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07.26.09

The European Commission’s Battle Against Monopoly Abuse Takes Next Step, But What About Web Standards?

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 2:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Statues

Summary: The European Commission makes progress, but it neglects to stop Microsoft’s abandonment of Web standards

ABOUT a fortnight ago we wrote about how Microsoft had attempted to escape punishment in the EU by choosing its own ‘punishment’, only to upset Opera, Mozilla, and the European Commission.

There is a new development in this case. As Reuters puts it:

Microsoft (MSFT.O) has offered to let users choose their own browser and provide more interoperability information to third parties in a bid to resolve two antitrust cases, EU regulators said on Friday.

The European Commission charged the U.S. software company on January 15 with seeking to thwart rivals by bundling the company’s Web browser with its Windows PC operating system, thus harming innovation and reducing consumer choice.

From BizJournals:

European Union regulators said on Friday that Microsoft Corp. will offer users of its new Windows 7 operating system a choice of browsers.

People must remember that this is done because Microsoft broke the law in order to gain market share. According to a Microsoft-funded blog, Microsoft has seemingly made the change due to pressure and IDG says that it’s about appeasing the Commission.

Microsoft says it’s willing to put a “ballot screen” into Windows 7 to let European consumers choose from among several competing web browsers as the default in the operating system. The concession is aimed at resolving an antitrust complaint filed against the company in Europe by Opera Software over the bundling of Internet Explorer in Windows.

One reader of ours opines that “Microsoft is Silverlighting the EU.”

“This recent offer by Microsoft to allow end users to choose browser at first boot, is largely becoming academic,” he states. “As since they are moving most content to Silverlight, and you need Windows to use Silverlight, well… I bet Bill and Steve are laughing up their sleeve…”

The European Commission has actually dealt with Silverlight as an antitrust issue. However, there is no report of progress on the subject.

“Silverlight is much, much more than delivering video,” the reader insists. “So they are using Silverlight to do an end run around the browser wars. I bet there’s a memo in Redmond about Silverlighting Mozilla and Google.” The Netscape case has lessons to teach us.

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