Sunday, February 1, 2009

Windows may have to offer browser choice during set-up

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Microsoft may be forced to offer Windows users in Europe a choice of internet browsers as soon as they install the operating system. Such action is a possible outcome after regulators ruled that, in principle at least, the firm gives an unfair advantage to its own Internet Explorer.

The ruling came last week, but the extent of potential consequences has only just come to light. The European Commission (which carries out the laws decided by politicians) finished a year-long investigation by deciding the installation of Internet Explorer as the default browser in Windows hurt competition. Microsoft has until late March to contest the ruling and ask for a formal hearing.

The small print of Microsoft’s latest financial report includes a mandatory listing of any ongoing legal action which could affect its future business. In this section, the company notes that its current policy of including Internet Explorer as the default browser but allowing users to change to a rival might not be enough to satisfy the regulators:

The Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC. Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser.

The filing also notes that Microsoft may have to pay a “significant fine” for breaching competition laws if the ruling is upheld. The firm previously had to stump up $745 million for a similar case involving Windows Media Player.

Given how easy it is to switch to a different browser, with Internet Explorer’s market share steadily falling, there’s certainly a case that the threatened order is excessive. It’s certainly possible regulators are coming down hard as a way to punish what it sees as Microsoft repeatedly defying its authority.

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嗨,我是花,居住在印度兴奋的Windows,Linux中国的外籍人士和所有高科技的东西

Hi, I am Hua, a chinese expat residing in India excited about windows, linux and all things tech

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