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Rory Cellan-Jones

Bill v Brussels (Round Two)

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 14 Jan 08, 18:36 GMT

You thought Microsoft’s long war with competition regulators was over? Wrong! Brussels is marching into battle with Bill Gates’ business again, having won a stunning victory last September over two issues – the way it bundles software like Windows Media Player with the operating system, and interoperability with rival products.

The EU is taking those same two issues as the basis of a new investigation into Office, Outlook, and Internet Explorer, following complaints from Opera (the Norwegian web browser) and the European Committee for Interoperable Systems.

And Microsoft’s opponents aren’t underplaying what’s at stake. “It’s a case which might transform the whole software industry,” was how Thomas Vinje, a lawyer for ECIS , described it to me. ECIS is not just a bunch of bearded Scandinavian open-source dudes – its members include Nokia, Adobe, Sun and Real Networks, and they are confident that the EU can make the charges stick.

What’s the issue? The old one about Microsoft’s dominance crowding out rivals in both new and old areas of software. So you keep using Outlook because everyone else does – and if you try to use open-source software to schedule a meeting with a colleague whose calendar is on Outlook, it just won’t work.

This is also a battle over Microsoft’s desire to promote its Office Open XML file format for documents. Bill Gates and his colleagues see this as an open standard which will promote that very interoperability which the EU has been demanding – but ECIS describes it as “crafty game-playing”, designed to appear collaborative while shutting out rivals from the open-source movement.

Microsoft has released a bland statement promising to cooperate fully with the investigation. When I reached a senior executive who’s had a lengthy involvement with the regulatory battle he sounded weary.

“We’ve been in this for the past nine years,” he said. “We’d rather just focus on making good software.”

The trouble is, Microsoft’s rivals believe that this “good software" is designed to shore up its monopoly at a time when open-source operators are offering products that can be downloaded from the internet, often for nothing.

Time was when big corporations – especially American ones – laughed off the EU regulators as a minor irritant.

With Google, Apple and Microsoft all under the microscope in Brussels, they’re not laughing now.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 08:27 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Alison wrote:

Have the EU nothing better to do? They should put their own house in order rather than interfering with others.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not pro-microsoft. Yes, I'm happy with XP pro, even though I've tried Linux. Windows media player? I don't like it and I don't use it. Likewise Internet Explorer - I use Firefox. No-one is forcing anyone to use anything made by Microsoft. There's plenty of choice available. Of course the competition wants to stop Microsoft, who wouldn't? But to cry foul because Microsoft sells more software than them is crazy. They should get off their backsides and promote their products! When was the last time you saw Firefox advertise on TV? Never? Exactly! What motivation have they got to do so, when it's a lot easier and cheaper for them to run crying to the EU?

  • 2.
  • At 08:39 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Josh wrote:

Microsoft's only sin is making, marketing & selling products better than all of its competitors.

  • 3.
  • At 08:45 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • sam wrote:

ok, this is looking frankly ridiculous to me. ok, lets see. I have several non-Microsoft programs that work perfectly well, and don't actually see the problem with microsoft bundling other software into windows XP and vista. hell, for the prices they charge for vista, i'd EXPECT more than just an OS. 200 odd quid and they want us to juts get an OS? you're having a laugh.

  • 4.
  • At 08:52 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew Walker wrote:

Microsoft has already been proven in a U.S. court of having a monopoly, unfortunately the courts decided to take very little action to rectify this.
As for the statement that nobody is forcing anyone to use Windows, try purchasing a machine without it!
Any fine is a joke to Microsoft, they make more money in a day than any fine the EU could impose, dragging out court cases with appeal after appeal only costs the taxpayer and increases Microsoft's profits further.
Break Microsoft up, it is the only solution.

  • 5.
  • At 09:01 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Gav wrote:

"Office Open XML file format for documents. Bill Gates and his colleagues see this as an open standard which will promote that very interoperability which the EU has been demanding – but ECIS describes it as “crafty game-playing”, designed to appear collaborative while shutting out rivals from the open-source movement."

The format is openly published for anyone to use - anyone includes the open-source movement. So how is it shutting out rivals?

And as for Opera's whinging. It's just the dying words of a company whose product has never reached 3% of market whilst watching Firefox come after them and then take significant market share. The competition of Firefox is now making Microsoft improve Internet Explorer, firstly with v7, and next year with v8. That is what a competitive market does.

I'm glad this isn't going away. Microsoft's locked down software has given most of the computer using world (ie. everyone who doesn't care how it works, just that it does) a twisted mentality that computer software is some weird, magical, unfathomable thing that must be left to 'the experts' (ie. the kid next door who knows how to use BitTorrent to get software cracks). Thus people actually put up with this locked down rubbish, they think that a Playstation is a completely different thing to an XBox and to a PSP and to a GameCube and to a DS and to a PC (etc.) and thus the tetris and bomberman software they bought from a (platform-specific) online store for one obviously won't work on another, they think that computer programs with adverts in aren't obscenely offensive travesties because 'that's what the program is', they think that paying vast amounts of money for software is an understandable business model whilst waiting for their cracked copy to download (whilst also incorrectly thinking "Mwahahaha my actions are obviously destroying them!"), they think that copy protection systems are a physical law that obviously must exist (why the hell put up with region encryption on DVDs?!) and so on and so forth. Essentially all of the people who would bombard the BBC's Watchdog programme about a faulty washing machine let computer companies get away with offensive amounts of stuff, simply because they have been brought up to believe that computers are these magical, unknowable things unlike a washing machine which is a real, physical object capable of leaking over one's kitchen floor.

It's getting a bit ridiculous now, all of these 'Anti-Microsoft' campaigns going on.

Whether you love them or loathe them, Microsoft has a good OS and all theyre trying to do is protect their own business by creating further products that are useful within that OS (I.E and WMP). As someone has already mentioned, no one is being forced to use IE or any other piece of software, infact I use both IE and Firefox.

If all of these competitors of Microsoft put as much effort into promoting and improving their own products as they do complaining about Microsoft, it wouldnt be long before they had a larger user base.

  • 8.
  • At 09:05 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Arthur wrote:

What the eu does is essential for a healthy industry. Microsoft's abuse of its market dominance is a fact and the reason they complied to the latest ruling. Interoperability and true open standards are the only way to mature this industry and this is especially necessary now that everything in life is totally dependant on this kind of technology.
The 80's and 90's were the decades of the IT cowboys, let the 21st century be the era of IT civilisation.

  • 9.
  • At 09:11 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

Regards Andrew Walkers comment about buying a computer without Windows on it - its easy - try Dell for starters, you can order computers with Umbutu on them: http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/emea/segments/gen/client/en/ubuntu_landing?c=uk&l=en&s=dhs

  • 10.
  • At 09:12 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Nick McLean wrote:

I must agree with some of the other posters, if you don’t want Microsoft’s software don’t use them! There is plenty of other choices.
Here is the big secret to settle all this!! If you want IE use IE, if you want Opera, use Opera, if you want Firefox use Firefox, it really is that simple! You want something other than outlook then use something other than outlook!

I always find it interesting that the first government to insist on standards based computing was the USA. Lyndon Johnson's administration insisted on ASCII as the standard for relaying information between computers and peripherals.

That this was in 1969. The code written in 1969 is still readable today.

How many proprietary software products are fully supported from say the 1990's? Very few I would guess.

It is about time the EU insisted on properly defined standards for use within the EU.

  • 12.
  • At 09:21 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • foobar wrote:

Alison,

> No-one is forcing anyone to use anything made by Microsoft.

Not some*body*, but file formats do.

> There's plenty of choice available.

You've tried Linux. I've tried Linux, too. The biggest problem was that I had to switch from Microsoft Office to a different office suite with a different native file format. For a long time, I used Linux installed in parallel with my old Windows 98 with MS Office, using Windows for doing office stuff, Linux for everything else. Had I been a little less determined, I surely had removed Linux sooner or later. But finally, I completely switched to free and open source software.

That was a hard switch and I still run into problems when people send me their MS Office documents and ask me to modify them or to print them. Or when I prepare a presentation at home which I must show on a foreign Windows-only, MS-Office-only computer.

There's little interoperability in office suites; OOXML isn't likely to resolve this problem.

  • 13.
  • At 09:35 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Ricky Qvist wrote:

"Microsoft making better software than everybody else" - As a believer in free market forces and the generally high education in the western world it really baffles me reading the above comments. The 2-3 weekly updates from Microsoft really makes you think that they make better software than the rest? As for IE it's first now with the success of Firefox that Microsoft is making a program somewhat useable, imagine if Firefox wasn't around...We'd still have IE5..... It's true that Microsoft programs work well... but with their own family mainly. When it comes to letting other suppliers attach programs to their OS, MS is doing everything possible to postpone and batter the connection...
I remember years ago buying a Car born with a certain brand of stereo, crappy... What if I wouldn't be able to change it.. I would blame the car maker and even though the car was OK I wouldn't be satisfied... I think Microsoft is into the same problem... They won't let us individualize our OS and the bottom line of that - We just won't accept being treated as domesticated animals... we, humans cherish our differences.. and Microsoft (and other monopolies) have to take that into consideration designing their software... They have to let us choose the enduser look, just the way LINUX does...

  • 14.
  • At 09:37 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • foobar wrote:

Gav,

> The format [Microsoft's OOXML] is openly published for anyone to use

Being published and being usable is a different thing.

> So how is it shutting out rivals?

By being difficult or almost impossible to implement by anybody except Microsoft. Some criticism is to be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OOXML .

Compare, for example, the free office format ODF already standardized by ISO. Why doesn't Microsoft simply implement this file format?

  • 15.
  • At 09:39 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

Get a life European Commission, no ones forcing people to buy Microsoft, theres plenty of choice out there, people use whats best for them, and thats not always microsoft. If you don't like what microsoft give you they do have a good tool in control panel, Its called ADD OR REMOVE PROGRAMMES

Those of us watching the EU bureacrats from across the pond can only conclude that it fines Microsoft each year whatever amount the EU needs to make up for budget shortfalls. It is a great idea, something that we should consider here in the U.S., where instead we just let good companies make good products. In fact, we also let bad companies make bad products and let the market decide without trying to manage the economy the way you do in the EU.

In fact, the EU approach would also work wonders on a higher level: let's let Microsoft fund the incompetnet folks at the UN. Certainly there is no company emerging from the EU-managed economy successful enough to provide the funds.

  • 17.
  • At 09:45 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • David Murten wrote:

Is this the same EU whose auditors have not been able to balance the books for the last twelve years?
If they cannot prove by financial audits that they are squeaky clean then who are they to judge Microsoft?
Perhaps Bill G could loan them some of his bookkeepers who handle all his millions without 'losing' it.

  • 18.
  • At 09:58 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

I think that many of the people who have posted previous comments do not understand the point. "If you don't like Microsoft products, don't use them?" It's not about "like" or "dislike". The problem is, Microsoft knows the internal details of Windows, and knows how to make their software take advantage of those details. Yes, there are other products out there, but they don't (at least, traditionally haven't) had access to the same information. That makes competition much more difficult for third-party software vendors.

Beyond the internal Windows details, consider, as an example HTML, the underlying language used for web pages. Rather than using the existing open standards, Microsoft introduces small variations that are not compatible with other products. Their web page generation tools take advantage of thses variations. When you use a standards-compliant web browser (e.g., Firefox) the pages do not display correctly. This appears, to an uninformed user, as a "problem" with Firefox, when in fact the problem is with the non-standard HTML. This was one of the factors that lead to the demise of Netscape. The same problem exists for the Office suite of applications. People frequently do not use alternative products (e.g., OpenOffice) because of the perception that they have "errors", when in fact the document generated by Microsoft's product isn't standard's compliant.

Microsoft goes to great lengths to make it appear as though they support open standards. They want to maintain this perception to keep themselves out of trouble with regulatory agencies. At the same time, they actively do not support open standards in order to maintain their market share. I, for one, am glad to see that the EU sees this balancing act for what it is.

  • 19.
  • At 09:59 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Tony wrote:

Foobar: So YOU decide to use programs that are not compatable with file formats that you receive from others, and it's Microsofts fault? Maybe all those people that send you the files should change. No wait, they don't want to, so, maybe its YOU that's out of step? No can't be either. Ah, that's right, it must be Microsofts fault. What utter rubbish.
If you prepare presentations that you need to run on Windows machines, then, basically, it's up to YOU to make it happen. Don't blame others for your own foolishness in making the change. Why should Microsoft have to change their software to accomodate YOU? When over 80% of the other users are satisfied with what they are using.

As for Andrew Walkers assertion that you cannot buy a machine not running windows: Which country do you live in Andrew? Maybe you should ask foobar here, he seems to have managed it! If you still have problems try contacting an outlet. In any case, if it were true that you couldn't get such a machine, have you ever stood back and wondered why? Maybe the words "market forces" might ring a bell?

Microsoft might have a monopoly. Microsoft software might be buggy. Microsoft might not be everyones cup of tea, but there is one thing that you cannot deny; They are very successful and you'll never break them up, simply because they are successfull, something that a large number of european manufacturers appear to have forgotten how to be without hiding behind, or abusing the EU to fight their battles for them. So, just live with it.

  • 20.
  • At 10:02 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Gerard wrote:

To be honest, I do not think that the problem is a lack of choice, but a lack of imagination on the part of many consumers.

The university I work for insists on buying, and consequently upgrading, Microsoft products despite the fact that Linux, OpenOffice, and the Moodle learning environment cover nearly all of our requirements. This would be fine if we did not have to work on such a tight budget.

The alternatives are out there, yet I guess that somewhere along the line people got used to solving all of their problems with products from Redmond. 'Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft.'

Gerard

  • 21.
  • At 10:07 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Mark G. wrote:

Keep it up EU! Big Republican-backed corporations shouldn't be allowed to walk all over the rest of us :)

  • 22.
  • At 10:10 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Mike Edwards wrote:

Yes it is the old story - it hasn't gone away - Microsoft has a virtual monopoly on both the operating system market and on the office software market. Monopolies are BAD for the consumer - if ever you doubted that, go look at the prices for Microsoft products and compare with rival equivalents. Go look at the prices for software in truly competitive markets like games - also much lower.

There are many people posting here who clearly don't like the EU, but at least they've had the guts to tackle this problem. The authorities in the USA have simply wimped out and allowed MS to continue on their merry way.

At least on the internet, with search and mapping and similar services, we aren't all forced to use only one company's offerings - let's make sure it stays that way.

  • 23.
  • At 10:12 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Tony wrote:

foobar,

Why SHOULD MS implement ODF?

I fail to see the great problem here. The attack ads from Mac on PC here is the US, is about the same as the attacks the OS community have on MS, childish and driven by pure jealousy of a company that is successful in it's field. A success that the OS community will never enjoy until they can speak with one cohesive voice, and even then, they might not be as successful.
Why do they insist on using the EU to fight their battles? Why not just get the consumer not to buy MS products, because if they are as bad as you seem to imply, then either the world is full of morons buying crap software, or you are just not in the right game. Sorry

  • 24.
  • At 10:23 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

"Perhaps Bill G could loan them some of his bookkeepers who handle all his millions without 'losing' it."

...and perhaps Bill G could teach the EU to impose its ideas on citizens who have no alternative and cannot escape from the status quo.

Most hardware vendors provide just Windows pre-installed (some recent rare exceptions admittedly) which gives non-techy users no reason or even understanding that alternatives are available. By making Windows expensive to buy standalone MS knows that most users will opt for it pre-installed.

Proprietary formats and interfaces make it hard for alternatives to reach a tipping point of market share.

  • 25.
  • At 10:41 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • chuck wrote:

amazing how many employees of microsoft are writing to this place
I am using opera to write this.

  • 26.
  • At 10:48 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • CB wrote:

Having read the previous comments, I think quite a few people miss the point of the EU's actions.

First of all, the EU is not having a go at Microsoft for making 'good' or 'bad' software. It's not even investigating Microsoft because it's a monopoly. It's because Microsoft uses its monopoly to prevent traditional market forces kicking in.

Say, take that brilliant device, competition. Many people have said, 'Hey, I don't like IE, I'll use firefox." So, you install firefox. Now imagine that firefox didn't exist, because Microsoft blocked Mozilla from writing a program like that. Well, fine by them, they control the Operating system, we'll just use linux instead. It's a slippery slope - if you let microsoft get away with some practices - say blocking more choice by giving their product a head start - you'll end up with them doing worse. It's not too hard to envisage a scenario where if you used Windows, you could only use office, windows media player, IE etc.

The regulators aren't trying to discriminate against Microsoft - they're just providing a level playing field for all.

Secondly, these problems aren't exactly new topics that the EU has decided are a problem. These issues have existed for a long time, and I'm a bit sorry it took the EU this long to get on with the task of tackling the corporate giant that is Microsoft. It would seem that actually, the EU couldn't do very much, until its recent legal successes. Based on this, it can do more to tackle the unfair advantage that Microsoft has.

To be short, it is unrealistic to assume that we can break the Microsoft monopoly through buying a different product, or using a different tool - not having Windows on one PC is just not realistic in this day and age, the same goes for Office. It is down to the regulators to do this for us. I can only hope the EU doesn't stop with Microsoft.

  • 27.
  • At 10:54 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

I use a mix - XP but with predominantly open-source applicatons. What I object to - and it is a proxy for the problem - is being forced to do things the MS way.

Take a small example: I generaly use Thunderbird for mail, but in one of my userspaces I use OE. When opening an WP attachment in T-Bird I can go for the default (which *I* have set, not the program supplier) or I can choose to use an alternative. OE uses the MS product whether I like it or not. As I don't have Word, that's the Word Viewer. How do I edit the attachment? I have to save it, find it, open it where *I* want...

If that's making things easy, then what's difficult? That's interoperability? No way, Jose.

ODF was selected by ISO as the global standard. MS tried to have OOXML adopted as a 'second standard' - an interesting oxymoron. Despite what is reported to be some 'stuffing of the ballot box' the proposal was lost on the vote.

End of story.

Why should MS implement ODF? Because it is the ISO, that's why. ISOs are written by users for users, and not imposed by commercial organisations for their own benefit.

PS I believe MS was a contrubutor to the ODF development team. If so, is that not a better way to ensure a standard works?

  • 28.
  • At 10:58 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • KarlB wrote:

Opera is fast becoming the new SCO.

Proprietary formats cannot be 'made' public or open-source.

They are intellectual property.

If you support government sponsored theft, then yes, you would support Opera's complaints to the EU.

What Opera is doing is hurting the shareholders of Microsoft stock by lowering their ROI.

So, a big 'go to hell' Opera. Once the quirky and interesting software company, but now no better than SCO.

  • 29.
  • At 11:02 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • C.Ecker wrote:

Fact is, if Microsoft were making *GOOD SOFTWARE*, then no one would complain and they would willingly hand over cash for it. They *DO NOT* make good software, they don't even make fair software. M$ makes using the Internet a minefield. Add to the bad software their monopoly leverage forcing people to buy it at ridiculous retail prices (or 1/100th retail if you live in China) and you get the frustration levels high and all the investigations into illegal monopoly that Microsoft earns.

  • 30.
  • At 11:04 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • B.HOLLIS wrote:

Whatever your point of view as to whether to emphasize the benefits or drawbacks of an operatng system that has a virtual monopoly, as far as I can tell that monopolistic position has been earned, fairly, and with the consent of the enduser. The eu comission has a monopoly on the relevant laws and their enforcement, though few (I presume) eu citizens in this case would openly sanction their actions (as they stand to benefit) , though most (I presume again) would admit that it does not create a comfortable state of affairs (Microsoft are not obliged to sell their products in Europe either,if they do not like the rules, but having the rules changed as you go along is very different) . Maybe Microsoft should be compensated by the EU for the losses that they will incur (within the calculable), and therafter all software from all makes should be obliged to be openly interoperable (oversimplified, but along those lines). We could even have a new EU (Ultrasoft ?) Ministry created to oversee the transition.

The beauty of the GNU/Linux system lies in collaboration. Individuals, groups, companies and nations working together. They draw on the Commons of the husge code base, extend and modify it to meet their own needs and put their new code back for anyone to use. This benefits everyone except those who want to profit from hiding code, patenting anything it can get past the Patent Offices, hiding essential functionality from competitors, creating new file definitions every few years with closed standards, browbeating and bribing their way to become the biggest monopoly the world has ever seen.

Do users of Windows realize they need 3x the resources of others and create file sizes many more times larger? Do they understand that the OS and programmes have such gaping holes in that are exploited by the Russian mafia amongst others?

Do they know about the high quality of GNU/Linux modular programmes and the existence of real open standards which the Windows people (including much non-MS proprietary software) ignore?

I believe the answers to the last 2 question groups are "NO". Ignorance and safety in numbers are amongst the prime factors.

As it is not a level playing field, in order to enable real competition, it can take a Government to cry "foul" since the money stakes are so high, (in this case the EU, rather than any one smaller Government). Reports have shown how reliance on MS has stifled European IT and business development given the restricted IT MS has to offer. Let's have real competition.

  • 32.
  • At 11:11 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • IT manager wrote:

Microsoft naturally pulls every dirty trick in the book to minimize choice for the consumer, and thus keep software revenues as high as possible. It's their managements duty to the shareholders, not just an evil intent.

Dirty trick 1: At Comet, Dixon's, Curry's, PC World, Mesh,...you CANNOT by a PC without purchasing a new shiny fresh Windows OS license. True choice allows me to use a previously purchased Windows OS, or Linux or FreeBSD WITHOUT paying the so called Microsoft tax. That is why you typically get a preinstalled Windows OS and a recovery CD rather than full installation media. Cannot allow consumers a way out of the monopoly.

Dirty Trick 2: The constant and unnecessary changes in Office file formats are an effective tool to keep the reluctant masses from using the old version of the software. MS OOXML is just the latest incarnation of this ploy.

Wake up now, smell the coffee, and embrace freedom. Freedom in terms of cost, and freedom to operate (or free speech) that open source licenses offer. This is so much better than the restrictions of the End User License Agreement (EULA). Under the EULA it is rather like you do not own the car you paid for, you can just drive it as long as we say. You cannot look under the hood, spanners are banned. There is no mechanics manual for you, just selected highlights for our trusted 'partners'. Because we keep changing the fuel type you will have 'problems' if you try to fill up at non MS gas stations - stupid customer.

If you don't realize you are being duped it just shows how market dominance alters the perception of 'normal', rather like smoking was once the market norm but is now seen as harmful. Just don't encourage school age kids to take up the harmful habit I say.

Maybe one day you can quit.

Regards

IT manager.

I don't get the big fuss. Anyone can download open source softwareif they really want to. the thing I think is, if they didn't package Internet Explorer into(and as part of) their operating system then how is the user going to download the software in the first place.

Internet Explorer is built into Windows. It's part of it and they aren't going to change that or it won't really be feature complete.

A lot of people who buy a new computer(as I havE) know that there is iTunes and know about Firefox and usually don't use the microsoft proucts. When I bought my laptop, the only reason I used internet explorer was so I could go on to download firefox.

  • 34.
  • At 11:53 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • CB wrote:

Having read the previous comments, I think quite a few people miss the point of the EU's actions.

First of all, the EU is not having a go at Microsoft for making 'good' or 'bad' software. It's not even investigating Microsoft because it's a monopoly. It's because Microsoft uses its monopoly to prevent traditional market forces kicking in.

Say, take that brilliant device, competition. Many people have said, 'Hey, I don't like IE, I'll use firefox." So, you install firefox. Now imagine that firefox didn't exist, because Microsoft blocked Mozilla from writing a program like that. Well, fine by them, they control the Operating system, we'll just use linux instead. It's a slippery slope - if you let microsoft get away with some practices - say blocking more choice by giving their product a head start - you'll end up with them doing worse. It's not too hard to envisage a scenario where if you used Windows, you could only use office, windows media player, IE etc.

The regulators aren't trying to discriminate against Microsoft - they're just providing a level playing field for all.

Secondly, these problems aren't exactly new topics that the EU has decided are a problem. These issues have existed for a long time, and I'm a bit sorry it took the EU this long to get on with the task of tackling the corporate giant that is Microsoft. It would seem that actually, the EU couldn't do very much, until its recent legal successes. Based on this, it can do more to tackle the unfair advantage that Microsoft has.

To be short, it is unrealistic to assume that we can break the Microsoft monopoly through buying a different product, or using a different tool - not having Windows on one PC is just not realistic in this day and age, the same goes for Office. It is down to the regulators to do this for us. I can only hope the EU doesn't stop with Microsoft.

  • 35.
  • At 12:06 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • paul wrote:

"The competition of Firefox is now making Microsoft improve Internet Explorer, firstly with v7, and next year with v8."

You've got to be joking. An improvement? Does it work on Macs. no. Does it work on Linux. no. Sun, BSD, anything other than an XP or Vista machine. no. Is it standards compliant - kind of. Do I use it. no.
Can you uninstall it. no.
Do all new Windows computers come with it. Yes.

End of story.

  • 36.
  • At 12:37 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • passerby wrote:

What nonsense, Mr IT Manager

> True choice allows me to use a
> previously purchased Windows OS,

You have that choice if you actually buy Windows from Microsoft. If you get the cheapest cheap option from a PC maker, it's tied to the hardware, and comes with a load of non-Microsoft junk, but you pay very little for it. In other words, it's the option driven by market forces.

> Dirty Trick 2: The constant and
> unnecessary changes in Office file
> formats are an effective tool to
> keep the reluctant masses from
> using the old version of the
> software.

The file format has been pretty stable for a decade, and you can download a free add-on from Microsoft that lets the last three versions of Office read and write the new formats. But then, it's also obvious that your claim is false because hundreds of millions of people DO use old versions of Office.

> MS OOXML is just the latest
> incarnation of this ploy.

OOXML is open by EU standards, and ratified as a standard by a European organisation, ECMA. It has already been adopted by Apple (in Leopard, iWorks 08 and iPhone) and is being implemented by other companies. That's why IBM is campaigning against it, and pulling the EU's strings via ECIS.

Most big IT managers have been IBM patsies for decades, paying through the nose for mostly mediocre products. Perhaps you should convert some more of your colleagues!

  • 37.
  • At 12:43 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gareth Morgan wrote:

""Office Open XML file format for documents. Bill Gates and his colleagues see this as an open standard which will promote that very interoperability which the EU has been demanding – but ECIS describes it as “crafty game-playing”, designed to appear collaborative while shutting out rivals from the open-source movement."

The format is openly published for anyone to use - anyone includes the open-source movement. So how is it shutting out rivals?"

Because half the standard is missing (there are continual references to external standards that are proprietary) and half the publish standard is vague. Finally the parts that aren't either secret or vague are technically inferior to other standards.

I don't mind MS pushing their own standard but call it what it is. A semi-open standard with more than enough incompatibilities to stop reimplementation. The only thing MS have achieved with OOXML is showing the world just how poor they can be at designing software.

  • 38.
  • At 12:52 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • John Campbell wrote:

1. Microsoft do make some excellent software applications, but try linking them to non-Microsoft products.

2. Yes, you can use browsers other than Internet Explorer, but Microsoft will NOT allow you to access their update and security sites if you do.

3. Microsoft's Office Open File Formats are not open-source, and don't even work with any of Microsoft's older products unless a conversion software is loaded. Sun have a better solution and have released an open-source file plug-in for Microsoft Office.

Personally I have the best of both worlds: I have an image of my hard-drive with Microsoft products loaded, and another image with open-source software installed. The open-source version is the better performer, but there are time when I need to use Microsoft products to link with other users - and that is why everyone that I know is either complaining about Microsoft or changing to Unix (Mac or Linux). Would Microsoft not be better joining the rest of the IT world instead of fighting it?

  • 39.
  • At 01:21 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • FresnoBob wrote:

“We’ve been in this for the past nine years,” he said. “We’d rather just focus on making good software.”

Microsoft does not make good software. This is one reason their monopoly is so very noxious.

"They should get off their backsides and promote their products!"

Microsoft did not achieve their monopoly through competition, better quality, or better price. They achieved it through exclusive agreements with hardware manufacturers. No ordinary computer user ever chose to buy Windows. It comes with your Dell, your Toshiba, whichever Intel machine you buy. The decision was made by corporate executives, not consumers.

And if the machine comes with applications like Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer then the ordinary person is not very likely to look at alternatives.

And if the browser application is so tightly integrated into the operating system then it becomes difficult to use any other browser.

Microsoft has a monopoly on consumer computers and it has been detrimental to the development of quality software.

  • 40.
  • At 02:02 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Tony Robinson wrote:

The "EU" is trying to impose its constitution on the UK even though we were promised a referendum and about 80% want a referendum and about 70% want to vote NO. The "EU" is a far greater threat to the UK, Europe and the world than Microsoft. I would rather fight shoulder to shoulder with Microsoft than support the "EU" even if Microsoft is in the wrong.

I am a vegetarian. I refuse to share a cell. I refuse to work in prison.

  • 41.
  • At 02:14 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Tony Robinson wrote:

Microsoft should start funding anti-"EU" organisations.

  • 42.
  • At 02:43 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

firstly ld be interested in seeing the IPs of the first few posters.. lve run similar debates elsewhere and users who predominantly bashed the fact that someone was doing something about the monopoly were from the US.

as for the subject of everything else, if their software didn't need patches 3 or 4 times a month l would be happy with it, and if my work didn't require it l wouldn't touch MS office with a barge pole.

another note would be that our choices are limited.. why? because every time someone tries something different there's a lawsuit about code usage, if MS software didn't always need patching it would be great especially if they shipped it out to us as a "full product".

the last point is the fact MS is about the easiest to use, l would never subject a new user to linux not unless l wanted to scare them away from computers for the rest of their life.. as for MAC well don't get me started, they arnt a monopoly and their stuff is expensive but its not as user friendly as its counterpart we are forced to live with, yes there are options but l don't have time for them and sadly that leaves me with the lesser of two evils.. then again that kind of sounds weird putting it that way.

  • 43.
  • At 02:46 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • UM wrote:

This is a very old issue, indeed. Today, almost any hardware component that is in our computers has to go through certain tests and be approved by a few standards bodies: electromagnetic compatibility, ISO, etc.

The problem with software is that there is no such thing as universally accepted standards. OK there are some, but who cares? The problem is exactly here, no one cares about the standards, and big companies try to push their own proprietary APIs as standards.

If such strict rules and regulations are enforced in the PC hardware, why not enforce them in the OS level as well? What's so special about Windows that it can do whatever it wants?

Surely, such a blatant ignorance of standards would not be allowed in any other industry.

  • 44.
  • At 03:21 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew Norris wrote:

The EU are totally right to try and nail MS. It's so easy to stop bundling their software with it - yet why don't they? Just think about that. They have been repeatedly told to stop bundling the same software with Windows for year after year - and yet they carry on? It's such an easy thing for them to do. And while many of us in the UK may not like the the EU much, they are not stupid, they can smell when MS is out to make a buck from our toil and sweat. Why let this big corporation run amuck over us and literally make fools of us? The only ones who can stand up to them is the EU. So in this case, let's be on the side of them. In the US they have tried but politics got in the way for them to be fined in the way they deserved to be. As if they are a small boy in the class being bullied. As it.

Fact is, most users don't read or care about this story much at all. They just use what is there - get used to it - and keep using it. That's why it's so unfair. And that's why MS keep on bundling. And the EU knows this. Don't they just. Answer us MS supporters! And give people the choice over what to install! That's all they have to do...

Finally, I cannot close this argument without commenting on a terribly uninformed post above. It's funny (to me at least) that someone actually said "leave them alone" they produce good operating systems. Vista cost 10 billion to develop - and for what exactly? How small or useful is that? They spend mega bucks on advertising to make them look nibble and slick. they Vista is nothing more than a bit of a visual makeover by a dinosaur company that is slow to move and lacks true creativity. That gets beaten by the likes of small innovative companies like Nintendo, Apple, and Mozilla (Firefox and Thunderbird). What a waste of the Worlds' resources are they? It's not just me. Most of the computer industry, inc. PC World have said it was a failure that stunted sales of new PCs. 10 billion in the bin then. Yet they live on, keep on getting that $100 or so on each new PC sold. It's a scandal. Who else could get away with it?

  • 45.
  • At 03:40 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gaurav wrote:

I would like to see Apple get their arse sued off for exactly the same "open-ness" and "fairness" arguements that the fanatics present here.

Compete, or die!

  • 46.
  • At 03:42 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • GS wrote:


Mozilla foundation has nothing to show off beyond a browser and an email client - whose marketshare is less than 20%. They claim to represent the entire humanity whereas they are nothing but a bunch of commies.

  • 47.
  • At 04:31 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Denis wrote:

The only good thing I have to say about Microsoft is that their Windows XP seems to be the best O/S so far. I use OpenOffice, have Firefox, use Sunbird, play media on Winamp & VLC media player. The fact that Microsoft have brought out their OOXML is simply making things worse, not for themselves, but for the consumer. Open source software is just that, 'open'! When I bought my PC it came without Microsoft Office, and I was shocked at this, because I had never heard of open source before, now I use it all the time. Microsofts' dominence needs to be slashed.

  • 48.
  • At 05:12 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Seán wrote:

It's not MS as such, it's americanism is the problem, and the lack of rights of the individual in the US. The poor saps in MS assume the world is just another state of their benighted country and try to operate in the same ethics free manner. Any attempt to enforce reasonable behaviour is quaintly perceived as "communism" which they cannot differentiate from socialism or decency.

The problem is endemic as they still operate in a feudal society where the workers are owned by the corporations. They are expected to give exclusive loyalty to their boss and give no consideration to ethics or society. This is why there are so many false accounting scandals and deliberate ploys to undermine regulatory bodies and the law of the land.

  • 49.
  • At 05:21 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Patrick wrote:

I read/wrote this on a mac running osx 10.5 leopard and safari. Yes it just as closed as microsh*t is, nevertheless, its a vastly better product. It's the result of competition.

Competition is an amazing thing. Nothing drives innovation quite like having to compete for your very survival. Microsh*t closing off windows effectively says that you accept the belief that nobody is capable of doing any better to interact with the world out there then microsh*t itself. They can do it all better than anybody else- not likely I'm afraid. I find that VERY hard to believe. Being the best at everything is impossible. Rather you do the best at what you do best- which should be your core business- and let others supplement that with what they do best. The whole notion of trade is built upon this premise.

One of the hardest things to do is to get consumers to try a new product when they think their old one is okay (grudingly). Most people seemingly aren't aware of the alternatives and how to get around the virtual monopoly that microsh*t has. Funny, when you show people OSX and let them use it for a time, how quickly they can do things and how much they like it. Unfortunately, most people accept what is, despite the lack of competition having delivered anything that is overly great (Vista is a perfect example). With the rise of Apple again, maybe that'll change and we'll see more products that are are the level they should be, not the mediocre crap microsh*t offers (microsh*t tried to copy OSX tiger and call it Vista but it failed...) Look at mp3 players and phones -> ruthless competition seriously pushes things and so we benefit!

So, sometimes it the role of government to intervene and ensure the market is functioning in the best interests of the consumer, not the companies competing in it. Unfortunately the US seems to think that what's best for business is best for consumers, since business gives people jobs. This notion seems to perpetuate the dynamic where 10% of people end up with 90% of the wealth. Market fairness is a long way from communism. Yes, markets do need some regulation and adjustment from time to time, so this action by the EU is a necessary one. While it seems unfair that you get punished for being the most successful at what you do, a market based economy functions on the premise of free trade, not monopoly. This is a market failure. Thus the market giveth success and the government intervenes to ensure that others have the same opportunity. Fairness rules!

  • 50.
  • At 05:51 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • william wrote:

Go EU!

This is indeed the same "old story" of Microsoft's nasty business practices. This is not about "good or bad" software - though whenever I hear Bill Gates or Steve Balmer banging on about their need to "innovate" it makes me want to puke. They have never developed anything original, they bought (DOS) or stole (Windows)practically everything they they sell.

No, it's about Microsoft's unwillingness to honestly compete - they are and always have been business bullies. No one on this blog seems to remember that there were two US Justice department orders that MS repeatedly violated which resulted in a US anti-trust suit. The suit was dropped by the Bush administration and we know about Bush's clean and honest judgement of facts, don't we?

  • 51.
  • At 07:39 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Markola wrote:

Alison wrote:
"They should get off their backsides and promote their products! When was the last time you saw Firefox advertise on TV?"

Should Mozilla charge exorbitant prices for Firefox & Thunderbird to pay for this advertising?

These two great products; both far superior to their Microsoft equivalents; along with all add-ons; are completely free!

  • 52.
  • At 08:08 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • David Cooper wrote:

Good grief, what a lot of venom over something so ridiculous.

The real issue is that computer USERS have changed significantly in recent years. Computers are no longer the domain of geeks like me, who want to monkey around, test out different software and find new and exciting ways to do the same boring old tasks.

Now, people want to take their machine home, get it out of the box, plug it in and start to use it. That means that the standard install of the operating system NEEDS to have a media player, web browser etc. available right from the off. After all, you can't download open source stuff from the web if your OS doesn't come with a browser installed to begin with, can you?

Microsoft made a choice, to use the internet explorer engine within Windows to run its own file management, search etc. therefore it makes sense that IE should be part of the Windows package.

And how can it be classed as a FREE market, if regulators are going to start to dictate what companies can and cannot include in their products.

Sure, you can argue that MS shouldn't be allowed to INSIST that PC vendors install Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer at the expense of the alternatives, and they should have a choice, but I was under the impression that this was already being/had already been dealt with by the EU and others.

Word already supports a standards compatible file format that has been around for years, called Rich Text Format, and I use it copiously. OpenOffice also does an extremely good job with files produced in most versions of Office.

Having said all that, at the end of the day one thing is clear from my experience of PC users ... they just don't care. As long as their PC works when they set it up, that's all that's important.

  • 53.
  • At 08:14 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Stewart wrote:

So the European Commision are looking at why Microsoft incorporates their own software within their own software? If they are doing this, why don't they look at why Apple does it too? Does Apple promote anything other than safari?

If you have a problem with using Internet Explorer and want to use firefox or Opera or anything else, you can. Microsoft do not stop you doing this.

If they stopped you being able to use anything other than their own software then there should be an investigation but they don't. This investigation is because companies that don't do as much as they should on advertising feel that someone bigger than them is doing better.

  • 54.
  • At 08:38 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Tom Mann wrote:

To all the people above saying that OOXML is open...

OOXML has been found to contain Windows-only binary code inside it (this code actually has been flagged as a security flaw). What is it? It's the printer settings - stored in Windows dump format. Where is the tailoring for other operating systems? That's just one reason why OOXML isn't truly open.

  • 55.
  • At 08:42 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Trevor wrote:

As a user of the new Microsoft OS called Vista which is claimed to be vastly superior I have a number of questions.
1. Why does the system keep falling over? 2. Why does the system reject peripherals that are designed to work with it? 3. Why are there so many problems with software designed pre Vista or the software is incapable of operating on Vista? 4. Why are Microsoft beta testing a service pack for Vista already?
I think Vista was introduced to give Microsoft an advantage in the marketplace by forcing everyone that has become reliant on their products to upgrade. With the size of their position in the marketplace they are dominant and use that dominance to force users to upgrade i.e. spend more money. That is abuse of monopoly and it is of far more danger to the user than many perceive. What happens if there is little or no competion is that prices go up. Anyone looked at the prices of the new Microft Office products? Well done EU, keep up the pressure.

  • 56.
  • At 08:53 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gary wrote:

This is turning into a mess IMO. Microsoft may be guilty of lockign down certain products and making it hard for other developers etc but as far as I know thats "business" isnt it?

Microsoft are guilty of many things and apparently being a successful company is one of them.

Ive been using PC's for over 10 years and I never buy pre built systems. i alays build my own and install stuff myself. But in the market today I am very much in the minority with that. PC's are no longer for so called geeks or enthusiasts, the so called normal people now want them as well.
With the majority of these so called normal people not having the foggiest idea on how to even use a computer they dont want to have an empty shell where they have to then insall an OS themselves, then install a web browser seperately then a media player and then an email client etc etc.
They want everything there ready to go and Windows wether you like it or hate it does exactly that. And its exactly like the majority of people have said. You dont NEED to use explorer, you dont NEED to use WMP or Outlook.

I certainly dont use them, but for the majority of people who want to switch on and start straight away Microsoft gives them exactly what they want.

Microsoft are a business, and will carry on acting like a business. It is not in their long term interests to allow competitors to openly interact with Microsoft software, unless its on Microsoft's terms.

As an IT contractor of some 10 years I have benefited greatly from Microsoft technologies, but they have played this game ever since I can remember, taking Internationally agreed standards on non-Microsoft technologies like CSS and given it their own 'interpretation', making a common approach impossible. This is at the heart of Opera's action.

  • 58.
  • At 09:27 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Simon Parmenter wrote:

If there was effective competition for operating systems then buying a PC at a retail outlet such as PC World would have the shop staff asking the buyer of a PC what operating system would they like to have installed on it.

A part-way solution would be to introduce regulation preventing the selling of a PC without a 'retail' installation CD/DVD of the OS, one that is purchased as an individual item.

Whatever they do will be 15 years too late. Microsoft has already set back personal computing by at least two generations - and now that the limitations of their software are being reached, we are paying for their brand of "innovation" with forced upgrades to products like Vista. The only hope is to split Microsoft into multiple competing companies.

  • 60.
  • At 09:35 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Pete Cook wrote:

Of course all the competitors make totally bug free software don't they, that also works with everyone else's applications.

Actually, no they don't despite what the Linux zealots will have you believe. I work with both MS and Linux based PCs and servers. Yes it is more convenient to use MS software, because usually there is greater support and training available for it, but Linux and other open source software also have a role to play as many of their applications allow many of us to do things much cheaper than it would be using proprietary software.

But I'm in a fortunate position. I remember having to issue instructions to a computer using nothing more than the command line. Today's users probably have never even used a command shell. Imagine what they might do if they were suddenly told to install and configure a Linux box! Yes it has gotten easier over the last few years, but it still takes a certain amount of knowledge and experience to be able to do things with that box. At least with MS software, the system is usually set up and able to use very quickly.

And back to the bug free thing. XP has two patches this month. Look at the security advisories for Debian's distro, one of the most stable Linux distros out there. There have been 21 patches or updates already this year!

Lets face it. If there were no big companies like MS and Adobe et al doing the research and the development of their software, there'd be fewer open source alternatives to use, because no one would believe that they could do it better!

  • 61.
  • At 09:39 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Darren wrote:

There was a comment earlier about using Add/Remove Program option in Windows.

Try to remove Windows Media Player using this tool. Try to delete the program file from your windows folder.

I'll re-mortgage my house and pay you the balance if you can.

I'm no techie, but I know my way around an OS, and I cannot find any way of removing this program.

If I want to put an new stereo/steering wheel/seat etc., in my car, I take out the one it came with and put in a new one.

  • 62.
  • At 09:41 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gareth Williams wrote:

Yeh Microsoft have a monopoly, this is no hiden fact. Its been this way for many, many years.

However in reality what other option is there? I am a big PC gamer and spend a lot of money making sure my PC is up to date for the latest games. Do I change to a mac and find my catalogue of available games suddenly drops, and those games that are available are more expensive?

Do I start using Linux and find there are NO games for my OS?

There is very little point in sitting there having a good old whinge that Microsoft have a monopoly when in relaity there is nothing else out there that could rival them?

If another company invented an OS that was as easy to use and as compatible with software/hardware as Windows is then I will be the first one to use it. Until then I will stick with Microsoft because it does what I want from my PC, and despite what many other people seem to think it generally does it well.

  • 63.
  • At 09:42 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Royston Carter wrote:

One often sees people on either side of this argument trying to argue the merits or otherwise of their preferred technology. The issue is not however a technological one. I use XP for business and I would agree that it is a good OS that serves its purpose. Would it not however be even better and cheaper if Microsoft had 25% of the market rather than 90%? No one but the vendor can truly benefit from this degree of dominance. Imagine the cost and choice of food if we only had an ASDA without a TESCO in competition!

  • 64.
  • At 09:59 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gareth Williams wrote:

What also amuses me is no other company is ever bought to light over similar things.

Noone ever complains about Safari being bundled with OSX, or iTunes being mandatery if you want to use an iPod, or trailers on the Apple website only being available in Quicktime.

Its not just Microsoft that does this sort of thing, they all do it.

  • 65.
  • At 10:02 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

Microsoft are not some evil entity, but rather have a responsibility to their shareholders to attempt to control and manipulate the market to their advantage. Then the regulatory bodies (like governments and ISO, etc) have a responsibility to try and ensure that the market remains fair and competitive, so as to facilitate its successful operation. In this context both MS and the EU are doing what they should be doing.

The problem is that both in the past and the present (and no doubt the future too) many regulatory bodies have, for whatever reason, failed to meet their responsibilities to ensure fair competition, hence why MS have managed to develop an almost complete monopoly in several sectors. This monopoly harms not only others who attempt to compete but also the user, which includes not only individuals like myself, but also businesses (and so the wider market) who are forced to rely on product which is not all it should be.

Its my belief that this and more action like it, will help to open up the market to greater competition which will not only see more choice but will force an improvement in the quality of the products Microsoft release.

The main issue is Microsoft's locked down and secret standards and systems. The definition of OpenXML (their standard for Office 2007 documents) which is supposed to be open source is full of US default formats - dates held as mm/dd/yyyy etc. This means in the UK we have difficulty - let alone what happens in the EU.
The other main problem is the fact that Windows - whatever version - is based ultimately on a home based system. As a result data and code are accessible and writeable (allowing viruses) by data overruns etc. This is an architectural flaw.
If Microsoft spent a fraction of its revenue in solving these architectural issues and , for example, ensuring an infallible method of detecting spam, then I would support them. However they're only interested in money. Functionally what is the difference between Office 95, 97, 2000, XP, 2003, 2007?

  • 67.
  • At 10:05 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Alan wrote:

"Microsoft's only sin is making, marketing & selling products better than all of its competitors." - this one made me laugh out loud. Either this person works for Microsoft or has very little computing experience. No wonder Microsoft is so popular when naive people like this continue to buy their shoddy software - unaware that there are far superior products available.

  • 68.
  • At 10:08 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Paul O'Brien wrote:

In the end, Microsoft make better PC tools than anybody else. The fact is the so-called free alternatives are just inferior. The much-vaunted Linux is based on an ancient OS, Unix. Back in the day, we used to host all our applications on Unix because it was better than Windows, Now it isn't, and neither is Linux. Tried Firefox, Opera, Mozilla, even Safari. Why bother, IE7 is much better. Unless and until a completely new paradigm comes into existence to interact with PCs, Microsoft do it well enough. So you have to pay for it ? Newsflash : making large, complex software needs time and expertise, and time and expertise are money! I bet all you whingers would sing a different tune if your cash cow was supplanted by a free alternative!

  • 69.
  • At 10:10 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Pete Cook wrote:

For Darren, who claimed to sell his house if you can remove Media Player...

Use a utility called XPLite from LitePC Technologies. It will remove Media Player and a number of other embedded MS applications and settings from your XP installation.

I trust the cheque will be in the post....

  • 70.
  • At 10:11 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Roger Levy wrote:

In my opinion, EU has it wrong, they don't need to investigate the interoperability of applications, they need to investigate the interoperability of Microsoft's programming interfaces.

Microsoft's highest goal is to control the means of production, not to make their applications incompatible or "play fair". Compatibility sells!

Direct3D, COM, .NET, the Office XML format, C#, all of these things were intended to make proprietary under a central authority things that can be used to control what you can and cannot do with a computer. Part of the way that Microsoft does this is by continuing to heap layer upon layer of abstraction which only the most committed programmers actually have the ability to use. This effectively limits creativity, and therefore competition.

The danger in Microsoft is that it locks developers into a box. The key to understanding is to recognize that software development is only possible to do with software. Therefore it follows that if a monopoly's software deliberately limits what is possible, they are effectively stifling competition.

  • 71.
  • At 10:13 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

What's with the anti-Microsoft rants? They spend billions producing a whole raft of relatively easy-to-use software and people complain that they protect their intellectual property by making it closed source. Where is Apple's eneterprise-level mail server software offering? Oh, they don't do one. Enterprise database engine? Oh, they don't do one.
Sure, their products are buggy. But they're only targeted by hackers because 90% of the world use them. The more Firefox gains popularity, the more attacks we'll see. Use Firefox - Windows Updates still works.
You want more options on a new PC re operating systems/media players/browsers? More complexity in the build process will mean higher costs.
Why aren't the EU threatening Apple over the completely closed iPod and iPhone? They are hardly competitive are they? You can only get your songs from one source and your phone only connects to one network.

  • 72.
  • At 10:19 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • mike wrote:

well done to the EU for sticking it to microsoft! ive been using ubuntus gutsy gibbon since november and its absolutely brilliant. the only trouble ive had with my computer since october has been XP (both on its own and during dual booting) randomly locking up and generally being a jerk and companies like secuROM dont help things by refusing to allow their products to run on emulators (baring in mind that i could torrent the program on the cd and get it for free instead of paying and getting hassle for it).

  • 73.
  • At 10:21 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

"If another company invented an OS that was as easy to use and as compatible with software/hardware as Windows is then I will be the first one to use it."

Two things, firstly define easy to use. Windows may be a good solution for a non-"techie" with no one around to help them. I however find that it is considerably more difficult to use for my purposes than Linux as it lacks certain tools I require and deliberately obfuscates and conceals many of its features to prevent an uniformed user damaging something, which is VERY frustrating if you do know what you are up to.

Secondly it is not the fault of other OSs that they lack the same compatibility as windows. MS has an effective monopoly and so can and does effectively force what amounts to exclusivity arrangements on many hardware manufacturers. As for the software, the problem here, especially with games, is the frequent use of closed source libraries such as directx. Again Microsoft's monopolistic status makes the use of such libraries a practical necessity for most developers. Though all is not lost here id release Mac & unix versions of all their games, there is a thriving open-source games community and projects such as WINE attempt to bridge the gap that remains by trying to provide the functionality that is expected to be provided by closed source windows libraries

  • 74.
  • At 10:27 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • sally marshall wrote:

I am amazed by the number of people who don't see the problem. I can only assume that they are technically illiterate computer users who have never tried to do anything beyond sending emails to their friends and typing the occasional letter. Oh yes, if you used Office 97 to write your letter you probably won't be able to open your old documents since the last patch (which your computer will have done automatically without telling you) because Microsoft took it upon themselves to change the file formats. Moral - get Open Office.

  • 75.
  • At 10:38 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gareth Williams wrote:

I would much rather have a standard to work towards then have 3/4 companies all with equal stakes in the OS market, and companies making 3/4 different versions of their software, increasing development costs and therefore increasing eventual produc costs.

At the moment we have the blu-ray vs HD-DVD war. If say Blu Ray wins why won't they be pressurised over having a monopoly over HD-DVD? Because its a standard for the future. I believe the same should be for PC hardware. Whether that standard is Microsoft or Apple or Linux is largely irrelevant.

  • 76.
  • At 10:39 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • KAO wrote:

Some people have chosen to go the open-source way and to make their software free to all. That's their decision! Fair! Microsoft has built their's into a business which pays and is to their advantage. They have worked to get where they are so why can't everyone else work to get to such heights? You appear on the seen for a few years and expect to dominate or even gain a sizeable share of the market? It is just not possible so all these companies stop your whining and work hard. You just might get there! Simple!

  • 77.
  • At 11:04 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

"At the moment we have the blu-ray vs HD-DVD war. If say Blu Ray wins why won't they be pressurised over having a monopoly over HD-DVD?"

I believe your analogy is flawed. The competing standards being discussed here are not Windows/Linux/Mac/etc, but rather ODF/OOXML. Open standards for things like documents, HTML, etc would allow several different companies to produce competing OSs (or web browsers etc) with a level playing field. I think it would be better (though not perfect) to describe the OSs as being analogous to different brands of VCR/Hi-def disc player and ODF/OOXML being analogous to VHS/blu-ray.

The point being that multiple OSs can compete to their mutual advantage if a set of standards describing things like document file formats are defined.

  • 78.
  • At 11:05 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gareth Williams wrote:

I don't like people who are arrogant towards those computer users who do nothing beyond sending an email.

Those people don't want something like Linux where you have to write half it yourself or spend hours finding compatible software on the internet? They want something they they take out of the box and it works and like it or not Windows achieves this. These people are far more in abundance then you would have thought! Not everyone who buys a PC is a tech guru!

Apple is coming some way to reaching out to these people and they are doing it well. However at the moment they are still way too expensive for the average Joe who pops into PC World.

I ask again, what other viable option is there for your average home PC user who wants something that will just do email, bit of work and the internet?

  • 79.
  • At 11:45 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Dan wrote:

There are people starving and freezing to death in Eastern Europe but the politicians are hell bent on bashing Microsoft. There are more urgent things that time and effort could be spent on than this fruitless crusade! The last time I checked, the opera browser worked fine on Windows.

  • 80.
  • At 11:47 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • George V. wrote:

by Alison
[...]I don't like it and I don't use it. Likewise Internet Explorer - I use Firefox. No-one is forcing anyone to use anything made by Microsoft.

Oh yeah.. and how did you actually download Firefox in the first place? I don't suppose it came to your regular mail box.. did it?

for Gareth Williams
What you say is true.. but you're confusing open standards with close standards.. You would rather have an open standard to work towards, independent of your working environment.. Can you work with close standards? No, unless you've developed them. And that's why a) open-standards are more wanted and b) cross-platform software exists.. In either way you do not have to rewrite code (take Java for example), the costs are fairly at the same level, and you make more people happy (and use your software), thus resulting in a better.

for KAO
Unix's around long before M$ showed up.. And BG whined when software was in the begging of its days.. Oh, and believe me, those others have worked. Firefox and opera (which are free of charge) have high quality standards (that's why people are using them). Open office is even used by people with Windows on their pc's / laptops.

You'd be more than surprised to see that people don't use -and even reject- free software (not to mention, open-source), because they believe its of lower quality!!!

Gee, try Fedora! Try slackware! Try Ubuntu, or any Linux-like environment (which are free of charge and run on *any* pc). And if by paying, you believe that you get better quality software, DONATE!

As for the other parts, I completely agree with Stuart.. :) And just to say that there are "easy-to-use" *nix like environments (some named above). This isn't the 80's or early 90's where only command-line existed..

  • 81.
  • At 11:51 AM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Craig wrote:
David Cooper said:

"And how can it be classed as a FREE market, if regulators are going to start to dictate what companies can and cannot include in their products."

At this point in time the software market is far from the concept of a free market. A free market in pure terms does not exist in this day and age, that is an ideal, but not a reality. Modern day free markets need regulation in order to preserve competition and benefit the wealth of the micro and macro economies. Please note that regulation is not synonymous with dictatorship!

  • 82.
  • At 12:05 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Gareth Williams wrote:

Thing is why should a company be forced to use a set of pre-defined document styles when they are able to develop an alternative that works better, or smarter or does the same but uses less space?

Surely restricting companies to using HTML or .doc or xml or whatever goes some degree to stifling innovation and development of future technologies?

You would then have to agree that other OS users could use it, then if they choose not to take you up on it then you new technology that could be better is dead in the water as noone will want to develop for a technology that is not going to have a large market share.

As all OS will be using a default set of document file formats then whats the point in having various different OS, they will all pretty much be exactly the same, but look different?

Eventually you will get to a stage where more people will prefer one style of OS over another, that will grow and we will be back at stage one all over again.

Noone ever said there was anything fair about business, there isn't. If Apple had been a bit faster to react then Windows 95 might never have existed and it could be Steve Jobs sitting in front of teh EU right now. Its natural that this kind of thing will always have a market leader. Why should a company spend loads of money developing some software for 3/4 formats when they can develop it for 1, for less money and probably make a bigger profit. Microsoft have been very clever in how they have got Windows out there, but they can't take all the blame for their monopoly.

  • 83.
  • At 12:31 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Darren wrote:

>For Darren, who claimed to sell his house if you can remove Media Player...

Use a utility called XPLite from LitePC Technologies. It will remove Media Player and a number of other embedded MS applications and settings from your XP installation.

I trust the cheque will be in the post....


Hehe, thanks for the info.

Sadly, the house sold today, and the cash has already been re-spent.....

On the topic of Apple, the irony is that the once champions of the anti-Microsoft movement have themselves become the new Microsoft (iTunes+DRM, iPhone+contract lock-ins etc).

  • 84.
  • At 01:43 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

* Gareth Williams wrote:

"Thing is why should a company be forced to use a set of pre-defined document styles when they are able to develop an alternative that works better, or smarter or does the same but uses less space?"

At the moment is that Microsoft is in such a dominant position, that with no regulators it would effectively force an inferior spec to become standard if it so desires. So there's no incentive for MS to innovate and produce better products, this is bad for users.

Standards exist to allow competition, for example without them the web would be a horrible divided mess of different areas for different browsers or, more probably, a stagnant monopoly.

"then whats the point in having various different OS, they will all pretty much be exactly the same, but look different?"

I think the differences run a little deeper than appearance and use of standards, even within the windows family.

  • 85.
  • At 02:57 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Justin wrote:

In one sense this is very old news. There was anti-competitive behavior it was years ago when Microsoft crushed Netscape by making IE free with the OS.

Now a browser is a fundamental part of any competent operating system (Apple has Safari, Linux usually comes with Firefox). What the EU seems unable to accept is that as customer requirements change the OS has to develop. By denying MS the ability to improve its products by ading features that customers clearly want or need it would be trying to kill MS. Incidently when MS complied with the ruling on the media player exactly how many OS's did it sell without the media player? I heard it was less than 1000 across the whole of Europe which shows what customers thought of the EU decision

The presumption that the way business is done now is the best way for the society cannot be right. It is not even clear that it is best for Microsoft.

The apple story is instructive. Macintosh had the best operating system by general agreement but because it insisted on controlling the product it lost out to Microsoft.

Don't believe that business people are brilliant and know what is best for them; they do not and usually they don't care what is best for the consumer.

The real problem is the total control that businesses have over peoples thinking until that changes little victories like this one won't change anything.

  • 87.
  • At 04:11 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Carl wrote:

I love reading how people always throw the view forward that Microsoft have locked things down and nothing is possible in life anymore.., what a load of crap..

There is a very good reason software is locked down.., so we dont end up with thousands of variations of the same operating system..., most companies use Microsoft technologies because it is well understood, stable and simple to comprehend from a business point.

This is a very revealing series of comments that hides three main themes:

1. Those comments, like my original(#16 above), that just take a shot at the absurdity of the EU Competiton Commission (EUCC) and those comments that oppose me and think the EUCC is performing some worthwhile good for the European economy. The latter are in favor of having an ex-Digital-Equipment employee, Neelie Kroes, make all Europe's information technology choices. More power to you; to further your objective, I would like to see Microsoft stop doing business in the EU. That would be the biggest favor Microsoft could do for its shareholders.

2. Those comments that think the EUCC action is some kind of endorsement of open source software. Of course, not one comment mentions the fact noted in the original post by Rory that the current EUCC complaint was filed by Sun, IBM, Adobe, Oracle, Nokia and a few other companies that are no more (or less) supportive of open source software than Microsoft. To them open source software is a marketing ploy--throw the buzzword in when it helps, ignore it when it hurts. (FYI, I make my living analyzing open source software.)

3. Those comments that want to simply tout the advantages and comradery of open source software and the importance of open standards, irrespective of what the EU is doing. Not one of these comments mentions the fact that the development of Linux, Apache, and most of the other leading open source software products are funded by IBM, HP and other major systems manufacturers. These companies are all for open source development and open standards whenever they have lost in a market that was based on a level playing field and equally against them when it is their product that has become a defacto standard the way some of Microsoft's products have.

But from over here across the pond, I do admire the civility of the discussion. You should see the bloodletting on the blogs about our presidential race.

  • 89.
  • At 04:39 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • UM wrote:

"In the end, Microsoft make better PC tools than anybody else. The fact is the so-called free alternatives are just inferior. The much-vaunted Linux is based on an ancient OS, Unix. Back in the day, we used to host all our applications on Unix because it was better than Windows, Now it isn't, and neither is Linux. "

My knowledge of OS is limited to the couple books I read on the subject, I never had to design one from scratch. But, Windows is definitely NOT superior to any of its competitors. Indeed, Windows is just about catching up with the rest of the OSs. Many would argue that the security features of Windows are fundamentally flawed.

If you think an OS consists of a media player and an Internet browser, please do not make any comments about it.

  • 90.
  • At 05:10 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • foobar wrote:

Tony,

Foobar: So YOU decide to use programs that are not compatable with file formats that you receive from others, and it's Microsofts fault?

Frankly, I didn't decide that without slight pressure. My Windows installation as well as my MS Office installation was an illegal copy. I didn't want to use illegal copies anymore, therefore I finally removed the offending software.

But that's the problem with closed file formats: Microsoft is happy about every pirated copy of MS Office, because the users have their .doc or .docx files and therefore will need to run MS Office infinitely. Closed file formats are the key to Microsoft's success.

Maybe all those people that send you the files should change.

I ask people to send their data in open or at least widely supported file formats, such as ODF, PDF or plain text. They don't need to change and they are free to use MS Office, but if they want to exchange data with me, they need to use a file format which works. (Vice versa, if I want to exchange data with them, I usually ask whether they have a special preference.) It's not that I dictate people which software to use.

If you prepare presentations that you need to run on Windows machines, then, basically, it's up to YOU to make it happen.

Without Windows/MS Office installed that's a hard task, indeed. ;)

  • 91.
  • At 09:09 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • John Hensley wrote:

In the US legal system, Opera would have to make at least a token effort at explaining why it hasn't been able to do what Firefox has done.

But welcome to the brave new world of European antitrust! A competitor's word is holy writ, wrongdoing is presumed, and defenses are merely a formality. It's the EC's job to tell you to jump, and your job to pay the fine until you figure out how high.

  • 92.
  • At 10:48 PM on 15 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Mooney wrote:

Firstly, Microsoft is NOT an innovative company.

Throughout its history it has 'borrowed' technology from other companies - as is well documented PC-DOS was develoed by a small company and Gates bought it for USD 50,000 (after he had got the contract with IBM, and Gates reportedly only got the deal with IBM because Mum was on a charity board with an IBM bigwig). Windows was lifted by both Apple & Microsoft from Xerox (when Apple complained Gates said it was like breaking into a house and complaining that another burglar had got them before him), "doublespace' was stolen from Stac electronics after they rpovided samples and MS offered to allow them to bundle it with Windows for no payment (Stac were counter-sued for reverse-engineering to prove that MS had stolen their product), after underestimating the impact of the internet their late entry into the browser market meant that Netscape was pushed out by the bundled Interet Explorer (both based on Mosaic), Real Player shoved aside by Windows Media Player (both poor compared to e.g. Videolan (VLC)); Microsoft Word sold at discounted prices to get rid of Wordperfect - and if it couldn't grab it it bought the company. Exactly the same sort of practices that Hyundai were hung-drawn & quartered for when they 'dumped' their products onto the US market.

Coupled with dubious marketing methods (e.g. buy a copy of Windows for EVERY PC you sell - whether its installed or not - or you don't get any to sell, every dealer has to put a "we recomend Windows" in all their ads.).

In any other sector the company would have been crucified. The US courts demanded that it be split into two but fortunately this was resolved after the US Presidential elections (they had to employ someone internally to 'ensure' proper conduct - yeah, sure they will).

As most of the cases I have cited here have been dealt with in US courts I found it strange that several commentators here are fixed with an anti-EU bias.

As Linus Torvalds is reported to have said "Bill Gates can't teach me anything about computers, and I can't tell him anything about business" - which says it all really.

At least some good news - Sony have now dropped Windows Digital Restraints Management system.

  • 93.
  • At 05:40 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • victor wrote:

"if you want to use IE, use it, if not dont" etc is RUBBISH! because, when you buy a computer with windows, YOU PAY for IE, WMP and so on ( not talking about windows to start with)

so they FORCE you to buy stuff you will not use, and you dont even realize that...

the extra they add up is never free ( no company does that) but ppl dont realize they pay for it!

  • 94.
  • At 08:10 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Xaos wrote:

It is really sad to read all these people that think that monopoly is good for them. All I can say to them is: You had to live in a socialist country to see how good it was!

  • 95.
  • At 05:36 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • DaveCake wrote:

The trouble with Microsoft is you just don't know if you can trust them.

Read the Halloween Documents:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_documents
Where they openly state one thing but privately have a rather different stance on the Open Source community.

There's also the Criticism of Microsoft entry which all people should read:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_microsoft

I use MS and Unix software every day and there's no doubt that MS has done some good work but there track record over the years is shocking and I find it bizarre that anyone would jump to there defence.

  • 96.
  • At 06:29 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • omo1 wrote:

Saying "if you don't like it don't use" it is far from the point.
If i don't like it and don't use it then i want to remove it and use the disc space for something else.
Doing that with Microsoft Windows XP or Vista is impossible, it would kill the operating system.

I can remove Safari from OSX without any problems.

Microsoft believe they can do what they want, they can't even adhere to industry standards like the W3c, they require there proprietry extensions.

I don't like paying to be a beta tester everytime i buy their software. So as of 3 months ago i turned to OSX and LInux. My computers have never been so stable and reliable.

  • 97.
  • At 11:15 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Barry wrote:

exactly, hasn't the EU got anything better to do, all this rubbish costs me as a UK taxpayer. I can't imagine the same investigations if Microsoft was a French or German company, can you?

And let's face it Microsoft are alot more open than say Apple who close down their systems and charge way over the odds for them.

Most people just want a system that has everything in it. It's like buying a car, you want it to just drive it, only the very few will want to customise it. I wonder if car radio manufacturers have a case against EU car manufacturers for now fitting their own dashboard systems where no 3rd party can be installed?!

  • 98.
  • At 01:22 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

What I don't understand about Operas' whinging is if Microsoft didn't include Internet Explorer then users would not be able to get on the net do download the rival software. The Fools!

  • 99.
  • At 02:12 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Frank Vernor wrote:

The lack of understanding on this subject beggars belief. The problem being that most people with any interest in this subject already decided a long time ago whether they were pro or against Microsoft. It has now got to football supporter status, where people write in non-sensical sound bites about "Microsoft’s great, that's their only crime" or "Microsoft is evil, I'm sure they were involved in the death of JFK and Diana"

Grow up and try and make a pragmatic and objective view on each issue for a change.

Nobody can blame Microsoft for wanting to be as big and as popular as they are. There's no sinister background here - it's called Capitalism, so get used to it. However, it is unfair to deny access to developers wanting to create applications that can properly interoperate with the whole Operating System provided by Microsoft. This isn't happening.

I don't se Office products being in the same boat here though. Outlook (not express) and other 'Office' applications are not bundled as part of the Operating System. So, in my opinion, Microsoft has the right to keep them locked down. However, Internet explorer and Media Player are bundled with the O/S and for Joe Technophobe, will never be replaced. Therefore, Microsoft is getting an unfair market share by adding these products to its O/S and then preventing other Non-MS Products from being able to interoperate with them. Forcing the clued-up people to dumb down in order to work with the average user.

  • 100.
  • At 02:46 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Matthew Sadler wrote:

I can't believe some of the comments, have any of you actually read the article? It doesn't claim you have to buy MS products, it points out that MS products don't work properly with other similar products. For example, if you try and arrange a meeting through MS Outlook with another e-mail program, it won't necessarily work. Sending/Receiving emails will work, so most people will be satisfied, but those of us who try and use more of the features that software provides are forced to use MS Office software so that whatever we send to business partners works properly.

I'm pleased the EU is standing up for the rights of smaller companies, it's time MS were forced to ensure their office products work with other similar office products

  • 101.
  • At 03:18 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • michael wrote:

I am fed up with the EU's fight with Microsoft with what they do or don't do with their , I repeat: THEIR software. They created it, spent money promoting it, made the decision to give it away using IT's OWN operating system and are now being asked simply to give away their work so that others can take advantage of all this work quite cheaply and beause they complained.

I use windows xp as my OS and for some things that i do, I use office etc and don't mind what they provide me. I don't use media player or explorer and would not consider myself pro microsoft. I would not consider myself pro EU either.

But, my point is you don't have to use microsoft products if you don't want to. 'Open source' software can have its advantages and also its drawbacks, you have to decide.

My one BIG concern is where is the investigation into Apple? They have the ipod sewn up so tight that no one would ever think about why they cannot use something other than itunes to stream and download onto their ipod. Has anyone ever asked why the only periphials you can buy to work with your ipod, connectors and so on have to be purchased from apple, or that the iphone cannot be changed or adapted to your own tastes without having to have approved apple products becuase when the software updates you could have a very expensive brick in your posesssion?

I don't mind the EU challenging monopolies where they exist, but this seems to be another case of protectionism as the main protagonists for this 'open source' software are all European companies.

I am beginning to wonder......

  • 102.
  • At 06:20 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • foobar wrote:

More recent developments on OOXML:

After the 'independent' Burton Group released a report on OOXML vs. ODF (with the result that companies should use OOXML instead of ODF), the ODF Alliance responded. Interestingly, the main argument of Burton Group against ODF is that using OOXML is preferable because of Microsoft's existing monopoly in the office market … this simply forces people to use MS Office — I think the new investigation comes right in time. ;)

Here's a little commentary and the response of the ODF Alliance, as well as some more links on the topic: Open Document Format Alliance refutes the Burton Group report on ODF.

  • 103.
  • At 10:43 AM on 18 Jan 2008,
  • Nothing wrote:

As if Ubuntu doesn't bundle OpenOffice & Firefox ? As if Apple doesn't bundle Safari ?


This is getting too much. It's MS's choice what kind of OS they want to make & how compatible they want their products to be ? If the products are not compatible, it's causing MS sales harm, why is EU worried ? You can't force software vendors to ensure compatibility with every Linux distro.

  • 104.
  • At 01:10 PM on 18 Jan 2008,
  • Tel wrote:

For all those complaining about Apple having just as bad a monopoly as Microsoft, please consider the following :

- There are hundreds of other phones and contracts to choose from if you don't like the iPhone.

- There are hundreds of other media players to choose from if you don't like the iPod.

- There are dozens of other music download sites you can buy music and videos from if you don't like iTunes. Shock! There even some places that still sell CDs & DVDs.


Conversely :

- How many choices are the in office productivity software?

- How many choices are there in Operating systems at your local PC World?

The only markets Microsoft succeed in are the ones it has a monopoly on. When it enters a competitive market it either does extremely poorly (zune) or loses millions propping up its products (XBox & 360)

  • 105.
  • At 09:47 PM on 20 Jan 2008,
  • Roy Reese wrote:

The complaint from the Opera folks is curious given that Microsoft's integration of IE was challenged unsuccessfully long ago. Perhaps even more curious is the failure of Opera to achieve or exceed the success of Firefox. It is free, fast, capable, fully features and smaller than Firefox -- and comes in versions for mobile phones and PDAs.

Just on a purely practical note: If MS is no longer allowed to bundle IE with its OS then how exactly is a first-time PC user supposed to get access to the internet? Also, IE is based on Explorer thus it would make sense to bundle it in with the OS, no?

  • 107.
  • At 11:03 PM on 27 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Vinson wrote:

The problem with Microsoft's OS's and software is the lack of IT skill in education. Teachers both Primary and Secondary and a few HE sites have been dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age over the last decade. Unable to cope (at the start) with the complexites of computers they struggled to bring IT to the classroom. With Microsoft's monopoly of education, and this is where all IT starts, the teachers and children, but especially the teachers with their massive workload have not had the time to try other OS's and software. They have used MS Office because that's all they know and everyone else in education and Local government uses it and they know no other. Can you see big local authorities changeing to open source there would be chaos. Our only hope is that the OX laptop will change everything from the bottom up. Have you noticed how MS are trying to derail it now their OS is not being used. How could you produce a $100 laptop when the OS would cost $100? This scheme, if it could get off the ground could be the best thing in computers since DOS. (Whats that)

  • 108.
  • At 11:40 AM on 30 Jan 2008,
  • becky wrote:

So whats the deal with Opera moaning about Microsoft then? I have never had a problem installing Opera on a windows operating system - either PC or mobile devices.
They complain about lack of interoperability? Well install Opera and it will take over the file associations of everything internet related, it even steals my RSS default from my own program. Interoperability, well as far as I am concerned they Opera take too many advantages with their software.

Or is Operas beef that Microsoft install a web browser on the operating system? Are Opera really that stupid? Person buys a new PC, they plug it into their new broadband line, but hey theres no internet browser because the EU demanded it was removed, so they cannot even download Opera even if they want to. If they want IE7 removed from the OS, how are Opera going to market the browser of theirs?

And another thing, the EU complain about Microsoft bundling windows media player onto computers - do they complain about the software that Apple installs? Or Linux installs?

FFS I am the customer and I should decide what I want to use, not some nit picking organisation (EU) that wants to import only straight bananas.

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