The European Union’s pending antitrust investigation of Microsoft (MSFT) for bundling the Internet Explorer web browser in with Windows may be ridiculous, but Mozilla (makers of the Firefox browser) isn’t missing the opportunity to stick it to Microsoft.
In a weekend blog post, Mozilla Foundation chairwoman Mitchell Baker spews venom at Microsoft and announces her desire to participate in the European antitrust proceedings.
I’ve been involved in building and shipping web browsers continuously since before Microsoft started developing IE, and the damage Microsoft has done to competition, innovation, and the pace of the web development itself is both glaring and ongoing. There are separate questions of whether there is a good remedy, and what that remedy might be. But questions regarding an appropriate remedy do not change the essential fact. Microsoft’s business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet…
I’d like to offer Mozilla’s expertise as a resource to the EC as it considers what an effective remedy would entail. I’ll be reaching out to people I know with particular history, expertise and ideas regarding these topics.
On one level it’s ludicrous that Mitchell is asking for EC intervention given she’s already demonstrated that good old-fashioned free market competition can and is undermining Microsoft’s share of the browser market. But we can’t blame her for seizing an opportunity for advantage.
What does this mean for Microsoft? One “remedy” already being bandied about is for Microsoft to ship Windows to Europe without a browser, with new users given a choice of browsers either at install or via Windows Update.
The loser would be the consumers. We can’t imagine forcing Microsoft to offer code with its OS it didn’t write can mean anything good for European PC users.
Image: Will Pate