Today’s hearing at the European Court of First Instance (CFI) focused on the Windows Media Player. Below are some key ideas that came up during the arguments.
Some groups like ECIS â€“ the European Committee for Interoperable Systems â€“ attempted to argue that RealPlayer is dead. Their press release said this:
â€œJust as [Microsoftâ€™s] strategy eliminated the Netscape Browser and now Real Player, unless stopped it will do the same to other technologies whenever MSFT deems them to be strategic to their business interests.â€
Last I looked, RealPlayer was alive and well (and fighting with Apple over its proprietary music technology). I personally stopped using RealPlayer a while ago because I was tired of the spyware-like pop ups that Real delivered to my computer.
The EC attorney said that Microsoftâ€™s browser has become stagnant because â€œit has a monopoly.â€ Thatâ€™s got to be the loopiest statement Iâ€™ve heard in a while. Apparently the EC attorney is not aware of Safari, Opera, Flock, or my personal favorite, Mozilla (born from the original Netscape).
On the popularity of Windows designed by Eurocrats:
As of today, no PC manufacturer has shipped a single computer installed with Windows XPN (the n means no Windows media player). Translation: no one wants bureaucrats to design software for them.
On multiple choices for media players:
The EC seems to be assuming that consumers will only ever want to use one media player and that content providers will only want to offer their products in one format. This doesnâ€™t make sense, at least at this point in the marketâ€™s evolution. Each media player has its merits, which is why many of us use different ones at different times. And, thanks to a nice presentation by Jonathan Zuck of the Association for Competitive Technology, the Court and all its observers got to see how fast, easy, and cheap it is for a content provider to offer up their wares in multiple formats at once (i.e, when you go to a site and it asks you if you want to use RealPlayer, Quick Time, Windows Media, etc). There are affordable translation programs like â€œProCoderâ€ or the one built into Appleâ€™s â€œFinal Cut Pro.â€ Jonathanâ€™s demonstration showed that it took 3 steps and about 10 minutes to do the translation â€“ a no-brainer for any content company. â€œItâ€™s as simple as 1-2-3,â€ he said. But when the EC issued its Microsoft decision in 2004, it didnâ€™t consider the costs or the ease of translation. It just assumed that there would be costs (the translation), but ignored the benefits (greater choice for consumers and hence the ability for content providers to grow their market and revenues).
It was an interesting day with both sides presenting their cases. Tomorrow, the judges start to ask questions and Iâ€™m sure those British attorneys wearing the judicial wigs will get extra hot heads. Iâ€™d better get to the gift shop and buy my Internet access cards before they sell out and Iâ€™m forced to send smoke signals.
Also, if you’re interested in listening to Podcasts of the event, Americans for Technology Leadership’s (ATL) Jim Prendergast has posted a few on ATL’s site.