FSFE engages in the EU browser case

Florian Weimer fw at deneb.enyo.de
Sun Mar 22 12:49:48 UTC 2009

* Bernhard Reiter:

> What is the difference of Microsoft integrating IE into Windows
> to Mandriva integrating Konqueror into KDE?

Yes, this is a less provocative way of putting it.

Actually, I'm mainly concerned about Debian.  I would like that the
Debian Project is free to decide what to put on the installation media
(and what to include in the main distribution).

> One difference is obvious, and this is market share. 
> Microsoft's very large market share has put them in a unique position
> to do misschief in other areas.

Dominant market shares lie well below historic Microsoft-like levels.

I have trouble with arguments along the lines, "it's okay when we do
it because we're so much smaller".  We don't really know how small or
big we are, and I think the FSF is the dominant licensing organization
in quite a few areas.

> As far as I can say Microsoft has done deliberate technical (and other) 
> decisions for the sole purpose of obstructing their competition in the 
> browser market.

"Sole purpose"?  I think this point can be made with regard to the OEM
distribution agreements in the mid-90s.  But beyond that, I think
there are valid technical concerns as well, such as reduced support
overhead and more manageable regression testing, and questions of
technology licensing.

> Because there is Free Software like Iceweasel and Konqueror
> competing with Microsoft's offerings, supporting the EC is useful
> for FSFE.

Even if they don't comply with open Internet standards?  (Note that in
this context, as used by the Commission, "open" does not exclude
RAND-licensed patents.)

I also don't see what's in this for the FSFE.  I understand that for
some companies, extorting money from a market leader is a viable
business, and the EU seems to like this approach, too.  However, none
of this strengthens the EU software industry, or promotes free
software.  And any strong precedent against bundling will likely harm
free software distributors in the long run (and distributors in the
embedded space are probably affected in the short term).

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