Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Jun 2009 13:55 UTC
Internet Explorer Yesterday, Microsoft dropped a bomb by announcing that all versions of Windows 7 released in Europe would ship without Internet Explorer pre-installed. This was in answer to the EU antitrust investigation currently under way regarding possible illegal bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. The first reactions to this news are coming in, with Opera and the EU both lamenting the move.
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RE[2]: This is almost perfect
by CaptainN- on Fri 12th Jun 2009 15:40 UTC in reply to "RE: This is almost perfect"
CaptainN-
Member since:
2005-07-07

I actually meant that whoever is offering the platform (a sub-platform of some other one, that you ship on your OEM hardware - whether it's based on Ubuntu, Xandros or Windows) should absolutely be making this decision for their customers. Users are unprepared to decide which browser to run (if they even know what that means), when they first turn on their machines - they have enough headaches with new hardware, they don't need another one.

This is and should always have been an OEM decision - they've been skating for a long time now by just always pointing at MS and saying it's their fault the computer runs like crap. That has harmed our web based ecosystem, but more than that, I think it was a mistake from a customer support perspective (ask Dell about their customer support reputation). The more of these kinds of decisions that OEMs are able to take on, and stand behind and support, the better off they will be.

That is exactly what MS did to compete unfairly - they offered discounts on Windows licensing to OEMs if they shipped with IE instead of Netscape (that is the point of their abuse). That's what makes this such a great idea. The thing to watch out for is what kinds of deals they make to keep Dell and others installing IE - that's where Mozilla, Opera and Google need to understand that they have to compete - MS knows what's up, and they will absolutely compete here.

To be clear, the choice of which browser to use will never be an end user choice - most of them are entirely unprepared to actually make that decision, and techies like us should stop pretending they are. The battle with browsers is at the OEM level. The same is true for operating systems. End users don't buy operating systems, and unless they are very savvy, they don't install alternative browsers (even if they might get the increasingly rare techie neighbor kid to "clean up" their computer). It just doesn't work that way.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[3]: This is almost perfect
by strcpy on Fri 12th Jun 2009 15:59 in reply to "RE[2]: This is almost perfect"
strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20

Now I think you nailed it.

Comparable to things like automobile industry, the problem in many cases is the OEM sector that distorts the market, be it Intel chips or Internet Explorer. What I think EU should have done is to examine more closely these ties between producers and OEMs instead of coming with an idiotic solution to "unbundle" parts of the product offered by the producer. I do not know what a better solution could have looked like, but the current one is less than optimal, not even touching the surface of the root of the issue.

I actually believe that the situation could become worse now that for instance Intel as a hardware producer has entered the software market (Moblin, etc.). Generally all these deals to ship an operating system X with netbook Y, for an instance, have left a bad taste in my mouth as a consumer. Nothing could be more closed from business perspective; no where do we see open competitive bidding so prevalent in (certain) other industries.

I have to disagree with you in that OEMs should be in a dominant position to make decisions in the IT industry to begin with. That kind of gatekeeper position is most certainly related to anti-competitive measures generally.

What do you think?

Could a comparison to the phone markets and telecom industry provide any kind of parallel for discussion?

Edited 2009-06-12 16:17 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: This is almost perfect
by CaptainN- on Fri 12th Jun 2009 16:31 in reply to "RE[3]: This is almost perfect"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

Hmm, it's interesting. I suppose I would separate the IT industry from the consumer market. I think in IT they can and do what they want. Generally, MS has been good at working with higher education to graduate IT personal who know and are trained to deal with the MS stack. That's a whole different problem from the consumer market, one which will take a platform provider must target higher education - Google, Apple, etc. OEMs to address hardware - Palm with Pre targeting IT, Dell offering hardware with the stacks that IT depts. ask for,etc..

On the consumer market - the reason Apple has done so well, despite very expensive entry level products (their higher end stuff tends to bring more value per dollar, but their lower end stuff is expensive), is the way they tailer their software for the needs of their users- making important decisions for them to get them up and running, but not locking them in to those (this is unlike the smart phone, but that is opening up over time). This _is_ the job of the OEM, IMO. They are the point of contact that customers tend to call when they have a problem with their computers, and I think that relationship is appropriate - the lack of an ability to address those calls (Dell) causes problems with reputation.

It's interesting to divide the market that way - IT on one side, and general consumers on another. There are probably more of those kinds of distinctions to draw. The smart phone business has learned some lessons here, and they are most definitely not reproducing the mistakes of the PC era when producing these new phones. The biggest successes have all been custom rolled stacks (partially or entirely based on open source) - RIM's Blackberry, Apple's iPhone, Palm's Pre (if it isn't considered a locked success yet, it will be I think). This could also be due to MS's lack of competitiveness in the arena (Windows Mobile and Zune as two different things - shipping a version of IE6 in the Zune, sheesh!), but I think it's more based on lessons learned.

What I think is interesting about the cell and smart phone providers is they don't advertise what runs on the phone (is it Linux, Windows, Android - atom, ARM - who cares!). The adverts all center around what the phones can do - computers should be using similar strategy - that's how to market a good computer (just check the Apple ads). Dell, you reading? ;-)

Reply Parent Score: 3