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Microsoft ready to comply if appeal is lost

By Per Hansson · 18 replies
Sep 27, 2004
  1. Microsoft has said that they are willing to release a version of Windows to the European market if they loose their antitrust case against the EU.

    This is pretty good news, as it might now be possible to yet again start up the case which Microsoft won about Internet Explorer and it's bundling with Windows. Thanks Mictlantecuhtli for the link.
  2. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Now that is what I call good news...

    Too bad it's not sure if it'll come to pass... A cut down verison of XP might be a very nice thing indeed!
  3. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    What is so good about a cut down version of windows xp?

    What would be the advantage for the average consumer?

    I certainly wouldn't buy it, or run it. Any takers here on TechSpot?

    As it stands, consumers still have a choice to add their own browser (I did - Opera7) and media players (I use Quicktime, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player) if they don't like the versions supplied with windows. Imagine having to part with extra money just to make your OS complete. For the technically challenged, or those without broadband, this would be a very bad move indeed. Imagine Microsoft having to cater for all the possible permutations/implementations of such software if supplied but other vendors. It would severely limit the development of good software because features would be missing and developers would have to code for the lowest common denominator.

    We all want powerful easy to use software, and in this respect having commonly used items supplied as part of the OS is the best way to ensure everyone is running to a minimum standard. It also means that Microsoft can produce better software that integrates and builds on all the various features. This is something that isn't possible with bolt-on solutions. How can you innovate if you are waiting for others to catch up? I don't think the EU has thought this through.

    Cheaper software is something I am in favour of, but removing essential features is not something I'd be too happy about. Oh, and lets not forget that with IE and Windows Media Player, we don't get bombarded with spyware or adware as we do when installing other third party software.
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    So what was that talk about WMP being "impossible" to remove from Windows?


    So you are free to choose as long as you go through blazing hoops. This is the sort of freedom that lets you vote for the non communist party if you go and ask the friendly soldier for a special piece of paper to do that.

    The "cut down" version would lack only the Media Player - no big loss at all. Most useful media players are free.

    The fact that WMP would not be supplied with XP will mean that the system builders would have to put media players on the systems they ship. And this is where Real and Apple and who knows who have the chance to offer their players to be bundled with systems.

    You are also forgetting that most people have no clue about computers or programs and things. They just eat what is spoon-fed to them.

    And the only reason for WMP to be "integrated" better into Windows is because they are made by the same company who does not release any API information and forces all competition to reverse engineer all advanced features of its operating system.

    Oh and lets not forget that IE is the #1 thing that lets spyware onto our computers. And as we are so keen on "eat what you get" we shouldn't use any spyware cleaners and antiviruses either..
  5. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549


    It isn't so much that Windows Media Player is *impossible* to remove from windows, but that it would leave a hole in the OS that is currently used by various other software/features.

    As regards media players, there are many software companies that embed media player in their applications, and these can include companies that supply educational software.

    While it is true that these companies can supply the necessary media players with their software if required, it isn't so good when you need to be sure that the same madia player is installed in various locations (e.g. when setting up video conferencing, etc.).

    Also, smaller software companies can write their software knowing that windows media player will be available on the target PC

    Windows Media Player has its own API with all the features required by most developers, therefore it is easy to develop software for, and because almost all users will have it already installed, they know that their software will work correctly.

    We all know that standards are a good thing, and having a standard (widely used) media player (e.g. windows media player) on every user's PC is beneficial to all.

    Microsoft has released the full API info for Windows Media Player (there is an SDK available) and same goes for IE. What they have not released the full API for is Windows itself.

    If Microsoft were to allow windows media player and IE to be replaceable, rather than part of the OS, then how could they guarantee that all the required features and API would be included in any third party products. They couldn't. Also how can they guarantee that any required security patches are released by others, to avoid compromising users systems. Essentially they lose control of their software and now need to communicate required product changes to third parties whenever they wish to make significant feature changes required by the OS.

    How can other companies (e.g. Apple, Real) complain? Apple supplies a media player (Quicktime) with their OS, and RealPlayer is a pile of poo filled with spyware and adware, with users only choosing to use it so that they can play real media files.

    Can anyone here really say they would prefer Quicktime or RealPlayer to replace windows media player? Not me for sure, and I certainly wouldn't want to pay for the privelege either. Just imagine what life would be like with RealPlayer instead of WMP. Sorry, but no thanks.
  6. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Three things are certain: Death, taxes and Nic defending Windows®.
  7. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Thanks Mic :=).

    Besides, we wouldn't want TechSpot to become an unbalanced anti-microsoft site, now would we? ;) :blush:
  8. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    What essential or even useful features of the Windows OS absolutely depend on WMP?

    How about when I have a Windows 98 PC with WMP 6.4, a dozen of Linux PCs and an Apple? What good does WMP on another dozen of Windows XP machines do to me?
    And how about supporting some real (real, not Real) open videoconferencing standard in WMP? Or maybe MS is just too busy "integrating" that they don't have time to make their stuff compatible..

    Or they could just bundle any media player component they please..

    That's nice. Just require all developers to start using software made and licensed by Microsoft..

    Right.. All Linux and Apple users cheer!
    Especially because of the "standard" Windows Media formats that everyone loves.

    Exactly. And how am I supposed to compete with this "integrated" thing if I cannot integrate my software into the OS?

    What features required by who? And MS should think more about guaranteeing the operability of their OS, not the bells and whistles.

    They can't even guarantee releasing their own patches. And there are more vulnerabilities in WMP than other players. And since most all PCs have WMP on them and integrated tightly with the OS it is so easy to develop and use exploits.

    So you think MS should have control even over non-MS software?
    I can run Windows Media Player 6 on Windows 2003 - I guess the OS doesn't have any added features since Windows 95..

    Apple or Real do not control some 95% of the PC market. At least people are choosing RealPlayer, not having it shoved down their throats. And doesn't WMP kindly offer you ads and send information out "to help content providers"?

    I think everyone has to have a choice. If WMP is so excellent then surely it can fare against the competition without some behemoth backing it up and smashing any opposition with money coffers.
  9. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    To me with or without WMP is not a very big deal. I m sure there will be tonnes of good free players will emerge to replace WMP if the integration part is taken off.

    What I like to see in an OS is efficient resource management and good security. WMP is a secondary thing.
  10. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Thank you Nodsu!

    I've been too busy with some papers I had to complete to answer this post, so it was nice to see someone else stepping up to the task (and doing a better job of it than I probably would've done).

    Though there are a couple of points I'd just like to emphasis some more.

    When I buy an Operating System, I want just that (a program to operate my system), not a program that tries to (inadequately) do everything I use my system for.

    That means a program without all the extra "frills" I have no need for, and actually causes security problems instead.

    As has been pointed out, we would've been shocked if you did... :D

    I don't just want to add I want to remove!
    Why should I be stuck with a POS browser or media player, if I don't want to use them?

    Sure, I can add another browser and media player, but I'm still vulnerable to exploits for the integrated versions since I can not remove them.

    Imagine using a free program? How much do you have to pay for Opera, Mozilla (/Netscape/FireFox/...)?
    Or DivX player (which supports most formats)? Or any of the other freeware/opensource programs available?

    But if you're technically challenged, would you build your own computer from scratch? Nah, you'd buy pre-built (Dell, Gateway, Compaq etc), which would either give you a specialized setup where you choose what Browser, Media player, email client etc. to use, or select their standard package (which the computer maker would be free to create and add unlike now).

    Ok, so you don't have broadband... How are you ever going to get all the security patches for your integrated software that leaves your system open to anyone?

    Oops, I guess you're in trouble no matter what aren't you? Nah, I forgot that most technically challenged without broadband has no clue that their system is open to world+dog, and that they open every email with "I love you" in the subject field....
    So in fact, it would be better if they didn't have 2 security holes integrated into the system from the start...
    Then whatever they'd choose to use for email and inet browsing would be a bit more secure than it would otherwise...

    Why would MS have to cater for all the (im)possible permutations that would crop up?
    Are the programmers/support dept.s of other companies so bad that they can not do that themselves?
    Since when did MS get the exclusive deal on good support?

    I would (as you probably expect by now) argue the opposite that we'd see much more good software on the market, because the software would be written from the ground up with quality in mind, and not "how can I take over more of the computer software market" mindset that MS seems to subscribe too...

    And that new software wouldn't be full of security holes, because if it did, people would choose to use another program instead...

    Yes, we all want powerful easy to use software. But do we all want to use windows? Or do we all want to do the same thing? Where is my MS Java IDE? Or MS 3D Studio? They can be just as "basic" for some as Media Player is for you...
    Or what about Excel? Or Word? Those are commonly used programs, which according to what you say should be included in the OS... Or?

    Ah, yes. They could then add in even more "basic features" and build on all the bugs they have from previous versions...
    Take a look PowerDVD, WinDVD, WinAmp or any other popular media player. How many security fixes are released for them every year? Compare that number to how many are released for for Media Player and tell me, where is this wonderful software that you describe?

    MS has been allowed to integrate both media player and IE for several versions so far, and I've still to be convinced that either of them are secure, not to mention has as good a feature set as other competing solutions!

    You're right! MS should stop developing DX until all game devs are using the latest version, and ATI, Nvidia, S3 and XGI has gotten all the feature set working at similar speeds!
    Or... That doesn't make any sense. Why can't you innovate? Just because you're program would be more advanced than any other doesn't mean you have to wait until they catch up with you before continuing. If it had been the case, the "computer revolution" would never have gotten as far as it has today.

    Competition is a good thing!
    Ditto. ;) :D

    But who get's to decided what is essential features?
    And what companies are to give up their products because MS wants to take over that segment...
    You'd always be able to download it freely from MS if you wanted it back.

    That is the whole point. IF you want to use it, you can. But you won't be forced to do so!

    That might be true (see Nodsu's post), but it does give us the need to download all those lovely security patches and still let us run insecure systems.

    Now let's weigh those two agains eachother:
    • (Possibly) no adware or spyware
    • Need to download many security updates
    • Still not secure from virus or general exploits

    Doesn't make it a hard choice does it?

    I dunno... A healthier market with more and better products to choose from? A more secure OS which are less likely to give away your credit information?

    Now, with that I should be done with my ranting... For now at least ;)

    Quotations fixed
  11. Crazy

    Crazy TS Rookie Posts: 139

    There should idd be an option to remove it completly. And during the setup the option not to install it.
    But standard it should still be installed, for 1 simple reason tbh.

    80% of the computer user can barly make a new folder, how do you expect them to be able to pick the correct third party software and install it correctly.

    Microsoft is an easy to use OS and that is what ppl want.
    As for the security isues, thats something you'll have to take with it if you use windows.

    For the ppl that can work with computers everything should be optional, but for the most users things like WMP should still be installed.

    If you take a look on what other players there are, WMP is still the easiest to use. To play video files I use it all the time, I don't like quicktime and real player even less, and using winamp for video files....(never been good for video).
    Only third party player that works like i want it to is DivX Player.

    Microsoft should make things like WMP, IE ect optional. That way for ppl that don't use it allot of security isues can be resolved.
    Ppl want an OS that is as user friendly as windows, i can't see my sister or mother working with linux or any other OS.

    Just my 2 cents
  12. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    If you buy a computer from a shop with Windows preinstalled (as all the less skilled users do) then noone will be asking them to install anything. The point is that computer vendors will be installing the media players on the computers they sell.
  13. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Maybe some of those other media player developers should produce something worth installing, then they wouldn't have to worry about WMP.

    I don't understand why some here are so concerned about having WMP included in windows. Why are we supporting RealPlayer or Quicktime? Surely, as consumers we want what is best for us?

    I certainly don't want RealPlayer (spyware/adware), nor Apple Quicktime on my *Windows* PC. Why would a windows user want to support Real, or Apple? You don't see Microsoft demanding Apple install WMP as part of OS-X?

    These companies should give it a rest and work on tempting users with good software, rather than screaming foul play, after all Microsoft doesn't make any money on WMP because it supplies for FREE. They don't force anyone to use it. I'm sure if you asked users which player they would prefer to have installed, most would choose WMP.

    How can it be better to have a vendor decide what you should have instead? Many ready built PCs do come equiped with other mdia players, such as Power DVD, and Quicktime, though not normally RealPlayer.

    Just as well, because RealPlayer is probably the most hated player available, and will install a ton of spyware and adware on your PC, and constantly pop up reminders to get you to upgrade.

    So why are we supporting Real and its attempts to have Microsoft remove WMP from windows? No way, Jose.
  14. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Nic> we both agree in that we think RealPlayer is a POS! And I don't want MS to bundle RealPlayer or any other MediaPlayer with their OS. I simply want them to give me an OS which is just a platform and allow me to choose what else to use on it...

    Indeed, and what is better than a healthy market with several options to choose from?

    If people chose to use WMP because it's the best player on the market, then they should be able to do that. And if they want to use another player instead, they should be able to do that. But as long as WMP is bundled with Windows they won't need to make the choice of what media player to use, and thus there is no (real) market.
    That is what I'm arguing about, not that people should be forced to use RealPlayer, nor that MS should be forced to bundle QuickTime.

    Capitalism is a good thing, but only as long as the market stays healthy. And using your 90%+ marketshare as leverage for your products is not a good thing, as it removes competition from the market.

    Do you see what I'm getting at?
  15. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    MrGaribaldi> I do understand what you are getting at, and if WMP was a POS, then I would gladly have it removed from windows. I agree that competition is good for consumers, but removing WMP from windows would not improve competition because Microsoft would still give it away for FREE! Then we'll all be crying foul because how can other manufacturer's compete with a FREE product?

    What I'd really like to see is every media file format become freely available for anyone to use, thereby preventing consumers being tied in to a particular manufacturer. That is the real issue, not WMP being supplied with windows. Both Real and Apple have their own media file formats, and they would use their market share to tie us consumers to their products, if they had the opportunity. That is no better than having WMP built into windows.

    I don't agree that there is no market for other media players, because many software developers include Apple's Quicktime player with their multimedia software, and I'll bet that a high percentage of windows PCs already have Quicktime installed even though it didn't come bundled. Every iMac sold comes with Quicktime installed, but not WMP.

    If a user doesn't want WMP, then maybe they shouldn't install windows. They can always install Linux if they prefer.

    It isn't as if Microsoft is supplying tons of FREE software applications with windows. We are only talking about two small, but essential applications, which today can be regarded as a necessity, therefore it seems reasonable to include it with the OS. If Microsoft started giving away MSOffice, or a sophisticated graphics package, then I think is the time to worry about anti-competitive behaviour. A free web browser and a media player (both essential) hardly seems to be a good reason for crying foul play (IMHO).
  16. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Maybe someone can explain how the consumer loses out if there is little competition for WMP. Do media files cost more for the consumer? No doubt there is an advantage for Microsoft and licencing, but it doesn't affect the consumer in a negative way, does it?

    Surely, having less file formats to choose from is better for consumers. Just look at the mess with VHS/Betamax/Video 2000. Also, with DVDs we have +R, -R, +RW, -RW and soon to be HD-DVD vs Blue Ray. This is BAD for consumers, not good.

    It seems to me that it is all these companies that have lots to lose/gain with competition, and competition only has negative effects for consumers, rather than benefits. This is not true in all cases, but when we are talking about FREE software, then even though it seems counter-intuitive, the benefits of competion do not seem to result in any real benefit for consumers.
  17. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Maybe by supplying a FREE product too?

    Do you think other media players lackWindows Media support only because they hate Microsoft? MS is pushing its proprietary formats just like everyone else. And they have the means to do it very ruthlessly and ignoring all good business practices.

    "many PCs" versus "all PCs" is not fair. And as for the general computer media noone could care less what the Mac users use. The fact is that Windows PCs count and that MS is pushing the world in any direction it pleases.

    That's a nice attitude. What happened to your consumer friendliness? Most people are not even aware of OSes and programs. They just click icons.

    It is more about how these programs are irreversably tied with Windows. Imagine if restaurants just poured salt and pepper on your food instead of supplying you with salt and pepper on your table.

    DRM will make meda more xpensive for the consumer for sure. And asking how a consumer loses if there is only one product to choose from... yes of course Nic monopolies are a good thing.

    If things were the MS way the only music format we had would be the Wave format. Also Windows Media formats being the only ones available would mean that everyone would have to pay royalties to MS making all independent media efforts impossible. And don't even think that MS wouldn't impose royalties on the formats it has developed - look at the FAT patent case.

    Windows Media player isn't even free per se - you have to buy Windows to use it. Could you point out the negative effects of competition please? Without Winamp and Real player we would still be stuck with WMP 6 just as we are stuck with IE6. It is exactly the competition (so far) that has made WMP what it is. (Unfortunately MS has succeeded to roll over the competition also). And this is supposedly "good" for the consumer as you have said a dozen times already.
  18. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    VHS winning over Betamax didn't lead to lack of choice or high prices for VHS tapes/players.

    Supplying IE with Windows hasn't led to the demise of other good FREE browsers.

    Supplying WMP with Windows won't lead to the demise of other good media players, but it will mean that other players will have to be very good if they wish to entice consumers to buy them.

    WMP plays many different media types, not just wma/wmv formats.

    There is nothing to stop others from producing codecs for WMP, but if Microsoft were to leave it to other suppliers to decide on which media player to supply, then there would be no guarantee that it could play wma/wmv formats.

    The negative effects of competition (in this specific case)...

    1. Spyware and adware supplied with other players.

    2. Proliferation of audio/video formats making it necessary to install a multitude of players/codecs just to play these files.

    3. Developers of multimedia products needing to cater for and licence all these various formats.

    4. Developers needing to supply media players with their applications so ensure that users can play any supplied media.

    5. The need for users to install a multitude of media players just so they can play all the different media files out there. Either that, or produce a codec for them to install and hope that they have a media player already installed.

    6. No guarantee that users will be able to play media files on their PC because they may not have a media player installed, and if they are viewing media on the web, then forcing them to download and install any media players they require.

    One final point is that I didn't say that competition is bad, just that in this particular case the consumer will lose out if Microsoft is forced to remove WMP from windows.

    Really, what should happen is that Microsoft should be forced to make it's media formats freely available for all to use (if they supply WMP with windows), rather than remove WMP from windows. WMP is a side issue and the real issue is the windows media formats it supports.
  19. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    I don't know, but I'm about to install WinAmp 5 :D
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