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AOL Desktops On New PCs 220

Posted by michael
from the you've-got-popup-ads dept.
mickeyreznor writes: "I came across this interesting article in the Washington Post. Apparently AOL is trying to pull the same kind of stunts that got Microsoft in trouble with the DOJ. I'm not sure where I stand on this whole issue, but it seems to be a very interesting situation. Seems like we're going to have an all-out corporate war in the upcoming months." With news that the number of internet users is shrinking, AOL needs a way to bring in new subscribers -- and the DOJ's pressure on Microsoft appears to have opened a door.
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AOL Desktops on New PCs

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Apple does essentially the same thing on all macs with with mac.com and yet no one makes a big deal of that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Uhh... AOL is definitely a monopoly. Just look at the chunk of the media market AOL-TW controls. What you meant to say is that AOL 'isn't a monopoly in OS production,' which is a true enough statement because AOL doesn't make an OSes. Instead, they just rely on their monopoly in the ISP market, their monopoly in the IM market, their monopoly in the broadband business and their monopoly on Park Place and Boardwalk.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "remind the customer of the AOL offer through the use of on-screen 'Pop-ups' that will appear five times within the first month of activity (or until the user signs up for AOL, whichever comes first)."..."clicks on anything that requires Internet connectivity, and has not registered for an ISP, the AOL offer is presented as a pop-up." .... there would be default shortcuts to AOL's portal when users clicked on "Internet" or "e-mail" from the start menu, the documents show.

    Ewwwwww. Removing all that shit sounds like a huge pain in the butt... far more intrusive than what Microsoft does for MSN.

    I wish Microsoft was smart enough to put in their requirements that, "You can put whatever you want on the Desktop, but you have to put your changes in Add/Remove Programs." There really should be a "Remove all the AOL shit" option... which there almost certainly won't be...

    Hopefully Microsft will provide a "restore default configuration" utility, but that would probably be considered anti-competitive. Oh well. Reinstalling the OS from Warez CD's it is...

  • Gee, maybe people are finally getting tired of all of the crap they have to go through to get DSL from companies like Verizon. Or maybe because the DSL people don't seem to want to do new installations anymore.

    As for the decline in hits on some websites, I'd say that web users are becoming more savvy now. The novelty has worn off for many of them. We can't expect hamsterdance to maintain the level of clicks it had in '98 now can we?
  • "In a separate AOL document also dated June 13, AOL explored the possibility of replacing various Microsoft products in Windows XP, including its Windows Media Player for playing online music and video. AOL has a deal with RealNetworks Inc. to use its RealPlayer software."

    I, for one, would be happy for the streaming content market to have more choice. More installed RealPlayers == more content creators providing content in this format. And, unless something has changed, there's nothing to play WMA (or whatever it is) files on *nix.

    (Little) huzzah for AOL!

    ...j
  • Posted by polar_bear:

    If you're too lazy to build your own computer

    You know, I've built dozens of computers for myself and other people and I still take exception to this - people should be able to buy product A without being subjected to advertising via mail, email, telephone or carrier pidgeon for products B, C, D, ad infinitum. Sorry, just because some of us enjoy tinkering with the internals of a PC doesn't mean everyone else does or even knows how -- or someone else who does. (Try that argument on a grandmother who buys a PC so she can email her grandkids. It's bullshit.)

    The attitude that customers are just targets for repeat marketing is something that needs to change. The computer manufacturers are only one aspect of this. I have a Bally's membership, and now I find that they're re-selling my personal information. That's bullshit, I bought a membership to a health club. It's a business transaction, not an invitation for them to strip mine personal data for their further benefit. I pay for the use of the club, they should leave it at that.

    People should be justifiably angry at all these large companies abusing their relationship with customers. People shouldn't have to build their own PC, car and health club to escape the damn ads.
  • Posted by polar_bear:

    They shouldn't HAVE to remove ads from something they just paid for - that's the whole point.

    I didn't switch anything - I was never talking about spyware. I'm talking about how companies are double-dipping (or more) by taking your money and then also taking advantage of the business relationship to make further money by selling ads or your personal data.
  • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @12:15PM (#2190877) Homepage Journal
    First, how does anybody know the number of Internet users is shrinking? The numbers used are all just plucked out of thin air, so all that's being done is that they're comparing one random number with another random number.

    If the argument is that the world economy has been kicked in the teeth (GWB wouldn't know anything about that, would he?), and that the Internet is a luxury, compared to food, then yes, I'll agree that the global Internet usage is probably slipping, right now.

    However, AOL aren't selling to the global Internet population. They're not even selling to all major cities in the United States! If you don't sell, then nobody can buy. Blaming the customer may appease a few board members, but it won't pay the bills.

    If AOL are going to pull hostile take-overs of the Internet community, they're going to wind up dead in the water. For a start, how do you attack something or someone you know nothing about? At least Microsoft picked their targets with some degree of skill.

    Besides, AOL's best solution is obvious to me. Even if the global Internet usage plummets, the big corporate players will still be there. And that means, a need for high-speed backbones. AOL covers a fair number of countries. If they were to build their own backbone, they would be less vulnerable if an existing major player went under, they'd have an extra revenue stream, and it would cut their long-term costs massively.

    (Lucent's just about dead, which means that terabit switches and optical routers are more likely to end up in the Smithsonian than in companies' networks. Further, anything they have already sold is likely to end up unsupported.)

  • Go read the Findings of Fact for the MS-DOJ case read the part about the licensing of Windows 95 to IBM. The OEMs that did whatever MS wanted got Win95 early and at a cheaper price than those who didn't cave in. IIRC, IBM didn't get Win95 until the night of the consumer launch. Which considering the amount of time it takes to test it on the hardware, write any necessary drivers, get the systems into the supply chain, etc. it hurt IBM a lot. Sure it's not jacking the prices up to extremely high levels, but the effect is still the same.

    The courts also use monopoly/anti-trust law to block mergers of companies where the combined market share percentage is no where near the market share that Microsoft has. Whether it fits your definition or not, the courts still have ruled that MS abused monopoly power. As others have pointed out, what AOL is doing isn't any different than companies paying for premium space on store shelves. It's actually funny that MS is bitching about it.

  • Normally, I'd say "poetic justice", but I daresay AOL's little better at best.
  • Seriously. AOL Desktops? I think they've got bigger fish to fry by remaining a content and access provider [bbspot.com].
  • So the unwashed masses are finally tiring of spam, Make Money Fast, advertising and porn.

    Well, maybe not porn.


  • by banky (9941) <gregg&neurobashing,com> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @12:00PM (#2190882) Homepage Journal
    From the article: "New York based AOL..."

    That's odd... what's that big-ass building down the street from me (Dulles)? Is AOL no longer based on NoVA as a result of the merger?
  • man, that's a lame attitude. but of course, you complain about it. so, how long has this self-hate been going on?
  • Only in the NT & 2000 version of Notepad. In 95, 98, & ME Notepad doesn't have this capability.
  • Dell wouldn't be giving it away for free - if they could offer a "better Windows than Windows" (that's not OS/2) they could charge more for it. People complain that there are a zillion different Linux distributions, but that's really a feature, not a failing - OEMs can put together a distribution targetted for a particular audience and use, charge a minor premium for that service, and retain a very loyal audience too.

    Right now Dell and Gateway try to distinguish themselves on hardware price and by the quantity of worthless OEM crap that they shovel onto each machine. Wouldn't it be better for them to spend that energy actually making real improvements to things that are actually broken in Windows, rather than just throwing more junk on top of it?

    Microsoft would never let this happen, but it's still a neat idea IMHO.

    Remember: it's a "Microsoft virus", not an "email virus",

  • I sort of agree. The problem occurs when OEMs can no longer compete without getting those $35 payments from AOL. OEMs could have chosen not to sign restrictive contracts with Microsoft as well, but it would have hurt them enough financially that they would have been out of business. Eventually I could see this being the case with AOL's kickbacks as well.

    In a certain sense AOL isn't the monopoly at this time that Microsoft was then, but in another way it is: AOL is the only way to get AOL-type services. If you want the incredibly simple interface that they provide, there is really no competition. I don't know how many OEMs are selling based on the simplicity and AOL-ness of their systems, but if they are doing so then they've got nowhere else to go. AOL is still nowhere near the monopoly that Microsoft is, though.

    Remember: it's a "Microsoft virus", not an "email virus",

  • Best. Solution. Ever.

    mod up, please

    Remember: it's a "Microsoft virus", not an "email virus",

  • by glh (14273) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:35AM (#2190888) Homepage Journal
    Two words:

    DR DOS

    I can see blue screens happening every time that popup comes along ... ;)
  • Well, you're talking to people who are spoiled by their parent's lame cable modem, and who have no concept of finding some sort of net access while you're stuck in some chincy hotel in the middle of nowhere with nothing except an analogue line and your 28.8k laptop modem.

    I mean come on, what do you expect out of this group? Objectivity and Real World experience? Right. That's hard to get when the only sun these idiots get are on those days when their college dorm happens to have a fire drill in the middle of the day.

    That's sad, I had to actually think for a few minutes why one of these dweebs would need to leave their computer nowadays. The list is getting shorter.

  • When was the last time you called MS for tech support? If you are having trouble running Microsoft Word on Microsoft Windows ME on your new Dell computer, you call Dell tech support. That's just what everyone does. It's not like Dell would be taking on an extra burden.
  • If HyperTerminal sucked and Telix/Procomm were so great, why is Hyperterminal still around while Telix and Procomm are either dead or insignificant?

    If your answer is, "Because nobody needs a terminal emulation program anymore", then s/Hyperterminal/Notepad.

    Notepad sucks. There are a million better programs (not necessarily more complex, though) I'd be happy if Notepad had three new features:

    * Arbitrarily large file support
    * Proper handling of UNIX newlines (MS-DOS editor handles them just fine)
    * Search-and-replace

    Dell could easily write a program that was as simple as Notepad but had these three features, and then pull out Notepad and replace it with this.

    Similar things have happened with Stacker/DoubleSpace, HIMEM/QEMM, Speedisk/Defrag, NDD/ScanDisk, Anything/Pbrush, Anything/HyperTerminal, Winamp/Windows Media Player, Netscape/IE, ICQ/MSN Messenger, Anything/Command Prompt, ...
  • So corporations will standardize on Dell Windows instead of Microsoft Windows. How exactly is that harder?

    The benefit, of course, is that Dell Windows had better be superior to Micron Windows or else no corporations will use it. And so on.
  • Yeah, and it's a good thing we only have one kind of car, or else you wouldn't be able to get into a different model than the one you're used to and drive off. Oh, wait, we don't, and you can.
  • by Mike Schiraldi (18296) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:44AM (#2190894) Homepage Journal
    During the antitrust trial, MS kept saying, "We don't have a monopoly! There are alternatives! You can use a Mac! You can use Linux! You can use BeOS! And we didn't preclude Netscape from having a distribution channel! You could have downloaded it, or got it from CompUSA!"

    I for one hope AOL gets every single major OEM to put AOL products all over the default installation, and then says to MS, "What? They can always download MSN. They can always download Windows Media Player."

    Or paraphrase MS's excuse from Windows Refund Day: "Sure, most major OEMs will bundle AOL, but you don't have to use a major OEM. Just use some fly-by-night mail-order distributor if you don't want AOL bundled with your computer."

    Sure, i hate AOL as much as the next guy, but the delight of seeing MS get a taste of their own medicine is worth it.
  • by Mike Schiraldi (18296) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:51AM (#2190895) Homepage Journal
    It's high time OEMs stopped passing Windows to the consumer verbatim as it comes from Microsoft. Each OEM should put together their own Windows "distro". Just like we have Redhat Linux and Debian Linux, there should be Dell Windows XP and Gateway Windows XP.

    The OEMs should look at products and choose what to bundle. If Dell decides Mozilla is better than IE, they should pull off IE and put on Mozilla.

    That way, MS can't destroy a competitor just by bundling a moderately good imitation.

    Think back to the bundling of, say, HyperTerminal. It sucked, but nobody would bother to go out and find a good replacement when something adequate comes with the system. But if Dell had had the balls to say, "Screw that, we're including FooComm in our Windows distribution, it's better" then HyperTerminal would have faced competition and would be better today.
  • Bullshit.

    It's laughable that anyone who can say MS was/is in a monopoly position, can believe that AOL/TW is not in a monopoly position. They have over 4 times the subscribers of their nearest competitor, control IM protocols that they are abusing, own the largest chunk of broadcast, print and online media, own one of the largest cable companies in the US and are working on a deal to handle the online customers for THE largest cable company. They control the largest portion of content and delivery.

    MS did not threaten to raise OS prices, they threatened not to nearly give it away any more. Otherwise they'd have to pay the full price(that everyone else pays) of 89$ for the software. Same thing AOL wants to do by giving 35$ per PC. MS just did it as a credit, because they had a product that PC makers saw as valuable. AOL doesn't really have a lot that PC makers consider to add value to their product, so they pay cash.

    Maybe this isn't an abuse of their monopoly, because they're not forcing you to subscribe to AOL to see CNN, yet. But AOL/TW most certainly holds a monopoly position.

    Bury your head in the sand, but this is just as bad as the things MS did, probably worse because of the horizontal layout of AOL/TW.

  • by trcooper (18794) <<gro.tuoder> <ta> <pooc>> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @09:08PM (#2190897) Homepage
    utilities are something that the government has extensive experience in and a history of regulating.

    Yes, utilities are one of the very few things that work well in a socialistic fashion. Gov't regulated or owned utilities have worked terribly well. However AOL/TW isn't a utility. You must understand that AOL/TW isn't just AOL anymore. It's the largest mixed media company in the world. What they control or have an extensive interest in is mindboggling.

    Sure, MS can control the PC OS, and even the office application market. But that's a miniscule niche to what AOL/TW controls.

    Microsoft can rely on threats while AOL has to offer sweeteners

    In the business world the difference between a threat and sweetener is negligiable. If your competitor is keeping back 35$ more than you a unit it effects your bottom line. You have to counter that by taking the offer too, whether you want to or not. The EXACT same reason PC makers had to agree to MS's demands. AOL is simply taking advantage of the current situation, because MS can't counter because of PR backlash (See AOL's holdings in CNN, CNN/fn etc).

    Choose your evils. Myself, I hate to see any company go unchallenged. MS at least had some challengers, no matter how small, But AOL/TW has none. Go without MS for a month, no problem. Now try to go without AOL/TW, good luck, hopefully you're blind, deaf and dumb and live in a very remote cave.

  • Is anyone really surprised that the number of active net users is dropping slightly? We are in the middle of an economic slowdown (at least here in the US), many web pages that were aimed at consumers or the mass public in general have gone under, and people have now realized that the internet isn't going to cure cancer and end world hunger. Also, though us geeks use it extensively, there are probably many people who signed on in the midst of all the hype and are now disappointed at what their $20 per month is getting them.

    Once the economic conditions turn around, however, people will begin signing on again once the extra
    $20 or so per month is no longer a strain on the budget, and people will begin using the net for what it is - a facilitator of information exchange - rather than expecting it to solve all the world's problems. I think any downturn is temporary.
  • That this product is using a new trend in UI design I like to call 'nagups'. These are pop-ups that the user sees X number of time before they go away. The problem is that users don't KNOW that they will go away after '5 times or one month whichever is first' as the article states. They assume, as any reasonable person would, that the pop-up will keep coming up until they register with AOL. This will do one of two things, encourage users to move to AOL, or, encourage them to complain to their OEM and AOL.

    Microsoft is using the same technique with passport: the prompt to register comes up three times before disappearing (IIRC) after installing XP. Microsoft claims that passport registration is NOT required with the OS, however a reasonable user would believe after the second time that the nag popped up, that registering with passport is necessary to get rid of it.

    How is this helping users? Nags should come up once and then have the ability to dismiss them forever or remind later (just like outlook appointments).

    By including such measures AOL and MSFT are doing a disservice to their end users.

    -Shieldwolf.
  • The article seems pretty clear when it says, "In the past two months, the number of active Internet users declined 1.6 percent and the number of people with Net connections stayed flat..." That reads like 'shrinking' to me.

    The article states that a few sectors are still growing, but never says that the overall number of users is still growing. The positive figures quoted were from the previous two years.
  • So what planet do you live on that you can call Microsoft and get support on HyperTerminal?
  • I, for one, tired of advertisers using my desktop as yet another billboard advertisement. An O.S. is not supposed to be a advertising vehicle. I get it everywhere (Mag, Book, TV, Movies, billboards, phone, mail, e-mail, etc.)

    I would bet that sometime down the road they will have a 'AOL'centric active desktop feeding you ads at a phenominal pace. You might think web popups are annoying now. Could you imagine tring to get to Word and a popup comes up and says 'Would'nt you like a Coke(tm) with that?"

    ARRGGHH, enough already! Lets tell all thes lusers where to get off.

  • Microsoft often likes to make outrageous and very strong comments like this. In fact I suspect this to be a very well thought out strategy of their PR departement, to hide people forget how much "outrageous, and heavy handed" their own practice are. "The more you react violently, the more people will think you must be inocent, and for a good reason".
  • AOL/TW already does. It's called RoadRunner cable modem service and rides over Warner digital cable. MS also owns big chunks of cable corp's plus WebTV, but the intense gov't scrutiny probably would never let them roll out "MS Passport Digital Cable TV! 1000 channels of Windows Media content plus the WWW and more!" to the masses.

    #include "disclaim.h"
    "All the best people in life seem to like LINUX." - Steve Wozniak
  • Hey grammar nazi fool.

    "...that somes it up very nicely." should be:

    "...that sums it up very nicely."

    It's alright if you feel like an ass.

    painkillr
  • Choose your evils. Myself, I hate to see any company go unchallenged. MS at least had some challengers, no matter how small, But AOL/TW has none. Go without MS for a month, no problem. Now try to go without AOL/TW, good luck, hopefully you're blind, deaf and dumb and live in a very remote cave. I could go without AOL/TW for a month much easier than going without MS for a month. I bet my boss would get pretty pissed if I didn't answer emails anymore sent via the corporate exchange server, but I could easily just continue to not watch TV, or read any magazines. I don't watch the supposed news sourse formerly known as the "clinton news network" (cnn) anyway, so who cares. I have enough CD's that I could easily avoid the ones associated with Warner Music and its affiliates, etc etc etc. At the end of the day though, I still need to check my corporate email. I still need to do my banking, and my bank's website requires IE5 or 5.5. Etc. I can escape AOL/TW, I cannot escape MS.
  • Some interesting quotes from the article you linked to about Kodak not being able to install their software into Windows:

    These are complicated technical issues, and Kodak should have tried harder to work them out with us before running to their lawyers and Washington lobbyists. Any suggestion that we had hidden motives in the design of Windows XP is untrue.
    The speaker of this quote is none other than Vivek Varma, the very same person who is whining about AOL's tactics in the main story in this article! For those who haven't seen it yet, what he said about AOL was:

    AOL's actions are unprecedented and completely anti-consumer-- AOL is paying [computer makers] to eliminate consumer choice, forcing people to select the most expensive service in the industry.
    It's amazing but not unusal to hear such doublespeak from the company, but having the same stooge spout both of these lines is unbelievable. How stupid do they think the public is? Sad thing is, they're obviously right...

  • Let AOL and MS duke it out on the Windows desktop. Windows will become so unusable due to the constant popups, hundreds of extraneous icons, and lack of program compatibility that noone will want to use it. Maybe then people will finally look at the alternatives.


    How long will it be before the alternatives are clogged with ads?

    Maybe we should keep this whole "leenux" thing quiet...
  • Yeap.
    Say there was one car engine manufacturer in the US (heck, the world) who had an exclusive deal with all auto manufacturers. So all cars came with the same engine. SURE, you *could* go out and buy an engine from smaller-engine-dealer and replace the one that came with the car...or you could just build your own car from scratch.
    But who's going to deal with that? Maybe 10% of the population? So before ya know it, every car has a 4 cylinder, 20mpg engine and spare parts (upgrades) for that engine cost lotsa $$.
    Take this to the computer world, and perhaps you see the problem?
    KM
  • * Search-and-replace

    hmm, isn't this option there under Search?
  • 95 Rockefeller Center.. saw the building again on CNBC this morning, and noticed the address for the first time.

    I remember just an hour after the merger was approved, CNN was showing a crew on ladders adding the letters "AOL" to beginning of the name over the main entrance.

    I work at 43rd and 5th and was wondering where the building was. Now I know.
    --
    Steve Jackson
  • I still think AOL should build their own "AOL Kiosk" based on Linux. Instead of trying to push nichy Internet Appliances, I think they should build their own distro and start sending out CD's geared towards older, unused PCs laying around people's houses. "Requirements: P100 or higher, 16MB RAM or higher, 500MB hard drive or larger, modem or ethernet card". "Warning: This CD will completely erase all contents of your computer, and convert it into an easy-to-use AOL Internet Station".

    What would be nice is that since the target users of the kiosk would be consumers, they could build the distro to be extremely secure on the Internet side. No Outlook viruses. No NetBIOS hacks. No DDOSes. "Screen names" would translate to users, but now with separate, completely customizable desktops with minimal office suites.

    Imagine the contributions AOL would be able to make to Linux WRT device drivers. Those pesky "please wait while we update your system" messages may actually be linux kernel module updates.

    And who knows, maybe even AOL/TW would open the AUP on their RoadRunner service to allow these kiosks to share their internet connection with other PCs in the same home. Doubtful, but it would be a way for them to guarantee the security of systems attached directly to their cable modems, and therefore minimize abuse of the connected clients. I haven't performed any true forensics, but the last time I installed AOL6 for my Mom, it looked like the native AOL connection was extremely close to a traditional PPP connection.
    --
    Steve Jackson
  • According to an employee at Juno, dialup is still 85% of the access of choice, and the number is slooowly going down.

  • MS had that problem before. Netscape was making their own browser-based OS, and MS managed to kill it.

  • by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:25AM (#2190915) Homepage Journal
    Aren't you worried that AOL/TW and MS are fighting to be king of the hill? Both are battling to control our lives, take away mp3s, etc.

    Once one gets the upper hand of the other, then we're going downhill. Once MS is finally emasculated (by the DOJ? AOL?), AOL/TW will be the new hated corporation around here.

  • Well the less net users story might turn out to be more significant than the AOL story. People are already receiving a net experience they choose to do without.

    Congratulations, humanity! A big collective "No!" at some subconcious cultural level. It is quite re-assuring, really :)

    We [/.ers] can have a cleaner net exerience if we want to, becuase we know how to. But no-ones making much money from us either.

    More bandwidth to share between us, eh? I hear there isn't a shortage of bandwidth really these days, just a shortage of people using it. Last week the company I work for decided to reduce it's international ATM link by 50%. Smarter use of what we have by using easy to use and adjust QOS systems QOS [packeteer.com], and a saving monthy of A$20,000 per month.

    RG
  • First off, I'll say that I hate the popups and crap as much as anyone else. That said...

    MS leveraged their OS market share to push IE. They forbade manufacturers from changing the desktop. They penalized manufacturers who did not put Windows on the PCs they sold.

    AOL is striking deals where they would pay the manufacturers bounties for AOL subscribers that sign up as a result of popups that the manufacturer would install on the Windows desktop, courtesy of MS's loosened restrictions on this. AOL is not forcing anyone do this. They're not penalizing people who don't. And they're not leveraging anything to get this, except maybe existing relationships with the manufacturers. So other than cluttering the desktop and annoying people with popups, what's wrong with this?

    I say more power to them. Let AOL and MS duke it out on the Windows desktop. Windows will become so unusable due to the constant popups, hundreds of extraneous icons, and lack of program compatibility that noone will want to use it. Maybe then people will finally look at the alternatives.

    -Todd

    ---
  • The problem is that a Mac costs more, is less powerful, less expandable and has fewer applications at a higher average price than a PC. Why would anyone pay more to do less? The salesmen know this and are just trying to do the right thing for the customers.

    *this space is filled with uncontrollable laughter*
    Maybe you should spend 10 minutes comparing Macs and PCs in real world situations? Say, throw the latest consumer OS version on them both, 256 megs of RAM on both of 'em, and the top of the line processors on both of them, then run every application that you can get a copy for both systems on them. You'll notive that the Mac consistently outperforms the PC. Then come back and tell us how sorry you are for spreading disinformation.

    DISCLAIMER: I do not like Macs, I am impressed with their hardware, and I kind of like MacOS X, but I prefer Windows 2000. I like PCs for the ease with which I can screw with the components. But that feature is not one that most consumers have any need or desire for.

    Kintanon
  • But I thought the Endless were forbidden from spilling the blood of kin?
  • In a word: yes. 145,100 (current Senate salary) doesn't go far inside the beltway. Align yourself with a few lobbyists, and champion an industry. This kind of thing isn't a one-off.
    Corporate interests DO control the US govt.
    Check out the rest of opensecrets.org [opensecrets.org] for more info.
  • Don't worry, their lawyers will do that job for us.
    -- Bucket
  • yes, from what i have heard they get beetween 1 and 3 percent commision on the sale of a wintel machine, where on a mac they get 1% if anything, they make more money on a peecee.
  • AOL is giving Microsoft a taste of its own bitter medicine. Instead, however, it is using the carrot approach (paying PC makers to put AOL on the desktop). Better than Microsoft's "You-will-do-it-our-way-or-we-will-kill-you"
    methods of the past. I liked it so much I even bought some AOL stock for a position play.
  • by szcx (81006) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:47AM (#2190924)
    That's exactly what is going on. Take the Senator Seeks Injunction Against WinXP [slashdot.org] article from Tuesday... folks here were pretty quick to congratulate the senator on "getting it" and attacking Microsoft. But the fact is the only thing he "got" was bought for $52,000 [opensecrets.org] by AOL/Time-Warner.
  • geez. In the twenty seconds I took to draft this comment, two other people submitted the exact same thing.
  • by Hollins (83264) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:29AM (#2190926) Homepage
    "AOL's actions are unprecedented and completely anti-consumer," said Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma. "AOL is paying [computer makers] to eliminate consumer choice, forcing people to select the most expensive service in the industry."

    classic

  • From the mouths of babes:

    ""AOL's actions are unprecedented and completely anti-consumer," said Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma. "AOL is paying [computer makers] to eliminate consumer choice, forcing people to select the most expensive service in the industry.""

    So it was fine for Microsoft to put MSN on the desktop alone (Before they started selling the space to ISPs themselves, anyway.), but when AOL does it the whole thing is anti-competitive.

    *sigh*
  • to to this by threatening to withhold the OS;

    No, you're wrong.

    Microsoft never threatened to withhold the OS or to raise prices on it. There was a set price per license and a date on which you could get your hands on copies. What it did do, though was offer incentives - not unlike what AOL is doing here. If a manufacturer was willing to do things their way, MS offered them discounted licenses (similar to AOLs $35 rebate) as well as a chance to get their hands on the Gold CDs early.

    Not that much different after all.

  • Did you come up with that idea all by yourself or did you have help? No single person could possibly have come up with something so stupid!

    As an application developer, I prefer coding to a standards, not moving targets where my test matrix blows up because every OEMs version of the Operating System has its own personal quirks which throw my app in a tizzy.

    As a user, I prefer a standardized operating system where I don't have to relearn everything every time I want to do something just because some OEM thought it would be cool to remap the function keys.

    Here's a clue: Most users use their computers to get something ELSE done. People don't normally use computers for the thrill of it but in order to get their job done. They don't care about the specifics of how as long as it is relatively easy to learn and doesn't change every time. MS won't have much to worry about until the competition begins to realize this.
  • by donutello (88309) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @03:20PM (#2190931) Homepage

    They penalized manufacturers who did not put Windows on the PCs they sold ... AOL is striking deals where they would pay the manufacturers

    Bzzzzt!! Wrong!

    There is no difference between Microsoft's "penalties" and what AOL is doing here. The price for the OS was always $89. For OEMs that played along with MS, MS offered a huge discount to that price. OEMs that didn't do this didn't get the discount and were hence "penalized". What AOL is doing is the same here. They're offering money and OEMs that don't take it are "penalized" because their computers cost more compared to their competitors who do.

  • to to this by threatening to withhold the OS;

    No, you're wrong.

    Microsoft never threatened to withhold the OS or to raise prices on it. There was a set price per license and a date on which you could get your hands on copies. What it did do, though was offer incentives - not unlike what AOL is doing here. If a manufacturer was willing to do things their way, MS offered them discounted licenses (similar to AOLs $35 rebate) as well as a chance to get their hands on the Gold CDs early.

    MS Windows is ALWAYS available, to any manufacturer. The price, however, is the $199 MSRP. If MS withheld their licensing agreement from a manufacturer, then the price of installing Windows would basically price the manufacturer right out of the market in most cases.

    AOL IS NOT DISCOUNTING LICENSES. They are paying for new users, that's vastly different. The AOL software does not need to be licensed, they give it away all day, every day.

    If a manufacturer doesn't do business with AOL, then nothing has changed for him. If a manufacturer refused to "play ball" with the "old" MS, then MS had the ability to directly increase his costs and force him out of the market.

  • by artemis67 (93453) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:35AM (#2190934)
    The main difference is that AOL doesn't have the power to force computer manufacturers to to this by threatening to withhold the OS; rather, they are enticing them by offering $35 for each new user they nab. Microsoft, Earthlink, or any other ISP is free to make similar deals and offer more money for users. Or the manufacturer is free to reject all offers out-of-hand and do as he pleases.

    Ah, good old American capitalism at work...

  • In internal AOL documents, the media giant lays out a strategy that calls on manufacturers to build into their new personal computers icons, pop-up notices and other consumer messages aimed at pushing aside Microsoft by giving AOL's products prominent placement on PCs.

    Jesus! We're being bombarded by ads enough as it is. It's not enough that every morning I see ads on TV and hear them in my car. During my drives around town, I see hundreds of billboards, signs, and flyers designed to attract my attention. When I'm on the Internet, I'm pounded by pop-ups and banner ads. Now, AOL wants to slap computer users in the face before they even get on the Internet!

    As a result of that Microsoft concession, AOL's strategy for Windows XP now focuses on the "OOBE process," or the out-of-box experience, the crucial moment when consumers turn on their machines for the first time and select what products and services they intend to use, the documents show.

    The average OOBE will soon be "Wow. I remember back when there was a *desktop* that people could see icons that related to the programs they bought. Now, it looks like we've bought one damned expensive commercial-generator."

    --SC

  • It's disturbing, but it reads as follows:

    Other ways to ensure a profitable "Out Of the Box Experience" for AOL:

    1. Removal of one of the customer's fingers each week that the customer fails to accept "the trial".
    2. Promised hold times of "only three hours" if the customer wishes to cancel his or her subscription after "the trial".
    3. Forced sex with the customer's spouse and/or children until the customer agrees to "the trial".
    4. Regular visits by a naked Steve Case to the customer's home or office until the customer accepts "the trial".
    5. The AOL icon will be present on the customer's desktop in three forms. Each time the customer tries to delete one of them, one of the customer's most recent documents will be deleted, and a pop-up message will warn that if the customer doesn't try "the trial" within the first 30 days of ownership, his family will be killed one by one in reverse order of birth.
    Shocking.

  • Apparently AOL is trying to pull the same kind of stunts that got Microsoft in trouble with the DOJ.

    Uhm, no. This is the free market at work. AOL is making deals that other companys are free to attempt to make. The PC makers aren't being forced into anything. Consumers aren't being forced into anything.

    This is the way it's SUPPOSED to work.
    --

  • I don't know what's worse -- to have a monopoly on one or two things, or to own a smaller chunk of just about everything (let's see... they have the largest internet service, CNN, HBO, Warner Music, Warner Bros, Hanna-Barbera, New Line Cinema, Turner, Winamp, Time, Life, Fortune, People, ICQ, Spinner, MapQuest, Dr Koop, Netscape, Comedy Central, Road Runner, a few sports teams, etc....) Get on their bad side, and they might refuse to run your ads [slashdot.org], run biased stories against you on CNN and in all of their magazines, make jokes about you in all their movies, and so on. You'd be seeing the same biased information everywhere you look, and it would be nearly impossible for people to tell what was what. Microsoft, on the other hand, limits their dominance to the area of computers.

    You can avoid Microsoft with no problem -- use an operating system other than Windows, and 95% of your problem is solved. What if you want to avoid AOL-Time-Warner? They have more control over the public's mindshare than Microsoft could ever hope to.

    To add to this, you always know when you're faced with a Microsoft product -- it's got the logo in a prominent position on the box. With AOL-Time-Warner and its myriad of brands, you never know when you're being fed by the corporate monster.
  • Microsoft was putting things in THEIR product (Windows) to give THEMSELVES an advantage. AOL is trying to put things in someone ELSE's product to give them an advantage, without the consent of that someone else. This is like Ford paying an independant car lot to replace the logos on Chevrolets with Ford logos.
  • by sowalsky (142308) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:37AM (#2190955) Homepage

    There are two issues (that I see) with this new approach, but neither deals with the fact that AOL/Time Warner is becoming a mega-media giant.

    1. They are doing this at the OEM level, not the OS level. Obviously, MS has made it clear that they are no longer bundling ISP setup files with Windows anymore, unless DOJ forces them to. This won't be an issue with companies like Compaq, that only send a recovery CD with the product --- they don't support consumer/non-factory-installed versions of the OS. But with most other PC companies, a full-featured version of the OS will come along side the machine on a specially marked CD. This will restore the machine to the way Microsoft likes it, so if the person later decides to sign up for AOL, the pc-maker won't get credit. Changing this policy of including OS CD's might hurt the PC company's relationship with Microsoft.
    2. They are trying to capitalize on Microsoft's "tenuous" situation. Did it ever occur to AOL that the entire internet economy is in a tenuous situation, where money from ISP signups/referrals is becoming less and less available? What about if popularity for AOL gets hit, possibly by another weekend outage or something? The PC makers will realize they were just being toyed at by AOL, angry at their current MS business relationships, and very upset that the current position of PC makers in the market right now is NOT what hardware they provide, but the level of user freedom that comes with the package.

    Oh yeah, and to touch on Compaq again, I really think their idea of keeping their computers as an overall package of software, hardware, support, etc. is an awful idea. They tried that on me with a laptop I bought from them. I recently dissuaded the purchase of $200,000 of computer equipment from Compaq because of their inflexibility. What a pleasure it was putting a full-featured, factory-provided version of Win2K (without all the company crap) in a brand-new Dell machine, reformatting/reinstalling, and have it still be fully supported!

  • With news that the number of internet users is shrinking, AOL needs a way to bring in new subscribers

    No they don't. With all the recent mergers they've been having, how many tens of millions of subscribers do they have now?

    ---
  • geez. In the twenty seconds I took to draft this comment, two other people submitted the exact same thing...
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @12:03PM (#2190961) Homepage
    The poster says, "With news that the number of internet users is shrinking."

    But this is completely and utterly a lie! The article he links to clearly states that the number of internt users is increasing, this is simply happening at a slower rate than last year.

    Geeze. It makes me sick.

  • So all we need to do is keep them fighting long enough for an OpenSource alternative to gain strength. Its war after all :)
  • Microsoft was slapped on the wrist because they both made the desktop, and dictated what content could sit on it. ie - leveraging monopoly control on one product to bolster sales in another sector. This is not what AOL-T/W is doing.

    Disclaimer: This does not mean I don't consider AOL Time-Warner to a monopoly. I just don't think this is an example of it.


    ---
  • less net users good
    my bandwidth goes up up up
    arg! more disks needed
  • This is good news for Mozilla.

    AOL also is seeking to give an advantage to Netscape, its own Web browser...

    Truly, I am torn over this one... no wait, I'm not, that's just heartburn.
  • There's a story on bbspot news [bbspot.com] that somes it up very nicely.
  • This is pretty much the way business was done before MSN. AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve and others would pay a bounty to PC manufacturers to put their icons conspicuously on the desktop. Back in my day it was only $30 per subscriber. Note that this is a pretty low price to pay per new subscriber - compare to an average $100 or so for direct mail.

    When MSN was rolled out, Microsoft decided to pressure PC makers to not allow competitive providers. This caused us at the ISP that employed me huge heartburn; we were convinced that MSN would drive us out of business in no time flat. We negotiated with Microsoft to allow us some presence and they eventually relented, so long as we used Microsoft Explorer as our default browser. I use the word "negotiate" loosely as it was a pretty one-sided negotiation.

    I think this may have even been the initial impetus for the antitrust suit as all the ISPs gave up negotiating with Netscape so as to get placement somewhere in Windows. In any case, it certainly smells like tying.

    AOL seems to be exploiting Microsoft's weakness to turn back the tide. Much as I dislike both AOL and Microsoft, better to have a two party system than a one party system - even for us Independents.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:42AM (#2190993)
    Now that Microsoft is careful about not being (too) obvious with their monopolistic methods, maybe they'd allow RedHat to put a "Install Linux" icon on the Windows desktop :-)
  • by update() (217397) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:30AM (#2191002) Homepage
    Apparently AOL is trying to pull the same kind of stunts that got Microsoft in trouble with the DOJ.

    1) What got Microsoft into trouble wasn't what they did but that they did it with a monopoly position. AOL hardly has a monopoly and can therefore legally do all sorts of things that would be illegal for Microsoft.
    2) Anyway, I don't see where there's much similarity between Microsoft threatening to raise Windows prices to prohibitive levels for computer makers who don't do what they want and AOL offering bonuses to makers who deliver users to them.

    To give this some perspective, Dell, Compaq and the rest are paying catalog owners and stores to give their products good placement -- and they're paying bonuses to salesmen who successfully move their boxes. (Apple doesn't pay those bonuses, which is why CompUSA salesmen are so reluctant to sell you a Mac even when you go in and demand one.)

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • ...that clicking the "No" or "Cancel" buttons is a viable choice..

    MS's troll says in the article that AOL is "forcing people to select the most expensive service in the industry".

    To that I say: 1. MacOS doesn't do that, and I'm sure some PC manufactures won't support AOL 2. You CAN actually say NO to AOL.

  • Mainstream media outlets just don't get it. The Post article says:
    Microsoft said on July 11 that it would give computer makers more flexibility in placing icons on the desktop -- the valuable real estate consumers see first when they turn on their machines.
    This was discussed earlier on /. [slashdot.org] but, most important here is the point that microsoft really isn't giving up anything. Microsoft has moved from advertising services on the desktop (limited reale-state) to advertising services within applications and the OS as a whole [zdnet.com] (un-limited real-estate). This is not only a much more insideous form of advertising, has the potential to provide redidual revenue on a per user bases greater than the initial sale of the OS to that user. AOL is equally targeting these methods of promoting teir services in my reading of the proposal. This point seems to be glossed over in the article.

    --CTH
  • Where did they threaten to raise the price of Windows to super high levels?

    Actually, can you have a monopoly on the operating system front when people can still go to the store and buy another? That is one thing that still bugs me about the scenario of the MS monopoly?

    Where is the importance of which browser is preloaded or used?

    Where is the importance in the Instant Messenger?

    Where is the importance in the media player?

    There isn't, nothing MS proposed prevents me from getting another, which in fact is what I do. Heck, IE comes up and tells me I need QT or SW to play something, not quite threatening is it?

    The key to being a monopoly is to have no choice other that yourself. I don't think its achieveable, not now, not 5 years ago, and not in 5 years, let alone ever.

    So can AOL's decision be dangerous? Well the only threat AOL has is that in this day and age people are pretty attached to their email address.

    Why not universalize them? Make them out to be like DNS... you may be x@aol.com, does that mean your mail must go there? Why not require ISPs and similar to let go the control of the mailbox, then it won't matter what platform or what ISP you use, you will always have a choice.

    Its when you lose the freedom to switch that a monopoly exists, and we don't have that, nor were we approaching it.
  • we'll probably just be trading one tyrant for another because every manufacturer's main goal is profit and AOL is a household name.

    Consumer advocates briefed on the proposals were unsettled by AOL's marketing techniques, comparing them to those used by Microsoft.

    ---
  • People tend to use whatever is on their computer when they unpack it and stick it onto their card table.

    This is the saddest thing I have ever heard -- I got a free DVD with my player and I never even considered watching it. What is it about computers that leads people to beleive that they come pre-ordained to do whatever you want them to?

    I think it has to do with the amount of crap we hand people with a new computer. It's overwhelming. Instead of, "here's a box, a 35 page manual, and you're good," it's "here's a box, your monitor box, your cables and printer and mouse and keybouard an a set of For Dummies books on the OS, the browser, setting up internet, using software, scratching your ass and solving world hunger." We give them so much shit to learn...doesn't it make sense that they don't have time to absorb it all, and make all the pertinant decisions? When you buy a TV, you know how to use it...channel up, channel down, volume controls. Computers just don't have that level of ease of use...programs don't have any uniformity or really intuitive user interface that is common among them, and this is one area where Open Source just isn't helping (read the report Sun did of new users on Gnome...you'll realise why you need evils like project managers and marketeers to make a pervasive OS).

    Maybe, rather than handing them all the software at once and burying them, we should go back to the old Commodore method of software sales. You get a PC with an OS, it does basically nothing. Learn that. Then we'll hand you your web browser, and when you need it your word processor. If this was how software was received, maybe there'd be time to choose which provider and package you wanted based on informed input. But software is rush, rush, rush...people want everything now, because that's what we've sold them. When you do that, you're openning the door for cruddy software and $35 kickbacks. It's a bit like beer vendors at a baseball game. I'd love to have open competition, with the choice to choose whatever beer I liked for a competitive price. But to prevent a lot of "confusion," the stadium offers a license to only one beer man, who offers a choice of piss yellow beer or piss yellow light beer, each for an abyssmal price. I drink it because it's there and don't really enjoy it. Software on a new PC is the same...you use it because that's what you got, and don't really get to know there's better stuff out there.
  • by tb3 (313150) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:37AM (#2191029) Homepage
    Yeah, but they're going to have keep clicking the 'Cancel" button.

    on-screen 'Pop-ups' that will appear five times within the first month of activity(or until the user signs up for AOL, whichever comes first).

    Peachy. Beat them into submission. I bet Microsoft is kicking themselves for not having thought of it first.

  • "It's a siren call for both an FTC [Federal Trade Commission] and DOJ [Department of Justice] investigation into potential anti-competitive practices," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington consumer advocacy group.

    Whom they do expect? Snowhite? I mean who is going to compete in the desktop with Microsoft? I don't like AOL, but competence seems better than monopoly, even if it's imperfect. Only somebody with market power can make such deals interestings to PC makers.

    What I find really interesting is that surely now PC makers start realizing their own importance. They had danced to the tune that Microsoft played, but now it seems they can also play a bit. I interpret that like Microsoft is more dependent on the PC makers than the PC makers on Microsoft. Perhaps next time some monopolist or other will think twice before screwing up their resellers when they're ahead of the game.

    --

  • by dunkerz (443211) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @11:43AM (#2191038)
    Numbers of log-ons and connections is probably declining because more people are using broadband, meaning permanent connections, and the number of dialup connections is going down. This means people are settling with their broadband isp, and forgetting about the multitude of dialups that they used to use to get a decent connection, and also to see which dialup connection suited them best.

    Come on, just how likely is it that the number of people getting net access is going down? Well, maybe because the majority now have connections, thus a slowdown in the number of new isp registrations. Seems logical enough, don't you think?

    --
  • I have been an AOL member since they bought the Personal Services area of AppleLink and made a on-line service out of it (I was within the first 2500 subscribers they had).
    I have also had internet accounts for *much* longer. I have kept both all of this time.

    I understand that there are plenty of things *not* to like about AOL. But that being said, it still has some advantages.
    Anytime I am out of the country, I have had NO trouble getting a TCP connection via AOL. It is pretty much global. One account and I can connect anywhere I need to. (my service level is the 10$/month BYOI) My other broadband ISP offers dial-ups in the US only.

    With the advent of browser-based mail readers (still a recent event in my frame-work) this might not matter *as* much, but you can pretty well go to just about any computer out there and find AOL installed on it. This means friends' houses in other parts of the country, this means cyber cafes, this means libraries -- All usually have AOL on them.
    I can set filters on my normal mail when I know I will be travelling and don't want to be bothered with a laptop (one more thing to lug around or be stolen) and bounce important mail to my AOL account. I have *NO* configuration (NO SMTP/POP settings to change) to do on someone else's machine. (CyberCafes don't like you messing with their machine.)

    And most importantly, there are people who aren't techies but would like some internet access. (Let's call this the "Grandma Function.") Sure they can do a whole lot more with a real ISP, but A) they don't know how, B) they wouldn't know what they are missing, and C) they couldn't care less. For them, AOL is a perfect solution. No configuration of the TCP/IP stack. Just click a button and you are on the "Internet."
    IF this person buys a newer machine at some point, migration is a breeze as most of the data is server side.

    ______

  • AOL and MS should be fighting over how to get customers to use their products and services. That's the way the system's supposed to work. If MS doesn't want AOL to gain the advantage, they should offer the box makers better incentives than AOL does. What MS was doing before was simply decreeing to the box makers what would go on the desktop and prohibiting them from doing the same thing with competitors products.

    This shows that the finding that MS was guilty of illegally maintaining their monopoly did not come too late to have an impact. Already, AOL is seizing the opportunity to compete with MS, and others might too.

    -jimbo

  • This book should be manadatory reading for those seeking to capture marketshare from MS or AOL. If MS and AOL engage in a full corporate war, then there is an open possibility for a third party to emerge as victorious --- a party with much fewer resources than either MS or AOL.
  • I've said it before, but let me repeat! NO ONE HAS TO BUY THIS STUFF.
    We might WANT to buy this stuff, but if the thought of an MS OS, or and AOL desktop pisses you off enough you WONT. If they piss off enough people they GO BUST.
    Its that simple. How many times in the past have some corp been on the brink of all out monopoly when someone just stands up and says "you know - enough people are pissed off that I might just be able to take them on".
    If enough are - they will.
    Now if you'll all just keep buying the linux, stop buying those damn DVDs you already have on video, and get your caffeine direct from the growers the world will be a better place! We can bring this stuff to a turn - never a stop, Linux will be evil one day, but at least a pause and a change of direction.
  • But AOL/TW knows that most people are stupid (or just unaware of other and better options) and now they are going to profit from it.
  • now it would be nice if that competition led to the lowering of ISP prices, or improving software or service. However. something tells me that that isn't going to happen. I doubt many people who use AOL have ever experienced a good ISP. MS and AOL will continue to compete on which icon the user sees first, since that is probably the one he/she will click on. If two icons from competing ISPs are on the desktop, a battle will ensue over which one is above the other.
  • Battle? What battle? When AOL/TW and Microsoft start offering their own BROADBAND internet connections, then be afraid..be very afraid...

    They're still fighting over outdated service paradigms.
  • You're making a mountain out of a molehill. These irritating advertisements and service offers are only going to apply to people who waste their money on a computer off-the-shelf (or website) by a major manufacturer, like compaq, HP, Dell, what have you. If you're too lazy to build your own computer, get one of your friends to do it, or support small-business, AND you're not smart enough to know how to disable the advertisements and such, then..well..you get what you deserve.

    Anyone else seen those free DSL connections that subject you to banner ads? Now, with those, you're getting something in -return- for subjecting yourself to that kind of thing.

    Let the marketing monkeys do whatever they like, it only effects the lUsers.

    There is no possible way these ads and service announcements will be un-removable (unless they were contained in a persistant-memory module hardwired to replace the data when it's been removed/deactivated...i dont see that happening), and you're not paying any more money to have that crap bundled in. Actually, theoretically, it would -lower- the price of the computer, since the manufacturer is being compensated for the endorsement vector. Maybe its not such a bad thing after all.
  • AOL really can't be considered a monopoly even in the ISP department, since it dosent offer cable/dsl/isdn service (although AOL is easily interoperable with such service), plenty of other ISP options exist, and thanks to AOL's exorberant pricing, you can't really call them anticompetative. They even allow you to use AOL at a reduced rate THROUGH another companies ISP (this is what I do)!. That's pretty pro-competative. Now that AOL is allowing third-party Instant messaging clients to interoperate with the AOL messaging network, i think it would be a mistake to compare AOL/TW to the Beast of Redmond.
  • Yeah, it would be nice to use POP email with my AOL service, and maybe somewhere down the line they'll impliment this.

    Even still though, Outlook has a habit of letting arbitrary code run on your computer. I think its a wonderful program, I just don't feel like depending on such a hilariously vunerable client.

    Of course, there are plenty of other email clients out there, just none i like as much as outlook.

    As for the spam thing..sorry bucko, but you'll find that no matter where you go.

    Actually, this is a fun idea i got from The Register:

    My state has a law that says that if you intentionally misrepresent the headers/return path/transmission info/etc of a marketing email, you are breaking a fairly serious law. Many people are cornering spammers like this and extorting money, threatening a high-figure lawsuit (that I could easily win anyhow). Some people have been getting 4000-6000 USD PER-SPAMMER confronted in this fashion.

    So kids, turn that spam into college tuition!
  • From the article:

    "'AOL's actions are unprecidented and completely anti-consumer' said Microsoft Spokesman Vivek Varma."

    ::falls off chair laughing::

    It's sad to see that big business revolves around the "idiot factor", that is, trying to influence the decisions of the idiots that will use whatever the "Out of Box Experience" dictates they should use.

    Business is based on efficiency. Since successful business must be efficient, we can use this trend as proof that most computer users are, in fact, idiots. It's a sad thing.

    As for the AOL thing, i use AOL myself just because ive had the same email adress since I was in 7th grade (8 years ago). I use AOL merely as an email client, and use my cable service provider for the actual internet connectivity. This makes AOL service MUCH cheaper (especially when you pay for blocks of years, which my parents do). When you remove the ISP factor out of AOL service, its actually quite good, i would just rather chew aluminum than rely on AOL for my actual internet connection.
  • No I'm not concerned at all. When my refrigerator starts replacing my food with AOL rations I'll worry. You people should go outside for a nice walk and some fresh air. I mean, who turned on your PC in the first place?

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