European Commission – Microsoft Settlement

December 16th, 2009

Today the European Commission adopted a decision that represents a settlement in its current tying case against Microsoft. The settlement is similar to the version made available for comment some time back, with some changes resulting from the comment period.

The settlement articulates a number of principles relating to Microsoft protecting the choice of a different browser after a user has switched. (In the past it has been very difficult to avoid using IE, or to avoid repeated instances where IE keeps opening for certain tasks, or what appeared to be repeated efforts on Microsoft’s part to push people away from their choice and back to IE.) The settlement also requires Microsoft to include a “Choice Screen” offering users a choice of browsers in specified circumstances.

While the ballot mechanism represented by the choice screen has received the most attention, Mozilla is most pleased with the core principles Microsoft will be adopting that protect the choices a person has already made. These principles won’t be obvious to a person using Windows. That’s the point — once a person has chosen an alternative browser, IE should not keep reappearing. These principles are expressed in several components of the commitments and together should result in a greater respect for individual human decisions.

Mozilla’s non-profit mission is focused on self-determination and individual empowerment; we are gratified to see these principles appear in the settlement.

16 comments for “European Commission – Microsoft Settlement”

  1. 1

    David Naylor said on December 16th, 2009 at 7:46 am:

    Does this mean that Windows Live Messenger, for instance, will stop hard-linking to IE for opening web pages?

  2. 2

    Asa Dotzler said on December 16th, 2009 at 8:17 am:

    David, that was our hope when we gave our feedback to the European Commission. But as the agreement reads today, I don’t think it includes Windows Live Messenger or any of the not-Office Microsoft apps. The only applications that are precluded from hard-linking to IE are Microsoft’s PC Productivity Applications which is defined in the agreement as follows.

    “Microsoft’s PC Productivity Applications” means any of the software products marketed,
    distributed and licensed by Microsoft in Microsoft Office 2007 (which includes Word 2007,
    Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007, Outlook 2007, Publisher 2007, Office Accounting Express
    2007, Access 2007, Groove 2007, OneNote 2007, InfoPath 2007, and Office Communicator
    2007, including Service Packs and Updates thereto, or their successors (including Service
    Packs and Updates thereto)).

    The good news is that we have the opportunity to educate users about turning off IE and if enough people do that, then the vendors who hard-link to IE will probably stop doing so, instead calling the default browser through that proper API.

  3. 3

    Baka_toroi said on December 16th, 2009 at 8:17 am:

    @David Naylor: good question, but since WLM is not a part of Windows 7, I don’t think that’s likely. Nevertheless, when I click in links on WLM, they are opened in Firefox. Maybe you’re using an old version, I don’t know.

  4. 4

    Aaron said on December 16th, 2009 at 8:23 am:

    @David Naylor: I believe wWhichever browser is associated as the default (i.e., associated via Default Settings in Windows) will open links on a system wide basis.

  5. 5

    David Naylor said on December 16th, 2009 at 8:35 am:

    Thanks for the replies guys. I could be mistaken, WLM might have been fixed in that respect without me noticing.

  6. 6

    Jeff Garner said on December 16th, 2009 at 9:26 am:

    Cool, now that you got Microsoft to open up in Europe, can you please turn your attention to Adobe and Flash? I am really tired to seeing proprietary ActiveX spewed all over the web without a documented format, no open source client or open source studio to create the files.

  7. 7

    Pingback from Ugoda Microsoftu z Komisją Europejską – będzie ballot screen | WebInfo

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  8. 8

    Pingback from Google Applauds EU-Microsoft ‘Browser Ballot’ Decision | DUOWAN

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  9. 9

    end user said on December 17th, 2009 at 7:32 am:

    I experience difficulty download a driver for my Window XP, because the Microsoft down load site insisted using Window IE and set it up in my computer. But the driver is not product of Microsoft.

  10. 10

    Pingback from Could the Google train hurt Firefox? | The Open Road – CNET News « Real Life Hitch

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  11. 11

    Lennie said on December 19th, 2009 at 6:12 am:

    The rate of change will be a lot less then was possible.

    I read on a website that OEM’s can choose the default they want. And we all know Microsoft has a power over the OEM’s. So what will happen, people get a one-time popup and in a few months or years they will just get IE on their desktop again.

    What was more impressive was the 1% fall of IE wordwide last month.

  12. 12

    Robert Kaiser said on December 19th, 2009 at 6:18 pm:

    Unfortunately the rules for the balloting screen rule out SeaMonkey being on the list while placing others there that may have much less market share. But I guess that’s life when you have a not-so-little-any-more brother like Firefox being attributed to the same “vendor” (whatever that means in open source).

  13. 13

    Asa Dotzler said on December 20th, 2009 at 9:46 pm:

    Robert, I disagree strongly with SeaMonkey being excluded from the ballot. It’s a distinct product with a distinct leadership and it’s unfortunate that browsers with 1/10th the usage of SeaMonkey are included while it is not. I hope this changes.

  14. 14

    Martin said on January 1st, 2010 at 1:25 pm:

    If the European Commicion says something its like a baby that says “mom”. Mom will love it, but so what? I dont think that a “Choose-browser-Popup” will change a lot.
    The problem is that so many people think “Computer – thats Microsoft”. I can’t believe why anybody uses MS-Office or the IE. But my father will install MS-products if he has the choice. The problem is a question of trust. So – I think – Mozilla and its products have to work on “popularity trust”. Otherwise the European Commissoon Settlement won’t change anything. Seems to be easy, but …
    Best wishes, Martin

  15. 15

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  16. 16

    TT said on January 27th, 2010 at 9:32 pm:

    What is IE?…i did learn dot-dash-dot from my radio operator Father in WW2…Morse-desperate-code!…what is IE?…

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