Scenario 2: The OEMs will go ahead and stick IE8 on anyway

The message coming from Microsoft for a few months now has been that it is up to the OEMs what software to bundle. But as Opera's von Tetzchner said last week. "Clearly this is a way to get away from the problem."

"OEMs can, in theory, include other browsers but that could potentially earn the wrath of Microsoft and the potential of damaging that relationship."

Regardless of whether there is any actual pressure on OEMs to bundle Windows 7 PCs with IE is besides the point. If the OEMs believe that including, say, Firefox, will upset Microsoft then they are likely to go the route of least resistance rather than potentially lose good will and/or sales revenue.

Downsides:

  • Our level playing field is immediately looking fairly hill-like, only this time Microsoft cannot be (overly) blamed because the choice (ostensibly, at least) rests with the OEMs

Upsides:

  • Well, it's the status quo – everyone has lived with this for years so it's not going to confuse anyone, and those that want another browser can download them in exactly the same way as they have always done.
  • IE8 is a lot more web standards compliant that its predecessors, and a much better bit of software.

Likelihood:

  • Not so much likely as a stick on certainty. The likes of Dell, HP et al are highly unlikely to risk upsetting Microsoft, however many times the Redmond giants insist that there will be no repercussions.
  • Plus, if it comes down to a bidding war in offering incentives to stick a company's browser on then who, aside from potentially Google, has the financial might to compete with MS?

Google chrome