As of writing this the EU has dropped its long running anti-trust legal battle against Microsoft over the Internet Explorer web browser. As usual, the argument was that having Internet Explorer come as part of the Windows operating system gave Mr. Gates an unfair advantage over other software companies trying to get people to use (and therefore buy) their own version of web browsers.
The EU's lawsuit claimed that consumers weren't given the choice as to what web browser they wanted to use. IE was forced upon them as a default since it came with Windows.
This article isn't about how fair or not Microsoft's marketing and publishing strategies are. That's been well debated in countless articles, blogs and on TV.
The point of this article is: When all is said and done, who really cares about their web browser??
I'm sure there are some specific situations where say Firefox would work better for this or that website than IE (or visa-versa too). And I'm equally sure that some techies and software gurus will prefer this or that browser over IE because of whatever technical reasons.
But so what?
People who do have the knowledge to know that "A" is better than "B" because of XYZ reasons also have the knowledge and skills to go out and get another browser, install it and use it. So IE coming with Windows isn't going to be a big obstacle to them.
But for the rank&file home and business PC users, they just don't care!
Sure you'll find people who gripe about how IE doesn't play well with their favorite movie or game site (or porn!). Or how it crashes, runs slow blah blah blah. All of which are usually more caused by some other software or setting on the user's PC rather than IE itself. But I'm not here to defend it.
The bottom line is this:
Asking most people to choose which browser they want at the time of purchasing a PC is like asking people what brand of pipes they want in their home plumbing.
They just don't care!
All that most people want to know is when they open a faucet, turn on the shower, start the dishwasher etc. water is there. Period.
Same with a computer. Most people simply do not have the technical savvy to know (much less care) about brands of web browsers. They just want to connect to the web and start surfing.
In the generic sense it seems like a good idea to have a more open competition between software providers. But if all this is being done in the name of helping the consumer, let's not loose sight of what the Joe Average consumer really wants to be able to do.