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The European Commission vs Microsoft anti-trust fiasco – or “Web-browser delete”

Over the last week, Microsoft put up the idea of offering the “E” versions of all of its Windows 7 operating system packages sold in the European Union. This version, which doesn’t include Internet Explorer, is an attempt to appease European-Commission anti-trust action that was instigated at the behest of Opera. This was even though the European Commission may require Windows-based computers to have a “ballot-screen” where the user chooses which Web browser to install when they set up their new computer.

The main issue that I was thinking about with the fiasco is whether a computer supplier will have to do what vehicle builders did before the 1980s with the car radio. That is to offer a “radio-delete” option where you bought the vehicle at a slightly-reduced cost if the radio wasn’t supplied. Most people took advantage of this option to allow the purchase of a better car radio from the retail sector, where as some just saw it as a way of reducing the cost of their vehicle purchase. This kind of packaging was more feasible with vehicles that were to be bought new off the showroom floor because the motorist was in a better position to have the desired package.

Could there then be a requirement for all computer retailers in Europe to provide computer systems with a "Web-browser delete” option where they provide the computer with no Web-browser. Users would then be supplied with a DVD-ROM disc or USB memory key that has the installation packages for four or five different Web browsers. It may appear easier to provide this option for computers that are being sold “to order”, which is practised mainly with small independently-run computer shops; or online computer resellers like Dell. On the other hand, it may not be feasible where computer equipment is sold “off the rack” like in most non-specialist stores like department stores or discount electrical stores. In these locations, users also expect to buy a particular package of equipment for the price quoted on the sticker. They can satisfy these requirements by providing the aforementioned DVD-ROM disc or USB memory key with the Web-browser installation packages.

The main issue for most users, especially those buying their first computer, is that they will go for the browser they are most familiar with, whether the one that is supplied by default with the operating system for their platform or the one that their school or workplace uses.

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15 June 2009 - Posted by | Computer setups, Industry Comments | , ,

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