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Time For Anti-Trust 2.0?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the taking-it-on-the-road dept.

Microsoft 435

An anonymous reader writes, "PC manufacturer Acer is complaining that Microsoft has jacked up the price of Vista, and that the basic versions are so basic no one will ship them. Since the collapse of the Microsoft anti-trust case under the Bush administration in 2001, manufacturers have no choice but to accede, adding hundreds of dollars to the cost of each PC. With Gates now proclaiming victory over European regulators, Microsoft once again seems unstoppable. But Microsoft had drawn itself close to the Republican Party. With the Republicans now evicted from the House and Senate, is it time to look at the Microsoft anti-trust suit? Could Microsoft be compelled to lower its inflating Vista prices, or to open their tech or even supply funding to Linux-flavored Windows such as Wine? What do Slashdot readers think about the likelihood of another go at breaking up the Windows monopoly?"

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435 comments

Antitrust because of prices? no thanks (4, Interesting)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803918)

I welcome high prices on w32. There are alternatives, said manufactures could just install one of those.

Now, if the prices dependent on not selling anything by w32, I can see the point, and that should be fined so heavily that they never, ever dream of doing it again.

Re:Antitrust because of prices? no thanks (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804472)

well, if major pc manufacturers start shipping pcs without windows, they lose their discount pricing on windows & other ms software.

however, you are totally right, thats a totally separate issue & thats what they should be fighting against. ms should be allowed to charge as much as they want for windows, as long as pc oems arent penalised for selling pcs without windows.

Re:Antitrust because of prices? no thanks (0, Flamebait)

CDPatten (907182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804732)

I agree. There is nothing wrong with MS charging more for their product. They are not a complete monopoly seeing how Linux and OSX are both alternatives. Acer is just bitching... because they want to have higher profit margins and MS is cutting into it. Acer is also doing pretty badly and maybe this is just setting up a reason for them to say to the shareholders ... "See. It's not our crappy products, its MS's fault we are losing market share'. Seriously, with all the delays and code re-writes MS certainly can claim the development costs for Vista were much higher than they were for WinXP. No judge would disagree.

It's really too bad our society is moving away from the free-enterprise capitalism market that made the US so great so quickly and moving towards a feel-good socialistic system.

Re:Antitrust because of prices? no thanks (1, Troll)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804770)

It's really too bad our society is moving away from the free-enterprise capitalism market that made the US so great so quickly and moving towards a feel-good socialistic system.
Say hello to the liberal Democrats in Congress. If George W. Bush wasn't there to stop their evil plans we'd be looking at stagflation, runaway tax increases, enormous increases in the size of our federal government, and massive amounts of new regulations on our businesses that will make it impossible for them to compete with foreign competitors.

Fight the power? (1)

Mr. Samuel (950418) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803922)

"What do Slashdot readers thing about the likelihood of another go at breaking up the Windows monopoly?"

Probably something like "good luck".

Re:Fight the power? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804000)

Right, and anyone who wants MS broken up will certainly need it. The Republicans didn't particularly care about the MS monopoly when they were in charge of Congress, but more importantly the majority of MS lobbying is done towards the Democrats. Neither party is going to do a damn thing.

Anyways, the change of power really doesn't mean much since the Executive Branch is in charge of prosecutions. If Bush hasn't cared about MS thumbing its nose at everyone for the past 6 years, he isn't going to start caring now when he is trying to tame the Democrats. He's not about to attack one of their biggest lobbyists unless he absolutely has to.

It is obvious (4, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803926)

Look at what M$ is pulling with Novel and Linux. This is typical M$ arrogance and disdain for the law.

They should have been broken up before, and they should now.

No one, or company should be allowed to act this way in any modern society.

Cheers.
   

Re:It is obvious (0, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804310)

Since when did the United States qualify for the title "Modern Society"?

If the US was a modern society then MS wouldnt be getting away with it would they?

Re:It is obvious (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804488)

Look at what M$ is pulling with Novel and Linux. This is typical M$ arrogance and disdain for the law.

Yeah, Novell was just dragged, kicking and screaming, into a dark alley and forced to sign that one, weren't they! Not. [novell.com]

This is about Novell making more money by having broader services and options to offer their customers, and about Microsoft doing the same.

Arrogance? Would you rather that every company that's striving to keep its millions of investors and thousands of employees happy, and not just die on the vine, just act with total "humility" in a rapidly changing tech marketplace, and not swing new deals, introduce new tools, etc? Or should they, but you get to tell them what the price should be and which other businesses they should be allowed to talk to? I'm guessing you like it when, say, IBM and Red Hat do things together? Or is that something that shouldn't be "allowed in a modern society?"

Re:It is obvious (0)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804548)

No one, or company should be allowed to act this way in any modern society.

Uh, on the "corporate evilness" scale, the _worst_ thing Microsoft has ever done would struggle to get past the bottom quarter.

Geeks living in their basements need to get out into the real world and acquire some perspective if they think Microsoft is a standout example of corporate "arrogance" or "misbehaviour".

Re:It is obvious (3, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804570)

No one, or company should be allowed to act this way in any modern society.


What, charging the price that the market will bear? If you don't like it, do what I did and install Linux.

The world would be a much better place if people looked after their own business rather than crying for the government to come and help them all the time.

MS Linux or MS Windows (1)

parvenu74 (310712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804714)

Speaking of the Novell deal, what are the odds that we'll see a distro called "Redmond Linux" as an option for PCs, the poor man's Windows with Wine, Mono, and some other stuff meant to make one say "Geez -- I wish I just simply had Windows!"

Basic version? Yes, please! (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803946)

the basic versions are so basic no one will ship them
Great, a basic version is just what I'm looking for. I'm in need of an OS, not a goddamn truckload of crappy applications that I'm going to have to replace by much higher-quality open source alternatives.

Re:Basic version? Yes, please! (0, Redundant)

Qoroite (637807) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803972)

I for one, welcome our new basic-empowered overlords.

Re:Basic version? Yes, please! (5, Interesting)

PriyanPhoenix (900509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803992)

Although it's true that many people can do without the bundled Media Centre in preference of alternatives and will probably experience *better* performance Aero-free, that's not all they've stripped out. Laptop users with basic may be feeling a little chilly without Windows Mobility Centre. Sure, you don't *need* it travel, connect wirelessly and work, but in this day and age of mobile communication those are pretty basic OS features they've decided to limit to enhanced editions. The other issue is that Aero is not purely aesthetic and does offer some functional usability features too. Just how long it will be until a developer of one of those Open Source apps you love decides to utilise a cool element of the Aero interface, forgetting momentarily that not everyone has it. After all, he doesn't code for Macs for exactly that reason...

Re:Basic version? Yes, please! (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804582)

Just how long it will be until a developer of one of those Open Source apps you love decides to utilise a cool element of the Aero interface, forgetting momentarily that not everyone has it.


You can't blame Microsoft for poor amateur coding. Oh wait maybe you can! But seriously it wouldn't be the first time an open source developer had forgotten or neglected something, and it's not the fault of anyone but said open-source developer.

Since the OS can be "unlocked" by new keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803958)

Ship it with the cheap version. If users want more, they can, gasp, choose to pay more!

Re:Since the OS can be "unlocked" by new keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804018)

All cars should be sold black, without stereo and with an empty gas tank. If the driver really want more colors then they can choose to pay more!

Re:Since the OS can be "unlocked" by new keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804070)

When it's possible to visit a website to upgrade your car, let me know. Literally, you buy a new code, type it in, and it unlocks whatever version of Windows you just bought. No re-install required.

Anti-competitive practices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804320)

You know, if you were to buy a new car in black, with no stereo and with an empty gas tank, it would cost less, however most car manufacturers don't give you than option. Perhaps we should be going after the car manufacturers for anti-competitive practices?

Re:Since the OS can be "unlocked" by new keys (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804370)

All cars should be sold black, without stereo and with an empty gas tank. If the driver really want more colors then they can choose to pay more!

Considering most cars can be outfitted with a variety of options; and you can order a stripper with just the standard features or pay more for one fully loaded, then yes people can chose to pay more. Car dealers carry option laden vehicles because they make more money on them and most car buyers want the options; they aren't going to a car dealer to buy a stripper.

Re:Since the OS can be "unlocked" by new keys (1, Funny)

Flendon (857337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804568)

You're damned right I'm willing to pay more for a stripper with a fully loaded rack! But when did they start dancing at car dealers?

Wow.. (-1, Flamebait)

X-treme-LLama (178013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803964)

Someone finally came up with a way to bring back the subject of breaking up Microsoft. Nothing like pouring gasoline on the raging inferno of M$ hatred that is Slashdot :)

500 posts that all have some variant of "Microsloth is teh suckk!!!1one"

Re:Wow.. (1)

wmeyer (17620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803986)

Ignorance of economics and the Constitution flourish here.

Not for a long time... (4, Insightful)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803966)

I don't foresee MS being being put back on the anti-trust spotlight anytime soon, not until 1-2 years. While congress maybe dems now, that does not guarentee anything against MS, especially since other priorities like Iraq or Korea looming. However, once things calm down on the international front, I do hope they do drag MS back to the anti-trust court and hopefully wrap things up before another big business friendly administration comes in and ruins it again.

Mind you, I particularly don't care much for MS, however if anti-trust can break its monopoly, I do believe that it will bring about a great revolution in software quality that will be seen for many years to come. More competition = better choices for us. =)

Fool's errand (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803968)

The Democrats in the congress do not have enough political capital to waste on slaying Microsoft. In under 2 years, no less. Not when there are other priorities.

Plus, I say let them jack up prices. Let manufacturers hurt. It may convince them to introduce Ubuntu pre-loaded machines. Why not? It doesn't require a complete changeover, just a quiet new line of products. Snowball effect, at some point. Surely they see the trend of the snowball coming their way, anyhow.

Or price the same machines without an OS. It's simple enough that car ads and other products do that. Most ads offer the 2007 model Toyota whatever, starting at $9,999. Well, we all know that's base model. But that magic 9 price grabs our eyeballs and does it's job all the same.

Re:Fool's errand (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804628)

It may convince them to introduce Ubuntu pre-loaded machines.

Except with every antitrust action ending in MS victory to date, what would stop them from pulling their licensing agreement with any company that bundled linux?

That threat will keep the manufacturers in line. Sure it would be the boldest violation yet, but any manufactuerer involved would be bankrupt before it was resolved.

manufacturers have no choice but to accede (0)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803970)

"manufacturers have no choice but to accede"

er, no

Re:manufacturers have no choice but to accede (2, Interesting)

TheZorch (925979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804292)

Microsoft doesn't give them a choice. OEM contract agreements clearly state that they must sell computers with Microsoft Windows installed. To get away with selling systems with Linux installed you pay what is commonly known as the "Microsoft Tax". In other words you are paying for Windows even though you're not really getting it. This "tax" is a reality. Microsoft has been at this for a long time.

As for the Dems not having enough money to go after Microsoft or not having the authority I beg to differ. For one the Democrats control Congress now, so if they do go after Microsoft it will be paid for by tax payer money, and second they have the authority to investigate Microsoft in Congresional commity which would be a bad thing for Bill Gates and company. So, no they don't need George W. Bush's cooperation to go after Microsoft but I'm certain they could persuade him to assist them since they control government spending (ie; the power of the purse) and they have oversight authority over different branches of government. If a certain agency isn't doing its job like the FTC for instance they can go after them which would be very bad for Microsoft. The FTC investigates violations of and enforces Anti-Trust Laws and they answer to the US Senate.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804356)

They key word there is 'contract'. No manufacturer is under any obligation to enter into any contract with Microsoft. Any company or individual could sell PCs with Linux preinstalled if they so wish.

Why do you even use Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803974)

I only use Windows to play Half-Life. At work I've already blown it away and use Linux exclusively on my workstation. I've also replaced 4 of our 5 servers with Linux.

So why do you guys act as if you even HAVE to use Windows? Games aren't a requirement, and if nobody buys games because they can't afford Vista, then they'll have to release a few more Linux games.

Re:Why do you even use Windows? (1, Flamebait)

thebigbluecheez (1010821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804156)

Very true. One is not required to use Windows. But looking at the devices like my smartphone (runs windows mobile), my mp3 players (which both interact easiest with windows), my printer (which I conveniently didn't have to search for drivers, they came included on a CD), and other devices that I use on a daily basis I can see that life is somewhat easier by choosing products that interact on the same platform "nicely."

That having been said, all my programs are here in Windows. It came installed on my thinkpad, and it runs. I don't have to compile things, I didn't have to find drivers for the wi-fi card.

Isn't it enough that something works right out of the box? Sure, I could buy an Apple/Mac and it would work, but I'd have to live without right-click.

I don't have much against Linux. Maybe I'm not sufficiently informed, maybe my entire life could be made simpler by a switch to Linux. But for now, Windows works.

Re:Why do you even use Windows? (1)

ashley_moran (976590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804278)

Isn't it enough that something works right out of the box? Sure, I could buy an Apple/Mac and it would work, but I'd have to live without right-click.
I can't tell if that was sarcasm or not! I've been using right-click happily for ages, probably since OS X 10.0 came out, which is what 5/6 years ago? Not to mention the other 4 buttons I've got set up to control expose and the dashboard. In fact I wouldn't consider using a mac with less than 8 buttons on the mouse.

Re:Why do you even use Windows? (4, Informative)

Sqwubbsy (723014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804318)

Isn't it enough that something works right out of the box? Sure, I could buy an Apple/Mac and it would work, but I'd have to live without right-click.

I don't have much against Linux. Maybe I'm not sufficiently informed, maybe my entire life could be made simpler by a switch to Linux. But for now, Windows works.


You sir, should sit in the /. timeout corner. I'm not down with all the Microsoft bashing on this thread - the topic should be modded -1 Flamebait, but you are woefully ignorant.
** Windows almost never works 'right out of the box'. If you're using it that way, then your system is already compromised.
** You can use a mouse with right button in OS X. Or you just hold your click for 2 seconds to get the contextual menu.
** You're not sufficiently informed vis-a-vis Linux. Try a friendly distro like MEPIS or Ubuntu.

I was having problems with my video camera on my Windows machine. Worked like a charm on my Mac mini. Worked like a charm with my MEPIS box.
Never could get my wife's iPod to even be seen by the Windows box. Obviously the Mac saw it. MEPIS does too.
But boy, could I play games on the Windows box.

Re:Why do you even use Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804524)

For what it's worth, SLED 10 worked out of the box on my Thinkpad G41, wi-fi and WPA2 and all. I never had to compile anything or search for drivers.

Of course, now I curse SLED, but not because it isn't a great OS....

Submission is a troll (5, Insightful)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803978)

The submission takes a bunch of half truthes, wishfull thinking and hope for revenge and throws it altogether to make a stew designed to rile up the /. reader. Don't bite.

The truth:

1. OEM Windows licenses are nowhere close to "hundreds of dollars". You'll still be able to buy $500 PCs
2. Force to open to WINE?!?!?! Are you smoking crack? The judge migh, literally, laugh.
3. Microsoft has not "won" over EU regulators yet. This is only one battle.
4. Just because we have a democratic congress is no reason to look for revenge "killings." Yes, MS is a Monopoly that totaly abuses it's position in a way that's damaging to its competition, but have you heard we're at war? The new congress should look at MS again before too long, but definately not right now. They have far more important work to do.

I'm glad people are still interested in this subject, but you definately need to start looking at this realistically. This isn't so much a start as an unrealistic rant.

TW

Re:Submission is a troll (1)

wmeyer (17620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804004)

And 51 to 49 hardly constitutes the "eviction" of Republicans from the Senate.

Re:Submission is a troll (3, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804702)

Technically just about every Republican that could be evicted was, meaning in just about every race where there was a viable contestant the Democrat (or Independant) won. Remember only 1/3 of the house is up for reelection every year as well.

Re:Submission is a troll (1)

elwinc (663074) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804038)

Fine points. Lemme just add (IANAL) that not all monopolies are illegal. It depends on how the company got to its monopoly position and what it's doing with it. You can make a pretty good case that MS got its OS monopoly position legally. The Office monopoly is more questionable, but if you want to re-try it in court, you prolly need new facts; all the old stuff has been tried once already. I believe that monopoly behavior is a criminal case, so double jeopardy applies (i.e. prosecutors can't just keep on re-prosecuting the same case if they don't get the result they want in the previous trial).

Re:Submission is a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804378)

have you heard we're at war?

No - are you?

Re:Submission is a troll (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804402)

4. Just because we have a democratic congress is no reason to look for revenge "killings." Yes, MS is a Monopoly that totaly abuses it's position in a way that's damaging to its competition, but have you heard we're at war? The new congress should look at MS again before too long, but definately not right now. They have far more important work to do.

Nancy Pelosi is far too politically savvy to fight that battle. She grew up in Baltimore political family; she knows how to get things done and how to pick what battles to fight. Let's face it; most people don't view MS as an evil corporation and would yawn over a battle to break it up; plus trying to do that would allow the Repubs to paint the Dems as anti-business. Ain't going to happen.

Nor should they - if MS jacks prices too high then other options will appear in the marketplace; becasue people still want $400 PCs.

Re:Submission is a troll (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804608)

The submission takes a bunch of half truthes, wishfull thinking and hope for revenge and throws it altogether to make a stew designed to rile up the /. reader. Don't bite.

You can say than for almost all of the submissions here :P
Really, this is not a news site for a long time now.

Re:Submission is a troll (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804788)

1. OEM Windows licenses are nowhere close to "hundreds of dollars". You'll still be able to buy $500 PCs

except you should not have to jump through ridiculous hoops to get the money back for a bundled OEM install you never wanted [linuxworld.com] ... that $500 PC should really be $400 without the "Windows tax"... [wikipedia.org]

Pricing themselves out of the market (3, Insightful)

ehack (115197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803984)

MS are busily pricing themselves out of the market. I don't have a problem with that.

Re:Pricing themselves out of the market (5, Insightful)

PriyanPhoenix (900509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804020)

It would be nice if it was true but you can only price yourself out of the market if there are alternatives in that market. Much as we love Linux, as far as most consumers and businesses are concerned, it's still not in that market.

So Vista's real rival is...WinXP. What inflated prices will do is simply delay the roll-out of Vista. Companies will almost certainly wait until their next hardware upgrade cycle at which point they will have little choice but to go with Vista anyway.

Re:Pricing themselves out of the market (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804348)

Where I work Windows XP is being rolled out just now. It'll be a long time before they even contemplate rolling out Vista.

Re:Pricing themselves out of the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804572)

That would only be a problem if there WAS a monopoly. But fortunately there are alternatives, so indeed the problem solves itself.

Anybody who thinks his new PC costs too much should look at the Mac offers or ask their vendor for a PC without Vista installed (after all, Linux and XP work just fine).

Who buys retail (1, Redundant)

davmoo (63521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803994)

The great majority of people who acquire Vista will not do so by buying Vista on an entirely new machine. Therefore, what the full retail price of Vista is does not have a lot of impact here. Anyone who thinks Gateway, Dell, or HP pays full retail for Vista (or XP) needs to take off their rose-colored glasses and look again. Acer probably doesn't pay retail either, although they also probably do pay more than "the big three".

Re:Who buys retail (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804010)

Shit. I should have used "preview". That first sentence should read "The great majority of people who acquire Vista will not do so by buying Vista at retail, they will do so by buying an entirely new machine."

Re:Who buys retail (1)

tehanu (682528) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804134)

That is a very good point. So I guess the real question is, have MS jacked up the price of the OEM versions of Vista?

Re:Who buys retail (-1, Offtopic)

denwest (1025894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804314)

We are legit company from uk we have all brands of Mobile Phones,Ipods,xbox 360, Sidekicks,Nextels phone,Laptops for sell at cheap and affordable prices, they ranges from Nokia/Samsung/LG/Sony Ericsson/Motorola/Alcatel/panasonic With Bluetooth, all Brands and Models of Nextel Phones, we want you to get back to us with your quote so that we can begin a good business relationship. Note they are all Brand New T2 Euro specs, unlocked, no operator logo, come in their original sealed box, With 1 year international warranty from the manufacturer, English & Spanish manual, Finland made. We want to assure you that you will never regret buying from us because the delivery will be to your doorstep via FedEx Courier service.And the Tracking number shall be sent to you upon acknowledgement of your payment. Kindly acknowledge the reciept of our mail and get back to us at mobileltd002@yahoo.com

Did I miss something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804008)

Did Microsoft stop selling Windows XP while I wasn't looking?

"No choice" indeed. Does anyone on slashdot have any critical thinking skills at all?

Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (1)

aileanmacraith (1022745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804024)

High prices could be a good thing. To average Joe, Windows is simply a part of the computer, and he doesn't think about it. But to the manufacturers, this will represent a place where they can cut prices. Not shipping Windows, and with OSs like Ubuntu becoming so good nowadays, there is a real alternative: even for average Joe. Dell gave a refund for an unused copy of Windows the other week and I think this is just that start of things to come.

I actually don't think much needs to be done to break the Microsoft monopoly. Unlike when the first Anti-trust law was going on, there is now a real choice of operating system. (It's so cliché but) next year could be the big year of Linux.

But hey, we could always speed it up...

Re:Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804118)

To the average joe it is an essential part of the computer. nobody is going to buy a computer with some "weird off brand OS called 'linux'". the average joe has had a hard enough time trying to figure out how to use windows. he's not about to start using something else.

Re:Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804150)

".. and with OSs like Ubuntu becoming so good nowadays, there is a real alternative: even for average Joe." I don't think Average Joe would want you to talk about what's right for him if you're going to say something as completely and obviously unrealistic that. No flavour of Linux, no matter how you twist and turn it, even comes close to being an alternative to Windows. It isn't happening, and it likely won't until Microsoft stop releasing new versions. There's no need to argue why, 'cause the reason is obvious to anyone willing to take their OSS glasses off for a second and see the world from a realistic perspective.

Re:Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804268)

I actually don't think much needs to be done to break the Microsoft monopoly. Unlike when the first Anti-trust law was going on, there is now a real choice of operating system.

The variety of choice then was no worse (or better, it must be said) than it is now. *Especially* when you don't take hindsight into account.

There have *always* be viable, functionally equivalent alternatives to Windows (and all other pieces of Microsoft software).

Re:Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (2, Interesting)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804462)

There is still no viable, functionally equivalent alternative to Visio. Someone call me when there is.
In my eyes, this functional equivalence would need to include the ability to use Visio stencils, or a replacement for all the existing stencils already in use. This isn't likely to happen anytime soon, I'm afraid.

Re:Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (1)

enharmonix (988983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804468)

High prices could be a good thing. To average Joe, Windows is simply a part of the computer, and he doesn't think about it. But to the manufacturers, this will represent a place where they can cut prices.

Not likely. The terms of the agreement between MS and the OEMs almost certainly includes a mandatory OS charge per unit sold, regardless of whether the user accepts MS's EULA or even whether the equipment ships with an alternate OS installed.

Not shipping Windows, and with OSs like Ubuntu becoming so good nowadays, there is a real alternative: even for average Joe.

Not really. Everybody uses Windows because everybody else uses Windows.

Dell gave a refund for an unused copy of Windows the other week and I think this is just that start of things to come.

That's news to me (and encouraging news at that). Regretably, "a refund" leads me to think that it wasn't a policy decision but just a customer service decision for a single customer that resulted in a net loss for Dell (equal to their cost of a single OEM license of Windows). I hope I'm wrong though.

I actually don't think much needs to be done to break the Microsoft monopoly

I agree with you here. This was a smart move by MS. Forcing users to pay for features they don't use is what an evil monopoly does. Forcing users to pay only for necessary features (just enough to run your apps and interface with your devices) and making all other features optional is a show of good faith on their part.

Unlike when the first Anti-trust law was going on, there is now a real choice of operating system. (It's so cliché but) next year could be the big year of Linux.

Unfortunately, I don't see that happening next year, but you might still be right. The only thing that will get Linux onto home desktops is when users can run their Windows apps natively in Linux. Since it is unlikely the entire IT industry will move to Java and that MS will bundle Sun's VM in their OS, the only other alternative is for the Linux community to adopt a platform that will allow them to run a large number of Windows apps natively. This would be .NET, which makes this story [slashdot.org] unbelievably good news in that respect.

Re:Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804576)

Forcing users to pay for features they don't use is what an evil monopoly does.

By that measure, I can't think of a single company I've ever dealt with that doesn't qualify as an "evil monopoly".

mod do3n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804026)

in posting a GNAA

Vista Only (5, Insightful)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804052)

Nobody has mentioned the fact that within a few months of release, Vista will be the ONLY Microsoft operating system you can get on an OEM PC. You won't be able to buy an XP machine anymore because Microsoft doesn't want you to. In a free market, Windows XP would become cheaper and due to the fact that it's battle-tested, will probably be more desirable for some time, than Vista.

But there is not a free market, is there? You can't buy an OEM PC without paying some sort of windows tax, with few exceptions. And the latest windows tax is Vista.

Re:Vista Only (1)

hkBst (979461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804094)

win XP battle-tested. Now that's a good one. ROTFLMAO.

Re:Vista Only (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804326)

In a free market, Windows XP would become cheaper and due to the fact that it's battle-tested, will probably be more desirable for some time, than Vista.

What other commercial software are you thinking of that behaves like this ?

Re:Vista Only (1)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804696)

propellerhead software. rebirth [rebirthmuseum.com] , once a commercial product, is now freeware.

Re:Vista Only (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804546)

Ahh, but that's where a beautiful thing like the Windows Vista EULA comes into play! Disagree with something in the EULA! Anything! Take your pick! It isn't hard. There's so much wrong with it, so it shouldn't be hard. Disagree with the licence, return the OS, demand your money back, take em to court if you have to, and then, no more "windows tax".

Re:Vista Only (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804804)

except with the OEM version, the EULA covers the complete package... so if you disagree with it, you have to take the entire box back for refund. You can't just return the OS... unless the EULA just happens to be worded so that you can separate them, but that's exceeding rare...

Re:Vista Only (4, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804614)

In a free market, Windows XP would become cheaper and due to the fact that it's battle-tested, will probably be more desirable for some time, than Vista.


In a free market, a merchant can choose to stop selling something if he wants to sell something else instead.

Re:Vista Only (1)

hustlebird (908138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804810)

that doesn't make any sense... So do car dealers lock up the market on new cars, cause shortly after a new model (lets say with a new engine) is released you can no longer the newest model of that car with the older engine? I fail to see how this isn't a free market, its not like you cant go and get an older computer, or even an older install disc of xp...

The justice dept is not run by democrats. (3, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804056)

The justice dept is run by the white house and there is no way in hell this white house is going to go after any corporation let alone MS.

Re:The justice dept is not run by democrats. (1)

moreon (120076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804176)

Ever hear of Enron?

Re:The justice dept is not run by democrats. (1)

Torbin (1008619) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804756)

Who needs the DOJ when we've got Eliot Spitzer suing anything that moves. In all seriousness, this society has become so litigious it doesn't matter who is in charge, anyone can be a target. -TS

Signs of bad/amateurish journalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804068)

...are question marks after every headline.

Interesting (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804080)

5 Stories ago the war was won and over. Now MS are back to evil monopoly status and government intervention is required apparently to defeat them. Again.

server != client (2, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804286)

Get it? Microsoft has nothing like a monopoly on the server side, and never had it. They do have a de-facto monopoly on the client side.

The only thing that prevents them from extending their client-side monopoly to the server is the threat of government regulation. Otherwise, it is simple a question of letting the clients refuse to talk to "unauthorized" servers.

M$ is in danger of screwing themselves... (0, Troll)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804090)

While I imagine that the increased cost of Vista will not make a huge impact on OEM computer sales, it's still an impact. And right now, any loss in the Windows marketshare is a bad thing.

I'm not trolling, I'm dead serious- and I'm no windows fanboy either. Sadly, Linux still isn't quite ready for Joe Desktop. It's come a long way, and is certainly getting there, but it's just not ready yet. I'm a Linux user myself, and it is definitely poised to hit the (non-enthusiast) desktop scene in a big way, but not just yet. Be patient.

So, if Microsoft drives anyone away from Windows, where do you think the displaced users would go? Apple. And frankly, the thought scares the shit out of me. If they get a hold on the market, Apple will enslave the industry more than Microsoft ever has or ever will. M$ at least knows their place, and generally sticks to software.

So please... just hope that M$ does not shoot themselves in the foot, for a few more months at least! If a Microsoft backlash were to happen now, it would only benefit Apple!

Re:M$ is in danger of screwing themselves... (1)

gustafsd (1006935) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804146)

Soo.. consumers that doesn't want to use Vista because it's too expensive will start using Mac because it's cheaper?? Yeah right!

Re:M$ is in danger of screwing themselves... (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804720)

I'm not trolling, I'm dead serious- and I'm no windows fanboy either. Sadly, Linux still isn't quite ready for Joe Desktop. It's come a long way, and is certainly getting there, but it's just not ready yet. I'm a Linux user myself, and it is definitely poised to hit the (non-enthusiast) desktop scene in a big way, but not just yet. Be patient.

According to my completely unscientific data (web sites that I run etc.), Linux desktop marketshare is actually falling. The company I work for has just bought a support ticket system where the ticket administration interface only works in Internet Explorer, so I'll need to run Windows in a virtual machine now. In a couple of years people will expect to be able to watch HD disks on their computers, and Linux desktop marketshare will fall even further.

Then again, so far my OS marketshare predictions have been completely utterly wrong. Let us hope this one will be wrong too.

Alternatives will be a helluva lot cheaper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804096)

Think about it this way. $600-$100 per machine is a lot to spend for an OS; most individuals won't want to spend the cash for the bells and whistles and more importantly, once they get acquanted with vista and what each version has, they'll want certain hardware with a certain OS version on it. Which means it will be very difficult to give a customer something which they want; functional, stable hardware with usable applications. You'll go, see that dream HP, buy it and take it home to find programs such as calculator or certain necissary networking features completly absent.

Which means an easy-to-use linux with a good gui, which is just around the corner, has a great opportunity to grow.

More importantly, corporate machines, which are used for few tasks and require little interoperability beyond those tasks from their users, will now cost $600 apiece. POS (point of sale) machines, accounting, 3d design and word processing software, and even simpler things like managerial software will all be able to be run off of linux and since that's all that machine will be doing, it will be superior to the vista machine in cost and usability.

The only downside is that places which go with vista, will be vista only; microsoft will assuredly, under the premise of terrorism and data security, say they don't want to share their protocols with anyone and their protocols which are supposed to be, you know, standards compliant, won't be.

Did I mention the machines will be more crippled than their predicessors and individuals looking to do things such as file-share or burn, mix and copy music will have to use alternative means to do so?

Acer can ship with Linux (1)

quiberon2 (986274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804148)

Acer can ship with Linux, so long as they make the source code available.

Or they can ship with OS/2, Serenity Systems [serenity-systems.com] sell them nowadays. Not IBM. It's unkillable :-)

Or they can write their own operating system, or get out of the Personal Computer business and into the Games Console business.

Plenty of choices.

another day, another FUD story (5, Insightful)

Daltorak (122403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804164)

This story is overflowing with FUD and misrepresentation. A routine fact-check will demonstrate this. Let's pull this apart:

According to Jim Wong, senior corporate vice president of the Taiwan-based company, the issue is simply that the basic home edition of Vista, Home Basic, which is available for preorder on Amazon.co.uk for 154.99 pounds ($293), is so basic that users will be forced to move to Vista Home Premium, at 189.99 pounds ($359).

First of all, they got the prices of Vista wrong: Vista Home Basic (non-upgrade) is 185 GBP [amazon.co.uk] ; Vista Home Premium is 224 GBP [amazon.co.uk] .

Second, price-conversion. Everybody knows that you don't take the street price of a product in British pounds, run it through xe.com, and come out with the street price in USD. Microsoft's MSRP on Vista Home Basic (non-upgrade) is $199 USD [microsoft.com] , -not- $293 as given in the article. Vista Home Premium (non-upgrade) is $239 USD [microsoft.com] . Note that the MSRP on XP Home Edition is $199 USD [amazon.com] , the same as Vista Home Basic.

Third, Microsoft has never sold an edition of Windows with the Media Center included on the retail market, so in a way there isn't really any good point of comparison.... of -course- it's going to be more expensive than XP Home.

"The new (Vista) experience you hear of, if you get Basic, you won't feel it at all," Wong told PC Pro magazine. "There's no (Aero) graphics, no Media Center, no remote control."

Yeah well, guess what? some people just don't want or need that stuff. Actually, I'd hazard a guess and say that the vast majority of users don't want or need Media Center functionality or a remote control. That's not what's worth harping on about. Home Premium does have a lot of neat things in it, especially for mobile users, media centers, tablet PC owners, etc., but it's useless for a lot of people who just use their computer to get stuff done.

Wong also said that the manufacturer's license for Vista Home Premium is 10 percent more expensive than for XP Home.

It's also got far more functionality (Media Center, new mobility features, XBox 360 connectivity, Tablet PC features) than XP Home Edition or Vista Home Basic Edition, the latter of which Acer is refusing to sell to its customers.

"We have to pay more but users are not going to pay more," Wong said. This would mean an increase in the cost to PC manufacturers of 1 percent to 2 percent, according to Wong, in a business where the profit margin is around 5 percent or less.

Quit your bitching, Mr. Wong. If the price of Windows is going up by 10% because you are choosing to force a higher edition on your customers, you pass that price increase on to users... it's not your job as a company to absorb price increases from Microsoft.

At the top of the Vista lineup is the Ultimate Edition, which can be preordered for 325 pounds ($614) and, again, is significantly more expensive than the XP operating system it replaces.

Ultimate Edition is covers a lot more ground than XP Professional. The thing comes with Media Center, twice as many games (good ones, too, like Chess and Majongg), backup software that doesn't suck, a bunch of extra software and add-ons analogous to the XP Plus! Pack, and even a friggin' UNIX stack to boot -- and that's not even going into features that are actually new to Windows Vista [wikipedia.org] -- and you're complaining about it being more expensive?

Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 has a recommended retail price of 289.99 pounds ($550), but is currently available for 234 pounds ($444).

Vista Business Edition is the corresponding upgrade for Windows XP Professional. Retail price on Vista Business is 289 GBP [amazon.co.uk] .... same as XP Professional.

So is Vista really more expensive? Nope... not unless you want a wider feature set.

Re:another day, another FUD story (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804338)

Wong also said that the manufacturer's license for Vista Home Premium is 10 percent more expensive than for XP Home.

There's this little thing called inflation; maybe you've heard of it? It means that, broadly speaking, prices go up with each passing year. The last desktop version of Windows was released 5 years ago; a 10% price increase accounts for less than 2% inflation per year. Sounds about right to me, at least for the UK.

Re:another day, another FUD story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804428)

Thanks. Your check is in the post.

Bill.

Re:another day, another FUD story (1)

The Lerneaen Hydra (885793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804502)

Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 has a recommended retail price of 289.99 pounds ($550), but is currently available for 234 pounds ($444).

Vista Business Edition is the corresponding upgrade for Windows XP Professional. Retail price on Vista Business is 289 GBP.... same as XP Professional.

So is Vista really more expensive? Nope... not unless you want a wider feature set.

In my book an OS upgrade entails a wider feature set, so if I understood this correctly, for only $200 I can get a new OS with... exactly the same features! (oh and some nice DRM too!)

maybe (1)

AnXa (936517) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804264)

Maybe there is need to challenge Microsoft lawyers again in court. Vista prices are like extremely over priced generally. There is no point in Home Basic since it's missing important features like A.E.R.O. And somehow Ultimate doesn't offer anything special for the price point it ships. Expect huge discounts in future. When Ultimate comes with $200 price tag I think it will be acceptable. Home Premium for $100. And business for $150 or something.

But I don't like the idea that Microsoft will share their code with projects like Wine. Instead they should provide their own APIs for linux themselfs so that existing windows products (read: games) could be run on linux. Porting DirectX on linux isn't impossible task, but it's hard. Cedega is one example of that. Plus that API should be licensed in GPL or similar license. So that it won't be able to get hijacked.

Nothing Wrong Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804282)

I see this as similar to the drug companies. You people think its outrageous for a company to make a profit on something they spend years & millions of dollars developing. So what if they charge $200 for a decent OS. Crap, I spend $50 on one silly-ass game.

Price Control? (1)

I_HATE_THIS (1019084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804290)

If anything need price control, it will be drugs, both legal and illegal.

Blackmail... (1)

rogtioko (1024857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804374)

as usual big name company, like Intel, expects cowardly dealing with a pc manufacturer, like dell. After playing foul though, look at how Dell severed corrupt corporate ties by opening up ventures with AMD despite Intel's release of the powerful core 2 conroe processor line and even starts offering rebates for PCs bought that don't intend to use M$ os despite the upcoming release of Vista.

Acer should throw a bucket of Soyo pcb chip sauce in M$'s face and not give in to Microsoft's outrageous pricing.

in the BBC article

The software is a major overhaul of Windows and updates many of the core technologies. New elements include improved security, an improved 3D interface, plus new sound and networking technologies
No security in Microsoft products: considering you're only secure when software is designed by people who don't care what the intent is behind hackers. Bill Gates must have worn some 3d spectacles if he'd saw an inkling of 3d interface on windows xp?

Wise consumers see that Vista lacks creative inspiration, is cookie cut from Mac OS X graphic design, and is duct taped together with the cage of .net (microsoft said in an ad once, "think inside the box"). Its the thing corp software CEO's dream of for potential berry customers who believe what others tell them to believe and are ignorant of any self-creativity: in that Vista has no reputable faults to publicize because its nothing, has all the feel of a collective network virtual world where everything's provided to a user arbitrarily (like a jail), and M$ has 90% of the software market's support.

Support from MS... (1)

master_piece (1014781) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804376)

>Could Microsoft be compelled to lower its inflating Vista prices, or to open their tech or even supply funding to Linux-flavored >Windows such as Wine? You are dreaming.... Where do you live?

OLPC as the big example (1)

GerardM (535367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804384)

The OLPC system is innovative hardware that proves that a computer does not need to be as expensive as they currently are. When it is possible to build a full features system for $130,- then the current prices of laptops and desktops for that matter are overpriced. On the OLPC it says explicitly that there will be little that you can not do that you can do on a $1.000,- laptop.

The point. Computers are overpriced not only because of the cost of proprietary software but also because of the cost of the rat race that is the hardware market. There are few people that need a $1000,- system. When the motivation is that they also run games, I would urge people to buy a dedicated game kit, that incidentally is able to run everything that runs on a PC and is often intentionally crippled to prevent these "other" uses.

It is not only but also proprietary software that makes computers expensive.

Thanks,
        GerardM

Why are we even asking this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804390)

Hell, yes. In fact, forget the anti-trust thing and just flat-ass shut them down, period. Anything that came up in their place, no matter how bad, could not possibly be worse. Hell, I would sacrifice Linux just to see Microsoft die.

Mmm.... No (1)

KKlaus (1012919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804414)

First of all as someone already pointed out, this type of suit would be the realm of the DoJ, which you can bet not only doesn't care, but moreover would have to have their heads completely up their asses to do something as controversial as suing Microsoft when they're already on the run from bigger things like torture and Abu Ghraib.

Second of all, people need to remember that Average Joe likes windows, and likes microsoft. The last thing the democrats want to do is confuse a large number of voters and take the limelight away from their bigger winners, namely GOP corruption and the Iraq war. Something all rules and numbers like fighting big business would not be a boon in 2008 in these ideological, partisan times.

So no, I wouldn't count on it.

still needs to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804438)

It needed to be done before. It still needs to be done. And not just micro$oft.

Don't You Read the News? (1)

Hercules Peanut (540188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804458)

Haven't you heard? The War is Over, Linux has Won! [slashdot.org] This story has no merit. MS can charge whatever they want since we'll all be using linux and forced to pay their unreasonably low (free but possibly requiring beer depending on who you ask) licensing fees along side every pc purchase. Word is even Apple will be forced to pay the "linux tax". MS isn't our problem anymore.

Not that I like MS but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804506)

No one's forcing these vendors to package their systems with anything. If cost goes up, so what? Pass on the price to the consumer. No one's forcing them to ship with it and nothing is stopping them from shipping systems with XP or vista. For the cost aspect, it'll add what, $100 to the price, maybe $60 at the most more then they currently pay for XP.

For party funding...last I checked MS was for network neutrality...what a better way to make sure congress doesn't listen to the telco lobby and fund their own. It'd save them money rather then buy off a bunch of telco's later on if tiered does roll out.

WINE, how is this even a suggestion that MS pay for something. ITS COMPETITION! I don't see Ford demanding money from GM for not making their whatever compatible.

I'm not a fan of MS but come on, this is really stretching it. If you really want to "take them down" help develop easy to use, highly user friendly alternative and get game support. Try being proactive instead of reactive.

Let the internets rage out.

key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804598)

"Could Microsoft be compelled to lower its inflating Vista prices"

High prices are not anticompetitive. Aside from that, the price of windows hadn't changed in 10 years since 95, while inflation has been around 2% annual. In real dollars, the $300 windows today is cheaper than it was in 95.

What I really don't get is why people are upset at having MORE choice.

Short Answer: (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804604)

No.

Congress != Attorney General

Try again after 2009 January 20.

Unbundling (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804660)

About the only we would gain some freedom from Microsoft's OS monopoly would be to take some serious action, such as:

1) Enforce all existing antitrust laws (this is not being done)
2) Require that computer manufacturers not be allowed to bundle/include an MS-Windows license
3) Prevent MS from trying to lock the OS license to a particular computer

Never gonna happen, but it is nice to dream. None of the other so-called anti-trust penalties against Microsoft have had any teeth/impact. If you could ONLY buy computers without an OS, the manufacturers could produce a quick-load, quick-start CD/DVD that walks the user through installing an optional, separately purchased MS-Windows license. Or- allow the pre-installation of MS-Windows with with no license. Optional licenses must be purchased separately from a different source (could be same vendor, but not the hardware manufacturer).

The bundling/preinstallation/forced-licensing are what has given MS almost absolute control over the market. Why unbundle?

1) It would allow real competition- forcing MS to innovate and lowering prices
2) It would show consumers that there are alternatives
3) It would mean the consumer could actually see the prices of what they are buying
4) It would allow the customer to not pay a MS tax on any computer model they wished to buy
5) It would help equalize the disparity between the OEM and aftermarket price of MS-Windows
6) Businesses would not be forced to buy licenses twice when they choose to have a corporate license structure with reimaging on installation.

And even all this would only address the OS Monopoly, not the control MS has over other segments of the industry.

"Linux-flavored Windows" (4, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804664)

"Linux-flavored Windows such as Wine"

W T F

Actually thats what i expect exactly ! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804718)

Well, not only americans, but many people around the world is looking towards democrats to see them set right to many wrongs that had been done.

Missing the point? (1)

SephirothInferno (966443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804750)

I think that Acer is missing the point on how the market works. Come on, it's customers who decide which OS they want on their PC's. Saying that customers won't want a version of Vista or another is simply being ignorant. They should offer the basic version and their respective upgrades (reminds me of the Dell or Alienware online store where you can choose which version do you want) and finally it should be the user who decides which OS suits him better or not. As for Linux, I think that the basic user already know how to use Windows and they will not be taking the risk to use a new OS, they know that Windows simply works, it runs the applications and do the things they want to do. As somebody else said, if Linux get native support for Win applications and a much better game support, it could broaden its market.
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