Windows: Reduced to Tears


In the wake of the EU rulings against Microsoft, in which the company has been ordered to remove from the windows operating system superfluous features that by their mere existence prohibit competitive products from flourishing, I believe that it is now crucial that all employees of the company take the time and effort to re-examine our current product offerings and purge them of any and all components that may be deemed anti-competitive toward fledgling markets.  After all, who wants to be caught off guard like that again?  We’re not out to be the bad-guys here.  We want to do the right thing.  Don’t we?

Yet, there are still products and components out there today, packaged and bundled inside shrink-wrapped boxes, that are being forced upon the consumers without regard to their personal preferences, software packages which by themselves are little more than variants on a particular theme, where by markets might one day exist for the potential alternatives, but are hamstrung now by our predatory behaviors.

Not so, you say?  Would not the courts and judges, prosecutors and plaintiffs have already uncovered all the dirty little secrets of our untidy bundle of bits?  Of course not.  For they have missed the very one which I will reveal to you.  One that is so superfluous and yet so integral to our offerings that by merely mentioning it I am bound to raise the eyebrows and hackles of many. 

The item of which I speak is a fundamental portion of many an operating system,  It defines a platform for development of applications and once a variation has been adopted, it rarely is abandoned, resulting in consumer lock-in.  Of the variants, many of which are used interchangeably on systems such as Unix and Linux, only one is available with Windows, a propriety version that is incompatible with all others.  Its ubiquity due to bundling has cut off the air-supply of all potential challengers.  The variant products exist for Windows, but are rarely used.  General consumers don’t care.  They use whatever is most convenient, and tedious downloading and extensive re-education is simply beyond reason.

This is why Microsoft should offer a version of Windows free of its anti-competitive command line interpreter, or ‘DOS box’ if you will.  It’s mere existence is anathema to a free market that would infuse widespread adoption of the C and Bourne shell, not to mention Rexx and others.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  What’s this notepad stuff, or WordPad for that matter?  They are just the latest rendition of a market stifling practice that started long ago with EDLIN.  Has their existence shut out a huge potential market for vi or emacs? 

I would have to say that they have.

But I digress. 😉

Matt

Comments (23)

  1. Bob says:

    Yes, you digress. And you also don’t get it.

  2. SBC says:

    Matt –

    Keep in mind that the anti-Microsoft decision came from the EU’s judicial system – a "country" which is still having a very difficult time formulating a constitution and they call themselves a democracy!

    Regarding EU’s own software – there is the huge monster system called SAP which is in need of an aenama and there’s Linux which is a ripped-off version of Unix/Xinu that was freely available in educational institutions back in the 70s and 80s.

    So much for EU innovation.

  3. Gabe Halsmer says:

    Hey Bob I’ll tell you what I get. Europe is filled with idiots. I almost (and I should stress the word almost) feel sorry for them, because their future is especially bleak. Imagine what it would be like to grow up as a kid in Europe. What values do their parents teach them? Any at all?

    Certainly not honor. Cetainly no one has ever told them to dream big or strive to win. What a depressing place it must be.

    But the main reason I don’t feel sorry for them is because godammit they should be smart enough to know the consequences of their actions! To persercute good for being good! This is not just ignorance, this is delibrate and pathetic wallowing. I know that no European will agree with me here, but its evil to persercute people for being good.

    Anyway, all of you Microsoft employees shouldn’t feel down or resentful. If it makes you feel better, Europe will reap what it sows.

  4. Nobody’s going to win by this decision, but that doesn’t mean your crocodile tears aren’t ludicrous. Geeze, it’d be funny if it wasn’t sad.

  5. Bob says:

    Microsoft has been found guilty of abusing its monopoly position more than once. If you are unwilling or unable to incoraporate that fact into your view of the world, then you are the idiot, Gabe.

    However, calling people idiots does nothing to advance anyone’s cause. If, as I supect, you have never actually been to Europe, Gabe, I recommend it highly. A less ethnocentrific viewpoint would be goood for all concerned.

    Hmm, my ViOS just blue-screened after I refused to give into its demands that I encode all my text in Vi proprietary extensions. That sucks. Maybe I just need to accept the kickbacks for solely using the Vi extensions to generate all the ViMedia content for my soon to be popular Web site.

    If not , then I am sure I will soon be delighted to learn that I could have saved myself all the trouble if I had only spent the last two years of my life learning how to use MSVi.NET 1.0. Oh wait, MSVi.NET 1.1 is not completely backwards compatible with MSVi.NET 1.0. Good thing I saved my dot.com millions in my MS wallet. No, I just wasted two years of my life and MS just passed me. It’s amazing how they do that.

  6. Appropriate blog for Ayn Rand’s birthday.

    What the EU has done (and the US for that matter, but less so) is STEAL from MS. They are telling you what to do, and how to do it. In effect telling you to be less great than you can be, so that inferior companies have a chance. (That Adobe is still around after MS trying and trying to kill it is proof that a good company can beat MS any day, so the whole BS about anti-trust is a complete joke, and those of you that still want to go on about anti-trust, consider that Standard Oil was actually #4 in the market when it was broken up and AT&T’s breakup did absolutely nothing for the Telco market.)

    When finally, people put it into the perspective of theft. That the government is telling you how to sell your product, and whom you can sell it to, all but the most died in the wool socialists will see the contradiction in asking greatness to be less great. The end result is at best mediocrity but more likely, a complete disaster.

    Freedom is the hallmark of any just society. If you believe in the concept of freedom, then you believe in a free market society and you believe in the best prevailing.

    Even now MS is stubbling badly (take a look at Windows Installer Technology someday, VS.net 2005 and SQL Server 2005 installers, WSE 2.0 (i.e. no shared secret thus useless because UserNameToken is a great big security hole) and you’ll see what I mean.) There is always opertunities for companies to come along and do things better than MS and make money and lots of it (Google anyone?)

    I for one embrace greatness and believe that no matter how great you are, there are still ways for someone else to outgreat you.

    For those of you that think that stealing, or preventing greatness from producing "for the greater good" is ok, read Atlas Shrugged. You’ll be faced with the undeniable truth of that assertion and the enevitable end result. If you still ignore it, well so be it, but recognize the stupidity of your position and the contradiction that it creates.

    And more importantly, recognize that there is no such thing as a contradiction.

  7. An Idiot says:

    I thought Microsoft Employees are smart. Apparently I was wrong.

    SBC: The issue here is not innovation but competition and what has SAP or Linux to do with it anyway?

    Microsoft used its monopoly in the operating system market (again) to break into new markets, namely the market for media players and online music.

    Where I live (Germany), this is illegal and I’m glad the EU did something about it.

    Why is it that Microsoft has to do this?

    Why can’t they just do the right thing and refrain from trying to get advantages using illegal practices?

    Just develop superior products and none of this shit would be necessary, damit!

    If you want to give away your media player, fine, make it available as a download or free CD, but don’t bundle it with your OS.

    Don’t take me wrong, I like Microsoft and its products. I work on a daily basis with Microsoft technologies as a .NET developer.

    The more I am saddened that this is necessary, but the EU is not the villain here.

    Best regards,

    Emalaith

  8. Kent Chen says:

    I don’t understand why Microsoft always get sued like this. This is not the first time and I am sure this is not the last one either unless there is another giant happened bigger than Microsoft. Microsoft is just too big and too strong on many area but it has its threaten as well. In this example, it hardly could beat quick time from Apple and real player because they have their own technology and advantage that Microsoft hardly to get in. I believe one day, someone could sue Microsoft because Windows bundles Notepad/WordPad or even desktop because it happens there are someone who want to get into this area.

    I like Microsoft, like their Product and the way they make the software, thinking about the user, the customer and the consumer all the time but don’t blame on how greedy they are to try make as much money as possible. Sorry, this is the business.

    Thanks, Kent

  9. domovoi says:

    "Microsoft used its monopoly in the operating system market (again) to break into new markets, namely the market for media players and online music."

    Windows has come packaged with a media player in one form or another for over a decade. This was before there even was a "market".

    As for online music, no current Windows OS comes packaged with a media player that supports the MSN Store. That requires WMP 10.

  10. Smart Aleck says:

    When GM started producing cars with radios, no one complained. When they added 8-track, no one complained. Cassette- same. When the radios started including CD players, sadly, nobody tried to stop them.

    GM already had squashed the entire industry for after-market car airconditioners… you don’t see anybody trying to sell them anymore do you? See… another industry obliterated by big bad GM.

    Its now obvious that they’re trying to gain a foothold on the mobile entertainment market since now you could have BOTH CD and cassette. This blatent attempt at stifling the market should have been stopped here, but it wasn’t.

    Now its even worse! Now GM produces cars with radios with CD players, DVD players, and low and behold- OnStar… built in GPS and cellphone!!!! This must be significantly hindering competition in these markets.

    GM should be just that- GENERAL MOTORS. They should not attempt to enter markets other than motors by flagrantly bundling such varied technology with their product.

    I would strongly urge the likes of Qualcomm, Garmin, Pioneer, Sony, etal to use this new EU ruling as a precedent to go after GM with all the legal firepower at their disposal.

    Then hopefully we can go back to buying a simple car with just an empty dashboard.

    (many many apologies to GM for this rant)

  11. David Cumps says:

    Gabe, about the following:

    "Certainly not honor. Cetainly no one has ever told them to dream big or strive to win. What a depressing place it must be."

    Please do not take such a general point of view, you insult a lot of Europeans who DO get raised with good values.

    And I’m pretty sure there are plenty of American families that raise their children without those values as well. It’s just life, some people get good values, some others get other values, independent from where they live.

    It’s really useless to go anti-Europe because of this, if you want, go anti-politics, but not anti-Europeans. For example, Rijndael originates from Europeans! 🙂

  12. Matt Warren says:

    The logic works like this:

    If you build a product that is extensible in any way (even if unintended) then a market may rise some day to offer features on top of your system.

    If you also offer features in your product that a 3rd party might be able to reproduce using the extension mechanism then you are competing against that potential market by offering that feature.

    If your product now becomes ubiquitious, then you should be forced to stop offering all features that could potentially be reproduced by someone else, possibly leaving you with only the extension mechanism itself as a product.

    With logic like this, you may be left to conclude that the only thing Microsoft should be allowed to sell is possibly the boot loader on the disk.

    Software is inherently extensible. Even products not designed as platforms can be added on to.

  13. Ray says:

    That GM anaology is awesome and it proves how MS get s picked on because they are wildly successful and have a lot of money. Do i benefit as a consulmer by un-bundling windows media player?! Who is fighting for me again??

    The whole concept of anti-competitiveness in this case is so off the mark it’s almost comedic. The heart of anti-monopoly is to protect the consumer – by preventing big companies from gouging consumers with high prices and no alternatives. Well, the alternatives exist in this case don’t they? If they were better peolple would go get them and install them – THIS HAPPENS EVERY DAY with things like firefox and iTunes….

    MS does nothing to prevent people from making alternate version of the apps it bundles – nothing! IN fact they actualy empower other to make better things by giving them a great API and development tools tomake their own software.

    Clearly there is another agenda here – although i think most intelligent people see a ruling like this as being purely political.

  14. It’s called Commodization (wow I can’t spell today) folks. Every market goes through it. Eventually the product isn’t worth anything, and it gets thrown in for free. That’s the beauty of capitalism. It’s native state is deflation. It’s only socialism that causes inflation.

    Look at a video card for a moment: It starts off at $500, but over the next 6 months it will drop to $300 then $200, then $100, then the next product line will be released and that old card, which is still as good as it was 6 months before, will be worth $49 and then, finally Intel will put it on it’s chipset and everyone will say it’s complete crap.

    That’s capitalism, and it’s a wonderful thing. It means that everything becomes accessible to everyone because sooner or later even the most poor people will be able to afford that item, and thus the standard of living goes up.

    If you interfere with this process, the only thing that can happen is that the rich get richer and the poor get less and less and can buy less and less and the perceived gap between the two widens as a result. (Because the rich can still afford the $500 graphics card, the poor can’t afford the graphics card that is still worth $395 even after the new product comes out.)

    Wake up socalists (and this is the main problem with europeans. It isn’t just that their socialists, it’s that they honestly think that socialism is a better system when it demonstratably is not… and yes I’m generalizing, but if this wasn’t true for the majority of people in Europe they wouldn’t have elected the twits that they have and this wouldn’t have happened.). Someday people will understand that socialism is a failed ideal. Stalin killed 50 million people in the process of proving this. Hitler (National Socialist Party = Nazi) killed 3 million for the same ideal. The third way simply prays off people who work hard to give money to those that don’t deserve it, and thus prolong the process so it’s like a frog in slowly warming water. The end result is the same, just no one notices until it’s too late.

    What MS should do is Atlas Shrugged. OK, you don’t want Windows as we want to create windows and as the customers want windows? Fine, we’re stopping selling it in Europe completely and if you try and use it illegally without paying for it, then we’ll sue you under your own laws to ensure that you can’t. 6 months from now they’ll be begging you to come back. (Linux not withstanding) Bending your neck in acquiessence to their gang demands simply allows them to win, and continue to steal and they’ll eventually come back and steal even more, until they try and conficate everything you create entirely.

    Stop the theft. You’ve got enough money that you can wait them out, and they’ll kill themselves if you give them the opertunity.

  15. Gabe Halsmer says:

    David, I get the impression that there might be a few Europeans that share the same values I do. But I also think they have to stay rather quite. Europe seems to be a society completely convinced of its own liberal virtues. They believe absolutely in their stance on this moral issue. I mean take Bob’s comment. Its just accepted that what the EU did is right. And i’m guessing anyone who would disagree in europe pays a heavy social price through the disregard of others. Why bother, best to keep quite.

    And that’s what I don’t understand, is how the majority of europe became like this?

    Anyway, for all europeans who thought the EU’s recent actions against MS were morally wrong, then I’m sorry for my comments. They certainly do not include you. I wish you luck with the children that you raise, and if you ever wanted to come to America, I know I would be all for letting you move. I think you would find a better home here. Its a shame that America isn’t perfect and we do have some people who think its okay to destroy free market principals. But they’re an ignorant minority for the most part, and the original spirit of American entrepranuship still exists here.

  16. SBC says:

    Emalaith –

    Innovation is what companies have to do to be competitive. The EU anti-trust was a debacle – MSFT had already gone over the US courts and in a global market this looks like a double-jeopardy.

    The track-record of Monti (EU Anti-trust Czar) in handling industrial cases was a bloody joke – one of the companies (travel industry) that got clipped by him counter-sued when the market proved Monti wrong.

    I think the EU had done this to flex their muscle (experience) in preparation of trade wars & protect their anemic software industry that can’t innovate.

    SBC

  17. Emalaith says:

    SBC wrote:

    "MSFT had already gone over the US courts"

    Wait a minute, are you saying not only the EU is filled with idiots that think MS did something wrong, but also the US? 😉

    But seriously the EU is not infallible. We also make mistakes over here, but in this special case the EU was absolutely right.

    James: Get a good history book. You are looking ridiculous posting such comments. Hitler killed only 3 million? Come on. The holocaust alone accounts for 6 million dead people.

    I grew up in East Germany. We know what socialism is around here and I asure you, what we have now is capitalism at its best.

    Best regards,

    Emalaith

  18. Gabe Halsmer says:

    Emalaith, how can you claim to have captialism when you don’t honor an individuals right to innovate!

    So you’ve managed to drop the yoke of communism in East Germany. I’m actually quite happy for you on that point. But I still don’t believe you understand what free market principals are.

  19. SBC says:

    Emalaith –

    Another example of EU folly – the US Legal system had given the go-ahead for the GE-Honeywell merger but the EU thwarted that merger which costed the companies a lot. Monti (EU Antitrust Czar) is being proved wrong on this one as well as he did it to protect the EU industry. Anyways, I am glad that Monti got the Full Monty and his position was not renewed.

    MSFT had to go through the courts twice – US & EU. Being tried twice for the same matter is not justice in any civilized court. This is double-jeopardy and is also mentioned under the 5th Amendment in the US Constitution but then again the EU does not have a Constitution.

    SBC