Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Under Antitrust Scrutiny in the US, EU; Offenses Continue to This Date

BC legislative assemble chamber

Summary: Another antitrust peril for Microsoft, an ongoing one in Europe (over Web browsers), and continued violations against Firefox

A FEDERAL antitrust investigation has just been launched to investigate Microsoft's hiring process (among a few other companies). They really ought to take a careful look at what Microsoft does to its US-based workforce. There is gross discrimination against it.

Here are some more specific details about the investigation into alleged "collusion".

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether big tech firms, including Google, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) broke antitrust law by possibly colluding on hiring policies, according to a report in the Washington Post. Apparently the companies may have agreed not to actively recruit employees away from each other, although details in the WP story and a follow up one in the NYT are scarce.

In Europe's case of antitrust enforcement, there is far too much noise coming from Microsoft press and lobbyists [1, 2]. Glyn Moody explains why this is working for Microsoft and why the press fails to capture the context in which action is being taken.

What we are seeing is teacher starting to get heavy with the playground bully - one who, despite a decade of warnings, continues to abuse its monopoly position. What we are seeing is an institution that finally has both the will and means to place limits on what are acceptable business practices.

Of course, forcing Microsoft to give people a choice of browsers when they start up Windows will make little difference to the that market, but that's not the point. The point is the punishment - a further reminder that Microsoft is under scrutiny, and that further serious financial sanctions are always an option. It's absolutely the *right* thing to do, because Microsoft's behaviour for the last two decades has been absolutely the *wrong* thing to do, and it is finally being called to account.

And speaking as abuse in the Web browsers market, Microsoft keeps doing it to this date. Some days ago we wrote about what Microsoft was doing to Mozilla Firefox [1, 2] and now there is a short article titled "Dear Microsoft: Don't meddle with Firefox."

On every "patch Tuesday" the latest roll-up of bug fixes are pushed out to every Windows PC (that has automatic update turned on). All well-and-good, unless you had .NET 3.5 installed along with Firefox.

Earlier this year Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 was pushed out to all relevant PCs. All well-and-good. Except that a hidden portion of the update added the Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant Firefox extension.

Without notification, without permission.

The .NET extensions allow (amongst other more 'reasonable' things) for websites to install any software of their choosing on your PC. Hang on; didn't we all switch to Firefox to avoid such behaviour?

There is a lot more of a discussion right here, among other places. Many people are furious.

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