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Microsoft Blames Anti-trust Legal Fees for Price Increases

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the self-exoneration-always-feels-so-good dept.

Microsoft 570

jm.one writes "BBC news has an article about the Californian anti-trust case and points out that Microsoft tells users would suffer from this: 'Somebody ends up paying for this,' said Microsoft attorney Robert Rosenfeld. 'These large fee awards get passed on to consumers.' Do they really understand why there are laws?"

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Not news!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160647)

Apparently the mods are a bit confused as to what constitutes news. If you want some REAL news, check out PeoplesPrimary.com [peoplesprimary.com] . A new story every hour.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160648)

fp!

Unavoidable (4, Insightful)

EdZep (114198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160668)

It may sound "unfair," that Microsoft is somehow getting out of paying for its actions, but all expenses paid by all businesses for all reasons are always passed on to customers.

Re:Unavoidable (1)

MisterMook (634297) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160697)

Exactly, I wonder what the Slashdot crowd thinks should happen? I mean, if your small business gets slapped with a big lawsuit and has to pay fines you have a couple of choices too. One involves charging more, and another involves firing everyone. We're already complaining about a non-competitive IT economy with thousands of jobs going overseas, do we really need Microsoft going belly up to satisfy the bloodlust of the Open Source fanatics? People scream "BUT IT'S FREE!", but I can almost guarantee that thousands of businesses wouldn't see it that way if they were suddenly faced with the prospect of training new workers, finding new software solutions that used a different platform, and such...

Re:Unavoidable (5, Insightful)

jdesbonnet (22) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160714)

Wrong! Only a monopoly can pass all costs to the consumers. Anything other than a monopoly can only push up prices so much before sale start to diminish.

By saying this, Microsoft, in effect is admitting to being a monopoly.

They predicted it... it came true. (4, Insightful)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160650)

I remember when MS got slapped with that fine. People said, "Eh.. it's no big deal to them to begin with, but with what they lost, they'll gain back with a simple price adjustment."

So basically they still haven't learned their lesson. Cost of doing business.

Re:They predicted it... it came true. (5, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160706)

So basically they still haven't learned their lesson. Cost of doing business.

It is more than just a cost of business. Microsoft is saying that they can shift their cost curve, customers will pay, and there is little repercussion for the company. The only times that a company can get away with this is if it is either a monopoly or sells addictive products. This is why the government can jack up the prices of cigerettes cia taxes. Microsoft is admitting that it is a monopoly cuz I highly doubt that most people just can't get enough of XP.

Re:They predicted it... it came true. (4, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160748)

That's the point that they're missing. The goal of anti-competition law is to make anti-competative behaviour unprofitable. So they continue to abuse their monopoly position, there are more anti-trust cases, and they get more fines. Those fines raise the basic cost of doing business for them and so they raise their prices. This makes their product less attractive than those that don't have to subsidise the cost of legal action, so that the market then corrects the situation.

In the long term, this cost of doing business will make them less profitable and their product less successful. Then we'll get some kind of radical change and the system will stabilise around some new stable point. This is anti-competition law working, although it takes a long time to play out...

Excellent (5, Funny)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160651)

With a bit of luck, this will come back to bite them in the gonads.

price increases steadily, security holes found repeatedly, consumer's irritation growing until they say "Well you know what Billy boy, up yours, we're switching to linux (or OS X)"
I just hope there's a viable simple alternative by then to which the customers can switch.

Re:Excellent (4, Informative)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160667)

As much as that sounds plausible it's not always. My Presario 2180CA laptop [for instance] is fairly Linux resilient. ACPI crashes it and repeatedly it fails to detect the keyboard [I've never had to "configure" a keyboard]. It got to the point where I just put WinXP on my laptop [well the copy that came with my laptop] because I simply just wanted to *USE* my laptop.

So really hardware vendors have to stop cutting corners before you can just blanket state "oh just use Linux".

Tom

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160695)

What distro did you use? Have you reported the bugs? Have you tried the latest kernel? Hardware support is improving all the time, its just that you need to help the kernel developers help you.

Why not give Knoppix [knoppix.org] a spin?

Re:Excellent (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160679)

The problem with wide acceptance of OSX is that you need to purchase the hardware to make it go. Not very many people are going to shell out money for new hardware and software when they already have good hardware to begin with. Apple is not going to release the software only version of its OS to anybody, simply because they would have a tech support nightmare.

Upgrading to Linux is really the only feasible option here, but you still have learning curves, and the general popultion doesn't really want to learn that much just to surf the web.

STOP SPREADING FUD! LINUX IS NO LONGER HARD (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160707)

This is nolonger the 1990's, Linux is easy to use now.
Yes, modern linux distributions such as Fedora, Mandrake, SuSE and even Debian put a browser ICON right in front of your face! There is a lot of work to get winmodems working, espceilly in the pay for distros.

Why do people keep spreading fud about Linux being hard to use? I think everyone who claims that should try KDE 3.2 or GNOME 2.6.

Re:Excellent (1)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160773)

What gonads?

linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160654)

sucks

Re:linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160664)

you mean linux swallows ;)

If they're charging more for Windoze (4, Insightful)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160655)

Then it makes the value proposition look even better for Linux distros.

This is a good thing.

Re:If they're charging more for Windoze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160666)

it also makes the value proposition look like you are a hippy.

This is socialist thing.

Re:If they're charging more for Windoze (4, Interesting)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160739)

except that a huge number of people dont pay for windows separately; they get it packaged...or pirate it. in either case, the total cost of windows is zero the the end user.

If the cost keeps going up, no matter the reason, so will piracy of the product. Wed like to think more people would try linux, but they wont. My brother pirates windows; ive hadned him linux demos and despite only listening to mp3s and surfing the web hed rather pirate the windows he knows; then get a free operating system he DOESNT know; that may or may not work with all his hardware.

In fact, he reccomended to my mother the other day she try linux, she won't and its not because of the price. She "doesnt want to learn anything new"

Shed rather live with constant viruses with Windows and Outlook and problems with Internet Explorer than even try Thunderbird or Firefox and "learn something new" despite ALL the buttons are pretty clearly labeled, and you have to be just plain lazy to use that as an excuse. I even offered to switch all her contacts and bookmarks over, and get her junk mail filtereing started (something Outlook doesnt have) so she could email in peace...still no.

As much as Id love to see linux mature and be better for everyday everybody use; I think its going to take that and then some to get people to actually use it once its ready.

Personally, I think it sucks. Id prefer linux myself, except Im a gamer...and tuxracer isnt what Im looking for.

Wikipedia reaches 266,666 articles! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160657)

And all thanks to goatse! [wikipedia.org]

Cost of doing business... (4, Informative)

jarich (733129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160658)

MS seems to factor in anti-trust suits as the cost of doing business and rather than take it out of their profits, they just ramp up the price.

I gotta buy some of their stock one of these days... it's not that I believe in the concept or think it's right... it's just working for them so well!

Re:Cost of doing business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160686)

No need to take it out of profits or operating costs. They're sitting on so much cash right now it's astounding. The word is they're able to continue operations for five years without selling any product. So, they should pay it out of cash reserves.

Re:Cost of doing business... (1, Insightful)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160698)

The sad thing is, people will still continue to buy products and support MS. I don't quite understand that line of thinking.

MS clearly doesn't give a rat's ass about the law or even the very people who make them who they are. Microsoft is forcing their customers to pay for their mistakes. There's something VERY fucked up about that.

Sure, MS is the big corporate bastard here, but if the very people who give them this money don't realize what the hell is going on, then they're a part of the problem too.

Why would you support a company that forces you to pay for its mistakes?

Re:Cost of doing business... (3, Insightful)

rigau (122636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160784)

I HAD to buy an XP pro laptop. Otherwise I could not take my law school exams on the computer. I dont know about having to write six 4 hour exams by hand if you dont have to.

It made me almost vomit to have to buy one intead of a Mac. I drew the line at not buying a dell. That would have just been too much. But how I do in law school is more important than which computer I prefer.

If I had been able to use the Electronic Bluebook software in any other platform I would have, even if that meant hauling a desktop running solaris over to the exam rooms.

So if I who am an absolute windows hater could be forced into buying a windos computer do you think the average person loses any sleep about getting a Wintel pc?

Re:Cost of doing business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160704)

Of course, the fact that they _can_ ramp up the price without losing a significant number of customers is the best demosnstration yet that they are an uncontrolled monopoly.

Athenee de Luxembourg celebrates its 400th anniv. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160745)

Athenée de Luxembourg, the most prestiguous high-school in all of Luxembourg (no, of all of Europe!) is celibrating its 400th anniversary [www.al.lu] . Come around and look!

Re:Cost of doing business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160806)

MS seems to factor in anti-trust suits as the cost of doing business and rather than take it out of their profits, they just ramp up the price.

Is there a difference? Not to nit-pick - but in the interest of capitalism and free markets - don't they always charge the price which allows them to maximize their profits? I just can't see them leaving a few extra billion on the table for fun. And if they are always maximizing their profit (I hear most businesses do this kind of thing) wouldn't this increase in price HAVE to come out of their profit?

Nice (3, Insightful)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160660)

Nice to let your customers bleed for your criminal conduct... More reason to leave them and use a real OS.

There outta be a law (4, Insightful)

Lanhdanan (676256) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160661)

Im getting SO tired of us paying for their mistakes? There outta be a law to prevent companies making people pay for them getting pasted with fines due to their own law breaking policies ...

Re:There outta be a law (2, Interesting)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160792)

The government has the authority to dissolve thier charter. The justice department should have siezed thier assets and disolved the company. This would have sent a strong message that unethical business practices will not be tolerated and many other companies would clean up thier act.

Before anyone starts claiming that this is over the top, remember, Corporations are granted a charter expressly to advance the public good. thier charter can be revoked if they are found to not be doing that.

how i handle this problem (5, Funny)

virtualone (768392) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160662)

hey mr. policeman.. you better not give me that speeding fine.. or else.. somebodies bank will get robbed.. you know, somebody ends up paying for this.

Only reasonable (5, Interesting)

k12linux (627320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160663)

Lord knows they can't afford to take the legal fees out of a measly 500% profit margin or the big stockpile of cash they are sitting on.

Re:Only reasonable (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160727)

The thing is, why shouldn't they? MS aren't here for the common good - they're a business with the aim of making money. They have every right to adjust their prices to reflect these additional costs.

No, they do not. (4, Insightful)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160757)

They have every right to adjust their prices to reflect these additional costs.

Actually, no, they do not. This is yet another example of them abusing their monopoly position within the marketplace. That's what all of the legal action has been about.

Re:Only reasonable (5, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160781)

Lemme get this straight.

They're charged with overcharging on their software.
The legal costs for this charge are added to the cost of the software that they are already being charged with overcharging on. And you see that as OK?

The response to being formally charged with overcharging on your software is *raising* prices?

Please.... (3, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160665)

These large fee awards get passed on to consumers.

Like MS couldn't settle for something a little more reasonable than their 80%+ profit margins on Windows and Office. This is such bull. It's designed to get the government and public to be more accepting of their outrageous pricing.

I wish I could make up hourly charges like that (5, Interesting)

Cryect (603197) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160670)

"Mr Crew has billed Microsoft just over $3,000 an hour for his own work, as well as more than $2,000 an hour for other lawyers on his team. " What lawyer is worth even $200/hr (more on par on normal) much less several thousand dollars per hour. Cause I'm sure no one else could have done Mr. Crew's job just as well for less. definately something wrong if that was approved for lawyer fees after Microsoft lost. (but hey who didn't know that there was something wrong with the legal system in the States)

Sports Players (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160690)

Sports players get paid way more than that for two hours work, however they only perform a couple of hours a week.

Re:Sports Players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160703)

Hey lets compare sports players to lawyers, thats a great point.

How about comparing firemen to astronauts? Thats even more relevant.

Or how about circus clowns to dishwashers?

Re:Sports Players (1)

Cryect (603197) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160735)

I would also argue sports players are constantly practicing (or at least they should). Won't say they don't get overpaid because I agree they do. Except some people like to watch them and pay for it. Now I've never seen anyone go "Hey did you watch that great court case!"

Re:Sports Players (2, Insightful)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160798)

I would also argue sports players are constantly practicing (or at least they should).

Add to that the average pro sports career is just a couple of years - don't blame them for making hay while the grass is green.

Re:I wish I could make up hourly charges like that (1)

odano (735445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160711)

Well sports players salaries come from people who willingly decide to attend a sporting event.

In this case, the lawyer set his own price which microsoft is paying for, which is apparently unwillingly going to be charged to the people. Although not his fault, this isn't an excuse to blame athletes.

Re:I wish I could make up hourly charges like that (1)

skifreak87 (532830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160780)

My dad is an attorney (corporate kind, not litigation kind) and upon moving to this new firm they raised his rate to about $350 an hour. That's what the competitive rate is. So lots of lawyers charge more than $200/hr. It's not a question of are they worth it but a question of how much will the best legal defense cost you in M$'s case. I'm sure someone else could've done just as well for less but I'm also fairly certain there's probably not someone who could do just as well who's charging less. Defending a huge-ass corp like M$ requires a lot. And I can almost guarantee that some of that money goes to paying associates/paralegals who aren't lawyers who are also working on the case.

shouldn't that be illegal (4, Insightful)

squarefish (561836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160672)

the company should pay the price of the fines, it should not be turned back to the customers. maybe a price increase is just what's needed to get those thinking about other options to just go out and implement them sooner. sounds like a pretty pathetic plan to me.

this is just the cost of doing questionable business, and it's not like they can even begin to say 'we didn't know we couldn't do that'. it's just fucking rediculous what these asshats are trying to get away with.

Re:shouldn't that be illegal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160701)

it's just fucking rediculous what these asshats are trying to get away with.

Not as fucking ridiculous as your spelling.

A billion here, a billion there... (4, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160673)

and soon you are talking about some real money. I think they are sitting on about six billion in cash the last I heard. Still, they are looking at losing almost half of that to suits settled and suits pending with no end in sight to the litigation. So, it's not surprising that they will want to recoup some of it. Hey, I'm not saying it's right or that they even need to do it. But, any company that has to eat nearly three billion is going to want to do something. Somewhat relatedly, Pfizer agreed to a half billion this week to the FDA for mismarketing Neurontin and you can bet they will get it back through consumers.

Happy Trails!

Erick

Re:A billion here, a billion there... (2, Informative)

superwiz (655733) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160767)

56 billion.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=MSFT

Re:A billion here, a billion there... (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160788)

I am using, perhaps inappropriately, the "Enterprise Value" of six billion in cash.

Happy Trails!

Erick

Re:A billion here, a billion there... (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160776)

" I think they are sitting on about six billion in cash the last I heard."

Maybe back in 1994. In 2004, Microsoft is sitting on more than forty billion in cash.

Re:A billion here, a billion there... (1)

Acid-Duck (228035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160802)

I don't know how much Microsoft is worth, but Billy's personal fortune is estimated at 46 Billion dollars, so I would imagine Microsoft would have as much or more in the bank.

Erik

Value (3, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160676)

$3k/hr sounds stiff. But what did he actually provide?
Would a less expensive lawyer been as successfull?

I think certain cases can demonstrate what a difference between a good, great and the best lawyers can have.

Maybe if we had a bit better performance the DMCA wouldn't exist. Maybe OJ would be in jail, who knows.
But when it is my ass or $$ on the line, I'd want the best, and the citizens of California deserve it too.

Of course they do. (1)

Confessed Geek (514779) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160677)

Obviously the law is there to protect their buisness model against all competition and crush the opposition, right? Its a great thing when applied against OTHER people.

I realize you all hate MS here... (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160680)

Allright, now I realize you all like to bash MS as much as possible, but from the article: Mr Crew has billed Microsoft just over $3,000 an hour for his own work, as well as more than $2,000 an hour for other lawyers on his team.

Jesus! I'd object to having to pay that as well.

Wouldn't it be nice if all that money went towards, you know, the users that were "harmed" instead of to the lawyers?

Lawyers or Users (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160718)

The users already have their money.
The lawyers get paid by MS.

If the lawyers charge $10/hr, or $3k/hr the users that were harmed get the exact same money.

That being said the better lawyers probaly got the users more money than a cheaper lawyer would have.

Re:I realize you all hate MS here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160733)

Actually that is the purpose of a class action lawsuit, that each person individually bringing the case would have charged MS $200/hour so times that by the number of cases would be huge in comparison to the $3000/hour they're being charged.

But a class action suit means that each person bringing the suit gets to pay a fraction of that (i.e. lower risk) while if they win, then MS foots a smaller bill as well.

I just hope MS take down their stupid "Windows TCO is less than Linux" because they "forgot" to include the cost of having to pay for MS' legal fees and fines that Windows owners have to cover for.

Re:I realize you all hate MS here... (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160747)

It's a tough situation. Mr. Crew did manage to beat a company who can "blacken the sky with lawyers", but $3k/hr is well past silly. A meeting of the legal team could cost my annual salary in an afternoon.

The bitter irony of all this is that the suit Mr. Crew was involved in was for overcharging customers in the first place. I'm going to have to write a nasty note to "my" attorney general. The California settlement really does let MS off much too lightly.

Re:I realize you all hate MS here... (1)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160808)

Yeah, you are right, most of us do hate M$, but not without good reason.

Just think about what they are doing now. Do you really think that they had no idea what their legal costs were going to be? They must have known right from the start that they'd recover the cost from their customers. So hire the most expensive guy in town then when they lose the case, they blame it on him? Yeah! No wonder we hate 'em!

They're not complaining about the fines... (4, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160681)

RTFA people. Microsoft isn't complaining about the fines (or settlements) here. They're complaining about the plaintiff's legal fees (which they're being required to pay).

And, quite frankly, I think they have a point. The lawyer who lead the class action lawsuit may be a really good lawyer, but I don't think his time is worth over $3000 per hour.

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (4, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160710)

I do.
The lawyer made much more money for his client then he would have cost them had he lost.

If they had a second rate lawyer, sure he would have been cheaper, but then they might have gotten a fraction of the fine.

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (2, Interesting)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160717)

What's the difference?

If Microsoft hadn't broken any laws to begin with then there wouldn't have been any legal fees to pay! Correct?

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (3, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160725)

The lawyer who lead the class action lawsuit may be a really good lawyer, but I don't think his time is worth over $3000 per hour.

What isn't listed is how that hourly rate is broken down. Does that include the lawyer appearing in court and sitting in a chair for most of the time? Or does that fee include a research staff of 10 paralegals who research relevant case law? If it's *just* his fee, then I similarly have a difficult time seeing how that is worth the cost. However, one lawyer highly experienced with class action and anti-trust cases would be worth a bunch of lawyers who have limited experience.

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (4, Informative)

Cryect (603197) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160756)

When I worked at a law firm at tech support and we billed someone for 3 hours of research by our lead attorney it meant that he had spent 3 hours of research himself not his paralegals.

The other stuff does get charged just at a lower rate and such.

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (3, Informative)

DavidBrown (177261) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160734)

You have a very good point, but just so you know, it's not as if the plaintiff's lawyers had a contract paying them $2-3k/hour. It was a contingency fee case, which meant that if the case was lost, the lawyers would receive nothing at all.

Essentially, the lawyers funded the ligitation in return for a piece of the action. This is more or less typical in class action lawsuits where there are many plaintiffs who each have very little in damages. The masses or even the states weren't going to hire lawyers on an hourly basis to fight Microsoft, because it's not worth enough to each of them on an individual basis to take the risk. And if you say "there was no risk", you're kidding yourself. The fees earned by the plaintiff's lawyers (and no, I'm not one of them) don't even approach what the lawyers in the anti-smoking industry class action lawsuits earned.

The fees in these cases are approved by the judge as part of the class action settlement. The fees are calculated to take into account the money fronted by the attorneys and the risk of losing the case and getting nothing at all. In any particular case, and perhaps this one, the lawyer fees may be too high, but the lawyers here made this case. If it weren't for them, there would have been no case against Microsoft, and no settlement.

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (4, Insightful)

fname (199759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160738)

That's silly. I don't think A-Rod is worth $100,000 per game. I don't think Microsoft deserves to earn $10 billion/year. And I don't believe that anyone deserves $1 million for answering a couple questions correctly on a game show.

However, in our capitilistic society, we don't pay based on how much we think their time is worth. We reward entrepeneurs for taking chances, and we let people earn whatever the market will bear. If this was such a slam-dunk case, another lawyer probably would have filed the suit first, claiming the reward for himself. How much the guy's time is worth is irrelevant in a case like this.

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (1)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160791)

we let people earn whatever the market will bear

That doesn't apply in this case. The people who have to pay the lawyer's fees (Microsoft) weren't given the option of saying "your fees are crazy, we don't want to hire you".

Re:They're not complaining about the fines... (1)

chabotc (22496) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160782)

it kinda depends though doesn't it. Like "What are their regular fee's they charge for their services?

If 2k or 3k is about normal for their work this is quite acceptable.. however if their normal fees are 500$ an hour, but they charged 3000$/hour for this one, thats a whole 'nother matter.

Keep in mind that high fees for top lawyers are 'normal', usualy it includes the secretaries, legal aids, etc.. Sure be outraged about those high fees, but don't tie it to a specific court case please!

$3,000 is nothing... (1)

twoslice (457793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160804)

.
SCO's one and only Darl McBribe makes $986,047 per year for doing nothing but blowing smoke out his arse.

Lawyers at least put in a little effort into presenting their side of things, Darl does not even present anything to backup his claims! - Just what does Darl do for his money???

My prediction (5, Insightful)

njcoder (657816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160685)

Anti trust case gets settled.
Users get $10 coupon on newest version of windows.
Newest version of windows price increases due to litigation by $40.
Two years later, court says "no no no", consumrs get $15 coupon towards new windows.

They don't get it. The fine is because they over charged people.. They're not allowed to "make it up". They are supposed to distribute that 50bln their hoarding back to the people the stole it from.

This is good news! (0, Troll)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160687)

Perhaps it will now start to sink in for those people who use M$ products?

No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160724)

Stupid people are too stupid to realise just how stupid they are!

Take the jump. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160688)

If you are angry, then this is why you should be uing Linux.

If you are increasingly interested in Linux, but do not know where to start, grab knoppix.

Download here [knoppix.org] .

No installation required, try it from the CD and if you decide you want to make the jump to the penguin world,. just run the install to disk program. Best of all, it is free. If you don't have the bandwidth, ask a freind, I have given out over 20 knoppix disks to my freinds, and 15 of them have converted to Linux 100%. Don't forget to checkout Wine and Crossover office, It will help your transition!

Oh the irony (4, Insightful)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160689)

OK, Microsoft says its legal bill is too high, so it has to overcharge its customers. But why did it get that legal bill in the first place? From the article:

"The legal costs are part of Microsoft's settlement for over-charging consumers buying its software in California."

Sigh...

Ironically, they are right . . . (4, Insightful)

Idou (572394) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160694)

One of the unique aspects of a monopoly is the inelasticity of demand on the price of their products. In other words, MS can change the price of their products and, since they have a monopoly, roughly the same quantity of their products will be consumed. Of course, this is not black and white. They cannot make their products 100 times more and expect the same amount to be consumed (though, I know of some MS shops that would have no choice . . .). However, they can raise their prices much more than probably any other company without having a significant amount of revenue decrease.

This means that additional costs to Windows can pretty much be passed 100% down to the consumer, and the EU's monetary penalty is really just another form of tax on the consumer. Perhaps we could call it an "excise" tax on windows.

No, the real way to punish MS is to break up the monopoly and introduce competition, then charge a monetary penalty that cannot simply be passed on to the consumer, because if the new MS enitity/entities were to raise their price so many people would buy the competitions' products that MS would actually experience a decrease in revenue.

Re:Ironically, they are right . . . (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160764)

stop saying "consumed". I have this image of some retard chomping on WinXP CDs.

Well. (2, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160699)

Do they really understand why there are laws?

No. Plus they have a cash reservers that can last them 5 years of $0 in sales. they can easily eat it up. It is more of a scare tactic to prevent the states from doing it again. In fear if they do it again then then they will need to rase prices again. This does really hurt consumers in many levels including people who wish to purchase commercial distributions or linux, What business like to do is keep their prices no more then half of their competiors prices, so when Microsoft sells XP for $250 its competiors like Apple and the Linuxs will sell it for $125. If Microsoft sells it OS (like back in the good old days) for $80 Apple and the Linux's would sell for $40. The problem is that there are to many Supid consumers out there combined with their fear of computers. Makes this worse. People see something expensive they think "gee it must be good" and then they see how many people are using the product then they go "Well if everyone else is using is then it must be good" While the minority who actually knows economics and goes well I see that everyone is using it so demand is up so the price will rise, no mater what the quality is. So I will look for a product that is just as good but is not much in demand then buy that because it will be cheaper. Popularity and Price have nothing do with the quality of the products. If everyone went to Microsoft your prices are to high we will switch to an other os unless you lower your cost. Then Microsoft will lower its cost no mater how many states are suing them. Microsoft is working with a 20's mob mentality, with out perhaps the drugs and murdering.

Simple (2, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160705)

Darwin said it best. Microsoft has to compete or they're dead in the water. They can't compete if they jack up their prices. The MS mentality is to offset court expenses with product prices, but that road is mined heavily. They should know better than this, really. Oh wait... nevermind.

Economist's dedinition of "monopolist" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160709)

In a true competetive market, this could not happen. In fact, penalties actually work and tend to weed out the crooks.

But when monopoly power exists, the monopolist can indeed pass on the costs of fines. That's why fines are seldom effective. What gets the attention of would-be abusers of monopoly power is the credible threat to destroy that monopoly power, as the trial judge tried to do in the BIG case. The remedies actually agreed upon by the DoJ and MSoft have been shown ineffective.

Can we backcharge Microsoft (2, Funny)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160715)



for time wasted for reboots ?

I hope soon (2, Insightful)

JoeBaldwin (727345) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160723)

I hope soon consumers realise that MS is gouging them so much that they should give them the finger. It's just goddamn stupid, that's what it is, and the price increases are nothing to do with "antitrust action". Even if they were being sued for antitrust all the time, they'd still make sufficient profit from their (IMHO insanely inflated) current prices.

It's to do with them realising that consumers think that higher value == higher price and vice versa, and so they can get as much as they want out of them for Longhorn etc.

At this rate, the OS will be more expensive than the PC it runs on. Oh wait, it is!

wait a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160730)

Somebody ends up paying for this,' said Microsoft attorney Robert Rosenfeld. 'These large fee awards get passed on to consumers.'

Why should consumers pay for the illegal business practices of a company? Aren't stockholders the ones who are expected to shoulder the risks?

Maybe there should be a line in the company's financial report: "We have absolutely no risks whatsoever because we have such a captive market that we can always pass any costs down to our customers."

Anyone that took economics 101 (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160732)

..should be able to see through that argument. They took monopoly profits before, they take monopoly profits now. Sunk costs like legal bills have absolutely no effect on the optimal price/quantity point. It only comes into play if there's competition.

This is simply trying to shift the blame of why they're extracting monopoly profits: "Damn M$, stop bleeding us dry" to "Damn justice department, stop suing them so we don't pay the bill". When in reality, they would have taken that money anyway, because they can.

Kjella

But don't worry... (3, Funny)

Attila (23211) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160736)

Their objective TCO studies will still show Windows is cheaper than Linux.

The interest on thier cash horde can pay for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160741)

I just did a little math... If they had thier forty-two billion dollars in cash invested in CD's at seven percent, they'd be making roughly 2.94 billion in interest a year. That's more than enough to cover all of thier legal bills, and that's not even considering the fact that they're probably getting an even bigger return on thier horde. They just want another excuse to raise prices on an already overpriced OS. To hell with them.

I see this as a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160742)

For years people have been coughing up the high prices for Microsoft software. Now that prices for Microsoft producs are going to climb, F/OSS is starting to look like a much more cost-effective option.

Maybe the courts will fine M$ another billion and cause M$ to price Windows out of the range of average Joe! Then Joe will finally use Linux!

The cost of doing business is always passed along (5, Interesting)

starfire-1 (159960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160746)

I'm amused at the outraged postings of people shocked by the fact that Microsoft passes along settlement costs to the consumer through price increases rather than cutting into their profits. Look, they'll raise their prices first, and if demand drops off or they're afraid that their market share is shrinking, then they may lower their prices again.

Litigation resulting in cash penalities are the easiest for corporations like MS to handle. I believe that state and foreign governments sue not for whats "right" or "fair" but because its a backdoor method of taxing the public.

IMHO, the best solution to deal with MS was the original penalty of splitting the OS and Apps segments of MS into two separate entities. You can't pass that along to consumers. No wonder MS fought so hard to get that reversed.

BTW - Here's another little fact. Corporations don't pay taxes (technically) either. So before getting all huffy that MS is getting away with it again, take a good hard look at the runaway litigation in the world and ask yourself where all of the money is going!

This makes no economic sense (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160750)

This is absolute rubbish. If Microsoft could have made more money by increasing prices, they would have done so before. Not because they are evil, money-grabbing, blah, blah, blah, but because that's what companies do in a capitalist economy!

The claim is made even more ridiculous since software has zero marginal cost!

Pure FUD from Robert Rosenfeld, plain and simple.

Monopoly (3, Insightful)

AlexEdwards (777214) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160758)

The fact that Microsoft can nonchalantly pass on these costs to the consumer with litte concern for its loss of market share shows how much of a monopoly they truly are, and how much they know it to be so. When an pattern of existence dominates an environment so completely, "evolution" ceases to be an issue - short of cataclysmic or revolutionary change.

The money's not going to come out of thin air (5, Insightful)

jshindl (157371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160760)

This whole idea reminds me of something I see all of the time -- people supporting a government program, but not realzing that someone has to pay for it. For example, here in Florida, voters a few years ago backed a bullet-train overwhelmingly, not realizing that the money for such a train had to come from somewhere. We enjoy no income tax here, so it comes in the form of higher sales or property taxes, which affect us all.

On the same vain, everyone cheers when Microsoft gets whacked with a big judgement or settlement. But, the money has to come from somewhere -- and it will likely come in the form of higher prices. And since 90% of desktops run Windows, it will likely affect you in some manner down the road.

With that said, the attorney's fees in this case (and many others) are outrageous. The judge for set them more modestly.

Jason

It's about time to dissolve the company... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160761)

...make them cease to exist and no longer legally able to operate within this country.

Technology has been hindered because of Microsoft. Reports have shown that innovation and advancment in technology has been deeply stifled by at least 10 years because of the monopolistic influence that Microsoft imposes on others. Microsoft has (on many occasions) paid other companies (Intel) to NOT release a certain product for fear that it would, in some manner, hurt profitability of Microsoft.

Their Blatant disregard for law is disgusting. Law doesn't affect them. They simply have way too much money. Instead of fining them $600 million, fine them 75% of their assets. Since this won't happen, they will continue to trample all over the law and simply shrug it off with a, "OOhh teehee, I'll just throw cash at it till it disappears.." They are no different than your street thug going back to jail for repeat offenses. Eventually the thug will get life in jail, but what will MS get? Nothing.

They do nothing positive except generate enough revenue that makes the govt grin in the amount of taxes they pull in. Fucking get rid of them. Make a law specifically for Microsoft that prohibits them from further operation.

This NEEDS to happen.

Corporations shouldn't be fined People should. (5, Interesting)

nlinecomputers (602059) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160762)

This is an example of how fucked up our laws are requarding businesses. This isn't a Microsoft is evil example this is a basic corporate fact and is an example why corporations exist. Corporations are by design intended to protect individuals(the owners ) because the only thing you can do to a corporation is take it's money and as it job is to make money it will simply treat such an event as a loss of profit and it will react as such. If other operating costs go up then that would effect the price too. The only way you are going to change corporate behavior is by holding those in charge responsible for it's acts not the corporation. Except for a corporate charter many actions could be tried under conspiracy or even racketeering laws but that corporate charter insulates the owners from that. Change incorporation laws and this would stop.

Law School (3, Interesting)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160766)

Bloody hell, I am going to a law school. $3000/hour is crazy and sounds great. I do not understand why MS is bitching about the fees; it is still pocket change for them. Why should the consumers have to pay for their criminal conduct? They can't be so greedy that they will pass the bill to the consumers. They do have $50 billion in the bank. A few news stories on this, a few ugly bugs (security issues), and they'll lose many customers. The potential loss is bigger than the gain if they pass the bill to the consumers. Remember, this was the lawyer talking, not someone who makes the decisions at Microsoft.

Remember when... (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160770)

...software piracy was costing honest users billions of dollars and product activation was going to fix all that.

Consumers to the burden of proof, added their personal information to the cost of using MSFT's software, and software prices went down across the board, right? Quite the contrary, you now get the burden of proof, a hoop you have to jump through every time you change hardware, AND higher prices.

Hey, as long as the MSFT sheeple keep taking it up the pooper you can't get mad because Redmond takes advantage of the situation.

Just got done isolating the last Windows machine on my network so it can't access the Internet. That's a Win2K box. The last piece of MS crapware I purchased at home since...2001. Wow, time flies when you're having fun instead of spending all you time patching Windows.

And I have to say it feels good when stories like this and the virus of the day come by. Not that I'd ever taunt the sheep by saying something like NEENER, NEENER, NEENER. And though I might be tempted to think they're technology LOOOOOOSSSEERRRS, manners would prevent me from saying so out loud. Instead I'd pretend to be sympathetic and understanding and wait until their back is turned and they're a polite distance out of earshot to start laughing.

Abusing Their Monopoly Again (2, Insightful)

_iris (92554) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160772)

I would consider this to be "abusing their monopoly power." Shouldn't the law consider it the same, thus allowing the DoJ to bring another anti-trust suit?

Oh wait... Bush would just quash this one like he did the last.

Erosion of the competitive edge (2, Insightful)

poweroff (646851) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160775)

In a sense this is still good because it contributes to the erosion of their customer base.

Oh the hypocrisy! (3, Insightful)

ipl me asap (777203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160777)

So, this guy just "wins" a case against someone for price gouging... then turns around and price gouges, but that's ok, becuse it's MS he's doing it to... Toss this one in the blindly biased bucket.

If they were smart... (4, Insightful)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160783)

... they would push to make sure the majority of the "benefit" would go back to end users. But that wouldn't serve their purpose. After reading the article and a million different posts... they're just angry about having to pay their opponents' lawyer's fees. Hey, I would be too.

Not that I care for MS or their tactics, but isn't it a bit sad? If there are 13 million Californians who are going to recieve the benefit, a $10 coupon would not cut it. That gives you $130 million to the end users and $260 to the prosecuting lawyers. Looks like they'd have to double it... the saddest thing is that the big winners in all this are the lawyers and not the people.

Funny (2, Funny)

Epistax (544591) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160785)

I blame Microsoft on Microsoft price increases.

Why is everybody upset? (4, Insightful)

telstar (236404) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160786)

It seems like a lot of people here think that passing along the expense to the user is unfair. These are the same people that are proponents of Linux. Do the math ... Windows costing more means that there will likely be fewer users of Windows because they can't afford it in their or their company's budget. Anyone that pushes Linux over Windows should be HAPPY that the cost is being passed onto the users.

Business Plan (2, Funny)

tiny69 (34486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160787)

1: Run other companies out of business and become a monopoly
2: Profit
3: Get sued for Anit-trust violations
4: Pass legal fees and damages on to the customer
5: Profit
6: Have customers sign up for free software upgrade license agreement for large $SUM
7: Release new software AFTER said agreement expires
8: Profit
9: Extend, Embrace, . . .

How do I get in on this?

Welcome to Economics 101..... (2, Insightful)

ddmau (635549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160800)

I'm surprised that no one figured this out before...all companies do this (pass costs on to their customers).. It's just like these people who constantly want Corporations to "pay more taxes"......Companies DO NOT PAY TAXES !!! They only collect the taxes from YOU (the consumer ) and then pay Uncle Sugar to re-distribute as the Politicians see fit. Great system, isn't it. Time to go to the Flat Tax System (as the RUSSIANS have !!) -no income tax, only consumables are taxed - everyone pays the same flat rate. I doubt it's possible in the US though... the IRS and Tax Attorneys are too powerful...it would put them out of business.
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