Key Question: Is Bundling Proper?

“The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is expected to rule within weeks on the practice of forced sale of licences for operating systems and other software bundled with computing devices. On 25 June, France’s Court of cassation referred to the CJEU a complaint of a French citizen who wanted to purchase a PC without any pre-installed operating system.”
 
See EU court to decide on PC and software bundling
Of course, bundling an OS with a PC makes sense in many cases. Most consumers, for instance, can’t or don’t want to install an OS. In many cases, bundling makes no sense:

  • anyone who wants to install his own OS, and
  • folks rolling out a gazillion PCs with whatever OS.

In both cases, bundling is either a restraint of trade or simply a wasted motion. You don’t paint a house green only to paint it red if you have any sense. The right way to do IT is to make your choice and buy/acquire what you need to accomplish your goals in the most efficient manner possible. Bundling exclusively That Other OS with all PCs was only good for an illegal monopolist and its “partners” in crime. This is not about denying businesses profits. It’s about competition in the market and freedom for users/buyers to have choice.

It’s so sad that this crime has taken so many decades to surface in the courts. All these years no one has been protecting consumers. It’s always been about protecting parties to the crime… When I complained to the Canadian government about bundling I was told I had no standing to complain because I was a consumer and not a competitor of M$. Bundling protected M$ from competition laws around the world because they had a layer of deniability, the OEMs. The OEMs could not be shown to be an organized criminal gang because they were just “doing business” with M$. Convenient and wrong. M$ was always the puppet-master. Let’s see whether a European court can get it right. Let’s see how big a cut to M$’s revenues for client OS the right decision makes. This could be the biggest shot in the “ARM” for GNU/Linux ever if consumers all over the world finally have the choice to buy or install GNU/Linux without paying M$ for the privilege.

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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35 Responses to Key Question: Is Bundling Proper?

  1. ram says:

    Third line forcing is by no means unique to the IT industry. Australian “bricks and mortar” stores require substantial amounts of “push money” from sellers otherwise they will not get shelf space. Of course, this, and third line forcing, has resulted in retail stores being “chockers” full of merchandise the public doesn’t want and doesn’t buy. The big chains are losing money at a staggering pace but all they do is blame their non-sales on Internet purchasing and “parallel imports”.

  2. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr once the move is done there is no undoing it.

    Dear idiot, you know those phones where put in the pipeline before the Microsoft takeover, and where discontinued shortly after the takeover.
    For a discontinued product would you please explain why Microsoft is still making new batches of them.

    http://www.microsoft.com/en/mobile/phones/nokia-x/
    Is a current product link not a discontinued one. Basically claiming garbage to dig you way out.

    The fact the Nokia X series is not discontinued as expected is because shock horror its been selling better than the Windows Phones.

    http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/nokia-1100-with-android-50-lollipop-quad-core-processor-spotted-667163

    There is such thing as the poisoned gift. If Microsoft does not release Android devices all the money they paid for Nokia phone making will end up being a free gift to an company making Android devices.

    Microsoft has made a nasty tactical error. Nokia is a weasel they will weasel their way out of the contract restrictions. I expect Nokia todo tablets with built in phone function instead of a smartphone.(As if to a user that make very much difference)

    –kurkosdr dofus you have stated exactly what Microsoft has done.–
    Did I say Microsoft will keep on doing or will have to keep on doing it.

    Microsoft mixed their brand with Nokia brand that was a mistake they should have never done. Took Nokia phone tech and released under own brand would have been smart.

  3. kurkosdr says:

    And even in your fantasy world where Satya Nadella makes shady deals with the bosses of Best Buy and Media Markt in a dimly lit room (cue the film-noir atmosphere), while at the same time eating babies (with some fine red wine to go with it), isn’t it the fault of Desktop Linux distros for the fact the don’t have a brick-and-mortat presence worth a f.ck in North America and Europe?

    All Desktop Linux distros had to do is make sure they have a product worth using and find a way to crack themselves in the brick-and-mortar stores. Like Ubuntu does in China. Why not in Europe and the US?

    And anyway, that overused excuse (“i can’t find Windows-less computers in brick and mortars”) does not imply the presence of a “Windows tax” anyway. OEMs will sell you a Windows-less machine, you can buy it, that’s it end of story.

  4. kurkosdr says:

    people are forced to buy computers with Windows pre installed on it.

    Do you have any evidence for the quoted bullshit?

    Because, as I ‘ve already stated, Lenovo and HP will happily sell you a machine with FreeDOS, and Dell will even sell you machines with Desktop Linux.

    Don’t find any of them on the shelves? Then blame the people owning the shelves, Einstein. It’s them who choose to not stock Windows-less computers (or Desktop Linux computers). And you can always order the Windows-less devices online (which is the best choice regardless of what kind of system you want, since the price is usually better).

    PS: And the “per system” royalty is ancient history. And the Windows-less lenovo computers ARE cheaper than the Windows equivalents. Which means, you do save the “Windows tax” (and the fact you can avoid the aforementioned “tax” means it’s not really a tax, but at this point I think I ‘ve made it abuntantly clear how idiotic your statements are, so I am going to stop writing)

  5. Mats Hagglund says:

    Let’s say in this way: people are forced to buy computers with Windows pre installed on it. Then they are claiming that “people want Windows”. No they don’t act that way. People want just buy computers. Microsoft, NSA, IBM and some other guys of round table once decided that people should buy that crap Windows on PC pre installed. It’s nothing but monopoly system. I would call it as economical and moral crime against freedom. Instead people should buy computer first and then salesman ask you: “with Windows, with no OS at all or with other systems like Linux/FreeDOS…”. And salesman continues: “with Windows it’s $100-$150, with Linux $20 (preinstalled)…” That’s the real spirit of free market.

    And yes – i do see Microsoft acting like bunch of criminals, like it or not.

  6. kurkosdr says:

    And no Windows tax payed to Redmont street gang.

    If you know the identities of the members of a Redmond street gang, and have proof they commited crimes, and yet you don’t present the proof to a judge, you are harbouring criminals.

  7. Mats Hagglund says:

    Well i made decision not to buy Asus/Lenovo/Dell etc laptop with pre installed Windows on it. In my country i found it unbelievable hard task to buy laptop with no OS or with Linux pre installed. So i took a risk and bought Tuxedo from Germany. After one week testing Tuxedo with Linux Mint 17.2 works fine and pretty fast indeed. No big issues so far. And no Windows tax payed to Redmont street gang. If there’s hidden Windows tax (with overpriced components) that’s another issue. I have compared prices with quite the same components (HD+ screen,mem, i5 processor, graphic card…) and hardly lost anything at all because Windows 8.x has zero value for me.

  8. kurkosdr says:

    kurkosdr dofus you have stated exactly what Microsoft has done.
    http://www.microsoft.com/en/mobile/phones/nokia-x/
    Yes these are Android phones that Microsoft builds.

    Dear idiot, you know those phones where put in the pipeline before the Microsoft takeover, and where discontinued shortly after the takeover. What makes you think Microsoft is interested in putting Android phones in the pipeline now?

  9. oiaohm says:

    —How? The only way to do this is by building their own Android devices (burying Windows 10 mobile in the process), which is something they do not want to do. Most phones meet the android compatibility definition and have GMS. —

    kurkosdr dofus you have stated exactly what Microsoft has done.
    http://www.microsoft.com/en/mobile/phones/nokia-x/
    Yes these are Android phones that Microsoft builds.

    –What Microsoft is trying, is to stop Google Docs from spreading.–

    This is wrong. Microsoft wants to stop WPS Office from Spreading. Google Docs and Office 365 is not much use inside China thanks to the great firewall.

    Sharepoint lock-ins have limited effectiveness. Why Libreoffice supports Sharepoint and many other providers.

    There is basically a limited window where Microsoft on Android can use Microsoft Office as an Embrace Extend Extinguish until the reverse starts happening to Microsoft. Yes up until LibreOffice for Android releases. Then the only card Microsoft has is that they are on OSi and Libreoffice is not yet.

    –(for which OEMs are paying dearly in form of patent licenses is also crapware).–
    From the documents released Microsoft pays OEM to have Exchange support on devices. Microsoft charges for other patents of questionable quality.

  10. dougman says:

    Crapware is by definition, software I do not want.

    I was a Skype user since 2003, but since M$ has taken it over I now uses RTSP which runs directly in your browser, no special software needed. Skype implements this protocol, so why do you need Skype now? Seems rather superfluous to me.

  11. kurkosdr says:

    Speaking of crapware on Android.

    Lol, Microsoft Office Mobile (I repeat Microsoft Office Mobile) is crapware. Yessss sir. Skype is also crapware. Yessss sir again. Let me guess, is Exchange support in android (for which OEMs are paying dearly in form of patent licenses is also crapware). Yess sir.

    Microsoft FUD and Threats against Android has failed. So now Microsoft is forced to try the Embrace Extend Extinguish.

    How? The only way to do this is by building their own Android devices (burying Windows 10 mobile in the process), which is something they do not want to do. Most phones meet the android compatibility definition and have GMS.

    What Microsoft is trying, is to stop Google Docs from spreading. Because they know that if Google Docs (by an off chance) catches on among people who just want a basic document editor, they ‘ll have to kiss their OOXML (bleh) and Sharepoint lock-ins goodbye. Also, if Hangouts catches on, their expensive Skype purchase might be put at risk too.

  12. oiaohm says:

    dougman really I wonder how much of a zero sum game this is coming. The big question is where is the OEM installing the Microsoft stuff. In the system app path or in the easy to uninstall user location.

    Skype competes with Carrier objectives. So I wonder how many OEM are going to install Skype then when the device is Carrier prepped and boxed that it removed.

    Really it does not change the fact that if I don’t want MS products no matter how it installed since its not part of the main ABI on a Android Linux device it will always be uninstallable.

    Microsoft FUD and Threats against Android has failed. So now Microsoft is forced to try the Embrace Extend Extinguish.

    WPS Office turns up preinstalled in china made Android phones.

    Dougman remember the patent licenses on Android was meant to make it cheaper for OEM/ODM to use Windows Phone OS’s. The fact Microsoft is now doing deals with phone OEM to pay them to install MS Office is a clear sign Microsoft Plan 1 has failed.

  13. oiaohm says:

    Where “most devices” means only Nexuses (which don’t have crapware and trialware anyway)
    Not at all. There are quite a list of devices that are not Nexuses that support third party cleanroms.
    http://www.droid-tech.net/update-lenovo-a7-50-a3500-to-5-0-lollipop/
    Lenovo A3500 does in fact have a means to install a custom/clean rom on it. So you are just a goof ball kurkosdr. Your example device in fact is one of the non Nexuis devices you can change it rom with a spyware free version.

    Some devices the vendor support in the warranty time frame swapping to selected third party roms. Basically as soon as a Lenovo A3500 warranty was up you could have replaced the rom and been rid of the crapware.

    Notice that rom image I just provide it optional if you install google play or not.
    Also, the funny thing is that Android crapware cannot be uninstalled, only disabled. How do I know? I have actually used the thing. You have to mess with rooting and other hackery.
    Rooting no. This is absolutely not required to remove any bundled crapware.

    I guess other hackery include plugin the device into a computer and using the adb connection to uninstall vendor installed software.
    http://mendraya.com/2013/02/03/removing-unwanted-android-system-apps/
    There is no need to root the device to clean it out of vendor added extra crap. Yes you do need to plug the device into a device todo it. Yes you can uninstall google play this way from any device with a stock rom.

    Sorry Android crapware can always be uninstalled. Yes sometimes it requires another device todo it. Yes the device controlling adb
    https://github.com/kosborn/p2p-adb/ Can be a rooted android phone.
    The device having applications stripped out by adb does not need to be rooted.

    kurkosdr android has a nice fixed procedure for removing crapware. If followed leaves behind a perfectly clean device.

    Funny enough it use generic Linux commands. The Android crapware you are going on about is not a major problem deal with.

    kurkosdr did you not wonder how carriers add on there own private applications when they sell a device on a plan that also want to refuse to uninstall. Exactly the same way adb shell.

    Give up on this topic as you are so far bogus on it that you don’t stand any chance of winning kurkosdr. I was not kidding when I said with android uninstalling the crapware was always possible. Process on android is a bit of a pain in ass.

  14. kurkosdr says:

    “Android most devices have a clean image option and its legal.”

    Where “most devices” means only Nexuses (which don’t have crapware and trialware anyway). Lenovo for example offers no clean image option for my A3500 (which is usable, not just a kernel and some bits).

    Also, the funny thing is that Android crapware cannot be uninstalled, only disabled. How do I know? I have actually used the thing. You have to mess with rooting and other hackery.

  15. oiaohm says:

    Android nor Linux are immune to crapware and trialware pre-installs.
    True but with Linux systems like android and Ubuntu the package management does mean you can properly uninstall the trailware crap. Windows uninstall is not dependable. Also you can get clean install disks/rom images. Android most devices have a clean image option and its legal.

    If the EU ruling comes down that all trial-ware must clean uninstall that would be suitable to solve 90 percent of the issue.

    http://www.autoconnectedcar.com/2014/11/jaguar-land-rover-lands-ota-update-through-open-source-software/

    This has not got very much news converge. Yes Ford tech demoing next generation ford IVI system. Guess what its Tizen. So from Microsoft to QNX and now to Tizen a Linux based. Seams to be avoid Microsoft at all costs.

    kurkosdr have you used the Internet in china to access websites outside china. It is not fun. Download from ubuntu.com or debian.com does not really hold up. Please note copies of Windows in china being able to dependably get Windows updates is a issue. The great china firewall is a true pain in ass.

    Part of the reason why Windows piracy is so high in china is even if you buy a legal copy updates still might not work. Next reason is discs on ground that shipped with computers.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2378820/china-will-move-to-linux-by-2020-in-de-windowsifying-process

    Ubuntu in china is Kylin. That takes you to Chinese government run servers inside the Great firewall.

    http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/ubuntu-kylin
    Yes its a joint project between the government of china and Ubuntu. But its normally only refereed to as kylin.

    So part of Ubuntu issue inside China is people fear that its government controlled.

  16. oiaohm says:

    Ram the reason why Australian people can buy OEM license windows directly and use it directly is the law against “third line forcing”. So its not that Australian law has done nothing. The third line forcing law is why you can custom order machines without Windows from dell in Australia.

  17. dougman says:

    See this is the next level of “bundling” that leads to bumbling and pissed off owners.

    “Once Ford settled on Microsoft technology, it seemed logical enough that 2010’s MyFord Touch system—the first sweeping update to the Sync platform, with a fancy touch-screen interface—continued to be based on embedded Windows software. But from the start, it felt like MyFord was trying to do next-generation things on a last-generation operating system.” LOL….

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/02/ford_recall_software_bug/

    http://www.autoblog.com/2015/03/19/ford-microsoft-sync-3-wireless-software-updates/

    http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/177171-why-microsoft-lost-ford-sync

    For Ford to drop M$ and move to QNX speaks volumes about the reliability of M$ crap software.

  18. dougman says:

    EDIT – Insertion: ..whereby you “do not have to” download or install anything.

  19. dougman says:

    KUKU, you call it a “business deal” but the wording “advised” came straight from the DOJ civil case against M$. Feel free to argue and correct their wording, obviously you know more then a high salaried lawyer that worked the case!

    Regarding your “Nope. Not true. They weren’t forced to limit anything” which is you just playing with semantics, obviously the OEMs were “advised” by M$ and then a inked a “business deal” that was agreed by both parties. Said “business deal” came with licensing rules and restrictions such that M$ was able to maintain strict control of the desktop by prohibiting OEMs, such as Compaq and Micron, from modifying the sequence or appearance of any of the screens displayed by Windows during the boot up sequence. So see, right there that shows you how much power OEM’s ceded over to M$ when said “business deal” was “advised” to the computer manufacturers seeking licensing partnerships so as to sell Windows computers.

    Regarding “even in a future where all PCs where sold blank, people would still install Windows on them.” So you can read the future? But according to you, people do not install or want to install operating systems. What is the change in the future that causes you to say this?

    Obviously, the way M$ is leaning is more so towards a cloud OS, whereby you download or install anything.

  20. kurkosdr says:

    because they use mostly what comes along with the OS, a browser.

    http://tmrepository.com/trademarks/thefutureiscloudy/

    (old TMs never die)

  21. kurkosdr wrote, “Windows is bundled because Ubuntu does not do real back-compat”.

    Consumers don’t give a damn about applications backwards-compatibility because they use mostly what comes along with the OS, a browser. Then there’s UI backwards-compatibility. What about “8” then? GNU/Linux is more compatible with users of XP than That Other OS.

  22. kurkosdr wrote, of OEMs, “Nope. Not true. They weren’t forced to limit anything.”

    “In the 1990s, Microsoft adopted exclusionary licensing under which PC manufacturers were required to pay for an MS-DOS license even when the system shipped with an alternative operating system. Critics attest that it also used predatory tactics to price its competitors out of the market and that Microsoft erected technical barriers to make it appear that competing products did not work on its operating system. In a consent decree filed on July 15, 1994, Microsoft agreed to a deal under which, among other things, the company would not make the sale of its operating systems conditional on the purchase of any other Microsoft product.”

    See Wikipedia – Microsoft Litigation

    You do know that paying twice for operating systems does restrict an OEM’s choices, right? You pay only once for bread, butter, cars…

  23. kurkosdr wrote, “what FOSSies like dougman don’t understand is that, even in a future where all PCs where sold blank, people would still install Windows on them.”

    What kurkosdr does not understand is that the vast majority of consumers use the software that comes with the machine. GNU/Linux can take that ride and be chosen by consumers because of the advantage in price/not paying M$.

  24. kurkosdr says:

    where sold = were sold

  25. kurkosdr says:

    Anyway, what FOSSies like dougman don’t understand is that, even in a future where all PCs where sold blank, people would still install Windows on them.

    Do you think all those people in China who know how to pirate Windows have never heard of a site called ubuntu.com? Or debian.com? For whatever fair or unfair reasons, they prefer to pirate windows than get ubuntu or debian for free.

    And anyway, one thing I never understood is, how would a “win” of Desktop Linux (let’s say 20% market share) would benefit FOSSies? More support from proprietary software companies? I thought you guys hated that. Pre-installs? OEMs would fill the OS with junk*, so you’d probably reformat anyway. Not paying for a windows license? As I said, buy a lenovo or HP machine with FreeDOS. Or that Sell canonical advertises on the ubuntu website. Hardware? You can buy a laptop with compatible parts, and Android is proof that popularity of linux-kernel in a market won’t make drivers free (ask MediaTek and Qualcomm’s GPU team for more info).

    No sir. Your problems are ehm… more philosophical in nature. You can’t stomach the fact that Microsoft can still charge what they charge while there are free Desktop Linux OSes out there. This might (I say might) lead you to the conclusion that Linux Desktop OSes have failed on mission objective #1: Solve user’s problems. And the problem an OS is supposed to solve first and foremost is to be an app-launcher. And Linux Desktop, with it’s crappy LTS support, and requirement to have the latest version in order to have latest apps, fails on that. Sorry.

    PS: My Lenovo A3500 android tab shipped with a piece of trialware called Norton Mobile which I haven’t enabled of course, but point is, neither Android nor Linux are immune to crapware and trialware pre-installs.

  26. DrLoser says:

    Nice choice when it comes to ChromeBooks, of course.

    Not just the underlying OS (as if it mattered, because you can’t do a whole lot with it. You certainly don’t get the Four Freedoms).

    Also, the browser. Have you tried installing, say, Safari on a ChromeBook?

  27. kurkosdr says:

    Anyway… as I said, this practice was very short lived, happened AFTER Microsoft had achieved total dominance, so the phrase “the rest is history” is stupid.

  28. kurkosdr says:

    M$ advised OEMs

    They didn’t “advised” OEMs, it was a business deal.

    unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system preinstalled

    Nope. Not true. They weren’t forced to limit anything.

  29. dougman says:

    Whine KUKU? I was just stating a fact, unlike your delusions of grandeur.

  30. kurkosdr says:

    BTW, the ruling will crash and burn. For those not in the know, it is european tradition to to hear anyone who has the right to be heard, but this doesn’t mean they will actually listen.

    It’s a mistake to confuse the professionalism and politeness of europeans as a sign of them being idiots that will seriously consider your wacky proposals.

    That said, the EU court is smart enough to realise that after PCs, anything from smartphones to tablets to smartwatches to set-top-boxes can become the next target if they decide that bundling is illegal. Because after all, smartphones and tablets, and even some set-top-boxes (such as Enigma2-powered ones), are computers running an OS (not firmware).

  31. kurkosdr says:

    It’s always been about protecting parties to the crime…

    If you have evidence that a crime has been perpetrated, then bring them forward, otherwise you are protecting a criminal. If the evidence has already being presented in court, but no penalties were thrown at the accused perpetrator, then it’s not a crime. If a penalty has already being thrown, then the perpetrator does not have a debt to society any more (and if the practice has stopped anyway and no crime is happening now).

    I hate it when people say things like “yeah, the judge said it’s not a crime, but it should be” or the even more ridiculous “it is in my opinion a crime”. This kind of thinking sucks.

    ——–

    I like it when FOSSies like dougman will whine and whine about the “per-system royalty” Microsoft used to practice, a practice which 1)lasted a very short period of time because the US government put an end to it quickly and 2) happened after MS had completely steamrolled the competition with Windows 95 on merit (read: value/price ratio compared to OS/2, AmigaOS and MacOS). OEMs wouldn’t sign a per-system royalty with any OS vendor, unless that OS vendor had already steamrolled the competition with it’s value/price ratio and they litterally couldn’t sell any other OS.

    BTW, isn’t Google’s practice of offering Android at a loss an exercise in price-dumping, in order to gain an advantage in their online services and online ads revenue? If you are an OEM and want to pre-install Android and make a functional phone (outside China), you need the PlayStore, and if you want the PlayStore, you must install an entire roster of other proprietary Google apps linking to online services with mostly proprietary APIs (Play Movies/Music for example), and also make Google search default and put the searchbox in the main screen (along with PlayStore). And FOSSies have the nerve to still whine about the bundling of IE and MSN search in Windows.

  32. kurkosdr says:

    Lol do FOSSies still bang that drum?

    1) Lenovo will sell to you a Windows-free computer for less price than same-spec Windows computer
    2) Ubuntu had it’s chance but lost it with the dellbuntu netbook debacle. No, it doesn’t matter who FOSSies think is to blame. Trust was lost by OEMs to Ubuntu. Other desktop distros (save for RHEL) are some kids running a non-profit and don’t matter.
    3) Android gets bundled with 80+% of smartphones and tablets out there, but nobody of your FOSSies is whining.

    All in all, Windows is bundled because Ubuntu does not do real back-compat and because it breaks upgrades while at the same time offering less LTS support than Windows. Bummer.

  33. dougman says:

    M$ advised OEMs that they will be charged a higher price for Windows unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system preinstalled and in 1998, all major OEMs agreed to this restriction.

    The rest is history.

  34. ram says:

    In Australia such tactics are called “third line forcing” which is technically illegal. However, our government officials are as corrupt as those in Nigeria, so none of these things are enforced against large foreign corporations.

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