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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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 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 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 drsmithy ( 35869 ) <> on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:22AM (#35685852)

    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 [...]

    You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

  • 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:4, Insightful)

    by Cinder6 ( 894572 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:44AM (#35685922)

    IANAL, but I've always figured this is allowed for two reasons.

    1. Apple makes hardware that comes with a "special" OS on it. Nobody is stopping you from installing anything else.
    2. Apple is unilaterally "hostile" to all other companies--they don't play favorites, they don't strong arm anyone into using their products, but they don't let anyone install OS X. Microsoft basically said, "If you work with anyone else, you can't do business with us." Apple just says, "You can't do business with us."

    (There's also the fact that Apple's marketshare was and is a fraction of Microsoft's.)

    I would be interested to hear with somebody who actually knows what they're talking about, though. What makes Apple's situation acceptable in the eyes of the law?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday April 01, 2011 @08:16AM (#35687388) Journal

    I don't understand why everybody seems to think there were sinister intentions behind Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. What does increased browser market share really accomplish?

    Were you not alive in the '90s, or were you just not paying attention? Microsoft saw Netscape as a real threat. Microsoft had two products that accounted for over 95% of their total income: Windows and Office. No one bought Windows because they liked Windows, they bought it because it ran the software that they liked (that's not to say that they disliked Windows - although a lot did - just that the OS was irrelevant to most computer buyers). If web applications started to take off (and Netscape was aiming to make their browser a thin client interface) then there was a lot less of a reason to buy Windows.

    Microsoft wanted to avoid this, so they introduced ActiveX. This let you write incredibly rich web applications, because you were basically just shipping a Windows binary to the client and running it in a browser. Internet Explorer existed to push ActiveX. With ActiveX established, web applications would just mean Windows applications that happened to be delivered over HTTP with a little bit of HTML glue, and the Windows monopoly would be safe. There was no chance of getting other browser makers to support ActiveX, because they also supported other platforms and it was against their interests to promote a single-platform technology on the web. IE was given away for free, back when Netscape was only free for noncommercial use. Microsoft dumped it at below cost to encourage people to use it and to drive the competition out of business.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents