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The History of Microsoft's Anti-Competitive Behavior 361

Posted by Soulskill
from the earning-a-reputation dept.
jabjoe writes "Groklaw is highlighting a new document from the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (PDF) about the history of Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior. Quoting: 'ECIS has written it in support of the EU Commission's recent preliminary findings, on January 15, 2009, that Microsoft violated antitrust law by tying IE to Windows. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time that the issue of Microsoft's patent threats against Linux have been framed in a context of anti-competitive conduct.' The report itself contains interesting quotes, like this one from Microsoft's Thomas Reardon: '[W]e should just quietly grow j++ share and assume that people will take more advantage of our classes without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps.' It also has the Gates 1998 Deposition."
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The History of Microsoft's Anti-Competitive Behavior

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  • Brings me back (Score:5, Informative)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:34AM (#27675197) Homepage
    I remember one of my first computer courses in school where we were taught computer history. I still remember the professor telling us about the early days of Microsoft and how it didn't take long for them to start ripping off ideas, only to then buy the company that was suing them.
    • Re:Brings me back (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488) <jurily@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:11PM (#27675603)

      I remember one of my first computer courses in school where we were taught computer history. I still remember the professor telling us about the early days of Microsoft and how it didn't take long for them to start ripping off ideas, only to then buy the company that was suing them.

      And they're still in business. Something's wrong here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I heard the matter-of-fact assertion that Bill wrote DOS again in a book on tape that I am listening to. (13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks).

      I also remember the same matter-of-fact assertion on the A&E network many years back, probably on the program biography.

      So it seems like Bill was not only able to effectively steal ideas but also to somehow get these false ideas that he was the creator of them as well. He's seen a the genius behi

      • Re:Brings me back (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ClosedSource (238333) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:52PM (#27676115)

        Bad research has been around for a long time and writers can be guilty of it without any help from Bill Gates.

        I guess people say that Gates is a "marketing genius" because they don't want to believe he's a real geek and they have to come up with some explanation for his success. If you've ever seen Bill Gates do a presentation you'd know how absurd this "marketing genius" belief is. Steve Jobs is the marketing genius in this business.

        The fact is that MS existed before the PC and Gates really wrote code for their Basic interpreters. They were written in multiple assembly languages for each target processor. That's geek enough for you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228)

          The reason Bill Gates made so much money in PCs is quite simple: He realized the market was made up of tons of folks that can't/won't learn how the PC works and just wanted to do the least amount possible to get their program to run. I have been working PC repair since the days of Win3.1 and I can count the number of times I've HAD to use CLI in Windows to fix a problem with one hand with fingers left over. Bill Gates made sure that EVERYTHING had a GUI, from the most basic app to the most complex. He made

          • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:25PM (#27677185)

            But this approach will NOT work on the desktop. To get Linux to work on the desktop Linux will have to make a 180 degree shift away from its current position, which I don't see happening.

            Except it is happening. Try installing a modern Linux distribution, especially a user-friendly one. It will default to runlevel 4 and Gnome, which means you never see a command line unless you go looking for it. Gnome's menu system makes Windows look very complicated by comparison. I'm not a Gnome fan because it's *too* simple for me, but many people (particularly the audience you're targeting) love it.

            Linux would have to abandon CLI in favor of all the GUI interfaces like those that Windows has in abundance. GUI interfaces, wizards, everything will have to be "clicky clicky" and the simple fact is most developers and IT guys HATE that. They hate the fact that the GUI robs them of power just as much as the users hate that the CLI is too strange and requires arcane Unix commands which they have NO desire to learn.

            False dichotomy. There's no reason why one can't develop a good application that has a command line interface as well as a GUI. And while many Linux folks are CLI gurus, that's becoming an anachronistic stereotype; many Linux users these days prefer the GUI. Not to mention which, many developers have the goal of crushing MSFT (likely or not), so they're attempting to make Linux easier. Additionally, even the most ardent CLI guy has a wife, grandma, sister, cousin, neighbor, etc. who's constantly asking for computer help; if he wants to switch them to linux (and he does), he knows it's going to have to be stupid simple.

            Seriously, most people use the internet and create documents. It's not hard to set up Linux with firefox and OpenOffice on Gnome. At that point, the Linux experience ain't much different from Windows.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by BikeHelmet (1437881)

              Except it is happening. Try installing a modern Linux distribution, especially a user-friendly one. It will default to runlevel 4 and Gnome, which means you never see a command line unless you go looking for it. Gnome's menu system makes Windows look very complicated by comparison. I'm not a Gnome fan because it's *too* simple for me, but many people (particularly the audience you're targeting) love it.

              I'm not so sure of that. I've been running Ubuntu, and I've found many problems and limitations with the GUI. They still haven't figured out what's required to be user friendly towards people used to other operating systems.

              But luckily I have a list.

              1) Switch to Admin button.

              The first time I had to edit xorg.conf, I was very annoyed by having to use the terminal to open it so that it can actually save.

              Tip: If the user requested it, the user wanted to edit it. Hide it from view in Nautilus if you want, but a

          • Re:Brings me back (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:31PM (#27677245) Journal

            To get Linux to work on the desktop Linux will have to make a 180 degree shift away from its current position, which I don't see happening. CLI will have to be all but abandoned, because no matter how easy a geek thinks CLI is 99% of the desktop users will NEVER use CLI and it is in fact a deal breaker.

            What, by its existence? Windows has a CLI, too. It's called CMD -- there's a new one, too, called PowerShell. OS X even has Bash now. And people certainly used DOS when it was all that was there.

            GUI interfaces, wizards, everything will have to be "clicky clicky" and the simple fact is most developers and IT guys HATE that.

            It doesn't matter -- the two are not mutually exclusive. What I hate is when "clicky clicky" is the only option.

            Have you ever fired up a modern distro, like Ubuntu? It is possible to use it without once opening up the commandline, except perhaps to copy and paste some commands -- and I think even people paranoid of the commandline know how to copy and paste.

            Sadly the one company that I have seen really trying to make it work in a Windows based world, Xandros, with their buying of Click N' Run(which is a much nicer experience to a Windows user than Synaptic)

            Could you be specific about what makes it better? I've always found Synaptic to be a better user experience, even for Windows People, because at the very least, it is safer than downloading random EXEs from the Internet.

            gets flamed to the nine hells for having to deal with MSFT.

            This is the Internet. Everyone gets flamed. For everything.

            I'm going to say that Linux actually has a better GUI, in many respects, than its competition. Apple is a close enough second that I can see why people would prefer it, as a matter of taste. I really don't understand why people would prefer Windows, all other things being equal.

            But they aren't. You identified the real problem, here:

            MSFT rules the business and if your gear can't play nice with AD and Exchange you can give it up.

            Exchange is just part of the massive lock-in that Windows generates -- all the things that have been built on the Windows platform over-the-years. Accountants are on Windows because of Quickbooks. Graphic designers are on Windows because of Photoshop. Gamers are on Windows because of Half-Life 2 -- I mean, Crysis -- I mean, Bioshock 2 -- insert game of the week here.

            Linux has to be better than Windows in many ways before someone is willing to switch. And emulating Windows (better AD integration, for example) is important, but not nearly as important as developing the things that truly differentiate us.

            And yes, one of those is the CLI. And yes, it is under active development -- just a month ago or so, I installed a set of scripts which adds a git status into my command prompt. Just yesterday, I wrote a new alias for a common (longer) command I often run.

            But it has to be one of the oldest bits of FUD that you somehow can't use Linux without using the commandline, or that a UNIX commandline somehow precludes a decent GUI. The existence of OS X pretty much invalidates your whole argument.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bughunter (10093)

            I have been working PC repair since the days of Win3.1 and I can count the number of times I've HAD to use CLI in Windows to fix a problem with one hand with fingers left over.

            When Win3.1 came out in '92, I had been repairing Macintosh 128's, 512's, and SE's for four years. I can count the number of times I had to use a CLI to do that with no hands. And still have an appendage left to play with.

            Bill Gates made sure that EVERYTHING had a GUI, from the most basic app to the most complex. He made sure t

        • Re:Brings me back (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sjames (1099) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#27676857) Homepage

          The fact is that MS existed before the PC and Gates really wrote code for their Basic interpreters. They were written in multiple assembly languages for each target processor. That's geek enough for you.

          Also a great example of how MS set it's behavior early. Gates took quite a number of pre-orders on the strength of a promised delivery date. A year AFTER that date, many wondered if they had been had since they received nothing. Someone managed to grab a paper tape with the pre-release code, fix the large number of bugs and distribute the now working interpreter before Gates got the official one out.

          That's what inspired him to write his screed against copying software which completely ignored the fact that the incident was the only reason he didn't have dozens of people breathing down his neck about the large (for the time) sum of money they paid him and the over a year late product he was to give them in return.

          Another aspect that showed what was to come from MS, he was using Harvard's mainframe without permission to develop the code since there was an Altair emulator available and he didn't own the real thing himself.

          Were someone to do exactly the same thing today, their university would promptly assert ownership over the work.

          I'd say it's not marketing that Gates and MS excel at, but dirty tricks and borderline business practices.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ClosedSource (238333)

            Since you didn't provide any sources I have no idea if this history is correct or not. If it's true somebody stole a paper tape. Regardless of what you think of copyright, that was clearly a theft and Gates had every right to be upset.

            It's not surprising that an unreleased software program was buggy and who knows how many bugs were introduced when it was "fixed" by the thieves.

            Of course, MS produced a number of other basics.

            If he really did use Harvard's computer, so what? He must of had some cooperation f

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by sjames (1099)

              Technically, it was stolen, but since he was one of the people that had paid for one and it was a year late, he could equally argue that he merely enforced some of the terms of the deal (it was still a year late and bug ridden, but he wrote that off once he finally got the copy he paid for).

              If he really did use Harvard's computer, so what? He must of had some cooperation from the Harvard staff because computers in those days weren't just sitting in unlocked rooms.

              When you get a bank employee to 'help' you that way, it's called an "inside job".

              It's just interesting to see when people have such a strongly defined sense of what's "theirs" seem to have a much free-er interpretation o

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ClosedSource (238333)

                "Technically, it was stolen, but since he was one of the people that had paid for one and it was a year late, he could equally argue that he merely enforced some of the terms of the deal (it was still a year late and bug ridden, but he wrote that off once he finally got the copy he paid for)."

                Try that argument on a judge. Theft is not a legal remedy for a contract dispute.

                "When you get a bank employee to 'help' you that way, it's called an "inside job"."

                What a phony analogy. Most universities allow students

    • Re:Brings me back (Score:5, Interesting)

      by deets101 (1290744) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:47PM (#27676065)
      There was a documentary on PBS about the rise of computers called Triumph of the Nerds from 1996. It showed how MS stumbled ass backwards into a lot great situations. Also showed how some companies completely misunderstood computers and showed a painful lack of foresight. Xerox, anybody?
      • That was on one of the better documentaries of early computing I've seen. Also interesting was Nerds 2.0.1 by Stephen Segaller. That's a dead tree by the way, not a TV show.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:43AM (#27675277)

    This might be old news but it is relevant as with the likes of BPOS and Azure it appears that Microsoft is attempting to shift their existing monopolies into the cloud by both providing different licensing models for themselves and competitors in a cloud and by linking it closer to services offered in their next generation operating systems.

    Clearly Microsoft's agenda is to use their existing desktop monopoly to grab a monopoly in the cloud.

    Posted Anonymously for a reason.

    • by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:47AM (#27675331) Homepage Journal
      Clearly Microsoft's agenda is to use their existing desktop monopoly to grab a monopoly in the cloud.

      Since that didn't work out so well for them re: the internet, I'm not all that worried.
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:16PM (#27675659) Journal

        Since that didn't work out so well for them re: the internet, I'm not all that worried.

        Out of curiosity, why do you think it didn't work out so well for them re: the internet?

        Maybe, just possibly, because people were worried, and therefore monitored what MS was doing, and made sure MS wasn't allowed to leverage their desktop monopoly advantage?

        You may not worry, but if no one worries, then we could have a problem.

        But that's OK, you can rest comfortable knowing someone else will fix all the problems you can't be bothered to worry about :) Meanwhile, you can focus your attentions on something you can be bothered to worry about. That's good division of labor. Just remember come tax time next year, it's partly your taxes* that make sure MS doesn't abuse its monopoly.

        *Offer only valid for residents of the EU. Here in the US, our taxes go towards paying lipservice by prosecuting MS, then dropping the ball when it comes time for making a decision, enforcement and follow-up. Though, it seemed to work out OK re: internet browsers, as we've now got a pretty good competitive market, as long as we keep vigilant. Though a lot of that has been because MS had to play by EU rules.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Out of curiosity, why do you think it didn't work out so well for them re: the internet?

          I read a good chunk of Bill's book The Road Ahead maybe a couple of years after the internet went mainstream (the book was published in '95). His comments, thoughts and strategies showed that the man did not have clue one about what he was getting into. Oh wait, Ballmer's in charge now? Naaah, I'm still not worried.

          MS as we knew it is dead. Only thing still carrying it is inertia.

          Just remember come tax time
          • That reminds me of something I heard as part of a FileMaker Pro salesman's pitch about why to use FileMaker instead of MS Office. The Law of Office Inertia: Data in Microsoft Office tends to remain in Microsoft Office.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Maybe, just possibly, because people were worried, and therefore monitored what MS was doing, and made sure MS wasn't allowed to leverage their desktop monopoly advantage?

          Or maybe, just possibly, because Microsoft's internet apps all sucked, and therefore no one used it, and made sure to tell all their friends to use Google, Youtube, and Wikipedia.

          I live in China, Youtube here was blocked recently. I saw a bunch of references to Susan Boyle lately so I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about. I tried to view her video on MSN's version of Youtube. Couldn't do it. All I got was MSN's coverage of her, not the original song. If they can fuck up such a basic service so

        • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:07PM (#27676311)

          Maybe, just possibly, because people were worried, and therefore monitored what MS was doing, and made sure MS wasn't allowed to leverage their desktop monopoly advantage?

          Not at all.

          Not even slightly.

          Microsoft has been leveraging the hell out of the desktop and (more importantly) corporate monopoly status to try and push people to use Microsoft technologies on the internet.

          It's not because people were worried that they've not been able to establish a stranglehold - it's that there is real competition and the cost to use alternative solution is now so low, even from a time to build perspective.

          We should all be worried as hell about what Microsoft is up to, but we should not make the mistake of not understanding what kinds of things will build Microsoft true monopolies. Happily Microsoft is seemingly short on vision these days and so there has not been as much danger.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Since that didn't work out so well for them re: the internet, I'm not all that worried.

        I know you're talking about sites, but it worked horrifically well with browsers. Do you know of a large commercial site that can afford to ignore IE6?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          worked

          Past tense, exactly. That "winning" strategy led to stagnation and to the current trend of IE no longer being supremely dominant. It's also worth pointing out that IE6's inertia reveals that the MS upgrade express train is not running quite like MS hoped. If I was them, I'd rather lose the browser wars than a good chunk of my customer base.
      • >Since that didn't work out so well for them re: the internet, I'm not all that worried.

        But it did work, did you forget 90%+ share of IE6 which had no new versions for about 5 years? They have won the browser war and then let the market stagnate.

        Of course, internet is not just www, but still... The haven't won search engines war yet, partly because they can't use their Embrace Extend Extinguish tactics and their desktop OS monopoly there. In "the cloud" they surely can.

    • by Burkin (1534829) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:50AM (#27675367)

      Posted Anonymously for a reason.

      Fear of a chair to the head?

      • by Jurily (900488)

        Fear of a chair to the head?

        http: //www.documentingreality.com/forum/f10/death-chair-3339/ (Warning: extremely NSFW)

      • by V!NCENT (1105021)
        Suddenly it al became clear to me... "Who said sit down?!" wasn't solely related to some kind of speech by some kind of CEO who works for some kind of company.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:49PM (#27676095) Journal

      Posted Anonymously for a reason.

      I understand. I saw Antitrust [wikipedia.org] too.

      True story: when I was in college I used to show Antitrust to incoming freshmen as a kind of initiation. There was one kid, not particularly bright, who loved Microsoft. He thought they were the geniuses who made the tech world turn. He was an Information Systems major, btw. After watching that movie, he had these huge eyes and the first thing he said was, "I didn't realize!!" Awesome movie. Scarred at least one innocent mind for life.

  • Anyone else notice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:54AM (#27675407) Homepage

    The irony that when Gates was in control, Microsoft was more aggressive on the business side, and since Ballmer took over, they've been working a lot harder on the technology side? Ballmer deserves credit for trying to actually do a good job on the technology side, without resorting to just nasty competitive moves.

    • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:57AM (#27675447)
      Bill's strong point was always the fact that he was a shrewd businessman. His tactics obviously weren't always friendly but you can't deny that he created an incredibly powerful company in a relatively short period of time. I am, however, looking forward to seeing more time spent on technology and less time spent sidelining competitors.
      • by jabjoe (1042100) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:49PM (#27676093)
        Listen-to/watch him on the 1998 Deposition. No amount of charity PR is going to make me think he is a good honest man. He is not someone to admire or even respect. It's not ok to do anything you can get away with to make money. Becoming rich doesn't make everything ok. If I was religious man I would point to old text on camels, the eye of needles and damnation, but I'm not, but what I'll say is society couldn't function if it was filled with people like this.
    • by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:52PM (#27676119) Homepage

      Actually, I think the exact opposite happened. Back when Gates was in control you had at least halfway working products (and the reason of Windows ME imho was mainly because they tried to squeeze out one more 9x version for monetary gain and nobody was really interested in the project because NT was coming to the desktop anyway).

      Gates was more focused on marketing than technology though and that's what got them in the current position in the first place. Ballmer is more focused on income (keeping the monopoly and selling more licenses to increase lock-in) than anything else as you can see with the recent licensing models for netbooks, SharePoint and 3rd world countries. I think Vista was more because of Ballmer than because of Gates. At the time Vista started, Gates was already working his way out and dedicating time to his philanthropy. Windows 7 imho is just Vista SP3 or "what Vista should've been but we had to release something fast in order to counter Mac OS X".

      The company itself has never been about technology at the core. It always either steals or buys the best from elsewhere (DOS, OS/2, VMS, ...) and makes it 'just good enough' to sell a boxed products and then makes marketing or licensing sell it.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Thing is, Ballmer (and I doubt it is him directly, probably more fortuitous circumstance for MS that they had a research project out of J++ that came good) is doing more anti-competitive moves with the new technology. Its just now, they can push .NET massively knowing that all .net programmers are tied securely into Windows for ever.

      It isn't a nasty anti-competitive move, but it is designed to keep Windows marketshare at other platform's expense. (jury's out whether it will become nasty if Mono comes good,

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      The irony that when Gates was in control, Microsoft was more aggressive on the business side, and since Ballmer took over, they've been working a lot harder on the technology side?

      No. Perhaps you can offer some examples that compare and contrast so we can understand what you mean by "business" and "technology" ?

  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:04PM (#27675535)
    Ok, I'm showing some age here.

    Remember in 1989 the Stacker disk compression fiaso?

    I think that was one of the original examples of this kind of behavior, in this case Stac electronics were able to get some money from MS - but it was a sour victory as MS has effectively removed them from the market place in the process.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stac_Electronics [wikipedia.org]

    nearly 30 years of watching MS I have no faith that the firm will *ever* play fair, and as a business trying to please their shareholders it is very naive to expect them to do so. they have a monopoly and will abuse it to their benefit as long as they can get away with it.
    • oops, did I say 1989? I meant early 1990s - my bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by awshidahak (1282256)

      Remember in 1989 the Stacker disk compression fiaso?

      I wasn't around slashdot back then you insensitive clod!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      "in this case Stac electronics were able to get some money from MS - but it was a sour victory as MS has effectively removed them from the market place in the process."

      Stac got around 80 million dollars from MS for their trouble. I wish I had a "sour victory" like that.

    • I think that was one of the original examples of this kind of behavior, in this case Stac electronics were able to get some money from MS - but it was a sour victory as MS has effectively removed them from the market place in the process.

      To be fair, MS didn't really remove Stac as much as technology changed. What made Stac successful was the fact that hardrives were small compared to the information that could be placed on them. 20MB was an average consumer HD back then. A CD ROM had 600MB capacity while

      • by nevali (942731) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:14PM (#27676413) Homepage

        Not before DoubleSpace (and later DriveSpace, the non-infringing version) were used by millions of people, though.

        The fact that DoubleSpace was bundled with DOS 6 meant that nobody needed to bother buying Stacker for the couple of years before whole-drive compression became mostly unnecessary. While that certainly was what killed Stac, what we don't know is what they might have come up with if they'd stayed in businessâ"after all, Stac was an innovator, while Microsoft just ripped of the technology.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by myxiplx (906307)

          Exactly, Microsoft's behaviour killed the market, removing a damn good product from us customers. Sure, Stac made some money out of it, but we'll never know what we lost as a result.

          I used to use Stacker regularly after finding that it coped with disk errors better than Microsoft's FAT filesystem, or Microsoft's Doublespace. Errors that would routinely loose entire disks with Microsoft's code were quietly fixed with Stacker, allowing me to move data to new disks. I was even able to recycle known bad disk

    • I recall their fake error in Windows 3.1 that claimed other versions of DOS would cause problems to encourage users to buy MS DOS when the version they had installed was perfectly valid.

      I remember Caldera successfully suing them for their anti-competitive practices, buying a Unix company and then turning into a Microsoft shill.

      There was DR-DOS, I recall a strange interaction issue with Desqview/X but I may be mistaken, etc.

  • by UseCase (939095) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:09PM (#27675581)
    Given the opportunity it is very hard for any person or company to pass up a chance to change the rules of a game in a way that disadvantages its competition in that game. This is especially true when survival is at stake. We do not and should never condone this type of behavior but we must realize it is natural and (without regard to morality) should be expected. This type behavior is bad for our industry as we have all seen so we must always be aware that some company out there will always try this as a means to advantage and stop it to allow strength to be generated via fierce competition.
    • The fact that economics reduces to the ecology of metaphorical creatures/species was my idea!

    • by shelterpaw (959576) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:51PM (#27676111)

      Given the opportunity it is very hard for any person or company to pass up a chance to change the rules of a game in a way that disadvantages its competition in that game. This is especially true when survival is at stake. We do not and should never condone this type of behavior but we must realize it is natural and (without regard to morality) should be expected. This type behavior is bad for our industry as we have all seen so we must always be aware that some company out there will always try this as a means to advantage and stop it to allow strength to be generated via fierce competition.

      It's bad for every industry. It's natural to be competitive and that's why morals and values are a good thing. Business is bad when the bottom line and being number 1 becomes more important than the product. At that point you've lost focus and have embraced greed. I'm a small business owner, but I learned from a great mentor that all deals should be win/win and you should never screw someone over to get ahead or you'll get a bad name. When I sell, I don't bad mouth competitors products and I tell the people who work for me not to either. Say a few positive things about the competition and then educate the merits of your product, if it's good it'll sell.

      Being conservative I have to say that the Bush administration really let us down with the MS antitrust case. Not to mention other things, but I prefer to stay on topic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by raddan (519638)
      I recently picked up On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore [amazon.com]. This book nicely illustrates your point. Fascinating read-- the guy running the company was a complete bastard. He had developed a 'survival' ethos, from his experience as a child in German concentration camps, and he carried this into the way he did business in his adult life.

      For example-- he would contract with small suppliers, but then stretch out repaying them, so that when they were on the verge of bankruptcy, he could bu
    • I would say that all companies behave (or would like to behave) this way. I'm sure Ford would love to make cars which only handle proprietary Ford tires and take only proprietary Ford gas. I'm sure if they had a monopoly on cars, they would do it. Of course if they tried now, they would just guarantee themselves a quick death.
    • by Peaker (72084)

      So what you're saying is that society needs much harsher punishments for such behavior as a counter-incentive?

  • Don't see the point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:24PM (#27675743)

    While I realize that this will get modded to oblivion as flamebait, please realize that it's not intended to be; it's just intended to be another view (dissenting as it may be in the /. community).

    I'm sorry, but while I agree that anti-competitive behavior is generally wrong, by the same token perhaps I'm just too much of a moneygrubbing bugger to care. I think that MS's behavior is only seen as anti-competitive because they happen to own such a massive share of the market, not to mention have the financial backing to be able to buy out companies that are suing them.

    Otherwise, it's just the way business works, at least as far as I can tell; you do what you can to get a leg up on your competitors, even if that means buying your competitors.

    Much ado about nothing, in my opinion. If the competition actually had a hope of competing, then maybe we'd have a real problem. Instead they're relegated to litigation in something that not-so-vaguely reminds me of the MAFIAA - if you can't beat 'em, sue 'em (I know the analogy is somewhat flawed, but try to see it from the high-level that it's meant to be by the comment after the hyphen).

    Btw, I'm a Linux user who uses Windows only for things he has to, and IMO linux has a ways to go before it's "desktop-ready" for the average user. For us tinkerers and people who know enough about computers to not get frustrated when it doesn't work immediately, great. But until it "just works", EVERY time, with NO mucking about, on EVERY piece of hardware that Windows works on with the same performance, it's not ready.

    Mac, on the other hand, has a chance, if you don't mind vendor-lock in. But then, not much difference between that and MS.

    • by Jellybob (597204) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:35PM (#27675889) Journal

      But until it "just works", EVERY time, with NO mucking about

      What, like Windows does?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilbessie (873633)
        Mostly because I've used more Windows boxes in the last 15 years I find issues far easier to diagnose with a Windows box than a Mac. Apple do tend to hide an awful lot of things, which for the most part normal users don't need, so diagnosing issues can be more problematic. Apple are just as bad as MS, for example I can plug in my iphone into a Windows box and browse using Explorer to retrieve the pictures from the phone. On a Mac I can't use finder (or at least it is non-obvious) to do the same I have to u
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        Yep.

        Vista installation:
        Insert disk. Enter a little information. Done everything works. IT could see and store my cameras images, print, installed the correct video driver, recognized my monitor, found my network, all USB devices.
        everything.

        This same machine I tried Ubuntu, and it would not see my printers or the wireless network.
        I GOT them to work, but it took another 30 minutes. Not a long time, but it didn't 'Just Work'.

        Yes, I have Linux experience. Starting with Slackware 1.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gutter (27465)

      I think that MS's behavior is only seen as anti-competitive because they happen to own such a massive share of the market, not to mention have the financial backing to be able to buy out companies that are suing them.

      Do you realized how silly this sounds? The whole point of monopoly law is that things that are legal most of the time are no longer legal when you have monopoly power. That is because when you reach a certain point, you can do things which make it impossible for any competitor to emerge, at

    • by nevali (942731)

      Anti-competitive behaviour is fine.

      That's what a lot of people don't seem to get: it's not anti-competitive behaviour in and of itself that falls foul of investigations and commissions and rulings, it's the combination of a monopoly position and anti-competitive behaviour in order to attempt to create new monopolies.

      The problem is, though, once it's happened, and the world has moved on, what is an appropriate remedy? Forcing Microsoft to unbundle IE would have been a perfectly good remedy back when Windows

  • Nice to see (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I just read through the entire document and I have to say that, well, it's probably the most professional, fleshed-out, well-worded summary of Microsoft's major illegal actions over the past two decades.

    While nothing it says is necessarily new, the fact that several of the accusations people have been making for years have finally been put into one very highly professional document that is actually being used in a case that might finally do something about Microsoft's monopoly is impressive and has given me

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:35PM (#27675887)

    MS doesn't have a monopoly or even the top market share in some categories the EU is interested in such as servers. MS's presence in those markets is actually increasing competition. As was the case in the US, the EU is probably more interested in protecting specific MS competitors than in helping the consumer.

    • by EvilRyry (1025309)

      In the article they specifically mention "work group server" where they have a 77% share. The big problem being that they leveraged their desktop OS monopoly in an anti competitive manner to gain that share.

      • Wow, I thought the DOJ was artificially carving the market to box MS as a monopoly but apparently the EU is even better at it. I guess nobody should by a Linux server if they want to use it for a work group.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @12:37PM (#27675943) Journal
    Come to think of it this is a great idea for a board game, we could call it M$ Monopoly. Goes like this:

    Everyone get's to be their own Microsoft. Instead of "GO!" you would have "START!", instead of "Jail" you would have "Court" and you would actually get to use goto's. Instead of Money you would have 'Bills' and instead of a dice you would throw little chairs.

    The person with the most money get's paid by every other player. When you land on someone else's property, you get to sue them if you have more money or visa-versa. To win the game you are involved in the most lawsuits and have all the money.

    I know exactly [neowin.net] what photos would be on the front.

  • Bill Gates was beaten as a kid?
  • Another take on this (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kaizendojo (956951)
    Jim Rapoza of eWeek has a great article on the subject of monopolistic behavior in this month's issue (which can be seen on line at http://etech.eweek.com/content/operating_systems/apple_trumps_microsoft_google_as_tech_monopolist.html [eweek.com]) and while I'm sure the view might not be as popular here on /. I think it bears reading.
  • embrace extend extinguish may have worked in the past, but how do you do this with a competitor that does not play by any rules of engagement?

    its hard to offer a hand of welcome to something that has inherently been available to you from day one (not like java)

    its difficult to extend something in a means that mandates you extend it in a fair manner, and has thousands of eyes to ensure your extension is well received regardless of lax documentation

    its difficult to see how extinguishing the product will w
  • Not going to happen but, just as in the trust-busting days of yore, only a self-policing solution (the break-up of the corporation into separate businesses) will work.

  • Story Time!!

    I have a friend who developed a database technology that caught Microsoft's attention due to its amazing performance benefits over all dbs out there. My friend was extremely careful not to give M$ access to his systems, though they wanted executables so they could test it themselves. He forced them to give him their data vectors and queries for performance testing. He gave them the results in record time, he demoed it on his laptop in person. They tried to get him to join the company--he wouldn'

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