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America Online

AOL Seeks Cable Pact With MSN 69

Daemosthenes points to this Washington Post article, which reads in part: "America Online Inc. is negotiating a deal to give its long-standing nemesis Microsoft Corp. access to Time Warner Inc.'s cable-television lines in a push to meet government demands over AOL's pending takeover of the media company, according to sources familiar with the matter. The rapprochement between AOL and MSN, Microsoft's online service, is a startling reversal of form for two fierce competitors offering rival online services and instant-messaging systems." The entangling alliances here are thicker than your average EULA, too -- the story points out some of the other tendrils which tie together several of the big ISPs, including one of mine (Earthlink).
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AOL Seeks Cable Pact With MSN

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    How about we simply expect that people will take personal responsibility for themselves...

    What are you, some kind of Libertarian?

    How can we expect anyone to take care of themselves, the government knows what is best for everyone, don't they?

  • What percentage of Microsoft revenues and profits are made from MSN? I don't exactly know. Perhaps they only loose money, perhaps they make a tiny bit.
    But surely, this is the only point where Microsoft and AOL can rightly be considered competitors.
    Or do you think that they compete with Internet browsers? Well, that is a non-profit thing today, where AOL is trying as hard as Microsoft to force Microsoft's browser upon the unsuspecting public. With Microsoft shipping its browser with every Intel machine that isn't screwed together by consumers themselves and also with all Apples - well, that's what Microsoft bought a slice of Apple for - there isn't a market for browsers today - whatever other browsers may technically exist.
    There are two reasons that Microsoft and AOL are considered competitors. The first is that Microsoft wants a monopoly in the business AOL is in and - as has been its decades long policy - it uses its monopoly in operating systems (both what they ship themselves, and Apple's stuff that they control) to obtain it. Just click "the internet" on your new computer, and loo, there is MSN. Now there's a piece of control over the internet connection market that AOL can't match, and therefore this company is likely to loose in the long term.
    Second there is the big noise that Microsoft made about AOL being a formidable competitor, without there being any business like ground to call them this, as AOL was not, and is not competing for any of the relevant sources of Microsoft's income.
    All this AOL-is-our-biggest-competitor stuff that was reprinted after Microsoft's press releases is a bubble. A look at each company's sources of revenue will show this.
  • Please read the article. AOL and Time Warner are already close to finalizing deals with EarthLink and Juno Online, which, according to the article are the number 2 and 3 national ISP's, AOL being number 1. So now they're also courting number 4 (or whatever rank Microsoft holds). How is this a monopoly?
  • RoadRunner service in NYC is rediculous. We pay insane prices and get horrible service. I can't stay connected to IRC for anymore than 4 hours without getting disconnected. Sometimes theres no internet access at all. If you call up and ask whats up, they always say 'Theres an outage...' Perhaps if more competition is introduced in the area, maybe cheaper DSL, TimeWarner will shape up but I doubt it...
  • The only reason that IE is there is because it gets them onto the windows desktop. Sort of like a "lesser of two evils" thing akin to our elections, really. If they didn't support MS by integrating IE into their client, they themselves wouldn't have access to nearly as large of a potential client base. That seems to be the only reason they've stayed committed to IE thus far.
  • That's very interesting. Here in Milwaukee, we also can get RR from Time-Warner, but the service is absolutely excellent. I have two complaints with it. First, everything's routed through Ohio, which is annoying but not really a large problem. Second, their internal network adds large latencies from time to time, which makes multiplayer games... interesting. It's not a constant problem, though. All in all, I'm extremely pleased with the service, and it's better compared to what I've heard people say about DSL around here.
  • I feel the need to point out that these discussions deftly demonstrate the dynamic deviltry of this dueling demonic duo,
  • From (sorry for the formatting)

    Main Entry: rapprochement
    Pronunciation: "ra-"prOsh-'män, -"prosh-; ra-'prOsh-"
    Function: noun
    Etymology: French, from rapprocher to bring together, from Middle
    French, from re- + approcher to approach, from Old French
    Date: 1809
    : establishment of or state of having cordial relations

  • Stop sniveling like a sandworm and block them out. []
  • ``AOL and MS have been allies from day one."

    Hardly. Read the book At one of Bill Gates first meetings with Steve Case he basically told Case, "I can buy you or I can crush you." Thats not something you tell an ally.

    MSN was Microsoft's attempt to crush AOL. Good luck now Billy Boy.
  • ``If they attempt to just open them up to MS, hoping that that will be enough to obtain regulatory approval... and they succeed...all hell will break loose."

    All this is, is a show of "good will" that AOL will not attempt to shut them out later. More companies will follow.
  • I listen to books on tape when I multitask, often when laying a page, writing HTML or driving. But someone who just sits down and listens to a book on tape... that's just not right. Buy the book.

  • Entrails. It'd be a better word for the context, seeing as AOL is out to gut whoever it comes in contact with.

  • If this doesnt prove that absolute power corrupts absolutely, I don't know what does. AOL would rather embrace an enemy than the public.

    I've previously supported AOL as the owners of Netscape (Netscape 6 is neato ;-) ) but this has only drove my opinion of the company lower.
  • Ah yes when you have nothing to say just say something to insult slashdot. Not a bad gambit really it usually cranks up the "insightful" points. In your case doesn't seem to have worked though.
  • I feel the same way toward AOL people as I do toward people who listen to books on tape.
  • Its going to be hilarious when your $400 dollar "discount" for signing a multi-year MSN dial-up contract is going to cost just a little less than what 1 megabit and above cable connection will cost you.

    These "deals" should be illegal, they target the non-tech savvy and those with the least amount of money. They bind them to $22 a month dial-up, which in the industry is an unarguable rip-off. $10 dial-ups are common and there's always NetZero.

    This is the problem with large conentrations of wealth, MS can take huge hits in profit because they know they can ride it out for a few thousand years, literally.

    I'm half expecting a payday loan center in Best Buy and an MSAOL credit card with one free on-line purchase. I can see the hologram sticker now, at one angle its a smiling Bill at the other its a smiling Steve.

    What the FTC should be looking at along with monopolistic practices is the effect on personal debt, which we know is at its all time highest.

  • Obviously, you are extremely new to slashdot. I didn't realize they were doling out five digit user-ids for new accounts. On this website, the meaning of monopoly has nothing to do with market segment share, but it means a company which does not use Linux, wants to shut down Napster, competes with AMD, and/or seeks to punish people who trade DeCSS source code. As you can see, AOL easily fits this definition (criteria #1), and therefore is a monopoly.
  • I just can't figure out which one is "they" and which one is the "devil"...
  • So, by assuring a Microsoft-AOL duopoly this is supposed to be better than a potential AOL monopoly? I don't think so. Both companies have different focuses, and so by making them both more powerful, the scope of the duopoly would be tremendous, encompassing virtually the entire computer industry.

    I was never really that worried about the AOL-Time Warner merger (I don't think AOL is managed well enough to dominate the market), but now I am.

  • damn, your signature is so fucking lame
  • This is a bit different. Movies or CDs are unique, whereas AOL and MSN are selling access to (essentially) the same service (internet).
  • What AOL lacks for in monopoly power, it makes up for in total lameness. If you've ever used AOL you would realize the evil that it is. M$ at least doesn't release new versions of windows with literally no new features (except bugs reclassified as features) and two dozen new ways to fuck the customer. Besides that, people can live their lives knowing nothing but AOL- get their news from time warner, their net from aol, etc.

    -Elendale (blah)

  • Danger Will Gates Danger. COme on AOl is one of the few companies that think they can out class Microsoft. Wonder how quick they'll be to skuttle some of microsofts efforts. Just so that they can keep on top of things.
  • AOL annexed Netscape...AOL invaded occupied ICQ
    Um, no. AOL bought both of these companies. The stockholders/owners of Netscape and ICQ got paid a fair price for their businesses (if it wasn't fair, they wouldn't have taken the deal, would they?).

    The business world is not the world of statecraft. Yes, there are similarities, and I grant you it is an interesting analogy. But there are more differences. AOL/TW can't fire artillery at AT&T, though that would be interesting to see. Microsoft is not going to round up millions of Unix sysadmins and put them in concentration camps. Nobody's going to war over this one. AOL/TW and MSFT are just two companies out to make as many dollars as they can. In the corporate world, you do that by making customers happy and growing as much as you can.

  • yes it is. My ISP is one of those.

  • As far as I can tell, the only reason AOL is hated so much is because some people still resent the day AOL dumped a boat-load of newbies onto the net. First, this has always smacked of petty elitism. Second, how many of you posting anti-AOL flames had even entered puberty when this happened, let alone used the internet?

    What AOL does is offer hassle-free net access to people who don't have the time or training to otherwise use online services. Why is this a bad thing?

    Slashdot: Firmly in favor of access for everybody (unless we need to feel superior to someone and beat up on a reasonably decent corporation that day).

  • Earthlink may buy smaller ISP's, but Earthlink/Mindspring is a great ISP. They provide a connection to the internet with little content. You do what you want without all the spam.
  • This is just another example of dirty business overrunning politics. I sincerely hope that the FTC does not see AOL opening up to Microsoft as a reason to let the AOL/Time-Warner merger go through. Jeez...out of the pot and into the fire if I've ever been there. Maybe I will just stay o n a university campus forever so I don't have to deal with the ugly direction in which the cable business is going. :-) Oh, I wish. Anyway, once MS get its grubby hands on cable, open access is pretty much through the window.
    SPeaking of which, since when are these two nasty corporations on good terms? Anyone remember the MSN messenger/AIM thing? They hate each other. This is obviously just a nasty attempt to get more money/lobbying done for AOL & Time Warner. If this works, I'm declaring independence. :-)

  • Get them the network and get the merger approved.

    Then, gee, imcompatibilities develop in the network. No one knows exactly why...they just...happen.

    Welcome to the Microsoft Defined World of Business.

  • i think the deal is a saving grace for microsoft and their venture into interactive tv. at&t passed on microsoft's middleware software (because they had delays), and chose AOLTV-powered Liberate. Now, they have access to Time-Warner's broad pipes in addition to Echostar's. just a thought
  • Didn't you hear. This [] should answer your question.

  • could there be a connection between netscape, and m$ exploder here? ;-)

  • An oligopoly on what, exactly? Locally, if the cable system had a choice of four ISPs, it would mean 12 different broadband ISPs between cable, DSL, and satellite. This is not counting instances of the same ISP on two or three delivery methods.

    And completely open access is a fantasy, as long as equipment has to be co-located. The laws of physics apply to all matter -- no exemptions for ISP equipment.
  • You even mention AIM+ICQ but don't mention that AOL owns them both... Yet they didn't create ICQ... Sound like Microsoft Getting DOS? anyone??? And of course it's not like AOL realized other AIM-Compatible clients were a threat and cause incompatibilities. Oh, umm, wait, they did. Yahoo Messenger, Prodigy's messenger, and MSN's messenger come to mind, not to mention serveral Linux Clients that were put out of comission.

    Did you ever wonder why IE is more widely used than" Netscape? Perhaps because if you run AOL you are surfing with IE. That's 40 Million people! I demand a recount, "I didn't punch the right hole."

    It seems Crud-Puppy was right, AOL is the "new evil".
  • My thoughts exactly... one thing you left out though is that AOL's "not forcing you to surf with IE" Is like Microsoft's not forcing you to surf with IE.

    I admit they can't force you to use their browser but they do everything short of holding a gun to your head and telling you to use it...
  • Similar thing here with Quest DSL here in Minneapolis. They have weekly mail srever problems, the service sometimes runs like a 2400 baud modem (no, I am not exaggerating), and the Tech support is AWFUL. It's still worth it for 640kb/s downstream...

  • Try DSL! The article says that AOL is going after Earthlink and other large ISPs as well as MSN. This is not a surprise, considering the FTC rulling. They are going to offer each of them just-slightly-too-expensive access, to satisfy the regulators. It will end up being cheaper to use AOL. But, once the precident is set, I am sure AOL will be willing to negotiate access with smaller ISPs -- it just won't be worth their while. I predict /.ers will be using AOL in two years for three reasons: (1) Speed. (2) Price. (3) Availability. The rest of us will make pacts with AT&T Broadband. This is the economics of the situation. If you're like me, you'll go for the best deal. And if you hate AOL because AOL users are "computer illeterate, rude, and not /.ers" Then listen to yourself for a momement, and laugh at yourself for thinking the internet is YOURS.
  • Surely Satan must have better internet access than AOL. Sheesh. Give the guy SOME credit {=)

    "The good thing about Alzheimer's is that you can hide your own Easter eggs."

  • Dear Anonymous, I am afraid that it really is my site [] and although I have retired I really am Anne Marie. I would be happy to put something on my site --the links to the Slashdot peice on my site etc. if necessary. Peace.
  • Dumbo makes a pact with the devil. heh!
  • today i see a commercial for msn high speed internet access... has this proposed deal gone through already? or are they rolling this out with their own infrastructure?
  • Almost three months ago, AOL was ready to rip Microsoft's throat out. WTF?
  • How many ISP's can you name who Earthlink has bought up?

    A couple years ago, the dominant (and first) ISP in the Portland, Oregon area was purchased by OneMain, which was recently purchased by Earthlink.

    Earthlink makes such a business out of acquiring other ISP's that they have a contact page for ISP's interested in being purchased [].
  • Actually, AOL never used Netscape. Here is what happened:
    • AOL 1.0-1.5: No web browser at all.
    • AOL 2.0, 2.5, 3.0: AOL's own (crappy) browser. I don't remember what it was called anymore, and I'm too lazy to find my AOL 2.5 disk.
    • AOL 3.0: MSIE is introduced into AOL. AOL originally wanted to do Netscape, but they couldn't agree on the details. Netscape wanted to do the same thing they were doing all along, and AOL wanted the web browser within the AOL MDI frame. In the end, AOL went with MSIE, because Microsoft already supported that kind of stuff with OLE/OCX/ActiveX/whatever-it-was-called-back-then. AOL 3.0 had its own browser, and you could then click a button and "upgrade" to MSIE. AOL still provided a special version of Netscape for "special" people that you could get at Keyword: Netscape or something. Remember, AOL probably didn't even dream of owning Netscape at this point.
    • AOL 4.0, 5.0, 6.0: AOL continues to use MSIE, while Microsoft, in return, bundles AOL with Windows, and glues the AOL icon in the middle of the default desktop. Remember, AOL didn't buy Netscape until AOL 5.0 was already out (and AOL 6.0 was already being developed).
    Don't ask what happens next...


  • Day one? Not quite... AOL originally used Netscape.

    I haven't got time to give you a history lesson, but why not go seek out Judge Jackson's "Findings of Facts" and see what all the fuss is about.
  • So one big corporate giant is allowing another big corporate giant, with the exact same interests ($$$ at all costs) and motivations (see interests) as AT&T. Big hairy deal.

    Tell me when they allow small-time local providers onto the network that can actually show the large providers up. Then I'll believe that "anti-competive" action has occurred. This is just a big smokescreen behind which AT&T will get to behave almost exactly as they would have before.

  • "The entangling alliances here are thicker than your average EULA..."

    "The service you signed up for is not stated to be useful for any specific purpose, including the network being able to deliver any data to or from any location."

  • Why I think this an absolutely smashing idea. So wonderful infact only the two greatest corporations of all time could have devised such an ingenious plan. I mean it really is great. And I'm not just saying that because the AOL exec in front of me has a pistol trained on my temple... ooopsss.... BANG!

  • AOL and MSN. Enough to make me give up my cable modem service ;-)
  • Sounds like the makings of the old Bell Telephone monopoly, which eventually had to be broken up. Except, I believe Bell was regulated by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), not the FTC, wasn't it? That can make a difference. (Meaning, I think the FTC is more likely to allow monopolistic situations than the FCC.)
  • Okay... if AOL keeps it's lines open to EVERYONE, this is a good thing. If they attempt to just open them up to MS, hoping that that will be enough to obtain regulatory approval... and they succeed...all hell will break loose.

    Seriously... isn't this one of the signs of the coming apocalypse?

  • Anyone else hear Darth Vader's theme song while reading this article?
  • I can't say I'm excited about this turn of events. Wouldn't it be better if they could just fight each other for a long time like Greece did, and then most of us could sit on the sidelines whilst they weaken one another. Then, when they're weakened enough, we can invade 'em just like the persian empire!

    Course, I hope there aren't any macedonians hanging around in cyberspace...
  • Look, the FTC wants AOL-TW to provide open access. However, letting every mom & pop ISP out there have access to AOL-TW's cable lines would be impractical. So AOL is negotiating with the three largest non-AOL ISPs to give them access (#2 EarthLink, #3 Juno, and #4 MSN) to meet the open access requirements.

    Well, who are they supposed to sign the contracts with -- a dozen little ISPs nobody from fifty miles away has ever heard of?
  • Thank God AOL has Justin to stir up some trouble and keep things too stagnant. Educated Escort.
  • i wonder how my bandwidth will be different if this goes through. i have roadrunner at the moment in southern california, consistent 300k/s (not kbps) capability. if lucky, 500 or so on ftp's such as linuxberg. i would imagine an influx of msn users loading up those silly webpages with animated teddybears and such, mucking up the bandwidth quite a bit. roadrunner service might become more restrictive, or adapt some horrible system like MSN explorer. *Cringe* i can't see how this is beneficial as of yet.
  • by Ektanoor ( 9949 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @03:36PM (#615261) Journal
    More than a 60 years ago two great powers signed a pact upon which all World went into butcher's shop. Before this, for nearly three years, these guys were eating slowly their neighbors. Germany on Central-Europe, USSR on Asia. Then the pact came up and they started to eat everyone they could. And they ended eating each other.

    Today two Internet powers sign a pact similar, in nature, to Ribbentrop-Molotov's. Frankly, what we see here is a division of spheres of influence. And this is scaring as we have seen how there powers have been carrying a similar behaviour to the one seen in the 30's. AOL annexed Netscape. Microsoft fights the evil of the Federal Government and the American States. AOL invaded occupied ICQ and several other "small enclaves" on Internet. Microsoft tries to revert consumer needs to his own understanding of what computers & Internet should be.

    Now, they are up to the "Polish territories". The giants of Mass Media, once a power by itself but which was quite shaken by the advent of Internet. They are dividing, by "zones of control", what is still relatively independent of their ideologies/practices. No matter our feelings to the Mass Media this is should be considered as a war call. They are invading the last and most important piece of information control for the masses.

    I would name this a "stab in our backs"...
  • These "deals" should be illegal, they target the non-tech savvy and those with the least amount of money.

    So now the government should get involved and outlaw bad deals? So, if I want to charge more than my neighbor for similar service, I should be able to be held legally liable? How about we simply expect that people will take personal responsibility for themselves and do a little price shopping? Jesus, how far do we go to protect the 'lowest common denominator'?

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @05:59PM (#615263)
    It is not a monopoly, it is the monopoly's evil brother, an oligopoly (market control by a few large, often interconnected, players). Oligopolies are usually just as bad as monopolies, sometimes worse because our anti-trust laws are not as strong wrt to them as they are for pure monopolies.
  • by SDuane ( 90331 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @12:08PM (#615264)

    The word pact connotates a pretty shady aggrement to me. As in, signing a pact with the devil. When AOL and MSN sign a 'pact', which one of them do we consider the devil?


  • by imr ( 106517 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @12:32PM (#615265)
    before: which country do you come from ?
    after: which corpo do you live for ?
    Don't you feel someone has read too many gibson []'s novells ???
    If that hell becomes reality, will he be seen as the Jules Vernes of the 21th century?

    "Power, in Case's world, meant corporate power. The zaibatsus, the multinationals that shaped the course of human history, had transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality. You couldn't kill a zaibatsu by assassinating a dozen key executives; there were others waiting to step up the ladder, assume the vacated position, access the vast banks of corporate memory."

    Jules Vernes described a world where science helped men to free themselves, not to build new ways of stealing freedom from each others.
  • by Shin Elendale ( 132746 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @12:36PM (#615266) Journal
    This is like satan getting in bed with... err... himself...
    At least before, we had two gigantic evil companies- are we going to end up with one octopus of satan? How many degrees of seperation will projects such as, say, mozilla be away from IE? Will AOL become the default Windows browser? *shudder* What else could they try to anal rape us with?

    -Elendale (moving to canada...)

  • by MathJMendl ( 144298 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @02:14PM (#615267) Homepage
    Microsoft will enter into a pact with Netscape giving them access to their Operating System!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2000 @12:30PM (#615268)
    I'm sick and tired of all the people equating AOL with Microsoft, claiming they're both equal on some great scale of evilness, joining into the mindless chorus of people screaming about how AOL needs to be stamped out immediately for the good of humankind.

    In case you'd forgotten, Microsoft makes the operating system than more than 90% of the computer users in the world use. In most cases, there are no viable alternatives to using Microsoft's software; if your business requires that you have to work seamlessly with all the other people in your office, then you'd better be running Windows and Word and Excel and PowerPoint, or else purchase compatible software on your own and train yourself to use it. Microsoft has gotten a lot of bad press because they have willingly and knowingly leveraged their power to crush their opposition and force their way into dominance in new markets, beyond the boundaries of fair play.

    AOL, on the other hand, offers a service to get people onto the Internet. Sure, they offer a lot of content on their own site, but you never even have to look at it. Sure, they've been buying up a bunch of companies to diversify their offerings, but none of these acquisitions is an 800-pound gorilla. You don't have to use AIM, you can use a freeware ICQ client if you want to, you can use some other mp3 player than WinAMP, you can use some other browser than Netscape's... in fact, if you don't want to use AOL at all, then EarthLink is just as good, or there are hundreds of other ISP's which work just as well. Nobody has to have AOL in their life at all.

    And AOL hasn't stomped all over the industry. They haven't been given a consent decree to violate, they haven't been run through court on breaking anti-trust laws. Yes, so maybe they're in a position where they *could* abuse their power... but, to my knowledge, they haven't yet. And this is just what the lengthy approval process for the merger is designed to prevent.

    Of course AOL is going to balk at letting other companies have access to its cables; it wants to be able to leverage that. But I think they'll end up having to concede this in order to get approval on the merger.

    Just because AOL is a huge company, don't let your anti-capitalist leanings condemn them. When and if they break the law, they will be dealt with according to the law; but until and unless that ever happens, don't go around saying that Steve Case is the spawn of Satan.

  • by ibpooks ( 127372 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @12:08PM (#615269) Homepage
    Just put some AT&T in the mix and we'll have an ISP that can take you Anywhere you want to go today @Home with the easiest no-wonder-it's-number-one access to the Internet.
  • by WarSpiteX ( 98591 ) on Saturday November 18, 2000 @12:16PM (#615270) Homepage
    Monopoly anyone? Unfair trade practices?

    You do realize that a lot of companies know that competition hurts them both, so that's why so many of them create organizations and associations to help prevent 'destructive' competition - or at the very least exclude others. Look at the Big 3 auto makers and the Auto Pact. Look how happy utilities companies were when utility price standardization came in. Sure it didn't mean huge profits, but it meant consistent ones. RIAA? MPAA?

    What MS and AOL are doing is starting the beginnings of another such association - they'll probably try and squeeze out smaller ISPs, likely with government help. When governments start demanding content control on the internet such as keeping porn away from kids, these guys will step up and use that as an excuse to squeeze out small companies. They'll use anything as an excuse. Look at the MPAA - if you're an independent film maker, just TRY and get a real rating on your film. Playboy had an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone and they discussed how one of their films kept getting an NC-17 rating and they couldn't get it through... they got no help and no one would tell them which parts were offensive. But when they were making the South Park movie, the rules were bent for some parts of it, and they ALWAYS knew what to remove/edit.

  • by SlashGeek ( 192010 ) <petebibbyjr&gmail,com> on Saturday November 18, 2000 @01:21PM (#615271)
    ""America Online Inc. is negotiating a deal to give its long-standing nemesis Microsoft Corp. access to Time Warner Inc.'s cable-television lines...."

    Nemesis? Netscape owner AOL has been using a special version of Internet Explorer software since day one, and still continue to do so. The full Internet Explorer 4.0, 5.0, and 5.5 browser is also bundled onto many of the AOL CD's distributed in the last few years. So what is this "nemesis"? AOL and MS have been allies from day one.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"