MozillaZine

Microsoft to Make Minor Changes to Ease Access to Rival Browsers

Friday April 4th, 2003

A Bloomberg article at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review—owned PittsburghLIVE.com reports that Microsoft have agreed to make it easier for Windows XP users to set their default browser and other middleware. At the request of the US Department of Justice, Microsoft will make a few minor alterations to the changes they implemented as part of their antitrust settlement last year, including moving the Set Program Access and Defaults icon to a more promient location on the Start menu and producing a tutorial that will explain how to use the feature.

The Set Program Access and Defaults Control Panel applet was introduced as part of the settlement Microsoft made with the DOJ, which was approved by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last November. In that settlement, the software giant agreed to update Windows to make it simpler for users to select their preferred browser, mail client, media player, instant messaging application and Java virtual machine. These updates shipped with Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and Windows XP Service Pack 1. Microsoft argues that these changes fully satisified the terms of the original settlement but have agreed to "go the extra mile" anyway. ProComp's Mike Pettit says the revisions "will not do a thing to meaningfully restore competition." Thanks to Adam Hauner for the link.


#1 Great

by morg

Friday April 4th, 2003 2:29 PM

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Great. Now plug those changes into the Mozilla installer.

#2 I feel so lucky ...

by DeepFreeze3

Friday April 4th, 2003 3:02 PM

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Thank you, oh great greedy, duplicitious & monopolistic one!! Us common folk feel so lucky that you've chosen to bestow on us a little freedom in the computer world. Sure, you only did it because DOJ was this close to throwing your sorry butts in jail. But we'll give you the benefit of the doubt!! (Yeah, right) ;-)

But, seriously ...

These guys aren't fooling anybody. They actually think they can throw a crumb or two here & there, and DOJ & everybody else will leave them alone? Won't work.

#7 reality is ...

by johann_p

Saturday April 5th, 2003 12:03 PM

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taht it already *did* work

#3 Old news

by sime

Friday April 4th, 2003 6:15 PM

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This is old news. Win2k SP3 and WinXP SP1 have been around for quite a while.

#4 Not old news, but not good news either

by mpthomas

Friday April 4th, 2003 8:41 PM

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sime, if you're not going to read the article, please don't comment on it, otherwise you're wasting everyone else's time. The article describes changes which will make the control panel *different* from how it was in Win2k SP3 and WinXP SP1. And even the MozillaZine summary described exactly what those changes are: moving the control panel's shortcut, and adding a help tutorial.

Unfortunately, I don't think they'll make any difference. The control panel shortcut is already pretty dang obvious. As for online help, well, something as simple as this shouldn't *need* it. A much bigger problem is that the control panel is unnecessarily difficult to use in the first place.

All it needs is an option menu for each function (browser, mailer, media player, etc), with each menu containing the installed programs which have registered themselves as providing that function. That's it. But Microsoft have gunged it up with (1) the `Choose a configuration' rubbish, (2) the misleading configuration name `Microsoft Windows' (making any other option implicitly scary), (3) the `Use my current ______' radio button (but what if my current ______ is *already* the Microsoft program offered in the other radio button, and I want a different one?), and (4) the inability to choose `None of the above'.

An example of (4). We have Windows XP SP1 on a few of the computers here at the cafe, and I can *not* figure out how to prevent Outlook Express from being launched when people click on mailto: links. Because this is an Internet cafe, we don't want *any* e-mail program installed, just a Web browser. In Windows 98, we can just uninstall Outlook Express. In Windows XP, we can't, and we can't even delete its files manually because of Windows File Protection. The `Set Program Access and Defaults' control panel is no use to us there.

-- mpt

#5 Re: Not old news, but not good news either

by flacco

Friday April 4th, 2003 9:34 PM

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>> In Windows 98, we can just uninstall Outlook Express. In Windows XP, we can't, and we can't even delete its files manually because of Windows File Protection. The `Set Program Access and Defaults' control panel is no use to us there.

I don't know from XP, but there's an MSKB article on removing it manually from Win2K. We remove it from all our Win2K machines.

#6 Tip

by smkatz

Saturday April 5th, 2003 10:49 AM

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Just set Yahoo Mail! or Hotmail (whichever you prefer) as default. (You'll need IE for this temporarily.) You also may find "IE Eradicator" useful. They specialize in removing Internet Explorer and Outlook Express since Windows 98.

#9 Re: Not old news, but not good news either

by Ascaris <ascaris1@att.net>

Sunday April 6th, 2003 9:10 PM

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> In Windows XP, we can't, and we can't even delete its files manually because of Windows File Protection.

Sure you can. Just select all the files in the OE folder, drag them to \windows\system32\dllcache (hidden dir; change as necessary to reflect the location of XP), select Yes to all, then do it again. Then hit delete and reassure windows that it is okay if necessary. Do the same in \windows\Servicepackfiles\i386 too. Then you can delete all of the files in the OE folder (make sure the XP CD is not in the drive). When WFP commands you to put the CD in, select cancel, then say YES when it asks if you want to keep the unauthorized versions.

This also works with any other garbage MS tries to keep on your hard drive, whether you want to or not.

#11 Thanks!

by mpthomas

Monday April 7th, 2003 6:09 AM

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"Sure you can. Just select all the files in the foopy barpy, drag them to quuxyzytshdllblingbling (hidden gizmo; mangle the wotsit as necessary), select Yes to all, then do it again ..."

Yep, that fits my definition of "can't". :-)

Seriously, thanks for the tips. I'll use them, but I hope you see that it shouldn't be even *half* as difficult as that.

-- mpt

#13 Re: Microsoft *wants* it to be this hard

by alderete

Wednesday April 16th, 2003 11:51 AM

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<em>A much bigger problem is that the control panel is unnecessarily difficult to use in the first place. All it needs is an option menu for each function (browser, mailer, media player, etc), with each menu containing the installed programs which have registered themselves as providing that function. That's it.</em>

There's a perfect example of how to do it right in the Mac OS X Internet preference pane. And, golly, it's not as though Microsoft doesn't have a long history of stealing good ideas from Apple.

But that would assume that Microsoft <em>wanted</em> to allow people to choose their preferred applications. Obviously, Microsoft doesn't want people switching off of their "blessed" products, so they've made it really hard to figure out how to do it.

You would think that someone as smart as a Federal judge would realize that this is a perfect example of Microsoft implementing the letter of the settlement, while flipping the bird to the spirit. But Microsoft paid a lot of money to get the election outcome they wanted, and it's turned out to be a terrific investment...

#8 I had problems both ways in Win2K

by spage

Sunday April 6th, 2003 2:55 PM

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We use Exchange at work, so I use Outlook to read e-mail and Mozilla 1.2 (full install) as my browser. When I click an http: link in a mail message in Exchange, if it's in text or HTML Mozilla launches. But if the mail message is in MS' own format, MSIE 5.5 always launches.

Conversely, if I click a mailto: link in a Mozilla browser window, Mozilla always launches its own mail composer window.

So I think both sides have some ways to go.

I'm moving over to a Mac OS X Powerbook, where it all works perfectly.

#12 Re: Be careful

by Down8 <down8@yahoo.com>

Wednesday April 9th, 2003 11:14 PM

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I'll leave the Mac comment alone.

But I totally agree with you on the first part. I also use Outlook for mail and Mozilla for browsing (my PDA limits my PIM to Outlook). I have just resorted to allowing Moz to hijack my mailto: links. I don't click many mailto:s on the web anyway, but it'd be nice for it to JustWorkTM.

-bZj

#10 Pre-installed Mozilla on Windows PCs?

by ed_welch

Monday April 7th, 2003 1:24 AM

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I thought that the settlement ment that PC manufactures are now allowed to custom configure the Windows desktop. Does any one know if this has happened? I mean does any OEM pre-install alternitive browsers like Mozilla on the PC?