Richi Jennings

Firefox 2 beta birth, MS fined by EU (and smellivision)

July 13, 2006 6:28 AM EDT
Hasta la pasta, it's IT Blogwatch, in which the new Firefox 2.0 peeps around the corner and Microsoft gets fined by the European Union (again). Not to mention Japanese technology for odor reproduction...

Long-time Mozillaite Asa Dotzler thinks we're going to enjoy Firefox 2:
If you don't enjoy playing with pre-release software, then this isn't for you. That being said, this first beta of Firefox 2 has some great new features that I think you all are really going to enjoy.  ... Inline spell checking ... Search suggestions ... Search plugin management ... Session restore ... Phishing protection ... Improved feed support ... Improved add-ons management ... Bookmarks microsummaries ... Tabbed browsing improvements ... Under the hood improvements ... get the Firefox 2 Beta 1 download here.
Computerworld's Scot Finnie has pictures, and decides
It's too early to draw final conclusions ... It's not a dramatically improved version. At first blush, it looks no different. But the collection of small additions and improvements make it a decidedly better browser than the 1.x versions. Think of it as a return volley to Microsoft's IE7 (itself not a dramatic upgrade) and you've got the sense of Firefox 2.0. Even so, you'll likely prefer the new Mozilla browser over the old one almost immediately.
Avencious's Alastor fills us in:
...the first beta of Firefox 2.0, which is scheduled for a release later this year. Beta 1 is the first public preview to bare [sic] the name Firefox 2, as the alpha builds were called Bon Echo. As such Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 is branded as such to receive more extensive testing ... available on multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux and Mac. Also new for this release is the availability in multiple languages.
Billy Miller doesn't like one of the changes:
Previously in all other pre-Firefox 2.0 (and Mozilla) releases, the tab bar had a close button at the right side of the window. In Firefox 2.x, the tab close button was moved to show on each tab. IHMO, I don't like the decision. It makes it way too easy to accidently close a tab (thankfully, you can now reopen closed tabs), and it clutters up the UI. Today, while browsing the MozillaZine KB, I found a document which details instructions ho now to revert back to a Firefox 1.x-style tab close button. The preference is an about:config entry, but before Firefox 2.0 goes final, I'd like to see the option available as a preference in the Options dialog.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is being bled by the Euroleech again, as Paul Meller and Peter Sayer report:
The European Commission said today that it has fined Microsoft Corp. $357 million for failing to comply with the terms of a March 2004 antitrust judgement against the company. Microsoft has already paid a fine of more than half a billion dollars as a result of the judgement, in which the commission found that Microsoft had used its near-monopoly in the PC operating systems market to gain advantage in the markets for workgroup server operating systems and media players.At the time, the EC also ordered the company ... provide its competitors with technical details of certain communication protocols used by its server products. The hefty fine announced today is to punish the company for failing to provide those technical details in a timely manner. If Microsoft continues to fail to comply, the commission will increase the amount of the daily fine to $3.8 million per day, it said.
Our own Robert L. Mitchell doubts that fines truly work:
I doubt that fines can force Microsoft or other vendors to truly open up. Only customers can do that. What we have is an attitude problem. Only when more large companies stand together and take Szygenda's [group vice president and CIO at General Motors] position will Microsoft and other vendors finally see the light.
Katie Fehrenbacher channels Om:
This is the above-the-fold tech news of the day and every news site has its take. Microsoft is obviously not happy and is stamping its foot, and calling it unfair. The EU says it’ll boost the fine significantly per day if Microsoft doesn’t comply with its ruling by July 31st. Ouch! With Bill Gates fading out this is a major hassle for Ray Ozzie and the new decision makers. But it doesn’t pay to ignore Europe’s regulators. In case of Microsoft, well if you don’t learn from the past, you pay … megamillions, which you can earn back in a couple of days, shall we say! ... An internal email from Microsoft’s legal captain Brad Smith gives a behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft’s EU compliance efforts. Brad’s emphasis is on the lack of clarity–he uses the term several times. He also says more than 300 employees were assembled to meet the compliance. That’s substantial manpower, which makes it even more surprising that the company fell short of compliance.
Pamela Jones groks it for us:
[This is] the first time the EU Commission has ever had to do so, and, [European Competition Commissioner] Neelie Kroes stated at the announcement, hopefully the last ... Kroes says that Microsoft didn't even come close to complying. Nor does she buy their story that they didn't understand until recently what was required of them. To inspire compliance, they are raising the ceiling for potential fines to 3 million EUR per day. Groklaw's Sean Daly attended the press conference by feed, and shares with us his notes. [read more]
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Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at