Congressional hypocrisy -- Senate may investigate Microsoft but not Apple for blocking browser access

Politicans are prone to hypocrisy, but now they're carrying it to new heights -- a Senate committee may look in Microsoft's blocking browsers from accessing certain features of Windows RT, but not investigate Apple for even greater browser restrictions.

According to The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee staffers "plan to take a look at allegations that Microsoft has made it difficult for competing Web browsers to run on a certain version of Windows."

The staffers plan to do that because of Mozilla's complaints that Firefox and other browsers won't be allowed to access some features of certain Windows 8 tablets, those that run on ARM chips. Firefox and other browsers will be allowed full access to Windows 8 PCs, and to any Windows 8 tablets running Intel chips.

On Windows 8 on ARM (called Windows RT), browsers will be able to run in Metro, but not the desktop. Because they can't run on the desktop, the Metro version can't access some APIs and other features, so they'll be crippled compared to Internet Explorer, which will have full access to the desktop and APIs.

The Hypocrisy Files

That's certainly restrictive. But how about Apple? On iOS Apple bans Firefox and other true browsers -- they're not allowed in the app store and so can't be installed. That's certainly worse than what Microsoft is doing.

Not only that, but Microsoft is only restricting browser access on tablets, a market in which it has no market presence. Apple dominates the tablet market, with 68% market share, according to IDC. Given that Apple has a much larger market share, and has much more restrictive practices, why isn't Apple being investigated instead of Microsoft?

The Senate committee isn't alone in its hypocrisy -- Mozilla, after all, started the controversy by singling out Microsoft while giving Apple a free pass.

The truth is, there's nothing worthy of investigation here. Given war, economic stagnation, and other assorted ills, you would think Congress would have more important things to do than look into this. But investigating Microsoft is an easy way to get headlines and give the appearance of taking action -- and maybe piling up votes when November rolls around.

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