U.S. DOJ working hard to ensure Microsoft’s slap-on-the-wrist terms apply to Longhorn

“Microsoft Corp. will meet with representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) next month for the first of several briefings intended to ensure that its upcoming Longhorn operating system complies with the terms of the final judgment in the government’s antitrust case against the software maker,” James Niccolai reports for IDG News Service.

Niccolai reports, “In court papers filed Tuesday, the government also said that its technical committee raised concerns about whether Windows XP and Service Pack 2 are in compliance with the judgment. Microsoft replied to those concerns recently and the government is reviewing its responses, it said.”

“The developments are outlined in a joint status report filed by Microsoft and the DOJ on the software maker’s progress in complying with the judgment, approved in November 2002. Among the requirements, Microsoft has to make it easy for customers to use non-Microsoft middleware products with its operating systems, including Web browsers and media players. The goal is to prevent Microsoft from using the ubiquity of Windows to lock rivals out of the market,” Niccolai reports. “The government already said it was talking to Microsoft about ensuring Longhorn’s compliance with the measures.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The U.S. DOJ’s neutered “remedies / penalties” in the Microsoft antitrust case amounted to a sad joke. No doubt they’re working extremely hard to make sure Microsoft complies with their weak, spineless terms.

30 Comments

  1. since the iPod is essentially a platform, it won’t be long before companies complain about being locked out of the iPod.

    “Microsoft has to make it easy for customers to use non-Microsoft middleware products with its operating systems”

    they could make a similar ruling about Apple

  2. hey gRen, who’s forcing u to use an iPod? u can use any MP3 player. Also, iPods work on both Macs & Win2000 / XP. Nor do iPods/iTunes don’t disable other MP3 player(dont bring up Real, that was/is a mess). In fact, my co-worker doesn’t see the need 2 use an iPod. He’d rather use another MP3 player & music service. in other words, u still got choice. I myself jus listen to CDs. I don’t mind paying more to have physical disc & liner notes.

  3. Gar,
    It’s a bit more complicated than that.

    “who’s forcing u to use an iPod? u can use any MP3 player”
    – With Microsoft, just like in your comparison, you can choose to use it or choose not to use it.

    “iPods work on both Macs & Win2000 / XP”
    – Windows works on a Dell/HP/IBM/Compaq/Gateway/etc.
    – an OS is not a competitor to an iPod just like a computer manufacturer doesn’t compete directly with Microsoft. What makes something anti-competitive is how it deals with the competition.

    With Windows you can even choose which software you want to run on it. But yet it is still anti-competitive, even though you can use the competitors software. However, you can’t use competing software with the iPod. It can also be said that Apple is stifling competing music download services by not allowing legally purchased songs to be played on an iPod.

    Personally, I am not really bothered much by Apple’s closed-system stance. I would prefer to use the iTMS and iTunes over any other alternative out there. And doing so makes the whole experience seamless and enjoyable, which wouldn’t be possible if you used outside software.

    I’m not really trying to argue, and I’m not trying to justify the actions of Microsoft. I’m just saying that people (and likewise the DOJ) might see Apple as being anti-competitive. Even if they use iTMS and iTunes, they still want to have the choice available to them to use something non-Apple. The fact that you can’t makes it anti-competitive, and they may end up being in a situation similar to what Microsoft is in now.

    I never liked the whole magic word thing, but mine is “open” which i think is worth mentioning.

  4. Apple’s ipod and itunes combination is not stopping people enjoying music or is not forcing people!

    If people want to use another music player all they have to do is write a cd with the songs on and then import them into whatever music software they want to use and in any format they want.

    They can then use any music player.

    This is NOT anti-competitive.

    Put it this way – if this was M$ you wouldnt even have that option!

  5. Ipod, Ipod, Ipod ….. zzzzzzzz

    This story is about M$ and the DOJ – if they are already questioning M$ compliance with the ruling with XP SP2 then longhorn is clearly gonna be more of the same.

  6. king_alvarez: “With Microsoft, just like in your comparison, you can choose to use it or choose not to use it.”

    Wrong. Microsoft was found guilty of ABUSING its monopoly status.

    ABUSING one’s monopoly status is LEGALLY DIFFERENT than simply being a monopoly.

    One of the most famous anti-trust case arose from the U.S. breaking up Standard Oil, which was owned by John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller at the time had a wealth equivalent to 2.5% of the entire U.S. GDP, which would make him worth $250 billion today (Bill Gates is worth less than $50 billion). Standard Oil was the biggest, baddest monopoly you’d ever seen and Rockefeller used that power to his unfair advantage. Specifically, he wielded his power to extort the railroads to give him extremely preferential discounts on moving that oil, essentially making it impossible for other oil companies to stay in business. For this anti-competitive practice, Standard Oil was sued and successfully broken up.

    Microsoft has abused its monopoly power in similar ways. In Microsoft’s case, they used their monopoly power to prevent or discourage, for example, PC makers from pre-loading alternative OSes in their boxes. Microsoft specifically tied IE into the core of the Windows so the two became inseparable, for no other reason than to kill Netscape and make sure no one, including the U.S. government, could force them to “unbundle” IE and ship a version of Windows that PC manufacturers ship with with, say, Mozilla or Firebox instead of IE.

    In the anti-trust case prior to this one, Microsoft “complied” with the court ruling by offering a version of this IE-less Windows to manufacturers….except that this Windows wouldn’t even boot up because Microsoft had successfully tied IE to Windows, which conveniently allowed them to saythen said, “See, no one wants to buy Windows without IE anyway! IE is that popular! But we are a nice, law-abiding company. (Nevermind that we tied IE to Windows specifically so that an IE-less Windows wouldn’t even work.)”

    In contrast, Apple may have a monopoly on digital music and portable players with the iPod/iTunes, but Apple is what is considered a “natural” monopoly. Apple does not force anyone to preload iTunes on their machines. It does not force restrictive contract terms on companies that sell the iPod like Microsoft does with Windows. If you remove iTunes from a Mac or Windows, everything continues to work perfectly.

    In short, it is illegal under U.S. antitrust law to abuse your monopoly power, but it is perfectly legal to be a “natural monopoly.” U.S. anti-trust law also does not look kindly on monopolies who use their monopoly to create another monopoly. To equate Microsoft’s actions with Apple’s shows a distinct lack of understanding about anti-trust laws.

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