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IE inviting friends to the Windows 7 party?

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

After an initial decision to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 7 following the anti-trust court ruling it appears Microsoft have come up with another solution. Rather not bundle IE they have offered is to add competitor browsers into the install and present options for users to choose which browser they require.

Although this solves the stupid idea of not having any browser it’s still a stupid idea and here’s why:

What’s a browser?

If you asked many ‘average’ PC owners I think you would get many not fully understanding the distinction between a web browser and Internet Explorer. For them one is synonyms of the other such as Hoover is to Vacuum Cleaner. Therefore to offer these people more choice when they are unaware of the choices will only serve to confuse and irritate. Even if you do then find people aware of the choices but still continue to use IE are they likely to select alternatives at this point or will they continue to use the software they are familiar with?

Too many choices

So when choosing your browser to install you’ll be presented with the big hitters such as Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari. But what about the smaller browsers out there such as Konqueror, Flock et al, will these be included?

To take this idea to an extreme, what would happen if I developed a simple browser and asked for it to be made available? Of course I’d be laughed out of the door but what makes my situation any different to Opera who argue Microsoft’s position with IE harms my ability to grow my market share and thus my business?

Surely there has to be a limit on how many browsers you can include not just because of disk space but because too many choices will surely confuse users more. Yet who will make that decision and by what criteria will a browser be accepted for inclusion.


Although Apple don’t quite hold the market share Microsoft do in the Personal Computing market they do have a fairly sizable chunk in which they have a lot of control. With hardware, OS and browser all under one roof they have the ability to determine exactly what happens with their products.

One recent example of this is the updates to iTunes to stop any non-Apple hardware interfacing with the software. Surely decisions like this and the fact Safari is the only browser available on the iPhone could be seen as anti-competitive.

Will it change anything?

Microsoft has been able to push IE and other products such as Office because of this dominance in the OS market. It’s for this reason that the courts rule that they should be open and make it easy for developers to work with Windows. But this case is a little different as there are no issues using any browser on Windows. Microsoft does not actively block any competitor to strengthen its market share, nor does it do anything to reduce the choices for the general public. If any person wishes to use an alternative browser they have the ability and freedom to do so.

What these proposed changes will do instead is create confusion and complication. The only people to benefit from the changes will be those already using Firefox or any other browser that will be able to save time by installing them within the Windows setup.