Multiple Browsers Could Be Bundled With Windows

Dennis Faas's picture

The European Union (EU) is asking rival Internet browser manufacturers to suggest ways to prevent Microsoft acting unfairly in its promotion of Internet Explorer. The responses could help determine any punishment if the EU upholds a preliminary ruling that bundling the browser with Windows breaches competition rules.

Officials have sent out a questionnaire, due to be returned by the end of this week, asking interested parties to comment on possible measures. The recipients aren't limited to those who've formally attached themselves to the case (such as Google and Mozilla, who are both entitled to see confidential documents from the legal action), but instead include both software and hardware firms. (Source:

Several sources report that the questionnaire floats the idea of forcing Microsoft to include other browsers in Windows. That won't come as a shock to the firm, as it mentioned such a possibility in a recent financial report disclosure.

Two Options In The Frame

There are reportedly two main methods of bundling other browsers which are getting support from those responding to the EU. One is to simply include the five leading browsers on the computer and then let the user decide which to set as their default during the installation process.

A second option is to allow the user to select from every browser on the market. However, it wouldn't be practical to include them all on the machine itself as this could take up as much as 1GB of hard drive space, a problem for low-spec netbooks.

Supporters of the latter option say users could select a browser from a list and have it automatically downloaded from the web and installed. However, this would be tricky if someone hasn't yet setup their Internet access. (Source :

Microsoft Lawyers Not Done Yet

There's no guarantee any of the proposed solutions will actually come to pass. First, the EU still has to make a final ruling and it may decide that its original charges aren't proven. This is unlikely due to a scheduling disagreement, which means there will no longer be a formal hearing over the case.

Second, Microsoft has argued that the principles of European competition law mean that once a firm is found to have acted in an unfairly uncompetitive way, it's up to the firm to decide how to rectify the situation.

That leaves open the possibility that it would come up with its own solution and take legal action to try to prevent any measures imposed by officials.

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