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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Annual Cost of Microsoft Monopoly: $10 Billion 713

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft's deals with major PC vendors lock users out from alternative options, such as Linux. A recent whitepaper calculates that the cost to industry of this Microsoft monopoly is $10 billion per year."
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Annual Cost of Microsoft Monopoly: $10 Billion

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  • by bigwavejas ( 678602 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:02PM (#13166775) Journal
    Until the penalties outweigh the revenue, what's going to make MS stop? This 300lb gorilla is going to keep stomping on the little people (Linux, FreeBSD and otherS) unless something changes. In addition... Even if this didn't exist MS still has a stranglehold on the software available for personal computers, everything from Games to Applications. That's the next hurdle.
  • 10 Billion? What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zardo ( 829127 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:03PM (#13166791)
    Where do they come up with a figure like that? Put on a blindfold and throw a dart? That's ridiculous. It probably does cost the industry, but the fact that they have to come up with a number at all demonstrates some level of bias here.
  • You ever wonder... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JoeLinux ( 20366 ) <joelinux&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:03PM (#13166795) Homepage
    Reading articles like this, I often wonder if Bill Gates has managed to delude himself into thinking he's doing good for the industry, of if he actually knows what an evil, vicious spawn he's created?

    Also, if Bill Gates would dissapear tomorrow, would the balls necessary to defy the US Government, other larger organizations go as well? I often think that perhaps the rest of the company doesn't have the nerve to go toe to toe like their head does...
  • Microsoft's Smart (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jeet81 ( 613099 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:05PM (#13166818)
    Well you can't blame Microsoft (flame me) but it's a business world.
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:06PM (#13166832)

    Until the penalties outweigh the revenue, what's going to make MS stop?

    MS is certainly contributing to making itself stop, with antics like these [].
    As Microsoft makes it more and more difficult to use its products (from a legal standpoint as well as an illegal one), the alternatives are going to look more and more attractive by comparison.
  • The number is crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:06PM (#13166834) Journal
    The Windows monopoly saves the world at least $500 billion a year in compatibility costs.
  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:06PM (#13166842)
    The pressure from Microsoft on OEMs is very, very well know. Would it be tolerated in any other industry? Absolutely not, but there's a tendency from people to think that that's just the way things are when it comes to computers unfortunately.
  • Re:come on... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zardo ( 829127 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:07PM (#13166849)
    Well you obviously haven't thought about how much time would be spent helping people with their linux machines. There are other options, like those sun thin clients. But in my experience most people don't even know how to use firefox, let alone a completely new OS.
  • User lockout? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:08PM (#13166855)
    Um, how is Microsoft stopping people from using Linux, Solaris, OSX etc? This is like saying Coke locks you out of drinking Pepsi. Just becuase not all vendors offer all choices does NOT mean that there are no other options.
  • Re:Dropping... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:08PM (#13166866) Journal
    the #1 fastest growing company(Apple)

    The number one fastest in what way? Revenues? Profits? Employees? Hype?

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:09PM (#13166875)

    Since the sidebar was the only thing that would load:

    "linux support - get penguin powered" [...] "training - for linux administration and web development" [...] "development - apps for linux, unix, windows and the web"

    How shocking that a company which sells training, support, and development services for both Linux and Windows would come out with an inflammatory article.

    Why, they couldn't possibly have ulterior motives! Nothing like a bit of viral marketing.

  • by Revellion ( 803549 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:09PM (#13166878) Homepage
    That makes me wonder. Some of the Laptops/PCs from Dell would probably be a lot cheaper if the customer could request to not include Windows or any other Microsoft software that they won't even use. I tried myself once to buy a Dell Latitude D610 from them. even asked in an email to em about it and the reply was that they could'nt. major way of screwing the customer over i say.
  • Explain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AutopsyReport ( 856852 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:10PM (#13166894)
    Can someone explain to me how Linux has been "locked-out" from users? It's widely available to be used on a system with Windows (dual boot).

    The reason I don't use Linux is because I know it to be a much less intuitive system, but I'd struggle to refer to my choice for not using Linux as being locked out by Microsoft.

  • Re:Of Course! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:13PM (#13166942)
    In the grand scheme of things $10 billion is not a lot of money. But keep subscribing to that FUD.
  • by soma_0806 ( 893202 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:13PM (#13166943)

    Let me begin by saying I don't like Microsoft products. I think it's an evil, opportunistic company that is likely funded by Nazi gold, but....

    Microsoft itself is not the real culprit here. If the cost to the industry is really 10 billion, then the threshold for establishing a monopoly should be met. The problem is no real enforcement of the Sherman Act or any of the other federal "calls to arms" against monopoly.

    Like it or not, in capitalist society the message sent to business is to be as nasty as profitable and permitted. As long as consumers keep buying (maybe because they feel like they don't have a choice, and there is some argument there) and the government doesn't enforce its own laws (which is probably why consumers feel they have no choice), Microsoft can't be blamed overmuch.

    In short (too late!), the problem isn't really the 300 lb. gorilla. It's just doing what gorillas do. The problem is the federal prosecutor with the tranq gun taking a nap.

  • by someonewhois ( 808065 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:13PM (#13166950) Homepage
    Ahaha. Sorry, but that's a REALLY naive way of looking at it. I don't think anyone I know in the non-tech world will consider using Linux (which they have never heard of) just because Windows requires them to verify their license on updates.
  • by asdfasdfasdfasdf ( 211581 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:15PM (#13166978)
    With a New PC system with OS-- easily available for under $500, I find this hard to believe. The price of a microsoft windows OEM install hasn't gone up considerably since the mid 90's, when there was a competing operating system (OS/2) available for about the same price.

    I just don't feel they've taken the "good" parts of Microsoft's monopoly into account (kill me for saying that.) Considering all of the features included with the OS that we used to pay for-- Browser, media, utils, etc, Microsoft has "given" a lot to maintain their monopoly. While I support competition whole heartedly (and look forward to a day where I can "choose Mac OS to run on my custom intel hardware) I don't think this is an honest assesment. You get a LOT with what you pay for, and there hasn't even been a new version in 4 years. And they still support you with security fixes for FREE (all jokes aside).

    Office is no more expensive now than when Word Perfect was still alive and kicking.. And the features keep coming. (Though I gladly use openOffice, myself.)

    I think the worry should be "Let's not make this a total monopoly so one company can't hold all the keys to human technology in the future" rather than, man, they're screwing us out of cash.. because I think the sheer volume of units they ship actually causes the price to be CHEAPER, not more expensive.

    I guess we'll only find out if Apple sucks it up and makes their OS able to work on Dells.

  • by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:15PM (#13166979)
    Here's a blantant example of how Microsoft has everyone in their pocket:

    Dell Dimension 2400 w/ Windows XP [] = $299

    Same PC w/ FreeDOS [] = $319

    Now someone tell me how Microsoft prices Windows XP $20 cheaper than the same PC with a free operating system.
  • Re:Explain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by psbrogna ( 611644 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:19PM (#13167038)
    The vast majority of users will only ever use the operating system that came installed on their PC. It's my understanding that MS uses it's clout to discourage vendors from shipping systems with anything but MS o/s'. That is how Linux, or other o/s', are locked out.
  • Re:Of Course! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RailGunner ( 554645 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:20PM (#13167050) Journal
    Crush Microsoft and you have an epidemic ofo unemployment in your hands: most MCSEs won't be able to hack arcane *nix systems you no doubt cheer for.

    Maybe the MCSE's shouldn't have put their careers in the hand of one company, then? If MS collapses, and the MCSE's are all out of jobs - well, it's their problem for making a poor career choice. Maybe they should have seen the trend and prepared by learning about it.

    Software development, however, will not be affected. There's not much different when you're coding C++ for Windows or Linux. Or Java. Or Perl. Or [insert language here].

    There's not much different in using those computers, either. Thunderbird is similar in look and feel to Outlook, is similar to MS Office, and Firefox is well, Firefox, and a great number of Windows users are already running it.

  • Re:Hyperbole? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:20PM (#13167054)
    The deals they make to certain companies require they sell windows exclusively or at a certain ratio. You proved it yourself. You say theres nothing stopping you from putting linux on a box that came with windows. But getting that box initially without ever paying for a copy of window and starting off with linux is ALOT harder.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:22PM (#13167066)
    Now someone tell me how Microsoft prices Windows XP $20 cheaper than the same PC with a free operating system.

    That's simple. It costs essentially the same amount to clone 100000 copies of Windows as it does for 100 copies of FreeDOS. Thus there is a greater profit on the Windows install, and that means it can be sold cheaper.
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:24PM (#13167106)
    ...and costs $1 trillion in virus/trojan/spam/malware costs because of homogenity.
  • Does that include (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:25PM (#13167121)
    Does that figure include the cost incurred by their culture of software neglect?

    Should it?

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:26PM (#13167128) Homepage
    Damn this kind of thing just burns me up. They were convicted of abusing their monopoly and harming the public.

    Nothing has changed their practices... not even a little. They continue to do harm. I think they should be brought back into court for a REAL remedy. How can we start a petition to get the Justice Department to charge them for failing to abide by their terms and for continuing to do the things they were convicted of -- i.e. bundling MSIE and all that, and then add everything else we can think of as examples of wrong doing.

    If we have a community that wants to see justice, someone who wants to get elected will see that justice is done.

  • Re:Of Course! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:27PM (#13167147) Homepage
    Standards for what? Documents? (HTML, Postscript, PDF, and RTF have all done fine as de-facto standards). Database interface (SQL)? About the only industry that would suffer would be games. Most normal user/office apps can run fine behind a decent platform abstraction layer like Java or a web-client.

    Besides, everyone knows it's impossible to make a cross-platform version of Office (*cough* *cough* office 98 *cough*).
  • Re:$AUS10 Billion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:31PM (#13167193) Journal
    Hey, if they're only estimating the cost at $10 billion, the study was probably funded by Microsoft. An independent study would have factored in the other costs of the M$ monoculture (like the viruses, spambot nets, etc,) and come out with at LEAST 10 x as much.

    Just one potential example - the Office add-on for automating collection letters they tried to develop a few years ago - with a "phone-home" back door. The beta testers were really enthused about having their receivables being logged by the mother ship. How much did it cost the participants to train people to use it, then UN-train them and re-enter everything back in their old systems?

    Who knows? Only time will tell what the true cost is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:31PM (#13167196)
    Hmm. When it's steel, that's dumping.

    If it's lumber, it's dumping.

    If it's banana's, it's dumping.

    If it's airplanes, it's dumping.

    If it's MS, it's fine.

    So, if MS Windows costs -$20, then by pirating it, I am saving MS $20. Yes?
  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:34PM (#13167240) Journal
    Is that $10 billion figure net costs or gross costs? If gross, then what are the benefits from same? Isn't that relevant? If something has a $10 gross cost and a $20 gross benefit, that's a net $10 benefit.
  • Re:Explain (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hymer ( 856453 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:36PM (#13167271)
    ...and precisly where is the Windows intrface more intuitive than Linux ? ...or MAC ?

    It is not "intuitive", you are just to do things the Windows-way... Intuitive is when a person who never used a system can use it right away...
  • Blame Game (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeorgeMcBay ( 106610 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:36PM (#13167277)
    Some things never change. The Slashdot crowd is still playing the blame game, working on the assumption that if Windows didn't have a large monopoly, Linux usage would be more widespread.

    Still ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people just don't want to use Linux even if given a choice, because it still has serious usability issues that show no signs of being solved. Mostly because even though it is "one OS" it still suffers from the fragmentation that killed UNIX as a viable platform. Instead of kernel/system call fragmentation, it is fragmentation of desktops (KDE, Gnome, etc) and services (different print systems, different X servers, different window managers, each with slightly incompatible ways to cut & paste, etc).

    Not to mention how much easier it is for developers to develop for Windows due to the fact that you don't have to worry about a billion different differences between distros, libc versions, kernel branches, etc.

    But go ahead and keep blaming Microsoft's business practices... why stop now? It is easier than trying to actually compete for users.

  • by Kimos ( 859729 ) <kimos,slashdot&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:37PM (#13167284) Homepage
    That's simple. It costs essentially the same amount to clone 100000 copies of Windows as it does for 100 copies of FreeDOS. Thus there is a greater profit on the Windows install, and that means it can be sold cheaper.

    This is one of the most common misconceptions about software and is a major factor in why it is so widely pirated.

    Yes the actual production of the disks with the software on it costs next to nothing, but the data isn't something that the company just found, the software has to be written and maintained. When you buy a closed source application you're not paying for the CD and a colorful box, you're paying for the hundreds/thousands hours of development time.
  • Re:hey moderators (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Adam Back ( 600774 ) <> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:43PM (#13167361) Homepage
    I agree. If I had any moderation points I would mod it 5 insightful. This is precisely the problem: copyright & patents. Copyrights are in effect a government subsidy for monopolies. So some people argue actually enforcing monopoly law alone would be enough, and this certainly seems like something that should be illegal under anti-monopoly laws, if anything should.
  • by dotdan ( 902253 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:47PM (#13167419)
    Apple's a hardware vendor. They make nice-looking computers, put their OS on there, and what do you know--it works. And when you add another one of their products, you may find it hard to believe, but it again, works. Apple isn't selling an OS to put on any computer, they're selling a complete system that works. How is that a monopoly?
  • by MemoryDragon ( 544441 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:49PM (#13167441)
    Given that a bigger part of the professional programming population spends a good deal of its time working around the non conformity of Microsoft web browsers to W3C standards and trying to reverse engineer Microsoft protocol descriptions right out of the fairy tale real, I would say the annual cost of the Microsoft monopoly is much bigger. If Microsoft had to pay pack all the costs caused by their behavior and their monopoly even with 50 billion+ in the bank they probably would be bankrupt in a handful of years.
  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:49PM (#13167442)
    That a pretty silly number. The amount Microsoft charges for the software they ship on computers, especially the base OS is really low. They make their money because:

    A) Software costs next to nothing to ship per unit, after the R&D is paid for.

    B) they have very high volume thanks to a monopoly

    Yes Dell could slap a free version of Linux on it and save maybe $30-50. If Dell actually cut a deal to License Red Hat or SUSE I'm willing to bet it would end up costing the same or more than Windows.

    $30-50 is more significant now that PC prices have dropped so much, but on the laptops everyone prefers these days its still really not much of the cost. Office is more but you seldom have to buy Office from a PC vendor so you can slap OpenOffice on instead.

    Trying to make a financial arguement here is silly, switching to a different OS isn't going to save anyone money, it will just go into different pockets.

    The fundamental problem is its just a monopoly and one company has complete control of all personal computing. If they do a good job and charge fair prices its not so bad, but if they screw the pooch and start jacking up prices you can't do anything about it until the monopoly is broken.

    I can see OSX being a viable alternative now but there you are locked in to both their hardware and software so its a potentially worse monopoly than Wintel unless they open up the IA32 platform.

    I guess you could start shipping Linux but there are a few basic problems:

    - There are about 100 distros to choose from every one somewhat different. Total nightmare for application developers, end users, and to support

    - There are two major desktops and GUI frameworks, and a whole bunch more little ones, again a total nightmare for application developers and to support. Applications written to one still dont integrate with the other. Users hate that. They want everything to behave consistently like OSX. Developer hate that because the want to write and test to one API and have it run everywhere.

    - Most people can't fix the stuff that doesn't just work, especially audio, networking, display and printing. Networking is different on every distro. Audio and printing are some better but there are 10 different approaches to each and again for application development audio support is a complete disaster. At this point queue all the people that will say, just use audio API X and you will have no problem, except you will get 10 people saying this and every one of them will substitute a different API for X.

    Until Linux stops fragmenting, and focuses on applications and a friendly platform for application development its simply never going to unseat Windows on the desktop and has a great potential to get beat by OSX. Hell I'd take BeOS on the desktop in a lot of ways. BeOS multimedia support, especially audio completly embarrases Linux. After 10 years you would think the Linux world would have got a clue and ported/cloned it because it works, versus Linux multimedia which is a fragmented catastrophe. There are still companies using BeOS for multimedia for example n demanding theatrical productions because it is so well done.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:55PM (#13167546) Homepage
    Apple is a hardware vendor, one of many.

    Microsoft is a software OS vendor, one of few.

    Apple is not a convicted monopolist.

    Microsoft is.

    There's your answer as to why Apple is not a "worse monopoly." They aren't even a monopoly! They are a hardware vendor with software for their hardware. You are welcome to put a Linux variant on their hardware instead. You are welcome to buy from many other hardware vendors instead.

    I'm sick of this type of argument, usually seen in political circles. Target A gets caught doing some harm, so partisan followers change the subject with "Yeah? Well Target B is just as bad, so let's talk about them instead." How about we just keep talking about Target A, the subject at hand.

  • Non sequitor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rolofft ( 256054 ) <rolofft AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:57PM (#13167566)
    If Windows were on equal footing with BeOS, Amiga Workbench, and OS/2; if Word were on par with Wordperfect and AmiPro; and if Bill Gate and Steve Job saw eye to eye... Australia would be $200,000,000 richer? Not only that, but the differential between the cost of hardware and software would stay perpetually where it was in 1995?

    Wouldn't training costs for sys admins and secretaries be higher if Windows and Word weren't de facto standards. Wouldn't developers be overworked if the market demanded every consumer program be ported for Atari ST and FreeBSD?

    Isn't this whitepaper tantamount to saying Australia would save $234,670 million if only Spiro Agnew hadn't been convicted of tax evasion?
  • by piecewise ( 169377 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:00PM (#13167621) Journal
    Shareholders should not be financially responsible when they have no direct line to a company in order to prevent illegal activities. Furthermore, this STILL hurts customers and middle class people. After all, stocks are in the hands of working folks and 401(k) plans, too. Why should a blue collar worker have to pay because his company does something illegal?

    Every cost gets passed on to the customer (who, by the way, always has a choice about buying the product) whether we like it or not. That doesn't mean we shouldn't hold them accountable.

    If we are serious about this issue and want to do something about it, here's what we ought to do:

    1. Increase accounting transparency
    2. Tie executive and board pay to the performance of the company
    3. Increase shareholder involvement in oversight
    4. Make public the decisions of a compensation/salary committee
    5. Demand that our public figures (a'hem, Republicans) hold accountable their friends (a'hem, Enron) -- the connection between corporate corruption and conservative corruption is an incredibly dangerous thing. Democrats cleaned their act up with unions in the 50's and 60's -- Republicans should do the same today (especially when they cry about "personal responsibility" so often but rarely assume it.)
  • by phorest ( 877315 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:01PM (#13167629) Journal

    That 20 dollars probably covers the cost of some warehouse monkey to get the box back to the line and then swap-test-and rebox the product. (In all likelyhood they lose a cash token of 50 bucks and now you are dealing with just the cost of the hardware + value added services (swap-test-and rebox).

    I suppose someone who works for Dell could tell you about the actual process and how it costs more to fabricate a different machine then how they do it everyday.

    They have a process and say what you will about it, but in the real world when you insert a variable that isn't a marketable value to the consumer then you get Value-added services applied to that product. We do it all the time with something as simple as writing a requested report not on the list of contractual items, thus being able to charge for it...

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:03PM (#13167661)

    If you have a problem with the way Dell deals with M$ then don't buy from them. Simple vote with your dollar.

    Way to blame the victim. Dell has no choice. Neither does any other major PC vendor. If you want to sell at a competitive price you have to agree to do whatever MS tells you, even if that means not selling a minority of your customers the product they want and that you should be able to provide them. If someone hold a gun to your mother's head and tells her to give them your car, and she complies, do you blame your mother or the person holding the gun to her head? Dell doesn't have a choice, MS is the one calling the shots and responsible. Their gun is their monopoly, which they have multiple times been convicted of abusing. We don't let felons keep their firearms when arrested for armed robbery, why is it we let MS keep their monopoly? Oh yeah, it was the millions they donated to both major political parties. This isn't exactly rocket science. Get a clue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:04PM (#13167694)
    where's my Clue by Four when I need it....grrrr

    The Parent wasn't talking about the diff in price between OEM and Retail Windows you fscking moron.

    It's about how an XP installed machine can be cheaper than a FREE OS machine. Which bottom line is IT CAN'T..unless M$ has agreements with Dell to charge more for non MS OS machines.

    Which is *supposed* to be illegal. Too bad moron-syndrome isn't...
  • by Mad_Rain ( 674268 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:08PM (#13167742) Journal
    By your logic, then Kleenex [] has a monopoly on Kleenex Tissues, Clorox [] has a monopoly on Clorox Bleach, and Domino's [] has a monopoly on Domino's Pizza.

    Apple is not a monopoly.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:10PM (#13167777)
    If you want people to use your forum and add value to your service, then they need to trust that insightfull comments that they make will be appreciated and moded insightfull - and even more so they need to trust that they have reasonable protections from large corporate interests that might try to manipulate a forum's discussion or content.

    Translation. You need to do something about the relentless modding down of anybody who attacks Microsoft and Microsoft's "intellectual property" regime. I have been posting here since 98 and have made over 1300 posts and know a baised interest when I see it, and at least since 2002 almost every post, without fail, that questions Microsoft's "intellectual property" regime has been attacked without reguard to how truthfull or insightfull it is. I'm sorry, but in this case it seems like the moderation system is just not working.

    Please, again, I'm dying for anyone for anyone to explain to me how my parent post [] is redundant or overrated. And please, if you don't like what I'm saying, or think I'm just a loud mouth, then I beg you, kick me off of slashdot - it wouldn't hurt me to have an excuse to start my own blog.
  • by Jeff Hornby ( 211519 ) <jthornby&sympatico,ca> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:26PM (#13167963) Homepage
    Did you ever wonder why all of your appliances expect 120V and 60Hz. Pressure from Consolidated Edison, maybe?

    Glad nobody tolerated their monopoly.
  • by RockClimbingFool ( 692426 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:26PM (#13167971)
    They sell orders and orders of magnitude more XP boxes than Free DOS. The margins on computers that cheap is so small, ANY change or disruption to the supply / manufacturing chain costs Dell money.

    They could put nothing on the drive and it would cost more than the XP install because that is additional time and effort in tracking these low volume machines through the factory.

    It's really not that hard to understand.

  • Re:Of Course! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:30PM (#13168021)
    Very little. If the 'standar' didn't exist, people would have been managing systems as they alsways have. There were plenty of UNIX, VAX, Netware, and other SA's in existence long before Microsoft had a network OS. If something should happen to Windows, there will be others. My contention is there would be far better security. I don't doubt there are some good MCSE's but there are many many more who have no practical experience outside Windows. As such, they have very little knowledge of serial networks, console commands, and in many cases ethernet and TCP/IP. They are poor troubleshooters often times because they've never had to carry over any previous principles. I've had an MCSE tell me point blank that something couldn't be done that I'd been doing for quite some time. Why? "Microsoft even says so." Microsoft has poisoned these SA's and set them up for an all Microsoft world. As such, these folks have a hard time interacting in multiplatform environments. In the end, they owe it to themselves to learn alternatives.
  • Re:Of Course! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:35PM (#13168069) Homepage Journal
    Can you imagine how much it would cost the industry AND all government operations if we didn't have a de facto standard in the form of Microsoft? Crush Microsoft and you have an epidemic ofo unemployment in your hands: most MCSEs won't be able to hack arcane *nix systems you no doubt cheer for.

    I do find it interesting that you see the only two alternatives as being Microsoft in it's current monopolistic form, or no Microsoft at all.

    Personally I was thinking more along the lines of

    what if MS stopped bullying the OEMs and the hardware boys. They could let them sell Linux PCs as well as Windows. Not the crappy, crippled twice-the-price for half-the-spec systems occasionally used to maintain a pretense at competition, but a genuine level playing field.

    You would seem to think that any such concession would inevitably lead to the destruction of the software giant. The only way I can see in which that might follow is if MS' offerings have become utterly debased and devoid of all value. A damning indictment coming from an apparent support of Microsoft. It's also somewhat further than I'd have been prepared to go myself.

    You don't think you might be guilty of a touch of the old groupthink yourself, do you?

  • Re:Of Course! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RailGunner ( 554645 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:39PM (#13168135) Journal
    OK, let me clarify my position. I'm a software engineer, so I get paid to write code. I enjoy it, and obviously I want to keep doing it.

    That being said - the market for commodity software is dead. The future is in customization and embedded systems. This will continue, and will allow engineers like me to continue to get paid.

    Furthermore, I don't believe that all applications must be open source. Operating Systems? Absolutely. It's the ultimate level playing field for the application space.

    And as far as it not changing: Whether I'm writing a machine control module, Windows or Linux as teh OS doesn't change much.

  • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:49PM (#13168289) Homepage Journal
    $600 for Office is not a lot of money, try hiring a personal secretary to do what you're able to do with the Office tools. $300 for an OS?

    What in the name of CMOT Dibbler has the cost of hiring a secretary got to do with the inflated margin MS charge for office?

    Do you have any idea what OS's used to cost before MS came out?

    And this would relevant because...?

    There are a lot of things not to like about MS, but I really don't think anyone can claim they've done anything but drive prices down to the point where computers are affordable for the masses.

    I'm inlined to credit Moore's law for that one, personally. Perhaps you'd like to explain how this one works?

  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:50PM (#13168299)
    I'm surprised so many Slashdotters come to the defense of Microsoft in response to a story that merely says the obvious. Of course Microsoft's monopoly creates losses! If it didn't, it'd be the first monopoly in history not to! The fact that it is a monopoly, and that it uses business practices that are illegal (for good reason) isn't even under debate. They've been convicted of the charges already!
  • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:53PM (#13168331) Homepage
    It's not a misconception at all, and it's got relatively little to do with pirating, except in that it's correct - the cost to duplicate software is very close to zero. This makes it totally unlike non-trivial physical goods, where in addition to your production cost, you also have non-trivial per-unit prices.

    Now, parent is still wrong, and it's because he's right - because the cost of duplication is identical for both FreeDOS and Windows, and Windows is proprietary and therefore requires a per-unit royalty, regardless of the actual cost incurred, it makes *no sense whatsoever* for a PC with FreeDOS to cost *more* than the equivilent Windows PC.

  • Re:Blame Game (Score:2, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {molbdeh.leinad}> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @02:57PM (#13168385) Homepage Journal
    "Some things never change. The Slashdot crowd is still playing the blame game, working on the assumption that if Windows didn't have a large monopoly, Linux usage would be more widespread."

    If Microsoft didnt have a monopoly Linux would compete against a slew of other OS out there. It would have an easier time compeeting since it would probably mean that applications was made more platform agnostic.

    "Still ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people just don't want to use Linux even if given a choice, because it still has serious usability issues that show no signs of being solved."

    Most people dont even know linux exist or what it is. Most people arent given any choice whatsoever to choose their OS, thats done for by the OEM. I cant really understand what kind of usability issues youre talking about. You can do exactly every possible task in graphical mode. Just choose a simple distro instead of LFS or Gentoo and youre done.

    "Mostly because even though it is "one OS" it still suffers from the fragmentation that killed UNIX as a viable platform. Instead of kernel/system call fragmentation, it is fragmentation of desktops (KDE, Gnome, etc) and services (different print systems, different X servers, different window managers, each with slightly incompatible ways to cut & paste, etc)."

    Thats not fragmentation, its choice. Some poeple like being spoonfed, most dont. There are distros that adress theese issues but until they are delivered with new systems by OEM's they wont take such a big hold. Again, the people who would love those dists arent the ones who install their own OS and like to tinker around.

    Cut and paste works like a charm and i havent had any problems in years. Please give an example of what you have a problem doing and ill tell you what you do wrong.

    "Not to mention how much easier it is for developers to develop for Windows due to the fact that you don't have to worry about a billion different differences between distros, libc versions, kernel branches, etc."

    Like how you have to worry about a million security patches that breaks your application? Compile your application statically for linux and be done with it or compile it a couple of times for the biggest distros. Most of the small ones is based on bigger dists and as such they can use whatever app thats compiled for their "parent" dist.

    "But go ahead and keep blaming Microsoft's business practices... why stop now? It is easier than trying to actually compete for users."

    You really think the market is doing well and we should just shut up when the sole competition to Microsoft is a free OS? I think thats a pretty big sign of just how screwed up the market really is. There should be atleast a couple of actors more on the OS market if it wore healthy.
  • IE Costs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @03:00PM (#13168428) Homepage Journal
    How much does IE alone cost in extra web dev expense? It seems to add about 20% to dev time in my experience to deal with IE bugs and inabilities. And it keeps us from using some features that'd make life much easier or make our products more useful.
  • by doughrama ( 172715 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @03:15PM (#13168615)
    Microsoft and Apple are monopolies. But they are different kinds, illegal and legal.

    Apple, from the beggining, is a monopoly by design. They make the computer and the OS. (not including the brief period where Apple allowed 3rd parties to make mac's)

    MS, as much as we may hate to admit it, became a monopoly by choice. Business's and consumers chose MS. Along the way to monopoly'hood MS used it's influence to stifle competition. When you are not a monopoly you can get away with monopolistic practices. So MS used all the dirty tricks (which weren't dirty when they were smaller) to get where they are today.

    Now MS, the monopoly, is no longer a monopoly of choice, they are a monopoly of because of the lack of choice. Sure you could always argue that there is choice. You could buy a Mac, our build your own box and install linux instead of using Windows. That's all great to say but the bottom line is that it's just to expensive for that to be a viable choice. It's not just about the hardware but all the custom software and process's that will only work in an MS environment. Transitioning from MS takes a lot of time and money, you can do it, but many factors are working against you.

    But being a monopoly even the kind that is MS, is not illegal. What's illegal using using your monopoly position to stifle competition in markets which you do not compete in directly. Or to use your position to influence companies that are not in your market to prvent other from entering your market. (think netscape and bundeling) For example, Why do people buy Dell's over Gateway's? Price and service. (other factors as well, but the vast majority of the time it boils down to price and service.) So Dell wants to sell Linux boxes, MS says "no way, if you do we will raise the price you pay for Windows $100 and lower the price Gateway pays by $100."

    This would kill Dell. They would be at a total competitive dis-advantage and I doubt they would survive it without giving in to MS's demands. So, the easy solution? Don't sell linux... Or sell linux, but still pay MS for the copy of Windows per box. In fact the deal might be, make the exact same linux box more expensive than the windows box.

    Apple may be a monopoly, but they are a monopoly of their nitch. There are plenty of alternatives, just no alternatives if you want a Mac. Guess what? That's how it is and that's ok. Lot's of alternatives to BMW, but none if you want the BMW.

    But in a semi-related note, if Apple can maintain and grow it's position in the digital music market, expect to see the record labels start suing Apple for unfair monopolistic practices. (this is years down the road, when downloadable music is the norm, and hard copies are the exception.)
  • by doubledoh ( 864468 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @03:26PM (#13168734) Homepage
    I still fail to see how creating exclusivity agreements is a bad thing. If Pepsi hires Britney Spears for $10,000,000 just to do pepsi commercials and only drink pepsi when she drinks cola, and Britney goes ahead and drinks Coca-Cola in public...then Pepsi has every right to void the contract or give her less money (assuming those are the terms of the contract). The fact is, no one has a right to microsoft XP! But, if you want to use/sell XP, then you must agree to Microsoft's terms, sell another OS, change your business, or go out of business. No one has a right to force any business or consumer to do anything, include selling or not selling an operating system at X price. Microsoft says, "If you sell MS XP in great quantity and exclusively, then we'll give you a huge discount." That's no different from Pepsi saying to 7/11, "We'll give you this nice drinks fridge for free if you promise to only put pepsi products inside it." If 7/11 wants the fridge, they must abide by Pepsi's generous terms, or pass on the deal. That's business. And that IS a choice. Everyone has a right to sell computers, but not everyone is going to make money doing it. Dell is after the cash, so they are going to sell the most popular product (Windows) because it makes the most obviously it pays to stay buddy buddy with Microsoft. Dell can still choose to make less money and sell Linux (much less money), but they don't because obviously that's not what the masses want! Don't blame Dell or Microsoft for making smart business choices. Again, no one is forced to do anything...they are only compelled to act on reason!

    Freedom, man freedom! You have to remember, the freedoms you want to take away from businesses are also freedoms that will be taken away from you! And how dare you try to limit other people's freedoms just because YOU don't like something. If you don't like a product or a company, don't support it by buying it! If that's not enough, get on the news and persuade people to boycott etc...but please, don't try to limit my freedoms as a consumer or as a business with government force! Remember, the only true monopoly is your government--it is your government that doesn't give you a choice. You HAVE to pay taxes, you HAVE to obey laws, or you will go to jail or get shot. In the business world, you always have a choice (unless govt. interferes).

  • by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @03:27PM (#13168766)
    Put the average end-user in front of two identical machines, ready to load. Each with one Ethernet card, one webcam, one HP inkjet printer, one external USB/Firewire device, one HD, one DVD burner, one dial-up modem. Give them Windows XP Home retail for one and Fedora Core 3 for the other. The assignment: by yourself with no external references or help, install each one and have all peripherals and harware working. You may only connect to the net to download drivers but may NOT research anything. You have to go with the interfae and help files immediately availible with the OS in question.

    I guarantee you it will be Windows XP Home every single time that is totally or mostly successful. The webcam alone will be enough to prevent the FC3 build from reaching totality. The second most problematic will be the external USB or Firewire device. The third will be the modem and fourth will be the printer.

    People can whine about there being a monopoly when the Linux would comes up with a disto that is as easy to use, as well supported, has as wide support for hardware as easily, and is so easy to maintain as Windows. Of course, the method Microsoft chose to follow to this plateau also came with a lot of tradeoffs on stability and security but any Linux zealot who claims Linux is secure and stable is lying blatantly. If Linux was so stable, or any *nix for that matter, would you need to have (you@yourbox)# kill [process id] in your toolbox never mind the legendary issues with the quirks of the most common *nix tools?

    Here's a neat one. Load up the Stardock Object Desktop software suite on a WinXP box. Load up xcompmgr w/KDE on the FC3 box. Make each work. I guarantee the xcompmgr on FC3 will be so unstable and resource hogging as to make the machine useless, illustrating the claim of those who put it in, that is is unstable. Not so with SOD. Neat shadows, transparancy, zoomers like OSX, etc. Eye candy in abundance.

    All that said, I use FC3 every day at home. But I have no blinders on that it is a techies' OS and NOT a casual end-user OS. I've been supporting Windows since before most of the anti-Microsoft crowd began their inane tinfoil hat FUD ranting against Redmond and if there is one central truth to it that I've learned, that it is very stable and secure IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING (with the exception of Millenium Edition which sucked donkey balls, especially on HP Pavillions).

    I guarantee you that should any distro of Linux of tomorrow become equal to the ease of use and intuitiveness of Windows of today, it will be equally open to user error because that is the nature of the situation. The only practical way to shield against user error is to make the doing of things so hard that it discourages the attempt. The only practical way to make the system easy to use for total idiots is to make it childishly open and easy to do the slightest thing.

    I wouldn't sell ANY version of Linux preloaded on consumer PCs aimed at casual end-users because as someone who's supported them for years on end, I know they won't even read their VCR manuals to stop the clock from flashing 12:00. They won't have truck with RPMs and dependency never mind makefiles and builds.
  • by tdubya ( 823850 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @03:44PM (#13168982)
    What's more interesting is your logic of the fact that there is no debate on whether Microsoft is a monopoly or not because the COURTS decided they were already... That means that there is absolutly no debate on whether OJ murdered Nicole and Ron, or whether Michael Jackson touches boys, because the COURTS said they didn't. There is always room for debate, and to say there is NO room is ignorant.
  • Re:Of Course! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:05PM (#13169233) Homepage
    what about the bulk of VB programmers out there? they outnumber real programmers 10 to 1. and imagine all the webdesign people curled in a ball when asp disappears. (asp=visual basic for webapps)

    personally I would LOVE to see it. VB only recently forced good programming (and only if you have strict turned on.)

    Many companies will find themselves stuck having to pay real wages and hire real programmers instead of hiring discount VB programmers.

    yes it will change things, PHB's will argue for the worse, everyone else will argue for the better.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:08PM (#13169266)
    The point is that due to the Microsoft monopoly, Dell doesn't really have a choice to not sell Windows computers. 90% of the computer sales market demands Windows, and they can't be sold on other options for various reasons that have been proven in court (compatibility, network effect, retraining, etc). So Dell is essentially forced to buy Windows at whatever price Microsoft demands. It's not a voluntary exchange.

    Now, that wouldn't be a particularly big deal if Windows purchases were similar to most other products. You pay per install, and get volume breaks as you get above 100, 1000, 10k, 100k, etc., but that isn't how the deal works. Microsoft writes the contract such that you pay per machine sold, whether it has Windows installed or not. Now, Dell might not like that deal, but they don't have a choice, because if they don't sign it, they lose 90% of their customers. Well, they do have a choice to forgo the volume discount, but that would drive up the price of their machines to the point where they wouldn't be competitive, and they would only lose 50% of their customers.

    The thing that gets really shady is why does Microsoft write the contract that way? The answer is that since Dell is paying for Windows anyway, they have no incentive to also pay to put a different OS on the machine. It costs them more to put a zero-cost OS on your box than to put Windows on it. That gives Dell an incentive not to sell non-Windows boxes, and helps prevent any other operating system from becoming a viable alternative to Windows. The contract will in some cases also say that they are not allowed to set up any machines to dual-boot. In some cases they will change the volume prices based on whether the OEM sells any other OSs at all, so selling a single Linux box will cost Dell tens of thousands of dollars (I'm not sure they get away with that one anymore).

    The point being that Windows pricing and contracts aren't about serving the customer, and they aren't about maximizing profit for Microsoft or the OEM (in the short term). They are all about maintaining the Microsoft monopoly. Capitalism doesn't work unless there is competition, which means monopolies aren't capitalism. That's why we have anti-trust laws.
  • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:18PM (#13169377) Homepage Journal
    You're right, I forgot, all you need is fast chips to drive the level of demand required to support the production volumes that enable Moore's law to be practical from a business perspective. Disentangling your syntax (and disregarding the sarcasm) you seem to be saying that the price of hardware would not have come down it not been for Microsoft offering such quality software.

    That makes a fairly major assumption. It could just as easily be true that dropping prices led an explosion in personal computing and that Microsoft owes its success to hitching a ride on the IMB brand name.

    Certainly there was an explosion in the field personal computers in the early 80s: Commodore, Acorn, Sinclair to name but a few. All released home computers before the PC. So it seems that the costs were already dropping then, and that increased microprocessor use would have driven the price down anyway.

    The reason MS did so well was because they had the OS on the platform that emerged dominant. And the reason for this dominance is that IBM legitimised personal computing with the IBM PC. Business bought PCs, and people bought a home computer to be compatible with work.

    As far as the cost of hiring a secretary, that's what it would require for me to create the documents that I'm able to create in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint and to continue to do my work.

    That's assuming no other options exist besides a human secretary or MS software.

    Generally speaking, a good way to value a product is to compare the pricing of your alternatives.

    I entirely agree. OpenOffice is free by the way. Thanks for playing!

  • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:48PM (#13169807)
    Companies who have brand name recognition don't have to shave the price that much. And it's not so much anti-Microsoft as much as being aware of the relationship between Microsoft and Dell.

    Just because it's not PRO-Microsoft doesn't immediately mean it is anti-microsoft. Sometime's the truth is still the truth without the labels you put on it.
  • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:53PM (#13169884) Homepage
    Dell sells at least 2 brands of Windows: XP and Home (I'm discounting the server versions, although they're probably built using the same supply chain). *However*, not all of those images are identical - based upon current promotions, different software is pre-loaded and different configurations are chosen. In addition, MS regularly provides Dell (and other OEMs) with updated base Windows installs (with new patches, SP 2, etc), although it's less likely that those are tracked as closely. Whoever assembles the PC already has to pull the correctly imaged hard drive off the rack - it's no more expensive to pull the FreeDOS one.
  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:27PM (#13170325)
    Losses, perhaps, over some ideal market -- a perfectly competitive market.

    No, losses over a more competitive market. The more competitive the market, the lower the losses. In a perfectly competitive market, the losses are zero.

    No markets are, in reality, perfect competition.

    Doesn't matter. A lot of markets are close enough that the losses due to lack of perfect competition are very small. Even in moderately competitive markets like soft drinks, the economic losses are still much smaller than in a major monopoly like Microsoft.

    There are huge barriers to entry in the OS world, simply because an OS is not just an OS but also a suite of programs, drivers, etc. That alone prevents the market from being perfectly competitive.

    Undoubtedly. But the OS market doesn't need to be perfectly competitive. That'd be nice, but it's not essential. The losses could be minimized by making it more competitive. That's the whole idea behind anti-trust legislation. There are certain natural monopolies that are inevitable (power companies are a classical example). However, in order to maintain some semblence of efficiency in the system, monopolies must be regulated, and prevented from doing things to make the situation worse. In the case of Microsoft, there is a lack of controls that should be there.
  • by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @05:59AM (#13174663)

    Look, it's really, really simple:

    Price of Windows machine = Hardware cost + OS licence cost + OS installation cost + Dell's Profit - Money back from bundled software (AOL etc)
    Price of FreeDOS machine = Hardware cost + OS licence cost + OS installation cost + Dell's Profit

    Now, FreeDOS is free (leaving aside media duplication, which should be the same for both OSs), and isn't even installed on the machine when you buy it, so the two equations actually look like this:

    Price of Windows machine = Hardware cost + OS licence cost + OS installation cost + Dell's Profit - Money back from bundled software
    Price of FreeDOS machine = Hardware cost + Dell's Profit

    Now, for the price of the Windows machine to be less than the FreeDOS one, one of 5 things has to happen:

    Monetary kickbacks from bundled software offset the price of the OS licence and installation. I doubt very, very much if they can make enough money back from bundling a crappy AOL installer to pay for the Windows OEM licence and the hassle of installing it on every machine.

    The hardware costs less for the Windows machine. We know this isn't the case, since the two machines are apparently identical apart from their OS.

    Windows installation cost is negative. This is clearly stupid - hard drives aren't supplied with Windows pre-installed, so installing another OS doesn't cost you anything. I'm willing to admit the possibility that production-line Windows installations (eg, using disk images) would be so cheap as to be effectively free, but that just makes them irrelevant - it doesn't explain the difference in price.

    The OS licence cost is negative (ie, Microsoft pays DELL for each Windows copy sold). This is not the case, since Microsoft makes money from Windows sales. Microsoft's business model means it has to charge for software - it can give away some items as loss leaders (eg, giving MS Office cheap to schools to get home users to buy it), but if they were giving away Windows to home users they wouldn't be so worried about piracy. Hence "OS licence cost" > 0.

    Dell makes less profit on Windows machines. This is the only option that makes sense. Now, if Dell doesn't have to factor in the OS licence cost or OS installation costs it could (should!) be turning those into pure profit. The fact that it's doing something so manifestly against its own best interests suggests that they're being strongarmed behind the scenes.

    This is an illegal and unfair monopolistic practice, exactly what the Microsoft anti-trust ruling was supposed to stop. However, after MS was convicted of being an illegal monopoly Bush and Co. got in, and all the high talk about breaking up Microsoft or imposing real sanctions withered away. Suddenly the administration got cold feet about prosecuting, and although they'd already won the case they pretty much let them off with the lightest penalty they could get away with.

    Microsoft clearly hasn't learned a thing from this, apart from that you can do whatever you like as long as you contribute to the right political campaigns. Look at the recent debacle here in Europe, where MS was instructed to open up APIs and protocol specs to allow fair competition, then attmepted to use the punishment to squash competition, charging thousands of dollars for the information they were supposed to "open", unnecessarily bundling protocols and formats together so licensees had to pay for mountains of data they didn't want for the single bit they did, and using a restrictive licence that specifically blocks the FLOSS movement from benefiting, although the penalty was designed to encourage competition and FLOSS is Microsoft's biggest (only real?) competitor.

    I'm ignoring for the sake of brevity your confusion over the OEM and retail prices of windows, since it's irrelevant. Ditto your bizarre idea that it's legal to install a copy of Windows on three machines - this is piracy, and while you might

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!