Microsoft is in less trouble today than it was yesterday.
The software maker has been in hot water with the European Union because Microsoft integrates a browser with its operating system. To avoid costly litigation, the firm has “settled” with European regulators and agreed to “offer customers a choice” of browsers in addition to its own Internet Explorer.
In the annals of crime, coupling operating systems with web browsers ranks right up there with uxoricide, armed bank robbery, and using the wrong fork with your salad. But the prospect Microsoft faced if it didn’t cave to the EU was pretty serious. The firm has already shelled out more than two billion dollars in fines to the Europeans as a result of previous bogus antitrust litigation.
Neelie Kroes, who fills the post of “European competition commissioner,” says millions of European consumers “will benefit” now that they have a “free choice about which Web browser they use.” But every online computer user has always been free to compare browsers and pick a competing one. You surf. You click. You download. Not hard.
So what’s the deal here? Big target, deep pockets. Competitors without scruples willing to enlist government guns to force Microsoft to do their marketing for them. Nothing to do with justice or anyone’s legitimate rights.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.