Getting Real

Microsoft continues to spend millions to make friends with former enemies. This week it gave ex-Microsoft multimedia maven Rob Glaser, founder of RealNetworks, three quarters of a billion dollars to drop anti-trust charges relating to Windows Media Player. Now good friends, Real Networks agreed to help promote Microsoft products such as MSN.

There are a distinct shortage of pioneers and personalities these days, and Glaser is a huge exception to the rule. The fast-talking, high-charging technologist and businessman managed to take on his old bosses and won -- even before forcing through this settlement. I’m sure Gates is sorry he ever let Rob go.

Microsoft Security Under Legal Fire?
The European Commission is starting to look into the legality of Microsoft entering more segments of the security market, like anti-virus. If Microsoft uses its monopoly to sell anti-virus software and wipes out a host of third parties, then the EC should throw the book, the shelves and the whole darn library at them.

But if it comes down to bundling, as in not allowing Microsoft to add in robust security tools, then the EC should keep its mitts off.

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Unfortunately, it seems like the former, as the informal investigation was prompted by Microsoft’s announcement of its Client Protection product. In my humble opinion, an OS should protect itself from the most common threats, like spyware and viruses, not charge me extra and leave the poorer folks unprotected.

But the latter could also be at issue, as the EC is “concerned” that Microsoft might bundle anti-virus/anti-spyware with Vista. If Microsoft goes this route, I’ll contribute to its defense fund!

Speaking of the EC and Ineptitude
The EC made a bold, attention-grabbing but inane decision when it forced Microsoft to offer a version of Windows in Europe with Media Player taken out. Here’s the silly part -- the EC let Microsoft charge the same amount for both versions. Is anyone surprised that no OEM opted for the stripped-down XP?

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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