03.03.10

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Microsoft Not Only Broke the Law in Europe, So Browser Ballot Should Become International

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: A new push for the Web browser ballot to be deployed on all Windows installers/OEM PCs; other abuses of Microsoft in Europe

ECIS, which shed light on Microsoft's crimes last year (scroll down to the appendix and also see this summary of crimes against Netscape in another appendix), has just suggested that Microsoft should take its biased ballot [1, 2] to countries outside Europe. Suffice to say, Microsoft boosters including Microsoft Emil and Mary Jo Foley are whining. They are of course hostile towards the idea.

ECIS describes itself as “an international non-profit association founded in 1989 that endeavours to promote a favourable environment for interoperable ICT solutions,” but Mary Jo Foley dismisses it as a “lobbyist group” (it’s like calling one’s solicitor or a judge a “lobbyist for justice”). Here is how she put it:

ECIS, a lobbyist group with many Microsoft adversaries as members, is calling on regulators worldwide to follow the European Commission (EC) in requiring Microsoft to offer a browser ballot that calls out non-Internet-Explorer alternatives available to PC users.

Starting March 1, Microsoft began pushing out to European Union users an EC-stipulated browser ballot, which makes it plain to consumers that even though Internet Explorer (IE) comes preloaded on Windows PCs, there are other browsers available. Microsoft agreed to provide the browser ballot to EU consumers running IE as their default browser on XP, Vista and Windows 7 as part of a settlement deal with the EC in an antitrust case brought against Microsoft by browser maker Opera Software.

One reader informed us of this new article from eWEEK Europe (titled “Microsoft Accused Of Sneaking IE Clones Into Browser Ballot”) and he added: “This explains the strange “random” ballot screen and the inclusion of some very obscure browsers, that are actually IExplorer in disguise.”

The article says: “The EC has forced Microsoft to include other browsers in a ballot screen – but according to critics, several of the alternatives are actually Internet Explorer under the hood.”

Typical Microsoft. If that’s not enough to show the abuses of Microsoft, one abuse that we mentioned yesterday is Microsoft’s use of regulators as its private police force. “Microsoft Behind Google Complaints To EC,” says Slashdot. eWEEK Europe states in the headline that “Microsoft Was Behind Google Complaints To EC”

A lawyer for Microsoft confirmed that the software giant told the US Department of Justice and the European Commission how Google’s business practices may be harming publishers, advertisers and competition in search and online advertising.

This is far from the first time that Microsoft is playing cop.

Another type of abuse that we see in Europe is the abuse of state press (which is funded by taxpayers). Yesterday we wrote about the BBC excluding Free software users [1, 2, 3] after hiring many executives from Microsoft UK. Based on this news, the BBC is foolish enough to phase out its Web efforts, as though the Internet is just going away.

Closing 6Music and the Asian Network may have grabbed the headlines in the BBC’s plan to reallocate a fifth of its licence fee income – but it’s the web that’s bearing the brunt.

“By far the biggest single adjustment is the tightening of focus of the website,” director general Mark Thompson told FT’s Digital Media & Broadcasting Conference, hours after unveiling the strategy that proposes cutting a quarter from the annual web budget and online staff by 2013 (read all the online key points from earlier).

Thompson gave the example of the BBC’s web community for Scotland’s Western Isles: “Actually, those communities are launching their own sites – someone else is doing it – we can step back. In entertainment – we’ve seen a lot of people stepping up in that space – we can draw back.”

This is another atrocious decision from Thompson (shown below). Perhaps he just doesn’t belong in this job.

Ogg Theora

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6 Comments

  1. Lanadapter said,

    March 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm

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    As much wrong as Microsoft has done(and continues to do), forcing them to include a ballot is in itself anti-freedom and it hypocrisy on your part to even suggest such a thing.

    It’d be like telling Ubuntu that they must have a ballot and couldn’t have firefox by default.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You are repeating Microsoft spin.

    The question here is totally different; the ballot is an attempt to compensate for Microsoft’s crimes against Netscape. IOW, it is a form of justifiable punishment.

    Lanadapter Reply:

    “You are repeating Microsoft spin.”

    No I’m not. It’s impossible to repeat what you ignore. XD

    Anyway, it should have been enough that you can uninstall IE. The browser ballot issue was just a sham by the EU to milk money out of microsoft.

    It’s a real fucked up world when Microsoft is the victim rather than the aggressor, but it happened.

    Although I do agree that they had it coming with all the time they spent spreading lies against competitors and calling free software communist.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Please indicate specifically when Microsoft was punished in Europe for its numerous crimes that involve IE (it was found guilty in the Netscape trial).

    clayclamp Reply:

    Please indicate why Microsoft needs to be punished in Europe for something they did to an American company? Just curious.

    your_friend Reply:

    Hypocrisy is all on Microsoft’s part. They not only denied users browser choice, they have done things to deny users OS choice. They do this behind closed doors and in their closed source. Then they have the nerve to insult their victims as losers in a “free market” and characterize any justice as interference in the market.

    Adequate punishment would be to fine Microsoft and given the money to Xandros, Ubuntu, GoOS and others who were pushed off store shelves by Microsoft’s illegal actions. It would be easy enough to demand two or three times Microsoft’s revenue from Walmart and other places where there are smoking gun emails. This would discourage the kinds of contracts they force onto OEMs and retailers. “Browser choice” is a farce that Microsoft will quickly eliminate by deals with publishing buddies and Windows “upgrades” that break competing browsers. Free browsers like Firefox can keep up with Microsoft’s never ending malice but Windows users have to work very hard to keep their browsers up to date and Microsoft can really wreck things at anytime. Why shouldn’t they when the worst punishment they ever get is that a few users actually get a false choice every now and then?

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