September 18, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Vista's European battleground

Windows Vista hasn't shipped yet, but Microsoft and the European Union are already caught up in a tussle over the antitrust impact of security technology in the operating system.

Microsoft wants the 25-nation bloc to set clear boundaries as to what it can and can't do. By asking European regulators for guidelines now, Microsoft hopes to avoid an antitrust battle after Vista ships, where it might be forced to pull features out of the operating system. However, the EU has only provided a more general picture of the landscape.

Last month, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer met with EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. The visit came after the software giant received a list of 79 questions related to Vista from the European Commission, the EU's executive body. Despite this list, Microsoft feels it is driving blind.

"We still have not received the guidance we're seeking," Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman, said Thursday. "In July, we received a formal list of questions, but no answers about what specific concerns the Commission has, or how we should address them. We need answers, not questions."

But as far as the Commission is concerned, it is not the regulators' responsibility to vet Vista before it ships. Rather, it is Microsoft's responsibility as a "near monopolist" to abide by EU competition rules--in particular, those that prohibit abuse of a dominant market position, Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said Friday.

"The Commission is ready to give guidance to Microsoft and has done so so many times, but it is not up to the Commission to give Microsoft a definitive green light before Vista is put on the market," Todd said. This is also the message Kroes gave "very clearly" to Ballmer when the two met on Aug. 22, he added.

The main rule for Microsoft is to ensure that the market allows competition between security providers on the merits of their products, Todd said. "If business and home users are deprived of choice, a security 'monoculture' based on Microsoft products may lead to less innovation and could harm all computer users. Security risks could increase, and not decrease," he said.

What's the fuss about?

The European Union won't publicly specify what parts of Vista it doesn't like, but Microsoft has highlighted some areas where it sees "confusion."

PatchGuard
Feature in 64-bit version of Vista that locks down the kernel. Security companies say they're being locked out and need kernel access for their products to secure systems.
BitLocker
Feature included in Vista Business and Ultimate that lets people encrypt all the data on their hard drive. Other businesses sell encryption software.
Windows Defender
Anti-spyware tool that is part of all versions of Vista. Third-party products offer similar functionality. Until recently, Defender could not be disabled by those products.
Windows Security Center
Feature in Vista that gives a "neutral" view of the status of security software, Microsoft says. Other players aren't so sure about that neutrality, since Microsoft competes with them.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft, with its $34 billion war chest, is now a player in the antivirus market. It launched Windows Live OneCare for consumers and is readying enterprise security products under its new Forefront brand. With its huge presence on desktops, the software giant has a built-in advantage--one that is making some security companies nervous.

Earlier this month, Microsoft suggested that the European launch of the already oft-delayed Vista could be pushed back as the result of a lack of direction from the Commission. Last week, however, the company said the European launch is on track. Vista is expected to be released to computer makers in November and is slated to be broadly available in January.

European dispute
Microsoft and the Commission have been at loggerheads for years over antitrust. Two months ago, European regulators slapped the Redmond, Wash.-based company with a $357 million fine for noncompliance with a 2004 antitrust ruling, which Microsoft is still appealing.

The argument over Vista is only the next stage in that discussion, Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, wrote in a research note published Friday. "This argument is an extension of a longtime dispute that essentially has no real solution," he wrote.

In the landmark 2004 European ruling Microsoft was faulted for abusing its market position by shipping its own media player software with Windows, giving it a huge market share in one go. In Vista, security software and features have emerged as the hottest point of contention among a number of concerns.

"The Commission has monitored and discussed with Microsoft several aspects of Vista, including Microsoft's integration of security software into Vista," Todd said.

Microsoft is worried that the European regulators might require it to strip some security features out of Vista. "The bottom line is that we want to launch Vista in a fully lawful manner, and we want to avoid regulatory decisions that could increase security risks for European consumers," Evans said.

CONTINUED: European tour…
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106 comments

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My thanks to the EU.
It seems the anti-trust busters on the other side of the pond know how to keep MS under control. Rulings come with teeth, as opposed to being hit with a pay-off and allowed to continue with business as usual like here in the states.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indeed
I agree with all of the above. As a paying member of the will-be-superstate, I'm glad they're paying so much attention to technology, and software in particular.

I would like to see, however, the entire investigation published as it happens by the EU Trade Commission or Press Office or whoever is responsible, minus of course, any disclosure by MS to the EU involving trade secrets, yada yada.

We seem to hear a lot of what goes on between Europe and MS second or third hand. If the EU & Microsoft were both keeping tally on their own sites, I'd feel much happier that this is indeed an example of securing the rights of competition, and not an example of EU saying "Its Microsoft. It must be bad!".

Just a little more information from the parties involved. Its all I ask.
Posted by djcaseley (85 comments )
Link Flag
MicrosoftState (tm)
Interesting observation: Microsoft attempts to negotiate with EU as if it was a soverein state and a fit partner for such negotiations, cute - if it worked, but apparently - it did not; thanks - EU!

EU - by refusing to negotiate - put MS in it's place: Microsoft is just a vendor, big and arogant one, but nothing more than a vendor; EU has no business negotiating with Microsoft and/or supplying legal services to it - by providing binding interpretations of it's own legislation; just read the apropriate legislation Mr. Balmer and comply - like everybody else...
Posted by myszak (15 comments )
Link Flag
If I was in charge of MS ...
Europe would still be on Windows 95 (with no support) and every copy of Win 98 forward would be bootleg (with no support).
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Correction Request
>>>Microsoft and the European Union are already caught up in a tussle over the antitrust impact<<<

Request that you change:

>>>are already<<<

TO

>>>have always been<<<

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU (or is it UE?)
It's not surprising that the EU have given their comment thus; they still haven't organized things amonst themselves such as ID cards, Licences for driving, inspections of cars & many other things that affect normal day to day life. Seems they just sit at very considerable cost & pontificate amongst themselves. Microsoft, can wait in line & if it delays Vista as a result, so what? We can manage perfectly well without it.
Posted by davidvh2 (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU European Union or Estats Unis
Just curious... has the French changed our (the United States') acronym given the European Union acronym... or do they use UE (l'Union Europeenne)?

Ah how confusing that must be to not have a standard means of communicating... maybe they need to publish their protocols for the rest of us non EU/UE-eans. Just teasing.
Posted by arluthier (112 comments )
Link Flag
To Microsoft:
The EU isn't going to hand you their market on a silver platter like the US does.

They've said time and again that you MUST NOT crouch on their business and that you MUST provide a FAIR method for EU software vendors to be able to compete by linking to the same API's you use for your products which you attach to your Operating System.

Otherwise, you're being unfair.

On a same note, you're also performing those same unfair practices within the US, but only a relatively small few actually complain today because you've smutted their voices in the past for speaking out against them.

The EU won't put up with your unfair practices. Thus you must meet their fairness standards if you want any part of their market at all.

I wish the EU all the best and hope that you will change your unfair practices around the globe... and not only to meet the EU's needs. But for strange reasons, I highly doubt that you will really do what they want. You'll probably compromise half-way and offer them a special deal like you usually do!

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I disagree
I disagree. Over the past year, Microsoft has tried over and over to work with the EU. Now EU is not willing to inform MS what it will not accept in Vista.

Maybe MS should remove bitlocker, Windows Defender, the search features from the N versions of Vista or not release Vista at all in the EU. Granted, I would feel sorry that the EU is going to penalize its public if MS decided not to release Vista over there.
Posted by mickeymjay (47 comments )
Link Flag
Capitalism
If you or anyone else in the EU do not feel you are being treated "fairly" by the evil American capitalist machine called Microsoft... don't buy their products. There ARE alternatives... or develop your own systems. EU countries are good at dealing in government funded companies.

I find it silly that people whine to their governments that MS is pushing a browsers on me, pushing a media player on me, makeing PC manufacturers install windows... and on and on. If you dont want to use IE... don't. if you dont want to use Media Player... don't. If you don't want Windows on your computer... go to another manufacturer that isn't under the MS thumb.

Come on people... use some common sense. If you dont like what is playing on the TV or Radio do you sit and ***** about it? or just change the station?!
Posted by arluthier (112 comments )
Link Flag
Translation:
[i]you MUST NOT crouch on their business[/i]

You must prop up businesses located in our socialist workers paradise, even if the whole model is failing.

[i]you MUST provide a FAIR method for EU software vendors to be able to compete by linking to the same API's you use for your products which you attach to your Operating System[/i]

You must give away trade secrets for free to businesses who cannot otherwise compete in the open market.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Consumer feedback
All I might want is the operating system/kernel - a single version that can be configured for the hardware/environment it will run in.

I do not want Explorer, MSN, Media Player, Outlook Express, security software, or anything else my customers do not use and do not wish to pay for bundled with the O/S.

I also want the price capped to well under €50 or reselling is a problem.
Posted by Jerry Dawson (125 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tough for you.
And I want a Lamborghini engine to shoehorn into my vehicle, but there's no reason anybody has to sell me one.

MOST computer users don't even know what you are talking about - thus, the demand you represent ini the marketplace is tiny and insignificant - which translates into tiny and insignificant sales revenues - which means: bad business.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Who says it is about VISTA when it should be about the CONCORDE...
.... and might soon be about the EU's "clumsy" A380 that would require countries to expand their airport facilities to accomodate this yet another of the EU's waste of tax payer's dollars when the EU's IT jobs are flowing into countries like India and China faster than the "CONCORDE" that the EU was forced to pull from its airline operations because of apparently poorly developed financial, economic and technical management. Who should pay any attention to any group of people from a certain part of the world who appear not to be able to develop competitive OSes (re: LINUX) and an IT industry of their own that they must now seek to influence the way other regional economies operate. Why doesn't the EU simply ask Microsoft to supply a Modular "VISTA" Kernel just for EU users and then develop the rest of the applications for themselves!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Want My Maypo&Er-r-r&Microsoft Million$
The EUC regulators have no incentive to set clear boundaries and give clear antitrust guidelines to Microsoft because it is all about them assuring they obtain the next EUC [i]Pay Day[/i] from all American businesses competing in Europe, particularly Microsoft.

As far as Nellie Kroes and her band of EUC [i]Blackbirds[/i] are concerned, successful Microsoft is by definition a near monopolist by virtue of it being an American Capitalist, its market success and deep pockets. The EUC has acquired a taste for the U$Ds U.S. companies use to pay their EUC imposed [i]fines,[/i] and they want regular servings.

In socialist Europe, it is a [i]Capitalist Pig Sin[/i] to pursue, win and hold a dominant market position. Only the EUC Bureaucracy is permitted to control, dominant, and define what competition is to the marketplace and the market players. JP B-)
Posted by Catgic (106 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Idiots...
So, basically the commission members are just trying to cover their own ***** by not giving Vista a "green light" ahead of time so that in the future they can levy fines. Basically, they'd prefer Microsoft to release the operating system with absolutely no features and then force the user to have to go online and download all of the available features separately. Me, I'd much rather have all of the features included and free so that I don't have to buy third-party software, which I, and probably about 95% of the rest of us, would never buy anyways, I don't care how much better it is than Microsoft's. We're cheap. We're lazy. We don't want to have to lose both time and money on something we could have for free. Why not just give an option while installing the operating system to choose which features to install?
Posted by BigCoffinHunter (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Hidden costs of the "kernal only" Windows
>Why not just give an option while installing
>the operating system to choose which features
>to install?
Playing the devil's advocate here for a minute, the answer would be "Because even if you can choose not to install a feature ("product") during the installation of Windows, you're still paying for those features. And I don't want to have to pay for the features I don't use."

What this argument misses, as you allude to, is that the "95% of the rest of us" either do want those features or are at least content with their inclusion in the OS. From a technical perspective, Microsoft could design Windows to be very modular, allowing for more of a "pay per feature" approach to purchase of Windows. But if the vast majority of Windows users are OK with what is included in the OS, why go through all the time and expense to make it modular?

In other words, it's not worth it to completely redesign the foundation of Windows for the sake of the 5% who want a modular Windows. And even if this complete foundation resign were implemented, the huge irony would be that Microsoft would have to increase the price of *all* versions of Windows (include the "kernal only" version) in order to pay for this gargantuan effort.

Microsoft have obviously decided it's less expensive to fight the legal battles and pay the fines rather than incur the costs (both actual and opportunity) of making Windows modular. And as long as Windows doesn't prevent third-party alternatives from working properly, then this is just fine as far as I'm concerned. (If MS is caught trying to sabotage a third-party app, then sue'em. I'm fine with that too.)
Posted by Hulser (2 comments )
Link Flag
Idiots... usually miss the point.
The commision members have a valid point, which is: Microsoft is out of it's place asking this question and does not deserve an answer. When you intend to do something and are not sure whether it's legal in your jurisdiction, you do not ask the legislature to dumb down and explain the law, so you can understand it, legislature has no obligation to do it for you, you simply hire a lawyer to provide a legal opinion, based on existing legislation.

The same mechanism applies to Microsoft: the commission has no reason and no obligation to explain EU laws to Microsoft, but Microsoft has an obligation to comply with the laws, while doing business within EU jurisdiction.

It was a very smart trick on part of Microsoft to demand explanation specific to Vista release, good thing the commission members did not fall for it; Microsoft is not a soverein entity (it only thinks it is...) which could demand specific clarifications, Microsoft is a subject to EU laws, while operating in EU, just like everybody else, no explanations, discussions or clarification required.

If EU responded to Microsoft ridiculous demand - it would create a precedent, from now on every supplier of rubber duckies could ask the commission to re-design his duckies for him, in order to make them compliant with EU law; good try, but no luck, Mr. Balmer - rubber duckies suppliers are expected to design their duckies themselves, while commission has other things to do - like slapping fines on arrogant suppliers of rubber duckies, those who do not bother to obey the law.
Posted by myszak (15 comments )
Link Flag
Simple example/story
There is a person, with a history of violating laws and has been convicted in a few cases. He also violates several business ethics and got away with it and was not convicted. He is also very very rich, so he can make deals with whoever sues then if they'll accept money. So over the years, he got into a habit of violating all rules, laws and business ethics to make more and more money - and his lies have become very crafty and his practices very stealthy, treacherous and deceitful. This has just become part of his behavior.

Now, he is making a product and is asking the government (EU in this case) what part of the product violates the laws. Depending on the answer, he'd craft his lie and PR, and may even use this as the next excuse for a Vista delay (even in the US market). He will then ask another question which is crafty, to get another excuse to blame the EU. It has never been the Government's role to provide answers to the question of "Am i doing this in a legal way?" (and a thousand small variations of it, for every person and company). It is always the responsibility of the person to understand illegal conduct and aviod it, or if he practises illegal conduct, to be sued for it and take the consequences.

No government has enough resources to answer every question about "is this legal?" for every situation from everyone who wants to ask the question. That's why they make the laws and regulations, to let the citizens and organizations to know the law and to know when they violate the law.

-srr
Posted by waterspider (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dealing with the EU Like Dealing With the Mob
Except that the mob tells you up front what they want, and as long as you pay protection, they leave you alone.

The EU, epsecially the cometition gestapo, just want to play gotcha with MIcrosoft until they wxtract what they feel is the required "fines". This is Bill Gates penalty for not setting up over there and contributing his hard work to the parasites in the EU Socialist Workers Paradise.

No wonder Bill has a date set for retirement. I'd have let the EU drift a while ago myself.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Don't Care
I don't care what is being said.
All I need is Security, Stability, Security .. etc. and Microsoft should start workin on it's OS before sending out to consumer. Microsoft should spend more money for their number one issue in OS. I want no virus, no spyware ....etc.etc.. Almost all the time, when I got trouble in OS window it'r the ****** virus, spyware, not that I don't already have antivirus or antispyware installed, they just aren't good enough. I don't need features , but I need a simple protection that makes the OS stable.
Posted by obsidian02 (6 comments )
Link Flag
EU: Make Vista Less Secure
What is EU trying to say where? Don't provide built in security so that the market for "security products" continue to flourish. MS entering this market was probably the best thing that happened to consumers from a security stand point. MS is making the OS itself way more secure (build in firewall etc) but also brought down the prices of antivirus products to reasonable levels. Ideally that market should cease to exist.
EU is plain out of touch and greedy for money.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
exactly
I can agree with this no more!
Posted by iRhapsody (46 comments )
Link Flag
This is the only person that get's it.
Well done.
Posted by news_reader (32 comments )
Link Flag
MS "Security" - whose computer is it ?
If you want "security" powered by Redmont agenda, enjoy! I don't, so I will stay with Linux....

In practice - Microsoft fixes their DRM issues much faster then real security problems; they invest more in protecting contents of your own computer from you, then in protecting you and your own files - they believe that this is a good business decision and - maybe - it is... Not my problem.

But - it does not match my priorities and on my computers I set the priorities, not Microsoft; EU tries to preserve your right and ability to do the same.
Posted by myszak (15 comments )
Link Flag
The EU hinders companies to compete!
When companies compete in separate markets, different competitive measures are often taken by companies in those markets. People in those markets, because of culture, values goods and services differently and are willing to pay for goods and services in accordance with those values. For instance, in Italy, people are very willing to buy cheap cars made by the Italian car manufacturer Fiat. Volkswagen, decided to sell their cars in Italy to Italians for lower prices. Volkswagen, thought, that these measures were needed in that market to compete effectively. People from Austria and Germany went to Italy in search for bargains offered by Volkswagen. Volkswagen dealers said no. Low prices are only offered to Italian customers! For these crimes The European Union's High Court upheld a $110.5 million fine for Volkswagen. This happened in 1998. Now, Volkswagen and other companies must have same prices in all markets to all people, otherwise they risk to get heavily punished. In other words, if people are willing to cross borders in search for bargains, it is better for a company like Volkswagen, to raise its prices in Italy and lose market share. Apart from Volkswagen, the Italians will suffer. Alternatively, they could have the same low prices in all markets, but that might not be profitable or even lead to bankruptcy. In the very end, competition is hindered! This is only an example of Government in action and what it actually does to promote competition. For more information about this case, go to; <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.globalethics.org/newsline/members/issue.tmpl?articleid=09220316204320" target="_newWindow">http://www.globalethics.org/newsline/members/issue.tmpl?articleid=09220316204320</a>
And to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_19/b3782014.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_19/b3782014.htm</a>


Björn Lundahl
Göteborg Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Emperor's New Clothes
People are led to believe that trade restrictions between regions or countries create jobs at home, which they certainly do not. If people had the opposite belief that free trade between regions or countries creates jobs at home, that would also be an incorrect belief. Trade restrictions or free trade does not cause unemployment or cause employment in a region or country. Trade restrictions only lower the standard of living, hamper competition and restrict liberty. If for instance, the EU imposes tariffs on Chinese textiles, the Euro will appreciate against the Chinese Yuan (the value of the Euro will increase relatively to the Chinese Yuan). This depreciation (decrease in value) of the Chinese Yuan against the Euro, in this example, is caused by a smaller demand for Chinese textiles and therefore a smaller demand for Europeans to buy the Chinese Yuan. Because of this change in exchange rates, prices of goods from the EU to China will be generally higher and prices of goods from China will be generally lower (apart from textiles). As you can imagine, this will increase employment in the European textile sector, but decrease employment in other sectors. At the whole, unemployment will not change but trade between the regions will be lower. Specialization, competition and living standards in the EU region will be hampered. The tariffs will only serve special interest that is the textile manufacturers and their employees. Surely, we want our representatives to serve the common good and the common man and not special interests!

Someone might complain that the Chinese are intervening in the exchange markets to keep their currency artificially low and that they are not letting market forces to appreciate their currency, and therefore my statement about free trade, in this case, is not applicable. Free trade, someone might think, is presupposed by freely fluctuating currencies with no Government intervention (also called clean floating exchange rates). Certainly I do not want Governments to intervene in exchange markets, but actually it is the Chinese that are in this case the losers and we are the winners. We should be glad that China is suppressing the rise of its currency, and the Chinese people should be mad about it. When market prices indicate that, for example, a project is unprofitable; investors naturally stop investing in such a project. Otherwise, factors of production such as land, capital, and labour would be wasted. Every government manipulation of market prices is a step toward economic breakdown and chaos. Land, capital, and labour that are invested in the exporting business in China because of a suppressed currency, have changed the economic structure in China and are mal investments, unprofitable for the nation to undertake, and we are getting something free. We don't need to export anything to pay for this "extra importation of Chinese products. To make my statement more obvious, we could consider that if the Chinese currency would be suppressed to no value at all (which would not be possible to realize), the Chinese would be working for nothing (which is, naturally unprofitable for China to undertake) and the market forces in the EU (if market forces would not be hindered by Governments) would reallocate land, capital and labour for other uses and to those fields which the Chinese are not able to compete (even if the Chinese were working and exporting to full capacity, that will not, by far, be enough to satisfy all our wants). The increases in production which mentioned reallocation of recourses leads to are our extra bonus. We should applaud this and the Chinese people should revolt!

Free trade is not, either, presupposed by different currencies.
We do not worry about the balance of payments between London and Manchester, Berlin and Munich, Paris and Bordeaux or Stockholm and Göteborg etc. Market forces will smoothen out any imbalances. If, for example, London exports more to Manchester than Manchester exports to London, the demand for goods and services will be greater in London relatively to their supply, and also relatively to the situation in Manchester. Because of this, prices will go up in London and therefore will exports from London to Manchester contract, as well as, imports from Manchester to London will expand. This happens all the time and we do not even know about it and therefore do not worry about it. Governments do create problems all the time.

Only Governments can be so silly to reject great offers and bargains. Individuals doing the same thing would be considered mad.

The essence with above statements is that Governments hinders competition, lower our standard of living, promote special interests and they make excuses for this with faulty theories and propaganda.

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
'raised the specter of a delay'
I thought that specter had been hanging over Vista since it changed it's name from longhorn?
Posted by grandmasterdibbler (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Blatant money grab by the EU
The fact that they wont give a green light to MS ahead of time shows that the EU is simply looking at this as a way of grabbing money from successful companies. MS is appearently TRYING to cooperate with the EU. But the EU would prefer to look at things 'after the fact' so they could come up with any number of so-called violations that they can fine MS for, and thus line their pockets.

This is a blatantly obvious money grab by the EU.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Improving security is up to us...and them
While the actions of a "near monopolist" such as Microsoft are sometimes frightening to other businesses and consumers in the industry, we need not have our focus removed from the real issue at hand. The missions of Microsoft's security division and of other secuirty companies are to provide their customers with the most advanced security software available, not to limit growth. As consumers of this software we must continue to demand that these companies remain true to their missions by continuing to demand the software they promise to provide. Indeed, industry leaders and "near monopolists" do have an opporunity to stifle development. However, our conitnued demand of superior software will prevent them from doing this. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.essentialsecurity.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.essentialsecurity.com/</a>
Posted by bayny (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Improving security is up to us...and them
While the actions of a "near monopolist" such as Microsoft are sometimes frightening to other businesses and consumers in the industry, we need not have our focus removed from the real issue at hand. The missions of Microsoft's security division and of other secuirty companies are to provide their customers with the most advanced security software available, not to limit growth. As consumers of this software we must continue to demand that these companies remain true to their missions by continuing to demand the software they promise to provide. Indeed, industry leaders and "near monopolists" do have an opporunity to stifle development. However, our conitnued demand of superior software will prevent them from doing this. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.essentialsecurity.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.essentialsecurity.com/</a>
Posted by bayny (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft Should Aim For A December 25th...
... launch date and not consider the possibilities of a delay and not as was stated earlier this month by Microsoft when it "suggested that the European launch of the already oft-delayed Vista could be pushed back as the result of a lack of direction from the Commission"; after all, apart from security needs... the percentage (not concerned about the EU market and its posturings) of the 90% plus market share must certainly be looking forward to other functionalities from VISTA to conduct their business at hand. If the EU wishes, they can "wait" until a Version of the OS that fits their specific needs ships to manufacturers!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
it's all about American companies
first of all: for those interested in the story from the EU: check
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/antitrust/cases/" target="_newWindow">http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/antitrust/cases/</a>
microsoft/

So I really don't understand why all these hatred mails wrt to the
EU are popping up:
- in December 1998 an AMERICAN company, called SUN finds
that it cannot compete with MS because it lacks information on
how to interoperate with Windows. Apparently, the AMERICAN
legislation doesn't care about this, and allows AMERICAN
companies to kill each other on the market? Not so in Europe
where the legislation foresees in competition. Because of this
AMERICAN complaint, the commision starts an investigation, and
finds that eg WMP comes bundled with Windows (and is not
available as a separate download) which hurts - again - another
AMERICAN company, called Netscape.
Because MS doesn't want to comply with the EU legislation, they
get a fine (I don't know about AMERICAN laws, but in Europe,
you get punished when breaking a law)

Now comes Vista, and what seems: anti-virus software comes
bundled with the OS, thus making it tough for competition to
sell competing products. In this case, AMERICAN companies like
Symantec and McAfee are likely to issue a same kind of
complaint to the EU commision when Vista gets released in
Europe with bundled SW.

Bottom line: the EU regulation is preventing from AMERICAN
companies to go bankrupt because of the monopoly position of
MS, that is bundling SW in the OS, which should be separated
from it, allowing competition to offer competing products.

So if you like seing Sun, Apple, Netscape, Symantec, McAfee and
other AMERICAN companies go out of business, please keep on
bashing the EU legislation. If OTOH you like competition on the
market, you may get your legislators convinced as well for a
similar law in the US.
Posted by dirk goedseels (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE
condescending and arrogant.

It not competition if companies are forbidden from gaining an advantage on their rivals, it's just mediocrity. Enforcing this misguided notion of competition to the point it prevents basic improvements like protecting the kernal from unauthorized kernal modification isn't a good thing. So what it forces Symmantec and McAfee to design their software a little different, it's a new OS and it's unreasonable to expect the way things are done not to change. Truth be told Symmantec etc shouldn't be rootkiting people systems the way they do now anyway. Norton's security products are becoming notorious for causing problems and instability.


If you both to check the finacial information for Symmantec, McAfee, Sun. Apple, and Netscape (now part of AOL/Timewarner) they're in no danger of going backrupt. Indeed Apple is very profitable company and has had outstanding success with it ventures into the Windows side (like iTunes).


"EU regulation is preventing from AMERICAN companies to go bankrupt because of the monopoly position of MS"

Yeah, I think you give yourselves entirely too much credit. Believe what you want just don't get injured yourselves while patting yourselves on the back.


"If OTOH you like competition on the market, you may get your legislators convinced as well for a similar law in the US."

Oh hell no. EU laws can stay in the EU.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Alan Greenspan did not like antitrust laws and their authorities!
Actually, I do not like Ayn Rand, but still, in her book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, there is an interesting chapter (Antitrust, chapter 4) written by Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve). I, hereby quote from page 70 a few sentences written by Alan Greenspan The entire structure of antitrust statutes in this country is a jumble of economic irrationality and ignorance. It is the product: (a) of a gross misinterpretation of history, and (b) of rather naive, and certainly unrealistic economic theories. I, hereby also quote some of the last sentences from this chapter (page 71) Whatever damage the antitrust laws may have done to our economy, whatever distortions of the structure of the nations capital they may have created, these are less disastrous than the fact that the effective purpose, the hidden intent, and the actual practice of the antitrust laws in the United States have led to the condemnation of the productive and efficient members of our society because they are productive and efficient. Naturally, these statements also can be applied to EU regulators and antitrust laws.

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Alan Greenspan was wrong....
...and right at the same time: "the hidden intent, and the actual practice of the antitrust laws in the United States have led to the condemnation of the productive and efficient members of our society because they are productive and efficient - how true; power to break up a corporation, like evry power - corrupts and was/is/will be abused.

But - "wild west" capitalism led to Great Depression, this is not an interpretation or misinterpretation, it happened - antitrust laws were invented for a reason, then - misapplied very often, with some nasty consequences; still - probably a better outcome than another Great Depression.
Posted by myszak (15 comments )
Link Flag
A few bad laws...
Just because there are a few bad antitrust laws does not invalidate the intent of antitrust laws in general, which would be something like "not allowing a very few companies to own the world"

Too much of anything can be bad, no matter how good a thing it is. This includes capitalism and its logical outcome, monopolies.
Posted by Mergatroid Mania (8395 comments )
Link Flag
Read Alan Greenspans Own Story Against Anti Trust Laws!
Go to;
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.polyconomics.com/searchbase/06-12-98.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.polyconomics.com/searchbase/06-12-98.html</a>

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If it doesn't "operate" the computer it shouldn't be in an operating system
For years and years Microsoft (amongst others) has been stretching what an "operating system" is.

First it was forcing a browser on people who didn't ask for it by making it part of the o/s. And where are other browser companies now? Giving their products away for free because no one would pay for a browser when one comes with the o.s. Then it was a movie player, and audio software, hard drive maintenance, word processor, teminal software and many other examples of software that have nothing to do with operating a computer but rather are applications. If you wanted to go so far, you could even include notepad, calculator and wordpad. None of these are part of an o/s, yet all are free with your purchase of Windows.

Now, I'm not saying a basic calculator being included with the o/s is damaging anything, but the principle is the same. Where do you draw the line?

Personally I would have drawn it right before Internet Explorer was integrated into the system. At that point (I beileve that's when Windows 98 came out), Microsoft's windows o/s had all the applications any o/s should have. None more were needed to have a perfectly functional operating system and computer.

But did they stop there? No. They just keep adding more and more junk into the o/s. Now it's security software. Can you say "Good bye Symantec", or "Hope you have plans to GIVE your products away"? Also there's anti spyware software, and search software. None of this software should be a part of an "operating System", and all of it takes advantage of the fact that 90% of people who own computers use Windows.

Now, I know Microsoft isn't the only company doing this. There is at least one other, although with a small minority of the installed base. This goes to prove the old adage "Power Corrupts".

All these additional "products" Microsoft wants to include in Windows should be removed, and they should be made to sell them seperately. Internet Explorer, Media Player, security software, search software and any other applications should be sold separately.

This would allow other companies to compete against Microsoft in everything except the o/s market. Microsoft could sell a "Windows Companion Software" CD with all the other junk (oops, I mean applications) on it. Of course, they don't do this since they know not as many people would get it due to the cost, or those same people might choose another companies product.
Posted by Mergatroid Mania (8395 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about TCP/IP support?
Why not punish Microsoft for including TCP/IP support to Windows? It put Trumpet Winsock out of business.
Posted by alegr (1590 comments )
Link Flag
I would hate to buy your vision of an OS
It would be worthless out of the box, and it would probably be a lot more expensive and unstable since you'd have to get every utility and application from third parties. There is another saying you should become familar with "Don't like it, don't buy it". Microsoft has a near monopoly because people buy their stuff.

You'd be hard pressed to find an OS these days that doesn't come with at least few applications. Most Linux distro, Mac OS, Windows, and the various versions of BSD. Why are they included? To make the OS useful ASAP instead of just functional.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
"Software Patents for Methods of ... BusinessA Second ... Citizen No More"
&gt;&gt;&gt;"Apparently, the AMERICAN legislation doesn't care about this, and allows AMERICAN companies to kill each other on the market? Not so in Europe
where the legislation foresees in competition. Because of this AMERICAN complaint, the commision starts an investigation, and finds that eg WMP comes bundled with Windows (and is not available as a separate download) which hurts - again - another AMERICAN company, called Netscape.
Because MS doesn't want to comply with the EU legislation, they get a fine (I don't know about AMERICAN laws, but in Europe, you get punished when breaking a law"&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt; RE: "Software Patents for Methods of Doing BusinessA Second Class Citizen No More" as follows;

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/matters/matters-0012.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/matters/matters-0012.html</a>

which states as follows; "For many years, anyone seeking to patent the use of a computer for functions that were previously performed manually had double trouble if the invention related to a way of doing business. First, the Patent and Trademark Office decided that mathematical algorithms were not a statutory category of subject matter that could be protected by patent. Second, business methods were held to be unpatentable. These two objections have been eroded over the years.

Recently, software inventions involving algorithms have been eligible for United States patents as long as tangible results are produced. Also, in the mid-1980s, Merrill Lynch won a court ruling that it was entitled to have a patent on its Cash Management System, which involved various types of processing of financial data by computer.

In 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the State Street case destroyed the last remnant of the method of doing business objection to obtaining a patent. It ruled that no legal basis exists for such an exception to patentability and that if an invention otherwise meets the standards for patentability, there is no legitimate basis for denying the issuance of a patent. This ruling was made for a software invention that used computerized processing to establish a system for pooling of assets of mutual funds.

The State Street decision, combined with the rapid growth of e-commerce, has led to a large number of patent filings on software inventions related to a method of doing business. Amazon.com, for example, patented its 1-click system, which enhances the speed and efficiency with which a customer can place an order.

As a result of the patenting changes, people creating new, computerized business systems must consider patent protection. The fact that a computer is performing accounting or financial processing which previously had been performed manually does not preclude patentability if the standards of patentability (i.e., usefulness, novelty, and unobviousness) are met. Simply computerizing an operation may not result in a patentable invention, however. One must look at the differences between the com-puterized system and the prior manual approach, as well as the value added through the use of the computerized system. One also should consider the types of patent protection available, e.g., methods, apparatus, and products.

Another dimension of the State Street ruling is that the patent system has moved farther away from the requirement that there be an application of a mathematical algorithm to produce a useful, concrete and tangible result. This prior standard was generally interpreted as requiring a relationship with a physical world. For example, such a result might involve the use of the mathematical algorithm in a computation, which, through a servomechanism, was fed back to a rolling mill controller to adjust the gap between a pair of rolls. When the State Street ruling accepted the processing of quantities of money to provide numerical information not involving direct, physical interaction with the world, a further change in the law occurred. The determination of the share price based upon dollar input was held to be fixed for recording and reporting purposes and was deemed to satisfy the useful, concrete, and tangible result standard. Because way-of-doing-business patenting is no longer a separate category, patents may be available on inventions that involve software for processing data of various types, not necessarily limited to financial data, so long as a useful, concrete, and tangible result has been produced.

Considering the State Street ruling, it is easy to understand why the number of filings on e-commerce-type inventions has increased dramatically. These inventions may involve the sale of goods or services over the Internet, making travel arrangements, or almost any business conducted on the Internet with software that enhances the ease and speed with which information may be delivered and the transaction consummated.

With the elimination of the major hurdles to patenting a mathematical algorithm and a way of doing business, there is no logical basis for making distinctions between financial software and any other software that processes data to produce a useful, concrete, and tangible result. This series of changes will not alter the right to patent certain types of software inventions, which previously have been clearly patentable as a result of their performing a useful function, being part of a physical system, or being part of a unique product. For software developments where either of the two objections to patentability has been applied, however, opportunity exists for obtaining meaningful, valid patent protection. Therefore, those involved with such new technology should thoroughly evaluate the possibility of patent protection.

In view of the clarification of the law and the large number of people who are seeking patents in this area, it is important that anyone considering protecting financial software inventions make an evaluation and, if an application is to be filed, that it be filed promptly."

"Bottom line:" Some Europe countries have the rights not to participate with American Forces or be in support of them when they are engaged in hostilities with other countries (Iraq....) So, it is convenient to apply Eurpoean/American/International laws in some cases and not in some. Huh!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Response to subject "Oh Canada"
You actually said:

"If people in Canada dont like Windows, why not use something else? Is MS sitting there with Nukes pointing at you mandating that you use MS products? The fact is people are using Windows world over because THATS WHAT THEY WANT TO USE."

As a Canadian, I can tell you that Windows is definately NOT what I WANT to use. I would prefer ANYTHING I could find that would run the same software. What software you may ask? I am an avid gamer. I put a lot of money into my system, and the purchase of games and I can tell you that if there was another o/s out there that would run all my games I would dump Windows in an instant.

Please, don't presume to know what Canadians want!

If Linux would run the games I have, there would be no Microsoft products in my home.

It's not Microsoft products the world wants, it's compatibility. Microsoft just got there first riding on the coat tails of Intel and IBM.
Posted by Mergatroid Mania (8395 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's what they get
If you buy a PC, MS is what you get. Business ISV's try to make you use MS, as they get more profit and don't have to have a Linux support guru, even though access to more RAM per process via Linux, could be what you really need.

If you want to play games, buy a games machine. The experience is sooo much better.

Better to use your experience and start up your own Linux PC business. Being a SLED 10 reseller would let you avoid the majority of support issues, yet still be undercutting MS system prices.
Posted by Stomfi (52 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Oh Canada
" As a Canadian, I can tell you that Windows is definately NOT what I WANT to use. "

Then why are you using it? Stop whining and use Linux or OSX. Dont give us this garbage about 'thats what comes on my pc'. There's plenty of places that will sell you either a PC with no OS, one with linux, or a Mac. Or you can just eat the extra cost and wipe the hard disk. MS is not holding a gun to your head forcing you to use Windows.

If you hate MS so much, why not just give up playing games on Windows? Go outside and take a walk instead. Or get a playstation. Besides, there's a lot of games on Linux and Mac nowadays. Play one of them instead.

But, I suspect, its easier for you to sit there and whine and complain than it is to actually take a step forward in solving a problem.

In the end, while you say you 'hate' windows and microsoft, your actions are saying quite another thing.
Posted by (402 comments )
Link Flag
A VERY PROFOUND STATEMENT!
"Microsoft just got there first riding on the coat tails of Intel and IBM"; but, is this statement true when it should read, Microsoft got there first because IBM and Intel gave them the "blank checks" to achieve what ever dominant position they have succeeded in reaching in the computer software industry around the world and this is the case with regards to IBM's historical position:

"In the Beginning DOS - 1981"

"In 1981 when the original IBM Personal Computer was announced, IBM released three operating systems for it. How many of you remember that? Since I wrote the first IBM course on how to fix this original PC, I had to know at least a little about all three of them.

IBM decided early in the development process of the PC that they did not want to hire a bunch of programmers to write software for it - especially an operating system. IBM wanted the hardware business and did not care about the software. Since there was no clear-cut contender for an operating system at the time, IBM approached three organizations about writing one for the PC.

IBM first approached Digital Research and asked them to create a version of CP/M (Control Program/Microcomputer). The owner of DR - Gary Kildall - snubbed the IBM lawyers and went flying or golfing (depending upon whose story you hear) instead. My latest information indicates that he was flying and did not golf.

IBM then turned to Microsoft. Bill Gates was very receptive to the IBM overture and also had information about an operating system which had already been written that would fill IBM's need very nicely. Gates said yes to IBM, bought the operating system called DOS for a relatively trivial amount of money, $20,000 to $80,000, again depending upon who is telling the story, and modified it somewhat to run on the IBM PC.

For you trivia buffs, the other OS delivered with the original PC was the UCSD P-System (University of California at San Diego Pseudo code System). I will permit those who make a living from documenting the history of computers to describe that operating system elsewhere.

Incorrect Assumptions

I suppose we all know what assumptions can do for us. IBM made some interesting assumptions about the original PC in 1981; or rather, Don Estridge and his very autonomous development team did.

I was in a meeting with Estridge and a number of other people in April of 1981, when I first was assigned to write the IBM education for the PC. It was stated at this meeting that IBM expected to sell about 275,000 Personal Computers - over a five year product life. in fact, IBM sold almost that many on August 11, the day before the official announcement. IBM held a preannouncement showing of the PC in Toronto at the annual ComputerLand Dealers of North America conference. ComputerLand dealers placed orders for nearly 250,000 computers that day. On August 12, IBM took orders for almost 250,000 more Personal Computers. IBM's planners have not been correct since.

At the same meeting the target environment for the PC was described. Here are some of the assumptions made then.

* Small business would buy most PCs.
* Large business would stick with mainframes and dumb terminals.
* A few departments in large businesses would use PCs for local, non-connected work.
* The PC would be used for one task only. Not just one task at a time, but a single task all day long. This might be a spreadsheet, or word processing, or accounting, but no more than one task would be performed all day.



Based on these assumptions, the operating system was specified to be single tasking. Besides, although the hardware was far more powerful than anything else available in the microcomputer market at the time, it just was not powerful enough to warrant the extra load that multitasking would place on it.

As we all know, DOS became the OS of choice for the Personal Computer. In part, this was due to its significantly lower price when compared to the other operating system choices then available for the PC."; please follow the attached link to read the rest of the story:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.os2bbs.com/os2news/OS2History.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.os2bbs.com/os2news/OS2History.html</a>

So, why put the blame on the Microsoft Corporation for the dominant position they find themselves in.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Very Profound
This is not about blame.

This is about abiding by the legal framework in which you chose to do business.

If you break the law you should pay the cost.

The laws stand as they are; Microsoft can choose whether to abide by them or not.
Posted by Every Man (8 comments )
Link Flag
When Government regulates the public loses!
I think it is good if Microsoft competes aggressively. I do not think that they should be regulated in any way. It is, otherwise, like stopping, a political party for getting too many votes and for competing aggressively and then accusing the winning party to be a monopolist (in the political process you will have this monopoly by only getting majority votes).

When people buy products, they, by these very actions, actually, vote for those products. We should accept and respect that. Talk is really cheap and only actions count. Only by actions people manifest their true values. The political process is, therefore, no substitute for the complex market process. If, for instance, people do not like Microsofts actions and attitude, they will try out alternatives. Those values counts and influence the market outcome.

It is not, only, the quality of the products that counts. Advertising is very important too. If consumers do not know about products, what good are they? How can products that no one knows about benefit the common man?

Innovation in itself is of no value if the consumers do not demand it. If some products are technologically superior to others and are not demanded, it does not prove that anything is wrong. It is an illusion to ask the experts which products that should dominate the marketplace. Because people are happy in those cases with the inferior ones and it is this happiness and consumer satisfaction that counts. If this happiness is dependent upon ignorance, advertising, as mentioned, is demanded and will be profitable.

The price of a product depends upon how much the consumer values it. For instance, the market price for a house is not the same as the market price for a glass of milk. If, for example, the OS Vista will not be highly valued by the consumer, the price of it will fall. If it will be highly valued, consequently, the price will be high. So, Microsoft has every incentive to make, in the point of view of the consumers (and not in the eyes of some experts), a valued OS.

I also think that it is good that Apple and Linux compete aggressively with each other and with Microsoft. In some market segments Apple is the leader and in the server market, Linux is the leader.

The essence with this comment is that the market process is a very complex thing and all sorts of values are computed and taking account for. Only the market process can handle this complexity and satisfy human wants and this process can only work properly if the market is free. Governments are no substitutes for the market process.

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: When Government regulates...
All business is regulated. Without regulation bills do not have to be paid, stealing is okay and taxes are not paid etc.

If you remove this regulatory framework it is normally referred to as anarchy and a gun is the usual method of goods exchange.

If a company wishes to do business in a given country or market they must accept the legal framework this brings, both the good and bad aspects.

This idea of a "market" that exists in vaccum to the benefit of all is a myth. No such device has ever existed. History shows that all business or commerce exists within constraints and legal frameworks - even early systems of barter.

Our modern system exists almost without morality as it is driven only by profit; the taking of chiwh is largely glorified. To suggest that a greed based system self regulates itself to the benefit of all is to ignore history and take the most optimistic vision of utopia.

I would have thought, of the many possible ways to organise commerce that one based on simple greed would require more regulation rather than less.
Posted by Every Man (8 comments )
Link Flag
 

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