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posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 23, @02:42AM   Printer-friendly

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/21/technology/microsoft-activision-deal.html

In recent weeks, Microsoft has accused Sony, its chief video game rival, of misleading regulators. Its lawyers have showed off game consoles, including an Xbox, to British officials. And the president of a major union that Microsoft wooed has spoken up on the company's behalf to the Federal Trade Commission.

The actions are part of a campaign by Microsoft to counter intensifying scrutiny of its $69 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, the largest consumer technology deal since AOL bought Time Warner two decades ago, and far bigger than Elon Musk's recent $44 billion buyout of Twitter.

Microsoft's aim is simple: persuade skeptical governments around the globe to approve the blockbuster takeover. Sixteen governments must bless the purchase, putting Microsoft under the most regulatory pressure it has faced since the antitrust battles of the 1990s. And in three key places — the United States, the European Union and Britain — regulators have begun deep reviews, with the European Commission declaring this month that it was opening an in-depth investigation of the deal.

Whether Microsoft succeeds in gaining regulatory approval to buy Activision, which makes games such as Candy Crush and Call of Duty, will send a message about Big Tech's ability to expand in the face of mounting fears that industry giants wield too much power. If Microsoft, whose public affairs operation has spent the past decade building the company's nice-guy reputation, can't get a megadeal through, can anyone?

"If this deal had happened four years ago, this would hardly be of any interest," Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, said in an interview. "If one cannot do something easy, then we'll all know you can't do something hard."

Google, Meta, Amazon and Apple have all faced increasing accusations that they are monopolies, and regulators have tried to block some of their smaller deals. In July, the F.T.C. sued Meta, Facebook's parent company, to stop it from buying Within, a virtual reality start-up. Last month, Britain forced Meta to sell Giphy, an image database it bought in 2020 for $315 million.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Wednesday November 23, @04:05AM (7 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Wednesday November 23, @04:05AM (#1281203)

    Microsoft, whose public affairs operation has spent the past decade building the company's nice-guy reputation

    Since when does Microsoft have a nice-guy reputation?

    People my age remember the Microsoft of yore - the aggressive, nefarious, Bill Gates-led monopolistic Microsoft. It hasn't changed one bit for us. Actually it's even worse: now it pretends to be a friend and supporter of open-source to better subdue it. Disgusting...

    Younger people just see the company that makes the shite software they have to use at work, and the shite intrusive OS they have to use to play games at home, and forces them to buy a new computer for the privilege of installing the latest version of. It's also the company that makes the bloated IRC-like business chat app that they had to use during the miserable time of the pandemic to work instead of doing real socializing. To them, Microsoft is a company for old people and suits. I doubt this generation has any great love for Microsoft: it's just the giant monopoly they have to use the products of if they want to do anything and they're not interested in installing FOSS, because Microsoft have a historically entrenched position in the marketplace.

    Even younger people... I don't know if Microsoft even register on their radars. It's the table / mobile generation, and Microsoft really isn't there.

    No nice guy for any generation that I can see.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by looorg on Wednesday November 23, @12:51PM (3 children)

      by looorg (578) on Wednesday November 23, @12:51PM (#1281268)

      No doubt about the old Microsoft. We all remember it. I would think that the thing here is that Microsoft as you noted is for old people and suits, sort of like how IBM was when Microsoft was new and young.

      New "nice" Microsoft probably isn't much better in that regard, just different. I don't really know if they have gotten any better, the memory remains. So new Microsoft in that regard might be mostly polish. But still evil underneath.

      That said there is a scale of things. You allude to it. Microsoft is now old. Young people might not care for them or know much about them, unless they play their games etc. In which case they might not even associate that with Microsoft anyway, as that is just another logo among many that flash by as the game launches.

      It's just that as far as being big and an evil megacorp monopoly enterprise they have sort of lost their seat at the top, yes they still have it for their OS and such but it probably matter less and less now with each passing year. Instead you have Google, FaceMeta and Amazon sitting there and they are in that regard even creepier then Microsoft managed to be back in the day. They mostly started out with the nice guy image (don't be evil, change the world laadiidaa ...) and have over the years been shown that it's all facade and they are as rotten in the core as the next company in their place.

      So with that in mind I guess Microsoft is feeling small and vulnerable and seeing enemies all around gulping up companies and they just want another piece of the game cake to stay afloat and remain relevant to some degree. Perhaps it's just some kind of corporate Whataboutism as they try to point out bigger evils instead of having to face their own evil. There is always someone shittier then you around and they don't fancy themselves or want to play the leader of bad-tech anymore.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Sourcery42 on Wednesday November 23, @05:52PM (1 child)

        by Sourcery42 (6400) on Wednesday November 23, @05:52PM (#1281299)

        You're right. This is just Microsoft being Microsoft. Same old anti-competitive bullshit. They got their ass handed to them on the last generation of consoles. Sony crushed them. They even sold less units than the Nintendo Switch that was released years later and caters to a kind of niche market. https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2020/05/05/just-how-badly-did-the-ps4-and-switch-outsell-the-xbox-one-this-generation/?sh=67f17ada5b0c [forbes.com]

        Now they're buying up some game developers that have super popular titles. You bet those will become X-box / PC exclusive titles.

        It is nice to see them staggering about as an aging colossus bumbling towards irrelevance, but they're still fucking huge and have the potential to do a lot of harm on their way down.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @06:49AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @06:49AM (#1281414)
          The Xbox One was terrible at letting people play games. We had one in our office and it spent more time doing software updates than playing games.

          Each time we wanted to play, it would insist on doing updates before it'll let us do anything. Then before or when lunch break was over we'd give up and turn it off. Then months later when we are feeling hopeful we'd turn it on and get reminded why we shouldn't bother.

          Also even when someone actually bothers to go through the updates and manages to play when someone else tries to play, the Xbox would cleverly notice that a new person is trying to play, INTERRUPT AND GET IN THE WAY by asking the new person to sign up, login, etc. Whereas with other consoles even the old Xbox - you can just hand over the controller to let a different person play with no interruptions.
      • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Sunday November 27, @01:01AM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Sunday November 27, @01:01AM (#1281834)

        It's just that as far as being big and an evil megacorp monopoly enterprise they have sort of lost their seat at the top, yes they still have it for their OS and such but it probably matter less and less now with each passing year.

        It matters a great deal if you still use a desktop PC. Installing Linux used to be just pop in a disk and go and literally anyone could do it with little effort (even if most users were and are still frightened of the idea). With each generation Microsoft is pushing more restrictions and manufacturers seem to be accepting them and forcing them on us. UEFI "secure" boot? Total Platform Management? At some point their efforts will succeed in blocking out any attempts at installing an alternative O/S on a desktop from most manufacturers.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by RamiK on Wednesday November 23, @02:03PM (2 children)

      by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday November 23, @02:03PM (#1281273)

      Objectively, contemporary software and tech services companies are gigantic conglomerates with hundreds of divisions running thousands of projects and products that are often at direct competition against themselves and having different cons and pros and even development models so you can no longer say one company is good or bad because they're practically holding companies at this point.

      Subjectively, the vast majority of young developers use vscode and consider Microsoft to be a good company since they don't charge developers for the privilege of developing for their platform unlike Google and Apple and they at least pretend to listen to user and developer input when it comes to features and designs unlike Google, Apple, Red Hat and Mozilla.

      The core problem is that the user land is no longer following Do One Thing and Do It Well so we went from having a lot of small tools we can piece together and contribute to, to having huge browsers, init system, desktops and languages+libraries that need full time specialized developers to maintain. So, whether they're FOSS or not, the open source development model can no longer be driven by academics and third party contributors so the end result as far as users and developers are concerned isn't any more open than a closed source project with a non-commercial free-to-use license. And if you think I'm exaggerating, look up why NCommander is using Windows right now while fixing up Soylent.

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @04:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @04:53PM (#1281291)

        And if you think I'm exaggerating, look up why NCommander is using Windows right now while fixing up Soylent.

        Why is he using Windows?

      • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Sunday November 27, @01:13AM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Sunday November 27, @01:13AM (#1281837)

        The core problem is that the user land is no longer following Do One Thing and Do It Well so we went from having a lot of small tools we can piece together and contribute to, to having huge browsers, init system, desktops and languages+libraries that need full time specialized developers to maintain.

        This. I think it is the tendency of developers, or at least those that fund them, to envy the big successes, even if they are inferior products. Thus each version of Firefox looks and acts more and more like Chrome, and is less and less friendly to users that want to control their experience rather than having someone else's ideas control it. Linux seems more and more like Windows or Chrome with each release, and is less and less like the Unix experience it was modeled after. And just look what happened to Gnome!

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