The proposed “European browser elections” recalls the legal battle with Netscape. The point missed at that time is still the case today. When Windows 98 came out it had incorporated Internet Explorer 4 into the operating system making it possible to move toolbars. Internet Explorer 4 could also be loaded on Windows 95 to allow the same function. Internet Explorer has been a part of Windows ever since making it vulnerable to attacks on that browser.
Microsoft should take a lesson from their battle with Netscape. They could have diffused the issue then by offering to include Netscape on the Windows CD.
The offer of an election is self-serving compared to making all major contenders available as a choice of browsers right from the desktop. Recall that when most of the public was still on dialup, there was a selection of Internet Service Providers available at startup. The same type of option could be made with the browsers.
Update: April, 2014
The browser elections were “miscued” by Microsoft to the extent that the European Union fined the company a whopping $731 Million which has had further repercussions. According to a recent Reuters article; “In March last year, the European Union levied its largest ever antitrust fine against Microsoft for breaking a legally binding commitment made in 2009 to ensure that consumers in Europe had a choice of how they access the internet, rather than defaulting to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.”
The mistake also cost bonus bucks for management. “Ballmer, who was CEO at the time, and Steven Sinofsky, then the head of the Windows unit, both had their bonuses cut in 2012 after the error came to light.” (Ballmer and Sinofsky have both since left Microsoft likely due to the rebellion against Windows 8 by the computing public used to a Start menu clear back to Windows 95 days.)
Apparently Microsoft hasn’t shelled out enough over this error. The article also states that an outraged stockholder has filed suit which “… charges that directors and executives, including founder Bill Gates and former Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, failed to manage the company properly and that the board’s investigation was insufficient into how the miscue occurred.” For their part the board at Microsoft claims there is no basis for such a suit. However even if Microsoft prevails in court, they will have added legal costs to do so and experience further embarrassment that this issue won’t die a quiet death.