After protest, Microsoft backs off on exclusive music contracts

“Microsoft Corp., already under government scrutiny over its behavior toward competitors, told manufacturers of iPod-like portable audio devices that they were not allowed to distribute rivals’ music player software, but then pulled back after one company protested,” The Associated Press reports. “The Justice Department said the incident was ‘unfortunate,’ but that government lawyers decided to drop the issue because Microsoft agreed 10 days later to change the contracts. The government disclosed details of the dispute in a federal court document made available Thursday.”

“The disputed contracts would have affected portable music players that compete with Apple Computer Inc.’s wildly popular iPod,” AP reports. “Howard University law professor Andrew Gavil said he wonders whether Microsoft’s early demands — which would have compelled manufacturers to distribute to consumers only Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software — were a genuine mistake or a signal the company intends to revert to its hardball tactics. ‘It’s somewhat amazing it even happened,’ said Gavil, who has closely followed the Microsoft case. ‘It’s troubling that anyone inside Microsoft was still thinking this was a legitimate business strategy.'”

AP reports, “Microsoft said it recanted its demands after lawyers reviewed the contracts and after an unspecified industry rival complained. The contracts, part of a campaign Microsoft called ‘easy start,’ affected one of the rare technology sectors where Microsoft is not already dominant: handheld music players and online music services. The software giant and others have struggled to match the runaway success of Apple iPod player and iTunes music service. Microsoft wants consumers to use its media software to download songs and transfer them onto their portable music players from Internet subscription services, such as those from Napster Inc., RealNetworks Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. Each company currently offers its own media software.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003


  1. The “one company” was probably HP, as they have a contract to distribute iTunes. I imagine they’d have to give Apple a big hunk o’ money if they reneged on that deal.

    That said, it is nice to see the DOJ doing their job. Well done…

  2. Same old scumbag tactic from the gutless wonder that is Microsoft.

    That whole company ws built on that tactic of threatening and bullying.

    IMO Bill Gates and everyone at Microsoft should be in prison.

    Glad to see companies are not putting up with that crap now.

    Without those underhand and illegal tactics Microsoft would have gone under years ago.

    FCUK THEM that’s what I say!

  3. I wonder what Real thinks of this…seeing as they signed that agreement and all…yeah that one that said M$ would promote Real Player software…what good is promoting a piece of software that you don’t let anyone install on your system?

  4. ‘It’s troubling that anyone inside Microsoft was still thinking this was a legitimate business strategy.'”


    heh heh.. heh heh..


    why? how else do you think they got to the top?

  5. So who might the compalining company be? Who makes MP3 players and computers? (I am assuming it is a computer manufacturer because how else would a <i>rival<> music player come into question?)

    I’m guessing Dell? Any other guesses?

  6. stupid Microsuck!

    Here is a reason why I am glad that Apple is not a huge player in the market share game. They can get away with their monopolistic practices because they are so small. And we benefit by getting such a well-integrated and beautiful product.


    M$ has been:

    1: Convicted of abusing a monopoly.

    2: Is responsible for the computer problems of the world.

    3: Is in with the Chinese governement to censor the internet of words like “democracy”, “freedom” and “human rights”

    4: Stifles the world of innovation and healthy competition.

    5: And worse of all, (among a great many other things) they patented the smile face. (friggging ba$tards)


    There are alternatives to Office, a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet, a word processor is a word processor. Support open file formats, OpenOffice, NeoOfficeJ (for Mac) which is compatible.

    PDF’s, RTF’s and even text files are easily interchangeable.


  8. “IMO Bill Gates and everyone at Microsoft should be in prison.”

    Ballmer clearly needs to be in a rubber room. Not sure about the rest of MS management; maybe Gates can retire to that cabin where he takes sabbaticals and dreams up shit.

    But on second thought, lets leave the MS managers all in place. They’re doing SO much for Apple right now I’d hate to see anything change.

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