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WSJ: Microsoft ruling upheld

 1:39 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that:

A European judge will rule that Microsoft must comply with antitrust orders to sell a stripped-down version of Windows and to share more of its secret computer codes, people close to the matter said.



 1:47 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

BBC News article [news.bbc.co.uk]


 3:57 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Come on. I dislike Microsoft as much as the next guy for their flaws but this is kind of ridiculous. They got where they are by offering a superior product. If someone else out there could make something better (you Mac guys might say they do haha but Macs are a little cost prohibitive) then people would want that. Windows has it's flaws, but for the most part it works great. It may be hard to get a handle on the market because most every new PC ships with Windows, but if a product came out that was far superior to windows, it would surely take off.

Brussels determined that the inclusion of Media Player was an abuse of monopoly as it made it very difficult for rivals such as RealNetworks and Apple's QuickTime to get consumers to use their products instead.

Their products are still available to download. If someone doesn't like WMP, they will probably go get another product.

The Commission also called for Microsoft to reveal key parts of its software code to enable other software and hardware manufacturers to more easily develop products that work with Windows.

Boy. I'd be mad if I was ORDERED to reveal the secrets of my success. This sounds like a solution for all those companies who don't want to do a little R&D.

I guess it's just my capitalistic-free market ways... but if something works, succeeds, and takes the dominance of a market, let it run. Make the little guys chase them because it will ensure better products all around. Microsoft will work harder to stay on top and the little guys will work harder to get there. If we tear down those who succeed to make it "fair" everyone looses. It's not ANY government's place to tell a business to reveal secrets of how it works.

It's kind of like this:
A single car manufacturer dominates in a certain country. They only install Bose (for example) radios in their cars. Well, Pioneer and Sony can't compete in that market so a judge rules that all cars will ship without a radio so the buyer can choose what radio to install. It's absurd.

I'm sure I'll get flamed up and down this thread for my post. But doggoneit... that's my opinion and I'm stickin to it.


 4:54 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Totally agree. Vendors have the right to determine whether or not their software will be compatible with windows. And MS has the right to determine how to play their own game. After all, they were the one who spend millions/billions to write the code. Microsoft never ask someone to write a software to run on their OS. It's market and consumers determined it.

Can I ask NASA and Boeing for the code of US missle defense system? Because I would love to build a missle that can go through the system undetected. =.=

The reveal of such code could only make windows more vulnerable against attacks and cost MS more to patch their holes, which leads to thinner revenue and job cuts. Would he treat local companies the same way?!


 5:17 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

The discussion shouldn't be, is this fair. The discussion should be, is Microsoft a Monopoly.

If you answer yes to the second, then you might want to get into a conversation, should Monopolies play by different rules.

At least if you want to. People ruled on that quite awhile ago though..


 5:40 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

It's been tried--OS/2 was superior to Windows in virtually every way at the time, and even included a version of Windows for compatibility with Windows apps--and their version of Windows performed a little better than the real thing. And the UI was enough of an improvement that MS copied it in the next major Windows release.

The result? Microsoft crushed it very effectively. Just having a better product isn't nearly enough.

And, for the record, I think requiring them to document their APIs is a good thing.

In general, I think antitrust law is a total waste--but in extreme cases, I think it's a good thing. And there's certainly never been a more destructive monopoly than Microsoft.


 6:01 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

A single car manufacturer dominates in a certain country. They only install Bose (for example) radios in their cars. Well, Pioneer and Sony can't compete in that market so a judge rules that all cars will ship without a radio so the buyer can choose what radio to install. It's absurd.

Even without a stereo, your car will still run. If they give you a Bose stereo and you say "I hate this Bose stereo! It doesn't comply with any known standards and every time I listen to the radio, it fills my car with spyware!", you can take it out and get a Pioneer or a Sony or a FireFox.

I think it's great that they're making Microsoft take all the extra junk, like IE and MediaPlayer, out of the operating system. Monopoly or no, it's going to make your average user's computer much safer, which benefits everyone. Consider how many exploits wouldn't exist if those optional products didn't talk to the operating system.

Unfortunately, by making MS give everyone access to the code that makes those vulnerabilities possible, the EU is shooting themselves in the foot.


 6:12 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Vendors have the right to determine whether or not their software will be compatible with windows.

Ahh, but if a monopoly deliberately codes windows to prevent them from being able to be compatible, then this "right" has been violated.


 6:13 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

You know, monopoly discussions aside, M$ is evil discussion aside....

I just hope this is a move back to when the OS is just the OS - Something to put all your apps on top of.

My single biggest gripe is that Windows long ago ceased being "just an OS" - it became an OS with a whole pile of crappy bloated software integrated with it, which forced the OS to become bloated and crappy to deal with the integrated software.

If Windows was just Windows, it would such a better model. MS could have a team of people just dedicated to making a good, stable, and secure operating system, without having to worry about what people in "Department - FUBAR - Browser" and "Department - SNAFU - Media Player" were doing.

That's all I want. Windows as an OS, and nothing more.

It'll never happen, but I dare to dream.


 6:17 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's all I want. Windows as an OS, and nothing more.

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

Vote with your pocketbook.

The government mingles far too much in business.


 7:06 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I already have. I'm migrating my remaining windows systems to complete non-MS applications.

And am moving other systems over to Linux, and anything new is going Linux.

And I'm not the only one.

If MS decides to release Windows as a standalone, I'll reconsider. Until then, MS has got the last of my money.


 11:12 am on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The issue was never about whether microsoft deserve their monopoly in desktop operating systems. they do deserve that, none of the judements I have seen relate to it.

It is about whether they are permitted to use that legitimate monopoly to gain other unrelated monopolies like media playing software, web browsers, search engines etc etc. If microsoft is left unfettered they will be able to use their desktop monopoly to gain monopolies over all of the above and more besides.

Is that really in the best interest of consumers to be tied to a single supplier? Especially when those monopolies were won as a consequence of winning an altogether unrelated monopoly. I think experience in other markets would suggest otherwise.

I am a free marketeer, but completely unfettered markets are not in the consumers best interest.


 4:36 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are a great many secret API calls in Windows. MS has a competitive advantage by having knowledge of these but not sharing.

In addition, I believe that Windows NT/2000/XP has an entire operating system level that is almost entirely secret. The NT kernel is supposedly quite unix-like and the Windows API is implemented through this.

Thus, by not sharing this information, Microsoft is able to abuse its position.

Question: Do you want good software or rubbish software?

If you want good software then you need competition. In order for competition to flourish, a level playing field is required. That is all the European Court is saying.



 9:32 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can't stand Microsoft; I dislike their products and I'm fed up with their attitude. But, I'm with SEOMike on this one. The free-enterprise system is supposed to protect and reward ingenuity and creativity. I don't think MS has been half as ingenius or creative as a lot of other software developers, but they're entitled to keep their secrets.


 10:04 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just my 2 cents
But does not every mac ship with Quick time. I recently bought a mac G$ and was surprised to know that the quick time movie player does not play full screen.......unless..................
I buy the full version which costs me $30.

Or the other option was a few apple scripts which did the hack. though it was not that tough to use them my contempt for Apple which was non- existent shot upto 20% of contempt for MS

OS just being a OS will cost less sure but can it cost less enough to off set the cost of purchasing all the other products you require. (Dont kid yourself all the other products that you may require will not have to be paid for)

But one thing that i do agree with the judgement. Sharing of API's. Here the sharing of code is beneficial for all (maybe it will make the real player less buggy and play better).

But i think MS should be allowed to charge for the use of their API's. After all they developed them with their own time and money. And just giving it away for free to other Business (competitiors or not) for them to profit is not fair.

Yeah sure I use a Window, Mac and Linux. But i work quicker on Windows (Maybe i am just graduating from the dumb user to that of a little more sophisticated one). But for the average Joe Windows does save time.

And i like Window media player. So now i got to download it too when it could have been packaged with the rest?

That stripping down of windows is unjust. But sharing of their secret APIs is just. Though i think it is fair for MS to charge companies to use their APIs.

Maybe they should offer two option, stripped down windows and the full package and let the consumer choose. And then any case against them will really be a case against the rights of the consumers.

What do you think?


 5:33 pm on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Maybe they should offer two option, stripped down windows and the full package and let the consumer choose.

From what I understand, that was actually a part of the ruling.

And I'm totally in favor of it. I'm in favor of anything that breaks the tight tie-in between some of MS's apps and their OS.

It will improve the security of Windows machines, it will also boost performance (Windows XP loads an incredible amount of certain products, like IE and Media Player, during boot), and it will increase fairness in the marketplace.

A windows computer will run faster, and be more secure. Which is a win for both the consumer and MS. If you're a "power user" who wants their computer's processor to spend more of it's time doing applications and less just handling the OS, this will be a major win. MS will even look better in the long run, because it will simplify so much of the OS, which will make it more stable and take away a lot of the complaints that people have.

And a more level playing field for other software makers will also create benefits, in the long run, for the consumer. A bit of competition for those "default" apps like Word and Media Player and Internet Explorer will mean that companies will have the budget and profit motive to work towards making major strides forward in some of these areas. What progress exactly? Who knows? Give people a real chance to make some money off these products, and who knows what bright ideas will come forward.

As long as MS has a defacto monopoly on distribution of these products, then no one has a motive to really develop something new and interesting. MS doesn't, because they don't make any extra money for something they bundle with the OS. Other companies don't want to take the risk of going head-to-head against something that comes embedded with the OS. The risks are too great.

What's been happening with the Mozilla Foundation and FF is truly an anomoly. WinAmp hangs on by dint of a devoted following that keeps using the application from the days before media player came embedded, but is becoming less and less relevant.

And when FrontPage starts shipping with Windows by default, what's going to happen to DreamWeaver and all the other web development software? I can guarantee they'll rapidly lose market share.

I'm all in favor of a free market. But any company with a monopoly of a key area of a market, creates anything but a free market. If you argue differently, then go back to economics class and read the books this time around.


 10:30 am on Dec 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think MS has been half as ingenius or creative as a lot of other software developers, but they're entitled to keep their secrets.

So who exactly determines what is a secret (and therefore may be kept) and what should not be secret?

If you answer "Microsoft" then you are frighteningly naive.
If you answer "The Courts" then you must accept they have made their judgement.

Personally, I would say that source code may be kept secret but all library code that ships with an operating system MUST be fully documented i.e. in the case of Windows, every published function in every DLL must be clearly documented. That documentation must be identical to that used in-house and it must be available for the cost of duplication only.



 3:31 pm on Dec 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

So who exactly determines what is a secret (and therefore may be kept) and what should not be secret?

We're getting into a complex topic here, but my perspective is that a business should be permitted to decide what they'll share and what they won't. In cases where illegal practices are suspected (and that's a whole different issue; what's a legitimate law and what isn't?), only the investigating government authorities should be allowed access to private information, keeping whatever they find confidential unless justice or litigation requires it to be made public. Anything beyond this infringes on the rights of private commerce.


 11:25 pm on Dec 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

In cases where illegal practices are suspected...

Maybe I'm missing something but hasn't the European Court decided that the law has been broken?



 11:47 pm on Dec 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, and that's where we could get into what is and what isn't a legitimate law. But that's even further off-topic, and too involved to get into here. (All the more since I don't even know what the law is in this case - but given it's related to anti-trust, I'd tend to believe it's leaning toward the overbearing side since trust-busting isn't, in my opinion, a legitimate function of government.)


 11:50 am on Dec 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

While I can understand that M$ will pe pissed off about this ruling there can be no doubt that their policy is to stifle competition. All they need to do is buy some wee company who produce innovative software at a knockdown price and then bundle this with Windows. Result? The competition in that field get well and truly screwed.

The majority of users do not really understand what's going on and think that it's great that M$ give them things for "nothing". The EU are doing a great job by policing this situation in view of the fact that it appears almost to be encouraged in the US.

Competition is good! Monopolies are bad!


 12:15 pm on Dec 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

The EU are doing a great job by policing this situation in view of the fact that it appears almost to be encouraged in the US.

According to successive annual reports by the EU independent auditors what the EC is good at is fraud and wasting taxpayers money.

What the massive EU bureaucracy knows about running a business could be written on a postage stamp. Whatever the merits of this particular case you can bet your bottom dollar that the only beneficiaries will be bureaucrats and lawyers and the only losers the European taxpayers.


 1:08 pm on Dec 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think we are here to discuss the merits of the EU and I am not here to defend them. I am in the UK and I am aware of what all this costs. All I was saying was that I agree with this particular decision and any legislation that is passed against companies who are trying to create monopolies.


 10:49 pm on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Let's get this straight: Mac OS's ship with Mac computers. Microsoft windows ships for free with every existing computer sporting an Intel processor. You have to choose to buy a Mac or to buy the Mac OS to learn how to use the Mac OS.

Windows is the first thing every first-time computer buyer sees when he lights up... and isn't one of the strongest pinnacles of a monopoly... endoctrination?

I think the European legislation is completely missing the point.


 11:17 pm on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

IMO Microsoft is the best. I respect Microsoft position fully. People seem angry with Microsoft because they didn't think of it first. Microsoft does what everyone wants to do, but Microsoft is always one step ahead of the game. That's good business. Even though Microsoft does compete, Microsoft does not need to compete with others like Mac, Linux, Unix, etc. because Microsoft target market is user-friendly...no other company or OS does this the way Microsoft does. Microsoft has a upper hand in the industry. My little nephew is 4 years old and he knows how to click around on the computer and do some things. He wouldn't be able to accomplish simple task using Mac, Linux, etc. Meaning Microsoft can get someone who never used a computer in their life (which is still millions of individuals). If you had to recommend a OS to someone who never used a computer or to parents of a young child, you would recommend Microsoft, hands down. Then when that person becomes more experienced with computers or that child grows up to become a computer expert they will have respect and long time relationship with Microsoft products. At that point they may veer off and explore other OSes but will always respect Microsoft and will be back to spend their money with Microsoft. It's more than business with Microsoft...it's a mind game. The greatest business strategy I've ever seen.


 12:21 am on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

but Microsoft is always one step ahead of the game

Rubbish...........Microsoft is almost never ahead of the game. I am not aware of any significant technical innovations that can, in reality, be attributed to Microsoft. If that is not a damning indictment of the world's largest software company I don't know what is. They can't even grasp fundamentals and copy them sometimes.

Take, for instance, object-orientation. First conceived back in the 70's it took Microsoft until the 90's to catch up. They introduced Interfaces such as IDropTarget as their version of objects. Only one small problem... unlike objects their is no inheritance so that if you want to create, say, a modified filing system object you have to recreate every single method - A TOTAL BOTCH.

Microsoft are loathed by everyone that understands them. I accept that their business practices are succesful, however, they did not even invent the "crush, kill, destroy" philosophy towards comptetition.... IBM (amongst others) practised it long ago.



 12:47 am on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Microsoft is almost never ahead of the game.

They're one of the 30 largest companies in the world. They're second in the technology sector only to IBM. They're the largest software company in the world. They're worth a quarter of a trillion dollars.

If they're "never ahead of the game", how did they do that?


 8:04 am on Jan 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

If they're "never ahead of the game", how did they do that?

Oh comon baked, you're too bright for that comment.

What they can't create, they buy, copy or bully their way into dominance.

Bill couldn't create an OS, so he bought one (QDOS).

M$ couldn't think past the command line, until Apple (that took the idea from PARC) started to claim market share with a GUI based OS. MS used their strong ties with IBM and their existing entrenchement in the business market to push their own weakly developed GUI.

When Netscape showed how much could be made off a browser, and MS couldn't compete on a level playing field, they just embedded their own browser in the OS , knowing that people would resist getting something that didn't come shipped with their computer. And then took YEARS to get their browser to be as good (and, I'll admit, eventually better) than Netscape's. But it didn't hardly matter by then, because Netscape had already been wiped out by a predatory business practice. And what happened as soon as Netscape was gone? They stopped bothering to work on their browser long enough for NetScape's *** stepchild to come up and steal 10% of the market in less than a year.

MS, who can't even get search right on a PC, is poising to take on Google, not with a superior search product for the net, but with the same type of mind numbing free-choice depleting marketing campaign that they use with all their products. Watch it happen. Start optimizing for MSN search, because they're going to dominate the market in 3 years, no matter the quality of their results.

Microsoft is a market leader because they chase the money. They let everyone else do the hard work and go to the cost of development and creation of a new technology market, then they swoop in and use their embedded market saturation to absorb the new field and take it over with whatever product they can rush in.

Given, it's very good business. What it isn't, is innovation.

[edited by: eelixduppy at 10:05 pm (utc) on Feb. 18, 2009]

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