Sounds a bit harsh to me (I was actually getting a bit sick of that annoying 'browser choice' screen)
Out of interest is Apple expected to offer the same choices in IOS?
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Don't pay it Microsoft.
This just in: The EU just figured out how to help fund the Greek bailout....
I'm still confused about how MS prevented users from choosing whatever browser they want to use to begin with. Can anyone explain that part to me?
Summarizing the article:
As part of anti-trust settlement (ie. in order to get out of a larger anti-trust investigation) Microsoft agreed to offer a screen giving users options of what default browser to use when they first start up Windows. Microsoft disabled this ballot screen in a recent update of Windows 7 because of a "technical error". EU fines Microsoft for reneging on their settlement. Microsoft apologies and promises not to do it again, and said that they changed their development practices to avoid future incidents like this.
That's pretty much it.
We'll never know, because Microsoft settled before EU was able to do a full investigation of the company's business practices.
@BitFlipper: Indeed. Why is it Microsoft's fault anyway? Why wouldn't they go after the OEM's and ask them to pre-install the browsers?
The only way I could see that Microsoft could have prevented anybody from installing another browser is to somehow block the websites used to download those browsers. Why limit it to those specific browsers? There are approximately 12,394* browsers in existence, why can't all of them get a fair shake? Is it because the other browsers made generous enough campaign contributions to merit a mention?
*I totally just made that number up, but it's still a lot.
Agreed on that point without question. That said, IE has been bleeding market share, especially in Europe for a long time now. If they stopped other browsers from being used, sure, I'd buy that's a problem. But it's clearly not... users are savvy enough with Windows to find other browsers and they have. IE's usage is a pale shadow of it's hay day when it commanded 90%+ market share.
Now, that said... I could see the way they lock down the App Store and what they allow you to do/not do as being a problem in the future... it's all in the name of security and battery life of course (sure it is).
what I understand the issue is / was goes like this:
Microsoft was found to be a big evil monopoly in the US courts.
the EU got complaints that users did not know that they had an option to not use IE, that due to the bad evil MS putting IE on the computer along with windows they were not giving users a "fair chance" and this was hurting other companies that made competing software.
so the EU said that MS would be ran thru more legal junk unless they changed what they did.
MS legal said "ok we will make certain changes to the OS for you"
as far as I know they never said that MS actively prevented user choice, just that the default gave them an advantage that was unfair.
If I'm honest, pretty much every novice user I know (mums/dads/grannies) use Chrome or Firefox, it is me always trying to tell them IE is a pretty good browser.
This is a non-issue, it is a bit like telling Mercedes to allow Chevrolet to install their gearbox in their vehicles, so when you buy your car you can choose your competitors components. I would tell the EU to get stuffed on this issue.
my iphone didn't present me with an option either.
Of course we know the answer to that question, your deflection is a fail. The answer is MS never prevented anyone from installing any browser of their own choice. Only people that don't know anything about computers would think otherwise.
What did happen though was that Opera wasn't getting marketshare because of a broken business model. They then ran to the EC and somehow convinced them that the reason they failed was because somehow MS wasn't giving users a choice. The EC bought this bullcrap hook line and sinker and then forced MS to give users this "choice" that the evil MS previously prevented users from making.
The fact that EC could be confused between lack of choice and lack of marketing is sad and scary at the same time. I guess with a bunch of computer illiterates it probably isn't such a big surprise, and given the fact that the possibility of extorting such huge amounts of money must have wiped out any remaining sense.
Microsoft could have elected to not settle. If they won, they wouldn't have to do anything, but if they lost the consequences what probably have been much larger than this browser choice screen.
I assume the people at Microsoft considered the probabilities of losing and decided that a settlement was the best option. It wasn't a particularity bad settlement option either, remember the DoJ wanted to split Microsoft in two in 2000 for a very similar compliant.
Too bad they weren't able to completely follow through with the settlement, but all and all this is a trivial fine for a company as large as Microsoft and probably won't effect anything. As Bas mentioned, EU could have fined them over 10x this amount and still been within their authority.
The iPhone has had a "browser ballot" built in for quite some time called the App Store and there are web browsers in it, both pay-for and free, and it's on every single phone.
That said, it was Opera's fault and not Microsoft's that no one wanted to use their browser, and Google & Mozilla's involvement in the situation by supporting Opera's position in the matter, which in no small part helped bring about the ballot screen, was complete BS since both companies had just finished bragging about how everyone was switching from IE to their browsers.
That said, a "technical" error that removed for seven months the browser ballot that MS agreed to is also BS, and they deserve to be punished. If they didn't want to comply, they shouldn't have agreed to the terms of the settlement.