For those of us in America, this all might seem a little silly. The European Union brought up an antitrust case against Microsoft a few years ago – much like how our government struck out at them in the late nineties – because they were bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. While the charges were ultimately dropped in the US, the EU continued to have a problem with it, so in 2009, Microsoft agreed to pay a massive $1.2 billion in fines and install a variant of the browser ballot you see above for users starting up Windows. Microsoft’s only problem is that it didn’t work for some people, an estimated 15 million people at the determination of the EU, and now Microsoft is back in the hot seat.
So, yes, for the rest of us, it may seem a little silly. Windows includes a web browser to facilitate, well, web browsing, but the respective governments determined that their constituencies were probably unable to handle the act of downloading another browser. I can understand certain demographics might need to enlist others to figure that out, but I’m not sure how a browser ballot on install would make much more sense. Since the EU found that Microsoft’s own solution wasn’t working, they’re now aiming to fine them another $730 million because the ballot wasn’t available.
I think the judgment speaks more about what the EU thinks of its people than what Microsoft does.