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. woah, did I just step into a time machine.. these posts sound they’re from 1998, can we please update these tired clichés?

    M$? Woah. Original.

    The vaccuum joke? Phew.. never heard that before.

  2. >everyone wants to hate microsoft. just leave them alone. if they really are that bad, they will fail by themselves.>

    Don’t kid yourself, the evil one has been around for thousands of years.


  3. The threat has already been communicated! If the livelihood of my company was dependent on Microsoft not pulling the plug on me, there is no way in hell I would do anything that I know would get them mad or cause them to through chairs across the room.

    No, we changed our mind, you can put what ever software you want on your products. Wink! Wink!

  4. I agreee, the requirement was retracted, but the threat remains. Sanctions are required. Do that again and I will keel you. Good boy. I am only kidding, eh? Did I tell you I really like you? [patronizing slap on the shoulder].

  5. <i>Drake described the proposal as “only a draft description of the program we sent to manufacturers for the purpose of getting their feedback.” She said the proposal was not a contract, which is vetted by company lawyers.</i>


    Before the disclosure of the dispute involving portable music players, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had set a hearing for this coming Wednesday to review the adequacy of the antitrust settlement. It was unclear whether she will challenge lawyers from Microsoft or the government over the music proposal.

    Show us your cojones, CKK!

  6. “I just heard that M$ made a vacuum cleaner and it did not suck.”

    Of course it does! You just have to devote a whole weekend to setting it up. Oh it clogs itself regularly too, so you have to subscribe to Microsoft Vacuum Cleaner Dust Bunny Protection Service Consumer Edition, which will mask serious design flaws for a monthly fee.

    On second thought, to hell with it. Any generic PC should have enough fans to make a great vacuum. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  7. MacAnimal Says:

    “There are alternatives to Office, a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet, a word processor is a word processor. Support open file formats..”

    Umm, Mac animal, Apple’s iTunes DRM is not exactly an open file format.

  8. Mike says:

    “Umm, Mac animal, Apple’s iTunes DRM is not exactly an open file format.”

    True…by definition, any DRM cannot be an open file format; only DRM standards which are currently being fought over between WMA and Fairdplay.

    uh, guess who’s winning… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  9. MacAnimal,

    You’re the only poster here talking out of your own ass.

    Take OpenOffice for instance, your ‘other’ application for word processing and spreadsheets as currently OpenOffice is NOT compatible with Tiger.

    Appleworks actually is the only Apple application that does suck, I have tried it and I could not perform my usual tasks nor feel comfortable knowing that when I send a Word encoded attachment I will now with more certainty that the person I am sending it to will open it without difficulty.

    Pages is more of a design and page layout application to try and fill in the gap left by Pagemaker and not quite a Word Processor. Yes I do use Pages for page layout purposes.

    Yes I do use Keynote a lot more than Powerpoint for my own presentations. I do not usually send any of my presentations via email so no need to worry about whoever receives it being able or not to open it.

    Remember Word is a Mac first and appeared in ’84 and didn’t port over to crummy Windoze until ’89.

    Also with that having Office on the Mac is a major selling point to winning over a lost Windoze user to the Mac, especially if the person is not geek enough to understand the technology behind both the hardware and Apple’s OS X.

    MW: ‘surface’ as in on the surface, i.e. as it appears, not every computer user is a geek

  10. Right back to the subject of the article and to which as Mike points out….

    Yes open file formats as in open source is an important and as yet still to realise its full potential.

    Don’t get me wrong I welcome open-standards in the software I wish to use along with faster and cheaper upgrade paths that open source offers.

    With open source you have to remember that on one side you have major corporations, which Apple is no exception, wishing to protect their assets and continue to make money on. This includes M$, only that M$ uses underhand tactics to win over its competitors – this in itself in my view a criminal act.

    The other side where computer users, be they geeks or not who want to have greater access and control over the software as we already do with the hardware, that is picking and choosing only in this sense to have the same for software.

    Maybe Apple are discussing internally whether to licence iTMS’s DRM or Fairplay to third party companies, might be good and might be bad for Apple.

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