Microsoft Internet Explorer antitrust case resolved by European Union

 EU resolves Microsoft IE antitrust case | Microsoft – CNET News

From the horse’s mouth

European Union

Microsoft’s press release

My comments on this issue

Previously, there was talk of Microsoft having to supply European customers with “browser-delete” options for copies of Windows 7 operating system where they would have to explicitly download their browser of choice and wouldn’t be able to “get going” with Internet Explorer. Now, there is the requirement to provide a “browser-select” screen when you can install any of 12 alternative browsers and nominate one of the other browsers as the default browser. This will have the browsers organised in a random order so as not to favour Internet Explorer or a “browser-skin” with hooks to the Internet Explorer code.

One main improvement that I had liked about this is that you can deploy more than one browser from the “browser-select” screen, which will please Web-site developers who want to test their site in other browser environments. Similarly this will please users who are testing browsers for a proposed usage environment or replicating problems encountered with a particular browser.

It will be feasible for a computer supplier to “run with” a different default browser yet consumers can choose whichever browser suits them better. This would be more so with operations like Dell or the small independently-run High Street computer shops who build computers “to order” for individuals, rather than suppliers like HP/Compaq or Toshiba who build systems to particular packages to be sold through electronics chain stores.

The only issue is whether an individual or organisation can determine a particular browser as part of a Windows-based “standard operating environment” when they specify their computer equipment and not have to pass through the “browser-select” screen. Also, what will be the expectation for any proposed computer fleets and “standard operating environments”? Will the company who buys the computer equipment be able to determine which is the default browser for their environment or will they be required to allow individual staff members / end-users to choose which browser they are to work with? The reason I am raising this issue is because in some countries within the EEA like France, there is an organised-labour culture where the trade unions can exercise a lot of influence over what goes on in a workplace.

Another issue that may need to be raised is whether the European-specific “browser-choice” arrangements will be available outside of the European Economic Area. This may be of concern to independent system builders who may want to assure customers of browser choice as a differentiating factor or local, state or federal government departments who may want to be assured of this for computers supplied as part of their IT programs operating in their area or as part of a legislative requirement for their area. It may also be of benefit to PC users who want to load their computers with many browsers so as to, for example, test a Web site under many operating environments.

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