, if you don't want it, don't buy the product. Generally speaking, every OS comes with default software and functionality. If you want more than that, go out and get it. Telling Microsoft to remove functionality from their product is stupid. Heck, technically it's not even a monopoly. A monopoly assumes a zero-sum amount of possible sales - there are always more people to buy computers. Punishing a company because it has the dominant market share is wrong unless they're actively manipulating things, which MS can't afford to do right now for PR's sake.

    It's not their job to help their competition - if the competition can't compete (assuming that MS isn't illegally trying to crush them *coughlikeappledoescough*), sucks to be them. Make a better product and people will switch to it.

    MS did the right thing by allowing users to turn off IE. It doesn't hurt their product at all, and now it makes it the equivalent of Safari in OSX (included but not required), so other companies can't crab about it...

    ...although they probably will anyway. :\
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2009 8:51 PM
    Maybe it mattered 10-15 years ago, but nowadays a web browser is just as necessary as a local file browser or a text editor. Any OS you install is going to have one bundled with it. If the bundled browser fits your needs, fine. Otherwise you install a better one.

    If you're going to say Microsoft can't bundle IE with Windows, then you may as well make them remove all of the other GUI tools they include. We can just go back to using a command prompt until we finish evaluating the myriad of tools available so as to make a fair choice (¬_¬)
  • 1 Hide
    tpi2007 , April 29, 2009 9:43 PM
    jeraldjunkmailMy mom got herself her first computer ever, and is going through the process of becoming computer literate. Because it is a netbook (samsung NC10, sweet lil NB) the screen resolution is only 1024x600.SO, i installed google chrome on it so she could see more of the web pages and less of the title bar and other junk. She is obliviously happy with it. However, I think that MS would have limited her satisfaction with the internet because it takes up more than 1/3rd of the screen...Having choices is good, but since most people don't know they have one, they will just use whatever they have immediate access to. Why doesn't MS just install Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, (all told less than 100MB of data) and run the user through a selection wizard? Antitrust issues? Solved...


    Tell your mother to press F11. Works on both Firefox and IE. I don't have Opera installed at the moment, but it should work too. Clutter problem solved :D 

    As to your final suggestion, I think it wouldn't work. Browsers are updated all the time, so the system needs to be dynamic. You want the browsers you use updated, not unnecessary updating clutter for those you don't. Moreover, by including the most popular ones, you'd kill monopoly, but end up with oligopoly. Some company would end up complaining. In this respect I think my suggestion is better.
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