U.S. anti-trust regulators start examining Windows 7

The European Commission’s protracted anti-trust battle against Microsoft may be receiving a lot of media attention, but Microsoft is also under the watchful eye of regulatory bodies in the United States. According to InformationWeek, a court-mandated Technical Committee is currently reviewing an early build of Windows 7 to see whether the upcoming operating system violates Microsoft’s 2002 settlement with the U.S. government.

Much like the European Commission’s 2004 ruling, the 2002 U.S. settlement centered on interoperability and mandated that Microsoft share its application programming interfaces and protocols with competitors. InformationWeek says U.S. regulators are also likely to be checking whether Windows 7 exhibits a preference for Microsoft software over third-party applications. The Technical Committee itself said in a report that it will “conduct middleware-related tests on future builds of Windows 7.”

The same report suggests some of the changes Microsoft made in Windows Vista Service Pack 1, which is scheduled for a public release later this month, will bring the operating system in line with the ruling. The changes will affect desktop search, opening it to third-party search tools from Google and others. SP1 will also ensure that Vista apps like Windows Mail and the operating system’s help tool properly open links through a user’s default browser.

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    • thermistor
    • 12 years ago

    #30 It would be kind of scary if there wasn’t at least a *little* government oversight in MS’s OS products…the government uses them too, and in places where security might be pretty important.

    Why is it the tech enthusiast crowd is so *danged* Libertarian? Rules for business exist so people do not get hurt, physically or financially…is that so hard to understand? Is food safety law a difficult concept after reading The Jungle? How about automotive safety requirements? How about the regulation of pharma? Do we expert Merck to tell us the whole truth about Vioxx as it is no more effective than OTC in relieving pain, yet has side effects that OTC doesn’t?

    So, I’d say our federales had a *dang* right to have at least a cursory review of a product that so directly impacts things we do, such as providing the platform for internet commerce, e-mail, digital entertainment, etc.

    And at least one of those areas shall be anti-trust, so say I.

      • Shining Arcanine
      • 12 years ago

      Microsoft is a company. Companies make products. Products are not forced on people and it is their decision whether they buy them or not. Assuming they buy them, it is also their decision whether they use them. If people do not like how Microsoft makes its products, people should not buy them and Microsoft can decide to either change them to make them more appealing to possible buyers or leave them as is, ignoring feedback from possible buyers.

      There is no need for government oversight in this process and government oversight has always messed things up. The aftermath of the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft is a flagrant example of this, as now Microsoft cannot regulate what is loaded on Windows PCs and OEMs are preinstalling garbage on to PCs that buyers cannot elect to not to receive with Windows because other companies are buying for this.

    • herothezero
    • 12 years ago

    q[

      • FubbHead
      • 12 years ago

      I agree, it’s the same thing. But, I guess having 2.7% of the market doesn’t count as a monopoly though.

        • Shining Arcanine
        • 12 years ago

        They are a monopoly. They control the entire market for Apple computers.

        Regardless of that, the fact of the matter is that laws are either necessary to apply to everyone or not necessary to have at all. The phrase “has a monopoly” is a misnomer because the verb “to have” refers to ownership and in a free market economy, ownership of marketshare means ownership of people and that is not possible. A monopoly is considered to be a state in which everyone uses a companies’ products and the fact that people use them in a free market economy means that they choose to use them. If some factor in the companies products was so terrible that they needed to be changed, people would not never used them to the point where they were ubiquitous and should that ever change, people would cease to use them.

        The only need that exists for any government to interfere with this process is a bureaucratic need, as one of the first rules of a bureaucracy is to expand it and expanding it requires government interference in such matters.

          • Jive
          • 12 years ago

          The point of a monopoly is that there is no other choice in a free market system, otherwise they wouldn’t be a monopoly. And don’t tell me Linux or Mac OS is a viable option at starting up a game of Counter-Strike, or Call of Duty 4.

            • Hdfisise
            • 12 years ago

            The point of a monopoly is that there is no other choice in a free market system, otherwise they wouldn’t be a monopoly. And don’t tell me Linux or Mac OS is a viable option at starting up a game of Counter-Strike, or *[http://www.aspyr.com/product/info/88<]ยง

          • credo
          • 12 years ago

          so i guess in your logic, coke is a monopoly because they don’t allow pepsi to sell under the coke label? or have the coke recipie?

            • d2brothe
            • 12 years ago

            No…coke isn’t a market…softdrinks are a market. Just like apple computers aren’t a market…computers are the market…there are grey area’s…but your example is quite clearly wrong.

            • credo
            • 12 years ago

            sorry, i dont argue w/ idiots. but my example is “quite clearly” that apple is simply a /[

    • FireGryphon
    • 12 years ago

    It’s sort of scary that the government has a hand in developing the most widely used operating system in the world.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 12 years ago

    No, I know all about monopolies and stuff, I’m just starting to feel bad for Microsoft. Darned if they do and darned if they aren’t (Doesn’t sound as good I know, but I’m trying to keep my post clean).

    For example, remember with Vista when MS tried to rework their security code to bring us all a more secure OS, McCafee and Symatic were all over MS citing “anti-trust” and yelling “monopoly”!

    Or when the EU nailed them for having Media player installed. Show me one Joe/Jane Average that upon turning their new computer on for the first time, immediately DOESN’T install the garbage that real player is.

    Or IE? They get nailed for having that as well, citing that it blocks competition. Well, if they take IE off Windows, how am I supposed to get on the Internet to download my alternative browser, if there is no browser to get on the net with?

    And yes, Windows still has a monopoly on some stuff in the PC world, like games and business applications. But if I look around my University campus, I’m seeing a lot more macbooks than PC books. I’d even say that among University students, Windows no longer has a monopoly (especially since my University recently replaced all their PC’s with imacs)

      • poulpy
      • 12 years ago

      /[<"For example, remember with Vista when MS tried to rework their security code to bring us all a more secure OS, McCafee and Symatic were all over MS citing "anti-trust" and yelling "monopoly"!"<]/ Nothing wrong them tightening up security but -as Europe requested too- they need to provide documentation for ISVs to be able to be part of the ecosystem. MS has always worked through obscurantism to protect their monopole(s) and cut competition out. Regarding their software the stance was again not completely irrational: they were asked not to install by default their player and/or to bundle other players alongside. And with IE it was asked for it not to be part of the core OS and be entirely removable. I'm not anti Microsoft, well at least I appreciate the work they've done on Visual Studio, but one doesn't need to feel for them for they are mainly a monopolistic company that hasn't competed fairly on any market for years. A less monopolistic Microsoft would help the whole industry IMO.

      • ludi
      • 12 years ago

      “Or when the EU nailed them for having Media player installed. Show me one Joe/Jane Average that upon turning their new computer on for the first time, immediately DOESN’T install the garbage that real player is.”

      Show me one that does?

      You don’t even need a separate player for YouTube because Flash is already onboard. CNN and other newssites with streaming video usually allow the user to choose a WMP option. I don’t see why people would blindly install Real Player unless they had a specific reason to want it.

        • titan
        • 12 years ago

        Because a lot of people do. That has been my experience. My parents even have it installed on their computers. Also, if you want to listen to any archives of Prairie Home Companion, you need to have a player capable of playing Real Media streams. It’s sucky.

          • DASQ
          • 12 years ago

          Real Player is a disease that has somehow perpetuated itself further than it should have.

          I can’t believe Real Player and it’s retarded proprietary audio formats lasted this long. Disgusting.

    • Lord.Blue
    • 12 years ago

    Windows 7 isn’t even in Beta1 testing now. How are they “running it through middleware”?

      • DASQ
      • 12 years ago

      … Booting the machine, and then turning it back off??

      • Kunikos
      • 12 years ago

      I think it’s actually further along than Microsoft wants people to know. They don’t want to bite into Vista sales.

    • Majiir Paktu
    • 12 years ago

    This is a scam by the media. There is no news here. As far as what is being reported, no violations in Windows 7 have surfaced. So what’s the big deal? The committee says that they are going to check Windows 7, and now we get headlines like “Windows 7 Eyed For Antitrust Violations”.

    TR, /[

      • poulpy
      • 12 years ago

      /[<"I am not the first person to support Microsoft's monopoly"<]/ That's a very nice quote I say. Why on earth would anyone support a private monopoly is beyond me.. Monopolies make companies fat, slow and non productive, they don't push for innovation, or lower the prices or anything good for either the customer or the general advance in technology. And once they've got a monopoly they can hold on to companies will just use it to gain unfair advantage in another market, killing real innovators in the process. Had any other OS got a tenth of the attention Windows had because of its monopoly from ISVs and hardware manufacturers they'd (Linux, BSD, MacOS) be way more important players on the desktop and as noob as you could be you would be able to do whatever you need to do on them too..

        • adisor19
        • 12 years ago

        Well, if you have a huge share investment in one of those monopolies, damn right you would support them lol

        Adi

        • ludi
        • 12 years ago

        “Monopolies make companies fat, slow and non productive, they don’t push for innovation, or lower the prices or anything good for either the customer or the general advance in technology.”

        This is not correct. It just happens to be correct often enough that many Western-style legal systems refuse to put up with monopoly power in a marketplace. Compare and contrast: AT&T before telephone deregulation (actually a pretty good company) and Comcast now (spit, spit). Technically Comcast doesn’t even have a monopoly yet, but they are definitely getting closer to one.

      • Maddog
      • 12 years ago

      Agree. This is not news. Glad I was not the only one wondering why this was a ‘news’ item.

      • GodsMadClown
      • 12 years ago

      Why do you say this isn’t news? The story is based on an actual documented event, and it involves the interactions of one of the largest software companies in the world and the justice system of the nation with the largest economy in the world. It seems truthful and newsworthy. Where’s the bullcrap?

        • cegras
        • 12 years ago

        In this case, it would be ‘interpretation of event’, not ‘news.’ While, uh, it may sound offensive to reporters everywhere, it’s pretty often for reporters to pick and choose bits of fact and intersperse it in their writings to make up a rather sided news item.

        Case and point – Time is pretty damn pro-Obama, if you haven’t noticed it already.

          • Majiir Paktu
          • 12 years ago

          Yes, reporters nearly always spin their story somehow, and often it is done by totally twisting a headline into seeming like something it really isn’t. I am just shocked that TR is buying into this and then posting news items like it on their home page.

            • ludi
            • 12 years ago

            I think this is more of one of them cases where “what you get out is what you put in.” And as such, I find your swipe at Cyril’s news posting offensive, childish, and ill-conceived.

        • Majiir Paktu
        • 12 years ago

        I didn’t say there was dishonesty. I said there was bull, and no, I am not following a dictionary definition of that term so don’t try to pull one on me. The InformationWeek headline, which is referenced by Mr. Kowaliski here (presumably as a source), states that Microsoft is being investigated for anti-trust regulation violations. Ehr…no. They aren’t. Read the article, and you see that they aren’t, but of course you have to be skeptical of the article in the first place to realize that.

        This is bull because this /[

      • Flying Fox
      • 12 years ago

      This is just to show that the TC appointed out of the settlement is at least trying to do something.

      It’s sort of good that at least they are keeping an eye on them. It’s the best they can do given the settlement is sort of screwed up anyway.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 12 years ago

    Do they look at Apple OSX as well? I get the feeling that OS is more restrictive to “3rd party programs” than Windows will ever be. Certainly Apple doesn’t have to share its “application programming interfaces and protocols” with their competitors.

    I dunno, but it seems to me that picking on Windows is the “cool” thing to do. I don’t ever see drug companies having to share their formulas with their competitors to make sure they’re not a monopoly.

      • pluscard
      • 12 years ago

      When you have 90% of a market, there are different rules. With the marketshare Apple currently has, it’s unlikely to have any restrictions placed on it.

        • adisor19
        • 12 years ago

        Actually, in recent years, Apple has been embracing OPEN APIs and technologies. Think : Bonjour, Safari (based on WebKit), etc. Hell, the Darwin project is OS X itself sans the cute UI.

        Adi

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 12 years ago

      That’s because Apple isn’t a monopoly. Anti trust laws only apply to monopolies. So, if Apple can get like 30% marketshare, then Microsoft won’t have to either.

      BTW, Linux shares it’s “application programmer interfaces and protocols”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • titan
      • 12 years ago

      Apple gets away with it because you have to buy an Apple computer in order to get Mac OS. It’s a complete solution in that case.

      I’m sure if Apple allowed Mac OS to be installed on any computer that they’d have to go through the same hassle as Microsoft.

      • bdwilcox
      • 12 years ago

      To add to what others have said here, because Apple, unlike Microsoft, has never been convicted of being an illegal and abusive monopoly.

        • Kulith
        • 12 years ago

        no, just sucky products.

          • ssidbroadcast
          • 12 years ago

          Ooo burrrrrn ::rolls eyes::

          • adisor19
          • 12 years ago

          OK i’ll bite. Sucky as in Zune sucky ? ๐Ÿ™‚

          Adi

            • no51
            • 12 years ago

            do you consider the apple fanboys as apple products?

            • Kulith
            • 12 years ago

            ive had 0 experience with the zune but ive had 2 years experience with my 5g 30gb black ipod video and I absolutely hate it. I cannot believe how overrated it is. Ill take pictures of it if I have to with my name next to it so you know I have one, and im not just ranting against something I don’t own.

            To be precise, what really bugs me the most about the ipod is the response time. I click on a menu item and it takes 1-2 seconds to load, and the transition from one menu to another is blocky. Its only 20gb full. Also, when moving forward/backward during movies, it takes at least 5 seconds to start playing. And the lack of customizability for the ipod whatsoever is a huge disadvantage. I was using ipodWizard for a while to get a nice background on my ipod but my ipod needs a reformat every week or two and its not worth the trouble anymore to redo.

            Also, it occasionally freaks out and starts making crazy noises, where I have to do a hard reset and usually a reformat. But from what ive seen around, the fact that my ipod has survived over a year is amazing by itself. Apple is pretty amazing at designing their products to fail right after the warranty expires. BTW ill never forget the day I discovered the mighty Winamp and I could finally kiss iTunes goodbye, worst media player ever.

            Id trade my ipod for a chance with a zune any day. Or even a psp.

            But like I said, ive never so much as touched a zune, so Im not saying the zune is better. Im not a biased microsoft fanboy, im just relating my repeatedly bad expereince with anything apple. Dont let me get started on my high school experience (it was full of macs).

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 12 years ago

        I don’t think Microsoft has been convicted of being an illegal monopoly, just abusive.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 12 years ago

      your feeling is incorrect – Darwin (the actual BSD layer upon which OS X is founded) is totally open-source, aside from the kernel.

    • Krazeee
    • 12 years ago

    I won’t pretend to know all the details concerning this particular issue, but I sure hope they can ensure stability with 3rd party programs and things.

    That last part about opening links in the default browser is one I’d like to see enforced. I don’t know if there’s a way to fix it, but on XP, my Messenger always opens hotmail in IE and not Firefox. Grr.

      • titan
      • 12 years ago

      I’m waiting for the day that clicking on an email link opens up my GMail account instead of Outlook Express. I know I had that option in Linux.

      • BenBasson
      • 12 years ago

      Last I looked, you can fix that with “Messenger Plus!” and StuffPlug.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 12 years ago

        Messenger should do this on its own, not use any 3rd party plugins.

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