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<html newsdate="2010-02-22">
<title>FSFE to users: Seize your freedom of choice!</title>
<h1>FSFE to users: Seize your freedom of choice!</h1>
<h2>FSFE welcomes greater competition in European browser market</h2>
FSFE welcomes the arrival of greater competition in the web browser
market. From today, Microsoft has to offer Windows users in Europe the
possibility to choose among different browsers. This step puts into
practice the company's settlement with the European Commission from
December 2009. The Free Software Foundation Europe was an active
participant in the Commission's investigation.
"For the first time, Microsoft has been forced to offer all users a choice
among different web browsers," says FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff. "This
is a stop sign for the company's strategy of extending its near-monopoly in
desktop operating systems to other markets."
FSFE is fighting for freedom of choice and Open Standards. Microsoft's own
Internet Explorer browsers do not interpret web standards correctly. The
company's near-monopoly on the desktop has meant that web designers have
often catered to Microsoft users only, leaving users of rival browsers to
deal with broken pages.
"Microsoft has gained its dominant position in the browser market by
violating its consent decree with the US competition authorities. The
problem we are trying to fix here wouldn't exist if Microsoft had complied
with the laws," says FSFE's Legal Counsel Carlo Piana. "It is no
coincidence that we have recently seen more competition among browsers,
after years where there was no innovation and a total lack of investment by
It is now up to the users to take advantage of the choice they are offered.
Gerloff reminds the EC that it will constantly need to monitor the success
of the 'ballot screen'. "Microsoft is a convicted monopolist and has broken
countless promises in the past," he says. "We urge the European Commission
to keep a sharp eye on how well this measure plays out in practice."
The 'ballot screen' is currently limited to Europe. "We call on competition
authorities around the world to take a cue from the EC's good work in this
case. The effect on competition and standards compliance would be much
greater if users were offered a choice everywhere", says FSFE's Legal
Counsel Carlo Piana.
It remains to be seen how the 'ballot screen' will improve competition in
the market for web browsers. FSFE is equally concerned about the lack of
interoperability between Microsoft's products and Free Software
competitors, and the company's practice of bundling its operating system
with consumer hardware.
The initial complaint about Microsoft's abuse of its dominant position in
the web browser market was brought by Opera. FSFE has supported the
investigation as an interested third party, providing feedback and helping
to shape the measures imposed by the European Commission.
The settlement on web browsers is only the latest among several European
Commission investigations into Microsoft's anticompetitive behaviour. The
most famous among these actions -- where <a
href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/ms-vs-eu.html">FSFE was a key
player</a> -- concerned the workgroup server operating system market. Also
known as the Samba case, it ended with a landmark decision in 2007 by the
European Court of Justice. Microsoft was forced to disclose
interoperability information that it had illegaly withheld from
On the same day that the ballot screen was announced, Microsoft also
promised to disclose interoperability information for a number of its
products, such as Windows Server, Microsoft Office, Exchange and
SharePoint. Here, an investigation by the European Commission is still
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