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Microsoft Faces Fresh Antitrust Complaints 429

Rob wrote to mention a Computer Business Online review piece about new anti-trust action against Microsoft on both sides of the Atlantic. From the article: "Other examples of anticompetitive behavior cited by Tangent include bundling of Outlook with Office and Active Directory with Windows Server, as well as the bundling of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Server with its desktop and server operating system respectively. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on Tangent's complaint, other than to acknowledge that it was being reviewed, but was more forthcoming in responding to a fresh complaint lodged with the European Commission by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS)."
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Microsoft Faces Fresh Antitrust Complaints

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  • media player (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mahou ( 873114 )
    can someone explain to me why people care about windows media player being bundled with windows? i could maybe understand internet explorer, maybe. but wmp? what?
    • by AnonymousPrick ( 956548 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:21AM (#14784700)
      an someone explain to me why people care about windows media player being bundled with windows?

      Microsoft Windows Media Player (TM) is an essential piece of the Microsoft Winddows operating system (TM). Without it, the operating system could not function. It was not placed to put any competition out of business or to get a "monopoly". All of those accusations are undeniably false.

      Sincerely,

      Steve Ballmer.

    • Re:media player (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SDaem0n ( 956695 )
      Well the problem with the existence of windows media player is somehow an oddity. Windows OS needs some kind of media player for preview purposes. I know, It's just something flashy, but what do you see when you enter a folder, highlight a movie and a small preview with stop and play appears. It's flasy and of course sometimes usefull. Of course there might be programming interdependencies with IE and Windows Explorer that we don't know yet. From here to a full fledged player is just a simple step. You on
    • Because the whole reason Media Player is packaged with windows is so microsoft can dominate digital audio/video formats. In other words, it's the audiovisual equivalent of their browser monopoly.

      On the main article, don't forget South Korea. Microsoft is basically using the same anti-trust avoidance tactics that they've always used. They're taking advantage of the slowness of individual legal systems, so that when their tactics are ruled illegal in one place, they can continue to work toward dominance el
      • Because the whole reason Media Player is packaged with windows is so microsoft can dominate digital audio/video formats.

        Funny, I thought it was so they could play audio and videos out of the box. Most linux distrobutions include a media player for just this reason, why is it bad when microsoft does it?

        • Funny, I thought it was so they could play audio and videos out of the box.

          You were wrong. IF they wanted to include a media player, they wouldn't need to develop their own. What's more, they wouldn't deliberately leave out codecs for ripping CDs in the most popular audio format, mp3. It's fairly easy to see their motives if you examine their choices.

          Most linux distrobutions include a media player for just this reason, why is it bad when microsoft does it?

          Most linux distributions have a TOTALLY different

  • Outlook? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:18AM (#14784663)
    bundling of Outlook with Office

    Don't you have to buy Office and, thus, buy an office suite? One that would, presumably, include email and calendar functionality?

    Can't you purchase Office modules separately? I was sure I had seen boxes of Word, Excel, etc. a few years back.

    • Re:Outlook? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shkuey ( 609361 )
      Indeed. I also purchase server software for server functionality, ie Active Directory. This complaint is completely baseless.
    • Re:Outlook? (Score:3, Insightful)

      For the majority of the time, I pretty much go against Microsoft for my own personal opinions... but I think this is pretty preverse. Microsoft owns the rights to both MS Office and Outlook and should be able to bundle these two programs together if they choose. Look at MoZilla Mail being bundled with MoZilla web browser in the past... and Star Office. And yes, you can purchase any of the office suite seperately, including Outlook, or you could download a free version of Outlook -- Outlook Express. In this
      • Microsoft owns the rights to both MS Office and Outlook and should be able to bundle these two programs together if they choose.

        I'm going to leave Microsoft completely out of it, and use generic examples.

        There is such a thing as illegal bundling and tieing.

        Suppose I have two products. InDemandProduct and SuckoProduct.

        Everyone wants InDemandProduct. Nobody seems to want SuckoProduct, for some strange reason.

        Ah ha! I can sell InDemandProduct only as a bundle with SuckoProduct, for

        • Sorry to reply to my own post, but I had one more example of illegal bundling.

          Suppose I have two products InDemandProduct and SuckoProduct.

          Now a competitor makes a product that does what SuckoProduct does, but only better.

          If I only sell InDemandProduct as a bundle with SuckoProduct, especially if I don't raise the price of InDemandProduct, then I've just acted to hurt the business of a competitor whose only product competes with SuckoProduct.

          Since everyone buys InDemandProduct, they also already
    • You CAN buy office modules separately; but they're like $150 each and there's 6 of them in the standard edition (which is $300). Best to buy them all together-- then you have it all :D You CAN still use Thunderbird if you want, instead of Outlook.
      • Agreed, and this is a point many people seem to be missing. Unlike the IE anti-trust action you are not required to have any of these components installed on a machine. I can run office without outlook. I can run Server 2k3 without active directory and use some other vendor for LDAP (OpenSSO, Oracle, Novell, etc). During the browser contreversy you could not uninstall IE. You could not remove it from the desktop and there were active hooks in windows to prevent other browsers from installing/running properl
        • Re:Outlook? (Score:3, Informative)

          Microsoft is welcome to bundle whatever they choose so long as they dont prevent/cripple users from installing products from competing vendors.

          Maybe in some capitalist moral frameworks, yes, but not under U.S. law.
          Bundling by a monopolist is considered "tying". Tying is illegal under the Sherman Anti-trust act.

          Vertical tying is the practice of requiring customers to purchase related products or services from the same company. For example, a company's automobile only runs on its own proprietary gas and can o
    • Re:Outlook? (Score:3, Informative)

      by tpgp ( 48001 )
      Whilst I have no idea whether the complaint is fair or not, I believe that the quote from the article summary about 'bundling' outlook & AD is innacurate.

      This article [zdnet.com] seems to say that the complaint is that you cannot interoprate with the bundled components - a far more reasonable complaint.

      In its suit, Tangent claims that Microsoft "has not been complying fully" with the final judgment that was entered into in the government case in November 2002. That settlement required Microsoft to, among other thin

    • Can't you purchase Office modules separately? I was sure I had seen boxes of Word, Excel, etc. a few years back.

      iirc you can but the prices mean its rarely worth it
  • Will buy time (Score:4, Informative)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:18AM (#14784673)
    I predict that even with this complaint, M$ will buy time if it turns into a suit. This buying of time has worked well for M$ in the past. They (M$) will require clarifications, will complain and submit incomplete information as time goes by. By the time any verdict is made, it will have no teeth!

    Remember we started the present suit against M$ in 2001...5 years later we see no change!

  • by minion ( 162631 )
    Like any good slashdotter, I have my complaints with Microsoft too, but this is getting out of hand. Active Directory? WTF are they thinking?

    1st post!
    • What we need to do is let Microsoft bundle whatever they want with Windows as long as any other 3rd party can provide an alternative for anything deemed not part of the operating system.

      The problem being, there is no bright-line between an operating system and its applications. What do we consider to be strictly part of an OS? The kernel? A file system? A window manager?

      As it stands just about anything can be replaced in Windows, even the shell. I don't see the problem other than most people are too lazy to
  • It's amazing how people critisize MSFT about having so many vista versions. Stuff like this makes it super obvious why they have to release so many versions.
    • HUH??

      Why is it impossible to sell a single version that is the OS and then have all those "freebies" or Extras as downloads? Hey how about buying the Vista Corperate pack toat adds in corperate tools or the Plus Pack that adds trhe silly crap for home users? Is that really way too difficult for microsoft to do?

      I certianly can not see your reasoning behind this.
  • Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:29AM (#14784778) Homepage Journal
    Bundling software isn't anti-competitive behaviour unless there's something else going on, like forcing computer manufacturers to bundle that software with their computers.

    Nobody is forced to use Active Directory when they set up a Windows server, although most people do because it makes sense. Honestly, as someone who's not worked with large linux networks, I'm not sure what the alternative would be. However, lack of a viable alternative, or even lack of a popular alternative, doesn't make Microsoft wrong for packaging Active Directory with their product.

    Bundling Outlook with Office may be slightly closer to anti-competitive behavior, but I still think it's a BS complaint. I know plenty of people that choose to use Netscape Navigator, Eudora, or Thunderbird for email, even though they own the Office suite. Wouldn't complaining about Outlook Express make a little more sense, since it's packaged with the OS?

    This reminds me of people playing the race card... it's done even when that complaint isn't accurate, and as a result makes people less likely to believe when there's a REAL issue.

    What's next... claiming that inclusion of MS Paint is anti-competitive?
    • Re:Wha? (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by max born ( 739948 )
      Bundling Outlook with Office may be slightly closer to anti-competitive behavior, but I still think it's a BS complaint.

      Seems like history repeating. Microsoft wasn't sued by 20 states' attornies general for nothing. Take a look at the findings of fact [usdoj.gov] from the 1998 case. Though MS was found guilty of violating the Sherman and Clayton anti trust acts, not much really happened to them. Perhaps they were just too big and influential to punish.

      Bill Gates likes to tout MS as innovative but it's really a c
      • MS was sued in 98 mainly because they were presuring computer manufacturers to install Windows and were leveraging their dominance on the desktop to try putting Netscape under (and to a lesser extent, Sun in the Java market). That's very different than bundling a program (Outlook) in a suite that it naturally belongs in, or providing an important server tool (AD) in the Server versions of their operating system.

        Providing Windows Server WITHOUT Active Directory wouldn't make any more sense than providing an
      • Re:Wha? (Score:3, Interesting)

        Microsoft got a pansy settlement with the DoJ because the DoJ "won" by too large of a margin.

        It's almost like they shot the moon in the legal system; by loosing as badly as they did, they drove the judge to literally foam at the mouth, and even though the appeals court did not find any errors in Judge Jackson's decision making, they revoked his judgement because of his extreme behavior unbecoming of a federal judge.

        He liked MS (and MS executives) to the Mob. He's accused them of lying and deceiving intentio
    • What's next... claiming that inclusion of MS Paint is anti-competitive?

      Yes, just think about all the people that aren't buying Adobe PhotoShop because MS Paint is bundled with the OS. >;-)

  • by 7of7 ( 956694 )
    How the hell can Microsoft be expected to sell it's OS without any extras while the other companies selling OSs bundle all sorts of shiat with them. OS X comes with Quicktime 7, Safari, Apple Mail, and the whole iLife thing. Those are all types of things that Microsoft has been threatened with a lawsuit because it includes them in Windows. Apple takes it a step further and bundles their hardware with their software. If Microsoft did something like that, they'd be driven out of the country by screaming zealo
    • (IANAL yadda yadda) The difference is that Microsoft is a convicted monopoly. The things they are, and aren't allowed to do, CHANGE because of their status as a monopoly. The day that Apple controls 90% (at least) market share, and then bundles the same software with their OS that they do now, is the day the'll be screamed at. When you're a monopoly you cannot bundle competitive products(ie a Browser or Media Player). More specifically you can't punish or threaten your distributors for adding or removin
    • by shotfeel ( 235240 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:06AM (#14785146)
      There are a couple differnces between Apple and MS bundling software. The biggest being that Apple is an OEM who is bundling software with a computer, thus needs to provide a "complete" experience. MS is theoretically providing software that OEM's may or may not bundle with a computer. So when MS "bundles" things, it gives OEMs less choice in what software they bundle for their customers. IE/Netscape is the classic example of how this works out.
      • There are a couple differnces between Apple and MS bundling software. The biggest being that Apple is an OEM who is bundling software with a computer, thus needs to provide a "complete" experience.

        No, the biggest, (and only) difference is that MS has been classified as a monopoly, which means that they have to follow different laws than everyone else.

      • So what you are saying is that if Microsoft started selling complete systems, that rather than being uncompetitive, it would be more competitive?

        MS is providing a complete experience for the end user, in as far as software goes. By offering a software package that provides what the user wants (most users of MS software want everything to interoperate, want everything to work similar application to application, and don't want to be forced to choose 100 different pieces of software so that they can use th
        • The problem comes when "bundling" is essentially equivalent to "dumping". Is MS bundling software to help the consumer, or are they dumping software on the market at below cost to drive competitors out of the market? Did they give away IE to drive Netscape out of the market and gain a monopoly in an area they didn't preciously have one? Are they doing that with WMP? What happens to the quality of 3rd party anti-virus/spyware when every copy of Windows comes with a "free" copy?

          When monopolies dump goods at b
  • This is getting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    out of hand to the point of sheer stupidity. Certain gripes I can see as far as the bundling of IE with Windows. To start a complaint about directory services being bundled with server software is lunacy. Outlook being bundled with M$ Office? Oh the humanity! I wouldn't expect to pay $500 for a full office suite without a fully functioning email client/calendering system. Enough is enough. Now that it has gotten to this point any further "legitimate" claims will be dismissed as frivolous and unjustif
  • E-mail is a key part of today's office productivity. Why wouldn't you release an integrated feature-rich e-mail client as part of an office productivity suite? Should they just sell Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, and Outlook all seperately? Okay, I actually think they should offer them individually but if you can buy software combinations from Adobe without them getting sued, why not Microsoft? It makes sense to offer packages of products that are commonly grouped and offer them at a discount.

    Active dir

    • Also:

      This so-called bundling is a necessity in the OS market. When John Q. "I just want it to work" Public buys Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade, he expects a product that will work once he installs it. If he installed XP, then had to find an internet browser (interesting task without, you know, a browser), an e-mail client, a media player, et cetera just to get what is now considered basic functionality for a computer, he'd simply abandon the idea of computers.

      Where MS went wrong with IE was preventing user
      • "If he installed XP, then had to find an internet browser (interesting task without, you know, a browser)"

        This is easy in Linux without a browser. You open the software update tool, look in the internet section and choose which browser(s) you want to install. A few clicks and they're all installed. I don't see why Microsoft couldn't do something similar. Don't they already have windows update?

        • Then someone just goes after them for bundling a "software distribution program" with Windows because they have a similar product.

          Broadband isn't available to everyone, and most people don't want to install an OS just to sit and wait several hours for it to download all the components it should have shipped with anyway.

          Windows is a package deal. With Linux, you could just install a kernel and shell and have a working OS. Granted, it wouldn't do much, but it would still be an OS. On top of that, the average
  • by wbren ( 682133 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:41AM (#14784890) Homepage
    The only valid point that I thought the article made had to do with Word documents. It's no secret that interpretting Word documents is haphazard at best (just look at OpenOffice) and that standards need to be documented more thoroughly. Almost everything else in that article seemed like nit picking, and for once I feel bad for Microsoft.

    They can't win: if they include Windows Media Player with their OS they get sued, if they don't include it they get hundreds of thousands of complaints from users and even more Microsoft bashing than before. If they include Active Directory with their OS they get sued, if the don't include it they get thousands of complaints from administrators and even more Microsoft bashing than before. The list goes on and on. As for Outlook being bundled with Office, I think that since Office is a suite consumers pay for (either in retail channels or through OEMs), Microsoft should be able to include what it wants to. Outlook is part of the suite, plain and simple.

    Next week's top story: "TextPad Sues Microsoft for Bundling Notepad with its Windows Operating System" [textpad.com]

    • They can't win: if they include Windows Media Player with their OS they get sued, if they don't include it they get hundreds of thousands of complaints from users and even more Microsoft bashing than before. If they include Active Directory with their OS they get sued, if the don't include it they get thousands of complaints from administrators and even more Microsoft bashing than before. The list goes on and on.


      Well, if they HADN'T INCLUDED all those nice add-ons in the beginning, NO ONE would have complai
    • Its not Microsoft's problem if administrators want Active Directory. It should be sold as a seperate package for Windows server is the point.

      Ditto for Media Player and Media Server.

      Ditto for Outlook.

      Act! was a much better product for 90% of your day to day call tracking than Outlook, but Outlook is "free" with Office (its not, its bundled into the price). Outlook didn't sell for years (as the Exchange client or universal Inbox features) but when they bundled Schedule+ with Office people started using it.

      The point is, it wasn't good enough to sell, so other companies were able to compete. Instead, Microsoft gave it away and hurt those companies' businesses. This is illegal in many countries (market flooding, anti-competition, etc.)
  • by sepluv ( 641107 ) <blakesley.gmail@com> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:41AM (#14784891)
    I'm not saying that /. is behind (well...I am), but this news is so last week.

    The latest news is that, according to Yahoo! News [yahoo.com] and BBC News [bbc.co.uk], a fresh anti-trust complaint has been filed with the EC against Microsoft by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (composed of IBM, Oracle, RealNetworks, Sun & Nokia). Although the complaint was filed privately, ECIS hinted (see the links) that it related to MS Office.

    The story here is about Tangent, a computer manufacturer who filed a federal suit against MS in a Northern Californian court on Valentine's Day. I've found two articles which go into more detail on this: Gameshout [gameshout.com] and ZDNet [zdnet.com].

    Basically, the complaints in this suit relate to:

    • MS's promotion of its DRM software
    • lack of documentation for the MS Office document formats
    • pricing of MS software artifically high
    • pressurising content owners to use proprietary MS media formats
    • server interoperability (see the original EC case for which MS are currently being fined $2.8M daily).
  • I love this line from Tangent's site...
    Tangent recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional. [tangent.com]
    • Re:Tangent's website (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sepluv ( 641107 )
      That is because MS won't do business with (i.e.: takes out) any manufacturer who doesn't include that line in their advertising. (Hopefully, they include a complaint about that in their suit).

      Although their is no contradiction in them recommending MSW and suing MS about bundling and keeping the price artifically high. In fact, the opposite is true. If they didn't like MSW they would probably just sell free software OSs, and not care.

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:44AM (#14784933) Homepage Journal
    GM has been accused of bundling engines with transmissions, Pioneer has been accused of bundling speakers with stereo equipment and, Bob's big boy has been accused of bundling plates with silverware.

    • The fact that Microsoft has been legally classified as a "monopoly" in the desktop OS space is absolutely critical to the criticisms and lawsuits that have subsequently been levelled at them.

      If you fail to acknowledge this one simple fact, you'll NEVER understand the situation w.r.t. Microsoft and illegal bundling/leveraging.

      Sorry for the tone, but this has been repeated ad Nauseum for YEARS and people still seem to be sticking their fingers in their ears about it. Whether you disagree or not simply isn't
    • Also mcdonalds has been accused of unfair bundling of meat-like-products in their hamburgers. When a spokesman attempted to state that a burger patty is an intrinsic part of the hamburger experience representatives from vegetarians-r-teh-win were quick to point out that the meat product is not necessary.
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:48AM (#14784972) Homepage
    WHY does everybody keep talking about Microsoft monopolies, then talking about Explorer, Outlook, and... everything but the OS?

    Nobody is forced to use Explorer (even if it is a part of the OS). Nobody is forced to use Outlook, Active Directory, or WMP.

    What we ARE forced to put up with as software engineers (if we want to actually sell any units) is their OS! Mac users and some expert PC gurus running Linux aside, Microsoft has a monopoly on the OS market. If we in the US are so anti-monopoly (and there's a lot of precedent -- Standard Oil, Ma Bell etc), why haven't we broken up this one by making the OS open-source and allowing MS to continue as it pleases with its other products (which don't force anyone to use them.)

    I can't be the only one to see this -- but I just don't get why people keep talking about the big, bad Microsoft monopoly -- then looking right PAST the one thing they *do* have a monopoly on. It's all very confusing to me.
    • Windows is a blassing to some, a pain to others, and it's everywhere (often not by choice), but that by itself is not illegal (as I understand it). Microsoft can continue to have a monopoly on desktop operating systems and still operate within the law.

      However, using that monopoly to leverage other products in other product areas *is* a violation of existing anti-trust laws, both in the US and in the EU (as well as many other places like Japan, South Korea, etc.).

      That is why these stories keep on being brou
    • why haven't we broken up this one by making the OS open-source and allowing MS to continue as it pleases with its other products (which don't force anyone to use them.)

      The company was broken up. The court then changed its mind on appeal,. No doubt in part to the Attorney Gereral Ashcroft rolling over and saying "the case is without merit". AFTER the conviction.

    • Monopolies are not illegal, wrong, or persecuted.

      What is illegal, and wrong is abusing a monopoly position to obtain dominance in another area.

      This is why Microsoft are being penalised (for example when they gave IE away for free in order to kill off Netscape) and Google, who are not abusing their monopoly are not being penalised.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      [Qoute]WHY does everybody keep talking about Microsoft monopolies, then talking about Explorer, Outlook, and... everything but the OS?[/Quote]

      Because, if you review the case history, or even just the old headlines from back when all of the Microsoft is an unfair Monopoly business became popular, there was a decision made from which everything else has followed.

      What was that decision?

      The business desktop operating system niche market qualifies as a natural monopoly. Because of interoperability and consisten
  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @10:51AM (#14785009) Journal

    So let's see, we're complaining now because Windows comes with more programs for us to use? What the hell is wrong with these people? I've seen too many anti-trust suits like this.

    I could rant, really; but I'll put this simply enough: It's nice when you get software bundled with the system; it's anticompetetive when the system is designed to detect competing software and prevent it from running properly. Until the second case is true, this is all bullshit and these lawyers need to find a new hobby.

    Next week, Canonical gets sued for shipping Ubuntu with Firefox instead of Opera; Novell gets sued for shipping GNOME instead of KDE; and the XFCE guys sue everyone because nobody uses their desktop environment.

  • You may no longer bundle radios or air conditioning in cars. Also, spare tires are illegal.
    You may no longer bundle popsicle sticks in with popsicles.
    You may no longer bundle instructions with any piece of equipment.
    There has to be more to the story. IANAL, but "bundling" software is nothing new, and certainly shouldn't be considered wrong. How can you differentiate "bundling software" from including features? For instance Winamp can now do far more than just play media. Are the ripping features
  • Innovation? (Score:3, Funny)

    by DoctorPepper ( 92269 ) on Thursday February 23, 2006 @11:17AM (#14785279)
    I loved this part:

    "ECIS is a front for IBM and a few other competitors who constantly seek to use the regulatory process to their business advantage. When faced with innovation, they choose litigation,"

    Which screams out the need for this obligatory quote from Inigo Montoya:

    Microsoft: "INNOVATION!"
    Rest of World: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
    • IBM...who constantly seek to use the regulatory process to their business advantage. When faced with innovation, they choose litigation
      Ooh...IBM's lawyers are going to have loads of fun with that quote when they start getting responses to their recently filed subpoenas hunting for info. about possible maintenance by Microsoft of the TSG lawsuit.
  • because this european complaint addresses the lack of documentation for Office formats.

    About friggin' time, I'd say.
  • If MS did buy up SCO licenses to prop up SCO's legal fight against other Linux vendors that should count too. That they tried to quash Linux is enough in my view. They should be broken into a million tiny little parts.

    We have to remember, it took the U.S. Government almost 50 years to get the Bell System to agree to the Kingsbury Consent. And they were hit again in the 50's and the final nail hit in the 80's. By then the company was a hundred years old.

    But today we live in the information age. I suspe
  • Is this product tying, or merely product bundling? Why should Microsoft be liable for antitrust complaints if they merely bundle products together for sale, but give you the choice of which components you actually want to install? This is in stark contrast to Windows/IE...
  • They have $40B+ in cash, that they are desperately trying to funnel into the pockets of their executives (since they are certainly not using it to improve their products). How best to do this? The anti-trust shuffle. You split the company; assets fly everywhere, expenses related to the re-organization generate more transactions than the IRS can check in 10 years, shareholder value adjustments are made (stock re-purchased, re-valued, re-issued), and by the time all is said and done, new golden parachutes
  • Antitrust 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <sherwin@a m i r a n . us> on Thursday February 23, 2006 @12:15PM (#14785822) Homepage Journal
    I posted this deep in a conversation, so I'll repost it. The matter at hand is not whether or not you thing its a legitimate business practice for Microsoft to bundle products. The legal issues are far more limited than that. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, so its business practices are very, very tightly controlled under anti-trust regulations. The rules that apply to Microsoft are very different than the rules that apply to say, Apple, or Sun, or IBM. When you've been convicted of having an illegal monopoly, you have to abide by certain rules, or face legal action. If you disagree with this, the proper place to register complaints is with congress, not the courts. The courts have to make judgements on the existing legal framework, and under this framework Microsoft is not permitted certain business practices that would be perfectly fine for anyone else.

    Bundling by a monopolist is considered "tying". Tying is illegal under the Sherman Anti-trust act.

    Vertical tying is the practice of requiring customers to purchase related products or services from the same company. For example, a company's automobile only runs on its own proprietary gas and can only be serviced by its own dealers. In an effort to curb this, many jurisdictions require that warranties not be voided by outside servicing; for example see the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in the United States. More recently, video game consoles run only software licensed by the console manufacturer and use lockout chips to enforce this.

    Microsoft ties together Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, and Outlook Express.

    Tying may be the action of several companies, as well as the work of just one firm.

    It was first made potentially illegal in the United States by the Sherman Antitrust Act (section 1) if the firm has market power in the tying good, and a "non-trivial" amount of business is affected by the tying. See International Salt Co. v. United States, 332 U.S. 392 (1947).


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tying [wikipedia.org]

    At issue is not whether or not this is a reasonable law; but whether or not Microsoft has violated it.

    A) Microsoft is a convicted monopolist.
    B) Microsoft ties its products together.
    C) Tying of its products affects a substantial number of businesses
    D) The DoJ settlement did not measurably reduce Microsoft's market power.

    Therefore, a new antitrust case is in order.

    If you disagree, don't argue about the courts; they are just doing their job. Congress will have to pass some legislation either revoking the Sherman AntiTrust act, or specifically exempting Microsoft.

    Regardless of whether or not you support Microsoft, you should support the rule of law. If you believe that Microsoft should be permitted to tie products together, you should be writing your congress man, not bitching about federal courts.

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