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[P]
Microsoft's Dirty OEM-Secret

By Eloquence in Technology
Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 06:48:21 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Microsoft's monopoly on desktop operating systems is essential for implemeting technologies like "Digital Rights Management" (copy prevention) and centralized authentication. So far, all competitors against Windows, be it OS/2 or BeOS, have failed, in spite of alleged technical superiority. Is the reason really simply bad marketing? Some of you may have read the article "He Who Controls the Bootloader" by Scot Hacker. In this article, Hacker alleges that the reason for Microsoft's monopoly are coercive contracts with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). OEMs get much lower prices on Windows, but are required to play by Microsoft's rules. One of these rules: Don't install any OS besides Windows on your machines.


For various reasons, any competitive OS will have to coexist for a while with Windows in order to become a market player. These contracts, which are only possible because of Microsoft's monopoly power, make it possible for MS to retain its market share and to eliminate all competition. They are, in short the secret to Microsoft's success. And the word secret is to be taken quite literally: No OEM may talk about the contents of his contract, or he will lose his license, and (assumption) likely be sued for breach of contract as well.

I have investigated this subject a little more in the past days, and have submitted my findings to the Directorate General Competition of the European Commission, i.e. Europe's anti-trust authority. My letter and fact-summary are reproduced below.

Erik Möller - XXXXX - XXXXX Berlin

Commission of the European Communities
DG Competition - Antitrust Registry
Rue Joseph II / Jozef II-straat 70
B-1049 Bruxelles/Brussel

Microsoft Eliminates Competition Through Coercive OEM Contracts

Dear Sirs,

I am a journalist covering the development of the computer operating system market. An operating system is an essential computer software component which is necessary for all other software to function.

During research for an article series on the subject, I found out that Microsoft Corporation forces contracted Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), who receive significantly lower prices on Microsoft's Windows operating system, not to install any operating system besides Microsoft Windows. This is the main reason that Microsoft's operating system is installed on more than 90% [1] of client computers, whereas competitors' operating systems have either failed or are only installed in certain market niches.

It is technically possible for a manufacturer to install any number of operating systems on a computer. The user then has to choose which operating system to use during the boot process (after switching on the machine). However, Microsoft OEMs are only allowed to install Windows. No machines with both Windows and, for example, the free (!) operating system Linux, can legally be sold by OEMs.

The respective contracts are treated as trade secrets, which explains the silence about the situation. It is not possible for a large PC manufacturer not to enter an OEM contract with Microsoft because of the extremely small profit margins in the market, and the substantial difference between OEM pricing and normal pricing (OEM pricing is kept secret, too).

The details of the situation, as well as the substantial evidence I have found to back up my assertions, are covered in the attached fact sheet. I urge the Competition Commissioner, Mario Monti, to act upon this information and to investigate Microsoft's OEM contracts in order to restore healthy competition in the computer operating system market.

For security reasons, I send this letter via fax and mail. This letter, along with any responses I receive, will be published. I will gladly answer any technical questions, as far as my knowledge allows. I have no relationship with the PC industry.

Sincerely,

Erik Möller

[1] See for example: "Microsoft Strengthens Its Grip, Narrowing the Windows of Opportunity for Other Operating Environments", Press Release by IDC (a market research company), February 28, 2001: http://www.idc.com/software/press/PR/SW022801pr.stm

Enclosure: Microsoft Eliminates Competition Through Coercive OEM Contracts. Summary of Facts.

Microsoft Eliminates Competition Through Coercive OEM Contracts
Summary of Facts

Erik Möller
Revision: October 23 2001

For a computer to be able to run programs, such as a word processor, it requires an operating system (OS), which enables applications' access to input devices, such as the keyboard and the mouse, and output devices, such as the screen and the printer. Microsoft's Windows operating system currently holds more than 90% of the market share of operating systems for client computers. A client computer typically runs end user applications, such as a word processor or spreadsheet, whereas a server computer provides services, such as a website, which can be accessed by client computers.

As confirmed by the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in United States vs. Microsoft [1], Microsoft has a monopoly in the client operating environment market. This is true for Europe as well.

The US court has also examined one crucial question: Do Microsoft's contracts with selected "Original Equipment Manufacturers" (OEMs), who receive substantial rebates on Microsoft's software, constitute an illegal abuse of said Microsoft monopoly? It has only examined this question as far as the bundling of Microsoft's Windows operating system with the Internet Explorer (IE) web-browser is concerned. The court found that Microsoft forced OEMs through contracts not to install any other web-browser instead of or besides IE (see "2.a.i. The OEM Channel" in United States vs. Microsoft). The IE controversy was the main subject of the investigation.

However, the IE controversy pales in comparison with a much more significant question: Does Microsoft retain its monopoly by forcing OEMs to install no other operating system besides Microsoft Windows? There is substantial evidence that supports this allegation.

Introduction

Technically, a computer is able to start (boot) more than one operating system. A recent survey among 9960 German users of the Linux niche operating system [2] has found that 90% of Linux users are also using at least one other operating system.

Installing an operating system is a highly complicated technical process (it often requires the user, for instance, to provide detailed information about the hardware used, and to detect conflicts between different kinds of equipment), and installing an operating system besides an existing one is even more demanding: Here, users will have to deal with a complex element of software, the "bootloader" of the PC's harddisk, a program which starts the installed operating system. If the user accidentally "breaks" the bootloader, the operating system will no longer start. For most end users, the installation of a separate operating system is therefore out of the question.

From the point of view of a large PC manufacturer/seller such as Compaq or, in Germany, Vobis, the installation of an operating system is a trivial routine task. It is a process that only needs to be completed once for a PC series, and can be duplicated for each PC through the use of harddisk images.

Several alternative operating systems have tried to take on Microsoft's monopoly and failed. Among these are IBM's OS/2 and Be Inc.'s BeOS. Both OS/2 and BeOS are no longer relevant. The strongest competitor to Microsoft Windows is now Linux, which is "open source software", developed by volunteers and available for free download. It comes with applications which, as several recent reviews have indicated, are completely competitive to Microsoft's end user applications, and are free. Among these are Sun's Open Office office application, which competes with Microsoft Office, and AOL's Mozilla webbrowser, which competes with IE.

In a market of extremely small profit margins, it would be easy for a PC manufacturer to gain a large competitive advantage by installing Windows together with the free Linux OS, which, unlike Windows, comes with several gigabytes of free, feature-rich applications.

The Evidence

The first signs that Microsoft is coercing OEMs not to install separate operating systems came from Jean-Louis Gassée, CEO of Be Inc. Gassée promoted Be's BeOS not as an alternative to Windows, but wanted to establish it in a mode of "peaceful coexistence" for special multimedia applications such as video and sound editing. BeOS was touted for its performance and usability. However, BeOS never gained significant market share.

In several columns on the BeOS website, Gassée mentioned the bootloader issue, for example:

I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense -- I deserve it.

While I rambled on about peace on the hard disk, Microsoft made it lethal for a PC OEM to factory-install BeOS (or Linux, or FreeBSD) next to Windows on the computer's hard disk. If you, as a PC OEM, don't use the Windows boot manager or configure it to load Linux or BeOS, you lose your Windows license and you're dead. That's why you can't buy a multi-OS machine from Compaq, Dell, HP or anyone else for that matter. (Yes, you can buy a Linux laptop from IBM, but not one that runs the Windows Office applications you need or that can switch to Linux or BeOS when you want.) [3]

In a newsletter article in 1999 [4], Gassée challenged Windows OEMs to include BeOS together with Windows on one of their machines: "We end with a real-life offer for any PC OEM that's willing to challenge the monopoly: Load the BeOS on the hard disk so the user can see it when the computer is first booted, and the license is free. Help us put a crack in the wall."

No PC manufacturer ever followed the offer. The situation was analyzed by BeOS user Scot Hacker in a column for the renowned computer magazine BYTE [5]:

So why aren't there any dual-boot computers for sale? The answer lies in the nature of the relationship Microsoft maintains with hardware vendors. More specifically, in the "Windows License" agreed to by hardware vendors who want to include Windows on the computers they sell. This is not the license you pretend to read and click "I Accept" when installing Windows. This license is not available online. This is a confidential license, seen only by Microsoft and computer vendors. You and I can't read the license because Microsoft classifies it as a "trade secret." The license specifies that any machine which includes a Microsoft operating system must not also offer a non-Microsoft operating system as a boot option. In other words, a computer that offers to boot into Windows upon startup cannot also offer to boot into BeOS or Linux. The hardware vendor does not get to choose which OSes to install on the machines they sell -- Microsoft does.

"Must not?" What, does Microsoft hold a gun to the vendor's head? Not quite, but that wouldn't be a hyperbolic metaphor. Instead, Microsoft threatens to revoke the vendor's license to include Windows on the machine if the bootloader license is violated. Because the world runs on Windows, no hardware vendor can afford to ship machines that don't include Windows alongside whatever alternative they might want to offer.

However, the bootloader question was not examined in United States vs. Microsoft. While there is some mention of the "boot-up sequence" and OEM contracts disallowing to change it, the court transcripts are riddened with the words "Confidential material redacted" in that context. Scot Hacker reasons:
The burning question, of course, is why Boies and Klein [lawyers representing the US government, E.M.] didn't want Gassée to testify on the bootloader issue, especially when it could have substantially helped their case? The answer provided to Gassée was that the case was by then already too well established. Including the bootloader issue would have meant rewriting many of the arguments and calling in a new collection of witnesses. In other words, it wasn't convenient for the U.S. government to get to the meat of the matter. It would have been too much of a hassle to address Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior in its purest form. In addition, no PC OEM was willing to testify on bootloader issues. And why would they? The threat of losing favor with Microsoft easily would have outweighed any potential benefit from being able to preload the unproven Be operating system alongside Windows on their machines. Finally, Be didn't have the brand recognition that Netscape did; Netscape made for a much better poster child. [Emphasis Hacker.]
So while the government acknowledged the coercive nature of OEM contracts, it did not examine the essential question of whether these contracts hindered the installation of alternative operating systems on OEM computers.

The Hitachi Case

Substantial evidence for the OEM allegations is offered by the case of the PC manufacturer Hitachi, which is also cited by Hacker:

In the 1998-1999 timeframe, ready to prime the pump with its desktop offering, Be offered BeOS for free to any major computer manufacturer willing to preinstall BeOS on machines alongside Windows. Although few in the Be community ever knew about the discussions, Gassée says that Be was engaged in enthusiastic discussions with Dell, Compaq, Micron, and Hitachi. Taken together, preinstallation arrangements with vendors of this magnitude could have had a major impact on the future of Be and BeOS. But of the four, only Hitachi actually shipped a machine with BeOS pre-installed. The rest apparently backed off after a closer reading of the fine print in their Microsoft Windows License agreements. Hitachi did ship a line of machines (the Flora Prius) with BeOS preinstalled, but made changes to the bootloader -- rendering BeOS invisible to the consumer -- before shipping. Apparently, Hitachi received a little visit from Microsoft just before shipping the Flora Prius, and were reminded of the terms of the license.

Be was forced to post detailed instructions on their web site explaining to customers how to unhide their hidden BeOS partitions. It is likely that most Flora Prius owners never even saw the BeOS installations to which they were entitled. [Emphasis Hacker]

These instructions are posted on a webpage by BeOS [6]. Excerpts:
Your Hitachi FLORA Prius PC has multiple operating systems installed on it - BeOS and Windows 98. From the factory, however, only Windows will boot without extra input and system configuration by the end-user. This document discusses how to boot between the multiple operating systems which are already installed on your computer.

(...)

The boot manager included with the BeOS is named Bootman. Since your FLORA Prius does not come with Bootman already installed and configured, step #3 will show you how to do it.

In other words, Hitachi deliberately removed the boot manager provided by BeOS, which would have allowed easy access to both BeOS and Windows, from its series of FLORA PCs. There is hardly any other reason imaginable for this besides the Microsoft OEM contracts, given that BeOS functions without problems on the Prius once "unhidden".

My Own Investigations

I tried to get more information about the issue with regard to German manufacturers. I found not a single manufacturer offering machines which had Windows installed with another operating system. For example, I contacted Vobis, one of Germany's largest PC manufacturers/sellers, which has OEM contracts with Microsoft. While their spokesman, Arno Neukirchen, explained that Vobis offered to install Linux instead of Windows, he also acknowledged that Linux would never be installed besides Windows. Asked whether this was because of OEM contracts, I was promised to have an email forwarded to the appropriate person. I sent the email, and the only reply that ever came back was:

Guten Tag, nach Rücksprache mit unserem Produktmanagement, muss ich Ihnen leider mitteilen, dass wir zu diesem Thema keine Auskunft geben können.
("After talking to our product management, I have to tell you that we cannot give you any information on this subject.") I asked whether this was because of Microsoft-NDAs -- no reply. I received the same reaction from several manufacturers. Microsoft, although contacted several times, never replied to me at all. I also contacted SuSE AG, the manufacturer of a Linux distribution, and asked them what the reaction by PC manufacturers to the offer to install Linux besides Windows was. While SuSE cited Non-Disclosure-Agreements as a reason not to talk about any results of such discussions, they gave me the name of another PC manufacturer I should contact.

This PC manufacturer, who has asked me to remain anonymous, manufactures both Windows and Linux machines, but no Windows/Linux machines. Asked why this is so, their sales manager told me bluntly: "We are not allowed to install Windows besides Linux because of OEM contracts." However, because there are "at most 15 OEM manufacturers in Germany", he did not want to cite any passage of the contracts, since "Microsoft could relatively easily identify us".

Results

Because losing the OEM license would practically kill the manufacturer's Windows line of business, I respect his desire to remain anonymous. However, it should be easy for the European Commission to examine the contracts of OEMs for the presence of anti-competitive clauses. The evidence that suggests that such clauses exist is as substantial as it can get without an OEM committing suicide by releasing parts of their contract:

  • The OEM allegations are supported by the findings in United States vs. Microsoft, specifically the findings regarding the coercion of OEM manufacturers not to change the web-browser. However, the findings regarding the installation of another OS are only vague with regard to "modifications of the boot-up sequence" (which is necessary in order to install another OS), and a lot of relevant material is redacted from the transcripts.
  • Jean-Louis Gassée has directly claimed the presence of coercive OEM contracts and would likely be willing to testify on the subject before the European Commission.
  • Hitachi has indirectly proven Gassée's point by hiding BeOS in the only case where it was installed alongside Windows.
  • A German PC manufacturer I found directly confirmed the allegations.
It is evident from these facts that the European Commission has to investigate Microsoft's OEM relationships, as the relevance of the question is paramount for competition in the OS market. No operating system will ever be able to compete with Microsoft Windows on the desktop market as long as OEMs cannot legally install it besides Windows without losing their license.

[1] A copy of the decision can be found online at: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f4400/4469.htm

[2] See http://www.heise.de/ct/01/17/186/

[3] The Victim Microsoft", by Jean-Louis Gassée. July 12, 2000. http://www.be.com/aboutbe/jlgcolumn/jlgcolumn007.html

[4] "A Crack in the Wall", by Jean-Louis Gassée, Be Newsletter, Volume III, Issue 8, February 24, 1999. http://www-classic.be.com/aboutbe/benewsletter/volume_III/Issue8.htmlx#Gassee

[5] "He Who Controls the Bootloader. BYTE, August 27, 2001. http://www.byte.com/documents/s=1115/byt20010824s0001/

[6] http://www-classic.be.com/support/guides/hitachi_boot.html

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Poll
Should the European Commission investigate Microsoft's OEM practices?
o No, any company should have the right to enter any contract 6%
o Yes, they constitute an illegal/immoral abuse of monopoly power 84%
o I don't believe you. I want more evidence (even if it's impossible to get) 0%
o Watch as Microsoft sues your ass off 8%

Votes: 91
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o "He Who Controls the Bootloader"
o Directorat e General Competition of the European Commission
o Also by Eloquence


Display: Sort:
Microsoft's Dirty OEM-Secret | 102 comments (91 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
Exellent! Now it's official (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by drquick on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:40:47 PM EST

An official report to the EC is not to be taken lightly. Possibly there might be action taken against Microsoft because of this. It would be about time!

One place that used to sell them (4.00 / 4) (#8)
by hardburn on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:30:27 PM EST

TuxTops (now qli) once sold laptops that had GNU/Linux installed and would add Windows for the price of a Windows license. It now appears that they instead sell it with GNU/Linux and put VMWare or Win4Lin with a license of Win98. I don't think they have an OEM contract, though; it appears that they just buy boxes of Windows in bulk and resell them.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


Hmmm... (none / 0) (#49)
by dennis on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:53:59 AM EST

There's another vendor that sells a dual-boot right now. They appear to be on good terms with Microsoft, they're a "gold" vendor or something like that, and have a Microsoft rep appearing in their store soon. This makes me a little sceptical that this is a real issue...but since I'm about to buy one of the buggers, I hope you'll forgive me if I don't post a link yet...just in case.

[ Parent ]
Consumer Awareness Implication (2.00 / 3) (#10)
by durgin on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 03:50:15 PM EST

These OEM clauses certainly provide a compelling legal argument for the monopoly case, but the effect on consumer awareness of the nature of technology is a better example of why Microsoft has drawn so much antipathy for its practices. Only the relatively aware and very ambitious Windows users are going to try installing an alternative OS, and most wouldn't even consider it for lack of a bridge from their familiar concepts of computing to a new one. Notice the OEM agreement doesn't restrict the vendor from preloading a sole non MS OS, which it easily could. This is because Microsoft is mostly afraid of their users own conceptual growth. Experiencing a new entity in that role as a peer to their product would break the hypnotic tunnel vision they've been locked into. Tasteless and vicious manipulation of business law may simply be an unfortunate side effect of the capitalistic system, but deliberate seeding of ignorance is a base human offense, and ultimately anti-evolutionary. We need a court for such things, with philosophers of many schools as judges, insuring the freedom of human evolution!

--
« dan carleton
Consumer Awareness Implication - properly formatte (3.85 / 7) (#11)
by durgin on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 03:55:14 PM EST

These OEM clauses certainly provide a compelling legal argument for the monopoly case, but the effect on consumer awareness of the nature of technology is a better example of why Microsoft has drawn so much antipathy for its practices.

Only the relatively aware and very ambitious Windows users are going to try installing an alternative OS, and most wouldn't even consider it for lack of a bridge from their familiar concepts of computing to a new one. Notice the OEM agreement doesn't restrict the vendor from preloading a sole non MS OS, which it easily could. This is because Microsoft is mostly afraid of their users own conceptual growth. Experiencing a new entity in that role as a peer to their product would break the hypnotic tunnel vision they've been locked into.

Tasteless and vicious manipulation of business law may simply be an unfortunate side effect of the capitalistic system, but deliberate seeding of ignorance is a base human offense, and ultimately anti-evolutionary.

We need a court for such things, with philosophers of many schools as judges, insuring the freedom of human evolution!

sorry about the dupe.., my first post  =)

--
« dan carleton
Another one (2.83 / 12) (#13)
by spacejack on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 05:44:16 PM EST

Has anyone noticed how you can't order a Pepsi at McDonalds? I think we should sue them too.

Pepsi at McDonald's (3.20 / 5) (#16)
by mjs on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 06:13:07 PM EST

Want a Pepsi with your McDonald's? Buy one seperately, don't buy the Coke at McDonald's. You have both the skills and the choice and the operation is trivial. Chances are, unless you live in one of a very few places, you can't buy a PC pre-loaded with Linux from a retail store near you. I can't. I can special order one and have it in a few days, but if I want one NOW I'm out of luck. Of course, I could buy a PC without an OS and install BeOS... or maybe not. Have you tried to buy an OS-less PC lately? You can, but you need to find one of the increasingly rare small local shops who aren't watched very closely by Microsoft's Windows police. Assuming of course that I know how to load my own OS. Not everyone does. Putting a couple of quarters in the Pepsi machine is something that anyone can do; loading an OS is something else. Or should I buy a PC with Windows on it, throw Windows away, and load OS/2? That would be like McDonald's forcing me to buy a Coke with every cheeseburger -- whether I want it or not. You notice that they don't do that. The reason is that McDonald's doesn't have a monopoly on cheeseburgers -- they have to actually listen to their customers occasionally (or at least, put on a good show of pretending.)

Spiffy sound bite but not accurate: McDonald's and Microsoft isn't a useful analogy.

mjs

[ Parent ]

perhaps (none / 0) (#19)
by spacejack on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:01:54 PM EST

Within walking distance from where I live there are several stores that will sell OS-less PCs or PCs with Linux pre-installed. OTOH, the fast-food places all have prohibitive deals with the soft-drink co's.

Maybe you're actually suffering from lousy urban design...

[ Parent ]
Where the hell do you live? (none / 0) (#20)
by Elendale on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:38:28 PM EST

I've seen about five stores ever that will install OS-less (or non-Windows, non-Mac OSes). At least, five stores that will do it without all the shady trappings the of underworld drug trade. Maybe you folks live closer to "where the money is" but these places just don't seem to be common.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
Ok (none / 0) (#31)
by spacejack on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:54:33 PM EST

They're probably not common "all over" the city. These are in the Toronto university area. That's probably the whole of the pre-installed Linux PC market right there, and anyone else who wants them probably comes down to the neighbourhood. I also know people who do this sort of thing on the side.

But as for OS-less PCs, I think you can get them all over -- the city is littered with mom & pop PC shops since we really don't have many 'big-block' stores downtown. For example, just a few blocks from me there's a computer/electronics shop with racks of plain-jane PIIs for ~$250.

[ Parent ]
T.O. (none / 0) (#47)
by superflex on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:50:17 AM EST

oh, so you live near College/Spadina... :)

[ Parent ]
yup :) (none / 0) (#51)
by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:40:18 PM EST

My favourite place is just north of College on the east side of Spadina (name escapes me at the moment..) They rock. They'll build you whatever PC you want -- just pick the components from their price list, and then they'll either install an OS for you or not. I took a buddy there this summer to get him set up.

[ Parent ]
re: yup :) (none / 0) (#61)
by netm0nkey on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 04:15:27 PM EST

That would be Sonnam Computing (or something like that) www.sonnam.com BTW. I have no affiliation with them, except that I like shopping there :)

[ Parent ]
Their deal (none / 0) (#62)
by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 04:58:06 PM EST

That's right, it's Sonnam. The deal is slightly different than I described, as I just discovered: You can buy parts, get them to build a full PC, etc. Then you can take it as-is, or you can get them to pre-load an OEM copy of Windows for you, or you can buy a stand-alone copy of your OS of choice.

Or you can take your Linux distro of choice, and they will install it. However they'll charge you labour.

[ Parent ]
altex (none / 0) (#79)
by eudas on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:59:00 AM EST

a few years ago i worked at altex electronics inc building computers, and they sold os-less computers w/o any shady underworld trappings... their website is http://www.altex.com/ if you are interested.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Perhaps your experiences aren't typical (none / 0) (#65)
by mjs on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 05:38:07 PM EST

Or maybe mine aren't. Within walking distance of my house there aren't any computer stores; the closest retail place is a pizza shack/saw sharpening company at 2.3 miles. At 3.5 miles you come across a 7-11. Frankly, since the other one closed last spring, the only small local computer shop I know of now sells more firearms and ammunition than it does computers: the computer space has been steadily decreasing over time and the gun space has been expanding.

I always thought they should get an alcohol permit: guns, computers, and booze. Who'd ever want to leave? :)

Back to the story. If I want a computer -- today -- my choices are Wal-Mart, Staples, etc. in my town, or drive to the nearest city-sized burg (not that onorous, though: 'bout half an hour.) Then I can go to Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. none of whom will sell a computer without Windows. I imagine that there are still a few small computer stores there -- but I don't actually know of any, the three I did know of have all closed down over the past year.

Get the point? Just because you have choice doesn't mean that everyone does. I've not done a poll (and I don't actually care that much, while mail order and overnight delivery still work,) but the point has been made that, whether you agree with it or not, Microsoft has been found to be a monopoly and the rules are different for a monopoly. Again, whether you agree with it or not, Microsft has been found guilty of violating the rules. They are still violating them. Just because they aren't harming you -- at the moment -- doesn't mean that you'll always have a choice or that their behavior won't have an impact on you some time down the road.

mjs

[ Parent ]

If it's any consolation (none / 0) (#68)
by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 07:47:54 PM EST

I can't buy guns no matter how far I walk :)

As for your limited choices, I'm arguing that if the demand for such a product (i.e., Linux on a PC) is there, companies will fill it; that MS's exclusive OEM deal where their OS must be the only one installed on the drive has zero effect. I don't think it's a coincidence that the stores in my area, a densely populated area near a university with 50K+ students, will provide a wider range of options than a big-block store catering to a rural market.

It would be interesting, for example, to find out if similar shops exist in Waterloo (a small town with a big university population, specializing in math/CS). I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of CS students install it themselves though. (I usually build my boxes out of parts and then install a stand-alone OS.)

The main reason I think this article is flawed is because it's presenting an emotional reaction to MS's OEM deals, without actually providing any solid facts that the practice is illegal. Frankly, I doubt many people posting have the relevant knowledge in that regard.

[ Parent ]
guns, computers, and alcohol (none / 0) (#78)
by eudas on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:56:18 AM EST

i don't think they'd be allowed to; probably some federal law regarding firearms and alcohol within the same location. i seem to recall seeing all kinds of signs at liquor stores forbidding firearms...

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Fallacy (4.57 / 7) (#18)
by J'raxis on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 06:49:26 PM EST

McDonald’s is one restaurant. If you couldn’t buy a Pepsi at any restaurants, then you’d have a case to sue Coca-Cola for anticompetitive contracts. If Microsoft had this kind of deal with one OEM, say, Hewlett-Packard, there’d be no case. However, they appear to have these deals with all, or nearly all, OEMs.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

funny (2.00 / 2) (#32)
by spacejack on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:02:34 PM EST

I can't seem to get RC Cola at any of these places.

[ Parent ]
hmm.... (3.50 / 2) (#48)
by superflex on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:54:38 AM EST

no Master's Choice either... dammit.. I demand noname cola!!!

Seriously, though, the fast food industry is kinda different. McDonalds is independant, but lots of North American fast food chains are in fact owned by soft drink manufacturers. Pepsico owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.

[ Parent ]

exactly (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 01:00:23 PM EST

no Master's Choice either... dammit.. I demand noname cola!!!

Sure, it sucks if you're a cola-file. RC Cola, Master's Choice -- they're like the BeOS & Linux of the soft-drink industry. I'm just saying, if you open this can of worms, are you going to follow it to its logical conclusion? Chances are no; people are looking for special treatment in the computer industry. Chances are, more people would like to be able to order fringe colas at fast food outlets than people would want fringe OS's pre-installed on partitions when they buy a Windows box.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (4.50 / 2) (#58)
by Spendocrat on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:02:57 PM EST

Are Coke and Pepsi forcing the people who sell their stuff to sell it exclusivly?

I've been to gas stations where I can buy both Pepsi and Coke products *pauses for gasps from the audience*

I've yet to be able to buy a PC with both Windows and Be loaded on it when it's shipped to me.

[ Parent ]

sigh (none / 0) (#63)
by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 05:01:14 PM EST

Are Coke and Pepsi forcing the people who sell their stuff to sell it exclusivly?

No, they're offering exclusive deals to those fast-food places that serve gallons of that syrupy gunk mixed with soda water. The "OEM", if you will, of soft drinks.

[ Parent ]
Re-sigh (5.00 / 3) (#71)
by Lugh on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 10:36:56 PM EST

Well, this works, as long as you ignore the fact that:
  • You don't need to buy a drink to eat your dinner
  • You aren't required to buy a drink with your food
    I've yet to see a computer that will function without some sort of an OS, and none of the big OEMs who collectively dominate the computer market will sell you a machine without an OS.
    Also:
  • Neither Pepsi nor Coke has a monopoly.
    This means that (legally) they can have exclusivity contracts, since they're not blocking a competitor from entering the marketplace.

    Of course, all of this ignores the simple matter of choice. You're right- the linux zealots and BeOS users and the BSD people out there are on the fringe- I'll admit it. However, as long as Microsoft has this sort of deal with the OEM's, there's not even a chance for anything to move from the fringe to the mainstream, even when extraordinary measures are taken to try and do so (ie, the Be example). Would the OEM's do it if they could? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. But they should at least be allowed to make that decision without a gun to their heads.
    Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
    [ Parent ]
  • Well (4.50 / 6) (#36)
    by Tachys on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:19:11 AM EST

    Have you noticed how at McDonalds it is possible to get a meal without a Drink

    Any game that gets banned by the Austrailian govt can't be all bad... - Armaphine


    [ Parent ]
    wtf (none / 0) (#54)
    by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 01:47:33 PM EST

    I can get a PC with Windows pre-installed, a PC with Linux pre-installed, or a PC witout any OS. I can even buy a Penguin-shaped PC case if I want -- from the same store. Is this illegal or something?

    I'm heading out that way in a few minutes anyhow. I'll stop by and see if they've changed anything since June...

    [ Parent ]
    Yes, but.... (4.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Killio on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 05:56:58 PM EST

    you can't buy a PC with Windows AND Linux installed, which is the crux of the whole thing. Did you even read the story?

    ---
    Moo!

    [ Parent ]
    Why then (none / 0) (#67)
    by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 06:11:14 PM EST

    did the parent offtopic comment garner four '5' ratings? He should've said "Notice how at McDonalds it is possible to get a meal with a Coke and a Pepsi". Oh wait...

    [ Parent ]
    Broken analogy (4.50 / 4) (#57)
    by tmoertel on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:49:02 PM EST

    Has anyone noticed how you can't order a Pepsi at McDonalds? I think we should sue them too.
    Sue who? Which company in the fast-food market --
    • has a monopoly,
    • is attempting to maintain or extend that monopoly,
          and
    • is using anti-competitive measures to do so?
    Sorry, but the fast-food analogy doesn't hold.

    --
    My blog | LectroTest

    [ Disagree? Reply. ]


    [ Parent ]
    Can someone please explain to me why this is wrong (3.30 / 10) (#21)
    by Carnage4Life on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:49:02 PM EST

    As someone has already mentioned, lots of businesses and schools sign exclusive contracts with Pepsi or Coke to sell their products exclusively for a massive discount. I don't see where the difference is here.

    Companies are not under any legal obligation to make it easier for their competitors to steal their customers

    Monopolies are not illegal or unethical, what is illegal and unethical are things like using one monopoly to unfairly compete in another market like MSFT did with IE and Netscape or putting phony error messages in your OS when competitors products run on it.

    Offering large discounts with exclusive deals is part of doing business. I'm amazed at how many people fail to realize this or only notice it when a company they don't like does it.

    You're missing the point (4.75 / 8) (#25)
    by bADlOGIN on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:51:05 PM EST

    The FTC has some nice things to say about what's going on here at http://www.ftc.gov/bc/compguide/maintain.htm.

    For Example:
    "While it is not illegal to have a monopoly position in a market, the antitrust laws make it unlawful to maintain or attempt to create a monopoly through tactics that either unreasonably exclude firms from the market or significantly impair their ability to compete. A single firm may commit a violation through its unilateral actions, or a violation may result if a group of firms work together to monopolize a market."

    Given that the PC market has single digit to fractional percentage profit margins, the price of the OS may make or break a company. If $PC_SHOP doesn't like $COMPANY_X price for $PC_PART, there's always $COMPANY_Y to turn to. Not so with the OS. That's where the "monopoly" part comes in. Since Judge Jackson's finding of facts have been upheld, they have maintained thier monopoly in the past. That's where the "unlawfull to maintain" part comes in. Last but not least, with a current stranglehold of over 90% of the PC desktops in the US, the OEM agreements clearly "unreasonably exclude firms from the market". I know all too many people like this company, but wake up, folks!!!.
    Here, an even more stellar case for monopoly maintainance is being brought to light on a company proven to unlawfully maintain it's monopoly position in the past. The EU needs to go after this. The USA needs to go after this. Every country with trade regulations on the face of the earth needs to go after this.
    Sigs are stupid and waste bandwidth.
    [ Parent ]
    chicken and the egg... (4.12 / 8) (#26)
    by rebelcool on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:04:02 PM EST

    Which came first, big bad microsoft shoving products down people's throats or people demanding their products?

    When it comes down to it, its really apple's fault. Apple had a lead (and some claim still does) on OS's technologically until the late 1990's. BUT they wouldn't let anyone else manufacture mac-powered machines (until a brief stint in the mid-90s, but it was too late by then). So for any companies trying to make a break in the home PC market, it was to use the other guy's stuff, and the other guy was microsoft. MSFT sweetened the deal as carnage mentioned with common business practices like offering discounts for exclusive contracts.

    With machine prices lower than macs (proving once again, price is king) they quickly moved in, yanked away apple's marketshare.

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
    [ Parent ]

    Irrelevant (5.00 / 4) (#38)
    by aonifer on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:53:34 AM EST

    Which came first, big bad microsoft shoving products down people's throats or people demanding their products?

    That's somewhat of a red herring. The issue isn't whether the public demands Windows. It's whether Microsoft should be allowed to create and/or maintain a monopoly through exclusionary OEM licenses.

    [ Parent ]

    "How long (none / 0) (#52)
    by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:54:03 PM EST

    since you stopped beating your wife"? :)

    It's whether Microsoft should be allowed to create and/or maintain a monopoly through exclusionary OEM licenses.

    C'mon, do you really think people aren't using Linux because of this? Know what my non-geek friends would say if I said "hey, these guys will install a Linux partition on your Windows PC if you want"? They'd say, "Does it take up memory [sic]?" "Yes". "So I have less memory for mp3's and games?" "Well, yes." "Fuck that!"

    So maybe I don't know the law well enough to say whether or not MS should be forced to allow dual Windows/Linux installs with their OEM customers, but in all honesty I don't think it'd change a thing either way. So sure, if it is illegal then go ahead and fight it. Just don't expect it to increase Linux or other fringe OS market share.


    I've been thinking about this for a while now though. You know what some people might buy however -- specialized devices; eg. a music device of some sort. Imagine a PC with a midi keyboard and decent sound editing software all ready to go, right out of the box. If you can build that in some dummy-proof way, using Linux as the OS, with some extras like email and web browsing, you might get a niche market like that. Thing is though, all the best music software is for Windows Mac; everyone knows they want programs like ReBirth, Acid, etc. :/

    [ Parent ]
    It doesn't matter (4.66 / 3) (#56)
    by aonifer on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:42:11 PM EST

    Disclaimer: IANAL

    C'mon, do you really think people aren't using Linux because of this?

    It doesn't matter. The issue of whether people want to run Linux is totally orthogal to the issue of whether Microsoft should be allowed to maintain a monopoly position trough OEM contract schemes.

    [ Parent ]

    Did you read the article? (none / 0) (#64)
    by spacejack on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 05:09:23 PM EST

    Microsoft Eliminates Competition Through Coercive OEM Contracts

    I'm responding to the premise of this article, not the finer legal points which neither you or I are qualified to answer definitively.

    [ Parent ]
    Yes, I did (4.33 / 3) (#69)
    by aonifer on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:24:11 PM EST

    And I'm telling you that if Microsoft is using coercive OEM contracts to prevent dual-booting, it's rather a moot point whether OEM's do or do not want to sell dual-boot systems.

    [ Parent ]
    Not really (none / 0) (#99)
    by weirdling on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 03:45:02 PM EST

    Speaking as a Mac weenie, allowing clones to be built is one of the dumbest things Apple ever did. If Apple allowed PCs to run MacOS, for instance, they, as a company, would cease to exist. Macs have a reputation for being easy to use; much of that is the hardware. Apple hardware simply works. It works without configuration; it works without fuss; it even works without drivers, for the most part. Apple software is easier to write *because* the *entire* expected hardware set is *known*. Owning the entire end-to-end system makes Apple more able to create a stable, usable product, and it also gives a single point of support. If my Mac fails, I call Apple, and they get right on it. They don't tell me to call my hardware manufacturer or that it is in software and I need to call someone else; they just fix it...

    Now, along comes Mac OS X and ruins my nice utopia...

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    chicken and the egg... (1.60 / 5) (#27)
    by rebelcool on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:04:13 PM EST

    Which came first, big bad microsoft shoving products down people's throats or people demanding their products?

    When it comes down to it, its really apple's fault. Apple had a lead (and some claim still does) on OS's technologically until the late 1990's. BUT they wouldn't let anyone else manufacture mac-powered machines (until a brief stint in the mid-90s, but it was too late by then). So for any companies trying to make a break in the home PC market, it was to use the other guy's stuff, and the other guy was microsoft. MSFT sweetened the deal as carnage mentioned with common business practices like offering discounts for exclusive contracts.

    With machine prices lower than macs (proving once again, price is king) they quickly moved in, yanked away apple's marketshare.

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
    [ Parent ]

    chicken and the egg... (1.25 / 4) (#28)
    by rebelcool on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:04:25 PM EST

    Which came first, big bad microsoft shoving products down people's throats or people demanding their products?

    When it comes down to it, its really apple's fault. Apple had a lead (and some claim still does) on OS's technologically until the late 1990's. BUT they wouldn't let anyone else manufacture mac-powered machines (until a brief stint in the mid-90s, but it was too late by then). So for any companies trying to make a break in the home PC market, it was to use the other guy's stuff, and the other guy was microsoft. MSFT sweetened the deal as carnage mentioned with common business practices like offering discounts for exclusive contracts.

    With machine prices lower than macs (proving once again, price is king) they quickly moved in, yanked away apple's marketshare.

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
    [ Parent ]

    chicken and the egg... (1.25 / 4) (#29)
    by rebelcool on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:04:38 PM EST

    Which came first, big bad microsoft shoving products down people's throats or people demanding their products?

    When it comes down to it, its really apple's fault. Apple had a lead (and some claim still does) on OS's technologically until the late 1990's. BUT they wouldn't let anyone else manufacture mac-powered machines (until a brief stint in the mid-90s, but it was too late by then). So for any companies trying to make a break in the home PC market, it was to use the other guy's stuff, and the other guy was microsoft. MSFT sweetened the deal as carnage mentioned with common business practices like offering discounts for exclusive contracts.

    With machine prices lower than macs (proving once again, price is king) they quickly moved in, yanked away apple's marketshare.

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
    [ Parent ]

    woah.. k5 went crazy on me. (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by rebelcool on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:06:13 PM EST

    Everytime I hit post it came back with a 'form key invalid' error, but apparently it posted anyway. Sorry folks.

    *watches hidden commentry disappear as the rest of these are voted 0...sigh*

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
    [ Parent ]

    Try this (2.00 / 1) (#91)
    by mrgoat on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:31:50 PM EST

    Head to the diaries section, explain yourself to those who don't know your plight, then comment in your diary and beg for some 5's. I'll give you some if you lose trusted user for accidental multiple posts, if TU means that much to you.

    "I'm having sex right now?" - Joh3n
    --Top Hat--
    [ Parent ]

    Can someone please explain to me why this is wrong (4.50 / 2) (#33)
    by mikelist on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:24:09 PM EST

    Face it, Microsoft IS a monopoly, the rules ARE different for a monopoly, and I feel they should be. They don't even seem to be following the less restrictive conditions that exist for non-monopoly companies, in a number of ways.

    [ Parent ]
    It's called antitrust law. (3.66 / 3) (#37)
    by Apuleius on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:35:40 AM EST

    You know, the laws that are summarized as forbidding "conspiracy in restraint of trade," and the huge body of common law attached to them.


    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    No monopoly (4.00 / 3) (#39)
    by aonifer on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:56:51 AM EST

    As someone has already mentioned, lots of businesses and schools sign exclusive contracts with Pepsi or Coke to sell their products exclusively for a massive discount. I don't see where the difference is here.

    The difference is that neither Coke nor Pepsi have a monopoly in the soft drink market.

    [ Parent ]

    Government contract enforcement is not automatic (3.25 / 4) (#41)
    by valency on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:33:59 AM EST

    Government doesn't (and shouldn't) enforce every contract. It won't enforce a contract selling a child or a human organ. It won't enforce an assasination contract. It won't enforce a unilateral contract.

    All I propose is that government cease to enforce contracts that are anticompetitive in nature. If you want a tighter definition of "anticompetitive", I would say "government shall not enforce any contract which mentions the competitors of one of the parties to the contract, whether by name or by implication".

    ---
    If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.
    [ Parent ]

    non-competes (none / 0) (#77)
    by eudas on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:51:53 AM EST

    would that destroy non-compete clauses?

    eudas
    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    [ Parent ]
    A friendly question. (1.50 / 2) (#44)
    by Kasreyn on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 05:26:04 AM EST

    Any particular reason you methodically mod me down wherever you see my writings here on K5? Are you my wonderful happyjoyful exact polar opposite? That would be cool.

    Just curious,


    Kasreyn

    P.S. Keep it up! I get altogether too much respect and too many 5's here. This is not sarcasm.


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Ah, my mistake. (1.50 / 2) (#46)
    by Kasreyn on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:15:04 AM EST

    I had you confused with another account. It appears someone else has been doing the freaky moderation.

    Ignore the above post.


    -Kasreyn>


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Correct, for the most part. (none / 0) (#83)
    by mindstrm on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:03:53 AM EST

    However, offering deals to competitors is fine and dandy... but NOT if you are a monoply.

    This is a fairly clear use of monopoly powers to ensure that NOBODY can intrude on your market. IT's not just a good deal, or a better price than the next guy.. it's using their dominating positio in the market to say "If you don't do it the way we want you to do it, you will be out of business"


    [ Parent ]
    Try this in other places? (3.50 / 2) (#22)
    by krogoth on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:51:29 PM EST

    Has anyone tried this elsewhere, such as North America? It just might do something...
    --
    "If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
    :wq
    MS. doesnt care about OEM licensees elsewhere (4.00 / 1) (#85)
    by ethervoice on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 05:31:46 AM EST

    I live in Kuwait. Last year I bought a copy of Windows 98 and W2K OEM editions from a hardware vendor. It was only later on that I realised that they were'nt allowed to sell it to me unless I bought a new PC from them. I wrote MS and they asked me to ask for a refund. I could'nt do that because here there aren't such strong consumer protection laws about selling software, although just recently some anti piracy measure are being implemented. Most of the larger dealers will install anything you ask of them but most people arent aware of Linux to ask.

    [ Parent ]
    DOJ lawsuit (none / 0) (#98)
    by weirdling on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 03:37:25 PM EST

    Part of the DOJ lawsuit recently brought against MS was substantially about this. More precisely, it was about Netscape not being allowed on harddrives, with licenses forcing the preload of IE. However, there was plenty of depositions on the subject of restrictive OEM liscenses, and that is something MS has been sued over time and again.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    the true heart of the manner is in the eulas (3.00 / 3) (#23)
    by mickj on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:09:46 PM EST

    really, are eulas necessary anymore?

    There are laws to protect software makers from copyright/missues of products, so why do they make us agree to these EULAs? So they can shove draconian restrictions down our(including OEMs) throats.

    Whatever happened to "i buy it, it's mine"? What's with this "licensing" bullshit?

    The soultion is simple. Declare all EULAs null and void. End of problem.

    a legit reason (none / 0) (#34)
    by _Quinn on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:42:51 PM EST

    To make use of computer software, you /must/ copy it. Several times, actually: from the distribution media (floppy, CD), to the hard drive; from the hard-drive to system memory; and for anything that's not a console program, from system memory to video memory. AFAIK, the US has yet to definitely say, one way or the other, whether these copies are 'legal' without a license or not. Hence, in order to protect themselves -- and in some cases, their customers -- software vendors use EULAs; and it's usually phrased as 'able to use on one computer', rather than as the ability to make those copies, because the law can't otherwise distinguish between copying from the CD to install on my machine, and copying from the CD to install on your machine -- or another one of mine.

    Of course, in order to abolish EULAs now, it would not suffice to adjust copyright law in a way to allow this kind of 'copying' uniformly; you would have to abolish EULAs in some way that wouldn't prevent enterprise software... perhaps require them to be 'double-opt-in' (:)) contracts?

    -_Quinn
    Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
    [ Parent ]
    Fair use? (none / 0) (#43)
    by Nick Ives on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 04:56:23 AM EST

    Surely that form of "copying" falls under the realm of fair use? If you couldnt copy the software from the installation CD-ROM to your hard drive and then to your system memory you wouldnt be able to run the damned thing.

    As for the installation on several computers, surely that would fall outside the realm of fair use? After all, if your installing it on a friends computer your basically giving them a copy...

    --
    Nick
    Time for ciggy...

    [ Parent ]

    not really. (none / 0) (#60)
    by mickj on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:25:06 PM EST

    as was mentioned by the reply from your post, the "copying" when YOU install it on your computer. After all, you've bought the program already, and thus entitled to install it.

    Even without EULAs, copyright law currently distinguishes without VERY clearly between the "copying" of installing the software on your machine and making a copy of the software for your friend. One case is fair use of a product that you buy, the other is quite clearly copyright infringement.

    Thus, my question remains: Why are EULAs necessary anymore? Abolish EULAs, and all you've got left is copyright law, and that's more than sufficient to enforce any "IP stealing" that results.

    [ Parent ]

    Too late (none / 0) (#70)
    by cpt kangarooski on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:37:01 PM EST

    Check out 17 USC 117. It'll take care of ya, and it's pretty damn definate.

    --
    All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
    [ Parent ]
    17 USC 117 allows copying (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by pin0cchio on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:39:40 AM EST

    Check out 17 USC 117. It'll take care of ya,

    Correct. Here's the text of 17 USC 117. The relevant portion:

    (a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy. - Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
    The primary reason software publishers use EULAs, apart from disclaiming warranty or potential liability, is to restrict reverse engineering. The United States Code protects reverse engineering for purposes of interoperability; proprietary software vendors don't like this.


    lj65
    [ Parent ]
    Exclusive license (4.50 / 2) (#24)
    by John Thompson on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:35:27 PM EST

    IIRC, Microsoft's exclusive OS contracts with OEM's were dealt with in the 1995 consent decree with the DOJ. Apparently, nobody had the balls to follow through and ensure that MS was abiding by the consent decree. Perhaps the conspicuous lack of the issue in Judge Jackson's findings was due to concern about "double jeopardy?" I'm not a lawyer by any stretch to the imagination, so if someone with real credentials wants to jump, please do...

    -John

    its in the specifics (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by gps on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:49:56 AM EST

    I would have to go reread all of the 1995 stuff (and i'm lazy) but I seem to remember that the reason that didn't actually do much to microsoft is that it wasn't enough of a restriction.

    Sure, they could no longer prevent an OEM from shipping other OSes, but it said nothing about the side by side issue or specifically requiring modifying what MS deems "their experience" (read: their monopoly control) by adding an OS choice to the boot sequence.

    You'll recall that windows XP drew -many- complaints when they initially told OEMs that they could not put any icons on the desktop. (and now if they do, they must include microshit icons that wouldn't have been there otherwise as well)



    [ Parent ]
    Ahh.. but you see. (none / 0) (#82)
    by mindstrm on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:58:46 PM EST

    Now, microsft just does it differently.

    They offer 'rebates, based on performance' to OEM's on a regular basis. This is completely subjective and up to microsoft, and adds up to a LOT of money.
    Then, discretely, they let the OEM's know what sorts of things would drastically cut into their rebate.
    Installing something besides windows is like that.


    [ Parent ]
    Support (3.00 / 3) (#35)
    by stuartf on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:05:19 AM EST

    Another reason OEM's won't do this is support. They don't want to support dual-booting machines. If you do that, then you have two OS'es you have to support on each machine you sell. Supporting any OS is already an overhead they don't really need, so why double your work...

    We'd be glad to.... (4.50 / 2) (#40)
    by warpeightbot on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:09:06 AM EST

    sell you a system with Linux and Windows, dual boot. With the caveat that we don't support the Windows side, that's Microsoft's bailiwick.... but we'll support you on the Linux side 100%...

    Yeah, I'm tooting my own horn, but I couldn't resist disproving the notion with proof-by-example...

    http://www.pogolinux.com

    [ Parent ]

    But... (none / 0) (#59)
    by stuartf on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:04:03 PM EST

    When OEM's do a custom install of Windows for their hardware, they do the first line support - not Microsoft. It might work for the smaller vendors, but not for the Compaqs and Dells of this world.

    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps... (2.90 / 10) (#45)
    by bg on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 07:52:10 AM EST

    ...Manufacturers don't want to load anything other than Windows.

    Supporting a system running Linux is more difficult than supporting a system running Windows. Drivers are hard to come by. Most alternative operating systems are inherently more difficult to use, therefore you have a higher rate of customer enquiries. Hardware manufacturers don't want that. Once they sell the machine would rather not hear from the customer again.

    With the small number of people that would buy a system preloaded with Linux or similar, it's too hard to justify the cost of supporting it.

    VA Linux no longer sells machines. Dell stopped selling desktop machines preloaded with Red Hat.

    And just to remind you, hardware manufacturers are in business to make money- not cater to the needs of the cybermilitant left wing alternative operating system demographic (maybe 1% of pc consumers). Manufacturers only load software on their machines that help will them ship units. They'd load CP/M if it moved boxes.

    We live in a capitalist world. Corporations rule. Get over it.



    - In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.
    Inherent difficulty of use (4.66 / 6) (#50)
    by bediger on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:17:23 PM EST

    Most alternative operating systems are inherently more difficult to use ...

    I hear this all the time - it's basically a truism, something that everybody just knows. I have to disagree, on the basis of experience. For home computers, I used OS-9 on a Radio Shack Color Computer 3 in '86, Unix Sys V on an AT&T 3b1 in '88, a NeXT slab in '92, and NetBSD on SPARCstations IPC and 10 in '95 and '98. I did not have a Windows PC at home until 2000. In terms of "ease of use", the NeXT beat everything. Like the marketing said, it just worked, often to my amazement.

    My observation as a newcomer is that Windows has a huge number of peculiarities (use of "extension" to determine file types, drive letters, magic filenames like 'aux' and 'com', and GUI irregularities) that make it very difficult to use unless you've been steeped in Windows lore beginning with 3.11.

    My take is the "Windows is inherently easy to use" meme constitutes falsehood. I think you have to restate it to make it true: "80% or more of all home computer users have used Windows exclusively for so long that they consider Windows the baseline against which to judge any alternative."

    Given that the Windows experience is often difficult and confusing, and the human tendency to retain the current situation over any change, and you've got mindset that mandates the "Windows is inherently easy to use" meme.


    -- I am Spartacus.
    [ Parent ]
    ahuh (3.00 / 1) (#73)
    by bg on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:21:21 AM EST

    My take is the "Windows is inherently easy to use" meme constitutes falsehood.

    I'm not sure where you got that meme from, but I'm fairly sure you need not mention it in reply to my comment. I didn't say that Windows is inherently easy to use. I said that most alternative operating systems are more difficult to use than Windows. Deny that if you like, but don't misquote me.

    Given that the Windows experience is often difficult and confusing, and the human tendency to retain the current situation over any change, and you've got mindset that mandates the "Windows is inherently easy to use" meme.

    I don't know which version of Windows you're using, but if you find using Windows difficult and confusing I suggest perhaps you take up bird watching, or stick to your NeXT box. Hey, wanna play Quake 3? Oh no, wait... Oh well. How about you send me your CV? Latex? Wtf is this?

    I agree that resistance to change plays a part in the purported ease of use when it comes to Windows, but sfw? Ease of use subjective. So long as the system is easy to use, users don't care why. They're familiar with it? Great. Noone else seems to have too much of a problem? Good, it means they're not alone.

    And what's this about extensions being a problem? You prefer using the 'file' command to tell you what type of file it is? Or maybe 'head'? "Hmmm, yes. That header looks rather familiar." Most systems use extensions to give a clue as to file type. Extensions in Windows don't mean anything more or less than extensions in unix. It's simply a way for applications to quickly recognise the type of file without having to inspect the header, which is an expensive task.

    And how is a drive letter any more difficult than a mount point? So you're representing a logical drive with a letter? Well sue me all to hell.



    - In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.
    [ Parent ]
    It's a wold of grays !! (4.50 / 2) (#74)
    by sorokh on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:31:03 AM EST

    I don't know which version of Windows you're using, but if you find using Windows difficult and confusing I suggest perhaps you take up bird watching, or stick to your NeXT box. Hey, wanna play Quake 3? Oh no, wait... Oh well. How about you send me your CV? Latex? Wtf is this?

    Hmm, your knowledge seems to be a little biassed and outdated. Wanna play Quake 3, go ahead. Want a word file go ahead. Want a CV, well you can have as a PDF. Hell you don't need it as an editable document anyhow. (BTW Latex still rulez in quality of formatting, and that already for how many years ?? )

    You have a point in saying that all is market driven. There it ends. Personally I've been using all kind of flavors of OS and I must say that windows is not easier than any other.
    You might argue its easier for beginners, however I've given courses to people in both windows and linux and they tend to have the same stupid problems, starting with grabbing the notion of using a mouse and drag'n drop. The major point is that windows got given away with every PC you could buy in the last 10 years. This means that it has become a de facto standard. It is now used as a reference OS, and any other OS that does not provide a UI that works in the same fashion as windows is deemed to be of a lesser quality. This de facto standard has actually gone this far that common users accept the fact that their PC crashes that they can loose documents an a lot more of those nasty software related features. (It's not supposed to be like this!!)
    This clearly however is a purely subjective point of view. Objectively I doubt that Windows would be the best OS, I even doubt it would be Linux either. But that doesn't matter does it, after all we ended up with VHS also while it was probably the worst technology around!!

    So all I can say ,it's a shame but it's true the world is ruled by Induhviduals. (How the hell did we let that happen :-) )

    By the way try to keep an open view, it's difficult these days with all the propaganda literature being written. But you can do it, and its rewarding, as you can have a laugh at people that get all ethusiasmated by the propaganda. Because you know better and they'll pay for it in hard $$ :-)



    [ Parent ]
    Consistency and Beauty; Kepler vs. the Romans (none / 0) (#81)
    by phliar on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:24:33 PM EST

    How about you send me your CV? Latex? Wtf is this?

    And what's this about extensions being a problem? You prefer using the 'file' command to tell you what type of file it is?

    And how is a drive letter any more difficult than a mount point?

    Can the ordinary user tell me what a file with an extension "tga" means? No, and they shouldn't have to; file(1) will tell them in ordinary English. It will tell them regardless of whether or not the program that reads tga files is installed. (This is a real issue - what do you do with a file someone emailed to you?)

    And about LaTeX - that's like saying that if I use a program to create music, I should send those files to listeners. No; I convert them to some sort of PCM format that can be played by people who don't have Sonic Foundry or whatever. In the same way, I send the PostScript or HTML version of my resume to people, not the LaTeX file.

    Drive letters are bad because

    1. there are only 26 of them, four of which are already taken; and each network connection is a letter.
    2. a filesystem can be mounted anywhere in the namespace. I can organise my collections of files according to what they mean, they don't all have to be at the upper level.
    The important thing to keep in mind is that you can get used to anything. Just because lots of people use something doesn't necessarily mean it's easy (or hard). The important thing is consistency. Lack of it keeps tripping you up and makes your life just that much more painful.

    And that's where Unix wins: it has a design underlying the whole system, once you get that everything is beautiful. I have yet to see evidence of design in Micros**t products.

    Keep in mind that I'm not necessarily talking about desktops like K or Gnome; I'm talking about the way things work in the underlying "universe". It's the difference between orbits on orbits that the Romans tried to shoehorn in to explain the behaviour of the planets and Kepler's beautiful three laws (followed by Newton's even more beautiful laws).


    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    Just a couple points... (none / 0) (#89)
    by nstenz on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:47:04 PM EST

    Can the ordinary user tell me what a file with an extension "tga" means?
    Paint Shop Pro will tell me it's a 'Truevision Targa' file, or something like that, if I recall correctly. Your point about not having the proper program installed still stands, though. Someone e-mailed me a .pps file this week- I honestly don't know what it is. I'm thinking it's from a Microsoft Office product, but I don't use Office.

    1. there are only 26 of them, four of which are already taken; and each network connection is a letter.
    Point #1: There are 26 of them. 1 of them is taken if you have a single hard drive with a single partition. You don't have to have a floppy drive. You don't have to have a CD-ROM drive. You can now map things to drive A: and B: that arent floppies. I don't know if you can map network shares to them out of the box, but there are cheap hacks that will let you.

    Point #2: Each network connection is not a letter. Each network connection is a computer name and a share name.
    Example: \\computername\sharename

    It looks sort of like *nix style directories to me. Right now I'm connected to \\homer\kds_c and \\homer\kds_d. One of them is mapped to a drive letter- the other is not. You can't put the mount points wherever you want though. That's actually less confusing for me, since I know physically where stuff is located... But that doesn't matter to some people, and I understand that.

    Feel free to rip on my primary operating system- I don't exactly like using it at times... But get your facts straight when you do it. Thanks.

    [ Parent ]

    Windows seems to be getting more UNIXy anyway (none / 0) (#92)
    by RichardJC on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 11:08:54 AM EST

    I was playing with XP in a computer shop and reading the literature - its amazing how UNIXy Windows is becoming. In many ways its starting to catch up with UNIX/Linux in terms of remote access, networking and roaming ;-)

    It will be interesting to see how Joe Public handles multi-user concepts, and to be fair Microsoft seem to have followed the guided path, or use case route in designing the interface for common tasks. This is something that someone ought to write for Linux one day (oh perhaps if I ever get time).

    As an example of handling multi-user concepts, I set up "Shared with all other users" directories in mine and my wife's home directories under Linux, but still concepts such as file ownership proved confusing - why she couldn't write to a file that was mine although it was in my shared area (I had not granted permission), but had to copy it and save out her own version for example. However a file I saved to her shared directory, thanks to the group sticky bit on the directory, could be written by her although it was mine. It became hers when she saved over it. (Of course version control is better for co-authoring, one day...)

    Windows still felt very much like a soft fluffy and quite restricted interface to the system. With Linux I feel more in control of the computer, and there seems to be more power there. I suppose I'd count as a power user. Not everyone wants that. Windows is catching up with UNIX though and gaining a lot of UNIX/Linux like functionality. I wonder how long before they throw away the Windows kernel and put a UNIX kernel in as Apple have done ;)

    - Richard


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Inherent difficulty of use (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by mystran on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:18:04 AM EST

    I agree with you.

    I've always told everyone that argued that Windows is easy only because you are used to it.

    Another point that I lately realized on my university:
    There are windows and unix workstations both pre-installed, ready to use.. and it seems to me that most of those people that haven't used computers basicly at all before coming there, seem to prefer the unix once. When asked, the argument is almost always the same: "easier to use".. some people also add something about the unstability of a given OS but that's another story..

    The problem with any given OS is that of installation. One might think that anyone can install windows (put cd in and wait) these days but if that was the point, then anyone should be able to install linux as well.

    What really makes the difference is that when you buy a computer from a local store you get Windows readily installed with drivers readily installed for all the hardware.

    For my own experience: those that would actually be most likely people to have trouble using something else than Windows, also seem to be least concerned with the differences, after they just get the software they need.

    They them to click that icon for a web browser and they won't no any difference. If it isn't windows crashing that is :)

    -Mystran

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Inherent difficulty of use (none / 0) (#100)
    by Fred_A on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 02:23:12 AM EST

    My observation as a newcomer is that Windows [...] is very difficult to use [...].
    I completely agree. I've been running Windows as my home machine until Windows 3.1 and have since kept a small bit of disk with Windows 95 and 98 on one machine for gaming use. The rest of my disks on all machines hold either Linux or some kind of BSD.

    Windows is indeed very difficult to use. It is easy to learn though. Whereas higher end systems such as Unix may be harder to learn but are way easier to use.

    There are numerous user interface issues with Windows, poorly designed widgets, incomfortable interface, lack of documentation beyond the newbie level, poor filesystem design, etc. And I'm not even going into the numerous stability or security issues.

    I wouldn't even dare to trust Windows with anything more important than my saved games. Actually working on that thing is so hasardous and incomfortable as to make it completely unuseable once you've tried a high end system.

    Fred in Paris
    [ Parent ]

    Irrelevant (4.40 / 5) (#55)
    by skunk on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:16:15 PM EST

    Manufacturers don't want to load anything other than Windows.

    The point is that, under current Microsoft OEM licensing agreements, vendors are not allowed to load anything other than Windows. There might be something to say about the complexity or cost of supporting a dual-boot system running Windows and Linux, but as things stand, Microsoft isn't even allowing that a fair stab at the marketplace.


    --SS
    [ Parent ]
    Relevant (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by roiem on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:09:31 AM EST

    bg's point, if I understand correctly, was that nobody actually knows that the OEM licensing agreements are there. The contracts are top-secret, so there is no concrete evidence to the effect that vendors are not allowed to load anything other than Windows.
    90% of all projects out there are basically glorified interfaces to relational databases.
    [ Parent ]
    Microsoft OEM FUD (4.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Jazzer2000 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 03:22:24 PM EST

    Actually, this is more FUD similar to that used by Microsoft in it's mud-slinging fests' against other OS's.

    Now for the truth, if anyone would care to pick up a telephone and call, or visit the websites of any of the following companies: Dell, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, IBM, or any number of other smaller computer manufacturers, you would find that they are more than happy to sell you a computer with BOTH Linux and Windows pre-installed. Although Dell has dropped the standard configured boxes with RedHat pre-installed, you may still order it as an option, with or without Windows being installed.

    I think this pretty much disproves the author's claim regarding Microsoft OEM licensing practices.

    Any Questions? Good! ;-)



    [ Parent ]
    How about a link to a specific page? (none / 0) (#90)
    by nstenz on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:54:18 PM EST

    You'd make a much better point if you could point us to a page that states exactly this instead of just throwing out links to web sites we already know about...

    [ Parent ]
    Wrong (none / 0) (#97)
    by weirdling on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 03:35:11 PM EST

    I've installed many flavors of Linux, and settled on SUSE as my primary choice. I still use Mandrake and one day would like to figure out how to install debian, but that will have to wait until I have a faster internet link.

    What I've discovered is that the driver support in linux is *always* better than Windows right out of the box. The new dual-Athlon dual-Ultra-160 Tyan motherboards give Win2k *fits*, but SUSE installs and runs *without* modification. The method of installing win2k is too painful to discuss here.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    One thing too many people fail to remember... (3.66 / 3) (#76)
    by Ghoti69 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:09:58 AM EST

    Small computer shops, and home-assembled PCs account for as much in sales than those from large OEMs. In fact, it may be more so as can be shown by the "downturn" in the PC industry... All the local PC shops around here are boomin'.

    These places don't have the OEM agreements with MS that are discussed in this article. They buy OEM copies, yes, but do not have to sign one of these "top secret" licenses. I used to sell my own brand of PC and while I got volume discounts, I could sell PCs with any OS I wanted. I never once got a call for anyone wanting one with Linux on it.

    When someone uses these little conspiracy theories to justify Windows market penetration, I respond the same way each time...

    I've got 8 PCs at home all running Windows. That was by choice, not force. When Linux matures and makes a good desktop choice, maybe that will change. But, there's too much I do on Windows that Linux can't do, or do well enough.

    two things Ghoti69 fails to remember (4.00 / 2) (#86)
    by musicmaker on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 06:28:51 AM EST

    1. Small computer shops are only a small part of the market and one of the main reasons are those Microsoft contracts. Compaq, Dell and the other big companies pay much less for their OEM copies.

    2. OEM copies do have special booklets with an OEM contract. They are not secret, but they do contain a lot of restrictions.

    [ Parent ]

    More worrying is the abuse of the existing monopol (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by RichardJC on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 07:34:04 AM EST

    More worrying than any penetration into the desktop market, fair or not, (I think that MS were just lucky there) is MS's abuse of this position to try to force themselves into other markets such as web servers.

    It seems that Microsoft want a world in which they are the only player, and any attempt to use another system fails. Any technology that threatens to take dominance from Windows is destroyed. That was the point with Netscape. The web threatened to make the OS irrelevant - at least until it becomes dependant on Microsoft systems. I see Real Audio as another example.

    Microsoft abuse their monopoly power in many ways. One of them is by bundling free alternatives to products that they see as threatening. Another is by little incompatibilities. If the majority of users use the freebies, after all why bother installing anything else, and the freebies only work with Microsoft servers[1], and the microsoft servers only work with Microsoft clients, the entire thing becomes self perpetuating no matter how good or bad or expensive MS's products are!

    Trying to explain this in terms of physical world equivalents is hard. I see no physical world parallels to what is going on in the computer world.

    - Richard

    [1] The strategy seems to fail against entrenched sysems such as the web (to date) and email, though Microsoft seem to keep on trying. A lot of people are not willing to give up their Apache servers for IIS, but how long will that hold out if WindowsXP refuses to play with Apache? In terms of new services such as online music there is no such disadvantage to the MS steamroller.


    [ Parent ]
    you can't even add your OS at home (4.33 / 3) (#88)
    by DarkEye on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 09:50:41 AM EST

    If you buy a PC with a pre-installed windows nowdays, you don't even get the install CDs. Some manufacturers give you 'rescue CDs', which are in fact pre-configured no-questions asked windows installs.

    Other manufacturers don't give you a windows install CD at all. If you have a problem with your PC (like windows is broken, you delete necessary system files, etc.) you have to take your PC to customer support, where they will 'repair' it.

    Now this also means, that you can not install your favourite OS beside your pre-installed windows, as in most cases this would involve re-partitioning, reformatting, and re-installing everything. As you don't have the windows install CD, you can't even do this.

    Talk about a scheme to scare people away from experimenting with alternative OSs

    You can install another OS (none / 0) (#96)
    by Cameleon on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 10:56:54 AM EST

    You can change partitions without having to format them, with programs like PartitionMagic.

    Having said that, I think that what you say is a bad trend. I want my harddrive partitioned the way I like it (different partitions for different thinks), not one big chunk. Also, I want to reinstall windows every now and then, when the system becomes too slow. All impossible.

    [ Parent ]

    Linux and MS OEM on same drive (3.00 / 1) (#93)
    by tieous on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 11:52:32 AM EST

    With hard disks so much cheaper than five years ago, I would think a major companay could leave some real estate on the drive for linux and still keep thier OEM license agreement with Microsoft. Systems now have 20+ meg drives nowadays. Use 16 for Microsoft installed and working. The other 4 just empty, no specific file type as it ships. The OEM keeps its agreement and if a user wants to install Linux there is space to do so with no affect on the Windows section at all. If a user wants to make it all DOS or whatever a simple program (other than fdisk - to complex and dangerous for some) can just convert it to a extra drive.

    Doesn't help the masses (none / 0) (#94)
    by roiem on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 04:11:32 AM EST

    So now you've got the power users, who install either an operating system or just another file system on that extra space, and you've got the ordinary users, who ignore it altogether. That doesn't help with the original idea, which was to get the ordinary users to have a Linux partition. (Or Be, or BSD, or whatever)
    90% of all projects out there are basically glorified interfaces to relational databases.
    [ Parent ]
    Few work-arounds (none / 0) (#95)
    by reppana on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 05:29:22 AM EST

    OEM could distribute it's computers with "automatic installation cd" wich must/can be run to start the computer for the first time. If it's made completely automatic then that wouldn't make big deployments in companies too much of a hassle.

    What actually happens in first-boot is, automatic install of Linux distro and bootloader onto harddisk's non-partitioned space.

    Or, if any kind of distribution of another operating system alongside of a OEM PC is prohibited by MS contracts, then let RedHat, Mandrake or other LinuxOS-maker make special kind of ISO-installation distro wich is fully automatic and only needs enough (unpartitioned?) free space on HD to install Linux with easy-to-use bootloader/selector. Make that installation MSWindows-aware to be sure.

    That way only thing OEM manufacturers need to make their computers Linux ready is to leave few gigabytes of free space onto their harddisks and tell customers their computers are "RedHat-AutoInst-ready", for example.

    Never underestimate MS's focus (none / 0) (#101)
    by Buck Thighmaster on Tue Nov 13, 2001 at 02:22:44 PM EST

    In relation to this topic, there are a couple of Microsoft facts that illustrate just how ruthless and single-minded a competitor the company is.

    I don't say these as bad things in and of themselves, just traits that must be kept in mind if you hope to go up against Microsoft. Whether it be in product competition or in opposition to their practices.

    There were points in the past where Microsoft came within days of actually cutting off the license agreements of IBM and Compaq. This is incredibly ballsy if you think about it. Not only would MS be cutting off a good chunk of licensing revenue by such a move, and de-stabilizing their entire industry, but they also draw considerable immediate public and governmental attention to their practices. But Microsoft was quite willing to do it if IBM and Compaq had not fallen in line with MS's wishes. They will protect their core market at all costs.

    There's also the fact that the last time the government imposed a 'consent decree' that specified how MS was to deal with their OEM's, the company quickly proceeded to ignore it and simply swear all OEM's to secrecy.

    Microsoft Does have a monopoly regardless (none / 0) (#102)
    by hvatum on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 06:31:21 PM EST

    As by this defenition from dictionary.com microsoft does have a monopoly. 4.A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. Considering that they own about 90% of the desktop OS market they would be considered a monopoly, why everyone seems to ignore this quite simple fact behoves me. Name another large market in which one company holds a 90% market share and I'll send you a dollar. Seriously, regardless of weather micrsoft uses illeagal bussiness practices doesn't matter. Think back to the early 1900s, pinning illeagal bussiness practices on some of the trusts and large corporations was often very difficult, so what did the govrenemnt do? They said it was in the intrest of the people to split these companies up, and did so. Aren't there laws which guide the restriction of monopolies? or does the gov. just need to find specific breakage of the law to stop out of control monopolies. If GM maintained a 90% market share in the personal transport catagory through forcing car dealers to sell only GM or face strict price increases, would you say "WoW GM is a really innovative company", or would you say "GM seems to be maintaining a nearly complete monopoly, it would definantly be in the public intrest to split them up"
    Eggnog is fresh on Christmas day. Eggnog is rotten on Newyears day. Eggnog is rockhard on Easter day.
    Microsoft's Dirty OEM-Secret | 102 comments (91 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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