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Mar 25

Water under the bridge…

2004 at 04.45 am posted by Veerle Pieters

As you may have heard, yesterday Microsoft got fined $613 Million/497 Million Euro by European Union. Media Player is the center of all this.

“Consumers ought to be able to choose their media player, not Microsoft,” Mr. Monti said at the news conference. “Media Player is a separate product. There is a separate demand for media players.”

According to the ruling Microsoft now has to make two different versions of its Windows operating system, one with the player and one without in Europe.

Windows Media 9 Series This is all water under the bridge and will change nothing in my humble opinion. Let’s assume for arguments sake that Microsoft will comply and that there will be two versions of Windows, how will those customers choose do you think if they see on the box “movie player included” or “not able to play movies”. That’s easy the one with the player. It’s a bit like going to a garage and buying a car without seats.

Do you honestly think that the store clerk will help people in understanding that there are other players out there, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. Most of those stores don’t know what they are talking about. Perfect proof of that was the story that was on Canvas (Belgian TV) yesterday about this Microsoft thing. The guy of the store mentioned that you have to pay for the other players on the market if you want to create movies with it. But these players are for free and are just to “play” movies not to “create” any, huh ? You can’t create movies with any free version, including Windows Media Player last time I checked (unless I’m a Windows idiot?).

Microsoft has a huge cash pile so this fine is only peanuts for them and as we all know this will go to court in Luxembourg. Most analists think that the court case could last from 4 to 7 years. End conclusion, just as the case in the States this will change nothing. Microsoft also needs this delay because of there plans to launch a Windows Music Store where Media Player will play an essential role.

Information is the key factor here and that’s where Apple also fails sometimes. Most potential new buyers haven’t got any clue that there is an alternative to Windows. In fact I would go even further, some people don’t even understand the difference between office and Windows. I’ve experienced this in real life when testing a cd-rom for a client and there was going something wrong on their PC. I asked which version of Windows are you running and the reply was Office!!!.

Apple and the Linux manufactures haven’t got the cash pile to advertise and make buyers aware that there is more out there. And that’s just where the strength of Microsoft lies they can afford pretty much everything. Sad but true.




permalink this comment travis Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05.27 am

Sadly, I believe you’re correct.  Microsoft is all but incorrigible.  Their deep pockets and almost complete market domination make them mostly immune to this type of regulations and fines.

They are a very savvy company, and they know how to play the legal and political games extremely well.  On top of that, as you mentioned, they can easily market the stripped down version as less capable, and most consumers will opt for the version that includes WMP.



permalink this comment Jezter Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 05.27 am

“Most potential new buyers haven’t got any clue that there is an alternative to Windows.”

“Apple and the Linux manufactures haven’t got the cash pile to advertise and make buyers aware that there is more out there.”

That’s why I love the “get firefox” button on the left. ;-)



permalink this comment Benjamin Thu Mar 25, 2004 at 08.14 am

I wonder which stores will sell the version without WMP? No-one will buy it, so it will be just sitting there.

I also believe that those who are aware of the choice in media players, use the one they like, not the one that comes with their OS. Personally I prefer BSplayer.



permalink this comment Tomas Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 09.16 am

You’re right. Which makes Microsoft right: the customers do want the media player to be included with Windows.



permalink this comment Chris Beach Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 11.47 am

I think it’s entirely fair for Microsoft to bundle a media player with their OS. At no point have they tied people to using this. It’s never been difficult to simply install Winamp over the top. Upon doing this, the default player for mp3, wav etc is no longer Media Player.

I am sure if unix/linux ever released a viable end-to-end desktop solution it would come with some media player already installed. And why not? It’s just a ‘value-added’ kick-start for the out-of-the-box experience.

If you think Microsoft’s value added tools are anti-comptetive / sinister or whatever then you need to take a step back and consider the bigger picture. It’s sad that people like you criticise the company that brought desktop computing to the masses. Microsoft has done a lot for computer science. Too many people forget about that, and concentrate on sensationalist ankle-biting. Geeks and conspiracy-theorists look narrow-minded and sheep-like when they criticise the firm in techy blogs such as this.



permalink this comment Veerle Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 12.06 pm

@Chris: You’re completely missing the point here. Microsoft doesn’t get punished because they bundle Windows Media Player but because they make it almost impossible for others like Real, QuickTime etc to compete by disallowing them to come bundled with the Windows operating system. So people aren’t aware that these players exist. Not all users know WinAmp and most of them stick to what came with their PC, so that’s unfair competition.

Microsoft brought many other things to the masses too like security leaks, viruses etc. They aren’t the leader that you think they are, in fact they always have a wait and see attitude and when others like Apple for example tested a new thing they follow when proven successful. Microsoft has never been an industry leader when it comes to innovating that’s the sad truth. They have it easy because of their monopoly



permalink this comment Chris Beach Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 12.19 pm

Veerle, firstly thanks for the speedy response!

I’m curious about your comments on rival media players. Why should Microsoft bundle anyone else’s entertainment software with their own product unless it’s in their own best interests? I feel no need to buy an OS burdened with a bunch of rival media players that all do pretty much the same thing.

As for innovation, well I feel quite strongly about this issue. I won’t requote what I’ve written but if you’re interested it’s here:

Regarding the security leaks and viruses etc, this is a classic “bad science” statistical ploy used again and again to discredit MS. Because MS have such a huge market share, almost everyone uses their software. Therefore bugs are more readily discovered, and secondly, (crucially) more sensationally exposed.

The reality is that Microsoft’s automatic update tool in Windows XP is very powerful and streamlined and keeps the OS very up-to-date compared to other, more minor OS’s.

I trust an operating system that has been developed by a singular company. I have less faith in an OS that has been developed by a disparate group of open-source hobbyists. Microsoft have to take responsibility for their system. Noone is really liable if a rogue open-source programmer was to stealthily code in a back-door into Linux or Mozilla, for example. Don’t get me wrong - I know the open-source concept has the best intentions. It’s just it smacks of the early days of communism and we all know the ending to that sorry story.

This is classic liberals-vs-corporation debate..



permalink this comment Veerle Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 01.01 pm

@You got to be joking aren’t you? Microsoft is the only company that gets away with the fact that other companies lose money because of the fact that Microsoft can’t build a secure system. If this would happen in any other sector the company responsible should be out of business in no time but for Microsoft it’s good practice. Market share has nothing to do with it, it just so easy to write a virus for Windows that a small kid can do it. In the open source world these kind of things are not that easy. Take Apple for example if a hacker would succeed in hacking Mac OS X then this would give him/here fame because that task would be very difficult to achieve. There is no publicity in hacking MS, it’s business as usual. I would recommend reading this article if I we’re you.

Microsoft needs months to fix things. In contrast the security leak that was discovered last week in the mozilla family was fixed in 24 hours. You need a serious a wake up call. You seen to forget that competition drives innovation and if your wish is granted and Microsoft is the only one left do you seriously think they would bother in making new stuff? I assure they won’t because they wouldn’t need it. IE is a good example it hasn’t been updated in more 5 years! Look at the music thing they will come up with a music store also and that’s only because it has been proven by Apple that the formula works if you get it right.



permalink this comment Chris Beach Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 01.48 pm

An operating system in the wrong hands is like a computer in the wrong hands, it will be open to vulnerabilities. If people will download software like Kazaa (as mentioned in the article in your link), then they deserve all that they get. John Gruber’s failure to produce any hard evidence to back up his claim that Macs are practically invulnerable. In fact some real statistics prove entirely the opposite:

What’s all this about IE not being updated in 5 years? The first release of IE6 was in October 2001!

As for writing viruses on the Mac,
Graham Cluley, Sophos’s senior technology consultant, attributed the lack of Mac viruses to a failure “to capture interest amongst the counter-culture that writes viruses.”

“It’s perfectly possible to write viruses for Apple Macs,” Cluley said. “Indeed, a Mac has no more inherent security than a PC, but virus writers appear motivated by a desire to cause widespread havoc and so have concentrated on the market leader.”

By “market leader,” he means, of course, Microsoft Windows.



permalink this comment Chris Beach Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 01.57 pm

Oh and by the way, seeing as a new IE hasn’t had to be released in years is a mark of it’s stature in the browser market. If it wasn’t such a good browser it would need more revisions! Combined with the Google toolbar (IE-only), Internet Explorer is an awesome tool, sporting a popup-blocker, form auto-filler and tight integration with the Google search engine. That’s something that Mozilla/Opera/Konqueror etc etc simply don’t have. I have used Mozilla and Opera and found them to be far less stable than IE6.

When IE7 comes out I believe it will completely crush the competition.



permalink this comment Veerle Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 02.28 pm

There is no popup blocker standard in IE6 unless you are a developer and have access to service pack 2. SP 2 isn’t released to the public, so IE has no popup blocker standard, get your facts straight. FireFox has a google search field also. And about security on Mac that article make me laugh. I can safely say that my machine is virus free and has no security leaks and that without any help from software like Norton, ZoneAlarm etc. Try that on your PC!

And as I said before 25 million users is a more then enough to cause a stir. If you had brains you should have know that a firm like Sophos’s that makes money by Windows’ failure it would never admit that an other OS is more secure because if they do that they would starting to lose money and it is like saying well I’m not a good designer go to my colleague!

You are so blind and it’s clear that you have never used any other serious operating system. People like you really crack me up. This is really pointless and going nowhere.



permalink this comment Chris Beach Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 04.11 pm

As I said, the popup-blocker comes when IE is combined with the Google Toolbar. This excellent tool is only available for the IE platform and provides very powerful integration with the search engine. For example, after you have entered your search terms they become “buttons” in the browser. You can click each term to find occurences within the page.

If you “laughed” in the face of the statistics I provided, perhaps that would explain why you are ill-informed about the reality of security holes in all major OS’s. Your evidence for the robustness of OS X is purely annecdotal (just like the article you linked to). These vacuous claims do not stand up to any kind of scrutiny.

In particular, your accusation about Sophos (which also produces an OS X anti-virus client) is bordering on the ridiculous. It’s similar to accusing a funeral director of spreading disease and murder in order to increase his profits. At best it’s conspiracy-theorist and at worst it is offensively slanderous.

I am a software developer in an investment bank. I use unix daily. For menial server-related drudgery it is fine. As a desktop environment, no x-shell in unix or linux presents a solution as robust and pleasant to use as Windows XP. Most linux fans would agree with me there. Linux and unix make great servers, and have a very solid kernel, but Windows dominates the desktop market. After billions of dollars of UI research, MS has come up with a winning desktop environment (which is very well integrated with IE). I have also used OS X and found that to be a beautiful and rich interface, although the one-mouse-button thing is truly ridiculous!



permalink this comment Veerle Tue Jul 13, 2004 at 02.46 am

@Chris: And I laugh at that article because of the hard PROVEN REALITY that my system is VIRUS and SECURITY LEAKS free and the fact that there is no REAL WORLD prove of an infection that harmed millions of Mac users. So open your eyes. Also this article is full of FUD mainly because it counts 14 different security leaks for XP as one and it doesn’t take in account that there are 60 security holes in IE. Secunia does not seem to measure the exposure/risk level for the problems, only their nature and potential severity. Take, for example, this advisory about Mac OS X:

This advisory is for sendmail, and is marked as “extremely critical.” However, sendmail isn’t enabled by default on Mac OS X (it even says this on the advisory). Without measuring an exposure/risk dimension, which would reveal that most Mac OS X systems are not vulnerable to this problem, it comes across as much worse than it is. Since Apple has most/all services off by default, I think measuring risk/exposure would show Mac OS X to be superior in some respects; even if more of the problems on OS X are “critical”, they may only affect a very small portion of the user-base.

Third, they did not include reports from any additional components that come installed with the OSes, such as web browsers. For example, here’s Secunia’s page for Safari:

Here’s the page for IE 6:

Which one do YOU think is more secure? (For those of you who don’t want to follow the links, Safari has 5 advisories, none of which are above “moderately”, while IE 6 has 53 of all levels).

Given the above, I think the information presented in the article is very dubious and misleading, and in no way warrants the “sky is falling” attitude presented therein.

The fact that you mentioned the one button mouse is prove alone that you’ve never used MacOS X. It’s not because Apple ships a one button mouse that it doesn’t support a two button mouse out of the box without any driver installs. I wish you good luck with your operating system for the masses but all I can say is that I will sleep safe at night even with my Mac running without firewall, virus software etc. Try to do the same on your lovely XP box. You won’t I am sure.



permalink this comment Chris Beach Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06.04 am

Veerle, the ‘HARD PROVEN REALITY’ of your machine not getting a virus is clearly not enough to prove that Macs are invulnerable to virii.

Even after reading and agreeing with a lot of your reply, it still appears that there are security holes in OS X and Macs in general.

What’s more, if you look at the numbers, there is actually disproportionately more discovered vulnerability in the Mac system than Windows XP, when weighed up against size of user-base. Consider the statistics rather than your own experience, Veerle. Bear in mind also that Macs are used in the most part for graphic design, whereas Windows is used for all kinds of other apps.



permalink this comment Veerle Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06.42 am

@Chris: the ‘HARD PROVEN REALITY’ of your machine not getting a virus is clearly not enough to prove that Macs are invulnerable to virii.
I never said Macs we’re invulnerable to viruses I only said that as of this moment Macs are virus free. And btw it’s not ONLY my machine but that of 25 million of others, so that’s real proof in my book.

And about the security holes, yes they exist by not in any way that someone could take over your computer and do all kind of things that would affect millions of people. Apple has also more control then Microsoft over their OS and they closes holes very fast. Another fact is that Mac users don’t take the amount of shit that PC users take for granted. If Apple would screw things up they would be out of business in no time. Tolerance is the key factor here!

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