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Microsoft May Be Investigated By Attorneys General 260

Posted by Zonk
from the perhaps-they-should-hire-lawyers dept.
Null Nihils writes "Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has announced that a group of state attorneys general will decide later this week whether to pursue legal action against Microsoft over allegations of anticompetitive conduct that were brought on by Google. From the article: 'Google has complained that Microsoft's new operating system puts it, and other rivals, at a disadvantage. Google said that Vista makes it harder for consumers to use non-Microsoft versions of a desktop search function, which enables users to search the contents of their hard drives. A group of state attorneys general including Connecticut and California is now determining how to react to the claims made by Google.'"
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Microsoft May Be Investigated By Attorneys General

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  • by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hotm a i l . c om> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:24AM (#19476779) Journal
    If this manages to get through google will be dead in the water by the time anything's done about it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:11AM (#19477269)
      Regardless, Google have misrepresented this entire issue.

      1) They complained to the DoJ/AG without informing Microsoft of the issue and attempting to have it solved,

      2) Windows Search is designed to only operate during idle cycles specifically so it will not interfere with any other running program including Google Desktop Search,

      4) Windows Search can be disabled from the Control Panel, the command line, and if Google could be bothered they can disable it using the Services API during an install of their software, and

      5) Google have even coded Vista Sidebar widgets that are designed to interact with GDS on Vista, which makes their complaint make even less sense.

      I'm sorry to hijack your comment but if anybody else could manage to be a little more informed on the issue rather than immediately jump to the standard "anti-competitive monopoly blah-blah" response then maybe a more intellectual debate could ensue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by c_forq (924234)
        Your step three is missing...
      • by PPH (736903)
        Where is Mr. Clippy when you need him?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gkhan1 (886823)
        I think you've summed up the issue pretty well. I like Google a hell of a lot more than Microsoft, but this complaint is utterly ridiculous. It shouldn't be brought to the courts. If it does, Microsoft will win. As they should.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:24AM (#19477425) Homepage Journal
      The last paragraph of the article is extremely telling, I think:

      The issue is the latest in an escalation between two of the heaviest hitters in the tech world.

      In April, Microsoft urged the federal competition authorities to thoroughly investigate Google's acquisition of online advertising brokerage DoubleClick, after being beaten by Google in closing a deal for the company. The Federal Trade Commission has since confirmed it is investigating the matter.

      It seems to me that Google is trying to beat Microsoft at its own game. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about Google being able to pull it off. Especially since it would require quite a bit of Evil(TM).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xtracto (837672)
        It seems to me that Google is trying to beat Microsoft at its own game. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about Google being able to pull it off. Especially since it would require quite a bit of Evil(TM).

        In Mexico we have a saying that goes:
        "El enemigo de mi enemigo es mi amigo" and means something like "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". I guess that if Google is "Evil(TM)" against Microsoft I would not cry a bit or be sad for that matter. The problem I see is that once Google is evil against MS and the sh
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) *

          In Mexico we have a saying that goes [...] "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"

          We have the same saying here in the states. The only problem is that there is no guarantee that the enemy of your enemy is truly your friend. Sometimes, the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy. (Frighteningly, this can occasionally make your enemy a temporary ally.)

          In any case, we also have the term "collateral damage". It refers to all the things that may be unintentionally damaged or destroyed by extreme measures. I can guar

  • Unfair standard? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:26AM (#19476809)
    I hate to be a MS defender here (Linux Gods please forgive me) but isn't it a little unfair to ride MS's ass for security problems all the time and then also expect them to open up their kernal, file system, security, etc. to every damn third party developer out there? Should a third party developer have just as much access to Vista as MS themselves?
    • by babbling (952366) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:32AM (#19476871)
      It's not unfair because it is entirely possible to write libraries that are not riddled with security flaws. You are trying to relate two things that are almost completely unrelated.
      • Re:Unfair standard? (Score:5, Informative)

        by metlin (258108) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @11:04AM (#19477877) Journal

        It's not unfair because it is entirely possible to write libraries that are not riddled with security flaws. You are trying to relate two things that are almost completely unrelated.
        Please. If you think that writing a complex system (especially one requiring some serious backwards compatibility, such as Windows) of libraries is accomplished without any security flaws, you probably haven't written or worked with very many real-world applications.

        Writing 100% bulletproof applications in the real-world (especially given customer and consumer expectations) is next to impossible, not unless you were doing small and simple things and you've enormous amount of time and money at your disposal. No matter how much you test and secure your system or how bulletproof you make it, there is almost always a point where usability versus security becomes an issue, or compatibility versus security becomes an issue.

        There was a time when Microsoft's products were riddled with security flaws, but over the years, their platforms and offerings have stabilized considerably. If anything, for the amount of complex stuff that they write, their security flaws are hardly a surprise.

        I mean, sure, you can have something like OpenBSD, but just how usable do you think such a system would be? Consider the kernel, the UI, the file system, assorted applications (browser, office applications) etc. and you'd begin to see how hard it becomes to keep the system locked tight with that level of complexity (not to mention scalability).

        I know that it's all fun to bash Microsoft on Slashdot and all that, but sometimes I just wish that people would just get a grip on reality, not their ideal, tiny little world.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Crimsonjade (1011329)
          It depends on where your focus is. OpenBSD has its focus on security first and foremost. Could Microsoft had done the same? Probably, but I think it is too late now. Should we forgive Microsoft for all their past security flaws because they are making (somewhat) of an effort? I would say yes and lets move forward, except for the fact that we have recently seem some pretty ridiculous security holes. So no, it is not really an unfair standard.
        • by malkavian (9512)
          Just one phrase. Formal Methods [wikipedia.org].
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by aichpvee (631243)
          especially given customer and consumer expectations

          If the customer expectations weren't so low they might be forced to fix some of underlying problems that put so many bugs in their software.
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @11:42AM (#19478349) Homepage Journal

          Please. If you think that writing a complex system (especially one requiring some serious backwards compatibility, such as Windows) of libraries is accomplished without any security flaws, you probably haven't written or worked with very many real-world applications.

          This is true. So Microsoft should stop lying and claiming to always use proper bounds-checking string routines when they clearly do not, as they create so very many buffer overflows, and they should stop claiming that they have the most secure OS, et cetera.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cyphercell (843398)

          If anything, for the amount of complex stuff that they write, their security flaws are hardly a surprise.

          The anti-competitive cases are usually about getting Microsoft to focus on their core functionality, like the security of the operating system, rather than write up stupid little weather bug clones for the desktop. Get M$ out of browser space, out of desktop search, get them to quit trying to own everything the user touches and quit using their monopoly status to ship this crap that snuffs out any market emerging on the desktop.

          /car analogy/ If Microsoft was a car company, not only would you have only o

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by nstlgc (945418)
        Wow, that was madly irrelevant. What your parent is trying to say is that giving 3rd party apps hookins to the OS opens the way for malware to hook into your OS. This has nothing to do with vulnerabilities because malware doesn't necessarely behave different that regular 3rd party apps.
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:34AM (#19476883) Journal
      If MSFT is not competing in the applications arena and sells only the OS then it can say "I am locking up the kernel and you guys play by this rule". But MSFT is competing in the office, gaming, database, search, and email arenas. And it is using its monopoly in the OS arena to unfairly benefit its own application products.

      What gives complaints against MSFT legitimacy is that it has 1. monopoly in the OS marke. 2. It has used its monopoly to unfairly undermine its competitors in other markers. MSFT can easily get out of all these restrictions and actions by breaking the company into two pieces. One is the OS company and the other is the applications company. And the OS company will give equal access to all vendors in the applications arena.

      Please understand the issue is not the quantum of access given to the OS. It is the unequal access given to other vendors.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        The idea of breaking the company into two pieces has been suggested before, and is an interesting one. The problem with this is that Windows has incorporated so many little applications into itself over the years, I don't think it's practical to separate out the two (not anymore, for sure). Is Wordpad an application? Is mediaplayer an application? How would you sell Windows to the consumer market if all it included was just the kernal? Hell, no one is even interested in JUST the plain Linux kernal without a
        • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:07AM (#19477221) Journal
          It is true no one would buy a car without tires. Or even a radio. Would you let auto makers off the hook so easily if they tried to make it impossible to install a thirdparty tire or radio? Infact the auto makers did that and it took lots of legislative action in the 70s to open up the "connectors and specs" to level the playing field, (or so I understand from a slashdot post.)

          Now how far should the automaker go? Should you be able to install a thirdparty glove box? A steering wheel? or a gear box and transmission? The automobile is quite tangible and most consumers are well informed and they vote with their dollars in these questions. If they make a car that will accept only Ford tires, the marketplace will shun it. It is possible the glove box (and possibly the windshield) was thirdparty add-on way back in 1910s. And eventually it got incorporated into the automobile.

          But in the computer arena, the public is not well informed. It would take a generation of kids who grew up with computers all their life to distinguish between what is the "glove box" and what is a "tire" in a computer. At that point we might not need any legislative action. But right now, to preseve the endangered species of independent software developers and application developers we need some basic action from the courts/legislation.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Red Flayer (890720)

            If they make a car that will accept only Ford tires, the marketplace will shun it.

            Unless, of course, the marketplace is doiminated by Ford. That's the whole gist of the problem.

            It has nothing to do with public education, it has to do with the inability of a market to operate more-or-less freely, due to domination of one sector by one firm (Microsoft, in this case).

            I understand what you're getting at -- defining what is peripheral (like the tires) and defining what is intrinsic to the product (like the gl

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by CmdrGravy (645153)
          I'm not so sure I entirely agree with you, the Windows Platform consists of a lot of Microsoft products working together but you can definitely say that Word is a seperate application, Mediaplayer is a seperate application etc.

          When you buy a PC you have to buy things like Word seperately, they're not included in the price of Windows the operating system. It's the PC retailers who bundle useful software onto their PC's or it's businesses who deploy the necessary applications for their business on their serve
        • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:25AM (#19477451) Journal
          So, practically speaking, how is MS supposed to give third party developers "equal access" with so many possible combinations of applications?

          Fully documeneted and open APIs. Documented and open protocols. Documented and open file formats. They're required by the terms of their prosecution in the European Union to provide this documentation and keep refusing. The US department of Justice has asked them to provide the protocols to potential competitors.

          Microsoft has repeatedly refused to comply properly with these legal requirements. The answer to your question is simple. Microsoft should do what lawmakers have been telling them to do for years. Provide potential competitors with enough information to interoperate with the OS as effectively as MS themselves.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Score Whore (32328)
            Lawmakers tell people to do a lot of things. The executive branch doesn't have the authority to order arbitrary actions on a company and the legislative branch hasn't reached the required number of votes to make a difference. People bitch and cry about civil rights eroding, but you'll know they are gone when some unelected political appointee US attorney is allowed to arbitrarily dictate to private entities what they can and can't do.

            Besides this complaint comes from Google. A company that disregards other
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Retric (704075)
          No Windows can stay the same. The idea is they can sell windows with anything in it that helps them sell more copies of windows aka Note Pad but they can't add anything that helps them sell other products like Office, IIS etc.

          So you have a windows company A that can only sell windows and windows server edition.

          And you have windows company B that can sell IIS, XBOX, MS Word, MS Office, MS mouse, Visual Studio... but not windows.

          The idea is that windows could include IE but if Microsoft is not selling IIS the
      • How is the access *unequal*? Google can sign an NDA and get just as much access to that kernel as MSFT. What google is whining about is that it's now *HARDER* for them to search. It's also *HARDER* for msft folks to search because they have to go through the same permission schema as everyone else. I'm sure you really really hate MSFT, and really really love google, but google is being the whiny bitch this time.
      • by giorgiofr (887762)
        Yeah right I must be dreaming then because I distinctly remember Norton and McAfee screaming bloody murder over a totally legit kernel lockdown, while everybody else seemed to keep working on their AV products just fine.
      • Can a Mac user weigh in on this? I wonder, does OS X allow a user to easily replace Finder with Google Desktop?
        • A user? No. A developer? Yes. The Finder is just another app, launched at login. It requires some hacking of property lists to replace it, but it is possible. It's hard, because the finder is responsible for a lot of things, and you'd have to replace them all. You'd also break a load of AppleScripts that contain 'tell application "Finder"' (i.e. 90% of all AppleScripts), so it's pretty much a bad idea.

          You can even boot OS X without Quartz at all and run xorg, but, once again, it's a pretty bad ide

        • I think you mean Spotlight, Finder is just the file browser, not the content search. The short answer is yes, the long answer is it's not easy. The OS X file "database" uses SQLite3 which is an open source database and format. There's no "secrets" there and in fact Google Desktop uses SQLite itself so the backing store is compatible. The catch is that the database layout would need to be identical or all the apps that expect to find a predefined SQLite data store are in for a nasty surprise. The solution is
          • But, it's not more than Apple did. It's not like Apple made it intentionally harder for others to do it.

            That's the key difference. Apple has a tight grip on its OS, but it also doesn't try to fuck over anyone.
      • by tshak (173364)
        If MSFT is not competing in the applications arena and sells only the OS...

        An OS is simply a type of application. Also, from a consumer product point of view, the definition of what an OS includes is very subjective.
      • by Thaelon (250687)
        The did this with Office.

        The office division was forcibly split from the OS division years ago.

        The result? Office is a piece of shit. It doesn't even use the common dialogs that other third party apps do.

        I know because I've changed my "favorites" for those common dialogs to use things that I ACTUALLY USE rather than "recent documents", "my documents" and other such bullshit. But office still opens up a dialog with "recent documents", "my documents" and other such bullshit. People using the defaults woul
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WombatDeath (681651)
      My understanding is that Google want MS to provide a way for the average user to turn off the MS indexing, to avoid unnecessarily consuming resources by running search engines from both Google and MS side by side. By 'average user' they mean someone who isn't familiar with tinkering around in the services widget.
      • by cortana (588495)
        NOTABUG.

        Users can use sc, net, or the services console to disable a service.

        If Google thinks that's too difficult then they are free to make their desktop search program offer to disable Microsoft's service at installation time.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by roseanne (541833)
          Disabling the service is not a good option for Windows Vista because the OS uses the Indexing Service for the search function built into the shell.

          However, it's hard to argue that Windows shouldn't provide an indexing service when OSX etc do. It's pretty well documented too, API-wise -- its only problem is that it consumes more resources than Google's indexer.

          Google's complaint does seem to be a case of sour grapes here. Perhaps they're simply retaliating for the time when Microsoft raised antitrust complai
          • by Macthorpe (960048)

            Disabling the service is not a good option for Windows Vista because the OS uses the Indexing Service for the search function built into the shell.
            If you disable it, it merely changes the default behaviour of that search function to file-by-file search. It's slower but the search still works.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        couldn't google just put an option to do it in thier software (i'm pretty sure service control is documented in the winapi docs).
        • Perhaps they could, I've no idea. Perhaps disabling the service screws with something else, as a poster above me suggests, in which case this sounds reminiscent of Win9x supposedly being designed around Internet Explorer.

          It raises a vaguely interesting question of how modular an OS should be. I don't suppose many people would argue that the Windows file system should be replaceable with GoogleFS, but indexing sounds less integral than that.

          Basically, I have food poisoning, no sleep and no real clue what my
      • Re:Unfair standard? (Score:5, Informative)

        by will_die (586523) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:03AM (#19477191) Homepage
        Microsoft desktop search is used by other microsoft products for its searching. For example if you want to do email searching in outlook 2007 you have to go and download microsoft desktop search, this is on windows XP.
        So if you want to do searches in your email and also use google desktop search you are in trouble since both search engine now have to be running and scanning everything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheNetAvenger (624455)
          So if you want to do searches in your email and also use google desktop search you are in trouble since both search engine now have to be running and scanning everything.


          And people are STILL believing this bullshit?

          Google can install, and set itself as the default search engine that works inside Outlook, the Desktop, OneNote, etc. There are clear APIs that Google can use on both sides to hook into the application. Google can also TURN OFF THE MS SEARCH ENGINE COMPLETELY.

          Google is pissing on the intelligenc
    • Re:Unfair standard? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:43AM (#19476985)
      That would be unfair but that is not the specific complaint of Google. From what I read (not the linked article), Google is finding issues with Vista's built-in search. From a AP article in USA Today: [usatoday.com]

      The Vista operating system, which became widely available in January, includes a desktop search function that competes with a free program Google introduced in 2004. Several other companies also offer desktop search applications.

      Besides bogging down competing programs, Google alleged Microsoft had made it too complicated to turn off the desktop search feature built into Vista.

      With its allegations, Google hopes to show that Microsoft isn't complying with a 2002 settlement of an antitrust case that concluded the world's largest software maker had leveraged the Windows operating system to throttle competition.

      The consent decree requires Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft to ensure its rivals can build products that run smoothly on Windows -- something that Google says isn't happening.

      "The search boxes built throughout Vista are hard-wired to Microsoft's own desktop search product, with no way for users to choose an alternate provider," Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes said in a statement issued Monday.

      In a way, Google's complaint mirrors that of Netscape but instead of browsers, it's search applications.

      • Who's competing who? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Deathlizard (115856)
        In a way, Google's complaint mirrors that of Netscape but instead of browsers, it's search applications.

        Not exactly.

        In the Netscape case, they had an established product, then MS started to compete. In this case, Vista (originally Longhorn) had a powerful search functionality built in since it's inception. (2001) In fact that was one of the first features that was announced about Vista. Even Windows 2000 and above had text search indexing (indexing service) integrated, although it's not as powerful as the i
    • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

      by toby (759) *
      So you're a fan of security by obscurity?

      Ever notice how the really secure systems (*BSD, Solaris, etc) have every line of code public?

      PS. It's spelled "kernel".
      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:14AM (#19477305)
        Most of the Unix systems were relatively secure even before anyone open sourced their implementations. Microsoft has simply made a LOT of trade offs to make their system "user friendly". I also suspect we'll find all the anti-trust business holding them back from ever fixing it for fear of inviting third parties to sue them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          Most of the Unix systems were relatively secure even before anyone open sourced their implementations

          UNIX was code-visible (not Free Software or Open Source) from the time of release. It was not taken seriously as a secure platform until a good twenty years after it was first launched. Even more modern releases have had their share of security problems. The number of security holes that were fixed by Theo De Raadt and friends in between forking NetBSD and releasing the first version of OpenBSD are staggering.

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      the source code to GNU/Linux is completely open and available for free download and GNU/Linux still has much better security than microsoft windows, that does prove that closed source does not make for better security...

      this comment is probably redundant...
    • by Alchemar (720449)
      Vista is an operating system. The job of an operating system is to allow software to run on the hardware. If Microsoft wishes to sell embedded systems that are more secure because no one else may install software on it they are free to do so. If however they wish to market an operating system, I expect the operating system to do what it is advertised to do an operate my computer. If they wish to throw in extras, they need to be that extra! If I decide that I don't want an extra, it should be removable.
  • by froggero1 (848930)
    I predict the lawyers will be the only winners here.

    Also, FTA:

    "In April, Microsoft urged the federal competition authorities to thoroughly investigate Google's acquisition of online advertising brokerage DoubleClick, after being beaten by Google in closing a deal for the company. The Federal Trade Commission has since confirmed it is investigating the matter."

    Wouldn't that case be dropped now that Microsoft bought that other ad company for an obsene amount of money?
    • by iknownuttin (1099999) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:42AM (#19476973)
      I predict the lawyers will be the only winners here.

      Blumenthal is using a tactic that another famous Connecticut Attorney General used to create a political career from a position (AG) that's not usually very visible. He went after the insurance companies, cut some half-assed deals that looked like they helped the consumer, made himself look like a hero to the little guy and then ran for Democratic Senator of CT and has never left - one close call last year. Yes, it's Joe Lieberman.

      Blumenthal is just using the same tactic on a different industry (ies) 30 years later. I guarantee you, Blumenthal will be running for Governor, Senator, or something in the near future and these investigations are nothing but ways to raise his name recognition among the public.

  • Dupe & Duplicity (Score:5, Informative)

    by Macthorpe (960048) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:27AM (#19476823) Journal
    Not only is this a dupe [slashdot.org], but Google's argument was already shown in the comments to that article to be a complete sham.

    Have Google actually deigned to comment on the issue yet? Last time I checked they were shunning any reasonable debate on the matter.
  • Which means... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother AT optonline DOT net> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:29AM (#19476839) Journal

    Sunday's New York Times reported that the federal government had weighed in on the matter, urging state attorneys general who had received Google's complaint not to investigate Microsoft further. According to the article, a memo from Thomas O. Barnett, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, had been circulated to some state-level competition authorities.

    This can only mean:

    1. Microsoft is adhering to its deal with the DOJ and they have investigated the matter and find Google's complaint without merit
      - or -
    2. The DOJ is trying to keep the state Attorneys General from getting involved in what they regard as a Federal matter

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991)
      This can only mean: Microsoft is adhering to its deal with the DOJ and they have investigated the matter and find Google's complaint without merit - or - The DOJ is trying to keep the state Attorneys General from getting involved in what they regard as a Federal matter It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      -or more likely-
      The anti-trust division of the DOJ is run by libertarian free-market zealots who have no problem disregarding the law to further their own ideology.
  • "It emerged over the weekend that Google Inc. (GOOG) had complained to both state and federal officials that Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating software was disadvantaging rivals"

    How was it "disadvantaging rivals"? Doesn't say in the article what the actual issue is (unless I completely missed it but I did RTFA a few times). So are they saying because Vista comes with a search program bundled that its not fair or are they saying all the APIs are hidden or are they saying we want the lowest level
  • It's MS OS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahige@NOSpaM.trashmail.net> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:31AM (#19476863) Homepage Journal

    If Chrysler decided to design a car that worked better with specific parts, who would complain. If MS designs their OS so their desktop search works better, great. If Google really wants to be a competitor let them spend all that evil filthy lucre they've amassed and build thier own stinking OS that they can lock MS out of.

    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:42AM (#19476963)

      If Chrysler decided to design a car that worked better with specific parts, who would complain. If MS designs their OS so their desktop search works better, great. If Google really wants to be a competitor let them spend all that evil filthy lucre they've amassed and build thier own stinking OS that they can lock MS out of.

      Did Chrysler increase their market share by 90% last night? If not, the difference between Chrysler and MS is that Microsoft is a convicted monopolist with a very high marketshare of desktop computers while Chrysler is a small player in the US auto market. This means that MS is subject to laws and rules that, in general, Chrysler is not. One of them is leveraging their market share in one market (operating systems) into others (search tools, browsers, etc). If MS is using anticompetitive tactics to render Google's products less capable of working with MS's operating system, to MS's advantage, that could be illegal.

      Note that if Chrysler made 95% of the cars on the road, and Chrysler intentionally restricted their cars so that they would only work with Chrysler-blessed stereos, that would be illegal as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by WED Fan (911325)

        If MS has such a crappy OS, and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on Slashdot can see it? Why don't they come up with a viable, commercial solution to take down the giant? It can be done. You just have to come up with something the consumers, your target market, wants... WANTS to buy.

        Instead of alienating them with geek-boy-speak and socio-economic masturbatory fantasies by RMS, P R O D U C E something the buying public will want to use, can use, out of the box, and that other software makers will support b

        • If drugs are so bad, and eventually lead your life to ruin, why do so many people take them?

          I think for many it's because they don't realize what a rotten deal they have [if they ever do] until they're so helplessly tied to MS owned file formats and way of doing things [cuz finding the print command in another office suite is ACTUALLY beyond the capabilities of some].

          Tom
        • Problem is: Microsoft was "conquering" empty land. In such case it is just sufficient to offer product good enought that people are willing to pay for it.

          The "new offering" you're proposing (which is alredy there IMO in the form of some Linux distros) have to "conquer" not empty land, but land conquered, occupied and aggresively defended by Microsoft. In other words, if you just offer better bang for better money, users still have to also consider what to do about their existing infrastructure based on Mic

        • If MS has such a crappy OS, and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on Slashdot can see it? Why don't they come up with a viable, commercial solution to take down the giant? It can be done. You just have to come up with something the consumers, your target market, wants... WANTS to buy.

          All of which assumes a free market, which doesn't exist when monopolistic, predatory practices kills competition. However, if my product needs to work with another product that is sold by a monopolist, that company can crush m

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by daeg (828071)
        But in this case there is nothing illegal about it. It's a file search! There are numerous ways to turn it off, both user-imitated and automated. Google Desktop's installer could simply disable it and replace it.

        I like Google tools as much as the next guy, and generally distrust MS... but.. it's a file search. Searching files is something an operating system does.

        I can only imagine Google's crying if MS had left their new queryable file system in place.
        • You should apply for a position at Google, since it seems you obviously know so much more than they do about this.
    • You are assigning a right of an individual person to a corporation. That's false. Corporations don't have the same rights as people.

      It's more like, Chrysler purchased up all the gas stations in the country, made deals with gas pump manufacturers and petroleum distributors to sell only to Chrysler, and only allowed Chrylers to fill up.

      That'd be *one* way to get rid of competition.
  • Wrong issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:35AM (#19476897)
    I'd rather see the AG's go after Microsoft for their anti-Linux patent FUD. The DOJ is completely asleep at the wheel (or bought off) on this issue. Maybe the EU will do something about it.
  • by Gilatrout (694977) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:50AM (#19477059)
    My problem with this is not if it actually easier or not to replace Apples search, but the entire presumption that a company cannot put x feature into y product becuase it's hard for someone else. If MSFT wants to put in a search to be competative with APPL, then by all means they have that right, and they are IMO under no obligation to make it simple to replace. What they are obligated to do is allow 3rd parties to develop and install alternatives. The customer can then choose which implementation is better. This choice in no way requires that one implementation must not be coexist with the other.
  • Why is it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toby (759) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @09:55AM (#19477105) Homepage Journal
    That every antitrust story is tagged politics but never crime?

    A curious clue to contemporary American thought patterns?
  • by the_humeister (922869) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:09AM (#19477245)
    Should TCP/IP stack vendors also complain that Microsoft includes a TCP/IP stack in Vista? Yes there was a time when a TCP/IP stack was a separate product that had to be purchased, even on unix systems.
    • by Tony (765)
      Should TCP/IP stack vendors also complain that Microsoft includes a TCP/IP stack in Vista?

      Close.

      It's more like, Microsoft includes a TCP/IP stack with Vista, but only Microsoft products can use it, and it doesn't allow installation of any third party TCP/IP stacks.

      Read the complaint. It's not that Microsoft included a search tool. It's that Microsoft intentionally hobbled the ability to write a third-party search tool.
  • Lame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated AT ema DOT il> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:11AM (#19477265) Journal

    I really hope that this case doesn't get taken to the heights of Microsoft's anti-trust suits did because it's really not worth it...

    Mac OS X includes desktop-wide search functions. I am not sure as to how difficult they are to "turn off," but it comes with the OS to provide ease of use for the user instead of having to find third-party utilities to do the same job as Windows users of the past have had to.

    Now, Microsoft decides to include desktop searching functions as well. If I am not mistaken, these functions can be turned off, but that does not matter. Google is then planning to sue Microsoft for unfair competition because their Desktop Search Application is no longer useful?

    If Google's primary argument in this case is that the integrated desktop search is too difficult to turn off, they better have pretty good lawyesr that can establish a clear and persuasive definition of what it means to "turn off" something. I'm pretty sure that if Google truly wanted to, they could establish an option within their own program (or set a default option) to turn off the Windows searching mechanism. There are also plenty of instructions that could be written to turn off the searching ability. I could go on with this, but the point here is that this main argument is a weak one that will get them nowhere even before the gavel hits the desk.

    Google has a ton of applications that are universally useful; why must they target something that MIcrosoft finally got right?

  • OK, leopards do change their spots, but they're still irresistable killing machines. And Microsoft has played possum a while, but it's still a monopoly.

    I wonder if this kind of complaint will ever result in the Federal government officially finding Microsoft an abusive monopoly that must be corrected.

    Where's Tarzan when we need him?
    • by Tony (765)
      I wonder if this kind of complaint will ever result in the Federal government officially finding Microsoft an abusive monopoly that must be corrected.

      They did. Last time. But for some strange, unaccountable reason, the penalty phase forgot the penalty.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I wonder whether the Gore DoJ would have split up Microsoft into OS, app, dev, game, media & HW companies.
  • by nootron (935356) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:13AM (#19477287)
    Ok, IE integration I can see being a problem. But searching files? Isn't this a core feature of an OS? Whats next, suing MS because Windows allows one to store files? Or maybe Maxtor can sue MS because Windows allows you to format hard drives?
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:13AM (#19477297)
    Frankly, I don't blame MS for locking up the kernel. We all wanted that right? Security, remember that? At the same time as Google has grown it has shown all the earmarks of becoming what they said they wouldn't be, and it started with the desktop search. Now they are being accused of poor privacy protection, collaborating with censors...

    I don't want google or yahoo or anyone else searching my hard drive.
  • "Microsoft May Be Investigated By Attorneys General"

    At least until the AG's new retirement villa clears escrow.
  • a search makes sense. this isnt like the browser...
  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:22AM (#19477409) Homepage Journal
    1) MS investigated by the AG's of several states.
    2) MS taken to court by the states.
    3) Federal government takes case away from states claiming federal jurisdiction. Then drops antitrust case due to pressure from executive branch.
    4) MS Profits!

    I guess we can drop the ??? on this one.
  • RTFOAs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by durnurd (967847) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:39AM (#19477627) Homepage
    (O: Other)

    While the article posted doesn't necessarily make it entirely clear what Google is complaining about, I had the sneaking suspicion that it wasn't just that a search function existed in Vista, as there has always been. So take a look at some other articles if you really want to know what the complaint is about. I found this [axcessnews.com]:

    In a 50-page document Google submitted to the Court, the search provider contends that Vista's desktop search, which is separate from internet search, limits users abilities to run Google's desktop search instead. Basically, Google says Microsoft's new OS only permits users to search Microsoft compatible information, such as e-mail.

    A Google spokesperson said in a statement that Microsoft Vista "violates the consent decree" and that its nearly impossible to turn off. "There is no visible way for users to choose an alternate search provider," the Google spokesman stated.
  • At what point do you draw the line between "something that should be included in an OS" and "anti-competitive behavior"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      In this case the issue is not that they included the search feature, it's that they artificially made it more difficult for other parties to compete with their product. The question of whether this should be included in an OS isn't an issue here.
  • Oh come on. Google is just as big of a corporate behemoth in search engines as Microsoft is for operating systems. Maybe in addition to the (failed) motto of "Don't be evil," they should add (and immediately break) "Don't game the system."
  • Google should STFU (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pyite69 (463042) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#19478105)

    Google are the ones who make a Windows-only product - why are they complaining now? It is the same story every time: they strengthen the Windows franchise and then complain that Microsoft has an unfair advantage.

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