The Evil Bill Gates
The issue that brings the issue up again is, of course, the ruling by the EU that Microsoft’s bundling of Windows Media Player with its Windows operating system is somehow a restraint of trade. Considering that it comes free of charge, that’s an argument I find difficult to get excited about. Indeed, despite WMP being a perfectly fine resource for my needs in this area, I’ve still got RealPlayer, WinAmp, and QuickTime on my system because I needed them to play competing file types. Strangely, I was able to install these using Internet Explorer–which was bundled with Windows–after I searched for them with my Google toolbar–which competes against the inferior MSN Search but that Bill Gates has yet to stop me from using on his evil software. Indeed, the only obvious difference that having WMP pre-installed made was that, otherwise, I’d likely have had to download it, too.
Still, Brad makes an interesting argument. After extolling the good old days of Netscape-Microsoft rivalry,
And now? There is no progress in browsers at all. Why should anyone (besides crazed open sourcies) write a new browser? Why should Microsoft spend any money improving its browser? The point of giving Internet Explorer away for free is to protect Windows’s market, after all.
Maybe it’s because we’ve reached a satisfaction point? The early versions of both Netscape and Explorer were pretty weak. But I’m reasonably happy with IE as it is. Still, Brad’s point is hard to refute, since there’s no way to know what the result would be if other browsers were allowed to compete. Sure, Opera, Mozilla, Firebird, and others exist despite Gates’ plan for world domination. But there’s no doubt that there’s a certain inertia that comes with being the pre-installed browser.