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Microsoft's Longhorn Faces Antitrust Scrutiny 284

Posted by michael
from the fine-toothed-comb dept.
benore writes "The Department of Justice will be reviewing Microsoft's Longhorn product as part of the company's antitrust settlement. One analyst opines that Mircosoft is appearing to soften its image to become kinder and gentler. 'They don't want people to hate them anymore. They've learned from their mistakes.' Hmmm."
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Microsoft's Longhorn Faces Antitrust Scrutiny

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  • by Randy Wang (700248) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:05AM (#11512780)
    So, now, instead of hating them for being the monopolistic, evil, brutish and cruel giant that we all like to think of them, they want us to praise them for their strides forward in the fields of Digital Rights Management, ever-retreating deadlines and anti-crapware stance.

    I, for one, welcome our new (helpful) overlords...
    • by lxs (131946) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @09:31AM (#11513109)
      Ever retreating deadlnes is a bad thing?

      Some people are never content. For years everyone has been critisizing for not being more like Free Software vendors.

      With Longhorn, Microsoft has obviously adopted the Debian release schedule.

      Go MS!
    • Re:One or t'other... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I would like to know:
      Is Microsoft working with hardware and computer manufacturers to make PC's "unfriendly to Linux"?

      Or is this just a case of someone who can't get his favorite linux distros to recognize all of his hardware, and thinks Microsoft has conspired to make the "unfriendly to Linux" item a possibility?

      I have a Dell PC, and of course it comes preloaded with XP. In trying a bunch of live CD linux distros, only SuSE 9.2 Live Eval will recognize my Sound Card. I'm running XFLD now, and no sound.
      • Re:One or t'other... (Score:3, Informative)

        by agraupe (769778)
        Nope... if it works on one Linux distro, linux does support the hardware. If there is one area linux needs to work on, it is hardware detection. I'm sure it will work perfectly on every other distro, if you set it up (a manual kernel compile, no doubt).
    • by coaxial (28297) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @03:28PM (#11515151) Homepage
      strides forward in the fields of Digital Rights Management

      You should not call DRM "Digital Rights Management", the term is "Digital Restrictions Management". This isn't just a linguistic trick, it's framing the debate. "Rights" has a positive connotation, "restrictions" has a negative one. The idea is that you define the debate in your terms, so that your opposition has to defend itself using your terms.

      The master of this is Frank Luntz [pbs.org]. His way of framing debate with words is called "Luntz Speak" [luntzspeak.com]. I don't agree with his politics, but I admire his methods tremendously.
  • Angst (Score:3, Funny)

    by cybathug (561017) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:07AM (#11512787)
    "They don't want people to hate them anymore"
    Remember, it's down the road, not across the street. Make it count.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's gonna be a hard thing to do... The name of the settlement says it all, "Antitrust", Trust can be broken in a second, but can take years to build back up... If even that. Besides I don't buy that crap, when did M$ learn anything from their mistakes before?
    • This is gonna sound pedantic, but the name "Antitrust [wikipedia.org]" is derived from monopolistic business cartels at the time that the legislation was written, which were then called "trusts [wikipedia.org]".
    • Oh come on, you most certainly know that people (not you or me or us, but real people, the joesixpacks and the rest few hundred million out there) can very quickly have a change of mind in matters like these, the average people can very easily be convinced about anything. Hey, the whole advertising trade was built on that.

      Besides anything else, nobody should worry about M$'s marketing decisions. They proved to be working for them, no matter what people bring up regarding ethics, policies, or whatever else
    • Of course they don't want to be hated. Who
      would (short of SCO Group and the **AA)?

      Please tell me exactly what mistakes MSFT has
      made, because such a statement is confusing.

      They have always made use of deep pockets,
      lawyers, and sufficient delays in court to
      win market share, even if they have failed
      subsequently in court. The old saying of
      "Time is money" has been parlayed by MSFT
      into either (1) market share, or (2) change
      in venue (in court) that has always been
      beneficial to their long term success. Even
      the
  • Not again... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Richie1984 (841487) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:09AM (#11512797)
    One area that DOJ regulators will be looking at, in particular, is a control panel in Longhorn that facilitates use of a browser and media player other than the Microsoft versions that will be pre-built into the system.
    Does this mean that the next version of IE will be built directly into the new OS, as with XP, ME etc? I sincerely hope not, as I am not looking forward to further years of routine tech maintenance on my friend's PCs due to this integration.
    • Re:Not again... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)
      That control panel thing isn't what they should be looking for. There should be a complete means by which to remove IE from the machine completely. At present, there is no easy or reliable means.

      I recently deployed a bunch of machines with Firefox as the default browser and "removed" MSIE from the machine (as claimed by the removing of the windows components thingy) and yet I can still access MSIE on these machines... more importantly, email software that utilizes MSIE as their HTML rendering libraries c
      • There should be a complete means by which to remove IE from the machine completely.

        IE is almost entirely componentised, and most of those components are used by third-party applications (and even by some other parts of Windows, such as the Add/Remove Programs control panel in Windows 2000). Remove IE, and you break all those applications. You could just remove iexplore.exe, but what's the point?

      • Re:Not again... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by michaelggreer (612022)
        It seems totally reasonable that they, like Apple, would have an HTML rendering framework ship as part of the OS. IE uses that framework, as do other parts of the system. Other practices, like making IE hard to uninstall, pre-loading the framework to give IE a startup boost, and others, are more questionable.
      • The problem with windows is that everything is bundled and deeply tied into the OS. You can't focus on making a good operating system if you have to be constantly thinking about browsers and media players and desktop environments. This is where open source software wins. Each of the individual programs is better because they have defined boundaries and goals. The only problem is how well they work together. But open source programs work pretty well together now.
  • Mircosoft ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:10AM (#11512799)
    Oh great, there is another monopoly called Mircosoft?

    One monopoly, we could handle... but this is just ridiculous...
  • Whats the point ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by naden (206984) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:10AM (#11512801)
    All third-party browsers e.g. Firefox and media players e.g. Quicktime ask whether you wish to make them the default when they are opened for the first time. So what is a control panel supposed to achieve ? The effort for the user is in the downloading and installing of the third-party software.

    The DOJ should be instead insisting that Microsoft bundle third-party alternatives with the OS not just providing a control panel.
    • It's not so much that Microsoft should, it's that computer retailers should bundle more 3rd-party software.
      • And it's not that retailers should, rather it's that MS should be forced to allow retailers to bundle third party software. This is where the DOJ and pundits get it all wrong.
        • Good point Nate.

          and perhaps they should not force retailers to put the rediculous "... recommends Windows XP Professional/Home Edition". I can't see that being anything but trying to oust competitors in the operating systems market.
    • So what is a control panel supposed to achieve?

      System-wide defaults and blocking access to specific programs (like OE) on a system-wide basis. You know, Windows has become a multi-user OS these days.

  • by Interfacer (560564) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:11AM (#11512806)
    I have to use linux at work as a developer.
    it has its good sides and its bad sides. so has windows. some tools are better on linux, some on windows.

    but the main advantage on linux is that at least, there is some adherence to standards. most of the protocols are open, and you are basically free to do with it what you want.

    if microsoft wants to be 'not hated', they had better start sharing information and decoupling olexpress, media player and iexplorer from windows.

    i think that the OS market is a bit like fine sand in their hands: the more you try to hold onto it by force, the faster it slips away.

    Since the 2.6 kernel and better USB support, linux is becoming a feasible alternative for businesses, and microsoft is scared as hell of that.

    i bet that we will start seeing more huggy type marketing as longhorn nears its release.

    • Since the 2.6 kernel and better USB support

      Oh, this made me laugh. We have a room full of SuSE Linux machines here, and since they were upgraded to 2.6 kernels USB pen drives haven't worked.

      • Strange... My USD16 USB thumbdrive works on my SuSE 9.1 and it's a 2.6 kernel...

        You looking in the right directory? e.g. /media ?

        You have to have the hotplug stuff on in order to automount the stuff etc.

      • Oh, this made me laugh. We have a room full of SuSE Linux machines here, and since they were upgraded to 2.6 kernels USB pen drives haven't worked.

        Can't be important to you though - I mean, otherwise, you'd have tested one machine first, and not upgraded if there were problems, right?

    • The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

      - Princess Leia Organa, 1977.
    • I'm going to play the ignorant part for a bit...

      ..there is some adherence to standards. most of the protocols are open and you are basically free to do with it what you want.

      A Windows user sitting beside me stated that he can watch any movie content, listen to any music, access any web content, and has an enourmouse choice of software to choose from to get his work done. What is this obession to a kernel and protocols? Where is the obsession to application layer?

      Since the 2.6 kernel and better USB

      • I bet MS is more scared of the free applications that are more and more capable than a free kernel. How many people are saying, "Wow! I can get this great kernel!"? The OS seems to be the least cost when compared with tools that run on top of it. MySQL/PostGres vs MS SQL in license cost. Development tools on the Linux platform vs IDEs from Borland and Microsoft. Office Software on MS brand new vs Open Office or StarOffice or whatever. License costs are what hurt myself and other coworkers not kernel 2.whate
  • by twilight30 (84644) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:11AM (#11512809) Homepage
    'review' a product that hasn't been released yet?

    And why is the Yahoo article writer so keen to get opinions from that twit of an analyst Laura DiDio? I'm sure someone else here will point out her lovely work defending SCO ...

    Finally, why the hell do I care about this? Oh yeah, that's it: because every single one of my clients continues to use MS. Arrgh.
    • It's easy for the DoJ to review software that isn't out yet. The thing has been in alpha for years. And MS has already shiped demo versions to testers a year or two ago. As for further review, MS has continued to refine the programming (what, you think it takes only a month to program an OS?) and the DoJ is most likely reviewing the most recent build. They are probably also taking a look at what "features" and add ons MS intends to include in the OS.
      • You're right, of course. (Digression: I actually tried to install a cracked alpha/beta/whatever months ago for the hell of it. Wouldn't boot. Yes, I'm a hypocrite. Sue me.)

        I meant, though, about the principle of review by government. Although it would make life much more difficult for the DOJ to control once Longhorn is released, I am wondering about the principle of fairness -- though I do not trust Microsoft at all, this smacks of software development by committee and I do have a problem with it.

        OK. I l
        • the DOJ is trying to impose controls on Microsoft before they have even released the software. Doesn't that strike you as strange, in principle?

          In principle, maybe. BUt think about IE/Netscape here and remember that along with WordPerfect/MS word. (MS is convicted of illegaly abusing the monopoly already, the DOJ has to make sure it doesn't happen again) Still, I'd have to think about that a lot more. However, in practicality it is the only way that they have a chance of enforcing the anti-trust setlem
    • Maybe the DOJ just asks to see it? Remember, this review is part of the settlement, something MS agreed to, so as not to be split up into different companies.

      I've got no clue as to why Didio, Enderle, and others are so often sources on tech articles. Possibly they've mastered the art of the soundbite and they're always available, while most real analysts are busy actually doing work.

      Too bad you can't nudge your clients toward a better OS. [coughcoughmacmini]. Well, it was a thought, but probably not appli
      • Your first point: Ah, that must be it. I still have problems with it, on principle (I am now repeating myself, sorry).

        I honestly believe these analysts would a much better time of it if they changed their titles to 'software shill'.

        Your last point: Yeah. I had to give up on Linux advocacy when I realised that hand-holding is 95% of the job. Even with a restricted client base (such as I used to have) and a supportive-but-wary management I found myself losing weeks on simple things like, 'OK, click on the R
  • i HATE microsoft! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zahg (240312)
    I admit I 'hate' Microsoft even though their products are useful and enjoyable enough to use now. But their aggressive business style and the (successful) way they lock consumers/industries into using only their products as well as forced upgrades, unfriendly software and malware intrusions has now left such a bad taste in my mouth that I've been wanting to turn my back on *anything* Microsoft related for a couple of years now.
    Mac mini arriving will allow me to eagerly switch from MS's world to that of Appl
    • by Tim C (15259) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @09:37AM (#11513147)
      No offence, but this is offtopic; congratulations on getting modded up to +5 for a post that has almost nothing to do with the article. I don't blame yo, but the sheep-like moderators, modding up anything anti-MS and pro-linux.

      Two things I sort of take issue with, though:

      as well as forced upgrades

      What forced upgrades, how? My company is still using Office 2000, and have not been "forced" to upgrade, despite some clients using Office XP; the documents still open just fine. There are still machines running NT 4; similarly, nothing is forcing us to upgrade them. Sure, support is running out/has run out, but the same is true of older releases of Linux distros. Without a leet C hacker or two on staff, businesses using them are similarly "forced" to upgrade if they wish to have continued support.

      will be advocating limiting the use of MS products to anyone who will listen

      Rather you should be advocating the use of the best tool for the job. If that tool happens to be from MS, then so be it. MS isn't the answer to everything, but then neither is Linux.
    • Mac mini arriving will allow me to eagerly switch from MS's world to that of Apple Macs

      I've always found it quite interesting that people choose to switch from MS products to Apple products. Apple is quite possibly the most restrictive company of the three. They don't only lock you in with their software, but they lock you in with hardware as well! They force high hardware prices on people because there are no alternatives (although many mac zealots, suprisingly, love to defend the high profit margins
    • The sad thing is, I'm been a faithful mac user (1ghz G4 iBook) for about a year now, and absolutely love it. Yet what do I use for my email program? Entourage. I'd be willing say that Mac Office 2004 is a necessity ($150 student edition, or get a friend at college to get it for $10). I have yet to try Pages or Keynote, but Appleworks just isn't that good, and there really aren't any other alternatives on Mac. And quite frankly, Entourage does a much better job as an all-in-one PIM than the combination o
    • And move out of your parents' basement.
  • longHORN ^^ (Score:2, Funny)

    by jamesbuko (840871)
    strenghtens the fact that Microsoft is the devil!!
  • by Cynical_Dude (548704) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:25AM (#11512850)
    One analyst opines that Mircosoft is appearing to soften its image to become kinder and gentler. 'They don't want people to hate them anymore. They've learned from their mistakes.' Hmmm."

    Yes, renaming the company is a good, first step.

    Dunno if that croatian naming touch will get them very far though...

    Probably don't want to have to rebuy all their corporate "M$" branded coffee mugs, calendars and Mercedes-Benz's...
  • by da_matta (854422) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:31AM (#11512873)
    I don't think MS should underestimated about learning from their mistakes, they've done it before (both of them). It's also something FOSS circles should be concerned about, because a more humble MS could reduce the amount of interest in the alternatives.

    I believe that the arrogant and hostile attitude of MS has been the number one reason corporations and governments have been looking for alternatives, not for example the arquable quality and price of their products. If we for example look at the EU sanctions concerning Media player, I find it hard to believe that anybody was interested in MS hurting the "media player industry" or that there's something wrong with OS including a media player. More likely the EU just wanted to show that they have the political will to confront MS if they don't get the co-operation they want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:34AM (#11512880)
    As a Texan I'd like to catch and rope that Longhorn, kill it and roast it slow over a nice camp fire while discussing the latest Linux and BSD news with my friends.
  • You would think that the editors could at least spell "Microsoft" correct in the article. Especially since that company is discussed "fairly often" around here. Or at least use one of the common misspellings, i.e. M$.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:39AM (#11512895)

    One area that DOJ regulators will be looking at, in particular, is a control panel in Longhorn that facilitates use of a browser and media player other than the Microsoft versions that will be pre-built into the system.

    Great. We have government "experts" who think the choice of media player really important and they aren't even looking at the whole Trusted Computing [cam.ac.uk] initiative and the monopolistic implications thereof.

    • Oh, they've looked at Palladium all right ... looked at it, and found it "good". But they have to be seen doing battle with the current evil Empire, so they pick something like the media player and go after it. Can you say "red herring"?
    • I dont really see that as a big threat anymore. With the huge uptake linux has right now alienating itself with that kind of technology could as well create an island for Microsoft. Im not that certain it wouldn result in people just avoiding Microsoft instead because it would cement Microsoft as a supplier for life. I see many people wanting off the train today that cant because they are locked into MS. Imagine what a migration would be like with trusted computing putting all kinds of barriers up?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    One analyst opines that Mircosoft is appearing to soften its image to become kinder and gentler. 'They don't want people to hate them anymore.'

    Does that include changing their name to Mircosoft?

  • A government that uses closed-source, proprietary software is not an independent government. A company that uses closed-source, proprietary software is not an independent company.

    Yes, Microsoft is abusive, and will remain abusive until its abusive leaders are gone, but that is not the point. The point is that you should not pay someone to keep secrets from you.
    • A government that uses closed-source, proprietary software is not an independent government. A company that uses closed-source, proprietary software is not an independent company.

      Sigh. And since I use Windows at home and at work, I am not a free man? Even if I chose to use Windows.


      • At home you have far greater security that comes from the fact that no one cares what you are doing with your computer.

        Remember the Vietnam war? The U.S. government killed more than 2,000,000 people, none of whom threatened the U.S. directly. Since then, the U.S. government has killed at least 1,000,000 more who did not threaten the U.S. directly. (Most people in the U.S. find these facts so painful that they refuse to learn about why they occurred.)

        Don't think that a government that spends an almost
  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thogard (43403) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @08:48AM (#11512924) Homepage
    The DOJ has no balls unless they are dealing with individual people and MS isn't people so its business as usual.

    If the DOJ had a clue they would have split up MFST into two+ companies that each had an OS and had to compete with each other. And the company with Word would be competing with the company that had Excel and they wouldn't be allowed to talk to each other except via a public blog. And most of the game divisions would all now be working for different companies.

    But the current DOJ people never bothered to look at the Standard Oil case or were bought off.
  • Still I may not use Visual Foxpro with WIne thanks to MS EULA. And of course competition law is always weak. After 4 years of examination they order somthing which is then further delayed in court.

    See the EU agreement in whcih MS is forced to license a Windows without media player. They provide it to the same price....

    MS is a anti-competitive company.
  • by CmdrGravy (645153)
    "One analyst opines that Mircosoft is appearing to soften its image to become kinder and gentler."

    I guess that would be why there are a sudden rash of MS Ads on the TV lately and why Mr Gates is appearing with Mr Blair explaining how they are jointly going to save all the poor, ill people in the world.

    Why anyone would think that appearing with Mr Blair is going to do anything to improve their credibility is beyond me but no doubt they will have found plenty of time to do 'business' backstage.
  • I won't efin' hate Microsoft anymore when I have a check in my hand, signed by BILL himself, paying me back for all the licensing that I had to buy for hardware that IS STILL RUNNING LINUX to this day.

    Fuck Microsoft. Now and forever.
  • I wonder what effects a Longhorn product delay would have? Could people be more compelled to upgrade to a *nix as the *nix's improve and XP ramains stagnent? I wonder...
  • by Presence1 (524732) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @10:10AM (#11513298) Homepage
    Microsoft's early mission statement was "A computer on every desk, running Microsoft software".

    Their current mission statement [microsoft.com] is: "To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential."

    Before October 2002, it was "To empower people through great software -- any time, any place, and on any device."

    The early mission satement was far better, and more representative of how they actully do business. If you were an employee, which statement gives you the most clear goals? If you were an investor, which company's stock would you buy? Of course, there's no mention of integrity, quality, ethics, but nevermind that...

    Back to the topic, has anyone seen any real changes in behavior (not just some analyst saying they want to be nicer)?
  • Microsoft indeed realizes that they have an image problem in some respects (of course they're percieved much worse in places like Slashdot than they are in the market as a whole) and they're trying to change that.

    One of the things that stood out when I listened in on their earnings call the other day is that they're showing a temporary drop in revenue from MSN search due to decreasing of the number of paid results that are returned.

    Consider that. They're saying no to money in the bag, in order to attract
  • You know what (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phantasmo (586700) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @10:36AM (#11513403)
    Here's what I'd have liked to see:
    Windows XP Professional, at the Home price, shipping with SP2 preinstalled. The product also includes MS Antispyware and MS Antivirus with free updates for the life of Windows XP.
    The default install comes locked down - firewall on, IE security cranked up to High, Messenger and other unnecessary services turned off, user accounts are by default Users and not Administrators.
    There is no nagging about associating your Windows account with your Passport, and IE will cleanly uninstall with no complaints. Explorer does not treat you like an idiot and lets you navigate into any folder you choose without having to opt in.

    Then I would say that Windows is OKAY. So, maybe these antitrust guys can keep Microsoft on its toes and get them to produce an OKAY Windows.

    Great insurance against future antitrust stuff: port Office to .Net. Then just say, "Look, our stuff runs on OS X and that Linux thing! Mono!" At least they'll still be selling copies of Office.
  • Longhorn is scheduled for release in 2006.
    Cracks me up every time.
  • Exactly what mistakes has Microsoft made then? They are the biggest, most successful computer company on the face of the planet. The antitrust settlement was no more than a slap on the wrist; profits continue to climb, and show no signs of doing otherwise.

    Before you flame away, note that I'm not passing judgement on any moral issues or suchlike, I'm just saying that, from Microsoft's point of view, as a business, any mistakes they might have made pale into insignificance compared to their spectacular succe
  • Puhleez... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Saturday January 29, 2005 @11:33AM (#11513681)
    Products aside, MS had built a reputation of intimidation. The Dept.of Justice should have broken the OEM contracts. That would have leveled the playing field a whole lot quicker. As long as they have OEM's at their mercy they'll remain a monopoly. Yes, OEM's have a choice in the outset but what are they to do? I dislike MS more for their "business" practices than their OS's.
  • Hatred of Microsoft diminishes by orders of magnitude the further you get from Slashdot. Fundamentally, the reason anti-trust prosecutions stall out is because they don't have any popular support.

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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