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So why _did_ they go microsoft for their software?

Dont get me wrong, I entirely believe that microsoft _does_ (or did) abuse its monopoly power by forcing hardware manufacturers to ship with windows, by changing their operating system to block/break competitors software, by using SCO to attack Linux, by stealing ideas from its competitiors illegally (ie, by pretending to be interesting in dealing and then taking the knowledge and backing out of the deal) and so on and so on and so on.

<g> so, Im up to date with most of hte conspiracy theories about microsoft and believe most of them are valid.

_but_ of all of their crimes IMO including the browser, the player etc etc with the operating system feels like no crime at all..its their software, why shouldn't they.  many people found it useful (I actually use macs so Im not one of them) and it certainly didn't stop other companies from providing their own versions.

and yet, of all the things MS has done it was that most trivial of crimes that the DOJ convicted them for.

I mean, wtf?

hiding behind a pseudonym
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I agree. Requiring a software editor to not add features is not the right way to solve this issue.

Rather, they should insist that, as a return for legal protection (copyrights, patents, and the right to publish stuff that is known to be buggy, something which is not allowed in other sectors of the economy), a software editor should be forced to publish all the information that is needed by its competitors to come up with compatible products, ie. API's, network protocols, and file formats.

Forcing MS to remove its browser or media player just shows how little those people know about the software industry.

Fred
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Realistically it's the only thing that's enforceable (aside from fines) - change the product.

Anti-trust cases are not your typical proceeding.  Just because a company is ruled a monopoly doesn't mean they suddenly stop being a monopoly.

So , steps are taken - not necessarily to reduce  / eliminate the monopoly, but to create an environment where the monopoly doesn't affect the market so much.

In the case of software it does get fuzzy.  Things like bundling apps and freebie apps may seem trivial to us, but there are entire markets that are essentially destroyed when the monopoly decides to commoditize them.

It's the effect of the monopoly on the market that the law attempts to change; not the monopoly itself.

The catch-22 of free markets is that they are open to abuse.

Sassy
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Has no one ever heard of "monopoly leveraging"?

One of the most irritating arguments against antitrust actions targetting Microsoft is "why shouldn't they bundle the products?  Bundling is good!" 

It's not about bundling in and of itself, which is normally wonderful.  It's that, when a monopoly bundles other products with their monopoly product, they pre-empt the market for the bundled product, with the effect of creating a second monopoly from the strength of the first.

Agree or disagree with calling Microsoft a monopoly and punishing them for it, but please please please don't make this misleading argument.  It's not bundling they're being punished for, it's monopoly leveraging.

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

" It's not bundling they're being punished for, it's monopoly leveraging."

so its behavior that is only bad if you are already a monopoly?  so, for instance, when apple bundles safari with its operating system thats not monopoly leveraging (because apple is clearly not a monopoly), but when microsoft does it that _is_ monopoly leveraging.

There is a kind of sense there I guess, although Im definitely not convinced.

One counter argument would surely be that apple _is_ a monopoly if you look at the apple software market....ie, if I was building a browser for the apple then they would effectively be cutting me out of the loop in the same way that microsoft cut their browser developers out....?

But then I guess by law that falls down...what _is_ the legal definition of a monopoly?

hiding behind a pseudonym
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

"so its behavior that is only bad if you are already a monopoly?"

That's exactly it.  When monopolies do things, it can have market effects that non-monopolies can't achieve--which is the unbalancing of the market that antitrust law attacks.  You can argue the particular point, but that's exactly the justification behind the antitrust actions against Microsoft.

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Most linux distributions come with a Media player of some sort these days don't they? They also come with an Office system, a firewall, a browser, etc. - all of this completely free.

No different from windows XP (apart from the Office suite) - should microsoft be banned from including a firewall? Common sense says of course not, but now there is another market (firewall vendors) being "killed" by the big bad monopoly. So the regulators are going to say yes remove the firewall, 6 months later those same regulators will end up suing MS for releasing "insecure" products.

The point is the Windows Firewall is no different to the Windows Media Player, both are not the best in their field, but they are good enough for most people, but people who don't find them good enough are free to go and buy whatever applicable program they feel they need.

Another point is that in 10 years when/if linux becomes the standard, will they be forced to remove all of the different packages that are included in your regular linux distribution so that users are free to choose what command prompt shell they want to use?

Chris Ormerod
Thursday, March 25, 2004

[Another point is that in 10 years when/if linux becomes the standard, will they be forced to remove all of the different packages that are included in your regular linux distribution so that users are free to choose what command prompt shell they want to use?]

They will, if they use that standard to prevent competitors from providing fair competition.
Microsoft would be free to include whatever they wanted with their products, as long as people could choose not to pay for it and if vendors could choose not to have to make people pay for it.
Reread some of the other contributions for an explanation on how Microsoft has forced or tried to force vendors with financial measures. And how you can't get a reduction on Windows if you don't want a Microsoft web browser, which you then can't spend on buying a competing product. And since you already have paid for one anyway that is sufficient for most purposes, the incentive to buy competing products is mostly gone. Taking the competition with it.

Erik
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Chris: Use some Linux, will you?

Most distributions _already_ include all competing shells, most competing Window Managers, etc. RedHat Enterprise Linux includes both RedHat Database and MySQL.

A windows analogy would be if Microsoft _did_ include Real, WinAmp, and others in XP.

Free markets and democracy are not self-preserving; That's why you have anti-trust laws and various balances. Microsoft's size and influence is a threat to the free market, and according to both the USDOJ and the European competition commission, this threat is not just theoretical -- rather, Microsoft seems to leverage this influence repeatedly (and against regulations).

You may disagree with the DOJ/ECC, but if you do agree, I think the ECC's action is not unreasonable (as opposed to the DOJ's [effectively non-]action).

Ori Berger
Thursday, March 25, 2004

[Most linux distributions come with a Media player of some sort these days don't they? They also come with an Office system, a firewall, a browser, etc. - all of this completely free.]

Free being the operative word here. Since you did not pay anything for anything in the first place, there is no harm in finding yet another free product that you might find more interesting.
Which at least leaves the interest to explore other possibilities intact.

But why do you feel that it is fair to compare the traditional market in which Microsoft competes -- a market that is characterised by financial transactions -- to a significantly different one?

Erik
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Erik,

I don't see the other contributions to this thread saying anything about MS forcing vendors with financial tactics. I also don't see that I should be given a discount if I choose not to take what is provided in the operating system. Bad Analogy Ahead: If I bought a car but wanted to buy a nice Momo steering wheel elsewhere the dealer won't let me buy the car without a steering wheel, I will be forced to pay full price for the car plus full price for the extra steering wheel. I feel the same about media player in windows, its just there and I have the option to replace it if I want.

Ori,

I have used linux a bit and I do understand your argument, but in all cases when I have installed linux there has been a default [window manager | shell | whatever ] and I wasn't smart enough to change it to a different one successfully. It is the same with all the addons in windows - my mum wouldn't know how to get a different browser, she would just use the default. So what is the point in forcing MS (or Redhat for example) to not provide there own simple "good enough" program to help out the very large percentage of people who wouldn't know they were using a media player - Ask your mum what she uses to play videos on her computer - the answer will  be "Windows". (I don't see my point either sorry)

Erik again,

[But why do you feel that it is fair to compare the traditional market in which Microsoft competes -- a market that is characterised by financial transactions -- to a significantly different one? ]

Because I feel that the markets won't be different for much longer, here in Australia the free software organisations are lobbying hard, to the point where the south australian goverment nearly passed legislation prohibiting the purchasing of commercial software by government organisations.

Microsoft started in the same position as the free software is now, by lobbying large organisations to use their software over other more expensive software (i.e. UNIX etc) they got to where they are now.

And once the free software has a product that is better than the MS offering they will overtake MS naturally, there is no need for all this lobbying - which I think is backed by large companies such as SUN and IBM anyway - they should just get on with the job of making a better package rather than complaining about how MS is being a bully.

Finally, I know it seems like I don't know much about this and I probably don't but I have read so much FUD about all of this that it seems not many people do know what it is all about. I have only based my opinions on what I *think* this is all about.

Chris Ormerod
Thursday, March 25, 2004

[I don't see the other contributions to this thread saying anything about MS forcing vendors with financial tactics. I also don't see that I should be given a discount if I choose not to take what is provided in the operating system.]

There are similar threads on this subject. It is in one of those others.
And yes, your analogy is bad because it is an anology, which means it is not exactly the same, only similar, but especially because a steering wheel is a necessary component of a car, as is an operating systems dispatcher for instance, and offering that kind of modularity would be rather cumbersome.
Mind you, offering a car without a steering wheel would be easier than offering Windows without a dispatcher, since steering wheels can already be replaced without much effort. But it would not be practical.

Erik
Thursday, March 25, 2004

[Because I feel that the markets won't be different for much longer, here in Australia the free software organisations are lobbying hard, to the point where the south australian goverment nearly passed legislation prohibiting the purchasing of commercial software by government organisations.]

Even if they won't be different for much longer, that would still be comparing apples to oranges.

And legislation against purchasing commercial software would be just as bad and completely beside the point.
Customers, as governments are, should be looking to increase there options and should try to make everyone continue to play fair. That is rather different than playing unfair because someone else might be too.
Sadly, governments in particular, but many in the OSS debate seem to be arguing over symptoms and incedental cures, rather than root causes and structural improvements.

If one claims Microsoft is not playing fair, explain the rules and make them obey.

People have been telling fairy tales and myths for ages to pass on the wisdom that making friends with one dragon to fight another, is generally not a good idea.

Erik
Thursday, March 25, 2004

"People have been telling fairy tales and myths for ages to pass on the wisdom that making friends with one dragon to fight another, is generally not a good idea."

Well, that depends. If you ally with a Lawful Good dragon, there's little chance he'll turn on you later. Of course, if you're not of a Lawful Good of Neutral Good alignment yourself, then this may not be a good idea.

:)

Paulo Caetano
Thursday, March 25, 2004

"Well, that depends. If you ally with a Lawful Good dragon, there's little chance he'll turn on you later. Of course, if you're not of a Lawful Good of Neutral Good alignment yourself, then this may not be a good idea."

Now if you really wanted to be geeky, you should have refered to the Dragons by colour...

Mr Jack
Thursday, March 25, 2004

"Now if you really wanted to be geeky, you should have refered to the Dragons by colour..."

I beg to differ. There's nothing more geeky than mentioning alignment.

Besides, it's not PC to mention dragons by colour. The colour of a dragon should not cloud one's judgement about said dragon ;)

Paulo Caetano
Thursday, March 25, 2004

The analogy with buying a car holds, but holds in this sense.

Yes the consumer can buy the car from the dealership and he can customise it to his heart's content, there are even the equivalent of Haynes manuals to enable him and other software suppliers to do the same.

But unlike a Haynes disassembly of an entire model, you can' t disassemble the entirety of Windows, nor can you necessarily discover exactly the interface to do what you need to do and which application developers within Microsoft can by simply asking.

The bundling issue is more like, I want to buy a car, but I want to use my stereo, my gps system and my personalised floor mats.  Yes the dealer will sell me the car but I have to take it with the stereo, with the gps and with the floormats.

Still worse, the original bunding deals were not with manufacturers but with motherboard producers.  Microsoft would only sell operating system licences to motherboard producers so long as a copy went with every motherboard (at the time it was Intel),  regardless of the final use of that motherboard.  That was the agreement that the Korean FTC declared illegitimate and started the whole anti-trust ball rolling.

It was those original bundling deals which created the cash engine which fuelled the rest of Microsoft's growth and enabled them to gain their current effective monopoly on office systems.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 25, 2004

"One counter argument would surely be that apple _is_ a monopoly if you look at the apple software market...."

Yes.  In a similar vein, Ford has a monopoly on cars produced by Ford, Pepsi has a monopoly on soft drinks produced by Pepsi, and Nike has a monopoly on footwear produced by Nike.

Jim Rankin
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Part of the case against Microsoft for being anti-competitive is not in bundling persee, but in denying OEM's right to unbundle . That is they can't remove IE or Media Player, and sell it with CrapScape or Real Player instead.

Infact the bootloader license that OEM's have sign requires that *only* Microsoft operating systems be bootable if thier bootloader is to be used, thus not allowing OEM's to sell dual boot machines, etc.

Ravi
Thursday, March 25, 2004

yes Simon, I thought about my posting last night and realised using a comparison between the cars "media player" i.e the stereo, would have been a better analogy.

But still I think it shows I don't know the full picture, but I think nobody does.

Chris Ormerod
Thursday, March 25, 2004

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