View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, March 19, 2004

Nobody Roots for Goliath 

Unless Goliath is the EU, I guess. The EU has decided to punish Microsoft for packaging its Media Player with Windows. Initially, they tried to reach a settlement with Microsoft, which would have required Microsoft to unbundle the Media Player in Windows shipped worldwide. Apparently, not having learned from Belgium's little experiment in extraterritoriality (whoops, the EU is in Belgium!), the learned commissioners thought they'd try it themselves. Microsoft demurred, preferring to pay the fine, and ship two versions of Windows in Europe, one with, and one without.

To understand why, you need to understand that bundling different content readers into Windows is part of a larger plan. Open a Windows Explorer. (Not Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, the program you use to look at your files and your folders.) Paste in this URL at the top:

Hello! Welcome back! That's right: your Windows Explorer acts as a browser. You can also open Word, Excel, Powerpoint documents in IE. IR loads up a runtime version of Word and shows the document. Microsoft's eventual idea is to integrate all these applications into one desktop, which will call up the right one when needed, and let the programs exchange information at will. You could include sound files in you Word doc or even in your Excel spreadsheet. You could include bits of an Excel in a Word doc or a Powerpoint. Data exchange becomes easy, and business becomes that much more efficient. Extend that to your PDA, your MP3 player, whatever else runs Windows or Windows CE.

Programmers from other companies, who are clever enough, could write their own apps which make use of Word, or which Windows could import into Word docs. This includes databases, statistical packages, text editors, programs that show the night sky, or do your business accounting. Image editors, games, testing software all working together.

But the EU doesn't like that idea. The EU thinks that's monopolistic behavior. The EU has neither imagination nor innovation. The EU wants to stifle those who do.

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