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Since You Asked...

This is my site, so I get the last word.

Three companies produce the codec necessary for playing DVD's on Windows XP - CyberLink, InterVideo, and Sonic (CinePlayer). Computer manufacturers and DVD drive manufactures have OEM deals with these companies and bundle their software with new PC's and new DVD drives. The only people potentially left in the lurch are buyers of used equipment from swap meets and eBay. Those users have to come up with the codecs on their own, or more typically pay for them.

So what would happen if Microsoft released a generic hardware DVD codec? Those three companies would be out of business within a year, and they would be suing Microsoft for billions. Don't believe me?

From CNet:

[T]he Europeans said they thought Microsoft's addition of Media Player to the operating system had clearly crossed a line. They ordered a version of Windows to be produced without it. This doesn't directly affect future products, but some believe it will serve as enough of a precedent that Microsoft will be more careful.
Do you really doubt that some regulator somewhere would not attempt to squeeze money or concessions out of Microsoft if they put those companies out of business by offering those features free? Of course they would.

The makers of Netscape Navigator, Java, NetWare, WordPerfect, Real Networks, AOL, DR-DOS, BeOS, Stacker, and many others have sued or settled with Microsoft added "features" or products like: Internet Explorer, Microsoft JVM, Windows NT, Microsoft Office, Windows Media Player, MSN, MS-DOS, Windows, DoubleSpace.

Microsoft sued by Netscape (With the DOJ doing the suing)
Microsoft sued by Sun
Microsoft sued by Novell
Microsoft sued by Novell (again this time for WordPerfect)
Microsoft sued by RealNetworks
Microsoft sued by AOL Time Warner
Microsoft sued by Caldera (Novell yet again)
Microsoft sued by BeOS
Microsoft sued by Stac

PC's are not Macs - that's just a fact of life.

Apple controls the hardware and software that it sells, which explains (along with their tiny market share) why they can add features and squash competition with little regard for legal problems. Did you know their use to be companies that made Mac clones? Apple has systematically put every one of them out of business by denying them access to parts and chips.

For the generations of Microsoft Windows there was a time when you had to buy or license third party software for dial-up networking, web browsing, drive compression, audio and video playback, etc. Those features are in the products now, but invariably Microsoft was sued by the third party vendors whose markets have dried up. They paid them off and we got to keep the free features.

Finally, a significant portion of the fees for licensing DVD codecs goes to the motion picture industry to pad their wallets for their content decoding licensing fees. They fight tooth and nail to keep their cash cow running (witness the DeCSS lawsuits) which is why open source OS's run afoul of their plans for digital world domination.


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Comments (31)

I'm pretty much baffled by ... (Below threshold)
See-Dubya:

I'm pretty much baffled by this whole discussion. I've got a Dell laptop and I've never tried to use it to play a DVD before. So after reading the threads below I popped one in.

It worked fine. I even liked the proprietary interface it came with. And I expect my experience is probably more typical of the average PC user's experience.

Good post. Never knew BeOS ... (Below threshold)

Good post. Never knew BeOS sued MS, but it's of course no surprise. I actually liked Be, and installed OS 5 on one of my boxes. The graphics rendering was fantastic- made for neat screensavers (the starfield sim being incredible beyond words).

Mac made a mistake crushing competition. Though it may seem counterintuitive, the absense of competitive creativity I think hurt Mac and stigmatized it in the business world in the long run. But I like mac and think there are a lot of great ideas that, if they could ever get their business sense together, could lead, not follow the industry. Instead however I fear MS will simply rip them again (as they are now doing with the "aqua" look in the upcoming Longhorn) and any potential Apple gain will have fallen off the apple cart entirely.

MS would have come with a f... (Below threshold)

MS would have come with a free DVD player years ago if it was not a for a small fact: DVD decoding is protected by a software patent, allowing no to create players without paying the industy for it. They usally take a percentadge cut of the total software price. Thus ms would pay though the nose to include this feature. Same thing happend with the Tif file format years ago.

Derek

eh. Install Linux, downloa... (Below threshold)
a:

eh. Install Linux, download mplayer, never worry about this crap again.

As I recall, and it's early... (Below threshold)

As I recall, and it's early in the morning so I'm still a little groggy, There were two companies to whom Apple licensed its ROM code to, Power Computing and SuperMac. Both companies briefly offered MAC compatible systems. However when the idea failed to expand the overall market share but simply took dollars out of Apple's pocket, they ended the license arrangement.

Also at the time MACS were running on the 6800 series chips from Motorola and a good deal of the decision or end the licenses was required in Apple's license for the Power PC Chips.

In the case of Stac, at lea... (Below threshold)

In the case of Stac, at least, there was a very clear and aggregious patent violation. The companies had worked together collborating on integrating Stac technology with the operating system, then MS bumped Stac and went it alone.

Good Post, thats the point ... (Below threshold)
chad:

Good Post, thats the point I was trying to make just not very well apparently.

Speaking of Mac clones, the... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

Speaking of Mac clones, there's a footnote to the WinNT/2K/XP progression that is bound to make a mac purist's head spin (if they didn't remember this) - WindowsNT 3.5 and WinNT 3.51 works on a Mac, and works better on a non-Apple Mac-clone (that is, a computer using IBM's or Motorola's version of the PowerPC chip). What? Windows on a Mac - natively (not shelled or coexisting, but 100% "pure" MS OS with no Mac OS in the box? Yep. Why isn't there any now? Apple locked them out. It ran better on the non-Apple PowerPC chips because Apple wouldn't disclose its tweaks to the chips, which meant MS developers had to find them by trial and error. When the Mac-clone market went south, and Apple leaned on Motorola and IBM about their non-Apple PowerPC chips, MS said "the hell with this," and didn't port WinNT4 to PowerPC (I think there was a DEC Alpha version of NT4, but it's been years. Damn... DEC... that's a computer manufacturer noone's seen lately >:) )

Lysander

I had forgatten about that.... (Below threshold)
chad:

I had forgatten about that. I still use th alpha version of NT 4 occassionally. Support for that stopped with the release version of Win2K

Kev, You make a good poaint... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Kev, You make a good poaint but I'l still not buying the "Little 'ol Microsoft being picked on by the lawyers" defense. They put people out of business all the time.

just me.

EXCUESSES!record c... (Below threshold)
jess:

EXCUESSES!

record cash levels on corporate balance sheets

WHAT MICROSOFT DID: Paid $536 million cash to rival Novell Inc. to settle potential antitrust complaints

...settlement from Microsoft, Novell now looks like it would like to build a business from settling with the cash-rich...

Just search for Microsoft and CASH.

It's a business not a por starving third world nation.

Go buy a mac. Or a mac clone if you prefer.

How come capitalism is good... (Below threshold)
chad:

How come capitalism is good for everybody but MS?

Personally as far as I am concerned as long as they do it legally MS can make all the money they want. Without MS the PC revolution would have been severely delayed especially since Apple was a choke point. So again I say if Macs work for you great I prefer PC's and Windows.

While the legal defense is ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

While the legal defense is fine, the real problem is that whomever installed the OS in the first place SCREWED UP. If the end user did it, then too bad. If a vender did it, then it is time to look for a new vender.

The bottom line is that a MAC WILL NOT DO THE TASKS I NEED A COMPUTER TO DO.

Including, as I illustrated, run two pieces of software that are LIFE SUPPORT software. That means that medical decisions are made, based upon what that software records. And there ARE NO MAC VERSIONS. And in talking with the venders of the software, THERE ARE NO MAC VERSIONS EVEN CONTEMPLATED.

Is that plain enough for you?

As noted above, many of the... (Below threshold)
Ted:

As noted above, many of the law suits you mentioned were not anti-trust suits. They were intellectual property suits. In the case of Stacker, MS had actually used Stac Electronics code without permission. Rather than face the legal consequences they bought the company.

That isn't capitalism, it's a pay off to avoid the consequences of breaking the law.

can't we all just syn/ack?<... (Below threshold)
ian:

can't we all just syn/ack?

Here are the last words ; )... (Below threshold)
Jim Hines:

Here are the last words ; )

For many years we were told by Mac zealots that their operating system was the best there is. Then Steve Jobs one day simply through the whole thing in the trash can. Said it was patchwork quilt of disastor. Threw the WHOLE THING in the trash can and started from scratch. So he cobbled together a Unix kernel and slapped a really pretty, resources hogging, interface on it and now Mac zealots are claiming this is the worlds best operating system. Flip flop....flip flop.

I fix peoples home computers for a living and I fix just as many Macs as Windows boxes. Most people who call me are simply technologically challenged and it really doesn't matter what they are working on they need help from someone who knows. Remember Mac makes a freaking fortune off selling extended Apple Care protection. I worked for a Mac fixit shop here in NYC and trust me each and every day there is a steady stream of broken Macs needing the attention of a technician.

Bottom line Macintosh computers are for Women and Metrosexuals. If you are a real man you build your own box and stand grunting with pride over your muscle machine and scoffing at all the weaklings with their pretty all in one iMac that requires the removal of fifty screws before you can get inside and marvel at it's guts and press that CUDA bottom just one mo time.

P.S. Forget about gaming on a mac. Just forget about it.

Jim, people like you amuse ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Jim, people like you amuse those of us who know you're full of crap.

Well, since Jim alluded to ... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

Well, since Jim alluded to it, Ill just come right out and say it:

Most people who dislike Microsoft do so because the two words in company's name reminds them painfully of the condition of their penis...

Well posted kevin. Microso... (Below threshold)
death to Apple:

Well posted kevin. Microsoft can't do half the things a much smaller company can do, and don't worry, if you can't afford the lawers to sue them the DOD will just bring it to the judges they already pay. No need hiring a lawer when the judge is already on your side. No need buying a Mac when you have a brain and actually need a computer. And if you want a unix box, people still make better ones than Apple, and X-windows can be set up with the same color scheme if you like it, but again, you'd need a brain.

...I remember a day when Mac's lovely AppleTalk couldn't SYN/ACK without going through an NT Gateway,...but if you loaded up your DEC pathworks protocol stack on your DOS box you could, so it's nice that nowadays we can all just SYN/ACK and Macs can get to the internet on their own without Microsoft having to help out in the middle...nyuck.

...and forget running Autocad or any other design software adobe doesn't make on a Mac...

So in short, mac isn't even a mac anymore, it's linux with quality control and a dedicated user base that has never been able to figure out how to work all the gadgets that you can plug into a pc, and DVD's still look better in the living room home theater, so I'd just go buy a sony if my pc didn't play a movie...

-Death

I don't get the point. The... (Below threshold)
Patrick:

I don't get the point. There are laws in this country to protect capitolistic competition and Microsoft has violated some. It doesn't make them necessarily evil, it just shows that unchecked businesses that grow large enough will try to get away with anything, that's why we have laws and lawyers. Incidentally I don't quite know where this turned into a my mac is better than your PC but I use a Mac for video editing, and my PC for everything else. Whichever machine will do the job I guess I'm not loyal to anyone.

Actually, Mac OS X is not L... (Below threshold)

Actually, Mac OS X is not Linux with a pretty interface. It's NeXTStep with a pretty interface, with an OSS BSD kernel.

Digital Equipment (DEC) got bought by Compaq a few years before it got bought in turn by HP, except for the mobile processor division (ARM), which went to Intel. Intel also got some of the research into 64-bit processors, so they could figure out why their Itanium sucked so badly; Compaq actually kept the Alpha line alive for a while until the HP buyout, and kept improving it and DEC Unix.

BTW, NT4 on DEC was pretty slick. You had to recompile apps for it, because of the different byte "gender" and the fact that it was 64-bit, but I don't remember anything else needing to be done. I never did see NT4 run on a PowerPC, though.

Also, the Mac clones were fully PPC; none of them ran on the Motorola 680x0 series CPUs. One of the clones, DayStar Digital, had the first multi-CPU Mac, a 4-way 200MHz 604 unit (they had a 2-way as well) that could have up to 2GB RAM, IIRC. It cost something like $13K for a fully loaded box.

One last thing: Be Computing also built a PC for a while. It was the BeBox, and ran I think dual 604s @ 133MHz. It had an LCD display panel and a string of LED indicators. Pretty cool stuff.

The PC revolution would ... (Below threshold)
Anachronda:

The PC revolution would not have been delayed without Microsoft. It was going along just fine before the IBM/Microsoft cabal crushed diversity.

CP/M was available on a wide variety of hardware. It even made the leap to 32-bit machines (in CP/M-68K) before being crushed by the IBM/Microsoft juggernaut. There were multi-user (MP/M) and networked (CP/NET) versions available and it was even branching out into graphics with windows and mice (GEM).

The PC revolution wouldn't have been delayed, it would just have been different.

- Since Gates cobbled DOS 1... (Below threshold)

- Since Gates cobbled DOS 1.1 from Seattle Computers shareware version of CP/M with tricked up bios and a diff. version of Basic I guess it all goes back to the same core. Selling software before you own it seems a tad illegal. But who's going to argue with success. Gates can't even claim the idea since it was his college prof who gave it to him. Just shows what an under-achieving programmer from DEC can do when he puts someone elses mind to it. In the same vein EVERYBODY copied Xero's star system for their versions of Windows (even MAC with the Lisa). Midgets standing on the shoulders of giants says I.....

There actually is a very go... (Below threshold)

There actually is a very good, free, open source DVD player that runs on PC, Mac, and Linux. It also plays most downloaded movies (divx, ect). It's called VideoLan

http://www.videolan.org

The college I work at was briefly considering replacing our copies of Intervideo WindDVD with this, but we weren't sure about the legal issues relating to DeCSS.

Oh, and Jim, did it ever occur to you that the reason you fix so many Macs is because it's hard to find Mac techs, because most only fix PC's? As far as the woman/metrosexual comment, I own both a homebuilt PC and an Apple Powerbook, so I'm not sure where that puts me.

Red Five, the Alpha actuall... (Below threshold)
Anachronda:

Red Five, the Alpha actually uses the same "byte sex" as the PC. You had to recompile apps for it because it isn't a PC. You would have to recompile for any processor that isn't an x86.

In my opinion your dreaming... (Below threshold)
chad:

In my opinion your dreaming if you think the PC revolution wouldn't have been delayed. The main reason it happened was non-proprietary HW running a realtively cheap OS. Remove either one of those and it gets delayed. Not saying it wouldnt have ahppened just not as soon, and I wonder if it would be as all encompassing?

On the whole law suits agai... (Below threshold)
Ted:

On the whole law suits against MS issue... Do a quick google search. MS sues an awful lot of other vendors. It's kinda hard to feel bad for them if they get sued as well.

Furthermore, MS has a consistent pattern of stealing inovations from other companied and then buying them off. Note the recent examples of InterTrust and Syn'x.

The Jurist's description of the InterTrust suit is of particular interest:

"Microsoft and digital rights management company InterTrust Technologies announced Monday a $440 million settlement of a patent infringment lawsuit brought by InterTrust against Microsoft in 2001 after anti-piracy protection technology it had demonstrated to Microsoft during licensing negotiations began to appear in Microsoft products."

What else is there to say?

Now that I've thrown out en... (Below threshold)
Lysander:

Now that I've thrown out enough techy-ness to establish my geek cred, I'll lay the other one out there - it's Lysander, Esquire to some. ;) Knowing both sides, yes, MS is sued - and sues - a lot. Even moreso, they threaten to sue. Or be sued. That and $4 gets you a "coffee" from Starbucks (or that an an affidavit for attorney's fees makes a rich puppy - too bad it ain't me!) The only extraordinary aspect was the DOJ and the EU Competition Commission's getting in on the act. I looked at the allegations, read the cases, and realized that the tech people didn't speak legalese, and the lawyers didn't speak tech, so what (in my opinion) was a bad case got worse. Did MS do something wrong? Yes. But there's two words for it - de miminis. It's a matter of scale, and at the scale we're talking about, and the alliances and antagonisms across lines mean little. One day you're suing them, the next you announce a multi-million dollar deal, no hard feelings. Its the ones who have the hard feelings that go off the deep end.

It's not about "get a Mac;" that kind of mantra annoys me (sorry) because I've used a plethora of systems, setups, and OSes before and for good or ill, the only one that covers all that I want to accomplish is Windows. It's like when I tried OS/2:Warp: it wouldn't support my near-obsenely expensive new 1 gigabyte HDD, so while it was "better" than Windows 3.11, you're telling me it's "better" to use a "better" OS, than hardware (or now, software) that I really want to (or in Jim's case must) use?

Lysander

Sorry, chad, I don't buy it... (Below threshold)
Anachronda:

Sorry, chad, I don't buy it.

There was nothing non-proprietary about the IBM hardware. It was just as proprietary as other PC out there.

It wasn't even unusual for the schematics to be available; the Apple II manual had the schematics in the back (one of my friends built a wirewrap Apple II clone).

Cloning wasn't unusual, either. There was a whole industry built around the S-100 bus, all started by Imsai with their clone of the Altair.

About the only thing unusual about the PC was the name "IBM".

From my perspective, the IBM PC was a very bad thing. It tied you to specific hardware, and mediocre hardware at that. You were chained (and still are) to a monster ROM BIOS that was deficient (the built-in video function didn't even interpret any escape sequences; you HAD to go around the OS if you wanted to so much as move the cursor) and larger than the entire CP/M operating system.

- Everything Anachronda sai... (Below threshold)

- Everything Anachronda said and then some....As an Early MS ISV and general comp nut I'd like to get up a lynch mob and find the guy at Intel that dreamed up semented memory and beat him to death with it....and don't even get me started about early graphics programming...I used to get 75 to 150 "update" disks from MS every week....after awhile I used them for coffee mug coasters or just tossed them and resorted to home-brewed "hacks" that would have made a witch Doctor nervous....

Maybe MACs are superior, I ... (Below threshold)
chad:

Maybe MACs are superior, I don't like them but that doesn't mean much in the absolaute world of benchmarks etc. It does mean something when I am trying to use them and I can't because i can't follow their logic. Thats personal. But the fact is without the IBM PC and clones and MS-DOS (and yes its a CP/M ripoff but who cares) the computing world today would be very different, why because the market saturation would have taken much longer and that is what drove game development etc. Anyway that's my last post on this subject. At least until the next thread opens.




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