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Microsoft Anti-Trust Problems <Again>

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  • User profile image
    Manip

    Microsoft, being Microsoft are about to break the anti-trust / monopoly regulations with Windows Vista.

    Overview
    Most people on the internet don't understand what Microsoft is and isn't allowed to do. In brief they can produce and release any software they want but are not allowed to use sales of Windows or Office to boost the sales of these third party products.

    They can also not use knowledge of the platform (Windows) to give themselves an unfair competitive advantage.

    This means if Microsoft wants to make an internet browser, even one that integrates closely with the Operating System then they can but they can't ship it on the Windows CD. If they made said browser downloadable from Microsoft.com then nobody would fine and or sanction them.

    New Violation
    You might have read about Microsoft adding "Windows Defender" to Windows Vista. This is a blatant violation of anti-trust regulations; it ships on the Windows CD and uses sales of Windows to boost its own sales/usage.
    There is also questions as to if Microsoft is using their unique knowledge of the Windows Operating System to improve the product in a way no competitor would be able to.

    People asked me a while ago if Windows Defender (Anti-Spyware at the time) was in violation of any anti-trust rules and my answer was no. Because at the time it was understood that said software would be an extra download for users; with more information it is now clear that Microsoft might get sued or worse, a competitor could take out an injunction against Windows Vista in order to stop Microsoft selling it.

  • User profile image
    jmacdonagh

    Manip wrote:

    Microsoft, being Microsoft are about to break the anti-trust / monopoly regulations with Windows Vista.

    Overview
    Most people on the internet don't understand what Microsoft is and isn't allowed to do. In brief they can produce and release any software they want but are not allowed to use sales of Windows or Office to boost the sales of these third party products.

    They can also not use knowledge of the platform (Windows) to give themselves an unfair competitive advantage.

    This means if Microsoft wants to make an internet browser, even one that integrates closely with the Operating System then they can but they can't ship it on the Windows CD. If they made said browser downloadable from Microsoft.com then nobody would fine and or sanction them.

    New Violation
    You might have read about Microsoft adding "Windows Defender" to Windows Vista. This is a blatant violation of anti-trust regulations; it ships on the Windows CD and uses sales of Windows to boost its own sales/usage.
    There is also questions as to if Microsoft is using their unique knowledge of the Windows Operating System to improve the product in a way no competitor would be able to.

    People asked me a while ago if Windows Defender (Anti-Spyware at the time) was in violation of any anti-trust rules and my answer was no. Because at the time it was understood that said software would be an extra download for users; with more information it is now clear that Microsoft might get sued or worse, a competitor could take out an injunction against Windows Vista in order to stop Microsoft selling it.



    The anti-trust problem Microsoft has had in the past has nothing to do with shipping good software bundled with their system. The problem arose when users realized they could not uninstall those programs from their system (e.g. Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer). If Windows Defender cannot be uninstalled, there might be a problem, but we don't know about that yet.

    They would have the same problem if they installed IIS by default and didn't allow it to be uninstalled.

  • User profile image
    Jorgie

    Manip, you are way off the mark.

    Prior to the Microsoft vs DOJ case, bundling (the specific charge I think you are talking about) was 'forcing someone to BUY products they don't want to get the products they do'. You know like the some networks make the cable companies BUY certain crap channels that none of their subscribers want if they want to get the popular channels.

    Notice the bolded BUY above. In many folks opinions (lawyers as well as laymen like myself) that charge should have been dropped because MS did not charge extra for IE/WMP, unlike the networks that charge a great deal for channels that no one wants.

    Anyway... it is my understanding that they can add just about anything they want to the default windows install as long as they:

    1. Allow you to uninstall it (or at least turn it off)
    2. Allow competitive products to be installed and take over the provided service.
    3. DO NOT charge extra for it. (I assume they can charge extra for it if they offer a version of windows without it for a cheaper price.)


    Remember, the stuff we are talking about is a NORMAL business practice in just about every industry and these special rules only apply to MS because they were found to be a monopoly.  And with Apple/*NIX market share at the level it is now it is questionable if they could even be declared a monopoly anymore.

    If you want more examples:

    1. Music. Most of the time you have to buy the whole CD even if you want just one song. (Thanks to on-line music sales, this the only game in town anymore.)
    2. Fast food. Often you can get a burger, drink and fries cheaper then you can get any two of the 3.

  • User profile image
    Jorgie

    Beer28 wrote:
    It also violates Midway Amusment's LLC's US trademark registration on the defender trademark as well. I emailed them a little while ago to point that out.


    Nice try Beer but:

    1. They are using the mark Windows Defender. If you don't think that matters, go look for case law relating to Railroad Tycoon and all the knockoffs. Not to mention the non-MS products with Windows in their names. Yes, they will likely get slapped with a S&D letter for ads that slip by using just Defender.

    2. The chance of anyone confusing Windows Defender the OS with DEFENDER the game is minuscle. Even if #1 did not apply Midway would have prove the likelyhood of this confusion.

    Jorgie

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    Manip wrote:
    New Violation
    You might have read about Microsoft adding "Windows Defender" to Windows Vista. This is a blatant violation of anti-trust regulations; it ships on the Windows CD and uses sales of Windows to boost its own sales/usage.
    There is also questions as to if Microsoft is using their unique knowledge of the Windows Operating System to improve the product in a way no competitor would be able to.

    People asked me a while ago if Windows Defender (Anti-Spyware at the time) was in violation of any anti-trust rules and my answer was no. Because at the time it was understood that said software would be an extra download for users; with more information it is now clear that Microsoft might get sued or worse, a competitor could take out an injunction against Windows Vista in order to stop Microsoft selling it.

    So I guess you conveniently skipped the part...

    In addition to the work that my team's been doing to develop this for Windows Vista over the past many months, it will also be available to existing Windows XP users, replacing the current Windows AntiSpyware technology we've been shipping in beta since January

    ... whups. There goes your rant.

    Maybe they should offer Introduction To Read 101 classes when you start using Linux or something.

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    Beer28 wrote:
    It also violates Midway Amusment's LLC's US trademark registration on the defender trademark as well. I emailed them a little while ago to point that out.

    http://www.atarihq.com/news/2001/0517.html

    DEFENDER and MIDWAY are registered trademarks of Midway Amusement

    You don't get it, eh?

    Word Mark DEFENDER
    Goods and Services IC 028. US 022 023. G & S: Video Output Game Machines

    Notice the "Video Output Game Machines" part. Unless Windows Defender becomes a videogame, Midway cannot say anything.

    But hey, this is more stuff we can add to the "Moronic stuff that Beer28 claims" folder. Smiley

  • User profile image
    Manip

    jmacdonagh wrote:
    The anti-trust problem Microsoft has had in the past has nothing to do with shipping good software bundled with their system. The problem arose when users realized they could not uninstall those programs from their system (e.g. Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer). If Windows Defender cannot be uninstalled, there might be a problem, but we don't know about that yet.


    Looking though the documentation it is clear that you have never read it or understand the absolute basics of monopoly law, case in point to my "No one on the internet understands this" statement at the top in fact. The complaint does not contain the word "Uninstall" and says that Internet Explorer CAN be removed but OEMs are prevented from doing so. Plus there is no item in the complaint that raises your point. I expect an apology.

    Text taken from "[the] Complaint."

    Microsoft Windows is a monopoly

    2.  Microsoft possesses (and for several years has possessed) monopoly power in the market for personal computer operating systems. Microsoft's "Windows" operating systems are used on over 80% of Intel-based PCs, the dominant type of PC in the United States. More than 90% of new Intel-based PCs are shipped with a version of Windows pre-installed. PC manufacturers (often referred to as Original Equipment Manufacturers, or "OEMs") have no commercially reasonable alternative to Microsoft operating systems for the PCs that they distribute.

    The complaint

    5.  To protect its valuable Windows monopoly against such potential competitive threats, and to extend its operating system monopoly into other software markets, Microsoft has engaged in a series of anticompetitive activities. Microsoft's conduct includes agreements tying other Microsoft software products to Microsoft's Windows operating system; [...] [...]

    8.   Non-Microsoft browsers are perhaps the most significant vehicle for distribution of Java technology to end users. Microsoft has recognized that the widespread use of browsers other than its own threatens to increase the distribution and use of Java, and in so doing threatens Microsoft's operating system monopoly. For this reason, a presentation to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates on January 5, 1997, on how to respond to the Java threat emphasized "Increase IE share" as a key strategy. (MS7 005529-44).

    The clutch of it

    10.  To respond to the competitive threat posed by Netscape's browser, Microsoft embarked on an extensive campaign to market and distribute Microsoft's own Internet browser, which it named "Internet Explorer" or "IE." Microsoft executives have described this campaign as a "jihad" to win the "browser war."

    11.  Because of its resources and programming technology, Microsoft was well positioned to develop and market a browser in competition with Netscape. Indeed, continued competition on the merits between Netscape's Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer would have resulted in greater innovation and the development of better products at lower prices. Moreover, in the absence of Microsoft's anticompetitive conduct, the offsetting advantages of Microsoft's size and dominant position in desktop software and Netscape's position as the browser innovator and the leading browser supplier, and the benefit to consumers of product differentiation, could have been expected to sustain competition on the merits between these companies, and perhaps others that have entered and might enter the browser market.

    12.  Microsoft, however, has not been willing simply to compete on the merits. For example, as Microsoft's Christian Wildfeuer wrote in February 1997, Microsoft concluded that it would "be very hard to increase browser share on the merits of IE 4 alone. It will be more important to leverage the OS asset to make people use IE instead of Navigator." (MS7 004346). Thus, Microsoft began, and continues today, a pattern of anticompetitive practices designed to thwart browser competition on the merits, to deprive customers of a choice between alternative browsers, and to exclude Microsoft's Internet browser competitors.

    Jorgie wrote:
    Prior to the Microsoft vs DOJ case, bundling (the specific charge I think you are talking about) was 'forcing someone to BUY products they don't want to get the products they do'. You know like the some networks make the cable companies BUY certain crap channels that none of their subscribers want if they want to get the popular channels.

    Notice the bolded BUY above. In many folks opinions (lawyers as well as laymen like myself) that charge should have been dropped because MS did not charge extra for IE/WMP, unlike the networks that charge a great deal for channels that no one wants.


    Thanks for proving my point about people on the Internet guys. Read the above documentation that makes it very clear that in fact them tying IE into the OS was the problem and does not make the distinction between buying and free. Plus that is your opinion that even someone that has taken "101 Business law" can say no lawyer would support, it has no basis in law...

    If you can quote a non-Microsoft lawyer that agrees the case should be dismissed because Microsoft didn't charge for IE then I await the link.

    Jorgie wrote:

    1. Allow you to uninstall it (or at least turn it off)
    2. Allow competitive products to be installed and take over the provided service.
    3. DO NOT charge extra for it. (I assume they can charge extra for it if they offer a version of windows without it for a cheaper price.)


    1. Wrong. What does un-install-ability have to do with monopoly law? Is it not a monopoly if software can uninstall? No. Is it not a monopoly abusing its position because it can be uninstalled? No.

    2. Wrong, in this case. You are correct in that Microsoft or other illegal monopolies aren't allowed to block competition in that way.

    3. Charge / Cost is beside the point. Even a free product has 'worth' to its producer thus damage can be done giving something away (see Linux eating Microsoft's software market).

    PaoloM wrote:
    So I guess you conveniently skipped the part...

    In addition to the work that my team's been doing to develop this for Windows Vista over the past many months, it will also be available to existing Windows XP users, replacing the current Windows AntiSpyware technology we've been shipping in beta since January

    ... whups. There goes your rant.

    Maybe they should offer Introduction To Read 101 classes when you start using Linux or something.


    I don't use Linux. I did read that before I posted. And that has absolutely and totally no bearing on ANYTHING I said and just shows how ignorant you are when it comes to this topic area. Internet Explorer was also released on Windows 95, but yet that was still illegal and wrong .... Media Player is downloadable for Windows 95 but yet again it doesn't change anything.

  • User profile image
    Cybermagell​an

    In order for Microsoft to actually be charged with Anti-Trust someone would have to first persue it...considering the nature of the Internet and the home computer users out there Symantec already stated that they would not file against Microsoft because of it...instead they believe their livelyhood depends on it.

    A move to sue Microsoft about this would be a negative impact on the original company/organization that chose to do so. I think it'll be very little of impact. The only people that I can see doing this are people that write the spyware/viruses/trojans and THEN say that Microsoft monopolizes on the removal of their software.

  • User profile image
    Deactivated User

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    Deactivated User

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  • User profile image
    Cybermagell​an

    Beer28 wrote:

    When AT&T made it so people couldn't chose phone carriers, the govt got involved and made it right. They were going to make our PC situation right and they dropped the ball. Or should I say it was dropped for them.


    Yeah because you know Microsoft is going around telling people they can't use Linux, or that using a Mac will send them to hell (Though really it will).

    No, they are saying WHY you shouldn't...not forcing you too...

    P.S. Sorry to bring back the whole Laptop/Printer issue for you Beer. I forget was it price or the monopoly that forced you into buying a Windows machine and not a Powerbook?

  • User profile image
    Deactivated User

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  • User profile image
    Minh

    But, then, the US's economic model isn't Laissez Faire (strict free market economy). We don't let producers collude & fix prices. We don't allow illegal monopoly (Baseball is a legal one). We have legal status for labor, etc.... So, it's a bit more socialist than you thought.

  • User profile image
    Karim

    PaoloM wrote:
    Beer28 wrote: It also violates Midway Amusment's LLC's US trademark registration on the defender trademark as well. I emailed them a little while ago to point that out.

    http://www.atarihq.com/news/2001/0517.html

    DEFENDER and MIDWAY are registered trademarks of Midway Amusement

    You don't get it, eh?

    Word Mark DEFENDER
    Goods and Services IC 028. US 022 023. G & S: Video Output Game Machines

    Notice the "Video Output Game Machines" part. Unless Windows Defender becomes a videogame, Midway cannot say anything.

    But hey, this is more stuff we can add to the "Moronic stuff that Beer28 claims" folder.


    LOL There's a folder for that?!?  Now you tell me.  I sure hope this folder is on a dynamic disk so the volume can be extended...

    Beer really doesn't understand the differences between copyright, patent, trademark, etc. and proves it to the world every time he posts on the subjects.  He thinks Midway owns the word "Defender" and no one else can use it in conjunction with anything else.

    And the reason why he is sending off these emails to Midway, Atari et alia is probably because Microsoft sent him a cease-and-desist about Beer's company, "Lincrosoft" (which Beer claims was not intended to sound ANYTHING like "Microsoft.")  He also claims that the reason why he renamed "Lincrosoft" to "Beercosoft" was NOT because of a cease-and-desist, but rather because some nonexistent company in Italy "forced" him to.  Whatever.  Anyway, this is just a vendetta for Beer, so you've got to factor in the revenge angle on top of his ignorance.

    Manip: I don't claim to be a lawyer or to understand anti-trust.  My understanding of Windows Defender is that they will include it with Vista, but users will be able to choose a competing anti-spyware product in the Windows Security Center.  That doesn't seem like cause to break up Microsoft to me, but I'm not the judge.

    I'm sure Symantec is bitching to everyone who will lend an ear.  In my opinion, their products have gotten bloated and buggy, and don't sufficiently address REAL security issues like spyware and rootkits.  One irony of course being that Norton Internet Security (which has HOW many services?) wants to DISABLE Windows Security Center, the Windows Firewall, etc. etc. and it's very difficult to tell it, "I want to use the WINDOWS Firewall not the Symantec one."  I've got the horror stories; don't get me started.

    So yeah, I can see why Microsoft finally giving them some competition would scare them.  Symantec's going to have to go back to making good products!  Personally I see this as PRO-competitive, not ANTI-competitive.  But again, I am not the judge.

    The greatest irony, though, is how this is a lose-lose proposition for Microsoft.  For years people have derided Microsoft products as insecure.  And now that Microsoft is making their products secure, and providing the tools (like Windows Defender) so that they can STAY secure, people are crying foul, because the improved security is somehow "anticompetitive."

    I'm sure the EU is already trying to figure out what to call the lobotomized version of Vista that ships without security features such as a firewall, a popup blocker and anti-spyware sofware.  "Windows Vista O?"  "Windows Vista, Extra Hackable Edition?"

  • User profile image
    BruceMorgan

    Manip wrote:
    Microsoft, being Microsoft are about to break the anti-trust / monopoly regulations with Windows Vista.

    Overview
    Most people on the internet don't understand what Microsoft is and isn't allowed to do. In brief they can produce and release any software they want but are not allowed to use sales of Windows or Office to boost the sales of these third party products.

    They can also not use knowledge of the platform (Windows) to give themselves an unfair competitive advantage.

    This means if Microsoft wants to make an internet browser, even one that integrates closely with the Operating System then they can but they can't ship it on the Windows CD. If they made said browser downloadable from Microsoft.com then nobody would fine and or sanction them.

    Normally, I don't waste my time on this subject, but Manip, you're way off the mark on what "Microsoft is and isn't allowed to do".

    Go read the Final Judgment on the DOJ's page United States v. Microsoft.

    Section III discusses"Prohibited Conduct".  You also may be interested in section VI, "Definitions", where "Microsoft Middleware" (a very key term) is defined.

    Microsoft indeed can ship an internet browser (like IE, say) on the Windows CD. 

  • User profile image
    irascian

    Cybermagellan wrote:


    Yeah because you know Microsoft is going around telling people they can't use Linux, or that using a Mac will send them to hell (Though really it will).

    No, they are saying WHY you shouldn't...not forcing you too...



    That's not really the point. Some of us remember the time when Microsoft had no browser and Netscape sold one (they were a bloody awful company to deal with but that's a whole different story!) and it arrived on floppy disks! Enter Microsoft with all their monopoly power and Office money with a "free" browser and guess what? A company decimated by a "monopoly's" underhand tactics. Competition decimated! Sure there's Firefox and Opera for those fundamentally opposed to Microsoft's monopoly but people are greedy (Man, I hate to come across supporting Beer28 but maybe a bunch of people here SHOULD go and watch "The Corporation" to see how bad things really are) and people will naturally gravitate to the hassle-free free stuff.

    The situation with VS2005 and SQL Server 2005 launch is interesting with software being given away like candy at Christmas. But someone somewhere is paying for all this free stuff and although as a developer I like a monopoly situation (I only have to write my program once!) it's what happens when the monopoly is complete that we should all be worried about (watch that "free" edition of the Express product you use suddenly develope a rather high price tag!)

    All this anti-trust ranting is kind of naive. Some of it is off-kilter, sure, but we need a lot of it in place to stop companies suckering the greedy "I expect everything for free" crowd in the short term only to send all of us to hell in a handcart in the long term.

  • User profile image
    Tensor

    I often wonder if people know what decimate originaly meant.

    Anyhoo thats a complete tangent. Yes Microsoft has doen bad things with its monopoly but I dont blame Microsoft per se - its corporate culture. Any other large corporation in the same position would do the same. Thats doesnt make it right, it makes it so. Dont hate the player, hate the game.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    BruceMorgan wrote:
    Normally, I don't waste my time on this subject, but Manip, you're way off the mark on what "Microsoft is and isn't allowed to do".

    Go read the Final Judgment on the DOJ's page United States v. Microsoft.

    Section III discusses"Prohibited Conduct".  You also may be interested in section VI, "Definitions", where "Microsoft Middleware" (a very key term) is defined.

    Microsoft indeed can ship an internet browser (like IE, say) on the Windows CD. 


    And? ... The final judgement doesn't change the original complaint. So the court made sure OEMs can install other software, big deal. If what you said was even slightly true then it wouldn't make any sense for the EU to have Microsoft remove Media Player from XP...

    Let me repeat; Microsoft can't use Windows or Office to give their other products (free or not) a competitive advantage.

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