Microsoft surrenders to the bureaucrats in Brussels

A few days back I commented about the madness that is going on in Europe with the European Commission taking up the case of a minority web browser company and making life difficult for Microsoft in the courts.

Let’s get this straight: Opera may be a fine browser but, as far as I can tell, almost no-one uses it on the desktop. Part of the reason for this is that, long after most other browsers became free, Opera were still charging users so they failed to capitalise when Firefox grew its market share at the expense of Internet Explorer. Basically, Opera’s business strategy failed… so they went to court and other minority browser vendors piled in (e.g. Google).

As a result of componentisation of Windows, Microsoft gave us the ability to uninstall Internet Explorer from Windows 7 but that wasn’t enough for the bureaucrats in Brussels so now, in order to avoid costly delays in shipping Windows 7 as a result of legal action, Microsoft has decided to offer an E edition of Windows 7 in Europe, without Internet Explorer.

As I wrote last week:

“Personally, I would like to install Windows quickly with the least possible user interaction. Then, once the base operating system is installed, I’d like to select roles/features (as I do for Windows Server 2008) and install any third party software that I choose – independently of the Windows setup routine. If we have to have something to please the minority browsers (Opera, Chrome, Safari, etc.) then Windows already lets me choose search providers, media players, mail clients, etc. – why not use the same mechanism for browsers?”

Instead, I have multiple Windows versions for multiple markets. Thanks to the EU I have one version of Windows 7 in Europe and another for the rest of the world (what’s not clear is whether I can still buy the normal version in Europe, should I choose to do so). Gee, thanks. I’m glad to see my taxes are being used to tackle the real issues of the day… like financial meltdown, rising unemployment, global warming, world poverty…

It seems that, if I have a company with a product that no-one wants, I can go to the European Commission and have them stop the large, successful, companies from competing with me. Presumably Apple will stop shipping Safari with OS X and Linux distros in Europe will come without Firefox, etc.? No. I thought not.

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