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Paul Merrell

Microsoft Loses E.U. Antitrust Case - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • It ordered the software giant to untie the browser from its operating system in the 27-nation E.U.
  • The commission's investigation into Microsoft's Web-surfing software began a year ago, after the Norwegian browser-maker Opera Software filed a complaint. Opera argued that Microsoft hurt competitors not only by bundling the software, in effect giving away the browser, but also by not following accepted Web standards. That meant programmers who built Web pages would have to tweak their codes for different browsers. In many cases, they simply designed pages that worked with market-leading Internet Explorer but showed up garbled on competing browsers.
  • At the time of the complaint, Opera said it was asking E.U. regulators to either force Microsoft to market a version of Windows without the browser, or to include other browsers with Windows.
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    The Post too says that DG Competition ordered the unbundling of MSIE from Windows. But again no attribution for the statement. They also leave the impression that Opera's complaint regarding the undermining of open web standards was upheld, something not stated in either the Microsoft or DG Competition announcements. So the questions of the day are: [i] did the Commission order the unbundling of MSIE from Windows; and [ii] did the Commission also rule on the undermining of open web standards. The latter question could be of critical importance in the still ongoing proceeding regarding the ECIS complaint in regard to the undermining of ODF by Microsoft pushing OOXML.
Gary Edwards

What the EU might force Microsoft to do : comment by gary.edwards - 0 views

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    I've pretty much stayed out of the EU action against Microsoft primarily because it misses the mark by so much. The browser is not the means by which Microsoft seeks to create a Web based monopoly. MSIE is a useful tool used to frustrate Web developers and systems providers, but we are way beyond the point where removing/replacing MSIE becomes an effective remedy to Microsoft monopolist abuses. Way beyond! There is however no doubt in my mind that the browser is going to be the portable WebOS of the future. The problem is that browser runtimes are also host for proprietary runtime plug-ins. Like MS Silverlight! Read on freind. My comments are three part, and posted down the line, somewhere around 183. Heavy on the WebKit stuff as usual! Look for "gary.edwards".
Paul Merrell

Inside Google Desktop: Google Desktop Update - 0 views

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    Google throws in the towel on desktop search, just as Microsoft somehow reached into my WinXP Pro (which never runs with automatic updates turned on) and killed the file search functionality, replaced by a message that file search is no longer supported in Explorer 6, with an invitation to upgrade MSIE or use Bing. As though I would ever let MSIE outside my firewall! Somehow, the ability to search the cloud just isn't enough for me.  
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Ordered to Delete Browser - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union said Friday that Microsoft’s practice of selling the Internet Explorer browser together with its Windows operating system violated the union’s antitrust rules. It ordered the software giant to untie the browser from its operating system in the 27-nation union, enabling makers of rival browsers to compete fairly.
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    The Times goes farther than the DG Competition announcement, saying that Microsoft has been ordered to untie MSIE from Windows throughout the E.U. No source is attributed for the statement. The DG Competition announcement does not state what remedy it proposes to order. So take this report with a grain of salt. The Times is well capable of error.
Paul Merrell

Rapid - Press Releases - EUROPA - 0 views

  • MEMO/09/15 Brussels, 17th January 2009
  • The European Commission can confirm that it has sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Microsoft on 15th January 2009. The SO outlines the Commission’s preliminary view that Microsoft’s tying of its web browser Internet Explorer to its dominant client PC operating system Windows infringes the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82).
  • In the SO, the Commission sets out evidence and outlines its preliminary conclusion that Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice. The SO is based on the legal and economic principles established in the judgment of the Court of First Instance of 17 September 2007 (case T-201/04), in which the Court of First Instance upheld the Commission's decision of March 2004 (see IP/04/382), finding that Microsoft had abused its dominant position in the PC operating system market by tying Windows Media Player to its Windows PC operating system (see MEMO/07/359).
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  • The evidence gathered during the investigation leads the Commission to believe that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world's PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match. The Commission is concerned that through the tying, Microsoft shields Internet Explorer from head to head competition with other browsers which is detrimental to the pace of product innovation and to the quality of products which consumers ultimately obtain. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the ubiquity of Internet Explorer creates artificial incentives for content providers and software developers to design websites or software primarily for Internet Explorer which ultimately risks undermining competition and innovation in the provision of services to consumers.
  • Microsoft has 8 weeks to reply the SO, and will then have the right to be heard in an Oral Hearing should it wish to do so. If the preliminary views expressed in the SO are confirmed, the Commission may impose a fine on Microsoft, require Microsoft to cease the abuse and impose a remedy that would restore genuine consumer choice and enable competition on the merits.
  • A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case. The Commission may then take a decision on whether conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EC Treaty’s antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure. In the March 2004 Decision the Commission ordered Microsoft to offer to PC manufacturers a version of its Windows client PC operating system without Windows Media Player. Microsoft, however, retained the right to also offer a version with Windows Media Player (see IP/04/382).
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    It's official, hot off the presses (wasn't there a few minutes ago). We're now into a process where DG Competition will revisit its previous order requiring Microsoft to market two versions of Windows, one with Media Player and one without. DG Competition staff were considerably outraged that Microsoft took advantage of a bit of under-specification in the previous order and sold the two versions at the same price. That detail will not be neglected this time around. Moreover, given the ineffectiveness of the previous order in restoring competition among media players, don't be surprised if this results in an outright ban on bundling MSIE with Windows.
Paul Merrell

EU/Antitrust cases from 39514 to 39592 - 0 views

  • COMP/39.530 - Microsoft (Tying) Microsoft 14.01.2008 MemoAntitrust: Commission initiates formal investigations against Microsoft in two cases of suspected abuse of dominant market position 14.01.2008 Opening of Proceedings Concerns economic activity: C33.2
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    When the DG Competition statement of objections regarding the tying of MSIE to Windows appears, it should appear here, under COMP/39.530.
Paul Merrell

Rapid - Press Releases - EUROPA - 0 views

  • As regards interoperability, in its Microsoft judgment of 17 September 2007, the Court of First Instance confirmed the principles that must be respected by dominant companies as regards interoperability disclosures. In the complaint by ECIS, Microsoft is alleged to have illegally refused to disclose interoperability information across a broad range of products, including information related to its Office suite, a number of its server products, and also in relation to the so called .NET Framework. The Commission's examination will therefore focus on all these areas, including the question whether Microsoft's new file format Office Open XML, as implemented in Office, is sufficiently interoperable with competitors' products. As for the tying of separate software products, in its Microsoft judgment of 17 September 2007, the Court of First Instance confirmed the principles that must be respected by dominant companies. In a complaint by Opera, a competing browser vendor, Microsoft is alleged to have engaged in illegal tying of its Internet Explorer product to its dominant Windows operating system. The complaint alleges that there is ongoing competitive harm from Microsoft's practices, in particular in view of new proprietary technologies that Microsoft has allegedly introduced in its browser that would reduce compatibility with open internet standards, and therefore hinder competition. In addition, allegations of tying of other separate software products by Microsoft, including desktop search and Windows Live have been brought to the Commission's attention. The Commission's investigation will therefore focus on allegations that a range of products have been unlawfully tied to sales of Microsoft's dominant operating system.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      Note the scope of the original complaint now being prosecuted by DG Competition: [i] tying MSIE to Windows; [ii] adding proprietary tehnology to MSIE that conflict with open internet standards; [iiii] tying desktop search and Windows Live, presumably to Vista. Initial press reports of the DG Competition statement of objections mention only the tying of MSIE to Windows issue,. So we do not yet know whether the other complaints are being prosecuted. But perhaps worthy of note, the press's acknowledged source of information iis Microsoft, which has incentives to soft-pedal the scope of the objections. Also note from the press reports that the Comission has not yet announced its position on the ECIS complaint involving Office and OOXML.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft launches IE6 deathwatch - Computerworld - 0 views

  • Microsoft today launched a deathwatch for its 10-year-old Internet Explorer 6 browser, saying it wanted to "see IE6 gone for good." According to Microsoft, which cited statistics from Web analytics firm Net Applications, IE6 still has a 12% global usage share, with almost half of that in China, long a stronghold of the aged browser. Microsoft wants to drive IE6's share under 1%.
Paul Merrell

Haavard - 300 million users strong, Opera moves to WebKit - 1 views

  • Today, we announced that Opera has reached 300 million active users. At the same time, we made the official announcement that Opera will move from Presto to WebKit as the engine at the core of the browser.
  • It was always a goal to be compatible with the real web while also supporting and promoting open standards.That turns out to be a bit of a challenge when you are faced with a web that is not as open as one might have wanted. Add to that the fact that it is constantly changing and that you don't get site compatibility for free (which some browsers are fortunate enough to do), and it ends up taking up a lot of resources - resources that could have been spent on innovation and polish instead.
  • Although I was skeptical at first when I started hearing about the switch, I am now fully convinced that it is the right thing to do. Not only will it free up significant engineering resources at Opera and allow us to do more innovation instead of constantly trying to adapt to the web, but our users should benefit from better site compatibility and more innovative features and polish.This move allows us to focus even more on the actual user experience.
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  • If switching to WebKit allows us to accelerate our growth and become an important contributor to the project (we will contribute back to WebKit, and have already submitted our first patch (bug)), we may finally have a direct impact on the way web sites are coded. We want sites to be coded for open standards rather than specific browsers.
  • WebKit has matured enough that it is actually possible to make the switch, and we can help it mature even further. In return, we get to spend more resources on a better user experience, and less on chasing an ever-changing web.This move allows us to create a platform for future growth because it allows us to focus our resources on things that can actually differentiate Opera from the competition, and could help the web move in the right direction.
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    And so there will be only three major web page rendering engines, webkit, mozilla's gecko, and MSIE. with only webkit in the ascendancy. 
Paul Merrell

Microsoft breaks IE8 interoperability promise | The Register - 0 views

  • In March, Microsoft announced that their upcoming Internet Explorer 8 would: "use its most standards compliant mode, IE8 Standards, as the default." Note the last word: default. Microsoft argued that, in light of their newly published interoperability principles, it was the right thing to do. This declaration heralded an about-face and was widely praised by the web standards community; people were stunned and delighted by Microsoft's promise. This week, the promise was broken. It lasted less than six months. Now that Internet Explorer IE8 beta 2 is released, we know that many, if not most, pages viewed in IE8 will not be shown in standards mode by default.
  • How many pages are affected by this change? Here's the back of my envelope: The PC market can be split into two segments — the enterprise market and the home market. The enterprise market accounts for around 60 per cent of all PCs sold, while the home market accounts for the remaining 40 per cent. Within enterprises, intranets are used for all sorts of things and account for, perhaps, 80 per cent of all page views. Thus, intranets account for about half of all page views on PCs!
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    Article by Hakon Lie of Opera Software. Also note that acdcording to the European Commission, "As for the tying of separate software products, in its Microsoft judgment of 17 September 2007, the Court of First Instance confirmed the principles that must be respected by dominant companies. In a complaint by Opera, a competing browser vendor, Microsoft is alleged to have engaged in illegal tying of its Internet Explorer product to its dominant Windows operating system. The complaint alleges that there is ongoing competitive harm from Microsoft's practices, in particular in view of new proprietary technologies that Microsoft has allegedly introduced in its browser that would reduce compatibility with open internet standards, and therefore hinder competition. In addition, allegations of tying of other separate software products by Microsoft, including desktop search and Windows Live have been brought to the Commission's attention. The Commission's investigation will therefore focus on allegations that a range of products have been unlawfully tied to sales of Microsoft's dominant operating system." http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/08/19&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Statement on European Commission Statement of Objections: Statement of Objections expresses Commission's preliminary view on the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows. - 0 views

  • REDMOND – Jan. 16, 2009 – “Yesterday Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission. The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the Statement of Objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer.
  • The Statement of Objections states that the remedies put in place by the U.S. courts in 2002 following antitrust proceedings in Washington, D.C. do not make the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows lawful under European Union law.
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    Microsoft's version of events, notable for the statement that DG Competition included a specific ruling that it is not bound by the U.S. v. Microsoft decision in the U.S. That only states the obvious, but is perhaps intended to forestall somewhat Microsoft arguments that the legality of its bundling was conclusively determined in the U.S. case. If so, it may have worked; Microsoft makes no such claim in this press release.
Paul Merrell

Opera executive praises EU move | Beyond Binary - CNET News - 0 views

  • In a case of convenient timing, Opera Software's top developer happened to be in CNET's office just after Microsoft disclosed that the European Union has objected to Microsoft's bundling of a Web browser into Windows.
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    Opera quotes about DG Competition announcement.
Paul Merrell

Update: EU hits Microsoft with new antitrust charges - 0 views

  • January 16, 2009 (Computerworld) Microsoft Corp. confirmed today that European Union regulators have formally accused the company of breaking antitrust laws by including the company's Internet Explorer (IE) browser with the Windows operating system. "Yesterday, Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission," the company said in a statement on Friday. "The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission's preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law." According to Microsoft, the EU claimed that "other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer."
Gary Edwards

ES4 and the fight for the future of the Open Web - By Haavard - 0 views

  • Here, we have no better theory to explain why Microsoft is enthusiastic to spread C# onto the web via Silverlight, but not to give C# a run for its money in the open web standards by supporting ES4 in IE.The fact is, and we've heard this over late night truth-telling meetings between Mozilla principals and friends at Microsoft, that Microsoft does not think the web needs to change much. Or as one insider said to a Mozilla figure earlier this year: "we could improve the web standards, but what's in it for us?"
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    Microsoft opposes the stunning collection of EcmaScript standards improvements to JavaScript ES3 known as "ES4". Brendan Eich, author of JavaScript and lead Mozilla developer claims that Microsoft is stalling the advance of JavaScript to protect their proprietary advantages with Silverlight - WPF technologies. Opera developer "Haavard" asks the question, "Why would Microsoft do this?" Brendan Eich explains: Indeed Microsoft does not desire serious change to ES3, and we heard this inside TG1 in April. The words were (from my notes) more like this: "Microsoft does not think the web needs to change much". Except, of course, via Silverlight and WPF, which if not matched by evolution of the open web standards, will spread far and wide on the Web, as Flash already has. And that change to the Web is apparently just fine and dandy according to Microsoft. First, Microsoft does not think the Web needs to change much, but then they give us Silverlight and WPF? An amazing contradiction if I ever saw one. It is obvious that Microsoft wants to lock the Web to their proprietary technologies again. They want Silverlight, not some new open standard which further threatens their locked-in position. They will use dirty tricks - lies and deception - to convince people that they are in the right. Excellent discussion on how Microsoft participates in open standards groups to delay, stall and dumb down the Open Web formats, protocols and interfaces their competitors use. With their applications and services, Microsoft offers users a Hobbsian choice; use the stalled, limited and dumbed down Open Web standards, or, use rich, fully featured and advanced but proprietary Silverlight-WPF technologies. Some choice.
Paul Merrell

MICROSOFT CORP (Form: 10-Q, Received: 01/22/2009 09:02:43) - 0 views

  • In January 2008 the Commission opened a competition law investigation related to the inclusion of various capabilities in our Windows operating system software, including Web browsing software. The investigation was precipitated by a complaint filed with the Commission by Opera Software ASA, a firm that offers Web browsing software. On January 15, 2009, the European Commission issued a statement of objections expressing the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the statement of objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer. We will have an opportunity to respond in writing to the statement of objections within about two months. We may also request a hearing, which would take place after the submission of this response. Under European Union procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses our response and conducts the hearing, should we request one. The statement of objections seeks to impose a remedy that is different than the remedy imposed in the earlier proceeding concerning Windows Media Player.
  • While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any Web browsing software on Windows, the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC. Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser. The statement of objections also seeks to impose a significant fine based on sales of Windows operating systems in the European Union. In January 2008, the Commission opened an additional competition law investigation that relates primarily to interoperability with respect to our Microsoft Office family of products. This investigation resulted from complaints filed with the Commission by a trade association of Microsoft’s competitors.
Paul Merrell

Leaked docs show spyware used to snoop on US computers | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • Software created by the controversial UK-based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia, Iran, and Bahrain, according to a leaked trove of documents analyzed by ProPublica. It's not clear whether the surveillance was conducted by governments or private entities. Customer e-mail addresses in the collection appeared to belong to a German surveillance company, an independent consultant in Dubai, the Bosnian and Hungarian Intelligence services, a Dutch law enforcement officer, and the Qatari government.
  • The leaked files—which were posted online by hackers—are the latest in a series of revelations about how state actors including repressive regimes have used Gamma's software to spy on dissidents, journalists, and activist groups. The documents, leaked last Saturday, could not be readily verified, but experts told ProPublica they believed them to be genuine. "I think it's highly unlikely that it's a fake," said Morgan Marquis-Bore, a security researcher who while at The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto had analyzed Gamma Group's software and who authored an article about the leak on Thursday. The documents confirm many details that have already been reported about Gamma, such as that its tools were used to spy on Bahraini activists. Some documents in the trove contain metadata tied to e-mail addresses of several Gamma employees. Bill Marczak, another Gamma Group expert at the Citizen Lab, said that several dates in the documents correspond to publicly known events—such as the day that a particular Bahraini activist was hacked.
  • The leaked files contain more than 40 gigabytes of confidential technical material, including software code, internal memos, strategy reports, and user guides on how to use Gamma Group software suite called FinFisher. FinFisher enables customers to monitor secure Web traffic, Skype calls, webcams, and personal files. It is installed as malware on targets' computers and cell phones. A price list included in the trove lists a license of the software at almost $4 million. The documents reveal that Gamma uses technology from a French company called Vupen Security that sells so-called computer "exploits." Exploits include techniques called "zero days" for "popular software like Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and many more." Zero days are exploits that have not yet been detected by the software maker and therefore are not blocked.
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  • Many of Gamma's product brochures have previously been published by the Wall Street Journal and Wikileaks, but the latest trove shows how the products are getting more sophisticated. In one document, engineers at Gamma tested a product called FinSpy, which inserts malware onto a user's machine, and found that it could not be blocked by most antivirus software. Documents also reveal that Gamma had been working to bypass encryption tools including a mobile phone encryption app, Silent Circle, and were able to bypass the protection given by hard-drive encryption products TrueCrypt and Microsoft's Bitlocker.
  • The documents also describe a "country-wide" surveillance product called FinFly ISP which promises customers the ability to intercept Internet traffic and masquerade as ordinary websites in order to install malware on a target's computer. The most recent date-stamp found in the documents is August 2, coincidung with the first tweet by a parody Twitter account, @GammaGroupPR, which first announced the hack and may be run by the hacker or hackers responsible for the leak. On Reddit, a user called PhineasFisher claimed responsibility for the leak. "Two years ago their software was found being widely used by governments in the middle east, especially Bahrain, to hack and spy on the computers and phones of journalists and dissidents," the user wrote. The name on the @GammaGroupPR Twitter account is also "Phineas Fisher." GammaGroup, the surveillance company whose documents were released, is no stranger to the spotlight. The security firm F-Secure first reported the purchase of FinFisher software by the Egyptian State Security agency in 2011. In 2012, Bloomberg News and The Citizen Lab showed how the company's malware was used to target activists in Bahrain. In 2013, the software company Mozilla sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company after a report by The Citizen Lab showed that a spyware-infected version of the Firefox browser manufactured by Gamma was being used to spy on Malaysian activists.
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