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Is This Microsoft vs. Netscape All Over Again?

What happens when one of the world's most powerful companies is given a slap on the wrist? It waits for the pain to subside in a few seconds -- then it's business as usual.
In the case of Microsoft, the slap on the wrist was the rather weak 2001 DOJ antitrust settlement which centered largely on Redmond's ill treatment of Netscape and Navigator.

Microsoft was not broken into two pieces and was instead allowed to keep bundling IE with Windows 95 and 98 (the company had essentially burned the browser into the OS, though it was technically possible for the technically savvy to extricate it), but had to make the playing field almost equal for other browsers.

Eleven years later, it seems Microsoft may be up to its old tricks.

The Mozilla Foundation, which is really the remnants (healthy as it is) of Netscape, is complaining that the playing field for browsers in Windows RT is about at level with K2.
Apparently, outfits other than Microsoft can go ahead and write a Windows RT browser -- it just won't work very well and won't "perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability and security to which users have grown accustomed," a Mozilla lawyer argued.

The lawyer claims this violates European antitrust restrictions on the interplay between Windows and browsers. Microsoft is arguing back that Windows RT really isn't Windows. Huh? Time for the Redmond marketing aces to earn their keep with yet another name. The only credence to this argument is that Windows RT essentially is a new platform with a new UI, new back-end processor, (I assume) new APIs and a new application library. Maybe there are new rules.

With the iPad and cheap Android tablets, Windows RT is riskier than a Vince Neil left turn (Bing his driving record). Why would Microsoft do anything to throttle back (something Neil should have done) support for new software? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 05/11/2012 at 1:19 PM


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