3 Reasons Microsoft EU Browser Ballot Will Impact U.S. Market

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The EU said Tuesday that European users will be asked to choose in a Web browser bake-off among 12 free Web browsers including Microsoft's own Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple's Safari and Opera. There are also more esoteric browser choices including the Slim browser, Maxthon, Sleipnir, Flock, Green browser, K-Meleon and the Avant browser.

The EU browser ballot mandate lifts the last legal cloud over Microsoft after a decade-long battle with EU over alleged antitrust violations. The EU in December dropped its last pending antitrust case against Microsoft after the software giant agreed to let users choose among the Web browsers.

Here are three reasons the EU mandate to offer Web browser ballot choices to European users will have a ripple effect on the U.S. market.

1. It's A Global Market

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First off, we are living in a global market. It's foolish to expect that giving 200 million-plus Europeans the option to choose among more than 12 browsers will not have an impact on the U.S. market.

It's all about global economics. The EU mandate opens the door for browser rivals to get a foothold in the European market and then leverage that open door to break into the U.S. market.

Microsoft gets a lot of economic leverage by force-feeding Internet Explorer to U.S. users on every new PC bought and purchased. That economic leverage has just been blown up. And once Europe gets a taste of browser freedom, look for that ability to choose to spread like wildfire to the U.S. market. Think of this EU deal as the fall of the Berlin Browser wall.

The biggest impact may well be in the lucrative corporate market where businesses of all sizes and shapes are looking to control costs by standardizing. Expect competitors like Google and Apple to use the browser choices to offer other "choices" to business customers.

2. Look For PC Makers In The U.S. To Cut Deals With Browser Alternatives Like Google Chrome

PC makers are waking up this morning and looking at the election browser ballot battle as a way to ink revenue-sharing browser deals with the likes of Google, Apple and others.

PC makers already sell off screen space to security software makers like Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee and others. Look for them to do the same kind of deals with browser vendors.

The fact is there is far less loyalty to individual software brands than there were in the past. That's a big opportunity for so-called white-box systems branded by solution providers to provide customers of all sizes with better value.

Microsoft does not like to offer consumers or businesses choices. Microsoft wants lock-in. The EU-mandated deal does away with browser lock-in.

3. Look For Browser Rivals To Raise Antitrust Concerns In U.S.

Now that browser rivals like Google are getting a foothold in the European market, look for them to raise the issue with U.S. antitrust regulators.

In a front page story on Monday, The Wall Street Journal did a great job detailing the antitrust wrangling between Microsoft and Google. Look for Google to rally the browser rivals to press their case in the U.S.

Google has lots of cash to spend in Washington and a lot of influence to wield like a hammer. Even if the Google browser gang's antitrust concerns fall on deaf ears in the U.S. government, the noise is going to have an impact on U.S. businesses and consumers whose eyes will be opened to new browser choices.