M$ successfully persuaded OEMs to install that other OS instead of GNU/Linux on netbooks, for a time. The chickens are coming home to roost. The demand for high-priced netbooks with that other OS is drying up and OEMs and their outsourcing partners are having to reduce prices to keep up volume. That will eventually undo the lock-in. Consumers can already buy no OS netbooks. Soon they will be able to buy GNU/Linux netbooks aplenty. There is no other way to reduce the price further than by cutting out M$. Mainstream netbook makers like Acer are down to $199. If they want to keep up volume and increase margins they will have to skip that other OS soon.
A decent article on “Why Linux is More Secure…” makes a number of good points but misses a big one: GNU/Linux is not created to promote nor enrich a single corporation. That makes the software simpler and easier to develop and to debug. TFA does mention “monoculture”, the tendency to have many PCs all running the same version of the same OS giving greater benefit to malware by giving a bigger target, more machines infected for the same programming effort. However TFA does not mention the monoculture of M$. Every employee of M$ is dedicated to solidifying and enriching the monopoly before any consideration of price/performance for the consumer. That priority given to making money for the monopoly overrides concern for security. We have seen that repeatedly when unsound practices were copied from earlier releases for reasons of “backwards compatibility”.
GNU/Linux is a meritocracy. Everyone works to make the best system possible and security is always kept in view. An insecure system, no matter how pretty or feature-full has little merit. Check out http://www.debian.org to see what it’s about.
Actually there is no such case but the FTC does appear to take consumers into consideration…
“Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz will be joined by Bureau of Competition Director Richard Feinstein at FTC Headquarters on Wednesday, August 4, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. ET to detail the terms of the Commission’s order settling charges that Intel Corporation used anticompetitive tactics that stifled innovation and harmed consumers in the market for computer microprocessors, graphics processing units, and chipsets. The FTC’s complaint, filed in December 2009, charged Intel with waging a systematic campaign to shut out rivals’ competing microchips by cutting off their access to the marketplace, and harming consumers.”
We shall see. Is a fine to be levied or will steps be taken to undo the real harm done by Intel to consumers? Tune in later to see.
What bugs me about government regulation of monopolists is that while after a decade or so of investigation, complaints and courts, the consumer is usually left out of the picture and the monopoly gets to keep its ill-gotten gains by paying off the government and other businesses. Previously Intel paid AMD to go away instead of compensating them for the many years when major portions of the market were closed for no other reason than that Intel bribed OEMs to avoid AMD. Who knows how much AMD’s business could have grown in those years? Who knows how much lower the price of computing per MIPS might have declined in those years? Who knows how much Moore’s Law might have accelerated? We will never know because history cannot be undone. So, crime pays.
UPDATE “Under the settlement, Intel will be prohibited from:
- conditioning benefits to computer makers in exchange for their promise to buy chips from Intel exclusively or to refuse to buy chips from others; and
- retaliating against computer makers if they do business with non-Intel suppliers by withholding benefits from them.
In addition, the FTC settlement order will require Intel to:
- modify its intellectual property agreements with AMD, Nvidia, and Via so that those companies have more freedom to consider mergers or joint ventures with other companies, without the threat of being sued by Intel for patent infringement;
- offer to extend Via’s x86 licensing agreement for five years beyond the current agreement, which expires in 2013;
- maintain a key interface, known as the PCI Express Bus, for at least six years in a way that will not limit the performance of graphics processing chips. These assurances will provide incentives to manufacturers of complementary, and potentially competitive, products to Intel’s CPUs to continue to innovate; and
- disclose to software developers that Intel computer compilers discriminate between Intel chips and non-Intel chips, and that they may not register all the features of non-Intel chips. Intel also will have to reimburse all software vendors who want to recompile their software using a non-Intel compiler.
I do not see anything there that will undo the harm done already but it may level the playing field in the future.
UPDATE – The settlement has some escape clauses that I am sure Intel will be able to drive trucks through. For example, Intel can continue to make a limited number of exclusive deals as long as they are no longer than required to make a reasonable return on investment (and a long list of other constraints too numerous to parse…). That sounds to me as though the FTC is only squashing the practice for established products. How does that prevent future anti-competitive acts? I do not think that it does but it may just make Intel more creative in finding ways to mess with the competition.
The entire settlement is here.