Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2007 15:17 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Legal Microsoft suffered a stunning defeat on Monday when a European Union court backed a European Commission ruling that the US software giant illegally abused its market power to crush competitors. The European Union's second-highest court dismissed the company's appeal on all substantive points of the 2004 antitrustruling. The court said Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, was unjustified in tying new applications to its Windows operating system in a way that harmed consumer choice. The verdict, which may be appealed only on points of law and not of fact, could force Microsoft to change its business practices.
Permalink for comment 272058
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE[3]: As you might expect
by alexandru_lz on Mon 17th Sep 2007 18:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: As you might expect"
Member since:

While you may not be able to remove certain products you can choose not to use them.

Freedom of choice is not only about what you can choose not to use, but also about what you can choose to use and about what you can do with your computer and what you cannot. I don't know about how US market works, but in the EU there are some rules that can be essentially dumbed down to three problems:

1. The operating system I use is not Microsoft's problem. Obviously, this doesn't mean that they have to port their products to every available system -- that would be dumb -- but they have to release the specs, in order to allow interoperability. See the WMP DRM problem above.

2. (based on 1.) The operating system my friends, colleagues and collaborators use is not Microsoft's problem. If I want to use some operating system that is not Microsoft's, it's obviously unfair to ask them to port their products to whatever crazy tool I use. But again, they have to release the specs to their protocols and formats, so that compatible solutions can be developed and nobody gets locked.

3. The products I choose to have on my computer are not Microsoft's problem. If I want to remove an application from my computer, no software company (and that includes Microsoft) has the right to prevent me from doing so. I paid for the computer AND the applications -- what I do with it is my problem. On a marginal note, imagine what a mess it would be if Google, for instance, suddenly had the idea to "improve" your experience by bundling every little piece of useless software they have ever written with one of their flagship products, not allowing you to uninstall them afterwards.

Obviously, it's perfectly fair to bundle applications that are absolutely vital to a system's functionality and make them uninstallable. The only reason why you can basically uninstall anything on Linux is that you get a choice even for those (although, quite frankly, I fail to see what's difficult in removing a package (apt-get remove <package>? yum remove <package>) -- and how you managed to get the boxes not to function, unless you'd removed the kernel or important system library and rebooted the computer without installing a replacement). However, I do somehow fail to see what is so important about WMP (and not just WMP, but this is just an example) and how it's vital to the operating system.

These rules aren't here to mess with everyone's business practices -- they are here because the EU economic system depends very heavily on competition, and also because, being given its nature, collaboration in the EU depends very heavily on interoperability.

I'm not willing to deny that there are a couple of vendors that fully deserve to get the same kind of treatment -- see the case of Apple (who should, if not will, get some bashing with they don't unlock the iPhone).

Edit: the comparison between IE and Safari is perfectly justified.

Microsoft applications do use IE's rendering engine (Trident? I'm not sure, really), just like many other OS X applications use Safari's rendering engine.

Safari is really like a "frontend", it's just an application that uses WebKit for web browsing (only one of the reasons why someone would use a component that renders HTML code). The same, frankly, goes -- or should go, by any sane design practice, for IE. I don't know how it works, but bundling the entire application should not be necessary, only the rendering engine would be enough. Again, this is strictly from my point of view -- something I would do as a developer. Tying a back-end to an application, so that removing just one application would cause all others to fail is just dumb, it defeats the entire purpose of having a back-end. But hey, I guess this is what happens when developers get orders from marketing.

[By rendering engine, I am referring to the entire back-end actually, but I'm too lazy to change it or to find the correct word]

Edited 2007-09-17 18:37

Reply Parent Score: 6