05.02.09

Microsoft Shoves Internet Explorer 8 Down Users’ Throats, But What About Choice?

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 6:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer loves Firefox

Summary: Microsoft assumes users will love the update, as long as it’s from Microsoft

ACCORDING TO this report, “Microsoft [Is] Pushing Out IE8 Through Auto Update.”

Microsoft has begun pushing out Internet Explorer 8, the latest version of its Web browser, to Windows users who are signed up for automatic software updates.

Can they also push Opera to users, preferably through auto-update? How about Mozilla Firefox? How does that promote competition or restore any? Europe’s case against Microsoft is still on, but it’s progressing far too slowly if Microsoft already force-feeds users so that they ‘choose’ its latest Web browser and get locked in even further.

Opera initiated the Commission’s case when it first filed a complaint in late 2007. Since then it has become one of the case’s “interested third parties” together with Google and Mozilla under the umbrella of Brussels-based ECIS, or the European Committee for Interoperable Systems.

But won’t bundling a few more browsers like Opera into Windows be just as unfair to other browsers who aren’t included? “That is of course a question that has to be addressed,” said ECIS’s legal counsel Thomas Vinje, who thinks between four and five other browsers should be packaged in. “The choice of who is included is an important one.” Opera is not guaranteed a place, Vinje insists. The Commission would take advice on that from independent experts.

As recent background to this case, see this post. It would probably be unproductive to discuss this again. Microsoft does not tolerate choice; it loathes it.

“My children – in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod.”

Steve Ballmer (on CNN)

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10 Comments

  1. the11thplague said,

    May 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Ok, it does not pass even half of the acid3 test, but it seems a good substitute to ie7, at least… And I saw there is a nice startup configuration too. I was given the option to disable all the crap right after the installation.

  2. Chris said,

    May 3, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Gravatar

    Sure Boy, please flame them for pushing out their IE v8 so we finally get rid of v6 and earlier that are even worse.

    Once again, a “great” subject inside yet another “great” article of yours. Congrats …

  3. the11thplague said,

    May 4, 2009 at 6:03 am

    Gravatar

    Well, there is a little concern here, will it run on non-genuine windows copies ?

    Shane Coyle Reply:

    IIRC, MS used to (still?) allow the automatic updates mechanism to work – perhaps just ‘critical’ ones, but I thought they did…

    Any *ahem* "ethically-challenged" *ahem* Windows-using visitors that can confirm or deny? ;^ )

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There were reports some years ago about Microsoft bypassing this option and overriding that tickbox, thus enabling MotherShipCorp to visit and force updates on the machine no matter the settings.

  4. Shane Coyle said,

    May 4, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Gravatar

    MS claims it’s not a forced upgrade:

    “IE8 will not automatically install – the user has control over whether to upgrade to IE8. When offered IE8, three choices are offered: Ask later, install, or don’t install. If one chooses “Ask me later” then IE8 will continue to be offered via Automatic Update, and choosing “Don’t Install” will cause IE8 to no longer be offered via this method. Users who choose “Don’t Install” can still download IE8 [from the Download Center] or from Windows Update as an optional update,” explained Eric Hebenstreit, lead program manager.

    But, I still think this isn’t nearly as bad as Apple pushing Safari on folks who didn’t even have it yet – this is an upgrade of an already installed exe (take the bundling argument aside for a moment, what’s done is done and these folks have IE installed, is it better to leave them on an old, soon-to-be-unsupported and perhaps less secure version?)

    Plus, these changes are usually an opportunity – after the last time they altered the interface on IE (7?) I finally was able to move my mother to “FoxFire” (that’s what she calls it). If her buttons hadn’t moved, she never would have considered it. Just like the awfulness of WinME got my father and stepmother to let me switch them to Linux and never look back years ago.

    the11thplague Reply:

    Yeah, I really hate that fucking “upgrade” to iTunes that installs Safari and a bunch of other crap. What’s worst is that an unneeded Safari only adds more potential vulnerabilities. While M$ killing ie6 is a truly deserved update, and finally patch some over-exploited bugs. Yeah, Appl€ can be more evil than M$.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They receive leeway they do not deserve. RMS slammed them a few days ago.

    Roy Bixler Reply:

    The difference is that Apple is not (yet) a monopoly. If they become a monopoly, I would expect them to abuse it just as Microsoft has been doing since the beginning.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Apple has a monopoly in other areas. This does not necessarily mean that they abuse it.

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