European antitrust officials are investigating four allegations against Windows 8 and Windows RT, the design-for-tablets version of the operating system. One allegation: Microsoft’s stance that browsers have to be set as the default to work.
That annoying policy in Windows 8 where a browser has to be set as the default? Yeah, that one. It’s being investigated, anyway
European antitrust officials are investigating Microsoft because of four separate allegations across Windows 8 and Windows RT, the tablet-focused version of the operating system. One allegation covers a feature in Windows 8 which requires a non-Internet Explorer 10 browser to be set as the default, if it is to work, a feature more casual users may not be informed about.
Two claims cover browser APIs Microsoft is apparently withholding from third-party browsers; Mozilla, the creators of the Firefox browser, made a posted revealing that Microsoft isn’t sharing APIs. Even though Internet Explorer 10 is Microsoft’s browser, and it’ll be pushed in Windows 8 by default, it seems unfair and biased towards Microsoft to retain APIs.
Browsers can only run in the Metro side of Windows 8 unless it’s set to default in the OS, a policy Microsoft reasoned by saying it doesn’t want users to be thrown out of the browser and into another and risk ruining the experience. IE 10 goes full screen in Windows 8, removing the address bar when not in use and moving functionality to the Charms bar, accessible on the right-hand side of the screen.
Where’s My Browser, Microsoft?
Another accusation claims Microsoft does not display browser choice in Windows 8 RT, even though Microsoft has to display competitor’s browsers in the regular version of Windows 8. A deal ending in 2014 requires the browser choice to be displayed, but there seems to be a grey area over Windows RT. Mozilla’s chief counsel said in May Windows RT should be subject to the same requirements, considering it’s a version of Windows 8.
We know Google and Mozilla are working on Windows 8, and Metro, versions of the Firefox and Chrome browsers respectively, so this is going to be a real issue for consumers wanting to use their favorite browser from either company.
Considering Windows 8 releases to manufacturing in August, there’s not much time to change the policy.