EC and Microsoft: Discussion Themes

February 10th, 2009

The discussion about the EC and Microsoft has a number of themes. I see these themes reflected in the response to my post and in the discussion in general. Some have been raised by Mozilla contributors. I’m going to try to respond to these general themes, although not every comment specifically. I’m going to start by addressing the themes in separate messages; I think that will make the discussions easier.

The themes I see so far are:

  • Private responses, such as building Firefox, are the only appropriate response.
  • Microsoft should be able to do whatever it wants;  there’s no reason to treat Microsoft differently than anyone else.
  • Government should have no role in technology, and Mozilla should not spend time with the EC.
  • People can choose an alternative browser, so there’s no problem.
  • All the remedies I can think of all have some serious problem:  they are too late, they are backward-looking, or the don’t seem likely to  help the consumer.

There may be other themes that appear or that I’ve missed with this first pass. Or two may show up as part of the same message, I’m not sure yet since I haven’t written them. But these are the topics I know now that I want to address.

11 comments for “EC and Microsoft: Discussion Themes”

  1. 1

    Brian said on February 10th, 2009 at 12:14 pm:

    Here’s my idea that solves:
    -users not having to choose a browser
    -nonetheless providing a browser, a good/best one
    -the court not having to dictate which browser to provide
    -the OEMS providing a default browser not based on pressure from Microsoft but rather on browser quality

    Short introduction:
    A good decision implies that neither MS, nor OEMs nor the court may dictate what browser we should use. But a browser must be shipped with the OS (at least for usability reasons). The browser-decider must be an entity (at the bottom I propose it to be built off W3C) which has a good authority and expertise in this domain and doesn’t depend on Microsoft and alike companies.
    Hence, when we are talking about bundling a browser into the OS we are also talking about MS in/directly forcing companies like Dell, HP through pricing policies to never give up on IE.
    Thus the core problem is “How do we protect the OEMs from being forced by companies (Microsoft) to bundle their browser (IE)”.

    The idea:
    I have an idea, which I find hard for MS to sabotage or pervert:
    The OS must come bundle with at least 2 “best” browsers, this make monopoly impossible. Moreover, these browsers must be the top ones that meet these priorities:
    1)best web standards compliance – top priority
    2)security, features and other technical characteristics – less priority
    Note that the priority is web standards compliance, thus Opera, Safari, Firefox, Chrome are the ones that are most eligible for inclusion, because of their merits not because of what MS or the OEM (pressured by MS) decides. For this idea to live up to its promise there must be (created) some kind of committee that decides according to the above priorities which niche every browse occupies in the current browser market and thus whether it has a right to be bundled with the OS.
    Here’s an example:
    Say the committee decides the browsers according to their merits form the following hierarchy top to bottom best to worst (which must be up-to-date and published on the web):
    1)Opera v10.0
    2)Firefox v3.1
    3)Chrome v2.0
    4)Safari v4.0
    5)Firefox v3.0
    5)IE v7.0
    6)IE v6.0
    thus, if the OEM wants to include only 1 browser: it must be Opera v10.0, if 3 browsers: these must be Opera v10.0, Firefox v3.1 and Chrome v2.0 correspondingly. I find it fair and very good for the internet and its users.
    The committee could be built off the W3C Consortium because IMHO it has a very good reputation, good experience in web standards promotion and doesn’t depend on corporations.

  2. 2

    Christoffer said on February 10th, 2009 at 12:52 pm:

    I read about this in a newspaper, and thought it was a joke. First of all. Having EC fronting a case against MS on behalf of European businesses interest is in some way morally questionable. There are probably a hand full of solicitors that think otherwise, but they get paid no matter what the outcome is. The other thing is all other “integrations” in a MS based os. What about the media player, paint, WordPad, messenger etc. All those applications have competitors on the market that are fare better then what you get with MS. Should all those software houses do the same? What is the average computer user supposed to do when they get an OS with virtually no standard applications? Not every computer user is a member of a dev. network, and has their mind fixed upon what technical solution is best. It is simply supposed to work. This is just another case when technicians try to fiddle with user friendliness. I work with this kind of problems on a day to day basis. And I am astonished over how far you are taking this. Put your money on better marketing instead of wasting European tax money on a stupid lawsuit.


    Integration consultatnt

  3. 3

    Adil Allawi said on February 10th, 2009 at 12:58 pm:

    I would say that Microsoft should be forced to pay reparations of, say, 5% of net turnover for the same period of time that it used its monopoly to stifle its opposition.

    And the the money raised from this should be donated equally to all non-profit organisations that are dedicated to promoting and developing open web standards.

  4. 4

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  5. 5

    DigDug said on February 10th, 2009 at 2:14 pm:

    This whole thing just makes me sick. Thank goodness the EU is on its way out anyway.

    IMO this whole problem could just as easily be attributed to Netscape and the W3C. Netscape made a major snaffu with NS6, and with no one else to compete with IE took over the market. Users honestly didn’t have any choice, as there were no other browsers. Even before the NS6 problem, you would have been hard pressed to make a case that NS was in any way the superior browser to IE. They both had very similar feature sets and one was 10 times slower than the other. NS6 just exacerbated that and practically forced MS to the top.

    That happened in what, 1997? Firefox 1.0 didn’t come out until 2004. What else was there to compete? What was MS stifling? The W3C was pushing forward XHTML during that time, and even a whole lot of Mozilla has come out and said it was a bad move. There ain’t much else. A whole lot of that is probably because bandwidth was so hard to come by in those years too. Putting video or something extraneous graphical effect on the web was about the stupidest sounding idea you could come up with. Even with that, MS had VML support for what, 10 years before anyone else added SVG support (and still no one uses either). Theres three or four other examples of that out there too, (filter effects through CSS for example), where MS really did lead the way with an idea, but because they were evil (and the W3C is slow as molasses) it never became a standard.

    Thats just my opinion though. Firefox to me has shown that if you make a great product, you can compete. If you make a subpar product, you can’t. If you make a product that’s got the exact same feature set you can’t. You’ve got to make something that people really want, and not just “another” web browser. When someone finally did, the IE monopoly started to crack.

  6. 6

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  7. 7

    Gorm// said on February 11th, 2009 at 5:43 am:

    I think the whole discussion about browser versions in Windows should stop. Microsoft made a product and built in a piece of software. Microsoft decide what ever they want to build into their software – and nobody else. If the product (in this case Windows) then becomes a worldwide succes, does this mean that Microsoft are obliged to change their product – just because other companies want “a piece of the action”? The equivalent would be that a car should be built with different hi-fi systems, so that the user could choose….NO! The producer of a product – and the producer alone! – should have the right to decide what they want to build into their product. As it turns out , people can just stop buying the product if they don’t like the package. Stop complaining about Microsoft’s dominance – they earned all of it! If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. But for God’s sake, stop complaining, just because you want a free ride on the Microsoft wave….stop whining, dry your eyes and admit that Microsoft actually made a product worth buying – just ask the millions of happy Internet Explorer users.

  8. 8

    Frankenberry said on February 11th, 2009 at 6:44 am:

    The central issue to complaints about Microsoft packaging IE with Windows is that Microsoft is using its leverage in one market (OS) to create leverage in another market (browser). That is one of the definitions of monopolistic practices. Microsoft does not have its market share in the browser market because people are choosing IE over some competitor. Microsoft has substantial market share in the browser market because a lot of people that use Windows are simply not making a choice at all.

  9. 9

    Christoffer said on February 11th, 2009 at 7:01 am:

    The reason could be that they just don’t want that choice. Not everybody is interested in the full options list in every aspect of their life. That is a fact. If i talk to my parents about what browser they should choose, they frankly don’t care. That is the hard reality for MANY internet users. Those who are aware of the other browsers, and are interested enough, have already made a choice. And it might be a harsh fact to swallow that many of them still chose MS. But making a lawsuit out of it is just hilarious.

  10. 10

    bellamind said on February 20th, 2009 at 6:15 pm:

    Кризис, говорят, в марте усилится. Хотелось бы знать, кто затеял все это
    и как вообще мы докатились до такой жизни.

  11. 11

    Vitor said on February 28th, 2009 at 10:14 am:

    A microsoft deveria se preucupar com os usuarios não com o Dinheiro.A microsoft devia acabar com o monopolio contra a Mozilla e outras empresas, eles obigam as pessoas usarem o ie(internet expolorer) sendo que o Firefox e Thunderbird são superiores ao softwares deles quando a Mozilla lançar um so ai windows vira-ra lenda para min.

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