Microsoft gives in, offers to include rival browsers in Win7

Makes a lot more sense than shipping it without a browser but I bet they aren’t pleased about it.

I wonder if we’ll see something similar here.


My mistake, see below

That’s unrelated to Windows 7 which will ship without any browser in Europe, and get IE8 only via Windows Update.

This news story is apparently about a Windows Update message that European users of existing Windows versions will receive, asking them if they would like to change their browser.

But I’m not a WSJ subscriber, so I didn’t see the rest of the article.

Turns out that Jose’s take on the story was correct, and the WSJ excerpt was misleading. This is really about Windows 7.

Mary Jo Foley has more details. Microsoft will stop offering Windows 7E in Europe as soon as the EC accepts a new version of Windows 7 that does include IE8 but also shows a ballot screen asking users to choose one of several browsers.

It’s just not right to force a company to provide links to its rival’s products. If Microsoft doesn’t have the balls to stand up to Europe, though, it gets what it deserves.

They’re not being forced to; there were various options for dealing with the ruling, and MS has decided to switch to this one at the last second, for whatever reason.

Probably because it’s the cheapest.

The history of MS and EU is interesting; it really seems as if the Union is using Microsoft as an ATM. Every couple years they find them to be in violation of this or that antitrust reg and slap them with a fine.

Yeah. It’s crazy. Imagine this: you buy a Ford vehicle and it comes with a Ford stereo, and Pioneer sues Ford because they lost a potential sale of a stereo. Crazy.

I think in this case Microsoft went with the choice option because it leaves the end user in far less of a lurch than the no browser option does. If you’ve got no browser to begin with, how do you even download your choice of a browser, whether that be IE8 or Firefox or whatever? I mean, it can be done (find an ftp site that hosts a browser, go to command line, ftp download the browser exe and go from there), but not by Joe Q Public who only knows the web.

And just to be clear, I don’t think Microsoft is taking the option that screws the user the least out of the kindness of their hearts, but just because Windows 7 is of far less value to end users if the default pre-OEM install has no way for the average user to really bootstrap it for use on the Internet (as far as they know).

The history of MS and EU is interesting; it really seems as if the Union is using Microsoft as an ATM. Every couple years they find them to be in violation of this or that antitrust reg and slap them with a fine.

I think in this case the whole situation is pretty much because Opera is a bunch of whiney fucking babies who have had a historically shitty business model for a browser company and they happen to be European, thus have some pull over the EU that Microsoft does not. They are the ones who complained about Microsoft being unfair by bundling IE, and then complained again when Microsoft said its solution was to just remove IE from the Euro version of Windows. They made it very clear through their series of complaints that their primary goal was nothing to do with promoting browser choice, but rather just getting Opera onto lots of Windows install DVDs so they could run up “potential userbase” numbers.

What, it’s not force if you have a choice among several ways of having your rights violated? Their best choice would have been to call the EU’s bluff and ship Windows 7 with no browser at all, but they lost their nerve at the last minute.

And how would that make the EU back down?

So is Apple forced to include Firefox and Opera? If not, I don’t see how this ruling is very fair.

Wow that’s kinda retarded. I mean, if you have no browser, you can’t download another browser. So everyone will have to install IE8 anyway just to get their browser of choice.

Er, no. You would obviously use Windows Update… you know, the same way that most people used to update from IE7 to IE8. As Jakub pointed out, though, this defeats the whole “no IE8 installed” claim since the only browser you’ll get from Windows Update is IE8. That’s obviously very much in Microsoft’s interest and does nothing to promote browser choice, which is why the EU didn’t like this solution at all.

Newsflash: Microsoft has an operating systems monopoly, and Apple has not.

There was in fact a European attempt to force Apple to open up the iPod and iTunes platforms because that’s where Apple has a monopoly. Not sure what became of it, though.

Sure, if Ford had motor vehicle monopoly and their stereos were breaking compatibility with audio CD standards…

Ah, but Apple is gaining market share. The question is: does the EU law stipulate what sort of marketshare you have to have to be considered a monopoly and therefore subject to different restrictions than companies that don’t hold a monopoly in that area? Where is the threshold? 80%? 90%? 50%+1? The decisions seem somewhat arbitrary, especially with IE losing marketshare and Firefox/Safari gaining in a world where MS still ships Windows PCs with IE.

Apple is certainly held to a different standard, worldwide, on their PC practices. Doubtful if Microsoft could prohibit users from installing their OS on non-approved machines. Apple’s forced bundling of iLife with no option not to get it on every new Mac is the kind of thing that would land MS in court in the blink of an eye.

As for the ballot approach - I think it’s actually a fine idea that should be expanded. Every browser built into an OS should, upon first launch, provide a page with links to download alternative browsers, making your choice the default. Apple should do this with Safari, Google should do it their eventual Chrome OS, Linux distros should do it, etc. It’s just plain consumer-friendly to say “hey, your OS/computer came with this browser, maybe it’s not the one you want… stick with it or download and use one of these others?”

It’s like how so many web browsers now offer you a choice of search provider.

I don’t think there’s any precise threshold, no.

As for the ballot approach - I think it’s actually a fine idea that should be expanded.

I agree. Much of the EU’s Microsoft bashing is stupid or plain extortion, but this browser ballot seems like a perfectly reasonable idea. And it’s interesting how agitated Microsoft became over this simple issue.

Around here, people still buy PC magazines with coverdisks, which come with browsers.

We’ll let you know what the law was after we charge you.

The stupid thing is that there needn’t be a remedy. Firefox is already gaining market share and it destroyed IE’s stranglehold on the market.

Opera is a whiny bitch because IE isn’t their problem. Their problem is that they have a shitty business model and product. IE was kicking their ass, but so was Firefox, and so was Safari, and I believe that Chrome has already blown past Opera’s market share.

Hard to argue that IE is killing them when everyone is killing them.