Microsoft to bundle other browsers in Europe?

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the EU may be considering additional sanctions against Microsoft to prevent it from going into monopolistic practices again, including an option to install competitors’ web browsers.

Its implementation would most likely consist of a menu where users can choose a browser to download and try and make one of them their default.

Which browsers would be listed? Perhaps it seems pretty obvious that it should be Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Opera? Maybe. But consider that according to Net Applications, if Opera gets in, so should the corpse known as Netscape, as it is still ahead of it. Then, would it be fair to exclude a browser with small market share if it’s at least in part a consequence of Microsoft’s monopolistic tactics? SeaMonkey, Flock, Maxthon, K-Meleon could all claim its right to be listed as well. And, whose statistics should Microsoft take into account? According to XiTi Monitor, in Europe, Opera is ahead of Netscape and Chrome.

But most important is wondering how complete and effective a sanction like this would be. Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Foundation chair posted a couple of months ago, a series of principles the EU should take into account to ensure whatever sanction or action it rules will in fact prevent  the web browsers market innovation drought of the late 90s and early 2000s. They are:

  1. Respect previous choice
  2. Windows should not provide technical advantage to IE,
  3. Must enable people to choose other browsers,
  4. Microsoft’s incentives to distributors must be browser neutral,
  5. Microsoft must educate about other browsers,
  6. Microsoft development tools must not produce IE or Windows specific results.

Perhaps even more interesting is what could be a missing principle: why not just require Microsoft to support web standards? Mitchell gives three reasons: who would identify which standards have to be implemented and when are they implemented enough; and, most realistically and least obviously: “If Microsoft is legally required to implement a [web standard] specification, then it is hard to see the process ever coming to a conclusion. ”

Finally, here’s a short video of an interview last week to John Lilly and Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Corp. CEO and Mozilla Foundation chair, respectively, at the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D conference, on this and other interesting Firefox topics.

Via Windows IT Pro.

5 thoughts on “Microsoft to bundle other browsers in Europe?”

  1. This is really interesting stuff. I really hope something like this happens. Just hope Microsoft can’t get out of it by producing a Windows light, without IE but the same price. (As they did with Windows Media Player.)

  2. They shouldn’t bundle NetScape, since it’s a dead project. And I think that if the smaller browsers want to be listed, they should be. It’s only fair.
    I would give preference to open-source projects, though, as those are more reliable.

  3. Is it not good enough that users can remove IE? To be completely fair, every browser available, including ones that need GTK or Qt to work (Konqueror), software with web browsing as a secondary or tetiary feature (emacs), text mode only browsers (Lynx), and alpha level software (Hv3). All of the examples I posted are available for Windows, so why should they get left out?

  4. IEFan, you’re missing the main point here: Microsofts (virtual) monopoly when it comes to OS-esses.

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