Mozilla to EC: Microsoft Getting Off Too Easy
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As a settlement looms in Microsoft's tête-à-tête with the European Commission (EC) over bundling Internet Explorer (IE) with Windows, one of the software giant's arch rivals has weighed in with a calculated blogging campaign.
Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, and Harvey Anderson, the foundation's general counsel, both blogged this week that Microsoft's proposed settlement -- which gained some positive reviews from EC staffers last month -- still comes up short.
"The overall point that may get lost is that -- even if everything in the currently proposed settlement is implemented in the most positive way -- IE will still have a unique and uniquely privileged position on Windows installations," Baker said in a blog entry this week.
Microsoft last month acquiesced to providing a 'ballot screen' with Windows 7 (as well as Vista and XP) that presents itself to the user the first time the system starts up on PCs sold in the European Union (EU).
Users would be able to choose from a selection of browsers to set as the default, including IE, Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and probably Norwegian-browser Opera as well. Opera began the case with a complaint about Microsoft's bundling of Windows and IE filed in late 2007.
That's not enough for Baker and Anderson.
Baker cited the IE icon, which remains on the Windows desktop even if a different browser is the default, as well as IE's prime location on the Windows Taskbar.
"Nothing we've seen suggests these items will change when a person chooses to make a different browser his or her default," Baker continued. She also said that, while Mozilla was not in favor of blocking delivery of IE fixes via automatic updates, she wants to be sure that IE does not set itself as the default browser when installing IE8.
Microsoft promised last week to change that behavior in IE8.
IE still the default?
Meanwhile, Anderson said he was blogging to call out "deficiencies" in Microsoft's proposal.
"When IE is not the default, any launch of IE, user intended/initiated or not, may prompt the user to restore IE as his default browser," Anderson said in a Tuesday blog post. He also said that Microsoft should not be allowed to fire up IE from within an application -- even Microsoft apps like the Office suite -- whenever a browser function is needed.
"If Microsoft applications need to launch a browser, they should only launch the users default browser," Anderson added.
"The European Commission is reviewing the proposals we submitted July 24, and it's important that public feedback be part of that process. While we may not align on every specific point, we welcome Mozillas input and find their perspectives constructive. We look forward to the next steps in the Commission's review," Microsoft spokesperson Kevin Kutz, said in an e-mail.
The Mozilla blog posts appear to be timed to impact settlement talks going on between Microsoft and the EC -- the EU's executive branch.
While much of the EC is on August break, negotiations continue, and activity is likely to pick up as soon as September arrives. A source who is aware of the negotiations, hinted a settlement announcement may be forthcoming soon after the EC reconvenes.