The EU and MSFT
What the heck, I'll jump in. Reading from Keith Warren and Frans Bouma, I think the two go to extremes in describing what they see as the issues surrounding the Microsoft and EU case. The reality is probably somewhere more in the middle.
Yes, Microsoft is a convicted monopolist. They used their position to shut out or (allegedly) reduce the effectiveness of their competitors. I don't entirely get how the US arrived at that conclusion with Web browsers, seeing as how no one has ever paid for a browser (or at least they shouldn't have). Over the years I bounced between IE and Netscape, and never paid for either one, and my use of these browsers did not benefit either company.
The EU case is weird because it wants to decouple the Windows Media Player. I admit, I don't have any research, but has this tactic affected the success of QuickTime or Real? I can't speak for the masses, but I don't use Real because the player sucks and is bloated with ad nonsense. I do use QuickTime exclusively for my video needs, in part because it's the basis for pro video tools like Avid (which I use), and I can make the cleanest and most pretty video files encoding with Sorenson. The point is, startling as it might be, that if these other formats aren't as successful, it might be the quality of the product, not Bill Gates.
Flip that case even to the server side. Yes, my Win2k3 server has Windows Media Server. I use it for some purposes, but the preferred format for me is still QuickTime via simple HTTP streaming. Works like a champ.
What's troubling about this EU decision is that it dictates business decisions. I like that MS bundles a browser and a media player. Has anyone bothered to ask consumers if they like this arrangement? Does anyone care that the biggest complaintants in these cases are competitors that want to litigate their success (or compensate for failures)? Has anyone considered that the Windows Media formats have been submitted to standards bodies? What actual affect does bundling have on consumers that causes the big evil empire to thrive? I'm still looking for those answers.
And look at what Apple bundles with OS X now. I would argue that there's more there than in Windows (and much of it is better quality). Why not bust Apple? Because they don't have a majority market share? If that's the case, then the EU (and our own DOJ) are beating up on Microsoft because they're number one, and that's wrong.
I say let market forces determine the outcome, not government. If it weren't for the many shortcomings of Windows, Linux wouldn't be gaining in popularity, and Apple wouldn't see people buying into the switch campaign.