EC may force Microsoft to strip IE from Windows

By Justin Mann on January 19, 2009, 2:07 PM
The European Commission is doing the runaround with Microsoft again, claiming that the company has violated European rules with the inclusion of IE on their newer operating systems. The EC, restating claims made numerous times over the past few years, says that Internet Explorer being the de-facto choice for Windows is harmful to innovation and reduces choice. As a result, they are looking at removing IE from Windows for release in the EU.

The EC's solution to the problem is for Microsoft to offer a version of Windows with IE removed, a mirror solution of forcing Microsoft to pull Windows Media Player from a special version of Windows a while ago. Back then, Microsoft offered both the original version and the modified version side by side and found that people preferred the original version, regardless of what the EC felt. That may be the situation again, as even if the EC forces Microsoft to offer a non-IE version of Windows, Microsoft is apparently still given the right to release a full version as well.

Nothing is final just yet, but it is obvious at this point, with IE still being part of Windows by default, that Microsoft has no interest in making IE an uninstallable module.

User Comments: 9

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captain828 said:
One question: how is someone who has just installed Windows would be able to download something, say Firefox, without IE??MS doesn't force anyone to use IE... even the restrictions regarding websites that work only with IE seem to have disappeared.And about the uninstallable module debate, I believe it's not there because of compatibility issues with older software that open IE instead of the default browser.Anyway you can use the "Default Programs" to silence IE for good.
eddie_42 said:
Install packages are generally small files that, when executed, go online and get the rest of the files. You can keep these on a jump-drive or a disc. if you don't already have one, the availability of computers will allow you to get a copy pretty quick. (I've got a firefox 2.0 on my jump drive, install and update to 3 only takes a few min.).I'd assume that people who don't want IE ever installed will find a way to get the starting package onto their drive and running.On note of the article, I have to agree with the EC. They have taken a stance that they want freedom of choices from the technology, not to be pigeon holed. All they are doing now, is defending that position. Even if people don't mind the extra software or prefer it, the governing body is trying to preserve the right to choose your software package.
tengeta said:
Then Apple must rid of Safari and their dock until users install them.Linux must come with no packages other than what starts up enough things on a screen for someone to figure it out from the command line.How about this, the European government is just ridiculous.
Rick said:
At face value, I think this is ridiculous. Your average consumer *wants* an internet browser installed. They *want* a virus scanner. They *want* a photo manager. They *want* their computer to be able to burn CDs and DVDs... etc... Out of the box. I'm not a hardcore 'free market' guy, but if Microsoft wants to include these things with their own OS, then that's awesome. I'm all for it. Stripping Windows of fundamental components is absurd and getting online is indeed a fundamental part of computing these days. The inclusion of IE benefits most consumers and that's the bottom line. With the EC's thinking, how about we get rid of Windows Explorer in favor of shell choice? Maybe we can get rid of Media Center because I might rather have MediaPortal? Let's get rid of Windows Media Player too, because VLC is suffering... I mean, come on... Where does it stop? And if it stops at IE, *why* does it stop there and only there?The potential decision to fine MS because of the inclusion of IE is an arbitrarily conjured idea to penalize a company for improving their product(s). I'm all for increasing competition, but the consumer doesn't win when companies are afraid to bundle additional features with their products.
DarkCobra said:
This indeed is a puzzling issue and Captain828 framed it very well. How does a user gain access to the Internet to obtain or even discover alternative browsers unless an initial stating browser of "some" kind is provided? I personally don't have a problem with MS providing their own in-house I.E. browser for starters. If they can provide links to some of the really junk programs that are bundled with their operating system (junk most people immediately delete), why not also provide desktop links to Firefox, Opera, Chrome, etc. which are far more useful and should satisfy the EC.I further agree with tengeta and Rick in that the EC is being ridiculous when they say that MS is reducing choice when they bundle I.E. with their systems. Isn't I.E. one of the choices? I mean come on! I'm a Firefox fan myself but the best way to really appreciate Firefox is to first have had I.E.! I think MS should provide their browser as a starting point and can provide desktop icons to Firefox, Opera, Chrome, etc. as links to alternative browsers as a reasonable compromise.But the European Commissions attempt to totally remove I.E. as one of the choices is ridiculous and if they continue to try and become the "DECIDERS" of what the rest of the world will receive, haven't they then started to become the very thing they are accusing MS of being? Screw them.
darkshadoe said:
The problem is that Microsoft built the browser into the OS. If they would give the option to be able to uninstall IE completely, then maybe this wouldn't be a problem for the EC.Microsoft would blow other OS' out of the water if only they would let the user set up the OS to the user's preferences and to allow them to get rid of the bloat that Microsoft adds to every OS they put out.
DarkCobra said:
This gets interesting folks. Yes, Microsoft's browser (IE) is definitely incorporated into the operating system (OS). One main reason is the (OS) "REQUIRES" an Internet pathway to update itself "AT INSTALLATION" and frequently after that. They've got to start you off with something and it is critical to the OS that your have access to the Internet which is why it's part of the OS. The EU's complaint seems to be that MS therefore gains an unfair artificial marketing advantage by doing so, which the EU claims is a violation of the EC Treaty on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82).This is the same dribble they whined about back in 2004 with the inclusion of Windows Media Player which we all remember. It's becoming clear that there are forces out there that are merely trying to strip the Microsoft OS of pretty much all its components until it is bare naked and essentially useless. People purchase the Microsoft OS (emphasis on SYSTEM) because it is indeed a full "system" package.If you buy a GM car you are going to get a particular brand name radio and a particular brand of tires. If you don't want that radio or that brand of tires it comes with then there's two solutions . . . either swap them out with what you want or don't buy a GM car! But to tell GM they need to cease and desist from making that vehicle because one wants different tires or a different radio is ludicrous!
black_adder said:
Its THEIR OS... they can technically do whatever the hell they like with it. its not ENTIRELY their fault theres not another popular choice for sale in stores. They Dont FORCE people to buy it really.And like the first guy stated, if IE is removed, how will people get other browsers? Because (lets face it) the Common user has NO idea how to use a remote drive, and if this is their first OS, they wont even have the chance to put anything on the remote drive.A tick box on Windows installation asking if they want IE might be nice though.But frankly, EC is being pretty lame about the whole thing. Any user Wanting to use another browser is generally an advanded(ish) user, and should know how to turn off IE anyways.And to he last guy, DarkCobra, An internet connection and an internet browser are 2 whole seperate things. Windows Doesnt need a browser to update itself.
DarkCobra said:
In response to "the last guy" . . . yes a connection and a browser are different and if you re-read my post there is NOTHING saying they aren't different. However, at some point you're going to need/want a browser and the entire thread here is about obtaining the BROWSER you prefer not a connection. It is NOT about merely obtaining a connection. So if you had no browser at all and wanted to say get Firefox below is how you could get it via FTP. How many new people are going to do this? (see below)To start FTP, click on the Start menu, then "Run..." and enter: . . . ftp . . . Then click "OK."When the ftp> prompt appears, type: . . . open . . . Then press Enter. You will be connected to the Mozilla Firefox FTP download site. Note that you will need to press Enter after every command that follows. When prompted for your username enter: anonymous As your password enter: your email address . . . When the ftp> prompt reappears enter these commands, one at a time, pressing enter after each one and waiting for a response from the server:cd pub/ latest-2.0cd win32Now, to see a list of languages and countries that Firefox is available for, type: . . . ls . . . If you live in the United States or you prefer your interface in U.S. English, your next command is: . . . cd en-US . . . If you prefer another language, cd to that directory instead.Next, to find out the name of the current version of the Firefox installer, use one more "ls" command: . . . ls . . . This last "ls" command will show you the exact name of the installer for the current version of Firefox 2.0, among other files. You are looking for the filename that ends with .exe. AS OF THIS WRITING, it is: . . . Firefox Setup 3.0.1.exeBut you need to use the ls command to see what the current version is instead of relying on this. . . . Next, type the command: . . . binary . . . To make sure the file is moved as a program and not as a text file, which would ruin it. We're almost ready! But if we downloaded the file now, it would not wind up on your desktop. It would show up in your home folder instead... and you probably don't even know what that means! Fortunately, the desktop "lives" right inside your home folder, so we can use the lcd (Local Change Directory) command to go there: . . . lcd Desktop . . . Finally, we're ready to type: . . . get "Firefox Setup 3.0.1.exe" . . . If that is the setup program name you found with the ls command. (The quotation marks are important!)Now: relax! The file will take a while to download. On a dialup modem it could take a very long while. Go get a cup of coffee. . . . When the ftp> prompt comes back without an error message, type: . . . quit . . . Close or minimize your application windows and you'll find that the Firefox installation program is now waiting for you on your desktop! Double-click that file to install Firefox. How many new people are going to do this? Very, very few. They'll eventually need a browser of some kind and that is why MS provides one.[Edited by DarkCobra on 2009-01-20 18:21:05][Edited by DarkCobra on 2009-01-20 18:22:39]
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