updated 10:35 am EST, Tue February 24, 2009
EU Requiring Non-IE Web
The European Commission late Monday said it plans to require that Microsoft offer web browsers other than Internet Explorer in Windows. The EU body's spokesman Jonathan Todd says a final decision in the matter would mandate a choice of which browsers to download and install in addition to the existing ability to specify a default app. The feature would potentially involve a portal that lets users choose the browser early on.
The Commission justifies the approach as the only viable way to give users an immediate, equal choice that can be considered effective. An official notes that its previous approach of requiring a separate Windows version, as it did when it asked that Microsoft offer a version of Windows XP without Windows Media Player, has largely had no impact. Buyers simply end up buying the regular version as it provides the software without an extra fee, the organization says.
Simply asking users to install a browser themselves also isn't an option as one would be necessary without a custom downloader, though the Commission is considering letting PC makers choose their own browsers and to load these by default.
The objective has already raised concerns, including regarding which browsers will be selected. While key browsers like Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera's self-titled browser are more probable candidates, concerns exist that smaller competitors may be excluded and have a harder time reaching acceptance. Todd mitigates the concerns by arguing that there are "not many" alternatives to Internet Explorer.
Recent controversy has surfaced with word that Mozilla has become involved in the EU case and may be too greatly interested in having its own browser made an alternative to Internet Explorer.
Microsoft has long insisted Internet Explorer is an essential component of Windows but has previously said it would comply with European law if a decision forces changes to its software.