End of Oversight – Beginning of Blindness

US DOJ etc. have ended oversight of M$ having judged M$ to have been an upright citizen the last few months…

This ignores all the foot-dragging in the EU, the anti-competitive moves in mobile, the software-patent suits, etc.

I would bet the “dirty tricks” department has a long queue of innovative ideas for messing with competition already queued up and just requiring a signature. I expect a burst of innovation from M$ in mobile, probably along the lines of exclusive dealing although it will be called something long and flowery. I believe the mobile space is diverse enough that M$ cannot put the genie of Android/Linux back in the bottle sufficiently to gain 50% of the market, about the threshold of anti-trust. Clearly, M$ will let on that mobile is a new game and that they should be allowed to make exclusive deals just like a start-up. If they are allowed to get away with that we could possibly have a near monopoly in a few years and if that happens it will take a decade for governments to respond.

It’s Friday the 13th. I hope I am not unlucky making this forecast. With the netbook, and oversight, M$ was able to put the genie back in the bottle but that was years ago and more than 100 million users ago. They cannot revert that much human knowledge to the rubbish heap. Linux in all its forms will continue to grow being actively promoted by new folks in IT as well as old “partners” of M$. Already Apple has lost its near monopoly on smart phones. By next year Apple will lose its near monopoly on tablets. This year, M$ loses its monopoly if ARMed devices are counted. It’s not yet mid-year and we see products consisting of a docked smart phone that do everything. Next year that will be a major play and M$ will have to play catch-up on ARM even as Android and GNU/Linux invade the x86 space and ARM invades the x86 space, displacing hair driers.

I think the market has finally succeeded to correct the aberration of monopoly in IT even after US DOJ and the EU Commission failed. The monopoly will have to cut prices seriously to remain competitive from now on. That means an end to monopoly as the players morph into producers and consumers rather than continuing to be partners of monopoly. Consumers finally have choice and so do businesses.

Just in case, I have downloaded all the evidence on the US DOJ v M$ pages… wget, I love you.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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7 Responses to End of Oversight – Beginning of Blindness

  1. John Stamos says:

    Chuckle. M$ delayed release of Lose ’95 to embed its browser. The others are just including the files and providing links in menus.

    Poggs, we’re in agreement there. The DoJ’s case against Microsoft over Explorer was a valid case, they were leveraging their pseudo-monopoly in the desktop operating system to gain position in the browser market, which at the time was considered a separate market. The act in and of itself warranted investigation (I won’t get into Explorer already having beaten Netscape on simply being a better browser (4, 5, 5.5 and 6 were all miles ahead of of Netscape post version 2), nd Netscape burring themselves, because it doesn’t really matter that the browser war had already been won, product tying while in such a position is a non-no)

    FWI, though, Safari and WebCore have the same kind of integration in OS X, but it was never looked into because Apple doesn’t have a dominant market position in either market, it it’s fair game.

    The KDE framework also has similar integration with KHTML/WebKit, bur lacks the market position to warrant investigation.

    The point it while it was a valid case in the ’90s, it’s become the norm now. Mozilla had even broken the Explorer stranglehold on the market long before the EU cases, which having come 20 years too late, was a profoundly pointless suit, and iTunes had already risen to become the dominant audio player by the time the media player case came around.

    I’m not quite sure why Apple was never under investigation, for trying to leverage their portable media player pseudo-monopoly by tying it to their media player, which as a result, became the dominant media player, routinely breaking competing sync’ing products, tying their online music store to their media player product, and integrating the media player more deeply into their OS than WMP was integrated into Windows.

    Sure, they made iTunes available for Windows, but Microsoft had also made IE available for MacOS (it was even the default browser until, I think Panther)

    To be clear, while I’m a huge fan of Apple’s, I am not a fan at all, of double standards. Why does MS get punished for leveraging their Desktop market, while Apple gets away scott-free for leveraging their portable media player pseudo-monopoly for the sake of improving their position in the online music store and media player markets? Why’s all the attention on Microsoft?

    One could get a much higher return investing in RedHat since 2001, for instance.

    For sure, keep in mind that MSFT stock is far past the point of being a cash-in in low, cash out high stock, the appeal of investing in MS hasn’t been high ROI since ’99/’03. It’s blue chip, the appeal is that it’s stable, with minimal risk of ever tanking (and also minimal odds of ballooning), some people play the stocks like a slot machine, others play the stocks like a bank. Though the likelihood of the stocks splitting again once they hit 40 a share, makes it more like a low risk slot machine than other blue chip stocks.

    And of course, there isn’t much growth as a stock, the volume of MSFT stock is ludicrously high, and that’s what makes it appealing as blue chip stock, the ludicrously high volume isolates it against fluctuations, it great hampers growth, but also isolates it from tanking.

    The dividends act like interest comparable to having money deposited into a savings account, and if that’s what you’re after, few stock options are more appealing that MSFT.

  2. “a bundles browser”
    Chuckle. M$ delayed release of Lose ’95 to embed its browser. The others are just including the files and providing links in menus. There is a difference. M$ provided its browser with special APIs so that using any other browser would be “a jarring experience”. They did that to mess with competition and not for any technical reason. That’s an illegal act. Distros often include multiple drivers. Debian includes Lynx, Links, iceweasel, konqueror, chromium, epiphany, iceape, kazehakase, elinks and links2 web browser and others more specialized browsers.

    Debian GNU/Linux is not trying to mess with competition but to provide the end-user with what the end-user needs. That is a major difference from what M$ does.

    This chart shows M$’s share-price from 1991-2011 and you can tweak “events” to show splits. There were multiple splits from 1991 to 1998 as the monopoly and number of PCs shipped kicked in. Only one split since Ballmer took over… Hmmm. That says something. Not much growth any longer. Even the dividend rate is unappealing. One could get a much higher return investing in RedHat since 2001, for instance.

  3. John Stamos says:

    . In my city there are a dozen big-box stores and not one has a GNU/Linux system on display

    This was attempted in the late 90s and early 00s (I still have boxed copies of Mandrake 7 and its contemporary SuSE laying around somewhere), there was minimal consumer interest, so it gradually died off.

    Walmart had done the OEM Linux system thing once or twice, both times, it didn’t last long due to lack of consumer interest.

    Beos was available on store shelves, and you can find Apple gear just about anywhere.

    Choice meams “something that isn’t Windows” not Linux specifically, though Linux is also readily available.

    —-

    How many DECADES will we have to read and hear ignorant crap like the author above?

    Right, because Mac OS doesn’t come with a bundles browser and media player, nor do any Linux distributions? It’s not the ’90s anymore neither the internet, nor digital music are new. It’s functionality people expect.

    How long will it take before governments FINALLY react and rid the world of Microsoft and its OBVIOUS illegal actions in the marketplace

    Because dismantling AT&T twice worked so well.

    How long will this slimeball company be able to slip under the radar

    Nobody pretends to be unaware of Microsoft or any other multinational corporation’s business practices. Killing off Microsoft won’t fix the problem (that such behaviour is the norm (Google mines data, IBM handed MS their exclusivity deal in the first place and ties products together, Atari and Commodore-Amiga pulled all kinds of tripe on each other, Siemens has been antitrusted in the EU more times than I can count, Oil cartels, the petrol industry hoarding essential patents for development of alternative fuel, Intel’s exclusivity deals, and so on, yadda yadda)

    Killing Microsoft solves nothing, you don’t like how big business operates, lobby for tighter regulation of the private sector.

    More apologies for poor wittle Microsoft. The poor poor babies. Why are we picking on tiny little Microsoft?

    Who’s apologizing? I simply find that while the DoJ’s case regarding Explorer in the 90s was valid, while the media player and explorer cases in the EU 20 years later were ridiculous. I’m entitled to that opinion, as I am entitled to the imho valid opinion that there should be no favouritism, either unilaterally bar trade secrets, or unilaterally protect them.

    Stock price in May 2001 34.70
    Stock Price May 2011 25.07

    Microsoft stock split for the ninth time in 2003 (meaning share price halves, and your shares double) a single share bought in 2001 at 34.70 equals 2 2011 shares worth 50.14, it’s not a great ROI, but 150% initial invested on a blue chip stock is nothing to sneeze at (though it of course, minuscule compared to the 28,000% return per share for someone who bought into MS’ IPO and held on until today). But this ignores the dividend rampage Microsoft has been on for since their last stock split.

    It started with a $0.08 yearly dividend in ’03, 0.16 in ’04. Q4 ’04 also saw the introduction of quarterly dividends beginning at 0.08, rising to 0.09 (’06), 0.10 (’07), 0.11 (’08) 0.13 (’09) and a 3.00 dividend in ’04.

    So the genius was right, after all, Microsoft was a pretty decent stock to invest in long term (keeping in mind of course that by this point, MSFT was blue chip, meant to be a stable investment, not a cash out with 90,000% ROI like it was in ’99 – which incidentally held “tank” the stock into blue chip).

    It’s not complicated, tech stocks are no different than any other stock, you don’t really have to know tech, it’s less valuable than knowing finances, businesses and the market. Your being unaware of the splits and dividends since ’01 is testament to that. MSFT stock has actually become more valuable between 2001 and 2011.

    Personally, if I wanted to portray MS stock as having performed poorly, I;d have narrowed the time frame to after the last split, specifically to a few years ago when it was hovering around the mid 30s, though that still ignores dividends. FWIW it’s still a safe stock to invest in, especially given that it will most likely split again upon reaching the 35-40 mark.

    Every time I hear/read these M$ apologist clowns it makes me want to vomit.

    And every time I read this militant zealous tripe I giggle. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement I think. I get a laugh out of it, and you lose weight, everyone wins 🙂

  4. ray says:

    then don’t listen, and be ignorant of people on the other side. What’s so hard about it?

  5. lpbbear says:

    “What foot-dragging> Between the steep fines, and the frankly ludicrous anti-trust suits over Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer (I say ludicrous because bundling a media player and browser has been something consumers expect in a desk blah blah blah blah blah……”

    How many DECADES will we have to read and hear ignorant crap like the author above? How long will it take before governments FINALLY react and rid the world of Microsoft and its OBVIOUS illegal actions in the marketplace? How long will this slimeball company be able to slip under the radar of a general public deluged with the effects of rising costs, job loses, globalization, political strife, wars and other issues deemed “more” important?

    The author (John Stamos!) makes the SAME old CRAP excuses I saw and heard back in 1999. Nothing new, nothing worth reading. More apologies for poor wittle Microsoft. The poor poor babies. Why are we picking on tiny little Microsoft? Don’t ya know they are just innovating and providing jobs?

    Around 2000 I was visiting a customers office to do some work on their network and systems. The office was owned by a so called “Stock Investment Adviser”. The owner was a rude moron who was completely clueless about computers yet thought he had the knowledge to recommend tech stocks. While there I overheard the so called “genius” advising one of his trusting customers to invest in Microsoft and how good of an investment it was long term.

    Stock price in May 2001 34.70
    Stock Price May 2011 25.07

    Every time I hear/read these M$ apologist clowns it makes me want to vomit.

  6. Consumers have rarely had a choice. In my city there are a dozen big-box stores and not one has a GNU/Linux system on display. That’s not the case with ARMed devices. Retailers are falling over themselves to push those and it’s the same software underneath. The choice was made by the OEMs and retailers if they had one and it was not to give choice to consumers.

  7. John Stamos says:

    This ignores all the foot-dragging in the EU, the anti-competitive moves in mobile

    What foot-dragging> Between the steep fines, and the frankly ludicrous anti-trust suits over Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer (I say ludicrous because bundling a media player and browser has been something consumers expect in a desktop operating system, it has become the norm, rather than the exception it was in the 90’s). That and the EU forcing MS to reveal trade secrets (protocols, etc, stuff that the samba team, for example has greatly benefited from) which no government body should have the power to do, it’s like forcing Coca Cola to reveal their recipe. Either do a wholesale unilateral ban on trade secrets, or a wholesale, unilateral reenforcement of trade secrts, the govt should not pick favourites.

    But I get it, they’re in a dominant position, they have to play by a different set of rules, while lesser competitors get a free pass. The mobile market is a different beast, however, Microsoft has never been in a dominant position in that market, they’re allowed to do things with WP7 that say, Nokia couldn’t do with Symbin, or that Google can’t do with Android.

    As long as they don’t try to leverage Windows to boost their position in the mobile market (which is possibly a reason WP7 has APIs not available in desktop Windows) almost anything they do in the mobile market is considered fair game and unworthy of anti-trust investigation.

    Where this falls apart isn’t that it allows Microsoft to act like an underdog when they are, in fact, the underdog, but that it allows Apple those same liberties with the iPhone and iPad, which while are the most dominant single product in the smartphone and tablet markets respectively (to clarify that statement there are more Android phones than iOS phones, but more iPhones than any single model of Android phone), don’t possess enough of the overall share of either market to expressly warrant anti-trust investigation ,even though they are the dominant player with the dominant product.

    I would bet the “dirty tricks” department has a long queue of innovative ideas for messing with competition already queued up and just requiring a signature.

    It isn’t that simple, they’re still the dominant player in the Desktop market, even though the DoJ has expressed that they’re more focuses on keeping what Google does with their advertizing and search pseudo-monopolies, Microsoft trying to leverage their Windows pseudo-monopoly will nevertheless trigger anti-trust investigation. The end of the oversight does not equate to a free pass (also worth mentioning that MS had offered to extend the oversight period, which the DoJ declined)

    I expect a burst of innovation from M$ in mobile, probably along the lines of exclusive dealing although it will be called something long and flowery.

    Again, not being in a dominant position, they’d be allowed to do as much as long as they don’t leverage their monopoly in the desktop space to do it. They already did as much, with Nokia while under oversight. The underdog is afforded certain liberties the 800 pound gorilla is not.

    I believe the mobile space is diverse enough that M$ cannot put the genie of Android/Linux back in the bottle sufficiently to gain 50% of the market, about the threshold of anti-trust.

    Agreed, it’ up to Google and Apple to fuck up at this point, though Microsoft does have an impressive track record of coming from behind and slaying giants. Back in the 80s and early 90s nobody thought MS could unseat the Atari, Commodore-Amiga and Apple powerhouses, by 1995 Commie-Amiga and Atari were irrelevant, by 1998, it was all about Windows.

    Nobody thought Silicon Graphics could ever be unseated in the multimedia workstation market either, but that market now belongs to Windows and Mac OS.

    I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, I’m just saying that underestimating Microsoft is a mistake, especially when the underdog is allowed to play dirty.

    Clearly, M$ will let on that mobile is a new game and that they should be allowed to make exclusive deals just like a start-up

    It doesn’t have to be a new game at all. They’ll contend that the smartphone market is a distinct market vis a vis the desktop market, and they’re right. And playing dirty isn’t a liberty afforded to startups, it’s a liberty afforded to everyone who isn’t a dominant player in that market.

    If they are allowed to get away with that we could possibly have a near monopoly in a few years and if that happens it will take a decade for governments to respond.

    They’re not a monopoly, and they’re not leveraging their monopoly in another market, they’re afforded the same liberties anyone else in that position is.

    Already Apple has lost its near monopoly on smart phones.

    As far as I know, even before android, Apple was always close to Nokia and RIM. The iPhone itself remains the dominant model of smartphone, even though there are more android devices than iOS devices.

    Next year that will be a major play and M$ will have to play catch-up on ARM even as Android and GNU/Linux invade the x86 space and ARM invades the x86 space, displacing hair driers.

    Not really. Seven has already been demonstrated to run on ARM, it’ll be released next year. WinCE has run on ARM for well over a decade, they more than likely playing the “not rushing to the ARM market
    until it becomes viable as to not piss off intel too much” game.

    Though I maintain that as long as backward compatibility is an issue, nothing will displace x86. (I’ve always been a RISC fan myself)

    I think the market has finally succeeded to correct the aberration of monopoly in IT even after US DOJ and the EU Commission failed.

    The purpose of the DoJ and EUC is not to smash a monopoly, but limit the damage it can cause, in which it has been successful, otherwise there would be no talk of “ARMageddon” or threats to the desktop market.

    Consumers finally have choice and so do businesses.

    There always has been choice, they just weren’t always necessarily viable choices: BeOS, MacOS, Linux, BSD, etc.

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