Microsoft Should Go Modular

eNews and Views: By offering Windows in both stripped-down and all-inclusive versions, Microsoft would please all customers and test its own theories.

Microsoft may be huffing and puffing about the latest proposal to force it to offer a modular version of its Windows operating system, but I think in the long run such a move could be beneficial to both consumers and Microsoft.

Attorneys General from nine states and the District of Columbia early this week filed a paper with the federal court hearing their antitrust suit against Microsoft in which they asked the court to force the software developer to sell a stripped-down version of Windows. This modular version would ship without Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and other Microsoft applications.

The litigious AGs (these are the ones who did not go along with another settlement of the long-running antitrust case proposed by the U.S. Department of Justice and several other states) could then be satisfied that Microsoft was not abusing its operating system monopoly by commingling the application code and the OS code.

PC and server makers could then get the opportunity to sell a broader range of preconfigured hardware—some of it with the fully integrated Windows OS and apps, some with Windows and no apps and some with Windows and say an Opera browser.

The proposed remedy would not preclude Microsoft from selling the fully integrated version of Windows. Thats the beauty of it. Home PC users who just want a simple, stripped-down system could get it, and PC software enthusiasts could get the basic building blocks without being forced to buy all the bells and whistles. However, the harried CIO trying to roll out 2,000 desktops would still be able to get the fully configured OS with the apps, thus streamlining big deployments.

Seems that would make all of Microsofts customers happy. Isnt that what Microsoft or any business wants, to make its customers happy?

And its not like the Redmondians are being asked to open up their source code a la Linux. I cant count the number of times Ive heard Bill Gates on a podium saying users want more integrated systems. Clearly some dont want the integrated system because they are buying Linux or BSD or some other operating system. And clearly some do.

If Microsoft would offer that choice then we would all know if Bill Gates was right about what people want. Right now there is no choice.

E-mail eWEEK Department Editor John S. McCright