Microsoft vs European Commission: the verdict
Loses appeal but can ditch trustee oversight
Microsoft has lost its appeal against European Commission charges of anti-competitive behaviour.
Bo Vesterdorf the softly spoken retiring judge of the Court of First Instance led the judges into the Luxembourg courtroom and invited everyone to sit. He quickly and quietly delivered the verdict, stood and led the judges out again some six minutes later.
The Court found that Microsoft had indeed failed to supply competitors with sufficient information to allow servers to interoperate effectively. It found Microsoft failed to show that these APIs were intellectual property or that giving them away would have a negative impact on its ability to innovate.
On the bundling of Windows Media Player with its operating system the Court of First Instance again upheld the Commission's stance. It ruled that Microsoft had not shown justification for bundling its Media Player to original equipment manufacturers.
Following the original decision Microsoft had to agree to the imposition of a trustee to oversee the company and check it was complying with court demands. A short list was drawn up and Professor Neil Barrett appointed. But the Court of First Instance ruled that this was an obligation too far. Therefore the court annuled the imposition of a trustee.
On the issue of the €497m fine the Court ruled that the Commission was justified in "assessing the gravity and duration of the infringement and did not err in setting the fine".
Microsoft has two months to appeal the decision based on a point of law.®
QuickTime != QuickTime Player
Just a small point of pedantry. QuickTime is a multimedia 'layer' supported by dozens of multimedia tools and players. It can be closely compared to 'DirectX' on Windows.
In theory you can boot Mac OSX without QuickTime, but there's no 'QuickTime uninstaller', and even if you could manage to remove every trace of QuickTime from the system, I doubt you'd be able to run very many multimedia programs, since it is required for almost all multimedia functionality on the Mac.
QuickTime *Player* is Apple's lightweight player application for QuickTime-legible media. It's just a GUI wrapper around some (but by no means all) of the QuickTime API. Apple has been very careful not to add too many features to their player because they've wanted to encourage 3rd parties to develop QuickTime-based tools, and even 'competing' multimedia players like VLC and mPlayer.
Compare with iTunes, which is Apple's heavyweight jukebox app, also built around QuickTime, and designed partly as a 'gateway drug' to the iPod experience. As has been pointed out, Apple is starting to get into trouble in various countries for abusing its near-monopoly in the handheld-music-player market, but iTunes does not leverage the iPod 'monopoly' as much as the proprietary codecs used by the iPod, which 'force' you to use Apple's players.
Then again, anyone buying DRM-encumbered music is basically saying to the seller "shaft me now, hard, and repeatedly". Most iPod users I know get their music from ripped CDs and (ahem) other sources.
Pretty simple for M$ and @pple to be safe from the EU crap.
On the installer, just let us choose what we want by unticking boxes (e.g. WMP and Windows Messenger).
There, job done.
Wheres the problem in anyone doing that on an installer is beyond me. So far I have to edit the installer myself before installing it on (other) machines.
Apple's stuff is replaceable
Sure Apple bundles stuff, but it's all done using open APIs and pretty much every piece of it is completely replaceable. Hell, most of the OS is open source anyway. No anticompetitiveness lurking in there.
You can run different browsers on Windows, but now try replacing the internet explorer control (as used in things like Outlook 2003 to render HTML) with firefox. Well, I'll save you the bother - you can't. Apple's webkit is way more flexible, and again, it's all open source (it's probably running on your Nokia phone by now). There's nothing preventing anyone from rolling their own renderer and installing it in place of webkit (though they'd be dumb to do so as WebKit is such a great bit of software!). Most of the OS works that way, with a few exceptions for things like Quartz which remain closed.