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Microsoft News

EU Sleuths Think Microsoft Sabotaged Windows 786

Adam Zweimiller writes "The Inquirer is reporting that in it's ongoing battle with Microsoft, the European Commission is investigating the possibility that the Vole has sneakily sabotaged the Media Player-free versions of Windows it is obliged to ship to the EU. A report (subscription required) in today's Wall Street Journal suggests Microsoft has fiddled with the registry in its stripped-down Windows offerings and the result is that video clips embedded into Microsoft Word documents don't run properly, for example."
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EU Sleuths Think Microsoft Sabotaged Windows

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  • by nuclear305 ( 674185 ) * on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:01AM (#12032967)
    "...and the result is that video clips embedded into Microsoft Word documents don't run properly..."

    I'm just going to take a wild guess here and say that maybe they should install Media Player to get those clips to run properly?

    And for those who actually take this seriously....

    I'm sure someone will try to point out that Word won't play embedded media clips even if alternative media players are installed. Seems logical to me, when embedding a media file in a proprietary document format it likely requires Media Player to play it.

    It's like "suggesting" Microsoft purposely "sabotaged" the Help system after a person removes the IE Core from the system. (Doing so effectively breaks the help system among other things)
    • by Edward Teach ( 11577 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:07AM (#12033012)
      From TFA: Microsoft's digital video competitor RealNetworks had been able to demonstrate a Media Player-free version of Windows running "without technical glitches", the Journal notes.

      • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:48AM (#12033235)
        Yeah but embedded ole objects rely pretty heavily on their host application. So this would be a pretty easy demonstration to fake.

        Good example - if you embed a visio document into a word document (which you can do really easily) - don't expect the person you send it to have a fully embeded version of vision inside the word doc to add/change the visio drawing. You may even have problems printing a full resolution copy of the drawing inside word without having visio installed.

        Same holds true for media - the most it will do is show you an icon. Do this as a test though - install real media onto one computer - embed a real media clip into that word document - ship the file off to someone running a mac, or windows without real media. Notice how you'll get an error when playing the file inside word.

        I've found - at best ole objects are nifty tricks you can perform in the office, but by no means a replacement for file format placement, or content distribution (like media in word, or excel docs in word etc).
        • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:18AM (#12033405) Homepage
          But Windows Media Player is playing embedded documents. The host application playing back the stream is a codec that decodes the stream for any application that may want it, including Media Player. This is why you can download a DIVX codec and have it available in any application that may have an embedded media file marked for DIVX. Windows Media player is just a shell.

          Do this... Install Quicktime from Apple. Delete the quicktime player .exe file. Can Media Player still play the file? You betcha.

          You are right in that this would be an easy demonstration to fake. But it would take longer to fake than to do the real thing.


          • Media Player is just a front end shell for the multimedia services in windows.

            Removing media player should not affect window's capabilities in handling multimedia content - and should not affect any application using the multimedia services.

            • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @08:47AM (#12034791) Journal
              This is exactly where it seems to me like this whole thing gets "sticky".... Did Microsoft ever really promise people that Media Player was just a "front end shell" for all of these media capabilities in Windows, or were they implying/intending it to be their preferred *default method* of working with multimedia in Windows?

              Personally, if I received a Media Player free version of Windows, I wouldn't expect files made for their format to play if I embedded them in, say, MS Word. I'd think the *expected* behavior would be for them to be "broken", at least until I installed 3rd. party products to handle the media.

              Even the folks making the technical argument that the Media Player codecs should still be in Windows XP when MS removes the "player front-end" seem to me like they're treading on thin ice. This argument boils down to deciding if "Media Player" encompasses the codecs that "make it go" or not. Since competing players like Quicktime consider their media playing products as "one component" (deleting the .exe file makes it stop working properly), it seems like it would strengthen Microsoft's argument that they intended theirs to be looked at similarly.
          • by blowdart ( 31458 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @05:36AM (#12034033) Homepage
            Do this... Install Quicktime from Apple. Delete the quicktime player .exe file. Can Media Player still play the file? You betcha.

            No it can't; not unless the codec comes with a DirectShow filter. Apple (and Real) do not do this, in order to keep eyeballs in their clients.

    • by kpat154 ( 467898 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:12AM (#12033043)
      How many times has someone made a change to one part of an application only to find out that it breaks something else? It seems to me that this type of problem is the very reason MS didn't want to pull out MP in the first place.

      -K
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:31AM (#12033124)

      The terms the EU is imposing are clear: MS has to deliver a Windows without Media Player component that is not crippled in any respect when the OS is used with an alternative player. Perhaps that is not so easy-- but then again it isn't like MS with all its billions of cash reserves is going to be bankrupted by the development costs.

      It's like "suggesting" Microsoft purposely "sabotaged" the Help system after a person removes the IE Core from the system. (Doing so effectively breaks the help system among other things)

      That's what Microsoft did. Apps are apps and OS is OS, and coupling one to the other has been recognized as bad design since the 1960s or earlier. Yet MS purposefully chose to do bad engineering because it looked like a good marketing strategy.

      I won't shed any tears if the EU declares that MS has been acting illegally, and that its protections under EU law are therefore voided. I wouldn't benefit from that directly, but I expect that I would see a lot of indirect future benefits if Windows code ended up in European public domain.

      I really think that it is time for Redmond to grow up and take on the responsibilities that go with its success. And stop farting around like an adolescent entrepreneur with a shoestring budget.

    • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:34AM (#12033145) Homepage Journal
      No, it's more like suggesting that Microsoft LIED to the US monopoly court when they presented videotaped "evidence" that Windows with IE removed was unstable - therefore IE was an "essential" part of the OS. In fact, the prosecutor noticed, while the tape was being played in the court by MS, that the "before" and "after" computers weren't even the same unit. MS had just switched machines, with the "after" machine sabotaged. While the prosecutor demonstrated that a Windows machine which had IE removed, even deleted as functions from DLLs (by a Princeton professor with no access to the source, just crude binary tools), worked pretty well, certainly much better than the fake "evidence" perpetrated by MS. Apologize for Microsoft all you want: this is how they operate. With contempt for consumers, laws, courts, government, and even the apologists fool enough to trust them.
      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:08AM (#12033356) Homepage
        That's not really a good analogy.

        A better analogy would be like Microsoft purposely sabotoging their own document format to make it impossible for other word processors to legally interoperate with it.

        Wait no, A better analogy would be like Microsoft serving up broken web pages to the browsers of competitors.

        No, wait. A better analogy would be like suggesting Microsoft would break Windows so that it would refuse to run under a competitor's version of DOS.

        Maybe it's like Microsoft shipping a browser that has the option to uninstall other software vendor's browsers. Or Microsoft forcing OEM's to pay them a fee for every computer they ship, with or without Windows installed. Perhaps it's like Microsoft hiding crucial API's from everyone but themselves, and when forced to expose them for all to see defining "all" as anyone who can pony up 50 thousand dollars plus additional fees. Or Microsoft attempting to ship broken versions of Java to destroy the standard. Or forcing OEM vendors to carry Microsoft ads, and only Microsoft ads, on all desktops sold. Or negotiating with another company for a year only to steal their technology. And then refusing a court order to turn over all e-mails from that period.

        But all of this is metaphorical: Microsoft would never do anything like this. This is all speculative fantasy. And besides everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty in at least 4 different courts of law.

      • by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @03:26AM (#12033657)
        I'm still wondering why MS got away with that. If I were the judge, and I noticed that one of the parties in the case were actually forging evidence, I would rain fire and brimstone on them! Surely at least the relevant parties could be held in contempt of the court (whatever the actual legal term is)? It seems to me that only punishment MS got for forging evidence, was that they had to apologize and promise not to do it again.

        Any lawyers around here? What exactly is the punishment in the US legal system for forging evidence? Why MS got away with it?
  • by Jurph ( 16396 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:02AM (#12032972)
    ...that which can be attributed to incompetence.

    -R.J. Hanlon
  • by dauthur ( 828910 ) <johannesmozart@gmail.com> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:04AM (#12032983)
    I can easily say without any evidence that they tampered with IE too. There's something wrong with ActiveX...
  • Sabotage (Score:5, Funny)

    by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:04AM (#12032985)
    Microsoft sabotaging Windows? No.

    Held Windows at gunpoint, danced around with it in front of the authorities, kicked it in the guts a few times, teased everyone by saying "you'll never get me!", and waged a decade-long seige .... a definte YES.

    And if they call bad coding "sabotage", well that's an interesting parallel universe they live in then.
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:05AM (#12032987)
    Seems odd to me that they want media player removed, but still want to play media under certain conditions.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:12AM (#12033044)
      Hmm, maybe Microsoft was right. Maybe consumers do want a fully featured OS that can do whatever they want with a minimal amount of effort.

      Maybe their product wasn't designed to be anticompetative but a complete solution in the best interests of the consumer, incorporating as much functionality as they could...

      Or maybe they are just evil. :)
    • by tehshen ( 794722 ) <tehshen@gmail.com> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:24AM (#12033101)
      Well, they could remove Media Player but leave the media-playing .dll files; that way any programs that want to play media (such as Word) may do so, while Media Player is technically not there.
      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:58AM (#12033301)
        All Media Player, the program, really is is a shell that calls the video and audio playback systems. You don't need to use that shell, you can use another. Media Player Classic is a good example of a non-MS shell that does the same thing. Unlike VLC, which actually does it's own decoding, MPC just places calls to the same systems as Media Player. IT is just a different interface (one that's like the MS media players prior to V7) that some of us like better.

        You are free to delete the executables for media player or IE or any of the other things like that. However that's not really removing them, the guts still exist and Windows still uses them. To really remove it, like MS's competitors seem to want, would require stripping the guts as well. Those are what really do the work of the program.

        That's why the things MS claims are a part of Windows and are necessary are, after a fashion. They aren't necessary for everything, but other things depend on them. Like the help system breaks if IE goes away. Why? Well help files are HTML based, and call IE, or rather the MSHTML engine that it uses, to render.

        Same thing applies to Linux as well. X isn't required, as in you have to have it to have a working system, but if you want a system with, say, KDE it is. You can't say "I want KDE, but I don't want X." Sorry, but KDE uses X, you either install it or you shove off.

        The difference is that Linux has chosen to be very, very losely defined and modular. The only thing that acutally is Linux is the kernel. The rest is all optional. There are some conventions, like that almost all graphics ride on top of X, but those are just that, conventions. However you have to have all lower level dependencies for a program, you can't just remove them and replace them with something different, but incompatible and expect things to work.

        Windows is different and is like MacOS or Solaris in that it is more richly and tightly defined. The OS isn't just a kernel, it's a kernel, GUI, several APIs, a number of programs, services, etc, etc. That, of course, removes felxability but provides unity. You don't have to concern yourself with the presence or absence of certian things as they are a part of the OS.
        • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:42AM (#12033509)
          I think your example of X is flawed for exactly the reasons you think it isn't. X doesn't have to be XFree86. I don't know if they are still around but there used to be a few closed source commercial X servers available for linux, and XFree86 has recently forked so there are at least two free ones to choose from.

          X is a well documented standard (and if the documentation is lacking, you can just read the source :), and so you are free to implement your own if you want.

          If you wanted to roll your own Media Player, you'd have to do a fair amount of reverse engineering to do it - which is illegal in some places.

          I'd write more but the kids need a bath :)
        • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @03:52AM (#12033745) Homepage Journal
          Actually, no. You can install Qt/Embedded and recompile most of kde against it, and use that with the linux framebuffer, if you want to.
    • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:39AM (#12033178) Homepage
      Seems odd to me that they want media player removed, but still want to play media under certain conditions.

      Why is this even remotely odd? It's just the difference between libraries and an application that uses those libraries. The equivalent operation on a Mac is trivial: just delete Quicktime Player from the Applications folder. As it happens, this won't affect any other Quicktime dependent application -- it just removes a single app.

      On the surface, this appears to be the same BS that MS tried to play off in the US antitrust case regarding the bundling of IE. MS purposely chose a twisted interpretation of the scope of "Internet Explorer" to claim that IE was inseparable from the rest of the OS. That is, they chose to interpret "remove IE" to mean removal of not just the top-level application and/or icon, but of all related architectural components. That alleged inseparability was a mind-numbingly stupid claim to anyone with an iota of actual software development knowledge.
    • Why is that odd? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch ( 38532 )
      Why is the idea of not wanting to have to use Windows Media Player to play media files odd to you? It says in TFA that RealNetworks demonstrates a fully-functioning Media Player-less Windows.

      Media Player is just an application that plays DirectShow codecs, you know? Microsoft wants you to believe it's some core aspect of the OS, like with Internet Explorer. If they were at least honest, I could respect their desire to include the player with every copy of Windows, just to let people have a default music
      • by malfunct ( 120790 )
        I'd like to know what real did to get office to play media files (I will admit right now I did not read the article). If they loaded the codecs and related media playing dlls and registered them then what they did was 99% of installing windows media player which is what Microsoft was asked not to do.

        I'm sorry but you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want a medialess windows it won't play media without doing the work to get it to run. What someone needs to do (maybe real, though I wouldn't run t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:05AM (#12032988)
    Manager: Take that media player out of your operating system.
    Me: ok
    Manager: Why don't these media clips play anymore?
    What I'd like to say: Cause you're a fucking idiot. And you told me to take it out, which I did. So go fuck yourself, and stop telling me how to do my job.
    • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:01AM (#12033316)
      It's more like

      Manager: Take that media player out of your operating system.
      Me: ok
      Manager: Now, install RealPlayer. Why don't these media clips play anymore now that we have a competing media player installed?
      What I'd happily say: Because Microsoft left the registry in a way that makes it difficult for competing media players to run those clips. Slap me silly with surprise. RealNetworks already demonstrated a functioning Media Player-less Windows, so this is more shenanigans from Microsoft.
      • One way to embed video clips into Office documents is to embed the Media Player ActiveX control. Of course, without Media Player there is no Media Player ActiveX control and so documents using this technique won't load correctly without Media Player.

        I've not used Word in years, but I'm going to assume that there's also a second way which involves embedding the video just as video data, without any particular container. Now, I'd expect those to play back through DirectShow (the API Media Player uses to play

  • by TheGuano ( 851573 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:05AM (#12032991)
    Microsoft ships out buggy code on their own schedule: people complain that they're incompetent, lazy, and making people to beta test for them.

    Microsoft ships out buggy code after a fight with the EU: people complain that they're intentionally sabotaging their code in retaliation.

    Please people, just pick one conspiracy theory and stick with it...

  • In other shocking news, water may be wet, Rosie O'Donnell will not be Playboy's next centerfold, and the sons of deposed generals in Nigeria don't have $10 million to wire to your bank account.

  • Not a Sabotage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yuriismaster ( 776296 ) <tubaswimmer@NospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:07AM (#12033007) Homepage
    Microsoft ... has begun shipping
    Media Player-free versions of XP to the EU, as instructed.

    video clips embedded into Microsoft Word documents don't run properly


    I don't know about you, but when you ask someone to take out its native media-playing capabilities from the OS, then don't expect products from the same company that rely on that product to work.

    It's like someone removing Direct-X and then bitching about how their game doesnt work anymore.
  • by xactuary ( 746078 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:09AM (#12033016)
    how this affects clippy or MS Bob.
  • by DaedalusLogic ( 449896 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:11AM (#12033032)
    Why on earth you would ever want to put a video clip into a word processor document? Isn't the point of a word processor document that you might want to print it out?

    Please don't tell me it's because they plan on publishing their web site with Word. That's the only reason I could think of off hand.

    Oh yeah... and I don't think it's outrageous that MS cripple any of their products. Free market economies rock... someone can give them a non-crippled product and make some change take place.
    • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:15AM (#12033056) Homepage Journal
      Why on earth you would ever want to put a video clip into a word processor document?

      To get video clips thorugh corporata mail servers that strip out video files but let word through. People send images and audio embedded in Word files for the same reason.

      • People send images and audio embedded in Word files for the same reason.

        No, that is just because some people think Word is Windows. :)

        BTW, that is not a joke, I work in tech support. :(
        • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @07:38AM (#12034436) Journal
          No, that is just because some people think Word is Windows. :)
          BTW, that is not a joke, I work in tech support. :(


          No kidding... Wish I had mod points for you, but lacking them, I'll give a hearty "me too".

          My favorite - I have a never-ending war with spyware at my workplace (don't we all?). OVER HALF of people swear up and down that they don't ever use "the internet". Now, a few I expect just lie about it because they think I'll get them in trouble or something (look at porn all day for all it matters to me - Do your job, don't make extra work for me, and don't get me sued, and I really couldn't care less what you do on-line).

          I realized after a while what this really meant, when immediately after (sincerely) telling my she never used the internet, one coworker wanted to "show me something". She then opened "My Computer" and proceeded to type a URL (badly formed, but good enough to work) into the address bar.

          Totally blew me away - I never would have thought that, someone would actually believe that they have "google.com" on "My" Computer!

          So, BTW, how did all you Slashdotters get into my computer? Very rude of you not to knock, you know... And stop stalking me! I notice you on my computer at home, too! ;-)
    • by fyoder ( 857358 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:41AM (#12033505) Homepage Journal
      Why on earth you would ever want to put a video clip into a word processor document? Isn't the point of a word processor document that you might want to print it out?

      I think a very high percentage of word documents are never printed. People send them via email as attachments. And if you hunted these people down and killed them, the courts would say it was you who did something wrong, even if they embedded a video in the attached word document! Strange, but true.

  • Integration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberfunk2 ( 656339 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:16AM (#12033062)
    If, as the MS rep claims, that the registry problems are due to the removal of the normally integrated Windows Media Player, then should we be worried?

    Yes. If WMP becomes another "essential component" of windows, like IE did back in the days of the DOJ trials, that is, remove it and you destroy windows, then we're in for another long round of format lock-in, the way MS wants. I think it's important to watch as MS adds "features" to the operating system to ensure that it's not just a sneaky way to further another of MS's goals (e.g. media format dominance).

    It seemed like hogwash then, and it seems like hogwash now. Just because a modular component was integrated, doesnt mean it cant be undone. It may take a lot of effort, because you intentially put yourself in a dependancy ditch. But that's your fault for not thinking ahead of time and considering the possibility that one day, that dependency might not be available. And yes, it is reasonable to think that MS programmers think like that. Just because they got away with it once, doesnt mean it's going to happen again. They should be prepared for the eventuality that at some point, not every piece of MS software will be available on the install by default.
    • Re:Integration (Score:5, Insightful)

      by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:39AM (#12033180)
      That's like saying you should be able to remove QT or whatever other windowing toolkit you use from your system, but still be able to run anything that uses that API to produce its windows.

      If someone codes to an API, and the modules that comprise that API are removed from the system, the things that made those calls simply won't work any more. This isn't about sloppy programming, this is the dependancy ditch you refer to. Sure, Windows Media Player's libraries could be installed seperately -- and indeed, that's what has to be done now. You have to install wmplayer and get the libraries back. There's no foul play here, except that Microsoft is involved, so they must be up to no good.

      This is different from codecs...that's one step above what we're talking about here. The wmplayer API components allow the application developers to play video with a "black box" so to speak. Instead of processing the video file directly, decoding the math, or parsing 4CC codes or headers and then calling the relevant decoder APIs directly, they can call WMPlayerComponent.playVideo(filename) and have it all taken care of for them. That's an important function, and I don't know of very many substitutes to it, especially ones that will work out-of-the-box with those same API calls.

      Having to add yet another layer of abstraction, to allow you to pick-and-chose blackbox media rendering APIs to use, would be annoyingly complicated.
      • Re:Integration (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nurgled ( 63197 )

        You're getting Media Player and DirectShow confused. DirectShow is the standard Windows API for video playback. Windows Media Player is an application which provides a UI for video playback based on the DirectShow API. The codecs live inside DirectShow. The Media Player ActiveX control confuses things a little, but is really a way to embed the Media Player user interface into your application or document, not just the bare video playback functionality.

        If MS removes Media Player, they break the ActiveX cont

  • Conspiracy? Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by surfcow ( 169572 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:19AM (#12033083) Homepage
    Never assume malace when simple incompetence will do.

    Which is more likely? Do we really need a conspiracy to explain this?
  • well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:28AM (#12033112)
    It is interesting to note that if Windows didn't ship with these modules that got it in legal trouble in the first place, your PC would be a lot less functional out of the box.

    Windows Media Player, for many people, is their preferred music-playing application. Why? It came with their PC, it was there, and it made their PC do stuff right out of the box. It probably came with a dozen or so free MP3s of public domain works (I know some classical music, Jazz, and old MIDIs that date back to Windows 3.0 days come with every install of Windows.)

    Windows XP also burns CDs natively (they licensed Roxio's technology for this.) Sure, it's a piece of crap, but it *does something* right out of the box -- and many times that's been just what I needed to get out of a sticky tech-support situation.

    The problem is...people would see their computer doing the stuff already, and not see a need for QuickTime, RealPlayer, Winamp, BSplayer, or one of a dozen other third-party media playing applications. Thus, the anticompetative behavior. Microsoft did add value to the PC by including out-of-the-box applications to do what most computer users want to do (play media of one sort or another) but in doing so, drastically eliminated the market for other application providers.

    I'm not saying MS is in the right for their tactics, but, the monopolisation effect is a result of their behavior, not vice versa.
    • Re:well. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by linguae ( 763922 )

      That is one of the main differences between Linux and Windows. If I bought or downloaded a good desktop Linux distribution, I'd get a few CDs or a DVD packed with a variety of software from a multitude of distributors, with many different choices. I can choose between KDE and GNOME; between Konqueror, Firefox, Epiphany, and Galeon; between mplayer and Xine; between OpenOffice, KOffice and AbiWord/Gnumeric, etc. In this situation, there are so many choices that it sometimes overwhelms the user, but at lea

    • Re:well. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RogerWilco ( 99615 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @03:43AM (#12033720) Homepage Journal
      If I understood correctly, the problem wasn't that Microsoft included MediaPlayer with Windows, but that it _forbid_ OEM's to install Quicktime or Realplayer on systems shipped. This is why they were convicted in the EU to allow OEM's to ship Windows with other players as MediaPlayer, and as additional measure even without Mediaplayer, _if_ the OEM would choose that option.

      It's not about cripling PC's, but about MS preventing OEM's to ship PC's with competing products, thus allowing the customer even more convenience. This is also the main difference with Linux distributions, that ship most/all competing offerings in one distribution. It's like if Trolltech's Qt licence would disallow the use of Gnome or Borland VCL, coupled with Qt having (fictively) 95%+ market share.
      • Re:well. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MojoStan ( 776183 )
        If I understood correctly, the problem wasn't that Microsoft included MediaPlayer with Windows, but that it _forbid_ OEM's to install Quicktime or Realplayer on systems shipped.

        If I read the correct articles from EUROPA [eu.int] (portal site of the EU) and understood them correctly, then I don't think forbidding OEM's from installing other media players was the problem. According to those articles from EUROPA's "Antitrust cases" section [eu.int], the problem was merely the "tying" of WMP to its "dominant" OS.

        The articles

      • Re:well. (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @10:01AM (#12035385)
        but that it _forbid_ OEM's to install Quicktime or Realplayer on systems shipped

        Been in the OEM business for many years, and we have yet to see any documentation from Microsoft preventing us from installing ANYTHING we want on the OSes for our PCs.

        Additionally, prior to Windows2000, Windows95 and 98 had REALPLAYER on the OEM setup CD provided by Microsoft and it was installed in Windows, just they also had setups for AOL, Compuserve, and MSN.

        If Microsoft is FORBIDDING the installation of this software, why is it on the OEM CDS that Microsoft provided to Manuafacturers up until the time these companies started stabbing Microsoft in the back by participaiting in lawsuits against MS.

        Bully for Microsoft. I would of stopped putting RealPlayer, and AOL on my OS setup CDs as a courtesy to these companies once they testified against my company.

        But EVEN after all that, there is NOTHING to forbid the installation of these applications, our Microsoft Contact, knows we do, and has even provided help from Microsoft on some of our installation troubles with these products, which they DID NOT HAVE TO DO.

        The consipiracy theories here just keep getting bigger and bigger.

        As for the whold Media Player issue in this thread... A) The EU requried MS to Remove Media Player (the UI) B) The EU required MS to Remove Media player control (the applet that allows it to play on web pages, and also provides OLE access). So even if the CODECS are installed on the system, but there is NO EXISTING Applet or Application to process them, how in the world could any reasonable person expect the video to play?

        This is the most uneducated and ridiculous item I have seen in a while. And goes to prove the Government should fund and support technology but NOT REGULATE IT, as most people in the Government DOn't Get, won't get, nor have any expertise in these matters, no matter how many witnesses and hours are spent trying to EDUCATE a judge just so they can make an honest ruling.

        I am so sick of Gov't thinking it knows better than the 'scientists', and 'technology' leaders of the world. Support these people don't second guess them.

        As for the Intenet Explorer trial issues with regard to the Microsoft Monopoly, even the creator of Netscape later said it was bullcrap. (And he would be considered educated in the field, far more than the judges and lawyers making decisions FOR US).

        This is gotten insane, in the US they preach capitalisim, yet when lawmakers or competitors draw into question a company that is too successful, the get put on a block and picked apart.

        Sure there were idiots at Microsoft that did screwy stuff, but that doesn't mean Microsoft as a whole set out to do 99.9% of the things that Slashdot members keep refering to, over and over, and very inaccurately as well.

        Get over it...

        You don't like Microsoft, beat them at their own game. Truly make an Open Source OS that is as easy as Windows and supports as many program and hardware as Windows, and can do so without having prioritory Hardware like Apple does, and you will not even have to worry about Microsoft.

        Ok, off my rant, and 90% of this stuff was NOT directed at the person that I am replying to, but I had to get it off my chest and into this discussion thread.

        (Sorry in advance to RogerWilco)

        -Also ignore the typos and grammar, I can see several in a quick proof, but don't have the time to edit them today.

        TheNetAvenger - ranting off....
    • That's the real Problem here. You can't just buy an OS, you have to buy a webbrowswer, a media-player, a CD-burning-program and whatnot too. Microsofts PR-Department presents it so that all these extras are just gifts that come for free but that's just not true.

      The programers developing mediaplayer and IE work at Microsoft and are paid by Microsoft and so, in the end, anyone buying Windows pays for IE amd WMP too. If you don't need WMP since it's only an Office PC: tough luck, you have to pay for it anyway
    • Re:well. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aug24 ( 38229 )
      Hear that whoosh? That, my friend, was the entire point of EU case zooming over your high-user-number head. (This is standard /. abuse, don't be offended - I like the 'man ls' name btw).

      It's not about bundling in shops, it's about the fact that OEMs are not permitted to rip out WMP and put in something else better. Or, indeed, rip out IE and put in something secure.

      Now, if I were a business, and I wanted to buy 5000 pcs, why shouldn't the OEMs be allowed to tailor the machines to me? I would especiall
  • by CoolSilver ( 794518 ) * on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:29AM (#12033116)
    Well if the problem is with Microsoft Word not playing embedded files, dump it.

    Microsoft took away support to another application. The only other alternative to it would be get rid of the conflict, Microsoft themselves.

    Openoffice isn't going to kill budgets. Have another player installed. Switch and be done with it.

    Quicktime plays fine in openoffice with a mpg format.
  • Punishment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:34AM (#12033147)
    A spokesVole said Microsoft was "fully committed to complying" with the Commission, but said any such problems with the registry would be the result of the unbundling process the Commission had insisted on in the first place.


    Microsoft loves to do things like this. "Well, you asked us to remove it, and that's what happened!" We savvy people, of course, realize that if Microsoft left the registry screwed in some way during their unbundling process, they would have had to purposely ignoring fixing it since I assume Microsoft knows their own registry enough to fix it (many IT admins have become expert in fixing the damn thing themselves). Leaving it purposely fucked in order to say "See?" wouldn't be complying with the Commission's order. It seems the EU isn't bending over and taking these cute little games the way the U.S. did when dealing with Microsoft.
  • EU should (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zymano ( 581466 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:37AM (#12033165)
    Maybe consider doing what we in the USA should have done,that is put a limit for XP installations on OEM computers and copies at the store . Make it like only 50% of the market to repair the os market from ILLEGAL monopoly practices.

    This would cause software makers to adjust their thinking and make software for linux or other operating systems.

    The Dep.of Justice did nothing to fix a wrong.
  • by zoftie ( 195518 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:55AM (#12033284) Homepage
    http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=2384
  • by philask ( 216894 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:23AM (#12033425) Homepage
    They asked to have Media Player and all its components removed from Windows, Microsoft complied. Now they're complaining that Media Player doesn't work? God this MS bashing has gone to ridiculous levels.
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:35AM (#12033476)
    "video clips embedded into Microsoft Word documents don't run properly"

    "The commission is still in the process of assessing ... whether Microsoft is complying properly with the requirement to offer a fully functioning version of Windows without Media Player."

    Well. They complied. They provided a fully functioning version of Windows without Media Player. It's very unfortunate that the entirely separate application, MS Word, which is not a part of Windows doesn't do everything it used to, given that it relies on Media Player being part of the O.S. Then again, the ruling covers the O.S. not the separate application.

    I mean, seriously... When I write an tag to use Media Player in a web page, it doesn't work as well now either. If an external app looks for a specific set of calls and can't find them, of course it's not going to work. That's hardly the fault of an OS that was ordered to stop supporting those calls.

    Now, on the other hand, had Microsoft been ordered to fully and transparently transmit those calls to any application the user cose to install in Media Player's place - and if Real could prove they seamlessly supported that complete set of calls - then there'd be a legitimate case. But the article makes no mention of that.

    What it does say is that Microsoft has to make a fully functioning version of Windows without Media Player. It has done so. It infers that Microsoft should also make Word support Media Player's absence better - but never actually shows where that was part of any ruling.

    Weasley? Perhaps. Actually breaching the letter of the ruling? Not from anything that's actually in the article.
    • by Geekbot ( 641878 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @09:04AM (#12034909)
      If the issue is EU law that dictates that a monopoly cannot use it's advantage to gain another monopoly, don't you think that MS Office is going to be a factor?

      MS uses its monopoly position to exact other monopolies. For example, Java, office apps, web browser, media player, DRM. Several of these new monopolies are then used to exact other monopolies (i.e. WMP on DRM).

      I don't think it's innappropriate to say that MS has intentially tied programs that are not, or were not, considered part of an OS to the Windows OS in order to gain a monopoly in the different application markets. It would also then be appropriate for someone to tell them that it is not good enough that they filtered out the application and left their OS broken.

      They intentially exploited a monopoly situation to gain other monopolies. Part of this was intentially leaving their operating system breakable by removing the applications so that they can insist the apps are tied. The apps are only tied because they chose to do so in order to exploit their monopoly position. It is reasonable, then, to demand that MS fix whatever they did to break their operating system on removing one of these tied, monopoly-exploiting, apps.
  • by JesseT ( 840296 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @03:12AM (#12033604)
    ... on development libraries like the Windows Media Player SDK. When MSFT was ordered to remove Windows Media Player (WMP), I bet they went ahead and removed the associated SDK redistributable components and activex controls, not just the Media Player client. This of course has an effect on the registry as well, since it stores certain settings in the registry. I bet Real just removed the Media Player client, and not everything else that is a part of WMP.

    MS Office uses the ActiveX component that is a part of WMP to embed media content in documents (Link [microsoft.com]). This ActiveX component, due to certain design constraints, can't be shipped seperately from the WMP client (link [microsoft.com]).

    The fact that they removed this stuff does indeed mean that MS Office no longer plays media content properly. I find it funny that the EU is complaining about this, as they got exactly what they wanted!

    Perhaps in the future, MSFT will expose a framework that allows third party media player development libraries to plug into the desktop environment, allowing other applications to use whatever libraries are currently configured to play media. Kind of similar to how they've exposed anti-virus hooks for AV vendors to plug into.

    But for the EU to ask them to rewrite how this all works, and to rewrite all of their software (ie. Office) to work with it overnight, I think it's asking a little too much. Even of MSFT.
    • I think the comment made by the just previous poster is an appropriate interpretation:

      Somebody has to point out that the Windows infrastructure is such an unholy mess, Microsoft might have just botched the change they made for EU compliance.

      Basically, if Word is written so that it breaks unpleasantly when the WMP components are missing, that's a bug in Word. This is similar to the design flaws in other Windows components that make them dependent on rather than merely enhanced by the HTML control.
  • by AaronGTurner ( 731883 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @06:25AM (#12034185)
    When things happen my first suspicion is that the cock up theory is often the best explanation, even more so when complex software is involved, rather than assume a conspiracy.

    If Windows Media was tightly coupled to the OS then removing it might break other software not tightly coupled to it, but the code base of which uses those tightly coupled bindings within the US. Word seems to fit perfectly into this sort of scenario.

    Alternatively it may be that there were mistakes made in the process of removing all references to Windows Media due to issues with the design of Windows. Again no need for a conspiracy theory, just an issue with implementation.

    I am not a Microsoft apologist, but people sometimes need to slow down before assuming that a conspiracy is operating and examine the facts and the possible explanations.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @06:50AM (#12034262)
    Firstly, WMP is the front end and the skins and stuff (i.e. what is behind the "windows media player" icon)
    Secondly, it is the DirectShow/ActiveMovie/etc stuff that lets applications use WMP codecs (e.g. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 uses it for WMA music).
    And thirdly, it is a set of codecs that come with windows for playing WMA, WMV, ASF and whatever else microsoft includes with windows.

    The question is, which of the 3 bits is microsoft removing in this "cut down" version. I suspect all 3 bits are being removed (which breaks the embedded videos)

    However, if you just remove the first bit (the UI) and leave the codecs and DirectShow components there, it wont break embedded stuff but WMP will be gone. (look at the program XPLite to see just what can be removed from Windows XP without breaking stuff, that includes an option to remove just the Windows Media Player frontend without removing the backend components that works just great)
    • WRONG.

      Windows Media Player is just that, the player. It's not themes, it's not codecs, it's not DirectShow/ActiveMovie.

      Just about any other media player that you can install in windows will play all the same media formats as WMP, usually using the same exact codecs. Uninstalling WMP (if that's possible) should not touch those codecs. I didn't RTFA, but it sounds like Microsoft choose to also not include the codecs to play media. If that's the case, it sounds like Microsoft just told the EU that old school
  • Taken on it's own (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @07:08AM (#12034327) Homepage
    Taken on it's own, one might choose to believe incompetence, or "lack of effort", rather than deliberate sabotage. The system as a whole looks rather large and clunky, and taken in isolation, it's not beyond belief that those asked to put together the media reduced version simply did not do a very good job of it. However, Microsoft on a number of other fronts has also been re-interpreting, generally frustrating, and overall sabotaging EU imposed relief as well, and so taken in this larger context, it seems much more part of an overall pattern.

    First, we have the licensing of server protocols to competitors, which are licensed both in a manner to deliberately exclude oss/fs implimentations, and generally under terms that would be considered unreasonable to all but the largest of proprietary software vendors. This is NOT what the EU mandated.

    Second, they have been directly interfering with the work of and trying to claim veto rights over what the EU appointed oversite trustee may be permitted to examine and do. This in particular strikes me as being like a criminal claiming to have the right to decide what his parole officer may say or do. Indeed, this latter issue is the one that seems to have most put a bug under the EU at the moment, as it directly flawnts their authority.

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @07:45AM (#12034465) Homepage Journal
    Every time Microsoft embeds something into the OS, and then later is called upon to remove it from the OS when it is determined to be unfair produce tying, and then claims that removal "breaks" the OS, they are giving the lie to the greatest advantage OLE has.

    In theory, you should be able to completely replace IE with Firefox, so long as Firefox registers all the same OLE interfaces as IE does. The, when an application says "I need an HTML renderer - give me a handle to one" the system would hand it a handle to an object created from the Gecko DLL rather than the MSHTML DLL.

    However, due to the way Microsoft implemented the idea, you cannot simply replace the DLLs and rewrite the registry entries. DLLs call functions that are not exported via the normal interfaces, rendering what ought to be a model of OOP a bowl of sticky, congealed spaghetti.

    I've said it before with respect to to Mozilla, and I shall once again say it with respect to Media player - until users are able to replace system component objects with third party programs, and do so seamlessly, they will never win, and Microsoft will continue to be a monopoly.

    The courts should focus upon requiring Microsoft to follow proper software design principles and the design concept of OLE/COM by making each COM object use ONLY the published interfaces from the other objects in the system, and to allow the user to replace those objects with third party objects if they so choose.

    Were Microsoft to do this, they could then look the court, Slashdot, and the people in the eyes and say "We've done our part - here's the freaking documentation on the APIs - if Mozilla or Real have not seen fit to make their product able to do a simple DllRegisterServer and replace our GUIDs, then bitch to MozDev, not us!"

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