Wednesday, October 24th 2012

European Commission sends Statement of Objections to Microsoft on Browser Compliance

The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to comply with its commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser. In 2009, the Commission had made these commitments legally binding on Microsoft (see IP/09/1941). The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.

In its statement of objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to roll out the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011. From February 2011 until July 2012, millions of Windows users in the EU may not have seen the choice screen. Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.

In December 2009, the Commission had made legally binding on Microsoft commitments offered by the US software company to address competition concerns related to the tying of Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer, to its dominant client PC operating system Windows (see IP/09/1941, MEMO/09/558 and MEMO/09/559). Specifically, Microsoft committed to make available for five years (i.e. until 2014) in the European Economic Area a "choice screen" enabling users of Windows to choose in an informed and unbiased manner which web browser(s) they wanted to install in addition to, or instead of, Microsoft's web browser. The choice screen was provided as of March 2010 to European Windows users who have Internet Explorer set as their default web browser.

The Commission had opened proceedings to investigate the potential non-compliance with the browser choice commitments on 16 July 2012 (see IP/12/800).

Background on the commitments decision

In January 2009, the Commission sent Microsoft a Statement of Objections, outlining its preliminary view that the company abused its dominant position in the market for client PC operating systems through the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows (see MEMO/09/15). In order to address the Commission's concerns, Microsoft offered commitments, including the set-up of a "ballot screen" in the Windows PC operating system, from which consumers could easily choose their preferred internet browser (see MEMO/09/352). In October 2009, the Commission market tested an improved proposal from Microsoft (see MEMO/09/439).

In light of the reactions to the market test, the Commission concluded that the commitments would remedy its competition concerns and made the commitments legally binding on Microsoft in December 2009, pursuant to Article 9 of the Antitrust Regulation No 1/2003.

More information about the browser choice commitment is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consumers/web_browsers_choice_en.html

Procedural background

A statement of objections is a formal step in Commission investigations. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them and the parties can reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present comments.

The Commission takes a final decision only after the parties have exercised their rights of defence.

If a company has breached commitments made legally binding by way of an Article 9 decision, it may be fined up to 10% of its total annual turnover.
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90 Comments on European Commission sends Statement of Objections to Microsoft on Browser Compliance

#1
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: Mr McC

Microsoft was obliged to make changes, chose to ignore this and will now be fined, seems simple enough to me.
and thankfully microsoft can appeal the decision. why are they only targeted. osx doesnt have to do it and neither do any of the linux/bsd operating systems.
In any event, I fail to see how Microsoft's fine will alleviate the situation in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece or Italy, as America, Asia and several of their European partners (what we normally ambiguously refer to as "market forces") appear intent on ensuring that they do not overcome their present economic problems: in the free market, the misery of others is big business.
this whole sentence is a massive run-on. what is the frog in your avatar smoking? microsoft's fine won't alleviate the situation in the EU. that isn't the point. the point of ALL government is to force people or groups of people into complying with law regardless of whether it makes sense. that is for the courts to decide. so we have another case of a government body acting EXACTLY like a mob boss playing the extorsion game. not only will they tax your profits, they will tell you how you should generate income so that profit can be taxed. bring them all down.
Posted on Reply
#2
HTC
by: Easy Rhino
and thankfully microsoft can appeal the decision. why are they only targeted. osx doesnt have to do it and neither do any of the linux/bsd operating systems.



this whole sentence is a massive run-on. what is the frog in your avatar smoking? microsoft's fine won't alleviate the situation in the EU. that isn't the point. the point of ALL government is to force people or groups of people into complying with law regardless of whether it makes sense. that is for the courts to decide. so we have another case of a government body acting EXACTLY like a mob boss playing the extorsion game. not only will they tax your profits, they will tell you how you should generate income so that profit can be taxed. bring them all down.
Because they don't have 95% of the market like Microsoft does.

In the position they are, they don't need to resort to these kind of tactics and have been warned against them, which apparently, they chose to ignore.

An example:

Dude D goes from country A to country B and commits a crime there: should he be punished from country A laws or country B laws?

Furthermore: what if in country A it's not a crime but in country B it is (which seems more appropriate here)?


If a company want's to do business in other countries, it must make sure it abides by their laws. Microsoft has been warned and chose to ignore it.

Regardless of whether you agree with said law or not, the law is the law and you can't ignore it just because you don't agree with it. If you do, there are consequences.
Posted on Reply
#3
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: HTC
Because they don't have 95% of the market like Microsoft does.

In the position they are, they don't need to resort to these kind of tactics and have been warned against them, which apparently, they chose to ignore.

An example:

Dude D goes from country A to country B and commits a crime there: should he be punished from country A laws or country B laws?

Furthermore: what if in country A it's not a crime but in country B it is (which seems more appropriate here)?


If a company want's to do business in other countries, it must make sure it abides by their laws. Microsoft has been warned and chose to ignore it.

Regardless of whether you agree with said law or not, the law is the law and you can't ignore it just because you don't agree with it. If you do, there are consequences.
in case you havn't been paying attention both apple and android are destroying microsoft in the mobile market and guess which browsers they don't include...
Posted on Reply
#4
DannibusX
I've said it before. All EU SKU's of Windows should no ship with no browser at all.
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#5
HTC
by: Easy Rhino
in case you havn't been paying attention both apple and android are destroying microsoft in the mobile market and guess which browsers they don't include...
Well: in case you haven't been paying attention, 2 companies can't have a monopoly.
Posted on Reply
#6
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: HTC
Well: in case you haven't been paying attention, 2 companies can't have a monopoly.
duopolies are just as bad. if you are concerned about companies locking you into a specific browser than you need to complain about apple and android. hell, they are using the same tactics microsoft used to increase their market share.
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#7
3870x2
by: Benetanegia
Because economy != government. There's more to it. (I know you can't visualize this concept)
Second amendment would be a good place to start, but it's not related to this topic and I know it will enrage many people, so... just ignore.
I don't see how this could ever be misconstrued: Everyone has the right to hang a pair of bear arms in their living room.
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#8
HTC
by: Easy Rhino
duopolies are just as bad. if you are concerned about companies locking you into a specific browser than you need to complain about apple and android. hell, they are using the same tactics microsoft used to increase their market share.
Though i agree with the premise, it's not against the law (for now) and, as such, there's nothing that can be done until laws are changed to encompass this kind of behavior be that behavior from 1, 2, 10 or more companies.
Posted on Reply
#9
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: HTC
Though i agree with the premise, it's not against the law (for now) and, as such, there's nothing that can be done until laws are changed to encompass this kind of behavior be that behavior from 1, 2, 10 or more companies.
well i agree with you. companies should be competing and it is the governments job to make reasonable rules that creates an environment for new companies to come in and compete with new ideas. however that is not what the eu govt body is setting out to do. by targeting microsoft alone they are ignoring the much bigger issue and instead going for the easy prey. if they truly cared about monopolistic behavior they would revamp the laws and stop cohorting with their friends in those competing companies.
Posted on Reply
#10
HTC
by: Easy Rhino
well i agree with you. companies should be competing and it is the governments job to make reasonable rules that creates an environment for new companies to come in and compete with new ideas. however that is not what the eu govt body is setting out to do. by targeting microsoft alone they are ignoring the much bigger issue and instead going for the easy prey. if they truly cared about monopolistic behavior they would revamp the laws and stop cohorting with their friends in those competing companies.
EU is going after Microsoft right now not because they are easy prey but because, under the current law, the have the right to do so. Furthermore: they have been warned this would happen and they chose to ignore the warning.

EU doesn't really have laws to effectively tackle this sort of thing and they "think" it's OK as it is: wrong, IMO.


Have you ever heard of a case where a burglar was robbing a place, the police comes while the burglar is still robbing the place and they say something like this: "If you continue to rob this place you'll have to pay the price"?

You don't do you?


The only scenario where i could see the warning part being needed (companies) is when a law change is implemented in a way where before was legal and after it's not: if there are other such scenarios, then i dunno. Is this what happened in this case? Dunno either.
Posted on Reply
#11
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: HTC
EU is going after Microsoft right now not because they are easy prey but because, under the current law, the have the right to do so. Furthermore: they have been warned this would happen and they chose to ignore the warning.

EU doesn't really have laws to effectively tackle this sort of thing and they "think" it's OK as it is: wrong, IMO.


Have you ever heard of a case where a burglar was robbing a place, the police comes while the burglar is still robbing the place and they say something like this: "If you continue to rob this place you'll have to pay the price"?

You don't do you?


The only scenario where i could see the warning part being needed (companies) is when a law change is implemented in a way where before was legal and after it's not: if there are other such scenarios, then i dunno. Is this what happened in this case? Dunno either.
i disagree. the EU created a bad law to begin with before the mobile market exploded. microsoft's monopoly was never a problem as we see now with apple and android dominating the mobile market. the EU are a bunch of shakedown artists that do not care about the consumer. they only care about lining their pockets which is why they created the terrible law in the first place.
Posted on Reply
#12
HTC
by: Easy Rhino
i disagree. the EU created a bad law to begin with before the mobile market exploded. microsoft's monopoly was never a problem as we see now with apple and android dominating the mobile market. the EU are a bunch of shakedown artists that do not care about the consumer. they only care about lining their pockets which is why they created the terrible law in the first place.
You have a key word in that sentence: "before".

Does that make it OK? IMO, no it doesn't. Should they've upgraded the law by now? Absolutely. Whether they haven't done it by now because of shady interests, lack of interest, other cause, dunno :(

I don't really know when the law Microsoft's infringing was created but, as i said in a previous post, the law is the law and you can't break it just because you disagree with it: there will be consequences if you do.
Posted on Reply
#13
Prima.Vera
by: erocker
Bah, no need to explain it. If you know one thing about Americans, we don't really care about how the rest of the world "feels" about us. We're the best. The more I look into these objections from the EU, the more they look like the mafia. Just like the government in the US. Fascinating!
OMG!!

Posted on Reply
#14
Derek12
Comparing iOS and Android refering to browsers here??

As far as I understand iOS doesn't allow full browsers with different rendering engines besides the built-in one (Webkit which is mainly made by Appl€), while Android allows Firefox Mobile (Gecko) Opera Mobile (Presto), Dolphin Beta (modified Webkit engine that doesn't use evil CSS prefixes) besides the built in Webkit one. And it's very bad for Web standards, openness and innovation if only a single rendering engine dominates the market (ah... IE6 times) doesn't matter Webkit is cross-platform and open source blah blah.

Appl€ should get a call because of this. At least Windows (and Mac OS) and any mobile OS except iOS allow full third party browsers.
Posted on Reply
#15
Prima.Vera
Yeah, I think Apple and Google are worst than MS is the browser market. Seriously. But Apple is by faar, not only for browser, but for other apps as well. I wouldn't be surprise if the EU will go after them soon...
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