EU Won’t Fine Microsoft Over Browser Ballot Case

By | December 16, 2009

EU Won't Fine Microsoft Over Browser Ballot CaseMicrosoft and European Commission have finally reached an agreement, in which browsers will be randomly listed in ballot screen (up to 12 browsers total)

Although EU have not fined Microsoft this time, if they fail to stick with an agreement for the next 5 years, Microsoft will have to pay up to 10% of yearly global turnover.

“This is a victory for the future of the Web. This decision is also a celebration of open Web standards, as these shared guidelines are the necessary ingredients for innovation on the Web,” said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software.

Thanks to Trygve Lie for news tip.


About (Author Profile)

Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

Comments (23)

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  1. Osjan says:

    I do not agree with Jon von Tetzchner, simply because I believe its a bureaucratic regulation, which is never good. This time I personally think its unfair for MS. And what lesson others can learn from it? That its their “freedom” right to be equally promoted because of “social justice”?

    I’m still using Opera although :D
    Its the best browser on earth, and this alone should convince people to use it.

    • Mancho says:

      So, it’s fair for M$ to abuse its monopoly in one market to gain an advantage in another? No one said M$ needs to do something because it would be the nice thing to do. They said M$ was breaking the law.

      • Osjan says:

        Dura Lex Sed Lex

        Law is the law, they should of course obey it. I simply do not agree with that law (I believe its stupid to be exact). Why on earth MS producer of the most popular Operating System on Earth cannot attach anything it wants into it? Its their property, they can do whatever they want with it. No one forbid other companies to create their own OS at the first place. In fact Google is creating one at the moment (and don’t tell me things like – ChromeOS is not an os – thats not the point here). Hell – maybe EU should force ChromeOS to incorporate browser ballot too?? LOL :D

        Look at Mozilla Firefox here, in Poland. Its the most popular browser at the moment (usage over 50%, almost 55% – its huge). And it was made WITHOUT any browser ballot screen. Microsoft doesn’t have an advantage with IE at all (here, and in some other countries), it depends on country, company marketing and other usual stuff.

        • Mol10 says:

          So, is it okay to distort the market and nearly shut out competition?

          Would it be okay if a large television manufacturer [analogous to a browser developer] rose to near-monopoly because they owned most of the retail stores [analogous to operating systems installed] where only their own tv sets [browser] can be bought? (Hey, it’s their store, they can sell what they want there, you would say.)

          And then what if they started to deviate from the television airing and picture standards, bringing in new, non-documented changes? Since MonopolTV also manufactured airing and cable distribution equipment [web developer tools], most airing companies and individual stations [websites] would buy those, to implement the new fancy features of MonopolTV. In such a case, other television manufacturers should spend much more on their R&D to reverse-engineer all the quirks and new closed features of the MonopolTV, but still their TV sets would sometimes refuse to work correctly with some channels. So consumers would learn that they better choose MonopolTV over other brands because that works with everything while others not always.

          Of course, not everyone would like MonopolTVs, they would have their fair share of problems. They wouldn’t be cheap, but look cheap, some would say they were ugly, and they would need repairs many times. But users of other brand, better TV sets would not always get the picture right (or at all) with many stations, and when calling their providers with their problems, would usually be advised to buy a MonopolTV, because their other brand TV was not supported.

          Some stations and cable companies that refused to use MonopolTV’s distribution equipment would also be disadvantaged because other manufacturers’ equipment did not always work right with MonopolTVs, so their own technicians should bring in some hacks to be compatible, so they end up spending what they saved by not buying from MonopolTV in the first place.

          I guess it would be okay with you, wouldn’t it?

          • Eice says:

            “Would it be okay if a large television manufacturer [analogous to a browser developer] rose to near-monopoly because they owned most of the retail stores [analogous to operating systems installed] where only their own tv sets [browser] can be bought? (Hey, it’s their store, they can sell what they want there, you would say.)”

            This is, without a doubt, one of the stupidest analogies I have ever heard. Either you are hopelessly ignorant, or is intentionally misrepresenting very obvious facts.

            The only way your analogy would be anywhere near accurate is for Microsoft to own the entire Internet, and make all other browsers unavailable for download. But not only is this the case, there have never been any problems whatsoever with running any browser you choose on Windows.

            It’s really pathetic that some people have to lie so blatantly and pretend that Microsoft is somehow forcing anyone to use IE, because there’s simply no valid argument otherwise to back up their ridiculous claims.

          • Mol10 says:

            There’s no need for you to label anyone (e.g. to be ignorant) or anyone’s expression of opinion (i.e., to lie blatantly, according to you).
            These attacks won’t make you look smarter, or your opinion more thoughtful.

            I choose to use Opera as my default browser, nothing stops me from that (and I never said anyone does).

            Like when I choose to use it for’s “Look inside” feature, but then it tells me that *my browser* *doesn’t support* that feature. Then I choose to use my right to do countermeasures against my discrimination. In this case, I just set Opera to completely lie to’s server, telling them that it’s Firefox, and voila! my browser now *supports* that feature. I choose to put up with the violation of my right of not having to do extra measures to get the same things that users of certain other, equally capable browsers get by default. I do it because I feel “at home” in Opera browser, much more than in other browsers.

            I choose to use it on every site, but some sites discriminate me, telling me that *my browser* *does not support* this or that. With forged browser identification, many of these sites work, but some still don’t.

            Sometimes I have to use my right to use another browser for a particular site, because I am stripped of my right to use it with Opera browser, despite the latter one is technically fully capable of being compatible with the requirements of that particular site. In these cases, I use my right to be frustrated, or angry, or resigned, or anything else, over my unjustified discrimination.

            Some employees of Opera Software use their rights to work as site compatibility specialists, writing so-called “site-patches” so that standards-deviant sites get to work with the standards-compliant Opera browser.

            Opera Software chooses to use its rigth to spend extra money to develop generic and site-specific countermeasures against discrimination against its product.

            If the web was all based on well-defined standards, and those standards were correctly followed, these things would never happen! Like, with television standards, it does not matter what brand tv you use, as long an it supports the required standards, you will get the same content that everyone else get.

            But instead of that, the legacy of deliberately Netscape-killer Microsoft is that the deliberately standards-deviant IE gets to be the number one target of web development, and extra efforts are made (which means extra money spent) by every developers to make their sites compatible with IE’s quirks and deviations. Then there comes the checking of web statistics, to help decide what other individual browsers should they develop specifically for. Firefox, Safari, iPhone browser are the usual suspects.

            Can you imagine every TV station having to adapt its airing equipment to different brand TV sets? Isn’t this idea ridiculous?

            Isn’t the need to develop for IE and for this and that browser, instead of having to develop for *the web*, also ridiculous?

          • Mancho says:

            @Eice: Are you willfully ignorant, or does it just come naturally? Nobody said people couldn’t download another browser. The truth is, since most people don’t have a clue about their browser, they just use IE, since it came with their OS. This gives M$ an advantage in market share. Through this, they can (and have) implement non-standard technologies, which causes web developers to accomodate. This fragments the web and gives M$ control.

          • Eice says:

            Did you have to work hard to get your lying skills to suck, or were you born with it? An inaccurate analogy that utterly misrepresented the facts was made. All I did was set it straight. But unfortunately the mere truth itself is enough to ruffle the feathers of people with an agenda of spreading lies – even though they utterly fail at it.

          • Mancho says:

            I’m not sure what part of my post you thought was a lie. Although it wasn’t a great analogy, your attempt to “set it straight” was an ignorant mess. I see no “truth” in your post that would ruffle anyone’s feathers.

        • foobar says:

          > Why on earth MS producer of the most popular Operating System on Earth cannot attach anything it wants into it? Its their property, they can do whatever they want with it.

          Hence a ballot screen and not unbundling.

          > in Poland. Its the most popular browser at the moment (usage over 50%, almost 55% – its huge

          That’s one case, but on other markets IE is still the most widely used browser, by long margins, mostly because people don’t know that they have choices or because IE’s ubiquity made sites rely on IE only technologies.

          This is a great win for consumers. Appreciate that for a while, someone bigger than Microsoft stood next to consumers and not its own commercial agenda. If it wasn’t for alternative browsers, and ow the EU, the internet could have been a big Windows-only technology.

      • Osjan says:

        What will be next? Maybe OS Ballot Screen whenever you buy a new laptop? Then maybe a Laptop Ballot Screen whenever you enter the shop, huh?. Then Shop Ballot Screen whenever you choose to leave your house?
        Media player ballot screen? Mail client ballot screen? Office ballot screen?

        Good product will defend itself. It of course depends in marketing and stuff, and smaller company might need to put more effort into it, but its fair IMO, because bigger company, MS in this case, also put some effort to gain its position at the first place. I’m against ANY government intervention (ex. pumping public money into some wall-street banks). Interventions that helped company to become monopolist are also EVIL of course. If there were some with MS – Paremia lex retro non agit. Law should be changed, more free market, no interventionism, but that is a another discussion.

        • nvm says:

          This ballot screen is here because Microsoft broke the law in with their browser. The browser is probably the most important app on your computer, just ask Google LOL.

          If you are against all government intervention I guess you are opposed to safety regulations for building and stuff like that?

  2. Jurgi says:

    I do not agree with such bureaucratic regulations. A browser is a part of modern operation system and any producer should has right to use it’s own product. What will be next? Forced replacement of Windows Explorer, Windows CD burning function, embedded Windows image/fax viewer?

    I admitt, that this regulation will have positive impact for market and customers. But the way is wrong.

  3. pneumatyka says:

    Opera 10.5 pre alpha on 22 December Hip Hip Hooray

  4. nvm says:

    This is great news!

    Guess why Google is promoting Chrome offline these days. Yeah, they want people to select that awesome little metal thing when they see the browser ballot!

    Now all that matters is brand recognition, not quality. Google will fight with Mozilla over the people who don’t select IE (most people). But Google will win because they can run ads everywhere. Why do you think Mozilla wanted people to switch from Google’s search? LOL.

    Opera and Safari will fight over the remaining scraps. Opera will get a huge boost compared to what they have now but the growth will be small compared to Chrome and Firefox I predict.

  5. osjan says:

    I’ve got an idea – Search Engine Ballot Screen (SEBS). Its totally unfair that everyone are using google (evil monopolist), there are other search engines.
    – whenever someone enters for the first time – instead of regular site, ballot screen should appear, with,, MSN, Ask, etc. and information that user can use other search engines.
    – on every other visit, on each of those sites some kind of bar at the top with links to other search engines should be always visible.

    • nvm says:

      Monopolies aren’t evil. Abusing a monopoly is.

      If you can show that Google has abused its monopoly, go right ahead and do that. Until you can, you may want to quit it with the silly and pointless analogies, LOL.

  6. osjan says:

    And can someone explain me why firefox is very popular in some countries (Poland above 50%, other eastern countries – at least 30%) ?
    What is a difference between consumer in Poland or Russia and consumer in i don’t know what country?

    And about compatibility it is much better then in previous version anyway (transparent pngs are finally supported), with IE conditional expressions its not that hard to prepare browser compatible site. Besides those little incompatibilities between browsers give jobs. Removing incompatibilities means less jobs. Thats bad, and its against EU Charter of Fundamental Rights!!

    • nvm says:

      I think Mozilla explained this pretty well themselves (

      When the only real competition comes from a not for profit open source organization that depends on volunteers for almost half of its work product and nearly all of its marketing and distribution, while more than half a dozen other “traditional” browser vendors with better than I.E. products have had near-zero success encroaching on Microsoft I.E.’s dominance, there’s a demonstrable tilt to the playing field. That tilt comes with the distribution channel – default status for the OS bundled Web browser.

      IE is better than previous versions because they knew that the government was breathing down their necks.

      Removing incompatibilities means more jobs because the web will work better for everyone.

  7. Eice says:

    “I see no “truth” in your post that would ruffle anyone’s feathers.”

    Given how your agenda here is to deny it, I don’t think anyone expected you to confess either. It’s really a riot that someone who labels others as “ignorant” claims that Microsoft somehow has “control” over the web when upstarts like Firefox have risen from nothing to claim one-third of the browser market. Seriously, aside from yourself, who are you trying to fool here?