Plus C'est La Même Chose (2/21/02)
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The world of high tech moves awfully quickly, while the U.S. legal system hugs the other end of the speed bell curve-- so when you chuck 'em together in a box and shake it, which one wins? To answer that variation on the old "irresistible force meets immovable object" quandary, look no further than Microsoft and the company's various antitrust entanglements. The "Redmond Justice" saga (not even counting that whole other spat with the Justice Department that finished up in 1995) has been on the air in some form or other for over four years now; that's a couple of ice ages in technology years. So what's changed?

Well, let's see, here; according to a Reuters article pointed out by faithful viewer Konrad (and worth checking out at least for the photo of a teeny, tiny Bill Gates), Microsoft has already managed to pervert its latest proposed settlement with the feds into a way to "impose harsher terms on computer manufacturers that buy its software." Apparently "the top 20 PC manufacturers" are all miffed about the new terms, which allegedly "go further in preventing them from enforcing the patents on their own hardware against Microsoft." Not much difference there, except that the New York Times notes that the DoJ is now on Microsoft's side, pushing for the settlement's acceptance.

Meanwhile, faithful viewer Dean White points out that despite all the scrutiny of Microsoft's potentially icky business practices, not much has changed in Redmond on the whole privacy front, either. The Washington Post reports that Windows Media Player for Windows is "logging the songs and movies that customers play" and attaching that information to unique identifiers, meaning that "user habits could be tracked and sold for marketing purposes" should Microsoft ever decide to do so. Wonderful. Not exactly the actions of a company cowed by a heaping helping of justice.

So if you ask us, the law hasn't done much to curb any of Microsoft's typical behavior; the whole "Redmond Justice" spat came about primarily from the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows 95. Since then, Microsoft has shipped Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows XP-- all still with IE "integrated" with each operating system. Well, maybe in another four years or so...


 
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The above scene was taken from the 2/21/02 episode:

February 21, 2002: Yes, Apple just posted a slew of sales job openings-- but they aren't for new Apple retail stores. Meanwhile, if you're itching for an iPod but you're low on cash, we've got a cunning plan for you to get one for free, and it's business as usual for Microsoft, who is tracking the music and movie habits of its users and twisting its "Redmond Justice" settlement into a bigger club to wield against its customers...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3583: No Jumping To Conclusions (2/21/02)   As we've mentioned on numerous occasions in the past, those of us obsessed with Apple's retail initiative quickly learned that online job postings often reveal upcoming store locations long before Apple formally announces them...

  • 3584: Our Brilliant Free iPod Plan (2/21/02)   We have to admit, we really thought that Apple would have been forced to drop its price on the iPod by now. After all, just about every review we've ever seen of the thing practically gushes over its various and sundry droolworthy features before finally concluding that it's just too expensive for most people to afford...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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