11.08.09

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Mozilla and Opera Still Object to Microsoft’s Deal with the Commission

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Dissatisfaction made more vocal regarding Microsoft’s ballot proposal

AN employee of Mozilla, Jenny Boriss, has informally stated her thoughts on Microsoft’s provisional deal with the European Commission.

Another important factor is how much physical space on the ballot each item is designated. The current design runs into some problems with designated space per item, swayed in favor of IE. For instance, in the current design:

- The user must double-click on an Internet Explorer icon, labeled “Internet Explorer”, to launch the ballot
- The ballot appears within Internet Explorer browser chrome
- Internet Explorer is mentioned repeatedly within the ballot, Bing is shown as the default search engine, and the IE logo appears as a favicon multiple times

The current space allocation for IE is roughly 3.35 times as much as the other browsers.

Here is Opera’s latest response:

Report: Browser makers contest Microsoft browser ballot deal

[...]

Opera Software, which sparked the investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla and Google will each send separate letters to the European Commission suggesting changes to the proposal put forward by Microsoft last summer, said the newspaper.

“We hope the commission is open to fixing the remedy,” Hakon Wium Lie, Opera’s chief technology officer, told the New York Times Wednesday. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make sure there is a working market for browsers. I don’t think we are going to get another chance.”

Posts like the above led to some coverage which agrees with what we mentioned before. Information about this we have already accumulated in:

The above new articles are about the browser issue alone, not the patent issues which the following new item wrongly mixes together:

Microsoft’s antitrust settlement offer to the European Commission needs minor, often cosmetic changes in order to restore fair competition to the market for Internet browsers, said some of the software giant’s main rivals Thursday. Their concerns about the settlement are echoed by ECIS, a trade group representing Oracle, IBM, Red Hat and others, as well as by consumer organizations following the Microsoft antitrust case. Microsoft has proposed that Windows operating systems should show users a ballot screen inviting them to choose a Web browser from among the most popular ones when they first attempt to access the Internet. Consumer organizations and the company’s rivals generally approve of the idea, but believe the way Microsoft’s ballot screen is designed is biased and will deter people from replacing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser with another.

Two important points ought to be stressed:

  1. The browser case is concerned with restoring competition because Microsoft broke the law to achieve monoculture (the Microsoft talking point is that Evil Commission wants to ‘steal’ market from Microsoft)
  2. The browser case is separate from the patent issue, which is the main issue affecting Free software

The sad thing is that the Commission is reaching an end of term and therefore it’s rushing its decision while allowing Microsoft to buy more time and get away with past crimes (showing that crime simply pays off more).

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

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