Feeds

back to article Antitrust probe looms over Windows RT 'browser ban'

US politicians are reportedly poring over complaints by Mozilla that Microsoft will block access to rival browsers in Windows 8 on ARM, aka Windows RT. The powerful Senate Judiciary Committee plans to “take a look” at the allegations made by the Firefox maker last week, which were backed up by Google. Whispers of a probe …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

grabs popcorn....

this could be fun. lets the arguments commence...

4
0

Microsoft never did comply

Microsoft never has complied with antitrust law.

The US Appellate court did decide that commingling the code between IE and the OS was a violation of antitrust law. And that decision is now the law. Not only of the case but also of antitrust law in the US.

For those slow learners, settlements NEVER determine what the law is. Only appellate court decisions do that.

And since the US DOJ took money or support from Microsoft rather than inforce the law as decided against Microsoft, it is not surprise to find Microsoft violating the law yet again.

For anyone thinking they like being denied choices in the marketplace, your mother has some clothes laid out for you on the bed. And she packed a lunch for you too.

11
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft never did comply

Microsoft are clearly immune from anti-trust and anti-bribery laws in the US.

I mean they are seemingly able to bribe the media with free gifts, "review" units, free consoles, free flights, free accommodation for press events, free Vista laptops.

Only this weekend was I taking the piss out of a friends Windows Phone Lumia, and he works for Carphone Warehouse, he told me Nokia gave them 2000 Lumias to give out as freebies. ('m guessing they couldn't sell them).

7
4
Silver badge

Re: Microsoft never did comply

I have a Nokia Lumia 710. (Bought, not a freebie). I really like it. The WP7 interface is really good, imo. Also, taking the piss out of people for their phones? Really?

9
6
Silver badge
Unhappy

Boring

Guess who's deeply invested in the justice department. Nothing will happen.

1
1
Silver badge

@AC

And yet when you check out Amazon's Top 100 of best selling cell phones with service plans you'll see a Lumia sitting in the top 20. (at the time of writing it sits at 20).

I consider that not bad at all for an environment which is roughly 1.5 years old.

And although I know Amazon may not be the best resource it appears that they are honest with "stats which change on an hourly basis". Because only a week ago there were Lumia's sitting on place 8 and place 16.

Its not as if the devices aren't getting sold or anything.

3
4
Gold badge

Re: Boring

Some in the US government seem to think that being anti-Microsoft seems to equate to being anti-American .

Almost as if having a US monopoly is a good thing as if there wasn't one it might mean foreign companies having more of a share.

6
4
Silver badge
Stop

@Giles

Only that within that context MS doesn't ride the wave alone. There are plenty of other big US companies that get away with lots of unwanted stuff. From Intel to Apple and beyond.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: @AC

If Nokia doesn't get phones in the top 5 in the next six months, WP will officially be DOA as will Nokia M$ partnership (is it a partnership if one party flat out bribes another to fail?). Who would buy a current WP7 phone when the upgrade path is very shaky at best?

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft never did comply

Actually I wasn't taking the piss out of his phone, I was taking the piss out of him for accepting it.

However he quickly conceded that it was as shit as everyone claims, and he is going to give it back (he isn't allowed to ebay it), and use his SGS2

It's slow, super laggy, the apps REALLY suck, battery life sucks, reception isn't anything to write home about (but better than a iPhone), and it's REALLY buggy, the worst being that you can't use the keyboard when using calls (like phone banking), as the screen is off, with no way to turn it off. If the other user hangs up first, it frequently needs a hard reset to get working again.

1
0
Silver badge

@ShelLuser - Not sure what you're trying to say there.

At the time of posting, a Blackberry sits at number 8 and the LG Xpression feature phone at number 16, followed by Nokia Lumia 900 at 17 and 18.

Everything else in the top 20 is an Android - most are Samsung, and there's a couple of Motorolas and HTCs.

The real question is whether they're actually making any money.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Microsoft never did comply

"However he quickly conceded that it was as shit as everyone claims"

But people don't claim that. Various ACs and others on El Reg. forums do, but I own one and I like it. Lots of reviewers like it also. I wonder if you've actually used it. You will of course say you have, but I've been using mine for most of a month now and what you have written just doesn't match up with how it's been. For example:

"It's slow, super laggy, the apps REALLY suck"

Mine is very responsive. I'm not a big app user, but it has Word, Excel and One Note on it, which I consider great. It hooks into multiple email accounts neatly and lets me configure how I want to handle each of them. As a phone for getting things done, it's the best I've used. For the Apps I've wanted, I've been able to find them for it. There are fewer than with Android and iPhone, but I think 98% of apps are duplicates or rubbish anyway. But by all means, if a very large number of apps is what you require from a phone, go ahead and get an iPhone or Android device. I wont take the piss out of you for owning it (or accepting it, I'm not 100% clear on the hard distinguishing line). But equally, for most people, the apps are probably fine on the phone.

I've not noticed battery life to be worse than other smart phones. I've been able to have several long (1hr+) conversations on it in a day plus Internet and it's still going at the end. . I haven't actually let it get all the way to the bottom yet to see how long it will absolutely last. Anyway, it doesn't "suck". I think there was an O/S flaw early on that ran the battery down. At any rate, it was fixed in an update before I got mine.

"the worst being that you can't use the keyboard when using calls (like phone banking), as the screen is off, with no way to turn it off"

That's not true. I do this frequently and the screen turns on and gives me access to the keyboard straight away.

"it frequently needs a hard reset to get working again."

I really have to wonder where you're getting this stuff as again, I've never experienced this problem and have been using it for a while.

Maybe I'm holding it wrong?

3
1
Silver badge

Re: @AC

"Who would buy a current WP7 phone when the upgrade path is very shaky at best?"

You get all the patches and security updates, etc. What more do I need? It already does everything I want. I paid £160 for it SIM free and I probably wont change it for years. Obviously I can't upgrade the O/S to the next version like I can with an iPhone or an Android device, right? But I don't really care. I doubt many do except for those looking for reasons to discredit it.

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Microsoft never did comply

"it frequently needs a hard reset to get working again"

Just like every other Windows product, then.

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

@AC

"the worst being that you can't use the keyboard when using calls (like phone banking), as the screen is off, with no way to turn it off."

Yet you can. The reason I know this from mind is because its this aspect which made me carry both a PDA /and/ cellphone for a very long time (even when smartphones became more popular). It was one of the reasons I picked up this particular phone.

When talking you simply shake the phone a little (or touch the screen) and it'll come up. Put the phone into speaker mode (if you want to keep talking). Then simply press the Windows key (start button) and you'll be in the start screen with a bar at the top which tells you that you have a call in progress.

Now you can basically do anything you want. Including taking notes, surfing the net, looking up phone numbers, even speech commands work to some extend.

If you use an earpiece its even easier; then you don't have to bother with speaker mode at all; you simply hit the Windows key and start taking notes as much as you want.

(or surf the net for pr0n when the conversation is utterly boring ;-))

4
1
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: @AC

>When talking you simply shake the phone a little (or touch the screen) and it'll come up. Put the phone into speaker mode (if you want to keep talking). Then simply press the Windows key (start button) and you'll be in the start screen with a bar at the top which tells you that you have a call in progress.

Wow you are really going to post that clusterf__k of directions and pass it off as being intuitive. LMAO Fail. On Android you press one button and your keyboard comes right up.

1
2
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: @AC

Great I am glad you enjoy your windows phone. After suffering with a Treo with WM5 or whatever was on there, I am once bitten. Like most Merkins I am not a big Nokia nut hugger in general and to be honest their new phones looks cheap and plastic like a kids toy to me. Oh well at least they didn't put buttons on the outside of it like all the hideous RIM phones.

0
1
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: @ShelLuser - Not sure what you're trying to say there.

"The real question is whether they're actually making any money."

Not if they are in the top 20 because they gave them away. But who's counting?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: @AC

"Wow you are really going to post that clusterf__k of directions and pass it off as being intuitive. LMAO Fail. On Android you press one button and your keyboard comes right up."

I don't think you understood. You get the same on WP7, just tap the screen. The reason for the fuller explanation is because you can do more than this. Tap the home button and you're back to your normal interface without ever ending the call. As ShelLuser wrote, you can surf the web, go through your txts, play games, all without ending the call. And it's very simple. I think I remember you from a previous comment thread spewing a load of hatred at WP7. It is odd as given your confusion over basic facts like using the numpad or other parts whilst on a call, you plainly haven't much experience in actually using one.

"Great I am glad you enjoy your windows phone."

You don't give that impression. You give the impression that any success or positive commentary of the WP7 is a personal affront to you. And you seem to take great pleasure in finding anything you can call a flaw in the system (rightly or wrongly).

"After suffering with a Treo with WM5 or whatever was on there, I am once bitten"

Wow. You really are well-informed and up to date on your information, aren't you? You are aware that WP7 is a different Operating System to WM5? And that the Treo was a very early smartphone from years ago? I'd suggest you grab a Lumia and try it out for a week, but I don't think you like having your preconceptions challenged. You seem to love them too much.

After suffering with a Treo with WM5 or whatever was on there, I am once bitten

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC

You know that's not real right?

That's Microsoft's power of viral marketing at work right there, and frankly Amazon should be exposing them for this...

I have seen this exact tripe posted word for work elsewhere, so I'm guessing you are just a Redmond/Reading shill.

And yes, The Lumias aren't getting sold, the VAST proporation of Nokia's numbers are given as freebies/sitting is dusty storerooms or buried in a deep hole outside Oulu (sorry Chenia/Dongguan)

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: In call operations

So basically the feature and method for accessing other phone functions during a call is pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME on both Windows Phone and Android, in design.

Thanks for clearing that up.

However, on my WM6.5 device it would quite frequently refuse to come back from screen-off during a call - which was very annoying. I can't speak for the newer version, though.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: @AC

>I don't think you understood. You get the same on WP7, just tap the screen. The reason for the fuller explanation is because you can do more than this

I am sorry but having to put your call on speaker phone to bring up the dial pad is beyond retarded. When Nokia finally figures out what Sendo realized too late, WP8 isn't going to have a lot of makers willing to muck with it even with the massive Microsoft bribery.

0
2
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: @AC

"Earlier today we told you how Samsung had overtaken Nokia to become the biggest seller of handsets in the world, and in turn ending fourteen years of Nokia’s reign. Now it is being reported by AppleInsider that Nokia has earned more from licensing patents to Apple than selling its range of Lumia Windows Phone 7 devices.

The company actually lost money selling handsets during the last quarter that saw a $1.7 billion overall loss, which came despite the launch of the new Lumia models. The first quarter of last year saw Nokia shifting 108.5 million handsets, which compares to this year’s 82.7 million units that equates to a fall of 24 percent"

http://www.phonesreview.co.uk/2012/04/27/nokia-earns-more-from-apple-than-its-lumia-range/

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: @AC

But please I wouldn't want to ruin the pretty picture all these Anonymous Cowards are trying to paint about WP7. I guess its smart to post as an AC or else you might see they have 4 total posts all nut hugging on M$ gear.

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC

asdf

What a complete d1ck. And a retarded one at that too.

1
0

I'd support such complaints, but why aren't there similar complaints about browsers on the iPad?

16
2
Silver badge

@Ian Ferguson

There were complaints, due to the restrictions put on them by Apple, but one managed to jump through the hoops and get accepted.

2
0
Bronze badge

What?

You weren't really expecting any form of consistency were you.....what scope would there be for retrial after retrial if a sensible consistent approach was used.

I would keep an eye out for the lawyer hit-squads if I were you after making comments like that...

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: @Ian Ferguson

I wouldn't say a "rival browser" has ever been accepted. Most of the "rival" browsers on the app store are simply safari with a skin and a few improvements. But they're basically 100% safari still. The only exception I'm aware of is the Opera browser, but that's not really what we'd call a browser nowadays. It's rendering static pages without javascript or anything fancy at all - the rest is handled by Opera's servers. It's great when you're on a slow link, but it's not a full browser.

So, real browsers on the app store: none. There's just rebadged safari really.

15
1
Anonymous Coward

Maybe its an elephant trap ... they'll roll up at court and explain that they were doing nothing different from Apple and assumed that this was all fine and dandy but now they've looked into it they accept that doing this is clearly illegal and they unreservedly agree to a court ruling that they, Apple and anyone else doign the same should cease forthwith

9
0
Anonymous Coward

Why not iPad?

@Ian Ferguson: "I'd support such complaints, but why aren't there similar complaints about browsers on the iPad?"

Microsoft is positioning tablets as just bother form factor for a 'PC' that runs Windows. In other words, MS Windows is the gateway to computer use (and the Internet) for 90-95% of the current computer market. Therefore, MS still has a major monopoly on the market. This isn't a problem in itself, but is does mean that MS is subject to close scrutiny to ensure this monopoly isn't used as a weapon to destroy all possible competition. MS has already been found guilty of this in the recent past, so regulators will be watching it closely.

Conversely, Apple is still a relatively minor player (5-10% market share maybe?). It isn't in a position to dictate to the market - if it does, its partners will simply shrug their shoulders, walk away, and focus on the 90% of the market outside of Apple.

Although it may seem as if Windows RT will be a small part of the overall Windows empire (and hence the harm to competing browsers will be slight), you don't need to dig very deep to see why this is a problem. Many businesses look for solutions that can be universally rolled out to employees - if IE works on all the devices and other browsers don't, IE will win every time. Manufacturers will take a similar view - bundle IE everywhere because it's the only solution that works everywhere.

7
9
Mushroom

Its all about the search revenue

History has shown on iOS that web browser developers don't really care about the engine - what they want is the tasty search engine revenue. Its all about the brand these days.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: @Ian Ferguson

Is the difference that Apple allow Safari re-skins? So anyone can say "We are as fast as Safari"! They don't need to use the APIs directly, they can just call the function from within the Safari browser it's self.

Where as, if MS lock everyone out of IE (and it's APIs) on the OS, then no one can "compete".

So although it looks like Apple is locking people out, they at least share the toys. I guess it's the fact IE want to keep all the toys to themselves.

I could be wrong though, it would be good to know more about it.

0
1
Silver badge

I think Ralph almost has the right point. Apple's decision was made when they weren't a majority player (indeed, the product hadn't yet launched), isn't as extreme as Microsoft's (as other browsers are allowed), and doesn't reduce anyone's access to the market.

Microsoft have been keen to promote this as another facet of existing Windows. So that's a company with a monopoly market share explicitly banning rival products, where those are already established.

1
8
Silver badge

You're right there should be complaints about Apple too. By tying their platform to their store and deliberately stomping on apps which "compete" with their own they are acting as an abusive monopoly.

7
4

Re: @Ian Ferguson

Apple doesn't stop anyone from writing or distributing web browsers for iOS. It merely refuses to allow distribution through its app store. Microsoft OTOH is actually preventing web browsers from being written at all. It may sound moot given the end results but I suspect it would be viewed differently in a court of law.

0
12
Bronze badge

Idiot - buy a dictionary

0
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: @Jason Hindle

Please explain to a normal user exactly how you go about finding a real alternative browser as the only way to install something outside of the app store is to jailbreak your device which then becomes unsupported by Apple.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: DrXym

Although I got down voted, probably for failing to have the requisite pathological rage or daring not to predicate my argument on its conclusion, I think DrXym's comment finishes off the point I was grasping for. Ian's question is why aren't there complaints, not why shouldn't there be, so while DrXym's belief that there should be could easily be legally accurate, the fact that Apple didn't cut anyone with an existing interest out if the market is probably why there have been no complaints.

It's the difference between eating into someone's revenue stream and not allowing them to have one in the first place; in the first case you'd be much more likely to risk money on lawyers and hearings.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS browser

As far as browsers on the iPad are concerned, I am using iCab rather than Safari. I also have the option of using Atomic, Opera, Dolphin and many others. What Apple will not permit, unfortunately, is allow a third party browser to become the main iOS browser.

0
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS browser

No you aren't. With the exception of Opera which isn't a real browser as everything is rendered on operas servers all the others are is a skin. A front end to cover the webkit back end giving you the illusion of choice.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Elephant Trap

That's what ran through my mind when I read this as well. It's a nice idea. Be your own fall guy and take down the others with you.

But I think it's not that. It could be, but there are fairly logical reasons to account for what MS is doing without that sort of play being the motivation.

It's probably too late to get some actual facts into this story, but I'm sure I'm not the only one curious about how exactly Mozilla say they're being blocked from releasing their browser on WOA. (And we should all remember, this applies ONLY to ARM devices. The bulk of W8 installs can carry on as normal). Basically, Mozilla (and anyone else) can create as many browsers for WOA as they want. What they're saying is that they wont be able to compete with IE on those devices because IE has access to APIs that they do not. This is a bit of a cut and paste from my previous post on the subject, but the information is the same, so I might as well:

I think this is more about user experience than trying to lock out other browsers. I think we all know that browsers and OS are becoming ever more linked, to the point that in some cases (ChromeOS) they actually are the same thing. MS had Windows Active Desktop long ago which was an early step down this road.

With OS and browser becoming ever more entwined, IE10 is gradually becoming an extension of the OS. And on ARM that is even more so given that WOA lacks the combo-Win32 and Metro API access that the desktop version does. So basically, either MS give up the whole sandboxed, more limited API model they planned to use in WOA for installable applications (i.e. installable Apps have the same access as things they make themself - pretty bad for security and not something anyone else is doign), or they cast themselves on the other side of it and say that nobody including themselves, gets to have a closely integrated OS-browser model. At which point they get pummelled by groups like Google and Apple who have no objection to doing this sort of close integration.

After a little digging I found a few references to what the Firefox crew feel is missing. Apparently they wont be able to spawn separate processes, which they use for things like sandboxing plugins, and making memory writable (directly, I presume) which they use for improving Javascript performance.

It is bad that there is less choice. But at the same time, I can see why Windows, on a tightly controlled device like a tablet (again, remember that we're only talking about Windows on ARM, here) want to prevent installable Apps that spawn multiple processes at will and directly fiddle with the memory. Essentially, they trust themselves to do that, but not to let any old random App writer to have that sort of power. Are Firefox "any old random App writer"? Well, if not, how do you decide that the next person who wants the privileges isn't the same?

5
4
Gold badge

I've got about three different browsers on mine.

But you see the problem here is for the tablet UI Microsoft are using HTML5 and how can they guarantee that a 3rd party browser will work 100% the same? they can't so it means they have to mandate IE.

1
2

The difference between apple and MS is apple has no monopoly to abuse where as MS certainly has an OS monopoly and a proven track record of abusing its power.

2
7

Re: @Ian Ferguson

So would chrome be a reskinned safari since it uses webkit? I belive that's about the only requirement for an ios browser is that it has to use webkit.

0
4
Silver badge

@Philip

You mean "download a spellchecker".

0
0

Re: @Jason Hindle

You jail break it and install an alternative browser that is not approved by Apple. Good luck finding one of those should you take that course of action (and no, I do not advocate jail breaking iOS devices).

0
1

Re: @Jason Hindle

I guess he's referring to Apple's Ad Hoc and Enterprise Distribution methods for Apps which aren't publically distributed - these don't have the same level of scrutiny and aren't subject to non-compete clauses etc

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS browser

So why aren't Mozilla making the same fuss over iDevices ?

(Serious question)

0
0
Silver badge

The difference between Apple and MS vis-a-vie anti-trust law

is that MS is perceived as the convicted monopolist (not quite true) and Apple is perceived as the only viable commercial alternative. Behaviorally, there's not a spark plug's airgap of difference between the two.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.