Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Government Operating Systems Software The Courts Windows News Your Rights Online

MS To Offer Windows Sans WMP, If EU So Orders 422

Posted by timothy
from the bullying-begets-bullying dept.
PSwim writes "Microsoft has said it will remove Media Player from Window, if ordered by the EU this week. The 'Windows-Lite' version will only be available in Europe. Best quote from the article involves its refusal to release networking documentation: '"The Commission says Linux would disappear" if Microsoft did not grant access to its documentation, Smith claimed. "But Linux is alive and well and I don't know any person at Linux or any Linux programmers who share the Commission's view."'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MS To Offer Windows Sans WMP, If EU So Orders

Comments Filter:
  • by Ckwop (707653) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:42AM (#10381375) Homepage

    Who cares if the commission's view is shared by the OSS crew. Their ruling should be final and Microsoft should comply in good faith if they want to continue to trade in the EU.

    They'll probably get chance to appeal the descision but I doubt the ruling will be overturned. Personally, I'm sick of them appealing on grounds they should have brought up earlier in the process. I think that if you appeal in a corporate case such as this and you lose the damages should be increased. You can justify this by lost interest due to the money sitting for in Microsoft's bank and not the EUs bank account for duration of the appeal process plus a surcharge for wasting everybody's time

    Simon.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I predict Microsoft will make it's prediction that Windows will be crippled w/o the player come true by putting something into the software that annoys the end users.
    • by Free_Meson (706323) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:56AM (#10381427)
      I think that if you appeal in a corporate case such as this and you lose the damages should be increased.

      Often, an appealing party has to pay costs if they lose. In the U.S. in federal court, a lawyer can be forced to pay his opponent's legal fees if he submits any frivolous articles to the court. Relax a bit on the whole condemnation of the legal system thing ;-). Lawyers do a very good job of policing themselves, but the nuances of the system are often lost on those without a legal education. The fact that the media rarely gets the facts or reasoning right on decisions and rarely covers procedural rulings only makes things worse.
      • The fact that the media rarely gets the facts or reasoning right on decisions and rarely covers procedural rulings only makes things worse.

        That's because facts and reasoning rarely fit into sound-bite sized juicy nuggets. McMedia is much more concerned with selling eyeshare than courting mindshare. The mindless eyes are as much to blame as anyone.

        Give me convenience or give me reality TV.

      • Relax a bit on the whole condemnation of the legal system thing ;-). Lawyers do a very good job of policing themselves, but the nuances of the system are often lost on those without a legal education.
        Lawyers do very good job of policing the nuances of the legal system but they cannot be relied to change the system when it is fundamentally on the wrong track. And to a large extent, it is.
    • Who cares if the commission's view is shared by the OSS crew.

      I do. It is.

      If Microsoft release accurate documentation, it will both handicap their efforts to lock people out and dilute their ability to turn everything they touch into an "IP" black hole.

      That latter is kind of a Midas touch, short term spectacular but sooner or later everything's turned to pyrites and then Midas starves in a cold hard house full of statues.

      This attitude toward full and accurate publication is true for some things already;

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:44AM (#10381386)
    "...I don't know any person at Linux..."

    WTF?
    • Re:first wtf post (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hobo2k (626482)
      Maybe he meant VA Linux?
    • Re:first wtf post (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518)
      "...I don't know any person at Linux..."

      Me either. Coincidence?

      He must still be geared up to compete with companies instead of communities.
    • Re:first wtf post (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jtwJGuevara (749094) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @06:51AM (#10381912)
      This is the fundamental problem with Linux adoption. How can decision makers (read: CEO's, CIO's and government officials) make sound decisions on the operating system choice of their infrastructure when they don't even understand how the product was made? From the series of summaries I've read on Slashdot about Munich's switch it seems to be much more about using something that is non-Windows than it is about using something that is open source. While it might help the cause, I personally think this is the wrong reason you should switch to an open source OS. Linux should be migrated to because you believe in the way it is developed and because it is great product for investment placed into it. How can these guys be assured that Linux is the way to go if they don't even understand how it is fundamentally built?
    • Didn't you know? Linux is where Santa Claus and the Elves work...

      Linus said so himself. So there you have it on the highest authority.

  • I'd like to see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilNutSack (700432) <juhapearson&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:46AM (#10381393) Homepage
    Internet Explorer gone, but it's too well embedded. However, with all its vulnerabilities I wonder if Microsoft will try to change this. Oh wait... *reality strikes* How long before the next version of WMP is too well embedded to be removed?
    • What the heck possessed me to write that? I blame it on delirium caused by the news that WMP cripple/RIAA ware is to be removed from Windows...
    • Re:I'd like to see (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:03AM (#10381628)
      I completely agree with the sentiment that IE is the thing that should be removed.

      Really, who cares about the media player? WMP s*cks d*nkey b*lls! It is slow, it is invasive, and it has such bad codec support that it cannot play many common formats. No-one who is really interested in playing movies or music will stick to WMP. It simply does not do the job required.

      IE, on the other hand, seems to do a good job on the surface, and is totally entrenched in the system. Furthermore, IE allows MS to really dominate an important infrastructure. IE should go.

      Of course, the probable reason that MS does not fight so hard against the current ruling, is that they themselves know it is not an important fight. I also expect that the ruling has been agreed upon by the Commission in conversations with MS. Many members of the Commission are really close buddies with MS, you know.

    • Re:I'd like to see (Score:5, Interesting)

      by leonmergen (807379) * <lmergen&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:27AM (#10381688) Homepage
      Don't you think that many Windows users will have problems getting on the internet without a browser ? Heck, if Windows came without a browser, everyone would still have to use a cd-rom to install a browser, before they can go online...

      No, what I really would like to see, is Windows coming with a selection of browsers (perhaps a "Welcome to your brand new Microsoft (R) Windows (R) [TM] installation - which browser(s) do you want to install?" and it automatically grabs the latest version of that browser) , and be able to choose which of them to embed in explorer. Now *THAT* would be cool...

      Too bad Windows isn't an open-source project :)

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @07:43AM (#10382058)
        No, what I really would like to see, is Windows coming with a selection of browsers (perhaps a "Welcome to your brand new Microsoft (R) Windows (R) [TM] installation - which browser(s) do you want to install?" and it automatically grabs the latest version of that browser) , and be able to choose which of them to embed in explorer. Now *THAT* would be cool...

        No, it really wouldn't. I'd bet that your average PC user doesn't appreciate the issues with IE. Many probably don't even know what a "browser" is, they just know to click this button for "the Internet" (not to be confused with e-mail).

        Choice is not always a good thing. For average people without the time or inclination to learn the finer points of a subject, a single "good enough" option is often better than a choice. For people who do have the inclination to learn more, the choice is always there anyway, as the fact that I'm typing this in Firefox testifies.

      • Re:I'd like to see (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gosand (234100)
        No, what I really would like to see, is Windows coming with a selection of browsers (perhaps a "Welcome to your brand new Microsoft (R) Windows (R) [TM] installation - which browser(s) do you want to install?" and it automatically grabs the latest version of that browser) , and be able to choose which of them to embed in explorer. Now *THAT* would be cool...

        There is no need for this. Microsoft shouldn't have to do that at all, in all honesty it isn't fair. But they shouldn't prevent any OEM from doing i

    • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @09:00AM (#10382459) Homepage
      I cannot completely agree with your view about removing MSIE at all!

      Using MSIE is my favorite way to download FireFox.

      Okay that comes across a little like a stupid joke but really -- I use this method at work quite often. It goes a little like this:

      1) Download and install Mozilla/Firefox (whichever)
      2) Delete MSIE icons
      3) Create copies of Mozilla/Firefox icons and rename them to "Internet Exploder" and change the icon's face to the blue "e"
      4) ...
      5) Profit!!!

      My users think I removed MSIE and replaced it with Mozilla... and I'll just keep letting them think so.
  • by mollymoo (202721) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:46AM (#10381395) Journal
    MS To Offer Windows Sans WMP, If EU So Orders

    Given the other option is to stop selling Windows in the EU, this is not very surprising.

  • ha-ha-ha (Score:4, Funny)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:47AM (#10381400)
    [...]Linux would disappear if Microsoft did not grant access to its documentation[...]

    Muhahahahaha ! Ha-ha-ha ! Ha-...ha-...ha-ha-ha !

    Sorry guys, I can't help myself, I just had a giggling spasm :D :P

    • Re:ha-ha-ha (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:55AM (#10381608) Journal
      Sorry guys, I can't help myself, I just had a giggling spasm :D :P
      They worded it a bit funny perhaps, but they do have a very good point. Linux might not disappear like that, but the proliferation of Linux (especially in the desktop arena) does depend a great deal on interoperability (Samba for instance) and compatibility of popular Linux-based applications with those in use by the 'rest of the world' (MS Office OpenOffice).

      Interoperability does not truly depend on MS granting access to its documentation; in most cases it is the result of some succesful reverse-engineering. I bet MS would love to put an end to that. The statement "grant access to [the] documentation" is right but should be more specific: "not deny interoperability by means of secrecy or patents or other means"... The Commission touches on an important point, even if they worded it funnily.
      • Re:ha-ha-ha (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pnatural (59329) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:09AM (#10381638)
        but the proliferation of Linux (especially in the desktop arena) does depend a great deal on interoperability (Samba for instance)

        That's a bad example, I think. I don't follow samba closely, but I have the general notion that (A) Samba has been implemented without any documentation from MS, and (B) the Samba team generally have a better understanding of the behavior of the MS samba stack than do Microsoft programmers.

        Next?
      • Re:ha-ha-ha (Score:5, Interesting)

        by l3v1 (787564) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:26AM (#10381685)
        Linux might not disappear like that, but the proliferation of Linux (especially in the desktop arena) does depend a great deal on interoperability (Samba for instance) and compatibility of popular Linux-based applications with those in use by the 'rest of the world' (MS Office OpenOffice).

        Ok, of course you have a point here and I agree with it to a point. Unfortunately (?) I've always been that type of techie (then nerd, then IT, then IT-nerd, hey some form of evolution does exist :)) who does think that to judge a fully separate and stand-alone OS by the ability to be compatible with Microsoft's siblings is a bit peculiar.

        Of course I've taken my pills and now I know this is the real world :D so Linux needs to be highly compatible to convince the crowd they can live their Microsoft-lives without Microsoft's operating systems.

        And so we need to be highly friendly on both the lowest and highest levels e.g. with AD in Samba or with formats in OpenOffice.org. But what has always sticked me from the inside :) was why does Linux need to keep telling and repeating its being compatible with crap when it does have its own fortes. Maybe the weight should be placed to letting people know what Linux has besides Windows siblings compatibility. I totally believe that Linux would very well do without any of Microsoft's achievements in the field of networking.

        It may happen that Linux is one of the best OS's only in my world, but then I'd like to stay in it.

        Then again, give credit where it's due, Windows has managed to make fully computer-illiterate masses of people to think they are all-knowing computer geeks. For them Linux needs to be learned, and they more easily say it's crap and under-developed than to learn anything new regarding Linux. I just think I'm getting pretty offtopic so I'll just cut it here :)

        • Re:ha-ha-ha (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:59AM (#10381774) Journal
          why does Linux need to keep telling and repeating its being compatible with crap when it does have its own fortes.
          Because everyone else is using said crap to do their work on. We need MS Office compatibility because we want our suppliers and client to be able to read our documents, and we want to read their documents as well, without too much hassle. Face it, pretty much every business uses the MS Word format to swap editable documents. Not because it is the best format, but because if I send someone a Word document, I expect them to be able to read it without hassle, and they pretty much always can.

          Linux can have the best word processor with the finest document file format, but if Word cannot read it, it will never be widely adopted. Remember that version of Word (98 I think) that produced files which could not be read by earlier versions of Word? Everybody bitched about it, and Microsoft finally gave in a made a plugin for earlier versions to read these files. You can be sure they never made that mistake again...

          Similarly, you will often find Windows boxes in even the most Linux-friendly offices. Many applications are only available on Windows. For that reason, we need Samba capability. It is not so important for Linux to stand on its own, but it sure as hell makes the transition from Windows to Linux a lot easier.
          It may happen that Linux is one of the best OS's only in my world, but then I'd like to stay in it. [...]For them Linux needs to be learned, and they more easily say it's crap and under-developed than to learn anything new regarding Linux. I just think I'm getting pretty offtopic
          The point is: most people and especially businesses cannot afford to 'stay in their own world' as you put it. People who might be interested in Linux are not starting to use computers from scratch, they will in most cases have to ransition from Windows, and will want to continue to communicate with their Windows-using friends.

          This is not off-topic at all, it is the heart of the matter that is hidden underneath this silliness about shipping Windows with no media player. There is nothing wrong per sé with selling software using closed and protected protocols and file formats. Microsoft however is (mis)using closed protocols and file formats, together with their virtual monopoly in the OS and Office suite markets, to make sure everyone stays locked into the Windows solution. They do this by making the transition to Linux exceptionally painful, and by trying to ostracise Linux users from their Windows-using friends (or from their computers and data, at least). That is why the Commission should demand open and freely usable standards from Microsoft instead of demanding a WMP-free OS; not because open standards are nice and cute, but because Microsoft has a virtual monopoly and is mis-using it and closed standards to keep out competitors like Linux.
  • by tobi-wan-kenobi (797654) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:49AM (#10381406) Journal

    Microsoft has protested in the past that unbundling elements of Windows would be difficult and could even damage its operating system.

    hm... i do not mean to flame against microsoft (yet another time), but wtf? why and how should a media player damage the os, if decently programmed? to me, it sounds sensible to separate the operating-system from the applications built upon it, not coupling them to an absurde degree. well, from the point of view "it will be easier to distribute both products that way", it is understandable, of course, but shouldn't a clear design weigh more than marketing advantage? mark the should, which is - sorrowfully - the keyword here.

    ah, and by the way... what will microsoft do? if i was them, i'd offer a network-based installation of wmp, which is (semi)automatically triggered after the installation of windows. thus, they do not ship wmp with the os, but effectively bundle it in 90% of all installations.

    The rest of the world would continue to use the full version of Windows, and it encouraged content developers to continue to encode music and other digital products in its Windows media format.

    simply cute. encouraging developers to use a proprietary codec (i hope i am correct) to create content, when you need to additionally install software for that codec. *hm* a different approach than the one i outlined above, but an effective one, too.
    though i have to say, if i was content provider, i'd see absolutely no advantage in using wmp if the player is not bundled with the os, only the drawback of lock-in by microsoft.

    just my 2cent

    • Methinks I have located the problem.

      "if decently programmed"

      We're talking about Microsoft here.
    • I'd say windows is like a house of cards, but that is too straight forward. Windoz is more like an ancient rustbucket of a car that stops running if you remove that plastic figurine of the Virgin Mary on the dash.
      • Windoz is more like an ancient rustbucket of a car that stops running if you remove that plastic figurine of the Virgin Mary on the dash.

        Sounds accurate. And my NT4 Domain Controller/File Server has been up and running continuously for the last 2+ years.

        That's not stability. That's just not rocking the boat.
        No patches. No updates. No upgrades.
        Original IE which is never used.
        No gateway. Intentionally. Can only talk to the LAN.
    • why and how should a media player damage the os, if decently programmed?

      It depends on what you call Media Player. Most people would consider it to be just the executable, and possibly DLLs and data files that are used only by the application.

      On the other hand, the MS legal department considers it to also include any system libraries that it may use, including windowing and disk access libraries, audio drivers, and any line of code that gets called when it is being run. At least that seemed to be the
    • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:40AM (#10381725) Homepage
      There's some subtlety with the media player that I don't think most people realize. Like any good media player app, the Microsoft media player is made up of two major components - the frontend and the backend. The frontend handles minor things like displaying the video and interface, the backend handles the actual decoding.

      On Windows, the backend is an integral part of the operating system. Many other applications use it, many other applications plug into it - it's designed to be a central location for codec storage, and it succeeds in that goal admirably.

      The frontend, obviously, is not.

      Removing the frontend would be trivial. Removing the backend would be devastating because of all the programs that rely on it - akin to removing Internet Explorer entirely, for the exact same set of reasons.

      I don't pretend to know which they've been ordered to remove. I don't put it past them for the courts to have said "remove Media Player" and for Microsoft to have said "aha! If we take that to mean the backend, we can argue that it would damage the user experience!" But it's worth pointing out that the bulk of what most moderately-technical people would consider Media Player - the chunk that does the actual decoding and playing of media - is, in fact, pretty deeply built into Windows. As is Internet Explorer. (I've seen many many MANY apps that embed IE in one way or another.)

      An analogy - this would be similar to asking Linux to remove zlib entirely. Because, you know, not many people ever really need to compress things, right? Therefore zlib couldn't be that important, right?

      Sometimes the user interface is only a small part of the usage a piece of software has within the system.

      Now, it *would* be entirely reasonable to ask Microsoft to provide hooks to replace these modules. However that would be an extremely nontrivial programming job - I might demand it for Longhorn, but asking that they spend less than a year or so on it is really just begging for serious problems.
      • The component that is responsible for encoding and decoding (in recent versions of Windows) is DirectShow.

        It would be extremely difficult for them to claim that removing Windows Media Player means removing DirectShow...

        Anyway, I don't see why anyone would want it gone.. there is nothing proprietary about it; anyone can write a media player applications that uses it.

    • I find having a media player as part of my server OSes very valuable. Gives you something to do while running chkdsk over large file systems that just seem to randomly corrupt themselves.
  • Crippleware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mirko (198274) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:52AM (#10381411) Journal
    The term crippleware usually applies for software which has voluntarily been cut-off in order to force the buyers to upgrade for more functionalities.
    This is, of course, only if Microsoft actually intends to offer an upgrade scheme (they could just force the Windows Lite purchasers to acquire a full XP license at full cost)...
    Now, after this annoucement [slashdot.org], it becomes obvious that Microsoft is entering a new era in which they will be forced to lighten their products under the hostile eyes of the trade police...
    What willfollow ?
    Well, they'll have to cut costs in order to remain competitive in this regard.
    I guess, something just broke in Microsoft and it's time for the new Norton-likes to come back and propose better add-ons than the ones that were forcibly integrated into Windows...
  • What's wrong? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Silverlancer (786390) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:52AM (#10381412)
    I've never understood what's wrong with Microsoft having WMP in Windows. Any operating system should come with a decent media player, and WMP is one. I mean its not perfect, its not as stripped down as some better ones, but hey, its better than Realplayer, and why in the world would the average user want to have to download a seperate program to simply see a news broadcast? Most Linux distros come with mplayer--is that a monopoly?
    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tobi-wan-kenobi (797654) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:55AM (#10381425) Journal
      i don't think this is the point.
      the point is that microsoft claims that it would be difficult and possibly damaging to remove wmp from the os.
      now talk about tight coupling between software and os. bad thing in my opinion, plus, it remove the freedom of choice from the user.

      furthermore, it implies that un-installing wmp properly is hardly possible, so when you think you've gotten rid of it, it has probably just removed some superficial links or such.

    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518)
      Most Linux distros come with mplayer--is that a monopoly?

      I believe that Red Hat is the most common distro, and they don't ship mplayer.

      And as for your answer -- no, it isn't a monopoly. First, no single Linux distributor has a monopoly on the Linux market. Second, there's no concept of lock-in -- I can make "Debian (or someone that does ship mplayer) with xine instead of mplayer" if I want, and start handing out CDs. Microsoft does not make it legally possible for me to ship a modified version of Win
      • Re:What's wrong? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Martigan80 (305400)
        I believe that Red Hat is the most common distro

        In America maybe, but not the rest of the world which includes Europe, Asia, and Africa.

    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:3, Informative)

      by oxygene2k2 (615758)
      because WMP doesn't play quicktime or realvideo stuff, at least not the newest generation stuff..
      so with a user base of several hundred million, microsoft has a better base to sell streaming servers than its competition - and why? not because WMP is superior, but because microsoft used its desktop monopoly to push into another sector, which is illegal (unlike having a monopoly without abusing it)

      as for mplayer, only few distros actually distribute it due to legal trouble, and it's not used in a monopoly en
      • And Microsoft Paint can only open BMP files, and not Photoshop files. Does this mean the EU should order Paint to be removed from Windows as it's anti-competitive? I dislike MS as much as the next guy, but this case is ridiculous.
    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rzei (622725)

      I think that the one thing which is wrong here is that Microsoft is also pushing it's own Windows Media format (*.wm[va]) with own codecs.

      What makes this a problem is that coupling the only player capable of [legally] playing these files gives Microsoft an unfair advantage over everything else.

      No user wants to install for example a media player. A Windows user sees a .rm or .mov on a page, he/she might not click it because then new software might have to be installed, the user might look for a .wmv b

    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:06AM (#10381470) Journal
      Most Linux distros come with mplayer--is that a monopoly?
      No. But if
      1. Linux had >90% market share,
      2. there were only one vendor of Linux,
      3. there were a reason why other vendors could not release Linux as well,
      4. that version of Linux came with mplayer as mandatory and only preinstalled player,
      5. that version of mplayer supported a proprietary media format owned by that only Linux distributor,
      6. while media formats from competitors were not supported out-of-the-box,
      then it would be an abuse of monopoly.
    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spuzzzzzzz (807185) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:11AM (#10381479) Homepage
      I've never understood what's wrong with Microsoft having WMP in Windows

      Every reply so far has missed the point somewhat, so I'll give it a go. Microsoft has a monopoly on desktop operationg systems (or close enough to one that it makes no difference). There is a body of law that applies only to monopolies in order to prevent them from abusing the power that comes from having a monopoly. One of the things they are not allowed to do is to use their monopoly status to create dominance in a different market.

      By bundling WMP with windows, Microsoft is using their monopoly on OSes to dominate the media player market. They have already done this in the web browser market. The relative merits of the players are irrelevant, only that Microsoft is abusing its monopoly powers.

      • By bundling WMP with windows, Microsoft is using their monopoly on OSes to dominate the media player market. They have already done this in the web browser market.

        The real question here is whether "media players" and "web browsers" are significant enough applications in the modern world to justify their own "market" and, if so, at what point should it end. I mean, it's not like anyone gives a damn about the "calculator applet market" anymore, or that anyone is getting their anti-trust undies in a twist ab

    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:49AM (#10381590) Homepage
      I've never understood what's wrong with Microsoft having [Product] in Windows. Any operating system should come with a decent [Functionality], and [Product] is one.

      Understand these basic facts:
      1. It is legal to acquire a monopoly.
      2. It is legal to bundle non-monopoly products.
      3. It is not legal to use your monopoly in one market to gain a monopoly in another market.

      To completely distance ourselves from the tech issues, I'll give you a bread and butter example (literally).

      1. It is not illegal to gain a monopoly on producing bread (maybe you're just that much better)
      2. As long as there is competition on both bread and butter, it is legal to bundle your bread with your butter.
      3. If you have a monopoly on bread, you can't bundle your butter with your bread to drive the other butter companies out of business.

      It has nothing to do with bread and butter belonging together or not, it has nothing to do with the quality of either product. It is a means to ensure that competition happens on equal terms.

      Without anti-trust protection, anything dependent on bread would fall like dominos in a row. Next up, bread knives bundled with bread. Butter knives bundled with butter. Next up, filet knives bundled with bread and butter knives. Markets would crumble and turn to monopolies ruled by gigantic megacorporations spreading like a cancer throughout the economy.

      To return to your Linux analogy, it is not only once, but twice fatally flawed. One, neither Linux nor Mplayer have a monopoly. Second, you misinterpret corrolation with causation. Mplayer and Linux appear often together because they are both popular products. There is no causation, one isn't being used to promote the other.

      If Linux demanded that with each distribution of it you would be forced to include Mplayer, then there would be causation. They don't, but if they did (which they can't because of the GPL), and they were a monopoly, which they aren't, then it would be illegal. But Windows is a monopoly, Windows is used to monopolize the media player market, and thus it is illegal. IMNSHO.

      Kjella
      • Re:What's wrong? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Keeper (56691)
        There is one flaw with your arguement. Windows has ALWAYS shipped with a media player in one form or another (since the windows 3.x days). If their media player didn't obtain a monopoly during the period that Windows obtained a monopoly, shipping a media player with the OS is obviously not sufficient to monopolize the media player market. Therefore, the act of bundling a media player with an operating system cannot be construed as an attempt to monopolize the media player market.
    • Re:What's wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Andy_R (114137) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:52AM (#10381603) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft have a monopoly in the desktop OS market.

      Having a monopoly is neither wrong, bad, or illegal.

      However, it IS illegal bad and wrong to for acompany to leverage a monopoly in one product area into a monopoly in another by abusing their monopoly position. I'll use a silly example to show why this can't be allowed:

      Imagine you have a monopoly on potatoes. If you used your cash reserves (or simply jacked up the price of potatoes) to give away a free carrot with every potato, and continued until all the carrot companies in the world went bust, bought them all up and then put the price of carrots up 1000% ... see the problem? Nice for you, but terrible for the consumers and for the carrot growers.

      Replace the potatoes with Desktop OS software, and the carrots with media player software, and you'll see what microsoft is doing that is wrong. It's taking a loss on WMP, and by bundling it for free (so that even by being free too, other players can't compete because they have the hassle of installation as well) it's abusing it's position to try and bankrupt all the other player companies, so it has a stranglehold on that market too. You can also replace carrots with Browsers for round 2 of the EU litigation
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:52AM (#10381413) Journal
    Last time I was in England, a cop stopped me and wrote me a speeding ticket. I'm contesting the speeding ticket.

    I'm having a press conference tomorrow where I will announce that I will pay the speeding ticket if the court so orders. I just want to make sure they understand that going into the appeal hearing.

  • by shaka (13165) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:53AM (#10381416)
    First, it's the EC and their stance that "Linux would disappear" - this makes me a bit happy, 'cause it means they'vre probably tried to understand what the fsck the case is about. On the other hand, it gives us a hint as to how much we can expect our politicians to actually understand about these matters. I really don't think, though, that it's too much to ask from an assistant to a member of the Commission to just explain that Linux is on more hardware than just Samba servers.

    The other funny thing, which is absolutely hilarious, is that Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith doesn't "know any person at Linux or any Linux programmers who share the Commission's view."

    What, I know several people at Linux, they say it's a great place to work and they have a beautiful campus and stuff...
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:53AM (#10381417) Journal
    If anything's bad, isn't it their proprietary codecs they try to push in the media industry?

    I'd rather see them have the WMA/WMV codecs excluded and if a user plays such things, s/he gets directed to a Microsoft web site where they can be downloaded.

    Not allowing a stupid media player just seems silly to me.
  • by NKJensen (51126) <nkj&internetgruppen,dk> on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:54AM (#10381421) Homepage
    One must admire MS for the spin of this question.

    MS got everyone to babble about install-options (WMP yes/no?) instead of the real thing at stake:

    Open formats e.g ISO standards or privately owned formats?

    Hello, everyone, it isn't about WMP yes/no. It's about standard formats with competition or not. Did you get it now?
  • A little child (Score:3, Informative)

    by stox (131684) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @03:58AM (#10381437) Homepage
    "If you won't play with my toys the way I want you to..."

    Seems to sum up the Microsoft business strategy rather well.
  • Pointless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tailhook (98486) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:00AM (#10381445)
    Remove WMP from Windows...

    Wow.

    I don't suppose anyone will be surprised to find the link to the WMP download presented in bold, flashing red letters among the list of "High Priority" updates (formerly merely "optional software updates") each and every time a European user runs "Windows Update."

    Legislative micromanagement of Microsoft's stack of software is futile. Gate's and crew are quietly snickering as they squeak past another round of legal nonsense with another pointless concession.
    • Wasting my chance to moderate you as troll so I can reply ... I am a european user of Windows XP and Windows Media Player is currently listed under "optional software updates", where it's always been It won't be installed unless specifically selected. It won't even be detected as not yet installed using Windows Update's "express install" option, which covers high priority updates (ie security updates) only. Get the facts straight before posting, please.
  • by hereschenes (813329) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:03AM (#10381460)

    "Microsoft has said it will remove Media Player from Window, if ordered by the EU this week."

    Wow. I always thought Windows had its limitations, but apparently you can only open one window at a time with this cut-down version! Hmmm, which one to open...

  • by randalx (659791) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:14AM (#10381492)
    The company had "spent millions" so that it could meet the court's judgment, he added, suggesting that development work has already been done to offer a version of Windows in Europe without the WMP software.

    Removing a media player from an OS costs MILLIONS! I feel like making a joke but this is just too ridiculous. The sad thing is probably many non-techies believe these blatant lies. And I don't care what expenses they dream up (testing, lawyers, still more lawyers, cost of diminished monopoly power), this is pure BS.
  • Interesting article. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:15AM (#10381499)
    Let's start with the apparent fact that Microsoft still cannot grasp the idea that Linux is not made by a single company or corporation. Oh, I can absolutely guarantee he doesn't know anyone at "Linux", because there isn't anybody there!


    Secondly, if Microsoft can fuss, whine, cry, etc, over how taking some component out is "too hard" and would cripple Windows (mind you, switching the machine on seems to do that just fine) then how are they capable of removing the media player just like that? That, in itself, should send up huge bright red warning flags that Microsoft is, and quite probably always has been, lying to the courts about how "difficult" the process of removing something is.


    Third, by putting some psychological pressure on Windows developers to use the Microsoft in-house format anyway, it seems clear Microsoft is attempting to cripple any efforts to switch to other formats. Pointing to things like Apple's iTunes doesn't help the argument, as that is a very carefully-crafted niche market that nobody can step into or out of. It's not in competition with anything, and as such, cannot be listed as a competing format. DUH!


    Last, but by no means least, server docs would be nice. Claiming that nobody would be interested in them and nobody has asked for them is at best disingeneous (Microsoft doesn't tend to release anything it doesn't absolutely need to, and even then it's a struggle) and at worst an outright lie (I'm willing to bet at least one WINE developer has asked to see networking and media low-level documentation, and I'm willing to bet they got refused, too).


    Sorry, it's hard to feel much pity for Microsoft over this. Their entire case is built up out of mistruths, scams, shams and ignorance. (Some of the ignorance is even their own.) Until they learn to "play nice", they really should accept that it is only by the generosity of the EU and other Governments that they are allowed to play at all.


    Marketing is not a right, it is a privilige. That is why, for example, in the US you have business licenses. Despite abusing that privilege, Microsoft is being told that they can carry on. With some relatively minor restrictions. IMHO, that is exceedingly generous. And given their past record, quite likely too generous.


    Sooner or later, someone is going to get tough. Unless a volcano in Washington State erupts first and buries Microsoft HQ in ash*. I'd feel sorry for the innocents inside (assuming any were innocent) but it would save the world, which could be quite nice.


    *Volcanos are generally compliant with UNIX98 standards, starting up into ash. However, they are known to have a buggy IPC implementation. On failing to negotiate a handshake with the surrounding geography, volcanos are apt to core-dump.

    • by 3riol (680662) *

      "Let's start with the apparent fact that Microsoft still cannot grasp the idea that Linux is not made by a single company or corporation."

      That's not quite it. MS know full well what Linux is and how it is developed. They also know that if they can convince the non-tech world that it's just another corporate actor, they can fight on their own ground. For them to survive, they need to maintain the market lock-in which is their only selling point, but convince regulatory authorities that they're just another

  • "We are ready to restart negotiations with the Commission. We have always said people have issues that need to be addressed through face-to-face negotiations to tease out the technological nuances. We remain committed to that," Smith said.

    Only if by "face-to-face negotiations to tease out technological nuances" he means "coercion".

    He warned that if the court upheld the Commission's decision it would "slow innovation" in Europe, raise prices for consumers and privilege some special interests.

    Is there

  • by Principal Skinner (56702) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:20AM (#10381508) Homepage
    He warned that if the court upheld the Commission's decision it would "slow innovation" in Europe, raise prices for consumers and privilege some special interests.

    Well, we all know better than that of course; why, just yesterday a Harvard professor jumped on the bandwagon warning that the current patent system inhibits, rather than encourages, innovation. How is Microsoft any different? When everyone knows M$ will come out on top in any battle it chooses to fight, the incentive to try to create something Redmond might want to compete against drops to zero. But if the EU succeeds in putting Microsoft in its place, that will tell a lot of software companies (and VCs!) that their products might finally have a chance of competing on their own merits.

    Oh, and "privilege some special interests"? It's funny how one company can be so bad if it gets some help from the government (the criterion for "special interest"), but another company is beyond reproach if it has an advantage that everyone is already dependent on its products.
  • I don't see any problem with allowing MS to bundle Windows Media Player. I'm sure aspects of it are used all over the place, e.g. Thumbnail previews of videos, descriptions and summaries in the properties tags. If they want to provide all this functionality they are either going to have to allow:

    A) 3rd party providers to provide this information for the OS
    B) To have a cut down version of media player which cannot play movies by itself but serves this info.

    I'd rather have neither and I'm sure Microsoft d
    • by GWTPict (749514)
      Airbus don't make engines. You specify which engines you want fitted when you place your order, eg Rolls Royce, General Electric etc. So no, it isn't a monopoly, Ok?
  • Rename (Score:3, Funny)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:30AM (#10381537) Journal
    Microsoft has said it will remove Media Player from Window, if ordered by the EU this week and will bundle in a media player it calls "Yet Another Media Player" which is said to look completely different from WMP. It will have a different skin.
  • by branchingfactor (650391) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:44AM (#10381576)
    The proposed EU remedy is foolish because it does not address the heart of the problem, namely, that Microsoft is using their Windows monopoly to enter related markets (in this case media distribution via WMP software and the WMV format). Dropping WMP from Windows in Europe won't hinder Microsoft from entering those markets worldwide. And most people in Europe will download WMP anyway since it will be free and most video content will require its use due to the prevalance of the WMV format. The only effective remedy is to require Microsoft to open source the WMV format (and possibly the WMV player as well) so that the user's choice of operating system is completely independent of their choice of media player/format.
  • by SlashDread (38969) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:51AM (#10381600)
    "But Linux is alive and well and I don't know any person at Linux or any Linux programmers who share the Commission's view."'"

    Well, I do. Granted, Im no "person at Linux" (WTF? does FSF member count? ;-) or a programmer, but I AM responsible for switching our companies main old crappy (SCO) machines to Redhat. I use Linux since uhm, the Minix days.

    -Without- access to documented API's, compatibility battles are always going to be a "catch-up" game.

    Meaning MS can leveradge its closed fileformats and closed API's to keep a lock on its customers.

    Even the much applauded SAMBA (Love it, love it) is mostly reversed engeneered, and often has to deal with changed Windows OS behaviour between releases and SP's.

    To get out of this deadlock, people can either massively switch away from MS (unlikely, but possible) or have MS open up its secrets, and level the playing ground. Only THEN can Linux and MS compete on the one level that mnatters: "innovation".

    No matter how good Gnome and KDE have gotten, if the .net and JAVA software is lacking (Mono is not nearly complete, and is exactly fighting this catch-up game, JAVA is a nifty SUN Trap) and MS file formats could potentially be 100% closed in a single update (Yes MS DOES hold your DATA ransom) Managers will always take the save route. Or at the very best, change will happen very very slowly.

    "/Dread"
  • by OwlWhacker (758974) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @05:18AM (#10381666) Homepage Journal
    Many people seem to be saying, "Gosh! Removing WMP from Windows seems so harsh! This is silly!", or words to that effect.

    If Microsoft wants everybody to stream using its media formats, it will want to ensure that Windows Media Player is installed on as many computers as possible. Obviously.

    The point here is that Microsoft owns Windows. Microsoft adds to Windows what it desires, and what is most beneficial to Microsoft itself. People usually use what comes installed with the operating system (IE, WMP), and once you're used to one thing you're less likely to switch (as we've seen with Internet Explorer).

    Microsoft gains an unfair advantage by doing this, and there is very little competition at this level.

    Microsoft finds it attrocious that people have suggested adding Real Player (and other competing apps) to Windows. Microsoft knows that doing this would take away its advantage - if it didn't, why would there be such a big issue? Ok, Microsoft may say that it would cause users more hassle by having to download WMP; but, Microsoft has also said that it doesn't understand the fuss about bundling WMP, people can still download and install Real Player easily enough. Well, in that case, why not remove WMP and let people choose what they want to install?

    I expect that if WMP was removed, Microsoft would add a pop-up window as soon as you run Windows for the first time, asking you to download and install it.

    The same cannot be said of Open Source apps on a Linux DISTRIBUTION. Linux is not manufactured by one company, other companies create distributions that contain various competing apps.

    If Microsoft open-sourced its file formats, and ensured that it would not use any patents surrounding them to limit their use in any way, this would certainly help things.

    If Microsoft got other companies to create Windows distributions in the same way as with Linux, this would also help.

    Software choice?
  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @08:04AM (#10382121)
    Thank you for installing Microsoft Windows XP (EU Edition).

    Windows is now checking Microsoft's website for updates and new features.........

    New Features Available! Please choose what you want to download:

    1. Windows Media Player. This is required if you want to play MP3s, watch videos or DVDs.
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @08:18AM (#10382200)
    But Linux is alive and well and I don't know any person at Linux

    I'm sure they imagine a giant L-shaped building somewhere in Helsinki, where foreign-speaking communists plot to find new ways to pirate MP3s.
  • Buh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dr. Smeegee (41653) * on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @08:35AM (#10382296) Homepage Journal
    "I don't know any person at Linux "

    Where is this "Linux" place? Is it like Disneyland? Can I take the kid and the dogs and hang out?

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

Working...