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Windows Could Lose Media Player in Europe? 605

Chris Gondek writes "If Microsoft cannot settle an antitrust case brought by European Union regulators, the company may be ordered to remove Windows Media Player as an integrated feature of the dominant Windows operating system, at least for personal computers sold in Europe. The European Commission also could order Microsoft to include rival media players with Windows to make those products as easy for users to access as Microsoft's own music and video player."
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Windows Could Lose Media Player in Europe?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @12:59PM (#8499339)
    Why should Microsoft be required to offer Real's whoreware product, laden with spyware and annoying popups and notifications. Including a Real codec for WMP and QuickTime is one thing (and something the companies would have to provide), but requiring malware to be forced upon every user is something else. Even if it was a nice program like WinAmp, I still don't think they should be required to bundle their competitors programs. Requiring compatibility through codecs is okay.

    Of course, nobody *had* to use Real OR WMA. MPEG is viewable on any OS out of the box. The the Real and QuickTime players are free, and QuickTime is easy to install to boot (save for the annoying upgrade notices, another thing I don't want "bundled" with my OS).

    Did the European Commission ever consider people don't want the alternatives? I don't need extra little icons in my task tray, I don't need spyware, I don't need notifications of news or Pro versions. Please, let us install our own crapware.
    • by RCO ( 597148 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:04PM (#8499409) Journal
      Which, I would think would include the original Windows Media Player crapware.

      The problem is that they are installing their own and excluding the others, so they are trying to make them either offer everything, including the competitors, or offer nothing, including their own. At least I think that's what's happening.

      • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:15PM (#8499554)
        RealPlayer is far worse
        "Good day. I see I'm not registered to play MP3, MPG, or AVI. You must have mistakenly unchecked them during install. I've fixed this error automatically"
        "Hi! Just thought I'd pop up a message telling you there are new ads to view! Click here to view"
        "Trying to uninstall me!? Please write a paragraph on your reasons for uninstalling and submit it to RealMedia for approval. Have you considered upgrading instead?"
      • Prediction: (Score:5, Funny)

        by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:00PM (#8500110)
        Microsoft will be ordered to include their competitors products.

        Later, a future Service Pack will 'break' the competitors products.

        Rinse, wash, repeat.

      • by SoTuA ( 683507 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:00PM (#8500117)
        I have no beef with bundling. I wouldn't bat an eye if Windows kept bundling IE and WMP.

        My beef starts when the frigging IE and WMP are so deeply entrenched in the OS. I would stop half my MS bashing if, when you fire up the "Add/Remove programs", you get IE and WMP among normal apps. And when you wish to uninstall them, it works.

        Clicked links outside the broswer will randomly open in IE, open in a new Firefox window or the same Firefox window I was browsing in. And that sucks.

        Don't stop bundling. Stop TANGLING and BOGGING.

        • by Knetzar ( 698216 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:42PM (#8500653)
          Ummm...I don't know how you installed Firefox, but there's an option (tools->options->general->make default browser) to make it your default browser. On my windows box when I click a link anywhere, it opens Firefox.
      • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:06PM (#8500169) Homepage
        I would be happy to not have any at all "pre-installed". I use WinAmp personally but keep having the headache of where I delete icons and file extension preferences from Window's Media Player and get them all again the next time I do a Windows Update. I could see getting them again if I updated the player but I get them on security updates!
      • by diablobynight ( 646304 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:33PM (#8500513) Journal
        Of course they are installing their own. For two reasons. They own it, hence forth licensing is easy. And two they want their OS to be able to support a large amount of media without the user having to install anything else. It suppord mpeg 1, mp3, wav, and can support other things as well, if you want to download the codecs.

        Linux doesn't come with Windows Media Player, or winamp, why should windows come with other people's shit. This doesn't make any sense. I think Europe is just ass backwards and hates the large American company. Windows should just screw them over and stop selling in Europe and offer no more licenses to Europeans, and then go on a lawsuit frenzy against anyone that continues to run windows over there.

        It's ok if you hate Microsoft but telling them their not allowed to enhance their products is retarded, if you get a AC delco stereo in a GM car(AC delco used to be owned by GM, maybe still is) you can't take GM to court because they didn't package their car with a aiwa stereo.

        Also, windows makes no attempt to not allow you to install real player, or quick time, so i don't see how their in the wrong.

    • by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:04PM (#8499417)
      Also, who gets to decide what products should be included ? I don't use media player, I use zoom player, but I seriously doubt I'll have anything to say on what products should be included instead.

      IMHO, instead of including other products etc, let the user choose whether or not he/she wants to install media player during the installation of Windows.
      • Also, who gets to decide what products should be included ?

        Duh. How about the OEM? You think Microsoft makes computers? (Well, they probably will do that, too at some point, where they can get away with it.)

        "Rediculous: as opposed to Greendiculous or Bluediculous..."

    • by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:05PM (#8499424) Homepage
      The reason is simple. If Real didn't have to put through all the illegal conduct that MS put them through they wouldn't have had to rely on spyware to survive and their product would probably be installed on the majority of computers right now.

      You see RealPlayer only started to suck when MS offered its ASF encoder/server for free hoping to dethrown Real who needs to charge for their software because they don't have an OS monopoly to finance everything they do for the next 10 years.

      • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:16PM (#8499565) Journal
        This is why I always advocated "No Internal Cross-Subsidisation" as a term of monopoly settlement for Microsoft. Then each unit would have to compete and be profitable in its own way, and they couldn't use massive profits in one area to kill off competitors in other areas.

        That'd mean that a lot of geeks wouldn't have cheap XBox Linux servers now though. Dunno why they'd want them though, not when modern motherboards with a processor, memory, etc, cost about the same and run faster (e.g. Asrock mobo + 1.6GHz Duron + RAM + cheap HD + cheap case)
      • by Mordack ( 756812 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:51PM (#8499991)
        If Real didn't have to put through all the illegal conduct that MS put them through they wouldn't have had to rely on spyware to survive

        Just because you are the victim of some crime doesn't give you the right to commit your own crimes or even resort to bullying other people. The "other people" in this case being the mass market, the very people Real hoped would purchase its product.

        Don't get me wrong -- I'm not taking Microsoft's side (you hear that moderators?). It is certainly wrong for MS to force out competitors through its Monopoly. Regardless, Real should never have used their product to gather information about me and my computer usage.

      • No, if real didn't take a good product and make it bad with spyware, bloat, and just plain annoying ad's and popups, then this problem wouldn't be happening.

        Instead they decided to add every money making scheme into their software to scam as much money out of people as they can.

        How many people would choose real over wmp? Not many. People have the option of installing real, they have the option of going to real.com and downloading it. Why do they need it when installing a OPERATING SYSTEM.
    • Why Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:05PM (#8499427) Homepage Journal
      Why should Microsoft be required to offer Real's whoreware product, laden with spyware and annoying popups and notifications.

      Could it be because competition is a good thing? Sure Real and their practices suck, but would you rather have no choice but WMP? And I'm only addressing you in the general sense, because like americans, there are undoubtably millions of europeans who don't know or give a rat's patoot, so long as they can watch or listen to their hearts content.

      Encourage a level playing field and let each player, or those yet to be born, to have a fair shot at it and survive or die based upon their own merits.

      "Psst! Push Ogg!"

      • Re:Why Indeed (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) *
        OK, the article writer here wasn't thinking. Microsoft should have to remove Media Player. Microsoft should NOT have to include other products.

        First off, including large other products in the OS will simply make them larger, and the inclusion of other products will likely have nothing to do with the quality of the players themselves. Secondly, why can't customers choose their own players? We're not all stupid, though the government would like to think that, I'm sure.
      • Re:Why Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:10PM (#8500234)
        This isn't really about choice vs. no-choice. The even marginally self-aware user will quickly find something better in a matter of minutes in Google. This is all about default installs, i.e. for the people that are, for whatever reason, unable to acquire and install an alternative. Ultimately, this comes down to a form of paternalism: "we, the powers-that-be, have adjudged you, Joe-Sixpack, to be unable to grasp the concept of competitive products and so, for your benefit, we are going to force that innovator from Redmond to include those products for you even if those products are of no use to you whatsoever and may even compromise your personal security."

        This "solution" is just so typical of what you would expect to be worked out by politicians. I can't say I'm surprised. The EU's stance on software patents and copyright has eliminated any respect I might have had for their depth of vision or understanding of the software industry as whole. The only surprising thing is that they aren't siding with the corporate giant, but that's probably just because it is an American company. Probably. I don't know that for a fact, but I do wonder how this would be playing out if Microsoft were an EU operation. Oh well.
    • by mrdaveb ( 239909 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:06PM (#8499440) Homepage
      I don't see it that way. If Windows gives me the option to install or not install several different media softwares then that suits me. It also gives me the option to not install the bloat if I don't want it.
      I notice from Windows XP that MS seem to be playing a bit more nicely with other mail clients, browsers, etc by enabling the MS products to be completely hidden. I'd like to see more of that.

      When I install a Windows machine I go through the settings and pretty much invert all the defaults which are silly/ugly :-)
    • by RichiP ( 18379 )
      IF the installer forced an actual installation rather than made it an OPTION. If it were an option, then IMHO it would be a Good Thing(TM) (even if no one actually installs them).
    • by CdBee ( 742846 )
      You may not want the alternatives, but the logic goes that its easier to uninstall an optional component than to download a wanted one.

      Freedom to install competing software is only available to those with internet connections.
      In truth, its good for you to have them all on there anyway - competition in media player services give the public more choice of suppliers of premium media, and this reduces both the ability of Microsoft to be a majority toll-gate provider of software solutions, and of those servi
  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @12:59PM (#8499342) Homepage Journal
    at not a web browser?

    seriously, which is more ingrained and used every day?
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:00PM (#8499353)
      Because there's no big commercial interest left pushing a web browser, but Real is still alive and big enough to complain about WMP...
    • Because if MS didn't include a web-browser then 99% of the people who would want something else would not be able to find & d'load it.

      Try explaining telnet & gopher to your mom.

    • i think it's stupid for either product, really. it's nice, if you buy an OS and get a free multimedia program, and it's nice, if you buy an OS and get a free browser. I don't think the company should be forced to provide you with competitors products (free to download anyway) for competition sake. If something is included in my OS and it's useful, i'll use it (Internet Explorer), but if it's not i'll get something better on my own (i'm using Photoshop, not MS Paint for graphic design.)
      • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:24PM (#8500389)
        I think you are missing one important point. Media content is big on the web now and will continue to grow fast. All these content makers/distributors want to use a format that will allow them to deliver to the largest audiance. It costs more money to have to deliver in two or more formats. Having Windows Media on every desktop pretty much answers the question for those providers. Microsoft gets an instant monopoly on audio/video formats because of their OS monopoly. Bye-bye competition. Things are already bad now. By allowing MS to control the audio/video format will put too much power in their hands. They will use it like they did with IE and consumers will be forced to by an MS OS to be able to listen/watch content. IE on Windows and IE on MAC had similar features for a while. That is until MS took over the browser market. IE on mac sucks. IE doesn't run under Linux, FreeBSD, etc. MS made proprietary extension for IE specific HTML. They hope that all sites will use it so that one day it may become a reality that to have an enjoyable web experience, one would need to buy an MS OS. This is what MS wants to do with their audio/video formats. If you want content/entertainment, MS wants you to have to an MS OS. Bye-bye user choice.
    • by Balinares ( 316703 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:35PM (#8499781)
      The sad thing is that even if the ruling against Microsoft passes, this won't change a thing.

      The problem is not so much software shipping with the OS, as APIs relying on the integrated software. Where Internet Explorer is concerned, for example, the Windows API offers certain features that are implemented in IE rather than in the OS. This means that from the moment you've got -any- piece of software that uses any of those API functions (to render help, for instance), then IE will no longer be optional. This is why back in the days when Windows 98 was released but didn't dominate the market yet, some third party software packages shipped with IE (in the same way games ship with the DirectX version they need nowadays), so that their software would run on 95. And the IE-ization of Windows 95 boxes everywhere happened just on its own.

      And you can -bet- the exact same thing will happen here. One likely possibility is, [Palladium.latestName()] will provide some API to allow media-oriented software to transfer audio/video to the hardware via an encrypted conduit, and that API will be implemented in Microsoft Media Player. And without looking so far forward, I believe that there already are some products (Adobe Premiere?) that depend on some bit of API provided by Microsoft Media Player.

      Even if your OS comes with competing products, sooner or later you'll need to install MMP.

      Judge Jackson had the right idea all along. Split up Microsoft, **AND** have ANY technical information (API definitions...) exchanged between MS-core and MS-components made public.

      This way, competitors could have accessed the information necessary to provide THEIR own implementation of any middleware API Microsoft published.
      • by Nothinman ( 22765 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:09PM (#8500213)
        That's not entirely true. Sure all the HTML rendering functions used by Windows help, Explorer, etc are implemented in MSHTML.dll but it's not impossible to register a different HTML renderer. Infact a while back someone wrote a Gecko ActiveX control that did all of that, you could register it and all those APIs would then call on Gecko for the rendering instead of MSHTML. But IIRC it was a huge PITA to keep the control up to date, and that combined with the general lack of interest made him stop maintaining it.
  • BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sabrex15 ( 746201 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:00PM (#8499349)
    BS, including a competitors product with your own???... Here, take this copy of Paint Shop Pro (bundled with Photoshop) hope you come back to buy PSP again..
    • Re:BS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shisha ( 145964 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:05PM (#8499435) Homepage
      I couldn't agree more. As much as Microsoft does have a monopoly, this does not make sense. Maybe they should be ordered to make it easy for OEMs to include any media player they want.

      But then the next service pack would probably revert this... all sorts of problems.

      Besides I have a little sympathy for Real, QuickTime etc. because I'm sure that once they'll be in they'd try to be every inch as monopolistic as Microsoft.

      Maybe a better approach would be to order that Microsoft has to release interoperability specifications for any data format they use. And make sure that unlike in the US, this ruling can be used by Microsoft's biggest rivals, which means Linux, which means that people could use it specifically in GPL software.

    • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:17PM (#8499575)
      BS, including a competitors product with your own???... Here, take this copy of Paint Shop Pro (bundled with Photoshop) hope you come back to buy PSP again..

      Most of the early posts seem to be astroturf crap like the above. To answer it anyway: PSP and PS are both stand-alone products. They're not bundled with the PC. Or put it another way, if a retailer wanted to bundle either or both he could. But with WMP nestled inside Windows, and MS not offering Windows without it, the retailer would have to pay more to offer an alternative. So he doesn't, even aside from the heat he'd take from MS. That's the essence of abuse of monopoly, leveraging dominance in OS to wipe out competing media players.

      And if you don't care, about that, perhaps you might care about Palladium and DRM that is being woven into Windows and its media player as we speak, with upgrades becoming less optional as the alternatives wither away.

  • Europe's a pretty big place... if they lose it there, they might never see it again.

  • (AP) Microsoft Corp, responding to the unbundling of Media Player from Windows, announced today a broad partnership with RJ Reynolds where a carton of some of RJ Reynold's famed brands, such as Camels, will be offered with Windows Longhorn for Home edition.

    "We're excited about adding the Camel camel as one our of automated helpers.", said Microsoft President Steve Balmer. "For example, during a longer search, our Camel character will light up and ask a user to join in."

    The Microsoft Longhorn RJ Reynolds edition is expected to be released world wide.
  • Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stephenry ( 648792 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:01PM (#8499371)
    Why stop there?

    Should they also demand that they also remove Internet Explorer? ...It's already been proven (albeit in the US) that it was used to illegally wedge Netscape out of the browser market.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:02PM (#8499374)
    Browsers and media players *are* part of a modern operating system.

    Rivals can simply include an operating system with their media players if they want to compete.
  • by DR SoB ( 749180 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:02PM (#8499375) Journal
    So I guess microsoft's next move will be to buy Winamp? :)

    I bet they'll be a checkbox during installation "If you want to be able to view video's you will need to click the checkbox" and if checked it will automatically download Media player.. Seriously how hard does microsoft have to work to defeat these things? Last I checked Internet Explorer was still being shipped.. If they really wanted to help, why wouldn't the gov't just invest grants in RealPlayer or something instead of wasting money trying to fight microsoft.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:03PM (#8499387)
    ...for the users.
  • Fabulous! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marxist Commentary ( 461279 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:04PM (#8499407) Homepage
    Since when is a media player a core component of an operating system?
    • Re:Fabulous! (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      Since when is a media player a core component of an operating system?

      I'd say somewhere around Windows 1.0. There's always been a media player of some kind of simple .wav player, it just got more and more complex as time went on until we got the bloatware that WMP is today. Some people long for the "old style" WMP, which is exactly why MPlayer2.exe is still in windows.
    • Re:Fabulous! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Da VinMan ( 7669 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:14PM (#8499538)
      You're right, it's not. Neither is a 3D engine (DirectX), a browser, an email client, a remote desktop protocol and program, a backup tool, a disk defragmenter, a paint program, a text editor, a solitaire game, a file zipper, and all those nice device and database (ODBC) drivers really aren't part of the OS either - after all, it's not like Microsoft makes most of the stuff that requires those drivers.

      Actually, Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to provide any of that to the consumer. Everything they provide in the OS is a lost sales opportunity somewhere else. It's totally anti-competitive of them to provide any of it. You should have to pay for every feature you get. The OS should just make the computer run.

      Let's see - besides the cost of the core Windows OS then (which I'm sure you'll argue should be free - so let's just leave that out), you would probably pay about $50 each for every new program you add to the system. If you add 10 new programs to the computer (which is conservative), you get to spend $500.

      Now, what does Media Player have to do with the core OS? Nothing. It "merely" makes it useful.


      • So what you ae telling us is that MS is selling products below their real value?

        Just so you know, that practice is called dumping and it is illegal.

        Either that or the products you are listing are not as expensive as you claim.

        If goverments around the world do not have the balls to treat it as what it is is a different matter, but it lights my day when people like you arrive to the correct conclussion without aiming to do so: MS is killing the IT industry and the situation is so desperate that the only wa
  • This is a bad thing. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:04PM (#8499419)
    I make short films, and stream with windows media all the time. Everybody has it, and it's a lot less hassle then supporting all three formats.

    By not including windows media player, it has less of a chance of becoming dominant, and most people don't want to configure and support Quicktime, Real, and Windows Media.
    • Not the Mac users (not by default, and even if you download it you do not have all the same codecs). But if you'd like to exclude a significant portion of the market that has a lot of money, hey - feel free.

      What everyone actually has is Quicktime.
    • by pldms ( 136522 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:35PM (#8499785)
      I make short films, and stream with windows media all the time. Everybody has it, and it's a lot less hassle then supporting all three formats.

      Everbody has it? No. I don't, and I suspect many others don't. And I'm unclear what you mean by 'all three formats'. I assume you mean the big three players, but that's quite different from three formats.

      Personally I tend to use MPEG4 which has plenty of support, on a wide variety of platforms. That support includes playback, creation, and streaming tools. I can point to mplayer, vlc, ffmpeg, 3ivx (which enables MPEG4 on Media Player), xvid, divx, darwin streaming server, etc etc.

      This, AFAICT, is the real issue. Which formats, rather than players, will be dominant. I don't particularly like the MPEG4 licencing conditions, but at least it is supported by more than one company. The standard is available and widely implemented. WMV, and whatever video and audio codecs it contains, don't appear to be so open.
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:17PM (#8500315)
      I make short films, and stream with windows media all the time. Everybody has it, and it's a lot less hassle then supporting all three formats.

      I don't know if it was your intention, but you just indicated what the problem is. Look at your assertion - you use WMV because "everybody has it" and to avoid the hassle of supporting other formats.

      That is EXACTLY why Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to do what they are doing. Now it may seem silly to make them unbundle WMP. It wasn't a big deal before, but that was before multimedia over the internet was a real possibility. Now it is a huge business. They are leveraging their OS monopoly to enter and dominate other businesses.

      Yours is exactly the attitude that they are banking on. Do you get it now?

  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:07PM (#8499450)
    when you consider that MS codec [geek.com] was chosen as the new stadard for HD DVDs, and MS had to truly make the standard "open" before they got this boondoggle. What would be the ramifications of this? In Europe, MS OSes would have to be shipped with Third Party implementations? That might be a good thing.
  • What's right? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:07PM (#8499456)
    I'm very torn on this issue. I'm no fan of MS. But at the same time, where do you draw the line and say, "you can integrate this into the OS, but you can't integrate that." What should be allowable and what shouldn't? Who should decide? This is not much different from the case brought years ago about the integration of the web browser. What about MS Paint? What about WordPad? And games?

    Users expect a certain amount of stuff built into the OS. Maybe this expectation exists because of MS, but it exists. Gnome and KDE both come with a bunch of software. Granted, they're both OSS, but I think users have this expectation and it must be met to some degree for any company to succeed.

    I know a lot of newbie users who can't even figure out how to get Acrobat installed and without help from someone who's computer literate, they wouldn't be able to read PDF attachments, which are pretty common.

    Anyway, I'm torn on it. I don't want to see MS continue as a monopoly, but I want them to fail for the right reasons, not some arbitrary, "you can add this, but not that" kind of rule unless it's applied equally to all competitors.
    • Re:What's right? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:24PM (#8499664)
      I don't agree with the forced exclusion of WMP either except for the fact that WMP is a mechanism for MS to get DRM in through the back door.

      The problem is that most Windows users use WMP because it's free and don't think about the implications of having to pay MS a "tax" in future to used DRM licenses. When these people cannot play MP3s & MPEGs anymore because WMP has killed all competition, it will be too late by then.

      Any move that helps us maintain our rights and freedoms with the media we rightfully own is a good move...

    • Re:What's right? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 13Echo ( 209846 )
      The problem is that Internet multimedia is being controlled by one party. One can question the legality of WMV playback mechanisms through open source media players (MPlayer or XINE, for instance), but has there been an alternative? You aren't locked to a single provider for KDE or Gnome, nor do either of those desktops have a single media format, let alone one that is nearly exclusive to itself. Nor are you forced into buying a notebook PC with KDE or Gnome in most cases (unless you buy an unbranded not
    • Re:What's right? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:42PM (#8500640)
      I'm very torn on this issue. I'm no fan of MS. But at the same time, where do you draw the line and say, "you can integrate this into the OS, but you can't integrate that." What should be allowable and what shouldn't? Who should decide? This is not much different from the case brought years ago about the integration of the web browser. What about MS Paint? What about WordPad? And games?

      The solution is simple. Including $APP as an optional install is not illegal.

      Making $APP impossible to remove, making it take back the default position after security upgrades, bullying OEM vendors to not include $COMPETITOR_APP, deliberately making it hard for $COMPETITOR_APP to work on your OS, making all your OTHER_APPS dependent upon $APP, ;

      those steps are illegal, if you're doing it from a monopoly position.

      If microsoft had a 25% market share, it would not be illegal. If microsoft makes such apps unnstallable, or even better, not installed by default, it would not be illegal.

      Microsoft lost the browser case, it's just a change in the US government meant the penalties they were to suffer for the illegal acts were much reduced.

      The problem comes when
      a) you have a monopoly
      b) AND you use that monopoly to gain a monopoly in another market

      If you think about it, preventing one company from using it's position in one market to overwhelm other markets is defending free market capitalism, not destroying it.

      Customers benefit from having a choice, as it forces vendors to compete on their merits, not just the fact that they are only vendor in town.

  • Well (Score:4, Funny)

    by Christoff84 ( 707146 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:08PM (#8499466) Journal
    with Corel being back in the word processing game, next thing we'll see is them demanding that MS remove notepad from windows because it competes with Word Perfect.
  • In other news... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zone-MR ( 631588 ) <slashdot.zone-mr@net> on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:10PM (#8499490) Homepage
    "The European Commission is considering new regulation which could order McDonalds corporation to bundle french fry from the rival Burger King restaurant chain. This will ensure that Burger King fries are as easy to access for customers, as McDonalds own proprietary fries."

    Seriously, why would the above be considered a joke, while people are actually seriously considering a comparable ruling against MS?
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:18PM (#8499581)
      "The European Commission is considering new regulation which could order McDonalds corporation to bundle french fry from the rival Burger King restaurant chain. This will ensure that Burger King fries are as easy to access for customers, as McDonalds own proprietary fries."

      Seriously, why would the above be considered a joke, while people are actually seriously considering a comparable ruling against MS?

      Because neither McDonalds nor Burger King has ever been ruled to have a monopoly in the fast food market, or even the hamburger market.

      It's not illegal to obtain a monopoly. However, once you do have a monopoly, the rules change. You're not allowed to bundle your monopoly product with any other product that is in an area that does have competition. That's what Real is calling the foul over, and the EU seems to be agreeing with.
    • If McDonald's was a court-determined monopoly with 90+% penetration, including BK fries might not sound as silly as it does now.
  • Bah. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:15PM (#8499552) Homepage
    If Real wants its product to be accessible, they should make it so you don't have to play "Hunt the Free Version Link" on their website for 4 hours to get their software. Idiots.

    As to WMP, I think the ability to play a video or sound has gotten to be something people expect of an OS. Macs can sure as hell play video out of the box - to me it would be unfair to say MS couldn't do this. Let software compete on merit - not on the basis of goofy artificial restrictions to protect software that very few people want.

    Years ago, we went through the same dance with the browser - and that dance looks retarded now. Imagine if Windows today shipped without a browser? How would most people go about getting one? It would be a crippled OS. As years go by, and PC's do more media work, WMP will look the same way.
  • The specs for WMA? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:16PM (#8499568) Homepage
    If they forced them to open up the WMA format, that would really be something - and much more substantial than getting rid of Media Player.

    With media player gone, they'll still leave all the API stuff so every other media player will still be tied to Microsoft's format, and as a consequence tied to Windows.

    Even insisting they release an x86 binary library for playing WMA on *nix and upgrade it at the same time as any changes to the Windows version would open up all the DRM infected stuff to linux users. We might not like the DRM, but in two years time when most folk get their music that way, it's going to be abig obsticle for Linux adoption if folk can't buy tunes.

  • by manganese4 ( 726568 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:30PM (#8499713)
    While it is nice to attack Microsoft for its monopolistic intentions. Like it or not, it is sufficiently integrated itself that it soon should be considered a Public Utility and regulated just like water, gas, Phone and TV/Cable/Sat. In many respects this is what happen to Standard Oil and AT&T. Yes they owned the market and they delivered a good product and yes it could be argued they over charged and drove out competition.

    But the answer in the end was not microscale adjustments to their business but to have it redefined. If you want to protest against MS, then do it terms of macroscale effects such as actually splitting it up along product lines.
  • Wrong approach (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:34PM (#8499767)
    Instead of forcing MS to include competitor's products, they should be required to publish their interfaces, so that any competitive product can be integrated with OS as completely as media player.
  • My Hard Drive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:37PM (#8499802) Journal
    I pay a lot of money for my hard drive. So if Real Player wants to force itself into my hard drive, can I charge them rent? I think Microsoft should make their player a downloadable option just to get rid of the European nag. (as other have suggested) Better yet stop supporting the European market (that would be ideal) :) Real player was good a long time ago, then it got crappy. Even when I did have a registered version, the unregistered version would creep onto my computer and then annoy me with spyware, pop up ads, and trying to overbear my windows settings. If people want it, they will download it, if they don't know any better then why should we use their ignorance against them by forcing them to have a program they may never utilize!
  • Side effects (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FrostedWheat ( 172733 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:37PM (#8499806)
    While I agree this is the wrong solution (a better way would be to open up the file formats and codecs) there is one possible interesting side effect.

    If MS have include Winamp, then Ogg support would be avaliable by default on every new computer in Europe. Would help it a big bit I'm sure.

    Except what's to stop MS from keeping all the file associations linked to there own programs? Dosen't matter how many other media players they include if the default is there own.

    Anyways, it's a stupid idea ....
  • Bad and wrong move (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kyoko21 ( 198413 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:40PM (#8499852)
    If they remove Media Player, which in the case of XP both Media 6.4, 8/9 will be gone. I for one won't mind the fact that 8/9 will be gone, but 6.4 is till bey far the lightest and simplest media player for playing my collection of media. Its lightweight and small footprint is awesome and with a simple click of a button, you can go full screen, and it even plays playlists. Though the playlist feature is a bit clunky, but for the sheer size, and performance, I would think giving up 6.4 would be a bad idea. Putting in quicktime and Real would not solve the problems either because those players are just too much of a memory hog. Yuck.

    But that's just my two cents since I am still using a stoneage of a computer clocking barely at 500MhZ :-)
  • Seems to me ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Granny Geek ( 2458 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @01:42PM (#8499879)
    .. that everyone is forgetting -why- MS is so adamant on including Media Player with every install. MS is touting its DRM facilities to RIAA, MPAA and everyone else who wants to lockdown the world. If MS can't ensure their media player as the default player on the desktop then how can they sell expensive DRM guarantees? Ah duh ..
  • by orion024 ( 694922 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:01PM (#8500125)
    Rock = the vast majority of computer users don't care what software plays back their video or audio. They just want it to work. If Windows was forced to remove it's media player, most consumers will become frustrated. They open the box, plug it in, and expect it to work and do everything without having to go out and download software.

    Hard place = _because_ most users don't care, they just use the bundled software. I.E. WMP. Which just leads us to the monopoly issue...

    So, Microsoft has to either

    A) Upset its user base by "breaking" their OS so as to not play media right out of the box or

    B) Be sued out of their pants by every company that comes along and makes a competing product to some particular component to the monolith known as windows.

    Unfortunately for end users, it will most likely be B, and this will just have to be a fact of life that they will have to learn to live with.

    Of course, M$ can always include their competitors software with Windows, and ask at installation which they would prefer. But then where does it end? Which competitors must they include? Do each of these competitors have to pay to have their software included? If so how much? Will we see Windows price explode as a result? If they don't have to pay, then is it really right to force Microsoft to include their competitors software on a product they have spends years developing? Will our future Windows disks be 1 part Windows, 3 parts software from all their competetors from all the different software niches?

    Another possible solution would be to "inform" users at install that there are these other media players available, and can be found at these URL's... but of course users will say "Whatever. I can just click this check box right here and install WMP here and now"

    As much as I am against a monopoly, I really don't see an easy solution to the problem. There are so many questions that need to be answered before we can find a solution.

    People expect to have media players, web browsers, or whatever monopoly issue we are discussing, ready and working when they take the computer out of the box. And I'll tell you what, if RealSpy, err... RealPlayer ever comes default installed on any of my OEM Windows disks, I'm gonna be pissed.
  • This antitrust kind of nonsense is getting a little out of hand.. how is this any different to Apple shipping iTunes and Quicktime as the default music & video players on their operating system?

    I use Media Player for playing video on my Windows PC (Winamp for music though!) - and whilst I understand this not to everyones taste, and that MS should offer alternatives - but I don't see how this is any different to Apple.
    • Apple produces a *computer* which includes the operating system. It can include whatever components in that computer that it sees fit.

      The argument is not unlike Sony having a monopoly on the volume dials they use in their stereos. They create the *entire* product so they dictate what goes in it. Apple is no different in this regard.

      Regardless, Apple is not not a monopoly and therefore does not have to abide by the same rules as Microsoft. more to the point, Apple is not an ILLEGAL monopoly like Microsoft.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:18PM (#8500326)
    would be satisfied if I just could

    a) choose not to install WMP, IE and other MS add-ons during Win installation and
    b) remove them in the same manner as any third-party soft.

    That sounds like a good solution to me: newbies would be able to have functionality out of the box ( yes, MS's products would still be defaults - but hey, MS makes the system after all, they should have a say-so what to include with their system ) and experienced users would be in position to use MS' competitors products.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:26PM (#8500411) Journal
    The European Commission also could order Microsoft to include rival media players with Windows to make those products as easy for users to access as Microsoft's own music and video player.


    Why?? So they should compete for getting their software on the Windows CD now?? How do you get included? Marketing share? Bribes? Sex with Bill Gates?

    Why not just do it like this:
    1. Strip Windows of Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, Macromedia Flash (what the heck is it doing in an OS anyway), ... even WordPad!
    2. Windows installer informs, at end of install, that "There are additional tools on the Windows Extras CD", but doesn't force the user to insert it. Just a stupid dialog box with an OK button.
    3. Now put that stripped junk on that Windows Extras CD with a user friendly GUI with bells & whistles so even the most retarded Windows user still know how to install their favorite POS browser to surf teh intarweb.

    They should also force them to make their software *uninstallable* like... well, their competing applications.

    I'm fine with that. MS should be happy since they can include all their shit. They'll even get a separate CD and space to include More Junk Than Ever Before. Mozilla users will be happy because they can avoid IE, etc. Only problem here might be the feeling that you're paying for more than you'll use, but that's not a new problem at least. At least the situation would improve.

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:30PM (#8500458) Homepage Journal
    Apple also neglets to add third-party software that is competitive to its own on the computer. Without looking at the issue closer I would suspect reasons for not including them would be effort, support, QA and maybe even not wanting to give the competition an edge.

    What I would like to see, whether this be Microsoft, Apple or any other computer company, is a third-party showcase CD bundled with the OS. The CD would include a showcase of software available for the OS. The content would be the sort included with your average computer magazine. I would suggest that the third-parties on the CD should subsidise the cost of the CD, since they are being done a favour by be being included. Its not necessarily a perfect solution, but it is one that could be of interest to some people. Of course if you make a 'temporary' installation of these OSs you won't necessarily have this CD, but then the choice of yours for purchasing a permananent CD. Maybe the competitors could get together and have shops include this CD with all new computers. The OS manufacturers needn't be the ones with the initiative.
  • by OwlWhacker ( 758974 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:39PM (#8500595) Homepage Journal
    Why not have Windows distributions?

    Don't allow Microsoft to bundle any of its additional apps with Windows, but give other select distributors rights to bundle software in a Windows package.

    You could then have those other distributors offering Windows with multiple browsers, e-mail clients, media players, etc.

    I know that people will shriek "ARRGH! No! We don't want to have to choose from mass piles of media players, etc."

    But what is the alternative? Microsoft forcing you to use the 'default' Microsoft software? Software which has file formats/codecs controlled by a convicted monopolist?

    We already know that Microsoft is certainly not trustworthy. Not even trustworthy enough to distribute its own operating system. Damn, you can't even trust its damn patches.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:21PM (#8501068)
    And not just from the board game.

    How many more time /. will have posts questioning why $Company is allowed to bundle $Product while Microsoft can't? (Answer: MS is a convicted illegal monopolist)

    How many more time /. will have posts comparing Microsoft could be forced to include $CompetitorsProduct while $Competitor should not be forced to include $OtherCompanies's $FoodProduct or $CartPart? (Answer: $Competitor is not a monopoly)

    One requirement /. should make to posters before posting in monopoly related article is to understand what a monopoly is. It is not hard, people!

    Mod me a troll or flamebait if you must, but I am pretty sure some /.-ers are tired of this kind of repetitions too. How many times must it be said before some people understand?

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson