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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
November 9, 2009
(202) 289-8928
EU "Browser Ballot" Mandate Unnecessary
Marcus, Szoka Submit Comments to European Commission

WASHINGTON D.C. - Mandating a "browser ballot" on Microsoft operating systems is unnecessary and sets a dangerous precedent for further government intervention in the software market, argue Adam Marcus and Berin Szoka in written comments submitted to the European Commission on the matter of Microsoft's Browser Ballot Proposal.  If the Commission deems it necessary to mandate a "browser ballot," or list of competitor's browsers, the Commission should leave technical and design matters to Microsoft's discretion.

In the comments, Marcus and Szoka, Research Fellow and Senior Fellow, respectively, at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, note that there are a multitude of browser choices available to consumers. As a result, Internet Explorer’s market share has been steadily declining since 2001.  Moreover, an operating system is not the only platform for promoting browsers and some companies not under scrutiny from the Commission are also bundling browsers with other software.

The authors also warn that a dangerous precedent is being set by injecting government into the software design process.  Uncertainly over how regulators may view a set of bundled applications "simply does not benefit consumers if it discourages companies like Microsoft from including useful tools in its software--or encourages them to cripple the functionality of those tools."

The authors conclude that if the Commission deems it necessary to require Microsoft to include a "browser ballot" in its operating systems, "the Commission should, at the very least, leave such technical matters to the experts at Microsoft so long as the company fairly presents the choices of browsers available to consumers."

The comments are available on the PFF website.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation