Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Jul 2009 07:29 UTC
Opera Software Last week, the European Commission announced that Microsoft is willing to implement a browser ballot screen in Windows so that users can select a browser to install when installing Windows or when setting up their OEM computer. While this makes Opera very happy, Opera would like to see Ubuntu and Apple offer such a ballot screen too.
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RE[3]: 0.5% share threshold
by sbergman27 on Tue 28th Jul 2009 16:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 0.5% share threshold"
sbergman27
Member since:
2005-07-24

True. I haven't thought about that very deeply - it's more of a general desire than an implementable plan or something.

Unfortunately, a monopoly situation is a perfectly valid corner for a free market to get into. Thus it is an unfortunate fact of life that regulation is sometimes going to be necessary to either prop up market competition, or to restore it. Of the two, restoring it is by far the best option, when possible.

If you just prop it up, it means that ongoing regulation is going to be necessary. And in a landscape which changes like computing (and not to mention working with an uncooperative player like MS), it means that new tests and tactics are going to be necessary as the web evolves, and as the regulated entity finds ways around your previous tests. And all those new tests and requirements are going to have to be right. And on and on forever. Honestly, (and no offense intended) that's the way I see your otherwise appealing idea going.

On the other hand, executed properly, I could see the browser ballot strategy actually restoring true competition. And once restored, MS would have every incentive to act in a truly competitive way. So with a minimum of regulation, you get the market back on its feet and the free market forces restored back to health and full vigor, which is, I think, what most of us would like to see. Even those who see the need for regulation generally prefer to rely on dynamic free market forces where practicable. (Right?)

To be sure, there are details to the ballot screen plan that need to be gotten right. As Molly points out, setting the height of the bar is a question without a completely obvious answer. But at least this strategy minimizes the details that have to be gotten right, and if the plan is successful, even that bit of regulation may be able to go away, someday.

Sure, it's yet another annoying thing Windows users have to do after unboxing their computers. (Which frankly gets a big boo-hoo from me.) But choice of browser is an important part of installation. Certainly more important than clicking through license agreements for the crapplets so thoughtfully installed for users by the OEM.

Edited 2009-07-28 16:55 UTC

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