Rivals challenge Microsoft browser settlement

Three rivals of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser are seeking last minute changes to a proposal, that would see new users of Windows presented with a ballot screen of the top five browsers. Rivals believe that the current ballot screen proposal still gives Internet Explorer an unfair advantage.

After a complaint from the makers of the Opera web browser, the European Commission decided in January that Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows constituted an abuse of their dominant market position. In October, the Redmond-based company proposed a so-called browser "ballot screen", which would display a list of the top five browsers to consumers when they boot a new computer for the first time.

The commission has asked Microsoft's rivals, who still appear to be unhappy with the proposal, to comment on the company's offer by Monday.

Oslo-based Opera believes that the ballot should be displayed on a screen that does not contain the Microsoft logo. "It would be like having an election ballot where the name or logo of one candidate is displayed separately, prominently up in the corner of the ballot," said Mr. Lie, chief technology officer at Opera. "You wouldn't want that."

Opera also want Microsoft to prevent Windows from displaying the standard security warnings that occur when users download software from the Internet.

Mozilla, the creators of Firefox, are concerned about the ballot screen's design. Displayed within an Internet Explorer window, the screen will list the five most popular browsers in alphabetical order from left to right, giving first spot to Apple's Safari. Jenny Boriss, a Mozilla designer, criticized the display in a post on October 16th, writing, "Windows users presented with the current design will tend to make only two choices: Internet Explorer because they are familiar with it, or Safari because it is the first item." She went on to suggest that the browsers be displayed randomly.

Mr. Lie has said Google, Mozilla and Opera will send separate letters to the commission, detailing their requests for changes.

European competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, has said she will take Microsoft to court should they fail to agree to a fair settlement. However, Mrs. Kroes, who is likely to step down at the end of the year, has said she would prefer to settle open cases before leaving.

According to research firm Net Applications, Internet Explorer current has a 67 percent share of the browser market, following by Firefox with 24 percent. Apple's Safari has 4.4 percent, Google's Chrome 3.5 percent and Opera just 2 percent.

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Growled said,
That goodness I live in the US and don't have to tolerate all that nonsense.

You are giving Americans a bad name with your ignorance.

FYI: The US has the exact same antitrust laws as Europe:

http://www.justice.gov/atr/

Yes, even the Republicans realize that you can't have a market without laws. Laws are there to protect the free market.

They should just give you one option "Use Internet Viewer to download a browser" where Internet Viewer is really just Internet Explorer.

Those suggestions are interesting but what about the fact that you can cancel or close the ballot screen, leaving IE enabled on the system?

The browser ballot screen should not be displayed in HTML, it should be a stand-alone app that can be run with NO browser installed on the system.

What do you mean "or"? These concepts are not mutually exclusive, the above suggestion does not prevent you from exercising your free will, it merely removes additional influences that may introduce a bias. The point of the settlement is to make browser selection as impartial as possible.

HalcyonX12 said,
Those suggestions are interesting but what about the fact that you can cancel or close the ballot screen, leaving IE enabled on the system?

The browser ballot screen should not be displayed in HTML, it should be a stand-alone app that can be run with NO browser installed on the system.

I completely agree. It's like this ridiculous crap with how I have to use the Windows task bar in order to get to the commands necessary to install and set to default a different shell program if I want to use one. Why should Microsoft be allowed to let the Start menu influence my choice of shell before I have an opportunity to see all the different options out there?

I didn't even know about Mac-style GUI conversion kits for Windows XP until years after the OS's release! This is horribly unfair, not only to the taskbar's competition, but also to the hobbyist programmers out there who've made these alternate shells for free. Why is Microsoft trying to stifle creativity?

HalcyonX12 said,
What do you mean "or"? These concepts are not mutually exclusive, the above suggestion does not prevent you from exercising your free will, it merely removes additional influences that may introduce a bias. The point of the settlement is to make browser selection as impartial as possible.

Is it really the point of the settlement? So, now MS must undertake a huge scientific research to study which ballot layout results in the most impartial distribution? And how would you define impartiality? What are your Bayesian priors going to be? If 3 out of 4 people choose IE, and at the same time IE has 75% market share - is it partial or impartial according to you?

Don't overcomplicate, MS gave a reasonable choice to consumers with the ballot screen.

@Joshie: I realize you're being pedantic, but you do have a point. If it were raised in court that MS was preventing shell competition, it probably would be tried as a separate issue based on how such competition was being stifled. So far nobody seems to care, but you could go ahead and take the issue to court if you wanted to. It's possible that it may make a difference if those applications were previously separate from the OS or not. Maybe the shell would not be an issue, but MS's new antivirus software would. But it's also possible that supported file formats, security software, graphics tools, supported scripting languages, etc, could all be considered as having an unfair advantage. It depends on who wants to take it to court and their reason.

@Max1978: It's not really up to MS to decide their own punishment. The government must serve its citizens, not corporations.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain how it's somehow bad for a 'market' for Microsoft to follow standard operating procedure and include a 'default' browser (something every single OS available today does) that doesn't even cost the consumer money in the first place.

In fact, I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how web browsers are a market. None of them cost anything. It's a bunch of freeware. I've never heard of competition between freebies before.

Frankly, the web browser has become a standard element of the operating system, just as basic as a program manager or terminal. So could someone please tell me--please--how this is ANY different from if the developers of Total Commander decided to approach the EU and complain about Windows Explorer being the default file manager?

I'm imagining them arguing about how Microsoft unfairly promotes explorer.exe by requiring them to use it to navigate to wherever Total Commander is downloaded.

Joshie said,
I'm still waiting for someone to explain how it's somehow bad for a 'market' for Microsoft to follow standard operating procedure and include a 'default' browser (something every single OS available today does) that doesn't even cost the consumer money in the first place.

It costs money.

And it's not necessarily bad. But Microsoft made it bad because they at the same time made a conscious effort to prevent other browsers from being used by bullying OEMs, using Windows-proprietary stuff in IE, etc.

Not to say I told you so, but I did :P Displaying the ballot screen in IE is promoting their own browser. Tut tut MS, when will you learn that you can only get away with crap like that in the US where the doj cares nothing for competition laws?

OMG GOD DAMN IT UGH THIS SH*T IS SERIOUSLY ****ING ME OFF. THE RETARDED COMPANIES DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO SO THEY ARE THROWING A BITCH FIT, GET A LIFE, MICROSOFT MAKES WINDOWS THUS THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO PUT WHATEVER BROWSER THEY WANT WITH IT, YOU WANT THE OTHER BROWSER JUST GO AND GET IT, MSFT DOES NOT PUT A GUN TO YOUR HEAD SAYING USE IE, THIS IS ALL JUST CRYBABY CRAP

Screw you Opera, just because hardly anyone wants to use your rubbish browser.
Mozilla have managed to gain a substantial portion of the browser market,so it MUST be that your software sucks. People even want to use Google Chrome over Opera

akav0id said,
Screw you Opera, just because hardly anyone wants to use your rubbish browser.

Actually in some european countries Opera has a higher marketshare than IE Good luck next time...

You're gonna have to back that up kiddo. There aren't any readily available statistics supporting that claim. Russia seems to have the highest score for Opera, and it still doesn't beat IE.

Joshie said,
You're gonna have to back that up kiddo. There aren't any readily available statistics supporting that claim. Russia seems to have the highest score for Opera, and it still doesn't beat IE.


RTFA

Err, I was directing that at LTP. I didn't bother quoting his post because I thought it would be intuitive after he said "Opera has a higher marketshare" and I said "it still doesn't beat IE". But hey, I mean, reading comprehension, blah blah blah...

I think this would make IE competitors happy:

A ballot screen with no IE at all. Or with no IE picture and the text about IE is white on white.

No?

Definition of a monopoly:

1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices. Compare duopoly, oligopoly.
2. an exclusive privilege to carry on a business, traffic, or service, granted by a government.
3. the exclusive possession or control of something.
4. something that is the subject of such control, as a commodity or service.
5. a company or group that has such control.
6. the market condition that exists when there is only one seller.

I don't see Microsoft as meeting any of the conditions above. They have exclusive control over their own product (Windows) but as a consumer you are not forced in any way to use Windows as your OS or IE as your browser. They are the market leader in the OS and browser world and as such should be held to a standard of not being anti-competetive i.e. not locking out competition. There are so many options available to us as PC users, whether you use Windows or not, I can't see how anyone can honestly claim that MS is a monopoly. Market leader, yes. Monopoly, no.

Thank you! I don't seem to understand the "monopoly" term being slapped all over the place, when there are tons of choices out there as far as browsers go. It seems to me Opera especially is playing the "if people don't use my product then it's because the other guys are bullies"?

I look forward to the day APPL will allow third parties to sync flawlessly witht their "media-pods"...afterall we can call them a monopoly in the PMP market? No?

Opera are a monopoly on the Nintendo Wii and DS, and according to wikipedia:

"Approximately 40 million mobile phones have shipped with Opera pre-installed"

And to top it all off, they still charge for the smartphone version which isn't bundled.

seb5150 said,
3. the exclusive possession or control of something.

I believe controlling a market, that is having a controlling share is the definition of a monopoly. But don't forgot that MS has a history of abusing that controlling share to penetrate other markets, such as the online search, indirectly via the browser market.

LoveThePenguin said,
I believe controlling a market, that is having a controlling share is the definition of a monopoly. But don't forgot that MS has a history of abusing that controlling share to penetrate other markets, such as the online search, indirectly via the browser market.


Wrong. You've completely misinterpreted (3). It's referring to possession or control of a resource. The market is not a resource that Microsoft has exclusive access to.

I'm sure you've heard the popular example before: owning the only oasis in a desert and grossly overcharging for a drink of water.

Who cares. The EU commission is operating without a legal mandate since the 31st of October anyway.
Anything Kroes decides now can be fought as an illegal act because officially she's no longer a commissioner.

Microsoft is their meal ticket.

Why bite the hand that feeds you, make your browser better, then let the consumer make a choice.

I don't think there's enough cheese in the whole world to go with Opera's whining. The more they cry over IE the more confident I am that their brower can't sell itself.

They want to be able to control Microsoft and what they do to thier OS. Just like all the other companies who can not comete with MS.

"Opera also want Microsoft to prevent Windows from displaying the standard security warnings that occur when users download software from the Internet."

They got to be kidding. Do they want MS to disable all security too, why don't they ask to have their engineers make Windows instead. This is pushing it, no matter what the solution they don't seem satisfied maybe they simply want Windows banned from EU.

The ads are off, Windows if you install it yourself won't have those key apps like mail, uhh though it does have WMP and the photo viewer, so I guess only Mail is missing now?

Anyways, anyone who gets windows with a new PC will have the missing apps installed by the OEM, in the end you get everything.

LoveThePenguin said,
Windows has never come with cool programs, even when it didn't have a monopoly share of the market.

Yeah but the whole working out of the box with whatever brand of hardware I choose is worth a lot. Can't say that for OSX or any Linux distro I've yet tried. I don't know what your definition of "cool" is but simplicity and compatibility is worth a lot to most people. Easily worth the $99 I spent on Windows.

LoveThePenguin said,
Windows has never come with cool programs, even when it didn't have a monopoly share of the market.

also Media Center is pretty cool

Mozilla: "Windows users presented with the current design will tend to make only two choices: Internet Explorer because they are familiar with it, or Safari because it is the first item."

Of course people are going to use Internet Explorer if they are familiar with it cos they know it works for them! The standard user will simply choose IE as they are used to it! I use Firefox but what she has said there is completely out of order!

I think this is some kind of weird reverse conspiracy to get more people to switch IE. Mozilla and Opera are demanding things that are just ridiculous and they're starting to irritate their own users now. Disable security warnings? Rubbish. This is simply a group of companies in an industry colluding to harm a competitor. It's antitrust behavior plain and simple.

This is stupid.... They do this to Microsoft cause windows is 90% of the market. But what do you expect? I buy a new windows 7 computer. Microsoft has to put SOME KIND of browser on it to begin with.... I can't download chrome, or firefox, or others, with out a browser..... So what do they expect... MS to put Safari on ever windows so people can download something else if wanted?

It really hasn't come as much of a surprise that those who opposed Microsoft at the beginning and enjoyed success want more and are now acting in an unreasonable manner to jack themselves into the prominent position. Opera's suggestion of no security warnings is ludicrous, and what are Mozilla going to do when a randomisation puts IE at the front, cry out that Microsoft's method gives more weight to Internet Explorer?

I'm hoping that the EU will make a rational decision by ignoring Opera and accepting the listings in alphabetical order, it's the fairest method of doing it from what I can see.

Wonder if Opera are going to change their name to A-Opera or something similar to get to the front of the list?

These people have to be the biggest crybabies and sore losers I've ever heard of. Since they can't make a dent in the browser market, they have to bitch and moan to the higher-ups to force Microsoft to alter THEIR OWN PRODUCT? What a joke. In every other field of business, competitors simply adapt and use their skills to overcome the challenges to prove their product is superior. Whining to governments and judges like crybabies only makes the company look desperate and will only push people away. Look at how negatively people react to Apple's simple little Mac vs. PC commercials! Do you think people will have the patience to deal with Opera's snivelling little crying game over a damn browser? I doubt it. Most people don't even care what they use. But those that do certainly don't want to be involved with a company that has no backbone.

Let's not forget about Symantec and McAfee and their glorious quest to have PatchGuard made less capable because they're too lazy to write proper code.

iamwhoiam said,
Let's not forget about Symantec and McAfee and their glorious quest to have PatchGuard made less capable because they're too lazy to write proper code.

what was so amazing about that whole court thing, was that other AV companies fully worked around the patchguard but somehow the courts felt it was still unfair

what really gets me is this

"Opera also want Microsoft to prevent Windows from displaying the standard security warnings that occur when users download software from the Internet."

so MS can't even do security now? seriosuly wtf is up with that?

and the guys name is Mr. Lie? *LOL*

I personally think Apple is going down the same path MS did, everything is bundled with OSX anymore (yes bundled, not forced, bundled is the key word here) so people who just want it to work use iPhoto, iTunes, Quicktime, Safari... yeah kinda hindering competition there too wouldnt you think? If MS was yelled at for bundleing media player (which um it has had there since windows 3.1) why is Apple allowed to do the same thing under the guise of "were not a monoploy so its ok for us, but not for you, but then we will make fun of you for not having it"

statm1 said,
But apple isnt a market leader. They can bundle the kitchen sink for all any governmental body cares.


iPhone and iPod are market leaders, and they bundle safari, and iTunes

statm1 said,
But apple isnt a market leader. They can bundle the kitchen sink for all any governmental body cares.


No the Gov'ts only care when Opera, Apple, Mozilla, [insert whiny company here] start crying about how unfair thier life is. Honestly I am sick and tired of hearing about this browser ballot/war crap.

Opera has its uses, mostly dust collection for me. IE is used when some website is written ONLY for IE (some of the Govt sites I visit). Safari, only on my touch, Firefox for everything. Someone will say that I am retarded, but each person has thier own choice of browser. Go get the bloody browser you want to run and run it. My parents don't need sanything but IE. FF is to confusing for them.

Apple is getting away wiht the same crap that MS is getting hammered for, regardless of what you say. Where are my stripped down versions of OSX? I would say that my mac was bundled with the same things I expect in an OS, whether Windows, Linux, or Mac. Either all OSes must offer a ballot screen for a browser, media player, picture editor, movie player, mail program, contact manager, mindless games option, and every other option, or no one has to. Yes that would be impossible to do........... and ornerous on the end user, but lets be fair to these mega companies that work easy for our money.

She went on to suggest that the browsers be displayed randomly.


Yeah, "randomly", like Firefox first? This has really crossed a line over the last few years from obnoxious to absurd. You can't win there apparently.

Who's getting tired of Opera's crying? Can't they see that this is putting them in a bad light. I am glad I do not use their browser. Granted I use firefox, but I would use IE over Opera anyday.

I'm just about sick of this. EU should stop treating people like idiots and as if they can't download another browser should they so wish.

No what the EU should do is stop catering to whiners and giving anyone that can't make a decent product(i.e. Opera) a way to punish the market leader for being successful. (IE killed Netscape before it was bundled with Windows 95.)

IMO the EU should at the most ask that the ballot box not be shown in a IE window. And that's it. The list should be random on each view as well. If those two things aren't enough and they start asking for more, then this has become stupid.

statm1 said,
No what the EU should do is stop catering to whiners and giving anyone that can't make a decent product(i.e. Opera) a way to punish the market leader for being successful.
I have no problem with "whining" as long as there's a good cause for it. I have very little doubt that IE's share has been so high so far due to it being bundled in Windows. That's not necessarily a measure of success, though. I don't agree with Microsoft being forced to offer a choice screen, but I also don't like their self-fulfilling prophecy of shoving IE into Windows that gives a lot of companies a convenient excuse not to have their Web resources, internal or external, not being kosher with all browsers. Large market-share percentage of IE users stifles web development and creates more work than necessary for web creators.

statm1 said,
(IE killed Netscape before it was bundled with Windows 95.)

Uh, no. It didn't. They didn't even have equal market share until around 98.

I am also missing "Snow Leopard N" (without iTunes) :D

No but seriously I think opera should start to get a life, or change their company name to AAOpera. This way they would be first on the ballot screen.

I use firefox, but, since WINDOWS is a MICROSOFT product, they should be allowed to install anything on THEIR operating system that they want to! If Apple and the rest don't like it, then create an OS to compete.....oh wait, Apple does! I wonder if MS "requires" Apple to tell apple OS users that they can download and install IE instead of Safari? LOL...yeah right.

_aLfa_ said,
Ignorance is bliss. (:

Agreed. IE was developed for the Apple platform from '96 to '03, and was the default browser on MacOS and OS X for the final five years of development.

Whatever next, McDonalds forced to offer Burger King menus in their own stores?
Apple shops forced to offer Windows PC's? General Motors forced to display Ford logos as well as their own on cars?

Windows is the only (commercial) operating system forced to do this, Apple aren't and neither are the supported versions of Linux flavours that cost money.

Safari also comes with OS X, but no-one is complaining there!

Neobond said,
Whatever next, McDonalds forced to offer Burger King menus in their own stores?
Apple shops forced to offer Windows PC's? General Motors forced to display Ford logos as well as their own on cars?

Windows is the only (commercial) operating system forced to do this, Apple aren't and neither are the supported versions of Linux flavours that cost money.

Safari also comes with OS X, but no-one is complaining there!


oh just wait, someone will say "BUT MICROSOFT IS A MONOPOLY!"

Like I said on the forum topic about this..

Its a special privilage for Market leaders to make consessions to its less capable competitors. Its simple, Apple is not a market leader so they still have complete control over their products. When you become a marketleader everyone of their competitors have the right to complain and if your complaining to the EU you typically get your way.

Pc_Madness said,
Microsoft is a monopoly. I can't believe I have to point that out to the administrator of Neowin. :


MS has technically not been a monopoly by definition for years now, increased competition, vast drops in IE and WMP market share... they are under close scrutiny of multiple governments and their actions are watched closely, and competition has drastically increased

neufuse said,
MS has technically not been a monopoly by definition for years now, increased competition, vast drops in IE and WMP market share... they are under close scrutiny of multiple governments and their actions are watched closely, and competition has drastically increased

oh noes, someone spoke the truth

on a sidenote
The only company making a reasonable demand for once is Opera, maybe their whine n complain PR machine proved itself to be a failure
Or maybe they should spend some of their own money promoting their products so that they're not outdone by brand new browsers such as Chrome eh?

statm1 said,
Like I said on the forum topic about this..

Its a special privilage for Market leaders to make consessions to its less capable competitors. Its simple, Apple is not a market leader so they still have complete control over their products. When you become a marketleader everyone of their competitors have the right to complain and if your complaining to the EU you typically get your way.


iPhone and iPod arn't market leaders huh? they bundle Apple browser and media players... and Apple pretty much forces you to have them...

Windows has always been and still is, in my view, a virtual monopoly. Nothing stops an OEM from selling linux on it's hardwre, look at netbooks. Dell did (maybe they still do?) even tried to sell desktop with it, and you can find desktop from other smaller shops etc.

If this was a true monopoly in the very sense of the word, we'd all be using nothing but MS software for everything. That's just not the case.

Actually, this whole thing will probably go like this.

As long as there is no ballot screen agreement between those whiners, MS will continue to sell their OS without ballot, just as it is. When they *finally* agree on what to do, then something will happen.

neufuse said,

iPhone and iPod arn't market leaders huh? they bundle Apple browser and media players... and Apple pretty much forces you to have them...


Safari isn't a threat, but iTunes locked to iPod and iPhone are going to be a Monopoly target some day. Especially if Apple continues to force all other players out of there and continues to earn a larger market share.

I'm sure there are some online stores and music players that are eyeing Apple up for a Monopoly case.

Opera has a done a wonderful job getting free advertising and having their name dropped all over the place with this effort though. Kudos to them on the creative marketing campaign. I still won't load it though. Chrome is starting to look pretty tempting for a default.

Pc_Madness said,
Microsoft is a monopoly. I can't believe I have to point that out to the administrator of Neowin. :

So Google needs to provide a link to Bing as well.

Neoauld said,
oh noes, someone spoke the truth

on a sidenote
The only company making a reasonable demand for once is Opera, maybe their whine n complain PR machine proved itself to be a failure
Or maybe they should spend some of their own money promoting their products so that they're not outdone by brand new browsers such as Chrome eh?

Yeah, always have to snipe at them huh...

Neobond said,
Whatever next, McDonalds forced to offer Burger King menus in their own stores?

Danger will robinson!.. Here come the inanely unrelated analogies...

Pc_Madness said,
Microsoft is a monopoly. I can't believe I have to point that out to the administrator of Neowin. :

Unfortunately everyone here already knows, but some adamantly continue to repeat the same platitudinal mantra of [i]"But what about Apple, What about Google, What about space weetos..."[/b].

Pc_Madness said,
Microsoft is a monopoly. I can't believe I have to point that out to the administrator of Neowin. :

Isn't it because Microsoft offers the best product available? Why penalise a company for offering good products? If other companies did the same then we would have much more competition. There is a choice out there, it's simply up to the consumer to choose a product what suits them.

Neobond said,
Apple shops forced to offer Windows PC's?

Apple stores already offer Windows PC's. They're called MACS! (They too run Windows)

Neobond said,
Whatever next, McDonalds forced to offer Burger King menus in their own stores?
Apple shops forced to offer Windows PC's? General Motors forced to display Ford logos as well as their own on cars?

Windows is the only (commercial) operating system forced to do this, Apple aren't and neither are the supported versions of Linux flavours that cost money.

Safari also comes with OS X, but no-one is complaining there!

I'm a bit surprised that someone with a user id of 2 manages to know so little about things he talks about.

Apparently Neobond doesn't think Microsoft should have to face the consequences of breaking the law.

Microsoft is the only OS forced to do this by the EC because Microsoft is the only one who broke the law.

This is pretty basic stuff. I can't believe someone didn't understand this basic stuff by now.