Windows RT browser restrictions okay, says EU

Earlier this year, Mozilla made it clear that it did not like the fact that Microsoft kept rival web browsers, like Mozilla's own Firefox, from running on Windows RT-based devices while in desktop mode. Now it looks like one government group won't make much of this issue.

PC World reports that in a statement earlier this week, the European Competition Commission division of the European Union said it would not make Microsoft open up Windows RT to other web browsers. Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s head antitrust official, said:

We have looked at Windows RT, and on the basis of our investigation so far, there are no grounds to pursue further investigation on this particular issue. But we will closely monitor all the elements of the Windows software and how Microsoft complies to [its] commitments.

This decision will not likely please Mozilla, who said several months ago, "By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform. This matters for users of today’s tablets and tomorrow’s PCs."

While the EU won't make Microsoft open up Windows RT, it still plans to go after the company for failing to offer European users of older versions of Windows a web browser menu selection, as Microsoft agreed to do in 2009.

Source: PC World | Image via Microsoft

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31 Comments

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I think the EU just cemented my decision not to buy any Windows 8 tablet, I don't want to be stuck with IE, thanks.

Javik said,
I think the EU just cemented my decision not to buy any Windows 8 tablet, I don't want to be stuck with IE, thanks.

Windows 8 is not Windows RT.

Javik said,
I think the EU just cemented my decision not to buy any Windows 8 tablet, I don't want to be stuck with IE, thanks.

Only Windows RT is limited to IE. Any x86-based Windows 8 tablet will run your choice of browser.

This is not a specific browser issue, its a case of all software must cone from the windows store and go through certification. All apps will be sandboxed and safe. No apps can be installed direct to desktop (so Firefox can't simply be recompiled to run on arm). No one is preventing browser choice, its just that the browsers will have to be 'modern apps'.

yeoo_andy_ni said,
They shouldn't have to, for RT anyway, as Google and Apple don't have to open up Android and iOS respectively. End of.

Google doesn't "have to" open up Android because it's already pretty open. Not really sure how Android could get much more open (aside from Open-sourcing the Google products like Gmail).

Kushan said,

Google doesn't "have to" open up Android because it's already pretty open. Not really sure how Android could get much more open (aside from Open-sourcing the Google products like Gmail).


...And open sourcing Android. I know they release the source code for it, but a truely open source project opens up the entire development and allows absolutely anyone to contribute. But Google can never do that because the carriers want secrecy.

Ridiculous. Windows RT is capable of supported Metro Style enabled Desktop Browsers (which Microsoft are now calling a "new experience enabled desktop browser". Oh dear...)! iOS and Windows RT users deserve browser choice. Microsoft needs to find a way to allow new experience enabled desktop browsers without enabling other desktop apps to be installed.

Meph said,
Ridiculous. Windows RT is capable of supported Metro Style enabled Desktop Browsers (which Microsoft are now calling a "new experience enabled desktop browser". Oh dear...)! iOS and Windows RT users deserve browser choice. Microsoft needs to find a way to allow new experience enabled desktop browsers without enabling other desktop apps to be installed.

MS allows browsers, they dont allow any non-MS critical apps to access the desktop api's.
If Mozilla or Google create their webkit/gecko engine in a WinRT language. They are free to do so and release this app to the store.

Shadowzz said,

MS allows browsers, they dont allow any non-MS critical apps to access the desktop api's.
If Mozilla or Google create their webkit/gecko engine in a WinRT language. They are free to do so and release this app to the store.

I don't think you understand how Web browsers in the Metro environment work. See this document:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?linkid=243079

well you can't say Windows RT has a monopoly power to abuse as the market share is miniscule right now since you know, it is another closed platform OS according to MS, its not your normal windows...

neufuse said,
well you can't say Windows RT has a monopoly power to abuse as the market share is miniscule right now since you know, it is another closed platform OS according to MS, its not your normal windows...

Competition laws exist to prevent a company with significant influence from abusing it to adversely affect competition - that includes markets for which the company is not traditionally associated. For example, Mercedes could move into car insurance and use their significant influence to pressure vendors into only offering their services - so even though Mercedes has no history of market dominance in the insurance market they can still be guilty of anti-competitive practices.

The opinion by the European Commissioner here is that the lack of browser choice on Windows RT is not detrimental to the market, rather than due to Microsoft being a newcomer to the tablet market as you suggest.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Competition laws exist to prevent a company with significant influence from abusing it to adversely affect competition - that includes markets for which the company is not traditionally associated. For example, Mercedes could move into car insurance and use their significant influence to pressure vendors into only offering their services - so even though Mercedes has no history of market dominance in the insurance market they can still be guilty of anti-competitive practices.

The opinion by the European Commissioner here is that the lack of browser choice on Windows RT is not detrimental to the market, rather than due to Microsoft being a newcomer to the tablet market as you suggest.


This, nice comparison (a rarity on the interwebs)
MS is new, and no vision of them becoming the most dominant player in the tablet market (any time soon) plus considering Android and iOS been dominating their sections off and on, using the same bussiness practises (also Android does not come with a browser ballot).

Besides that they are free to create their browser with WinRT available coding languages. From native to HTML, they're free to make a metro app out of it. (unlike on iOS)

theyarecomingforyou said,

Competition laws exist to prevent a company with significant influence from abusing it to adversely affect competition - that includes markets for which the company is not traditionally associated. For example, Mercedes could move into car insurance and use their significant influence to pressure vendors into only offering their services - so even though Mercedes has no history of market dominance in the insurance market they can still be guilty of anti-competitive practices.

The opinion by the European Commissioner here is that the lack of browser choice on Windows RT is not detrimental to the market, rather than due to Microsoft being a newcomer to the tablet market as you suggest.

I wasn't suggesting MS was a newcomer to the tablet market, heck MS has been in the tablet market since 2001... I was just suggesting that Windows RT is a different product and has virtually no market share compared to the full blown windows... if the anti-trust argument worked on all versions of windows, windows phone being a down port of windows should of also had a ballot screen..

Well Windows RT is their equivalent of iOS and they don't have to be open. If RT has to be open, then so should iOS.

For the tinkerers there are always Android tablets and Windows 8 PCs.

mrp04 said,
Well Windows RT is their equivalent of iOS and they don't have to be open. If RT has to be open, then so should iOS.

For the tinkerers there are always Android tablets and Windows 8 PCs.


Someone will find a way to hack WinRT to allow Win32API access.

ahhell said,
The EU is about as consistent as the weather. What a bunch of clowns.

Yeah, it seems like with this sort of stuff, they just arbitrarily make up laws and issue fines as they go.

Chugworth said,

Yeah, it seems like with this sort of stuff, they just arbitrarily make up laws and issue fines as they go.

Or it could be because Windows RT has 0% marketshare right now so Microsoft can do what they want? Just because it has "Windows" in the name doesn't mean it's the same Windows as Desktop Windows.

ahhell said,
The EU is about as consistent as the weather. What a bunch of clowns.

No, it's pretty much you failing to understand what this is really about.

ahhell said,
The EU is about as consistent as the weather. What a bunch of clowns.

You and that Chugworth dude are funny.
EU actually invests effort and time to in a (usually) proper way investigate if a company is not abusing its position to overthrow competitors and gain a monopoly in a market.
I also do not agree with all the cases they fight. (It isnt all about MS cases, they also have to allow take-overs from companies within the EU taking over another company, or foreign companies taking over EU companies) and there's a dozen more things they do.
They are actually in many cases doing this to defend the consumer. Albeit that their argumentation is sometimes ridiculous and flawed, does not mean they're not on their goal.
They've investigated WinRT with the IE thing and seem to've come to a conclusion.
Which should be easy considering 2 of the complaintents (Mozilla/Google) develop their own OS with their own browser with no browser ballot (hypocrite much, well not really from Google, but it surely is hypocrite to the bone from Mozilla)

ahhell said,
The EU is about as consistent as the weather. What a bunch of clowns.

Good thing the weather tends to be pretty consistent in most places.

Dot Matrix said,
Good. If Microsoft needs to open up, than so too, should Apple.

WHAT are you on about! last time i looked i have Chrome on my iPad.

th3r3turn said,

WHAT are you on about! last time i looked i have Chrome on my iPad.

Actually, you don't. You basically have Safari skinned to look like Chrome. It is not Google's version of WebKit and it's not Google V8 JavaScript engine. Apple do not allow third-party web browsers on their platforms because they traditionally execute code in an abstraction layer (a JavaScript VM) which is seen as a security risk - but IMO also an opportunity to gain/retain market share. Microsofts position is no different in this case.

The exception is Opera Mobile, they do all the execution on their servers, and deliver the content to the device (with some tricks to get around interactive elements).

th3r3turn said,

WHAT are you on about! last time i looked i have Chrome on my iPad.

But Safari is default, and Apple aren't forced to provide alternative browser options.

noleafclover said,

Actually, you don't. You basically have Safari skinned to look like Chrome. It is not Google's version of WebKit and it's not Google V8 JavaScript engine. Apple do not allow third-party web browsers on their platforms because they traditionally execute code in an abstraction layer (a JavaScript VM) which is seen as a security risk - but IMO also an opportunity to gain/retain market share. Microsofts position is no different in this case.

The exception is Opera Mobile, they do all the execution on their servers, and deliver the content to the device (with some tricks to get around interactive elements).

Really dam i thought it as a real chrome install. Thanks for the lesson!

noleafclover said,

The exception is Opera Mobile, they do all the execution on their servers, and deliver the content to the device (with some tricks to get around interactive elements).

No, It does only some of the execution on servers and that's only if you turn on opera turbo. Turn it off and you get a normal browser.

Opera Mini is the one doing 100% of the executions on servers.

eddman said,

No, It does only some of the execution on servers and that's only if you turn on opera turbo. Turn it off and you get a normal browser.

Opera Mini is the one doing 100% of the executions on servers.


And Opera is releasing the same browser for WinRT that does the execution on their servers.
One of the rare few times it wasnt Opera challenging MS so brutally for their IE intergration (last time it was Mozilla, Opera and Sun).
And why isnt Google mentioned? Mozilla and Google together went after MS through the EU.

eddman said,

No, It does only some of the execution on servers and that's only if you turn on opera turbo. Turn it off and you get a normal browser.

Opera Mini is the one doing 100% of the executions on servers.


Last I check Opera on iOS sure never used the default webview, easy to tell since the rendering was crap compared to the same site in Safari.

eddman said,

No, It does only some of the execution on servers and that's only if you turn on opera turbo. Turn it off and you get a normal browser.

Opera Mini is the one doing 100% of the executions on servers.

Yep, on iOS Opera does 100% of the execution on their servers - of course, I meant Opera Mini