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Author Topic: Microsoft antitrust farce ends, did it really do anything useful?  (Read 2309 times)
Josh
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« on: May 12, 2011, 10:14:24 AM »



Quote
It's a little over 10 years since Microsoft largely won/lost the appeal of the U.S. government's landmark antitrust case. Today, Thursday, May 12, 2011, the oversight regime created by the judgement against Microsoft ends. Can anyone reasonably say that this case made any meaningful difference to the technology business?

I've always been hardcore, maybe even an extremist, about the antitrust case against Microsoft. I never thought of it as a dangerous monopoly.

Oh sure, Microsoft had absurdly high market share and the company was a bastard to do business with, but everyone, and I mean everyone, who ever bought a Microsoft product had alternatives. They chose to buy the Microsoft product. The products sucked, but all things considered they were better than the alternatives.

The fact that there weren't even more alternatives or that the ones available couldn't compete is due to their deficiencies. Did IBM's OS/2 on the desktop fail because Microsoft wouldn't let any OEMs sell it? It hardly matters, because nobody would have bought it anyway. There were plenty of people who could have bought OS/2 and didn't. I remember those days. I remember OS/2 had a barely functional Netware stack in a business world where Netware really mattered. I remember OS/2 having device drivers for about 3 graphics cards. It was, in many ways, an excellent operating system, but it didn't do what people really needed. Windows 3.1 -- the crappy, unstable, ugly Windows 3.1 -- actually did that better.

Source @ Betanews

My question is, did this really do anything for the better? Linux still has a good portion of the server market, Microsoft still owns the remainder and dominates the enterprise desktop market along with the end-user market. The EU anti-trust efforts created the N editions and the browser ballot which remain largely ineffectual.

What good did all of this do?
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40hz
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 11:03:27 AM »

Nothing much came out of it because there wasn't much to be gained to begin with.

Most of the argument was that Microsoft was depriving consumers of choice. The simple fact 90% of the consumers could have cared less what brand of software they used (as long as it worked) somehow seems to have escaped the would-be regulators.

It's nice that the government wanted to open the software market up to encourage more independent development and alternatives. Too bad hardly anybody took them up on it because - wait for it - most consumers and businesses aren't interested in exploring alternatives - even when alternatives are available.

You can't even argue the money angle. If cost were the sole criteria, every business would be running Linux and Libre Office on the desktop and Centos or BSD instead of Win2K8-R2 on their servers.

Dissatisfaction and demand drives the creation of alternatives. So until there's sufficient dissatisfaction with Microsoft's technologies, there won't be much hope for commercial alternatives springing into existence to address it.

And most people are pretty much 'ok' with Microsoft.

 Cool
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 11:07:33 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 03:46:01 PM »

What good did all of this do?

It validated some people's moral indignation. smiley
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Deozaan
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 07:24:58 PM »



And most people are pretty much 'ok' with Microsoft.

And the ones who aren't have already moved on to the alternatives.
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zridling
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2011, 01:45:11 AM »

My, how soon we forget. Recall that Microsoft had bundled IE into Windows effectively killing every other browser because IE was free, thus making cost a central issue. That included manipulating its APIs so that IE worked on sites when using the Windows OS when others would not. IE was soon blessed with that wonderfully insecure virus called ActiveX and then promptly stopped the world on IE6 in 2001. Oh, and then there was that whole OEM/licensing thing that still exists today, where even if a big vendor like Dell WANTS to sell you a different OS or a computer without an OS, you still have to pay Microsoft for the privilege of not installing Windows. During the trial, Bill Gates said, "I don't recall" so often that the judge literally laughed out loud.

I call those behaviors simple robbery, not "most people could care less."

How many sites would only run on IE back then? And then when you read Barry Ritholtz' post on how the Venture Capital world waited for Microsoft rather than investing in new, small businesses (of which many were swallowed under Microsoft's "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" policy), then we all sat around for half a decade waiting on the Vista debacle followed by the MS-OOXML debacle, and that's just software; I won't mention a dozen other failures from Zune to the Kin phone.

Now that people have a choice among net apps, Apple, Linux, etc., I'm pretty sure Apple and Linux users aren't clamoring to return to the days of Windows and MS Office. Many businesses are looking to get away from the same old Microsoft products with the same old Microsoft  license agreements because they cost more than they're worth in time, money, and hassle. As the world goes mobile, Microsoft becomes ever more irrelevant. Sure, buy it and use it if you want, it will get you online and print your letters and papers and spreadsheets.

But so with everyone else.
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- zaine (on Google+)
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2011, 02:08:31 AM »

Zane, I think they've changed significantly.

But no matter how you cut it, for every evil Microsoft has done, there's a greater evil in the Apple camp.

Just to pick one at random - Windows Media Player vs. iTunes when it comes to downloading/purchasing. At least MS had SDKs so anyone could play DRM'd music. With Apple, you've got Apple, Apple, or Apple.

We still need Linux to go more mainstream than it already it. It's progressed, but it still needs wider market penetration. That's going to be up to the hardware vendors. (And for companies like Dell to hone their negotiating skills.)

Anyways, I think we're going to be entering some very dark ages in computing now that will make us wish for the old Evil Microsoft, because it will pale in comparison to what's coming.
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EĆ³in
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« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2011, 02:44:03 AM »

@Deozaan - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw
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Deozaan
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2011, 02:57:00 AM »


cheesy Grin
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2011, 03:01:34 AM »


Very cute~! cheesy
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Josh
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2011, 05:57:02 AM »

Zaine

The ONLY negative I saw from MS at the time was it forcing OEMs to bundle Windows. That was corrected right at the start of the anti-trust efforts.

Microsoft bundling IE with Windows was needed for us to get where we are today. Google is now doing the EXACT SAME THING with Chrome OS. The web browser was fundamental to the evolution of computing and Microsoft realized this. Had anyone else, but Microsoft, done this it would have been called revolutionary.

That is one thing I've noticed about Microsoft. When they do something, people always question motives and intent. When Apple or Linux implement something, it's revolutionary.

I keep seeing you refer to OOXML as well. It's funny that you keep referring to this as this hugely evil and bad event. The only real news I saw about it seemed more like OOo.org complaining about its lack of acceptance.

You also claim that businesses are chomping at the bit now to switch from MS due to the "hassle" involved. I disagree and claim the exact opposite. Most are happy with where they are at. I see companies I work with (not for) planning Windows 7 upgrade paths, getting ready to deploy office 2010 on an enterprise level, getting ready to migrate to exchange 2010 and upgrading to sharepoint services. Why? Because they all integrate well. Show me an enterprise level CMS system on any other platform that is as easy to use, flexible, and integrated as sharepoint. Show me an office suite that can do everything office 2010 can do while working so well together with other components. LibreOffice is nowhere near on par with what you can do in office 2010. It still looks like office 2003 and after deploying it at several organizations, I can tell you from first-hand experience that users are far more productive in the modern distribution (2007/2010) of Microsoft Office than they are in LibreOffice.

Case and point, the competing products are not at a level of functionality, integration, and ease of use to be widely accepted. Linux and surrounding platforms would be used far more on the enterprise workstation if they were ready for corporate use. Yes, some small businesses can get away with running it, but I seriously doubt many fortune 500 companies could switch to a *nix platform and not spend an unworldly amount trying to retrain users and update systems. So, again, I disagree with your statement that businesses are looking to get away from the Microsoft "stranglehold".

The whole antitrust effort was about Microsoft bundling IE for free. Had MS not done what they had we would not be where we are today. Had someone else started with this idea and made an OS with an integrated web browser similar to how MS implemented it, again it would have been revolutionary and not monopolistic.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Don't get me wrong, we have evolved and competition is more fierce than ever. So if I had to point out two good points from this mess, it would be the removal of Microsoft's OEM practices and the increased innovation Microsoft is now doing thanks to the increased competition.
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40hz
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2011, 08:51:43 AM »

FWIW I hardly see anything Apple makes or does as representing "choice."

Apple's entire ecosystem is closed and proprietary. And their entire culture is based on an unquestioning belief in their innate superiority, which they hold with a conviction that borders on mania.
 smiley
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2011, 06:09:01 PM »

FWIW I hardly see anything Apple makes or does as representing "choice."

Apple's entire ecosystem is closed and proprietary. And their entire culture is based on an unquestioning belief in their innate superiority, which they hold with a conviction that borders on mania.
 smiley


Borders?

Drop the "B".  Grin
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