December 16, 2009
Over a decade ago, the European Commission initiated a string of antitrust cases against Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) that resulted in millions of dollars in fines and a seemingly never-ending sequence of new complaints. Among others, the objections came from companies like Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA ) and Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL ) . The major grievance was the companies' bundling of software packages alongside Microsoft Windows.
Finally, the saga has come to an end. In exchange for the EU abandoning its case and not dolling out any additional fines, Microsoft has agreed to deliver a ballot screen of browser choices in addition to its Internet Explorer. According to the Wall Street Journal, the EU's competition commissioner stated: "Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use."
The hope is that other browsers will have a fair shot at gaining market share, such as Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) Safari, and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Chrome. The competition commissioner believes greater choice will cause companies to innovate further, which will ultimately lead to better browsing opportunities.
What do Fools think? Will this actually spawn improvement in the browser world -- or is this just a way to put the Microsoft antitrust cases to sleep?