The recent shenanigans between the EU and Microsoft have been rather tedious; it's taken a long time for anything to happen, really, and Microsoft has even had to cancel a hearing once. However, with the recent introduction of Windows 7 E, many thought that the trouble would be over... but they were wrong. Nope, according to Ars Technica, the EU is still set on pursuing their anti-trust case with the Redmond company, despite them going out of their way to create a new SKU just for the region.
Windows 7 E, if you haven't heard, is a separate version of Microsoft's latest operating system that will not include Internet Explorer 8, due to the European Union complaining that by including the browser, they were being unfair to third party developers. Initially the Union was glad that OEMs could choose to offer multiple browsers, as opposed to just having IE8, however they've declared that they intend to press forward with the case. Apparently, they will be looking for a solution that allows customers to have a "genuine consumer choice". They had this to say:
"The European Commission notes with interest Microsoft's announcement of its plans for Windows 7, and in particular of the apparent separation of Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows in the EEA. The Commission will shortly decide in the pending browser tying antitrust case whether or not Microsoft's conduct from 1996 to date has been abusive and, if so, what remedy would be necessary to create genuine consumer choice and address the anticompetitive effects of Microsoft's long-standing conduct. In terms of potential remedies if the Commission were to find that Microsoft had committed an abuse, the Commission has suggested that consumers should be offered a choice of browser, not that Windows should be supplied without a browser at all."
The third parties who would be potentially affected by this also had something to say. The company Opera, famous for their browser of the same name, sent Ars Technica an email stating the following:
"We note with interest that Microsoft now seems capable of separating IE from Windows. However, we do not believe that Microsoft's move will restore competition for desktop browsers. Most users get their operating systems from the OEM channel and Microsoft will recommend that OEMs pre-install IE8. As such, users are unlikely to be given a genuine choice of browsers. We believe that the idea of a 'ballot screen' is better: when going online, users will be asked which browser(s) they prefer to use. The browser(s) of choice will the painlessly be installed and ready for use."
Despite the work that Microsoft has done to attempt to please the EU, they're still in trouble for it, so the case will continue on. What will really be interesting is seeing whether or not this same case will be filed with other computer suppliers, such as Apple, who bundle their Safari web browser with the Mac OS X. With their latest addition, Snow Leopard, due out in September, keep an eye out about any dust kicked up about this, although going by past trends we're doubtful anything will happen.
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