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Microsoft Antitrust Update

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the wheeling-and-dealing dept.

Microsoft 290

You can't help but know that Microsoft and the Department of Justice (plus several of the states that joined in the suit) are attempting to settle their antitrust dispute. The rest of the states are holding out for a settlement with more teeth, or a continuation of the case. A few links from the past few days: The LA Times looks at the states still opposing Microsoft. Microsoft defended the settlement before a Senate committee, which was crippled by political maneuvering (see also the NYT story). The speech given by the CEO of Red Hat is online. Microsoft filed a brief with the court, unsurprisingly urging the court to accept the settlement. The Register has a story on the proposed settlement, which is available at the DOJ Antitrust website. Linuxplanet has some advice for people who want to comment on the settlement - you've got 60 days from November 28. Finally, Microsoft has named two people to help it comply with the proposed settlement.

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704649)

I officially declare a monopoly on first posts. When does the money start flowing in?

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704988)

Yes, but have you ever made love to a wombat?

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704650)

FP!

Compliance Officers? (5, Funny)

srw (38421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704670)

I don't understand. Microsoft is going to pay some people to tell them when they're not in compliance?
Does this sound like it's really going to work?
Shouldn't a "Compliance Officer" be appointed by the DOJ or some other agency?

Re:Compliance Officers? (0)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704697)

If Microsoft could police itself effectively, there wouldn't BE an antitrust lawsuit. They're like a kid in the candy store without parents to tell him "No." The time for this move was +/- ten years ago.

Re:Compliance Officers? (3, Informative)

lucifuge31337 (529072) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704744)

My understanding of this proposed arrangement was that there would be three compliance officers.
- One chosen by Microsoft
- One chosen by the DOJ/US Government
- One chosen by the above two people

Re:Compliance Officers? (2)

RDskutter (171222) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705033)

I don't see why Microsoft should get to choose any of the officers. The officers should be three people who can work together with a common goal.

Lets imagine for a second that the DOJ choose 2 and MS chooses 1 then you've basically got two people trying to do their job of watching to see if Microsoft are being compliant and 1 person who is doing their damn best to hinder the other two.

None of the three people chosen should have Microsoft's best interests in mind.

Lets have an analogy

When a criminal gets sent to prison he doesn't get asked "Who do you want your prison officer to be?" If he did then he could choose someone who he could rely on to try and break him out when the other two prison officers weren't looking.

Hey its not a brilliant analogy, but as far as analogies go its OK

Re:Compliance Officers? (2)

nhavar (115351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705080)

hmmm sounds alot like the us government. At any given time you have at least one part doing their damn best to hinder the other two.

al and bill couldn't shake them down (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704802)

for campaign money.

Hence, the DOJ harassment.

Re:Compliance Officers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704880)

Shouldn't a "Compliance Officer" be appointed by the DOJ or some other agency?

Yes... probation officers are usually members of the executive branch of govt.

Re:Compliance Officers? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704884)

Microsoft would appear to be jumping the gun, since (as far as we know) no actual settlement has been reached. Acting as if a deal is already made can have a demoralizing effect on the opposition, as ms may well know.

On the other hand, when a massive company like MS barges ahead as if the conclusion is foregone, it may have knowledge or at least very strong confidence that the deal is in fact done, and all that's left is to sign on the dotted line and make the appropriate "campaign donations".

let sleeping dogs die (2, Interesting)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704672)

i am getting sick of all this anti-trust talk. i am as anti-microsoft as anyone else, but it has recently become clear to me that microsoft will inevitably lose it's market dominance in it's own due time(a matter of years not decades).

all this trouble going into knocking down the giant could be avoided if people just waited until after it had cut it's ownlegs off.

Re:let sleeping dogs die (2, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704712)

I'm not so sure. This would be valid if MS was just sitting on its hands, but as the .NET initiative and the whole Passport fiasco show, they're doing anything but. The problem lies in the fact that they're no longer innovating so much as they're using their size and market share to do things unilaterally. There NEEDS to be some regulation of this...

I just want to know... (1, Offtopic)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704678)

...how the DOJ (and by extension everyone else)can possibly see that MS is anything BUT a monopoly. They're growing, not shrinking, and the government seems to detect no problem with this. Under the Clinton administration, the DOJ was after MS with a vengeance-- when and why did they lose their cojones?

MODERATOR STUPIDITY NEWS AT ELEVEN (-1, Offtopic)

Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704762)

Moderators on crack.
Man how can this be offtopic.
This place has really turned into 12 yr old script kiddie linux activist newsgroup where you are lambasted for not having the right opinion.

I feel for you Sorthum, I know what these idiots are like.

Dan

Re:I just want to know... (5, Insightful)

theantix (466036) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704899)

I just want to know... how the DOJ (and by extension everyone else)can possibly see that MS is anything BUT a monopoly. They're growing, not shrinking, and the government seems to detect no problem with this.
For starters? The economic concept of monopoly power holds that a "monopoly" is not an absolute, it is a point on a scale. Where they are on the scale is uncertain.

Microsoft is not only company in any market segment they are in, thus they are not an absolute monopoly like the power companies are (and how the phone and cable companies used to be). However, because of their dominant share of the desktop PC and office suite market they have a fairly high degree of monopoly power. The barriers to entry in the industry are the entrenched applications using the the Win32 API, and the implementation of the MSOffice file formats. That being said, there are many factors that limit their monopoly power.

The internet and java are (were?) starting to make client less important. This limits the impact of the dominance of the Win32 API.
Pirating is rampant. This limits their monopoly power over pricing especially in the home market (*YES IT DOES*).
Crossplatform development is progressing as people can write QT applications that can be ported to several platforms including Win32. Again this reduces the the dominance of the Win32 API.
Viable free alternatives are emerging (StarOffice 6, Netscape 6.1, Mandrake 8.1). Again this reduces the the dominance of the Win32 API.
File format filters (In StarOffice6 for example) are getting extremely good at reading .DOC and .XLS which limit the impact of the MSOffice monopoly power.

The bottom line? Yes, Microsoft has a high degree of monopoly power, but it's not cut-and-dry about how much power they have. And it's certainly not cut-and-dry what to do about them either. Certainly it is important to limit the impact of their potential leverage (For example that Passport, Messenger, Hotmail, and MSN Photos are bundled with XP) from their existing markets, but don't think for a minute that it is simple. It's not.

Re:I just want to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705050)

It's a good thing you put *'s around YES IT DOES, because otherwise someone would point out that windows is usually bundles with the computer that most consumers will buy, so pirating copies of windows doesn't really matter...

Re:I just want to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705098)

Yes, I put that in there just for *dipshits* like *you*. I'm glad you appreciated it.

Re:I just want to know... (4, Insightful)

lgraba (34653) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705058)

Do any of these issues change the testimony in the anti-trust trial that:

- MS threatened Compaq with withheld licenses if they didn't remove Netscape from their computers going out the door.
- MS threatened Intel management over Intel's work on multimedia software.

These are but two examples of the way MS abused their monopoly power. The fact that there might be competition on the horizon (a speculative, not certain, assertion) does not change what has occured one bit. If I robbed a bank, should I be spared a penalty because I myself might be robbed sometime in the future? I don't think so!!!

Yah... (1, Troll)

SevenTowers (525361) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704693)

"Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned whether the settlement, which he called "an invitation to further litigation, might have "a few too many loopholes."

At lest one of them got it right. As long as it is monolithic and full of $$$, Microsoft won't change much.

It's not a couple of supervisors that are going to change their business practice. It just looks good and they are excellent at making things look good so everybody will fall for it.

Re:Yah... (3, Interesting)

sphealey (2855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704810)

"Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned whether the settlement, which he called "an invitation to further litigation, might have "a few too many loopholes."

At lest one of them got it right. As long as it is monolithic and full of $$$, Microsoft won't change much.
Leahy also had some thoughtful and insightful concerns about the actions of the DOJ and John Ashcroft in relation to 9/11. For a while he appeared to be making headway. All of a sudden his voice was muted, then Ashcroft went before the Senate and branded anyone who disagreed with him a traitor. Now you aren't hearing any more criticism of DOJ's actions.

I would expect something similar in this case. A backroom deal has been cut (probably brokered by Cheney and Rove, now that they aren't so busy taking care of their Enron friends), and it will go through regardless of any concerns mere citizens might have.

Now, if Slashdotters were to send a couple of million $ in campaign contributions to some key senators, a little more backbone might appears.

sPh

To the point (2, Funny)

Migrant Programmer (19727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704705)

There's a great stress relief tool relating to the settlement now available from Nitrozac and Snaggy at The Joy of Tech! [geekculture.com]

Enjoy!

booooya! (-1)

FigBug (69370) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704706)

microsoft sucks

Move on folks (3, Funny)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704716)

Microsoft won this round. What you are hearing now is the death-rattle of the NOISE (Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun and Everyone but Microsoft) lobbying effort, the members of which have independently moved on even if their hot air continues to plod forward through the government.

The government isn't turning off Microsoft. Microsoft isn't turning off linux, and AOL owns everything else. There is your new reality. Lets move on.

Re:Move on folks (4, Funny)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704941)

Is NOISE associated with the FMC? (F* Microsoft Consortium). I'm a card-carrying member of the FMC, but I haven't heard of NOISE before.

Re:Move on folks (2)

Have Blue (616) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704996)

I can't tell how serious you are, but NOISE does not really exist, it's a term invented, probably by the media, for the imagined organization behind the vast concerted outpouring of anti-MS comments by the rest of the computer industry, seemingly led by Netscape, Oracle, and IBM.

Re:Move on folks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704962)

I would say that this comment and the fact that it didnt get modded as a troll pretty much proves that there are more astroturfers on Slashdot than any other demographic. Welcome to MS's pocket Rob.

anti-microsoft (1, Funny)

mhandlon (464241) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704728)

I used to be hardcore anti-Microsoft only Linux. But, visual c++ 6.0 is really a good compiler and I like the interface so I have to be Microsoft-passive now.

Dear Santa (-1)

I Have a Hard (538104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704734)


All I want for X-mas is to see Billy Gates and Osama bin Laden in a homosexual sex frenzy.

Is that so wrong?

Re:Dear Santa (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704969)

Taliban uses BSD,

Taliban is dying,

Therefore BSD is .....

Bill Gates Dart Board (comic) (0, Redundant)

Snaggy (140728) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704739)

Bill Gates Dart Board Joy of Tech [geekculture.com]

For relief of tech-related stress, brought about by recent Microsoft settlement offers.

The real winner... (1, Interesting)

Dwarth (300904) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704747)

I haven't follow all those law suite.. you know even a geek can try to have a life.. but well no matter who will 'win' those law suite.. the only real winner will be the lawyer.. you know.. Microsodt pay millions to he's lawyer... same on the other side...

The other winner are the Media... we heard about Microsoft law suite here and there... I'M BORED of it... give us a break with that and talk about thing we care... like new technologie that WORK...

Re:The real winner... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704847)

And how about spell-checking! And typing that is readable!

Oh, oh, oh! And messages that can be understood by us 'laymen' english speakers!

Re:The real winner... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704929)

Microsodt pay millions to he's lawyer

How in the fuck does stuff like this get moderated up? It's written ebonics, for god's sake, with several misspelled three letter words.

Do us a favor Dwarth, and stop posting until you've tested out of the 3rd grade.

No Competition? (1)

mplex (19482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704748)

From the Redhat speech: "The growth and adoption of the Linux operating system now holds a 28% marketshare of the server operating system according to IDC. The Apache web server now holds 60% of the web server marketplace. Both are technologies developed by the open source community and available alternatives to Microsoft products."

Linux is the best competitor microsoft has ever had. If anything, this proves the opposite of the anti-microsoft crowd. And as for the statement that MSFT will try to exploit the settlement to their full advantage, I would expect no less from a solid company. Capitalism at its best(worst) if you ask me.

Re:No Competition? (5, Insightful)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704837)

Look at this the other way - pretty much the only successful competitor to Microsoft is giving away their product for free. The big reason that Linux is such a competitor is because the normal Microsoft tactic has failed: undercutting the competition by subsidizing their new market-breaker with money from the other parts of their empire. Also, there's no way for Microsoft to completely buy up Linux and Open Source, so they can't remove a competitor that way. You can't undercut or buy out "free", and so Microsoft is temporarily stymied, but they still have vast marketing and lobbying muscle.

Does it strike you as a particularly healthy industry if you can only gain marketshare by giving your product away? Is it reasonable that the only way to protect your product is to create it via a group of people who aren't even a company, just to avoid being swallowed by Microsoft?

Now, of course I know that RedHat charges money for some things, and they may even make a profit pretty soon, and Red Hat is in fact a company that Microsoft could buy. But Microsoft's competition isn't so much Red Hat as it is the Linux and Open Source movement. And taken overall, Linux and Open Source are largely free, and are largely producted by individuals and representatives of many companies who collectively could not be bought out. Those are the only reasons that Microsoft has any competition, and those reasons still do not add up to a healthy software industry.

Re:No Competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704849)

That's right, it seems that the only way to "compete" with Microsoft is to give away your software for free.

Do you not see a problem with this??

Re:No Competition? (1)

Reid (629) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704852)

Linux is the best competitor microsoft has ever had. If anything, this proves the opposite of the anti-microsoft crowd.

As a server, yes. On the desktop, no. BeOS should have been a competitor to MS, but it wasn't, thanks to MS's monopoly. What makes you think Linux will make any in-roads any time soon? Just what do Linux server stats prove to the anti-miscrosoft crowd?

Re:No Competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704931)

Buying the executive department isn't capitalism, it's fucking mercantilism. Government protecting the people from corporations is (mis)called socialism while government supporting corporations against the people is somehow capitalism? Give me a gods be damned break. Truly the closest thing our system comes to is a thing called corporativism which was the economic system of fascist Italy, Spain, and Germany some 50 years ago. Now with things like the USA Patriot act we are bringing our social system inline with our fascist economic system. The Nazis won WWII after all... it just took em a while. If you think that's bullshit I suggest some reading on Prescott Bush's relations with fascism and the eugenics movement as well as George the 1st's relations with Allen Dulles and the Gehlen group.

Re:No Competition? (1)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704976)

Although i find it really interesting and unfortunate that the Red Hat counterproposal simply slipped under the public radar. If there had been a little more publicity about it, it could have put microsoft into some pretty serious hot water.

what's more, i think that it would simply be a much more valuable learning experience for kids to be able to develop linux familiarity in schools. Sure, in today's workplace, windows familiarity is an important employment skill, but contact with windowsOS is almost unavoidable. Linux experience would provide a very important degree of breadth to the conception todays children have of computers.

$$$ (1)

Lewis Daggart (539805) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704757)

Of course Microsofts settlement is going to get them money. Do you think ANY company would work to undermine its own cash flow? Microsofts practices, though irritating, and possibly illegal, are unfortunately also what could be called "brillient planning". And the closer they come the reaching a decision in reguards to the antitrust sute, the more money I think they'll go for before they lose. This means more XP like products we'll ahve to deal with in the future. Unless ofcourse, you just avoid Microsoft all together...

Typcial Slashdot bias... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704759)

Of course, if a Republican senator pulled something like this, Slashdot would have made a big headline item about it, along with three paragraphs of editorializing.

Department of Justice, Schmustice... (1)

Skevin (16048) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704767)

Why bother with the DOJ when MS is backed by US Military might [yahoo.com] ?

Skevin

Re:Department of Justice, Schmustice... (1)

tulmad (25666) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704796)

Brings a whole new meaning to "Blue Screen of Death" doesn't it?

Senate Hearings (4, Insightful)

PoiBoy (525770) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704769)

Based on the few excerpts of the Senate hearings I heard on TV yesterday, I would be surprised if in fact the proposed DoJ/MSFT settlement is allowed to go forth. It was rather clear to me that most Democrats as well as Republican Orrin Hatch (from Novell country) are outraged.

IANAL, but I wonder to what extent the presiding judge pays attention to the media and how this will affect her decision. On the one hand, judges are not supposed to be swayed by media reporting, yet the judge is supposed to consider public comments about the proposed settlement. To the extent that Senators represent their constituents' beliefs and needs, the judge may give some weight to these types of Congressional hearings.

Re:Senate Hearings (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704843)

The Senate has very little power in the matter at this point. About all they can do is "express outrage" and drag DOJ types in to testify.

Experienced CSPAN viewers will recall how the Senate expressed an enormous amount of outrage at Janet Reno for 8 straight years, none of which affected the DOJ that much at all.

Re:Senate Hearings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704893)

Don't forget it was a Democrat, Sen. Robert Byrd from West Viginia, whose political maneuvering prevented Lessig and the Redhat CEO from testifying at the Senate Commitee, as reported in the Wired story. Maybe some democrats were outraged, but it's clear some are on the Microsoft payro^H^H^H^H bandwagon.

lp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704776)

LP!

http://slashdot.org/~Trollaxor/journal/ (-1, Flamebait)

TRoLLaXoR (181585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704780)

Re:http://slashdot.org/~Trollaxor/journal/ (-1)

TRoLLaXoR (181585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704789)

This post was modded down less than 30 seconds after it was made.

This must be the work of an editor, as the chances of a regular user having the points and wasting them on a Score:0 post are minimal.

...and the compliance officers are: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704800)

O.J. Simpson and former Lt. Col. Oliver North

Re:...and the compliance officers are: (1)

nytes (231372) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705019)

Maybe we should nominate RMS.

Microsoft is doomed anyway. (0)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704807)

In some years open software will take over and their monopoly will be gone forever just like IBM.
And these guys don't see this really comeing, therefore they are doomed.

You'll now say that MS attacked linux and the GPL several times already. But will this help them ?
The main share of professional open source OSs is the *BSD series. Linux has a high market share but this is mainly hobbiest stuff and webservers set up by admins with "I dropped out from CS, because all this theory suckz really". The high level, high performance share is *BSD. And MS stated that the BSD licence is "good" therefore making advertisments for their main competitor.

So I think in the long term MS is doomed and all this anti-trust/breakdown stuff is obsolete and a waste of taxpayers money.
Of course a non US-citizen is slightly amused who easily you waste your economic power.

Run away! Run away! (0, Offtopic)

GTM (4337) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704813)

TIM: I warned you! But did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew it all, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it? Well, it's always the same, I always--

ARTHUR: Oh, shut up!

(VIVE LES LAPEINS)

Re:Run away! Run away! (-1, Offtopic)

MesSouliersMonVelo (527633) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704864)

Mhhhh... I personally dislike your vision of the rabbitish condition of life, and surely the slings, arrows and hand grenades of outrageous fortune they are used to suffer would be smaller if people stopped to see them as silly little bleeders.
fetchez la vache !

-- Quoi ?
-- Fetchez la vache !!!
[Mmmmmmmmmmoooooooooooo !!!]

Justice for the Rich (5, Funny)

darkov (261309) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704817)

Dear Judge,
I understand that you have found me guilty of this crime and I am willing to make a mends. I promise not to do the same crime again, or at least in the same way, and I'll also stop doing other bad things, well at least the ones you've caught me doing. I even agree to make sure that I don't do exactly the same crime by hiring a couple of people who will be very strict with me and spank me most serverly if I do it again.
Regards...

Re:Justice for the Rich (2)

sandidge (150265) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704898)

PS: I like spankings.

PPS: Your "Holiday Gift" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) is in the mail!

Re:Justice for the Rich (1)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705059)

Thank you, Sir. May I have another!?!

Re:Justice for the Rich (3, Insightful)

Alsee (515537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705101)

a couple of people who will be very strict with me and spank me most serverly if I do it again

Read the proposed settlement more closely. They aren't allowed to spank Mircosoft. All they can do is snitch on them. But they can't even really do that - they are under a GAG ORDER. They can only snitch to the DOJ. Considering that the DOJ came up with this settlement, somehow I'm not thrilled with a GAG ORDER saying if Microsoft breaks the lawn one else can know.

-

The settlement isn't so bad (4, Insightful)

Erich (151) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704832)

Read part B:

(from the settlement)

B. Microsoft's provision of Windows Operating System Products to Covered OEMs shall be pursuant to uniform license agreements with uniform terms and conditions. Without limiting the foregoing, Microsoft shall charge each Covered OEM the applicable royalty for Windows Operating System Products as set forth on a schedule, to be established by Microsoft and published on a web site accessible to the Plaintiffs and all Covered OEMs, that provides for uniform royalties for Windows Operating System Products, except that:

1.the schedule may specify different royalties for different language versions;

2.the schedule may specify reasonable volume discounts based upon the actual volume of licenses of any Windows Operating System Product or any group of such products; and

3.the schedule may include market development allowances, programs, or other discounts in connection with Windows Operating System Products, provided that:

a.such discounts are offered and available uniformly to all Covered OEMs, except that Microsoft may establish one uniform discount schedule for the ten largest Covered OEMs and a second uniform discount schedule for the eleventh through twentieth largest Covered OEMs, where the size of the OEM is measured by volume of licenses;

b.such discounts are based on objective, verifiable criteria that shall be applied and enforced on a uniform basis for all Covered OEMs; and

c.such discounts or their award shall not be based on or impose any criterion or requirement that is otherwise inconsistent with any portion of this Final Judgment.

This is the most important provision of the entire settlement.

This eliminates Microsoft's ability to use strong-arm tactics in the ways it has been doing -- not giving special pricing to vendors who don't stay in line with what Microsoft and friends wants to do. It says that if you buy (OEM) licenses from Microsoft that (almost) no matter what you do as long as you buy the same number of licenses as someone else you'll get the same price.

The only thing that I would like better is for the Microsoft License Schedule to be applied uniformly to all customers, regardless of OEM status. Without that, Microsoft may find loopholes to force companies out of OEM status and buy retail licenses (or whatever) but this is still a huge step.

There is lots of talk about MS Word for Linux and such, but I think that would only further the monopoly, and I just don't think it's right for the government to mandate a product line. I think that fair pricing, however, is something totally reasonable and that will, in the end, hurt Microsoft more than most unfair measures we could add.

Having uniform licensing to all (not just OEMs) would be the one change I would make if I got one choice, but if I got two changes I would make Microsoft release all the API specs in a public forum and make them freely available, instead of just on MSDN. Say, on their web site and with the clause that they must be freely distributable in an unmodified form.

I think that those two things would make this settlement even better, but as it stands I think that the settlement is a fair solution.

At least for the abuse of monopoly in the OS realm, which is what this is all about.

Re:The settlement isn't so bad (0)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704897)

Well, what's to stop them from saying "Okay, it's $LUDICROUS_SUM for a license, but if you do $FAVOR for us, we'll give you a "rebate" (or some other incentive)?"

Re:The settlement isn't so bad (2, Informative)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704904)

[...] two changes I would make Microsoft release all the API specs in a public forum and make them freely available, instead of just on MSDN.
Microsoft already publishes all the API specs included in MSDN in a free public forum [microsoft.com] . They don't even make you logon to passport anymore to get at the stuff. The problem is that MSDN is no where near complete, and undocumented APIs, protocols and file formats abound in Windows.

Re:The settlement isn't so bad (0)

Thatman311 (316281) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704922)

For the API's try:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library

You will see that all of their API's are documented there.

Re:The settlement isn't so bad (1)

Coq (204365) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705007)

Word (and the entire office suite for that matter) for Linux would in no way further Microsoft's OS monopoly. Think about this:

If Microsoft were to be split into two or more companies (which we can all agree would be a solution), then it would be in the best interest for the non-operating systems division to release as much software as they could for as many operating systems as they could, with the obvious cost concerns in mind. The reason is they would want people to have as much choice in every other aspect of their computers other than software they design.

So what would happen then, if we force Microsoft to support other OS's in all of their non-OS software? They behave like multiple companies. If people want to run Windows with Office, and IE, they can. On the other hand, if they just really like Office, they could run Debian with Office and Lynx if they were so inclined. Each MS product would be judged on its own merit, which is fine. MS knows this, which is exactly why they don't want to have to do it, since the majority of the software just doesn't measure up.

A Simple Plea (5, Interesting)

gergi (220700) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704838)

Does anyone else remember how wonderful it felt that the DoJ was doing something about Microsoft's bullying tactics several years ago? We all hoped it would finally be the end of the abuse.

Then, the ruling came down... They are a monopoly and they will be stricken down. People-in-the-know were amazed... The DoJ proved it could compete with new-age, tech-savvy companies.

Now, it seems the DoJ has proven just the opposite. They got the affirmation that it was a monopoly and then decided that was "good enough"... we don't need to punish them.

Almost as if they just wanted to prove they were a monopoly but didn't really want to do anything about it.

If the DoJ has there way now, Microsoft is virtually given a carte blanche to (attempt to) dominate our lives in the living room (XBox), on the internet (.NET), in the news (MSNBC), etc.

Truly a sad moment in the history of the US (if not the world).

Re:A Simple Plea (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704859)

If you get all your MS news from Slashdot, it's understandable that you'd be confused. But read the appeals court judgement -- the DOJ's (broader) case was pretty well undermined.

Microsoft was a mean boy to the OEMs. That's the only thing that the government's got them on, and punishments will be restricted to that area of behavior.

One thing I don't understand..... (0, Flamebait)

C. Mattix (32747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704844)

There is one thing that I'm not sure I understand about the culture of /. here. How can a vocal few (not making broad generalizations here) be fine with more government regulation against MS, but want them to keep their hands out of everything else? If Redhat actually ended up doing very well financially, will you support the government stepping in and saying "No, you can't be that big." Why is there so much less out-cry against, Sun-AOL-TW-etc.? (Notice I don't use netscape, they don't exist anymore as a viable entity anymore.) Given the chance to go back in time, any of the CEOs of any of the big software companies would do the exact same things as Gates and MS has done in the past. Apple would be there now, if they didn't make so many bad decisions in the 80s and early 90s.

Why is MS where they are? Cut throught business practices, strategic partnerships, product innovation, and good luck. Why do you think Sun-Tzu's Art of War is required reading at business schools around the country.

Anyone who thinks that McNealy or Ellison would not do the same things that Gates has done is very Naieve. Look how hard Ellison is pushing to get Oracle for a national ID card. Are people lobbying for an open solution to that, even though it is a crappy idea anyway? Ok. .I'm done ranting. . .start the moderator's downward spiral....

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (2, Insightful)

ender81b (520454) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704890)

If RedHat (or any other linux company) really does suceed in getting that big it would be different from the MS for a number of reasons but the main is that the source code would still be available, allowing people to pick a different distro, modify it, etc if they really wanted to - and I believe having the Source code out would make it near impossible for any one company to grab a monopoly.
Sun-AOL etc are NOT monopoly's. That is why people aren't crying out about them. Not only are they not monopoly's but they don't do anything to make us believe that they are. In the past few years microsoft has only gotten worse, not better. They have totally ignored the DOJ case and continue to try and grab every bit of market share out there (X-box, .NET). Not only that but a number of recent gaffes (locking Non-IE browsers out of Hotmail,MSN,MSNBC, etc)don't do much to inspire people's confidence that they aren't a monopoly.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (0)

Thatman311 (316281) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704957)

AOL not a monopoly? Maybe but Turner-Aol is sure a HUGE media giant that controls not how I use my computer but the information that I get to hear.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (1)

C. Mattix (32747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705045)

Sun-AOL etc are NOT monopoly's

No but they are getting there. AOL-TW owns: Many TV networks, the nations largest Cable TV system, the only majorly successfully cable broadband system, the nations largest ISP, many magazine and publishing systems, etc....

MS can't even come close to the number of markets they are in. It would be as if MS would buy Ziff-Davis, and the AT&T broadband unit to even come close.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704891)

Regardless of the negative moderation that your comment will surely see, this was a very insightful post. You are absolutely right in virtually all areas and it is such hypocrisy and closed-mindedness that makes the OSS "community" a joke among those with a shred of objectivity remaining. Microsoft earned every nickel of the countless billions in the bank via sound business decisions and, like it or not, idealism in such a cutthroat industry does nothing but give one a sense of misplaced superiority. The Linux apologists of Slashdot are a prime example.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (2)

Lysander Luddite (64349) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704930)

It doesn't matter who violates a monopoly position, only that it is violated. This argument of "company X would do the same thing" is a poor rhetorical argument often sprouted by MS apologists.

If George II violates a law he should be tried, not let off the hook because some polls place his popularity/approval rating at 90%.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (5, Interesting)

gergi (220700) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704937)

It's all about the leverage...
Microsoft has a monopoly... none of those other companies have a monopoly.

A Monopoly in, and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. If I make a successful product that is so successful to gain 100% of the marketshare, well, good for me. (this isn't what Microsoft did though but that's a different story)

However, when you ABUSE a monopoly, such as leveraging your power into another market, that is ILLEGAL.

e.g. Your Oracle thing... if Oracle gets the deal with the National ID card, good for Oracle. However, if Ellison then tells you that you have to watch Oracle TV through your Oracle GameBox if you want to use your ID, *that* is illegal.

substitute National ID for Passport, Oracle TV for MSNBC, and Oracle Box for XBox...

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (2, Insightful)

C. Mattix (32747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705010)

substitute National ID for Passport, Oracle TV for MSNBC, and Oracle Box for XBox...

I'm currently using Opera and just for fun opened a Netscape window to look at the MSNBC cover page, I played NFL2k2 by Sega on a friends XBox last night, don't have messenger or .NET running my XP machine, and it all seems to work just fine. XBox works fine with non-MS games, MSNBC works fine on non MS TVs even AOL-TW cable, and I can still install any browser I want on the new and fancy Windows. The only reason that MS has so much weight, is that there is so much consumer demand for their products. Why do you think that the OEMs were so scared if they threatened to revoke the OEM agreement, they would lose all of those potential customers. Anti-Monopoloy law was designed to help the consumer, not other companies, and I'm still not convinced that MS has done as much consumer harm what people are being let to believe by the AOL-TW-Sun lobby.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (2)

mttlg (174815) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705009)

How can a vocal few (not making broad generalizations here) be fine with more government regulation against MS, but want them to keep their hands out of everything else? If Redhat actually ended up doing very well financially, will you support the government stepping in and saying "No, you can't be that big."

Easy - Microsoft has been found guilty of doing serious damage to the computer industry, and therefore they deserve to be punished appropriately. The same rules apply to everyone else; this isn't a case of a company being "too big" or too successful, it is a case of a company utilizing a dominant position in one market to force its way into other markets. This has the effect of less competition, lower quality products, higher prices, and other fun things. If any other company were to do the same thing, the results should be the same - severe punishment.

Why is there so much less out-cry against, Sun-AOL-TW-etc.?

Why should there be? Please explain what anticompetitive business practices were used by these companies. If you have a case, the outrage will come.

Given the chance to go back in time, any of the CEOs of any of the big software companies would do the exact same things as Gates and MS has done in the past.

Which is exactly why the punishment should be significant - to keep those ideas from being taken seriously. Just because other people will do something if given the opportunity, that doesn't make it right. "Well gee your honor, lots of people would steal things if given the opportunity, why should I be punished?"

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (1)

lgraba (34653) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705081)

Anyone who thinks that McNealy or Ellison would not do the same things that Gates has done is very Naieve.

I hear this often and find it ridiculous. If someone has commited a crime, should I not punish him because someone else, in the same circumstance, might do the same thing? No. When someone has commited a crime (or abused their monopoly position) they should be punished. The speculation that someone else put in the same position MIGHT do the same thing is irrelevant.

Re:One thing I don't understand..... (1)

C. Mattix (32747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705099)

I agree, but they are the ones bitching about it the most.

And again, where has this done extreme harm to the consumer? Consumers can do more things, more easily, on their computers, then ever before.

Anti-Monopoly law was designed to help the consumer, not competiting companies.

Choose your punnishment. (1)

gus goose (306978) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704863)

Microsoft should not be allowed to choose their punnishment. No perpetrator has the perspective required to understand the full impact of thier activities, and thus their opinions on the remedy for them. In this case, microsoft hardly believes it has done any wrong, and is therefore unqualified to propose it's own punnishment.

Just my musings.

gus

A fairy tale story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705084)

Once upon a time the King's court jester offended him so severely that the King decided that the Fool must be punished, and unfortunately the punishment was to be death. The King said to his Fool,"Jester, you have offended me in a way that must unfortunately be punished by your being put to death, but since you have indeed served me for very many years and brought much amusement to my court in the past, I will allow you to choose the manner of your death."

So what form of death did the Jester choose? Why he chose to die of old age... after all he was no fool. ;-)

Preach on Brotha! (4, Interesting)

reaper20 (23396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704881)

The Red Hat speech is awesome. Szulik on the OSS Development Model:

This open communication strikes me as so perfectly American. I envision the early leaders of this country drawing up the tenets of our constitution in much the same way--in the open, in pursuit of a solution that is fair and of benefit to all.

This is the best counterstatement to MSs 'Linux is anti-American' garbage I've read so far.

Best soundbyte from Bill Lockyer (5, Funny)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704888)

CA's attourney statement that "It's a little like Big Tobacco being found guilty of selling cigarettes to minors, and the remedy is for them to agree to give them free cigarettes."

what the...? (2, Interesting)

blank_coil (543644) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704912)

How can anyone keep up with Micro$oft? Seriously, while we're all focusing on this antitrust suit, they've got like 50 other projects in the works, from M$ TV, the XBox, .NET, Passport, Windows XP, Explorer, and a whole lot more. By the time we hear about an M$ development, it's already too late, 'cause they've got something else in the works. You can't even stop and say, "Hey, Windows XP has some seriously troubled activation issues" because they've got some other product out before you can finish your sentence. They're pushing stuff out so fast that it's not even possible to discuss your misgivings because it's old news in a day. Kind of like a new tendrils poping up that reach into everything we do. M$ encompasses almost everything in the average person's life, from computers to news to the military. And with the xbox, they're trying to get their products into our living rooms. M$ wants to have your entire house running on their software.

Now, I realise that there is always the option of simply not using M$ products, but what about all those other people out there who aren't as "enlightened"? To them, Windows is the computer, not simply an OS. While some might not care what John Q Public is running on his home computer, I do, because with more market dominance, M$ gets more power. And with more power, they can start affecting the lives of everyone, even those people who don't touch M$ products. What if Micro$oft really did manage to pass litigation through that banned OSs without DRM?

Something needs to be done about M$, and not using WinXP isn't going to cut it. If the antitrust suit fails, perhaps we, the people, need to put something into action.

What a headache (0)

The Kenneth (532102) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705043)

Now, I realise that there is always the option of simply not using M$ products, but what about all those other people out there who aren't as "enlightened"? To them, Windows is the computer, not simply an OS.
Simply not using MS products is not that simple. I recently (les than a year) have attempted to rid myself of MS products but it is close to impossible. I do not use hotmail, nor am i going to get an xbox, but my attempt to move to linux has tapered somewhat. I now dual/triple boot but find myself logging into winME (be quiet) more than redhat or connectiva. I am also a avid Rogue Spear player, and have many friends who I know soley over the ZONE. Of course you know now i needed to get a passport [slashdot.org] passport account for that and i lasted a whole 2 days before I signed up for one (by the way, if you want to email me at my new email adderes for .net i am at forthisidespise@myself.com)
IE is also the browser with it all (not excluding gaping security holes [slashdot.org] ), and my frequent tries at opera and netscape (i use mozilla now when not on IE) have always ended up useless becuase of one plugin or support feature that was not there.
And I work in a PCLAN, emagine how difficult it would be to swap a more clueless user to not usint any of tio bill's products
This has got to stop.

MS ... Michael ... both need to go away (0, Flamebait)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704932)

You can't help but know that Microsoft and the Department of Justice (plus several of the states that joined in the suit) are attempting to settle their antitrust dispute.

If we can't help to know then WHY are you posting it?? ... hmmm?

settlement before a Senate committee, which was crippled by political maneuvering (see also the NYT story).

Seriously ... do you know ANYTHING about politics? ... it's what makes america drive and move ... the ability to manipulate people to get what you want. Sorta like how somehow you're able to manipulate people to let you stay at /.

Linuxplanet has some advice for people who want to comment on the settlement - you've got 60 days from November 28.

Ummm I do believe this particular subject will be commented on for the next 20 years. Anyone remember when Standard Oil broke up? ... yeah I do too...

Michael I am very sorry to be coming at you so strongly, but your articles are pure bullshit ... You state facts then go into opinion that has no basis behind it.

Moderators - This is not a Troll or Flame ... I AM commenting on the story.

Don't forget Office (5, Insightful)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704950)

One thing that would (IMHO) *highly* cut back on M$'s monopoly would be for the DOJ to make M$ open up their formats on the Office products. I can't count the times that I've told people to send me a document in text-only format because I'm not using MS Office and Star Office might or might not convert it properly.

If M$ is going to get any fair competition, they need to open their formats on Word and Excel so people are not forced to use MS Office if they have to work with those formats. That would be a big boost for the developers of Abiword, WordPerfect for *nix, Gnumeric, Star Office, etc. They wouldn't have to spend so much time on converters. They could spend their time making great office programs that work with anything someone sends you, and make the office application software battle a fair fight.

Re:Don't forget Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705085)

but when has office ever been part of the trial?

Comments on Proposed Civil Settlement (4, Informative)

Cy Guy (56083) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704951)

You can read the proposed Civil Settlement [uscourts.gov] (pdf) and the responses [uscourts.gov] as well. They also are pdf files being just scanned images of the letters recieved.

The responses are interesting, most of the ones I have read from School Districts indicate that they are afraid that they get very little value out of the settlement, since the software will be donated, and the hardware will be largely used requiring more maintenance than the benefit it provides. In efffect the schools are saying that they will be saddled with a much greater percentage of the total cost of ownership than Microsoft. So if the intention is to punish Microsoft and reward the schools this is the wrong way to go about it.

Politcal vent (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704955)

You voted Bush in...You let this happen. Now Microsoft is poised to domanient becasue they greazed the walls of justice. The only people to blame is you.
If you want to change the world for the better. Stop bitching and do something positve for once...

Re:Politcal vent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2704975)

Oh, and you have a solution?

Re:Politcal vent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705023)

revolution.

What an amazing deal for Microsoft (2, Insightful)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704979)

... Under the terms of the settlement plan, Microsoft agreed to provide cash, computers and software it values at more than $1 billion to public schools that poor children attend. ... [washtech.com]

Filling our kids' classrooms with visible reminders of a company is no way to correct a monopoly any more than it's a way to keep kids from smoking.

Imagine if the tobacco companies had been allowed to settle by saying "we'll put a bunch of stuff we know you can't afford and desperately need into your schools, with our logos highly visible to impressionable young children who will grow up highly inclined to become our next generation of customers ... in exchange for being let off."

more info on the hearing (5, Informative)

dcgaber (473400) | more than 12 years ago | (#2704981)

Senator Leahy had invited Jim Barksdale (co-founder of Netscape) to testify on the effects the RPFJ would have had if it was in place when Netscape was starting up. Microsoft balked at having him testify and said they would have refused to appear if Barksdale was there. So Barksdale was dis-invited, but sent a letter giving his answer. That letter was partially read by Sen. Hatch and said that Netscape would have never received VC funding. Pretty damning stuff.

Leahy asked Charles James (head of Antitrust for DoJ) to respond. He dodged saying that he had not read the letter yet and it seemed like typical hyperbole that was being spouted off (but also said he could not characterize it as such given he has not read the letter). Leahy asked him to formally respond for the record, which will be done in writing (I assume).

It was a little suprising to see such a little used procedural movement to kill the hearing. Leahy was visablly upset, but admitted its a Senator's perogative. Ironically, it was Sen Byrd (who knows every minutia of procedure) who was upset over TPA (fast track trade negotiation authorization for the President on trade treaties) and called that mark-up to a halt--however, it had already been succesfully reported out of committee at that point.

So what was left was 4 Senators upbraiding MS and calling the settlement for the sham it is. The only one defending the settlement was Sen. McConnell who clearly wanted to get his 1 minute in before the first recess (for votes, asked to be heard when Leahy tried to do a 20 minute break so he would not have to come back). All McConnell said was that 70% of the public favor a settlement, so any settlement is good. Leahy responded by saying that he too favored a settlement, but not a meaningless one riddled with loopholes.

FYI, the 4 senators attacking MS were Leahy (D-VT), Kohl (D-WI), Hatch (R-UT), and DeWine (R-OH), a bi-partisan group to say the least.

Stop complaning (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705016)

This CEO needs to stop bitching.

ironic quote by Steve Balmer in the LA Times story (1)

Vspirit (200600) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705028)

Quote from the LA times story:

"As a major employer and a leader in our industry, we take our legal obligations very seriously," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.

"These new compliance officers will help us do an even better job of understanding our responsibilities under the law and ensuring that all our people know what's expected of them. We are committed to full compliance with the antitrust settlement, as well as all the other laws and regulations affecting our business."

hehe I find it quite ironic. They take the law very seriously they say, yeah.. their law. Especially when they themselves are writing it.

the quote was on ZDNET (1)

Vspirit (200600) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705078)

good thing to be able to correct your own mistakes before they become a problem for others and a liability to you.

something Microsoft should seriously concider in their strategy. But they probably won't know how to make just as much money that way.

meh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705030)

Dogma.

How to help... (1)

Anarren (256665) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705040)

It seems we all more or less agree that Microsoft is evil and needs to be toppled, one way or the other. Something that people can do, if they're in a position to do it (a company or organisation with in-house counsel, for instance, or attorneys themselves), is to take the time to file an amicus brief.
They aren't as useful as, say, electing a president/representatives less wooed by the $ in M$, but they help. Especially in these highly politicized keep-my-job-as-appointee-by-making-happy-constitue nts cases.

Don't like it? Then help fix it! (5, Informative)

Arethan (223197) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705051)

Bitching about how letting MS put it's products into our children's classrooms will only increase their foothold isn't going to help when you only do it on slashdot! Here's the contact info for making your argument known! For those extra lazy people (myself included), they are also accepting emails!

US Postal Services:

Renata Hesse,Trial Attorney
Suite 1200, Antitrust Division, Department of Justice
601 D Street NW
Washington, DC 20530

Email:
microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov

Fax:
202-616-9937 or 202-307-1545

Try not to be too rude. Remember, someone has to actually read these, and you'll only make them ignore your arguments if you are snide. Also, try to get records of reciept where possible. (Send by certified mail, use email reciepts, get fax reciepts) Supposedly ALL recieved comments will be published in the Federal Register. So if you don't see your comment in it with all the others, then you will have your reciept to back up your claim that not all comments were considered and included!

wtf, btw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2705071)

what is the shite on B. Gates' face on /.'s MS icon? just asking....?

Ahhh! Enough about monopolies already! (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 12 years ago | (#2705087)

For the last friggin' time, being a monopoly IS NOT ILLEGAL!!!!

abusing the monopoly power that you have is illegal. MS abused their monopoly power, that's what they're in trouble for.

the act of being a monopoly is not a crime, so shut up about it already.

i can just imagine the stream of sniveling drivel coming to the DOJ about how M$ Sux0rs, and how they h4x to get a m0n0p0ly.

sheet. don't write a letter to the DOJ or anyone else until you know what they did that was illegal for Pete's sake.
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