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Countering the Arguments Against Unbundling Windows 624

An anonymous reader sends in a link to a blog posting by Con Zymaris arguing for competition regulators to force the unbundling of Windows from consumer PCs. The argument takes the form of knocking down one by one the objections raised by "unbundling skeptics."
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Countering the Arguments Against Unbundling Windows

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  • Re:What about Macs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:05PM (#20906463) Homepage
    This is covered in the article, but no, they shouldn't. No more than you'd expect a cell phone to come without software.
  • Re:But then ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by imamac ( 1083405 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:11PM (#20906523)
    Been there done that. If they do it again, they want to e absolutely certain it will work in their favor and not the other way around. It almost killed them last time.
  • Re:What about Macs? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:12PM (#20906531)
    That was my initial impulse as well, however he makes a reasonable point that if Windows made their own branded PC in the same way as Apple makes their own branded computer, they have every right to have Windows as the only option.

    Opposing view?
  • by MushMouth ( 5650 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:30PM (#20906693) Homepage
    The complete window license is more than paid for by all of the bundled trialware and desktop real estate installed by the OEM. If a manufacturer thought they could get the same cash for a free Linux install they would be all over it. In this case regulation only hurts the consumer on both the long and short term.

  • Re:hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by brue68 ( 1159419 ) <brue68@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:40PM (#20906773)
    well, when I try to play WMAs in Ubuntu, I get a message asking if I want it to search the repositories and automatically download and install the necessary packages. It explains the difference between open and proprietary, and prior to install has you accept an agreement that you are using it for "research purposes." Quick and painless.
  • Re:What about Macs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:56PM (#20906915) Homepage Journal
    And that option is still open. Vendors can (and in my opinion, should) offer a default choice of Windows. But they should also offer the option to get an unbundled system.

    This is exactly what I came in to say. If a mostly-Microsoft vendor is worried that people will be "confused" (an oft-cited argument for bundling), then make the Windows OS a default choice. Let the people who don't want to buy it change it to something else.

    More importantly, let people see what they are paying for. If it costs $x for an OEM version of a Windows OS, I can make an informed decision as to whether I want to get it or not. And so can everyone else.

  • Re:But then ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:01PM (#20906955) Journal

    Where did anyone say that Dell doesn't make money, or that Apple doesn't have support costs?

    The implications were that Dell would continue to make money, but that support costs would be transfered to Dell, same as with Windows, if Dell started selling PCs with OSX on them.

  • by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:07PM (#20906991) Homepage Journal
    No manufacturer is FORCED to bundle Microsoft XP or Vista with their hardware.

    Oh yes they are, if they want to stay in business.

    Inform yourself. Here is a start: link here [google.com].

    Manufacturers who wanted to get the nice cheap bulk OEM Windows licenses had (have?) to agree to pay-per-processor/system, regardless of actual OS installed.

    PC sales run on obscenely thin margins. If a manufacturer can't get the cheap price, they'll lose competition to someone who can.

    Dig around. Some of the manufacturers (see Gateway) had sales minimums and marketing requirements attached to the prices.

    So yes, they are FORCED.
  • Re:What about Macs? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:12PM (#20907023) Journal
    The problem is that the article singles out Microsoft as the only one that should be unbundled.

    No it doesn't.

    If Microsoft wanted to sell a Windows PC that it itself made, then this also wouldn't be a problem.
    TFA says that Microsoft were to sell the entire package themselves, fine. It's the forced bundling with other manufacturer's products that's the problem.
  • by non ( 130182 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:47PM (#20907221) Homepage Journal
    there were other operating systems, ones that ran on x86 hardware. they were better than windows, too. the company that created one of them desperately tried to sell dual-boot systems (they had an excellent boot manager, for which i left the OS installed long after it had any relevance). as far the argument that they will be gone in 10 years, i find it highly unlikely; the barriers to entry are too many.

    why didn't they get a manufacturer to ship dual-boot systems with their OS? because microsoft's OS licensing policy forbids it, it not by outright language, then by punitive cost measures. this was part of the focus of the department of justice's antitrust suit. as a matter of fact, even beige box companies used to force a copy of windows on individuals who purchased an entire system. microsoft's corporate policy is to force the entire world, if possible, to have only one choice. excuse me, let me correct myself; one choice in several flavors (think all the different vista incarnations that will be paraded in front of any future antitrust action as evidence of innovation and variety).

    did i hear anyone say BeOS? no, i didn't think so :-(
  • > Unless people consistently mount /home as noexec, malware will be a problem for Linux or OSX as soon as the get market share (based on Firefox I would say 10-20 percent is the magic number).

    Once something gets into a users .rc files or whatnot, it is plenty useful as a mail relay, or a pop-up maker."

    I would suggest that most people mount /home on a separate hard drive (or if they can't do that, at least a separate partition).

    Of course, the situation isn't comparable with Windows for another reason - the good thing about inux and other open-source products is that we aren't beholden to a single business for fixes.

  • Have you installed linux lately? Its a lot easier than Windows.

    Its also a lot easier to create a master hard drive image that can be installed across various hardware configurations, since there is no WGA, activation, or tying to the installed hardware to generate keys, and you can resize the image once its on the hard drive.

    All this means lower, not higher, deployment and support costs.

  • Re:But then ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @01:11AM (#20907663) Journal

    > "Unbundling won't happen - when sheeple buy a computer, they expect to have a fully functional thing that can surf the "Interweb" and "process a word", and "sheet a spread".

    Case in point: I encountered an irate phone caller because the version of Microsoft Office with her mac was only a trial version. She didn't like this, and ended up filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in spite of the fact that the computer in question clearly stated that it came with a trial version.

    ... and linux does all that out of the box. All the distros I've tested automatically discovered and configured my internet connection, and are certainly more "fully functional" than any box that comes with Windows pre-installed. Multiple office suites, and now with click-and-install mp3 and dvd players, virtual machines (so you can run Windows where it belongs - in a window), etc.

    Unbundling will happen, within the next 2 years.

  • by gobbo ( 567674 ) <{wrewrite} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @02:04AM (#20907915) Journal

    actually, the evidence seems to suggest that advanced users of windows have a more difficult time switching than novice users. A novice is used to clicking through menus and trying to figure out the buttons, whereas a more experienced user already knows shortcuts and practiced movements.

    I'm constantly running into people with expensive laptops or years of usage who truly want an appliance PC, and have settled into an uneasy compromise of knowing just what to do to get predictable effects, like reading email. These are people who call the computer a 'hard drive' or think that IE is 'the internet' because that's what it says in the start menu, often professionals who rely on computers, often in their 50's. The mere mention of changing to another operating system truly freaks them out, because they've invested enough braintime to not be so afraid of the damn thing. Even using a Mac is threatening because they 'don't know where anything is' [translation: where the start menu is, etc.].

    Computers badly fail the 'appliance' test. I tell them that they should learn to use it, the same way a carpenter has to learn a table saw or plumb line, but get chagrined shrugs.

    So, next week, I'm starting an afterschool computer club at my kids' school. They've just moved the whole district to Fedora via the Linux Terminal Server Project [ltsp.org], w00t, no hardware replacement costs in my tax bill, so it's just getting interesting here in this small community, there's hope for the kids, more likely they'll convert the old farts by importing linux into the home.

  • by jma05 ( 897351 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @02:08AM (#20907931)
    > Ah, but what's the proportional value of the software? See, you need to think more like a salesperson. Cost is irrelevant. It's the value that is added. And, look at all the value Windows adds to a PC.

    First, cost is not irrelevant. Value is important. Granted, Windows comes with a certain unique feature set. But seriously, you are not comparing that value to a Linux desktop distro that has just about every software a regular user would need? The pieces that are missing are mostly because there is a monopoly OS out there (Third party proprietary software, driver, formats).

    a) You have Direct X 10, for games. And, there are a ton of games for Windows.

    Hard to argue. But without the monopoly status, DirectX cannot maintain as much lead. It still is better than OpenGL alternatives though.

    b) You .NET, for business applications development

    Not compelling. Too many other alternatives now.

    c) You have a pretty good web browser. Yeah, IE has its flaws, but it works pretty good for most people. That is, I can go to the baseball site, get the scores, and it works.

    Every desktop OS now comes with an browser. IE works for most people because that is all they know. Once they understand taking advantage of FireFox plugins, they never go back. That has been the case with every IE user who has watched me use my browser more than a few minutes.

    d) You have interfaces to a whole bunch of consumer appliances, from digital cameras and video players, and more.

    So do Linux distros. Windows market status attracts driver support from appliance makers, but not as much of an advantage of the software architecture per se.

    e) Vista has a really cool sound model that I am eager to play with.

    I don't know much about it. I will skip that.

    f) Unicode (UTF-16) is built in from the ground up. NTFS stacks up well against Reiser and ExtN for most applications. Remote Desktop and Terminal Services for Windows work really well...

    Don't know about UTF-16 enhancements. RDP is a good but remoting X and Linux Terminal Server work quite well too. Don't forget though that to have these features you have to pay quite a bit more too. Sure, but NTFS is good enough. But good enough is not what we are talking about. We are talking about what they offer to justify 95% market share and making computers cost significantly higher when they barely manage to go up against free alternatives. I expect 6 billion in productions costs to do a lot more.

    And this is not a new argument. This has all played out before. When IE won the browser wars, MS froze all further development on it (the team was disbanded as I recall), after all it made no business sense to spend any more money on it. The only reason that we even have an updated IE7 is because of FireFox. That is the price of a monopoly.
  • by El-Wrongo ( 1105293 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @02:41AM (#20908077)
    Laissez-faire means hands off, not free or open. http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/17/1448233/ [slashdot.org] is a good place to look for both a version of why MS have become popular and a discussion as well.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @03:50AM (#20908359) Homepage
    Yes, I know this is slashdot, but you could try reading the article. There's a whole section called "But Windows only constitutes a mere 10% of the price of a PC, right?" which might interest you.


    "Windows has reached 35% of the price of a new computer."

    "52% of the price of a new Acer laptop was constituted by the forced-bundling of Microsoft and other Windows platform software"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @04:13AM (#20908459)
    but printer and scanner support sucks

    That's a bit of a sweeping statement. For example my HP deskjet works perfectly in Linux as (I believe) do just about all HP printers, since HP write properly supported drivers for them. My Cannon scanner works better with XSane under Linux (more options etc.) than it did with the supplied windows driver. What people mostly seem to complain about is multi-function printer/scanners etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @04:35AM (#20908557)

    Virii in the traditional sense probably won't be as bad, but do they even exist anymore?
    Don't say "virii". It's retarded.
  • Re:But then ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @07:30AM (#20909401)
    Apple clearly rejected the idea of selling their operating system separately a long time ago. In the late 80's there were at least two companies that made Mac clones. Apple refused to sell them the operating system and sued them out of business for copyright infringement.
  • Re:But then ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by D3viL ( 814681 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @10:05AM (#20910919)
    From 1995 to 1997 Apple licensed their OS (Mac OS7) to several clone makers such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Computing [wikipedia.org], the clone program ended when Jobs returned to apple and boosted the license cost so high that it was no longer profitable to sell mac clones

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