> And Microsoft's position here even makes sense, even if it was in practice
> anti-competitive and therefore perhaps unacceptable.
OEMs continue to choke systems with shovelware. Microsoft doesn't give a hoot as long as they get their cut. In fact, Microsoft has made the situation considerably worse by refusing to give out Windows install discs along with new computers. It used to be that you could at least re-install a clean version of Windows to get rid of the adware and spyware. Now, all they give you is essentially a restore-from-ISO tool that has all the crap on it.
The restriction on dual-boot computers was never about helping users; it was always about killing the competition. Enforcing trademark law would have been enough to ensure that users didn't blame Windows for Linux's (or BeOS's) failings.
> More recently we've seen what happens when Microsoft's OEM negotiators let
> the OEMs bully them - that's what led to the Vista debacle
Bad project management led to the Vista debacle. If your new operating system can't run on the newest hardware that's coming off the production lines, maybe you ought to delay shipping it until it can.
Don't get me wrong-- there's a lot of things that Microsoft has done well (Xbox comes to mind). But Vista wasn't one of them.