EU: 100 million Microsoft users to choose browser

Mar 02, 2010 By AOIFE WHITE , AP Business Writer
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(AP) -- The European Union said Tuesday that some 100 million Europeans using Microsoft Corp. software will be asked to choose among rival Web browsers by mid-May under a deal it struck with the company to settle antitrust action.

Microsoft is starting this month to send updates to Windows computers in Europe so that when computer users log on, they will see a pop-up screen asking them to pick one or more of 12 free Web browsers to download and install, including .

The EU's executive commission said giving consumers the chance to try an alternative to Microsoft's browser that comes with the widely used would "bring more competition and innovation in this important area."

EU antitrust regulators in December dropped their last pending against Microsoft after the company offered to let users choose between its browser and others. This ended more than a decade of legal trouble that racked up euro1.7 billion in fines for Microsoft.

Rivals had complained that attaching Internet Explorer to Windows was an unfair way for Microsoft to put its Web software on most of the world's computers.

The top five browsers - Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, Inc.'s Chrome, Apple Inc.'s Safari and Opera, will be given prominent placement on the pop-up choice screen.

The selections will rotate from computer to computer, so none of the these five browsers will always be first.

Far smaller competitors such as Avant Browser, Flock, Green Browser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Sleipnir and Slim Browser also will be displayed, if the user scrolls sideways.

The EU said greater browser choice also would boost the use of open Web standards - a set of guidelines on how Web sites are designed.

Rivals claim that Microsoft has not always followed these standards closely, forcing Web designers to make sites compatible with Internet Explorer - the leading browser - instead of working smoothly with other Web software.

Microsoft's browser choice screen will be used for five years in the 27-nation European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Microsoft could be fined 10 percent of its annual revenue if it doesn't stick to its commitment to distribute the browser screen as agreed and to avoid any retaliation against computer manufacturers who install other browsers as a default on the computers they sell.

Users in the U.S. and elsewhere won't see any change.

Explore further: Security CTO to detail Android Fake ID flaw at Black Hat

More information:
Microsoft site on choosing a browser: http://www.browserchoice.eu
Google site on choosing a browser: http://www.whatbrowser.org
Microsoft commitments: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2009/dec09/12-16Statement.mspx

5 /5 (3 votes)
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User comments : 19

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in7x
2.7 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2010
I don't support Microsoft, but I certainly don't support this.

If you're unhappy with their products and general disposition towards their users, then don't use them.

Kicking the company around with the threat of monetary damages and only taking what you want doesn't seem very fair or ethical to me.

"We backed ourselves into a corner putting all of our PCs in one basket, ignoring standards and interoperability - Lets make the company pay for our mistakes!"
frajo
2.4 / 5 (5) Mar 02, 2010
If you're unhappy with their products and general disposition towards their users, then don't use them.
In reality, the overwhelming majority of computer users is not computer-savvy.
Your claim essentially implies that all those who don't want to become computer-savvy should be free to be exploited.
TheBigYin
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2010
I had this pop-up last night, I chose IE8 and it went away. Job done.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2010
Your claim essentially implies that all those who don't want to become computer-savvy should be free to be exploited.

Those who chose ignorance have no option but to enjoy their path.
frajo
2 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2010
Those who chose ignorance have no option but to enjoy their path.
Nobody choses ignorance but the mighty. The majority has no choice. To suggest that the majority of the ignorant ever had a choice is an exploiter's ideology.
ontheinternets
5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2010
The free market is not just about a person's or company's "right" to profit and do as it pleases. The market remains in place as it is because it is seen as a good solution toward providing for the public. Monopolistic practices have been seen as a threat to the market for at least several hundred years now, and there are laws to enforce against them. Please don't cry Microsoft a river when they are made to play along. Whether it's copyright issues or the issue of 1000-pound gorillas and limited choice, I'm tired of seeing PR departments take advantage of rampant ignorance and frame it all in terms of rights and survival of the fittest.

tl;dr- I'm okay with Microsoft being punished. I see it as a very small correction, and the occasional doling out of this kind of punishment has been seen as essential for quite some time.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2010
Nobody choses ignorance but the mighty. The majority has no choice. To suggest that the majority of the ignorant ever had a choice is an exploiter's ideology.
Incorrect, the majority choose ignorance because it's easier when you don't know than when you do.

Exploiters hope that no one knows better. Realists understand why no one knows better.

You said it yourself.
Your claim essentially implies that all those WHO DON'T WANT to become computer-savvy should be free to be exploited.

You didn't say "can not".
Megadeth312
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2010
I'm just glad this "update" won't make it to the states.
seneca
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2010
The "free market" based on governmental regulations is just an oxymoron. For socialistic government of EU all these antimonopolistic fees are just a source of easy money. They're behaving like the rotten cops at market hall.

http://www.betane...66994170
http://video.goog...4168460#
in7x
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2010
Made to play along? Punishment? What exactly are they guilty of here? A small correction? Exactly what is being corrected?

If that's the case, where's the popup chooser for the shell, file manager, anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, movie maker software, media player software, notepad software, paint software... On and on.

Where do you stop?

It's pointless and wrong, no matter how much people get off on Microsoft being "punished."
seneca
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2010
EU may want to introduce search boxes of other search providers (Bing, Bixu, Yahoo) at Google home page by the very same logic, because Google has a dominant position on the web already.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2010
The "free market" based on governmental regulations is just an oxymoron.
On the contrary. There is no free market where monopolists dominate the market.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2010
EU may want to introduce search boxes of other search providers (Bing, Bixu, Yahoo) at Google home page by the very same logic, because Google has a dominant position on the web already.
Wrong logic. Google doesn't sell anything to end users. And its search engine is not automatically coupled to each sold PC.
Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2010
Wrong logic. Google doesn't sell anything to end users. And its search engine is not automatically coupled to each sold PC.

If Microsoft gives it to you for free it isn't being sold as is the case with Internet Explorer. You've removed your own argument from the table.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2010
Wrong logic. Google doesn't sell anything to end users. And its search engine is not automatically coupled to each sold PC.

If Microsoft gives it to you for free it isn't being sold as is the case with Internet Explorer.
Of course, I can't force you to understand. And maybe my language proficiency is not sufficient. Nevertheless one more try:
No, MS isn't giving IE for free. You pay for IE when you pay your windows licence. You pay for IE every time a virus uses the unlimited possibilities of IE to enter the OS IE is designed for.

Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2010
No, MS isn't giving IE for free. You pay for IE when you pay your windows licence.
Then by your logic Europe just legally ripped themselves off as they're paying the exact same price now as they did prior. So did the court simply rule that MS must increase their price for a standard windows license in addition to removing the optional software?

In addition to that, did creating a second explorer.exe to decouple iexplore from the shell change anything? Those familiar with software say no.
You pay for IE every time a virus uses the unlimited possibilities of IE to enter the OS IE is designed for.
Because Firefox, Opera, Mozilla, and Netscape NEVER get infected by viruses and other maladies.

Perhaps you should sue your internet provider for allowing virus traffic through their network. After all, it's fully preventable, if you want to have all of your access filtered by another person.
frajo
3 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2010
Because Firefox, Opera, Mozilla, and Netscape NEVER get infected by viruses and other maladies.
Depends under which OS they are running. I'm using firefox on all my machines; I don't have any antivirus software activated - and I never get affected by a virus. The reason is my chosen OS for which there doesn't exist any known virus.
Perhaps you should sue your internet provider for allowing virus traffic through their network.
I don't mind as all that virus traffic doesn't affect my machine.
in7x
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
http://www.micros...ult.aspx

Internet Explorer downloadable for free.

"RAWR RAWR RAWR U STIL NED WINDOZE!11"

http://winebottle...erg.org/

There are plenty of free apps available to help you use Internet Explorer in any way you prefer. Now, why you would want to do so? ...
frajo
3 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2010
Then by your logic Europe just legally ripped themselves off as they're paying the exact same price now as they did prior.
Only windows users have now an opportunity to deselect IE. For all others nothing changes.
Windows users don't pay more than they did before. But now they have a choice which they didn't have before.