You are probably aware of the ongoing antitrust case filed by Opera against Microsoft. If you aren’t I suggest you check out the initial press release by Opera. During recent months Mozilla, IBM, Nokia, Sun, Adobe, Oracle, and others have also joined the case. Opera’s demands are two fold – i) to compel Microsoft to give consumers a real choice and ii) to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer. Opera has already been partially successful with the second objective by managing to pressure Microsoft into making the standards mode the default rendering mode in Internet Explorer 8. However, Internet Explorer still has a long way to go.
The second demand is a debatable one. It does appear to be extremely unfair to Microsoft to force them to promote their competition. However, the problem arises because of Microsoft’s monopolistic position in the computer market. To most people Internet Explorer is the only way to access the internet. A large majority of people aren’t even aware of the alternatives. In order words Microsoft’s dominance over the operating system market has allowed it to also dominate the browser space.
To make matters even worse Microsoft is notorious for not implementing web standards. Microsofts dominant position ensures that almost all web-developers will code keeping IE in mind. Since IE doesn’t support standards and has its own set of proprietary technologies, a significant percentage of these websites won’t work on other browsers like Firefox and Opera. The combination of these two factors stifles competition by preventing the web from becoming truly cross browser compliant. To get a better understanding of this read Havard’s explanation.
So what about Mozilla? How did Firefox manage to break the shackles and reach the current position. This is what Mozilla Foundation’s Mitchell Baker wrote.
The success of Mozilla and Firefox does not indicate a healthy marketplace for competitive products. I am convinced that we could not have been, and will not be, successful except as a public benefit organization living outside the commercial motivations. And I certainly hope that neither the EU nor any other government expects to maintain a healthy Internet ecosystem based on nonprofits stepping in to correct market deficiencies.
Now, Opera never really wanted Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer. Yes, Opera will prefer Windows without IE than Windows with IE only. But ideally, they wanted Microsoft to provide more options to the users. Opera wanted Microsoft to include alternate browsers and to offer users real choice.
According to initial reports the EU was more inclined to supporting Opera’s viewpoint. Sensing trouble Microsoft resorted to clever ploys to antagonise public opinion. And this move is no different. Not including a browser will definitely inconvenience the users that directly buy the OS from Microsoft (although this is a relatively small segment – around 5%). Not only that totally unbundling Internet Explorer will also break the operating system IE is deeply embedded into Windows. For eg. IE is required for viewing help files (.chm).
Thankfully, both the EU and Opera aren’t falling for Microsoft’s bluff. Opera’s Chief Technical Officer (and the father of CSS) responded by saying :
I don’t think what Microsoft announced is going to restore competition. I don’t think its going to be enough, I don’t think it will get them off the hook
The EU has also reacted negatively to this move indicating that “A “must carry” option that would offer several browsers was a better option” (source). Lets hope that it makes the right call and forces Microsoft to offer real choice.
27 responses to “Microsoft Refuses to Offer a Choice, Instead Unbundles IE from Windows 7 in Europe”
The EU is full of idiots. There won’t be any computer sold from prebuilt companies that are without a browser. Microsoft just tell them that the Hardware they reciew doesnt have a browser, they pick one and install it, and the end user is non the wiser.
People buying the standalone OS and using it are probably a step above the average Joe in computer literacy and can follow the basic steps microsoft gave to FTP the install onto your computer.
This is precisely the reason why Opera isn’t satisfied with MS unbundling IE. Even EU has indicated that this isnt what they wanted.
Over 90% of people get their OS preinstalled (from OEMs). MS will simple provide special deals (incentives) to OEMs to preinstall IE on these systems. Thus unbundling doesnt solve the core problem and only creates inconvinience.
Yes, I can see your point there.
But I can imagine the complaints now if Microsoft was to bundle the top 3 or 4 browsers with their OS. People already get angry over the amount of junk placed on their PC’s when they buy them.
It’s looking like a no-win situation. Hated if they don’t, hated if they do.
The proposed solutuon should solve that problem. The browser manufacturers want MS to include a ballot screen. None of the browsers would come preinstalled. The user will simply be presented a choice during installation and the selected browser will be installed.
Yes, most of the people will still install IE as that is what they are familiar with (for a lot of people Internet=IE). But some people may try out a new browser.
I will side with Microsoft on not including any type of browser. If they include a ballot of choice or the top three/four browsers they could end up with suits from lower companies saying that Microsoft is not fair by not displaying the browser and Joe Schloe’s Browser has to be included as a possible choice. It becomes ridiculous to believe that everyone will be happy with the decision. Sure Microsoft looks like jerks because they decided to go the route that will allow them to fulfill the terms the EU put in place and not have to deal with possible side suits later.
There is precedent for something like this. After you install IE 8 it gives you the optoin of changing your default search engine. It provides a few other option including Google. It doesnt list all the search engines in the world and I dont think there have been any complaints so far.
Even Windows VIsta allows you to choose your providers.
There aren’t a lot of browsers which a significant no. of people use. There are just 4 – Ie, Fx, Opera and Safari.
Another example I would like go give isnt related to computing. In 2004, Coca Cola was forced to reserve 20% of the space in its coolers for competing products, if those coolers are the only ones in the store.
Those search engines/enhancements are the ones that Microsoft has been told about and will present to users if they are presented the option to add it. The argument runs along the lines of Mozilla not offering a add-on if it was never submitted.
As for the browsers, there are more than that in truth, you also have Google Chrome, Mozilla Seamonkey, K-Meleon, Flock, and the list goes one. You can’t please all the people all the time, you offer the ground that will allow you to stay out of the least amount of hot water.
Good on Microsoft.
By the way, what manner will you use to download your browser, now that there’s no browser to download that browser…
Oh, and I’m not a Microsoft fanboy, as I am primarily a Linux/Firefox user. I am just tired of the whole EU having it in for Microsoft. Have ya’ taken a look at Google, lately folks?
They’ve said they are going to offer FTP as a possible solution, or you can buy a IE disc and have it sent to you. Or you can go to your friends and get the damn install file yourself.
As I said 90% of the people get their OS pre-installed. So, the OEM will install it for them. And chances are that due to MS’s clout OEMs will install IE.
And EU is looking into MS as this is already a problem. EU will definitely look into Google when it becomes a problem. In fact I remember EU launching an antitrust investigation against google after the DoubleClick deal.
EU,Norwegian company and American company… you know who’ll win here. EU is stupid. Period. Everyone except Microsoft haters know that this was pretty stupid move on EU’s part forcing Microsoft on IE. All OS should be bundled with a browser, media player and all other essential utilities.Now who decides what goes into an OS? Microsoft for Windows, Apple for Leopard, Mark Shuttleworth for Ubuntu etc. Now how difficult is to download another browser using IE? Now don’t say users are not aware of alternatives. Everyone visits youtube and various Google sites where they advertise Chrome. If the user still doesn’t download that browser, then don’t you think that they are comfortable with what they are using right now? All these web standards, monopolist talk are bullshit. At the end of the day, all an average Joe needs is a browser that gets his job done.
“Not only that totally unbundling Internet Explorer will also break the operating system IE is deeply embedded into Windows. For eg. IE is required for viewing help files (.chm).”
As you said, IE is one of the core components of Windows. They may remove the browser but they will never remove the core components of IE built into Windows. Now if EU has a problem with that, then probably they should ban Windows from EU and let their users choose Linux.
Microsoft did not become a monopoly overnight. It became a monopoly because it was allowed to become one by lazy competitors or lack of good competing products.
Opera should stop complaining and start focusing on making a top class product. Their current browser is good but sadly not the best. They were the best but allowed browsers like Firefox,Chrome and Safari to eat into their market share.
I am not a Microsoft hater. In fact my stand was identical to yours originally. And I still believe forcing MS to unbundle Windows Media player was stupid. But, I started supporting this antitrust complaint after analysing what the actual problem is.
I have already mentioned this, and I would mention it again. Don’t know if I can get my point accross to you. Anyway, the root of all problems is that IE isnt complying to standards. And since IE is the major browser, webdevelopers test their websites in IE. This often means these websites simply won’t work on other browsers. Thus Micrsofot Internet Explorer is actually preventing the web from being truely open in nature and making is tough for other browsers. Naturally people would be inclined to use the browser on which all websites work. If the market was open and fair EU wouldnt need to take this step and there wouldn’t have been an antitrust complaint.
If you fail to see the importance of web standards then there is simply no point to this discussion. Your comment just shows that you aren’t considering this from the larger perspective. The end user doesn’t immediately suffer. But, if monopoly creates hinders to competition the at the end of the day the user would suffer as the quality of product would stagnate.
Btw, this antitrust has already had an positive effect. initially IE 8 was supposed to use the old rendering engine as the default one to ensure it doesnt break websites. After the antitrust complaint MS changed their minds and made the newer (more standard compliant) engine the default.
Forget about being aware of alternative browsers, there are a lot of people who don’t know what a browser is. I have seen such people in my college (yes, in an engineering college).
See this video.
MS IE became dominant browser riding on the back of Windows. And yeah, the fact that by that time Netscape had become badly bloated also helped.
The main problem arises when a monopoly by the virtue of their dominant position does something that hinders competition.
This is something you just made up. Fx, Chrome and Safari didn’t eat away Opera’s marketshare. It’s currently larger than what it was 2-3 years ago.
In fact when Chrome was released Fx and Ie’s market share went down where as Opera’s remained constant (infact according to Statcounter it actually increased).
Again this is not about which browser is the best. This is not about “Ie works”. It is about the fact that IE is hindering free and fair competition by not adhering to standards.
Like I said on twitter, allow the market to correct itself. It took years for Microsoft to become a monopoly.It will take years to erode IE’s market share… but it will eventually happen. Make good competing products and have some patience… market will take care of itself. No need for Government to intervene.
And your right, Government probably shouldn’t interfere in something like this which is more of a Marketing issue.
But if, lets say, Microsoft started actively making it a problem to get or use other browsers, then the EU would have a valid point. I’m sure microsoft is very aware that IE is being replaced so they are doing what they can to try and keep their hold. Commercials, advertisements online, studies, etc. If Microsoft is willing to fight for their browser, the other browsers need to do so too.
CaptainZM and thats what is happening here. Microsoft is indirectly hindering the growth of other browsers by breaking the web (so that it wont work as expected on other standard complaint web browsers).
Microsoft has a right to include a browser of their choice in the OS. But that right ceases to exist when it combined with their monopolistic presence somehow hinders open and free competition.
Thats the point I have been trying to get across.
“This is something you just made up. Fx, Chrome and Safari didnâ€™t eat away Operaâ€™s marketshare. Itâ€™s currently larger than what it was 2-3 years ago.
In fact when Chrome was released Fx and Ieâ€™s market share went down where as Operaâ€™s remained constant (infact according to Statcounter it actually increased).”
Okay let me explain with some numbers from
Dec 08 Opera’s market share 2.4%
June 09 Opera’s market share 2.1%
That’s little less than 8.5% decrease in market share. Also, you do understand the fact that losing potential user base to news browsers that popped up yesterday = losing market share, right?
8.5% decrease in market share? That is a 0.3% decrease in market share.
And these stats don’t tally with internal Opera stats.
And statcounter corroborates this.
July 1, 08 : 1.46%
July 1, 09 : 2.58%
“Forget about being aware of alternative browsers, there are a lot of people who donâ€™t know what a browser is. I have seen such people in my college (yes, in an engineering college).”
So why do you think people like these deserve a Firefox or Opera or a W3C standard compliant browser? Man, I would like to stop here. I am not supporting IE or Microsoft here. All I am saying is they are free to bundle their software in their OS. What’s more stupid and irritating is the fact EU and Opera is pissed off because Microsoft decided to remove IE from their OS. They knew it would end up messy right from day 1 and still went ahead with their coercion.
You obviously are fine with monopoly and don’t share the same vision. I want to see a open and free web while you fail to understand its importance (even after me explaining it several times) and why a broken web hurts other web browsers.
“Yes, MS does have a right to bundle a browser with their OS.”
That’s exactly what I am talking about. They were just exercising their right. Now EU has its own laws. It wanted Microsoft to do something about IE. So IE was removed. May be it’s EU’s right to say Microsoft cannot bundle IE in its OS (which is pretty stupid but let’s not even get into it)… so Microsoft removed it. As simple as that. Now you can flex its muscle again and coerce all computer vendors (Sony,HP,Dell,Lenovo etc) to bundle Opera or whatever browser EU likes.
If you look back, all I said was I fully support Microsoft’s move to unbundle IE from OS.
“@indyan I love what Microsoft did! Brilliant move. Opera should make a better browser instead of crying and whining to EU!”
We’ve come a full circle and hopefully this argument will end here.Now if you still have any problem with that tweet, then probably there is REALLY no point in discussing this anymore.
My full statement is : MS has a right to include a browser of a choice provided it doesn’t hurt free and open competition (by the virtue of their monopolistic position).
You repeatedly seem to ignore the real concern. In so many tweets and so many replies you havent addressed the real issue. Instead you have harped on MS’s right to include a browser of their choice. Yes, it is their right. But ensuring a Open Web is more important.
And by support MS’s move (calling is a brilliant move) you are supporting the Monopoly who is misusing its position to deter free competition.
Whats more surprising is that by terming MS’ cheap move to win popular opinion you are siding with corporate politics.
Anyway, you are yet to explain why you believe Opera’s claim (supported by Mozilla, Google, Nokia, Sun, Adobe etc) that MS is hurting open web is wrong. in fact you haven’t even touched the core concerns raised by Opera in the antitrust complaint. Nor have you replied to the points I made in this blogpost or the issues raised by Channel register article.
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Oops, sorry about the 8.5% figure. Stats I took from w3c link because you said they are the lords of the web who decide what’s good for web and what’s not good for web. If Opera’s market share is increasing, well and fine. Good for them. Like I said, I was a huge Opera fan until Firefox, Chrome and Safari popped up. I switched to Firefox in a heartbeat because of various reasons.
I am not sure why you seem to hate W3C, but yeah in a way they are the lord of the web as they decide on the framework of the web. And W3C consists of all the browser manufacturers.
However, those stats collected only from a single website (W3schools). Obviously data from a single website isn’t a very good indicator of web trends.
wow.. you still keep harping the same point again and again and again…. the problem was Microsoft bundling IE because it destroys your so called fair and free web (it’s funny when someone calls internet fair and free, anyway that’s not the point of this discussion), Microsoft removed it from OS. Now why is Opera crying out loud again? Why did EU agree when Microsoft removed Media player from Windows for EU countries? What’s the problem with removing now? Force the EU PC manufactures to bundle Firefox or Safari or Opera or any standards compliant browser,after all it’s EU land. How is removing IE from Windows Microsoft’s problem?
I was clearly calling it free and fair with respect to Open Web vision. It’s funny how a tech enthusiast like you can’t grasp the larger picture.
When EU asked MS to remove WMP, they simply released a new version without WMP and continued selling the one with WMP. So, obviously there weren’t many takers for WMP.
I have already explained why this is just a clever ploy and wont solve the problem. You can also read the Channel Register article. Go through it and I am sure you would know why.
MS has abused its position in the past and there isnt any reason to believe it wont again (look at what it did with Alan Wake yesterday).
The EU seems too concerned about MS/WMP/IE. What about Apple? Isn’t this the true monopolistic company? Gaining market share on proprietary hardware/software? AT&T + iPhone anyone?
Apple iPhone isn’t yet a monopoly. Ms controls more than 90% of the desktop market.
Also even if you are a monopoly, you will be fine till you cause hinder competition by the virtue of your monopolistic position. Google is a monpoly and the EU is also looking at its activities closely.