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Microsoft Fined $731 Million over 'browser choice' mistake.

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  • User profile image
    Ian2

     

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21684329

    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?

  • User profile image
    Bas

    Like I said in the other thread: annoying or not, they agreed to show a ballot, and didn't. They should've just gotten their act together. This is nobody's fault but Microsoft's.

    Could've been a lot worse too: they could've fined 10% of the annual revenue instead of 0.75%.

  • User profile image
    Proton2

    Don't pay it Microsoft.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    This just in: The EU just figured out how to help fund the Greek bailout....

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    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?

  • User profile image
    Bass

    , BitFlipper wrote

    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.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    @Bass: You forgot to answer my actual question and answered some other unrelated question.

    The question was how did MS actually prevent users from making a browser choice to begin with?

  • User profile image
    Bass

    We'll never know, because Microsoft settled before EU was able to do a full investigation of the company's business practices.

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @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.

  • User profile image
    Deactivated User

    Comment removed at user's request.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , BitFlipper wrote

    @Bass: You forgot to answer my actual question and answered some other unrelated question.

    The question was how did MS actually prevent users from making a browser choice to begin with?

    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.

     

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    , Proton2 wrote

    Don't pay it Microsoft.

    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.

  • User profile image
    itsnotabug

    my iphone didn't present me with an option either.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Bass wrote

    We'll never know, because Microsoft settled before EU was able to do a full investigation of the company's business practices.

    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.

     

  • User profile image
    Bass

    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.

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @Bass: I'm not certain they ever had a chance of winning.

  • User profile image
    cheong

    , itsnotabug wrote

    my iphone didn't present me with an option either.

    Yup. They should allow at least one more non-webkit browser (such as Firefox) to land iOS world or EU could go after them too.

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  • User profile image
    Craig_​Matthews

    , itsnotabug wrote

    my iphone didn't present me with an option either.

    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.

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