Innovation Lacking: When Regulators Regulate!
Okay, if you have any interest in Microsoft and/or European anti-trust regulation, check out this New York Times article. It gets good on page two.
The background is that Europe has told Microsoft that they will need to offer a version of Windows that does not include Media Player, so that computer vendors can sell a version of Windows with competing media playing software.
A colleague at Microsoft ranted yesterday that this was a massive imposition, because after removing Media Player, they would have to test Windows, which would take months of time and thousands of employees. This complaint seemed strange to me, as Microsoft is frequently making revisions to its operating system, and distributing these changes via Windows Update, so, it surely has some mechanism for testing Windows? And it is not like this need to change Windows is entirely unanticipated, as they’ve been working towards it for five years.
Anyway, to the first quote:
“Microsoft … said the commission’s ruling would stifle innovation and deprive consumers of choices.”
What charms me about Microsoft is that any threat of government regulation will always deprive them of the ability to innovate. (They don’t really seem to do much “innovation” themselves anyway, they mostly just copy or co-opt the innovations of others.) In this case, they are being compelled to innovate, by changing their software so as to offer consumers more choices.
I wonder if whomever issued their objection stopped to consider whether they needed a more innovative objection? If only there were other consumer software monopolies haunted by the specter of government regulation after which Microsoft could model innovative rebuttals to the specter of government regulation!
Oh, but it gets better. Next quote:
“Once regulators get their bit in their teeth and realize they can regulate, they may not stop with the bad actors,” said Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley research firm.
Yes … once regulators figure out that they can regulate, they might start regulating! The implications of this could be spectacularly regulatory!