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Windows 7 To Be "Thoroughly" Tested For Antitrust Compliance 364

Posted by timothy
from the you-will-comply-citizen dept.
CWmike writes "Technical advisers to the antitrust regulators who monitor Microsoft's compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement will test Windows 7 'more thoroughly' than earlier versions of the operating system were tested, according to a new status report filed with the federal judge watching over the company. Microsoft is also facing renewed scrutiny from the EU, which two weeks ago filed preliminary charges against the company over bundling IE with Windows, and said more recently that Microsoft 'shields' IE from competition."
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Windows 7 To Be "Thoroughly" Tested For Antitrust Compliance

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  • Virii (Score:2, Funny)

    by s1lverl0rd (1382241)
    First we got antivirus software, then they invented antispyware software. Yeah, Antitrust software is obviously exactly what we need.
  • I am skeptical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:15AM (#26652119)

    Microsoft's compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement will test Windows 7 'more thoroughly' than earlier versions of the operating system were tested, according to a new status report filed with the federal judge watching over the company.

    Wasn't this done for XP? If I cannot remove IE or Windows Media Player, then these folks will not have done their job.

    But the better move would be to force Microsoft to use open formats for all their applications. That way, we all can be sure that alternative apps have the opportunity to work as required. The only hindrance here would be for programmers to "deliver."

    • Re:I am skeptical (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @09:21AM (#26652789)
      this is exactly backwards, it would be better to make microsoft's closed & proprietary file formats & protocols illegal, and force microsoft to use open file formats & protocols that are not written by microsoft...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by furby076 (1461805)

      But the better move would be to force Microsoft to use open formats for all their applications

      "But the better move would be to force Everyone to use Microsoft products for all their work"
      "But the better move would be to force Everyone to eat Wheaties products for all their lives"
      "But the better move would be to force Everyone to do what Uncle Sam wants for all their lives"

      See the problem with forcing people/companies to do things? Regulation is important, but there needs to be a time where you gotta say "hold on this is overstepping". Put it this way - if you created a product (think time a

      • Re:I am skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @12:04PM (#26655039)

        Put it this way - if you created a product (think time and money) for sale so you cuold make profit - how would you feel if someone came up to you and said "No sorry, you need to invest more time and money and configure your product the way *I* want it, not how you want it.

        We have this thing called "rule by law" where we write laws that all companies and people are expected to obey. That way, companies are not surprised. They know the laws in advance and can reasonably expect those laws will be enforced. The problem here is not that the government is suddenly changing the rules. antitrust laws have been on the books for a hundred years.

        No, the surprising thing here is that one company broke the law to drive other companies out of business, and that law was not effectively enforced. A good analogy would be a law that says you can't go rob liquor stores with a gun and if you do you go to prison and can't own a gun (the means of your crime) for the rest of your life. So some guy goes and robs a liquor store, and when he's dragged into court he donates half the money to the judge and sheriff's re-election fund. Then they decide to waive the jail time and let him keep his gun. He then goes on a robbery spree, and continues his donations. He gets sued and loses, but the settlement is less money than he's making as a robber. He gets arrested in Germany, but they give him a warning and ship him back to the states. The robber shopkeepers complain, but he takes out ads in the paper calling them whiners and says they are suing him about a wage dispute, when he really just robber them. He pays a few people to spread word of mouth and write editorials about how people are unfairly picking on him, saying he shouldn't be able to own a gun, when other people own guns.

        MS broke the law and they knew the law before they did it. They're still breaking the law. It's hurting legitimate businesses, costing us money, and slowing innovation so we have worse products and services. There was no surprise for MS, just for legitimate businesses who stupidly though our courts were not so easily bribed and that the law might be enforced effectively.

  • Yup! It's non-compliant. Actually, what are the compliance conditions precisely? I recall that part of the problem was the bundling of MSIE but I can't say if the exclusion of MSIE was ever a requirement.

  • by Dotren (1449427)

    Microsoft should follow the Linux lead here... the core OS should just be the bare necessities and there should be a user friendly GUI to connect to and download features and software that is supported on the Windows platform. This could be done for both free software (IE, Firefox, etc.) and software they currently charge for or that may be going to a subscription based system (Office).

    They could kill two birds with one stone here, they'd just be packaging the OS so it is slimmed down and performs better A

    • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:41AM (#26652321)

      the core OS should just be the bare necessities

      No! I want a officesuite to come with every system, like Linux does.

      • No! I don't want of officesuite, because I don't need one.

        Why waste precious RAM loading a bunch of hooks & other junk for spreadsheets, powerpoints, and other programs I never use? Jeez. I remember when a multitasking OS could fit inside just 256K (Amiga OS). Although those days are passed, I don't see why it's necessary to have 2,000,000 K of RAM either. Eliminate all the optional shit (officesuites), and only load those components off the HDD as needed.

        If they did that, they could probably p

    • For the time being it remains more profitable for Windows to purposefully limit their platform (by ensuring it isn't as flexible as you describe, limiting it's compatibility with other platforms, etc) and have to deal with the EU then to just make a damn good product for the end user.
      • by Nossie (753694)

        damn good product? ha ha you are hilarious,

        I tip my hat to you sir:)

        If they'd broken up the OS and office suite into separate entities I believe everyone would have gained in the long run (inc MS)

        I'd suggest splitting up the console side too... but you wouldn't want the xbox to go bankrupt now would you?

  • by TheJerbear79 (1316155) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:30AM (#26652227)
    what am I going to use to download firefox? Do they really expect end users to learn to use FTP? I'm not sure the DOJ has thought this through.
    • Well first, I think the big idea is that Microsoft allows OEMs and customers to uninstall IE and install Firefox.

      Second, I don't think it would be all that difficult for Microsoft to develop a wizard-based application that allows end users to choose which browser to install from a set list, and even fetch the chosen browser from the Internet if need be. I bet Google and Mozilla would even be willing to cooperate with Microsoft by providing them a static link that always leads the the most recent version o

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TheJerbear79 (1316155)
        OK, I'll bite... who pays for the development of this wizard? The very short answer is Microsoft does, the somewhat longer answer is we do. Why make them develop additional software the cost of which is passed to the consumer, that's a bit counter productive in an anti-trust case isn't it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Goffee71 (628501)
      It goes back to the good old days of ISP CDs falling out of magazines by the dozen, that'll be fun and help magazine advertising sales
    • by Inda (580031)
      1. Ask someone to email the install EXE.
      2. Configure the bundled Outlook Express with your POP3 settings.
      3. Install Firefox.

      Easy!!!

      (sorry, no need for my coat, I'll brave the cold)
    • by Fri13 (963421)

      That is simple.

      You get all most used web browsers on the CD/DVD disk what your internet operator gaved to you.

      Or are you saying that you use Internet without Internet connection?

      When Microsoft and Netscape were fighting browser wars, internet operators included Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers to same disk where was applications to set your system settings correctly for operator.

      Netscape was winning then because they both were competitors, even both added nonstandard features. Microsoft was loosing b

  • Have one version with all the usual guff cut out (no "security", no browser, no apps, utilities or themes.) Make this the "Basic version" and let the user choose what browser to use, what security to install, what apps to run. Effectively this "lite" version is the gateway to the net and our chosen apps, where most PC time is spent.


    Think of it as going to Subways - choose the boring brown roll of an OS, then add all your own yummy meats, juicy salads, hot peppers and sauces.


    Sell it cheap and you
    • That windows will become nothing more then a gateway to the net. A basic OS nothing more and everything else is supplied by others. Because a basic OS isn't that hard to write. Most Uni IT students do it as an assignment. You think Linus was the first guy to program an OS at home? Hardly.

      The trick is that building a complete solution is what is hard to do AND is what MS has made a fortune out of doing. MS doesn't sell an OS, it sells ALL the tools you need to run a computer. This in itself is not enough, w

  • by kitgerrits (1034262) * on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:35AM (#26652281)
  • by Deathlizard (115856) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:36AM (#26652283) Homepage Journal

    like I said in the last thread, Is IE that big of an issue when it's losing market share to competitors? IE8 isn't going to save it because it still has abymissial JScript performance and as more sites everyday are using AJAX, IE gets slower and appears to lock up more.

    Over the last 2 years, it lost market share, and According to these guys [hitslink.com] IE dropped from 79.9 down to 68.1. Now Google chrome is in the mix and already eclipsed Opera's share of .7% within 4 months and stands at 1% market share, and it only going up from there.

    This isn't 2000, When all you had was a reliable and fast IE, a buggy Mozilla, a decripid and virtually useless Netscape, and a "HTML compliant" Opera that can't render any site correctly. Now, there's a slow and locking up IE, a reliable and fast rendering Firefox, a solid preforming Safari, a super fast and easy to install Chrome and a better, but still renders funny sometimes Opera.

    • The problem with bundling IE isn't an issue with computer-savvy folk like us, but rather with Joe Sixpack who isn't going to go out of his way to get a new browser when he's already got one bundled with his computer.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Dotren (1449427)

        The problem with bundling IE isn't an issue with computer-savvy folk like us, but rather with Joe Sixpack who isn't going to go out of his way to get a new browser when he's already got one bundled with his computer.

        This brings up an interesting point.

        Lets say that they do get Microsoft to actually do some proper programming and separate out IE from Windows so that it can be uninstalled in such a way that the OS can go about it's business. Furthermore, lets say that they even get Microsoft to develop a wizard during installation that lets a Joe Sixpack choose from a list of browsers to install.

        Is this going to make ANY difference to Joe Sixpack or is he still just going to install the first one on the list (which woul

  • ive never had a mac so i wouldnt know for sure, but i would assume that OSX or leopard or whatever its called bundles something, itunes and safari maybe? if i am right then surely for fairness such rulings should apply to them aswell and to linux as the market share for both are slowly climbing
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Linux distributions include competitor products, provided they are FOSS. They won't have a anti-trust issue, no matter how big Linux distributions become - since they arn't preventing others from competing with their operating system.

    • by tb3 (313150)

      Safari is bundled with OS X, as are a lot of utility programs. However, you can easily download and install another browser and delete the safari.app file from your /Applications folder. Then you can run System Preferences and set your default browser, if the browser itself hasn't already done so. And anyway, Apple has not been found guilty of violating the Sherman Act. Microsoft has, therefore different rules apply to them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Safari is bundled with OS X, as are a lot of utility programs. However, you can easily download and install another browser and delete the safari.app file from your /Applications folder. Then you can run System Preferences and set your default browser, if the browser itself hasn't already done so.

        None of this is important to antitrust abuse.

        And anyway, Apple has not been found guilty of violating the Sherman Act. Microsoft has, therefore different rules apply to them.

        No, the same laws apply to both companies. The case against MS, however is made simpler because most of the findings of fact are done and because MS is a repeat offender. Apple can bundle anything they want with OS X or Safari because that does not constitute antitrust abuse. You have to be leveraging monopoly influence through bundling, i.e. one of the bundled products has to constitute a monopoly. Neither Safari nor OS X is monopoly in the legal or economic se

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      is this a little one sided?

      No.

      ive never had a mac so i wouldnt know for sure, but i would assume that OSX or leopard or whatever its called bundles something

      They bundle lots of things. But bundling, in general, is not what MS is being charged with. They're being charged with undermining markets, bundling just happens to be the mechanism.

      Analogy. Bob fires a gun into Tom and kills him. Bob is arrested for murder. Jake fires a gun into a target and wins the olympics. Jake is not arrested for murder. Is that one-sided, or is it that firing a gun is not illegal, while murder is?

  • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:36AM (#26652291)

    Microsoft, you have made the eeeooo very angry! And if you don't comply, we will write many angry letters to you, informing you of how angry we are!

  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:41AM (#26652319)
    I feel part of the reason Microsoft have got away with a lot of their bad practices is because no one with any power to do anything about it cared.

    Now these people of power are waking up. It's not just the wining of nerds and does matter. Computers are like anything else competition is required or things become expensive and broken.

    Closed source is broken anyway, but to have a company to make closed software on a closed platform, how can that ever be a level playing field?
    • Closed source is not broken for custom or specialist software (it never has been) but for mass market software it is and always has been non ideal

      Closed source is great if it is part of a "solution" package where you buy the hardware, installation, support, and maintenance, oh.. and a licence for the software, all from one company as a package

      In mass market software you are so far removed from the developers and do not normally get support included so the support systems end up being the same as open source

    • The EU has woken up to late. When MS was bundling IE in and abused it's monopoly to destroy Netscape, that was the time for something to be done. Today the idea of a browser-less OS isn't acceptable to people who want their computer to "just work." Firefox and other free browsers aren't going to sink because MS is bundling IE free of charge. It's a different market now which needs other things - such as open standards and standards compliance.
  • The only solution would be to enable the complete removal of Internet Explorer's GUI. The only reason I don't say to completely remove it is because it is crucial to Windows Update, among other aspects of that OS. However, to force the OS to tell the user, "You must install one of the above to get on the Internet," is ludicrous. The same people claiming that Microsoft's packaging are the ones who have no problem with Firefox being installed by default in Linux distributions. The only difference is that we h

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RedK (112790)
      Windows update doesn't use Internet Explorer anymore, it's been this way since Windows Vista. There's now a fat client that runs on your PC that takes care of updates. So one less reason to even have the Internet Explorer GUI/shortcuts by default.
  • by Brian Kendig (1959) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @08:56AM (#26652477) Homepage

    Right now, according to MarketShare [hitslink.com], IE6 and Firefox 2/3 are roughly tied for market share (about 20% to each). TheCounter [thecounter.com] says that IE6 has 34% of the market while Firefox has 17%, and even W3Schools [w3schools.com] says that IE6 still has about 20% of users.

    The moral of this story is: lots of people don't upgrade. They don't even run Windows Update. They use the browser they got when they installed XP, and they probably don't even know anything else is out there.

    This is why, whenever Microsoft ties an application to the operating system, the market suffers. It becomes really hard to compete in that space. Right now, nobody's making money selling a web browser that competes with the one that comes with Windows. This is the way it's been for more than a decade now. The antitrust action against Microsoft was nothing more than a slap on the wrist; it did nothing to restore competition.

    If Microsoft is so interested in bundling high-quality apps with the operating system for the good of its users, then why haven't they bundled Microsoft Word?

    • Additionally, a lot of people are running hand-me-down systems that are only powerful enough to run under Windows 98SE (which won't run Firefox).

    • by Brad_McBad (1423863) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:05AM (#26653357)
      In my case, this is because I am revolted by the IE7 interface, and am pissed off that it can't be turned back to IE6 mode.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) *

        In my case, this is because I am revolted by the IE7 interface, and am pissed off that it can't be turned back to IE6 mode.

        Since you're relatively new here, I won't try anything really sarcastic. Just a hint. NEVER, EVER say anything nice about IE6 around here. You can get away with saying good things about Microsoft (in general, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays). You can even diss Apple or Google occasionally.

        But IE6? That's toxic. Like Plutonium. Or George Bush. Welcome to Slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BenoitRen (998927)

      W3Schools lists the stats for their site only. It's not representative of world-wide market share at all.

  • Instead of having IE and WMP installed, they have just the link to the installer?

    The user at their discretion should be able to decide if they want that bloat or not in their OS.

    (either at runtime, or during the instalation)

  • Whats the problem? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EricX2 (670266)
    Back when IE's competition cost money I could see why they would be in trouble for bundling a free program would cause people to think they were using their power as a monopoly. How many web browsers does OS X bundle? In KDE, isn't the web browser also the file manager?
    In 10 years when MS is gone due to their so called non competition (and lawsuits) we'll have the same issues with whoever is the BIG company at the time due to these laws not being enforced across the board. Either you can bundle whatever yo
  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @09:19AM (#26652763) Homepage

    It's not necessarily what is bundled or not. It's their #!@$@ business practices and closed APIs. I really don't give a crap if an alternate browser is on the system or not. What they should care about is that it is easy to put it on, remove the one you don't like, etc. You should be able to mix and match as you see fit.

    This focus on 'bundling' has always annoyed me. Why should we force microsoft to bundle anything that they themselves didn't create? that's stupid. We definitely should look into their dealings with OEMs though! That whole forcing OS/2 out of the market with their exclusive contracts were not cool. Educate yourself on the real criminal behavior: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm [usdoj.gov]

    To test for antitrust, they need simply test how easy it is to mix and match different components. If the OS is getting in the way of that, fine the hell out of them.

  • Ignorance (Score:5, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @11:32AM (#26654569)

    Look it's another antitrust story about Microsoft! Look it's already filled with dozens of comments by people who don't know what antitrust abuse is. Seriously people, you're making Slashdot look as ignorant as other Web forums. Don't people think it might be a good idea to know what they're talking about before telling us what they think about it?

    Antitrust abuse is undermining free trade in a market using the large amount of influence a company or group has in a separate market. Antitrust laws were made because trusts discovered they could undermine capitalism by tying markets they controlled to markets they did not and then they did not have to work hard and spend money to make the best product in the second market; they could dominate it with an inferior product that did not cost them to produce. This also resulted in them having little or no motivation to please customers, improve that product, or reduce costs... undermining all the important benefits we were gaining from capitalism in the first place. Without antitrust laws, capitalism collapses into a series of competing monopolists, which is why pretty much every country around the world implemented very similar antitrust laws, which have stabilized economies and prevented the worst abuses.

    Example: How to abuse a monopoly. Suppose I gain a monopoly or trust. It doesn't matter how. Say I contract with a city to lay the wires that distribute electricity. Fine, this is a common monopoly scenario in the US. Now suppose I decide I want to move into a new market, like selling bottled water. Legally, antitrust law says because water is a separate pre-existing market, I cannot tie those two markets together. The most common form of illegal tying is bundling. Suppose I start shipping every one of my electrical distribution customers a "free" case of bottled water every month. The vast majority of sellers of bottled water go out of business, because everyone already has bottled water. This is both unfair and destabilizes the market by driving good companies out of business without having a better product. Then, I slowly raise the price of electrical power distribution to cover my expense in purchasing and distributing bottled water. What if my water is not as good and tastes slightly off? What if the bottles are non-recyclable? What if it costs me more than it did previous companies and I'm passing on higher costs to you?

    In capitalism all those problems are solved by the market. I'm motivated to solve them because it will make my bottled water more attractive and get me more sales. With monopoly abuse, I have no motivation to solve those problems. If people want electricity in their houses they will buy my bottled water, so who cares if it sucks and is overpriced? What can they do?

    I'll tell you what they can do. They can pass criminal laws that make such bundling illegal. If you tie a product in a market where you have a huge amount of influence (either as a company or a cartel) to a separate pre-existing market, you are breaking the law. That law makes a lot of sense and has stabilized our economy an insured competition. A lot of people have proposed solutions other than antitrust law, that would let some currently illegal bundling continue and try to solve the problem in a different way, basically trying to solve a specific case by writing laws to cover that case instead of general laws that cover all cases. I think that is a myopic view and misguided.

    So what did MS do? They took a product (Windows) where they had huge influence on the market and bundled numerous other products with it. These are products from separate pre-existing markets. When they did it, they knew it was breaking the law, but they figured they'd make enough money to buy their way out of trouble. They paid off companies with enough money to sue them successfully. They made huge campaign contributions to the people who were supposed to be enforcing the laws. They spent large amounts of money on misinformation campaigns to confuse people about the law and spread mi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dhavleak (912889)

      My problem with treating IE bundling as an antitrust issue is pretty simple -- I simply don't recognize browsers as being a separate market. They're more like an 'aftermarket accessory'.

      Web applications are pretty pervasive these days. Social networking sites, online banking, web mail, Google docs, photo sharing sites, etc. are all examples thereof. In that context, a browser is merely another 'framework' on which applications run. An OS without this framework is an incomplete OS.

      So I still contend that

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