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Today in Tech: Microsoft Tries an Anticompetitive Apple-Style Walled Garden for Tablets


Mozilla and Google are not happy that their browsers will not work on Windows RT tablets. One antitrust lawsuit apparently wasn't enough to stop the Browser Wars. Plus! Guess who isn't giving up the BlackBerry for Android or iPhone!

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Mozilla, the non-profit company that makes the open-source Firefox browser, is saying that Microsoft (MSFT) is making it difficult for them to make a version of Firefox for the upcoming Windows RT tablets. Microsoft encourages software developers to make apps for the new platform, but the only browser that will work will be Internet Explorer. Users will only be able to download apps through Microsoft's online store. The scheme that Microsoft foresees for Windows RT is similar to the "walled garden" approach that Apple (AAPL) perfected with the iPhone and iPad. The walled garden keeps profits flowing to Microsoft, but also helps ensure that malicious software won't make it onto the machine.

Google (GOOG), maker of the Chrome browser, also weighed in on the matter, saying "We share the concerns Mozilla has raised regarding the Windows 8 environment restricting user choice and innovation. We've always welcomed innovation in the browser space across all platforms and strongly believe that having great competitors makes us all work harder. In the end, consumers and developers benefit the most from robust competition."

Windows RT is Microsoft's first operating system designed to use chips licensed to use ARM Holdings (ARMH) architecture rather than x86 technology from Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Apple's mobile devices, as well as Android phones and tablets, run on ARM architecture because the chips require less power. Mozilla wants to develop a version of Firefox that can run on touch-screen enabled Windows RT. Mozilla's lawyers are comparing Microsoft's refusal to allow other browsers to its anti-competitive behavior with the same browser in the 1990s that resulted in an antitrust lawsuit.

Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY.PK), the company that controls T-Mobile USA, is discussing a merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS (PCS). The German company announced today that last quarter's earnings beat analysts' expectations despite iPhone-less T-Mobile USA losing 510,000 subscribers. Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) both gained hundreds of thousands of customers in the same period. T-Mobile saw growth in prepaid customers, and a merger with prepaid-heavy Metro PCS would bolster its position in that market.

Last year, regulators shot down Deutsche Telekom's attempted sale of T-Mobile to AT&T. T-Mobile announced that it will close 24 call centers and cut 1,900 jobs in March. It also gave its mascot a brazen makeover.

Cisco (CSCO) stock took a beating after the company told analysts that it foresees smaller-than-expected growth in the next quarters because of customers' lack of confidence and concerns about the global economy.

"We are still in an uncertain environment economically," CEO John Chambers said in a conference call. "We are waiting to see what happens in Europe and what happens with government policy."

Cisco earned $0.48 per share in the quarter ending April 28, one penny above analysts' expectations. For the current quarter, the largest maker of computer networking equipment forecasts earnings to fall between $0.44 and $0.46. Shares are down 9.16% today.

Other enterprise technology bellwethers, Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), will report earnings on May 22 and May 23.

Research In Motion (RIMM) might be losing market share to rivals, but at least one cutting edge, hip demographic is sticking with the BlackBerry: The Pentagon. The Department of Defense said yesterday that the BlackBerry 7 is approved for agency use.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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