Mozilla

Proposed Microsoft – EC Settlement

August 17th, 2009

A few weeks ago Microsoft and the EC announced they are discussing a settlement proposal. Asa Dotzler did an evaluation of the proposal in view of the principles we have previously, noting both items that appear promising and those that appear weak. In all things the implementation details — all the way to the most mind-numbing level of specificity — will have an immense impact on the proposal’s effectiveness, so we’ll have to wait and see what those details turn out to be. Here I’ll outline a couple of aspects where the proposal itself could use improvement.

The overall point that may get lost is that — even if everything in the currently proposed settlement is implemented in the most positive way — IE will still have a unique and uniquely privileged position on Windows installations.

  • It is always there, often with prominent placement in the user interface. Choosing another browser as a default doesn’t change this.  Contrast this with all other browsers who aren’t available without separate installation.
  • Choosing another browser as a “default” does NOT mean that the other browser takes the place of IE. For example, the IE logo (“shortcut”) still remains unchanged on the desktop. The shortcut / logo of the browser the user has selected does not replace this, it is added elsewhere. As a result, the familiar location remains IE, not the user’s choice.
  • IE appears to retain other privileged positions in the user interface, depending on the exact windows operating system configuration one uses. The most important of these is probably in the Taskbar of Windows 7, which contains IE prominently. Microsoft has described the Taskbar as the “beachfront property of the Windows OS” — it’s next to the Start menu and you see it even when your desktop is covered with all your program windows.

Nothing we’ve seen suggests these items will change when a person chooses to make a different browser his or her default. These shortcuts back to IE remain unless the user makes another browser his or her default and then figures out how to “turn off” IE.

A second way in which IE remains uniquely privileged is the difference between having a piece of software on one’s machine and needing to download, install and make something your default. This may seem irrelevant to those of us who live and breath Internet software, but it’s a significant barrier for a lot of people. IE doesn’t face this issue since it’s on Windows machines when people receive them. The ballot could do a better job of reducing this difference. Right now the ballot is about downloading software. It could be designed to help people get further in the process of downloading, installing, opening and making the new software the default. As proposed, we expect to see many people who want other browsers get lost in the process before they actually succeed in making an alternative browser their main browsing tool.

A third way in which IE retains a uniquely privileged position is the Windows update system. It makes sense to include IE updates in this system, even if a different browser is the default — it’s important not to have “dead” pieces of old software on one’s machine for security reasons. So we do not take the position that the Windows Update system should exclude IE. However, a few safeguards for protecting the prior choice of another browser should be in place. Most important, if IE presents itself to the user as part of an automatically triggered update process, it should close immediately after the update process completes. It should not use this Windows update process as an opportunity to ask to become the default browser.

Another way IE remains privileged is that it looks like potentially all Microsoft products other than Office 2007 may still include hard-coded links to IE. This appears to be true even for the upcoming release of Office. This is the kind of “remedy” that so often seem ludicrous in hindsight. It is also at odds with a person who has already chosen to use another browser.

Comments more specifically tied to the exact language of the documents can be found at Harvey Anderson’s blog.

The importance of the myriad of details makes it very difficult to predict how effective the proposed remedies will be, or the extent of any  side-effects. In any case, addressing the issues raised above would improve the proposed remedy significantly.

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72 comments for “Proposed Microsoft – EC Settlement”

  1. 1

    Pingback from Thoughts on Microsoft’s Settlement Proposal in the European Commission’s Tying Investigation « hja’s blog

    [...] Baker provides some big picture observations about the proposal here and below we’ve tried to articulate in detail those key aspects of the proposal that need [...]

  2. 2

    RichB said on August 17th, 2009 at 10:32 pm:

    Will these provisions include IE on Wince? It also has a uniquely privileged position.

  3. 3

    Asbjørn said on August 18th, 2009 at 2:43 am:

    Just like Safari on OS X you mean (or Firefox on Linux)? IE is the system default browser and has every right to a privileged position. If you don’t want that, then I suggest you don’t run Windows. You really expect Microsoft to include another vendor’s browser prominently with Windows?
    And where did you get that idea of hardcoded links to IE? There are only a few remnants left in MS products – mostly where they use an embedded IE (like Live Messenger). But other programs to hardcode links to IE. But what do you expect Microsoft to do? They already state in their documentation that people shouldn’t do that. But they do, and Microsoft cannot do anything else (altering the API to give special treatment is not an option).

  4. 4

    Patti said on August 18th, 2009 at 4:10 am:

    My opinion is that Firefox is a better browser than IE, but I will not be happy again with Firefox until they make it Norton friendly. The last update is not compatible with my Norton toolbar and I am not happy about that at all!

  5. 5

    Pingback from Microsoft’s EC Settlement Proposal – Matt Rude

    [...] looked promising, but that may have been a bit misleading.  Check out Mitchell’s post on Microsoft’s dealings with the EC, also see Dotzler’s taken for deep look at the [...]

  6. 6

    Smylers said on August 18th, 2009 at 5:55 am:

    There’s another way in which IE is privileged: Outlook Web Access (and possibly other Microsoft software) favours it.

    In Firefox Outlook Web Access (OWA) is a just-about usable webmail client; in IE it (apparently; I’m on Linux so haven’t seen it) is fully featured with a nifty interface and something approximating ‘normal’ Outlook.

    MS’s dominating position with Outlook therefore pushes users towards IE as a browser; if they were made to implement OWA using standard technology such that it worked in all browsers then users could genuinely choose browsers based on their merits.

  7. 7

    Mitchell Baker said on August 18th, 2009 at 7:00 am:

    Richb: EC is focused on the desktop Windows operating system because that is where microsoft has a dominent to monopoly position. That’s not true of Wince, so my guess is that anything the EC requires is unlikely to apply there.

    Asbjorn? The EC is has gotten involved here because of the dominent/ monopoly position of Windows — that’s an element of EC law, not something I’ve made up. A bit more here; http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2009/03/18/ec-principle-2-prelude/

    Patti: not sure if this is something we can fix, or if it’s something on the Norton end; will check.

    Smylers: thanks for the info.

  8. 8

    Tim said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:07 am:

    I am sick of this whining

  9. 9

    Jeremiah said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:13 am:

    I’d like to second what Smylers said. I remember at a college I went to for a year, they had our email going through Outlook Web Access, and I didn’t realize until I used it in IE just how crippled it was in Firefox and other browsers. So yes, that is definitely another of many ways IE is privileged.

  10. 10

    Mitchell Baker said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:30 am:

    Patti:

    Re the Norton incompatibility issue, Norton is actively working on getting the fix into their update system. In the interim, Norton has provided hotfixes for users:

    Norton Security 2009
    http://www.symantec.com/norton/support/kb/web_view.jsp?wv_type=public_web&docurl=20090630125147EN

    Norton 360 v.3
    http://www.symantec.com/norton/support/kb/web_view.jsp?wv_type=public_web&docurl=20090630125147EN

    We (meaning mozilla) are also working to reduce this type of occurrence.

  11. 11

    Asa Dotzler said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:47 am:

    I’m mostly happy with the proposed remedy if I read it and assume that I or a like-minded individual would be implementing it. Knowing that to not be the case, I think that there are some clarifications and additions that must be made.

    You and Harvey have done a great job explaining what the most important of those changes are and so this won’t add a lot but I thought I’d get another 2 cents in :-) with some smaller but potentially interesting additions.

    1. The ballot will be delivered to users as a Windows Update. Microsoft should deliver this update alone. It should not be delivered as part of a Windows Update that includes other updates that might distract the user from this very important consideration. If there’s lots of other update interaction going on, users may respond more adversely to the ballot because of the prolonged interruption.

    2. Browser vendors must be allowed to provide their own image and browser description text to Microsoft for inclusion in the ballot and Microsoft must provide a mechanism for vendors to update the image, description, and links as frequently as needed by the vendor (for new releases, etc.)

    3. I don’t think Safari belongs on the ballot. The ballot should present the user with browsers that have demonstrated themselves to be viable contenders for _Windows_ users in Europe. Safari on Windows probably doesn’t meet the threshold of 0.5% usage share in Europe and it would only be the result of Apple’s bundling of Safari on Mac that gets Safari above 0.5% share overall. Apple should not benefit from it’s Mac browser bundling when European Windows users are presented with browser choice. If, during the period of enforcement, Apple manages to get Windows Safari above that threshold, only then should it be added to the ballot and ranked by only the Windows Safari usage share, not the overall Safari usage share.

    These three items aren’t as significant as the big issues Mitchell and Harvey covered, but I think they might be worth discussing.

    - A

  12. 12

    Asa Dotzler said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:54 am:

    Tim, this isn’t whining.

    Even if you disagree with the European laws and the EC’s interpretation of them, there’s still every good reason for Mozilla to be involved with this issue because the EC is going to do _something_ and it’s much better that _something_ is well informed so that at a minimum it doesn’t make the browser space worse. Mozilla has a lot of experience with the “market” for browsers and how users understand and interact with browsers and the Web. Mozilla isn’t seeking advantage here — we’re already quite strong in Europe and however this turns out won’t be a big benefit to Firefox. Mozilla is involved because we have something constructive to offer and a mission that pretty much requires we play a responsible role in anything that has the potential to have a major impact on the browser landscape.

    - A

  13. 13

    Ephilei said on August 18th, 2009 at 1:20 pm:

    Mitchell

    I heartily agree with everything you posted. Microsoft is just jumping thru hoops, not acting in a spirit of fairness.

    I think Asa’s right about Safari, but I see that as quibbling over details. If MS sabotages this ballot to make IE still overwhelmingly prominnent, the other browser choices won’t even matter. Let’s focus on running a fair fight and decide on contenders after that.

  14. 14

    Lennie said on August 18th, 2009 at 1:43 pm:

    I could be wrong, but I think their are differences in sharepoint as wel, between how it’s shown and functional in IE and Firefox.

    Microsoft has said similair things will happen with their Office Web Apps:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=3666

  15. 15

    mitchell said on August 18th, 2009 at 3:51 pm:

    Patti;

    looks like this didn’t make it through when i thought i posted it a few hours back.

    Re the Norton compatibility issue — Norton folks are actively working on getting the fix into their update system. In the interim, Norton has provided hotfixes for users:

    Norton Security 2009
    http://www.symantec.com/norton/support/kb/web_view.jsp?wv_type=public_web&docurl=20090630125147EN

    Norton 360 v.3
    http://www.symantec.com/norton/support/kb/web_view.jsp?wv_type=public_web&docurl=20090630125147EN

    We (meaning Mozilla) are also working with them to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

  16. 16

    Matt said on August 18th, 2009 at 8:02 pm:

    In Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, when selecting Firefox as the default browser, all previous IE icons change to Firefox.

    The only exception is in Win XP2/Vista, where the QuickLaunch shortcut does not change – however, the Firefox installer adds its own icon to the QuickLaunch toolbar anyway.

    When launching a shortcut from Office 2007 or Office 2010 beta, and the default browser is Firefox, then Firefox launches. However, Excel relies on some IE features when consuming web services or running web queries.

    I use Firefox and IE side-by-side. The intranet at my work only looks right in Firefox, while Outlook Web Access works best in IE.

    In my opinion, the ballot proposal is an interesting proposal to offer some “balance” – but it shouldn’t be displayed in an IE window, because “normal” users would just “click it away”.

    To REALLY compete, makers of browsers should embrace standards and provide some real innovation, like tight integration with the OS (when I’m launching a zoho app, i want it to “behave” like Word does on my desktop and not lose everything when I close the browser, for example). Then, growth in share will come naturally. In the past few years, the changes in browsers were hardly groundbreaking – more like “meh”.

  17. 17

    Douglas said on August 18th, 2009 at 9:09 pm:

    Microsoft should simply provide an operating system stripped of any browser… period. The European whiners should then be forced to go out and purchase a hard copy of a browser as was done in the old days. And I completely agree with Tim. I too am sick of the infernal whining and belly-aching directed against big bad Microsoft. In a word: bull.

  18. 18

    John said on August 18th, 2009 at 10:07 pm:

    Will Mozilla offer prominently displayed download links for the other browsers as part of the Firefox package incase I’m not satisfied with the Firefox experience? Why should a private corporation be forced to provide advertising and links to competitor’s products? Should Apple be forced to provide a browser ballot as well? To me this entire saga screams protectionism. True openness, which Mozilla Foundation claims to cherish, means that Microsoft shouldn’t be forced to jump through hoops to enable its competition. If Mozilla offers a better product then people will choose that product. It’s like satellite radio, sure my car comes with the basic model but that doesn’t mean I can’t upgrade. At the end of the day this post proves that the Mozilla Foundation is driven for the same goals as Microsoft and uses the same set of dirty tools to hurt its competition by any means possible. The difference is that Microsoft is empowered to provide value for its shareholders whereas Mozilla is motivated by lust and jealously to be Microsoft.

  19. 19

    Mariusz from Poland said on August 19th, 2009 at 2:31 am:

    Dear Mitchell Baker….

    Why don’t you move to communist country? You are pure anti-liberal, anti-freedom and anti-free market person. You think private companies should be forced to offer competitor’s product, you think people are so stupid that government should decide what they can buy and how they can use.
    You should really live your life in socialim/communism you want to introduce.

  20. 20

    Pingback from IE8 et ballot-screen, Mozilla donne son avis | Forum-Seven

    [...] Mitchell Baker, la présidente de la Fondation Mozilla, constate : Même si tout est mis en place dans la proposition de Microsoft et ce de la manière la plus positive possible, IE bénéficiera toujours d’une position privilégiée et unique sur les installations Windows. [...]

  21. 21

    Mark said on August 19th, 2009 at 7:16 am:

    Funny how Mozilla and other competitors are so demanding of Microsoft, forcing users to go through so much just to have a browser on the desktop. They are treating us users as incompetant peasants who are unable to determine what we want for ourselves. We must be thrust into a click thru process that will add to the complication and confusion of setting up/ using a computer.

    Why don’t Mozilla put in detail what the experience will be without IE? What you lose from not having IE installed on their install.

    Capitalism forces products to speak for themselves, if there is a better product out there, then users have the ability to download it seperately themselves, stop painting us as ignrant, simpletons! I don’t need to have a convoluted menu of browsers, applications, office choices, etc, everytime I chose to install, access my desktop, which this will inevitably lead to.

  22. 22

    yoyo said on August 19th, 2009 at 8:32 am:

    Shame on you! You will be never satisfied! Why do you not asking Apple to let the user having different browser choice? Microsoft let the competitors in their own system, and you want more?
    May be you should ask AT&T to sell Verizon contract? Are you dumb?
    BTW, if you want people use Firefox, you should first fixes all the bugs! The 3.5 version is just horrible!

  23. 23

    cauli said on August 19th, 2009 at 8:44 am:

    Without a browser put into Windows by default how does one exactly get to the firefox page to download the browser anyway. Mozilla should be thanking Microsoft, not complaining.

    Last time I checked IE8 met all the acid2 tests for compatability and was also ranked as the most secure browsers (see below). The accelerators save me tons of time and the tab crash/recovery is the bomb. Not to mention for IT folks the group policy object in IE are critical to maintain some sensibility in a large corp.

    From Network World:
    In a test based on 608 potentially malicious URLs, IE 8 achieved an 81% mean block rate for socially-engineered malware, while Firefox 3 logged in at 27%, Safari 4 at 21%, Chrome 2 at 7% and Opera 10 beta at 1%. On average, 197 new validated URLs were added to the test each day, more or less depending on “criminal activity levels” as malicious URLs quickly rolled in and out of use.

  24. 24

    Jonas said on August 19th, 2009 at 9:15 am:

    I’m sick and tired of this whining- first from Opera and now from Firefox as well. When this issue came up in January I ditched Firefox 3 and permanently moved to IE8.

    I will never use any non-IE browser ever. Why? First because Firefox UI is ugly as hell, second because Firefox has no protected mode, third because Firefox smooth-scrolling s***** and finally because Firefox has no Jump List feature in Windows 7.

    Unless you address these issues IE will always dominate the market share- plane and simple.

  25. 25

    Ken Jackson said on August 19th, 2009 at 9:41 am:

    Most of these complaints from Mozilla are simply absurd. For example, MS applications should have the right to use any browser they want. “Windows” should use the user’s default, but random MS application (not bundled with the OS) can use IE if that is its preference. The full MS application stack doesn’t have a monopoly. And furthermore, if I write an application and want to rely on an ActiveX control, well I have the right to do so, even if I’m Microsoft.

    While web browsers have largely become commodity applications, we should still give people and developers the freedom to target specifc browsers when they see fit. Again, I appreciate that this distinction can’t be made with Windows, given it’s status, but for other applications, regardless of vendor, your recommendation seems overly aggressive.

  26. 26

    Pepe said on August 19th, 2009 at 10:01 am:

    I uninstalled Opera because I got sick of their whining, and now I’m very tempted to do the same for Firefox. I can use IE, Chrome, or Safari. Firefox is nothing special (I don’t use the various plugins, so what else does Firefox have to offer that the others don’t? Nothing.) This whining is ridiculous.

    @Douglas
    Microsoft actually did intend to ship Windows 7 without any browser, but the EU said that too was illegal. Give me a break. So now we have this ballot idea, and we see Mozilla whining like 3-year olds about it. I used to have more respect for Mozilla than Opera. Those days are gone.

  27. 27

    Fruit said on August 19th, 2009 at 10:15 am:

    Firefox is my browser of choice, but I find these complains to lack sense, dignity and merit. You should stop trying to see how far you can bully MS when EU is pressing them against the wall.
    FF is good enough, it doesn’t need these methods like others perhaps, you should know that.

  28. 28

    Paul Hoffman said on August 19th, 2009 at 10:26 am:

    Another subtle point related to the “third way” and users who have removed IE from their interface by deleting the icon from the desktop and the taskbar: updates to IE automatically put IE back in the taskbar even if you have removed it. In my work as default sysop for relatives, I have had some ask me “why does that icon always get added”, so this is definitely an advantage for Microsoft.

  29. 29

    David Barker said on August 19th, 2009 at 11:11 am:

    Firstly, thankyou for not complaining about the use of icons like Opera: http://www.techflash.com/microsoft/Opera_Microsoft_differ_over_browser_icons_in_Windows_ballot_proposal_51792607.html

    That said, I’m disapointed by your reaction…. Yes, IE will still be in windows, safari will still be in OS X & firefox will still be the default on most other *nix desktops. This is starting to get petty. :-(

  30. 30

    codejunkie said on August 19th, 2009 at 2:28 pm:

    [quote]…he raises a somewhat nonsensical issue—that IE will somehow try to become the default browser when a user accesses Windows Update—without acknowledging that Windows Update in Windows Vista and Windows 7 doesn’t require IE, and that Microsoft has already committed to changing Windows XP accordingly…[/quote]
    So, I wonder, why should Microsoft integrate anyone else’s browser into their MS,OS, or Office Suite updating process? And why should they, in a logical competitive free market world, have to cowtow to the obnoxious EU snobs or anyone else. Including competing browser producers.
    Actually, I wonder why MS is making any of the recent rediculous concessions to anyone anywhere on the Globe. If someone else has a better mousetrap, consumers will find it.
    The cream has risen to the top, and it has Microsoft stamped all over it.
    Just my 2c worth. Your opinion might differ, and it’s worth exactly 2c also.

  31. 31

    Ian said on August 19th, 2009 at 10:13 pm:

    I’m sorry but it is unacceptable to have the process remove icons, e.g. the Internet Explorer icon. As an IT Manager for an SMB (150 employees) this would unnecessarily increase support costs within the organisation, and much as I have done with Chrome (due to the terrible GoogleUpdater), Safari (due to the terrible Apple Update) and Opera (terrible web compatibility and UI) I would be forced to ban installation and running of Firefox. I currently recommend Firefox for general web browsing, but that can change very quickly.

    I suggest fighting the good fight on the merits of your product, not by whining to the teacher because you’re too lazy to improve your product.

  32. 32

    Ryan said on August 19th, 2009 at 11:29 pm:

    But when it’s Firefox foisted on Linux users and the entire GNOME help system and god knows what else relies on embedding it, it’s different?

  33. 33

    Pingback from More ballot screen drama; now Mozilla’s executives are up in arms | Anthonyrobinson.info

    [...] Mitchell’s post outlined how Internet Explorer remained “uniquely privileged” within Windows (no big surprise there) while Harvey argues various points with the technicalities of the design and functionality of the ballot screen concept. [...]

  34. 34

    Pingback from IE/EU bickering continues ... Mozilla wades in | Hardware 2.0 | ZDNet.com

    [...] Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, is concerned that IE is still “uniquely privileged” in [...]

  35. 35

    Byron said on August 20th, 2009 at 8:11 am:

    This is getting ridiculous. Mozilla, Opera and the others are NOT looking out for consumers; they are looking out for themselves. Pick at an issue here or there if you will, Windows users have had the ability to easily change their default browsers for years, and millions have decided to not use IE. What else do you guys want?

    I know that it has nothing to do with helping customers so what’s the angle? Until this nonsense stops I will no longer use non-IE browsers on my Windows systems.

  36. 36

    Pingback from Mozilla execs raise objections to Microsoft's browser-ballot proposal | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

    [...] if everything in the currently proposed settlement is implemented in the most positive way — IE will still have a unique and uniquely privileged position on Windows installations,” Baker [...]

  37. 37

    Enough said on August 20th, 2009 at 9:29 am:

    All this winning by Mozilla is really turning me off to the browser. I can’t wait for Chrome to over take Firefox and its zealot promoters.

  38. 38

    Landon said on August 20th, 2009 at 11:21 am:

    I have used Firefox for approximately 4 years…or thereabouts. No more. This is getting pathetic.

  39. 39

    Nick said on August 20th, 2009 at 1:27 pm:

    Guys, this is ridiculous. IE is an MS product included in an MS operating system. It’s their code/property, NOT YOURS, certainly not the EU’s. What do you expect?

    While we’re at this. I’m going to go to the EU and complain that Firefox holds an unfair advantage in Linux over my browser and request that that be changed as well…

  40. 40

    Justin said on August 20th, 2009 at 2:38 pm:

    I use BOTH browsers in my day to day experience. 1 is good for 1 thing the other for another I just swap and change depending on my needs.

    But hey you want more why not include a ballot for email programs, or calculators or…..

    In protest I am uninstalling Firefox for the month. Maybe I’ll come back maybe I will that’s my ballot.

  41. 41

    Matthew said on August 20th, 2009 at 3:42 pm:

    Every competent computer user knows how to install other browers if they so wish, this whole debarcle is an insult to every European citizen, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Lets just make this clear …

    WE DO NOT CARE if Microsoft Internet Explorer is the default.

    So long as you can install another browser if you so wish, that is all that is important.

    NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

    google -> browsers

    Whats there, omg its opera, firefox, safari

    Is this too difficult!?!?!!

  42. 42

    Bob said on August 20th, 2009 at 7:01 pm:

    Nothing is ever enough for you people. You don’t care that users will be subjected to your ridiculous menu rather than simply Google browser. Only that every possible opportunity to tie MS’s hands with IE is exhausted. Pathetic.

  43. 43

    Sum said on August 20th, 2009 at 9:20 pm:

    Wow, such concentrated troll attack! Would you people at least care to read what Mitchell has written before making yourself look ridiculously silly.
    From (http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2009/08/17/proposed-microsoft-ec-settlement/#comment-12980):

    Asbjorn? The EC is has gotten involved here because of the dominent/ monopoly position of Windows — that’s an element of EC law, not something I’ve made up. A bit more here; http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2009/03/18/ec-principle-2-prelude/

    Or care to read and understand: http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2009/08/17/proposed-microsoft-ec-settlement/#comment-12987

  44. 44

    Pingback from Mozilla认为微软的浏览器选择提议并不让人满意 « 每日IT新闻,最新IT资讯,聚合多站点消息,保证你与世界同步

    [...] Mozilla基金会主席Mitchell Baker,总法律顾问Harvey Anderson认为微软的提议并不足够好,选择另一个默认浏览器并不会自动从桌面和Windows [...]

  45. 45

    Oskar said on August 21st, 2009 at 12:43 am:

    Wow, a lot of commenters don’t have a clue whatsoever about competition law.

    A free market isn’t free anymore if there are monopolies which abuse their power – so you certainly can’t compare it with communism – it’s the exact opposite!

  46. 46

    CR said on August 21st, 2009 at 6:29 am:

    Mitchell

    I am surprised that you don’t mention the core issue, that being Microsoft’s trading relationship with the market (after all, the EC is is concerned with the EEC). Through Windows licensing, Microsoft has effectively sold Internet Explorer directly to the market as part of a composite package of products, whether or not they use it doesn’t matter. No other browser developer can trade directly with market consumers because the “package” sold by Microsoft is dressed up as single product, the OS, rather than the package of products which it really is. With this Internet Explorer is perceived to be a freebie, when really it is licensed software which the consumer has paid for. In my opinion this is the key barrier to other browsers wishing to trade directly with consumers, and I imagine that this was a significant concern for Opera when they first petitioned the commission.

    In my opinion, there will be no free competition unless Internet Explorer is completely removed from new installs and the highly misleading (dare I say it, manipulative) “PC=Windows/Microsoft” culture is eradicated.

  47. 47

    Paul said on August 21st, 2009 at 9:52 am:

    “In my opinion, there will be no free competition unless Internet Explorer is completely removed from new installs and the highly misleading (dare I say it, manipulative) “PC=Windows/Microsoft” culture is eradicated.”

    Spoken like a true ABM imbecile.

  48. 48

    Ron W said on August 21st, 2009 at 10:05 am:

    I’m assuming that given your strong feelings about the need for OS’s to be browser agnostic, Mozilla is prepared to give up its “privileged position” on most Linux distributions in favor of a ballot box, and also lobby for Apple to do likewise with OS X? Or is a “privileged position” only unacceptable when it’s IE?

    And while we’re making ballot boxes, why stop at browsers? Let’s extend it across every major OS feature. Think about it. We can make it so users spend hours filling out a multiple choice questionaire on what browser they want, what media player, what search engine, etc, etc, etc. All before they get to use what they paid for. Won’t that be great? And all because you clowns want to compete on a playing field that has been artifically leveled by regulators, rather than win in the market.

  49. 49

    Pingback from Mozilla boss votes against browser ballot | Tech Story Site

    [...] a blog posting, he says that Internet Explorer will still have a “unique and uniquely privileged position on [...]

  50. 50

    Pingback from JOLT Digest » Flash Digest: News in Brief | Harvard Journal of Law & Technology

    [...] an increasingly competitive browser market.” In contrast, Mitchell Baker of Mozilla argues that the Firefox browser is at a disadvantage because Internet Explorer has a “uniquely [...]

  51. 51

    Pingback from Firefox chiefs not happy with Windows 7 browser ballot screen - VISTA.BLORGE

    [...] a recent blog post, Baker complained: Even if everything in the currently proposed settlement is implemented in the [...]

  52. 52

    Ken Saunders said on August 22nd, 2009 at 12:42 am:

    So I guess that it’s only a handful of us who were actual strong and loyal Microsoft supporters at one time that remembers being abandoned and left to fend for ourselves by Microsoft when they allowed us to use, and provided us with a browser that they were (and still are) clearly aware of how vulnerable it was to attacks on OUR systems and private and professional data, that was riddled with bugs, and that was left for dead for years out of arrogance and complacency because there was no other competition and the World was using IE so why change it.

    Mozilla has been fighting for the overall health of the Internet and for consumers from the time when most of the ungrateful people spewing negative anti-Mozilla comments here were learning to ride a bike and now they’re just doing what they’ve always done (they’re just in the spotlight now) and people have a problem with it?
    It sickens me.

    Sorry Asa, I suppose that was a rant but come on, the majority of the comments here are just, I don’t know, I’m at a loss for words.
    Yes, that is actually possible but not too often so don’t get used to it.

  53. 53

    CR said on August 22nd, 2009 at 7:38 am:

    “I’m assuming that given your strong feelings about the need for OS’s to be browser agnostic, Mozilla is prepared to give up its “privileged position” on most Linux distributions in favor of a ballot box, and also lobby for Apple to do likewise with OS X? Or is a “privileged position” only unacceptable when it’s IE?”

    Complete and utter ignorance!

    For a start, the blog post is concerning *Windows* being browser agnostic!

    The issue is about a privileged position on a *monopoly* product, the market being an operating system for a personal computer and the monopoly product being Microsoft Windows. OSX and Linux are not monopoly products as they can easily be substituted by Windows, whereas the converse is not true. Bear in mind that a market is defined by a group of substitutable products sharing a general need and at a fundamental level Macintosh PC’s, Windows PC’s and *nix PC’s are substitutable products serving a general need (yes it may surprise you to learn that an Apple Mac is indeed a Personal Computer despite the aggressive brainwashing, sorry, advertising by Microsoft). Further to this, Mozilla does not coerce Linux distro’s into bundling it, it is a concious decision by the distro maintainers and not all Linux distros install it by default. So, even if you managed to prove that Mozilla was a monopoly (I wait with baited breath) there’s very little scope to argue that such position is used to abuse consumers.

    “Spoken like a true ABM imbecile.”

    I’m not the one doing the name calling! That said if you knew anything about economics and how it applies in the real world (which funnily enough I do, given my academic and professional career) then I imagine you would be quite embarrassed by that flippant insult.

  54. 54

    Holger said on August 22nd, 2009 at 2:08 pm:

    Mozilla could publish it’s own operating system – but would you also include the internet explorer als with choice of firefox? Mozilla firefox have millions of users yet, why do mozilla compain to microsoft?

  55. 55

    RPK said on August 23rd, 2009 at 5:00 am:

    There are a few negative comments on this blog post.
    One common element between the negative comments is the use of the word ‘whining’.
    Is it a coincidence that they all use the same word, ‘whining’, in their comment?

  56. 56

    Jani said on August 23rd, 2009 at 11:53 pm:

    This is utterly stupid complainment, and has changed many peoples impression of Mozilla Foundation to more negative.

    Forcing IE out of Windows is just taking away value from the customer. I want to have BOTH browsers in my Windows installation, and I’m feeling very frustrated that Mozilla people are being so arrogant and want to take away value from Windows license by removing software which other people around the world will anyway get for the same price.

    Windows is open platform, where you can be succesful with good product, and complaining that Microsoft has to remove parts away from it so your product can fill the gap is just plain arrogant.

  57. 57

    Pingback from Mozilla quiere más | MuyWindows

    [...] ante la solución que podría ser adoptada. Mitchel Baker de la Mozilla Foundation ha expresado una serie de objeciones en su blog afirmando que aunque se implementara de la mejor manera esa pantalla de [...]

  58. 58

    Pingback from Mozilla Displeased With Browser Ballot « Komplett Ireland

    [...] is not universal. Specifically, the Mozilla Foundation’s chair, Mitchell Baker, has had some choice words to say about Microsoft’s proposed ballot, not least of which the fact [...]

  59. 59

    Pingback from Mozilla chief: Microsoft ballot screen leaves IE 'uniquely privileged' | Active Xtream Technology

    [...] as a ‘default’ does not mean that the other browser takes the place of IE,” Baker writes. “For example, the IE logo (’shortcut’) still remains unchanged on the desktop. [...]

  60. 60

    Pingback from Presidente da Mozilla é contra tela de escolha do IE8 | Código Aberto

    [...] Baker escreveu que, com a proposta da Microsoft, perdeu-se o objetivo mais importante na disputa da Comissão [...]

  61. 61

    Sailfish said on August 24th, 2009 at 11:42 am:

    The bigger problem for the Mozilla Foundation is the potential for dilution of Firefox market share, not the IE advantage. I suspect that most people will choose to download IE even if it won’t be the default browser just because it is the one that is provided by the OS manufacturer. However, with Microsoft now presenting an option of several other competing browsers it will tend to provide visibility and lend legitimacy to other lesser used browsers which will tend to distribute the shares more equally over time.

  62. 62

    lolipown said on August 24th, 2009 at 6:27 pm:

    *sigh*

    To people that keep saying that this isn’t whining. Wake up. It is. The EU wanted a ballot screen, Microsoft gave them a ballot screen. Opera whined about Icons and now this?

    I’m starting to get ashamed I rooted for you guys. Firefox grew because of the product’s merits. That’s a fact. And frankly, a lot of your users will be much happier if you stick to that.

  63. 63

    Pingback from Jde Mozille o rovnost příležitostí nebo o kšeft?

    [...] Mitchell Baker: „Choosing another browser as a “default” does NOT mean that the other browser takes the place of IE. For example, the IE logo (”shortcut”) still remains unchanged on the desktop. The shortcut / logo of the browser the user has selected does not replace this, it is added elsewhere. As a result, the familiar location remains IE, not the user’s choice.“ [...]

  64. 64

    linchpin said on August 25th, 2009 at 3:54 pm:

    I might be called a Firefox fanboy. I always talk about how great Firefox is, how much better it is, recommend it to everyone and install it for people, etc. But this whole thing makes me feel ashamed! I don’t think you can get very popular this way, when even those who support you find your actions a bit pathetic.

    Firefox has achieved its popularity by being BETTER, in spite of the “unfair” advantage of its opponent IE.

    Windows is Microsoft’s OS. And they should be able to bundle it with their browser, their email program, their media player, etc. Apple bundles Safari with their OS. Linux bundles Firefox mostly, I think. Default applications DO have and advantage, but that doesn’t mean that default applications should be banned and the OS stripped of everything, to make it fair for all the software manufacturers there.

    Some monopolies are there because they were first and people are to lazy to search for alternatives. So you think you have the right to FORCE them to choose? I tell you, those lazy people will click on IE. Because that’s what they’ve been using before. They won’t care to read about the greatness of Firefox.

    A satisfied userbase is the key. We will promote Firefox better than any regulations. And certainly better than those that make us ashamed of supporting you so fervently.

  65. 65

    Kevin Chadwick said on August 26th, 2009 at 2:22 am:

    I’ve read most of these comments, and I’m ashamed of general opinion which doesn’t seem to recognise history. This has been on the cards since the demise of netscape, before firefox was even around or even mozilla, so to blame firefox for the EC trying to put mistakes of the past, right, which are causing huge problems all over the web, and extra costs and compromise for web developers is rediculous. The quick task icon is very important and so is the fact that you shouldn’t install an operating system unless you have no alternative while connected to the internet as it has not been updated yet and verified cds are more secure than your web connection. The comments about IE being more secure were based on social engineering, which is a limited scope of less important issues and therefore someone trying to make IE look better than it is.

    Most of the reasons people state why IE should be kept in it’s prominent position are due to abuse of this position, if it hadn’t been abused (avoiding standards) then the EC would be happy, and so the reasons you are aginst the EC are the same reasons why they are doing this. Is it fair that the leading browser Netscape was doomed to failure through no fault of it’s own (though I’m glad it’s now open source (became mozilla)).

    As another note of history this prominent position, whilst held onto well, was garnered from practices which I believe after reviewing lots of evidence, including admission and then more recent denial of some facts, would be illegal today (before software copyright law became effective to any degree) and IBMs suggested want for a cheaper alternative and then lack of control of M$, whilst ignoring real innovation and stable product. (lookup “Gary Kildall” the unrewarded brain behind the modern OS”). With hindsight, I feel IBM would have paid what kildall would have wanted for exclusivity and a higher standard of product, probably called OS/2 by kildall. Silver lining? Would Unix and open source be as brilliant as it is, in that case.

    I’m sure many of you may accuse me of being an open source fanatic, but I’m happy with my non M$ products, and still use code that runs on M$. I pride myself on fairness and only care about the general public and especially my own, so say what you like, but try to be correct at a fundamental level.

    Something I’m less sure of is that M$ were due to be split into three companies, one producing IE, but false promises? were made to the EC.

  66. 66

    Pingback from Opera Bytes v8 – A Brand New Icon and More

    [...] Mozilla is also not entirely happy with Microsoft’s proposal. In lengthy blog posts Mitchell Baker (chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation) and Harvey Anderson (Mozilla’s chief counsel)highlighted [...]

  67. 67

    FRiDGE said on August 27th, 2009 at 12:32 am:

    As linchpin said, FireFox has acquired its userbase by being better than IE. I am a fan of neither of the browsers, but I must agree. However, I am surprised to see Mozilla (and Opera, surprisingly the only two browser companies that don’t have enough money to make their own OS to include their browser in) executives act like a bunch of teenage bozos. Come on, you have 48% of the market! You still want more?

    I believe Mozilla is using the fact that this cause is not an object of interest to mass media (read “not techblogs”), so most of the potential users do not care about the company’s behavior, unlike Opera.

    Personally, I don’t see any legitimate reasons why any other browser but IE should be shipped with Windows. Since Microsoft doesn’t prevent users from installing any other browser, there’s unlikely any competition to be affected. If you don’t like this, make your own operating system and make it dominant, nobody keeps you.

    This situation deeply saddens me.

    A happy Chrome user, FRiDGE.

  68. 68

    grecgssgfsx said on August 27th, 2009 at 1:47 pm:

    lol
    if a day, I make my own O/S and I do my web navigator…
    I will put firefox as the default navigator. And more I will destroy all files of my navigator, event if user want to use it. (even if it took only 20 mo in ram and not 2000 and if it is speeder, and if it dont do movie editing)
    because my navigator will be the evil !

  69. 69

    grecgssgfsx said on August 27th, 2009 at 1:50 pm:

    (btw : I use ff & I.E. … this could be a way of… reflexion… no ?)

  70. 70

    rumaitha said on August 30th, 2009 at 11:05 pm:

    thanks a lot for the mozilla team
    we are very happy for use firefox web brwoser
    thanks again

  71. 71

    Benjamin Chuang said on September 5th, 2009 at 11:01 pm:

    Mitchell,

    Let me start by freely admitting that I am posting here, in part, to balance the surprising volume of negative comments.

    I thought your article (and Asa’s related articles) were frank, detailed, and honest. That is rare in the computer industry, and should be encouraged.

    My responses to the negative comments would be too long and detailed for a single post. I would like to point out: browser-bundling is only the most recent issue of a history of many issues with Microsoft practices. I might be reading into the criticisms a bit, but I do not get the sense that the longer history and larger issues are considered fully by many of the critics.

  72. 72

    Pingback from Browser-Streit: Mozilla schimpft über Microsofts scheinheiligen “Ballot-Screen” | Basic Thinking Blog

    [...] und einzigartig privilegierte Position” auf Windows-Systemen, heißt es in einem neuen Eintrag auf ihrem Blog. Baker hat gleich mehrere Punkte gefunden, die ihre These stützen [...]

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