Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Microsoft

EU Considering Another MS Antitrust Suit 323

mesozoic writes "Yahoo! News is reporting that the European Union is considering *another* antitrust suit against Microsoft, this time having to do with anticompetitive behavior in the market for mobile phone software. While I haven't seen any signs Microsoft is going to dominate the industry here in the States, cell phones are a much bigger deal in Europe, so I can understand why they'd be nervous."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Considering Another MS Antitrust Suit

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    the relation to microsoft and the cellphone is Microsoft Smartphone, as seen here [microsoft.com].

    Basically its an small OS that runs on the cellphone so the user has MS messaging, etc. I'm sure Microsoft makes it plenty anti-competitive somehow. They're good at that.
    • reason for suit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Slashdotess ( 605550 ) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (hcruhcg)> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:50PM (#4688042)
      The reason for the lawsuit is clearly seen in the article:

      The .Net initiative attempts to link Internet users to the Microsoft system by giving them a "passport" that authenticates their identity and gives them access to Microsoft Web sites for e-mail and online games, and e-commerce sites that conform to the .Net idea.

      This phone uses passport to authenticate users on phone-based services. This allows business users, etc to easily tie their mobile phones to their central .NET servers, further binding them to MS software, etc.

      My question is, where's the Linux based Open Source phones? ;)
      • Remember, it's not a crime to have a monopoly.

        Anti-trust law kicks in when you have a monopoly, and then try to use the advantages of that monopoly product to try to force your way into a marketplace where you're supposed to compete. You have to face your competitors on a level playing field.
        • Re:reason for suit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:21PM (#4688172)
          Remember, it's not a crime to have a monopoly.

          Yes, but Microsoft has already been convicted in the US for using their monopoly power to stifle competition. I think that this conviction in itself makes news of similar suits in other juristictions and other technologies quite understandable.

          Personally I feel as a computer professional that Microsoft's monopoly has done a lot to prevent new ideas and technologies from reaching the market, and has in fact hurt the IT industry considerably. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to me that the remidies that are in place are sufficient to reverse this damage.

          Perhaps the EU will be more succesful at coming up with a solution. I hope so.

      • Re:reason for suit (Score:3, Informative)

        by caluml ( 551744 )
        Check out this phone [linuxdevices.com] - it looks pretty good.

        Hardware: * 206MHz Intel SA-1110 StrongARM system-on-chip processor * Memory: 32MB or 64MB RAM; 32MB Flash * 16-Bit color, 320x240 pixel LCD with backlight * RS232 serial port * USB port, configurable as either 'host' or 'client' device * Bluetooth wireless LAN * GSM/GPRS cellular communication * Biometric fingerprint sensor * Size: 5.4 x 3.1 x 0.8 in. * Weight: 8.8 oz. Software: * Linux operating system (2.4.x kernel) * GUI environment and PDA app suite based on Trolltech Qtopia and Opera browser * IPSec VPN protocol & security algorithms * IBM DB2E database and Websphere software * Power management to extend battery life
  • Innovation (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 )
    Hey, anything that directs resources away from "innovation" is a good thing, right?
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:48PM (#4688016)
    It seems as if the DOJ backed off M$ as soon as G.W. Bush took office, leading to a rather ineffective settlement. It seems as if they intend on violating anti-trust laws yet again, and then trying to claim that they already settled it the first time.

    Microsoft is to anti-trust law as Iraq is to dearmming resolutions?
    • by runenfool ( 503 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:13PM (#4688146)
      They may just try to claim that they settled the antitrust complaints, but the EU (besides being a completely separate entity) is going after them for different infractions than the US was.

      I think there are a lot of countries around the world that are nervous about the behavior that came out during the antitrust trial. They see Microsoft gaining more and more political power in the US (the trial taught Microsoft that its stupid for a company of their size to not 'play the game' in Washington) and they are worried that a major part of their infrastructure will be dominated by a US company. It goes to countries feeling threatened so much by Microsoft that they will go so far as to spend money to develop alternatives, or mandate use of open source, or in this case - they bring antitrust laws to bear on the company. To not take Microsoft as a serious threat to their countries would be folly, as MS could simply double licensing fees at will and cause government expenses to skyrocket (or possibly even more nefarious things like NSA backdoors or security holes causing massive problems for governments).

      In the end hopefully this will simply serve to give us a more balanced computing environment. I would hate for Microsoft to simply be exterminated - thats not what we need no matter how bad the company has been. What we need is healthy vibrant competition in the computing marketplace - at all levels including the ones that are currently dominated by Microsoft.
      • I fully agree. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lewis Mettler, Esq. ( 553022 ) <[moc.walmal] [ta] [lanosrep_reltteml]> on Sunday November 17, 2002 @02:04PM (#4691615) Homepage
        What the computer software industry needs very badly is fair and open markets.

        ONLY fair and open markets will bring vibrant competition.

        And, that has been effectively removed from many markets as a direct result of illegal Microsoft Corporation activity.

        You want to develop a better browser? Only if you do not want to be paid.

        You want to develop a better media player? Only if you do not want to be paid.

        You want to develop a better messaging system? Only if you do not want to be paid.

        Right now there a many key markets that everyone who reads /. is precluded from participation. Only if you are willing to donate your time without compensation can you participate.

        And, why is that?

        It is the direct result of illegal Microsoft activity.

        Developing a good product is not illegal. Forcing 400,000,000 people to buy it is.

        Only idiots think applications are operating systems because that would force the sale. And, only idiots think that a branded product (assuming it is even wanted or needed by consumers) should be forced upon any of them.

        Salesman try to convince customers to buy their brand.

        Idiots lie like hell and demand that consumers be forced to buy it. And, if you bought any OS from Microsoft in the last 6 years or so, you were in fact forced to buy a number of key applications. And, you paid cash money for them. That is a fact.

        And, because of that (if you are a developer) you have been illegally precluded from those markets. Even the idiots at the DOJ know that is true. They wanted to preclude you.
    • Microsoft will never comply with the antitrust laws.

      Why?

      Because they now know that ignoring them for 5-6 years is highly profitable and the chances are excellent that a stupid and ignorant DOJ will grant to them the monopoly markets they gain illegally.

      That will remain true until "stockholders" demand a different conduct.

      If SUN gets a billion or so judgment it will not change.

      If SUN gets a Sun Compliant JVM distributed with the Microsoft OS, it will not change.

      If BE gets a billion, it will not change.

      Even if AOL gets 10 billion in damages, it will not change.

      It will only change when and if the courts order Microsoft to sell separate products separately and cease illegal bundling and commingling.

      But, as we have seen the appellate courts can find commingling to be illegal yet the DOJ (as stupid and ignorant as they are) will refuse to prevent even proven violations from occuring.

      I can not think as anything as stupid as what the DOJ has done. The DOJ has endorsed illegal activity AFTER the appellate court ruled on the issues. And, the illegal acts continue to harm consumers and the computer software industry.

      And, they know it was stupid. They had to misrepresent what the law actually is in order to rationalize their decisions.

      Fortunately, the DOJ only decides what cases they will bring contrary to the claim from those idiots that they decide antitrust policy for the US Government. They simply do not. They only decide what the executive branch will enforce or ignore. And, there is a very big difference.

      In the US, Congress decides how the antitrust laws will read (not the DOJ). And, the courts interpret them (again, not the DOJ).

      In fact, the DOJ is only given authority to enforce those laws to permit a more efficient legal system whereby violators can be kept in check without an enormous number of private antitrust law suits mucking up the courts. But, guess what? The DOJ refuses to act. And, the result is that the States try to take over some of the action. And, consumers, AOL, SUN, Burst and BE have to file their own private law suits anyway.

      And, since this article relates to the EU activity, the EU must then also act to make certain that their laws are not violated as well. The EU does not decide what the US laws will restrict. But, they do decide which products can be sold in their market without being illegal. And, as was the case in the IBM antitrust case, the EU ends up being the only effective player. That may turn out to be true again. Only this time consumers and a number of major corporations are also suing for financial damanges and additional injunctions.

      If you are a software developer, you should by all means be pulling for AOL in their law suit. That suit may open up an enormous number of software markets now effectively closed to you.

  • however, I think this can be a healty attitude to take towards MS. It informs MS (and anyone else who may be getting any ideas) that their practices will NOT go unchecked. There is however a fine line between this attitude and out right "picking" on them. With thier track record though, it is hard for MS to claim that they are being picked on unfairly.
  • Uh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gaijin42 ( 317411 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:48PM (#4688023)
    The EU competition regulator is concerned that Microsoft might take over the market for mobile phone software, according to a senior adviser to the European Commission. "Mobile phones are a very important market in Europe. The Commission is worried that Microsoft might take advantage of the strength of Windows in order to dominate in mobile phones," he said Uh, so they are suing because MS might do something? I forget what the legal term for this is, but I think this guy has a big stick up his ass. Besides, Stinger has 0 market penetration right now. Everyone is on just a big kick MSs ass because they are an easy target kick.
    • Re:Uh. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nutshell42 ( 557890 )
      From what I read on heise.de competitors have complained that Microsoft might use their desktop-monopoly to get an unfair advantage on the cellphone market (the example of Exchange only working with their cellphone-OS was brought up).

      Now the Commission is checking that and perhaps will consider it when determing restrictions if m$ is found guilty in the other antitrust suit - which sounds reasonable imho.

      jm2

    • It has already begun (Score:5, Interesting)

      by florin ( 2243 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:43PM (#4688263)
      It doesn't matter that Stinger has 0 percent market penetration right now. With the promise of the best interoperability with other devices, Microsoft's reign in the next 5 years is practically certain. Sure, MS' first attempt will fail as usual. But their war chest is filled and they'll keep at it until Symbian is just a distant memory (hello OS/2, Wordperfect, Palm, Nintendo)

      Microsoft's licensing agreement for its phone OS is like an echo from a past 5 years before the US found MS guilty of abusing its monopoly. Manufacturers and operators are allowed exactly zero options in changing the look and feel of the phones they sell. No logoes, no additional programs, it's their OEM desktop OS with mandatory Internet Explorer and MSN icon routine all over again.

      Apropos Internet Explorer, the dingy browser that MS ships on their phones has nothing but the name in common. It doesn't even support frames. Why anyone would want precious phone memory wasted on that is beyond me.
    • IE started with zero penetration.

      For the most part violations of antitrust law have little to do with how successful your illegal acts are. Or even if they were necessary.

      There exceptions such as charges of attempted monopolization where somewhat in excess of 50% of the market is the benchmark for that charge. And, that is why Microsoft has not yet been convicted of attempted monopolization of the browser market. It is not because they have not tried that. And, it is not because they have not done it. It is only because the appellate court could only review the facts as of the time of the trial. And, at that time 50% or so was the magic number.

      But, the issue here for the EU is the use of the OS monopoly to force the use of other technology in a number of other markets. The EU is about to announce their decision in regard to the media player and server tie-ins. This article just points out that they have a heads on possible illegal acts in regard to the cell phone services as well. But, do not worry if Microsoft does not in fact try to make an illegal tie with the cell phone services, nothing the EU does will affect them.

      The EU is certainly not going to penalize MS because of what they might do. But, making sure Microsoft does not violate the laws again in the same manner as they clearly have to date is just good planning.

      If you are one of those who claim the browser wars are over so get over it, then you must agree to prohibit Microsoft from even thinking about repeating that kind of illegal act. The browser wars are not over. It is not even a war. Fair and open competition is still precluded by illegal acts. But, any market can recover once illegal acts cease.

      Do not worry. If each consumer has to pay $35 for IE or leave it at the store, a very high percentage will leave it or buy another brand. But, as long as the DOJ also favors forcing the sale of IE upon everyone, there will be no competition. The monopoly in browsers will be maintained indefinately. Or, at least until the monopoly OS goes away.
    • Uh, so they are suing because MS might do something?

      They arent suing anybody.. it's an investigation. They got some complaints from competitors (Nokia e.a.) that MS is using their standard tactics of bullying, screwing with standards etc. and they're investigating. You'd rather that they wait untill MS extually succeeds in pulling the same thing they did with the browser and then get this joke of a sentence they got from the last trial?
    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      Uh, so they are suing because MS might do something?

      As opposed to the US wanting to bomb Iraq because of some weapons Iraq might have. I'm sure Microsoft would rather be sued than bombed...

      I forget what the legal term for this is, but I think this guy has a big stick up his ass.

      Maybe he can compare sticks with GW Bush :)

      Besides, Stinger has 0 market penetration right now.

      Who wants a mobile phone named after a man portable SAM or a device police use to stop cars?
      Maybe we should wait until things are much too late and things are crippled to SMS viruses. Thing is that people won't just accept this, because they'll know how it didn't happen in 2002.
  • good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by emarkp ( 67813 ) <slashdot@roa[ ]com ['dq.' in gap]> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:49PM (#4688028) Journal
    Just having the suits change the environment enough so that alternatives can survive. While MS has been under the Antitrust gun, it hasn't been able to crush competitors with quite the same abandon. If this keeps up long enough, there may well be a viable MS alternative shipping in volume from major manufacturers in the forseeable future.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:49PM (#4688029)
    Microsoft is considering another large donation of money to EU member countries and selective individuals to keep them fat and happy.

    And in furture news, "Microsoft Found 'Not-Guilty' by EU."

  • by erik_fredricks ( 446470 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:51PM (#4688049)
    "Fatal Error. You need to restart your computer. You will lose all unsaved...oops, I mean, We're sorry-your call could not be completed as dialed. Please hang up and try again."
  • I work in as a cell phone cie customer service rep, and beleive me when I say that a MS OS cant be worse than the Nokia, Motorolla or Vtech one. I did have to explain to customer that they needed to to see a store tech to flash to a newer software version (ie : Why can't Nokia get a grip about pressing and holding 0+8 for emergency call EVEN WHEN THE KEYPAD IS LOCKED? Ask your local emergency service... Up to 10% of all the call are Nokia pocket calls... And they change that behavior at every friggin update!)
    • I'm not sure what you're getting at, but if you're suggesting that Nokia phones allow emergency calls even when the keypad is locked, it might be a good idea to look at that stats once again.

      Something tells me you'll get a lot more calls.

  • by absurdhero ( 614828 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @07:54PM (#4688059) Homepage
    good thing Microsoft doesn't have a hold on this market. I wouldn't want clippy asking me, "Are you breaking up with your girlfriend? I can help!"
    • I wouldn't want clippy asking me, "Are you breaking up with your girlfriend? I can help!" ...while the intelligent MS Smartphone sends your data to all .NET enabled dating services, who in turn pays MS a referral bonus.
      • while the intelligent MS Smartphone sends your data to all .NET enabled dating services, who in turn pays MS a referral bonus.

        With you knowing nothing about it until you get the bill. Which also includes a fee for every "match" .NET dating services incorporated has found. All of which are in the US state of Utah, which was the closest match it could find to "upset".
  • What for? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evil_one ( 142582 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:03PM (#4688098) Homepage
    Can someone PLEASE explain to me what the deal is with 'smartphones'?
    I have a nokia 5160, and I can place calls with it. I can receive calls with it. I can receive text messages too. Shit, I can play nibbles on the damn thing!
    WHY would I want more than that on a phone?

    I've got a computer for internet access - it stays at my desk. Contrary to popular belief, checking /. every 5 minutes isn't necessary for geek survival.
    I have heard the excuse that some poeple want to check and reply to their email on the go - that's what a secretary is for. If not a secretary, there are a plethora of alternatives - Laptops, Wireless/Wired palm/pocketce devices and internet booths spring to mind.

    Convince me we need smartphones. I just don't see it.
    • So I'm not the only one who thinks this is strange! I'd rather have a seperate phone, PDA, and camera rather than one product that does a mediocre job of all 3 functions.

      When my boss saw my Zaurus he asked if it had a camera & cell phone. I told him no ... and it didn't wipe my ass either.

      • Seriously, the camera on these phones must really really suck. All barely adequate digital cameras are huge compared to the size increase these phones get when they add a camera. And if you want something like the super-tiny Canon Powershot 330, then the camera alone costs $500. I'm just saying, the CCB and optics quality must be really low, they're probably comparable to something like a barbie camera [pcphotoreview.com].
        • I haven't really tried the PDAs with built-in other stuff, but I think it might be nice to have a built-in camera and cell phone, or a cell phone with a PDA and camera function. If it is an idea that is accepted, then I would think that future product versions should have improvements to make such a combination more acceptable to more people. For some people, having to keep track of one object might be easier than tracking three. For others, having three objects might reduce the risks should you loose something.

          A camera probably doesn't need to be high resolution, it would probably be comparable to my dad's old VGA resolution Mavica. If one needs a good camera, buy a good camera, but I think history has proven that something that is "good enough" will do the job despite obvious improvements that a better product would have.
    • Re:What for? (Score:2, Interesting)

      We don't _need_ smartphones, but they're damned useful if you have them. I had a Nokia 9000 in the UK, and now I'm here in the US I've got a 9290. It's a complete computer and phone in one unit.

      Why? Because the alternative is carrying a PDA and a phone together. And I've tried that, and it doesn't work. And there are advantages of having the two in one unit anyway, such as being able to have your contacts list in one place (rather than lists of phone numbers on the phone, and lists of names and addresses and other details on the PDA.), and, of course, you can browse the web, write and receive email, and other such nicities.

      The only proviso is that if you're planning on having a smartphone, MAKE SURE IT'S A GSM NETWORK YOU'RE GOING TO BE USING. CDMA and "D-AMPS" (the older digital US standard still used by most of AT&T and Cingular though both are upgrading) type networks tie your phone service to one phone. There are occasions in which a smartphone is too bulky (and too valuable) to be something you'll want to drag around with you. With GSM, you have the option of just taking out the SIM and putting it in a smaller phone. With CDMA and D-AMPS, you have the choice of putting up with the risks/discomfort of taking it with you, or losing phone service completely.

      I love my Nokia 9290. The whole is definitely greater than the sum (PDA + phone).

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, smartphones are made by corporations. If you live in the united states, you are morally required to buy what companies produce.

      To do any less is simply theft. Just because you "don't need" something, that's no excuse to avoid buying it.

      Do you think companies hire employees and develope products for free?
    • Do you have a calendar?
      How about a camera?
      And music, do you listen the latest albums?
      and so on.. tv, videocamera, vibrator, etc.

      Why the hell should I carry around 10 different devices when technology allows to put them all in one package.

      What is happening is not smartPHONES but technology integration. 70 years ago people didn't have radios in their cars and many thought just like you that 'I can listen to radio at home, why should there be one in my car'. Nowadays I really don't know anyone who still thinks that radios don't belong in cars - do you?
      • and right now, buying the devices separately costs less than buying one device to do it all.

        Oh, my grandpa disagrees - he didn't know anyone that thought putting radios in cars was anything but a great idea.
    • Can someone PLEASE explain to me what the deal is with 'smartphones'?

      I have a nokia 5160, and I can place calls with it. I can receive calls with it. I can receive text messages too. Shit, I can play nibbles on the damn thing!
      WHY would I want more than that on a phone?


      For some reason that reminds me of some things I have heard in the past:

      "I get newspapers, why should I read news on the Internet?"

      "Why send an e-mail when I could send a real letter?"

      "I have regural phone, I don't need a cell-phone"

      Nobody is forcing you to buy smartphones. You could use your 5160 for years to come. But I bet that in 10 years you will be wondering "How on earth did we manage with those phones 10 years ago?!". Every single time when some new technology emerges, there are some luddites arguing "Bah! We don't need that! We have xxxxxxxx that does the same thing already!". And in few years time that new technology has entrenched itself and everyone is using it.

      You say that we don't need cell-phones for email, since we can use laptops or PDA's for that. Convince me: why should I carry big and heavy laptop with me just to check email, if I could do it with a 80gram device that fits in my pocket? Why should I carry a PDA for that matter, if I could use just one device instead?
  • Considering that the only design win MS had gotten recently dropped them [slashdot.org].

    Disclaimer: I believe that MS is an abusive monopoly and that the DoJ rolled. I also believe that the States blew the retry of the penalty phase.
  • What a bunch of BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekee ( 591277 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:05PM (#4688113)
    Sounds like the EU is trying to protect the current cell phone sw makers. They're the ones being anticompetitve. I don't see how MS's pc market gives them any leverage with cell phone makers and cell phone networks.
    • by irc.goatse.cx troll ( 593289 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:10PM (#4688530) Journal
      Microsoft lost $177M in three months on the xbox. They couldnt of done that without the desktop monopoly cashcow.They can just shovel money at anything and get away with it, further expanding their monopoly, making them more money..
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:33PM (#4688839) Homepage
      What I gather is that the EU is trying to protect an emerging market. Microsoft is able to tie thier SmartPhones to thier Windows and .Net platform, further leveraging the Windows monopoly, and in doing so would strengthen that monopoly. This would effectively short-circuit any compeditors products.

      If .Net is truly open, I would agree with you in that Microsoft would simply be providing infrastructure on an even basis with any prospective competitors. If they purposely leverage their Windows monopoly in order to gain un-fair advantage in the smartphone market, that's a different matter - they would be attepmting to acquire another monopoly. The EU is trying to keep the competition even, at the start anyway. If everyone in the Phone/PDA combo market is afforded the same advantages, and Microsoft still wins, OK, fine, they deserved it. As it is, there won't be much - if any at all - competition due to the Windows juggernaught.

      Crap. The reason I'm never thrilled with Microsoft is that they present a lose-lose situation. Sure, they should be allowed to "innovate" to thier hearts content - everyone is even before the law, after all. Everytime they do, however, they seem to desolate the compeditive landscape by nuking everything with thier Windows-leverage bomb.

      Bleah. 'Nuff typing - I'm going back to my bottle of rye...

      Soko
    • If MS does not engage in any illegal acts there is no problem.

      If MS did not bundle IE, the DOJ would never have filed its law suit.

      If MS had honored the consent decree, the DOJ would never have filed its law suit.

      There are a lot of ways by which products and services can be tied in an illegal manner. If MS does none of those, no problem. Right?

      If you do not see how MS could use or is using their monopolies it force its way into the cell phone market, then either they are not violating any laws or you do not see it or understand it.
  • Seriously. I've noticed this too, lately, as I work for a small Verizon Wireless store in our local mall. More and more phones are coming with the big PDA-type screens preloaded with MS's PocketPC software with a myriad of other Microsoft exclusives. Kyocera, Samsung, Sony, Broyhill, Nokia, all of the major cell phone brands have begun releasing PocketPC and Palm based PDA/phone combos.

    This is fine for competition, except Microsoft has been known to leverage their monopoly power to expand it to other businesses. What gives them the right to prepackage their PocketPC software on other companies' phones? It's absolutely dispicable.

    What the EU [europe.co.uk] claims is that Microsoft is using their .NET Passport authentication to tie customers into a spiralling frenzy of tie-ins and products, such as Excel and Age of Empires. More and more of our consumers are being forced into purchasing these telephones and using them to converse with their cohorts while Bill Gates and Co. can listen in on their conversations. These consumer terrorists are forced to browse their email through Microsoft's scrupulous Pocket Outlook for their telephones and MSN Messenger for their SMS replacements.

    In short, I just hope that the EU can finally bring down the Micro$oft empire that threatens competition in a market trying to be free. Their behavior is absolutely disgusting and unwarranted in a free market system, which is exactly why the EU must do everything they can to bring them down, because Ashcroft won't.

    • What gives them the right to prepackage their PocketPC software on other companies' phones? It's absolutely dispicable.

      MS doesn't. They have salespeople who go to the mobile phone folks, and conivnce them to buy the MS PocketPC stuff.

      Phone/PDA combos are a fairly natural synergy (how many high-power computing devices do you REALLY need in your pocket?), and MS moving PocketPC over to the phone makes sense.

      But, really, I don't see how they have a monopoly. Palm still licenses Palm OS, and it competes with PocketPC in just about every area PocketPC is in. It's not like Macintosh, where Macs are to "PCs" like motorcycles are to cars; most of the functionality of a PDA (or a phone) is built right in, and neither MS or Palm are selling their own phones. (Palm is even running their OS divison as a seperate company)

    • by cstrommen ( 254974 ) <number1@NoSpAm.kde.org> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:55PM (#4688305) Homepage
      I can't speak for the others, but Nokia isn't using Microsoft's os as they have their own (Symbian [nokia.com]) and it seems that most phone-providers are actually switching to this one. Sendo [sendo.co.uk] is a good example of this, as told in a previous slashdot story [slashdot.org].

      The companies that have been using the Windows Smartphone [microsoft.com], now known as Windows CE .NET as far as I can tell, have reported a lot of serious problems with the os. It constantly crashes and freezes (no, this is not a joke nor a flame, this is a fact), something that is driving more and more of them over to the Symbian OS.

      To conclude, there are many companies that have decided to use the Microsoft alternative, but more and more of these are ditching it in favour of the more commonly used Nokia os.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I currently use Verizon Wireless for my cell phone. When I signed up for the Verizon Wireless service - Verizon ran its own messaging infrastructure. Verizon has since discontinued their own messaging infrastructure and are now forcing existing customers to sign up with Microsoft and get accounts on either Hotmail or MSN in order to have email addresses for instant messaging (e.g., stock prices, sports scores, etc.).

      Needless to say I am annoyed with this. The registration process does not work with Mozilla 1.2b (must I use IE? where will it end?) - and the instant messaging services via email addresses does not work unless I sign up with Microsoft - and provide them with all necessary registration data: name, date-of-birth, gender, zip code, occupation, etc.

      I need a Microsoft passport id for installing Windows XP. I have an MSDN subscription through work - and I need a passport id in order to use that effectively. I need a passport id to have access to Hotmail (which I don't want) and the instant messaging functionality on my phone. And probably more such 3rd party services coming in the future. All of this stuff can be traced and linked to a single on-line identity.

      This is too much information to be providing Microsoft (and the "partners" they share it with). I was "slammed" here on my cell phone service. I would have picked a different wireless provider if I knew I would need a passport ID in order to use the Verizon Wireless services. I don't like Microsoft's Big Brother-like passport concepts - and don't want to put my credentials in a single Mircosoft-owned basket.

      I suspect that this is what is happening with other cell phone users with different companies - both here and outside the US. It is all part of Microsoft's grand plot to track us all - not just on the web, but through our cell phones, and who knows what's next? On-line banking?

      I can see why people are annoyed. All power to the EU here.

  • haiku (Score:4, Funny)

    by bobtheprophet ( 587843 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:09PM (#4688132) Journal
    True, I hate MS
    still, the EU is not right
    to try to fight them

    If no complaint has
    been raised by MS victims
    who're they to fight?

    Arbitrarily
    picking fights over all things
    is not the best plan.

  • by djg0005 ( 465294 )
    I don't know if the EU has the muscle to stop the freight train that is .NET. With "Smart Clients" being one of the four pillars of their new platform, failure to gain market share in the luctrative European mobile phone/computing market would be a disaster for their future business plans.
    However, with the reluctance of companies to participate in the "Safe Harbor" provisions that enable a firm to side-step the privacy laws in Europe, and the general move of European governments toward Open-Source solutions, Microsoft and the .NET platform may have quite a fight ahead of them.
    So...pass the popcorn and step up to get good ring-side seats to this one in the next few years.
  • Worrying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by James Nicola ( 241351 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:29PM (#4688213)
    Microsoft has virtually no real penetration in the mobile phone/PDA market; Nokia/Symbian are currently destroying it. Hell, even Sendo (in which MS has a substantial stake) just withdrew their MS based phone after a couple of weeks in favour of the open source Nokia solution. It isn't even *likely* to fly.

    It's far more likely that Monti (EU Competition Commissioner) is worried that the current *real* antitrust investigation into Microsoft will either not find anything or that the remedies will be knocked over in court (like most of his cases) - and he wants to have his distraction tactics ready. This way at least he can say "Forget about *that* one, we've got a whole new case against Microsoft to spend years and millions on!" and Slashdot can happily argue about that one till it looks like falling; when he can start a new investigation, probably into Microsoft failing efforts to dominate the games console market. And then there's the effort (with Media Centre) to take over the TV and stereo market.....
  • How can you prosecute a company for antitrust violations when it doesn't even have a majority of the market share?
    • You can when it has a monopoly in another area that it intends to levera... damn it, USE, it's USE, there's no stupid effing word "leverage", well ok, there is but there SHOULDN'T BE... sorry, start again:

      You can (prosecute a company for antitrust violations when it doesn't even have a majority of the market share) when it has a monopoly in another area (in this case operating systems for commodity computer systems able to interact with the majority of other computer users) that it intends to use to control the market it doesn't yet have a majority of (or any) market share.

      Think of it as "Attempted Murder". "How can you prosecute someone for a crime in that whole barrel of law concerning murder against someone else who isn't even dead?"

    • Just remember that IE started with a zero percent share.

      It was the illegal use of the OS monopoly that gave MS the monopoly in browsers.

      And, it is the illegal bundling of IE with the OS that will maintain it as long as the OS is dominant.

      You will buy IE again and again no matter what you think, want or need.

      You may not like AOL, but the AOL law suit is about the only hope that fair and open markets will exist on the Microsoft platforms until such as they are eliminated.

      The stupid DOJ wants a monopoly in browsers for Microsoft. The DOJ wants a monopoly in media players for Microsoft too.
  • by i_luv_linux ( 569860 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:38PM (#4688249)
    As most other Slashdot news about Microsoft, this news is also not true or at least it is based on assumptions, makeup stories, which are not true.

    First of all in the news it says that based on the suspicion that the software giant is trying to leverage its dominance of PC operating systems into the market for mobile phone software which basically means that there is a suspicion and there is no hardcore proof. The news does (actually can) not explain which Microsoft policies cause Microsoft to use its strength on Windows platform to take over the mobile phone market. The only credible issue is the "Titanium" software, but it is not the job of Microsoft to provide the best integration for Windows with competitors' devices. Competitiors has to spend time to build quality software, instead of complaining. This is a software engineering problem. If you can not write better software than Microsoft, then don't complain.

    There is also a claim by the lawyer (anonymous coward) that Microsoft is threatining mobile phone operators, but he/she fell short of explaining how, when, which? If you think about it you also realize that Microsoft can not threaten neither mobile phone operators not manufacturers. Tell me how Microsoft can threaten Nokia? Nokia does not sell PCs. There is no way Microsoft can threaten these companies.

    To sum up again this news is totally bogus, it is for our amusement, making up stories about Microsoft and laughing at each others' jokes. Have fun

    • yes, the suspicion that a known offender is getting ready to commit a crime. all they are doing is applying the american doctrine of pre-emtive strike to a business target. is there something wrong with that?

      fact is, by reading your post, i can only come to two conclusions.

      1. you make your living as an M$ geek

      2. big brother has you.

      an m$ world would have every last user stick their credit card into a slot to boot up, and charge by the second for licensing. don't matter if its a mobile phone, a PC or a game box. if you're in favor of M$ taxes, go right ahead, walk down that road.

      the typical mobile phone has only the most important personal information stored on it. letting a company that has a history of invading the privacy of users has little place in that equasion.

      since u probably don't know, the EU has these things called PRIVACY LAWS.

      besides, i'm not particularly worried by M$ just yet myself, nobody really wants a cellphone with a fan that crashes everytime you get a phone call while you surf the web. . . . .

  • Any signs... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrunkenPenguin ( 553473 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:41PM (#4688259) Homepage
    "While I haven't seen any signs Microsoft is going to dominate the industry here in the States.."

    Well, did you see any signs when Microsoft started a browser war against the de facto standard Netscape browser back in the old days? I mean, who would have believed back then that Microsoft would be able to beat Netscape in browser war?
    ----
    • Re:Any signs... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Osty ( 16825 )

      Well, did you see any signs when Microsoft started a browser war against the de facto standard Netscape browser back in the old days? I mean, who would have believed back then that Microsoft would be able to beat Netscape in browser war?

      Doesn't matter. You can't sue for something someone might do. I might get drunk and kill your daughter in a drunk driving incident, but until I do so, you cannot sue me. I might slander you, or steal your wife, or do any of a number of things that would be grounds for a lawsuit, but until I actually do them, you cannot sue me. Same goes for Microsoft. Just because they might get a monopoly in the mobile market doesn't mean the EU has the right to preemptively sue them (never mind the fact that having a monopoly in and of itself is not a bad thing at all, only abusing it is).


      Then again, let the EU try. They'll lose, because they can't prove Microsoft has done anything wrong at this point.

  • Litmus test? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @08:59PM (#4688316) Homepage Journal
    Is Microsoft in this business (they label it "CE/Mobility") because they want to make a profit in this business? Or are they taking advantage of other strengths of their company to dominate the new sector?

    Microsoft's recent Form 10-Q [sec.gov] shows that, between June 1 and September 30, 2002, Microsoft lost $33M (U.S. dollars) on revenues of $17M in this part of their business. (Look for the second occurance of "CE/Mobility", the one under "Three months ending September 30" and "2002," about halfway down the page.) In other words, they spent a total of about $50M (in three months!), and lost almost three dollars for every dollar they spent.

    This isn't proof by any means; but it's one interesting test in trying to decide Microsoft's corporate intentions.

    P.S.: This rate may represent Microsoft scaling back their efforts! From June 1 to September 30, 2001, Microsoft lost $48M on revenues of $14M; so a total expenditure of $62M, or more than four dollars for ever one they made. Remember that Windows CE devices started shipping in early 1997; this is not a new business for them, but one that's almost six years old.
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @09:07PM (#4688343) Journal
    The point isn't that microsoft is moving into another market, they are allowed to do that. But they aren't allowed to use the monopoly they have to give them leverage in that market. They could do this with windows if it wasn't a monopoly, but it is, so if they tightly integrate their cell phone software with the OS. MORE SPECIFICALLY IF THEY ADD EXTENSIONS TO THEIR EMAIL SOFTWARE THAT DEGRADES THE QUALITY OF CONNECTIVITY TO OTHER CELL SYSTEMS. That is anti-competative and illegal. Microsoft can expand into new areas, but they can't intentionally use propriatary standards that block out the competition on the windows side, or the other monopolies they've already illegally used their windows monopoly to gain. No they don't have a monopoly in the cell phone market yet, the whole point is to PREVENT it from happening by stopping this illegal practice BEFORE it's too late.
  • Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gary Franczyk ( 7387 ) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @09:22PM (#4688382)
    This is almost like when someone gets arrested for a large crime. They charge him with just about everything they can think of and hope something sticks. They know he is guilty, but they do not know just HOW guilty he is.

    Here, Microsoft has been hit with just about every sort of suit imaginable, because everyone knows they have been pushing the limits of their monoplolistic powers. We are just hoping one of these suits will finally give them what they deserve.
  • All the EU wants to do is tweak the Yanks' noses and two protect their own software industry. If the EU felt that strongly about encroachment they would treat it like any other trade dispute and threaten to ennact sanctions, tarriffs and embargoes. But they don't which means they really aren't interested in market equilibrium, they are interested in finessing the creation of legislation through their court system and bypassing normal EU trade processes.

    Screw the EU - they have an 80 page regulation for the steering wheel on a bus. And they think MS is bad?
    • Different environment here. Monopolies are seen as a bad thing generally, irrespective or their behaviour to the customer. Actually the 'monopoly' law also applies to oligopolies too, especially where the act as a 'de facto' monopoly.

      Also mobiles are apparently much more pervasive in our society. Nearly all kids have them by the time they hit high school (11 or 12), and although we havn't adopted 2.5G and now 3G mobile technology at the rate the mobile companies had hoped, the upgrade trend is most definently continuing and relentless.

      It's not unusual nowdays for people to be carry around mobiles with substantial colour screens, embedded JVMs (with downloadable java games increasinly popular), a camera and software including pims, calculators, web browser, alarm clocks and as much else as the manufacturer can embed. Mobile data comms are already just about as fast as desktop, in the next few years they will be faster for most people. It will only be another three or four years before the mobile 'phone' as turned into the truly ubiqutous personal communication device more important to most people than their desktop computer.

      So put this trend together with european thinking about monopolies and it's not at all suprising that the EU is very interested in regulating so we are not under MicroSoft's ubiqutous thumb.
  • The fight continues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @01:02AM (#4689122) Journal
    America's justice department failed. Our European brethren have taken up the fight. I applaud them.

    Many people accuse me of "bashing" Microsoft because I spout dire disdain against the company. Do these people forget what Microsoft has done? Do any of these people realize how much needless costs Microsoft imposes upon companies? DOes any of these people understand how far they have set us back? Has any of these people ever had to sit across a table from a squad of Microsoft sales people and listen to them out right lie to your management, selling them "solutions" that you know will force your company to can two or three good people a year from now just to afford it?

    Microsoft will go down in history as one of the great evils of our capitalistic age. Microsoft taxes the world more then the old "Trust" could have ever hoped to. Microsoft is unabashed about whose pockets they will drain againt their will, or what tactics they will stoop to [gatesfoundation.org] in order to gain a share of a market. Just as car salesman pitches a deal that is "too good to be true" to a blue collar worker, Microsoft conceals itself in the garb of a sheep and hunts the third world with the ploy of "gifts".

    We need to knuckle up. If they win everything will continue to change for the worse. Before long it will be too late to fight, and we will all be asking ourselves "why the hell didn't we fight them when we had the chance?"

  • In the spring of 1999, Microsoft Corporation bought Swedish cell-phone operator software developer Sendit [webhackande.se]. Bill n' Steve paid 1066 million SEK (roughly $100 million USD) in cash for the company, it's IP and office including around 100 employees located in Värtahamnen, Stockholm. I quit my job on that day.

    Sendit's primary product was ICSA - Internet Cellular Smart Access, a modular Windows/SQL Server-based program suite designed to give cellphone operators the ability to offer their subscribers e-mail via SMS, POP3, IMAP4, webmail or a proprietary message retrieval protocol. We also had an Outlook CE plugin and did development both in Content Push technology and, of course, WAP. Microsoft re-branded the place MIBU [microsoft.se] (see Subject line) and pumped a lot of money and resources into it, hired lots of developers and did a lot of work - but earlier this year, the entire unit was disbanded [keffo.nu]. Many of the best people had already left - some went to other parts of Microsoft but most had left completely.

    This was Microsofts first attempt to leverage into the mobile phone business, but not the last. This was at a time when cell phone operators were invulnerable cash-cows and everybody wanted in at the server side as well as the handset side of the industry. Microsoft does not give up. They may back down and re-group, but they do not give up.

  • In the US its ok to use and abuse a monopoly if it doesnt hurt the comsumer. The law doesnt take other companies in account that may be killed off by abusive monopolies.

    Eu law in the other hand is all about keeping a level playing field among the companies themselves. Microsoft has more to fear from that law. Many European companies have been slapped with very big fines for much smaller offences than MS have made.

    Then again i dont know if we should worry. All MS can succed in if they continue alienating their customers and locking people into Windows etc. is a total fork of the internet. Geeks on one side on open systems and Windows users locked into MSN and NET servers. I dont know if that should be so bad. I could live with it but could MS?
    • In the US its ok to use and abuse a monopoly if it doesnt hurt the comsumer. The law doesnt take other companies in account that may be killed off by abusive monopolies.

      Whilst at the same time trying to claim that corporations are people. Which would logically make Microsoft a serial killer...
  • EU vs. US Part2. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theolein ( 316044 ) on Sunday November 17, 2002 @06:59AM (#4689977) Journal
    Last week I posted a response to the article on the Council of Europe's anti-racism guidelines. Since that article generated many heated (and somewhat lacking in knowledge and insight) posts on the EU (being communist, Nazi, Socialist, ant-US, -insert common American perception of Europe here- ) although the Council of Europe has nothing to do with the EU, I think I should expand on that subject.

    While the quality and hindsight of most of the anti-EU posts suggest both an almost complete lack of knowledge of what the EU or it's member states are, the posts sugesting protectionism might very well have a point. As we all know, when it comes down to business, the first priority of any government wishing to remain in power in the next elections is to ensure that jobs are held, the local industry does well and that, if possible, there is a net inflow of money into the state/area/country/region. This means that in practice the US President as well as the EU Commision will backstab one another and reneg on all treaties if needs be in order to ensure the wellfare of the own economies. The same applies to Russia, China, India and most other places, including Iraq when it comes to oil.

    Why do you think so many non-US countries' governments are switching or considering to switch to Linux or other alternatives? So that, for the first time in a long time, there will actually be growth in the local software industry. Microsoft has an enormous lock on software in the developed world and there is a net outflow of money from those countries to the US, since MS is an American company. Nokia and partly also Ericsson, have the major part of the cell-phone market in Europe and are European companies. I very much doubt that anyone who has any say whatsoever in the EU wants another MS monpoly in another market. The Desktop PC market domination by MS is bad enough, given MS's behaviour.

    I think the EU Commision will do anything legally within it's power in order to prevent MS gaining a monopoly there as well. MS has a lot of political influence in the US (see the recent trial outcome) and in developing countries where it can (and has done in Peru, South Africa and India) influence politicians with MS pocket change; MS loses more money on the XBox than it invested in South Africa, but the sum was enormous for South African standards. Your US President, GW Bush, did the same to the EU and others with his Steel import tarifs.

    This is the EU's answer.
    • Why do you think so many non-US countries' governments are switching or considering to switch to Linux or other alternatives? So that, for the first time in a long time, there will actually be growth in the local software industry.

      Also no sane government wants foreigners able to hold them to ransom. Especially where "gunboat diplomacy" isn't an option.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

Working...