John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Microsoft’s Browser Move to Make Windows Even More Annoying

clippieMicrosoft’s proposal to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 7 in Europe may put the company in compliance with European law, but it’s not going to lead to better competition in the browser market. That’s the word from Microsoft’s rivals at home and abroad who say the “must-carry” provision the European Commission has been mulling as a solution for the company’s antitrust indiscretions is the only one that will work.

“The current Microsoft announcement is too little, too late. Such a move would have been appropriate in 1997, but further action is needed to undo the effects of a decade of abuse,” said Thomas Vinje, spokesman for the anti-Microsoft lobby European Committee for Interoperable Systems. “Microsoft must give users real choice, and this should include not just buyers of new computers, but also existing users.” And just what is Vinje’s idea of “real choice”? Ballot screens offering a choice of at least five preloaded browsers for buyers of new PCS as well as Microsoft’s installed base of Windows users, via Windows and IE updates.

Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, took a similarly dim view of Microsoft’s (MSFT) plans for European versions of Windows, questioning the company’s motives and wondering if it might not intend to somehow give PC makers an incentive to bundle IE back into Windows at the OEM level. “It’s impossible to evaluate what this means until Microsoft describes–completely and with specificity–all the incentives and disincentives applicable to Windows OEMs,” she wrote in a blog post. “Without this it’s impossible to tell if Microsoft is giving something with one hand and taking it away with the other. For example, if Windows marketing dollars are tied to IE or browser-based programs, then the ties to Windows are still distorting the browser market. One could think of many other examples. As a result, it’s also impossible to tell whether this does anything more than change the technical installation process of the OEMs.”

Baker did, however, concede that Microsoft’s solution will achieve one thing: annoying the hell out of Windows users abroad. “It will certainly make life more difficult for people upgrading to Windows 7,” she said.