December 21, 2003

Real Networks Sues Microsoft

Real Networks sues Microsoft:

Silicon Valley | 12/19/2003: ...So does Real have a case? It certainly looks like it. From October 2001 to March 2003, for example, Microsoft's tying of its Windows Media Player to the Windows OS ensured that the software was preinstalled on about 95 percent of the estimated 207 million new PCs shipped during that time. RealNetworks' digital media player was preinstalled on less than 2 percent. Furthermore, Microsoft's standard contract with PC manufacturers prevents them not only from removing the Windows Media Player, but even providing a desktop icon for Real Networks. Sound familiar? "In a sense this is the next chapter following on the heels of the Netscape issue," Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University, told the New York Times. "In some ways, it's become even more significant because of the expansion of the digital content issue."...

Posted by DeLong at December 21, 2003 05:18 PM | TrackBack

Comments

so one annoyingly intrusive software company sues another. forgive me if I hope they both lose.

Posted by: praktike on December 21, 2003 05:56 PM

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Yep, I'm with praktike. Microsoft are evil, but after the bloody liberties Realplayer2 took with my PCs I'm unsympathetic to RealNetworks too. As it turns out MS may have saved people a lot of angst by preventing it being bundled with PCs.

And Brad, stop gloating from your Mac. Realplayer is crap on Macs too.

Posted by: derrida derider on December 21, 2003 06:34 PM

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Yep, I'm with praktike. Microsoft are evil, but after the bloody liberties Realplayer2 took with my PCs I'm unsympathetic to RealNetworks too. As it turns out MS may have saved people a lot of angst by preventing it being bundled with PCs.

And Brad, stop gloating from your Mac. Realplayer is crap on Macs too.

Posted by: derrida derider on December 21, 2003 06:35 PM

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Count me against Real as well. Netscape I was fond of. Real, I generally delete from any computer I have to work on. The issue in the Netscape/Internet Explorer case was essentially economical. If IE wasn't free, I would pay for Netscape, if it wasn't free. I would never pay for REAL though.

Posted by: KevinNYC on December 21, 2003 07:36 PM

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Count me against Real as well. Netscape I was fond of. Real, I generally delete from any computer I have to work on. The issue in the Netscape/Internet Explorer case was essentially economical. If IE wasn't free, I would pay for Netscape, if it wasn't free. I would never pay for REAL though.

Posted by: KevinNYC on December 21, 2003 07:37 PM

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Windows Media 9 is already being used to release High Definition DVDs. Terminator 2 was released in a special two disc edition. One of the discs was a HD version of the film in WM9.
The Motown documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown was actually finished in Windows Media. That means the master copy is not on film, it's not on videotape, the master copy for both theatrical release and for DVD was a Windows Media 9 file.

DV.com has an article on this called Making the Funk Brothers Digital.

http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,110243,00.asp


It's a great movie by the way, it's about the band that played on all the Motown hits, The Funk Brothers, they were all unbelievable players, but outside of other musicians, they were anonymous. They get them back together for a concert. James Jamerson was one of the best bass players who ever lived. When the Motown 25th Anniversay TV special was put together he was not invited, he had to scalp a ticket to get in.

Posted by: KevinNYC on December 21, 2003 08:46 PM

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Microsoft's contract sounds worse than it really is in this quote. It's not that RealNetworks is barred from having an icon on the desktop. EVERYONE is barred from having an Icon on the desktop, this includes Media Player.

This is part of the new MS policy (as of WinXP) of reserving the Desktop for the user. The policy is the direct result of user feedback about the fact that the desktop ends up littered with icons after you install a reasonable set of apps.

And as for RealNetworks not being bundeled. This is their own fault, their software has a reputation as buggy spyware and users generally don't want it pre-installed.

Posted by: Bones on December 21, 2003 09:01 PM

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Not that I like Real Networks policies, I think that MS is worse.

"And as for RealNetworks not being bundeled. This is their own fault, their software has a reputation as buggy spyware and users generally don't want it pre-installed."

Bones, what makes you think that MS software is not as bug ridden and spying on you? Do really users want MS bugware preinstalled? Or is it that most of them like any ability to choose and never step out of MS selected installation?

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on December 22, 2003 01:51 AM

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Given how tricky Realplayer makes finding the link for its free player on their own bloody website, they're protesting a tad too much...

Posted by: Richard on December 22, 2003 01:54 AM

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Don't be silly Antoni. MS doesn't have any need to put spyware in their Media Player, if they want to spy they can put the code anywhere in the OS. But the fact is that they don't. If they did, an army of anti-MS people would be crowing about it at Slashdot. It's from said army that we know that Real IS spyware

As for Bugginess, But that's immaterial, because it is possible to order a PC without Window's installed if you find their software unacceptable. At the very least the decision to put Windows on the machine indicates that the you has made the decision that the bug level of the MS software is acceptable.

Without some way for customers to opt out of the Real in the same way that they can opt out of Windows, the PC manufactures have to operate on the basis of annoying the fewest people, leaving off Real is clearly the right decision there.

Posted by: Bones on December 22, 2003 02:33 AM

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This link says that MS does have spyware issues with WMP:
http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/06/17/eu.cookies/
In any case Real surely don't have to be saints to be allowed a fair crack of the whip do they? Their main complaint is that they have been denied access to key operating system protocols supplied much earlier to MS partners.
Moreover this is very similar to their behaviour in the Netscape affair. How many other businesses will be snuffed out because Microsoft can spend its shareholders money to prevent them being viable? We hate this behaviour when governments do it. Why should it be OK when companies do?

Posted by: Jack on December 22, 2003 03:21 AM

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Bear in mind that there are perfectly good, popular open standards for digital content that are not proprietary-- mpg, jpg, mp3. The problem is that the DRM technologies (that I know of) are all proprietary. You don't like either Microsoft or Real Networks? Then figure out a non-proprietary way to protect content.

Posted by: Matt on December 22, 2003 07:39 AM

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Well said Matt:

Microsoft's game is worse because they actively destroy open standards, if you use their products like IE. Look at what they did to both Java and HTML. Intentionally making it so an open standard looks terrible on your computer is directly harming someone else's product.

In all seriousness, Microsoft's monopolistic practices of bundling products into their OS gives the computer using community less choice, quality, and security. Most of those virii from last summer utilized VB scripts - bundled into Windows to screw Java.

I don't know why people put up with Microsoft's inferior OS and products.

sz

Posted by: SZ on December 22, 2003 08:09 AM

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Same reason they put up with the GOP's inferior governmental OS and products: laziness.

Posted by: hack on December 22, 2003 12:18 PM

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KevinNYC:

"Count me against Real as well. Netscape I was fond of. Real, I generally delete from any computer I have to work on. The issue in the Netscape/Internet Explorer case was essentially economical. If IE wasn't free, I would pay for Netscape, if it wasn't free. I would never pay for REAL though"

Have you ever tried Mozilla or Mozilla-Firebird ? These browsers are Netscape's successors and are much better than MSIE. These browsers can be downloaded for FREE from: http://www.mozilla.org

Posted by: Nescio on December 22, 2003 03:07 PM

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"And as for RealNetworks not being bundeled. This is their own fault, their software has a reputation as buggy spyware and users generally don't want it pre-installed."

Kinda hard to produce first rate software for a platform where you can't get access to the APIs you need. Microsoft has been doing this sort of thing for years to other software makers, going back to the days of MS-DOS 3 when the slogan inside Microsoft was "It's not done, 'till Lotus won't run" (Hard Drive, Wallace and Erickson, pg 233). Unfortunately Bill's idea of capitalism is that it is a game of musical chairs, at the end of which there is only one chair, and one person who can sit in it.

Check the links on this case at The Register (www.theregister.co.uk) for some history into how Microsoft has been trying to compete...I think the phrase is "cutting off their oxygen supply"...with Real Apparently t one point, they were asking AOL to exclude AOL online subscribers from accessing Real Player to view content. Nice. Every time I hear people assert that Microsoft's competitors' problems are that they produce buggy software I just have to shake my head. It's not that simple. Microsoft isn't just a better competitor, they're the owners of the field too. Competing with Microsoft is like playing Calvinball. You can't win, and you almost have to be a sucker to try.

Posted by: Bruce Garrett on December 22, 2003 03:36 PM

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Nesicio,

At one point I tried Mozilla and Opera, but didn't see enough of a benefit to change.


My point was that Windows Media 9 is a technology/format I like. I create streaming media and WM9 is probably the best streaming format right now. My stuff looks quite nice in it.

Posted by: KevinNYC on December 23, 2003 09:43 AM

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Bruce, you really need to get some sources that don't lie to you. MS doesn't use 'hidden' api's that their competitors don't have access to. That charge had some truth back in the DOS 3x days because there really wasn't any way to get useful work done without reverse engineering DOS, everyone did it. But Starting with Windows 95 that stopped, anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

"It's not done, 'till Lotus won't run" - is a flat out lie. In fact, MS routinely puts hacks into their operating systems for no other reason than to make the top 50 consumer applications work after an OS upgrade. Needless to say, that includeed Lotus back when they sold popular software.

For Windows 95, they made the top 1000 applications work, in some cases removing improvements to the OS because they caused problems with popular software.

MS has _never_ gone out of their way to break Real's software. The really famous case where Real accused them of doing so turned out to have been entirely Real's fault.

Posted by: Bones on December 23, 2003 03:31 PM

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