Archive for February 24th, 2009

EC: List of Potential Principles

February 24th, 2009

This post is a list of potential principles derived from the various discussions so far, plus a clarifying example or two for some of the principles.   In subsequent posts I’ll say a bit more about each potential principle and how it might be accomplished, though I’ll be equally happy if this post is enough to spur a good discussion.

These are identified as potential principles on purpose; this is not a list of Mozilla recommendations.   This list includes a spectrum of potential principles, some of which seem uncontroversial and some of which have already proved highly controversial.   We may also find agreement on a principle and a vigorous discussion on how to best implement it.  These potential principles are the beginning of a discussion, not the end.

Potential Principles

1. Windows cannot subvert a person’s choice of an alternative browser.

Some examples of what this might mean in practice:

  • Windows cannot condition a person’s ability to stay secure and/ or update Windows on the use of IE
  • Microsoft cannot condition a person’s ability to access the MS website or MS services on use of IE
  • Use of IE for operating system purposes cannot bleed into web browsing
  • Functionality of the operating system cannot be degraded for users of alternative browsers

2. Windows can’t provide a technical advantage to IE.
An example of what this might mean in practice:

  • Microsoft must make all  API and access points that are available to IE available  to other browsers on the same terms

3.  Windows must enable people to choose other browsers.
Some examples of what this might mean in practice:

  • Option to download other browsers must be presented when a user is updating IE
  • Option to download other browsers must be presented when a user is updating Windows
  • IE may not ask to become the default browser or make itself the default browser except  in specified legitimate circumstances, like perhaps when a person downloads IE separately from Windows or from a Windows update
  • Windows must ship with alternative browsers installed and offer users a choice
  • Windows may not include a browser (“untying” required).  (This implementation of the principle has some obvious drawbacks for users.)

4. Microsoft’s financial and other incentives to distributors must be browser-neutral.

5.  Microsoft must educate people about other browsers (or fines levied against Microsoft should be used to support open source projects and education).

6.  Microsoft tools for developing content must not produce IE specific or Windows-specific results.

7.  IE must meet specified web “standards.” (This request was included in Opera’s complaint, generally not well received by the Mozilla community.)

Update 2/26: Revised item 7 to better reflect Opera’s position:

7. IE must comply with web standards. (Opera has suggested that Microsoft must support web standards they have promised to support).

EC: Let’s Talk Principles

February 24th, 2009

We’ve had a reasonably full discussion of the harm to browser innovation and competition caused by Microsoft’s activities. It’s time to turn to the question of an effective response from the EC. There’s already been a lot of back and forth on possible remedies, but I’d like to start from a different point.

Let’s start by identifying the principles that might underlay any potential remedy: What goal, or principle, do we hope a remedy accomplishes?

Actual remedies can then be derived from these principles. Any remedy is likely to end up being complex, detailed, perhaps procedural, and a topic of long discussions between the EC and Microsoft. We won’t all be able to be involved in these discussions, even if we have the time and focus. We can however, articulate principles that we believe a remedy should meet, that the interested lay person can understand, and that we can use to evaluate the remedies that are ultimately crafted.

I’ll identify some potential principles in my next post.

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