Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Europe has acted, hearing software companies crying "no fair!" They've fined Microsoft, and made them share code they've created with their competitors. This stems from Real Networks losing their share of the market and getting whiny.

Let's pretend that this is about something physical, rather than software. I build engines, let's say. You build transmissions. Well, I decide to get into the transmission business, and I start including my improved transmissions in the engines. You cry foul and demand that I provide you the plans and some of the parts to make those transmissions. Well, I designed them, I've built them, and you are a competitor. Is it competitive behavior to help my competitor beat me? Or is it competitive to make the best transmission I can and hope that the folks who use my engine like mine better?

Now, when we apply that to Windows Media Player and the way it crushed Real Player, Europe comes to an interesting conclusion. They figure that Microsoft shouldn't include features such as media players in their software, and that they should, in fact, give up source code to help competitors improve their software. Having tried Real Player (and many other media players), I'd have to say that I was never a fan. And others apparently found that it didn't suit their needs, either, since it lost the market. But, of course, Europe's courts feel that it's sad to see the loss of market share.

The goal is to "significantly" reduce Microsoft's market share, according to the European Competition Commisioner (doesn't this title make her sound more like she should be setting up sporting events?). Where do we go from here? Do they start requiring all computers be loaded with Windows, the Mac OS, and Linux? Do they decide that only a certain number of Windows PCs can be sold each year? Or do they simply begin subsidizing the other companies in order to equalize things?

Kinda reminds me of Rearden Steel and the Taggart Transcontinental. Will it get that bad? Will we end up with the mind on strike? Who is John Galt?


Anonymous said...

I love reading your blogs, but once again, you've missed the point completely. Expand your thinking and try, try again.

Hammer said...

You are correct. Why should MS not try to make money and beat the competition.

It would be like coke having to give up the secret recipe because their drink tastes too good.

Drew said...

Anon, if you would be so kind as to mention which point I've missed so completely, I'll be able to address it. I'd guess, though, that you really meant to say that you disagree entirely.
And Hammer, if you hear that Europe's making Coke give up their recipe, you let me know, alright? May just be cheaper to make my own.

Anonymous said...

Wow, soda drinkers. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Drew said...

Actually, I probably drink more milk than soda. I just run with any little bit of a joke I can.