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Rory Cellan-Jones

A browser-free Windows 7

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 25 Jun 09, 14:45 GMT

Microsoft has just issued a press release and blog about the pricing of Windows 7 when it arrives on 22 October, which is so complex and so full of PR guff that I would have chucked it straight into my virtual bin, if I hadn't had a briefing from the company earlier today.

A placard of the Microsoft

Luckily, during that telephone call with John Curran, Windows business lead, Microsoft UK, a story did emerge. And it's this - European consumers will be offered a browser-free Windows at a decent price to satisfy those fussy folks at the European Commission. The trouble is, that's unlikely to please either Brussels or consumers.

Microsoft is in the middle of another epic battle during its long war with the European Commission over the alleged abuse of its monopoly position. This time the issue is the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, the subject of complaints from rival browser makers.

Earlier this month Microsoft came up with a ploy it thought might satisfy the Commission, promising that Windows 7 would be released in Europe without any browser.

Today we learned that this would mean that European users who wanted to upgrade would have to install the full version - if they'd been offered the simpler upgrade, that would have simply imported their existing browser, almost certainly Internet Explorer, into their new setup.

But Microsoft says it's giving European users that full version for the same price that it would normally charge for an upgrade - £79.99 in the UK.

But here's the problem. You upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 7, and then find you've got no browser. No problem, I hear you say, you just go and download one - say Firefox, or Chrome, or Safari or maybe Internet Explorer 8. Using your browser. Ahh...right.

Microsoft told me "we will have some answers" to this issue, but admitted there were "challenges and complexities" involved. But the company pointed out to me that the vast majority of Windows 7 users were likely to be people buying new computers, and the manufacturers were likely to pre-install a browser on those machines.

So what will the likes of Dell, Toshiba, HP or Lenovo choose to install? Internet Explorer 8, perhaps?

John Curran from Microsoft said the whole aim of the European version of Windows 7 was to make sure that the company was "in full compliance with EU law." I rang a man in Brussels to ask whether the European Commission was impressed by Microsoft's behaviour.

The sound of loud harrumphing came whistling down the line. "For them to claim they're doing this in order to comply with European law is just nonsense," he told me, although he used a slightly stronger term than nonsense.

He explained that Brussels had suggested an alternative approach, whereby consumers were offered a "ballot screen" when they first turned on a Windows 7 computer, allowing them to choose from a menu of different browsers.

And he pointed out that if the whole business ends up with Microsoft somehow persuading manufacturers to install Internet Explorer on their machines, then consumers will be no better off.

Microsoft believes it's offering European consumers a compelling product while satisfying the concerns of the regulators. But the next move will come from Brussels - and it looks likely that Microsoft will be ordered to offer not a browser-free Windows 7 but one with a full menu of choices.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Poor Brussels they can see that fine-money slipping away, and poor Opera for complaining to the EU now they still won't get free advertising from Microsoft and they have generated a lot of bad publicity for themselves by making things harder for consumers.

    There is a basic ftp program in Windows that one can use to download a browser.

  • Comment number 2.

    Without wanting to sound like I'm licking Microsoft's proverbial, I think this whole debarcle is utter nonsense {insert word from European guy}.

    A browser is part of a complete operating system, and for an OS to have none at all straight after install is just absolutely stupid. A stupid response from Microsoft to a stupid complaint by Europe.

    Nowadays everyone knows about all the options for browsers, so they can change if they want to - it's no longer just geeks that are aware of different browsers.

    Are the makers of Ubuntu going to get slated for bundling Firefox with it?

    What about Snow Leopord.... does that come with Safari bundled? What about other software included by Apple.... *shock horror*

    Are car makers going to get lambasted for including Michelin tyres and a Pioneer stereo in the car?

    Why is it that every successful company is treated like a Corporate Satan? Microsoft have produced an OS that is very successful, other companies should GET OVER IT.

  • Comment number 3.

    What the?!?!

    "In Europe, the full version will cost the same as an upgrade version.
    In the UK the upgrade version of the Home Premium edition of Windows 7, available to those with an existing Windows license, will be £79.99.
    By contrast buying this in a shop, and which can be installed on more than one machine, will cost £149.99."

    Who wrote this?

  • Comment number 4.

    New machines will come with browsers from the manufacturer. If you're upgrading to Windows 7 just stick Firefox or your browser of choice on a USB drive. No biggie.

  • Comment number 5.

    the simple answer is to put the firefox chrome or safari .exe file on a flash drive and install when you have finished installing windows simple. Or get linux and blow microsoft out of the water!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Where is the choice when it comes to Europe, can their be a place I can choose to make my own commercial decision without a bureaucrat arguing for me?

    So what happens with an Apple MAC, they come with Safari, what about Ubuntu it comes with Firefox?

    Why can we not be like the rest of the world?

    Chris

  • Comment number 7.

    I dont want to buy anything from Microsoft ever again! the last thing I bought was VISTA its such a bitter pill. they need to fix it! or give me a refund! before I will ever pay them another penny.

    7 for free - or I invest in some ubuntu courses.

  • Comment number 8.

    We the public should think more about who we elect to political positions. These people are suposed to serve the public and not their selfish ambitions as well as their friends.
    The EU fines MS and tell them they cannot madate their tool (IE), MS listens, and then the same EU tells MS to add their competitors tools to their hard earned product. So illogical?

    Can the EU tell Mercedes, VW, Fiat, etc to include different satellite navigation systems in each car for the customer to select when their car is delivered?
    Can the EU tell the likes of Armani, Versace, D&G to give options to the customer of buying each others products in their flagship stores?
    Can the EU tell M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda to give the customer options of buying competitor products in their stores?
    Would you tell Cabury to sell Nestle and Galaxy chocolate?

    MS is a very successive company who have delivered a good product to the world, and the owners have made a lot of money out of it, and now greedy individuals want to reap from them what they themselves could not sow are acting as our regulators

    We all have the option to downlad another browser using IE so i see know issue with it. Advise on diiferent products can be sought from government and professsional body websites for users who are searching for choice. The media are actively involved in rating products so any individual who wants information has access to it.
    MS are only doing what the 'dull heads' in the EU are mandating them to do

  • Comment number 9.

    re comment 2 - 'A browser is part of a complete operating system'
    No it isn't its an application.

    Even though I'm not a fan of Microsoft they should be able to pre-install IE if they wish, just like Apple pre-installs Safari. But... they shouldn't claim that Windows won't run without it or prevent the computer manufacturer or user from deleting it, like they used to.

    Anyway, in my case I don't bother to pay the Microsoft tax and make sure I buy a PC without Windows and install Linux instead. Then I get a choice.

  • Comment number 10.

    I would use Linux but having seen what it apparently does to one's grammar I think I'll pass.

    *Shudder*

    Anyway, this is a case of who blinks first and is hugely embarrassing to the EU.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't blame MS for doing this one iota. You shouldn't be able to force one company to provide free advertising to other vendor's just because they're the dominant force in the industry. May this would have been valid 10 years ago, but these days, Mac OS and Linux are eroding Microsoft's market share, but we don't see the boys from Cupertino being forced to advertise alternative browsers, despite having no option but to buy OSX when you buy a Mac.
    It would be the same as forcing Ford to offer Vauxhall Screenwash in their car's on delivery. Something that's pretty useful to have in a car, but not essential to make it go, and something most people couldn't care less about.
    I think Europe arn't happy that they're not going to keep using MS as a cash machine, and Opera arn't happy that their browser isn't going to get the free advertising they think they somehow deserve.
    I find Opera's approach an affront, and as such, despite them having the best browser for Windows Mobile devices, I have made the conscious decision to uninstall the product and use alternatives.

  • Comment number 12.

    I guess if Microsoft wasn't a convicted monopolist they could install IE on Windows Vista, I mean 7. Unfortunately they are, so they can't.

    Disclaimer: I am not imposing my opinion on any posters in this forum.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm a little tired of the EU's war against IE, the "browser wars" are going just fine without their intervention. Firefox is not exactly being crippled by Microsofts advantage, in fact they are going from strength to strength.

    Oh, and as other people have said, an OS without a browser is stupid. They should go after the makers of Mac, and Ubuntu for bundling Firefox and Safari, except they won't because they are not popular enough.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ #2

    I'm sorry, but a browser is not part of the operating system at all.

    It is an absolutely disgraceful piece of chicanery by Microsoft, and I hope it further accelerates the move away from Windows, and all Microsoft products, in Europe.

    They have become arrogant and condescending to those who pay vast sums of money for their software, and I think the EU should increase their fine because of this latest action, so that they can subsidise every European's upgrade fee.

  • Comment number 15.

    @ #8

    It's completely different.

    The production and sale of an operating system should have absolutely no ties to other software that is not required for the operating system to function.

    Internet Explorer being provided for free with Windows provides Microsoft with a huge advantage - their browser is worse than Firefox and Chrome, and they use their monopoly position on the operating system market to force that on people.

    Operating system vendors, by their very nature, should all sign up to interoperability and open standards - it is the only way forward. Then Microsoft can continue to promote their second rate browser alongside their second rate operating system.

  • Comment number 16.

    #6

    "Why can we not be like the rest of the world?

    Chris"

    What, supine and handing over huge quantities of hard earned income to a multi-billion software giant that has no compunction in bowing to pressure in China....?

    No thanks, I'm with #5 - let's get rid of Microsoft in Europe full stop!

    It is a happy day when we use free software, and a few less billion heading over the pond for shoddy-coded garbage.

  • Comment number 17.

    Frankly Vista was so awful, such a memory hog, and with so many compatability issues, that I'd be extremely reluctant to update to Windows 7 anyway.

  • Comment number 18.

    To all those trying to compare this situation with other industries:

    For example this post:

    Can the EU tell Mercedes, VW, Fiat, etc to include different satellite navigation systems in each car for the customer to select when their car is delivered?
    Can the EU tell the likes of Armani, Versace, D&G to give options to the customer of buying each others products in their flagship stores?
    Can the EU tell M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda to give the customer options of buying competitor products in their stores?
    Would you tell Cabury to sell Nestle and Galaxy chocolate?

    Of course this argument is wrong. None of the companies have a monopoly position in their industry like Microsoft has in its. Therefore, they are not abusing their monopoly position, like Microsoft is in danger of doing.

    Also, for all those saying that Linux cannot ship with Firefox, Apple cannot ship with Safari etc., the same applies. The situation is asymmetric. Microsoft has the monopoly which EU polices to make sure it isn't abused. These other companies serve only niches and cannot therefore abuse this position in the same way. That is why it is OK to "single out" Microsoft and IE.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think thats ludicrous - they should allow them to include their own browser.

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't often applaud Microsoft, I've been drinking the Mac user's anti Redmond elixir since 1987.

    But I absolutely applaud their decision not to offer a Windows 7 upgrade path in Europe.

    The EU is an undemocratic, bureaucratic protection racket and its so called "competition policy" is just another example of pointless rules and diktats which allow hundreds of unelected bureaucrats to give the pretence of working for a living and to ensure they keeps their snouts deep in the taxpayer funded trough.

    So well done "the dark side"!

  • Comment number 21.

    So what happens when I put Windows 7 on my current PC? Will I lose everything on my hard drive or will things like Firefox continue to work?

  • Comment number 22.

    Quote - "But here's the problem. You upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 7, and then find you've got no browser. No problem, I hear you say, you just go and download one - say Firefox, or Chrome, or Safari or maybe Internet Explorer 8. Using your browser. Ahh...right."

    Well yes, quite... but that isn't exactly Microsoft's fault is it? They've had it imposed on their new OS by courts that IE is not ti be integrated into the OS, mostly it seems by people who really can't see the bigger picture on this one; that somehow think removing IE will help an anti competition situation.

    For the life of me, I dont see how being given a choice of using a different browser to access the web somehow puts competition fears to rest. All the popular browsers are free anyway and ultimate will be running on WINDOWS, so what is the difference here? I dont really see the angle of the argument, aside from trying to force a breakup in IE setting web coding standards I don't see the point at all; and I seriously doubt that was on the courts mind at the time.

    The idea of actively forcing microsoft to advertise other browsing software from within it's own OS is rediculous, it's like forcing supermarkets to clear product space for other traders within the local area, it wouldn't happen.

    The reason Microsoft have such a large monopoly on the OS userbase out there is because they make very popular products, if you want to seriously clear out the issue of anti-competition then look at stopping Microsoft from forcing PC manufucaturer / distributors from selling their operating system pre-installed on every flavour of machine that they create.

    The answer is people are free to make their own minds up and chose, if you dont want to pay Microsoft for their very user friendly and popular product, fine, research into other alternatives like certain user friendly linux distributions...

  • Comment number 23.

    Its crazy. Are Microsoft monopolists?...definitely, but Im sure last time i checked we live in a capitalist society. As much as i dislike some of Microsofts moves in the past they have to be treated fairly and as other companies. If you order one company to provide an operating system without their browser then all companies have to be told the same.
    Imagine if Microsoft starting making their own branded computers and you had to buy one to use windows...

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm more worried over the fact that Microsoft aren't (at this stage at least) offering discounts to people like myself who purchased Vista Ultimate on release day, to find only 2 and a half years down the line will have its replacement already rolled out and be expected to pay full price for it and not even offer an upgrade version for the most silly of reasons.

    Part of why Windows 7 is being rushed out is because Vista is seemingly sub-standard. I think its a fine operating system, but you do have to tweak it to get the best performance out of it. I'm keen on making the step up to Windows 7 yet upon release, but if this is going to remain Microsoft's stance on the matter I won't be doing so and i'll "do an XP" with Vista until MS buck up their ideas.

  • Comment number 25.

    I use firefox, I also have chrome and Safari installed (as well as bundled IE) but I still dont understand the point of the EU ruling... MS shouldnt install IE because it stops people downloading free software from the net??? If MS want to bundle let them. If people want to provide other browsers let them, but why suggest that one manufacturer (MS) advertise another's products?

    surely the EU's ideal answer is to stop all bundling of software at point of sale - including the OS then it will truly be up to the consumer whether to get MS Win or to get Linux or to get.... any other OS on the market.

    Surely an upgrade would have offered the chance of all old software to be imported, not just IE so as long as a new win upgrade did not add a browser not already present it would have complied.

  • Comment number 26.

    "If you order one company to provide an operating system without their browser then all companies have to be told the same." - afraid not, old boy, only companies with significant market power can be pushed around to stop them abusing it. All you need to download a browser is a wget command :-)

    Let's face it, all the PC suppliers will suddenly as one be proclaiming "XYZ recommends Windows 7" and pre-installing IE8 on the desktop as a condition of a hidden MS OEM agreement just as they control the current desktop. Nobody buying a PC will see any difference, it'll be obliged to have Windows and it'll be obliged to have Internet Explorer. This issue only applies to those buying Windows separately, hardly a large market.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ cynicaleng,
    Come on.. they go after Microsoft because they know how much they can fine them.
    Should Apple, with their huge market share of digital music players, be forced to enable and ship a selection of alternatives to itunes?

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm not sure where to post this but can I confess to being totally confused by your article about Windows 7 pricing in Europe? I'm sure it's hard for you to report on a situation which sounds very confusing to begin with, but I struggled to understand the different prices you were mentioning - and you kept talking about upgrade prices whilst saying that all versions are full versions. To me it could do with a rewrite to help explain the situation better.

  • Comment number 29.

    @24,

    "I'm more worried over the fact that Microsoft aren't (at this stage at least) offering discounts to people like myself who purchased Vista Ultimate on release day, to find only 2 and a half years down the line will have its replacement already rolled out and be expected to pay full price for it and not even offer an upgrade version for the most silly of reasons."


    I feel the same about Apple. I mean, charging £29 for an upgrade to Snow Leopard is outrageous!

    How much is Win7 Ultimate again?

    Disclaimer: I am not imposing my opinion on any posters in this forum.

  • Comment number 30.

    All I would need IE8 for is to download the browser of my choice - its a rubbish browser anyway and I have no intention of ever using it. As long as its easy to uninstall its not a problem. If the EU want competition then fine, provide links to a bunch of other browsers and give the user the choice that the EEC demand.

    Why ever Microsft decided to penalise their customers to spite EEC competition legislation is a mystery to me - its hardly a PR winner. If Microsft want to win customer confidence back after the appalling Vista OS they should be offering upgrades to ALL Vista users as an apology for providing rubbish the last time around and not make them buy the full OS again.

  • Comment number 31.

    "what about Ubuntu it comes with Firefox?"

    Well since Ubuntu is free, and Windows costs money, then that situation is completely different. Besides, even if Ubuntu did cost money, it would still be different to the Microsoft situation, since Firefox and Ubuntu are made by different people, whereas Windows and Internet Explorer aren't.

  • Comment number 32.

    I won't be upgrading as Vista works very well on my two year old PC. However, when I buy a new PC in, say, a year or two it will be running W7 and, since 90% of Windows consumer sales are on new OEM machines, I guess that's what everyone else will be doing too.

    So, uh, what was the issue again?

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 29
    "I feel the same about Apple. I mean, charging 29 for an upgrade to Snow Leopard is outrageous!"

    I know, £29 for a 'service pack'
    Outrageous!

  • Comment number 34.

    Wow

    The MicroSoft PR team march on..

    This is a political standoff with the Windows user glued firmly in the middle.

    Personally I prefer a more fruity variety and I'm very pleased it comes with the propriety OS installed thank you very much as thats the one I buy the computer for. I'm happy it installs with a browser, and I'm equally as happy I can DL and install whatever browser I wish. I'm insanely happy I can install other OS's to work along side my prop OS or boot into in it's own space.

    MS are getting squeezed from all angles, inevitable given the history. But to turn that squeeze on it's long suffering end consumer is scandalous. I have a Vista license and on a MB Pro runs OK, but I would have thought W7 would have been an accounting charge at best. I could not give a monkeys which browser is installed as it's MY choice as to which one I prefer.

    Stupid EU and an equally stupid MicroSoft..

  • Comment number 35.

    Wow the EU strikes again. Just because Opera can't make a popular browser? The EU will find a pathetic excuse again to sue them after Windows 7, maybe they couldn't get on the internet without a browser? Why should we be punished by having to pay more for a product that should be the same price and already contain a browser like the USA as far as i'm aware they haven't complained?

  • Comment number 36.


    @ LEM007

    Well informed as usual....

  • Comment number 37.

    Typical nonsense from the unelected and unaccountable Eurocrats. Only they would expect a company to advise it's customers to install competitors software. They're certainly not acting on my behalf.

    I don't blame Microsoft for taking this stance at all. We're lucky they didn't just tell the Eurocrats to go to hell and simply stop selling their products in the EU.

    I seem to remember some time ago Tesco wanted to sell Jeans in their stores, the Eurocrats didn't allow that so I'd say we have positive prrof that they're not interested in real competition. There has to be some other reason ... anybody care to guess what it may be?

  • Comment number 38.

    @ neilephipps
    Sorry, I was looking from a bite from the fanboys, but was expecting a better reply than that. Maybe a long list of the new innovative improvements in 10.6

    This topic is about the lack of a web browser being included in windows 7 in Europe. NOT about how OSX is better than windows, NOT about how you prefer your computer, not about how you cant install OSX on a windows machine (because apple will sue you)
    The necessity for apple fans to turn every single topic on this blog that mentions windows or apple into an 'apple' is better argument annoys me. Can you not just discuss the topic in hand?

  • Comment number 39.

    The EU's competition rulings are made not to benefit the consumer, but to benefit the dominant supplier's competitors, always to the detriment of the consumer. Preventing MS from including a browser (or media player) with their OS does not benefit me, or MS, but only the providers of alternative browsers and media players. No doubt they would have taken the same attitude to disk compression, defragmenters, or backup programs in past years. Then I'd need to buy several programs just to get a basic system working. I'm very happy that I can go out and install alternatives, but I don't see why MS can't be allowed to ship whatever they want to. If I prefer FF and iTunes to IE and WMP, I'll go and install them for myself.

    (Of course, the EU did exactly the same thing with Premier League football rights. Sky suffered, Setanta gained, and I had to pay an extra £10 a month to see the football I wanted to see. And look how that ended.)

  • Comment number 40.

    aardfrith #21.

    "So what happens when I put Windows 7 on my current PC? Will I lose everything on my hard drive or will things like Firefox continue to work?"

    if previous experience is anything to go by, you'll need a new PC with more memory and a faster CPU!

  • Comment number 41.


    @LEM007

    Not quite sure where I stated that OSX is better. Seems I mentioned that the hated Vista runs well on my MBP.

    Take your blinkers off and appreciate that I was not expanding the boring divide but simply stating that MS have not dealt a fair hand to EU Win users - ME INCLUDED. It's a political issue and the end user pays (as usual).

    I have a PC running OSX - not difficult even for a 'fanboy'. I'm not looking over my shoulder.

    We all have an opinion and we all have a preference - thats what makes this an exhilarating space.

    I got over the 'us and them' moons ago, maybe you should try it.....

  • Comment number 42.

    @ neilephipps,
    I never said it was difficult just illegal.
    Im not into 'us and them' either, just tired of the pointless roundabout arguments.
    How do you think Microsoft should have handled the issue? With the fines the EU have handed them in the past they had do something. I really can't see why they should offer a page of links to other companies products when istalling/upgrading without some kind of payment from them. What would be next? Mozilla sues microsoft because the link to Opera is before the link to Firefox?
    Its been a long time since I personally used IE and until recently it was very difficult to use windows in an entirely IE free enviroment, with certain Microsoft applications insisting on using IE (Live messenger for one). Whilst I agree that this had to change, I really think the EU has put Microsoft in a corner.
    Where will this end is the worrying part? What constitutes as core to an operating system?

  • Comment number 43.

    Quotes-"So what happens when I put Windows 7 on my current PC? Will I lose everything on my hard drive or will things like Firefox continue to work?"

    if previous experience is anything to go by, you'll need a new PC with more memory and a faster CPU!

    As an XP user with Windows 7 RC1 installed as a Dual boot,(and Vista on another M/c)I can honestly say that apart from an old webcam,everything works perfectly in "7"!CPU usage is lower than XP (and def lower than Vista,plus needs less RAM!),and I was able to transfer everything I needed across with very little effort!Firefox and Chrome work just as well in "7" too!

  • Comment number 44.

    belfastman9 #43.

    thanks. a pleasant, if entirely unexpected, surprise.

  • Comment number 45.

    "despite having no option but to buy OSX when you buy a Mac. " Actually, it comes as part of the package. A full version as well not a "home" version.

    "you cant install OSX on a windows machine (because apple will sue you)" I don't think you can install on a Windows machine. I only think you can install hackintosh on an IBM compatible machine that isn't running Windows.

    "if previous experience is anything to go by, you'll need a new PC with more memory and a faster CPU!" My first impressions of Windows 7 is that it runs very well on existing and quite old machines (certainly ones that Vista won't run on), It may well be the OS that Windows users finally deserve. Fast, lean, mean and light (but featured). It will also mean that people won't have to ditch or upgrade their boxes every 2 years - and that's an environmental saving too!

    Personally, I don't forget that Microsoft have a terrible track record. They have bullied and pushed other companies into bankruptcy. Marketed vaporware. Lied. Lied and lied again. Are a bully and monopoly. QUite frankly they need a slap or three. Not certain that the EU is doing it the correct way though. Mind you MS's response in clearly trying to threaten and intimidate European consumers. There we go again MS. Back to baby bully boy tricks.

  • Comment number 46.

    "I know, 29 for a 'service pack'"

    A much better price for a Service Pack tham M$ are charging for theirs (Win7).

    How much is Windoze 7 "Ultimate" (now there's an oxymoron if ever I saw one!)

  • Comment number 47.

    @lem007 "Should Apple, with their huge market share of digital music players, be forced to enable and ship a selection of alternatives to itunes?" - analogy failure, iTunes is not the operating system of their digital music player.

    Equally the market dominance of the iPod bears no comparison to the Microsoft situation. I can walk into a store and choose from tens of different MP3 players, but how many operating systems are for sale on a mid range desktop PC ? ONE. Can I buy a PC without Windows in a high street retailer ? NO.

  • Comment number 48.

    He explained that Brussels had suggested an alternative approach, whereby consumers were offered a "ballot screen" when they first turned on a Windows 7 computer, allowing them to choose from a menu of different browsers.

    ---------

    A ridiculous notion from a system that just wants to punich Mirosoft without offerng a better alternative.

    What browsers should be included on this ballot? IE8, Firesfox, Safari, Opera and Chrome at least I would assume, but then what about Flock, SeaMonkey, Maxthon, Amaya, Konquerer, Lynx and the dozens of others? Would a browser left off not be able to claim uncompetitive behaviour on the part of MS? What about when a new browser appears inevitably just after Windows 7 is packaged?

    Frankly the EU is getting exactly what it deserved, a bit fat embarrassing exposure of an idiotic ruling that had everything to do with looking like they were standing up to big bad Americans and absolutely nothign to do with user choice or competition.

    I hope that whoever made the decision is forced to display on live TV, without any prior training, how to get on the internet with the new version of windows so that all the other non-techy users who are stuck with the same problem can follow suit.

  • Comment number 49.

    @ cynicaleng
    'analogy failure, iTunes is not the operating system of their digital music player.'
    Is IE the operating system of windows?, not quite sure what you are getting at there.

    You could buy a Mac, or install linux?

    Your argument stated that the EU cares about market share, not the availability of alternative products in stores.

  • Comment number 50.

    Windows 7 is nothing more than service pack 3 to fix Vista - they should be offering it for free!

  • Comment number 51.

    Blah blah the usual MS evil Apple loves us and would like to be our friends beginning to creep in.

    Honestly so much nonsense about browsers. I have Chrome, Firefox and IE all on my machine and Chrome is being used just now because Firefox is needign overhauled.

    Also I would like to add my tupence ha'penny about the Apple and my iTunes updates constantly trying to punt Safari down to my machines. And yet MS are evil and have "ploys" to get us to use their stuff!?!

    As I always say use what you want to use and stop giving us all ear ache over what is best. Yes it's best for you but maybe not others and please Apple fans, of which I am one along with MS and various Linux flavours, wake up they don't care about you either they are just big faceless corporation like MS. Still their designs have made me spend money.

    Rory I really love the use of the word "ploy" honestly could you be anymore anti MS if you tried. Next up will be horns on to the the S in Microsoft and the music from the Omen playing get a grip. Still you did your job and got me to comment. Or should I say your ploy worked! Also with all the iPhone coverage where is your report on the Samsung phone that has more pre-orders than the iPhone shifted in a week. Impartial BBC?

  • Comment number 52.

    Looks like the MS astroturfers and shills are out in force again, guess this is a sore point for them...

    A few points:

    The EU action has had a major benefit in that MS have stopped their deceit that the browser is integral to the OS and cannot be separated or uninstalled from it. Their action has forced MS to separate it out and ensure that other browsers can operate on Windows on a technologically level playing field. That's the real benefit of the EU and DoJ actions.

    Remember MS is a convicted monopolist, not because they have a monopoly, but because they illegally used that monopoly in one area, the OS, to create a monopoly in another area, the browser market.

    Ubuntu and OSX may ship with Firefox/Safari installed, but you are free to uninstall them and choose a different browser and have it function OK. Ubuntu and Firefox are made by separate entities and don't even have a business relationship so it isn't even comparable.

    Personally I wouldn't want to rely on MS playing nice, look how they left IE to stagnate after they illegally beat Netscape, if maintaining competition in the market forces MS to continue developing IE and to move to better support for browser standards, them I'm all for it as it ensure the net stays an open platform.

    As for not offering an upgrade installer in Europe, that means you will have to completely wipe your drive before installing Win7 fresh, which is probably a good thing from a technical view. Users will of course have to back-up their data files as part of that process (MS provide a wizard for this), and so will just need to save a copy of the Firefox installer too. Given FF has about 50% of the European browser market anyway, that won't be a hardship for most people. That said, I do prefer the EU idea of giving users the choice after install for which browser they want to install, but I still wouldn't trust MS to do that right either.

  • Comment number 53.

    The EP seems determined to ruin the start to finish experience of buying and installing Microsoft's new retail offering for all Europeans. What has this action of requiring IE to be removed from Windows 7 in Europe produced? The simple answer is a cascade of confusion.
    I want to purchase Windows 7 with IE 8 - something that's going to work, not have to pick from a list of possibly flaky and potentially incompatible third party browsers during installation.
    At a later point in time I may consider installing a different browser if they can offer me something compelling over IE8 - a killer feature if you like. The truth of the matter is few, if any, at the moment can offer this. It's all bells and whistles. People want to browse the internet and IE8 browses the internet. Why do I need to choose anything else? And that is the mountain that third party browser makers need to climb. Crying and whinging about market share and getting in through the back door like this has done nothing but make things messy, well at least for us Europeans anyway. If the EP continues along the same track, things will only get worse for the EU Microsoft consumer before they get better.

  • Comment number 54.

    A few people seem to have misunderstood what I meant in comment 2 when I said that...

    "A browser is part of a complete operating system, and for an OS to have none at all straight after install is just absolutely stupid."

    I should know better really, if you hastily write a quick comment without explaining exactly what you mean, people are bound to misinterpret it ;-)

    What I meant was that (in my view) a "complete" operating system should come with certain bare-bones applications out-of-the-box. A browser so that you can at least access HTTP and then choose, if you like, to download a different browser, is certainly essential in my view.

    I do of course appreciate how a browser isn't an "integral" part of an OS etc. etc. blah yadda yadda... but in the same way that a car stereo isn't actually part of the car, I'd still expect to get at least a cheapo stereo if I buy a brand new car (unless it's a supercar being driven by Lord Stig).

    So whilst not essential from a technical point of view, from a commerical and common sense POV I'd still say it's pretty essential to have some form of web browser as "part" of an operating system.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ twelveightyone
    "A much better price for a Service Pack tham M$ are charging for theirs (Win7)."

    Touché

  • Comment number 56.

    @ twelveightyone
    Sorry, should read

    Touche' (stupid characters)

  • Comment number 57.

    Can people stop using M$ as it is ever so 90s... I promise not to mention tupence of ha'penny again if this would act as a suitable trade. Still back then Rock bands were rock bands (Even though the 80s were better) and boy bands didn't pretend to be rock bands. Okay back in the 80s Bon Jovi started the boy band and pretending to be rock band phase. But of course this isn't the topic of conversation today.

    If we are going to use M$ it is then only fair I get to use A"We are trying to bleed you dry of cash too"PPLE everytime I mention them or at least iCash or i$. Mainly down to the fact I have been parted from my cash by both corporations.

  • Comment number 58.

    As a retired ex Unix guy I'm quite grateful for the Microsoft upgrades as they allow me to purchase cheap second hand computers as each new Windows release usually require upgraded PCs, the eyecandy called "Aero" in Vista needed serious hardware to run effectively. Vista was and is still screwed by all the DRM protection contained in the OS and I suspect that will be the same in the Windows 7.

    For an appreciation of what the constraints are imposed by DRM take a look at Peter Gutmann's article "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" at http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html - yes, the article is dated now but a warning of Microsoft's embrace and extend policy. Remind's me of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" - "One OS to rule them All"

    My take on the forthcoming Windows 7 release can be summed up by the cartoon on http://xkcd.com/528/ which coincides with the general opinion that W7 is what Vista should have been.

    I agree with what the previous blogger BSspotter wrote about Microsoft's track record remembering well the dirty tricks with Stac Electronic's Stacker compression utility in 93-94. Still, Microsoft have to be congratulated on creating a separate industry required to tackle all the virus threats and security risks generated by their enforcing the Infernal Exploiter onto everyone's desktop.

    Microsoft's answer to the EU ruling is priceless - who blink's first in this game is going to be so entertaining to watch. I guess most system providers will incorporate IE automatically for new PC purchase - my question is if W7 will have a proper and reliable uninstall or will that contain another cripple factor so that competitive product will be less than optimum. Microsoft's embedding errors into their early Windows 3.1 so that rival DRDOS agains their MSDOS would fail is just another in a long series of antics employed by the Borg corporation.

    Yet Microsoft have given everyone the ability to have desktop computing at a price - I question whether their cash cow Office product can be revamped any further - who is going for evermore keep paying for the upgrade tax?

    There are alternatives, but not that easy for those spoonfed by Windows to adjust to - and the number of different Gnu/Linux distributions confuses me never mind someone who hasn't a clue - and the water gets even muddier if you include the BSD derivatives as well. Ubuntu which is derived from the Debian distro (which I use) is getting close to what is required to be a successful alternative to Microsoft - but there's quite a way to go before applications achieve the required ease of use.

    When Windows 7 is finally released - think its October time, then I'm sure there will be available separate CD/DVDs available with all the different browsers you could wish for at a rock bottom price - unless Microsoft limit their IE 7/8 to be unbundled from competitive product - great opportunity for Microsoft to shoot themselves in the foot here, will the IE browser be for free as all the other browsers in general are, or will there be a premium to pay?

    The EU as all bureaucratic orgs do will dither, enforcing Microsoft with their recommendation to offer alternatives is without precedent and will be a bitter pill for Microsoft to comply with - unless they want to keep paying the fines. As the old Chinese proverb/curse goes - "May you live in interesting times"
    You will be ASSIMULATED. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

  • Comment number 59.

    For someone installing Windows 7 over an existing OS, they can download a browser before installation and save it onto a memory stick. But for someone who doesn't realise Windows 7 doesn't have IE or someone installing onto a fresh HDD, they may be in for a shock when they can't get on the internet.
    It would be much better if there was a choice screen when you first boot up or even just bundle all the popular internet browsers with the system; IE8, Firefox 3, Opera, Chrome etc.
    The only thing I can think of is the Update system will eventually download IE8, kind of defeating the whole point of not including it in the first place.

  • Comment number 60.

    When are EEC going to realise no one cares about what browser is installed. If they do they can download another one, its not difficult. Whether IE is available for use or not, it is still installed as it used by the OS to render many bits and pieces. Should HP stop shipping their printers with HP ink cartridges? How about Ford not supplying cars fitted with radios or tyres so you can choose a product from a manufacturer of your choice? Most people would see this for the farce that it is.

    The EECs constant battles with MS are pointless waste of time and money for everyone and causes no end of problems for users and in some cases incur extra costs. Look at the grief the whole playing of DVDs in media player caused which ment you had to get a DVD player from somewhere else which meant installing crud like Real player or Quicktime.

    If Apple and Linux are allowed to bundle a browser and an Office suite and a load of other stuff I don't see why Microsoft can't. If you think MS is bad then buy a Mac or install Linux, there is choice if people want it.

  • Comment number 61.

    It does seem strange for this to happen now; Microsoft has certainly used its bundling of IE with Windows to keep a lid on rivals in the past, but at this moment in time other browsers and even OSs are steadily eroding MS's market share.

    I've used alternative browsers for years but I'm a bit of a geek with things like that, whereas nowadays I would say it's not unusual to find less tech-savvy friends using Firefox or Chrome.

  • Comment number 62.

    Surely the original problem was that prior to Windows 7, IE has been part of the "Windows Package"

    Therefore there is some cost included for IE, meaning you actually have to buy it, even if you never use it, and install a different browser.

    In the normal marketplace this is acceptable, so all the car and shop examples don't work.

    With a company in a monopoly position, this is against the rules.

  • Comment number 63.

    £149.99 for a copy of Windows 7 and none of my drivers will work with it. Linux FREE and everything works out of the box (well the version I use does, PCLinux2009.1) and it is stable. Although my Linux system does come without any viruses so Windows 7 does win there.

  • Comment number 64.

    To add to my previous comment. The EU forced Microsoft to sell Windows 7 in Europe without a browser, for competition reasons but the EU still allow Microsoft to put their operating system on almost every new PC and charging the buyer a the licence fee, even if the user doesn't want to use Windows. Yes there are a few pc's out there not running Windows, but the choice is very limited. I want to be able to buy a new pc with an operating system of my choice before taking it out of the shop.

  • Comment number 65.

    PC World will love this.

    They can charge the average joe who buys a computer extra for putting a browser on their new PC for them, the same as they do for a simple task such as data transfer between HDDs...

  • Comment number 66.

    I understand people's frustration at using IE, however I don't understand what the big deal behind all the bitching is. People don't have to use IE - well, except for something I don't think anyone before me has mentioned: Windows Update... On XP, firefox wouldn't run WU. I think Vista and 7 are slightly different though.

    I've used MS products for years, don't particularly think they are worth the money but it's part of my job so it's what I do. I've been betaing Win7 for a while and have downloaded RC1 which I think is a much improved operating system - it actually runs well, including Aero, on my netbook which Vista really didn't like. What I don't use is IE8. It's awful. So slow. So I use Firefox and like it. That's my choice.

    I do believe that by way of an apology to any Vista owners, M$ should allow you to trade your licence for an equivalent version of 7 at a much reduced price. After all, I bought a Sony Vaio with Vista installed and in order to get it to boot and run software, I had to update it's RAM. Sony's fault or Microsoft's? I'm not in a position to say. What I will say is that on the same laptop with the same memory, 7 is blisteringly quick compared to Vista. It's got my vote. I'll give them £40 instead of the £80 they'll be selling it for. After all, fair trade, bartering, haggling, it's all part of life. Come on Redmond, what say you?

  • Comment number 67.

    Ah the EU proving it's worth, sticking it's nose into others peoples business where it's not needed.

    As for this idiocy, yes the have IE8 installed but that doesn't mean you have to use it. Soon we will have Microsoft OS's stripped of all applications which will hurt the consumer.

    As for the Vista whines, have been using it with release and have not had a great deal of problems with it, certainly less than XP Professional 64. Although in comparison Windows 7 does run substantially better.

    Amazing how many clueless people abound:

    "I want to be able to buy a new pc with an operating system of my choice before taking it out of the shop."

    Yeah great idea, enjoy the mark up on your product.

  • Comment number 68.

    "149.99 for a copy of Windows 7 and none of my drivers will work with it. Linux FREE and everything works out of the box"

    For the most part, on the systems I've tested Windows 7 was able to install and detect nearly all hardware drivers upon install.

    Microsoft is a business, their main purpose is to make money, if you people are so against Microsoft don't use their products. Simple, as for me I will continue to use and support the various products because they get the job done (Excluding ME).

  • Comment number 69.

    I have been using Windows 7 since January this year, in both beta and pre-release form. It's very good and, as others have said, it's what Vista should have been. It isn't as resource hungry as Vista and the nanny state attitude has been muted. So it's not going to arrive with a browser. It's no biggie and easily remedied. A lot of lessons have been learned from other OS's.
    In saying that, the posts from Apple/Linux type fanboys is the usual "mines bigger than your's" rubbish. So seeing as its all about opinion, here's mine!
    I like Snow Leopard but hate Apple as a company. I don't like Linux though it is getting better. I like Win7. I like the fact that MS is sticking two fingers up to the EU and taking their ball home. If the EU really don't understand that we all have a choice about what browser we use when there are so many freely available, one has to ask, are they really the right people to decide such a thing, on our behalf?.... Hmmm, I think not!

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    @Lem007 - the action against Microsoft is based on it abusing its dominance in PC operating systems to dominate the browser market. Hence the iTunes analogy is irrelevant as the iPod is nothing like as dominant in the market place and iTunes is just one way to load songs onto an iPod.

    "Your argument stated that the EU cares about market share, not the availability of alternative products in stores. "

    - it is concerned about market dominance and specifically anti-competitive practices that effectively reduce the availability of alternatives by squashing any potential competitors. You can't be concerned about market share without being concerned about the availability of alternatives in stores.

    I don't want an overpriced Mac. If I have to have Windows on a retail PC I'm being charged for it and if I want to run Linux or whatever else I don't see why that should be the case.

  • Comment number 73.

    This is just stupid, if MS want to put an MS product in an MS product then they should be able to, no one expects mercedes to offer the option of having a volkswagen/ford/jaguar badge for their new car.

    Besides, anyone who wants to use a different browser is intelligent enough to go out, find and install one.

  • Comment number 74.

    There are so many comments here that I'd like to comment on, it would do my head in trying to remember.

    Basically, I absolutely hate all current forms of IE, all before version 8 moves from semi-permanent-beta-stage to final release - I'm slightly less complimentary than a number of other respondents here, referring to it as "microsnot shinternet exploiter" and apart from the initial requirements to configure your broadband router and downloading an alternative and better browser of your choice. Easy as.

    What this also demonstrates is the political largesse that is the EC trying to defend our interests in the name of consumer fairness but in the process making a big clucking mess of it in the process (change the letters cl for f to get a better idea of how annoying it is)

    Regarding the previous example of windows media player... well iTunes completely crapped on my music database and it took ages to sort it all out (still not finished being sorted 6months later) so another example of politicians messing things up while trying to defend us from ourselves...

    How about download-shortcut-links?

  • Comment number 75.

    I just find this crazy. And I'm a mac user. I know MS got burned for including internet explorer last time around as the default browser. Something Apple has been doing now with safari. Will Apple be releasing OSX 10.6 in europe with no safari. I seriously doubt it. Being they also block any third party browsers on there phones. Apple are far more dubious than MS has ever been recently. Will the EU sue them for billions.. I doubt it.

    The world has gone mad I tell you.

  • Comment number 76.

    All this carry on between Microsoft and Brussels is ridiculous. Microsoft produce an excellent product that's why so many manufacturers use it in their computers.It seems to me that Brussels is trying to level the playing field so that manufacturers who produce less popular software can compete with Microsoft. It seems very unfair of Brussels to handicap Microsoft. Surely the best way to compete in the marketplace is to produce a better quality product than your competition, not run to Brussels complaining.

  • Comment number 77.

    As a self confessed Linux Junkie and As much as i do hate Microsoft i think the European Parliament have this all wrong.

    Granted that Internet Explorer isn't the best browser out there, but people need to start from somewhere and the problem is; that unless you have a browser to surf the net in the first place, it is pretty difficult to look about and get another one.

    And also, what about Apple? are they going to stop shipping Safari with their Operating System? i doubt it, they don't have as much money as Microsoft so the european parliament wont waste their time as its not as much as a money spinner?

    What about Linux? are they going to stop shipping FireFox / Konqueror with it? nop... again it boils down to money - and Linux isn't one big company, the Kernel is open source and people make their own operating system around that one Linux Kernel and providing us with the likes of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE etc.

    There are hundreds of browsers out there; (Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Konqueror to name a few), and some of them are pretty patchy, buggy, and lacking in standards compliance like Internet Explorer, and some of them like Mozilla FireFox, and Google Chrome are very good with plenty of features and the ability to personalise it to just how you want it, but as i say, we all have to start somewhere.

    This EU v Microsoft thing boils down to money pure and simple and because Microsoft has the most of it, people want to take it and they will nit pick at the smallest most insignificant things to get it.

    Its quite sad really.

  • Comment number 78.

    Who cares about market share for browsers. They are free to download and use. Perhaps we'll now see Google and Firefox charging for their browsers.

    For those banging on about Linux, Unix etc. remember, you might be clever enough to install and use them, but what about the pensioner down the road who wants an all-in-one package so she can browse the web? There are millions of windows users who have no interest in becoming geeks.

  • Comment number 79.

    This whole "Browser Warz" thing is a red hearing. The EC wants to punish Microsoft for what they've done in the past which has led up to them now becoming the dominant force in the OS market. Obviously, they can't go back in time and stop Microsoft abusing their position, so now they're being all punitive about it. Microsoft are now providing an inferior product to the consumer, blaming the EC along the way and twisting the spirit in which they've handed down their rulings. The EC then blames Microsoft, in turn, for this blatant political maneovering. The customer is the one who ultimately loses out because of all this petulant fueding.

    At least, that's how it comes over to me, anyhow.

  • Comment number 80.

    Why don't Microsoft just accept the fines as a cost of business and continue doing what they like? The EU clearly don't have a clue what they're doing. As so many others have said, asking Microsoft to offer download links to their competitors software is just insane!!

    For those of you confused by the Windows 7 pricing, basically you get the full version for the 'upgrade' price - i.e., there is no upgrade version, but we pay for the full version approx the same as the rest of the world pays for the upgrade, so depending on how you look at it you could consider that we're better off.

    I don't agree that Microsoft should give us all Windows 7 upgrades for free as a 'sorry' for Vista. IMO Vista is actually quite a good OS (i've had BSOD once in 2 years, more than I could say for XP's 10+ a month!). And if we want a Windows 8 then we have to accept that Microsoft need money to develop it - with the cost of property, wages, energy etc. rising even Microsoft need to continue making money.

    Even in XP days it wasn't that difficult to install an alternative browser like Firefox or Opera, and I've never quite got the hang of what people were complaining about. Maybe its time people just learnt how to control their computers rather than letting their computers control them...

    And finally, how about Apple including iTunes on the iPhone? That's the same albeit on a smaller scale, as is them forcing users to download and install iTunes to even get their iPhone working. Year on year Apple continue to make shoddy products with awful interfaces while locking you into software you wouldn't 'choose' to use, and should immediately be fined approx 110% of their market value...

  • Comment number 81.

    "But here's the problem. You upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 7, and then find you've got no browser. No problem, I hear you say, you just go and download one - say Firefox, or Chrome, or Safari or maybe Internet Explorer 8. Using your browser. Ahh...right."

    Come on this is hardly a problem. You download the installer for the browser you wish to use BEFORE you upgrade. After you upgrade, you then run the installer and hey presto you still have a browser. It's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 82.

    Evil_Genius_Darren wrote:

    "For those banging on about Linux, Unix etc. remember, you might be clever enough to install and use them, but what about the pensioner down the road who wants an all-in-one package so she can browse the web? There are millions of windows users who have no interest in becoming geeks."

    The writer has obviously not installed a modern Linux system. I recently had cause to install XP and Ubuntu 9.04 Linux on the same day. Ubuntu installed in about one third of the time it took to install XP, asked no hard questions during the process and was fully functional and easy to use at the end. It was able to browse the web straight away using Firefox. It was also able to open, edit and create Microsoft Office documents straight away using Open Office. XP was unable to do the latter until I did a separate install of Open Office or, if I were a real masochist, went out and bought a copy of Microsoft Office. Any "pensioner down the road" would have had far less trouble with the Linux installation, the user interface is arguably better than XP or Vista and the final big advantage for hard-up pensioners is that it is free!

  • Comment number 83.

    Either Microsoft is biting off its nose to spite its face or the European Commission isn't being completely honest and is trying to save face. Does XP or Vista prevent other browsers from being installed? I think not! Apple seems to be getting away with this and appears a little unfair. If Microsoft or Apple had never included browsers with their O/S would the users experience be any better for those wishing to start surfing the web? Placing a kind of splash screen when the new PC is switched on giving an option of various browsers is only going to confuse those who are less experienced or have no experienced at all. Bearing in mind there are more than 4 browses out there so at some point every browser will want to be added to the list so how many choices will we have then; far to many for some I think the answer is.

  • Comment number 84.

    "MSPMSP1 wrote:

    The writer has obviously not installed a modern Linux system. I recently had cause to install XP and Ubuntu 9.04 Linux on the same day. Ubuntu installed in about one third of the time it took to install XP, asked no hard questions during the process and was fully functional and easy to use at the end. It was able to browse the web straight away using Firefox. It was also able to open, edit and create Microsoft Office documents straight away using Open Office. XP was unable to do the latter until I did a separate install of Open Office or, if I were a real masochist, went out and bought a copy of Microsoft Office. Any "pensioner down the road" would have had far less trouble with the Linux installation, the user interface is arguably better than XP or Vista and the final big advantage for hard-up pensioners is that it is free!"

    On the contary, I have and while it is quicker, Linux requires a certain amount of CLI knowledge to get the best out of it. Windows requires less knowledge to use out of the box and provides wider support in terms of drivers etc. And whilst Linux is free, the hardware is not!

    Unless we have a whole generation of 'Grey Modders' out there, a Windows laptop from Tesco etc. will always provide the more cost-effective web access until the $100 laptop is in the shops.

    The true loser here is the exactly who the EU were trying to protect - The consumer. perhaps they should turn their attention to another cash-cow ripe for milking, RIM.

  • Comment number 85.

    Looking at the majority of the comments, I thought 'here we go again', let the Microsoft bashing begin.
    Having run the Vista RC, I decided to stick with XP until Vista was superceded. In my opinion, Vista has been a complete failure, little more than a 'paid for' early Beta of Windows 7.
    Also having run the Beta and Release candidate for Win 7, I have decided to buy it when it is available.
    As to the bundled browser argument, my only gripe is the fact that MS still uses IE for windows update, rather than the user's default choice of browser. Other than that, I couldn't care less, I will continue to run Firefox. Is it really that important?
    It will be interesting to see how MS respond. Providing no browser at all is not an option, it will only frustrate consumsers further. Will it be, as suggested, a multiple choice menu? Again, that raises problems of it's own. It will be duty-bound to include offerings from every MS compatible browser available, and woe betide them if they forget one.
    I can see MS having to provide a simple, feature-barren, browser interface to allow people to get online and select a browser. But will this "IE-Lite (c)" (I'm waiting for the cheque, Mr Gates) be adopted in its own right as a super lightweight app for the minimalist user and netbooks?

  • Comment number 86.

    Absoutely hilarious - well done Microsoft!!! I normally don't like them, and I am one of the Europeans who will suffer, but the EU area a bunch of idiots. A web browsers is nowadays a key part of an operating system and it should come with one. What next? Are the EU going to stop Microsoft shipping a free game of chess with Windows 7 in case it competes with a chess game maufacturer? What about the manufacuter of a new Windows GUI, a disk management system or power management utility. WHy don't the EU force Microsoft to remove them all. Yes it's back to MS-DOS folks courtesy of the EU.

  • Comment number 87.

    I am using W7 RC right now on a old machine I have cleaned out for the purpose. It is great and I plan to buy a final version, if I can buy it at upgrade price. If there is no browser, and i didn't have another machine, where would I buy a browser? Could I buy a disk in a shop? Doubt it somehow.

    I am thinking of buying a XP-Vista up grade now, so that I can get a W7 cheap/free when it arrives. Will that work out?

  • Comment number 88.

    Gordon Bennett. You download your chosen browser BEFORE upgrading to Windows 7, then install it

    Doh.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ #10

    I would use Windows but having seen what it apparently does to one's ability to construct sensible arguments I think I'll pass.

    *Shudder*

  • Comment number 90.

    Well done to the EU Commission...for being totally incompetent. How on earth will users download a browser in the first place if there is no browser to browse!?

  • Comment number 91.

    ach, all the people who think its fine for MS to do what they like are forgetting something important:

    before Firefox arrived and became very popular, we all had to use IE6. IE6 was notorious for being rubbish, and had not been updated with the features we now take for granted in browsers (security, tabs! lots of addons). That is the state of play if you do not have effective competition. I want to be able to choose the browser that I feel is the best - this persuades all companies to make better browsers. If there is only 1 choice, the one that's bundled with the OS 'to make my life easier' then I get stuck with a sub-standard choice.

    The same can apply to all the other products MS has bundled with its OS. We don't get true innovation except where they think they have to compete with someone offering something similar. If VMware hadn't offered its virtualisation software for free, Microsoft wouldn't have made its version for free either - competition made a huge difference there and the consumer won. The same applies to backup software, and practically everything else.

    The real trouble with Microsoft is that as soon as it sees a company selling a product, it copies it and effectively crushes that competition. It wants us to use MS-only software and completely dominate the software marketplace. If Microsoft just made the OS, and let other companies make software to run on top, then things would surely be better for all us consumers.

  • Comment number 92.

    @91 - er, are you forgetting Opera and Netscape? both of those were around pre-Firefox and even pre-IE6 so no, we didn't HAVE to use IE6 and never have done. What about Windows 3.11 when there was no IE, but there was AOL and Compuserve amongst others.

    And why should Microsoft just make the OS when they're extremely good at making other software (Autoroute, Office, Flight Simulator, Visual Studio, the list goes on...)

  • Comment number 93.

    @89

    Good for you. The rest of us will get on with our real jobs.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 88

    What do you do if it's installed on your first ever PC?

    Doh!!!! back, infinity + 1

  • Comment number 95.

    @93,

    I love it when people say 'real jobs', it's such a meaningless utterance.

    Are you implying that because I use OS X, my job is fictional?

  • Comment number 96.

    You know if Microsoft really wanted to screw with the EU (and it might even benefit the rest of us while they do) is send in the software auditors and check the serials of every piece of MS software on every computer in every single EU office across the continent, because while this is being done, all of the EU bureaucrats will be too busy getting their house in order to be able to issue any more of these - quite frankly DAFT public edicts that they do...

  • Comment number 97.

    The problem with the way that Microsoft bundles it's web browser appears when you want update your windows system and then all of a sudden you find that you can only update MS Windows using Windows Internet Explore.

    You can not update Windows XP or Vista with anything but MS Internet Explore and I bet it is the same with Windows 7. This is the problem and this where Microsoft is compelling Windows users into a situation where MS Internet Explorer must be resident on your computer even if you do not want it!!!

    So, if you use Firefox, Safari for Windows or some other web browser and want to update - well you can't update.

    Mac's do not impose this limitation the software update system is completely separate to Safari.

  • Comment number 98.

    Paul Freeman-Powell's "A browser is part of a complete operating system" isn't exactly incorrect and isn't far from the truth. I certainly think that within the next 20 years OS' will be wholly browser based.

    Mobile platforms utilise widgets in a browser-inspired OS user interface and it is only a matter of time before this approach translates to desktops or a subset of desktops, notebooks and tablets.

    Love the way people are quick to jump on someone and not deal with the issue...

  • Comment number 99.

    What monopoly? I use Safari on a Mac bought at an Apple Store. I downloaded Firefox to my Windows machine because I think its a better browser than IE, but that was my choice. I can buy a netbook running a version of an open-source O/S that would include a browser.

    What should be stopped are web-sites that use IE specific code - they are just badly written - but the EU don't go after them because there is little publicity in it.

    I don't think MS have a monopoly anymore and probably never did. Haven't the EU commissioners got better things to do, like sorting out their expenses??

  • Comment number 100.

    re: Zakmann's comment 97

    That is the way Windows works, love it or hate it. It is a set of .dll files that are common across the system. Frontpage used the same files as MS-Word, MS-Access and Excel use the same files. I believe that Explorer and IE share files. Why re-write what you already have? - it was called sub-routines in my day, then object based something....

    IE is part of their update process (and thankfully they have one). If you use Firefox then fine, IE only kicks in (invisible in the background) for updates. What's the problem with IE being installed? - you can set different defaults. If IE isn't part of W7 then it will undoubtedly still be there in some form or another 'coz it has to be - you just won't see it and will have to pay extra for the user interface key.

    Thanks EU.

 

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