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Close out to Microsoft Anti-Trust Case

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the it's-the-final-countdown dept.

The Courts 155

duder writes "It appears that both sides in the Microsoft anti-trust suit are filing the closing arguments according to the Washington Post. " It doesn't look any surprises-CNNfn has an additional update as well. The DOJ and MS have filed sharply contrasting legal briefs-Microsoft claims there's competition, citing Sun and Red Hat, the government claims they have a monopoly. And give the US justice system, I'm sure we'll see the end to this case sometime shortly after Rob actually finishes reading Cryptonomicon.

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155 comments

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689369)

The resurgance of Apple and the Linux explosion has no bearing on the case whatsoever. These developments are inadmissable as evidence for two reasons. First, the evidentiary period is over. Secondly, the government did not have an opportunity to rebut this statement. However, this hasn't stopped Microsft from trying to do just that, by asking Judge Jackson to take "judicary note" of these recent developments. Frankly I think it's a blatent ploy to cloud the issue that Micorsoft violated the Consent Decree.

As a previous post said, the government could argue that the only reason why linux is starting to get support from OEMs is because Lord Bill has to watch himself right now. As soon as the trial is over, Lord Bill's Army of Darkness will return en masse. But the government doesn't have to, afterall a trial intrinsically deals with the past, not the present.

FYI: The iMac was introduced LONG after the trial started.

I follow the San Jose Mercury News's coverage of the trial [mercurycenter.com] . So should each and every one of you!

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689370)

> I think, for example, that RMS was absolutely
> clear on that one.

Can you give a reference to that claim? It is quite contrary to what he say in other occations, so if he made a cliam in that spirit to the court, it would be quite dishonest.

Or are you trolling?

when do you label something a monopoly? (2)

SEAL (88488) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689371)

Truly, my question posed here is the crux of the issue. I have to start this post with a nice standard disclaimer:

I am not a lawyer, but...

First, I believe that given their current track record in Judge Jackson's courtroom, Microsoft will receive a ruling against them. However, the really interesting part will be seeing WHY this ruling was made.

Microsoft will, no doubt, appeal the case. The details of the ruling in Judge Jackson's court will play a large part in determining how well they do in the appeals court. Right now, Microsoft feels that Judge Jackson is very biased against them (side note: gee I wonder why?). Therefore, their strategy is to assume that they will lose this round. They say that they are attempting to build a good basis to defend themselves in an appeal.

So back to my original question: when do you label something a monopoly? Well here's one definition:

MONOPOLY - This word has various significations. 1. It is the abuse of free commerce by which one or more individuals have procured the advantage of selling alone all of a particular kind of merchandise, to the detriment of the public.

All combinations among merchants to raise the price of merchandise to the injury of the public, is also said to be a monopoly.

A monopoly is also an institution or allowance by a grant from the sovereign power of a state, by commission, letters patent, or otherwise, to any person, or corporation, by which the exclusive right of buying, selling, making, working, or using anything, is given.

(source: http://192.41.4.29/def2/m138.htm)

Well let's cross of the 3rd one - that's easy, since the government does not say you have to buy Windows.

By the first definition, Microsoft COULD be in trouble. No, they didn't sell ALL of the operating system software, or browser software. But at what percentage do you draw the line? And can you prove it was detrimental to consumers? That's the tricky part.

The second definition COULD be used against them also. Once again, it is tricky to build this case, though. Did Microsoft use their monopoly to cause a price increase? Hmm. Do you include indirect profits? (e.g. give away a free browser, or sell your OS for cheap, then turn around and charge big server prices, since your Windows machines need a Windows server). Now, that's not necessarily true of course - just an example though.

Notice throughout this definition, though, that the word monopoly is really unrelated to whether or not you hurt your competitors. You can play dirty all you want as long as you aren't hurting the public, and you do, in fact, have competition.

Don't get me wrong - I think Microsoft's business practices are dirty, and they flex their muscle too much. But other companies (AOL and Sun, for example) can and do play the same way, given the chance.

Microsoft will probably lose this round with the DOJ, but I think in the end, after all the appeals and such, it will be very difficult to win a case against Microsoft, stating that they are a monopoly.

Signed,

SEAL

A bit of reality ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689382)

Two points:

1. Even if Judge Jackson finds in the Justice Department's favor, the appeals courts have already shown a decidedly different bent. The appeals process will probably take years and the result may quite likely be in favor of MS.

2. Quite sometime ago, Judge Jackson gave some strong indications (also cited here on /.) that he was not inclined to support the radical remedies being proposed here. That is, some type of breakup of Microsoft (and perhaps not even making "Windows" public domain).

Realistically - I think the former is our best option, because it forces MS to play the game with a bit more circumspection. Those that think they altered their ways completely during the trial have not watched some of their competitive actions .

Re:More media fun! (1)

Asher- (75364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689383)

I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but among the average human, -Windows- has a steep learning curve (not to mention computers in general).
The way I see it, the lurning curve for windows is quite flat at first, then rises sharply when you actually want to find out what it is doing without telling you. This is because you can never truly know what a M$ OS is up to. There comes a point when windows has filled itself with so many problems, often with no prompting from the user, that it's just a case of reinstalling now and again to get back to a known state.

On the other hand, the learning curve for Linux and *BSD systems seems quite constant, everything in general works as it should. Maybe this constant learning curve is slightly higher than the start of a windows system, but if you work your way up that curve, you'll be able to carry on climbing rather than hitting a brick wall of problems that you are unable to solve.

You can find any information you want, and there is at least some relevant information for most problems available.
The problems that do occur are nearly always ones that have been created by a user doing something wrong, rather than the OS doing it just for the hell of it!

Re: One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689384)

This argument is flawed. If in 18 months one can create reasonable competition and bring down a
monopoly, it probably never was one!


I disagree. Remember that 18 months is a long time in the computer industry. Here's a silly example: right now Microsoft has a legal monopoly on sales of Microsoft Office. If (by some incredible leap of legal logic) the government decided to rescind that monopoly, do you really think it would be more than 18 months before other companies started selling their own Office CDs? More like 24 hours if you ask me...

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (1)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689385)

Ok, now I will need to surf until I find the passage in which RMS said that "these people have no business using a computer." I think he was referring to people who were unable to either install or compile an OS or a kernel. As soon as I have recovered the url, I will post it.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

lutter (8756) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689386)

I think the advent of all those MS "competitors" amounts to little more than to holes in Swiss cheese.

What bothers me much more is that, even if MS is found guilty, the verdict will be way too late. One of the big arguments against MS is that they are exploiting and magnifying network effects, meaning that since everybody is already using MS products and they supposedly work well together, since it's more efficient to write applications for a big installed base etc. they have a much easier sell than their competition.

The current antitrust laws are horribly inadequate since they concentrate on punishment, way after the damage has been done. It's similar to shutting down the fire department and diverting all the funds to convicting arsonists. You'll get the guilty at the cost of a lot of charred houses.

A more proactive set of laws would be much more useful. Forcing open standards on software companies to ensure vendor-independent interoperability would be a possible start. Instead of punishing improper business practices, much more attention should be paid to emerging network effects and to keeping the impact of these effects as small as possible.

Possible solutions might violate the spirit of a free market as it is understood today, but would surely increase the common good for society. After all, free markets aren't a natural phenomenon. A free market is what our laws define it to be.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (1)

Lucius Lucanius (61758) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689387)

Actually, splitting MS is the least likely possibility according to most analysts. Nor is the monopoly abuse of power a proven case. Much as people here would like to dance on Microsoft's grave, the DOJ has to satisfy the legal requirements for an anti-trust suit:

1) The company has a monopoly
2) It abused that monopoly, resulting in economic harm

Neither has been proven to the point where it is obvious.

MS shot itself in the foot when its witness, Richard Schmalansee, said that there is no competing product at the moment. (To top it off, he made truly idiotic remarks such as the one about MS writing their sales figures on paper and not using PCs). OTOH, the govt. witness made a big blunder when he said that no economic harm had been caused to the consumer (which will be a crucial point).

But then, the judge is known to have fallen asleep frequently during the trial and is not a big fan of MS, so it's pretty much a toss of the coin.

L.

Upgrading my body by flicking my Bic (5)

Brian Kendig (1959) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689388)

I read this part of Microsoft's "Finds of Fact" with great interest, amusement, shock, and horror:

I got to thinking about that. I thought, why restrict this reasoning to just computers?

So I picked up a blue Bic ballpoint pen in my hand, and I am declaring it now an integral part of my body. I am obviously not Homo Sapiens any more, since I am now distinguished by my ability to write indelible marks on certain surfaces without the need for any additional, separate tools. To paraphrase Microsoft's argument:

There are several ways to create marks on paper. One way is to use a pencil or a pen. Because that is the choice most people make, it's commonly accepted that a pen is a separate tool. But the writing-related abilities in my new body comprise many elements, including the muscles in my hand and forearm and the clicky thing on top of the pen that I can make noise with. Depending on the context, it's common for me to use the term "pen" to refer to any one of these elements, but this does not mean that the pen in my hand is a separate tool like the pens that other people use. Although I have other pens which I loan to people sometimes, there is no identifiable "pen" which can be excised from my body without degrading my basic capabilities: if you remove the pen from my hand, then I lose the important ability to create marks on paper, and the pen is useless when removed from my hand. I got this pen from a K-mart at the same time as I got some deodorant and potato chips, so it's obvious that this pen is simply one element of a larger plan which affects my entire body and how I interoperate with other people. Rather than view this Bic as a pen that sits in my hand, it is more correct to view my hand and forearm as an advanced writing implement which is capable of many various tasks. My psychiatrist contends that people universally regard pens as tools and not as part of the human body, but he offered only anecdotal support for that "proposition" whose relevance is dubious anyway.

Hello???? (5)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689389)

Look guys... I would think that most of the people reading this page would have heard by now the legal definition of monopoly under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It is NOT the same as the common sense definition people keep arguing under.

A monopoly, in legal terms, is simply having enough market share that you can exercise a profound influence on the entire market. There have been succesful cases where the "monopoly" was only about 40% of total market share -- don't even try to tell me that Microsoft doesn't meet that definition!

Also, being a monopoly is perfectly legal! We have all kinds of monopolies, and they are completely legal! However, when you are a monopoly, there are certain things that you are not legally permitted to do. For example: you cannot use your monopoly power in one market to strong arm your way into other markets or engage in predatory pricing.

The question here is not whether Microsoft is a monopoly: it is obvious that within the terms of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act they are (all this "we have competition" talk is just a pseudo-populist smoke screen). The question is whether they (a) used there monopoly in the OS market to get into the browser market and (b) engaged in predatory pricing in the browser market.

That's all -- did they do those things??? If they did, then they should be found at fault in this trial to the full extent of civil liability. That's the law, if you don't like it change it. But we don't have ex-post facto laws; they are still responsible for their actions prior to any change in the anti-trust laws.

FWIW, IMNSHO they are guilty as sin and should be brought to task for the above and for their deliberate attempts to subvert the american political system. I think these attempts border on sedition. But that's another question.

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (1)

Patrik Nordebo (170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689390)

I can't imagine RMS having made such a statement. He cares about freedom, which includes the freedom for anyone to use computer programs. This does of course not translate into him caring whether people who don't view computing the way he does find software to hard to use or not, but I don't think he is actually opposed to software that "normal" people find easy to use, he just doesn't care much about it. Or maybe he does care about it, I don't know. But I've never seen him state they don't have any business using computers, and it doesn't seem like something he'd say. IMHO, of course, I can't speak for him, because I'm me and not him.

they're guilty... what next? (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689393)

I've followed the Register's [theregister.co.uk] Microsoft coverage, and unless they were blatently biased, Microsoft shot themselves in the foot on every conceivable occasion; a guilty verdict cannot but be far behind.
But if that's the case, what happens next? Splitting up Microsoft seems to be the most favoured option, but while that'll stick it to Bill, I can't see it doing anything to encourage MS to move towards the light side.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (0)

Royster (16042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689395)

What's next?

- Judge orders onerous penalty (it dosn't really matter what penalty).

- Appeals court throws out verdict.

- Retrial in 2001 or Government throws in the towel.

Remember, you read it here first.

One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (5)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689397)

Things have been going badly for Mr. Gates ever since Monsieur L'Entarteur, Noel Grodin, made him a present of a tasty cream pie. First the antitrust suit, then the arrival of Linux on the public consciousness and rapid exponential gain in popularity. In true Sumo wrestler style, he's tried to fend off one attack with another, pointing at the rise of Linux as a reason why he can't be a monopoly.

But the case isn't about what's happening now; it's about whether Microsoft had behaved illegally prior to February 1998. The DOJ can silence this line of argument with one simple suggestion:

"You only now have competition *because we're suing you*. You behaved illegally, so we dragged you into court. Now you're having to behave yourself to stand a chance in the trial, it's not as easy for you to tell people "you'd better buy our product because all our rivals are doomed", and competition is returning to the marketplace. But if the court allows you to get away with the way you used to behave, you'll be back to the usual FUD, lock-out, and illegal monopoly behaviour faster than you can say 'not guilty'. Your honour, I put it to you that this behavour can only be brought to an end if we THROW AWAY THE DAMN KEY!"

Anyway, I'm sure it won't matter. They've *really* pissed Judge Jackson off, and now Microsoft are going to lose so badly your head will spin in two directons at once. And they'll find it very hard to appeal the decision - especially after they jail Mr. Ballmer for perjury...

We keep winning, don't we?
--

Re:they're guilty... what next? (1)

starling (26204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689400)

I reckon that the Register is blatantly biased *and* that Microsoft is guilty as sin. There isn't a causal relationship between the two.

As for what to do with Microsoft, I favour splitting them up into smaller units. How many? I present this simple formula, which the DOJ is welcome to borrow :

#Baby Bill companies = #Current Microsoft Employees

That should keep them out of mischief.

Linux is no competition to Windows (2)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689402)

The DOJ must indeed insist with the court that Linux is no competition to Windows.

Linux is nothing more than a job protection programme for nerds, who insist on the idea that every computer user types in stuff like: gcc -La.out -vi -OMyThing.o -kMyProgram.cpp -1 -2q ...

... Or else stay away from computers. I think, for example, that RMS was absolutely clear on that one.

That's why I believe that Microsoft must be split up into at least two companies, one for the Windows, and one for applications. Furthermore, Windows must be regulated as an essential utility, until there is sufficient competition on the desktop.

I would say, as soon as Windows has a market share below 50%, this arrangement may be reviewed.

Which MS is on trial? (3)

Evro (18923) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689403)

When this whole lawsuit thing began, or even before it, MS definitely had a monopoly. But that was so long ago. Now look at the changes that have occurred since the beginning of this craziness: Red Hat has become huge, AOL bought Netscape, Apple's stock practically doubled in the face of its new products (was the iMac introduced before or after this trial started?), and countless other changes have occurred.

I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't still have an unfair advantage, but I'm wondering what time frame this trial is supposed to be considering. Is the question, "Does Microsoft have a monopoly today?" or is it, "Did Microsoft have a monopoly in 1997 (or whenever this thing began)?" They are different questions, and I think we need to know which one is being asked (as does the judge) before making a decision.

Re:Hello???? (1)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689407)

I agree. A fact is that no one else could have done it, except for someone with the market power of Micros~1. They used their domination of the desktop to stiffle competition in the market for web browsers. This is a very serious issue. In order to protect society, the court should now order that Micros~1 be split up, and that Windows be regulated as an essential utility.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689408)

A finding of facts in the case is due soon from Judge Jackson. (this does not involve questions of guilt/innocence or penalties. The Judge is aware of the bias in the appeals court and has split up the rulings(verdict) process into discrete steps so as to up the ante on them) The main event is a finding on whether or not Microsoft is a monopoly in desktop OS market. The Judge looks very likely to declare MS a monopoly. Whatever else happens this will have longlasting legal implications for Microsoft. His subsequent rulings finding guilt and innocence and legal remedies may all get overturned by the Reagan-Bush (2/3)appointed appeals court. It will be more difficult for them to overturn his finding of fact --would be too blatant an annullment. They can can argue that capital punishment is too harsh for the crime of manslaughter, but they can't argue that and that there was no unlawful death in the first place. In overturning Judge Sporkin's Consent-Decree they found for Microsoft that Judge Sporkin had read a book on Microsoft's corporate history and must have been biased against Microsoft. And on this excuse they threw the whole ruling out, without having to challenge the facts (did Ms do what was alledged and are these acts illegal). Judge Jackson will not make it so easy for them.

If the monopoly finding stands, current plaintiffs like Caldera and Sun will not have to prove Microsoft wields monopoly power in their cases. They can show evidence of attempts by MS to damage their technologies and confidently rely on the monopoly finding as the proof they need to claim that these malicious attacks are legally out-of-bounds and not just ordinary business competition. It also may have the effect of magnifying settlement/damages in the Caldera case and others I've forgotten about.

Whoops.. Fun in the Sun take II.. (1)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689409)

Tried to post this previously, guess I misfired or something.. I forgot what I did with it. heh. Anyway.. For brevity's sake: I never kept track of MS views. However, contradicting themselves like they did is still not very brilliant. Then again, who ever accused them of being brilliant?

Why I don't like Sun's trademark terms: If I wanted to have a Red Hat and a Sun logo on my site, I'd have to a) keep RH logo same size and make Sun logo smaller, thereby making Sun logo illegible and dumb looking or b) blow up RH logo, thereby making it dumb looking. That's not much fun.

I noticed the text-writeable boxes too. Pretty funny stuff. They are also the work of a company I wouldn't want to buy anything from. I don't think they figured out the Web design thing just yet.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

MaxwellsSilverHammer (10318) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689410)

[Marge Simpson} :"Mmmmmmmmmmm!!"

Actually, yes, no doubt if things were to have continued like they were, Apple would have probably eventually had to file Chapter 11, or at least Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In my opinion. They had been reporting quarterly losses in the 10's and 100's of millions. Except for one quarter during Amelio's administration in which they reported a slight profit, but it was pretty weak. They weren't all that attractive a buy-out at the time, either, IIRC.

More importantly, and contrary to what might be a popular misunderstanding:
  • Billy Boy did not "bail out" Apple. At least not financially. Apple still had something like $1 billion in the bank, even though they were fast -approaching- the edge.
  • At Jobs' 'request' to Gates, Microsoft 1) purchased $150 worth of NON-VOTING Apple stock as a sign of good faith, (which is now worth more than Apple's most recent quarterly profits, I might add), and 2) paid Apple a then undisclosed figure to settle a number of patent infringement suits, (ripping off QuickTime code for one). The amount was later learned to be $200 million.
  • This did in some way "bail Apple out" in that it lent Apple some badly needed credibility that it was not going to disappear any time soon, since it could be read as "Well if MS invested in them, they must have some chance of survival, right?"

Bottom Line: I think it is a misinterpretation of the facts to say that "Microsoft bailed Apple out".

Re:The trial was about the wrong thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689411)

Unfortunately the gov and MS have been to court on this account already and tho MS initially lost, the ruling on the Consent-decree was overturned on the basis that the Judge in the case (S. Sporkin) was biased against MS by virtue of having read a book about them. No, really!

I suppose DOJ is treading lightly around the pre-load and per-processor licensing issue because they fear MS successfully appealing any such case based on double-jeopardy. It would be very close to what they were tried on before, enough so that an ambiguity would arise whether or not MS was being tried a second time for something they had previously been "acquitted" on. All a dirty mu-fukkin ratbastard needs is a little ambiguity. They can march to Moscow in the wintertime under the banner of ambiguity. Man, do I hate the law.

That's my guess anyway.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689412)

Even if they can't prove that they've abused their monopoly, simply establishing Microsoft as being an official/legal monopoly would be considered a win by the DOJ.

Microsoft does have some valid arguments in terms of not actually "harming" consumers, per se. They have succeeded in lowering the cost of browsers to zero, which is a plus for consumers.

What remains unproven and unprovale is what the net effect would have been if Microsoft had not thrown it's collective weight towards the goal of squashing Netscape. It won't ever been known what could have developed and therefore aided consumers.

Forgive me by saying this, but if anyone thinks that Microsoft faces serious competition in the OS market right now, you're sadly mistaken. MacOS, Linux, Be, Solaris, etc... have not even scratched the surface. MSFT's licensing practices (model licensing now, vs. per processor licenses before) severley limits the ability of a company to sell systems without a MSFT operating system. Even if Redhat achieves a 20% market share, if 75% percent of that 20% of PC's initially shipped with Win XX preinsalled, that that demonstrates that Microsoft is indeed harming customers by making htem purchase software they don't use because of strict license agreements.

So, even if it can not be shown that MSFT has abused it's monopoly, if the DOJ can demonstrate that MSFT HAS a monopoly, that's good enough. By doing that, just about every action they take (release of software, investing in companies, etc) would be strictly scrutinized by the governmnet to make sure that each act would not have the potential to harm the consumer.

Remember the anti-trust case that never was against Intel? Intel wisely backed down and agreed to all sorts of concessions in order not to be labeled an official monopoly. If Intel was afraid of that, and given that they do actually face more direct competition at this time than Microsoft does now or has in several years, Microsoft will end up being nailed as such. And if that's the case, other companies can unleash private suits against MSFT and submit the fact that they're a monopoly as evidence.

Re:The trial was about the wrong thing (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689413)

Well, it's difficult to purchase a PC without windows, because, in all honesty, up until this year MAYBE, there hasn't been a viable alternative for OEM's to install.

Even today, because of Microsofts tactics in foreclosing the market with it's licensing practices, most customers demand Windows installed on their PC's. So, OEM's ship PC's w/windows pre-installed. And they get bigger discounts if they purchase windows for an entire product line rather than on a box by box basis.

My guess is that there will be drastic changes in how microsoft is able to sell their products, such that:

1 - they publish their prices, which all OEM's must pay, with the only variation being for volume. (so that OEM's don't face punishment for installing a competitors software)

2 - OEM's being allowed to install and deinstall whatever pieces of Windows that they choose, in order to allow for product differntiation and customer demand.

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (3)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689414)

As much as we love Linux here, it's inappropriate to say that Microsoft faces serious competition from Linux for anything other than WinNT, which is a much more specialized product than Windows 98. I know we all want linux to compete with Windows as a whole, but that competition has not materialized.

Microsoft can not defend itself by saying that they face the potential for competition in the future. One of MSFT's primary sources of competition for Windows 98 adoption, according to their own documents, was customer compliance in using Windows 95. It wasn't Linux or Be, it was just their own customers that may not want to upgrade. THAT IS NOT COMPETITION.

AT&T could have said that there existed the potential of creating satelite based communication systems, and therefore they didn't have a monopoly.

Standard Oil could have pointed to the possibility of using Nuclear Power in the distant future and their fore they faced the potential for competition.

The potential is not enough. It's either there or it isn't, and right now, Microsoft does not face serious competition. They should be declared a monopoly, and have all of their future behavior subject to scrutiny. 18 months from now, if the situation has changed, then regulation of them could be rolled back in order to account for the change in market condidtions.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

da_mitchell (71725) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689415)

Off-topic, but anyway ....

"A free market is what our laws define it to be."

Not if it is a true free market. A free market can only be called free to the extent that it is not regulated. Forget about anti-monopoly laws and simply make stuff good enough that it succeeds.

Open standards are good, but non-voluntary compliance??

David Mitchell

Re: Win95 pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689416)

Actually, increasing the price of the older product is a pretty popular way of making sure your customers buy your most recent stuff while you continue selling older things for a couple of years (which is required by law or your own promises). Just ask for a quote on... say... processors or hard drives from an HP distributor (I work for them but the competitors have similar pricing). A 10K RPM drive may cost 30% LESS than the same size with 7.2K RPM. A CPU with 8 MB L2 cache costs about 25% LESS than one with 4 MB cache /same MHz/. Go figure.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (2)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689417)

When this whole lawsuit thing began, or even before it, MS definitely had a monopoly. But that was so long ago. Now look at the changes that have occurred ...

You're making the assumption that there is a unified market for personal computer operating systems, which there clearly is not. Hopefully the DOJ doesn't fall into the same trap.

MacOS is only defending their traditional educational, student, and publishing nitches. To be fair Apple pretty much invented these computing markets, and has never really done well elsewhere.

Linux has carved out a workstation nitch in academia, and a server nitch at ISPs and more saavy corporations. Lots of techies are duel booting to learn the thing.

No one has began to touch Windows on the corporate desktop. These systems (and all the work-at-home machines) are still willingly locked-in to the Microsoft monopoly by their owners.

Re:More media fun! (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689418)

And too bad that Redhat hasn't achieved financial success in terms of actual sales. They possess a large market capitalization due to the perception that Linux could one day stand on its own against Windows and therefore Redhat will be at the front.

This is another case of Microsoft doublespeak.

When people compare their own irrational market cap, they deflect the question by staying that the combined sales of their rivals (Sun, IBM, Oracle, AOL, formerly Netscape) dwarfed their own sales.

Now, they're no longer talking of Redhats spectacular sales, which maybe 1/500th of Microsofts. Instead, they've changed the focus back to stock valuations, where Redhat is valued 1/50th of Microsoft's value instead...

Nice how they turn arguments around like that. Now people should start asking how they've survived so long on such a high PE ratio if they indeed face as much serious competition as they claim.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689419)


Are you sure that you are paying "MS TAX" - or is it Economy of Scale Tax?

Think about it -- RedHat+Support costs the same as Windows+Support (or more even because Dell does their own Windows support). Windows outsells RedHat 20 to 1. Which product should cost more?

Proprietary Apple Hardware (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689420)

I don't think that customer rejection of proprietary hardware is what caused Apple to lose market share. Especially since most Apple home users never open the case, and the design users demand sophisticated hardware, proprietary or not.

What hurt Apple was that their reliance on proprietary hardware meant that they couldn't increase manufacturing capacity fast enough when it counted. For most of the late-80s and early-90s, demand for Macs outstripped supply (forcing prices up, to the delight of management). When the PC market grew by an order of magnitude, the WinTel parts bin was able to scale up, and Apple wasn't able to build enough custom ASICs and strange motherboard form factors and so on to meet demand.

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

CocaCola (30016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689421)

The reason why the DOJ doesnt just prove past conduct is simple - the Shermann Act is about protecting _future_ competition, so the plaintiff has to show that substantial harm is done to the marketplace _as we speak_, otherwise the court will not grant any effective remedies. There are no US laws that protect companies against _past_ (Shermann-type, federal) antitrust violations, unfortunately. To be frank, if US (federal) antitrust laws were just a little bit weaker, they would be nonexistent. No wonder it has only been tried 3 times in 70 years previously, and actually executed only once.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689422)

And can u deduct for no OS? If redhat option is $99 at Dell _on_top_of_ what you pay for Windows why would you assume Bill isn't still getting his slice? MS _is_ still free to enforce per-processor clause and I'll bet they do on top-tier OEM's.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689423)

In all fairness to Microsoft, they created the low-cost, easy-to-use market. Apple wanted 60% profit margins, Sun and HP never thought the desktop would take off, and Linux, even today, still doesn't have enough to be considered a viable contender for the mass market (it is coming, though). So I would assert that MS has the market share it has simply because there hasn't been a viable, cost-effective competitor that can do everything Windows can do.

US Shermann Antitrust Act (1)

CocaCola (30016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689424)

Just in case anyone wants to check out the Shermann Act, prosecuted by the DOJ, it can be read here [house.gov] .

Wow... (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689425)

I continue to be amazed at the cavalier tendency of /.ers to propose punishments for Microsoft with little regard for Micrsoft's rights, little sense of proportion, and no consideration to the long-term effects of their proposals.

Even if we accept that Microsoft is guilty as sin and deserves anything we give them, "regulating Windows as an essential utility" is a terrible idea. Government regulations tend to be immortal, and they tend to protect their own interests. The moment the government nationalizes Windows, that will mean the end of Windows as a useful OS. Now I realize that a lot of /.ers would be thrilled at this prospect, but the fact is that a lot of people still rely on Windows to do things that they couldn't otherwise do. Imagine an OS that was as user-friendly and well-maintained as other "regulated monopolies" like phone and electrical services.

As long as Microsoft has the freedom to design its own product, there is a chance that they will clean up their act and produce better software. And as long as we have a free market, Microsoft *will* pay for producing crappy software-- Linux, Mac OS, Be, or some other OS will take market share. All the "unfair practices" in the world cannot stop people from buying alternative products, and as soon as enough people do this, OEM's will start selling computers pre-installed with that OS. However, if Operating Systems become "essential utilities," then a regulated Microsoft will be able to bellyache about "unfair competition" from unregulated competitors like Apple and Linux. The government will then likely want to "level the playing field" by regulating other OS's as well. I think we can all agree that that would be a bad thing.

Some people will protest that this is not what they are advocating, and that they only want to regulate the monopolistic companies. But that's not how governments work. Government officials like power, and the moment you give them a little bit of power, they start pushing for more. You *can't* just regulate the bad businesses. If you want the government to regulate Microsoft, you have to accept the risk that the government will impose the same regulations on others in the computer industry.

And government regulations seldom benefit the little guy. Think about it: policies are typically determined by lobbying efforts, and who can hire more lobbyists than Microsoft? The result will be that the "Microsoft regulatory commision" will be transformed from an organization designed to limit Microsoft into one that helps Microsoft keep new entrants out.

Microsoft has broken an obscure law whose definitions change on a yearly basis. They are doing things that, while they are certainly sleazy and underhanded, have never been considered illegal. Antitrust law is so vague and overreaching that pretty much any action by a large corporation can be considered to be "anticompetitive" or "in restraint of trade." Perhaps they need to be punished, but an action as drastic as splitting them up and then turning them into a regulated monopoly is not called for. I don't think they have done anything wrong, but even accepting that they did, many of the solutions proposed are excessive.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689426)

Something you have to consider is that the the press only covers the most interesting material. There's a lot that goes on at the trial that never makes it into the press coverages.

Without having read the actual transcripts, basing your judgement on press coverage is giving you a skewed view.

But, having said that. The findings will be pretty much irrelevant. Microsoft will appeal any ruling in favor of the DOJ, and I think they'll have a lot of evidence for reversals.

For instance, at one point the judge appeard to have started his own fact finding. He went and tried to uninstall IE on his own PC (or rather a PC in his office most likely). At another point he appeard to be falling asleep. At yet another point He appeared to be reading press coverage of such things as the AOL/Netscape merger (this could be construed as being biased by having read the newspapers, much like jurors that read newspaper coverage about the trials they're in).

But we'll see.

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689427)

Microsoft can not defend itself by saying that they face the potential for competition in the future. One of MSFT's primary sources of competition for Windows 98 adoption, according to their own documents, was customer compliance in using Windows 95. It wasn't Linux or Be, it was just their own customers that may not want to upgrade. THAT IS NOT COMPETITION.

The problem here is that at the time, no good alternative existed. But Linux has become a good alternative, not because MS has allowed it, but because it has matured and picked up enough steam in the last 18 months or so to start actually challenging them.

18 Months ago, Linux was not mature enough. Today it is to *BEGIN* challenging them, and already the inroads are clear. In another 18 months Linux may well be challenging Win98 on the desktop.

I don't think that a lack of viable competition makes you a monopoly. What makes you monopoly is when viable competition exists (for a long enough time for it to actually penetrate the markets) but you still have 90%+ of the market share.

Clearly, MS is losing lots of market share in the server market to Linux, and it's losing a significant portion (more than 5%) to the desktop as well. That portion will likely increase as Linux matures as a desktop client.

I think people give MS too much credit. The reason people are afraid of them is because of this proliferation of fear by it's supposed victims.

A bully that has a reputation of being a bully (but isn't) is just as effective as someone that actually is a bully. That's not to say that MS isn't a bully, but I think they get a lot more credit for being one than they are.

YOU are giving MS the power to control you by repeating that MS is omnipotent and unbeatable. If you want MS to fail, you need to encourage others to compete against them rather than discourage them by telling them it's useless.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (2)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689428)

I see your logic, but I'd need proof that it's actually the case. Especially for server machines that are as likely to have NetWare (etc.) on them as anything else.

Don't forget Dell is selling into the most price-insensitive part of the Linux market -- the group of people that don't want 'free' or '$2' or '$50 retail box' and instead want preinstallation, integration, and support. (Think of the IT manager watching his $100/hour Unix contractor tabbing through the RedHat install. Dell's cheaper than that.)

I can see why Dell would soak these people for an extra $100 to help finance all of the internal changes necessary to support Linux (sales, accounting systems, testing, training, and so on.)

Re:Linux IS NOT competition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689429)

The other four switched back to Windows 98, citing that Linux was "too hard to setup and use".

The stunning part is that all five have degrees in computer science, and write C/C++ on Unix machines for a living.

I sure hope they're not developing mission critical software. If even a dimwit like myself can install different distros of Linux or *BSD on different types of hardware, someone with a CS degree, who writes software for Unix for a living should be able to do it without thinking.

(Somewhat) apropos song parody... (3)

Hwatzu (89518) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689430)

I wrote this in February, but it's been languishing on my HDD ever since. Considering the impending decision by Judge Jackson, I thought I'd share this with you all. Enjoy this li'l parody. (Or not. :) )

"I'm just a Bill"

Original lyrics: Dave Frishberg
Satiric lyrics: David McGrath

BOY: Whew! You sure gotta go through a lotta hoops to return Windows for a refund, especially here in Redmond! Hey, I wonder who that sad little nerd is...

NERD: I'm just a Bill,
Yes, I'm only a Bill,
And I'm sitting here in my office still,
'cause it's a long, long journey
To the capital city,
It's a long, long wait,
Hopin' the government takes pity
But I know they'll let me make more money someday...
At least I hope and pray that they will,
But today I'm still just a Bill.

BOY: Geez, Bill, you certainly don't have much patience or modesty.

NERD: Well, I got *this* far. When I started, I wasn't even well-to-do! I was just a thief. Some folks back in Dartmouth College wrote this neat programming language called BASIC. I fished it out of the trash, added a few minor things, and pretended it was my own. I told them, "Free software's a bad idea. There ought to be a law!" And someone sat down and wrote a law against piracy, and commercial software became popular, and that's how I became Bill. And I'll remain a Bill until they decide to throw out this silly court thing.

I'm just a Bill,
Yes I'm only a Bill,
I'd go to D.C. but I lack the will.
Well now my company's stuck in court
And I sit here and subvocally cuss
While a few expensive lawyers
Debate and discuss
Whether they should
Let my company go free...
Oh how I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a Bill.

BOY: Listen to those lawyers arguing! Is all that debate and discussion about your company?

NERD: Hey now, it's not my company, I'm just the CEO! ...er, I hope my lawyers win, otherwise I may die.

BOY: Die?

NERD: Well, be forced to pay lots of money, but it's the same thing. Oooh! We managed to confuse the judge into missing some of the tricks we tried. Looks like we won't have to go to the Court of Appeals after all.

BOY: But what if you had to?

NERD: Then I'd appeal when this is all over, and the whole trial starts all over again.

BOY: Oh, no!

NERD: Oh, yes!

I'm just a Bill,
Yes I'm only a Bill,
And if my lawyers get me off in the trial,
Well then I'm off to make software
And people will wait in rows
With a lot of other people
Who're willing to pay through the nose
And don't know 'bout Macs, Linux or BSD...
Oh, how I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a Bill.

BOY: Wait a minute. You mean people don't *have* to buy your products to run my computer? See yuh! I'm going to have to do some research!

NERD: Hey hey hey, get back here! Yes, that's called "choice." If a majority of people stop purchasing programs we make or co-opt, and especially if we lose this case, I'll have to cough up lots of money to keep my company solvent, and I might have to actually start working for a living.

BOY: And by that time, it's very unlikely that you'll ever *become* rich. Gee, it's not easy to be a ruthless multi-billionaire if you aren't allowed to fool and force people into buying your shoddy software, is it?

NERD: No! But how I hope and I pray that I will,
But today I am still just a Bill!

LAWYER: We bribed the judge, Bill! Now you're free to *cough* innovate!

NERD: Oh yes!

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689431)

As much as I'd like to say otherwise, I really don't see Linux or anything else as being trully viable competitition to Microsoft in the mainstream business market. This is mainly because Microsoft also own Office, which has become the de facto standard in terms of productivity applications.

I often have to exchange files with people from outside of my company, and therefore need to use MS Office in order to do so. Because of the recent overhaul to MS Office 2000 and a change in file formats, even Office 98 for the Mac is no longer fully sufficient. It's startling to realize how lazy and even dumb some office workers are, when you have to request not once but repeatedly that you need the file saved as Office 97 compatible, not 2000... So many people don't get it.

Linux lacks an easy to use desktop database, a la Access and/or Filemaker... Yes, they're on their way, but they're not here yet.

Because Windows is so entrechened in the work place (because MSFT won't port their software anywhere beyond windows, even though they've got more than enough resources to do so), people naturally buy Windows PC's for home. When a child is getting their first computer, their parents buy them a Windows PC so they'll learn what they'll use latar in life at work.

It won't be until Linux has gathered ALL the things that make windows so attractive to both users and developers that it will pose much appeal beyond the faithful, the server closet, and the power-user.

That's not the case today, i don't think. It won't be the case 18 months from now if Microsoft continues in their activities unfettered. If the case is dismissed, watch every OEM backtrack on their commitments to Linux in fear of retaliation.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689432)

Man, You don't seem to understand how OEM's work do you?

Do you think it costs Dell (or IBM, or Compaq) nothing to load Linux? Even though the OS is free, they have to train their manufacturing staff, they to train technical support and customer support, they have to field support calls (it costs a lot of money for the extra infrastructure), etc..

Linux doesn't sell as much as Windows. As such, all support costs have to be amortized over far fewer sales. Thus, it costs MORE to support linux per copy you sell.

Re:Hello???? (1)

Juln (41313) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689433)

In order to protect society, the court should now order that
Micros~1 be split up, and that Windows be regulated as an essential utility.


an essential utility?

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

Noke (8971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689434)

Office2000 saved documents can be read just fine from Office97 (at least word and excel documents).
Please don't spread FUD like this, or if this isn't FUD, please research a little more next time.

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (1)

Patrik Nordebo (170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689435)

What's so bad about this? And it's a four step affair.
make clean; make zlilo; make modules; make modules_install
If you can't understand this procedure, you are either too stupid to compile kernels, or just not interested enough, in which case you shouldn't be compiling kernels, you should be getting them from your distributor. That's what distributions are for.

Re:Netscape & AOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689436)

Oh sure. Selling a 4 year old company that started with almost nothing for 14 *BILLION* dollars is such a loss.

AOL wanted Netscape. AOL made them an offer they couldn't refuse. Netscape was not forced to take AOL's offer. They did so becuase they WANTED to.

As an example. West Publishing (the clear, nearly monopoly provider of legal books) was purchased by Thompson Assoc. (Third in terms of market share) for a huge amount of money.

West made massive profit and was in no danger of going out of business, yet they allowed themselves to be bought anyways. Why? Because the execs made millions on the stock deals.

Judge Jackson's got an ace up his robe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689437)

If I recall, the judge can force any appeals directly to the Supreme Court if he so desires.

I don't know the legal basis or requirements for such an action, but I think that if he saw that appeals would delay justice he might just pop it up to the head of the class and we'd see a final resolution in a year.

Anybody know the precedent or circumstances that might allow Judge Jackson to do this and spare us the agony?

Re:Which MS is on trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689438)

Where do you get these numbers anyways?

I just went to the Dell web site and configured two identical machines (one with NT, one with Linux). I even removed all support on the NT machine and it was *STILL* $250 more expansive than the Linux machine.

With Win98 it would be $175 more expensive than the Linux machine.

Again, these are identical machines. Take a look for yourself

The Linux Machine:

http://commerce.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.asp ?order_code=301933&customer_id=&keycode=

The NT machine:

http://commerce.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.asp ?order_code=gx1163&customer_id=&keycode=

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

derobert (57901) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689439)

Let's see how low I can get moderated...

First off, one has been able to buy a personal computer without Windows or MSDOS on it since...umm...personal computers came out. Choices included Apple, Amiga, Commadore, etc. The entire time, you could (for example) buy something from Apple. It did not, does not, and will not (hopefully) ever come with Windows or MS-DOS installed. Hell, you could of gotten OS/2 from IBM.

What you could not buy -- and still can not buy -- is a Windows-based PC without Windows. Nor will you ever be able to. Because that simply does not make sense.

If Compaq decides they want to sell only Windows-based PC's, that's their choice. It's their money they're using to make them. If you don't like it, don't buy from Compaq.

If MicroSoft says that if you want to sell Windows, you can sell nothing else, fine. Windows is their product. Their property. Just as I have no obligation to invite you to my home except on my terms -- to my property -- MicroSoft has no obligation to sell Windows except on their terms. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

If MicroSoft wants to include Internet Explorer with Windows, fine. Windows is MicroSoft's property. So is IE. They may do with them what they want.

Neither you nor you and any number of others (e.g., government) have any right whatsoever to force me to build a PC the way you want it. You may build one yourself and install whatever you like. You may pay your local hacker to build one for you. And you can install Linux or BSD or whatever ylou want on it -- provided you can obtain a copy.

What does this teach us? If we lie, cheat, and steal to get our wealth, do we have a right to keep it?

Yes, that's absolutely what a victory for the Justice department would teach us. The United States federal government (and just about all governments) steal (though they call it 'taxes') to get wealth. They produce nothing, yet claim anything they want. If life is a game, that is for sure cheating. Further, I can think of no larger group of liars than one finds on Capital Hill.

I, personally, avoid MicroSoft products, because all and all, they're ugly, exceedingly complex for the minimal functionality, and crash perpetualy. However, if you want to use Windows, fine.

If you think there is a demand for non-Windows PC's, then by all means build them and sell them. If you don't think there is a demand, they of course MicroSoft has a monopoly!

Re:More media fun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689440)

On the other hand, the learning curve for Linux and *BSD systems seems quite constant, everything in general works as it should. Maybe this constant learning curve is slightly higher than the start of a windows system, but if you work your way up that curve, you'll be able to carry on climbing rather than hitting a brick wall of problems that you are unable to solve.

I wouldn't say that Unix systems have a constant learning curve. I'd say it has a very high Initial curve, then a somewhat lower constant curve.

Basically it is a very steep jump to get into the Unix "mentality" and once there things become much easier to grasp.

For example, Under windows it will typically warn you before you do something catastropic (such as deltree *.*) while under Unix, it will blindly do what you tell it, even if that's not what you meant to tell it.


Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689441)

Every time somebody mentions how to compile a kernel it's different - perhaps that's part of the problem. I've never seen your 4-step sequence mentioned before. The ones I've seen all include "make config" and "make zImage" or "make bzImage" as two of the steps.

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

J. J. Ramsey (658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689447)

It's not just that there is a lack of alternatives, but that Microsoft makes a concerted effort to squelch them, by FUD (which pretty much amounts to libel or slander, at least in terms of intent), by withholding bug fixes, by hiding some of their APIs from software makers so that Microsoft software runs better on Windows than their competitors' software, and by veiled threats. It's not just that Microsoft has big marketshare, but that it has tight control of many parts of the computer market, especially the desktop. That's waht makes Microsoft effectively a monopoly.

Re:Wow... (1)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689448)

Ok, I'm not advocating any increase in government power or ability to regulate. It's true that we 'd rather need to go the other way.

However, there's one thing we forget here. Micros~1's billions are implicitly built on government willingness to enforce copyrights (across the world). Now we can see where all of this copyright enforcement - I admit, rather unexpectedly, has led to.

If I'm now looking at the government to solve this problem, it's because, to a large extent, they created the problem in the first place.

I also believe that the original spirit of copyright and patent laws was to protect the weak, the inventors and writers. It is obviously the case that the modern "writers", the software companies, are not weak any longer and are getting too much protection. The way Micros~1 used its copyrights (and the threat of government assistance in enforcing them) proves that we must reduce these rights drastically. For example, the system in which Micros~1 makes PC-makers pay for each CPU they ship, regardless whether they are shipping the CPU with Windows, should be outlawed straight away. There should be a provision in the copyright laws that prohibits this kind of practices, and we should add more and more restrictions, as we see that companies abuse copyright laws.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (1)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689449)

Splitting up Microsoft seems to be the most favoured option, but while that'll stick it to Bill, I can't see it doing anything to encourage MS to move towards the light side.


How will that stick it to Bill? Bill is all about the almighty dollar. He could give a shit about technology, or about market trends, all he cares about is increasing his holdings.


That said, if he's, say, 10% holder (I honestly don't remember his percentage, so it's just a number for discussion purposes) of MSFT, then if MSFT gets split up, he's a 10% holder of ALL the babies. He may not be permitted by the agreement to hold positions of power, titles, executive offices, etc. in those new companies, but the stock he holds will get split as well.


Splitting them up is a great idea, but let's not wax philosophic about what it will do for Bill. Bill will make out like a bandit because that'll give him large holdings in SEVERAL companies instead of just one. :)

Microsoft safe? Hardly... (1)

JordanH (75307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689450)

Uhhh... Read Slashdot or ANY technology news lately?

Sun just released a free office suite that reads and writes Office files. This product runs on Linux, as well as Windows.

I think with all of this free Office software out there that will read/write the older Office formats, there will be more standardization on the older formats. I would also expect to see conversion from the new Office formats soon.

Another thing to consider is the fact that Office 2000 is distinctly underwhelming in it's new feature list.

The home PC market is nearly saturated, or if not saturated, that's not where the big growth is. The big growth is in Internet applications and appliances. Linux has a huge growth potential here.

Linux will also seriously be cutting into Windows NT Server deployments, which is where MS makes a lot of their money.

Here's a news flash for the people who seem to be saying "Microsoft is invincible, just wait and watch." Microsoft is in financial trouble. Sure, they made $4.5 Billion last year. They paid, on paper, $18 Billion in stock options. If any of the above forces begin to cut into their stock price or futures, look for a huge cashing-in of those options that could bankrupt the company.

A point that a lot of people are missing from the original Comment that started this thread. It's not because the DOJ has had MS in court that MS has been in trouble. It's because MS has had to "play nice" during this period that has MS in trouble. When MS stops with the anti-competitive practices (bundling, dumping, buying out small competitors, etc.) they suddenly have problems.

While those who have a vested stake in the Microsoft status quo are hoping against hope for a favorable outcome in court, almost no serious observer believes that Microsoft won't lose and lose badly.

If the case is dismissed, watch every OEM backtrack on their commitments to Linux in fear of retaliation.

You give the reason yourself why Microsoft will lose in court. EVERYBODY knows that Microsoft used illegal tactics to make absolutely certain that there was no competition in the OS arena, and the DOJ has proved this in court.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (1)

Kerg (71582) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689451)

At another point he appeard to be falling asleep.


But where's the evidence of that? Other than what the news papers have reported.


Like you said yourself, reading the reports will give a skewed view ;-)

Re:More media fun! (2)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689452)

Didn't Apple make the same mistake when IBM was just a start-up company? Thinking there was still lots of business in the mainframe market while IBM dove for the PC market and became the standard, leaving Apple to content themselves with being second best?

Yeah, Apple's moves around 1911 were horrible, and really hurt the company. I know my great-grandfather got hit pretty bad for investing in Apple stock around that time.

They should have opened up their Abacus design and allowed clones, but no...

-
/. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.

Market Cap/Shmarket cap (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689454)

Market cap means nothing in context of this argument. Redhat's valuation is based on the fact that ONE DAY linux could pose a serious challenge to desktop windows. Just like Amazon's and EBay's market caps... They're not based on what they're worth today, its what people hope they'll be worth tomoroow.

$$$ sales mean much more, which Redhat lacks.

Given that RHAT's product is free to copy and download, we'll go by seats it's installed on and still conclude that it's a far cry from actual competition for Microsoft today. Tomorrow could be a whole other issue, but we haven't gotten to tomorrow yet.

One day at a time (and no, if you're curious, I'm not in recovery, or anything! :)

Damn straight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689456)

Suppose Congress created a Federal Internet Commission and the FIC's Office of Software Development began regulating Apache, Sendmail, Bind, Perl, Gcc, the FreeBSD kernel, and the Linux kernel as "essential utilities". I mean, the Internet is pretty important to the national economy, eh? Too important to leave to those scruffy hackers writing whatever they want whenever they want to. Why just last week somebody broke binary compatibility with sysinfo(2), an essential public utility! That wouldn't happen if the government ran the CVS repositories. Microsoft and Network Solutions would be glad to contract out for some of that work, I'm sure. The right place to beat Microsoft is in the market place.

Re:The trial was about the wrong thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689458)

>Well, it's difficult to purchase a PC without
>windows, because, in all honesty, up until this
>year MAYBE, there hasn't been a viable
>alternative for OEM's to install.

What about no operating system installed?

Don't say that the OEMs need to install Windows to test the hardware; There are self-booting floppies that do this job.

There is demand for systems with no OS, for some reason or another some people already have a spare OS license. Selling a machine without an OS lowers the cost by >$60, which would look nice in the newspaper ads where they already sell computers without monitors. Stores will already swap and/or remove just about any part the customer requests if it will sell a computer except for the OS. The explanation that makes the most sense is the one that people get when they call up the OEMs and ask if they can get another system or no OS installed:

"Sorry, we can't do that. We have a contract with Microsoft."

It's really a question of markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689460)

You start off right (about monopolies), but then lose it with you supposition about markets. The real issue, is what market are we talking about?

All computing? Home computing? (note this would include things like console games) All Operating Systems? Consumer Operating Systems? Just x86 compatible Operating Systems?

Whether Microsoft dominates a market depends upon how you define the market. If you limit it enough, like say to consumer PPC Operating Systems, then even Apple is a monopoly.

The flaw in your argument is that you consider the "OS market" (whatever you mean by that) and the "browser market" to be separate markets. To me, they both flaw into the realm of "Consumer Platforms". Netscape openly bragged about how they were going to make the browser the new platform and make the OS irrelevent. Microsoft was perfectly justified in adding the browser feature to their platform to compete with Netscape's platform.

FWIW, IMNSHO Microsoft is on the side of the angels and they should sue the DoJ for harrasment.

the documents in question: (4)

CocaCola (30016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689467)

The full text of the DOJ filing can be seen here [usdoj.gov] , the Microsoft filing can be seen here [microsoft.com] .
At first glance the DOJ filing is a well-constructed set of arguments based on the evidence presented during the trial, the Microsoft one is full of anti-government rhetoric and outright contradictions. YMMV though.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (3)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689468)

A crime is a crime. One isn't free from justice for their past crimes just because they changed their ways, (or not given a chance to commit many new crimes). Generally once a trial begins usually what facts and evidence exist at the beginning of the trial are the facts used throughout the trial.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (2)

geocajun (11733) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689469)

I think when this trial is over no matter what the outcome is, you will see the press shut up about linux.. then watch win2K get hyped with new features that make it proprietary... and just like that... they reclaime thier monopoly.

I think the monopoly is just on hold right now...

have we not seen this before on/.? (0)

DAVEO (61670) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689470)

*sigh* daveo has contributed somewhat to the free software community, as have many of his friends, but is a libertarian party member. of course, some of the commies ;0) will take advantage of this movement. here are a few points that must come out, please do feel free to contribute:
  • communities will form together where appropriate. the free software movement is based *more* on the idea that the source should be available for people to modify, than the idea of us all working together in a commune. this is so that we can all work on something ourselves and make it for our own needs. there are few models such as this in real life. as you can see, where it is appropriate, these things can form together in a captitalist society and be affective. would this model be necessary in a car plant, food factory, or hotel company? if people want to work for the common good, they will do so, let them! that is what libertarianism is about, if that is your lifestyle choice, yuou should be free to live it, not so in many leftist societies, which is one *huge* reason daveo does not become a socialist, though may admire some ideas (which do not require an intrusive government).
  • there is no central, forcible free software force. this is to be tied into the first point somewhat. people who see a need for change get together, and make that change. they work together of free association, and go about the activities they want to do. that is what libertarianism allows. you cannot give a government the ability to tell its citizens what they will do. it will lead to totalitarianism, slowly, but surely, over each generation, and people will say that each expansion does not violate the previous principles on which the last expansion was based. this is because by nature, people want power and to contrl things. see now what is happening with the us government each time the people grant it the power to do something small, because they see some gain in it. giving anyone the power to tell others what to do would be a huge mistake, again is people want to do an activity for the good of the people where it is appropriate they will, and others may join at wish.
  • programmers create code, which is something they like to do. it again is voluntary, and in some respects needed for the industry. they do not abandon their lives, they work on something in free time that they enjoy to do. this is why the system works!! everything that is needed in society to be created cannot be enjoyed. thus the motivation is gone. good of the people is not enough, people must like what they are doing! this is the situation with programmers. you could not take an average person who *could* program, and who wants programmers and software to be high quality, but who doesn't like programming, and expect him to work up to the quality of someone who has a real motivation. good of the people is not enough in 90% of the world, simply because people do not see their single contribution as changing society. programmers can fix something for themselves, or a small bug, or even make a small or medium-sized program that fits a need. thus they are given payment for their work, which they may use for other things they would want or need.

... just the ramblings of daveo, the open-sourced fan libertarian. (does anyone else find it interesting that many non-programmers use open source as an example for communism, while those in open-source itself don't, and tend to be libertarian, moderate, or moderate-left?)

More media fun! (2)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689471)

"A Microsoft attorney said the company will point to the remarkable financial success of Red Hat Inc., a leading vendor of the upstart Linux software operating system."

Too bad Red Hat went public looong after the antitrust suit was actually filed. Isn't this a bit late in the game to point to current trends? As much as we'd like to change the past..

"An economist who testified for the Justice Department, Franklin Fisher, had dismissed as ``a joke, of course'' the potential threat that Linux posed to the market dominance of Microsoft's Windows software."

Nice to know that people who testify for the DOJ don't watch the news.

"The Microsoft lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the company will tell the judge it believes Linux to be ``real competition.''"

I'd want to remain anonymous too after all the hoopla associated with Bill Gates' insistence that Linux isn't a threat.. not to mention the backing of several of his other yes-men. Nice to know that at least one person has some sense amidst that pack of utter liars.

"The Justice Department has argued that Linux has been successful challenging Microsoft in the sale of high-end business ``server'' computers, not consumer machines."

Not for long, baby. Once the hardware manufacturers realize that, then I'll be happy. I think it's absurd that IBM is taking a "wait and see" stance with regards to Linux PCs. Didn't Apple make the same mistake when IBM was just a start-up company? Thinking there was still lots of business in the mainframe market while IBM dove for the PC market and became the standard, leaving Apple to content themselves with being second best? Also, it's remarkable how many people say Linux has "a steep learning curve". I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but among the average human, -Windows- has a steep learning curve (not to mention computers in general).

"And Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was quoted in earlier evidence in the trial as saying at a technology conference this spring that Linux's impact ``will be fairly limited'' and that he's never had a customer mention Linux to him."

I don't think Bill even listens to his customers, so of course he never heard them mention much of anything.. Or else maybe he'd take the hint that people don't like it when their system "develops random features". I'm sure he thinks it's "cute", however.

"Microsoft also was expected to cite an announcement just days ago by rival Sun Microsystems Inc. that it has begun distributing free on the Internet a package of business applications meant to compete with Microsoft's Office software."

Now this is even sillier.. Who in their right mind is really afraid of Sun Microsystems or anything they have to offer? Perhaps in time their stuff will be good (they certainly have some nice concepts.. but in a business, you need more than just a bunch of "idea men" and loony ad campaigns), but for now Java and its associated hype goes a long way to prove how immature they and their products still are.

As a side note, anyone who thinks Sun is "really cool" and not just another corporate entity that has absurd notions of, well, just about everything, feel free to peruse these terms [sun.com] , which you must agree to if you want to post one of their logos on your site.. even if its simply as a supporter of Sun's technology. This stuff is pretty wild..

sorry! ;0) (0)

DAVEO (61670) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689472)

lol oops, wrong thread!

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (3)

dattaway (3088) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689473)

I couldn't have said it better myself. Before the DOJ sued them, a person *could not* buy a personal computer without MSDOS (or IBM's branding of MSDOS) on it. Now that Microsoft has scortched the earth with its monopoly and we are fighting back, it claims there is competition. Was it fair that all the innovative software startups be pushed out and bought out, leaving Microsoft to aquire the remaining marketshare and patent rights?

What does this teach us? If we lie, cheat, and steal to get our wealth, do we have a right to keep it?

What they want? (1)

Slothrup (73029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689474)

Every now and then, I slip into a conspiracy frame of mind and have this thought: What if Microsoft (or at least elements inside of MS) wants to be broken up? The company has clearly hit a wall in terms of the exponential growth of billg's net worth. It's hard to imagine that the stock price can continue to grow at anything approaching the rate of the last few years. But what if Microsoft was broken up? Doesn't this solve several problems at once? The resulting baby bills (bbs) could change their names (reducing the stigma that the MS name increasingly carries). They could focus on profits more tightly, without taking the other bbs into account. They could pare down the amount of infighting that surely occupies significant resources at today's MS. There would be opportunities for downsizing. At least in the short term, Wall Street would probably love it.

But then, I hear things like the Ballmer "Web Office" announcement and realize that no, this is still the same stupid, bandwagon-jumping MS we've come to know and, well, know. It's disheartening to me -- I confess, I'm in that minority of /. readers that actually enjoys quite a few of the MS products -- to see how MS has been reacting to recent "threats" against it. Rather than learn from what's going on, they seem to have chosed to retrench and even to move backwards.

relevance of trial in light of current situation (1)

vyesue (76216) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689475)

back when this whole mircosoft-in-court fiasco started, I was really excited about the prospect of finally seeing a possibility that perhaps microsoft would someday have real competition in the computer marketplace, and that other operating systems and productivity suites might start gaining the market share that microsoft's unfair business tactics were keeping from better software.

now that the trial is over, the entire climate seems to have changed. no longer is NT the only option for people who wear ties to work; more and more frequently, these people are doing research and finding that maybe the microsoft solution wont work as well as other possible solutions. apple isnt currently taking on intel head-to-head in any meaningful way, but they're making some new machines, and with IBM's release of their PPC motherboard specs, it looks like intel might not be the only real game in town for very long.

in short, I dont really even care what the outcome of this trial is. the trial sparked a lot of negative press for microsoft, and I'm glad that happened, because years down the road, that might be the only real consequence of this trial. dont look for the government to break up microsoft, because the legal system is too slow and too full of loopholes for that to happen.

and dont gloat prematurely about the breakup/fall of microsoft. instead be happy that we have made great strides since the start of the trial and hope for more progress in the future.

Unfortunately, MS competition did what MS needed.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689476)

They demonstrated that there is competition.

Check out RHAT's market cap folks - that serious money in anyone's books.

Whether or not it makes a dent in the case, we'll see.

I personally would be satisfied to see Microsoft penalized for heavy-handed dealings with ISPs and PC vendors. As for OS monopoliztion - as long as I don't have to pay for MS products I don't use when I buy a new PC, I'm happy.

And Rob - don't bother with Cryptonomicron - its not worth it.

The register is blatently biased (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689477)

You actually think The Register is unbiased? They're clearly members of the anti-Microsoft FUD spreading camp.

well, not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689478)

Actually, we aren't allowed to install software. The sys admins do that. So far the main complaint has been video cards.

On our regular unix machines, the video cards are (obviously) known to the vendor, so they only have a handful of drivers to write. X86 is a driver nightmare.

So, what typically happens is the card install fails, and they end up running in some ungodly resolution like 320x400. Then they search for help on dejanews, and find something like a four ways to install their video card Xconfigurator, XF86Setup, XF86Config, vi /etc/X11/XF86config.

Of course, two of the people had unsupported video cards, so NONE of this helped.

As far as programming mission critical software goes, I disagree with you. Mission critical software is reviewed from the initial phases to the end, usually line-by-line, so it's actually impossible for incompetent people to trash a mission critical piece of software -- provided a professional design infrastructure is in place.

Funny, I 've never wanted to quit using Linux -- sure, I've struggled with new video cards now and then, but I've never considered stopping using it. The freedom in it is incredible, and the software just keeps getting better.

But it's nowhere near ready for the desktop. The apps are too incoherent, the X86 video driver installation issues justs beat people down.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689479)

So are you saying that RedHat can provide support for $80 but Dell is so incompetent that they must charge 160 ? Even though they don't do the support themselves? (assuming they don't pay MS tax which i don't believe) They pay RH 80 dollars for the right to say official RedHat Linux (and what, don't get any support?) then they add another $80 for administrative overhead. Oh yeah. I'm with ya.

Maybe $50-60 of that extra $80 gets lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks for the anonymous flame anyway.

What FUD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689480)

Do you have any proof of those allegations? Microsoft doesn't libel or slander their competition (although Sun's McNeally and Oracle's Ellison do all the time). Microsoft doesn't withhold bug fixes. And Microsoft doesn't hide APIs for their exclusive use to beat competitors.

If you actually look (and I have) you won't find any proof of these allegations because their isn't any. These paranoid ravings have just been spread repeatedly and pervasively amongst the anti-Microsoft community to the point that some people take them on faith. You're just part of the problem.

Microsoft is where it is today because they make better products and market them better than their competitors. They're just better at the business game. Period. It's not even so much that they're particularly good, but that the competition has been so lousy.

It's ironic that you accuse Microsoft of FUD spreading when that's exactly what you're doing here to them. Actually worse, you're spreading downright lies. Microsoft shouldn't be under attack by the Government. This whole thing is driven by the political interests of the Silicon Valley (home to many an MS competitor) who can't stand to see anybody else come out ahead.

No, everybody doesn't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689481)

EVERYBODY knows that Microsoft used illegal tactics to make absolutely certain that there was no competition in the OS arena,

Oh, so the anti-Microsoft lies have become so pervasive that EVERYBODY just knows that Microsoft is guilty of something or another. No, sorry, I don't know that. In fact, I find no credible evidence against them at all. Real evidence, not UseNET rumors and random hearsay.

and the DOJ has proved this in court

No it hasn't.

Here is a theory for you.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689482)

Redhat stock has been ski high lately, maybe M$ has been buying it up to raise those prices to show RH is a competitor. "See look, even thier stock is comparable" 8)

Sure it has, the Judge just hasn't ruled on it yet (1)

JordanH (75307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689484)

Oh, so the anti-Microsoft lies have become so pervasive that EVERYBODY just knows that Microsoft is guilty of something or another. No, sorry, I don't know that. In fact, I find no credible evidence against them at all. Real evidence, not UseNET rumors and random hearsay.

Specifically, to which anti-Microsoft lie do you refer?

The DOJ filing containing damning Microsoft internal memoranda, the testimony of executives at IBM and Netscape, and the record of faked video demonstrations on the part of Microsoft, is not "UseNET rumors and random hearsay."

EVERYBODY knows what Microsoft was up to. Anonymous Cowards who may well be Microsoft spin machine flacks may be paid to say differently, but everybody knows it.

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (0)

C.Lee (1190) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689486)

>Linux is nothing more than a job protection programme for nerds, who >insist on the idea that every computer user types in stuff like: gcc >-La.out -vi -OMyThing.o -kMyProgram.cpp -1 -2q ...

Really? I pretty much just type "make" myself these days....

Is punishing Microsoft REALLY a Good Thing? (2)

Surak (18578) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689487)

First of all, if Microsoft wins the case, this will be a vindication for Linux! This will mean that yes, Virginia, Linux IS competition for Microsoft. Is that such a bad thing? I don't think so. It means that Linux will actually be viewed as a legitimate alternative to Windows NT by even more people than before. That in and of itself is a Good Thing (tm).

Secondly, Microsoft isn't legally a monopoly in the first place. Lets not change the definition of a monopoly just because we hate Microsoft. A 90% market share alone does not make a monopoly--you have a control entry into the market place, for one. This means that you can block other people from entering the market. Microsoft can't really do that: that can't (and haven't) stopped Linux, Be, etc. from making their own OSes.

And the 90% marketshare applies ONLY to desktops--Windows NT is actually a MINORITY in the server market. Remember, 70% of all Internet servers, for example, are Apache (OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE!) and that means they are running either Unix or one of its various clones. Even in LANs, Novell and Unix beat MS hands down.

Finally, if Microsoft IS punished, this could be a nightmare for the industry. One, it means that the industry will have to be VERY careful about innovations, because they will have to be looking over their shoulders to make sure the DOJ isn't there watching their every move. Declaring the browser as part of the operating system isn't that farfetched--including Netscape on the Caldera distribution for instance, with a Caldera logo on it no less, is practically the same thing.

Look at from a car perspective: if the DOJ says that MS can't bundle IE with Windows, how much of a stretch is it to say DaimlerChrysler or General Motors can't bundle, say, an Infiniti sound system with their cars? Isn't bundling a stereo with a car hurting the aftermarket stereo folks? Afterall, the DOJs main argument is that MS is hurting competition by bundling a Web browser with its OS. The browser may be inferior to the alternatives, but so is the stereo. By all arguements against Microsoft, the fact that it is bundled alone will prevent people from buying someone else's browser. This is also true for the stereo. Most people do not add aftermarket stereos to their new cars. But some people do, particularly those who are knowledgeable about audio and want audio perfection.

Also, if the DOJ breaks up Microsoft, 2 or 3 Baby Bills will be MORE of a nightmare than one Microsoft. Imagine fighting not one, but now THREE Microsofts. No thank you.



Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689490)

You forgot "make clean" and "make install" and whatnot. When compiling a kernel is a 5+ step affair, things are not good.

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (1)

MDX-F1 (87940) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689497)

Linux is well on it's way to being competition though. Right now it is far too difficult for the average user, but obviously it's improving quickly. Just look at what Caldera, Red Hat, and soon Corel have done (or are doing). Linux is not currently direct competition for Windows in the home user market, but that could change in a very short time period. Also, Linux isn't the only potential competition....my favorite darkhorse candidate is BeOS. Of course it's important to note that as of right now, Be and Linux don't exactly have large slices of desktop OS market share, regardless of future potential.

As for regulating Windows as an essential utility, what grounds would there be? Surely the average business user can do all their work just as well on MacOS? I don't mean to sound pro-MS here, but I think we need to consider what course of action best serves the public and the computer industry as a whole. And I'm not sure that basically destroying MS would be the best solution.

Linux IS NOT competition... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689498)

..on the desktop, yet. On the server side, it's pretty good, since anyone installing a server is (usually) competent enough to install linux.

But, where I work, I distributed 5 RedHat 6.0 cd's to my co-employees, and all tried installing it at home. Only one person liked it and was excited by it, and continues to use it.

The other four switched back to Windows 98, citing that Linux was "too hard to setup and use".

The stunning part is that all five have degrees in computer science, and write C/C++ on Unix machines for a living.

Somehow I doubt Linux is much of a threat to Bill Gate's monopoly! At lest not for another couple years.

Also, remember Microsoft is NOT on trial based on what will happen in the future, but their activities in the past. The "future" of the software market probably plays a much smaller role in the Judge's decision than the past and current markets. Besides, isn't NT use still expanding rapidly?

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

Asher- (75364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689499)

Didn't Apple nearly go bankrupt at some point and Bill bailed them out by investing in them so he still had some competition to rely on it court?

Re:More media fun! (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689500)

You seem to be partly confused by Microsoft's position on Linux (and possibly with good cause). Let me summarise it briefly for you:
  • When it is in Microsoft's interests to portray Linux as a threat (for example, when they're desperately looking to claim they don't hold a monopoly), it is a threat.
  • When it is in Microsoft's interests to portray Linux as a joke (for example, when they're desperately looking to convince people to suffer the OS that is NT), it is not a threat.
Hope this helps.

As for Sun's logo-usage terms, they don't seem that unreasonable to me. But then, I've had to wade through *real* legal gibberish to use various bits and pieces of software and graphics, so perhaps I'm biased.

Incidentally, on a not-entirely-related note, when you download software from Sun's website, the license you agree to is displayed in a writeable text-box. Which means you can write your own license, then agree to it. Sun now owe me roughly $3,000,000 for using their software according to the terms of the licenses I've agreed to. :)

Re:Linux IS NOT competition... (1)

Slothrup (73029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689501)


Also, remember Microsoft is NOT on trial based on what will happen in the future, but their activities in the past.

Yes, but if they are found "guilty" (or whatever the appropriate legal term is in this case), then the remedies will depend very much on the judge's perception of what will happen in the future. If he sees a reasonable amount of future competition, the judge will be loathe to break up MS simply as a punitive measure.

The DOJ handles the Linux argument nicely (2)

drig (5119) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689502)

Another /. reader posted a link to the DOJ website here [usdoj.gov] . I think the DOJ is handling the Linux issue nicely.

To recap; MS is arguing that Linux poses a serious threat to Windows, due to RedHat and others.

The DOJ says this doesn't hold water. They quote a number of MS witnesses that all said that Linux isn't currently a threat, but may become one in the future. The DOJ argues that future predictions never have and don't currently make any difference in a trial. The DOJ goes on to say that MS's change of heart contradicts many past sayings by MS, and that their contention is less than honest.

Furthermore, the DOJ points out that MS increased the price of Windows 95, despite the preceived competition, after Windows 98 was released. This points directly to monopoly power.

Re:Which MS is on trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689503)

WHICH MS? The same old MS you know and love. AND THEY'LL BE BACK DAY ONE AFTER THIS TRIAL CONCLUDES. So is MS the monopoly they were before? Let's look at their strongest argument: MS attourney speaking out of court says "hey look at Dell!! They're loading Linux on Pc's We can't be a monopoly"

So fucking what. Does Dell offer customers rebates for choosing Linux? No. In fact, you pay XTRA. Same with Gateway. In other words:

YOU STILL PAY MS TAX

How can it possibly be that a company can exact its fee on a product it has no hand in, except through abuse of its monpoly power?

Don't let the MS-Press fool ya. MS has no competition on the desktop --no not even Linux. And if you are still paying the MS tax today, while they're in court with Uncle Sam with a periscope up their butt, what do you think it will be like tomorrow?

Somebody's going to get taken out to the shed. It won't be Dell but Dell will get the message.

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (1)

ainvy (36615) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689504)

>You only now have competition *because we're suing you*...(etc)

This argument is flawed. If in 18 months one can create reasonable competition and bring down a monopoly, it probably never was one! DOJ will not use this argument and tie itself in knots.

Secondly, it is unjust to say that linux or any other OS somehow became viable because of the DOJ proceedings: the "Justice" dept cannot be saying such things...

Re:One argument the DOJ never seem to make... (2)

Brian Kendig (1959) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689505)

Yes, Microsoft has ticked off Judge Jackson -- but that can work in their favor. If he makes a decision based on his personal feelings towards the witnesses in the trial, or (more importantly) if Microsoft can introduce reasonable cause to believe that he was biased by any personal opinions towards any of the witnesses, this makes it much easier for them to appeal the case. If Judge Jackson had lost his temper with any of the Microsoft witnesses, Microsoft would probably have moved for a mistrial.

What I don't understand is this: Microsoft is basing a large part of their defense on the state of the market today. Aren't they on trial for past misdeeds? It sounds like if Judge Jackson decides the market is healthy today, Microsoft will get off free and clear -- what about all of the predatory business practices they've been exercising for the past ten years?

Guilty verdict, then appeal? (2)

Aleatoric (10021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689506)

It has been argued (quite accurately, IMHO), that the mere fact of the trial has essentially imposed a restriction upon any blatantly anti-competitive practices by Microsoft. As long as they are under the auspices of a trial, and the resulting public scrutiny, they can't make any obvious efforts to quash competition (or perceived competition).

Given some of the gaffes made by Microsoft during the trial, and Judge Jackson's apparent attitude towards MS, there's a pretty good chance that a guilty verdict will be presented, which Microsoft will certainly appeal.

I would say that regardless of the punishment proposed in the event of a guilty verdict, it is the verdict itself (and the resultant appeal) that will provide the best short term protection for competition. An appeal would keep the issue public, and impose the same restrictions on potential anti-competitive behaviour as does the current trial. If we just had a guilty verdict, regardless of the actual punishment, it would very shortly leave MS in the position of being able to engage in more anti-competitive behaviour (at least until a subsequent trial).

Re:Which MS is on trial? (1)

eriko (35554) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689517)

'm not saying Microsoft doesn't still have an unfair advantage, but I'm wondering what time frame this trial is supposed to be considering. Is the question, "Does Microsoft have a monopoly today?" or is it, "Did Microsoft have a monopoly in 1997 (or whenever this thing began)?" They are different questions, and I think we need to know which one is being asked (as does the judge) before making a decision.

The question asked is "Did MS abuse monopoly powers in 1997". You cannot sue for something that *might* happen, and the DOJ is not suing MS for being a monoply-which is not against the law.

The DOJ is suing on the grounds that MS, as a de facto monopoly on the desktop O/S (which it still is today), used that monopoly to leverage other works. So, whether Red Hat in 1999 is a competitor to MS is irrelevant.

This is like saying "Well, I don't bribe cops *now*, so I'm not guilty.

Re:they're guilty... what next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689518)

The Register detestes Microsoft.

Monopoly or just no competition? (3)

sporty (27564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689519)

I know this will be ranked downward since people will no doubtedly see this as pro-MS advocacy and anti-linux FUD, but..

Was there ever real competition? There WAS OS/2 for a brief moment of glory, and DesqView, but as the graphical age came along, Windows won out. Joy, now we have to deal with Windows because it was the 'easiest' thing to use though it wasn't the best.

Linux those days, I remember running it. It wasn't as great and was more of a hobby for me. It wasn't too difficult to install, but if you didn't have the right hardware, you were cooked. That's why I left linux a while back - lack of support for the NCR53c875. *nix caught up in the PC end and look where it is now. It supports LOTS of different hardwares. When I started using X, it had support for about 23-30 video cards. Now it has support for about 500 cards and their minor variants.

MS had no competition, not because MS had such a great upper hand, there was nothing else graphical that existed and was well supported. Not to say that nothing was as great, but Windows was more well known and developed for. Too bad it wasn't great for anything but the home market.

What DID MS have? They had the PC market, but to keep it safe, they performed unfair activities. Of course, they were involved in other unethical buisness practices, such as absorbing the competition. When *nix got as big as it did, MS couldn't do anything to stop it. Who was there to buy? Linus and *bsd.org? Someone else would just continue the projects. PC *nix now more popular than ever, not as easy to use, but works great.

My verdict? Monopoly by virtue, unethical by practice in maintaining the virtue. Unethical in other practices also.

Netscape & AOL (2)

mattdm (1931) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689520)

I always find it amazing when people list AOL's purchase of Netscape as anything other than a clear and crushing Microsoft victory. I mean, this was the company that was supposed to change the landscape of the computing world.

--

How Sun Microsystems is like Johnny Cochran (1)

Slothrup (73029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689521)

As a side note, anyone who thinks Sun is "really cool" and not just another corporate entity that has absurd notions of, well, just about everything, feel free to peruse these terms, which you must agree to if you want to post one of their logos on your site.. even if its simply as a supporter of Sun's technology.

Ultimately, the goal of a publically-held business is to create value for its shareholders, just like the role of a defense attorney is to do everything legally permissible to defend their client. Both happen without regard to truth, aesthetics or the public interest, except to the extent that those things affect the primary goal. Furthermore, in both cases, demonstrable failure to pursue the primary goal, even for "good" reasons, can result in the entity being sued in court for a failure to meet their responsibility. So even if scottm or billg wanted to "do the right thing" (and I believe that neither of them do), their hands are tied by stockholders.

Isn't Sun's "Community License" just an "embrace and extend" of Open Source?

Re:Linux is no competition to Windows (2)

aUser (78754) | more than 14 years ago | (#1689522)

I surely don't want to see Microsoft or Windows disappear or destroyed, and definitely not now, right away, while so many people depend on it to run their computers.

Windows is, in my opinion, an essential utility. Of course, the average business user can do all their work as well on MacOS. However, they have an large investment in "implemented" software on Windows. It's absolutely unfeasible to ask them to move this software, and data (often stored in proprietary formats) to another OS. Everyone will need a sufficient span of time to migrate, when a credible alternative comes along.

APIs, protocols, and data formats have to some extent the similar properties to natural languages. Of course, you can say everything in Spanish. Of course, you don't need English. However, if you spent half your life studying English, and use it every day in running your life, you have a large "implemented investment" in the English language. It will take time and a lot of effort to move to another language.

MacOS is not that much of a solution that addresses these issues. MacOS requires you to invest, not only in proprietary OS, but also in proprietary hardware. I don't think this is an attractive proposition. It's, beyond any doubt, the main reason why PCs beat Apple in the market, in spite of the fact that Apple technology was quite often more advanced and more user-friendly. Most of us were just not interested, whether Apple was better or not, we just saw what Apple was trying to do with their proprietary hardware.
Going from Microsoft to Apple is going in exactly the opposite direction as you should go.

Re:Unfortunately, MS competition did what MS neede (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1689523)

RHAT could easily go to $20/ the day after tomorrow, esp if MS gets off without a breakup.
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