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Microsoft

New Antitrust Complaint Filed Against Microsoft 500

jimboid and others wrote in about a new antitrust complaint filed against Microsoft in the European Union, concerning Windows XP (all previous litigation has concerned earlier versions of Windows). The BBC and Sydney Morning Herald have articles about the complaint.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Antitrust Complaint Filed Against Microsoft

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  • by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:21AM (#5287187) Homepage
    "The forms of Microsoft's abusive conduct are often closely interrelated, and their market foreclosure effects in many instances reinforce each other. The effectiveness of Microsoft's anti-competitive behaviours in preserving Microsoft's existing desktop dominance and in leveraging that dominance into related markets can only truly be understood if these behaviours and their exclusionary impact are viewed as a whole, rather than examined in isolation from each other."

    Is it just me or do these guys appear to be the first legal agressors against Micorsoft to understand the real issue?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:34AM (#5287255)
      I think most people understood it, but its hard to argue in court that their general attitude is anti-competitive. Instead, you need to deal with specific cases, such as a particular action (perhaps detailed by an internal email) designed to have a specific effect.

      Many people would not disagree that BillG is 'evil' in some sense. But converting that into an argument that would hold up in a court of law (ie. criminal) requires specific allegations,and each allegation, by itself, is not particularly serious.
      • by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:40AM (#5287289) Homepage
        The point about the EU investigation is that it is instructed to take an overall view. A investigation by an EU Commissioner is not like a DA considering whether to make charges - Mario Monti is judge, jury, and exicutioner. If he feels that fines are neccisary then he can levy them. And it is important to note that these are not pissant fines - they can be up to 10% of revenue made during the period over which they are held to be infining (also defined by the Commisioner).

        I know, I know, insert declaimation of dictatorship here. ;)

        • Re:10% fines (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MacAndrew ( 463832 )
          Gee, 10% off the gross reduces Microsoft profit by ... 10%? :)

          Surely there is a provision to deprive the naughty party of all its ill-gotten gain? The framers may not have had the profit margins of the software industry in mind -- these aren't widgets.

          Probably the EU allows a private right of action, class action, something?
          • Re:10% fines (Score:4, Insightful)

            by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:16AM (#5287999) Homepage
            This would be 10% of its gross that it's already spent in dividends and subsidizing other things. It would make the stock substantially less attractive and would personally impact all those options holders.

            If MS has an overall profit margin of 30%, 10% of the gross would be a third of its profits. Plus the fine would have to be paid at once, making the fine levy year possibly MS's first loss year as the XP fines would be 10% of the gross over several years payable in one year.

            All in all a very draconian penalty. Too bad they have to use anti-trust to achieve the good result of stopping MS illegality.
    • by glamslam ( 535995 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:48AM (#5287353)
      "Is it just me or do these guys appear to be the first legal agressors against Micorsoft to understand the real issue?"

      Of course people here (in the US) will say its really just anti-American retaliation for the steel tariffs [bbc.co.uk].

  • by Compaqed ( 203816 )
    Now if the UK gov't switched to Linux like other gov't of the world.. *drool* I could only imaging the progress that would be pushed forward!

    Some dreams come true.
    Some just stay a dream.
    • by Compaqed ( 203816 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:32AM (#5287238) Homepage
      I know in many Distros already have a Tea Bag timer in it. See it was designed for the UK!
    • Now if the UK gov't switched to Linux like other gov't of the world.. *drool*...

      Yeah, that's going to happen anytime soon. Face it, we've got the staunchest fully paid up supporters of MS "running" our country. Blair and co do anything they can to ingraciate themselves with the US, and giving up MS software would surely cause problems. It's a little like the mafia really, isn't it?
    • Now if the UK gov't switched to Linux like other gov't of the world.. *drool* I could only imaging the progress that would be pushed forward!

      Am I the only person that gets pissed off about statements like this? I like Linux as much as the next guy, really, but does anyone truly believe that simply switching the primary desktop OS of the government of a country from MS to Linux is going to foster in a new age of innovation or something? Where does this logic come from?

      obTopic: I am not familiar with the anti-trust/monopoly laws of the UK. I understood the US suing MS because that is where the company is headquartered. How can a foreign country sue a corporation that does not reside within its borders? Isn't this how all those gambling websites get away with it?

      "Smithers, there's a rocket in my pocket!"

      "You don't have to tell me, sir."

      • obTopic: I am not familiar with the anti-trust/monopoly laws of the UK. I understood the US suing MS because that is where the company is headquartered. How can a foreign country sue a corporation that does not reside within its borders?


        Simple. You come to my country and conduct business, you do so according to my country's laws, not US laws. And suing has nothing to do with criminal laws anyway.

        You open a store in uganda(sp?) and someone slips and falls on the steps, they sue you there. It doesn't matter a damn if you're American, British or whatever. Your being in another country subjects you to their laws.

        That being said, if a company has no presense other than as an imported commodity, you've got to take a plane trip and sue them where their assets live.

        Isn't this how all those gambling websites get away with it?

        They are getting away with avoiding taxes or other laws, or doing what they do because it is legal in the jurisdictions they're doing what they do.

  • I thought Microsoft was trying to get away from anti-trust issues with their latest software. Is there any chance this will do *anything* to the software giant, or will they be able to sweep it under their enormous rug, like everything else?
  • Summary?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by OttoM ( 467655 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:28AM (#5287217)
    My goodness, the summary is already 19 pages.

    Luckily the summary of the summary (the key facts) is only 2 pages.

  • The nice thing is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:28AM (#5287219) Homepage
    That Mario Monti has the power to examine all complaints made *as a whole* rather then being limited to only those made at the start of the process. This judicial effectiveness is why the EU will not always be stuck playing catch-up with MS, unlike the US. In addition, the political climate in Brussels is a lot less favorable for MS (think Reno rather then Ashcroft) and the EU has previously made several rulings agains MS Passport etc.

    Could be good. ;)

    • by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:43AM (#5287306)
      I'd sure hate to be the defendant in a case where the prosecutor or legislature could trump up or morph the charges whenever they want. The solution otthe US's problem is forcing a faster process (as is now being done in some federal criminal courts), not making it unreasonable to defend yourself.
      • It's not like anyone's going to get locked up or executed for this, it's a company on trial, not a person. The judicial safeguards therefore don't have to be as rigorous, IMO. Having said that, the economic impact of MicroSoft being severely slapped shouldn't be underestimated. There are a lot of pension funds heavily tied up in MicroSoft stock.
        • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @02:58PM (#5289935) Journal
          It's not like anyone's going to get locked up or executed for this, it's a company on trial, not a person. The judicial safeguards therefore don't have to be as rigorous, IMO. Having said that, the economic impact of MicroSoft being severely slapped shouldn't be underestimated. There are a lot of pension funds heavily tied up in MicroSoft stock.

          Keep in mind, a fine eventually is paid by everyone who buys MS products. Its not like Bill poney's up the cash himself. They raise the price "because of lawsuits and other expenses" and most people have to pay the higher prices, because of the way MS has a monopoly (the reason for the lawsuit). If you NEED office to communicate with your clients, you will buy it even if it costs an extra 50 bucks.

          The cost is meaningless to a company that has a monopoly because they can pass the costs on. The key is to get ACTION from the suit, to force them to act responsibly. If the suit only causes MS to be fined, it will only serve to raise prices, and nothing more. The stock will suffer in the short run, and not the long run, under this scenario.
  • antitrust suits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by odyrithm ( 461343 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:29AM (#5287221)
    How long can this go on for? you cant keep pulling the same company for antitrust violations.. wasnt Microsoft supposed to be split up? what ever happened there? this is just going to carry on and on and on.. its getting pretty frustrating really.
    • The EU could never split up MS. They can only regulate dealings of MS in Europe.

      Imagine the fun if foreign courts enforced laws in distant lands. Its bad enough with just a few mutual preservation laws. GMC would be suing BMW asking for them to be split, etc.
      • Re:antitrust suits (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jonathan_ingram ( 30440 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:49AM (#5287354) Homepage
        Imagine the fun if foreign courts enforced laws in distant lands.

        Such as having a Russian arrested for breaking, while in Russia, a US law?

        Or a Norwegian arrested for putatively breaking, while in Norway, a US law?
    • If you read the article, it says that the EU doesn't have the power to split the company, since it is US based. They can however fine the company upto 10% if they ever finish litigation and actually go thru the punishment phase completely, unlike the US federal and state govt.
    • Re:antitrust suits (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:54AM (#5287392) Homepage Journal
      The EU was waiting to see if the US courts were going to spank Microsoft first. Since the result isn't satisfactory for the EU, the EU will start taking matters into their own hands.

      Granted, this will at first only affect customers in the EU, but that a big market. Microsoft can't just soak up the punishment without shareholders revolting. And caving in to the EU means that customers elsewhere will want the same benefits. Microsoft will then see themselves pressured to meet their demands or fork their development.

      The wheels of justice are slow, but we're all so used to instant results that it gets frustrating too soon. Sometimes it pays to be patient and persistant.
    • Re:antitrust suits (Score:5, Insightful)

      by capt.Hij ( 318203 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:13AM (#5287515) Homepage Journal
      How long can this go on for?

      It can go on for a very long time. This is what happened to IBM. When they got huge and started pushing the markets around, governments were hitting them from all sides. Between the constant nit-picking and their own lethargy, they eventually lost their market share.

      It seems that history is repeating itself. MS is trying to get involved in everything under the sun [sic] and governments have their sights set on them. MS will eventually lose focus as it worries about revenue from the x-box, personal PC's, cell phones, internet ready refrigerators, and maybe even operating systems and software. At the same time, governments are looking for ways to reduce the power of this growing company.
    • by lildogie ( 54998 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:21AM (#5288048)
      > How long can this go on for?

      As long as Microsoft has a lock on most of the market for PC operating systems.

      > you cant keep pulling the same company for antitrust violations..

      The courts can keep pulling them in as long as they please. There is no "double jeopardy" for antitrust.

      > wasnt Microsoft supposed to be split up?

      One judge said "yes," another judge said "no."

      > what ever happened there?

      The judge that said "yes" was openly offended by a bumbled defense team, and then bumbled himself by reacting openly. It was then given to a new judge and tried by a prosecutor that was more sympathetic to Microsoft, not to mention a defense team who behaved in court.

      > this is just going to carry on and on and on.. its getting pretty frustrating really.

      Don't let it wreck your day. At least there is no _law_ that says you have to use Microsoft products. Just market forces ;-)
    • you cant keep pulling the same company for antitrust violations..

      Sure you can, if they keep committing alleged antitrust violations...

      wasnt Microsoft supposed to be split up? what ever happened there?

      No. Judge Jackson's remedies were thrown out because his actions outside of the courtroom gave the appearance of possible non-impartialness.
  • by amigaluvr ( 644269 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:29AM (#5287225) Journal
    Is it really possible to get to microsoft over XP this way?

    After all it's been nearly 2 years since its introduction. That's a long time in computing. I would have imagined there was a statute of limitations.

    If not, then it sounds rather shaky legally, but then anything that helps shift microsoft sounds good by me at this stage.

    It's gotten to the point I don't care if there really is a case or not, they should be shown we really don't care for their practices.
    • Good point, amigaluvr. I think that Microsoft has definitely used the speed of technological innovation and the slowness of the courts to their advantage in past fights.

      Take the lawsuits over the crushing of Netscape. MS just went about capturing 90% of the browser market while the lawyers were still fighting. Additionally they used to stall time to permanently imbed the browser deeply into the OS to help prop up a claim later on that it would be too difficult to extract the browser from the OS as a remedy.
  • This really isn't anything new; still the same old arguments. I guess after the success by Sun to get Java forcebly included in the US, the EU decided to try that angle. Oh yeah, and this story is old. Move along...
  • Another take (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:30AM (#5287230)
    See The Register [theregister.co.uk] for another take on the matter.
  • by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:32AM (#5287237) Homepage Journal
    See, kids, it's not just unfair company-eating, it's setting customers up as file format junkies by bundling in lousy software as "part of the OS" and getting people to the point where they don't buy or use anyone else's stuff. It's trying to control all aspects of the market, vertically and horizontally. WAY illegal. GM can't do it, so why should M$?
  • Litigation.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:33AM (#5287251) Homepage Journal
    All this litigation and chest beating costs millions of dollars/pounds/euros. Why don't the respective governments make a proactive move by mandating that free software be used rather than MS stuff. I don't doubt for a moment that all the harshly written criticisms of MS by these people are done on MS-Word.

    Oh, the irony.
    • Clippy: It appears you are writing a letter criticizing Microsoft. Master Gates cannot let that happen. Now deleting all files off your hard drive. Have a nice day.
  • by EEgopher ( 527984 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:35AM (#5287260) Homepage
    Microsoft might actually lose when going up against Satan! Did you see the CCIA's address?

    666 11th St. NW
    Washington, DC 20001

  • according to the article in the BBC
    Mr Monti and his staff are already considering a complaint that Microsoft committed illegal practices with older versions of its software.


    That investigation has been going on for three years and a decision is expected in the next few months.
    this means that they will give a decision on the older versions of M$FT in a few months.. so a decision on WinXP will take another three years.. by which time M$FT will have a new OS out.. and the whole rigmarole will start again..

    Suchetha
  • by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:42AM (#5287297) Homepage
    I wonder if the EU were to find MS guilty, and specify a bunch of things they have to do to windows, if that would stretch world-wide or just in the jurisdiction of the EU. Since MS is a US company, I always assumed a lawsuit against them in the US would be world-wide, but now I wonder.

    I also wonder about the civil suits. Sun sued microsoft to get java included in a US court. Does it apply everywhere, just in the US, just where MS and Sun do business, just where some trade treaty says?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:00AM (#5287427)
      I always assumed a lawsuit against them in the US would be world-wide...

      Only an American would think this way.

    • the sun part is easy. ms and sun are both american companies and that case was about breach of contract. i would suspect that the remedy of that would cover the same scope as the original contract which was probably world-wide.

      if something happens in euro-land, well that's different. take what ever the eu people decree and then wonder: the legal system(s) in the us (fed and states) could use it as a template if they have the stones. the court of public opinion could be devestating if ms gives more 'stuff' to the eu'ers then to americans! this could be the extra-large size can of worms...

      eric
    • Regardless of matters of law, which I can't really speak to (standard /. disclaimer), I believe, in effect, the changes would be made worldwide because of the sheer cost to Our Favorite Company (tm) to have to maintain two versions of Windows. They would choose for everybody to have the same version because of their bottom line.

      I don't think the EU would take kindly to for instance M$ selling a crippled version of Windows in Europe for example either.
  • by AntiFreeze ( 31247 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .24ezeerfitna.> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:42AM (#5287302) Homepage Journal
    Quoth the BBC article:

    The CCIA counts Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo and Nokia among its members.

    The organisation said it had filed the new complaint in order to fight for customers.

    "Microsoft's overwhelming dominance and its abuse of that dominance reaches into every corner of Europe and harms virtually every business and consumer who uses a computer," the association said.

    This organization consists of companies who _know_ what they're talking about when it comes to computers and competition (and anti-competitive tactics, for that matter), and are taking up the fight from the _consumers'_ point of view. I think it is this twist which might lead to actual rulings which will stop Microsoft's hard-edged and illegal tactics.

    Remember, Microsoft has had _two_ separate antitrust ruling against it (i.e. has been found guilty not once, but twice), but neither has had the bite to make any noticable differences in the way Microsoft has acted. Both suits really focused upon MS's anti-competitive methods, and not enough focus on what MS was doing to the consumers. This angle might just be what is needed.

    Of course, since this is an EU case, who knows how a ruling with teeth might affect Microsoft - it would certainly affect them overseas, but here in America a difference might not be noticable.

    • by bwalling ( 195998 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:54AM (#5287394) Homepage
      This organization consists of companies who _know_ what they're talking about when it comes to computers and competition (and anti-competitive tactics, for that matter), and are taking up the fight from the _consumers'_ point of view.

      Do not kid yourself. They are taking up the fight for the purpose of helping themselves. They do not care about the consumer. That just helps their argument. The whole point is so that they can make some more of the money that Microsoft is making.

      That being said, I hope they win, because they do happen to be right.
      • I said they were taking up the fight from the consumer's point of view. I did not say that was their reason for fighting.

        That said, you are certainly correct in your assertion that they stand to make more money if there's a stronger ruling against Microsoft. I just don't think the companies are completely apathetical towards the consumers, but certainly more so than the article and lawsuit might make it seem.

  • Now we can forget about Microsoft being a menace!
  • Monopoly Buster (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blue Bat Poo ( 583522 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:46AM (#5287336)
    Wouldn't the world be better served by kde and gnome consolidating to one desktop, and all the distributions agreeing on one form of package management (my favorite being deb), and spending their money cooperating in building an unbelievably awesome linux distribution? To me that would be the best way to stop the Microsoft monopoly on the desktop market. To me as a developer, if i can pay the same amount for a tool which is as easy and full-featured to use as visual studio.net, and can have other modules installed, not having to worry about finding the deb or rpm or whatever, and worrying about dependencies, it would be much easier for many CIO's to recommend a total switch. NOTICE it doesn't have to be free, which is a fallacy many people think everything linux related should always be. i would much rather live under a monopoly of linux and open source which is supported by ibm, redhat, suse, etc..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:46AM (#5287337)
    CCIA COMPLAINT AGAINST MICROSOFT
    KEY FACTS

    When: CCIA's complaint was formally filed with the European Commission Directorate General
    for Competition on 31 January 2003.

    Background: The Windows desktop operating system is installed on over 93% of personal
    computers in Europe and worldwide. Microsoft has held a dominant position on this market
    position for the past decade. Microsoft also has a monopoly in the market for personal productivity
    applications (word processors, spread sheets, etc) and the market for Internet browsing software.

    Microsoft's behaviour in the market has been the subject of ongoing competition scrutiny since
    1991. Its behaviour has resulted in both an "undertaking" with the European Commission in 1994
    and a unanimous liability finding by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2001.

    Microsoft has systematically and deliberately engaged in illegal practices designed both to protect its Windows monopoly and leverage it into adjacent software markets. Microsoft has used its market power to eliminate competition and stifle innovation in market after market. Unprecedented in modern commerce, Microsoft's monopolies generate margins in excess of 80 percent and profits in excess of US$1 billion per month.

    Microsoft's well-documented anticompetitive campaign against Netscape's Navigator web browser
    and Sun's Java programming language has resulted in a new monopoly in Internet browsing
    software, and sets the stage for the current CCIA complaint.

    Focus of the Complaint: The latest version of Windows XP takes Microsoft's abusive practices to
    a new level, illegally protecting Microsoft's existing monopolies and is illegally eliminating
    competition in new software and service markets. This complaint seeks the intervention of the
    European Commission to put an end to the multiple forms of abuse inherent in Windows XP.

    The 260-page complaint comprises an exhaustive factual and legal basis for Commission action,
    documenting multiple ways in which Windows XP violates Article 82 of the EC Treaty prohibiting
    abuse of a dominant position. These abuses include:

    Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger, and Windows Movie
    Maker 2;
    Biasing the user interface and operation of Windows XP to significantly advantage Microsoft's
    own software and services over competitive offerings;
    Refusing to fully disclose the document formats for the programs in Microsoft's Office suite of
    applications, in order to reinforce the "applications barrier to entry;"
    Imposing proprietary technologies, formats and protocols in Microsoft's dominant products with
    the effect of excluding competition on the merits;
    Imposing abusive licensing and other exclusionary practices vis-à-vis personal computer makers
    to foreclose the most important distribution channel from competing products;
    Leveraging dominant positions to distort competition in markets for e-mail and collaboration
    server software;
    Leveraging existing dominant positions to the markets for handheld computing devices and
    smart phone software through bundling, failure to supply interface information, and the use of
    proprietary formats and protocols.

    Legal basis of complaint: The facts alleged in the CCIA complaint rest squarely within Article 82 of
    the EC Treaty.

    Article 82 imposes on dominant market players a special responsibility not to allow their
    conduct to impair genuine undistorted competition on the common market, and prohibits such
    firms from limiting markets, production or technical development to the detriment of consumers.
    Microsoft uses methods other than those falling within the scope of competition on the merits to
    eliminate competitors and thereby strengthen its multiple positions of superdominance. For
    example, Microsoft's bundling in Windows XP squarely falls within Article 82's prohibition on
    tying, foreclosing competition for the bundled Microsoft products, and leveraging Microsoft's
    market power into new markets. The Court of First Instance of the European Union recently
    reaffirmed the illegality of such behaviour in its Tetra Laval decision.

    Impact on Consumers: Microsoft's anticompetitive conduct with Windows XP directly impacts
    consumers in multiple ways.

    Fewer choices of software products and very limited differentiation among personal computer
    offerings;
    Less innovation in the critical software markets which Microsoft dominates;
    Higher prices for Microsoft's software products than would otherwise occur in a competitive
    market;
    Rampant security breaches in Microsoft's core products resulting from the lack of market forces
    to develop secure software;
    Less privacy associated with the manner in which Microsoft biases its consumer services in
    Windows XP.

    Intersection with Current Case: This is a separate complaint. Actions taken by the Commission
    pursuant to its existing Statement of Objections cannot address the unlawful conduct inherent in
    Windows XP, which include new abuses intended to extend its existing desktop monopolies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:46AM (#5287340)
    Microsoft bundles an extraordinary array of products with Windows XP.
    They include:
    - Internet Explorer (browser);
    - MSN Explorer (browser);
    - Windows Media Player (media player);
    - Windows Messenger (instant messaging client);
    - Outlook Express (e-mail client); and
    - Windows Movie Maker (video editor).

    Wouldn't most people these days consider these things fairly standard applications that should come with an OS.
    I know I would hate to have to pay for an OS, and then buy a browser, media player, email client, video editor, messenger. And I guess also paint, notepad, calculator, etc.

    If they aren't, then why do most linux distros have all those things included in the standard desktop install...
    • In a word, no. Yes these things are "bundled" with most linux distros BUT they are many and varied...there is REAL choice. You are not expected nor forced (indirectly nor directly) to choose email client X, browser Y, etc. Even in cases where the choice is made for you (RedHat) it is still very much an option that you can easily not go with. Redhat doesn't fail to bundle the remaining apps, they just make a default choice for you.


      M$ is a different fish. They use an (artificially created and illegally maintainted) OS monopoly to push THEIR apps on everyone else, making more money and increasing the breadth of the monopoly. They use illegal and unethical means to induce use of their products at the expense of everyone else (special tie-ins to their OS so their apps appear to work better than outsider apps, sometimes causing artificial breakage of competing apps to make it seem theirs is actually defective).


      Given the (still) lack of choice in OS upon new PC purchase, they should be required to provide the competitor apps (free versions of Realplayer, quicktime player, mozilla, etc, and let people actually have/make choices). They mustn't be permitted to perpetuate artificial barriers for the use/adoption of competing tools/apps. It is the leveraging of one monopoly to produce more monopoly that is particularly naughty and a no-no.


      In any case, an OS is NOT a web browser, media player, email client. An OS is an OS and these other things are SEPARATE and INDEPENDENT applications that work through the OS.

    • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:09AM (#5287485) Homepage
      The main problem with the array of products MS incorporates in XP is that competitors do not stand a chance trying to sell their products. Basicly because everything seems to be connected to each other and installing a competitors product could, and would, break something. The fact that MS bundles this software with it's operating system is what is considered anti-competitive and more importantly leveraging this bundle with it's dominant OS position and thus gaining an unfair advantage to which competitors have to fight.

      I.e. the products do not gain their market dominance because of their own merits but because it comes with another product which has almost 100% market share.

      As for your remark about linux: If you do not like the browser, media player or any other software package coming with your distro you can remove it and install something you do like without having to fear you would break something else. Furthermore, if you do not want any of these tools at all just roll your own linux distro. Try that with Windows......
    • I'm going to take this oppourtunity to rant a little bit off topic.

      One thing that has always pissed me off about Microsoft bundling products into the OS is that they've never bundled anti-virus software. Anti-virus software is pretty much required on any computer running Windows, and if any software is a natural fit to go into the OS, anti-virus is it. I mean christ! MS is bundling firewall and NAT software in the OS now! But no A-V?!?

      Now, I realize that the reasons are all about marketing and company politics (MS wants to crush Real, for example, but doesn't really mind Symantec). But I'd like to see some anti-trust official use A-V software as the babelfish versus God argument against MS OS bundling.

      Microsoft Guy: Well, your honor, including all these programs in the operating system was essential to provide the user with a productive and innovative experience.

      Anti-trust Guy: Ah ha! But what about A-V software! It's absolutely required but you've never bundled it.

      [Microsoft Guy disappears in a puff of logic.]

    • What if you could... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PotatoHead ( 12771 )
      buy your OS, for less, and choose which applications you want to use?

      You could choose to buy the Microsoft Plus media and productivity pack, or not.

      Think about it. If you are on a decent net connection today, you can get good applications that do all of those things for free, or at the very least for low cost.

      The whole thing depends on the power of the default. Most users either don't know they can choose, or don't bother because the bundled things are there.

      Because they are intergrated to a degree that makes life difficult for those who actually want to choose, third party suppliers of these applications have a very hard time providing any value proposition to their prospective customers.

      This hurts the industry because:

      - There is little incentive to really develop these applications due to lack of potential return on investment.

      - The bundled stuff presents a nice target for those who would write viruses and such.

      - Perfectly useable hardware becomes useless simply because the bundled and intergrated packages demand it, not because it no longer does the job.

      - Open file formats lose their value. Why use them if everyone has the bundled stuff? When it comes to software as a service (read rentalware) closed formats promote user dependance and thus artifical value. This is wrong.

      Nobody should have to continue to pay for the ability to perform basic computing tasks when the technology needed to perform these tasks is mature and freely avaliable for the most part.

      So, wouldn't it be nice to just be able to buy XP, assuming you want XP, standalone? If you build your own machine, you can get your own applications. If you buy from someone, they could pack in a nice value add with a custom bundle. If you are in charge of a bunch of machines, you could build your own corporate edition bundle and stick with it unitl you have reason to change, not when a service pack, or OS revision forces you do do so...

    • I know I would hate to have to pay for an OS, and then buy a browser,

      I prefer Opera to MSIE.

      media player,

      I prefer RealOne to WMP.

      email client,

      I prefer Eudora Pro to Outlook Express.

      video editor,

      I prefer Final Cut to Windows Movie Maker.

      messenger.

      I prefer AOL Instant Messanger to Windows Messenger.

      The reason why few people have a problem with the bundling of an extraordinary array of apps in a Linux distro is because it's still up to the user to decide which app to use -- Emacs and vi and XEmacs and vim are all there. (In fact, the complaint is often that there are TOO MANY choices).

      Microsoft's pre-installed applications are a strongarm attempt to make that choice for you.
  • Jeeez... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:49AM (#5287360)


    These guys practically have a monopoly on receiving anti-trust complaints!

  • by Flamesplash ( 469287 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:50AM (#5287369) Homepage Journal
    Please don't take this as a serious arguement but more a point of thought, and theoretical ethics I suppose.

    If we at least say that MS is not off the hook, I won't admit that they are evil but on the flip side I won't admit they are not.

    Anyway, Bill Gates routinely gives billions and billions of dollars to the Bill and Melinda(sp?) Gates foundation which Bill's father manages mainly. Granted this brings up jokes about the left pocket giving money to the right pocket, but it is on the books and in the charter that a heafty percentage of the foundations money is used each year for purely philanthropic reasons, ie immunizing everyone in the world, funding research to find cures for various diseases, etc..

    Still with me? Ok, so Bill gives a good bit of his money to stuff like this, as does Microsoft. MS will match any employee donation to, afaik, any charity, as well it has it's own philanthropic arm backed with it's own many billions in the bank.

    Now given all this is it in anyway """"""""OK"""""""" then that they may be pulling more money than they should be out of people who can afford it when a lot of people are benifiting that would not if MS was not there?

    I know many others do philanthropy but Bill is probably the single largest individual to do so, and in ways others are not capable or have not try to.
  • Microsoft will go bankrupt just trying to pay for the lawyers they have to hire to protect them from these suits.
  • Oh dear (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @09:57AM (#5287406)
    It was looking good until they got to the bit about Office, which isn't a part of WinXP and weakens the credibility of the rest of the case. Another hint that this wasn't written by someone really au fait with the situation is the bit about MS products being displayed before those of third party competitors, which was essentially fixed in SP1.

    I tend to agree with Steve Jobs, who said (and I paraphrase freely) that he doesn't begrudge MS's success or condemn their business practices; he just thinks they make really dismal products. I would add "and sell them for a silly price with no discount for home users".

  • poll... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DonFinch ( 584056 ) <s2djfincNO@SPAMvcu.edu> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:02AM (#5287440)
    just curious, how many peolpe saying "yay! MS sucks! I hate Bill! Its the evil empire!" Are typing from Internet Explorer, while listening to mp3's in WMP 9 on XP??
    • Re:poll... (Score:4, Funny)

      by 4lex ( 648184 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:14AM (#5287519) Homepage Journal
      just curious, how many peolpe saying "yay! MS sucks! I hate Bill! Its the evil empire!" Are typing from Internet Explorer, while listening to mp3's in WMP 9 on XP?? ...

      That's why they know it sucks ;P
    • Re:poll... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:16AM (#5287539)
      Followup poll:

      How many are saying the same, but browsing from something other than IE while masquerading their user-agent as MSIE so they don't get locked out of various web sites?
    • Re:poll... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonym0us Cow Herd ( 231084 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:19AM (#5287557)
      how many peolpe saying "yay! MS sucks! I hate Bill! Its the evil empire!" Are typing from Internet Explorer

      Yeah, Microsoft sure is popular. Everyone uses Microsoft. It must be by choice because they are the best among all of the many alternatives in the highly competitive landscape of choices.


      News flash: income tax has been found to be extremely popular!
    • Re:poll... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:20AM (#5287565)
      You mean you think it's ironic that people would be using the software that they hate that's more or less been forced on them? Especially if they are currently at work?

      Wow...
      • Re:poll... (Score:3, Funny)

        by Rinikusu ( 28164 )
        I don't hate Bill, I don't think MS sucks (maybe their business practices), and no one ever "forced" anyone to use MS. You are always free to find another profession not "infused" with MS applications. I hear Burger King is hiring.
    • Re:poll... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )
      The whole point is, that monopoly == no choice!

      I'm typing this on Windows 2000 (work PC), but I installed Mozilla 1.2.1. I still have to use IE for a few things, like intranet applications, and I haven't installed Flash on Mozilla yet, so I use IE for that.
  • by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:03AM (#5287443) Homepage
    I can understand the part about imposing Microsoft proprietary technologies, protocols and formats;Employing abusive licensing and other exclusionary practices vis-à-vis PC OEMs to foreclose the PC OEM distribution channel to competing products... but what the hell does it have to do with bundling of additional apps along with Windows?

    That's considered value-added incentive for the consumer. Hell, even major Linux distributions bundle browsers, media players and office productivity suites. And I am GLAD that such apps are included, therefore I don't need to buy a copy or download a free one.

    It's not like you have to actually use those apps... install whatever alternatives you want. Although I do use IE most of the time, it is not because it is *there already*, I use it because it loads pages faster than other browsers (which I won't mention lest I invoke another browser flame war). But I detest Outlook (express or non) and installed my own preferred email client. Same case with media player... I know the privacy issues involved with it, hence I don't use it. It REALLY is *THAT* simple!

    As for disclosing Office document format... hell they created it, under their own terms and conditions, which a user HAS to accept prior to installing. If you're not happy with it, just return the CD. How hard can that be? And by the way, I thought the complaint was focused on WinXP... Office is not bundled with WinXP (although it would be nice if it was).

    I think the CCIA has gone overzealous in its approach to pin MS. They should have gotten more facts correct before publishing this paper.

    And yeah, I don't work for MS... nor do I have the desire to. And I have never bought any products from MS either, but that doesn't mean I never used them before ;)
    • I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but...

      but what the hell does it have to do with bundling of additional apps along with Windows?
      That's considered value-added incentive for the consumer.


      Well, then if Microsoft is giving away their bundled apps for "free", really free, out of the goodness of their heart, to increase customer value, then what do they have to fear with interoperability. Why don't they open their file formats. Why not allow total and complete interoperability with Windows Media Abomination? In the US antitrust case, it came out that Microsoft spent $150 million in developing IE (after first "acquiring" it). Then they give it away for free? Even the judge was skeptical. I'm sure Microsoft, being the charity it is, had nothing but pure motives in spending that much money on something that they would make no profit on.

      It's not like you have to actually use those apps... install whatever alternatives you want.

      The whole point of the complaint is that Microsoft has been and is working hard to prevent alternatives.

      You know, when I go to Dell's web site, I can configure a machine. Popup menus allow me to choose various configuration options. Guess what choices I get for Operating System? Let's not even bring up Free software. Let's just compare to, say a DVD player. The choice is DVD or No DVD. How about Windows or No OS? Shipping a CD hardware diagnostic would be the extent of the "support" they would have to provide. Just as they now say, insert the Windows CD to reformat and reinstall -- click. They could say -- insert the Diagnostic CD to proove that the hardware works perfectly -- click.

      As for disclosing Office document format... hell they created it, under their own terms and conditions

      If Microsoft is so wonderful, and everybody chooses it willingly, then what has Microsoft to fear of competition? Or are you suggesting that people would dare choose competing products?

      Since Microsoft has been found to be a monopoly, they should be compelled to provide interoperable formats. Or do you actually advocate that one player should be able to have a chokehold on the entire computer-using world?

      I think the CCIA has gone overzealous in its approach to pin MS. They should have gotten more facts correct before publishing this paper.

      Please show what facts they have gotten wrong.
    • by Dragon213 ( 604374 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:44AM (#5287752)
      It's not like you have to actually use those apps... install whatever alternatives you want. Although I do use IE most of the time, it is not because it is *there already*, I use it because it loads pages faster than other browsers (which I won't mention lest I invoke another browser flame war). But I detest Outlook (express or non) and installed my own preferred email client. Same case with media player... I know the privacy issues involved with it, hence I don't use it. It REALLY is *THAT* simple!

      I don't think it's so much the fact that the bundled software is there, but the fact that some of the software parts (most noticably IE) is so integrated into the OS that there is no possible way to uninstall it!
      Yes, Linux, BSD, Unix, et al. come with browser and other software bundled, but IME, you can choose wiether or not those programs are installed, and can fully uninstall them later if you want to.

      That's the reason that the anti-trust lawsuits exist, is because once they integrated their software packages so far as to preclude any uninstallation, they forced other companies' competing products into niche markets at best (i.e. Netscape).
      That practice is both unethical and unlawful, and if any of the Linux, Unix, BSD, etc. distributors started doing it, I would expect the same backlash that Microsoft is now receiving.

      The most prominient of these uninstallable programs are Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. If you go to any computer loaded with Windows 95 or newer (IIRC) you can find the executeables for both IE (iexplore.exe) and Outlook Express (msimn.exe) hidden somewhere in the system root directory (typically %system_root%/program files/internet explorer/ or .../outlook express/ for their respective programs), and if you delete these files and/or directories, WINDOWS WILL NOT LOAD.

      If you don't believe me, try it on your own computer.....just make sure you have the Windows Install disk handy.
    • First off, on the Office format -- let's say that I've created a horribly addictive drug, and after I knock off all the other dealers in my 'hood, I get all the local drug addicts addicted to my particular new drug. I don't tell anyone else how to make it, however, because I don't want to stand the chance of losing my standing as a drug dealer, or run the risk of some enterprising chemist making an antidote that helps people get un-hooked.

      Get it?

      As for the rest, I'm going to present an analogy: Let's say you own a business; how about a coffee shop? Good. Now, in this coffee shop, you buy your beans, like almost all other coffee shops, from single supplier, because:

      (a) The supplier has cornered the 99% of the coffee market, with the exception of a few independent gourmet roasters (Apple Coffee Co., Sun Coffees Inc., BeOS Beans, etc.) that cater to specific tastes, as well as group of individuals who grow their own coffee and give the surplus away to anyone who is willing to come pick up a bag (GNU Coffee).

      (b) They make a consistent blend that, while not extraordinary, is palatable to most people -- not too bitter, not too mellow, and they sell convenient take-home packages of pre-ground coffee.

      So far, there's no problem -- they are a good supplier, and make a product that is adequate, although the manufacturing process causes the coffee to clog up your coffeemakers more often than any other brand.

      Now, let's say that, since you're an enterprising coffee-shop owner, you want to offer your customers a variety; after all, some of your customers might prefer gourmet beans, and others might want independently-grown coffee -- the latter is even more attractive, because you can get it for free! Sure, the majority of your customers will probably stick with MS Coffee, but you'll gain a bit more business from high-end consumers (who prefer the gourmet blends). Furthermore, the more consumers that you can get to switch to purchasing the gourmet blends, the more money you make (because it's cheaper to buy coffee from them than MS Coffee Co.).

      So, you've got this great idea -- give your customers the *choice* of coffee! Great! Except the day you are ready to place your order, you get a fax from your primary supplier telling you that if they see you selling any coffee that didn't come from them, that they'll instantly jack the price of your coffee into the stratosphere. Since you need their coffee to compete with other shops (because the gourmet stuff doesn't cater to the mass-market), this is unacceptable. Your only option is to capitulate.

      You have just lost profits because your supplier is leveraging its monopoly in an unfair manner, in *opposition* to the forces of the open market.

      Now, let's take this further -- the blend of the main producer gets more and more refined over time; it appeals to more and more consumers. But just as you're getting over being sore from the gourmet-coffee fiasco, you get another fax from MS Coffee -- this time telling you that all coffee has to be given to the customer with cream and sugar.

      This is, of course, an outrage! Not all your customers want cream and sugar, although most of them are so used to coming to your shop that they probably won't leave. Some will, however, and they'll blame *you* for not supplying them with the black cup of joe that they wanted. Furthermore, although MS Coffee supplies the cream and sugar for every cup, they're charging you more for their coffee, eating into your profits.
  • by CowboyBob500 ( 580695 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:04AM (#5287453) Homepage
    At least this might stand a chance of success since in Europe we have appointed judges and prosecutors. They don't have to worry whether MS a) will remove funding from their re-election campaigns, or b) actively support their opposition.

    Bob
  • So what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frequanaut ( 135988 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @10:05AM (#5287460)
    The downfall of Microsoft isn't going to be caused by litigation.

    It will be caused by offering an equal or superior product at a better or equal price.

    Linux will be that product. It's not there yet, but it's inevitable that it will be at some point in the future.

    Just as open source software will eliminate commercial software development as we know it today.
    • Network effects (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dpilot ( 134227 )
      You're neglecting the well-worn phrase, "network effects."

      Linux already is superior to Windows in the server arena, in price and performance. There were issues of SMP and TCP scalability, but somehow when those were surpassed, there was no notice given. Now the scalability chase is against Unix, and Windows no longer enters the discussion. AFAIK, server administration is pretty much a non-issue, as well.

      The places where Linux is lacking in the server arena are squarely related to the quirks of serving Windows clients. In other words, Microsoft is using the Windows desktop monopoly to carve and hold a place in the server arena.

      Look at the desktop, for a moment. Whether or not Linux is "there yet" is subject to debate, but it is already clearly far beyond where Windows was when it took over the desktop. From what I've seen, the single biggest argument against Linux on the desktop is that it doesn't have 100% compatible MS Office capability. In other words, Microsoft is using the MS Office monopoly to hold onto it's Windows desktop monopoly.

      You're not attempting to sell one platform. You're attempting to sell against a set of platforms, all reinforcing each other. Two of those platforms, Windows desktop and MS Office, are effectively monopolies. (Windows is a monopoly legally, too.)

      This is what the European case is about. The network, not the platforms.
    • Re:So what (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lildogie ( 54998 )
      > Linux will be that product. [that kills Microsoft]

      Setting my love of Linux aside, I don't discount the possibility of the "Killer App."

      Netscape very nearly was one, which is why Microsoft pulled out all their weaponry to stomp them into the ground. If Netscape+Java made operating systems irrelevant, Windows would have died of irrelevance.

      Periodically, a new technology application appears that wipes out the previous generation. PC's, coupled with spreadsheets, wiped out timesharing and a lot of mainframes & micros, for example. Calculators (made from integrated circuits, a space product) wiped out slide rules. Cell phones are wiping out land-line telephones. Nylon wiped out silk.

      Mr. Bill is trying desperately to predict and invent the next killer app. The trouble is, you can't really predict these things (if you could, they wouldn't be "killers").

      The biggest killer app, IMO, was the Mosaic browser (+ HTTP + HTML + URL), which was a bolt out of the blue, and didn't come from commercial industry at all.

      MS Windows was a killer app, too. The trouble (for Microsoft) is that the killer app cannot be nailed down. The killer app causes a paradigm shift (dear God, I used the P word) that affects entire industries. When your product affects a whole industry, you can't keep the technology to yourself. The best you can do is surf the wave (and knock a few other surfers off their boards, if you're good enough at surfing).
  • by Zech Harvey ( 604609 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:18AM (#5288019)

    I am having trouble gathering my thoughts on this, so bare with me...

    First off, let me state I have not come to praise Bill, and that I concur with those who are pushing for this in their decision to press this forward. But I must say this action worries me as an American. With our current economic climate, the stance of those in charge, and how America currently looks on the global scale to our friends and neighbors, this could be the final straw in a tension build-up of global scale between America and the World.

    What do I mean? Well, if this action accomplishes what should have happened when it was handled internally (severe punishment, break-up even), what will Microsoft do? Comply? Or use their new-found leverage with congress and their friendly Pro-Business government to complain? I think we both know the answer. So let's say they complain to the American government. After all, Microsoft is the crowning achievement in Free Market Capitalism, it makes money hand-over-fist, at any cost, and is a shining example of American industry (HA! I'm so funny). The government for those reasons will back them up. So then the American government widens the rift between our allies (former allies?) in the EU as much, if not more so, than our current actions regarding Iraq are concerned. The EU want Microsoft to play ball by the rules, which is to say they are in the right on this matter. America will say it's their field and they can make the rules up and if the EU doesn't like it, tough beans.

    What will this do for our international relations? What will happen to the American business sector? How much will it harm our country and economy when the world (rightly) turns their back on us for our double-standards in the matters of state and business? I worry that it would be something nigh-repairable. Hopefully someone here will listen to what the world is saying and decide to make things a bit better. Maybe I just worry too much...

    • With our current economic climate, the stance of those in charge, and how America currently looks on the global scale to our friends and neighbors, this could be the final straw in a tension build-up of global scale between America and the World.

      At worst any dispute over the handling of Microsoft will be quite minor. No one in the EU is interested in starting any kind of trade war with the US because the two sides have too much in common. Take a quick look at the US/EU investment and trade figures:

      http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/us/ in tro/

      A trade war between the US and the EU would make about as much sense as a trade war between the East coast and the West coast of the US.

      Maybe I just worry too much...

      You do, and of course you are not alone in that. Right now relations between the US and parts of the EU are in the worst state that they have been in for years. Even so they are no where near as bad as they appear on the surface. Both sides are playing hardball while they try to move policy over Iraq in the direction that they want. But once the shooting actually starts those tactics will vanish.Just remember that this is all diplomacy - it has almost nothing to do with reality.

      In any case what you can expect from the EU regarding Microsoft is just slightly harsher treatment than they got in the US. If the EU really decides that they want to cut into that monopoly they will not do it with the crude tools of anti-trust law. It would be too much easier to do it with government subsidies of open source alternatives.
  • by lambadomy ( 160559 ) <.moc.eideideid. .ta. .ymodabmal.> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:18AM (#5288020)
    CCIA
    666 11th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20001

    Strange that the people going after microsoft have a 666 address. You'd think it would be the other way around.
  • WTF? (Score:4, Funny)

    by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @01:07PM (#5289002)
    But Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler described the complaint as "old arguments and allegations rehashed by a group that is cynically trying to influence the process".

    cough splutter WHAT?

    That has to be the undisputable dictionary definition of "a bit rich". Cynically trying to infWHEEZE splutter.... influence the process?!?!?

    I cannot believe this guy had the balls to say that. I really cannot. They must believe they are beyond everything, out of reach of anything. Incredible.

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