South Korea didn't go far enough

South Korea wants Microsoft to redesign its software in more "a la carte" fashion. I don't think this goes far enough.

South Korea, like Europe, wants Microsoft to redesign its software in a more "a la carte" fashion. If the ruling stands, Microsoft will have to disentangle integrated media and messaging products and make them optional. These products will compete with third party products on an "even" footing, denied the advantage of a Windows pre-install.

Frankly, I don't think this ruling goes far enough. Microsoft needs to be forced to make Media Player as annoying as RealPlayer.There are far too many integrated products on the market which are BAD for competition. So, let's treat South Korea's ruling as extra stream driving the locomotive set in motion by Monti's EU Competition Commission. Onwards towards a brave new world of government-engineered perfect competition.

I am sick of having to accept cars where the vendor decides which wheels, steering column, radio, doors, engine, and paint are used (and heck, I'm even a bit sick of not being able to mix and match the parts in my engine). So, following the trail blazed by European and South Korean antitrust authorities, let's end all that. It should be illegal to ship cars with parts preinstalled, as that hinders an open market for parts.

This will be good for national economic development. Japanese and Korean cars will no longer come with a bunch of Japanese and Korean parts. I might buy a Japanese frame, but I'll make sure to buy the rest from manufacturers in the good 'ol US of A, thus helping the struggling American auto parts companies.

Same goes for homes. I'm tired of not being able to choose the lights, heating system, windows, flooring, paint, wall style, and cupboards. Yes, I know it is possible to find custom-built houses, but that's not as common as buying tract housing, so government should ban such bundling. When I buy a house, the wind should be whistling through the bare skeleton of my new home. Granted, it means I'll have to wait several months before I move in, but dammit, consumers and citizens should be willing to put up with a bit of pain in the interest of more competition.

Back to the ruling, I think its unfair that media playing and instant messaging get special treatment. Why are web browsing, email clients, network protocol stacks, FAX APIs, firewalls, picture editing tools, disk search tools, and an integrated user interface treated differently? If we truly want to make this a completely competitive market, Microsoft should be forced to roll back every addition to its operating system it has made since 1985, turning them into optional components.

Microsoft must also roll back bug fixes. Bug fixes were a lucrative industry in days past for third parties who provided patches to Microsoft products. Microsoft illegally denied them a market, so all patches must be rolled back, too. Yes, security and stability might suffer, but it's for the good of competition.

But, wait a second. Even if Microsoft offers all the features found in Windows as optional add-on components, Microsoft's products STILL have certain advantages. Microsoft has one heck of a name brand as maker of the dominant operating system, which can put alternatives at a disadvantage. Likewise, RealPlayer and other third-party products don't have as many sources of revenue. That's why they've loaded their product with more ads than Lance Armstrong's jersey in the Tour de France. Microsoft, however, can treat Media Player as just another "feature" of Windows, the revenue from which comes from sales of Windows.

Therefore, Microsoft needs to be forced to make Media Player as annoying as RealPlayer. They should be required to paste ads over every square inch of software surface. Furthermore, just to undo the obvious advantages Microsoft has due to the fact that they make the underlying operating system, these ads should be particularly annoying. Ads should be in your face, have lots of annoying flashy colors, and speakers should burst forth with that "crazy frog" ringtone at inopportune moments, such as when fielding a call from your boss or working on a term paper.

Make sure use of Microsoft's Media Player is a bit more painful than use of RealPlayer. Then, and only then, will the market truly be "balanced."

Kurt Vonnegut may have intended his "Harrison Bergeron" short story as social satire, but I think he was on to something. I'm off to buy screeching earphones to prevent me from thinking too hard and putting other less thoughtful individuals at a disadvantage. I recommend that many of you do the same.

It's only fair.

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