It was announced that Microsoft has pulled Internet Explorer from Windows 7 for its distribution throughout the European Union (EU.) The Version is tentatively dubbed Windows 7 (E).
Why would this happen, you ask?
Well, the people from the web browser Opera have filed a lawsuit in Europe, and the EU has run with it since they are severely anti-monopolistic.
Don't get me wrong - I am all for keeping a monopoly in check, and Microsoft is clearly a monopoly given how much market-share they control globally. The issue I'm finding with this situation is that Opera and the EU have essentially made Microsoft responsible for advertising - nay, distributing - their competitor's software for them. What a fantastic thing for Opera this is!
Here is the gist of what has happened:
Since Microsoft is menacingly dominant in the area of operating systems and computer software, Opera thinks that it is unfair and monopolistic that Microsoft included Internet Explorer pre-installed on its operating systems without giving users a choice. Basically, what Opera seems to be suggesting is that when you load Windows, you should be presented with an option to install competing web browsers before Internet Explorer is installed as your default web-browser. Now, I'm personally a fan of Opera. As a matter of fact, I am composing this blog within Opera since I am a fan of their browser. This was my choice and - ironically enough - it would not have been possible without Internet Explorer. I made the choice after installing the Windows 7 RC to go online and download Opera 9.6. That is what a free-market is all about.
What the people responsible for Opera are neglecting is that Microsoft makes an Operating system. That is a huge advantage. Though it can be debated that Microsoft developed Internet Explorer to be what it is because they wanted to run Netscape out of town and get a piece of that sweet, sweet web client revenue, Microsoft has an obligation at this epoch in technology to provide users with web-access out of the box. Computers are no longer boxes that you just play with pictures on. Nowadays, a majority of the function that a majority of consumers get from the Internet is web access. What a disaster it would be to have an operating system arrive in your home with no way to access the Internet. All of the pieces are there - networking components are installed, and the web rendering engine as well. When you connect it though, and verify your connectivity through built-in networking tools, you reach a stalemate because you have no way to utilize it.
Here is where the philosophical dilemma arises: Considering Microsoft's undeniable dominance/monopolization of the market, are they responsible for distributing competitor's software? Apple is not expected to provide the type of option that Opera is requesting, though no one is questioning their inclusion of Safari with OSX. Why hasn't this case been presented by Mozilla regarding Firefox? Here's a hint: Maybe it is because Firefox is the fastest-growing browser in distribution. Firefox users don't seem to mind using Internet Explorer to download the Mozilla software after connecting their PC.
Maybe Opera is just grasping for straws. It is a shame - Opera is pretty awesome. I love it on my computer, on my mobile phone, and on my Nintendo Wii. Now their name will be forever associated with the lawsuit that took the Internet away from Europe (I know that is dramatic - don't quote it.)