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EC gives two fingers to Microsoft's browser-free Windows 7

Hey, Microsoft! The EC heard you wanted to make a concession yesterday and were considering stripping IE8 from Windows 7 in Europe. Well, they've got two words for you: Nice try.

The Commission's press release this morning states "As for retail sales...the Commission had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of web browsers. Instead Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a web browser at all. Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less."

Oddly, though, they also minimize the importance of the retail channel, noting that it accounts for a paltry 5% of sales.

On the OEM front, it's a another story: "As for sales to computer manufacturers, Microsoft's proposal may potentially be more positive. It is noted that computer manufacturers would appear to be able to choose to install Internet Explorer – which Microsoft will supply free of charge - another browser or multiple browsers."

Would appear to be able to choose? How would they not be able to choose which browser to load on an OS that ships browser-free? They choose to load plenty of other bloat right now, so dumping a browser or four on their PCs really shouldn't be too tough.

As for the beef with retail, Microsoft can't win that one. If they ship no browser, users have no way of downloading an alternative. If they choose to list some browsers, the companies who are passed over will cry foul - and there are a lot of people developing web browsers (see Wikipedia). The EC, of course, is pushing a 'ballot screen' though I've seen no mention of which browsers will appear on it or how they will be selected in a fair and impartial manner.

What it boils down to is that the EC wants to decide how bad a boy Microsoft has been since 1996 and what kind of penance it needs to do.

Pro tip, EC: Windows 7 is due to ship soon, and Microsoft is making an effort here (gasp!). Maybe it's time to come to a consensus already.

Tags: antitrust, EC, EU, european-union