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5/14/2012
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Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention

Rivals say new Microsoft operating system favors Internet Explorer over third-party browsers such as Firefox.

8 Tablets That Will Run Windows 8 Now
8 Tablets That Will Run Windows 8 Now
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to investigate charges that a version of Windows designed to run on tablets violates antitrust laws by limiting access for browsers that compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, a published report said.

An aide to Antitrust subcommittee chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) told The Hill that committee staffers will review complaints by third-party browser developers, including Mozilla, that Windows 8 RT will run only Internet Explorer in the desktop mode.

News of the investigation comes shortly after Mozilla officials publicly slammed Microsoft for its tablet architecture.

"Unfortunately, the upcoming release of Windows 8 for the ARM processor architecture and Microsoft's browser practices regarding Windows 8 Metro signal an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn't have browser choices," said Mozilla general counsel Harvey Anderson, in a blog post last week. Mozilla develops the rival Firefox browser.

"Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged 'Windows Classic' environment. In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed," said Anderson.

"Windows on ARM--as currently designed—restricts user choice, reduces competition, and chills innovation," Anderson added. Microsoft representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[ Considering a Windows 8 ARM tablet? Here's what you need to know now: Windows 8 ARM Tablets: 8 Must-Know Facts. ]

Microsoft is no stranger to concerns about its software bundling practices. The U.S. Department of Justice famously sued the company for antitrust violations in 1998 over its tying of Explorer to the Windows operating system. Under a settlement, the terms of which expired last year, Microsoft agreed to make Windows more open to third-party developers.

Microsoft has also been sued by the European Commission for engaging in what the EC called anticompetitive behavior.

In recent years, Microsoft has seen its share of the browser market decline as an increasing number of consumers use smartphones and tablets, instead of Windows PCs, to access the Internet. Internet Explorer's share of the browser market currently stands at about 54%, according to the latest data from Net Applications. That's down from about 80% five years ago.

Given Microsoft's overall decline in the consumer computing market, it could be difficult for rivals to convince the government to take formal action against the company the way it did in the mid-90s, when Microsoft dominated most aspects of the PC business.

At this interactive Enterprise Mobility Virtual Event, experts and solution providers will offer detailed insight into how to bring some order to the mobile industry innovation chaos. When you register, you will gain access to live webcast presentations and virtual booths packed with free resources. It happens May 17.

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ANON1237925156805
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ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/17/2012 | 3:35:00 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Opera works great on iOS, and there are a couple of other non-Safari options as well. Still Firefox is not available and they are known to have submitted an iPhone app. Not sure why Apple capriciously rejects certain browsers from its App store; unless it can articulate genuine security or performance concerns it should not do so. Mr. Job's famous feuds should be buried with him and objective criteria used in vetting apps across the board. I don't think that we're there yet.

But two wrongs don't make a right. When Microsoft missteps that can't be justified by pointing to Apple's failings (or vice versa). Besides in this regard the two organizations are not comparable.

Apple has never had a monopoly in anyy class of product they sell. Those who don't like Apple's policies or price point can and do vote with their wallets, pens and keyboards. So when they tighten the strings too tightly they shoot themselves in the foot.

In contrasst Microsoft ruled the enterprise almost singlehandedly for 25 years; they continue to own the PC space and lots of back end infrastructure. When they freeze out a competitor product (qv Netscape) it has a good chance of disappearing even if it's a superior product.

We know from experience that Microsoft would be nothing loath to use its dominance as a wedge to force a place at the table for their upcoming tablets. THAT'S what is making everyone cautious.

Historically the DOJ has acted when it's too late. It's commendable that they've learned to keep tabs on all the players proactively. This will come to nothing unless Microsoft hits one out of the park with its new tablet OS.

In contrast the iPad is heading in the direction of dominance; if it gets there I'm sure that the DOJ will be all over it, just as they are looking at Google now.

oscil
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oscil,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/17/2012 | 3:30:04 AM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
This really is insanity. I'm running Windows 8 on a tablet now and have both Firefox and Chrome running in desktop mode (I'm posting this from Firefox). Conversely on my iPad the Safari browser is the default. If I want to open something in a browser - Safari, from an email - Safari. Despite a Google app being available, Chrome is not yet on iPad and Google still have to get it past Apple. Whatever you may think, Firefox is also not available on iPad.
ANON1235564952743
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ANON1235564952743,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2012 | 7:49:17 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
It doesnGÇÖt say they donGÇÖt allow other browsers to run, it says they cannot run "in the privileged 'Windows Classic' mode ". That is quite different. Companies had to re-write browsers for other tablets, same thing here except that Microsoft is giving users an extra choice for those times the tablet browser cannot access some content.
ANON1236797105328
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ANON1236797105328,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2012 | 5:28:21 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Apple DOES allow 3rd party browsers on iOS. I currently have Opera and Trend Safe browser installed.
zman58
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zman58,
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2012 | 4:03:37 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Business as usual. Did we really expect anything else? Leverage your monopoly in one area to try to dominate another. Bend and break any rules or law that you can. Vampires just can't change their ways--no matter what they tell you. We'll be better, we promise!
This is supposed to be somehow good for the consumer? Oh yea, less choice is always better when it comes from Mr Softie. What other restrictive draconian limitations are there in this software swamp. Touch it and you will parish as your brain cells will sucked from your head and your money sucked from your wallet.

Mr Wizard, get me outta here fast! Where is that Linux install? I want choice, value, power, ease of use, total freedom, security, AND sanity. ...not poor indentured servitude in shackles.
tellorin328
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tellorin328,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2012 | 3:25:03 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Before you speak know what you are talking about. Chrome and other browsers do work on Macs, iPads, etc...
mark_avo
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mark_avo,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2012 | 7:57:32 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Why is it that when Microsoft has a browser installed by default they get sued but Apple and Google do not? That's flippin Monopoly too! All of the OS's allow for other browsers but come installed with THEIR software by default so why does Microsoft get all the attention here? Why can't Apple be sued because you have to use iTunes for the iOS synchronization? Google is working on a Metro style browser so why can't Firefox or Opera? This is a bad joke in the tech industry that needs to end.

How many iPod's come installed with Safari and how big is the Apple marketshare on portable MP3 players? Stop wasting our money and stop making Microsoft out to be the biggest "browser" bully on the block when it's simply not true and hasn't been for a decade.
matth0128
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matth0128,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2012 | 5:42:31 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Apple does allow 3rd party web browsers. Chrome, Firefox and Opera just to name a few. IMHO the best iOS browser is Skyfire. It has a sweet full-screen feature.
achen907
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achen907,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2012 | 5:34:44 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
Exactly, when is our government going be a little smart and stop wasting tax payer money. Why aren't they investigating Apple for allowing only Safari on their MacBook, iPad, etc, etc...

This is perfect reason why government are not supposed to be the technology policy. Government's core competence is not in regulating software.
rkdowner
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rkdowner,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2012 | 5:03:24 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablet OS Draws Antitrust Attention
How about investigating why Apple doesn't allow 3rd party browsers on iOS? Why investigate Microsoft and not Apple? A monopoly is a monopoly is a monopoly.
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