Five years on
Posted Oct 1, 2010 13:01 UTC (Fri) by pboddie
In reply to: Five years on
Parent article: Red Hat Responds to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Request for Guidance on Bilski
If a PC vendor sells his machine only with Windows and doesn't offer it with Linux (or simply without any operating system), then that means you are required to buy Windows if you want to buy that particular machine. That's the opposite of the IBM mainframe situation.
How is it "the opposite"? I want one thing but if every separate product I inspect involves me having to take another thing with it, then effectively I have to take both of those things.
IBM requires you to buy its extremely expensive hardware if you want to run its operating system. The hypothetical equivalent for Windows would be if Microsoft stopped supplying hardware companies with OEM licenses and instead became a hardware vendor itself, forcing you to buy their hardware if you want to run Windows at all. You can be sure there would be an outcry, and antitrust intervention, if that happened.
Well, I grant you that at this point you've reproduced the IBM situation, but then there would be no illusion about who is forcing customers to take whose products, although there's always that argument that mainframes and operating systems written for them are all part of a single product. Meanwhile, PC vendors and Microsoft can point the finger at each other, while in practice almost everybody has to acquire Microsoft products when they buy a computer.
The PC hardware market is competitive enough and there are vendors who offer you devices with Linux pre-installed. If there's choice, then bundling isn't the kind of problem that it is if there's a dominant vendor, let alone a monopolist.
Yes, but we're talking about effective choice here, not whether alternatives exist. It's a bit like large retail chains getting into trouble when they secretly agree on prices whereas a bunch of "man plus dog" vendors probably won't see anything like those levels of scrutiny. Why is that? Because the large chains' collusion will affect the vast majority of consumers.
No single PC manufacturer is in such a position that you couldn't just go to another vendor if you prefer Windows-less PCs.
True, but the matter of effective choice arises again. If 99% of retailers force purchasers to acquire Windows and those purchasers don't know about the other 1%, they effectively have to acquire Windows with every purchase.
But with IBM, customers currently have no choice if they want to run those legacy applications.
I guess that from a bundling or tying perspective we have all been told often enough by now that the IBM mainframe case is extreme, if you regard the market for hardware solutions running IBM's proprietary software as a genuinely open market, but my point was that there are indisputably genuinely open markets that need not exhibit such extremes (and by not doing so actually demonstrate obvious open market credentials) that could more usefully do with some proper regulation that would benefit many more people.
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