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October 18, 2005

Bundling could be bad news, but for who?

Posted by David Hunter at 8:34 PM ET.

Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft WatchBanned in Redmond:

The ‘B’ word (bundling) is on the Microspeak blacklist. But there’s no sidestepping the reality: Windows Vista is likely to get more bundled components.

Finally, after months of rumors, it’s official: Microsoft is planning to bundle the core of its Windows Antispyware product into Windows Vista.

We know, we know: Bundling is a banned word in Redmond. When a previously standalone Microsoft product or technology is subsumed by another, the result is supposed to be labeled “innovative integration,” according to the Microspeak police.

It’s not hard to understand Microsoft’s loathing of the ‘B’ word. The company has gotten its hand slapped more than once for bundling. You don’t have to look further than the U.S. Department of Justice and EU vs. Microsoft cases for examples.

But those lessons seem to have been forgotten. Based on recent signs, it looks like Microsoft is gearing up to bundle not just Windows Antispyware, but possibly also some other new wares, into Vista, the version of Windows due in 2006.

Some other components are mentioned in the rest of the article, although I think Mary Jo has conflated the Kahuna interface replacement for web-based Hotmail with the Vista Microsoft Mail client replacement for today’s Outlook Express.

In any case, I believe the likeliest candidates for bundling are in the security area where it’s needed most and where Microsoft has a recent history (e.g. Windows Firewall). Joe Wilcox discusses some of the implications. as does Graham Cluely from Sophos.

Filed under Antitrust, Hotmail, Legal, MSN, OS - Client, Security, Spyware, Windows Vista

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