Microsoft In Trouble With EU Over Browser Chooser – And Why It’s Irrelevant

You might have heard that the EU is upset with Microsoft because the Browser Chooser that MSFT agreed would be included in Windows 7 for European Union customers was not active in Windows 7 SP1.  Strangely enough, I (a Chrome browser user) noticed this in my last few builds.

The EU forced Microsoft into introducing the Browser Chooser in Windows 7 for local markets.  This would prevent Microsoft from abusing a then monopoly position and enable other browsers to enter the market.  Fair enough I thought, and it worked well.  When you logged into a new PC, you could pick your default browser.  Some joked that IE was the browser you used to download your preferred browser. 

Then the news broke this week that the EU is investigating an issue where this browser chooser was not working in Windows 7 SP1.  And further, the EU could fine Microsoft up to 10% of their earnings over the 18 or so months period: $7 or $8 billion!

Interesting, because although IE still leads worldwide, I’d been hearing over the months that IE had lost the top position in Europe.  What do the stats say?

According to StatCounter, IE is #3 in Europe:


According to GetClicky. IE has continued to decline globally, despite the lack of the browser chooser:


According to W3Counter, IE also continues to decline globally, despite the lack of a browser chooser:


In other words, with a browser chooser or not, IE continues to lose market share even if Microsoft owns some 95% of the “PC” market.  We could question Microsoft’s monopoly position (IDC reckon they’ll sell 350 million PCs in 2012) too: Apple have 4% or so of the “PC” market, are set to sell 116 million iPhones ad 54 million iPads, almost exclusively using Safari.

Do we really need a Browser Chooser on Windows?  People have figured out what browser they want and IE is sliding.

And where is the EU mandated chooser for IOS devices?

It will be interesting to see what happens with Windows RT where IE and Office run on the desktop and no other programs can be installed there.  I wonder if the decision to include the limited desktop at all in Windows RT will backfire?  But that’s a whole other story and the lawyers/Eurocrats will decide that one (I’m not saying that this is good at all).

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One thought on “Microsoft In Trouble With EU Over Browser Chooser – And Why It’s Irrelevant”

  1. I think that small comment about choice on iOS devices is very important.
    Same thing goes for Android devices.

    One of the first things I tried after purchasing a Galaxy Tab was to find another browser as at the time Chrome wasn’t sufficient as it always redirected to mobile versions of sites and the settings would only last a session (since fixed in a later firmware release but not the point).

    However the browser availability was shockingly limited with poor performance and from what little I understand mainly due to the difficulty developers have getting access to low level system features that are needed to make a high performing browser.

    If this is the case, why isn’t the EU looking at investigating Apple & Google in the same way with their monopoly over the browser choices/restrictions on those OS?

    As you say Aidan, people are more aware of browser choice than ever before, Microsoft make no effort to prevent browser choice either so stop picking on MS as usual and try finding some other source of income to bail out Greece et al…

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