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Internet Explorer Antitrust Case Set To Expire 176

jbrodkin writes "The judgment in United States vs. Microsoft is on the verge of expiring, nearly a decade after antitrust officials ruled Microsoft unfairly limited competition against its Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft has two more weeks to fulfill the final requirements in the antitrust case, which is scheduled to expire on May 12. Although Netscape ultimately didn't benefit, the settlement seems to have done its job. From a peak of 95% market share, by some estimates Internet Explorer now has less than half of the browser market. Microsoft, of course, filed its own antitrust action against Google this week, and even commented publicly on the irony of its doing so, noting that Microsoft has 'spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot.'"
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Internet Explorer Antitrust Case Set To Expire

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  • by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Thursday March 31, 2011 @11:54PM (#35685496) Journal
    The settlement did nothing. It was Mozilla and Firefox which revived competition in the browser market.
    • by RoFLKOPTr ( 1294290 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:00AM (#35685514)

      The settlement did nothing. It was Mozilla and Firefox which revived competition in the browser market.

      This. The field of web browser development was almost completely stagnant before Mozilla came along. Since then, the web has made massive strides in usability and function, which would not have been possible without Mozilla (and later Google). No antitrust settlement could have caused new browsers to emerge.

      • by ehrichweiss ( 706417 ) * on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:11AM (#35685564)

        I don't know if I need to remind you but Netscape was essentially Mozilla's code and they even said it in the EULA around 1994 or 95: "Remember, it's spelled N-E-T-S-C-A-P-E but it's pronounced 'Mozilla'"

        • by RoFLKOPTr ( 1294290 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:23AM (#35685622)

          I don't know if I need to remind you but Netscape was essentially Mozilla's code and they even said it in the EULA around 1994 or 95: "Remember, it's spelled N-E-T-S-C-A-P-E but it's pronounced 'Mozilla'"

          Netscape was Netscape Communications' code. "Mozilla" was simply a codename (and useragent) for the browser back in the day. When I said "before Mozilla came along" I was referring to when Netscape essentially died and forked off into what was formally and officially called Mozilla which later split into Firefox et al.

        • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:26AM (#35685874) Journal

          But their code was absolute shite until they forked it as F/OSS as Mozilla. I know the theory loved by the tinfoil hat wearing crowd here is poor wittle Netscape beaten to death by the big bad MSFT, but you know what? Speaking for myself and the countless greybeards that had been actual customers of NS (hell I probably still got my NS4 disc in one of my storage lockers somewhere) who all ended up switching to IE I can tell you that it wasn't that we liked IE per se, it was that NS 4 was shit. It wasn't even a good hearty morning log, it was a weak runny stream of foul smelling shit after a bad illness kind of shit.

          Here, let me do my impression of running NS4 for all those that didn't have the "enjoyment" of running it back in its day: "Oh look I got my shotgunned modems all screaming, I got Win98 stripped down and humming like a tweaked out Chevy, i'm good to go baby yeah! Let me just fire up my new NS4.../NS4 crashes hard/...Huh. Probably just a glitch, it happens. So I'll just fire up NS4 and head to my favorite.../NS4 locks up/...Motherfucker! Maybe the site just has some bad code on it, wouldn't surprise me. So I'll just relaunch and choose a different site and.../NS4 crashes hard and BSODs OS with it/ $&^%$^%$&^$&^$!

          And THAT, that right there, is why IE won. NS4 was a buggy pile of total shit and by the time they got the bugs ironed out enough for the product to actually be usable nobody used it anymore. Just like the old DBase II they released half assed not ready for alpha testing code and paid the price.

          Was MSFT douchebags? Yep, old Bill was a nerd that had been shoved into too many lockers and took everything as a "kill crush destroy!" mandate, but NS wouldn't have disappeared so quickly if it had actually been anything but poo. look up MSFT talking about IE 4, which was before they had bundled anything, and you'll see them talking about how it was a fight to keep the server from overloading and how they were sending out over 150,000 copies on CD weekly. They were getting slammed because people were going out of their way to get IE and get off NS because the simple fact is in EVERY single way hat counts to an end user IE was better. It was faster, it was more stable, it used less memory at a time when 16Mb was common, and for awhile there it was even more standards compliant (anybody remember the NS blink tag?).

          So lets give credit where credit was due, it was the Moz foundation that took the steaming pile of poo that was NS and hammered it into something usable by the masses. It took them awhile, and they had some serious growing pains like the 2.x.x branch memory leaks, but thanks to them we now have a wealth of choices, all for free. We have the Gecko based like Seamonkey, FF, and Kmeleon, we have the Chromium/Webkit based like Chrome, Comodo Dragon, SWIron, Chromium, Safari, and finally we have Presto in Opera that most people forget before Mozilla made third party browsers free was a for pay product.

          So thanks Moz, while my users are in the process of being switched over to Chromium based Dragon for performance and security reason you still made non IE browsers free for the masses and gave us a wealth of choice. Thanks.

      • by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:44AM (#35685712) Homepage

        As a Chrome user I agree 100%. Mozilla got their shit together and stopped producing bloatware (Navigator, Communicator, etc) which split the market.

        If it wasn't for Mozilla I don't think Chrome would exist.

    • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:10AM (#35685558) Journal
      Yeah back then Netscape was actually WORSE than IE.

      Microsoft may have stepped on their toes, but Netscape themselves were to blame for blowing away their own feet.

      I used Netscape from 1.x till 4.7. And at the ending stages Netscape was inferior. It was slower in rendering and crashed more. Trust me I tried to look for alternatives to IE at that time.

      Mozilla and Mozilla based versions of Netscape (e.g. Netscape 6) were crap too and not worth the megabytes of download. I tried Opera too but it just didn't fit with the way I did things back then.

      Mozilla only got usable a few years ago (2005? 2006? Barely usable too - still had many memory issues back then) and that's when it started gaining marketshare.

      If you think I'm trolling or talking shit, just look at Google Chome - it has gained so much share in a far far shorter time than Mozilla took.

      Even nontechs/nonnerds are downloading and installing Google Chrome and recommending it to their friends.

      FWIW, I'm currently using Mozilla for TreeStyleTabs, Noscript, Adblock Plus and Certificate Patrol :).
      • "Mozilla only got usable a few years ago (2005? 2006? Barely usable too - still had many memory issues back then) and that's when it started gaining marketshare." I would say sometime around 2004, it was the first time I used Firefox. I loved it instantly, tabbed browsing and everything. I wondered why everyone wasn't using it already. I don't know about memory issues, but it was already much more secure than Internet Explorer.
      • Mozilla only got usable a few years ago (2005? 2006? Barely usable too - still had many memory issues back then) and that's when it started gaining marketshare. If you think I'm trolling or talking shit, just look at Google Chome - it has gained so much share in a far far shorter time than Mozilla took.

        I've been using Firefox on and off since before 1.0. I had no problems with it back then. It was horrible compared to the standards of today, but it was still better than fucking IE6. I think we could attribute Chrome's rapid market share gain at least in part, though, to the fact that people are now aware of (and actively seeking) newer better ways to browse the web, and it has been backed by a multi-billion-dollar household name since the get go. Firefox really started the alternative browser trend, so it took a long time to gain steam.

      • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @03:02AM (#35686200)
        I have to say that Netscape was our best friend. Their code has become such crap that it gave us the chance to not only catch up, but to run free.

        Frankly, the lawsuit mentioned was one of the worst things ever to happen to many other companies. Mac, Linux and everyone else was completely left without a browser capable of performing online banking, reading news sites etc... The lawsuit caused Netscape to become a litigation company and their development just fell to pieces. Their server packages were amazingly bad and the day they added Javascript support and "layers" to their browser, everything just fell to pieces.

        That left it up to us to come in and make waves. We became "the other browser" sure, our market share at the time sucked. Lars Knoll was still working on the first release of his amazing code.... imagine a browser written in such a way that the code was readable and manageable. But, what it really came down to is, Netscape's focus on litigation damn near ruined the entire computer market for anyone that wasn't willing to simply just become another Microsoft shop.

        You want to know what REALLY killed BeOS? It was Netscape. We were too small to make the BeOS version, so we used a small Swedish company run by a group of incredibly bright and talented developers. Even now, years after Opera bought that company, the VP of engineering is the guy who ran that group, the guys making the screaming fast rendering contexts and other technologies which keep Opera in the top two at all times really has a lot to do with those guys. But, we just didn't have the resources to do it back then. As a result, Be would either have to make their own browser (they didn't have the manpower or inclination) or Netscape could have made one. But, without a reasonable browser, users had to reboot their machine into Windows to be able to run IE or Netscape to surf the web.

        The world has changed... you can port FireFox or WebKit to a new platform in days (for a crap build, but still functional), if you can interest Opera (which typically isn't hard to do) they can port to a new platform as quickly as they can write a handful of classes and a new Makefile. The reason IE has lost market share isn't because the lawsuit did anything, it's because the other browsers are all equal to or better than IE.

        That said, WebKit has become so good as of late that if Microsoft didn't have to support all the IE infrastructure that they do, switching to WebKit would be a great idea for them. Oh... well, there is another catch to that. If they did that, the whole world would be in an uproar complaining about how Microsoft is trying to be WebKit by absorbing it etc...

        I don't think however that Microsoft is bothering to compete with other browsers anymore. Their developers have a competitive spirit and should, and they should be proud of what they manage to accomplish, but Microsoft doesn't really benefit at all from competing with other browser now. What's the market case for it? Really, there are now 3 great browsers on Windows (Opera, Chrome, FireFox) and Internet Explorer. They are all getting faster and faster, getting more features, the standard web can now do most of what needs to be done without non-standard extensions, in 5 more years, the web standards might even be as capable as Flash Player. There will always be a need for plug-ins if for no other reason but DRM. But, let's face it, Silverlight was proof that Microsoft isn't trying to alter the basics of the web anymore. They're not trying to make new Microsoft only extensions to the standards, but instead decided that a plug-in which could be run on all browsers would be good enough instead.

        Oh, and Chrome and others let you even choose Bing and stuff over Google if you choose to. So, Microsoft still makes their money no matter what browser you use, even if it's Safari (why would anyone use that?) on Mac with Bing.

        So, the business case for competing with the other browser vendors is just not there anymore. Internet Explorer is just another p
      • by BZ ( 40346 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @10:54AM (#35688502)

        > it has gained so much share in a far far shorter time
        > than Mozilla took.

        There are two important differences:

        1) Chrome is operating in an environment where websites are NOT just authoring to IE anymore; site compat is somewhat easier to come by and hence user adoption is easier.

        2) Chrome has had a huge marketing campaign going for it starting the monent it was released. It's advertised in huge and expensive ad campaigns on subways. It's advertised on Google's web properties. It's advertised via banner ads all over the internet. Mozilla back when it started just didn't have the financial resources for an ad campaign like that. Heck, I don't think it has them now. I'd be interested in comparing the amount of money it would take to purchase the various Chrome yearly advertising (including the Google property placements, which are being provided in-kind and not for cash, of course) on the market to Mozilla's total yearly budget. Based on what I've seen, I would not be surprised if the first number is higher. So Mozilla had to depend on word-of-mouth, which depends on how many users you have, which was small at the time.

        > Even nontechs/nonnerds are downloading and
        > installing Google Chrome

        Right, but how did they find out that it even exists to go download? This was the major problem Mozilla and Firefox faced initially, and that's where the huge marketing campaign really helps.

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:07AM (#35685794)

      That, and the free UNICES turned out to be so useful as servers that Microsoft was not able to pwn the internet with its own "standards".

    • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:14AM (#35685820) Journal

      The settlement did nothing. It was Mozilla and Firefox which revived competition in the browser market.

      Well, that's kinda the point, isn't it? Anti-competition measures, by their very definition, enable others to fairly compete on their merits without being strangled by monopolies. For Netscape it was already too late, and they weren't actually better than IE5+, even once the barriers were removed. When something that was better did finally appear (Mozilla, and ultimately Firefox), it competed on its merits - and the result is most impressive.

      Oh, and Opera? In the relevant time period this was Opera 5 & 6. Back then it was a good browser - very fast, certainly, and with a nice set of UI features - but in terms of supporting newer web standards it was even worse than IE6 (which was actually pretty good at the time it was released... it just stagnated quick afterwards).

      • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Friday April 01, 2011 @07:55AM (#35687226)

        Correlation is not causation. It's likely that Firefox, Crome, Opera, etc, would all be exactly where they are today without the settlement. The settlement doesn't appear to have helped or hurt anyone's participation in the market.

        (And I'm not sure any barriers were removed, actually. You still can barely buy a machine without Windows, and it will have IE and I think only IE on it. That was the complaint.)

    • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:31AM (#35686050)

      TFA and TFS both talk about "milestones" that have to be reached.

      Unfortunately neither gives a clue on what those milestones are!

      Anyone, please? I'm curious what the terms were (in simple human language, not legalese), and which MS reached and which not.

  • wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @11:59PM (#35685510) Journal
    I always thought the outcome of the anti-trust suit was completely wrong. Yes Microsoft was engaging in horribly unethical behavior, but what they did with Netscape wasn't very bad, really. They should have the right to bundle whatever software they want with the OS. The whole attempt to make it inseparable from the OS was a bit dodgy, but Google is essentially trying the same thing with Chrome OS.

    The thing Microsoft did that was REALLY bad was not allowing OEMs to use Windows if they offered other operating systems, even if they still offered Windows. That is a clear and obvious abuse of a monopoly, and should be punished. And yet for some reason the focus was still on Netscape.
    • Re:wrong (Score:1, Informative)

      by no known priors ( 1948918 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:09AM (#35685552)

      To settle its own antitrust suit back in 2002, Microsoft had to agree to new Windows licensing requirements and "a prohibition on retaliation against OEMs for promoting competing middleware and operating systems." Although roughly nine out of 10 desktops and laptops still run Windows, Department of Justice documents say "these provisions are working as planned," and note that "Dell has begun to ship PCs loaded with the Linux operating system in place of Windows."

      I have to say, it's all part of the same systematic tactics to crush competition. By forcing Netscape out of the market, MS could potentially sell more copies of IIS, what with the MSIE only extensions. Netscape was not just competing for browser share. Not to mention another quote: "Microsoft's anticompetitive activities also affected Sun's Java technologies. "

      Also, the article talks a lot about Google. Microsoft is basically being hypocritical. But that's not news. It's not news that a corporation wants to be able to screw over consumers and competitor, but objects to competitor doing the same.

      Personally I use Google search because it seems to work the best for me. However, I never let 'em set cookies, and rarely let 'em run JavaScript. I don't use any other Google tool on a regular basis ('cept for Maps). I don't trust Google, but I don't trust any big corporation. Fuck 'em all.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:16AM (#35685584) Journal

        I don't trust Google, but I don't trust any big corporation.

        Do you trust anyone? I mean really? Is there a reason to trust the little guys any more than the big guys? I thought our reason for having contracts was basically because we can't trust anyone.

        • by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:30AM (#35685650)

          You shouldn't say bad things about the Corporation. The Corporation loves you.

        • by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:50AM (#35685734)

          Is there a reason to trust the little guys any more than the big guys?

          I think there is. While it is true that trust can be betrayed by anyone, there are differences between a small organization and a large one (small business vs large corporation). It is generally easier to get access to the owner of a small business as opposed to the CEO of a large corporation. In addition and also related, a large corporation will usually have more layers between the top and bottom strata of their workforce. This very often leaves (upper) management without any concept of a connection to the customer other than as a statistic. Company structure becomes more dependent on rules and less influenced by fairness and trust.

          IMHO Big Banks, Big Business, Big Union, Big Government, Big Religion, all have very similar problems. Having too much trust is generally not one of them. They are like an evil patriarch that has hidden all of his wealth, lies on his death bed, and swears that if you don't do everything to keep him alive he will hurt your children.

        • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:20AM (#35685844) Journal

          Do you trust anyone? I mean really? Is there a reason to trust the little guys any more than the big guys?

          Well, yes. Thing is, individual persons have ethics, and you can usually assess if they are compatible with yours when you meet with them and talk to them (sure, there are good conmen, but on average this still holds).

          Corporations don't have ethics (aside from PR veneer). People constituting them do, but corporations are structured such that any ethical concerns are diluted over a large body of people where no-one in particular is blamed; and for those cases where a decision must be made at a single point, that's precisely the kinds of positions (usually high-level) where sociopaths thrive in corporate cultures. It's not that they're deliberately sought, it's that "selection of the fittest" within that environment produces such results.

          So, yeah, I'll take the "little guy" - a person whom I meet and make a deal face-to-face - over a "big guy" any day, as far as chances of being screwed go.

          Of course, there are only so much things the "little guys" can handle without growing bigger.

          • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:31AM (#35685886) Journal
            So, a couple of people here have responded saying that ya, they trust the little guys sometimes. But really, how much would you trust them? Would you do business worth a million dollars without a contract? What about 10 thousand dollars? What about five hundred. We don't even get married without a contract, and hopefully you are marrying someone you can trust at least as much as anyone else.
            • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:19AM (#35686012) Journal

              Depends on how much I (think I) know that someone. On a few occasions, I have trusted people with what amounts to several thousand dollars.

            • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @09:40AM (#35687944)

              We don't even get married without a contract, . . .

              Umm, marriage is a contract, by definition.

            • by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @05:04PM (#35690694)
              While a contract can delegate the issue of trust to enforcement by a governing body they have another benefit as well. A contract clearly states what is expected of each party. Friends can often have falling outs when one does work or service for the other and things don't go as anticipated by either party. It's often not a matter of trust but of expectations.

              For large corporations contracts and policies are implemented to control expectations. As a result expectations may be clear to the consumer as well (that's another topic). In smaller businesses trust is usually more important and implicit as expectations for every circumstance have not been formally defined.

              When dealing with a small business and things go wrong (e.g. supply costs out side of the control of the business) you want to trust the business to do what they can to shoulder the increase. When dealing with a large corporation there is generally the expectation that anything outside of the control of the company will be passed on to you. A small business can better make the decision to take less in profits or even a loss to keep a customer that is loyal. In such a case the business may even need to trust the customer. It is very difficult for a large organization to have any trust built into its structure.

              It may just be a matter of the semantic differences between 'trust' and 'broad complex explicit expectations enforceable by law'. How much money you are willing to exchange with another is not just a matter of trust. It becomes a matter of expectations and agreeing to every conceivable outcome before hand.

              I originally posted because I 'felt' that there were reasons to trust small business more than large ones. As I've attempted to answer why I've come to the conclusion that it is based on the practicalities of business structure. A small business will tend to rely more on implicit expectations which in turn rely on trust. As a business grows expectations will become more explicit and as a result rely less on trust. In fact many large business explicitly state that they make no implicit agreement (i.e. no expectation of trust).
        • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:49AM (#35686128)

          There is one reason to trust the big guys more than the little guys: the big guys have more to lose for doing things wrong.

          In general one may assume that a business is there to do business, and make money, long term. Trust is one of their main assets: lose it, and you lose your business.

          However the prerequisite for this is proper government regulation of businesses (big or small), and proper checks and balances, in an open society. When it comes to privacy these days the US government unfortunately can not be trusted any more, and with that US companies lose a lot of trust for me as well. European governments are better though also deteriorating recently. So I can understand you don't trust companies for that reason.

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @07:47AM (#35687190) Journal

          Is there a reason to trust the little guys any more than the big guys?

          A couple of reasons, yes:

          First, small companies typically don't have large teams of lawyers on the payroll. This means that a lawsuit is as expensive for them as it is for you, so it's in their interest to resolve any problems before they get to the stage where you'd consider suing them.

          Secondly, there is the idea of personal accountability. When I deal with a small company, I usually deal with a single individual who has the authority to make decisions. At the very least, I deal with someone who has a direct line to the person who can make decisions. When I deal with a big company, the person I talk to often doesn't even have a way of getting a message to the person who can actually make important decisions.

          As a corollary to the second point, employees at small companies tend to feel that they have more of a personal stake in the company's reputation. This is especially true for cooperatives, where the shareholders are the employees. If your behaviour has a significant impact on the company's reputation, and your income depends on the company's reputation, then you have a strong incentive to not to harm that reputation.

          Of course, there are exceptions in both directions, but all other things being equal I'd pick the small company over the large company.

        • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @10:37AM (#35688392)

          . . . basically because we can't trust anyone.

          If you've ever walked across a bridge, ridden in an airplane, crossed a busy street with a green light, etc., you've trusted complete strangers.

    • Re:wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:10AM (#35685560)
      but they did allow OEM's to use other operating systems. The issue was that they gave preferrential pricing to OEM's that agreed to pay based on the number of machines they shipped, hence the best pricing came by licensing for every machine. bas
      • Re:wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:41AM (#35685912) Journal
        Now, my memory is that the contract was based on more than the number of machines they shipped. That's what Intel got convicted of not long ago. But Microsoft was going even farther, limiting OEMs.

        I remember back then our purchasing manager told me about a conversation he had with some OEMs (we didn't want Windows), and they basically said they couldn't give us computers without Windows because of Microsoft. If you're influencing your resellers like that, then you are abusing your monopoly position. This is part of how they crushed OS/2 warp, which was a far superior OS at that time.
    • Re:wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:21AM (#35685610)

      I'm going to have to disagree on 2/3 of your arguments. First of all, yes what they did with Netscape was terrible. The anti-trust judgement was brought because it was a classic case of monopoly abuse. Microsoft used their exceedingly dominant position in Operating Systems as leverage to gain ground in the Web Browser market. Integrating IE into the OS really only did 2 things: 1) ensured that the average user would never look any further for a web browser (in fact, most new users weren't, until the last few years, aware that anything other than the blue 'e' existed for browsing the web) and 2) opened a number of security vulnerabilities due, in large part, to the browser's close ties to the OS.

      Your evaluation of ChromeOS is, IMHO, completely off base. ChromeOS is a browser-based OS. The UI is a browser. That's pretty much it. Windows, on the other hand, was an OS which had a browser integrated for no other real reason beyond crushing the competition. It'd have been one thing if IE were simply free, however, I can still remember seeing boxes to buy it in stores. It was made free once they realized it was the only way to win. ChromeOS, in contrast, is simply banking on the fact that webapps are "good enough" for most people for most things at this point and that they can simply do away with the rest of the OS pretty much all together.

      As for abusing their monopoly in regards to OEMs, I'll agree, though they aren't the only ones that engaged in this behavior in this market (see: Intel).

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:14AM (#35685818) Journal

        I'm going to have to disagree on 2/3 of your arguments

        ok, but let's look at history. Do you remember active desktop? Microsoft, once they discovered the internet, began to conceive that the desktop was just a portal to the internet, a window to the world, so to speak. They took it so far that filenames became and acted like links instead of normal double-click icons. They had the idea that software run on the desktop would be like a hybrid local/remote thing. This is where the name .net came from, even though a large chunk of the .net api has nothing to do with the net. They were trying to grab on the trend that became known as Software as a Service, then cloud computing. Microsoft truly bought into the hype of the early .com days.

        And what is Google trying to do with ChromeOS? Basically the same thing, an OS that is hooked into the cloud. And my guess is it will be just as (un)successful. But I don't know the future.

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:35AM (#35686064)
      Don't forget their use of bundling to enter the media technology sector. The inclusion of Windows Media Player with windows killed off Winamp and just about every other small media player there was, and then they made sure their WMA format became established by including a WMA-only CD ripping capability with the OS. The WMA format is so horrible it failed to displace MP3 even with that advantage (It's the only audio file format I know capable of carrying a virus), but without that bundling it would probably be completly unknown. The same thing for Windows Movie Maker and it's WMV-only export capability. The intention to me seems obvious - get people to use the conveniently supplied tools and thus amass collections of WMA and WMV files, effectively tying them to the Windows platform and to Media Player - as it's legally difficult to have any other player read them. Microsoft patented the container, thus why Virtualdub had to drop support.

      WMV can at least be defended for having one of the best video codecs available for low-bitrate at the time. Maybe Realplayer could compete for cramming video through dialup, but the player was a piece of bloated, painful adware.
  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:09AM (#35685542) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft does some things right and other things really wrong, but never only one or the other... their forced efforts are always a sad uneven mixture of the two.

    IE has always been terrible. Perhaps when Netscape was just starting out, IE may have been somewhat better from a UI standpoint only, with fancy hooks into the OS of the day... but standards trump bells and whistles and IE cannot compete against browsers coded correctly. This is typically because the philosophy of these other products available is to create something that delivers web content safely, rather than trying to control the internet by stifling web development into a proprietary lock-in scheme designed to generate wealth rather than deliver what people want.

  • Yes the IE6 monopoly was bad for the web, but people forget that the Netscape monopoly from 1995 or so was bad too. It for example killed HTML 3.0 (which existed even before Netscape as HTML+), and delayed CSS adoption for years (the first draft of CSS dates back to around the time Netscape 0.9 was released) in favor of tags like <FONT> and <CENTER>.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:41AM (#35685698) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft should have been split into 3 companies, but when George W. Bush rolled into Washington DC, he viewed every Clinton move as garbage and disregarded it. Really would have been a good thing for Microsoft, in the long run, one of the three was bound to ditch the crappy OS and build a better one without all the legacy garbage and bundling everyone's products for free.

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:10AM (#35685800)

      but when George W. Bush rolled into Washington DC, he viewed the rule of law as garbage and disregarded it.

      There; I've fixed it for you.

      • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @05:53AM (#35686744)

        George W. Bush [..] viewed the rule of law as garbage

        You mean, like most of recent US presidents? Clinton was half-decent, but Obama is Dubya-level bad.

        Although we shouldn't single out the US too, it's a popular thing all around the world.

        • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:20PM (#35689092)

          but Obama is Dubya-level bad.

          Be serious. Look at everything he has done to prosecute war criminals, to prosecute the people and censure the corporations who collaborated in illegal wiretapping, to close the Guantanamo Bay gulag, to end US adventurism in the Middle East, to stop the undeclared Drone Wars against the people of Pakistan, to ensure that we consistently intervene in humanitarian crises without regard to the presence of oil or the color of said humans' skin, - well, the list just goes on and on!

    • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:10AM (#35685804) Journal

      I blame Microsoft for creating a marketplace that made Linux popular. Yes, one of the biggest reasons why Linux became successful, especially on the server market, was because there was no viable alternative. That created the opening that allowed Linus' creation to grown and be nurtured for years completely ignored by Redmond. It was too small, and wasn't a threat. It was a toy, just a college kid's cute experiment.

      Then the internet bubble hit, and it was expensive Netscape Server or Less Expensive IIS, and the pesky upstart OS and Apache, both FREE (libre, gratis), Small ISPs who couldn't afford Unix or Windows NT servers started using it. And against all odds, it became popular. Holes were patched quickly as they were found, showing how nimble Open Source Code could be, and better than proprietary code that was constantly being hacked while websites waited for updates from the vendors.

      I know, I was there, in one of those ISPs (Yay Slackware). Since then, I've done Debian, SuSE, RedHat, Yellowdog, Ubuntu and a couple roll your own distros. I credit, almost entirely, the monoculture that was Microsoft, for the rise of Linux. Not because I like Microsoft, but rather because I can look back and see the utter apathy that the monoculture rested upon.

      • by doktor-hladnjak ( 650513 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:48AM (#35686124)

        Don't forget the implications of the BSD/AT&T lawsuit in the early 90s on the rise of Linux. Even Linus himself has admitted that had 386/BSD been available to him (i.e., not caught up in a major lawsuit which delayed development and release of other BSD derivatives), he probably would have never written Linux.

      • I credit, almost entirely, the monoculture that was Microsoft, for the rise of Linux.

        Really ? Because it's not like Linux was being used for tasks that Windows would frequently have been seriously considered for.

        Linux was displacing commercial UNIX systems (Solaris, et al). Windows was displacing Novell servers in SMBs. These are mostly distinct and separate markets.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @09:29AM (#35687866) Homepage

          Back in the day, people that were accustomed to the WinDOS desktop monopoly desperately wanted to extend that to the server room but were unable to. The product simply wasn't up to the task. NT was in fact built and marketed as a "Unix killer".

          The idea that Microsoft had nothing to offer the crowd that's prone to run Unix is just self serving historical revisionism.

          In fact, being able to ditch WinDOS for NT in those days made the Windows desktop experience a lot more bearable.

          Microsoft's engineering mediocrity led to the creation of Linux and helped create the gap that Linux could grow to fill.

    • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:39AM (#35686072)

      And from an investor point of view, Microsoft is worth more broken up into its constituent parts than as a whole. Entire forests of deadwood.

      "Lion Food" in the Jargon File is out of date. It should be Microsoft managers now.


    • by devent ( 1627873 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @03:32AM (#35686326) Homepage

      Funny, because this "legacy garbage" is the only reason why Windows is still so popular. In addition, the "legacy garbage" (aka ActiveX, ask the people in South Korea why they can't use anything but IE. [] ).

      How about they build a new Windows, without the 'legacy garbage' and every mom and pop need to buy all the software they all love and use again for no reason other than the older version doesn't run on the new Windows?

      Would be nice if Windows would start to compete with other systems on fair grounds and not how well Windows application can be run on the different systems (which no matter how well your system is, Windows will always run Windows applications better).

      After decades we finally have somewhat of a fair ground where Microsoft Office needs to compete on fair grounds and not how well the office suites can open and save Microsoft Office documents. But of course that move was undermined by Microsoft with their OOXML format.

      Yes, Microsoft should have been split up and the new companies should have been under control by the feds. Further, the APIs and the document formats should be opened up, for Wine, Samba, and OpenOffice. The judgment did in fact nothing at all and you can see how well the governmentcooperation relationship is doing.

    • by loosescrews ( 1916996 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @03:51AM (#35686380)
      Have you ever used a clean install of Windows? I don't think you will find anyone else's products bundled with it. Sure, Sony will bundle a bunch of crap with their computer, but that isn't Microsoft, that is Sony.

      As others have said, the main reason that Windows is so popular is that it has great legacy support. In fact, I find it a refreshing change compared to Apple who completely changed platforms requiring everything to be recompiled. Now that is fragmentation.
    • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @11:06AM (#35688606)
      yes, it was the career politician John Ashcroft who was appointed US Attorney General under the G W Bush regime and immediately called for taking Judge Jackson off the case. What I always found interesting about that particular anti-trust case was that the Judge appointed to the case, by luck of the draw, turned out to be the same Judge who was told to settle the previous case some 8 years earlier. So this Justice knew from previous experience what tricks Microsoft played and how they got away with one and were sent off with a slap on the wrist for contractually tying their OS software to computer hardware sales. I'm sure he was none too pleased when time after time MS executives showed to be hostile witnesses and in court showed their same shenanigans by with faked videos claimed to be live and untouched evidence. He found them guilty and let them have it by ordered them split up but once again, the Judge on the case was removed and another Judge handed the case with what sure seemed like orders to make it go away without harm to Microsoft.

      Thank you John Ashcroft and GW Bush for fucking up yet another thing.

  • "Although Netscape ultimately didn't benefit, the settlement seems to have done its job"

    Sure, so much competition was restored to the browser market by the settlement that Mozilla/Firefox had to be built FOR FREE by thousands of people and then given away FOR FREE for TEN YEARS to get where we are now!

  • IE vs Something (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Friday April 01, 2011 @05:59AM (#35686766)
    This was a poor anti-trust suit which didn't address the real problem at the time - Microsoft giving OEMs rebates for NOT installing other OSes. IE had very little to do with the bad practices at MS. In the interim, yes Google really has been much more anti-competitive in a myriad of ways, but nothing as prominent as Intel paying to NOT have AMD chips or Ma Bell charging you more because they owned everything.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @08:33AM (#35687502) Homepage Journal
    Settlement did nothing. Mozilla gained its share with nails and tooth, and actually it was Eu that struck the biggest blow to microsoft skullduggery with browser ballot box.

    You know, the antitrust case in Eu that did NOT stagnate, and expire.

    Ironically, in usa, case stagnated and is now expiring. Tells a lot about u.s. justice system.
  • by doperative ( 1958782 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @10:49AM (#35688458)

    > Microsoft, of course, filed its own antitrust action against Google this week, and even commented publicly on the irony of its doing so, noting that Microsoft has 'spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot.'"

    How is what Google does equivilent to Microsoft strongarming the OEMS to make iExplorer the default browser on the desktop, coercing the OEMs into removing third party browsers, hacking the API to make using third party browsers a jolting experience etc ...

  • A stacked deck (Score:4, Informative)

    by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @11:17AM (#35688708) Homepage

    For all of you who are pointing out, with some rightness, that Netscape Communicator 4 had quality issues - let me remind you of something.

    This was the time period when Microsoft had decided to, as a Microsoft executive stated during the antitrust trial, "cut off [Netscape's] air supply". For each product Netscape was trying to make money on - web servers, proxy servers, ecommerce solutions - Microsoft was giving away a workalike product for free, funded with the earnings from Microsoft Windows.

    And, at the same time, Microsoft was forcing its OEM partners to keep Netscape Communicator off the computers they sold. Any company that refused would no longer get volume licensing discounts on Windows, which would then price their computers out of the market.

    So Netscape was starved for cash at the same time as it had to put in a lot of effort to keep up with the extremely-well-funded Internet Explorer. There was no way that Netscape could have survived, much less competed, against this.

    • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @04:00PM (#35690390)

      Yes, and after they destroyed netscape, they raised the price of Internet explorer and IIS. Right?

      More than a decade later and all that stuff is still included in the OS at no extra cost. That would seem to indicate that there is no market for browsers or web servers. Otherwise, they would have started charging for them by now.

      I mean, come off it. Regardless of what people say "in the heat of battle", it doesn't change the fact that there was no opportunity to make money anyways.

    • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Saturday April 02, 2011 @03:18AM (#35692398)

      This was the time period when Microsoft had decided to, as a Microsoft executive stated during the antitrust trial, "cut off [Netscape's] air supply".

      So anytime a US company tries to beat another US company at the same game, that's anti-trust? I think that's actually the definition of competitive.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre