U.S. editorial excerpts -2-
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) NEW YORK, March 8 -- (Kyodo) _ Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:
BUSTED FOR BROWSING (The Wall Street Journal, New York)
Remember when the "browser wars" were going to decide who ran the world No Well, the European Commission does, and we guess it's still mad about it. Witness the 561 million euros ($732 million) fine it levied against Microsoft Wednesday.
According to the Commission, Microsoft broke a promise to offer Windows users a choice of Web browsers. The Commission claims that some 15 million European consumers were thus denied the opportunity to pick Chrome or Safari or Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.
But IRL, or In Real Life as they say on the Internet, Explorer is already in third place in market share in Europe, and falling -- see the nearby chart. Millions -- maybe more than 15 million -- are making a choice, whether or not the Commission realizes it or Microsoft likes it.
The rise of Firefox, Chrome and others goes to the heart of the Commission's original legal theory. And rips it out. That theory held that Windows users were too beset by inertia (not to say lazy, or clueless) to download a different browser if users weren't offered a "choice screen" -- which would prompt them either to use Internet Explorer or download something else.
A decade ago, when Internet Explorer's share of the browser market topped 90 percent, the facts at least allowed for such a dim view of Windows users. But with Explorer bumping along at 24 percent market share, according to StatCounter, only a bureaucrat could pretend that Microsoft is somehow holding Windows users hostage to its bundled browser.
Europe's Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia nonetheless called Microsoft's omission of a "choice screen" in some versions of Windows "a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly" in order to preserve the integrity of the EU's antitrust enforcement.
No doubt Microsoft has learned its lesson, to the tune of nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars. But since the Commission first started investigating the software giant, one theory of the market after another has fallen by the wayside. Remember when Windows Media Player was going to lead to Total World Domination Yet the Commission has learned nothing. If only there were a way to fine regulators who propagate and enforce bad ideas. (March 8)
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