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EU Expands Microsoft Inquiry 301

Space cowboy writes "The European Commission is expanding its investigation into whether Microsoft has engaged in anti-competitive practices - now it's not just the browser bundling, but also bundling of audio-visual components (such as Windows Media Player). " There's also a Reuters report - what is worth noting, tho', is that the basis for this investigation is in the market for small servers - *not* the desktop market, from what I can see/read. '
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EU Expands Microsoft Inquiry

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  • So if Media Player isn't included what replaces it? It's all very well saying Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to place just their media products in the system but could the Commission *force* Microsoft to allow the bundling of other products by OEMs?

    If I remember rightly, the last time this was tried with the browsers Microsoft said OEM's could either have MSN or MSN + others or nothing on the desktop. Or suffer the concequences. Can the Commission protect the OEM's from Microsoft?
  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @08:41AM (#2234293) Homepage Journal
    The EU's focus on Microsoft's entry into the small server maket seems like it will have the effect of causing the case to recieve solid corporate support within Europe, sich that the EU will have to pursue the issue to fruition, rather than in the US where focus on the case focusing on the desktop market has recieved more fragmented consumer support. Let this be a lesson to the DOJ. When going after big companies, always identify the customer base most likely to support you in a unified way, and try the case with that focus. Granted this doesn't say much for the justice system, but that's how the world works... sadly...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If I recall correctly there is a difference between US and EU "competiveness" laws. In the US the question is whether other corporations were harmed. In the EU it is whether consumers are harmed.

      It might seem a subtle difference but the EU way allows much wider latitude. They don't need to show that a company was harmed only that consumers choices were limited through MS actions.

    • It isn't hard to prove that MS leverages their proprietary knowledge of the OS to make special hooks for their applications and break others applications.

      The appelate court said that "MS's tying was inherant in their business practices, but not in their products" -- which is B.S.: their applications owe their monopoly to the ability to leverage their ubiquitous proprietary OS in their applications favor.

      The solution is an Open Source standard API, like WINE, that can be used to deterministacally measure their applications compliance with their API.

      Of course, WINE is just a start. All MS API's must be emulated, with MS's help in making the emulation correct. Furthermore, it must be extended to any place where MS has created a "platform" to leverage applications.

      For example, they leveraged their OS to destroy browser competition and put IE on top. Now, IE is itself a platform for .NET, which again can be used to leverage their planned services into a monopoly. Those interfaces must also be externally emulatable.

    • this doesn't say much for the justice system, but that's how the world works... sadly...

      Speaking of justice systems and how the world works, EU Competition Commission have closed their electronic `mail' system. If you live in the EU, please send a pen-and-paper letter to them asking why you can't buy a new computer at retail which dual-boots between a Microsoft operating system and another operating system such as Linux or BeOS.
  • Ludicrous... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I am no microsoft fan, but this is stupid. Microsoft isn't squeezing out competition by including the media player in its software. If anything it is just attempting to keep up the times with the MAC people. Yes, Mac sucks, but it is renouned for its a/v interface. Plus windows media player has been included in its distribution forever. Noone is keeping Real from developing better and better software, Windows isn't keeping Real off the desktop, Its all a bunch of crud.

    Just think of how crappy all of our linux distro's would be without all the bundled goodies to go with it. Bundling software with an OS only makes sense. One of the main complaints that I always had with Windows was that it didn't come with compilers...... Imagine if they tried to bundle the compilers with their o.s. Horrors!
    • your understanding that with the inclusion of media player windows are NOT keeping real player off the desk top i believe to be mistaken.

      when corporates do roll outs of XP - do you think they are going to bother rolling out real as well? why should they?

      when my mother buys her new machine and gets XP OEM, do you think she knows what real player is? of course not! she clicks on things to play movies and they work. (yes its a nice integrated approach as someone else pointed out and you have to congratulate microsoft for catering for my mother!)

      do you think real really cares about real player? how many people actually have the real player plus - the one you BUY? they only care about their SERVERS and SERVICES. the software that compresses the movies, the software that streams the casts.

      now if i'm a web media streaming company and i have to decide to go MS or REAL - who do you think i'm going to go with? the server that has a player on just about EVERY desktop, or the server that my listeners have to download the player? that's not a difficult decision!
      • by PygmySurfer ( 442860 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:26AM (#2234429)
        Maybe if Real Player wasn't an obtrusive, annoying piece of Spyware, it would be installed on more desktops.

        I refuse to install it, for several reasons.

        1. It's intrusive - you have to enter your email address, postal code, etc.
        2. It slows your system down with all the crap it loads (ie StartCenter)
        3. It crashes constantly. And when StartCenter is enabled, it causes the system to crash constantly. I don't know how many times I've had people in the office complain about their computers crashing all the time, which I remedied by removing StartCenter.

        Instead of whining about MS' bundling practices, perhaps Real should work on improving their product, and removing some of the Spyware components from it.

        After all, I don't use Windows Media Player for MP3s. Winamp does that quite nicely.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Remember Real had to fight to keep MS from crippling their software. Now Apple has had to do the same thing with QuickTime. Java is toast now.

          The thing you are missing is, do you want just one company controlling the internet and the desktop? Once in total control, what would keep them from jacking up the price and restricting content to MS approved content? Remember MS is a very paranoid company and a company that is very much into control.

          Tyranny by government is bad, so too is tyranny by corporate interests.

          I have a friend who worked for a "non existent agency." He will not use MS now, and is urging his friends who own businesses to switch to other OS's for online communications. Buy a clue people, stop using MS for anything online. Industrial espionage is very widespread, and MS makes it very easy for you to be victimized. He can't go into detail, but when he warns us not to do something, we listen.

          Be very wary of using MS for doing any business outside the US. Just don't do it.

          Real Player shouldn't be probing your info, but they are not doing what MS is doing to you and the business community worldwide.
      • Not to mention that Windows Media Server is free. My company ended up going with Windows Media over Real just because its cheap. You cant compeate
      • Last time i asked Redhat about Real Audio they said they don't support proprietary software. (ie, they don't test there distro to see if non source based sofwtare works at all.. considered to be proprietary.. most amusing statement i've heard and the reason MANY companies won't use it)

        So why is it wrong for microsoft to do the same? After all the windows media format is public knowledge with excellent SDK, server tools and media tools available.

      • You make good points, and I agree with all of them.
        Now how should this problem be addressed. The way people use computers has evolved to the point where a computer should come with a media player, and that media player should handle things like streaming audio and video. People buying a computer should be able to assume that that feature will be included, and people writing software and developing web based applications should be able to assume that user's computers will be able to perform those opperations. If would be nice if the industry could have standardized on one media format, but that didn't happen. For streaming video there are three that I can think of, Real, Quicktime, Windows.
        Should Microsoft be forced to include other media players? If so, whose? Do they have to accept all of them, since any who are left out are at a distinct disadvantage? At what point do you end up with confusing clutter that does consumers more harm than good?
        In my opinion Windows should ship with exactly one media player. Not zero, and not more than one. If you want to have a more competitive market, then make Microsoft use an open format for their media player. That way other companies can compete on playback features, but consumers are still guarenteed to have a tool to play the media content.
        Yes, I realize that this leaves Real in a very bad spot. The playback of streaming media is an obvious need for modern computing. They have gone down the path of providing this through a propriatary format, which they aren't willing to license to other manufactures in a way that would make it an industry standard. They put themselves in the place they are in. The governments of this world shouldn't step in and protect their business model. If their business model can't adapt to the market, then they go out of business. This isn't Microsoft manipulating the market to destory Real. This is the market heading in a logical direction, and Real can't adjust to it because they put themselves in this spot. Good bye Real, you enabled us to watch video when that market was in it's infantcy, it's a shame you didn't come up with a sustainable businees model.
    • There was a time when I would have agreed with you, but unfortunately I must respectfully disagree: The reason that most people have a problem with Microsoft bundling is that MS is using their monopoly in the desktop space to conquer every other niche of the software industry. Want to take over the home finance market? Spend billions developing a software product which you claim is "free" and then include it for "free" in the upgraded operating system which costs a $149 upgrade fee despite being only marginally different than the previous version (apart from the "free" home finance software). Now turn the screws by setting various completely unnecessary flags in distributed software to only work on said software (thereby FORCING your $149 "free" software on the market). Perhaps make some "Glindos XY Certified!" software monikers that all the hot software distributors want (slashing their own throats in the long run) that basically entails that their software checks if flag=Glindos XY and refuses to run otherwise.

      That's the whole problem with all of the "free" software that MS is unleashing upon the world: Absolutely NONE of it is free (except for pirates), and this is proven out by the $10+ billion in profits MS is pulling in. The issue most people have is that MS is taking their position in the OS space and moving out to take over media, browsers, ISPs, etc.

      Disclaimer : I am actually a Microsoft apologist. I have sent thousands of messages over the years claiming that Microsoft was being unfairly persecuted, and that it was in the consumers best interest, etc. Unfortunately that is no longer true. Billions of dollars were spent by consumers of the land on "Windows Me" which itself was truly a downgrade of Windows 98SE, so that Microsoft could recoup the cost of all of the "free" products that it has bequeathed upon the land.

    • Re:Ludicrous... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hanno ( 11981 )
      The problem with WMP isn't multimedia playback, but the forced inclusion of Microsoft's own media licensing scheme. Thanks to WMP, they will be able to control what media you may download and when and if you are "allowed" to play it.

      Yes, Real is trying to do exactly the same thing with their software. Just wanted to remind everyone that it's not just software for media playback, but also for media licensing control.
    • > Microsoft isn't squeezing out competition by including the media player in its software.
      > If anything it is just attempting to keep up the times with the MAC people.
      > Yes, Mac sucks, but it is renouned for its a/v interface.

      This is listed as insightful? I'd call it flamebait.

      Microsoft has a monopoly, and they've been found guilty of illegally abusing it. In the case they were found to have squeezed Apple regarding QuickTime where they were trying to illegally partition the market.

      How many microsoft people do we have infiltrating slashdot these days? They must have the whole marketing department on here.
  • Why? Do they think that there is competetion in the desktops market?
    If this Micro$oft bundling continues any further, we'll see Micro$oft selling whole houses/buildings bundled with the OS "to ensure maximum compatibility between the MicroSoft server and the surrounding environment.
    • Name one "bundled" feature of Windows that you dont find in the typical linux installs or osX? I cant think of fact the latter 2 have even more bundled with them. The only thing that is going to stop microsoft is competition at the OS level. Either linux needs to step up to the plate and make it usable out of the box or someone else needs to come up with a better solution. I thought at one time BeOS was going to be the OS of the future...

      I use debian myself, but i sure as hell wouldnt give it to my mother to install on her own, I do enough support for her windows machines.
      • Yesterday there was an interesting link here (too lazy, sorry) to an editorial claiming the bundling should in fact not be the focus. Instead, researching the abuse of the power MS has over OEM's would be far more interesting and result-yielding ..
      • Bundled apps (Score:2, Informative)

        by epsalon ( 518482 )
        There are two main diffrences.
        One - In the linux world you can opt-out and not install each component specifically. You don't see them merging it with the kernel. Damn, in Linux you're not even required to run a desktop.

        Second - The "bundled" apps in linux distros are usually the best of their kind, and you usually have the choice between several options. You are not forced to use what the M$ wants you to use. You can select each component to your best liking.

      • Name one "bundled" feature of Windows that you dont find in the typical linux installs or osX? I cant think of one

        The problem isn't really the bundling per se. It's the use of bundling to make interoperability with other systems more difficult.

        The stuff you get with a Linux system all works on open standards, so it's easy to switch to something else. The stuff M$ wants to bundle is part of their "embrace and assimilate" strategy.

        • The inoperability arguments really seem to be bunk most of the time. How difficult is it to install real audio? Other than the fact that you have constantly hunt the web page for the new nearly hidden link to the free version, or that you have to wrestle with it on install as it tries to take control of every media format available even ones it can run properly. I wouldnt say thats really microsofts problem.

          I have no problem running eudora on my game box it doesnt mess anything else up, Winamp runs fine too...what exactly is the problem? I just find it rather ironic that folks who primarily use the OS that is percieved to be for the smarter crowd talk as if you have to be a mensa member to get a simple app running in windows.

          The argument of linux giving you the best of is nice...but its not exactly the same thing....the equivalent would be if MS decided to bundle in the best freeware apps available...Im no big MS fan but its really starting to look that MS is damned if they do and damned if they dont, look at the java VM situation, sun got exactly what they asked for and now they are whining because of it.
  • The BBC article has a link to the EU Competition Commission. Their August 30th MS press release is here [] (English version). The default version is HTML, and there is no MS "Smart Quotes" damage to it. An MS Word impaired version is available, for some reason.
  • Bad Microsoft!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Paladin814 ( 518257 )
    I personally cannot believe how Microsoft could do something like this! The bundling of audio-visual components?? An MP3 Player in an OS??? Would NEVER happen in Linux/Mac/BE/etc....

    Oh wait... wouldn't that make it a de facto standard for an OS???
    • Maybe if they bundled every audio player available or they bundled somebody elses audio player it would be fair and be just like every other "defacto standard" OS.

      Worrying about the details of Microsoft's behavior is not productive. Their attitude of "we can do whatever the hell we like" is what should concern us.

      As Microsoft keep pushing the limit of what the world will tolerate from them, eventually they will trample on the toes of even their most hardened defender.
      • yeah why not? If they bundled every similar product, it'll take a few DVD's and hours for the user just to choose which product he wants to install or not. Installing an OS will only be a matter of days.

  • by TomK32 ( 411719 )
    I'm wondering why we (the /. readers) are still caring about M$. Sure for some 95% of the world's user M$ might be important but for the enlightened 5% who use GNU/Linux or *BSD M$ doesn't offer any products and so M$ misses these 5% totally.
    M$ is ignoring the most important 5% because I'm sure that we a will 95% of the system admins in a few years. We'll be those who decide which software to "buy" and install.
  • by Salsaman ( 141471 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @08:59AM (#2234353) Homepage
    ...the DOJ orders M$ broken into two, and the EU also demands they be split into two ?

    Will we end up with four mini Microsofts ?

    • Unfortunatly the European Commision can only impose fines or deny companies to buy eachother.

      This of course does not mean that Microsoft has nothing to fear from them.
    • Four mini-Microsofts? With the recent advances in cloning and stem-cell reaserch, and the money Bill Gates has, he could make 4 clones of himself to run the 4 new companies. He could have 4 mini-me's to run the mini-microsofts!! We should start calling him Dr. Evil.

    • I don't think the EU would be able to do that, since MS is a largely US-based company. They could however impose fines, or order them to stop the bundling.
  • by mancuskc ( 211986 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:00AM (#2234354)
    Might have implications for Samba, especially the authentication twist using unused fields they stuck in (was it Win2000?).

    This sort of EU stuff might also stop .net in it's tracks - .net must be seen as monopoly if you can only use Microsoft's servers and clients.....

    • The Commission said Microsoft may also be trying to extend its dominant position in personal computer operating systems into inexpensive computer servers usually used for printing, accessing the Internet, and storing files.

      I guess 'accessing the Internet' isn't SMB specific.
  • If there's an alternative. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but windows mediaplayer seems to be the only way to view WMF's, etc.. And seems to be the best way to view avi's of all kinds. For me, media player is one of the very few reasons that I boot into windows. ergo, it's one of the few reasons that I bought windows in the first place.

    • The real problem with Windows media is not bundling. As you say, some file formats are not viewable or processable with anything but Microsoft tools.

      For examle, take a look at the forced removal of asf support in virtualdub.

  • So they... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jsse ( 254124 )
    don't get to the bootloader [] aniti-competition issue?
  • Great, expect... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Masem ( 1171 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:03AM (#2234365)
    Upon hearing this on NPR this morning, I was elated until they said that MS has 2 months to respond to the charges.

    Today is Aug 30.

    Two months is Oct 30.

    XP ships Oct 27.

    Just a tad late to help any injunction case against the company.

    • Remember, the article says that they aren't worried about XP. They are only concerned about M$'s current monopoly with Win2k and I think Me, but I can't tell.

      I don't think they can really get angry about XP until they see what happens with it.

    • Today is Aug 30.

      Two months is Oct 30.

      XP ships Oct 27.

      You know, I wouldn't stress. I don't think these dates are nearly as critical as that. I mean, suppose the EU adopted the suggestion (already gaining ground in France and in Latin America) that all public-sector computer systems had to be open source. Suppose they went on to require organisations contracting to the public sector to have compatible systems.


      There goes Microsoft's monopoly. The EU is big enough and powerful enough to make it work. If there are interoperable open source applications for everything that every public sector body in Europe wants to do, then there are open source applications fo everything any large corporation needs to do, and everything any business user needs to do, anywhere in the world.

      This wouldn't drive Microsoft out of business, of course, nor should it; but it would mean that if they wanted to sell anything into European Government markets they'd have to (i) open source it and (ii) make it interoperate with other open source software.

      It also means that the corporate and public sector, everywhere in the world, would be able to choose between proven, demonstrable, free software already in use in one of the world's largest beaurocracies, and expensive software from Microsoft. The monopoly would erode pretty quickly.

  • What about AOL? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BalDown ( 460966 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:13AM (#2234391) Homepage
    Let's see, here's the total of add-ons you get from Microsoft: 2 - IE and Media Player. Alright then, now lets look at a simple download of Netscape Communicator produced by AOL: The reason this download is somewhat big is because if you try to get it, you get not only Netscape, but WinAmp (another AOL product), RealPlayer, AOL Instant Messenger (what if I don't want to use AOL's shitty software?), and oh yeah, don't forget the AOL icons that go EVERYWHERE when you install any AOL product. Doesn't that piss anyone off in the least? I don't use Netscape at all as my browser because I think it sucks, and especially since AOL bought it out. I have to use Netscape calendar for work, and when I downloaded the Communicator with Calendar, I was able to tell it not to install Communicator, Winamp, and RealPlayer, but there was no check box for AOL Instant Messenger (which I can't use at work), and all of a sudden, bam, there it is on my computer! That and a nice fat "Sign up for AOL Today!" icon on my desktop. Why would I sign up for a crappy service like that? AOL should be the ones getting looked at for anti-competative nature if your going after these things like Media Player from Microsoft...
    • I for one would much rather see an anti-trust case against AOL then I would against MS. Not that I'm a big fan of MS, but AOL just seems bigger and more evil in my eyes. AOL as a company owns far more then MS does, not just in quantity, but in diversity. It's almost to the point that no matter where you go there is no excape from AOL.
    • I think you'd have an argument if AOL were in the position that Microsoft is. That is to say, if AOL were a required part of practically every x86 PC sold in the world. As it is, however, you have to choose to download Netscape and AOL; they're not foisted upon you like IE and WMP and MSN Messenger will be in, for example, Windows XP.

      Remember that the company that has the monopoly may be required to play by different rules than the companies against which they may compete. Since the US justice system has ruled that Microsoft is a monopoly and that they've engaged in monopoly maintenance, they may be required to act differently than AOL/TWC/Netscape or Sun or anyone else that challenges Microsoft.

      Incidentally, I installed Netscape 6 on a Windows 2000 box and was able to uninstall (e.g.) Net2Phone, which is some piece of crap I don't need. I'm not sure whether I had the option to not install it in the first place (which, admittedly, would be bad) but I was able to uninstall it using the Add/Remove Programs control panel program. In Windows 9x, you don't have a choice about uninstalling IE at all. (Unless you use the non-Microsoft program Win98Lite or whatever it's called.)
      • AOL is on every PC.

        You rent a movie from Blockbuster you get AOL CD's.

        You goto the movies and you see AOL/TimeWarner and hear You got mail subliminal messages.

        You turn on the nighly news and tons of AOL thrown at you.

        I have yet to see MSNBC push MS that much, microsoft doesn't ruin the movies i rent with a bunch of adverts or anything.

        Microsoft doesn't put crap in every magazine i read.

        AOL by far causes me more HARM and the environment MORE HARM then 10,000 microsoft's put together.

        And yes, you buy a PC from Dell, IBM or anyone for that matter and it COMES WITH AOL.. you like it or not. When you uninstall it as well it just removes the icons and leaves the programs .. "just in case you need it".

        On the other hand YOU can make a choice and buy a PC with Linux on it now can't you? Microsoft doesn't stop that.. But people sue microsoft so they can bloat the OS with there crap.

        what a world we live in!
    • First off, you actually have to download the browser, so saying it is anticompetitive is ludicrous because no-one is forcing it upon you.

      Next, there is such a thing as a custom install which you can select not to install all those things that you mentioned. And as for the AOL icons, well just delete them, it doesn't actually install the AOL client.

      Even if you couldn't Not Install all of those things, how can you say that incorporating RealPlayer and Shockwave is anticompetitive, since both of those products come from different companies.

      Microsoft is Anti-competitive because it does not want to have any software from any other company to exist! That is why they are incorporating CD Recording Software, Image Editing Software, etc. to WindowsXP. And if they had the opportunity, without getting into more legal trouble, they would install crippled versions of Word, Excel and their other products as well.

      I see the future where you buy a computer from a company and it has all the software you need, every product coming from different companies or entities. This computer doesn't even need to be an Intel or AMD, you can choose whatever processor you want, even a motorolla. The future is Linux (Mandrake Linux to be exact.)

      • Again, you don't have to buy a PC with windows on it, so how is microsoft any worse? As far as i know since computers have evolved there has always been a choice of operating systems and hardware from Sun to Apple to Amiga to Commodore to IBM to AIX to OS/2 to Whatever Unix you want to Geos to DOS to Novell to PC DOS to MSDOS.

        So now that Redhat includes a CD Recording program, Image editing, Multimedia and tons of other crap for FREE isn't that putting all the other developers at a disadvantage?

        Atleat microsoft pays its employees, buys up the companies it utilizes and backs the product with stable releases.

        Hell, redhat or any linux runs great if you just run linux crap included. But when you try and Run Oracle 8.1.7 or Try running Jbuilder or J2see stuff from sun or Star Office or *ANY* commercial program it is specific to kernerl X, GLIBC Y, release Z. Last time i checked something written for NT works under 2k and XP and well. i give up. You guys are hard headed!
        • Last time you checked must've been when we were all using vt100's. Software written for NT may work on 2k. It might not. Software written for NT may even break on a service pack. Or, hell, even if you install some software that does a nasty dll upgrade.

          You cant have been using computers much if you havent noticed that.

          The commercial software for linux is tested on specific platforms, which means they know it runs on that. It will likely run on most other kernels, glibc versions and distributions too, or if there is a problem you can usually solve it with an LD_PRELOAD for a specific library.
    • You are probably right about everything you say, however you miss one small distinction: last time I checked, AOL had not been declared a monopolist by the courts. Only if you have a monopoly does bundling constitute anticompetitive behaviour because it allows you to use your power in one market to leverage your position in others.
    • This is just complete nonsense.

      HOWEVER, the big think you're missing is that this is not forced bundling something completly different, you CAN get the Netscape Communicater alone, and this not from AOL at all. Goto and download just the communicater for you. (or is also nice).

      There's a huge difference in offerince software in packets and in bundlings. So why is in example linux distros no bundling? If I buy a linux distro I also get beside the linux kernel, a GUI set, a broswer, a compiler, a mail client, a word processor, an image editor, a web server, a dns server, multimedia software, etc. etc. So what's different? I'll tell you, because you're also able to download every of this packages ALONE and this even FREE OF CHARGE. So this is not bundling.

      Bundling is in example (a very theoretical) if a car producer (which has a monopol on some sector) decides you're only allowed to buy cars in pairs, there always only two cars selled at once, but you want only one. So you're forced to buy two ones, and financiate development for two ones, altough you only need one. Do you get it? If they sell also single cars, but give you a ie. a 5% discont for buying two there is nothing wrong with it.

      Back to windows if in example there would be a 'windows standard' and a 'windows professional' one which has only the windows base stuff, and the second package comes with a browser, multimedia stuff etc. it would be legal and okay. Cause if you decide you want to use mozilla you can just buy the standard package and not financiate their browser appartment. But actually there is no such possiblity, they use their minimal 'standard package' to bundle and force their technologies to the endusers. They have to buy and financiate the side application altough they might only want the base system.

      (please, forgive my spelling, I know, one day I _will_ learn better :o)
    • AOL is hardly a player in the European ISP market, so why should the EU bother prosecuting them?

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:19AM (#2234407) Homepage Journal
    The European Union, according to CNN, can only fine Microsoft. They cannot exact any punishment to prevent future abuses. Further, the greatest fine they can impose is 10% of the revenue from Europe.

    In short, Microsoft doesn't NEED to give a damn about the verdict. 10% of what they earn in Europe is probably less than the day-to-day changes in their share price value.

    All in all, this is a show-trial (the EU wants to go "free/open" and this is a great excuse for a public flogging to justify it), but where Microsoft is probably more than happy to provide the show.

    • Further, the greatest fine they can impose is 10% of the revenue from Europe.

      Actually, I think they can potentially impose a fine of 10% of global revenue, so it would be a really big deal for Microsoft. Not that it would ever happen.
    • Hmm.. lets see... 10% of revenue (not profit)

      10% of say 5 billion dollars (figures from microsoft of 12 months up to June for EMEA region are 8 billion dollars I figure european union has just over half of that pie)

      If we do the math.. thats 500 million dollars fine. which is kind of neat, cause the great thing is if they don't change it.. they can be fined again..
    • the EU wants to go "free/open" and this is a great excuse for a public flogging to justify it

      Let me remind you that the EU Council of Ministers has recently approved a Copyright Directive that is at least as evil as the DMCA, and that it is very close to approving software patents.

      On the other hand, it's true that the EU will be subsidizing free software projects []. So I suppose there are contradictory signals. But certainly there hasn't been any high-level decision that Free Software is the way to go.

  • by TangoCharlie ( 113383 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @09:32AM (#2234449) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone put the bootloader situation forward as an example of Microsoft abusing its monopoly situation? This is the situation where Microsoft can DEMAND that OEM's put Windows and only Windows on PC's. Microsoft explicitly forbids them from dual-booting... allegedly. This point has been raised recently with regards to the BeOS case. The problem is that there is little evidence because the licenses between Microsoft and the OEM's are secret. This is the real scandal, not the browser, media player issue.
  • From the same article ( 1516000/1516753.stm)

    In a statement, the European Commission said its latest investigation "adds a new dimension to the Commission's concerns that Microsoft's actions may harm innovation and restrict choice for consumers".

    This means that the Commission is not only investigating Media Player bundling, but that this element is part of a larger investigation, something there's frequently talk of.
  • *Please* go after them for bundling IIS with Win NT/2k.

    We are talking about a license where you pay nearly $1k USD more to purchase a license you can use someone else's Web Server with... which just so happens to make you pay for IIS at the same time.

    Brian Macy
  • "Finally, because of the trial court judge's unusual and highly inflammatory comments to journalists and others during the latter portions of the trial, the appeals court has ordered the trial court judge removed from the case.

    The trial judge had, among other things, stated the Microsoft founder Bill Gates' "testimony is inherently without credibility," and compared Microsoft executives with "drug traffickers.""**

    ** Perhaps our trial judge is a traditionalist techie with (pardon the pun) "roots" in Unix. Unless it's just general knowledge now to every Joe Schmoe that M$ is a "drag" after receiving all those page faults in the marketing dept. with their Excel spreadsheets.
    • Judge Jackson did get rather annoyed with MS, because they delayed, stalled, lied, faked evidence, lied, lied, lied, pretended to be victimized, didnt think that law applied to them, lied, lied, faked evidence, lied and lied again.

      That is the reason he had a hard time keeping his temper in check.

      Of course, he's right, anything Gates or any other MS employee says is inherently without credibility. They seem fundamentally incapable of uttering a complete sentance without lying, and probably merit a long time of serious therapy and medication.
  • They are concerned about the Media Player's integration into the server... well, so am I!!!

    Why do you need the player integrated into a server? That's just stupid. Forget about antitrust concerns.

  • Apple has been shipping QuickTime with Mac OS for years now. Why is Microsoft not allowed to distribte its multimedia play-back software while Apple can? What about Windows MovieMaker versus iMovie, also included with MacOS? This train of thought makes no sense. I'm all for breaking up Microsoft, but we still have to be fair in these issues, even if Microsoft aren't playing that way. Why is this unfair?

    The browser wars were another story. Browsers compete for compatability with one set of standards: those set forth by the W3C. One web, yet many clients trying to gain a one-up over the other. Integrating your browser product into your operating system dominates the userbase of that OS by eliminating their need to look into other browser software for the same purpose.

    Now, let's look at the roles of Windows Media Player versus other media clients. WMP, Real*, and QuickTime each have their own formats with their own niches of acceptance. Some content distributers use ASX, others use Real's format, and still others use QuickTime. Chances are, if you want to see all that's out there (and you're a Windows users), you need to have all three of these clients. Therefore, competition is still open; the prize for dominating is still up for grabs. So what if Microsoft includes WMP with Windows. There's many content producers that swear by QuickTime (Lucas for example).

    So my point after all that long-windedness is that MS should not be attacked in areas where they are really not doing anything wrong or particularly detrimental.
    • > Why is Microsoft not allowed to distribte its multimedia
      > play-back software while Apple can?

      Microsoft's got a monopoly but Apple doesn't. Simple. Microsoft's also been found to illegally abuse their monopoly to gain entrance into other markets.

      So the reason why they can't push their media player is the same reason why someone who gets convicted of drunk driving can't drive a car.

      Don't like it? Tough.
    • Last time I checked, those pieces of software COULD BE REMOVED if you wanted to.

      Try doing that to IE or now WMP in WinXP.
  • Whenever I see this argument, I always wonder where you draw the line...

    • Media player?
    • Web browser?
    • GUI? There were lots of alternative GUIs for Windows before Win95. Unices don't need one.
    • Network stack? WfW killed Trumpet Winsock: where's the outrage? (Hell, back when I was a VMS sysadmin we paid a small fortune for a TCP/IP stack)
    • Virtual memory? Connectix made a good living with RamDoubler for a while, especially on Macs.

    A modern OS bundles hundreds of things that used to be extra cost add-ons. MS does it. Apple does it. So does every Unix workstation maker. Do we strip every add-on out of W2K and leave something like a bare kernel?


  • ...listening to these high-falutin arrogant Europeans whining about Microsoft.

    I mean, gimme a break!

    It is through the hard work and genuine innovation of entrepreneurs like Bill Gates that the United States today enjoys one of the best governments that money can buy. How can anyone stand for crybaby statements like:

    "We find the bundling of MS Government with Windows XP to be an unfair cultural invasion and infringement of our traditional and hallowed values."

    I'm glad that at least MS Business Mindset was not encumbered by all these petty concerns.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."