Disappointing: Mozilla Siding With Bogus EU Antitrust Action Against Microsoft

from the just-go-out-and-compete dept

Last month, it seemed silly that EU regulators were pursuing Microsoft for antitrust violations in the browser market for bundling IE. It was clear that some of the initial complaints had come from Opera — an also-ran in the browser market. However, it seemed silly because there is vibrant and growing competition in the marketplace. Firefox has continued to grow its market share, and in the past few years we’ve seen new entrants in the browser market from Apple and Google — both of whom have established small, but significant footholds.

So, it’s especially disappointing to read that the Mozilla Foundation appears to be siding with the regulators, complaining about Microsoft’s actions. Obviously, Mozilla is competing with Microsoft in this space, so at a first pass it may seem in their best interests to lobby the EU to punish Microsoft. But it’s disingenuous to say the least. Mozilla got where it did because it competed effectively. It built a better, more secure browser that many people made the choice to support over IE. In fact, Firefox’s chief architect, apparently unaware of what his “bosses” were cooking up, seems to have recently contradicted the Mozilla Foundation’s new position, where he admitted that he couldn’t see how anyone with a straight face could claim that Microsoft’s ability to bundle created a monopoly, noting that Firefox’s success in growing marketshare showed that making yourself “demonstrably better” worked. Oops.

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Companies: microsoft, mozilla

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Comments on “Disappointing: Mozilla Siding With Bogus EU Antitrust Action Against Microsoft”

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79 Comments
Matt says:

hmm?

Mike, why exactly is it considered bad up front? The bundling needs to stop in general.

I wouldn’t jump straight to protectionism as a response to this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they either force MS to unbundle IE or it could get the EU to remove the necessity of IE as a component of windows. If they can force that to loosen up we could have a nautilus equivalent via firefox or opera or whatnot. I’m sure it’s plenty capable of handling it. Not to mention this would create very clear issues with the windows genuine authentication system in forcing it to use something other than activeX. Of course, I am being the idealist here and all of this may be only hypothetical.

There are reasons other than strictly competitive that Mozilla could be going after MS here. All of these can still be in line with the “we don’t want to be bundled into windows” statement that they said earlier.

I guess I don’t see it as so black and white.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: hmm?

“The bundling needs to stop in general.”

So your saying that windows should come with no web browser?
I think Microsoft has the right to bundle what ever software they want with their product. We have the right were or not to use it.
And some times that bundled soft were is nice to have on.
Now I wish it was not mandatory that you have it on there but its not like it takes up a huge amount of space.

So look at it this way, with IE bundled on new computers you can right away go and download FireFox or what ever other browser you want, and then star useing it.
With out IE…?

nasch says:

Re: Re: Re:4 FTP?

What percentage of people would be able to do this? .5%? I’m a computer programmer and I couldn’t do it. Sure I know how to use FTP, but I don’t know an ftp site that has Firefox downloads. With no web browser, you can’t do a web search to find them either. I would call someone with a web browser and ask them to look it up for me.

I don’t think it’s at all reasonable to suggest that not including IE with Windows would better serve the PC market.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is well known that the Masnicks are automatically pro-american in any international issue, but it’s disingenuous to say the least, to suggest that the browser markets alleged health is because it has benefited from Microsoft’s bundling and other actions.

Microsoft did the bundling thing to put competitors out of business, and Mozilla (by far the most significant competitor) could not compete with a business model aligned with the traditional principles of American capitalism.

db0 (user link) says:

So wait...

If you litigate while you’re losing market share or are out of the market, you do so because you couldn’t compete and as a loser you just want to make some extra cash.
If you litigate while you’re gaining market share you shouldn’t be because obviously you have no reason to do so.

So apparently there is no reason to litigate ever?

To the subject at hand, can you not accuse microsoft of attempting to use monopoly tactics even if they are not succesful? Should one wait until monopoly tactics succeed before they take action? That worked quite well for Netscape and Real Player didn’t it?

Microsoft is a known monopolist with a long and nasty history whose practices continue up to this day and they certainly deserve to be punished for attempting to use their market share to bludgeon the competition

Jeff says:

EU is asinine.

Mozilla, this is one big WTF? that you are doing.

Come on! EU complains about Microsoft bundling it’s media player with it. Microsoft makes a version without it but no one wants it.

What the hell do you think will happen when they remove their internet browser from it too? Gee, I am guessing that…no one will want that version either!

Nick says:

I don’t understand why you think it is a bad idea?
You say “Mozilla got where it did because it competed effectively. It built a better, more secure browser that many people made the choice to support over IE”.
I don’t disagree with this, but as long as my grandmom doesn’t know she has choices Firefox will be at a disadvantage until choosing a browser in order to browse falls on the end user.

To me it is the same logic as in a world where all new PCs built comes shipped with MS Win. without user choice. Sure the geeks and power users will think about replacing the OS but most people won’t have a clue.
Seems to me that toppling that monopoly would open up the world to healthy competition where the end user actually is exposed to the quality end products and not just boxed in with a default POS.

Alan says:

Re: some people just don't care

are you honestly saying that if ms didnt bundle IE your grandma would know where to turn for her browser and what the differences are between them all?
Some people just do not care. and the ones that do already get rid of any program they dont wish and replace it.
apple prides its self on “out of the box” computing yet you are saying people buying pc should have to download multiple programs just to get the basics going.
talking of apple they are one of the biggest culprits of anti-competition just think of ipod/itunes. can you use one without the other?

Kevin says:

Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

Frankly the Anti-trust in this sense I think is pointless. Mozilla has proven that it can compete in the market, and seems to continue to gain market share (My office uses Mozilla exclusively)despite IE being bundled with windows.

Should the lawsuit prevail the only thing that would allow MS to make amends (besides writing a check) is to have Chrome, Opera, Mozilla, and Safari (So we know we are being fair) pre-installed along with IE in order to give customers their choice pre-installed for them. I am not a fan of Microsoft as a whole, but I believe that solution would lead to far more issues than this lawsuit is attempting to resolve.

Side Note:
So the answer is to remove the IE component from Windows installs? I fail to see how that is going to work from a function standpoint. If IE is to no longer be installed with Windows, and Mozilla needs to be downloaded…..How are you going to get to mozilla.com and download it? (Just Sayin)

Kevin says:

Re: Re: Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

Work:
If your company uses completely web based software that is designed to be used through a browser interface such as Mozilla or IE then yes it would be very difficult to do anything without a browser.

Home:
Banking, Web mail, Working from Home, Travel, Research, Shopping, college classes. All work through a browser interface.

So without a browser then how do you do anything that is not game, IM, or file sharing (this is not a complete list )related online? Now this may seem to be [SARCASM], but seriously if you have an answer to this question then please enlighten me.

Nick says:

Re: Re: Re: Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

Your first question was only related to the obstacle of getting a browser installed when you don’t have a web browser in the first place. You second post is just a temper tantrum.

There is numerous ways of downloading and installing software without doing this from a web browser. Look at the Linux community for good/great examples. I can’t point you to any Windows examples since….. well, I don’t know they exist.

Kevin says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

You obviously missed the entire point of what it is I said, so I can let that go. You accuse me of throwing a tantrum where I simply made a comment (take it as you like I guess). You didn’t seem to understand my reply which you actually did partially answer though inadvertently.

As we are talking about a lawsuit against MS and its Windows OS, then it would be safe to assume that my comments were directed to a Windows ONLY enviroment. So the comment on Linux is unrelated and unimportant. Now I had asked that you answer how you can do any of those things without a browser(in Windows). and your answer is below.

“I can’t point you to any Windows examples since….. well, I don’t know they exist.”

Thank you for your answer, have a nice day 🙂

On a side note shouldn’t Apple be included with this lawsuit as well given what the complaint is. You know since Apple “bundles” Safari with OSX?

james (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

Creating a shortcut to an ftp location for automatic downloading is within range. It’s the same way the old 95/98 systems were with their links in the accessories/communications were with compuserv, prodigy, and aol. There are ways around the “no browser” argument that can be implemented. The problem is, as Mike well knows, that for microsoft to include those links, it forms a quasi-endorsement of said product, which then opens a new can of worms of litigation for “application placement”. I also think, the real issue isn’t so much concerning the browser as it is the proprietary formats that it uses. One commenter mentioned activex. If W3 could lobby to remove the locked formats and make them open sourced, to where any browser can use items like activex, it would eliminate the need to be locked into IE. Nick, you want to keep harping on the fact that there are other ways to get browsers, but are you thinking from an end-user’s point of view, or a techie? Using linux as an example is not a good idea, as most users that are non-technical do not understand the functions or configurations of repositories.

Crack says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

Do you really want to explain FTP to mom and dad? Because you under stand this is going to have to be done through the cmd line because you’re not going to be able to download a different FTP client without a browser. Then irony sets in when the EU claims monopoly against MS for bundling their FTP client within the OS….

Your Gawd and Master says:

Re: Re: Re:5 no need...

No need to explain anything to mom and dad. Just make a script that will download the browser of choice. Put shortcuts on the desktop and let the user choose.

THIS, my friends is why I think there should be an internet license. If you can’t show you know how to reliably use a car, they don’t let you drive. If you can’t show that you know how to reliably fly an airplane, you can’t fly. BUT they’ll let anyone have a baby and get on the internet.

Nick says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Perhaps there is something that I missed, but.

“Nick, you want to keep harping on the fact that there are other ways to get browsers, but are you thinking from an end-user’s point of view, or a techie? Using linux as an example is not a good idea, as most users that are non-technical do not understand the functions or configurations of repositories.”

Not expecting much from end users.
My only point is that systems like these exist in places where there might be little personal gain from excluding certain software.

Bright developers have unlimited potential when it comes to writing a shiny method of easily and simply downloading a browser of choice.
I am not saying “run for the hills of LinuxLand”. Simply saying that when profit is not the driving factor, fantastic opportunities are available.

kirillian (profile) says:

Fanboys

Gee…did all of yall forget slashdot’s web address?!?!

http://www.slashdot.com

You can head there to post your fanboy comments.

I may not be a huge fan of IE, but I agree that this lawsuit is completely out of hand…and Firefox’s approval of it just makes them seem like a company begging for a government handout.

@db0 – I think you really need to look at the history of software a little harder…Microsoft never really has been a monopolizer…they just compete better than anyone else…kinda like Tiger Woods in golf…he doesn’t cheat…he’s just been heads and tails above EVERYONE…so of course he wins all the time. Same thing with Microsoft…ya…sometimes they get lazy, but really, when you sit back and look at it, they’re just trying to do what any business would do – make money…

That being said, it’s nice to see a push in the browser market again from the efforts of google and firefox…

Jack Sombra says:

“Bogus EU Antitrust Action Against Microsoft”

“It was clear that some of the initial complaints had come from Opera — an also-ran in the browser market. However, it seemed silly because there is vibrant and growing competition in the marketplace”

If The EU was starting the anti trust actions now I would fully agree with you, but we all know that is not the case.

These started years ago when the accusations were very very far from bogus and number one reason they have lasted so long is MS themselves doing everything in their power to make them go as slow as possible.

Sure circumstances have changed (though not as much as some would like to make out, show me decent commercial competitor to MS in the browser market..what is it I here you say? There is none besides free open source?) but does that mean that everything should just be dropped and MS rewarded for doing their best for years to drag the whole thing out by effectively granting them an default win?

With justice in mind exact opposite should have happened long ago, default win against MS for the tactics they have used all these years, to deter other companies from trying the same tactic of “do what you want and if called on your actions just keep the wheels of justice bogged down untill the situation changes”

Ryan (user link) says:

Why all the fuss?

I don’t see what all the fuss is about, personally.

I am an avid Firefox user. I personally detest IE, regardless of version. I just feel it is an inferior browser when compared to Firefox or Chrome.

That said, who cares if Microsoft bundles IE with their OS?

They are not FORCING you to use IE. Just download Firefox or Chrome and your problem is solved. Everyone has their own preference as to what browser the use. I am a Web Developer/SEO/SMO/IM specialist.

I use Firefox because it allows me to install add-ons which make it a much more powerful platform. I use Firebug to troubleshoot websites, I use Rank Checker to do SEO work, I use Adsense Preview for IM, I use SEO Quake for SEO, I use Shareaholic and a number of other Social Bookmarking plugins for Firefox for SMO.

It all depends what you want to do. If you are just browsing around, fine, you can use IE. Chrome is a better choice still however because it is a bare-bones style browser and is faster than IE.

If you are looking for something that can assist in your work, Firefox is a perfect choice simply because it is expandable.

This is only the opinion of one man however. I think you should pick the browser you feel most comfortable using.

Personally, I am tired of people shouting that Microsoft is trying to create a monopoly. All it takes is for someone to build a superior product and Microsoft is boned. End of story.

sniperdoc (profile) says:

That's no the point...

The problem is not that they “bundle” IE with the OS. The issue at hand is that IE is so heavily integrated into the OS, i.e. Windows Explorer.

That is the real issue. Our organization cannot use Firefox for example because our accounting system is based off of ASP, so we need several ActiveX controls that will not work in Firefox. We are LOCKED into use IE.

That, I believe is the real issue that the EU has with Microshaft. The fact that no matter what you do, you cannot remove IE. It is used in some way, shape or form.

db0 (user link) says:

History of software

@kirillian I’ve looked at the history of software quite deeply for many years. “Competing Better” can easily mean using your monopoly to stiffle the competition and that has been the case for many years now with examples too many to quite. The backstabbing of Microsoft is well noted and catalogued. OS/2, Lotus Notes, Novell, Netscape, DR-Dos, Real Player, Firefox, Linux, HTML, Java and many more. Google the Halloween documents to get a taste of how Microsoft “competes better”.

And the “They’re in it to make money” is no more argument than me robbing your house because “I’m in it to make money” is an argument.

Twinrova says:

I can see why Mozilla would take this position.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a stupid decision on Mozilla’s part, but let’s take a look at this “market share” growth.

It is true Mozilla’s Firefox is slowly climbing the usage percentage, but the key here is slowly. Many, many people don’t even know this browser exists, let alone would understand the differences between IE.

You won’t believe how many times I’ve heard the remark “So? It gets me on the web, that’s all I care about.” After a little education, some switch (you’re welcome, Mozilla).

I don’t really see an anti-trust issue here, but I do find it appalling Mozilla wants to side with litigation rather than focus on getting its browser/email client distributed through OEMs.

Of course, if this is where the anti-trust issue lies, then I, too, will side with the case as it would not be fair to limit software addition because Microsoft sees other programs as a threat to the crap versions they give to people in their bundles.

It’s one thing to innovate and distribute, but entirely different if all avenues in trying to distribute are blocked by greedy and idiotic businesses.

Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re:

It seems that on this issue, most people’s brains fall out…

Microsoft builds platforms. Instead of a standalone application like FF or opera (or IE in the early days) they built a series of OS components that 3rd party developers could use. This reduces cost significantly and is a huge factor in why many companies build on top of the IE components. The windows shell (and a number of other OS services) also takes advantage of these same components. Despite what the anti-MS guys say, it’s a great design and simplifies alot of applications. This was an important feature for many big companies in the late ’90’s like Quicken, etc since they needed an integrated browser in their application.

The whole ‘tying’ or ‘bundling’ is an oversimplification for folks that don’t understand how software actually works.

Removing these components to punish Microsoft will actually cost 3rd party developers alot more.

Gozza says:

I agree with the EU on this.

I don’t understand why you would defend MS… Between the strong intergration of IE in the OS, and choices for the enduser in the browser they use when it comes ‘pre-chosen’, you keep quiet. You only bash on Mozzilla in this post for having a logical standpoint.

Saying you’re allowed compete if your product is more succesful is an elitist view and totally misses the point of the EU restrictions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bundles and Tied

I, unfortunately, need MS Windows to run some of the programs and even some websites that I use. The websites in general work with Firefox, but sometimes require IE. Now I’m an odd character in that I have IE7, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome all on my machine. I found that Pandora works better in Chrome, and some streaming video sites only work in IE but for everthing else I use firefox. If Chrome offered extensions like firefox then I’d probably switch to Chrome after they get the extensions I want most (Ad Block)

However, so long as MS has the majority of the market and the don’t follow the open web standards in their browser and encourage the use of formats that only work in IE then I must keep it around. And since if you decide to uninstall IE Windows is broken I can’t do that either.

Solution is two-fold. Force MS to use open web standards and force them to allow IE to be uninstalled without breaking windows

jonnyq says:

I am thrilled that Ubuntu and Leopard come with bundled browsers (and media players, and other essential software).

Why on earth wouldn’t they?

OEMs like to bundle software as well. Mozilla can still make headway in getting the OEM to “preinstall” it, and IIRC, they have in the past.

Mozilla’s doing fine… Don’t know why Baker would make that “threat to competition” claim. If that were true, should wouldn’t be working there. She’s typically a pretty smart lady.

ITRedneck (profile) says:

Bundled Browser Fairness

It is possible that this has already been mentioned, but…If you are installing Mac OSX on either a legitimate apple pc/laptop or have decided to hack it onto another Intel based machine, Safari(Apple’s browser) is bundled into the software, yes? I am not that familiar with the OSX environment, but the last time I has to reload a Mac Book, i did not see an option to remove Safari or choose an alternate browser. Now, I am completely aware that Apple has a significantly smaller market share, but this is growing considerably. Even in a dominantly MS environment like the one I work in, Mac Books are gaining in popularity due in large part to the numerous improvements that have been made. Still, this would need to be considered in the same light. Safari is bundled. If you don’t like Safari, you have to use Safari to access and download a different version. I completely agree that the EU needs to drop this one. All they are doing is baiting the beast. This will only cause larger issues, even if an “equitable” solution is found.

Fentex says:

What did MS do wrong?

It’s preposterous to declare that an O/S should not come with useful tools, like a web browser, on installation.

And given that, it’s preposterous to complain that not every possible browser is included. You can’t include every available version of every tool – you have to choose, and there’s no real need for more than one that works.

I find the whole ocncpet of this complaint rediculous. There are other manufacturers of shells for Windows – ought Microsoft not include Explorer as well? After all they’re just using control of the O/S to force their shell on users.

Fentex says:

What did MS do wrong?

On re-reading my last post it occurs to me: If MS doesn’t include a web browser in Windows, how are users expected to obtain a competitor such as Firefox in the first place?

Forcing MS to NOT include a browser is forcing people to NOT use the Internet from their brand new computer to fetch competitors products.

It’s stupid.

Fentex says:

What did MS do wrong?

Sure, and you could use Command Line tools to FTP anything.

But that’s just a nonsense distraction. A modern computer should have a web browser available at first use, and it can’t have every web browser available at first use.

So it’s preposterous to complain that it doesn’t have a particular web browser available. Just as it’s preposterous to complain it doesn’t hasve a particular shell, text editor, calculator or any tool one expects.

If MS purposefully restricts their product from working with competitors products then I could see a point to be made against them – but not including any specific competitors product in their distribution is nothing to be blamed for.

Fentex says:

What did MS do wrong?

I should also say that I think the greatest likely crime that ouoght be held against MS is their licensing agreements.

Preventing sellers from pro-actively including software on computers sold to their customers (so perhaps they would preconfigure Windows with Firefox, Open Office and other useful tools in an effort to obtain market advantage as quality purveyors of ocmputers) is perhaps an unfair restraint on trade.

Requiring MS to do someone else job is silly, stopping MS from preventing others from doing their job not so much.

Chris says:

such retardedness should be illegal

Here is my problem, they gripe about MS putting IE in windows, but never gripe about Apple bundling Safari, also not to mention that you first need some kind of browser to download mozilla/firefox with anyways (otherwise I am sure they will charge you for shipping of a CD with the browser on it, not very competitive if you ask me). Also not to mention that there are many websites that actually require IE to function properly, and that if you actually bought a computer with Windows in it, you CHOSE to have IE on it too! I understand where they are coming from, but if a company makes a software, they should be able to make other parts that come with it too.

CommieCowboy says:

I can't defend MS here...

I’m not a Safari or an Apple user, but there is one very important distinction to be made between Safari and IE: IE deliberately uses non-standard implementations of HTML and of other web standards and is the only browser that works with proprietary ASP/ActiveX code(unless you count FireFox + IETabs, which I use to load poorly-coded/non-standard websites without having to open IE) whereas anybody familiar with Safari can see that Apple, like Opera and the Mozilla Foundation, makes a concerted effort to have its browser function in accordance with web standards. This situation creates an environment wherein web developers and users are locked into Microsoft’s dirty tricks and creates a vicious circle of crap legacy code (so that the most popular browser loads pages correctly) that makes it needlessly difficult for the Internet to evolve and needlessly increases the work load of developers. Thus, IE competes on a model of vendor lock-in rather than a model of being able to render the Internet more competently than its competitors.

If Microsoft were willing to work with governments and with not-for-profit standards bodies to make a browser that properly handled these standards and were willing to open ASP and ActiveX, I would actually have no problem at all with bundling or with Internet Explorer and people would be able to judge browsers on things like rendering speed, resource use, amount of bugs, and extensibility rather than by the ability of one company to play dirty and stack the deck. IE would still do quite well in such a scenario, owing to the fact that users of limited technical knowledge will go gravitate to what they’ve heard of and what they have already, and the browser itself would become a better product because there would more pressure on MS to compete with its competitors on a level playing field. Utopian? Maybe. But it’s better to try to make things better than to leave the web in its current state.

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