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The Future of Innovation At Stake? 210

Posted by Zonk
from the bum-bum-bummmmmm dept.
Neuropol writes "Next week, Microsoft will launch a challenge against the European Union's highest court. The European Commission will need to decide if they are to overturn the EU Court's 2004 Anti-Trust case ruling. Amid arguments over the usual suspects like Windows Media Player, one of the key points of the CNN article that caught my attention was this quote from a EU Commission lawyer stating that Microsoft aims 'to eliminate the openness of the Internet, to proprietize the Internet, the lawyer said, adding the groundwork will be laid in Microsoft's forthcoming new operating system, Vista.'"
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The Future of Innovation At Stake?

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  • by xIcemanx (741672) on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:38AM (#15173228)
    Microsoft aims 'to eliminate the openness of the Internet, to proprietize the Internet, the lawyer said, adding the groundwork will be laid in Microsoft's forthcoming new operating system, Vista.

    Well if that's the case then we have nothing to worry about.
    • I would comment on this article, but slashdot is sadly behind the times and doesn't support my Microsoft Slashdot (tm) Reader's (tm) Article Post (pat. pend. microsoft) Internet (tm) Extension (tm), or even the patentend "Click-to-post" button... I'm afraid until Slashdot straightens up and supports modern (microsoft) interoperable (microsoft) standards, and joins the (microsoft) internet that they'll be sadly left behind. (tm)
  • Old dog, old tricks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:38AM (#15173229) Journal

    Key article quote:

    "What Microsoft is talking about is freedom for them to innovate, not others," said lawyer Thomas Vinje, representing a group of competitors that will speak at the hearing."
    and:
    Last year, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told Germany's Manager Magazin: "We needed the first years to conquer the PC and those following to be ahead in the server business. In the upcoming years we'll conquer the Internet."

    Seems Microsoft, et. al., especially Balmer are back to their old swagger when they talk so boldly about "conquering". Remember Ballmer, during the US DOJ investigation was the one who said "Janet Reno can go to Hell."

    (And, before any business experts go off on "a company's business is to make money by conquering a market", remember, Microsoft is already convicted of abusing its monopoly position to introduce an imbalance in other markets. This is exactly the position Balmer takes so boldly in his interview.)

    Amazing.

    • first Last year, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told Germany's Manager Magazin: "We needed the first years to conquer the PC and those following to be ahead in the server business. In the upcoming years we'll conquer the Internet." Yeah? And? Hey look, they're a company, and they win. They find a market, they go to it, and they win. Look, fining MS isn't going to do anything. If you're concerned about a monopoly, split up the company, AT&T style. A fine is useless. An MS is not - I rep
      • by grahamkg (5290)
        I agree with you. I hate MS products, but this is business. MS defines each generation x86 PC through their logo program, and - guess what? - companies build equipment to that spec by their choice. And mods, it's not flamebait.
      • by FyRE666 (263011)
        How's the weather up there in your cloud of ignorance. I'm not sure if you're trolling, or just completely misguided. MS have (and this is documented by hard evidence that anyone with an ounce of sense can dig up on Google) put competitors out of business by using their monopoly position on many occasions.

        In fact, a company I worked at saw this happen first hand where MS forced Compaq to use its product; which was riddled with bugs, and had far less features than the competition, despite requiring twice the
      • by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipe ... m minus caffeine> on Friday April 21, 2006 @12:45PM (#15174551)
        MS is not being fined by the EU for being a monopolist, or for being a successful company, or anything of the sort. They are being fined because the EU made some specific demand, like - produce working, legible, understandable and implementable specifications for your interoperability protocol suite - CIFS etc. - and they refuse to do so, obfuscating everything.

        The EU doesn't much care if every server in the EU is a windows server, but they do want to make that others have a chance of actually interoperating with those servers. Splitting up MS isn't going to achieve that, but fines will.
        • I think a better way to get there is to make it mandatory for every hard- and software vendor to open the specifications, so everybody can use them. If you don't open them, you're not allowed to sell.
      • Please. MS never broke up a company Homer Simpson style. Every company they bought sold to them. Every company that went under lost to them.

        Stacker. Caldera/Novell. IBM's OS/2 division.

        Those are three examples that I can think of off the top of my head. In each of those situations MS "allied" with a company, than stabbed them behind the back. Stacker went under because of it, even though they won in court years later (after the company was gutted).

        MS's strategy of "commit crime now, pay fine later after opp
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      What Microsoft is talking about is freedom for them to innovate, not others

      Not even that. Since when is it innovative to simply bundle an application that works in the same way as multiple competing applications? Just become it comes with the OS instead of having to be installed separately, it doesn't mean it's innovative.

    • by zerocool^ (112121) on Friday April 21, 2006 @11:33AM (#15173860) Homepage Journal

      I heard they weren't going to conquer the intrnet.

      I head they WERE GOING TO FUCKING KILL THE INTERNET! *THROWS CHAIR*
      • I heard they weren't going to conquer the intrnet.

        I head they WERE GOING TO FUCKING KILL THE INTERNET! *THROWS CHAIR*

        Well, if there is nothing but M$ software to run the internet, it could very well happen. *throws old DOS floppy out the window*

  • by MECC (8478) * on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:38AM (#15173231)
    "In the upcoming years we'll conquer the Internet."

    If MS does manage to 'conquer the internet' [bink.nu], that would be like the Catholic church successfully conquering that irritating 'printing press' when it first showed up. After, it was being used to print unauthorized material that was distributed by a network of individuals via unauthorized channels, worst of all information critical of the holy mother church. The horror.

    The more they tighten their grasp, the more of the internet will slip through their fingers....

    • The more they tighten their grasp, the more of the internet will slip through their fingers....

      Microsoft: Not after we demonstrate the power of this new operating system. In a way, you have determined the choice of the market that will be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with control over the Internet, we have chosen to test this operating system's destructive power on your home PC!

      Consumers: No! We are peaceful! We have no weapons, you can't possibly...

      Microsoft: You pr
    • I'd like to point out if you look at the business model of a lot of companies it is, in fact, for complete and global dominance with their product.

      Can we blame Microsoft for having the spot it does? No. I don't think so. Millions have been paying for Windows to be their system of choice. PC took off, Windows/DOS was easy and known and was able to keep up with changing software and demands (Though, perhaps as unstable as it could be sometimes).

      I guess what starts to come about is when do we draw the line

      • by advocate_one (662832) on Friday April 21, 2006 @12:23PM (#15174354)
        Can we blame Microsoft for having the spot it does? No. I don't think so. Millions have been paying for Windows to be their system of choice.

        bollocks... millions have never had a choice... they're victims of Microsoft's monopolistic abuses in the OEM market... OEMS forced to pay for windows even though they were shipping OS2 on machines... cliff-tiered pricing for OEM copies that made it completely uneconomical to put anything else on the machines... kickbacks in the form of market development funds for OEMs promoting only windows on machines... why else do all the PC makers have that XXX reccomends Microsoft Windows XP on their machines??? they get paid for it and if they promote any other OS actively they lose the market development funds... why else do you find the Dell Linux machines well buried in the website with no direct links to them... you have to actively search for them.

        • why else do all the PC makers have that XXX reccomends Microsoft Windows XP on their machines??? they get paid for it and if they promote any other OS actively they lose the market development funds...

          PC makers are VARS (Value Added Resellers) for Windows. See, at first the PC makers LOVED the fact that Microsoft would pay for THEIR marketing as long as it contained something about Windows in it. This is normal operating procedure for any VAR relationship. The PC seller quite often offers its own tech supp
        • millions have never had a choice... they're victims of Microsoft's monopolistic abuses in the OEM market...

          The OEMs have been crying all the way to the bank for the last twenty-five years.

          The commodity PC running MSDOS and Windows sold in the kind of numbers no one had seen before. It was affordable. It was adaptable. There was big money to be made in after-market sales.

          why else do you find the Dell Linux machines well buried in the website with no direct links to them... you have to actively search for

    • If MS does manage to 'conquer the internet', that would be like the Catholic church successfully conquering that irritating 'printing press' when it first showed up.


      An exceedingly apt analogy [fourmilab.ch].
    • Maybe you should revisit the consequences of the Church trying to stop dissemination of a common language bible, scientific treatises, etc.. Is society to go through an equivalent period for the sake of Corporatism, IP and Bill Gates?
  • by PenguinBoyDave (806137) <david&davidmeyer,org> on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#15173256)
    Like life, creative people will find a way. Some of the most brilliant and creative people I have ever met are Open Source people who, against the odds, have successfully taken on the giants and done so well. Red Hat, MySQL, Firefox...just to name a few. Talking about new and creative products, one only need look to SPLUNK.

    The only people who see innovation as dead are those who don't thin it is possible to create. I'm not creative...I'll admit that. But I don't think everyone will throw in the towel, and I think some of the best is yet to come...from the Open Source community.
    • Like life, creative people will find a way. Some of the most brilliant and creative people I have ever met are Open Source people who, against the odds, have successfully taken on the giants and done so well. Red Hat, MySQL, Firefox...just to name a few. Talking about new and creative products, one only need look to SPLUNK.

      I've got no idea what SPLUNK is so I'll assume 99% of the population doesn't. Anyway, the coming future is that you will not be allowed to make competing products freely. They are so prot
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:42AM (#15173264)
    This latest Microsoft argument reminds me of one of my favorite things in the whole world.

    And that is watching someone get so mad that not only do they stop making sense, but they lose the ability to even form grammatically sensible sentences.

    Seeing someone, or in this case, company just fucking lose it is a rare and wonderful sight to see.

  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@@@connexer...com> on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:42AM (#15173267) Homepage

    Microsoft aims 'to eliminate the openness of the Internet, to proprietize the Internet, the lawyer said, adding the groundwork will be laid in Microsoft's forthcoming new operating system, Vista.'

    That has been their goal since the inception of Microsoft Network. They saw how lucrative Prodigy and Compuserver and AOL were and wanted to get in on the action. The problem was that they were too late and those services were already on the decline in favor of more open Internet access. "You mean I can send a message to by friend who has Compuserve even though I am on AOL?"

    Basically, they have been trying to bring the world back to the "bad old days".

  • Old argument (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:48AM (#15173334) Journal
    The Commission found Microsoft tied its own Windows Media Player so it would appear on every computer running Windows, unfairly competing against RealNetworks' Real Player and others.

    Yes, bundling Media Player with Windows gives MS an unfair advantage givent their market penetration. However, Windows does not prevent you from downloading any media software you want and using it. This is the same intellectualization people use when they talk about offensive books or TV programs. Yes, these things are readily available, but if you don't like their content, you can always refuse to read those books or watch those programs. And so it goes with Windows: use Media Player or don't -- you have a choice.

    In the end, it isn't about Media Player, per se, but Microsoft's domination of the software market. However, all the EU is doing is poking Gulliver with their Lilliputian sticks. Unless the EU plans on banning Microsoft entriely (and how could they!), they will never be able to put enough of a chokehold on Ballmer and Company to seriously dent their market share.

    • Re:Old argument (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The_Noid (28819)
      This isn't about the player itself, it's about the codecs.
      If you as content provider want to distribute something to a large audience you have to choose a codec. So what are you going to choose?
      A. Real, that isn't installed on just about every computer on the planet, meaning a large part of you audience will have to search for a player and install it. Meaning most won't bother with your content cause it's too much of a hassle.
      B. WMV, wich directly plays on just about every machine without problems...

      Most pr
      • Look at Apple. Itunes is going strong, Quicktime is being taken along for the ride, and Hollywood is fixated on using Quicktime and Itunes to increase sales. Microsoft would have to practically give away songs for free to compete against apple anymore, and they would probably still have to fight hard for what apple is taking over.

        Also, Don't forget Macromedia Flash is now starting to take a big amount of streaming traffic away from MS and all other streaming clients out there. It's Cross Platform, automatic
      • Well, there's also the fact that Real is an absolutely garbage codec whilst WMV is . . . acceptable. Not great, but doen't make me want to pull my hair out.

        Look at the codec of choice for pirated stuff though: a Divx variant of some sort (either Divx5 or Xvid) in an AVI container (a format that Microsoft created, but has pretty much abandoned). There is some slow movement towards OGM, but but I doubt that it will ever surpass AVI.

        I think the market as a whole is still exercising some authority in the mat
    • "use Media Player or don't -- you have a choice."

      Given the amount of content that is available only in WMA format, that's rather like saying "breathe or don't -- you have a choice." Can you say "network effects"? Sure, I knew you could.
      • Ever hear of VLC [videolan.org]? Free (both as in speech AND as in beer), simple, doesn't hog resources, and plays pretty much every codec I've come across.

        I didn't stop breathing, I just started using my nose instead of my mouth. You might want to give it a shot :)
    • Re:Old argument (Score:3, Insightful)

      You and I can get Firefox or real player on the web, but there are a lot of people out there who can't, simply because using the computer for more than Word and CNN.com and e-mail. And anything that has more than 3 steps is going to be hard for them to do on their own. My parents are thrilled they've figured out how to IM me, and they've owned a computer for 10 years.
    • Re:Old argument (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770)
      And so it goes with Windows: use Media Player or don't -- you have a choice.

      In theory you do, in practise they're using their monopoly so that it isn't rational. Imagine you're building a car from parts, and Microsoft has a monopoly on the engine block. Then they start shipping "free" carburators with each engine block. Of course, they're not actually free because you sure paid for them somehow but if you want anything else, you have to not only pay full price for new ones (which can't cross-subsidize like
      • Except that Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly. It is damn easier nowadays to download and install a linux dist than it is to buy and install Windows. Of the 3 machines I use, one is XP and the two run flavors of Linux. And my next computer will probably be a mac. And on my Windows machine, I don't use IE (except for specificly testing IE), nor do I use Windows Media Player.

        Microsoft HAS done some bad things, such as adopting standards and then slightly changing them in their implementaton in order to sabata
        • Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly? Try to run a business depending on generic, custom and niche applications while avoiding the use of windows? Can't be done

          The true monopoly that MS has is on 'platforms that run windows applications', and they don't have a competitor there (wine is not functional enough). Funnily enough they created this market, but due to its immense success this market is now too important to be (man)handled by the monopolist that created it.

          • Microsoft's monopoly on niche applications is because of Visual Basic. Of course, geeks like to make fun of Visual Basic... but that is why Microsoft is the OS of choice for those niche applications. Someone who has some highly developed niche skill isn't also going to learn how to do full software development, and because it is a small niche it probably isn't going to be cost effective to hire a developer... they are gonna grab VB and throw something together. Every niche piece of software I have used was
    • In the end, it isn't about Media Player, per se, but Microsoft's domination of the software market. However, all the EU is doing is poking Gulliver with their Lilliputian sticks. Unless the EU plans on banning Microsoft entriely (and how could they!), they will never be able to put enough of a chokehold on Ballmer and Company to seriously dent their market share.

      Um, actually, you'd be surprised at how "easy" it would be for them to officially ban MS software from the EU. Oh, the difficult part would be keep
    • Re:Old argument (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      However, Windows does not prevent you from downloading any media software you want and using it.

      The point is that those providing the media know that EVERYONE has WMP. so why not use Windows Media formats? Why not use Windows Media DRM? Ten years ago, when someone said they would "send me a file", I could get WordPerfect, WordStar, IBM Displaywrite, etc, etc. Now the ONLY format you get is MS Word. And though standardising is simpler in many ways, it would be even better if it were an open standard. With

    • What if (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheLastUser (550621)
      What if none of these other viewers will allow you to view the content produced/consumed by WMP? How much of a choice do you have then? I don't think that anyone cares if MS adds a piece of software, but what they always do is add a piece of software that uses a secret, propritary, copyrighted, and/or DRM'ed data format to ensure that no one else can compete by simply building a better media player.

      NFS/SMB: If nobody can connect to your server who will use your filer?
      MSIE: If you can't view the "best viewed
    • "This is the same intellectualization people use when they talk about offensive books or TV programs. Yes, these things are readily available, but if you don't like their content, you can always refuse to read those books or watch those programs."

      Close, but no cigar. This like the having the choice to delete the pre-loaded hard-core porn distributed by the entertainment division of the video player you just bought. Not that it would be a bad thing.

    • "However, Windows does not prevent you from downloading any media software you want and using it."

      That's not the point. The point is that most people won't bother and because Microsoft is bundling it into its monopoly product it unfairly tilts the playing field. Abusing a monopoly position is illegal and something Microsoft has already been convicted of multiple times.

      "This is the same intellectualization people use when they talk about offensive books or TV programs"

      Out of who's ass did you pull that?

      "In
  • by boog3r (62427) on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:49AM (#15173341)
    Proprietize? How is Microsoft going to bring propriety to the internet?

    Perhaps you meant proprietarize, to bring proprietary to the internet?

    You should quitize using izes... you are havizing no needize to verbalize a noun all the time...

  • by tddoog (900095)
    the real player still exists. (FTA) RealNetworks gave up competing last year after Microsoft paid it $761 million to settle a private antitrust suit and for a marketing agreement.

    I have always wondered how they have survived.

  • WinFX (Score:5, Informative)

    by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:57AM (#15173453)
    Microsoft aims 'to eliminate the openness of the Internet, to proprietize the Internet, the lawyer said, adding the groundwork will be laid in Microsoft's forthcoming new operating system, Vista.'"

    For those who don't know, he's probably referring specifically to WinFX APIs including XAML that allow you to download and run an app through IE. So it's a clever attempt at replacing/renaming ActiveX and making the web a Windows-dependent app delivery platform. It will be sad if they succeed, since the formerly platform-independent web will become little more than a content house for IE-delivered Vista apps.
    • In some ways, I sorta hope they succeed. This will likely introduce a whole new set of spyware / virus / phishing schemes never before imaginable or possible until Vista.
  • Legitimate Concerns (Score:3, Informative)

    by Atomm (945911) on Friday April 21, 2006 @11:01AM (#15173505) Homepage
    Personally, I became concerned when I learned that Microsoft had rewritten the TCP/IP stack in Vista/Longhorn and added some of their own protocols.

    For those who do not understand, the TCP/IP stack in almost all OSes is based on the original BSD stack. The protocols all have specific rules. Every part of the OSI Layers serves a specific function. It works and should not be monkeyed with.

    It is scary when Microsoft decides they can do something better than the IEEE. Anyone remember WINS? How well did that work? It seems they learned their lesson. Now, instead of trying to compete with TCP/IP, they are going to rewrite their own needs into the protocols. This is very, very scary.

    Here are the boring technical details.

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/columns /cableguy/cg0905.mspx [microsoft.com]

    Be afraid, be very afraid.....
    • Um, yeah, sorry. They aren't changing TCP/IP. They are just adding API features to the stack and better v6 support. Hate to break it to ya, but modern TCP/IP stacks are not just code copied from a BSD. They have been added to and portions have been rewritten.

      Heres an example of some of the features they added:

      -Reconfigure without having to restart the computer
      -New support for scaling on multi-processor computers
      -Easier kernel mode network programming

      There is nothing in the article that suggests changes/enha
    • Interesting choice of words "monkeyed with." I'm surprised that monkey training isn't a hot, high paying career in The Land Of Redmond.
    • Hogwash. Either you posted the wrong link, or Microsoft isn't doing any of the things you're accusing them of. I've briefly read through a couple of the articles, and Microsoft seems to just follow recent RFCs for various performance improvements, as well as redoing their APIs one more time. Nothing really spectacular.

      And you seem to be a real expert on networks? TCP/IP has nothing to do with OSI, and it wasn't designed or specified by IEEE...

  • by theonlyholle (720311) on Friday April 21, 2006 @11:09AM (#15173581) Homepage
    The European Commission will need to decide if they are to overturn the EU Court's 2004 Anti-Trust case ruling
    Ehm... it's the other way round - the commission is part of the executive and its decision is now undergoing judicial review by the court... it may sometimes seem like it, but the EU is not a bunch of banana republics where the executive controls the courts ;)
  • definitions (Score:3, Funny)

    by psbrogna (611644) on Friday April 21, 2006 @11:10AM (#15173588)
    There appears to be some confusion over the definition of "forthcoming". It's unlikely you'd say for example "the forthcoming heat death of the universe."
  • ..."Microsoft aims 'to eliminate the openness of the Internet, to proprietize the Internet, the lawyer said, adding the groundwork will be laid in Microsoft's forthcoming new operating system, Vista.'"...

    Yeah, good luck on that one. Considering most DNS/web servers run *nix/Cisco and Apache (respectively) I do not see how a desktop OS could 'proprietize' the Internet...there are too many server admins out there that are *nix junkies. If M$ somehow does stop networks from talking to each other, it will de
  • by carric (61628) on Friday April 21, 2006 @11:40AM (#15173939)
    This is idiotic... let's say the EU gets their way and MS has to rip out media player, IE, etc. Now what are people going to do? Buy something else?? If they don't put IE in the OS, people will either download IE or Firefox. If they take away media player, people will download media player, quicktime, and MAYBE the free version of real audio. Now what the hell has been accomplished?? I realize everyone loves to hate MS, and I have my share of issues with them, but honestly, hasn't packaging all the stuff WITH windows made running a PC cheaper? I remember when Netscape was like $40. IE is the reason we don't have to pay that anymore, so go ahead and "put your hate on", but I'm all for getting free stuff.
  • Well if the information presented at Mix 06 is any indication, MS is actually in the process of opening up even more of their new technologies, even if it is a bit self serving.

    The old days when they actually made non-windows counterparts to their technologies or allowed them to be easily used on non-MS technologies seem to be returning. Maybe someone is smacking Ballmer's business minded MS ONLY mentally back to the curb at MS. We can only hope, as they have a lot of bright people and if they start playing

  • Microsoft - "Your passion, our permission"

    MjM

  • Special limited exclusive commercial rights for ideas has been around a few centuries.

    By now, we ought to have a good idea of how well it works and under what circumstances it works best.

    Compared to the 18th century when patent terms and copyright lifetimes were dreamt up, the pace of innovation today with so many innovators who are able to communicate so quickly, it seems to me that the duration of special patent and copyright protection ought to be much shorter. After a few years, "IP" should drop into

  • Microsoft Innovation? That is about the biggest oxymoron I have heard! Microsoft has already made inroads into making the internet a Windows only affair. There are web pages out there that will only work with Internet Explorer running on Windows. There are even more pages that provide fewer features if you are using anything other than the IE/Windows combination. Most of these pages would work with other browsers and platforms except for the fact they were created with Microsoft Content creation tools.

    I thi
  • This is far from news. Quite some time ago (1997, I believe) Nathan Myhrvold - at that time Microsoft's "strategist" - claimed that Microsoft felt it wanted (was owed in some sense) a fee for every internet transaction that involved any Microsoft tools. Ideally then, from Microsoft's viewpoint, every transaction would involve Microsoft tools and they could make a profit on every internet transaction. This may not be their official public stance these days, but then again...

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!

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