A New Microsoft Anti-Trust Suit in the Making?

The Europeans have had fun with Microsoft. An anti-trust suit filed in Europe in the late 90’s forced Microsoft to open it’s Operating system to other browsers besides the Internet Explorer. Now with Windows 8 in the mix,  and especially with Windows 8 RT a potential anti-trust investigation is possible.

First the US Senate is poised to investigate Microsoft for its actions to see if it is in violation of the agreement it entered in the late 1990’s on its monopoly activity. (funny…it was found to be a monopoly but what happened…not much…big deal…See the CNN Summary.)

Europe in 2003 also went after Microsoft for it’s OS and media player connection. A judgement forced Microsoft to detach the media player from the OS.  And later, the “Browser” deal went into affect, which untied Internet Explorer from the Operating System, allowing other browsers to run on the OS.

Now  a new look at Microsoft is underway, because the question is a tablet a PC? The original judgement applied to PC’s and Servers, not tablets. Microsoft now has tablets in the works, and there are two variations, Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT (or ARM). There are investigations questioning how much compliance is necessary to the judgement. But one problem with this is that the ARM version, comes from a new design in Chip technology.

What is ARM?

ARM refers to devices that use technology  from ARM Holdings PLC, a company based in the United Kingdom. It develops intellectual property  for semiconductors.  But instead of manufacturing actual semiconductor chips, ARM develops the technology and then licenses its intellectual property to partner companies that produce the semiconductors, chips, and devices. So ARM partners utilize ARM technology to produce system-on-chip designs, paying ARM a license fee for the original IP, plus a royalty on every chip or wafer produced. Right now it is a technology is currently being used in 90% of smartphones, 80% of digital cameras, and 28% of all electronic devices.

Windows 8 and ARM

Microsoft will release two versions on Windows 8, one running ARM, and one without. ARM devices will feature a Metro mode, that is a tile-based, touch-optimized interface, as well as a more traditional Windows desktop mode. Now here is the important part. Apps designed for the Metro interface will be supported on both ARM and Windows 8 on x86/64, and ARM includes support for hardware-accelerated HTML5. It will offer desktop versions of the key apps in the new Office 15 like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

But the kicker is that legacy Windows apps will run under Windows 8 on PCs, but not on ARM devices. This means that developers will not be able to recode their current Windows apps for ARM, under desktop mode. And that is where the problem comes in for other software manufacturers. This is the original problem they had with Microsoft 10 years ago. Can their software run on the Microsoft platform, or are there restrictions, and are these restrictions in violation of the 2004 agreement?

That is what the Europeans will try to determine.

Source: zdnet

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