EU has its knickers in a twist over Microsoft Windows 7

Microsoft has decided that the forthcoming release of Windows 7 will exclude Internet Explorer 8 in the EU, to avoid any further anti-trust fines from the European Commission. Now the EU have their knickers in a twist because they told Microsoft to stop including Internet Explorer in Windows, but actually that wasn’t what they actually wanted. They really wanted Microsoft to offer alternative browsers to customers when the customer installs Windows 7 for the first time. Therein lies a rather short sightedness from the EU, that has genuinely left them looking rather stupid.

Microsoft is unable to pre-install other companies software into the operating system. If they did, that too would be an anti-trust case waiting to happen. Who gets included, who doesn’t? Furthermore, can you imagine the licensing implications, the tie in for language support. The list goes on. It is simply never going to happen, and nor should it. PC manufacturers have the responsibility to offer the alternative, not Microsoft.

Now the EU is left with egg on its face (yet again), and Microsoft will be giggling like a bunch of school boys. The EU got what it asked for. Case closed. No company should be forced to promote a competitors’ product. Now, how about we take a look at Apple and Safari, oh wise ones in Brussels?

Taking a bite out of Apple

Apple are in the news again today. The first story that caught my eye was that O2 is to charge an extra monthly fee for iPhone tethering. It plans to charge a whopping £15 per month when the new iPhone 3G S models come out, and the base contract cost will also increase for the new model. At first one has a tendency to blame O2, but if you really think about it, the bad guy here is Apple. Apple has mastered a very non-consumer-friendly “exclusivity deal” with O2, and O2 had to bid a lot of money to get the deal. This cost is being passed on to O2 customers.

I actually think that what Apple has done with O2 should be made illegal across the EU and that they should be fined. The French competition agency ruled the Orange-Apple exclusive deal anti-competitive and illegal back in 2008, and the Germans made a similar decision in 2007. The EU needs to stamp out this practice, and soon.

The second piece of news that I noticed this morning, was a story about a criminal gang that published their own songs, but then bought them via iTunes (and Amazon) with stolen credit cards. Notably, the gang made $300,000 from the royalties on $750,000 of sales.

If you do the math, that’s a 40% return for the gang. The real crime is that Amazon and Apple earn the other 60%. Previous estimates have suggested that Apple’s iTunes profit margin is around 30%. Have I missed something here, or are these two figures vastly different?

So in summary, the British authorities do not see a problem with Apple and a mobile operator openly colluding to restrict competition and fix prices and Apple are taking a rather nice cut on iTunes sales, passing 40% to the producers.

Dirty workaround for iPhone RDP and Cisco VPN problems

I’ve been trying to setup my iPhone VPN using the built-in iPhone Cisco VPN IPSEC client. The main reason being is that there is now an Remote Desktop (RDP) client available in the Apple App Store (RDP Lite) for free and I have servers which require a Cisco VPN client.

However, the iPhone only seems to support certain Cisco VPN configs. I have a wide range of VPNs I can test with and none of them would work. The suggested Apple/Cisco solution is to configure the Cisco hardware to work with the iPhone, but in my book that’s just like drilling out the square hole to fit the round peg.

So, I thought of a way around this, which is a dirty, nasty and XXX rated. 🙂

You can RDP from the iPhone to your PC if you are on the same LAN. Then, via that RDP session, you can then use your PC’s Cisco VPN client to connect to the required remote network and then RDP to the remote server from your PC instead. Whhheeewww….

If you want to connect to your PC from outside your home network then you can setup your Windows XP box to accept incoming PPTP VPN connections (which the iPhone seems to connect to quite happily) and configure your router to forward the connection through.

It’s not pretty, and probably slow, but theoretically it should work…