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EC starts another shakedown operation against Microsoft
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Sunday, January 18, 2009

The European Commission says Microsoft can't bundle a web browser with its operating system:
European antitrust regulators have told Microsoft Corp. that the company's practice of including its Internet browser with its popular Windows operating system violates European competition law, Microsoft said Friday.
This initially sounds like the usual idiocy from EC bureaucrats. Since the line between local and internet content is becoming fuzzy, putting out an operating system without a browser makes no sense.

However, they give the game away with this:
...a "final determination" hasn't been made on the matter.
Trnaslation: "Nice operating system you got there, Microsoft. Be a shame if anything happened to it."

The EC already held up Microsoft for about half a billion in the last round of their protection racket. Since that worked so well, they're coming up with even more transparently ridiculous demands this time.

The old saw about paying Danegeld comes to mind. But Microsoft has no good options here. They could pull out of the European market, which would hurt Europe more than Microsoft, but it would definitely impact Microsoft's stockholders in a negative way. That is, the stockholders come out ahead by paying the protection money, at least as long as the criminal parasites at the EU don't get too greedy.

Oh, how I wish Microsoft would call their bluff and threaten to pull out. I think there's a high probability the Euroweenie bureaucrats would fold. But it's just idle speculation on my part sinces the chance that Microsoft would actually do that are somewhere between neglible and zero.
 
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Really...

Are they going to go after Apple, and Red Hat, and SuSE, and Debian, and ubuntu, etc for bundling browsers with their operating systems?

I had an old laptop which I installed D*mnSmallLinux (a 50MB distro), and that even had a browser included.

Considering it’s SOP to include a browser with an OS, I’m not sure how the EU can go after Microsoft and not the above-mentioned operating systems.
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://thelibertypapers.org/
Not to mention the easy of getting a different browser...

While my laptop used primarily IE (it was 4.5 years old, IE got use through sheer momentum), at work I use Firefox exclusively, and my new computer only opens IE when I check the e-mail account tied to Windows Live Messenger.

I really don’t understand why it’s a problem for the EU...

Besides, if a browser ISN’T included, how the hell are the people getting a new OS supposed to get a USEFUL browser like Firefox? Magic? Wishing really hard?
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Besides, if a browser ISN’T included, how the hell are the people getting a new OS supposed to get a USEFUL browser like Firefox? Magic? Wishing really hard?
Yes, I thought about that. Microsoft would no doubt be required to build something in their OS install process to select a browser and download it automatically.

But if that were to fail, what would the user do?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://qando.net
I don’t know the specifics of the current EU case but back in the day when Microsoft was working to "cut off the air supply" to Netscape, and the DOJ was prosecuting MS for monopolistic practices, Microsoft didn’t just bundle IE with Windows, they integrated the IE code with the Windows code as a subterfuge to force computer manufacturers to have IE installed on their machines in violation of a 1994 consent decree

The details are involved — see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft.

Microsoft behaved with consistent arrogance, dishonesty, and bad faith. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve whatever they get from the EU.

Happily, due to their sloppy products, cutthroat practices, and inability to innovate, Microsoft is becoming a dinosaur that has less and less power to enforce its will on the computer world.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Oh, how I wish Microsoft would call their bluff and threaten to pull out.
...and watch their patents be declared null and void by the Eurocrats. All of the sudden it is open season on copying Windows on the continent. Unless Ballmer expects PEBO and the Democratic Congress to prosecute an open war at the WTO there is little that can be done to stop it. Microsoft has to play along here.
 
Written By: CR
URL: http://
I know the details, huxley, on that matter as well as other incidents such as the Stac Electronics case. Yes, Microsoft has sometimes behaved with extreme arrogance. They got slapped down hard over Stac, and you’ll find few people who believe that was not warranted.

They’ve also been victimized by clueless and arrogant lawyers and politicians. It’s not an accident that the ridiculous breakup order by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson was overturned. That’s prima facie evidence that the case you cite is not nearly as black and white as you apparently think it is.

I say this every time someone comes along and says Microsoft deserves what they get: You don’t get to be the biggest software company in the world by being a cartoon villian. They’ve obviously pleased a lot of people over the years, and out-competed a lot of market leaders such as Lotus, Wordperfect, and Novell. Anyone who thinks they won all those battles by nefarious means is flat out wrong.

Microsoft tried to do what libertarians would think proper in that they stayed out of the whole Washington lobbying scene. They found that you can’t do that; politicians require obeisance from the rest of the economy.

And that’s wrong. Microsoft’s behavior does not excuse shakedown operations on the part of the EU, or witch hunts by the Justice Department. If they commit crimes, fine, accuse them, show damages, and let them pay the price. But building functionality that users want isn’t a crime.

As you point out, they’re in danger of becoming an irrelevant dinosaur anyway. That indicates to me that the market sorts these things out, especially in the rapidly moving tech sector. Yet more reason idiot politicians need to be chastised for their rent-seeking, disingenuous behavior.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://qando.net
I know the details, huxley, on that matter as well as other incidents such as the Stac Electronics case. Yes, Microsoft has sometimes behaved with extreme arrogance. They got slapped down hard over Stac, and you’ll find few people who believe that was not warranted.
I have a friend that’s been at MS for a very long time, and he once said he was amazing they got away with it as long as they did...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
As you point out, they’re in danger of becoming an irrelevant dinosaur anyway.
I dunno. I’ve got a copy of the Windows 7 beta, and it’s pretty damn nice...

I wonder if Mozilla/Firefox would be interested in a partnership with MS? Bundle FF in alongside IE, and let the user decide...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://

I say this every time someone comes along and says Microsoft deserves what they get: You don’t get to be the biggest software company in the world by being a cartoon villian.
And let’s not forget that if Jobs hadn’t made some 100% stoopid decisions, Apple would’ve handed Bill his a$$ with a new orifice.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And let’s not forget that if Jobs hadn’t made some 100% stoopid decisions, Apple would’ve handed Bill his a$$ with a new orifice.
As it stands, MS might end up owning Apple again, if their stock keeps dropping due to Job’s health...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I say this every time someone comes along and says Microsoft deserves what they get: You don’t get to be the biggest software company in the world by being a cartoon villian.
I’m not sure if that’s still their practice after various suits, but it was at one time. They required every hardware manufacturer that sold one copy of Microsoft’s OS with a a PC to sell a copy with every PC.

When windows 3.0 came out, if you wrote Application Software that by official function calls only, your application was clunky and ran like ass. By the time windows 3.1 came out, Microsoft had no Volume Application Software competition to speak of.

Microsoft rolls IE into every copy of Windows making it an extra expense to consider using another commercial browser. Basically a business could use Netscape at extra cost. IE however automatically came with the OS anyway. And no, the programmer working on IE aren’t volunteering their time. The cost of IE is rolled into the cost of the OS. Attempting to make the internet experience proprietary to Windows via ActiveX for example was even ballsier.

That’s about as cartoon like as you can get without anvils dropping from the sky. They’ve been able to hide behind anti-competitive practices because the general public doesn’t have the technical grasp of what Microsoft’s practices have been.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Basically a business could use Netscape at extra cost.
How much does it cost to install Firefox on PCs? MS develops IE to keep it competitive, sure, but it’s hardly a core business. MS would probably save money if it paid Firefox, for example...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
"You don’t get to be the biggest software company in the world by being a cartoon villian. "
No, you get there by leveraging your near monopoly status as much as possible. Granted they didn’t start out a monopoly, but once the snowball started rolling, everything was in their favor.


"As it stands, MS might end up owning Apple again, if their stock keeps dropping due to Job’s health... "
Not a chance.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Wow. I never thought I’d see an issue where I agreed with huxley 100%. Microsoft was indded about as close to a cartoon villain as it could get.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://

 
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