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.
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RE[4]: APIs
by MollyC on Tue 18th Sep 2007 10:03 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: APIs"
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

It's fine that Linux allows interchangeable API for everything (seems it would drastically increase the size of the testing matrix for developers, but whatever). But do you say that government should mandate that all OSes behave like that?

As for your "It seems that Linux wins on consumer choice every time" statement, I think it's understood that consumers generally don't want choice, not on "complex" issues; they don't want to have to make a bunch of choices like "what file system should I use", "what memory manager should I use", etc.


"But all that is meaningless, It's not about 'big governments' conspiriting to topple this great example of good American capitalism, it's about making sure that people have choice, and if MS have manoeuvred themselved into a position where they are stifling free maket and consumer choice, even accidentally, then this must be rectified."

See http://www.osnews.com/permalink.php?news_id=18627&comment_id=272220 and learn that the EC commissioner disagrees with you. His goal isn't to provide more choice, it's to bring about a particular marketshare for a particular company, and until that happens, he will punish that particular company. In a scenario where everyone is able to compete equally (which is an impossibility; companies will always have advantages over others), but the vast majority chose Microsoft for whatever reason, the EC guy would consider that to be a failure on his part or to be abuse by Microsoft (almost by definition), and would enact further policies to bring about the marketshare that "we would like to see". In fact, the way he talks, if the EC mandated that 50% of consumers chose something besides Microsoft, then he would consider that a "good", even though that "good" came about by limiting choice rather than expanding it. Read carefully what he says in the link I provide above; it's truly scary stuff if you care about capatalism at all.

Edited 2007-09-18 10:05

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: APIs
by stestagg on Tue 18th Sep 2007 10:16 in reply to "RE[4]: APIs"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

You're right, I was misusing terms.

By consumer choice, I was probably meaning market competition. You can't have an open, competing market with a >90% monopoly, especially when the >90% shareholder is acting anticompetitively. So my main closing argumen still stands, it's not about picking on Microsoft, but about opening up the marketplace.

We have a situation in the UK where a telecoms provider has a monopoly over broadband provision in a particular county because it uses non-standard cabling, and anti-competitive practices to maintain a stranglehold over the local market. Customers in that area pay over double the average prices, and god only knows what kind of service they get. No one saying that this company shouldn't be investigated by OFCOM.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: APIs
by SReilly on Tue 18th Sep 2007 11:59 in reply to "RE[4]: APIs"
SReilly Member since:
2006-12-28

I don't know if it's on purpose or not but it seems to me that you are taking what one EU anti trust commissioner says, quoting it out of context, putting your own spin on it and equating that with the rest of the EU. You also seem to be ignoring how MS attained 95% market share in the first place.

This case is not about 'Big Government' versus capitalism, it's about punishing a known abuser of illegally obtained market muscle, something that has everything to do with consumer choice.

I have several developer friends that develop for Windows exclusively and even they agree that, due to MS's illegal use of it's near monopoly position, the IT industry has lost ten years of innovation. Ten years! If that's not worth a slap down then I don't know what is.

I would be more inclined to agree with your analysis of the situation if this where an isolated ruling, but it really isn't. MS bought they're way out of having to deal with major concessions in the US, remember? To defend a company that is this guilty, for no reason but that you seem to like them, is completely absurd.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[6]: APIs
by MollyC on Tue 18th Sep 2007 17:15 in reply to "RE[5]: APIs"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

"I have several developer friends that develop for Windows exclusively and even they agree that, due to MS's illegal use of it's near monopoly position, the IT industry has lost ten years of innovation. Ten years! If that's not worth a slap down then I don't know what is."

I recall differently.
I recall that the Unix wars are what stagnated the IT industry, during which Microsoft came from behind and passed Unix by while Unix vendors were fighting among themselves. I also recall that when Unix vendors were pricing their C-compilers at $1000 (I specifically remember Sun's compiler from back in the day.) Just a compiler, not an IDE. The Unix guys were fighting with each other and milking their customers at high prices, not innovating or advancing the IT industry at all until they realized that they had to compete with Microsoft (by then, Microsoft had passed them by). Apple, of course, was content to sell high-margin computers to their selective clientelle, so they weren't doing much to force the Unix guys to innovate either.

I recall in the late 80s, talking with a Sun employee that mocked my Mac, calling it a toy and whatnot. He was concerned with fighting with other Unixes and big iron mainframes and crushing what was left of the Lisp machine market, and assumed that Unix workstations would rule the roost simply "because". But ten years later, the Unix workstation market was largely where it was when I was talking with that Sun employee 10 years before; they had faster CPUs and bigger harddrives, but that's about it. The big difference between the late 80's and late 90's was that Microsoft came from behind, began to outcompete the Unixes on their own turf, and only then, did the Unixes get off their rear and start trying to move forward. At that point, Linux began destroying the Unixes, not through innovation, but throug "free", and that was all she wrote.

Blaming Microsoft for stagnating the industry is absurd when you consider what its competitors were doing in the 80's and 90's.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: APIs
by MollyC on Tue 18th Sep 2007 18:08 in reply to "RE[5]: APIs"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

"I don't know if it's on purpose or not but it seems to me that you are taking what one EU anti trust commissioner says, quoting it out of context, putting your own spin on it and equating that with the rest of the EU. You also seem to be ignoring how MS attained 95% market share in the first place.

-------------------------------------------------

(Microsoft attaned 95% share in desktop OSes because Apple didn't compete in the OEM OS space, preferring to charge relatively high prices for Macs, and Unix vendors charged thousands of dollars for their OS and dev toos, and they didn't work on low-end machines. I'm not sure what you think was nefarious about that.)

Having said that, I'll continue. ;)

SReilly, I'm not misinterpreting anything (intentionally or otherwise) at all. Maybe I was too glib.

Here's what I see is going on.
The EC guy wants to bring about what he considers to be a level playing field for competition. He explicitly states that he measures whether the competition playing field is level by measuring marketshare. His theory is one of two things (or both):
1.) If there is a dominant player, then it means that the playing field is not level.
2.) The surest way to bring about a level playing field is to ensure that there's no dominant player.

Do you agree with me so far?

Therefore, in order to bring about a level playing field, he will employ methods designed, not to directly level the playing field, but to bring about a particular marketshare, i.e. one where there is no dominant player, and therefore achieve a level playing field as a result. Do you agree with me on that?

And this is what I have a big problem with. I don't think that a company having a dominant marketshare is evidence in itself that there's not a level playing field. Maybe that company is just better at satisfying the customers. Nor do I think that a company's having a dominant marketshare is evidence enough that either the company should be punished; or that the company shouldn't be punished, per se, but that market requires more government manipulation to bring said marketshare down.

In short, I think that the goal should be to bring about a playing field where all compete, rather than that there no dominant players.

I think this is a difference between European and American mindsets (you're European, I think). While both Europe and the US have used government regulation of business for social good (anti-discrimination laws, anti-polution laws, child-labor regulations, etc), Europe has had a much greater history of using government to manipulate the market itself (Eastern Europe's history with communism, and Western Europe's history with socialism to a much larger degree than in the US). Given that history, Europe more readily accepts the idea of government dictating what goes on in a market.

I've read that US antitrust laws are about helping the consumer while EU antitrust laws are about helping the competition. There is a subtle difference here. US antitrust law is based on the theory that a competitive market leads to higher quality and/or lower prices, which helps the consumer. But once remedies are in place to level the playing field, it's up to the competitors to make use of that level playing field, and if they can't, too bad. European antitrust law is based on the theory that healthy competition is a good in and of itself, and government's role is to help competitors, regardless of whether such intervention helps the consumers (e.g the government-mandated XP-N that consumers simply don't want and never called for), or even to the (unintended) detriment of consumers (e.g. if EU banned XP altogether and only allowed XP-N to be sold in Europe, it would be to the detriment of consumers (due to the inconvenience for them) for the purpose of helping competing OSes (that would be able to trumpet the fact that they ship with a media player but Windows doesn't) or helping competing media players (regardless of the fact that Microsoft and Real have already settled their differences, which were at that heart of the WMP case)).

Another difference between the European mindset and the American one, is that I read at arstechnica, that there's an EU law that says that if a company achieves greater than 40% of a market, then it must start helping its competitors (through bundling, advertising, etc). Such a notion is laughable in the US.

Both EU and US law are about a vibrant market, but the priorities and the way they go about achieving it are different.

Edited 2007-09-18 18:19

Reply Parent Score: 2