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EU Ends Microsoft Antitrust Probe; Hello Browsers!

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 72 comments

The browser ballot is officially called the Choice Screen.

The European Union hasn't been looking too kindly on Microsoft and its supposed anticompetitive acts in bundling Internet Explorer in with Windows. But today, the European Commission has settled its dispute with Microsoft after the world's largest software maker agreed to implement changes in how its Windows OS integrates the browser.

The European Commission today announced that it adopted a decision that renders legally binding commitments offered by Microsoft to boost competition on the web browser market starting March 2010.

The accepted decision, of course, is that Microsoft will provide a "choice screen" where Windows users will be able to pick between Opera, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir, Slim Browser and Internet Explorer. As many of Microsoft's competitors requested, the choice screen will feature browsers in a randomized order.

European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use. Such choice will not only serve to improve people's experience of the internet now but also act as an incentive for web browser companies to innovate and offer people better browsers in the future."

Under the commitments approved by the Commission, Microsoft will make available for five years in the European Economic Area (through the Windows Update mechanism) a choice screen enabling users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 to choose which web browsers they want to install in addition to, or instead of, Microsoft's browser Internet Explorer. The commitments also provide that computer manufacturers will be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and turn Internet Explorer off.

A clause in the commitments allows the European Commission to review the commitments in two years. Microsoft will report regularly to the Commission, starting in six months' time, on the implementation of the commitments and under certain conditions make adjustments to the choice screen upon the Commission's request.

If Microsoft were to break its commitments, the European Commission could impose a fine of up to 10 percent of Microsoft's total annual turnover without having to prove any violation of EU antitrust rules.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    noodlegts , December 16, 2009 5:37 PM
    That's a big load of crap. Could you imagine going to Ford and having to look at a choice screen that also showed you Toyota, Honda, and GM vehicles?

    Anti-trust is one thing, but forcing a company to pitch other companies' products to you is over the line. Enough of this EU socialist crap.
  • 23 Hide
    Socnom , December 16, 2009 6:07 PM
    Let me get this straight. If in 5 years, the dominant browser is still IE, does that mean they will go after MS again? It seems to me that they expect an even distribution of market share now.

    If that is the case, then they are stupid. People do not care how many different 'brands' of the same product that is offered. They want to stick with what is 'best'. That is, what is most popular, stable, secure, and what they know! If they think that the average consumer will start experimenting with browsers, they are dead wrong.

    When it comes to PCs, Non-Techy people do not want such choices. They want just internet. They do not care how they get there, as long as they do.

    I personally use Firefox.
  • 20 Hide
    tenor77 , December 16, 2009 6:24 PM
    At last Europeans are free to choose what browser they use..........wait as sec
Other Comments
  • 24 Hide
    noodlegts , December 16, 2009 5:37 PM
    That's a big load of crap. Could you imagine going to Ford and having to look at a choice screen that also showed you Toyota, Honda, and GM vehicles?

    Anti-trust is one thing, but forcing a company to pitch other companies' products to you is over the line. Enough of this EU socialist crap.
  • -8 Hide
    PraxGTI , December 16, 2009 5:39 PM
    I still don't get it....freedom of choice is as easy as downloading and installing the browser you want...I think Europeans must be too mentally chanllenged to be able to click the "next" button on an installer and must have it through a "choice screen" which is more like a "mentally challenged computer user screen". Way to go EU, you just supported people becoming even more challenged in the ways of the computer. Next they will say that you need to have a screen that pops up to select what the person wants for breakfast because they don't know how to use a grill and toaster...what is the world coming to?
  • 0 Hide
    rhino13 , December 16, 2009 5:40 PM
    Yeah-- Intel, Microsoft, Sun, Etc. Take note the cost of doing business in the EU is unreasonbly high, plus you're gonna get sued like every other year and lose more than you already have doing business in the EU.

    How much longer is it worth staying in the EU?
  • 8 Hide
    logitic , December 16, 2009 5:48 PM
    You have to admit that this is to funny.

    "If Microsoft were to break its commitments, the European Commission could impose a fine of up to 10 percent of Microsoft's total annual turnover without having to prove any violation of EU antitrust rules."

    That alone made me have to say nice work. Only in EU this is possible!
  • 15 Hide
    rockstone1 , December 16, 2009 5:52 PM
    This is stupid.
  • 17 Hide
    noob2222 , December 16, 2009 6:01 PM
    Next thing you know, MS will be paying for each browser installed on thier OS aside from IE.

    MS pays 5M to google for 500,000 users installing google browsers on Windows 7. GO EU
  • 16 Hide
    jfox960 , December 16, 2009 6:01 PM
    I cant believe Microsoft agreed to this.....
  • 23 Hide
    Socnom , December 16, 2009 6:07 PM
    Let me get this straight. If in 5 years, the dominant browser is still IE, does that mean they will go after MS again? It seems to me that they expect an even distribution of market share now.

    If that is the case, then they are stupid. People do not care how many different 'brands' of the same product that is offered. They want to stick with what is 'best'. That is, what is most popular, stable, secure, and what they know! If they think that the average consumer will start experimenting with browsers, they are dead wrong.

    When it comes to PCs, Non-Techy people do not want such choices. They want just internet. They do not care how they get there, as long as they do.

    I personally use Firefox.
  • 16 Hide
    sliem , December 16, 2009 6:14 PM
    EU is stupid. It's not anticompetitive. They make the damn OS. Windows explorer is basically internet explorer. What's the matter with them lazy asses?
  • 20 Hide
    tenor77 , December 16, 2009 6:24 PM
    At last Europeans are free to choose what browser they use..........wait as sec
  • 2 Hide
    XD_dued , December 16, 2009 6:29 PM
    Um...i think most people who don't know enough about computers to choose something other than IE will just choose IE because its what their familiar with...

    Microsoft should have included no browser XD
  • 12 Hide
    widcard , December 16, 2009 6:43 PM
    European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "it felt good sticking it to the americans that make it happen."

    ...... Well i guess the Euro trash has to make their money somehow.
  • -1 Hide
    nicklasd87 , December 16, 2009 6:44 PM
    Internet Explorer is both a browser and a FTP client, how many alternative browsers are also a FTP client?
  • -6 Hide
    Computer_Lots , December 16, 2009 6:49 PM
    I don't see how this really solves anything. The problem is that when Microsoft started offering a competitive browser for free with it's OS, then none of the other browser makers (like Netscape) had a chance of staying in business. The average joe isn't going to pay $50 for Netscape Communicator when Internet Explorer "gits me on thu internet just fine".

    The only way to really make this fair is if Microsoft charged for Internet Explorer separately so competitors could offer their products at the same price. Of course, this would never happen since everyone is already used to getting it for free. I don't see how Mozilla stays in business.
  • 3 Hide
    cinergy , December 16, 2009 6:51 PM
    As a professional web developer I can say all IE versions are horrible (8 is almost ok) and cost a ton of money to my company to support them. In Firefox, Chrome, Safari and even in Opera, pretty much everything just works as specified. No hacks needed. Less IE = less headache.
  • -4 Hide
    cinergy , December 16, 2009 6:55 PM
    widcardEuropean Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "it felt good sticking it to the americans that make it happen."...... Well i guess the Euro trash has to make their money somehow.


    Like Americans do starting wars for oil?
  • 0 Hide
    dude88yl , December 16, 2009 6:58 PM
    AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir, Slim Browser??? are you kiddin' me?
  • 2 Hide
    cammmy , December 16, 2009 7:01 PM
    Does this mean when the Chrome OS come out they will have to provide a list of other browsers to use on install? What about Apple, will they not have to provide ways to disable Safari and replace it with a competitors product. I don't think so.
  • -2 Hide
    frozenlead , December 16, 2009 7:03 PM
    I've never even heard of half of those browsers, and I'm a geek. Why are they giving people who don't know any better choice of sub-standard browsers?
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