Europe says browser-less Windows 7 not enough

By on June 12, 2009, 4:04 PM
With Microsoft offering to strip their own browser from Windows 7 in Europe, you’d think antitrust regulators are ready to drop charges and go home. Instead, the software giant and European authorities appear on course for another legal collision after the latter dismissed the offer, claiming it is an insufficient step that won't lead to better competition in the browser market.

Apparently regulators want to avoid repeating a mistake they made in 2004, when Redmond was ordered to sell a version of Windows in Europe without its media player; a measure which received poor reception among consumers and didn’t really improve competition all that much. This time, the commission wants computers to display a window when they are first booted up that would give consumers a choice of browsers.

Opera agrees with that scenario, claiming Microsoft’s move “seems almost purposely designed to make fun of the commission and to make it unnecessarily look bad.” And why wouldn’t they; a browser-less Windows 7 would theoretically give them the chance of striking an exclusive deal with PC makers to include their Opera browser as default with new machines, but in reality the company might have a hard time taking advantage of this new landscape when competing with the deep pockets of Google.

Maybe I’m missing something but it seems to me that asking Microsoft to go out of their way and pre-install rival browsers is a bit much, and perhaps even hypocritical of Opera which claims to have consumer’s best interests in mind. PC vendors are already free to ship other browsers with their machines, so I don’t see how allowing this and agreeing to strip IE8 from Windows constitutes anticompetitive behavior. If such a measure is imposed, what’s to stop other software makers from forcing their way into Windows on claims of unfair competition?




User Comments: 41

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Guest said:

Since we get a lot of junkware pre installed with a new computer anyway, at least there is a chance it may become useful afterall... not!

Considering a possible future scenario, each vendor may be supplying their browser of choice:

e.g.

HP -> Windows 7 + Opera

Sony -> Windows 7 + Firefox

Dell -> Windows 7 + Chrome

Apple -> OSX + Safari (hey, wait a minute... )

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Since we get a lot of junkware pre installed with a new computer anyway, at least there is a chance it may become useful afterall... not!

Considering a possible future scenario, each vendor may be supplying their browser of choice:

e.g.

HP -> Windows 7 + Opera

Sony -> Windows 7 + Firefox

Dell -> Windows 7 + Chrome

Apple -> OSX + Safari (hey, wait a minute... )

I agree with that. Microsoft has been a helluva lot more gracious than I would have been if I were running things. I would have most likely told the EU to piss off and suck it.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

At this stage of the game it doesn't matter what MS does in regards to browsers - EU isn't going to be happy about it and will "find" a way to sue.

I think MS should piss them off 100%. Offer NO Windows 7 sales to Europe and keep the OS in the America's and in the Asian countries.

tomrice32 said:

... really getting silly now. Why they should be forced to provide other companies' products truly beats me. And why are Apple getting away with it anyway? End of the day it is Microsoft's operating system, and as long as it does not block you from installing 3rd party software why on earth shouldn't they be allowed to put whatever the hell they want on it? I really hope they give Europe the 2 fingers now. They're just picking on Microsoft for no reason to make a load of money. I wonder what the EU will come up with next if MS actually comply with this crap.

To be clear, though I am a Windows user, as a web developer I really really am not a fan of Internet Explorer, but come on... I can tell something ridiculous when I see it. To be honest I would personally love it if they offered a choice of browsers, but the question is why the hell should they?

Guest said:

Microsoft didn't kill Netscape. Netscape killed it self after 4.0 by creating an over bulky browser with a croppy rendering engine. I am a web developer and Netscape rendered codes were below par and was all ways slower then IE. Can't blame MS for making a better product.

I think MS Windows 7 should have the option of installing or not installing IE. It's that simple.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

This is retarded. MS should give the EU the finger and threaten to not release Windows 7 there at all. The consumer backlash would be overwhelming enough to put an end to this stupidity.

Guest said:

How is Grandma Ethel going to surf the internet if her first pc is a Windows 7 machine sans browser? IE 5 was at least good enough to download Firefox.

Guest said:

Great idea everyone... Since MS is the one company that doesn't put profit before everything else they sure as hell should pass on releasing Win 7 to the EU and waste millions of dollars - And sure - I mean they have all rights to be upset - the EU could have hinted much earlier that they were breaking their laws.. oh no wait a minute - they did...

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm not going to deny that MS has had a history of being very arrogant with their products. But the EU has been jerking their chain for a LONG, LONG time now routinely dragging them in and out of court for what seems to be the most insignificant of issues, just to get MS to cut them a check because they can.

Oh yeah, and all the while MS products are being pirated like nobody's business across Europe with zero ramification or assistance from the EU to stem that.

I wouldn't begrudge MS a bit to hold out on selling Windows 7 there.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

Great idea everyone... Since MS is the one company that doesn't put profit before everything else they sure as hell should pass on releasing Win 7 to the EU and waste millions of dollars - And sure - I mean they have all rights to be upset - the EU could have hinted much earlier that they were breaking their laws.. oh no wait a minute - they did...

The EU is a bunch of crybabies who just need money from time to time to shut up. Once was enough IMO.

And besides, the money they'd make from Windows 7 would probably be negated from the number of "fines" that they'd have to pay to the EU. And I believe that if Windows 7 RTM is even half as good as the RC, MS deserves to earn a profit from it.

raybay said:

I think Microsoft should stop shipping to Europe, until the European users start to raise hell.

Asking that they change the OS is beyond the pale.

seanp789 said:

So if Windows comes without an internet browser, how are you supposed to get on the internet to download a competing internet browser?

Captain828 Captain828 said:

seanp789 said:

So if Windows comes without an internet browser, how are you supposed to get on the internet to download a competing internet browser?

Quote of the day!

NunjaBusiness said:

captain828 said:

seanp789 said:

So if Windows comes without an internet browser, how are you supposed to get on the internet to download a competing internet browser?

Quote of the day!

Actually, you used to be able to use Windows Explorer (the file manager) as a browser. A few years back, I often used it when IE didn't work right (back when I still used XP.)

Does that not work anymore?

tengeta tengeta said:

Windows Explorer requires IE to be installed to understand the internet protocols, Windows Explorer on its own is incapable of websurfing.

As for this whole pop up screen where you choose what you want...

TERRIBLE FREAKIN IDEA. "Choose your favorite from these government sponsored programs!"

Computers are done if this is their future, people will only start using them less if you make a computer exactly like a cell phone. Don't think thats whats happening? You have become delusional.

Of course, these are the same people saying "Hey, we want to penalize the crap out of you, but please still do business here because our economy likes it" and "We use open source software, but since we don't actually know how to use it and still use Windows instead we want what WE want on it".

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

The EU started off with good intentions many years ago, maybe over 10 years ago now. But now they are an example of just how bad a 'government' can get if you let them. Why in the blank do they have any say in what any OS provider CAN or CANNOT ship with their OS? What happened to the consumer making the decision??

That above was just any general thoughts, what follows is my opinion:

MS f'd up when they refuesd to make IE6 better. Opera had been beating the pants off them since 2000 but they ignored it because they owned market share. FF started owning them in 2004ish? and it took until 2006 before microsoft woke up. so F them, F their browser, F them all, PROVE to me its a better brower (IE 8) don't assume I think yours is the best.

I can see the EU being upset about other adons like the firewall, or the malware protection, or the new antivirus. but come on, these are pretty recent things, and ALSO everyone that has ever bitched about MS has bitched those weren't built in (oddly enough). So... Lets see some balance in the arguments here.

Guest said:

The only way This Jose Vilches' guy comments about Bill Gay's browser is the right answer is if you're considering this Microsoft monopoly issue from the Microsoft perspective. That is, the wrong perspective. I am sure the microsoft board of directors and stockholders will be thrilled reading Vilches make his pro-monopoly arguments as much as hard-line Republicans love it when Rush Limbaugh says George Bush has been their best president ever. Vilches' remarks are sweet to hear to a few, but mean absolutely nothing to the rest of world.

From my perspective as a consumer forced to rely on Microsoft's bulky, slow and inferior products, I would welcome the oportunity to switch to Firefox and screw Internet Explorer for good. From another, more important perspective, everybody has the right to try and make a living as an adventurer or businessman in the software industry without having to endure the predatorial tactics of the biggest monopoly ever. Think about the clever designers of Netscape, the true pioneers of the Internet Era being run-out of business because Microsoft shamelessly claiming Internet Explorer was some kind of Windows code and not a web-browser!! And then instructing retailers to sell their computers with windows and Internet Explorer or nothing at all.

But guess what? "El que a hierro mata, a hierro muere": There is a new monopoly in town called Google. I am looking forward to seeing Google take Microsoft to the Ground.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

If I get a team together and we create our own browser, would Opera be willing to host a download for my browser on their site? I mean, otherwise they aren't adequately supporting healthy competition. This isn't the same thing, but it's just as stupid. Anytime I find a computer with Opera on it, I uninstall it. I have done this a dozen times....

Mictlantecuhtli Mictlantecuhtli said:

nunjabusiness said:

captain828 said:

seanp789 said:

So if Windows comes without an internet browser, how are you supposed to get on the internet to download a competing internet browser?

Quote of the day!

Actually, you used to be able to use Windows Explorer (the file manager) as a browser. A few years back, I often used it when IE didn't work right (back when I still used XP.)

Does that not work anymore?

I just tested that with my Vista SP2 (IE7 removed with vLite) - it launches Firefox and opens the URL there. So I guess it just opens the default browser.

Guest said:

Ok, heres the way to make it work. MS should ships Win 7 with no browser, but have an IE8 installer included on the Win 7 disk. If any other browser manufacturer wants their browser available they should supply MS with an installer disk that can be shipped in the Win 7 box, along with a small handling fee for each disk they supply. Why should MS have to pay their employees to handle a competitors disk. Oh and since this will only be for the EU release MS should also up the price a little bit for this version to take care of the extra costs of creating a version that is only shipped to one part of the world. Oh and maybe release it a year later just to give the EU a chance to evaluate it and see if there any other ways they might possibly be able to sue MS. Or MS could treat this like laptop vendors do, ship all versions of Win 7 with all browsers made, but then all browser manufacturers should pay a subsidy to MS to help lower the cost of Windows. Or the best solution the EU and Opera should just STFU.

complexxL9 complexxL9 said:

I am EU citizen and I think this is just absurd.

JudaZ said:

Im a EU citizen, but I agree...Ms should fight back and not release Windows 7 in the EU until the comission backs off. Whats next? BMW forced to include parts from crysler, just because the cant sell cars and BMW can? ... if FF is better people will user it...if Opera is better more people will use that .. .if you cant compete without crying to you mother...stop competing and go home.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Since we get a lot of junkware pre installed with a new computer anyway, at least there is a chance it may become useful afterall... not!

Considering a possible future scenario, each vendor may be supplying their browser of choice:

e.g.

HP -> Windows 7 + Opera

Sony -> Windows 7 + Firefox

Dell -> Windows 7 + Chrome

Apple -> OSX + Safari (hey, wait a minute... )

No kidding! That's shows just how unfair these regulators are when they ignore what the competition and system builders are doing. Why does the EU harass Microsoft for their bundle and not Apple or any of the other system builders? Microsoft should have a right to design and sell the product that they intended to offer the customer. The EU is taking this to far by forcing their opinion into the matter.

If customers don't know how to install a 3rd party browser on their own, (Next, Next, Finish) then they're not going to understand why they're making a selection between Opera, Firefox, or Internet Explorer in the first place.

I agree with others here. I'd be tickled if MS said piss off, and didn't offer Windows 7 in EU states. Windows 7 (retail software) should ship with all intended features enabled and no 3rd party apps. Let the customers riot and reflect just how far from reality these anti-trust regulators are.

JDoors JDoors said:

Does the EU suggestion require Windows to include the "choose your browser" dialog box as part of the "first boot" process? Or could it be a part of the computer's BIOS, asking the question before whatever OS you use boots? If so, how will they enforce its inclusion into BIOS's? Will they gripe if "IE" isn't listed randomly enough? Will the suppliers of all other browsers be required to provide MS with the proper protocols (links, art, etc.) to be listed? Or will that be left up to MS? And will the EU be satisfied if MS doesn't meet some unknowable, un-Godly requirement for how this is to be done?

Micromanagement of positively EVERYTHING is ... What can I say? It's stupid, it's a mess, it's expensive, it can't POSSIBLY work the way its intended, it harms the consumer, it harms competition ... Sheesh. Back off, already.

Guest said:

I believe the EU is on a gold digging tour thru MS. The initial intention of the first lawsuit against MS was justified in a sense of blocking out third party apps that weren't MS certificated. I recall trying to install firefox years back and being blocked off by IE. Well it's fixed. As much as I don't like a lot of things on MS I also have to acknowledge the rules of engagement in business. Bill Gates is the owner of MS and therefore has the freedom and right to supply a product. (Emphasis put on "a product") MS isn't a monopoly anymore in the market of OSes. If people do not like MS, then go and purchase a MacOS or install Unix-based OSes. The choice lies with the consumer.(not talking about apps) And I have to admit, MS is clever using the "flock of sheep" mentality to their advantage. Consumers are habitual inhabitants of a fast paced tech-world and sooo not willing to look over the fence !

If the EU would be serious about competive markets they would have to sue a lot of other companies.

And as a matter of fact the reason why Win is out there so much comes from the apps provider. Almost every software for the industries is MS based. I haven't found Autodesk writing AutoCad 2010 for Linux or Leopard X. So don't complain to Bill so much, go and bang the apps programmer as well.

Note to Mr. Gates: I propose you chuck your IE on Win7 as a normal app that can be removed via "Remove programs" through the control panel. Users choice it will be at the end and I know you won't loose your flock of sheep !

Regards Down Under

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yep this is silly. Fine, ship it without the browser. What next? Windows 7 isnt shipping with a full Office suite - does that mean that it now has to offer options to download all other available office suites to avoid unfair competition? MS arent bundling an Office Suite so I guess this is anti-competitive.

Where does it end? If it isnt enough to remove a type of software from the Operating system who is to say Windows 7 shouldnt be sold with links to every piece of software released by a competitor for every category of software not included with Windows?

The poster who commented on the EU reliance on MS money to top up their bank roll is right. Its absurd. I like the idea that Microsofts actions are said to be making the regulators look "unnecessarily bad" - it doesn't take much does it? You can't polish a turd.

Guest said:

Windows is an operating system,a complete operating system,as such it operates everything it needs to on a PC,so for this reason should contain everything needed to operate a pc,which in this day and age ,is primarily used to gain access to the internet,so Windows 7 should include IE8.If the EU want to complain about it they should have leaflets printed up,for PC manufacturers to distribute with their systems,listing alternative browsers,media players,etc etc,and how they can be downloaded,where from,and all info they require to do so,then people who want a change,can do just that,as they can already,no matter what OS they use.

Guest said:

The EU commision has not a clue about computers. They probably think they need bump starting on a cold day.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

nunjabusiness said:

captain828 said:

seanp789 said:

So if Windows comes without an internet browser, how are you supposed to get on the internet to download a competing internet browser?

Quote of the day!

Actually, you used to be able to use Windows Explorer (the file manager) as a browser. A few years back, I often used it when IE didn't work right (back when I still used XP.)

Does that not work anymore?

That is the whole reason for this debacle. As another poster noted, it is because IE was tied in and Windows Explorer used IE's rendering engine to display pages.

If MS didn't "couple" the browser with windows in the first place, then the s^&t-storm that resulted would never have happened and the EU wouldn't be smacking them for it for the next umpteen years.

Guest said:

Most people are content just to use Internet Explorer, but those of us who know better will look else where for a better browser. The majority of people wouldn't know what to do with a choice of browser and still get Internet Explorer on grounds of familiarity. It's unreasonable to ask a company to offer it's competitors products, no matter how much it dominates the market.

Guest said:

Kinda funny the EU is firing off an antitrust law suite over FREE products. I think if MS has to issue their software product with competing products, MS should have the ability to charge any of the competitors that want their browser listed on MS's operating system.

This is just another plot by the EU to steal money from MS and keep the lawyers working. The next thing you know Dell will have to ship their pc's in an HP case with a lenovo keyboard, logitec mouse and a viewsonic monitor.

fimbles fimbles said:

Total hipocrisy....

Firefox, safari, ect say microsoft is monopolising the market by giving away a free internet browser with every version of windows..

How will they solve this?

By bundling THEIR free internet browsers with windows by force....

Double standards anyone??

nazartp said:

Well, EU have done it again... I was on EU bashing warpath for their overly eager regulatory practices for a while. I agree with the fact that IE got its current market share primarily due to being bundled with the OS. However, right now, it's kind of pointless - no longer it's a choice between Netscape and IE, people can install whatever browser they want with several mainstream ones being very effective, easily available and FREE. Netscape got screwed not because it was worse, but mainly because it was charging money ($50, if I remember correctly) while IE was free. Right now switching costs between browsers are ZERO. For a bulk of users there is no learning curve altogether - type the address, hit enter, DUH!

Right now, ANYTHING that EU would suggest except making IE8 removable would hurt competition. If other developers would need to provide the disks to the manufacturers, it would increase the developers' costs. If the OEM would need to install browsers themselves, that would increase their costs. If I need to uninstall four out of five browsers from my machine, that would piss me off. Nice going, EU!

Unfortunately, I do not see the regulators complaining about Apple OS and Safari for a long time - one of prerequisites for an antitrust case is a significant market share. Which Apple doesn't have, especially in Europe.

polidiotic said:

Pull out of Europe... let them develop their own o/s. I'm sick of this shit.

bavon said:

I suspect this has more to do with the EU descision makers being out of touch with Microsoft products since they can afford Mac Book Pros on their expense-inflated salaries. Also "Zafaree, eet eez much more styleesh, hein?"

Bill, meet them in the underground carpark with a few briefcases full of cash and you'll hear no more about 'competition'....

Guest said:

if you actually know which browser you want, won't you already know how to download it? people that know how to use computers know how to download browsers. people that don't know how to use computers don't need a choice of 10 browsers to choose from.

raybay said:

Who does Guest think he is?

Guest said:

google isn't nearly that good or big

Guest said:

Hehe, always funny seeing the difference in way of thinking between US and Eu ppl. For those not-informed one, its not EU that's making problem, but the company that started the lawsuit, in this case Opera. So, pls, stop cry-baby routine, and yeah people in EU would be really sad if Micro$oft decide not to sell Win7 here. Like someone will decide to use it once it's available?! Vista, someone?? :D And, not to forget, there is something called democracy and freedom to choose, so why is it bad for ppl to have choice at first start-up?? Is Microsoft worried that nobody will use IE at the end?

Greeting from EU

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

Meh, nonsense. Is Opera going to get money from MS? Of course not.

And you are missing the point. How do you download another browser without using a browser in the first place? Magic mayhaps?

JDoors JDoors said:

bavon said:

I suspect this has more to do with the EU descision makers being out of touch with Microsoft products since they can afford Mac Book Pros on their expense-inflated salaries. Also "Zafaree, eet eez much more styleesh, hein?"

Bill, meet them in the underground carpark with a few briefcases full of cash and you'll hear no more about 'competition'....

Classic!

And Guest from the EU, you have a point that it was not the EU but a company that started this whole debacle, but who decides how this gets resolved? The original question has long since been resolved and the EU courts COULD say, "Jeez, just STFU already," but on and on it goes ...

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