Microsoft is the subject of many criticisms, controversies about its operation and its actions, which are regularly the subject of articles in the media. This article brings together all the criticisms, controversies and cases around society.

Dominant position Controversies

Microsoft quickly dominated the entire personal computing industry and emerged as a key player in the industry. This situation is worthy of many critics of its dominant position, so it appears that Microsoft currently has the same types of dominance issues that IBM had before 1980.

The default integration of Internet Explorer in Windows today disadvantages the browsers such as the free and free Firefox browser, as well as Opera , Safari and Google Chrome which have indeed difficulties to impose themselves, although this state in fact begins to change: Firefox is growing strongly and represents a market share of just over 29% (2008) in Europe according to the Xiti 1 analysis office.

The tied selling of Windows with any manufacturer PC (the assembler PCs do not have this constraint) is also widely criticized, by the name of «Windows tax«, by the supporters of free software. Systems based on GNU/ Linux are increasingly recognized as a possible alternative to Windows but manufacturers offer very rarely at the time of purchase to replace Windows by these systems and thus reduce the price (minimum 80 € ).

This argument can not be tempered by the fact that other sectors of computer practice tied selling: Apple sells for example its Mac machines systematically its operating systemMacOS, on which Linux and Windows can also be installed but Apple manufactures its machines.

The law obliges the manufacturers of equipment to sell functional products thus provided with an operating system. Other software also uses tied selling (Nero and its related multimedia software, online shops and their DRM systems …). There is a legal uncertainty today that does not precisely define the limit between the sale of a single product with multiple functionalities and the tied selling of two distinct products.

Microsoft software with computer

  • Microsoft is accused of knowingly developing substandard closed products and curbing the emergence of open standards to make migrating customers to other systems more cumbersome and complex. This makes it possible to avoid migrations to other competing solutions, thus exploiting its status as the most widespread technical solution to further establish its dominant position (see technologies implemented by Internet Explorer at the expense of W3C standards). – especially at the CSS and JavaScript level .
  • Technology Java from Sun Microsystems allows any software that uses the Java programming interface to run on any computer for which there is a Java virtual machine , regardless of the underlying operating system. By license agreement, Sun gives virtual machine providers such as Microsoft the responsibility to adapt their product to meet the specifications. In 1998 Sun Microsystemsis taking legal action against Microsoft, accusing it of knowingly not complying with the specifications, and accusing it of wanting to provoke a break of the market and incite to manufacture software using Java which would only work with Windows. Sun wins the case and Microsoft is ordered to stop distributing its Java virtual machine unless it is brought into compliance with the terms of reference within 3 months.
  • Finally, it is simply the dominant position of Microsoft (almost 89% of PCs are equipped with Windows) that concerns, so much so that a judgment of a US court recommended in 2000 the split of the company into two separate entities and competitors.

This position of market dominance is reinforced by the response it brings to two types of audience:

  • the users, who appreciate having a range of environments homogeneous and familiar on different products (PC, personal assistant, mobile phone, etc.), thus avoiding the learning of a new interface that becomes a barrier to change. De facto-driven standards in the market avoid costly format conversions for users; the use of strict standards gives the same result but the competition and the law of the market are often right of these standards (examples: the MPEG-4 with its multiple incompatible versions, the different Wi-Fi products stamped 802.11n with the incompatibilities between draft (draft) and final version …)
  • software publishers, who can afford not to develop and maintain their products on other operating systems (MacOS, Linux, etc.) by losing only a small part of their potential customers. This state of affairs has probably helped to focus the software offer around the Windows sphere.

Cooperation with the NSA on Internet monitoring

This was recognized by US government officials. PRISM allows the government to secretly access data from non-US citizens without a warrant. Microsoft has denied participating in this program.

In July 2013 The Guardian says, according to leaked documents, that:

  • Microsoft helped the NSA to bypass Outlook.com’s encryption to intercept web cats;
  • The NSA had access to Outlook.com and Hotmail.com emails without encryption
  • Microsoft provided access to user data stored on the OneDrive online storage service (formerly SkyDrive);
  • After the purchase of Skype by Microsoft, the NSA has collected three times more video calls.

In a statement, Microsoft says it «provides user data only in response to a legal process».

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