Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft May Be Investigated By Attorneys General

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the perhaps-they-should-hire-lawyers dept.

Microsoft 260

Null Nihils writes "Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has announced that a group of state attorneys general will decide later this week whether to pursue legal action against Microsoft over allegations of anticompetitive conduct that were brought on by Google. From the article: 'Google has complained that Microsoft's new operating system puts it, and other rivals, at a disadvantage. Google said that Vista makes it harder for consumers to use non-Microsoft versions of a desktop search function, which enables users to search the contents of their hard drives. A group of state attorneys general including Connecticut and California is now determining how to react to the claims made by Google.'"

cancel ×

260 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

what's the bet that (4, Insightful)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476779)

If this manages to get through google will be dead in the water by the time anything's done about it.

Re:what's the bet that (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477269)

Regardless, Google have misrepresented this entire issue.

1) They complained to the DoJ/AG without informing Microsoft of the issue and attempting to have it solved,

2) Windows Search is designed to only operate during idle cycles specifically so it will not interfere with any other running program including Google Desktop Search,

4) Windows Search can be disabled from the Control Panel, the command line, and if Google could be bothered they can disable it using the Services API during an install of their software, and

5) Google have even coded Vista Sidebar widgets that are designed to interact with GDS on Vista, which makes their complaint make even less sense.

I'm sorry to hijack your comment but if anybody else could manage to be a little more informed on the issue rather than immediately jump to the standard "anti-competitive monopoly blah-blah" response then maybe a more intellectual debate could ensue.

Re:what's the bet that (2, Informative)

c_forq (924234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477503)

Your step three is missing...

Re:what's the bet that (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477777)

Your step three is missing...

3. PROFIT!

Re:what's the bet that (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477425)

The last paragraph of the article is extremely telling, I think:

The issue is the latest in an escalation between two of the heaviest hitters in the tech world.

In April, Microsoft urged the federal competition authorities to thoroughly investigate Google's acquisition of online advertising brokerage DoubleClick, after being beaten by Google in closing a deal for the company. The Federal Trade Commission has since confirmed it is investigating the matter.

It seems to me that Google is trying to beat Microsoft at its own game. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about Google being able to pull it off. Especially since it would require quite a bit of Evil(TM).

Unfair standard? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476809)

I hate to be a MS defender here (Linux Gods please forgive me) but isn't it a little unfair to ride MS's ass for security problems all the time and then also expect them to open up their kernal, file system, security, etc. to every damn third party developer out there? Should a third party developer have just as much access to Vista as MS themselves?

Re:Unfair standard? (5, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476871)

It's not unfair because it is entirely possible to write libraries that are not riddled with security flaws. You are trying to relate two things that are almost completely unrelated.

Re:Unfair standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477333)

Which are also compatible with surely 10's or 100's of billions of lines of legacy code? Starting from scratch still has tremendous advantages, too bad it's the one thing Microsoft can't do.

Re:Unfair standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477685)

"You are trying to relate two things that are almost completely unrelated." ... a sure sign of asstroturf! See also: CMYK and why students shouldn't be taught to draw desktop graphics in Gimp, Linux security and desktop share, Linux desktop usability and how tough it was to install Slackware 1.0 from floppies, free software and communism, and TCO for shelf price of Windows vs free Linux plus ((salary of IT department) + (computer hardware budget) + (rent for office space) + (the coffee budget) + (the cost of the pony the CEO bought for his daughter)).

Re:Unfair standard? (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476883)

If MSFT is not competing in the applications arena and sells only the OS then it can say "I am locking up the kernel and you guys play by this rule". But MSFT is competing in the office, gaming, database, search, and email arenas. And it is using its monopoly in the OS arena to unfairly benefit its own application products.

What gives complaints against MSFT legitimacy is that it has 1. monopoly in the OS marke. 2. It has used its monopoly to unfairly undermine its competitors in other markers. MSFT can easily get out of all these restrictions and actions by breaking the company into two pieces. One is the OS company and the other is the applications company. And the OS company will give equal access to all vendors in the applications arena.

Please understand the issue is not the quantum of access given to the OS. It is the unequal access given to other vendors.

Re:Unfair standard? (1, Insightful)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476979)

How about Mac? it bundle with all the apps that come free. why don't you cry about it?

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477447)

Apple is not a convicted monopolist, the rules of business change when you are.

Re:Unfair standard? (0)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477723)

lol. that's your reason. nice counter argument. if Mac reach 90% of the market share then Apple is not allow to bundle anything, right? Apple is the monopoly on Mac! You Sir is a typical Zealot.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

edumacator (910819) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477827)

Being a monopoly isn't the issue. Leveraging your monopoly status to unfairly mitigate your competition is. If Apple were to do that, then they would have to play by the harsher rules MSFT has to play by.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477109)

The idea of breaking the company into two pieces has been suggested before, and is an interesting one. The problem with this is that Windows has incorporated so many little applications into itself over the years, I don't think it's practical to separate out the two (not anymore, for sure). Is Wordpad an application? Is mediaplayer an application? How would you sell Windows to the consumer market if all it included was just the kernal? Hell, no one is even interested in JUST the plain Linux kernal without a distro of some kind--and that's FREE.

So, practically speaking, how is MS supposed to give third party developers "equal access" with so many possible combinations of applications? When a consumer buys Windows, should they be given a detailed list of thousands of possible applications to choose to be included?

Re:Unfair standard? (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477221)

It is true no one would buy a car without tires. Or even a radio. Would you let auto makers off the hook so easily if they tried to make it impossible to install a thirdparty tire or radio? Infact the auto makers did that and it took lots of legislative action in the 70s to open up the "connectors and specs" to level the playing field, (or so I understand from a slashdot post.)

Now how far should the automaker go? Should you be able to install a thirdparty glove box? A steering wheel? or a gear box and transmission? The automobile is quite tangible and most consumers are well informed and they vote with their dollars in these questions. If they make a car that will accept only Ford tires, the marketplace will shun it. It is possible the glove box (and possibly the windshield) was thirdparty add-on way back in 1910s. And eventually it got incorporated into the automobile.

But in the computer arena, the public is not well informed. It would take a generation of kids who grew up with computers all their life to distinguish between what is the "glove box" and what is a "tire" in a computer. At that point we might not need any legislative action. But right now, to preseve the endangered species of independent software developers and application developers we need some basic action from the courts/legislation.

Re:Unfair standard? (1, Informative)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477293)

I'm not so sure I entirely agree with you, the Windows Platform consists of a lot of Microsoft products working together but you can definitely say that Word is a seperate application, Mediaplayer is a seperate application etc.

When you buy a PC you have to buy things like Word seperately, they're not included in the price of Windows the operating system. It's the PC retailers who bundle useful software onto their PC's or it's businesses who deploy the necessary applications for their business on their servers.

Were applications and operating system to be divided then both the operating system and the applications would need to use open, published standards to communicate and interoperate with one another. Other software companies could be involved in developing these standards and use them to design their own applications. This would increase competition and encourage better quality software and cheaper prices for the rest of us.

Whoops, just noticed you said Wordpad and not Word. Technically yes it is an application and things like Text Pad compete in the same sort of arena so I suppose it should be seperated too.

Re:Unfair standard? (3, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477451)

So, practically speaking, how is MS supposed to give third party developers "equal access" with so many possible combinations of applications?

Fully documeneted and open APIs. Documented and open protocols. Documented and open file formats. They're required by the terms of their prosecution in the European Union to provide this documentation and keep refusing. The US department of Justice has asked them to provide the protocols to potential competitors.

Microsoft has repeatedly refused to comply properly with these legal requirements. The answer to your question is simple. Microsoft should do what lawmakers have been telling them to do for years. Provide potential competitors with enough information to interoperate with the OS as effectively as MS themselves.

Re:Unfair standard? (2, Interesting)

Retric (704075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477559)

No Windows can stay the same. The idea is they can sell windows with anything in it that helps them sell more copies of windows aka Note Pad but they can't add anything that helps them sell other products like Office, IIS etc.

So you have a windows company A that can only sell windows and windows server edition.

And you have windows company B that can sell IIS, XBOX, MS Word, MS Office, MS mouse, Visual Studio... but not windows.

The idea is that windows could include IE but if Microsoft is not selling IIS then they don't have any reason to care if some is using other tools. So Microsoft can include anything to sell more copies of windows but they have no reason to include things to crush the competition because they can't compete with other non OS companies.

PS: The problem with this is that they would go the Red Hat route and start including basic apps for most things like SSH, FTP, and over time they become the same company but force you to buy Note Pad XL their new crappy word processor.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477153)

How is the access *unequal*? Google can sign an NDA and get just as much access to that kernel as MSFT. What google is whining about is that it's now *HARDER* for them to search. It's also *HARDER* for msft folks to search because they have to go through the same permission schema as everyone else. I'm sure you really really hate MSFT, and really really love google, but google is being the whiny bitch this time.

Does MS have to sign an NDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477435)

to access their OS? If not, then there's ONE example of unequal access.

If Google wanted feature X to make the google desktop search quicker, would that be put in the next update pack? What if MS wanted it? That's a second example of unequal access.

If the OS changes, will MS send out all the new beta code to test to Google? Does it do so for MS applications? Third example.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477215)

Yeah right I must be dreaming then because I distinctly remember Norton and McAfee screaming bloody murder over a totally legit kernel lockdown, while everybody else seemed to keep working on their AV products just fine.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477235)

Can a Mac user weigh in on this? I wonder, does OS X allow a user to easily replace Finder with Google Desktop?

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477765)

A user? No. A developer? Yes. The Finder is just another app, launched at login. It requires some hacking of property lists to replace it, but it is possible. It's hard, because the finder is responsible for a lot of things, and you'd have to replace them all. You'd also break a load of AppleScripts that contain 'tell application "Finder"' (i.e. 90% of all AppleScripts), so it's pretty much a bad idea.

You can even boot OS X without Quartz at all and run xorg, but, once again, it's a pretty bad idea.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

tshak (173364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477761)

If MSFT is not competing in the applications arena and sells only the OS...

An OS is simply a type of application. Also, from a consumer product point of view, the definition of what an OS includes is very subjective.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

kernelpanicked (882802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476899)

Well, I dunno. How hard is it for a 3rd party developer to get access to the Linux or BSD kernels? I'd imagine if these systems had the same shitty security record Windows enjoys, you'd here a lot of bitching at them too.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477045)

Linux is open source. MS is a for-profit company. Opening up their code would be suicide for MS (and would also likely fragment the OS market into a hopeless mishmash of competing forks). Do you really expect Bill Gates to just call a employee meeting one day and tell all the MS employees "We've decided to make all our stuff open source and just give it away. So we can't pay you anymore, but you're all free to stay on as volunteers." Come on man, get real.

Re:Unfair standard? (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477073)

MS doesn't have to open up their code. Just their protocols and APIs. If you don't know how that's different from opening up the code, then you aren't qualified to comment on the subject.

Re:Unfair standard? (2, Informative)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476907)

My understanding is that Google want MS to provide a way for the average user to turn off the MS indexing, to avoid unnecessarily consuming resources by running search engines from both Google and MS side by side. By 'average user' they mean someone who isn't familiar with tinkering around in the services widget.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476967)

NOTABUG.

Users can use sc, net, or the services console to disable a service.

If Google thinks that's too difficult then they are free to make their desktop search program offer to disable Microsoft's service at installation time.

Re:Unfair standard? (2, Interesting)

roseanne (541833) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477065)

Disabling the service is not a good option for Windows Vista because the OS uses the Indexing Service for the search function built into the shell.

However, it's hard to argue that Windows shouldn't provide an indexing service when OSX etc do. It's pretty well documented too, API-wise -- its only problem is that it consumes more resources than Google's indexer.

Google's complaint does seem to be a case of sour grapes here. Perhaps they're simply retaliating for the time when Microsoft raised antitrust complaints about its DoubleClick acquisition?

Re:Unfair standard? (2, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476981)

couldn't google just put an option to do it in thier software (i'm pretty sure service control is documented in the winapi docs).

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477187)

Perhaps they could, I've no idea. Perhaps disabling the service screws with something else, as a poster above me suggests, in which case this sounds reminiscent of Win9x supposedly being designed around Internet Explorer.

It raises a vaguely interesting question of how modular an OS should be. I don't suppose many people would argue that the Windows file system should be replaceable with GoogleFS, but indexing sounds less integral than that.

Basically, I have food poisoning, no sleep and no real clue what my own point is, so if anyone can squeeze any meaning of my comments please let me know what it is. Ta.

Re:Unfair standard? (4, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477191)

Microsoft desktop search is used by other microsoft products for its searching. For example if you want to do email searching in outlook 2007 you have to go and download microsoft desktop search, this is on windows XP.
So if you want to do searches in your email and also use google desktop search you are in trouble since both search engine now have to be running and scanning everything.

Re:Unfair standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476921)

Security by obscurity doesn't work.

Re:Unfair standard? (3, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476985)

That would be unfair but that is not the specific complaint of Google. From what I read (not the linked article), Google is finding issues with Vista's built-in search. From a AP article in USA Today: [usatoday.com]

The Vista operating system, which became widely available in January, includes a desktop search function that competes with a free program Google introduced in 2004. Several other companies also offer desktop search applications.

Besides bogging down competing programs, Google alleged Microsoft had made it too complicated to turn off the desktop search feature built into Vista.

With its allegations, Google hopes to show that Microsoft isn't complying with a 2002 settlement of an antitrust case that concluded the world's largest software maker had leveraged the Windows operating system to throttle competition.

The consent decree requires Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft to ensure its rivals can build products that run smoothly on Windows -- something that Google says isn't happening.

"The search boxes built throughout Vista are hard-wired to Microsoft's own desktop search product, with no way for users to choose an alternate provider," Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes said in a statement issued Monday.

In a way, Google's complaint mirrors that of Netscape but instead of browsers, it's search applications.

Who's competing who? (2, Informative)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477795)

In a way, Google's complaint mirrors that of Netscape but instead of browsers, it's search applications.

Not exactly.

In the Netscape case, they had an established product, then MS started to compete. In this case, Vista (originally Longhorn) had a powerful search functionality built in since it's inception. (2001) In fact that was one of the first features that was announced about Vista. Even Windows 2000 and above had text search indexing (indexing service) integrated, although it's not as powerful as the indexers today, it still was in the OS.

Google's desktop beta was released in October 2004. Even the complete Vista overhaul (which happened in August 2004) happened before Google's Desktop was released to beta.

The other thing that needs to be asked is, "Does this deep inclusion severely hurt Google's bottom line overall?" and the answer is probably not. Unlike Netscape, where much of it's revenue was generated by Navigator, GDS is a very small revenue generator for google Vs it's other properties, Especially Vs Google Search or Google AdSense. I'd bet the Google Toolbar has more market penetration than Google Desktop, and the Security/privacy issues that were brought up by the press against GDS couldn't have helped it's penetration as well.

Bullshit (2, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477085)

So you're a fan of security by obscurity?

Ever notice how the really secure systems (*BSD, Solaris, etc) have every line of code public?

PS. It's spelled "kernel".

Re:Bullshit (4, Insightful)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477305)

Most of the Unix systems were relatively secure even before anyone open sourced their implementations. Microsoft has simply made a LOT of trade offs to make their system "user friendly". I also suspect we'll find all the anti-trust business holding them back from ever fixing it for fear of inviting third parties to sue them.

Re:Bullshit (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477797)

Most of the Unix systems were relatively secure even before anyone open sourced their implementations
UNIX was code-visible (not Free Software or Open Source) from the time of release. It was not taken seriously as a secure platform until a good twenty years after it was first launched. Even more modern releases have had their share of security problems. The number of security holes that were fixed by Theo De Raadt and friends in between forking NetBSD and releasing the first version of OpenBSD are staggering.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

cadeon (977561) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477361)

This is what sucks about being a monopoly.

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477421)

the source code to GNU/Linux is completely open and available for free download and GNU/Linux still has much better security than microsoft windows, that does prove that closed source does not make for better security...

this comment is probably redundant...

Re:Unfair standard? (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477605)

Vista is an operating system. The job of an operating system is to allow software to run on the hardware. If Microsoft wishes to sell embedded systems that are more secure because no one else may install software on it they are free to do so. If however they wish to market an operating system, I expect the operating system to do what it is advertised to do an operate my computer. If they wish to throw in extras, they need to be that extra! If I decide that I don't want an extra, it should be removable.

ok (2)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476811)

I predict the lawyers will be the only winners here.

Also, FTA:

"In April, Microsoft urged the federal competition authorities to thoroughly investigate Google's acquisition of online advertising brokerage DoubleClick, after being beaten by Google in closing a deal for the company. The Federal Trade Commission has since confirmed it is investigating the matter."

Wouldn't that case be dropped now that Microsoft bought that other ad company for an obsene amount of money?

Political Tactic:nothing more. (4, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476973)

I predict the lawyers will be the only winners here.

Blumenthal is using a tactic that another famous Connecticut Attorney General used to create a political career from a position (AG) that's not usually very visible. He went after the insurance companies, cut some half-assed deals that looked like they helped the consumer, made himself look like a hero to the little guy and then ran for Democratic Senator of CT and has never left - one close call last year. Yes, it's Joe Lieberman.

Blumenthal is just using the same tactic on a different industry (ies) 30 years later. I guarantee you, Blumenthal will be running for Governor, Senator, or something in the near future and these investigations are nothing but ways to raise his name recognition among the public.

Re:Political Tactic:nothing more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477763)

Ditto for Eliot Spitzer. John Edwards did the same as a private attorney and then got into politics off it once he was loaded. It's a common practice in politics.

Dupe & Duplicity (4, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476823)

Not only is this a dupe [slashdot.org] , but Google's argument was already shown in the comments to that article to be a complete sham.

Have Google actually deigned to comment on the issue yet? Last time I checked they were shunning any reasonable debate on the matter.

Which means... (3, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476839)

Sunday's New York Times reported that the federal government had weighed in on the matter, urging state attorneys general who had received Google's complaint not to investigate Microsoft further. According to the article, a memo from Thomas O. Barnett, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, had been circulated to some state-level competition authorities.

This can only mean:

  1. Microsoft is adhering to its deal with the DOJ and they have investigated the matter and find Google's complaint without merit
    - or -
  2. The DOJ is trying to keep the state Attorneys General from getting involved in what they regard as a Federal matter

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Re:Which means... (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476877)

This can only mean: Microsoft is adhering to its deal with the DOJ and they have investigated the matter and find Google's complaint without merit - or - The DOJ is trying to keep the state Attorneys General from getting involved in what they regard as a Federal matter It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

-or more likely-
The anti-trust division of the DOJ is run by libertarian free-market zealots who have no problem disregarding the law to further their own ideology.

Details? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476855)

"It emerged over the weekend that Google Inc. (GOOG) had complained to both state and federal officials that Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating software was disadvantaging rivals"

How was it "disadvantaging rivals"? Doesn't say in the article what the actual issue is (unless I completely missed it but I did RTFA a few times). So are they saying because Vista comes with a search program bundled that its not fair or are they saying all the APIs are hidden or are they saying we want the lowest level kernel access possible?

To me this is just MS and Google going to mom and dad screaming they aren't playing fair.

Re:Details? (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477011)

The article was not specific enough. There is an AP article [usatoday.com] that has more details.

It's MS OS (3, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476863)

If Chrysler decided to design a car that worked better with specific parts, who would complain. If MS designs their OS so their desktop search works better, great. If Google really wants to be a competitor let them spend all that evil filthy lucre they've amassed and build thier own stinking OS that they can lock MS out of.

Difference: monopoly (5, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476963)

If Chrysler decided to design a car that worked better with specific parts, who would complain. If MS designs their OS so their desktop search works better, great. If Google really wants to be a competitor let them spend all that evil filthy lucre they've amassed and build thier own stinking OS that they can lock MS out of.

Did Chrysler increase their market share by 90% last night? If not, the difference between Chrysler and MS is that Microsoft is a convicted monopolist with a very high marketshare of desktop computers while Chrysler is a small player in the US auto market. This means that MS is subject to laws and rules that, in general, Chrysler is not. One of them is leveraging their market share in one market (operating systems) into others (search tools, browsers, etc). If MS is using anticompetitive tactics to render Google's products less capable of working with MS's operating system, to MS's advantage, that could be illegal.

Note that if Chrysler made 95% of the cars on the road, and Chrysler intentionally restricted their cars so that they would only work with Chrysler-blessed stereos, that would be illegal as well.

Re:Difference: monopoly (2, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477111)

If MS has such a crappy OS, and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on Slashdot can see it? Why don't they come up with a viable, commercial solution to take down the giant? It can be done. You just have to come up with something the consumers, your target market, wants... WANTS to buy.

Instead of alienating them with geek-boy-speak and socio-economic masturbatory fantasies by RMS, P R O D U C E something the buying public will want to use, can use, out of the box, and that other software makers will support by providing other software titles that people will actually buy.

Now, some of you may not want to hear that, but its the only way to really put a dent in the MS market. Are you up for it, or are you going to sit back with your copies of an RMS jack-off rag, GNU/BOY, and fantasize of an encounter you're never really going to have?

Re:Difference: monopoly (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477199)

If drugs are so bad, and eventually lead your life to ruin, why do so many people take them?

I think for many it's because they don't realize what a rotten deal they have [if they ever do] until they're so helplessly tied to MS owned file formats and way of doing things [cuz finding the print command in another office suite is ACTUALLY beyond the capabilities of some].

Tom

the difference (1)

hany (3601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477415)

Problem is: Microsoft was "conquering" empty land. In such case it is just sufficient to offer product good enought that people are willing to pay for it.

The "new offering" you're proposing (which is alredy there IMO in the form of some Linux distros) have to "conquer" not empty land, but land conquered, occupied and aggresively defended by Microsoft. In other words, if you just offer better bang for better money, users still have to also consider what to do about their existing infrastructure based on Microsoft's producs.

Those two scenarios are very different. Both for consumers and both for wannabe providers of this "new offering". Not even mentioning that Microsoft still holds the monopoly possition and is thus still much more capable in defending its position for quite a long time.

So, your suggestion is very good and welcome, but here's some test for you: Convince your president to:

  1. demolish his existing residency
  2. clear up the land previously occupied by that residency
  3. buy construction of new, better then previous residency and for very good price from you
  4. wait untill you do the work
  5. pay you for the work

All that while others expect from him to function as ussual while the demolition and new construction is in progress (and the president is "homeless"). And we assume there is no "previous maintainer" of the current residency actively opposing your work to make your test easier.

Re:Difference: monopoly (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477805)

If MS has such a crappy OS, and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on Slashdot can see it? Why don't they come up with a viable, commercial solution to take down the giant? It can be done. You just have to come up with something the consumers, your target market, wants... WANTS to buy.

All of which assumes a free market, which doesn't exist when monopolistic, predatory practices kills competition. However, if my product needs to work with another product that is sold by a monopolist, that company can crush me by making by product non-functional. That's the illegal bit. Note that there are many, many examples of companies that have been crushed by illegal monopolistic practices, both within the software world and without.

Another point is, you shouldn't have to completely take down the giant to compete with it.

A capatilistic market without anti-trust regulation is like a basketball game without referees. It's fine until you get some jackass who wants to throw elbows to the crotch. If it also happens that he's 300 pounds and trained in martial arts, there's not much you can do to compete.

Given your previous post, I'd imagine these subtler points of logic will miss the mark.

Re:Difference: monopoly (2, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477183)

But in this case there is nothing illegal about it. It's a file search! There are numerous ways to turn it off, both user-imitated and automated. Google Desktop's installer could simply disable it and replace it.

I like Google tools as much as the next guy, and generally distrust MS... but.. it's a file search. Searching files is something an operating system does.

I can only imagine Google's crying if MS had left their new queryable file system in place.

Re:Difference: monopoly (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477697)

You should apply for a position at Google, since it seems you obviously know so much more than they do about this.

Re:Difference: monopoly (1)

ninjafirepants (1077233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477563)

Oh, so like Apple's thriving iPod market and the amazing interoperability it's known for, right? Fairplay is the biggest misnomer I've ever seen in my life!

I'd hesitate to call myself a "free market zealot," but I think the antitrust stuff against Microsoft have gone too far, generally. Not being able to include Media Player in Europe seems just stupid, when MS has made no effort to stop third-party media programs from working. By simply including it in the base install (from which it is removable anyway), they're apparently creating unfair competition? Since when should a company be liable for the laziness of its users to find viable alternatives? Is it anticompetitive to include Windows on a freshly-purchased PC?

What this boils down to is that MS bundled a search application with Vista and it directly competes with Google Desktop. Google wants a XP-N style victory from the courts that says MS can't make their products available in the base install.

Maybe it's just me, but I find that pretty stupid, and an abuse of the law. For all the talk about differing product realms and using one market monopoly to create another, people seem to be forgetting that applications and operating systems are both software. I could draw parallel analogies all over the place. Take, for instance, music. Bach has what could reasonably considered a monopoly on the trumpet market. It's not complete, but a very high percentage. Should they then be disallowed from making mouthpieces, mutes, valve oil, polishing cloths, or distributing music?

Since when is it a federal matter to ensure that Company Foo, which has a monopoly on Product Bar, cannot be successful in any other product? In fighting for the rule of law, you have to consider whether the spirit or letter of the law is more important. So long as they publish the APIs they use to create applications (which they don't, but that's not why Google's bitching, really), let them bundle whatever the hell they want. The federal government should not be their marketing board.

Boo f***ing hoo (-1, Flamebait)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476865)

Google has complained that Microsoft's new operating system puts it, and other rivals, at a disadvantage. Google said that Vista makes it harder for consumers to use non-Microsoft versions of a desktop search function, which enables users to search the contents of their hard drives.


Boo f***ing hoo. If I'm a consumer, I don't want to have to download Google's ad-loaded, phone-home bloatware just to look for files on my computer.

Re:Boo f***ing hoo (3, Informative)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476893)

You don't have to. But if you wanted the choice it would be unfeasible for you. You are missing the overreaching concern. It isn't about what you in particular want but about choices for everyone in the context of a monopoly.

Re:Boo f***ing hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476953)

That's Right! If I want to use Microsoft's ad-loaded, phone home bloatware instead, that's my right!

Devil's Advocate (0, Troll)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476881)

Google said that Vista makes it harder for consumers to use non-Microsoft versions of a desktop search function, which enables users to search the contents of their hard drives So Vista is making it hard for others to supplant Vista's OWN installed file explorer to search its OWN hard drive. Everything I learned I learned in kindergarten... If a kid didn't play fair with you, did you run and bitch to your parents every minute of the day, or did you eventually learn not to play with the kid. Let's be realistic here, and I'm far from a Windows zealot (I used Open|Dragon|FreeBSD, Linux and Solaris mainly), It's MS' own system. They wrote it to their specifications. If they wrote it in such fashion for themselves, why complain about it. These laws, complaints are so out of hand everytime I see a new one I envision two billionaire brats racing Enzo Ferarris down a highway... Then both calling the same Ferrari dealer crying "I need it faster..." Onto re-racing and re-moaning "I need it faster". Software makers need to grow up.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477277)

If what you were describing was the whole case I would aggree. However microsoft is also requiring that you have installed and running microsoft desktop search so that you can perform searches in other microsoft products. With them tieing in thier Operating system search with other products they are requiring that you use that product if you want to use the functionality of non-OS products.
Since I want to beable to search while inside Office 2007 I have to have microsoft desktop search installed and running. Now if I want to use another product for desktop searching I still have to have microsoft's operating system product running just to use the functionality of a non-OS product.
With that being the case it now becomes a factor because microsoft has a monopoly, good for them, but as part of having the monopoly they cannot use that monopoly to get a monopoly in another area. With the way they are handeling the search from a layman perspective it looks like they are tring to do that.

Re:Devil's Advocate (2, Insightful)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477509)

If a kid didn't play fair with you, did you run and bitch to your parents every minute of the day, or did you eventually learn not to play with the kid.
What if the kid owned over 90% of all the toys in the playground and only let you play with the crappy blocks unless you were his friend?

fair (0, Troll)

vx922 (1108955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476887)

O NOES MS is not playing fair....tell us something we dont know

Wrong issue (4, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476897)

I'd rather see the AG's go after Microsoft for their anti-Linux patent FUD. The DOJ is completely asleep at the wheel (or bought off) on this issue. Maybe the EU will do something about it.

Re:Wrong issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19476969)

The thing about it is it is a SERVICE that can be disabled. Googles installer can be made to turn the service off as well. It is pure FUD designed to get the Microsoft haters in a huff and calling foul.

Re:Wrong issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477379)

> The DOJ is completely asleep at the wheel (or bought off) on this issue.

So, do you know anyone who would have the $$$ it would take to buy them off? ;)

In other news . . . (1)

surferelf (769316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476977)

. . . dog bites man.

Download a Search Program? (1)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477015)

I have never needed this functionality, so I'm not sure it even exists. Anyone know if it's possible to download a stand-alone program (i.e. not made by MS, and not part of the OS) that will search for files on your HDD. If so, does it actually do anything better/faster than the built-in one, for the extra space and (possibly) bloat?

I don't know what Google could be complaining about. If it's possible to search files on your hard drive via an installed program, all they have to do is advertise to people (easy, given their brand recognition) and create a better/faster file search engine than the one built into Vista.

Re:Download a Search Program? (1)

Drive42 (444835) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477123)

slocate?

How in hell? (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477023)

I have developed an internal utility for searching and indexing our files in a Vista/XP network with no probems? Do we have special MS treatment? Nope.

Is it any easier to replace Apple's search? (3, Insightful)

Gilatrout (694977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477059)

My problem with this is not if it actually easier or not to replace Apples search, but the entire presumption that a company cannot put x feature into y product becuase it's hard for someone else. If MSFT wants to put in a search to be competative with APPL, then by all means they have that right, and they are IMO under no obligation to make it simple to replace. What they are obligated to do is allow 3rd parties to develop and install alternatives. The customer can then choose which implementation is better. This choice in no way requires that one implementation must not be coexist with the other.

Re:Is it any easier to replace Apple's search? (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477727)

Antitrust 101: Apple is not a monopolist and therefore not blocked from selling you product A's related product B bundled without also giving the possibility to buy product A alone.

Re:Is it any easier to replace Apple's search? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477773)

Not exactly. What you forget is that Microsoft is a monopoly. Monopolists must play by a different set of rules. Saying that they can do anything to compete no longer applies once they have a monopoly status. Simply by bundling and make it hard for customers to choose the alternative is an abuse of the monopoly status. You cannot raise the barrier of entry nor grab competitors' marketshare using your dominance. For example, Microsoft did not prevent Netscape from developing a browser but they were guilty nonetheless because they bundled IE to a monopoly product, Windows, and made it nearly impossible to remove in order to grab marketshare from Netscape.

OTOH, file searching feature is closely related to a computer operating system, so the case is murkier than the browser war or media player case. However, Microsoft wasn't really in that market with XP. XP provides a barebone file searching feature and Google stepped in to fill in the need. So, Microsoft's action could be seen as trying to grab marketshare back from Google. It's not a clear cut case, but I've got to side with Google on this one.

Why is it (2, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477105)

That every antitrust story is tagged politics but never crime?

A curious clue to contemporary American thought patterns?

Re:Why is it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477225)

That every antitrust story is tagged politics but never crime?

A curious clue to contemporary American thought patterns?
Contemporary American thought patterns related to accuracy, you mean? This is being investigated as a civil matter, not a criminal one.

(My other pet peeve is the "convicted monopolist" label - they weren't convicted. They weren't even indicted. They were found civilly liable for anti-trust violations.)

How is it harder? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477149)

Just having it available makes it harder? Please. If google really makes a great desktop search product, people will go out of their way to use it, just like people go out of their way to use FF.

Here we go again (1)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477207)

s/Netscape/Google/g
s/1997/2007/g
s/Web Browser/Desktop Search/g

I don't understand the complaint (3, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477245)

Should TCP/IP stack vendors also complain that Microsoft includes a TCP/IP stack in Vista? Yes there was a time when a TCP/IP stack was a separate product that had to be purchased, even on unix systems.

What's ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477249)

is that Google Desktop came bundled with my new Vista machine...

Lame (2, Insightful)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477265)

I really hope that this case doesn't get taken to the heights of Microsoft's anti-trust suits did because it's really not worth it...

Mac OS X includes desktop-wide search functions. I am not sure as to how difficult they are to "turn off," but it comes with the OS to provide ease of use for the user instead of having to find third-party utilities to do the same job as Windows users of the past have had to.

Now, Microsoft decides to include desktop searching functions as well. If I am not mistaken, these functions can be turned off, but that does not matter. Google is then planning to sue Microsoft for unfair competition because their Desktop Search Application is no longer useful?

If Google's primary argument in this case is that the integrated desktop search is too difficult to turn off, they better have pretty good lawyesr that can establish a clear and persuasive definition of what it means to "turn off" something. I'm pretty sure that if Google truly wanted to, they could establish an option within their own program (or set a default option) to turn off the Windows searching mechanism. There are also plenty of instructions that could be written to turn off the searching ability. I could go on with this, but the point here is that this main argument is a weak one that will get them nowhere even before the gavel hits the desk.

Google has a ton of applications that are universally useful; why must they target something that MIcrosoft finally got right?

Leopard Doesn't Change Its Spots (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477275)

OK, leopards do change their spots, but they're still irresistable killing machines. And Microsoft has played possum a while, but it's still a monopoly.

I wonder if this kind of complaint will ever result in the Federal government officially finding Microsoft an abusive monopoly that must be corrected.

Where's Tarzan when we need him?

Where does the OS begin? (3, Funny)

nootron (935356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477287)

Ok, IE integration I can see being a problem. But searching files? Isn't this a core feature of an OS? Whats next, suing MS because Windows allows one to store files? Or maybe Maxtor can sue MS because Windows allows you to format hard drives?

Google turning evil (2, Insightful)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477297)

Frankly, I don't blame MS for locking up the kernel. We all wanted that right? Security, remember that? At the same time as Google has grown it has shown all the earmarks of becoming what they said they wouldn't be, and it started with the desktop search. Now they are being accused of poor privacy protection, collaborating with censors...

I don't want google or yahoo or anyone else searching my hard drive.

Re:Google turning evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477351)

dont install them then, its not like they can abuse an OS monopoly to force their brand of search on you...

Rigggghhhhhtttt... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477321)

"Microsoft May Be Investigated By Attorneys General"

At least until the AG's new retirement villa clears escrow.

Tide turns against google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477349)

Does anyone else feel the tide turning against Google? Maybe it is just me..

"Look at MS. They are worse than us! Look over there, not here!"

Take away privacy and you take away some part of human dignity. While not a fan of MS, perhaps they should clothe themselves in the purple of security and privacy while providing innovation (by defending its 'supposedly' safer OS while trying to provide useful features like desktop search), while labeling Google as the (rightful) King of datamining and insecurity and obviously unwilling to work with the security measures of Vista.

Of all the things MS has bundled w/ windows (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477393)

a search makes sense. this isnt like the browser...

We have seen this before (3, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477409)

1) MS investigated by the AG's of several states.
2) MS taken to court by the states.
3) Federal government takes case away from states claiming federal jurisdiction. Then drops antitrust case due to pressure from executive branch.
4) MS Profits!

I guess we can drop the ??? on this one.

I don't understand... (1)

twm1010 (844737) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477507)

Why is Microsoft "obligated" to make it easier for their competitors?

Re:I don't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477663)

Because they are a monopoly.

Anti-trust (2, Interesting)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477839)

Why is Microsoft "obligated" to make it easier for their competitors?

It's simple, really. A free market is only "free" inasmuch as the consumer is in control. That is, as long as the old middle-school "supply-and-demand, build-a-better-mousetrap" balance is maintained, you have a more-or-less free market.

It has been noted throughout history that when on company achieves a stranglehold on a market, there is no competition. Corporate control of a market is much more sure than government control of a market, because a corporation doesn't have to worry about parliamentary procedure, and whatnot. They get to do what they want, when they want, without the facade of transparency and participation required by many governments.

In this case, Microsoft has a stranglehold on a market. They have used dirty tricks to maintain their stranglehold, too, such as the deals made with all PC suppliers back in the 90s, or the specific targeting of competing products, such as Lotus 123 and DR-DOS.

Consider this: if Ford purchased up all the gas stations in the US, and modified them so that Chevys couldn't fill up, and made deals with all gas-pump manufacturers and all petroleum companies to sell only to Ford, would Ford's behavior be ethical? Legal? Good for the individual (that is, consumers or citizens, whichever way you like to view yourself)?

Microsoft is in the position of Ford owning all the gas pumps.

Microsoft isn't obligated to make things easier for their competitors. They're obligated to not intentionally make things harder.

This is fucking retarded. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19477535)

OK then, so what is an OS allowed to include then? Nothing at all? Are we allowed to have a basic command line?

Why no complaints about Calculator or Notepad? Why no complaints about Hyperterminal?

Why isn't Google complaining about Linux's find?

Why doesn't X and KDE sue MS because Windows already includes a windowing system and desktop environment?

Apple is far more anti-competitive than MS? Why doesn't anyone hassle them?

This knee-jerk windows hating grows so fucking tiresome and is so transparent it is not even funny.

How about taking care of something that matters such as the obvious price fixing in the gasoline market?

Fucking democratic governments and laws - completely useless and corrupt. But oh, you get the illusion that your vote matters... wake up dipshits, you've been taken for a ride.

Re:This is fucking retarded. (3, Informative)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477711)

Why no complaints about Calculator or Notepad? Why no complaints about Hyperterminal?

Because you can easily replace them? Because Microsoft hasn't limited the ability to run other programs, such as Putty?

Why isn't Google complaining about Linux's find?

Because the GNU/Linux developers haven't intentionally hobbled Google's ability to write a search system for GNU/Linux?

Apple is far more anti-competitive than MS? Why doesn't anyone hassle them?

Uhm... how do you mean? Is Apple in a dominant position, and capable of using its dominant position to force others out of business?

This knee-jerk windows hating grows so fucking tiresome and is so transparent it is not even funny.

The thing that grows tiresome for me is watching Microsoft use the same old illegal tricks to put competitors at a disadvantage, rather than competing on merit. (The trick to a "free market" is competing on merit, not market dominance.)

How about taking care of something that matters such as the obvious price fixing in the gasoline market?

Fuck, yeah.

Fucking democratic governments and laws - completely useless and corrupt. But oh, you get the illusion that your vote matters... wake up dipshits, you've been taken for a ride.

Fuckin' A yeah!

RTFOAs (4, Insightful)

durnurd (967847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477627)

(O: Other)

While the article posted doesn't necessarily make it entirely clear what Google is complaining about, I had the sneaking suspicion that it wasn't just that a search function existed in Vista, as there has always been. So take a look at some other articles if you really want to know what the complaint is about. I found this [axcessnews.com] :

In a 50-page document Google submitted to the Court, the search provider contends that Vista's desktop search, which is separate from internet search, limits users abilities to run Google's desktop search instead. Basically, Google says Microsoft's new OS only permits users to search Microsoft compatible information, such as e-mail.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement that Microsoft Vista "violates the consent decree" and that its nearly impossible to turn off. "There is no visible way for users to choose an alternate search provider," the Google spokesman stated.

Where do you draw the line? (2, Insightful)

qweqwe321 (1097441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19477657)

At what point do you draw the line between "something that should be included in an OS" and "anti-competitive behavior"?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?