Windows Ships Without IE – How to Download Firefox?

Steven Taylor points to a BBC report that, in response to EU complaints about its monopsony oligopoly power, Microsoft will ship Windows 7 to Europe minus Internet Explorer.  In addition to thinking, as I do, that the whole thing is rather silly, he wonders about the practicalities of this:

[O]ne suspects that a new Windows machine will have a tool to download IE (a distinction without a difference, in many ways) even if IE itself isn’t on the harddrive, since it is possible that the machine might not even have a web browser on it to start with (which would be a real pain, come to think of it).

And I say all of this as someone who downloads Firefox as one of the very first acts performed on a new Windows-based computer. Indeed, come to think of it, I consider IE my Firefox Download Utility, as apart from a handful of work-related functions that only work in IE, I never open it up after downloading Firefox.

Quite right. One has to get online in some fashion, which requires that a browser of some sort be installed.  Or no?

UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan and Ezra Klein, an NBC News report about “something called the Internet.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Furhead says:

    Heh. Maybe you’ll have to drive to the store, buy a boxed copy of Firefox, drive home and install it from floppy disk.

  2. Eric Florack says:

    ftp://mozilla.isc.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/3.0/win32/en-US/

    Windows does come with a rudimentary FTP client, after all.

    (Shrug)

  3. James Joyner says:

    Windows does come with a rudimentary FTP client, after all.

    FTP is relatively specialized geek activity, not something most people do. Most computer users think of their box as an appliance nowadays.

  4. Furhead says:

    Are you suggesting that Eric and his stack of punch cards are part of some sort of geek activity?

  5. Eric Florack says:

    Well, I know…. though I note the increasing popularity of Filezilla.

    But…. I figure if you’re geek enough to not want IE on the box, you’re certainly geek enough to understand there are ways of getting on the thing what you DO want. Granted, not everyone in the EU is to that level, but then again, I wonder about the EU legislature being at that level, too.

    The issue here, also, is that even assuming you ‘remove’ IE, there’s a lot of it left behind, at least some of which will cause issues with other applications. Which makes the idea of a tool to mount IE onto a machine (Say a batch calling up the downloadable, or an installer EXE, such as what we see on new machines for so many other applications) quite a bit different than having it installed on the box already.

    The trick will be the Mozilla folks for example, getting a marketing agreement with the makers (Dell, etc) to have an installer for FF as a part of the image. As it stands now, they may not be able to do that due to marketing arrangements the makers have with Microsoft. If I’m not mistaken there was a bit of a blow up on having other browsrs installers as part of the Dell base image.

    (I’m thinking back around 2001 or so. I’ll ahve to see if I still have my notes on that.)

  6. Eric Florack says:

    Are you suggesting that Eric and his stack of punch cards are part of some sort of geek activity?

    well, look… I dunno if you’ve ever tried installing IE from punch cards, but lemme tell ya, Bucko… lugging that many punchcards around is NOT for the likes of John Q Milquetoast, OK?

  7. odograph says:

    Eric comes through with ‘ftp’. Good job.

  8. DayTrader says:

    I don’t know how it was handled in later versions but in my Win XP Pro you have to use IE to work with the Windows and Office update sites.

    They simply would not accept another browser as an alternative.

  9. John Burgess says:

    Daytrader is absolutely right, and it’s not just the MS sites. Two I’ve come across are US Airways and Lands End, neither of which permits you to do various functions–like making a purchase–unless you’re in IE.

    I guess that’s why Firefox has an add-on to open a page in IE.

    BTW, another way to get Firefox on an IE-void computer is to download it on another PC and transfer it however you like… disk, key drive, network, etc.

  10. Steve says:

    Depending on what kinds of features are required for a particular web site, cross-browser HTML and Javascript, etc. development (and maintenance!) can be quite costly. So, in the case of US Airways and Lands End (and presumably others), they may have made a bottom-line-oriented decision to develop their sites to work with a single browser.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Monopsony…one buyer and many sellers? So what exactly is Microsoft buying here?

  12. James Joyner says:

    Monopsony…one buyer and many sellers? So what exactly is Microsoft buying here?

    Yeah, wrong word. There’s a word for “quasi-monopoly” that I’m confusing it with. Oligopoly, maybe?

  13. sam says:

    What’s the matter with “quasi-monoply“?

  14. Triumph says:

    One has to get online in some fashion, which requires that a browser of some sort be installed. Or no?

    No. There is something called the “command line.”

    Anyways, don’t most people wipe windowz off the box any way and install linux?

  15. sam says:

    No. There is something called the “command line.”

    Hmm, sounds librul and fashist to me (but I repeat myself).

    Here’s the latest move from the technognomes of Brussels:

    [T]he commission has indicated it may want Microsoft to distribute Windows with competing Web browsers preinstalled and then allow retailers and computer makers to decide from a “ballot screen” menu which browsers to install.

  16. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t know why people are tiptoeing around it. A U. S. court found that Microsoft was a monopoly and had used its monopoly powers illegally years ago. Does anybody have any real doubt that Microsoft continues to be a monopoly and has continued to use its monopoly powers to maintain and extend its markets?

  17. James Joyner says:

    Does anybody have any real doubt that Microsoft continues to be a monopoly and has continued to use its monopoly powers to maintain and extend its markets?

    It’s got a monopoly on the Windows OS. But there are tons of other OS’s out there, notably Apple’s. And, while MS has bought up a ton of niche companies, it’s still being outgunned on all sides by Google, which could all but obviate the PC with Google Docs and other apps.