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Windows 7 Eyed For Antitrust Violations 290

Posted by Zonk
from the keep-it-on-the-up-and-up dept.
Preedit writes "The committee that oversees Microsoft's compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement now has its hands on Windows 7. The Technical Committee is checking to see if the software meets the settlement's terms. Among other things, it's looking at whether Windows 7 favors Microsoft apps over third party programs, according to InformationWeek. The story also notes that Vista SP1 includes a number of changes that were added to satisfy the committee. For instance, it eliminates several browser overrides where Vista ignored users' default preferences and automatically launched Explorer. Windows 7 is due sometime around 2010."
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Windows 7 Eyed For Antitrust Violations

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  • Who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:12PM (#22704922)
    We're just going to hack it anyway to run whatever 3rd party apps we want.. the EU is really going overboard IMO with forcing microsoft to make their OS how the EU wants it made. If microsoft wants to make Internet Explorer the only app that can access the internet, that's their prerogative.. nobody has to buy Windows. Even if there was no excellent free alternative, which there is.
  • by OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:13PM (#22704942) Journal
    any new windows will always come under this scrutiny, and for good reason. the mainstream US does not use linux or macs, so windows is seen as the dominant os figure. this gives them a justification to bring up charges.
  • They'll do nothing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:13PM (#22704952)
    The watchdogs have rubber teeth. So far they've done nothing and MS ignores them.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix (84795) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#22705074) Homepage
    Actually, that is the whole crux of the EU arguement, Microsoft DID force people to buy Windows... in particular PC manufacturers. If you wanted ANY machines with Windows, ALL of your machines had to be Windows. You wanted any Office software, it had to be MS Office or else no Windows which means no PC's.

    Amazing how people blatantly ignore this.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:27PM (#22705226)

    If microsoft wants to make Internet Explorer the only app that can access the internet, that's their prerogative..

    False. Governments have the right and the duty to protect the relatively free market from abusive monopolies.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:28PM (#22705242) Homepage Journal

    I wondered why it's so wrong if the Microsoft OS works better with its own software?

    If Microsoft had solid competition, there would be no problem. The issue as it stands is that Microsoft has a monopoly on the Operating System business. Because of that monopoly, Microsoft can crush nearly any competitor they want in other areas by ensuring that their own software works better than the competitor's software. Examples of this include:

    - Windows Media Player provides a superior Windows experience than RealPlayer

    - IE provided a superior browsing experience on Windows over Netscape Navigator

    In both cases, Microsoft effectively wiped out those company's markets by giving the software away for free. Which meant that Real and Netscape could no longer charge for their software.

    Now one can argue that Microsoft produced superior products to both company's offerings. And there would be truth to that statement. The problem is that Microsoft ensured that there will never again be competitors in either space. Microsoft effectively wiped both markets out of existence and forced consumers to accept higher costs for Windows to subsidize those markets. Even worse, there is then zero incentive for Microsoft to innovate in either market. So consumers pay higher prices when no new development is happening in those areas.

    While some balance is returning to those markets thanks to Apple and Open Source, the damage done has been extremely negative for the industry, with the WMV pseudo-standard and the IE pseudo-standard locking out competing OSes for nearly a decade. From an economist's point of view, the OS, multimedia, and web-browser markets would be a lot farther along today if Microsoft had never managed a stranglehold on these markets.
  • Re:Lost causes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plague3106 (71849) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:32PM (#22705312)
    Microsoft Outlook needs (and loads) MS Word.

    No, it doesn't.

    MS Visual Studio requires MS Office for some of the data aware components to work at all.

    You mean the components that are designed to get data from MS Office? The horror!

    Windows Media player often "reactivates" all on its lonesome

    Funny, it's never done that for me.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by downix (84795) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:32PM (#22705326) Homepage
    If Apple were to make it so that the iPod could only play Apple-only MP3's, which could only be produced from Apple-only rippers and could then only be used with Apple-only computers, you might have an arguement. But no, the iPod might need iTunes to work, but that is a cross-platform product so defeats your arguement here. Infact, Apple's made sure that the iPod is as flexible as possible, going out of their way in many ways to work with other peoples products.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:48PM (#22705600) Journal

    nobody has to buy Windows. Even if there was no excellent free alternative, which there is.
    then why is it that you need to go out of your way to get anything else than a windows pre-loaded machine? why is it that 95% of the software that is made only works in windows leaving any other OS to use WINE + the performance penalty? why is it that IE makes up over 70% of the browser market even though 1) it is the least standards compliant 2) only after IE7 did it finally have tabs/popup blocker both having been standard in other browsers. MS uses their desktop monopoly to wedge themselves into the top spot elsewhere as well. they don't compete on quality, they are simply "just there" and "good enough" to the average consumer. were the situation reversed, that is to say that if Firefox were installed by default and ingrained into the OS internals, IE would be the underdog.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:51PM (#22705664) Homepage Journal

    Governments have the right and the duty to protect the relatively free market from abusive monopolies.
    Governments don't have rights. They have powers.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wordplay (54438) <geo@snarksoft.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @02:54PM (#22705722)
    Actually, it probably does. Encouraging the sales of one product through the market share of another is only illegal when you have monopoly power. Otherwise, it's simply good software business strategy.

    That's really the conflict here. The things that Microsoft does, in and of themselves, aren't heinous at the face of it, and lots of other software companies do similar things. It's only when you consider the entire snowball effect that the implications become clear.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:02PM (#22705884) Homepage
    I will never understand why open source enthusiasts get so angry when Microsoft starts giving things away for free. Has anyone ever stopped to think that this antitrust thing is the reason windows is such an underpowered POS? Maybe this is why they aren't able to give away decent developer tools, standardized antivirus, or a decent package management system.

    Mircosoft does a lot of bad things, but giving away software is not one of them. Their competitors (various open source projects) give away much higher quality code for free. Every time Microsoft tries to add a new feature, they get their asses sued off by every company that hacked in that new feature before, and are now charging ridiculous amounts of money for it.

    I dislike Microsoft because they do not play well with standards bodies. I think that's lame, and they need to learn their place. On the other hand, if they actually started shipping a fully featured OS where I didn't have to pay a ton of money for all the additional bell and whistles, I would seriously consider switching to windows.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:13PM (#22706012)
    The rules change when you become a monopoly.

    Let's use a example. I'm selling water in containers on the street corner. Some one wants to buy a bottle from me but I say No, if you want to buy my water you have to also buy a set of water glasses from me and this bag o ready mix cement too. You walk away laughing.

    Now lets say I'm selling water but lets say the no one else has water for sale. I'm a mono[oly water seller. Now I bet you would buy that set of glasses and the cement.

    The above is very clear cut. The real world is not but still it shows why the rules change. Being a monopoly gives a seller to much power over a buyer so most places try to place limits on mono[polies to limit their power.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scuba0 (950343) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:15PM (#22706056) Homepage

    Mircosoft does a lot of bad things, but giving away software is not one of them.

    Oh, so you think that all software that Microsoft is not charging you for is free?, it is not! Every customer that buys Windows is paying for all applications that follow with. By locking their customers in with their built-in software which is mostly in the way they are missuisng their monopoly.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:22PM (#22706172)
    Mircosoft does a lot of bad things, but giving away software is not one of them. Their competitors (various open source projects) give away much higher quality code for free. Every time Microsoft tries to add a new feature, they get their asses sued off by every company that hacked in that new feature before, and are now charging ridiculous amounts of money for it.

    The first part is that it isn't that Microsoft gives it away for free that is the problem, its that they bundle it, make it the default, and even integrate it with the OS.

    If Microsoft limited their free giveaways to software that had to be downloaded from their website and installed manually, their competitors would have a lot less to bitch about.

    And the second part is that the rules CHANGE when you have a monopoly. What are perfectly acceptable business practices in a competitive market are abusive and illegal in a monopoly. In a competitive market if you don't like what a company is doing you just stop buying from them... in a monopoly you can't, so market forces cease to be effective.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TrancePhreak (576593) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:35PM (#22706428)
    Let's see you show grandma how to download a web browser when none is installed... Go on, show us! ;)
  • by maxume (22995) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:46PM (#22706646)
    It looks to me that the biggest difference is that they are treated like a hardware vendor, whereas Microsoft is treated as an operating system vendor. So Apple is competing with Dell, and just happens to write lots of the software that they include with their systems.

    If(when?) things reach the point where Apple hardware comprises a significant portion of the overall installed base, you will see people claiming that any OS upgrades that they sell separately from hardware need to be subjected to antitrust regulation.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:01PM (#22706936)
    Let's see you show grandma how to download a web browser when none is installed... Go on, show us! ;)

    apt-get install firefox

    There is even a gui for it if you prefer.

    Granted windows doesn't have this. But there's absolutely no reason it couldn't.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:25PM (#22707326)
    And how is that different than Mac OS and all their bundled software?

    Seriously? I only wrote 3 short paragraphs. You couldn't make it all the way through? Heres part of paragraph number 3:

    "... the rules CHANGE when you have a monopoly. What are perfectly acceptable business practices in a competitive market are abusive and illegal in a monopoly...."

    The difference between Mac OS and Windows is that Windows has been found to be a monopoly; and Microsoft has been convicted of abusing that monopoly. Mac OS isn't, and Apple hasn't.

    See the difference?

    Hint: Its not about -what- they do. Its about how what they do affects the market. Apple, by not having a monopoly, has more freedom to use different business practices because its unable to utterly distort and abuse the market. Microsoft, by contrast, has less freedom to use those same business practices because when they do use them it does utterly distort and abuse the market.

  • Re:Forcing IE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:20PM (#22708198)

    Likely this is just because a lazy programmer hardcoded it to run IE, rather than going through the proper API to figure out the user's browser preference and launch that.

    Not a very nice thing to do? Sure. Intentionally malicious? Probably not.
    You'd be right if the software didn't get delivered that way.

    For that to happen it means it has to get written that way by a lazy programmer. Then it has to (presumably) pass QA like that.

    So not only is it getting written, but it's getting QA'd. Sure there's still wiggle room for it to accidentally slip by, but compare the chances of that "slipping by" to the chances of a hard-coded Firefox call to slip by.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:06PM (#22708834) Journal
    Because, with 10% market share, they aren't even in the same galaxy as Microsoft.

    Ch-rist, but why is this such a hard concept? Or is this just Redmond's shills attacking /. with intentionally retarded sounding arguments?
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:36PM (#22709202) Homepage Journal
    I think that there should be a Software Industry "Glass Turd" award - for the most over promised, under delivered, and basically mis-applied software product of the year.

    I know it's a tall order - like ID-ing the ugliest warthog.

    The name "Glass Turd" is, of course, a loving reference to Windows Vista. Polished to gleaming, transparent perfection! "It's so pretty, I feel bad about hating it..."

    The runner-up could get a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, installed on the computer of his choice. The Winner would have a copy of the same, installed on the computer that the winner used the most!
  • Re:Who cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scuba0 (950343) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:48PM (#22709358) Homepage
    It is all in the total cost, you cannot ignore the total price tag for one product. Yes the mints are included in every paying bill, the same as rents, supplies etc. The problem is not MS having their own software but rather that they use their money and software to lock consumers in and developers out.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyber-vandal (148830) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:41PM (#22709900) Homepage
    That's what happens to convicted criminals - they have to abide by much harsher rules than decent, law-abiding citizens. You have any complaints take them up with the management of MS who thought that laws didn't apply to their company.
  • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GaryPatterson (852699) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:21PM (#22711206)
    You kids! We bought browsers in boxes at the software store in the olden days.

    But what's wrong with pre-installing a bunch of browsers, or letting vendors decide?

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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