Microsoft: damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t

Lynne Kiesling, Brad Delong, Steven Bainbridge, Arnold Kling, Alex, and others recently had an interesting discussion about Microsoft and bundling. (Lynne links to the main posts, but see also the comments and trackbacks.)

Here’s an amusing and possibly instructive footnote to that discussion. According to the Los Angeles Times, “. . . Microsoft is coming under fire for what it isn’t bundling.

As Windows users are being plagued by computer viruses, spam, buggy software and Web pop-up ads, some are questioning why the Redmond, Wash.-based software behemoth has failed to integrate security and repair features that would make computers less prone to problems.

. . .

But bundling security features directly into Windows isn’t so simple, Microsoft supporters say.

The company, after all, has been punished by regulators in the U.S. and Europe for leveraging Windows to take over lucrative new markets, including Web browsers and software for playing audio and video files. Presumably, a move to add security software would face the same kind of regulatory scrutiny.

Personally, I don’t think antitrust action is the primary reason why Windows lacks security features. I think the primary reason is that Microsoft was surprised by the extent of the problem, similar to how it was surprised in the mid 90s by how rapidly and deeply the Internet caught on.

But it sure would be hard to prove that.