Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 14th May 2012 15:20 UTC
Windows "Senate Judiciary Committee staffers plan to take a look at allegations that Microsoft has made it difficult for competing Web browsers to run on a certain version of Windows, an aide to Antitrust subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl told The Hill Thursday." Good. We have to nip this in the bud, and with a bit of luck, it alerts Washington to the iOS situation as well. More browser competition equals a better web - mobile devices aren't magically exempt from this just because they have no keyboard. As simple as that.
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Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Mon 14th May 2012 15:41 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

I wonder why this was never triggered for Windows tax - i.e. brazen OS bundling from MS, which makes buying non Windows computers hard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_refund

This subject explicitly came up on the last major antitrust case, but nothing was made about it:

The Findings of Fact in the United States Microsoft antitrust case of 1998 established that "One of the ways Microsoft combats piracy is by advising OEMs that they will be charged a higher price for Windows unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system pre-installed. In 1998, all major OEMs agreed to this restriction."


Edited 2012-05-14 15:44 UTC

Reply Score: 7

On the other hand
by vaette on Mon 14th May 2012 18:02 UTC
vaette
Member since:
2008-08-09

On the other hand it is a rather bad idea to in law enforce that all operating systems has to provide arbitrary applications with simultaneously writable and executable memory. There is certainly a huge security advantage to banning it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: On the other hand
by shmerl on Mon 14th May 2012 18:16 UTC in reply to "On the other hand"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

IE isn't banned from it. That's the problem. So IE could be exploited, while others are not allowed (presumable because of security reasons, while in reality because of the direct anticompetitive advantage).

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: On the other hand
by vaette on Mon 14th May 2012 18:43 UTC in reply to "RE: On the other hand"
vaette Member since:
2008-08-09

Right, but minimizing the amount of code that is allowed to do potentially risky things is a good thing. The OS loader (and .NET JIT) has to be able to write pages and then mark them executable, the kernel is allowed to leak information between apps randomly, neither is an argument to allow all applications to do it.

I understand that it is unfortunate for competition, but allowing all applications this privilege really is excessive, and defining a bar that Chrome and Firefox reaches while preventing small developers from branding their random flickr viewer a "browser" to get access to dangerously powerful APIs is a nasty can of worms.

I'll also note that neither ChromeOS or Boot to Gecko give anyone else the capability to execute code in writable pages (on top of a lot of other extreme limitations compared to WinRT).

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: On the other hand
by shmerl on Mon 14th May 2012 18:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: On the other hand"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Boot2Gecko can live on top of normal Linux stack potentially, where you can run whatever you want. Whether Mozilla will go that way though, time will show.

Reply Score: 2

RE: On the other hand
by Neolander on Mon 14th May 2012 19:06 UTC in reply to "On the other hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

What about forbidding memory to be RWX, but allowing it to be either R-X or RW-, and letting software dynamically switch pages between both protection modes through system calls ?

This way, one both allows the existence of third-party JITs and still gets the full security benefits of DEP/NX. Forbidding the existence of self-modifying code is impossible anyway, since programs can always include a simple Turing-complete bytecode interpreter and read instructions from a data file in order to get the job done, even if it will be slow.

Edited 2012-05-14 19:10 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: On the other hand
by pgeorgi on Tue 15th May 2012 07:42 UTC in reply to "On the other hand"
pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

On the other hand it is a rather bad idea to in law enforce that all operating systems has to provide arbitrary applications with simultaneously writable and executable memory. There is certainly a huge security advantage to banning it.

They don't provide the CLR compiler to metro apps on ARM as well.
That could be a middle ground: let Firefox et al compile Javascript to CLR, then let Microsoft's own JIT take care of security and speed.

It's allowed to use the JIT on x86, but not on ARM. It's all about iOS-style lock-in (you can't easily run downloadable code that way).

iOS was an oversight (who would have thought that Apple creates a hit?), but Microsoft is usually market leader by "Version 3".

The iOS lock-in should be fixed, the Metro lock-in avoided. No need to repeat making mistakes.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: On the other hand
by vaette on Tue 15th May 2012 11:14 UTC in reply to "RE: On the other hand"
vaette Member since:
2008-08-09

That is an interesting fact, and I agree that this would be a very good middle ground. Possibly restricting the code you generate to the JIT to be run in a secure context as well. Hopefully Microsoft can pick up that idea.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: On the other hand
by pgeorgi on Tue 15th May 2012 12:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: On the other hand"
pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

That is an interesting fact, and I agree that this would be a very good middle ground. Possibly restricting the code you generate to the JIT to be run in a secure context as well. Hopefully Microsoft can pick up that idea.

They already support that, on x86. They presumably support JIT on ARM, too (.net stuff would be very slow on that platform, giving it a bad reputation).

As for restricting the code pushed into the JIT, that's a standard feature on Java and .NET since 1.0.

So until they clear this up, I consider it a deliberate limitation on ARM where it's all about lock down.

Reply Score: 3

Ridiculous
by ToddB on Mon 14th May 2012 19:44 UTC
ToddB
Member since:
2012-01-25

They are investigating an OS that isn't even released yet. The dynamic language runtime probably isn't ready yet, so to make the tablet useable as everyone demands a decent browser they made some concessions to make IE run well. The API IE is using is probably subject to change as they are trying to kill win32, which isn't going to happen if they allow Mozilla and Chrome to use it. How Apple has got away with this for 5 years is beyond me, most devices can't even be programmed and are locked down (TV's, Kindle, etc). No clue why they are making a big deal over this. The consumers are not locked into anything as they can simply just buy an Intel based tablet instead when they are available.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Ridiculous
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 14th May 2012 20:02 UTC in reply to "Ridiculous"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

They're making a big deal out of this for the same reason people would make a big deal out of a convicted murderer buying a gun and having a wall filled with photos and newsclippings of someone.

Pattern recognition.

Reply Score: 4

I have a problem with this.
by Drumhellar on Mon 14th May 2012 20:00 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

The SJC is investigating anti-competitive practices related to an unreleased product for a market that Microsoft really has yet to enter. Microsoft certainly does not have anything resembling a monopoly on the ARM tablet market, so I think this is premature.

Even after WOA comes out, deciding NOT to buy a Windows tablet based on the limitation of only one available browser will be an extremely easy thing to do.

Reply Score: 4

Good luck
by Nelson on Mon 14th May 2012 20:02 UTC
Nelson
Member since:
2005-11-29

US Senate can't agree on a damn thing.

Reply Score: 2

so iPad, which dominates the mobile market
by MollyC on Mon 14th May 2012 22:27 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

continues to get a free ride, while an OS with zero marketshare is put under scrutiny.

As I said in the previous story, anyone that needs a tablet that runs Firefox/Chrome and also runs Metro apps is free to get a Windows 8 tablet rather than a WinRT one. Windows 8 tablets will serve that purpose.

Take away the Metro requirement in the above scenario, and the user is free to get an Android tablet, which will run Chrome/Firefox, rather than a WinRT tablet.

The only tablets that won't run Chrome/Firefox are iPads and WinRT tablets. The former gets a free ride to do whatever it wants (despite a huge marketshare); the latter lacks the market force to compel someone to choose it over BOTH Android and Windows 8 (both of which will run Chrome/Firefox). So what's the deal here?

Edited 2012-05-14 22:34 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

MollyC,

"[IOS] continues to get a free ride, while an OS with zero marketshare is put under scrutiny."

You're posts continue to imply that MS should be allowed to block competitors *because* apple is doing it. However, is that seriously the underlying reason for your opinion? If it's not (and I hope it isn't), then maybe you could explain your reasoning on it's own without referencing apple at all. The "oh, but he does it too" line isn't a good reason to justify harmful corporate practices.

Reply Score: 6

Google's lobbying budget yielding results.
by MollyC on Mon 14th May 2012 22:31 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

There was a recent story (I think covered by OSNews) showing that Google is the top DC lobbyist in DC of all tech companies, spending like 3 times as much money lobbying as the second place lobbyist tech company. We see the results with this Senate hearing.

Reply Score: 2

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Where's the attack on Apple then?

Reply Score: 3

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

MollyC also negates to mention that like 90% of that money was a one-time effort to stop SOPA.

Still lobbying, but at least that was a good cause we all benefited from.

Reply Score: 4

do you people really not get it?
by TechGeek on Tue 15th May 2012 02:53 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

yes, IOS has a big market share in tablets. But Apple didn't leverage a monopoly on a desktop OS to get it there. IOS gained market share because of timing and polish. Its not illegal to have a monopoly. Period. The problem Microsoft has is that it ALREADY HAS a monopoly on desktop OS's. And Windows 8 will be the same regardless of platform. They are taking their desktop browser and putting it in win 8 RT and not allowing anyone else to do the same. If it was some entirely new OS separate from Windows, there wouldnt be a problem as everyone would be on the same level field. But that isn't what Microsoft is doing. Hence the complaints and oversight.

Reply Score: 4

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

TechGeek,

I've mentioned this exact point a few times. Monopolies and antitrust seem to be surprisingly poorly understood here.

http://www.osnews.com/thread?517869

Even if microsoft were to open up a pogo stick factory and have very little market share, it might well get in trouble if it somehow used it's existing monopoly to harm competitors in the pogo stick market. It's a silly example but in order to move the discussion forward it's crucial to nail the point that microsoft's existing monopoly can violate antitrust regardless of it's share in the new market.


"Its not illegal to have a monopoly."

Yep, it doesn't matter that you have a monopoly, it just matters what you do with it.

Reply Score: 3