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EU's Mind 'made up' on Microsoft 801

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-aren't-the-only-ones dept.
Alain Williams writes "The BBC reports that Microsoft could soon be facing multi-billion euro fines and other sanctions for breaking European competition law. The European Commission has finished drafting its decision in the case it brought against the software giant." Let's just hope that the EU can fine them cash and not accept Microsoft coupons like the US does. Clearly the best solution to an operating system monopoly is to give free copies of windows to school and eliminate the competition as early in the education process as possible.
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EU's Mind 'made up' on Microsoft

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  • by e6003 (552415) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:21AM (#8099150) Homepage
    I hope the EU goes through with the proposal to force MS to unbundle Media Player. It will be so great to watch them squirm if this happens: there's no technical reason why not (XP Embedded) and it will force their hand over the bundling of IE (again). A large fine will barely dent their $50b cash reserves :-/
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:31AM (#8099260)
      It doesn't matter wether or not media player or ie are bundled or not. It has been my experience that the only reason people use these things is because they don't know any better. Absolutely everybody I have shown Firebird has switched. Some even thank me, almost as if I saved their lives. A single ad campaign for Mozilla Firebird will destroy Internet Explorer. People just have to be told it exists. Same for winamp 5. If you show people that it can do more than media player ever could they'll switch because it is better. I really hope that mplayer for windows actually works soon though. That will be the best.
      • by gandy909 (222251) <gandy909@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:57AM (#8099532) Homepage Journal
        No, they won't. They simply use it because it is there, its the default app, and does the job, however horribly, that they need. 'Most' users, anyway.

        OTOH, if YOU install it for them, and make it the default, they will happily use it and learn its features.

        Unfortunately, even installing the simplest of software still scares the crap out of a lot of people. Or even saving a copy of a document to a floppy disk instead of in their My Documents folder is totally over their head.
        • by jvervloet (532924) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:05PM (#8100312) Homepage Journal
          OTOH, if YOU install it for them, and make it the default, they will happily use it and learn its features.

          I tried this installing firebird on my parent's PC. They ended up on some sites which were only accessible to internet explorer, so they concluded that Firebird doesn't work. This was enough for them to switch back.

          • by southpolesammy (150094) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:58PM (#8101021) Journal
            Did you explain to them why it didn't work? Non-techie's need to be educated in terms that they can relate to, and I find the association of computers to cars to be a very simple way of making that comparison. So when you tell that that the reason Firebird didn't work isn't because the car is broken, but instead it's because the road was intentionally made for specific cars to use and will cause non-equipped cars to crash, they may begin to understand.

            If enough people start making layperson comparisons like this and can complain loudly enough, we might get somewhere. But if the average computer user simply caves into whatever works, it doesn't matter whether it is a piece of crap or if the competing product is the greatest thing since sliced bread -- people will instinctively use the easiest tool to accomplish something as possible, and IE fits that bill. If the converse were true, we'd have turbine engines in cars and Betamax would never have lost to VHS.
          • When I install Mozilla I tell people that it supports all the standards, that there are some sites which are badly coded and won't work, but that for those they can brave the popups and security problems and use IE for that site.

            I can't remember what the pluggin is, but there's one to open a link in IE. Good for checking out that one stubborn site.

            And if you present it as a bug in the sites, which it always is (unless it's ActiveX, which might be a bug anyways...) people are more accepting.
      • It doesn't matter wether or not media player or ie are bundled or not. It has been my experience that the only reason people use these things is because they don't know any better. Absolutely everybody I have shown Firebird has switched. Some even thank me, almost as if I saved their lives. A single ad campaign for Mozilla Firebird will destroy Internet Explorer. People just have to be told it exists. Same for winamp 5. If you show people that it can do more than media player ever could they'll switch bec

      • by preclose (718515) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:48AM (#8100083)
        Unfortunately that's not always true.....
        I've tried to "help" several people who compain about IE crashing, popups, etc, by telling them to use Firebird. It's amazing but I usually hear "I tried it and it worked fine but I don't like it, how can I fix IE."

        You can lead a fool to Firebird but you can't make them browse or something.
      • by WNight (23683) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:05PM (#8101101) Homepage
        Same here. I was browsing for game cracks at a LAN party (Diablo 2 won't work out of most burners - Blizzard's caring response is "Buy a new CD drive - not a burner") and I was easily navigating Russian crack sites, with nary a porn popup or anything. At the end I had an audience of three, all of whom were convinced I had some hacker-level popup blocker. Nope, just Mozilla. All three of them grabbed the copy I had and installed it that night.

        They weren't anti-MS at all, and only peripherally knew of Linux, but none of them liked IE or Outlook. They just used it because it was there.

        And yeah, that's why I support making Microsoft either un-bundle their software or install competitor's software, like Opera and Mozilla.

        If they shipped installers they could install the selected package from CD (or the net) withouyt actually having to bloat the install with ten different browsers, etc. It would probably be the best method because they'd have to ship the OS without Media Player, not just Media Player and Real Player.
      • This may sound funny at first, but let me explain. Most males I know surf for pr0n. Most of those also use IE to surf for pr0n. They don't have filters in place. They get hundreds of popups. They get spyware loaded onto their computers thanks to crappy ActiveX controls and hundreds of IE bugs. They have to browse one page at a time. In short, browsing for pr0n with IE sucks.

        So here's the hook - you tell all your male friends (and any females you know who surf for it as well) that there's this cool new brow
    • A fine of a few billion might :-)
      Why can't we have define fines as a proportion of the defendant's wealth or income or something, so that they hurt everybody just as much regardless of how rich they are?
      • by doctormetal (62102) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:36AM (#8099320)
        Why can't we have define fines as a proportion of the defendant's wealth or income or something, so that they hurt everybody just as much regardless of how rich they are?

        The EU can fine for an amount of 10% of the earnings within eu countries. Nintendo was once fined $600M for uncompetitive behaviour. How much do you think they can fine microsoft?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:41AM (#8099362)
          > The EU can fine for an amount of 10% of the earnings within eu countries.
          > Nintendo was once fined $600M for uncompetitive behaviour. How much do you think
          > they can fine microsoft?

          10% of the earnings.
        • by SmilingBoy (686281) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:02AM (#8099582)
          In fact, the fine is capped at 10% of the undertaking's total worldwide turnover in the previous year. So, the fine could be a maximum of $3,500,000,000.
        • by JawFunk (722169) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:09AM (#8099667)
          This page [eu.int] describes a 1998 method by which the European Commission sets fines for antitrust cases in its region.

          Notethe part: It will also be necessary to take account of the effective economic capacity of offenders to cause significant damage to other operators - in particular consumers - and to set the fine at a level which ensures that it has a sufficiently deterrent effect.

        • That's good - but it should be the case for all fines, for everyone. I'm quite impressed with the examples of German and Finnish traffic laws in other replies - that's cool. While it does mean Bill Gates might get fined $1E6 for speeding, that isn't a bad thing. It means that people can't negate the impact of breaking the law just by being rich: that $1M fine on BG would (in theory) have just the same effect on him as a $50 fine on a college student: it would piss him off quite a lot, but it wouldn't be the
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That should be left to OEMs to decide whats packaged in the platform in my view. Just as redhat decides what it ships and debian decides what it ships etc.

      Also fix the ADVANCED install so we can modify EVERYTHING during the install, they removed all the custom install shit from the UI on 2003 server: God knows why because 2000 had it ok.

      As for IE its embedded in the File explorer, sure it can be disabled but its just COM Components that are used. Other apps DEPEND on these COM components for example Yahoo
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:05PM (#8100306)
      Because Media Player and IE themselves are just frontends. They are just wrappers that make calls to system services. In Media Player's case, it's DirectShow, in IE's it's the MSHTML engine. Well ripping these out of the OS is a bad idea since many things depend on them. To remove DirectShow is to break all pro A/V software, alternative media players that use it (such as Media Player Classic), many games, and so on.

      Remember: Windows isn't Linux and 99.9% of users don't want it to be. Linux is defined as nothing but a kernel, what you put from there is up to you. So you can have Linux systems with totally different UI's libraries and so on. This is fine for geeks, but frustrating for normal users since you have no gaurentee that you have the dependencies you need (and have to go track them down and download).

      Windows (and MacOS, and Solaris, and many others) are defined as not just the kernel, but other associated services and such. It is expected that Windows will have it's GUI, it's HTML rendering and such. It's all part of the OS. While this may be frustrating to geeks, it's precisely what normal users want. They don't want to have a program say "sorry, but I can't run until you download X and Y and Z libraries and get them running on your system". They just want it to run.
      • by WNight (23683) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:34PM (#8101484) Homepage
        The problem, imho, is not that Windows has its own html renderer - KDE does too, the problem is that everything is so tightly integrated you have security errors in email because of html, and in the file browser because of malformed links, etc.

        Pretty much all the recent Linux systems ship a fully working desktop - no library download required, but the internals are loosely coupled and you could replace a subsystem if you wanted.

        Few people care about a car with easy to reach spark plugs, but everyone wants a car with low maintenance and they're willing to listen to the mechanic explain that easy to reach spark plugs (etc) lower the maintenance costs. Similarly, no average Joe cares about the internals of their operating system, but nobody wants something buggy, or hard to upgrade. Even if they take it to the shop they realize that easy to maintain translates into cheaper to maintain.

        Windows however is very cheap to maintain. Nobody bothers with diagnostics these days - they all wipe everything and reinstall. Much faster. If it didn't lose all your settings and much data, it'd be a good thing.
      • I don't think so. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by edxwelch (600979)
        MS could easily release an installation program to just install the WMA / WMV codecs and DirectShow and whatever, but they don't. They deliberly force you to install the latest Media player. There is no technical reason for this interdependancy.
        And what will happen (hopefully) is the EU will simply force them to provide seperate installtion of the backend dlls, and the front end apps.
    • by burns210 (572621) <maburns@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:38PM (#8100775) Homepage Journal
      It is media player or IE bundling that is the problem. it is the bootloader.... Make it illegal for MS to threaten price bumps to any OEM that allows a dual-boot option, make it illegal for MS to require OEMs to sell only windows, and make the OEM contracts that are now trade secrets(to hide from the public the stranglehold MS has on Dell, et al) to be publicly open... THEN require billions IN CASH along with restrictions on thier actions in the coming years....

      also, a clause that says if you are caught rebraking something you are getting in trouble for, your fine will double immediately, and will continue doubling for every incident you are found guilty of.
  • Whoops. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:21AM (#8099152) Journal
    The EU has some real teeth when it comes to noncompetitive practices. The maximum is something like 10% of annual earnings (could be profit). Ouch.

    Simon
  • Knight'd! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by i_am_syco (694486) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:21AM (#8099156)
    England wants to knight him. Europe wants to hate him. Strange.
    • Re:Knight'd! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Slight correction: The current British Government wants to Knight him. This same 'honour' is offered to anyone with a load of money and a tentative connection to British business...unless they're Arabs whose sons are shagging the Princess of Wales.

      Britain is constantly at odds with the rest of Europe (remember the War on Iraq last year and Britain's rejection of the Euro currency?), so there's nothing too stange about Blair brown-nosing Gates while the EU slams Microsoft.
      • by mikerich (120257) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:17PM (#8100460)
        Slight correction: The current British Government wants to Knight him.

        And deservedly so; it was for services to British industry.

        And without Microsoft Britain's IT consultant industry would be a mere shadow of its present glorious self. There are literally tens of thousands of highly trained professionals scattered across the country poised to save poor innocents from the consequences of Microsoft's overly-complicated, bug-ridden, security-holed applications.

        Speaking personally, without Microsoft there is absolutely no way I would have been able to afford my Powerbook.

        Best wishes,
        Mike.

    • by arevos (659374) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:01AM (#8099579) Homepage
      Europe isn't a borg collective. There are people who have difference opinions. Believe me, more people than not don't like Gates in England. Just because the Queen has given away a KBE doesn't mean that everyone's falling over themselves to grovel at his feet.

      As I recall, the US government wasn't particularly harsh on Microsoft. Does that mean all USians adore their products?
  • I've tried to convince them of the stability and efficiency of Linux, and told them that Microsoft is going to lock them in soon, but they refuse to listen.
    • You should contact the people behind other Linux in the schools projects and ask them for advice. You can for example write to someone in the Norwegian School Linux [skolelinux.no] via "kontakt" or click "linker" and find a link to another project and make the contacts there.
  • and yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samjam (256347) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:22AM (#8099172) Homepage Journal
    I want audio and video software as part of my OS, nicely bundled and integrated.

    I don't want to a half-baked OS that requires a lot more decisions to get a useful modern OS.

    Maybe with MS have been "forcing suppliers to include its own media software", but have MS been preventing suppliers from also supplying other media software? The BBC article does not make clear.

    It will be nice though if MS do "reveal more information to its competitors about how its operating system interacts with others and with software applications"
    • Re:and yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NumbThumb (468496) <daniel@bri g h t byte.de> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:49AM (#8099452) Homepage Journal
      Depends on what is meant by "bundeling". Just having an app installed by default is not a bad idea -- even most linux distros come with konqueror/xmms/etc as default apps.

      I would also like *more* integration of such apps into standard components (like kpart does): Audio + Video-Preview in a file manager is cool, being able to integrate "foreign" document-snippets into master-documents (like MS OLE does it) also makes sense.

      BUT: to make this A GOOD THING this would have to be done using OPEN STANDARDS for data formats and component interfaces. That is, all information needed to replace ANY standard component of the OS should be available to the public. (i don't say it has to be open source, i'm not a purist)

      HOWEVER, Microsofts way of "integrating" and "bundeling" things seems more like welding the stuff in so it can't be changed at all, which is EVIL.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:23AM (#8099175)


    Activate "Operation European Freedom" immediately.

  • by Effugas (2378) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:24AM (#8099189) Homepage
    No other DRM system actually lets you choose your player. iTunes only talks to iPod, at least w/o burning and re-ripping. You want to talk product tying -- MS doesn't even sell an MP3 player, let alone force you to use theirs.

    But heh. Don't listen to me. I'm just a hardcore Linux user w/ a half terabyte RAID-5 FreeBSD box with fond memories of his old Apple IIgs days.

    Not to mention I think this round of DRM won't end up any differently than it did for DAT/Minidisc/Dataplay -- eventual marginalization vs. products that actually want to work.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
    • by alyandon (163926) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:34AM (#8099303) Homepage
      That's because essentially all Windows players that support DRM utilize the MS supplied directshow API (and whatever codecs) to decode the content.

      It's not too dissimilar to how applications that embed IE are using mshtml.dll. iexplore.exe (and explorer.exe) itself is nothing more than a thin wrapper application that loads mshtml.dll.
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <<ten.12009cb> <ta> <12009cb>> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:24AM (#8099195) Homepage
    ...do what exactly? With US 52.8 billion dollars in the bank, even they take half that, they still have 26+ billion dollars. With profit margins of 25%, and revenue of 32 billion a quarter, those would have to be some hefty cash fines to even make the smallest dent in how MS does business.

    Not to mention that Bill Gates could sell some of his stock if he wanted to, and put that money back in the company.
  • EURO vs USD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by savagedome (742194) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:26AM (#8099220)
    With the Euro on the rise [yahoo.com] compared to USD, its going to eat a little more of that 50Billion USD pile that M$ is sitting on. Ouch.
  • Media Players? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frankthechicken (607647) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:28AM (#8099235) Journal
    . . .and may demand that it stops forcing suppliers to include its own media software at the expense of competitors such as Real Networks and Apple.

    I'm not a great fan of Media Player, though it does it's job pretty well, but doesn't the modern definition of a desktop OS contain a media player?

    From what I can tell, the options Microsoft will have would be to either have no media player whatsoever, or a vast myraid of them. I would be willing to guess that MS will take the former option, with a recomended update through Windows update being Media Player.

    So, by removing some functionality of the OS, how will this help consumers in general? Indeed will they be more likely to use another media player simply because there isn't one currently available, or will they simply get the recommended one from Microsoft?
    • Re:Media Players? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Troed (102527)
      Even after having used the new tool and told Windows I don't EVER want to see Windows Media Player again it STILL pops up from time to time, and grabs file associations.

      That kind of integration is unwanted, I have other mediaplayers. That's also the kind of behaviour that SHOULD be punished, as the EU seems to be interested in doing.
    • Re:Media Players? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by djeaux (620938)
      I'm not a great fan of Media Player, though it does it's job pretty well, but doesn't the modern definition of a desktop OS contain a media player?

      I don't think the definition of a desktop OPERATING SYSTEM includes applications. Sure, applications are usually bundled with OS distributions -- Windows is no more guilty of doing this than any number of Linux distros -- but the end user ought to have the ability to install or not install those bundled apps. And bundled apps ought to be well-behaved, allowing

      • Re:Media Players? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by goodviking (71533)
        Windows is no more guilty of doing this than any number of Linux distros -- but the end user ought to have the ability to install or not install those bundled apps.

        Regardless of whether Media Player is bundled with the OS, or considered a separate app, the vast majority of users will still have it installed as the only OS they will ever have is the one installed by the hardware vendor. I would guess that most desktop consumers simply want to pull the machine out of the box and see it work. Hooking in a
    • Re:Media Players? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wowbagger (69688) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:56AM (#8099527) Homepage Journal
      ...but doesn't the modern definition of a desktop OS contain a media player?


      No, a modern operating SYSTEM does not contain a media player.

      A modern operating ENVIRONMENT contains a media player.

      That is, was, and in all probability ever shall be Microsoft's blind spot - that the operating SYSTEM is not the operating ENVIRONMENT.

      The environment should have a media player, an email client, file management utilities, a calendar, games, HTML renderer, screen savers, contact managers, diagnostics, and many other things.

      The operating SYSTEM should NOT!
  • GREAT! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, it would be just great if the pc manufacturers preloaded RealONE onto my pc instead. Oh dream of dreams, joy of joys.
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:32AM (#8099277)
    Apart from Apple, AOL/Nullsoft and Real Networks, who cares about Media Player being bundled, except that it's a pile of overblown crap?

    Microsoft has done much worse things like preventing the sale of naked PCs (do that, and your OEM licence discounts miraculously shrink), embracing and extending everything from Java to HTML and, of course, spreading FUD left right and centre about anything that might threaten Bill's plans for world domination. These are the issues the EU should be focusing on, not whether they bundle a Windows app that plays MP3s.

    Oh yeah, and Bill gives loads of money to charity, but there are more tax-efficient ways of giving to charity than overpaying for mediocre software.

    • by FrostedWheat (172733) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:01AM (#8099576)
      Apart from Apple, AOL/Nullsoft and Real Networks, who cares about Media Player being bundled

      Anyone who has media content on there website should care. The free bundling of MS's Media Player is pushing a lot of sites to use MS's propritary and low-performance audio and video codecs. Better, free and open solutions exist yet while MS bundle there player with windows these better systems will probably never see the light of day. (For example, do you ever expect MS to support Ogg Vorbis or XviD? Didn't think so.)
      • by cybrthng (22291) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @12:06PM (#8100326) Journal
        You need to quite blowing smoke out your but. WM9 is a tremendously advanced and well designed codec.

        You just have to know what your doing as the default encoding is 64kbps or 96kbps for music - you can always push it to 192k and get cd quality +.

        WM9 is the only codec to reliably handle HDTV (1080P yes Progressive scan 1080 signal (thats 1920x1080 resolution). That is freely distributeable and easily licensed for commercial applications.

        If you want proprietary get a Mac and Quicktime.
    • by demachina (71715) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:25PM (#8101358)
      Control of the media player matters a LOT, partially because it also the means control of the format content is distributed in. Remember the network effect of Word and Excel documents. Everyone distributes documents as Word and Excel so everyone is compelled to switch to Office. Everyone starts distributing content in Media Player format and everyone has to have Windows and Media Player to view it.

      Distribution of audio and video via PC's and settop boxes is exploding as broadband finally takes hold. The movie and recording industries are huge industries. If a company like Microsoft manages to gain control of the soon to be dominant distribution mechanism for these industries they will acquire a new monopoly, and get shiploads of cash in fresh profits, profits Microsoft desperately needs to keep growing. Apples ITunes is the one shining light that caused a glitch in Microsoft's plan to dominate digital media, but Apple has a formidable advesary now that Microsoft is getting serious about digital media, late as usual.

      Microsoft can also use this dominance to further lock out non Windows platforms from burgeoning markets like settop boxes. If Linux can't play Media Player content and Media Player formats are what everyone is distributing content in then Linux is going to be shut out of settop boxes. The same goes for smartphones and PDA's. Appliances are one area Linux is doing pretty well and we sure dont want it go the way of the desktop and turn in to a new Windows monopoly.
  • by Starborn (699467) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:33AM (#8099288)
    Gates is getting a knighthood for contributions to international business while at the same time the EU (therefore by extension the UK) is fining microsoft for anti-competitive practices. Don't you just love irony?
  • I don't get it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rasafras (637995)
    Clearly the best solution to an operating system monopoly is to give free copies of windows to school and eliminate the competition as early in the education process as possible.

    They're giving it away for free. Free is good, right? Or all of the sudden when it's Microsoft, free is bribery, isn't it?
    This does mean that the school is urged to use Windows, because it would not be polite to not use it. For a school, however, Windows does come with many benefits, primarily ease-of-use. It is a much easier ope
    • by tuxette (731067) * <tuxette@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:53AM (#8099489) Homepage Journal
      The idea that kids should not be taught Linux because they're "too stupid" is very offensive to me. I have friends who have young children who use Linux and think it's great fun. There are a lot of school Linux programs that are successful with the grade schoolers, as well as middle schoolers and high schoolers. Kids are not too stupid.

      Kids' minds are like sponges. Give them the chance and they can learn a lot, especially when you make the learning fun. This has been shown many times in foreign language education; the eariler a kid starts learning another language, the higher the chance of that kid learning the language and learning it well. The reason why foreign language education still doesn't start at an early age for most children is due to adults' prejudices. They think it's too difficult to learn another language, so therefore it is way too difficult for the kiddies.

      It's the same way with computer stuff. Computer-phobe adults are the ones who end up instilling a "fear" of computers in children. You know the drill. "I don't understand computers." "It's too hard to figure out." Because adults think Linux is too difficult (often without trying it first), they think kids can never learn it.

  • As an EU residing, mostly Linux & reluctant Windows user, I'm not sure that I see much in this story...

    I can fully appreciate that Microsoft's general monopolistic attitude needs to be curtailed, no doubting that.

    I can also see that had the US/EU laws against monopolistic practices been brought down five or six years ago, then IE might not have been the dominant browser and we might now be accessing web sites that are far less browser dependant.

    I can appreciate that restricting the bundling of WMP wi
  • by treat (84622) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:38AM (#8099337)
    Why do none of the remedys require microsoft to release all APIs? This would solve the problems, would not destroy their business but would reduce their ability to harm consumers more than any other action.

  • Apple tried it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by faust13 (535994) <contact@hanshootsfi r s t . o rg> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:57AM (#8099534) Homepage
    "Clearly the best solution to an operating system monopoly is to give free copies of windows to school and eliminate the competition as early in the education process as possible."

    You know, I remember all through school (k-12) we were forced to use Apple products of varying models. Since then, I have never used an Apple, and all the forced Apple knowledge was wasted.
  • by Anonymous Bullard (62082) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:00AM (#8099554) Homepage
    Simply snapping at the tails of an entrenched monopoly isn't going to solve the real problem, which (as most people here know) is based on Microsoft's sole and profit-maximizing control of the essential standards and protocols at both operating system and productivity application levels. Fining MS a few percents of their massive profits isn't even beginning to address the problem; that is also common knowledge for anyone who's followed the behaviour of the Gates gang over the last couple of decades.

    The obvious long-term solution in this "war on IT terror" is for the EU and other nations to rebuild their IT infrastructures cooperatively and relatively inexpensively upon open source foundation. By removing the bottleneck that is at Microsoft Way One, Redmond, countries (incl. the US of A) can launch a renaissaince of innovation and information sharing between countries and individuals while nurturing a more balanced distribution of local employment across the world.

    Governments are fundamentally responsible for establishing the basic infrastructure upon which the people can build their lives and business without artificial impediments. Imagine what the life would be like today if printing presses, typewriters and even the lowly sheets of paper had been incredulously controlled by some mediaval robber baron!? Why should one provenly immoral corporation be allowed to "own" the formats in which data (incl. writing itself!) is excanged, recorded and backed up!? It's insane.

    The EU is fully capable of first introducing a set of recommendations and later (after the OSS-based support and development structures have been established) requirements for publically-owned and open IT systems that can also be easily adopted by other countries across the globe. Microsoft is fully welcome to participate in this "New Deal" but they must remove their foot from the oxygen tubes or risk becoming totally irrelevant.

    • Imagine what the life would be like today if printing presses, typewriters and even the lowly sheets of paper had been incredulously controlled by some mediaval robber baron!?

      Yes, instead we should be looking towards the GOVERNMENT to establish standards that all printing presses, typewriters, and sheets of paper must conform to!

      That type of governmental oversight may be popular in the nations of the European Union, but it's anathema to a long-standing tradition of United States laissez-faire industrial
  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:04AM (#8099604)
    See the movie, The Corporation,

    The purpose of a corporation is to make money for its investors. That is all. A corporation is amoral. Viewed as a "person" a corporation is psychotic. This is the nature of corporations.

    Outside influences to get corporations to "behave" can only have limited control due to the structure of our society.

    Good Summary [law.ubc.ca]
  • by gewalker (57809) <Gary DOT Walker AT AstraDigital DOT com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @11:35AM (#8099953)
    The vast majority of Slashdot readers made up their minds about Microsoft years ago.
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:19PM (#8101277)
    If the whole point of the legal actions against Microsoft is to break up its monopoly in some way then where is the money going to go to?

    Consider if the money - which I would argue - will come close to $1 billion were spent to help fund open source projects: eg Mozilla, Open Office, Freedesktop.org, KDE and GNOME projects.
    All are in legitimate need of funding and are crucial to giving consumers a choice for OS and application use. I'm not implying that funding will equate with better quality product, but I'm sure that some of these project could at the very least get some added resources: more computers, internet connections, etc.
  • by gearmonger (672422) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @01:31PM (#8101441)
    As part of the settlement or reparations, the EU should force Microsoft to pay for extensive ad campaigns and re-education initiatives targeted at providing users alternatives to Microsoft's own products (Linux, Mozilla, Real, etc.) -- that way, you not only get them to hand over cash (short-term pain), you also actually start fixing the whole monopoly problem to begin with.
  • This is bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @03:18PM (#8102833) Journal
    MS will just raise their prices to pay for the fine so they still remain profitable.

    They did this with MS Office during the first DOJ investigation in the 90's.

    Every one of us and are employers will pay the fine instead of them as ussual.

  • The Penalty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnos (109351) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @03:30PM (#8102993)
    The fine is irrelevant to MS. They have a big pile o cash and Ballmer is sensibly using it to buy his way out of legal problems. This is a major cultural shift at MS and should be applauded (at least by MS shareholders).

    The opening of APIs and such is a pain for MS, but unlikely to actually do much short-term damage. It might even be good in the long-run because it will make them compete more on the basis of quality and value. Better MS products spawn better open source products and everyone is better off.

    What is significant is the potential unbundling of Media Player. At the beginning of this process, MP was a fairly insignificant element of Windows. Now, however, it is central to MS DRM and NGSC (or whatever they are calling Palladium this week). With control over the media front-end, MS can deal directly with content owners and muscle themselves a new monopoly. Media Player is the critical component in a strategy to end-run the hardware companies. Fuck you Sony, HP, Apple, we Ownz u. Without that control they are just another computer company. And one Hollywood would rather do without because of security problems.

    Without a shred of evidence, I believe the recent push on Xbox2 is related to the EU problems. If Media Player is hobbled, no hardware end-run is possible. The Japanese electronics firms won't play ball with an MS Windows DRM standard. Oh they'll do this and that, but they don't want another Sony to send cheques to every quarter. That makes the Xbox really important again. That IMO, is why Ed Fries left. He wanted to build a gaming box. Gates needs a media center. Forcing Gates' hand on this issue may be the real penalty the EU is effectively handing MS.

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