Software Bullies Treading On Thin Ice Again

Pollstar: Fighting an addiction is tough, just ask Microsoft.
Already under close scrutiny for its antitrust habit of pulverizing competing companies into so much dust and dirt, the software giant was recently admonished by a federal judge for distributing a proposal to potential clients outlining an exclusivity deal that would prevent competitors from entering the personal music player playground. In was described as “a rare display of indignation,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly demanded that the company explain itself, saying, “This should not be happening.”
What should not be happening? Simply put, Microsoft sent a proposal to several personal player manufacturers stating that if they wanted Microsoft’s software for transferring songs from computers to those players, the manufacturers could not include similar programs from competing software companies.
Called “Easy Start” and described as a “draft specification,” Microsoft’s marketing plan called for personal player manufacturers to refrain from including similar software by any company other than Microsoft on their players.
Microsoft says it had second thoughts about the “draft specification” after the company’s lawyers looked it over. Oh, yeah, and after an industry rival complained. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the draft had been sent to manufacturers in order to get their feedback, and that the proposal was not a contract, hence it wasn’t vetted by company lawyers.
“It’s somewhat amazing it even happened,” Howard University law professor Andrew Gavil said. “It’s troubling that anyone inside Microsoft was still thinking this was a legitimate business strategy.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.