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The Computer World in 1996

On News.com I was reading through an article that the EU released detailing Microsoft's internal culture/memos that led the commision to levy their 500M Euro fine.

The memos cited talk about customers sticking with Windows despite continually evaluating competing desktop applications because they are entrenched within the deep and borad Windows API.  All this despite buggy drivers, high TCO, and lack of vision.

The article also cites these internal memos as originating in the 1996 time frame.  A time when Office 97 wasn't out yet, and Windows 95 was just released.  A time when OS/2 Warpwas still being evaluated as an alternative to Windows.  A time before Windows NT 4.0.

How relevant are such statements to the world of today?  I'm not arguing whether or not what they did then was wrong (that has already been settled in court), but how can someone make regulatory decisions based off of behavior from 8 years ago in an industry that reinvents itself every couple years?  Wouldn't such commisions be better placed to examine the behavior of the software giant today?

Elephant
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Microsoft has a well written analysis of the EU decision. They claim it represents new law and an attack on all firms that develop innovative intellectual property. I think they have a point.

http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/2/7/52794f65-8784-43cf-8651-c7d9e7d34f90/Comment%20on%20EC%20%20Microsoft%20Decision.pdf

Me And The View Out The Window
Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Commission examines after it receives the complaint, and then takes a long time (which MS lawyers try to make longer) before coming to a decision.

So it will probably start investigating today's behaviour in two years time, and reach a conclusion six years later.

Frankly though, the analysis from 1996 does seem spot on for now!

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 22, 2004

if you believe info from 96 is too far in the past,

a) what info should be used?
b) should patents & copyrights be shortned? (e.g. to gain immunity for stuff from 96, you lose your copyright and patent protection for anything from 96 or older).

mb
Thursday, April 22, 2004

So, because they took time to get caught they should be let off? There are a few old nazis that would love to hear that argument stand up. They'd even pay for the salad cream to go on it.


Friday, April 23, 2004

Well written memo from Microsoft.

I've always found the bundling argument to be so ludicrous.  The EU is forcing Microsoft to remove features  (Windows Media Player) from a product.  In other words, they want to help the consumer by forcing Microsoft to offer a less functional product.  All software vendors should tremble at the thought of a government agency dictating what features you are allowed to sell.

"The Decision expressly rejects (Para. 822) the principle that tying analysis for finished products should focus not on whether there exists a separate demand for a component but on whether there is any demand for the finished product with that component missing. For example, the fact that there is a market for shoelaces does not mean there is a market for shoes that have their laces missing. Common sense dictates that it would be misguided for regulators to require shoes to be sold in such a manner, even if this would create greater opportunities for companies that sell shoelaces. "

The article also points out that other operating systems (e.g. Mac OS X) tout their multimedia capabilities. 

There's other bad things that Microsoft may have done, but  continually adding more capabilities to the OS is not one of them.  Sometimes I wonder if the Clinton Justice dept or the EU would rather we were stuck with MS-DOS 3.1.

Will
Friday, April 23, 2004

---"They claim it represents [...] an attack on all firms that develop innovative intellectual property."---

Microsoft won't have anything to worry about then, will they!

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 23, 2004

"All software vendors should tremble at the thought of a government agency dictating what features you are allowed to sell."

The government has a responsibility to protect consumers, and consumers have a right to decide what features they want to buy.

If a consumer wants a Real Player icon on their desktop instead of WinMovieThing when she brings her newly purchased computer home, no monopoly should be able to deny her that right.

Part of the problem with the world today is that fictional entities are given more rights than actual people.

Jim Rankin
Monday, April 26, 2004

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