If Europe has its way, all operating systems will come with nothing: no Internet browser, media player, photo gallery, and soon enough file explorer. They will come with no firewall, CD-burner, text editor, calculator, or even our beloved games like Solitaire! They will only be a bare-bones kernel that no ordinary person will know how to use. Initially few will want to “upgrade”–and eventually none will (if all their friends use the “old” versions).
The legal environment in the US is only going to get tougher with the election of a Democratic Congress and President. Should the US enforce similar anti-“bundling” provisions, the whole software industry is in danger.
Every feature added to the original bare-bones software will encroach upon a competitor’s turf, and apparently that’s “bundling” and anti-competitive. If companies can’t even slightly favor home-grown software over a competitor’s, they will have no incentive to develop their own software. Then, before you can do anything on your computer, you will have to obtain (purchase/download…without an Internet browser) the necessary software–then the software will be more difficult for the average person than a Linux installation! (And remember how Ubuntu was sooo hard that a girl had to drop out of college)
Think of it this way: If Europe has its way, Facebook will be nothing but a database of user information. The profile page? That’s bundling. The groups application? That too. Photos? Yup. Videos? Yes. Events? Yes, that too. Okay, you ask, “Surely the most basic component–status updates–can’t be bundling! It’s part of the basic essence of Facebook!” Well, no. That would be Twitter, and yes, having statuses by default is bundling too.
We’ll have a world full of software that doesn’t do anything, software that can’t interact with other software, and software that has no means of integration at all. Are you ready for this world? I’m not.
Please don’t attack me for my contrarian views. I understand that Microsoft is a monopoly and monopolies1 are bad. But as horrible as Windows Vista and Internet Explorer are, Microsoft is doing the right thing by defending itself and the rest of the software industry against undue public encroachment.
1 Just so we’re clear, bribing hardware manufacturers to not develop non-Windows drivers is monopoly. Including necessary software (not bloatware) on a default OS installation is not.