Free, IE and WMP
The interesting thing in here is I've read several people saying that IE and WMP is free, well yes and no, if You own a windows operating system, then yes they are free, if you do not, I would not be so sure. I was using IE4Linux and read some of the EULA for IE, which unless I misread it, actually said, that you were not to use IE unless you had a fully licensed version of Windows..
That is Free, as long as you've paid your Windows Tax, similiarly with the media player.
EU stuffed up badly, in the medie player debaucle, because they forgot to find out what the value of the Medie player was, and the price for Windows XP without the Media Player, should have been decreased accordingly, however, they did not, and therefore the consumes received the following choice.
XP with medie player costs Y
XP without medie player cost X
So from the consumers point of view there is no difference in price, except you get less for the same amount of money when you buy XP without medie player.
If they do the same with IE, then it is going to fail as well.
XP without IE = y
XP with IE = x
then x > y is required, otherwise it's only signal politics and not real.
As Microsoft requires you to have a windows license for you to use IE - you can run IE on linux, I do that for compatibility testing - then IE is not free, and it has a cost.
This is the problem with Monopolies.
If I had a monopoly, and If I wanted to push in a new product, but I do not want to give it away for free, I'll bundle it with my monopoly item. Then increase the price for the bundle, but in a new release so it's not clear why the price increased.
I then, make money from my new product and on my monopoly, however my competitors are now having to compete against a "Free" product, and cannot make money, and will leave the market.. Then after my competitors are gone, I split the product and make it an add on, all in the name of choice, for a higher price than the bundle - a win-win for a company with a monopoly, except for those Darn Monopoly laws, that keep tripping companies up.
People who keep complaining that Microsoft is being singled out, obviously have not read their history.
1. IBM has tried it, decades ago.
2. AT&T was split up because of it.
there are litterally dozens of examples of companies who have grown to monopoly size, and have been throug the wringer both here in EU, and in the US, as well as local regional monopoly laws.
It is simple, if a monopoly is allowed to do as it pleases it will soon take over all adjacent markets to it's original monopoly, and thus stifle innovation, and press prices through the roof, why do you think most countries have gone from one telephone company to many - because they like complexity, no because competition encourages innovation, and brings prices down for consumers, a monopoly though not illegal, is never desirable in any market, because it harms society and the consumers.
Though I first heard it in a spiderman movie, it does have merit "with great power comes great responsibility", this applies to monopolies (power), however, most monopolies do not behave responsibly, as they seek to maximise profits, irrelevant of the harm they're doing. This is why the rules for a monopoly is different from that of an non-monopoly.
So please "pro-microsoft", or "poor microsoft" communities, do some research on monopolies and find out what it means, before you start jumping down EU's throat for investigating illegal monopoly activities. Microsoft is not the first, nor the last company to be subject to monopoly laws.