“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.
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003