Will Microsoft try to ‘netscape’ Google with Windows Longhorn and would it work?

“Not long ago, I went to Washington for a dinner given by a friend. She wanted to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the end of the Microsoft antitrust trial, which she had covered for a news agency and I had covered for Fortune magazine,” Joseph Nocera writes for The New York Times.

“The trial… woke Microsoft up to the fact that it was truly hated in Silicon Valley. It’s been trying to make nice ever since. It has settled a series of private antitrust suits – for some $3.5 billion – brought by rivals like Sun Microsystems. And it has worked assiduously to turn former enemies into allies. (Sun, which now holds joint news conferences with Microsoft, is a prime example.) At Microsoft, there is a lot less ‘my way or the highway’ than there used to be,” Nocera writes. “This is not an insignificant change – but it’s not what the antitrust trial was really about. The central issue was whether the company had an inalienable right to bundle new software products – a browser, a media player, antivirus software, a ‘ham sandwich,’ as Microsoft once put it – into its operating system. Whenever it does so, of course, it gives itself a huge home-court advantage: its software is suddenly available on over 90 percent of the world’s PC’s, and is usually the ‘default’ product as well.”

Nocera writes, “During the trial, Microsoft argued that when it added features to Windows it was helping consumers. To the company, its right to ‘innovate’ – as it invariably called the practice – was sacrosanct. The government argued that folding its version of a competitor’s product into its monopoly operating system was a deeply anticompetitive act. And here’s something that might surprise you: The Microsoft trial did not settle this critical question.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That journalists hold parties to commemorate the anniversaries of trials they’ve covered is fairly scary in and of itself. Back to thrust of the article: Nocera questions whether Microsoft’s Windows monopoly can do to Google what they did to Netscape, if Microsoft decides to include Internet search in Windows Longhorn. Nocera writes, “Microsoft has Windows. That’s the main thing that hasn’t changed in the wake of the antitrust trial. That used to be enough. We’re going to find out if it still is.”


  1. in case you guys don’t get the underlying message: a substandard service WILL become the default/status quo if MS has its way. As such, the Windows monopoly, and MS’ ability to bundle Apps and chain them to the OS, rather than offer them as optional downloads which can easily be removed from the computer, for example, is their path to success.

    where would the Xbox be without msn messenger integration into xbox live?

    where would msn.com be if it werent set as default webpage in Internet Explorer, or integrated into MSN messenger, which feeds off Hotmail, which feeds off Outlook Express which is bundled and locked to the OS.

    Oops, that was a doozy. Am I forgetting some of their stuff? Solitaire perhaps.

    One wonders how MS Office ever became the standard. Perhaps Microsoft bundled it in a MS PACKAGE FOR BUSINESSES in the early 90’s and it’s been the standard ever since…

    PS> The idea that MS WOULDN’T use it’s Windows monopoly to beat Google shows a little naivety on the author’s part. It’s their business model.

  2. Mac Warrior..

    In Tiger, though, Apple has integrated iLife into many of the systems features, things like integration with Mail and .mac means that Apple, too, is benefitting from its own little monopoly.

    Any time you CTRL-click on a media file you’ll find wonderful menu items related to media apps as well as quicktime.

    wonderful, but shitty for anyone trying to start up an iLife-killer.

  3. Oh and for the record, the question posed by this article has been answered:

    In the MSN Search Add-on and in 2007 with Longhorn, MS is definitely integrating web search into the OS to kill off Google. Their ‘Spotlight, wrong corner’ functionality includes web searches as well as HD searches.

    I wonder how they’re going to do that.. I mean, if you type the letter ‘a’ surely they’re not going to display the top 20 matches of the ENTIRE INTERNET.

    Maybe it just won’t be as smooth as Spotlight, maybe you have to hit enter after you enter the whole word..

  4. What I find interesting about the M$ monopoly is that it came to be because the average consumer paid for its products before they knew what they wanted. Home computing was in its infancy and people bought simply because they could. The idea of choice in computing was limited because the idea of computing was limited.

    Standard Oil became a monopoly very clearly: people knew what they wanted and they bought from the only one giving it to them. But at that time, people understood oil. It wasn’t as if you could choose to run your vehicle on bricks, or chocolate bonbons.

    If the world started fresh today choosing an operating system or computer “type,” seems to me that expectations would be considerably different. If not, they are all clearly wrong and I am right. As always.

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  5. “In Tiger, though, Apple has integrated iLife into many of the systems features, things like integration with Mail and .mac means that Apple, too, is benefitting from its own little monopoly.”

    There is nothing wrong with integrating between different apps and/or services from the same company. This is how value is added to a product. (Doesn’t Adobe do this? (I’m not totally sure)).

    “Any time you CTRL-click on a media file you’ll find wonderful menu items related to media apps as well as quicktime.”
    I’m not entirely sure about what you’re referring to, but anytime I click on a ‘.mov’ file (for example) I can ‘open with:’ QuickTime Player, Grapher, iTunes, MPlayer OS X 2, RealPlayer or VLC.

    To Crouching Tiger…
    If Apple didn’t change the way their apps work in a way that hurt third-parties, no.
    *When you click the slideshow button in Mail, it does NOT open iPhoto. It does the slideshow on its own. I don’t know what would happen if iPhoto was not on your computer, but I would imagine that you wouldn’t be able to add an image from Mail to iPhoto – that’s all.

  6. I’m so sorry, but if you don’t want to use WMA then don’t use Windows. It’s that simple. I remember when this was all about Netscape, also very sorry but that is a function of the operating syste (weather or not directly tied to the core system). It is a feature none the less, and if you don’t want to use it then don’t. But look at apple and let’s say spring loaded folders feature. I could say that Apple is not allowing for third party software developers to implement their own feature set for spring loaded folders. Or even better, Safari, people are going to use it, weather or not they know better. This is a stupid argument. It’s not Apple’s or Microsoft’s fault that they develop an operating system, and bundle software with it. Or what about the Dock, I could simply say that this peace of software (yes the dock is software) is unfairly bundled with Apple’s operating system and not allowing fair rang of competition with other competitors who make similar products. (yes there are other peaces of software that do the same thing as the dock, in a sense). Or iTunes, that’s unfair bundled too, it’s unfair for competition. Or is it? How about Apple just ship the OS and NONE of the programs; including the utilities like Disk Utility, Activity Monitor, etc and DVD/CD burning capabilities of the finder.

    Yes, I hate MS, but they did NOTHING wrong, except have an advantage, not an unfair advantage but an advantage none the less but that is not their fault that people bought the OS which has it bundled. It was still the consumers option to use the OS in the first place. And no, I don’t even own a PC (I do have VPC). If a consumer is unhappy with using IE, or the WMA format or the .doc format, then they should shoot them selves in foot for getting a PC in the first place, but most people don’t give a hoot. And if the consumer doesn’t give a hoot, then what makes anyone think they are going to go out and find some third party developer replacement? I’m sorry but saying that it’s unfair if the consumers are lazy and don’t want to go hunting for SIMPLE things like Web browsers, music players, or the dock/taskbar, is stupid. If you don’t want the OS and it’s features then DON”T BUY IT. It’s a packaged deal. Live with it. This one will come back to us “Apple Lovers” with all the free iApps. So hush.

  7. Unfortuneately I agree with AC.

    If Apple continues at this rate… it will find itself on a very thin line.

    Hopefully they will play their cards right because bad things shouldn’t happen to such good computer companies.

  8. My other post isn’t showing up so forgive me if I’m making a double post:

    I do disagree with AC about one thing, however:

    MS did have many illegal, immoral, and down right wrong business practices, far beyond something that can be justified as consumer laziness.

    You go too far if you try and dismiss it all.

  9. The Apple issue about bundles should not arise because they make the computer and its software. They are a complete computer and software company and ms is a software company. So they sell a operating system, but if they bundle it with all this other software that is where the foul play comes in. Its OS should compete with all OS’s on the market and IE and Office should compete seperatly and not hide in a bundle to help it become supreme. But with Apple, since you they are a complete computer manufacturer They can bundle their computer with the software they choose just as Dell And HP already does.

    Apple does not sell its OS to other computer companies. If they did and bundled all the stuff the computer comes with ( iLife…..) with their OS they would be wrong also.

    The other software companies just want the Computer manufacturers to have a choice in the matter of what to bundle not have ms make that choice for them

  10. I agree with Pete as most Windows users only know IE as a browser they can use. That’s why they get viruses and spyware all the time. They should be using Firefox instead. I know most websites are now telling users to get the hell off of IE as it is what is causing all of there grief. That’s why IE’s share has been falling as of late in the browser wars.

  11. Here’s the central difference I see here, and if someone else has already said this, I must have missed it…

    The thing about Apple’s “bundled” applications with the OS (iTunes, Disk Utility, etc), is that you can simply click and drag those applications to the trash or disable them, and you would not affect the operation of the rest OS in any appreciable way, except to lose the the ability to run that program or make use of that feature. You would still be able to use other programs and the central core of the OS would not be compromised. You could install (or have previously installed) other programs that provide that functionality, although in some eyes, not as elegantly.

    What M$ did, in their monopolistic way, was to integrate those applications that were similar to competitors programs so deeply into their OS that one couldn’t delete the M$ application without essentially disabling and crippling the OS, even if you had the competing software installed. That’s the central flaw of their OS architecture and what so many have been fighting against them to change, though at this point that appears to be highly unlikely.

  12. “What M$ did, in their monopolistic way, was to integrate those applications
    that were similar to competitors programs so deeply into their OS that one
    couldn’t delete the M$ application without essentially disabling and
    crippling the OS, even if you had the competing software installed. That’s
    the central flaw of their OS architecture and what so many have been
    fighting against them to change, though at this point that appears to be
    highly unlikely. “

    Thanks for explaining this difference.

  13. Bundling software with an operating system, as Apple and Microsoft has done, might give it an advantage over competitors, but I vehemently disagree with the idea that it is an illegal practice and should not be allowed. What the real problem is, that other posters have stated, is when bundled software cannot be removed, like IE. All Apple’s software can be removed without any problem, so if I find a better alternative to an Apple bundled program, I can choose to delete the Apple program. However, if I find a better alternative to an MS bundled program, I still have to leave the MS program on my computer.
    I think an effective way to at least reduce MS’s monopoly on Office would be to force them to adopt an open standard file format, or at least have to disclose the specifications to an open board whenever changes are made, to prevent MS hurting competitors by constantly secretly changing the file format specs.

  14. The M$ antitrust lawsuit was not just what they had done but why they had done it. Motivation carries as much weight as action. It is the difference between a gun being fired accidentally and killing someone and taking aim and shooting them in the head. One is manslaughter and the other is murder. To the victim it makes no difference, they are still dead, but the motive makes a difference.

    M$ made their mistake in the case of IE and Win when they made it not possible to replace IE with something else (like Netscape) and delete IE. If you deleted IE the OS went mad. Then some hardware OEM’s had deals with Netscape that allowed them to bundle it with their PC’s. M$’s action in locking IE into the OS effectively forced a breach of contract condition on the PC makers with the Netscape deals. That was illegal and monopolistic and why they had to lose in the end.

    As for M$ Office, that started on Apple first. M$ developed Word for Apple first and then later ported it to Win. Excel started out as Multiplan on the Apple, again before it was available on the IBM PC. Multiplan shared the market with Visicalc long before Lotus 1-2-3 was born. When Lotus came along with better marketing and took over the market with many spreadsheets going to the wall like Visicalc and Supercalc (both on Apple II first), M$ took a step back to rethink and let Multiplan die out. They had just signed their contract with IBM and just didn’t have the resources to do both. When Win came along they dusted off the Multiplan code, renamed it Excel (so it would not be associated with the older Multiplan now seen as dead by the market) and did good things with it. They bought out the company that originally developed Powerpoint and integrated that. Access came along later and mainly to compete with Lotus Approach. Both databases were inted to provide a subset of SQL that was clearly starting to dominate the business database arena and the PC’s then were not powerful enough to run full SQL products. Later on M$ cut a deal with Sybase for the source code to Sybase SQL Server at the Sybase version 4.9.2 which was code frozen. They are prevented by contract (for a finite period of time I think) from taking the M$ version onto any non M$ OS and Sybase were limited by the same contract for I think five years before they could produce a Win version of Sybase SQL Server, to give M$ a chance to establish.

    It is not bundling that is wrong, but integrating in such a way that competitive products cannot be used. With Apple and Dashboard for instance, if you preferred Konfabulator, you can still use it. If you prefer a browser other than Safari, you can still use them. If you want to use Pages instead of Word or vice versa, that’s ok you can. Apple is not anti-competitive and most of the time M$ is not either – just so large their size gives them advantages that smaller companies have to fight for such as almost instant acceptance and substantial market penetration for any new product they bring out. While that may be a pain in the rear it is not of itself illegal.

    I am quite happy bashing Microsoft, Apple, Dell, or the Man in the Moon if they step out of line unfairly, but we need to be careful and decide if what has happened is down to deliberate action to kill competition or just the byproduct of market share being so large.

    When it comes to M$ trying to outdo Google, they’ll have an uphill battle. Google is accepted generally as being the best Internet search engine out there and they have sold versions and consultancy to competitors. Many corporates now use Google engines in-house to do their corporate document searching. M$ will not replace all of those. I suspect that the M$ offering will have the effect of allowing those users who are PC naive to search where previously they could not. Those same users would get the similar assistance if they bought an Apple. There is a wealth of difference between Internet searching and searching your own hard drive or network. Index relevance is far more important than speed even. I do not expect that Longhorn’s search will be all that hot, but it will be useful. M$ may find themselves in an awkward position though in that searching technology and algorithms are changing almost overnight at the moment and Longhorn will have to play catchup. Apple’s Spotlight has no doubt given Longhorn developers some sleepless nights and may possibly cause shipping dates for Longhorn to slip again.

    As someone who owns and uses OSX, Linux and Win machines and worked in IT since the 70’s I feel qualified to comment. Maybe I have got it wrong. I do not want to see the market kick M$ out. The market develops best with three big competitors and as OSX and Linux gain share we will see M$ become more like it should be, delivering genuine useful innovation. I would like to see a three way split between the 3 systems with no overall dominant player. Then we would really be cooking with gas.

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