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Excuse Me, Did Microsoft Just Give the EC the Finger?

It just told the European Commission to go f**k itself

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on our part, but it sounds like Microsoft – in the very nicest way, of course, to avoid any further fines – just told the European Commission to go f**k itself.

See, at press time, CNet was saying as how it saw a confidential memo that Microsoft sent to OEMs and that Microsoft plans to ship Windows 7 in Europe without its browser at all leaving it to the OEMs to put it back in complements of a free “IE8 pack,” ship a different browser or ship a bunch of browsers.

There will be no version that includes the browser either through OEMs or through retail.

The retail consumer will have to get IE via CD, FTP and somehow.

The move, which would throw a monkey wrench into upgrades, would deny its rivals a free ride on Windows. The OEMs could sell the space for a king’s ransom. Firefox and Opera couldn’t afford it. Apple could care less. And Google could ante up.

Faced with the logical conclusion of its own logic, the EC – which remember is supposed to be protecting the consumer – reportedly said that it “had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of web browsers. Instead Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers” – roughly 5% of the total – “with a version of Windows without a web browser at all. Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less.”

It also reportedly said, “As for sales to computer manufacturers, Microsoft’s proposal may potentially be more positive. It is noted that computer manufacturers would appear to be able to choose to install Internet Explorer – which Microsoft will supply free of charge – another browser or multiple browsers.”

The suggestion has Opera, which brought the original complaint, howling.

Microsoft’s deputy counsel has basically allowed on Microsoft’s legal blog that it may not get away with this. But it’s fun anyway, isn’t it?

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
gwlucas 06/14/09 05:19:00 PM EDT

This is what Microsoft should have done to the U.S. Justice Department as well. If the Luddites can't figure out how to download an alternate browser, then they probably don't need to be worried about having one.

I support this action and hope the governments that keep trying to ride the Microsoft gravy train with increasingly ridiculous fines and penalties get the message.

mabraham1 06/12/09 02:08:33 PM EDT

It's an appropriate response by Microsoft--similar to how my wife and I have disciplined our children when they act spoiled: start taking away items they've taken for granted.

As many other developers, I'm puzzled as to why the EU thinks that IE tight relationship with Windows is a problem: you can download any browser you want--it may not work as well with Explorer (folders), but that's a feature of OS integration.

Microsoft's hardline is warranted, and timely.