Microsoft has possibly pulled a fast one on the European Commission (EC) in its wrestling match to see whether their Internet Explorer browser (IE) will be packaged in the new Windows 7 offering. The EC has contended that by including the browser in the operating system that competition is being squeezed out unfairly by Microsoft. Well, we may be seeing that EC stands for ‘Exceptionally Clueless’ considering how they may have stepped all over their own case against the software giant.
In January 2009, Brussels reached a “preliminary view” that Microsoft was denting the chance for true competition by bundling its browser software in with its operating system.
Microsoft has then taken the step to not offer IE in the Windows 7 operating system release in the EC regions.
“We’re committed to making Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time that it launches in the rest of the world,” Dave Heiner, said Microsoft deputy general counsel in a statement, “but we also must comply with European competition law as we launch the product.”
“We believe that this new approach, while not our first choice, is the best path forward given the ongoing legal case in Europe,” he added.
OK, so it looks like Microsoft is making a gesture toward remedying exactly what they are under scrutiny for. The EC, however, has been pushing for Microsoft to offer a choice of browsers and not eliminate the browser option completely. Hard to argue now however that Microsoft is getting the way of competition since they are offering nothing at all and letting the consumer decide. In addition, the consumer now has to go out and download their own browser to even get on the Internet, which will undoubtedly cause major issues for all. This will then solidify the EC’s attempts to improve commerce by heavily restricting it as being completely, well, clueless. Even in a world where government intervention in business is the ‘in thing’ this is just ridiculous and the EC is getting what it deserves.
Well played, Microsoft.
No wonder the EC is already wrinkling its nose at the move. “The commission had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of web browsers,” the EC said in a statement issued late Thursday. “Instead Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a web browser at all. Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less.”
Hmm. Now who was it again that said Microsoft needs to “restore genuine consumer choice and enable competition on its merits?
Isn’t the true market driven choice that of the consumer being able to go anywhere to get the product they want? What if Microsoft doesn’t bundle every browser known to man in its operating system release? Will small niche players have a chance to petition the EC and stop the wheels of progress due to the ‘unfairness of it all”? Where will it end and why is it even an issue anyway? Doesn’t Microsoft shoot itself in the foot enough to allow competition anyway? Has the EC ever heard of Firefox?
Don’t expect the EC to let this one die but do expect that they will make a pathetic spectacle of themselves as they continue to bungle through making the world safer from progress, innovation and opportunity.