Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Microsoft to Give EU Users a Browser Choice

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 57 comments

The European Union antitrust investigation into Microsoft and its bundling of Internet Explorer into every installation of Windows has caused the world's largest software maker to re-tool a special version of Windows 7 for the European market.

Microsoft's original plan to appease the EU was to not bundle Internet Explorer 8 with Windows 7 at all. But just last week, Microsoft proposed a new system whereby users would be presented with a choice upon installation of which browser he or she wishes to use.

"Under our new proposal, among other things, European consumers who buy a new Windows PC with Internet Explorer set as their default browser would be shown a 'ballot screen' from which they could, if they wished, easily install competing browsers from the Web," Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement in a CNet story.

The European Commission confirmed that it received Microsoft's proposal of having a consumer ballot screen whereby consumers could easily install competing web browsers, set one of those browsers as a default, and disable Internet Explorer.

The Commission wrote in a memo, "Under the proposal, Windows 7 would include Internet Explorer, but the proposal recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of web browser, and sets out a means – the ballot screen – by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved. In addition OEMs would be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and disable Internet Explorer should they so wish. The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice."

Should this be approved, it would be a positive step for European consumers. Previously, those in the EU were faced with a version of Windows 7 that would have no browser at all. This sparked concerns from the European Commission that, "without measures such as a ballot screen, [Microsoft's removal of IE] would not necessarily have achieved greater consumer choice in practice and would not have been an effective remedy."

Display 57 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    nukemaster , July 27, 2009 9:38 PM
    This is still dumb. Lets face it, if you do NOT want to use IE, just use it ONCE to get your new browser. I have no issues having IE on for sites that need it and using FF for everything else.
  • 10 Hide
    DouglasThurman , July 27, 2009 10:11 PM
    What, are the users in Europe too stupid to figure out how to go online and download a different browser?
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    nukemaster , July 27, 2009 9:38 PM
    This is still dumb. Lets face it, if you do NOT want to use IE, just use it ONCE to get your new browser. I have no issues having IE on for sites that need it and using FF for everything else.
  • 9 Hide
    teeth_03 , July 27, 2009 9:47 PM
    Someone better go tell Ubuntu to quit auto installing Firefox then

    Seriously tho, it takes 10 seconds to open up IE, go to www.firefox.com and click the big Download Now button.

    "But we euro-pee-ons hate IE so much,we cant bloody stand to look at it at all! Thats Bullocks! Rubbish!"
  • 2 Hide
    sot010174 , July 27, 2009 9:49 PM
    I don't think this will pose a problem to Microsoft. You'll be installing Win7 and the ballot screen will come up asking which browser you want. Ok, you choose Firefox. Oh... no network drivers... then all the other options would blank out making IE8 the only choice because its included on the installation media... duh...
  • 3 Hide
    IzzyCraft , July 27, 2009 9:50 PM
    The best of Capitali... wait what is the EU again?
  • 10 Hide
    DouglasThurman , July 27, 2009 10:11 PM
    What, are the users in Europe too stupid to figure out how to go online and download a different browser?
  • 2 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , July 27, 2009 10:20 PM
    [Sarcasm] I would like to have choice to run Internet Explorer 8 on any newer Linux distributions and OSX, even though I probably still prefer Chrome and FireFox. Come on, EU, now sue Apple Inc., Ubuntu, IBM and RedHat for bundle browers other than M$ IE8.
    [\Sarcasm]
  • 5 Hide
    IzzyCraft , July 27, 2009 10:23 PM
    DouglasThurmanWhat, are the users in Europe too stupid to figure out how to go online and download a different browser?

    Those who are, are probably too stupid to choose a browser on their own.
  • 2 Hide
    maigo , July 27, 2009 10:53 PM
    Fairly smart solution on M$'s part. I would have just pulled IE out of the build so they'd have no internets at all, that'd show the 'Union' they don't know whats good for the people
  • 0 Hide
    wesleywatson , July 27, 2009 11:15 PM
    But this is obviously the hand that Microsoft wants to succeed. Their first proposal would suck for the EU, so now they give them this one which will surely fly through. Game theory people.

    I imagine the ballot screen will have IE 8 first, in bold, perhaps having to click on an "Other browsers" button to get to the rest. "Are you SURE you want to install Firefox? Microsoft is not responsible for any DANGER from use of other web browsers."
  • -4 Hide
    bizi , July 27, 2009 11:31 PM
    EU 1 ; MS 0
  • -2 Hide
    SAL-e , July 27, 2009 11:39 PM
    chaohsiangchen[Sarcasm] I would like to have choice to run Internet Explorer 8 on any newer Linux distributions and OSX, even though I probably still prefer Chrome and FireFox. Come on, EU, now sue Apple Inc., Ubuntu, IBM and RedHat for bundle browers other than M$ IE8.[\Sarcasm]

    Call Steve Ballmer about it and if MS ever made a Linux version I am sure that SuSE (Novell) and Ubuntu (Canonical) will include IE in their distributions.
  • 3 Hide
    stromm , July 27, 2009 11:53 PM
    Is the EU also going to force Apple to do the same?

    No of course not. That would be having a FAIR MARKET, which the EU doesn't care about.
  • -3 Hide
    rhys216 , July 27, 2009 11:56 PM
    Can't believe the EU is still picking on M$ for Antitrust yet have not said a word about ebay & paypal limiting choice and generally ripping people off.
  • 2 Hide
    joex444 , July 28, 2009 1:24 AM
    I wholly support the initial MS plan of no browser at all, and no ballot screen. After all, without IE installed to begin with you reduce bloat once the user chooses to install FF.

    But... but, how does one install FF without another browser?

    Well, friends, I believe MS still bundles an FTP command line client.
    It's pretty straight forward, actually.
    start -> run
    cmd
    ftp
    open
    ftp.mozilla.org
    anonymous
    my@fakeemail.com
    cd pub
    cd firefox
    cd releases
    cd latest-3.5
    cd en-GB (or other language of your choice -- user freedom at its finest!)
    bin
    get Firefox Setup 3.5.1.exe

    Voila. This is, I believe, what the EU had in mind.
  • -1 Hide
    Bert R , July 28, 2009 3:15 AM
    Anybody who cared enough about stuff like browsers would have just downloaded them anyway, so what's the point?
  • 0 Hide
    g-thor , July 28, 2009 3:21 AM
    "The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice."

    They mean that their 'Commission' is so incapable of rational thought that it can't decide if giving people a list of browsers to choose from constitutes genuine choice! Because MS offerred it, maybe it's a false choice. Maybe MS secretly bought up all these other browers.

    I have nothing against the EU - I do against bureaucrats. No matter what country they come from, they can't actually think. They love zero tolerence policies, so you have no choice, and then to turn around and require others to offer choices. There is a short circuit in a bureaucrat's brain, I think.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , July 28, 2009 3:30 AM
    joex444But... but, how does one install FF without another browser?Well, friends, I believe MS still bundles an FTP command line client. It's pretty straight forward, actually.start -> runcmdftpopenftp.mozilla.organonymousmy@fakeemail.comcd pubcd firefoxcd releasescd latest-3.5cd en-GB (or other language of your choice -- user freedom at its finest!)binget Firefox Setup 3.5.1.exeVoila. This is, I believe, what the EU had in mind.



    since everyone here beside joex44 is so smart... and that the europeen are so dumb... why are you guys saying we cant dl a new browser without a browser????

    should we now say "stupid americans" ???
    The EU is blocking this 3rd party cause PPL CAN MAKE MONEY out of it. Thats it, nothing else.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 28, 2009 3:32 AM
    and if i remember correctly... netscape was coming with ALL driver CD... and it wasnt difficult to install it
  • 0 Hide
    r0x0r , July 28, 2009 4:18 AM
    doctorpinkThe EU is blocking this 3rd party cause PPL CAN MAKE MONEY out of it. Thats it, nothing else.


    You can make money out of anything if you just use your head. Since I make money from sports betting, is the EU going to block gambling sites because I refuse to roll over and work for 50 years like everyone else? I would not put it past them, so it's a good thing I don't live in a communis-, erm, EU country (nor do I live in the US, so bashing them won't do anything for you).

    Besides, Microsoft is a business, which means that *GASP!* they exist to make money.
  • 0 Hide
    IzzyCraft , July 28, 2009 4:19 AM
    doctorpinksince everyone here beside joex44 is so smart... and that the europeen are so dumb... why are you guys saying we cant dl a new browser without a browser???? should we now say "stupid americans" ???The EU is blocking this 3rd party cause PPL CAN MAKE MONEY out of it. Thats it, nothing else.

    Is it unfair to carry only your own products in your store? I hardly follow the logic of fair play and in anti competitive behavior that most anti trust lawsuits are made on. Esp with trends showing a decline in IE usage making it seem more of a way to take a swipe at MS because Opera a European biased company filed a complain against them. Anyways Europeans aren't stupid just their form of justice is all we are saying along with that the EU has the belief that the user cannot find their own products, isn't that what advertisement is for? Browsers can't advertise?
    rant rant rant rant rant.......
Display more comments