European Union: Reduced Innovation Edition

by on June 16, 2005

This is hilarious.

Strange thing about an operating system with missing functionality… no one wants to sell it. That’s what the European Commission is discovering, as major PC OEMs are declining to preinstall the media-player-free Windows XP N on any of the systems they sell. While Fujitsu Siemens says they’ll sell it “on request,” Dell, Lenovo, and HP are all taking a pass on it.

EU antitrust regulators won their battle against Microsoft, securing a court order to “unbundle” Windows Media Player from Windows XP. Now consumers are free to get the products separately if they prefer.

And now we’ve learned that, strangely enough, when you offer people with a product with fewer features for an identical price, most people don’t buy it! (My girlfriend, who pines for the days of DOS 6, says she’d buy it; she seems to be in the tiny minority though)

I think this exercise has laid bare the absurdity of Microsoft’s antitrust critics, who claim that Microsoft has somehow been shoving unwanted browsers and media players down their customers’ throats. Those customers who who pay attention to such things can easily download FireFox and Quicktime. Those customers who don’t pay much attention, by definition, don’t care very much.

So who exactly are the EU’s antitrust busybodies helping? When they attain victory and consumers across the continent yawn, maybe the regulators were barking up the wrong tree in the first place.

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