Conflicts of Interest

It looks as though Microsoft will require the installation of their new operating system, Vista (née Longhorn), in order to run the PC version of their hit video game, Halo II. Vista has already been delayed several times and is now scheduled for release in December 2006. No independent software maker would have written the game for an OS that doesn’t yet exist. Instead, Microsoft seems to be using their application software to drive sales of their operating system software. Don’t be surprised if you see the next MS Office release “optimized” for Vista, or backward compatibility problems between Vista and older versions of Office.

This also may help explain why Microsoft released part of its Windows source code to the EU in connection with a monopoly investigation. Call me paranoid, but I suspect that parts of that source code will become obsolete.

We saw similar issues with the Sony DRM/spyware/rootkit problems. Sony is both a content provider (music and movies, CDs and DVDs) and a hardware manufacturer. One of their hardware lines is the Sony Minidisk system. The proprietary encoding software that comes with the player includes a system for counting how many times a song has been “checked out” from your hard disk to a minidisk, with the maximum set at three (net of the times it has been “checked in” and removed from a minidisk). The original version of the software and player did not allow for MP3s; the current version will play them, but cripples some of the functions available on other players.

Sony’s spyware ploy was based on the realization that the market had left their minidisk player behind, so their preferred method of controlling the spread of copied content had failed. The minidisk hardware and software were both proprietary and not adopted by other companies, with the exception of some third-party minidisk manufacturing. They were in effect trying their Betamax strategy again, and it didn’t work this time, either. Earlier attempts to restrict copying had been evaded by disabling the copy-protect function resident on the disk. Sony’s solution was to alter the user’s application software to mimic the behavior of the minidisk player. And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.

5 thoughts on “Conflicts of Interest”

  1. Another reason I went to OpenOffice as my heavy duty software suite.

    Open source and multiplatform. MS will undoubtedly violate one or a couple of the court directions from their previous monopoly case losses, till another set of trials puts them in the corner. I can only wish that next time instead of using Sherman to take them on, the fed’s use RICO. It’ll work a lot faster and hit the people responsible.

  2. Microsoft tries so hard to interlink all their products that the user ends up feeling like they are draped in chains like Marley’s ghost. I think all the integration is reaching some kind of critical mass that will trigger an implosion.

  3. A large number of people responsible for business networks are poised to replace Microsoft in a number of areas. We’re just waiting for the code to mature. By increasing the pain of sticking with MS, the migration will happen faster.

    One bit of news, though. Intel is moving the industry away from BIOS and to their next generation firmware scheme, EFI. This is for good and reasonable reasons. BIOS is a horrible, horrible system that needs to be taken out back and shot. It’s long outlived its usefulness.

    Microsoft Vista will be the first OS that supports EFI and no announcements have been made of including EFI support in earlier client or server versions of 32 bit Windows.

  4. What we are seeing is the act of a desperate company.

    The more MSFT tries to box us in, the more solutions will be developed to break out.

    Firefox is already somewhere around 130million downloads.

    Apple is taking a bite out of msft’s consumer market (and dell’s too for that matter) that will only accelerate with the replacement of big, hot, slow PowerPC chips with smaller, faster, cooler Intel chips.

    It won’t be long before there’s a viable business solution from either MAC or Linux. When that happens, MSFT will reap what it has sown.

  5. Mac OS X for Intel (the new laptop and iMac OS) uses EFI. That is the principal reason it is not trivial to run Windows XP natively on the new Macs. Very soon somebody will hack a seamless way to run Win on Macintel for those who care to do it. I switched 95% to Mac last year (haven’t sprung for Photoshop or Acrobat yet) and it is a pleasure not to wrangle the virus/worm stuff all the time. Norton software, not Microsoft, finally drove me off windows.

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