Microsoft's antitrust shackles taken off May 12

Thirteen years ago, Microsoft were in an intense legal battle against the US government. The Redmond software giant was accused of using its dominant position in the operating systems market in order to gain large market share in the web browser market with their flagship product, Internet Explorer.

Microsoft was said to be attempting to monopolize the web browser market by bundling IE with their operating system (Windows 98) which would cause browsers such as Netscape and Opera to lose huge amounts of market share (and perhaps even cause them to go bankrupt). For Netscape, that became a reality. However, Opera are today left with a smaller amount of market share than they could have had, if it had not been for Microsoft bundling the software together.

Microsoft fought back against the claim, demonstrating that removing Internet Explorer from Windows was not possible as it was a core component, and this would cause instability. This claim was later independently refuted by Shane Brooks who removed all references of Internet Explorer himself, and released a tool called IEradicator. 

The end result was a judge ruling that put restrictions on Microsoft that disallow the company from bundling products together to gain strategic advantages. This resulted in Microsoft releasing special versions of Windows -- Windows N -- which do not come with Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer (though these can be installed seperately).

Thirteen years later a federal judge has ruled that on May 12, 2011 the antitrust case will expire. Since 2002, U.S District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has dealt with the case and today said that "May 12 will close an important chapter in the history of antitrust law."

Stephen Houck, a representative for the California group plaintiffs said "We have proved that antitrust law, the underpinning of a free market democracy, is alive and well".

Many people have called for these antitrust ‘shackles’ to be placed on companies such as Apple for their tablet monopoly and Google for their search engine however no such lawsuit has appeared.

It appears with Windows 8 that Microsoft is making changes that were previously unprecedented as these shackles will be removed. Features such as Cloud Login would have previously faced issues, but with the court case out of the way, Microsoft is free to do as they please.

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> This resulted in Microsoft releasing special versions of Windows -- Windows N
Actually, that version arose from the European Anti-Trust trial. Likewise, Windows K (without an IM client) arose from the Korean Anti-Trust trial. The US Anti-Trust trail gave birth to an oversight committee (of 5? 7?) to monitor corporate behavior and made no OS engineering changes.

AWESOME More free stuff for users. I hate Apple Bundle everything but no one stop them while M$ can't bundle many things. Now M$ is free. Expect great things to come.

I wrote an angry letter to the EU about this very issue, I may have lied heavily during it though

I said that I didn't have Internet Access, and because of their pointless meddling, blocking Media Player and Internet Explorer, I was unable to play any of my DVD's or movie files, and was unable to view .GIF's in their animated form.

I ended the letter with a bit of an open question, asking how has their pointless meddling benefitted me in any way? All I've gotten from it is a gimped version of Windows 7. Yay freedom!

Benjy91 said,
I wrote an angry letter to the EU about this very issue, I may have lied heavily during it though

I said that I didn't have Internet Access, and because of their pointless meddling, blocking Media Player and Internet Explorer, I was unable to play any of my DVD's or movie files, and was unable to view .GIF's in their animated form.

I ended the letter with a bit of an open question, asking how has their pointless meddling benefitted me in any way? All I've gotten from it is a gimped version of Windows 7. Yay freedom!

Take a page from America's Congressional playbook: "Those statements were not meant to be taken as factual"

Opera wouldn't have had a bigger marketshare... they were charging for their browser back in the day and were very slow to get an ad supported version out..

Both IE and Netscape had no ads..

The lawsuit was actually a result of Windows 95 OSR2 which included the IE logo in the boot screen (and an enhanced desktop, like we started seeing in Win98).

I remember this because we were installing it on systems to customers back in '97

Microsoft should just halt bundling any apps other then core features and just add modular first install ballot box and core software packages to install much like linux distros and stuff have I mean it would go hand in hand with app store for first time install.

To add to that the above solution would remove the need for like 12 different editions of windows. I mean I know they like to milk the cash cow but sometimes you gotta be realistic and approach it from end user point of view.

We need an anti-trust lawsuit again Google. It's out of control!

I know all you Google fanboys will say I can still use Bing, but I can also use Mac OS or Linux.

day2die said,
We need an anti-trust lawsuit again Google. It's out of control!

I know all you Google fanboys will say I can still use Bing, but I can also use Mac OS or Linux.

Agreed; back in 1995 I chose FreeBSD, in 2001 I chose an eMac and I've been with Mac's ever since - all through my own free will.

Isn't it amazing that the only companies who complained about Microsoft had crap products; Real Networks was a festering adware malware riddled piece of crap, Netscape was an unstable pile of code that once open sourced made the open source community cry in horror, Opera as of 2011 browser is still stuck in 2005 with lack of OOP support and a tonne of sites not working properly with it let alone it performing horribly on Windows, Mac and Linux - I'm sure there are more so-called 'victims' who in reality created crap products and lost marketshare rather than because of Microsoft's so-called 'anti-competitive practices'.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

Agreed; back in 1995 I chose FreeBSD, in 2001 I chose an eMac and I've been with Mac's ever since - all through my own free will.

Isn't it amazing that the only companies who complained about Microsoft had crap products; Real Networks was a festering adware malware riddled piece of crap, Netscape was an unstable pile of code that once open sourced made the open source community cry in horror, Opera as of 2011 browser is still stuck in 2005 with lack of OOP support and a tonne of sites not working properly with it let alone it performing horribly on Windows, Mac and Linux - I'm sure there are more so-called 'victims' who in reality created crap products and lost marketshare rather than because of Microsoft's so-called 'anti-competitive practices'.

Ahh, another Opera-basher who obviously has never used Opera before. Thanks for the laugh sir, Opera still consistently loads pages faster than Chrome on every computer I've tried it on.

Good to hear. The lawsuit was ridiculous anyway. So sick of Microsoft's competition whining because they aren't good enough to compete. That's how business works: If your product can't compete, you don't whine to the government, you make a better product. Imagine if something like this happened in the auto industry. We wouldn't have any choice but GM right now.

Hate to say it but politics plays a role here. Back in the days of this Microsoft anti-trust stuff the politics of the time favored government keeping their finger on large companies. The same would happened to a Google back then or apple for their tablets, or lets say that the at&t/t-mobile merger would not have gone through back then, but due to lobbying and all the other politics of today its why its almost certain to go through. Its incredible, but very easy to understand.

Obviously the decision has been vindicated since then by the dramatic market share changes experienced both by Netscape and Opera.

Relativity_17 said,
Obviously the decision has been vindicated since then by the dramatic market share changes experienced both by Netscape and Opera.

Exactly

Amazing and about time! If another antitrust law arises against Microsoft, have Apple and Google too. "O todos peludos, o todos rabones" [Spanish]

asellus said,
So, Windows 8 will now ships with MSE then?

I doubt it. For example, you wouldn't want to go drinking and driving again after you had just been released from jail for a DUI? The same logic applies here.

computerwizkid said,

I doubt it. For example, you wouldn't want to go drinking and driving again after you had just been released from jail for a DUI? The same logic applies here.
Please inform why it'd be a problem...it's the same thing as securing the OS isn't it?

When I installed windows 7 it came with Internet explorer. Which I only used once to goto Google Chromes site and download their browser. So in my eyes it has fulfilled it's purpose.

Ently said,
When I installed windows 7 it came with Internet explorer. Which I only used once to goto Google Chromes site and download their browser. So in my eyes it has fulfilled it's purpose.

True! I think its worth the purpose. Except I would be downloading Firefox rather than Chrome :-)

AtriusNY said,
IE engine still used by the OS.

Yeah I know

It doesn't really bother me having IE in the system that's what I meant in the original post. Without it to me would actually be more annoying heh.

why should apple be forced with one for there tablets.. no one needs to buy one.. in fact you'd need to save up for one.. Google fair enough.. but i still think all of this is down to each person..

badsey said,
why should apple be forced with one for there tablets.. no one needs to buy one.. in fact you'd need to save up for one.. Google fair enough.. but i still think all of this is down to each person..

I don't think either should have "shackles" placed on them, tbh. Just because a company has the majority of the market (like Apple does with tablets atm) does not mean they are a monopoly. They would have to control the means of production and use that to prevent competition from entering the market. Microsoft kinda did this when they bundled IE with Windows.... when considering the perceived loading time difference between IE and Netscape, the fact that IE was tied directly to major components that loaded at startup with the OS gave IE and Microsoft a big advantage. They abused this power to put in place non-standard web design (which web developers had to use in order to get their web pages to people) which further established their monopoly.

badsey said,
why should apple be forced with one for there tablets.. no one needs to buy one.. in fact you'd need to save up for one.. Google fair enough.. but i still think all of this is down to each person..

Apple has a monopoly on MP3 players, and they force you to use iTunes if you have an iPod even though they could do like everyone else does and make their iPods look like USB storage devices. That's called abusing your dominant position

Aethec said,

Apple has a monopoly on MP3 players, and they force you to use iTunes if you have an iPod even though they could do like everyone else does and make their iPods look like USB storage devices. That's called abusing your dominant position

They don't have a monopoly, but they are dominating this market.

Aethec said,

Apple has a monopoly on MP3 players, and they force you to use iTunes if you have an iPod even though they could do like everyone else does and make their iPods look like USB storage devices. That's called abusing your dominant position
+1

badsey said,
why should apple be forced with one for there tablets.. no one needs to buy one.. in fact you'd need to save up for one.. Google fair enough.. but i still think all of this is down to each person..

Let's look at that -

Apple: "If you want to sell in app items that we don't host, promote, or sell, you have to pay us 30% of the sale"

Dev: "Wait what? We manage everything in app..."

Apple: "Our platform, our rules"

Yeah, Apple is not using their position at all to control the market. I have to think that when you can extort people into paying you for something they have nothing in....that is misusing your dominant position.

How is Google a monopoly? What do they force you to use or give them? Want to use Bing, go right ahead. You are no way harmed by using Bing, and no company is harmed in any way either. Google is not forcing them pay any share to them to use the platform.

Aethec said,
Apple has a monopoly on MP3 players, and they force you to use iTunes if you have an iPod even though they could do like everyone else does and make their iPods look like USB storage devices. That's called abusing your dominant position

Not doing things the same way as your competitors is NOT "abusing your dominant position".

Grah, this always gets on my nerves. Microsoft is allowed to do as they wish with THEIR product. Its the users decision whether they want to use parts of it or not. Its rather a ridiculous claim in the first place. People arnt FORCED to use WMP or IE. Its their god damn decision.

xbamaris said,
Grah, this always gets on my nerves. Microsoft is allowed to do as they wish with THEIR product. Its the users decision whether they want to use parts of it or not. Its rather a ridiculous claim in the first place. People arnt FORCED to use WMP or IE. Its their god damn decision.

You're absolutely, 100%, RIGHT! People aren't forced to use IE...I mean browsers back then should have had an option to make it a person's default browser. What kind of US Judge are we dealing with...Judge Judy or something? Complete arse/idiot she is.

xbamaris said,
Grah, this always gets on my nerves. Microsoft is allowed to do as they wish with THEIR product. Its the users decision whether they want to use parts of it or not. Its rather a ridiculous claim in the first place. People arnt FORCED to use WMP or IE. Its their god damn decision.

And really, these days it's easy enough to just go download your browser of choice right away. I've opened IE once on this computer to go get Firefox, and haven't gone back.

xbamaris said,
Grah, this always gets on my nerves. Microsoft is allowed to do as they wish with THEIR product. Its the users decision whether they want to use parts of it or not. Its rather a ridiculous claim in the first place. People arnt FORCED to use WMP or IE. Its their god damn decision.
If the public isn't aware of alternatives it will use what is there, channeling cash one way. But there's no problem with that because Windows is Microsoft's product and they should have the freedom to do what they want to.

All the more reason to look forward to Windows 8.

Xxgreatestever said,

You're absolutely, 100%, RIGHT! People aren't forced to use IE...I mean browsers back then should have had an option to make it a person's default browser. What kind of US Judge are we dealing with...Judge Judy or something? Complete arse/idiot she is.

Browsers "back then" had an option to make it the default browser. But Windows still would open web pages linked from Messenger, help files, documents and other random sources in Internet Explorer regardless of what your default web browser really was. You simply couldn't get rid of the integration.

xbamaris said,
Grah, this always gets on my nerves. Microsoft is allowed to do as they wish with THEIR product. Its the users decision whether they want to use parts of it or not. Its rather a ridiculous claim in the first place. People arnt FORCED to use WMP or IE. Its their god damn decision.

Actually there was more to it than just that - there was also the agreements with OEM's where OEM's were told they were to either to sell Windows exclusively or not have Windows at all. How about reading through 10+ years of legal briefings instead of ranting from a position of ignorance.

xbamaris said,
Grah, this always gets on my nerves. Microsoft is allowed to do as they wish with THEIR product. Its the users decision whether they want to use parts of it or not. Its rather a ridiculous claim in the first place. People arnt FORCED to use WMP or IE. Its their god damn decision.

you are right, but look at my previous post ... its the unexperienced users that use IE, because they dont know any better

people who dont care... OR KNOW about:

rendering
addons
css, html5, java
performance
ease of use


those who still use IE6(i know such people and i tell them to use Chrome or Firefox) they are making my head hurt when i hear their dramatic computer experiences: "that thing that opened things in that thing below.. but whats wrong with you computer? you dont have those things?"

smartin0115 said,

I've opened IE once on this computer to go get Firefox, and haven't gone back.


Exactly. I don't really see how the "Browser Ballot" thing would have any major effect on people who think IE is 'the internet', they'd probably stick with what they know.

Aethec said,

A troll who doesn't know the difference between Java and JavaScript? That's not even funny

LOL. Still funny to me.

Aethec said,

A troll who doesn't know the difference between Java and JavaScript? That's not even funny

do i need to know that to be successful in life?

i may be a "troll" but at least im not a geek who makes a big deal out of nothing

allwynd said,

you are right, but look at my previous post ... its the unexperienced users that use IE, because they dont know any better

people who dont care... OR KNOW about:

rendering
addons
css, html5, java
performance
ease of use


those who still use IE6(i know such people and i tell them to use Chrome or Firefox) they are making my head hurt when i hear their dramatic computer experiences: "that thing that opened things in that thing below.. but whats wrong with you computer? you dont have those things?"

You're talking past tense, we're on IE 9 which alone out performs all other browsers on the standards you just listed, I'm no IE fanboy but IE 9 speaks for itself having more standards now then the likes of firefox which had to jump up it's versioning to stay in the market.

Bringing IE 6 into todays arguments about browsers is futile and silly.

As for the person stating about IE in help files, system redirects, messenger redirects, these programs used the IE control, just like visual studio does for it's browser controls, not mostly the browser itself, the same control programs like yahoo messenger use and depend on, companies like mozilla and opera etc would need to have a control or framework on the PC for these programs to utilise it, sure you have the webkit, but only a handful use it, not microsofts fault.

Jan said,
Awesome news.

It's not really bad or good news. Microsoft got "shackled" for a reason, and the end of the ruling simply signifies that they've paid their does. Lets just hope that they continue playing nice.

Majesticmerc said,

It's not really bad or good news. Microsoft got "shackled" for a reason, and the end of the ruling simply signifies that they've paid their does. Lets just hope that they continue playing nice.

+1

bobbba said,

+1

everyone knows IE sux to an unknown extent, so its always good to see other browsers having their population for a reason, because they deserve it, while IE doesnt, they still bundle it with windows, i dont know the case for Europe, but doesnt really work

if you dont have internet, how it would download that update that asks you what browser you want to use and then navigate to it?

for some people the blue "e" is the internet, they arent even familiar with the term "browser", let alone an ALTERNATIVE one... thats waaaaay too scary, dont you think?

allwynd said,

for some people the blue "e" is the internet, they arent even familiar with the term "browser", let alone an ALTERNATIVE one... thats waaaaay too scary, dont you think?

^
This! Most of the people I deal with only know of the Blue 'E' to get on the internet, slightly sad, as it makes it hard for those to move to a better quality browser.

allwynd said,

for some people the blue "e" is the internet, they arent even familiar with the term "browser", let alone an ALTERNATIVE one... thats waaaaay too scary, dont you think?

^
This! Most of the people I deal with only know of the Blue 'E' to get on the internet, slightly sad, as it makes it hard for those to move to a better quality browser.