Saturday, June 13, 2009

EU wants other browsers in Windows

The European Union is working on a anti-trust case against Microsoft. They claim that the consumer (of the Windows operating system) has no choice in its browser and only has Internet Explorer because it is bundled with Windows. The EU wants Microsoft to start bundling other browsers (Safari, Opera, Firefox, Chrome) to give the user more choices.

I find that an absurdly stupid idea. I can understand that they would want to give people a choice. but let’s face it, most computer users are morons when it comes to computers (no offence). They don’t know anything about computers. Hell, they never updated their software until Microsoft set the default to “don’t ask, just update”. And know they should need to choose between difference web browser? That’s a recipe for disaster.

Aside from users not knowing that they want or need, there are also business issues to consider. Let’s say you buy Windows and you choose to install Safari. And now when you visit your favourite web site, Safari crashes every time. Who will you call for support? Well, Microsoft of course. It’s their Windows system you bought and Safari was included with that. So now all of a sudden Microsoft has to offer support for Safari, or Opera, or Firefox, etc.

Also, now it appears there is a major security issue with Opera, which you installed because it came with Windows. Who is going to fix that? Not Microsoft, because they don’t make that product. Who are you demanding should fix it? Well, Microsoft of course. Because it came with their Windows system did it not? Can Microsoft guarantee that Opera follows its security guidelines and makes the software as safe as possible?

Suppose there was a security issue and Opera fixed it. How are you going to get the security fix? I highly doubt its going to be through Microsoft Update. So the update will probably not be installed automatically by default. And every browser will have its own system for updates.

Microsoft also has strict guidelines on how programs look and work. Safari is made by Apple. In all honesty I’ve never used Safari for Windows, but I assume it will look strikingly similar to Safari for Mac OS. I do use iTunes and it looks nothing like a Windows application, because it’s made for a completely different OS. Apple has it’s own user interface guidelines and they are a lot different from the Microsoft guidelines. So now you have out-of-the-box software that looks (and behaves) completely different than all the other software that is installed.

So, yeah, I’m not much for bundling different browser with Windows. I would love to present people a choice, but Windows should stick with Internet Explorer. Why not, upon first connection with internet, give people a page that tells them they have a choice in browsers and give them links to different websites for those browsers. But bundling software made by completely different companies with Windows is a stupid idea.

And just so you know: I’m a Firefox user and only use Internet Explorer at work, because our intranet doesn’t work correctly with Firefox.

This is not my original idea, I read it somewhere else, but why give people only the choice between Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome? Why not all of the gazillion different web browsers that are out there? Doesn’t seem fair to the little guy. On the other hand Opera is pretty much “the little guy” and since they are furiously trying to get their browser bundled with Windows I really doubt they’re in it for “what’s good for the customer”. As I see it, they just use this to try and increase their market share.