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Evidence Surfaces That MS Violated 2002 Judgement

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the rutroe dept.

Microsoft 204

whoever57 writes "In the Comes Vs. Microsoft case, the plaintiffs believe they have found evidence that Microsoft has failed to fully disclose APIs to competitors. If true, this would mean that Microsoft has violated the 2002 judgement. This information has become available since the plaintiffs have obtained an order allowing them to disclose Microsoft's alleged misbehavior to the DOJ ('appropriate enforcement and compliance authorities')."

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Hm. (5, Insightful)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662128)

So by my reading, they've been given the right to talk to the DoJ about something they have found that may or may not prove that they have broken the law? It'll be interesting to see how this pans out, but I'll be waiting for the next story along in this chain before I start jumping to conclusions.

I'm sure someone else here will do that for me.

Re:Hm. (5, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662378)

Enjoy your lonely stay in the land of reason and restraint.

Re:Hm. (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664202)

I think I'll just practice playing the world's smallest violin for myself while I wait!

Re:Hm. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17663208)

...before I start jumping to conclusions

If only the Jump to Conclusions Mat had made it to market. (sigh)

Re:Hm. (1)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663500)

What I don't understand...why do you need permission to talk to the authorities about a crime? Or isn't this a crime? IANAL , maybe this happens in other places. I just don't understand it.

Re:Hm. (2, Informative)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663696)

Maybe during the discovery, they had to access some documents that are internal and private to the company (*cough* copyrighted *cough*). As such, any use of those documents outside of the court (the very reason for which they were dug up) would be illegal.
      For example, a judge can request you your hand-written journal if you are prosecuted for something, and he thinks this will help to reach a correct verdict. However, the content of your journal can not be used by anybody else, even if it was made public in court.
      Also, there are some things (client data by example) which a corporation is forbidden to publish
(but all of those are just some hand-waving examples)

Re:Hm. (2, Insightful)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663644)

"I'll be waiting for the next story along in this chain before I start jumping to conclusions."

But it's such a good game!

Does this suprise anyone? (2, Insightful)

bernywork (57298) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662160)

A convicted monopolist can't change it's spots overnight, no matter what anyone might think.

Think about it logically, a business that big needs time to change, we are not 10 people sitting in a room here...

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662176)

Whoops...

Preview, not submit.... That should have been:

we are not talking about 10 people sitting in a room here...

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17662326)

...and aA convicted monopolist can't change its spot overnight." :-)

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17662538)

...and "A convicted monopolist can't change its spots overnight." :-)

fixed that for ya

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (4, Interesting)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662182)

A business this big doesn't need time to change - it needs desire to change. With all its (possible) evil implications, European Union seems to give Microsoft a desire to change.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (5, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662240)

It doesn't surprise me, but not for the reasons you might think.

There's a difference between APIs internal to the operating system, and APIs intended to provide a userland interface. If Microsoft userland products are using the internal APIs, then those APIs ought to be released. Otherwise, I don't see the probelem.

I'm no Microsoft apologist, but I'd be interested to see which APIs are being discussed here before I go off on an anti-Microsoft rant.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (4, Informative)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662316)

There are some graphic capabilities (in gdi.exe) that exist only in newer operating systems. Not using them would force one to use (supposedly slower) hand-written functions (by example, filling application areas with a gradient is not available in Windows NT, but is in Windows XP).
      If those functions would really exist, but could be only interfaced to using an "internal" API, then Microsoft products could have faster "on screen" viewing compared to the competition.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1, Offtopic)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662682)

It never ceases to amaze me that an operating system wastes time and resources worrying about gradients on screens.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663132)

Welcome to Windows.
      Well, this was made (I suppose) in order to accelerate the graphic operations (which will run in kernel space, not user space). Or I might be wrong, but Microsoft in known for many places where, between speed and modularity/security/... choose the former.
      I remember I've read about some Microsoft employee bragging (sometime in the 1999-2000) about the way some small function, dependent on lots of things, was implemented: its code was written by hand on the stack, and the program then ran it from there. No wonder that the "run protection" for memory segments (NX for processors) didn't appeared until a couple of years ago, and was implemented no sooner than XP SP2

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (3, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663560)

I don't think its a user vs kernel space thing, more a case of making graphics card acceleration available transparently by providing a dedicated API for it. That said, I doubt that NT4 would have such a hidden API, as it predates the availability of graphics cards with gradient fill acceleration built in, but it was only an example. I can see how in general APIs that were formerly internal might be given external equivalents after someone in the Office team found them useful, but the internal API remained undocumented, leaving Office an advantage in using the feature while maintaining compatibility with older versions of Windows.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (0, Offtopic)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663344)

Oh no! -1 offtopic!

It means the Microsoft Astroturf Unit has infiltrated Slashdot too!

And they got modpoints!

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (2, Informative)

PsychicX (866028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664182)

Disregarding the fact that "gdi.exe" doesn't exist in the NT ancestral line, the new functions are accessible quite easily. Pick up the most recent Platform SDK, and look up the docs. There's a number of defines that activate functions only available in newer versions of Windows. They're not enabled by default so you don't inadvertently make your app not compatible with Win2k, for example.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663144)

I just figuring that the same thing [ercb.com] has happened again, only the victims know what to do next, and will accept this with jaws tightly closed; Lets face it, when China [com.com] sees Bill Gates before G.W., it is painfully obvious who is really in charge. The same result will be that once folks figure out what Microsoft is doing, the followers will adapt, and adopt. And those who follow the Open Source Solution will wonder what the fuss is all about.

"If you are not the lead dog, the scenery does not change much." - Dog Sledding Observation

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663810)

There's a difference between APIs internal to the operating system, and APIs intended to provide a userland interface. If Microsoft userland products are using the internal APIs, then those APIs ought to be released. Otherwise, I don't see the probelem.

I think you're considering this a little too much from the programmer's point of view and not enough from the legal/economic point of view. The real distinction that needs to be determined is which APIs are being used by MS in conjunction with some offering that competes in a separate, existing market. For example, APIs that interoperate with MS's Web browser, virus detection, and allow for communication with their server offerings may be categorized as internal to the operating system, but they provide functionality for bundling and tying from an economic point of view.

...I'd be interested to see which APIs are being discussed here before I go off on an anti-Microsoft rant...

Don't worry, even not knowing what APIs are being discussed we can always go off on anti-microsoft rants on other topics. That's the fun of it, they're doing so many things that are unethical and criminal that there is always something to rant about.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662242)

I would disagree. It's really easy - his royal highness decrees "document all your APIs by EOM, or lose your bonuses and all your options" and you'd be amazed how quickly it'd be done.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (2, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662668)

Yes! Bill Gates was so surprised that he dropped his monocle onto his white cat.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

shotgunsaint (968677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662954)

Now, we all know that Mr. Bigglesworth lost all his fur during the unfreezing process shortly after their return just before the release of 98SE. To pretend otherwise, is just, is just... bogus.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663762)

Well yeah, but now Vista has laser beams strapped to it's window headers, so everyhting evens out.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (2, Funny)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662930)

I am shocked at such news. And here I thought Billy Gates was such a nice young man.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (2, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663598)

"Convicted monopoly abuser". Monopolies aren't inherently illegal.

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (1)

ibm1130 (123012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664130)

Thats like saying a convicted rapist needs time to change. Do we allow the rapist to continue and scale down his activities over time? Hell, no. We do something that makes it impossible to conduct business as usual. I'd be very surprised if the law made provision for convicted monopolists to continue their trade either.
If the allegations can in fact be proved the only real remedy may be to break up Microsoft as was suggested during the original procedings. Require a complete disconnect between the OS and Application arms with heavy monitoring for compliance. Might I suggest the FSF be appointed the monitoring agency. If I were in a vindictive mode I'd also require physical separation between the newly separated parts of M$. Like oh say moving the OS portion to New Jersey and Applications to Arkansas.
And-uh it goes without saying that a provable failure to comply would be an incredibly stoopid(*) move on M$ part.

IBM

( * stoopid = stupid on steroids )

Re:Does this suprise anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664336)

I love people who do this. This is not even comparable to something like raping someone.

You're either a bad troll or an even worse person.

So what will really happen? (0)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662180)

Will they get anything more than a contempt charge?

Re:So what will really happen? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662250)

I don't know, but I suppose if this is found to be true, then some of the antitrust measures could be "resurfaced". It all depends on how the verdict was formulated.

Re:So what will really happen? (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662490)

If history is any indication, they won't even get that... they'll just get ANOTHER judgement against them, and the DoJ will say, "This time, really, please don't do it again."

Re:So what will really happen? (1)

desertrat_it (650209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662630)

but this time, with a Democrat-controlled Congress, things may be different! .. thank you folks, I'll be here all week!

Re:So what will really happen? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17662832)

I'm not sure what the law in the U.S. is but here in the U.K. you can go to jail for contempt.

According to the Office of Fair Trading http://www.oft.gov.uk/ [oft.gov.uk]
"The maximum penalty for contempt of a county court order is two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine"

So a simple way to calculate a fine would be to calculate how much money MS has (including financial assests) and double it, if they don't pay up send the baliffs in.

When they still don't pay up hold them for contempt of that, and then imprison whoever was responsible for a couple of years.

Unfortunaltely the legal system has a problem with coruption. If you have money you are allowed to break laws it would seem.

Still if they laugh at fines, let then laugh at it from inside a prison cell.

I think slashdot agrees with me, the CAPTCHA word is "detain"

Re:So what will really happen? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662858)


Will they get anything more than a contempt charge?


Eh? You think that's nothing do you?

You can do all kinds of ethically questionable things within the law. You can delay justice, you can even thwart it. But the one thing you can't do, the stupidest possible thing to try, is to sashay into a court and spit in the judge's eye. They won't stand for it. Nor will they stand for you doing it to to another judge, even another judge they despise and disagree with.

Defying any court is defying the authority of every court. Judicial power is a judge's basic stock in trade. If you willfuly undermine that, you'll find the judge putting judicial restraint up on the shelf and taking down the can of legal whupass. They don't like doing that. If there is a loophole, if it can be argued to be an honest mistake, maybe they'll turn the screw just one or two turns tighter. But once it becomes clear you think you are beyond the power of the court to restrain, the judge will introduce you to a whole new world of legal pain.

Oh please let it be so.

Re:So what will really happen? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664488)

I'd love to believe this. But I don't recall anything of the sort happening when MS showed a deliberately fabricated video (of Win98 crippled by the removal of IE) in court during the antitrust trial.

Re:So what will really happen? (1)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662948)

There are two kinds of contempt in the US, civil and criminal. Yes, for criminal, you can go to jail.

Re:So what will really happen? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663360)

Microsoft, being a legal entity can be charged with something, but you cannot jail a corporate entity. The veil of incorporation means that it is unlikely that individuals will be charged either.

Fines seem the most likely course of action, and microsoft can either argue about those till it becomes meaningless, or pay up.

Or the Judge could order severe sanctions, like splitting the company into smaller portions so such mistakes are easier to prevent in the future. IBM did this themselves when they got into loads of trouble, and the result was a vast improvement for them in terms of productivity and public image.

Corporate Veils == financial protection, not legal (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664366)

Microsoft, being a legal entity can be charged with something, but you cannot jail a corporate entity. The veil of incorporation means that it is unlikely that individuals will be charged either
Really, I don't know why this keeps being said, as it certainly isn't true. Corporate veils [wikipedia.org] protect against financial liability to creditors, but they're no shield for illegal activity. Do you really think I could buy a get-out-of-jail-free card for the $600 it took me to set up my corporation? Do you really think that the government would grant such a "license to kill" as cheaply and easily as a few forms and less than $1000? Not a bad investment, really.

Slashdot readers seem to be generally anti-corporation, and assign them "powers" that simply don't exist, just so they can point to how "unfair" this particular legal construct is.

So... (5, Interesting)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662236)

If the allegations are true, and it turns out that MS might somehow not be the shining beacon of Justice and Honour that we've come to regard it as (okay, I'll cut the sarcasm now), what is the worst that will happen to MS? And are they really concerned...ever?

I'd rather we skip the monetary fines that are becoming meaningless and go for revocation of patents. Can you imagine if MS had it's patents revoked and switched to a free-for-all? That would be nice... Ah, to dream.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662362)

A punishment must fit the crime is applied to. While the punishment applied by US Justice system might seem unfit for the wrongs of Microsoft before the verdict, revocation of patents is a totally unfit punishment for not publishing an API.
      It is like taking you (assuming you are from USA) the right to vote for a parking ticket in Mexico

Re:So... (4, Interesting)

aaronl (43811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662506)

No, that is really not the same at all. First off, the parking ticket would have occurred in a foreign country, and so you shouldn't be punished for it in the US. Second, the right to vote is guaranteed to all citizens by the US Constitution. A patent is temporary property; the right to vote is a basic right of all citizens.

Revoking MS' patents would be more like issuing a very large fine, and forcing the company to pay it. Oh wait, that punishment might fit *exactly* to the crime! If we revoke any patents related to their violation, and begin to allow the free market to reassert itself, then MS may no longer fall afault of all the anti-trust laws that they are currently ignoring (and violating).

Re:So... (1, Informative)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662846)

That is not necessarily true. Those convicted of a felony can't vote. So restricting voting rights is a punishment of sorts even in the US. This site has some more information by state for loss of voting rights (http://www.righttovote.org/index.asp).

Re:So... (1, Informative)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663056)

The right to vote can be revoked by a court (outside of any other punishment); it can be revoked automatically in some cases, as a bonus to a conviction; or it can be revoked for medical reasons.
      However, the right to vote and a parking ticket you get in a foreign country have as much in common as a patent and the API for an operating system (not much).

Re:So... (0, Offtopic)

vaceituno (665272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663206)

Not all citizens, as far as I know, people serving a sentence can't vote in USA

Re:So... (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663524)

The US has agreements with many out countries where traffic tickets are exchanged. In the US the agreements are mainly at the state level so if you get a ticket in Germany and live in Colorado you may find that Colorado has added points to license. On the good side if you move to Germany they will accept your license of thoses states and not require you to take all the classes for getting a german license.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664060)

the right to vote is guaranteed to all citizens by the US Constitution.
and is revocked when someone is convicted of a felony and sentenced to prision or when someone is convicted of treason.

Now in regards to that can of whoopass the Judge could open, one element that comes to mind is that the judge not only could strip MS of their patents but as they are an American Corporation (granted under Washington Law) he could strip them of their corporate status (Execution) and open Gates/Balmer and the other Senior Excecutives to direct lawsuits for the companies actions. This is called Peircing the Corporate Veil and rarely done but is an option. Of course the benefits of this is that it puts Bills and Balmers personal fortunes and all of their stock value directly at risk meaning something will finally be done as it means hitting those responsible right where it hurts the most, their wallets not MS coffers.

Re:So... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663530)

While the punishment applied by US Justice system might seem unfit for the wrongs of Microsoft before the verdict, revocation of patents is a totally unfit punishment for not publishing an API.

How would it be any more harsh than a 3-strikes law? Microsoft has a lot more strikes than that, shouldn't the punishment be more severe?

Re:So... (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663650)

Good thing I am not a judge, and must not decide what punishment is fit for what crime.

Re:So... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664322)

Good thing I am not a judge, and must not decide what punishment is fit for what crime.

You do see where I'm going with this though, right? We already have plenty of precedent for throwing the book at repeat offenders. Why should companies like Microsoft get a pass when they repeatedly break the law? Slaps on the wrist obviously aren't going to have any effect on a multi-billion dollar company. It only makes sense to make the punishment severe enough to act as a strong deterrent.

Re:So... (1)

anothy (83176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664286)

while i think your example is crummy, you're right that a sentence must fit the crime. of course, the more Microsoft demonstrates the propensity for their applications group to illegally leverage the monopoly of their OS group, the more the original "break 'em up" sentence looks like a reasonable response.

(and i thought it was serious overkill at the time)

Re:So... (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662390)

This patent revocation business might put the spotlight on whether patents (and their current life) are so good.

Re:So... (1, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662448)

what is the worst that will happen to MS? And are they really concerned...ever?

No, they're not concerned at all. They are not human beings running a software business in a very hostile environment (geeks /early adopters/ hate them, antitrust lawsuits flying from everywhere, huge burden of backwards compatibility to a decade of poorly conceived obsolete software, competition implementing features you can't, since you're not "trusted", .. and so on and so on).

They in fact are evil alien creatures from the underworld, wearing long black capes, waving angrily their fists and shouting at the end of every episode "I'll get you next time, EU!!!".

Re:So... (2, Funny)

0232793 (907781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662800)

Actually, the alien species is called Borg [awpi.com]

Re:So... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663616)

No, they're not concerned at all. They are not human beings running a software business in a very hostile environment (geeks /early adopters/ hate them, antitrust lawsuits flying from everywhere, huge burden of backwards compatibility to a decade of poorly conceived obsolete software, competition implementing features you can't, since you're not "trusted", .. and so on and so on).

Oh yes, poor Microsoft. They've only pummeled OEMs, competing software vendors, and consumers into submission with their illegal, anti-competitive tactics for the last couple of decades. Surely we should feel terrible about their self-made problems. I think we should all chip in and buy Bill a cookie basket.

Re:So... (2, Interesting)

gutnor (872759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662720)

Monetary fine proposed by EU were nothing meaningless: 2 Millions EUR per Day just for a start for 1 violation.

Anyway, revocation of patent would further discredit the patent system in the US. Taking a patent is supposed to be a service you gives to the state: you disclose your invention and in exchange you receive a patent and some rights attached to this patent.
Now just imagine the shilling effect on US industry if you could have your patent revoked arbitrarily as a punishment in an *unrelated* crime ...

Also in the current system, revoking patent for a company is not only giving its asset for free, it is opening the company to massive number of patents trials.

Re:So... (1)

Jim_Maryland (718224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662722)

What might be more appropriate is barring Microsoft from participating in government contracts (either as a consultant/contractor or an operating system) until they comply. I know if my employer screws up that is what would happen to them.

See the success in Munich (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663226)

Yes, that would be the best course of action - however, the essence of a monopoly is that you have little other choices.
      Would this be possible? Yes, the Munich city is moving to something else than Windows (details not so important), and is converting from a couple of years, and the complete conversion will take another couple of years maybe

Re:See the success in Munich (1)

Jim_Maryland (718224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663568)

Other choices do exist though, even if not as dominant as Microsoft. A typical desktop setup (basic office applications, browser, etc...) can be replaced with a less popular alternative. The difficult task will be desktops and servers where applications only exist on the MS platform (which as you indicated can take a couple years). The fallout from Microsoft being banned from government contracts would be that other software vendors would start porting their applications to non-Microsoft operating systems. Maybe provisions within the government ban could be to allow for exceptions where a vendor of an application won't port to alternate operating systems or an alternate product for another operating system does not exist. I would just worry that all system administrators would start submitting exceptions for all their systems they manage.

Re:So... (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662736)

They should be forced to call each misdocumented API a billion times on program start-up for every program they publish.

mwahahaha

Re:So... (3, Funny)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662894)

You mean they don't already?

Uh-oh (5, Funny)

TomatoMan (93630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662256)

If this is true, we shall be very angry!

And we shall write a letter, TELLING you how angry we are!

Re:Uh-oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17662794)

And write it with MS Word, of course.

Publicity (1)

erica_ann (910043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662288)

Any publicity is good publicity in Microsoft's eyes.

What will they get this time.. another fine and more time to correct the wrong? It's not like these fines hurt MS..

Re:Publicity (3, Insightful)

govtpiggy (978532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662628)

There is such a thing as bad publicity. Bad publicity is only good publicity if it's getting an unknown name into the news. There isn't anyone reading this who hasn't heard much about that Microsoft-thing.

Re:Publicity (1)

erica_ann (910043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663154)

I wouldn't say that bad pub;licity is only good if it's getting an unknown name into the news... Grand Theft Auto wasn't unknown... nor were Donald Trump or Rosie.. but look at the ratings skyrocket after their never ending trist. Tara Conner.. Miss Nevada... they weren't unknown, but yet bad publicity was good for them... and on and on.

Not ALL Bad Publicity is Good publicity.. but bad publicity IS Publicity.. and somtimes any publicity is good publicity.

Cursed chain (0, Flamebait)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662382)

I'm afraid the way EU "handles" Microsoft is doing us all a major disservice.

1. Microsoft is monopoly since the majority of people use Windows/Office, despite the availability of competition (i.e. not exactly a classical monopoly, despite preinstallations and so on).

2. EU decides Microsoft should be treated completely differently to say, OSX, Solaris, Unix and Linux vendors, by demanding the core of Microsoft's IP is forced in the public domain.

3. Competition advances with features Microsoft can't implement due to "antitrust" (remember the craplets that laptop vendors install on Windows machines?).

4. Microsoft fights to keep their IP private, and employ bigger and bigger army of lawyers and spends more and more resources on workarounds.

5. This and insane fines (2 million/day???) affect the bottom line of Microsoft.

6. Microsoft takes further steps to protect their IP so they can get their lost money back from profits. This further cements Microsoft's market position.

7. Go to 1.

If only they could have waited... (2, Insightful)

danaris (525051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662400)

In two more years, evidence of this might actually get somewhere with the DoJ. However, please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it still entirely controlled by the exact same administration that let Microsoft off in the first place?

Now, if Congress could somehow manage to get involved, that might make some difference...

Dan Aris

Re:If only they could have waited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664270)

Why would we want Congress involved? Haven't they just proven their ineptitude time and time again as far as pretty much everything related to technology goes? They'd probably try to take away some of MS's tubes or something before they'd do anything useful.

this occurred 10 years BEFORE the settlement! (5, Insightful)

ghbyrkit (879348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662502)

Based on a reading of the email offered as 'evidence' of this transgression, it occurred in 1992, 10 years before the settlement! So this is old evidence of a 'transgression' that allegedly occurred before the settlement. It is NOT evidence of a transgression that occurred AFTER the settlement. So it may not be 'new news' by any measure. Nothing to see, just a wookie, keep moving!

API is fully disclose ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17662548)

... because you can get the Windows sources on the Internet ;-)

MS wont change till users change (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662570)

Microsoft's user base is very very large and their technical knowledge varies significantly. Most of them dont know where the OS leaves off and where the applications kick in. They dont know the difference between the browser and MS Office. They are willing to pay whatever MS demands. Under these circumstances MS can get away with anything.

Free markets and specilizations work, when large systems are broken into simpler components, the performance metrics and interface details are specified by a neutral standard that do not play favourites. Does the consumer really know the vicosity vs temperature profile of 10W-40 and 5W-40? They dont know, they dont care. The IC engine manufacturers and the lubricant oil manufacturer know it. All the rest only care about the spec name. Free market takes care of the rest and provides us with the cheapest engine oil taking advantage of all economies of scale etc.

If GM could make its cars accept only GM engine oil and keeps the spec secret and the competition out, it will do it. But it is the consumers who would refuse to buy such cars and force GM to disclose the lubricant requirements for its IC engines. If consumers are willing to buy such "closed" cars from GM, could the courts or the govt do anything to change it? The can try. But they will never be able to reach the same level of efficiency the free market does.

So dont just blame MS, blame the consumers too. All the tech columnists who should be educating the public about these things are talking fluff about the latest and greatest gadgets and widgets in trade shows. Blame them too. Slashdotters who know these things better talk to the other consumers as though they are complete idiots, creating a backlash against nerds/geeks etc. People buy MS blindly because they are not fully informed. Not because they are idiots willing to fork over their money to a large corporation without asking questions. Only educated consumers can break the monopoly. It is our duty to educate them without insulting them.

Re:MS wont change till users change (4, Informative)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662646)

At least in the US, GM could not require GM oil, coolant, or service... not because of consumer demands, but because of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act of 1976.

I'm amazed how many American vehicle owners have never heard of this puppy, y'all should read it sometime. And the next time your new car salesman says anything about the warranty, you'll know where you can tell him to stick his head.

Re:MS wont change till users change (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663102)

Thanks for the nugget of information. Anyway, in the 1950s climate of what-is-good-for-GM-is-good-for-America could the congress have passed a law similar to Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act? Monopoly abuse has to become an issue enough voters cared about, only then the congress will follow. For all that talk about politicians claiming to be "leaders" they are in effect followers. The good ones figure out which way the crowd is heading and get in front of them and "lead" them to wherever they were already going.

Re:MS wont change till users change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664062)

Some of us USERS are FORCED to use MS at work or work-related stuff. For example, I have a dedicated windows box simply so I can do my online timesheet and our corporate training. Often we have NO CHOICE as Windows is the corporate or customer standard.

Some USERS just want to turn the computer on and have it work. They go to Walmart, Best Buy, or Circuit City and get a laptop, plug it in and try to use it. They don't know nor care about the O/S or software, just what came with the machine. They go to these same stores and buy the pretty shrink-wrapped games or tax programs, install them, and just use them (insert CD, click on install, then run the program, no passwords to worry about, no user levels, no additional packages required, no special libraries, nothing beyond clicking on an ICON and answering a few questions). To them the Internet is MSIE, much like to an AOL user 10 years ago, the Internet was AOL. It is often difficult to get them ot use OpenOffice, Gimp, Firefox, etc (often they have NEVER heard of these).

Some kids just want to run their games on their desktop. My daughter wants to access Barbie.com, my son Lego.com, both require flash but the computers I let them use are FC6/x86_64 -- no stable flash for 64-bit Linux yet. Last night, my son asked if I could setup wine and let him run Black and White 2 on his Linux-only box. A quick check (12/24/06) showed that it installed but would not run. What's his choice? It's go to the basement XP box and run it there (with the window-only Canon F50 printer/scanner).

Yes, we need to educate users. However, we need to address some serious shortcomings with open source and Linux (marketing, drivers, applications like tax software, games, etc.).

Title is wrong (4, Informative)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662738)

Actually, if any Slashdot "Editors" read the actual document, you'd see that the document is actually favorable, and says that MS is making good headway with documenting and hand-holding their competitors. The document says that MS has somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 people working to get this documentation done, and that there have been no substantive complaints about MS's compliance.

Read The Fucking Article, Slashdot editors.

Title is completely correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664144)

Typical ninenine pro-Microsoft cock-sucking.


The title is correct, the plaintiffs in the case have submitted a request to reveal the evidence they have that Microsoft violated the 2002 judgement.

Re:Title is wrong (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664398)

Look here sir...

If people read articles before posting headlines and summaries which could be considered volatile and flame inducing where would we be as a proper MS hating, Apple and Llinux loving society?

Please.. take your petty reason and logic and peddle them somewhere else, we have no need for those services here.

If it weren't Microsoft...? (0, Troll)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662798)

So, Microsoft is very evil. Ok. I've wondered though, if it weren't for Microsoft, would the world be a better place for IT?

We all agree one major platform is better than many wildly different platforms right? One processor architecture (x86) is better than four completely different, and one computer platform (PC) is better than many (even Apple understood that.. and effectively sells shiny PC-s loaded with OSX right now).

So one major OS is better. But Microsoft sucks, so which one.

I hope it won't be *nix if-I-can-do-it-so-can-my-grandma, or especially Linux its-only-kernel-but-pick-one-of-the-500-distros.

Given Apple's attitude to keeps things locked and proprietary (and dumbed down), I hope it won't be OSX either (can you imagine being FORCED to buy Apple hardware? No competition for OSX hardware? bad.. bad).

Maybe we'd all run on FreeDOS, or AmigaOS4.. I don't know...

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (4, Insightful)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663004)

We all agree one major platform is better than many wildly different platforms right?
I don't
One processor architecture (x86) is better than four completely different
I disagree
and one computer platform (PC) is better than many (even Apple understood that.. and effectively sells shiny PC-s loaded with OSX right now)
I don't agree here either.
So one major OS is better. But Microsoft sucks, so which one.
No, having interoperability and standards is better than one major OS in my opinion.
Maybe we'd all run on FreeDOS, or AmigaOS4.. I don't know...
Might want to think about a bit less inactive projects.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1, Informative)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663204)

We all agree one major platform is better than many wildly different platforms right?

I don't

        One processor architecture (x86) is better than four completely different

I disagree

        and one computer platform (PC) is better than many (even Apple understood that.. and effectively sells shiny PC-s loaded with OSX right now)

I don't agree here either.


You will, if you have to develop software targeting multiple OS/CPU vs one (and I don't mean making a web page in Python or PHP, but actual programming, say C++).

No, having interoperability and standards is better than one major OS in my opinion.

Have you heard of why "design by committee" is bad? It's slow? It's the least common denominator of all benefits? The option that won't "offend" anyone?

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663492)

Lots of software written for Linux is able to be run on OpenBSD - by using the so-called ports. Also, for the same architecture, you could run the so-called "binary emulation" with near native efficiency.
      NetBSD (just the operating system) runs on tons of computer architectures. As such, having multiple architectures is certainly possible.
      Games are written for all the three major consoles - and there aren't many similarities between each other.

      Other things - the AMD connection from microprocessor to chipset is derivated from Alpha architecture. Inside, the Intel processors are about as much RISC as their old competitors (Alpha, MIPS). x86 - however good it is - don't have anything in the very low power arena (even the very low power Via processors can't run without a heat sink).

      Having a different server architecture (while running software compatible to Intel microarchitecture) helped AMD from about 0% market share in server processors to some 20% (I think). Having Transmeta Crusoe as a competitor maybe motivated Intel to go for a low power, high performance laptop processor (the Pentium M).

  Interoperability and standards... POSIX seem to work some (even Windows NT was marketed as having POSIX compliance). OpenGL works again. Binary compatibility between operating systems works too (Linux compatibility exists in OpenBSD, Sun, ...). The X Windowing system seems a standard in Unix world.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663554)

You will, if you have to develop software targeting multiple OS/CPU vs one (and I don't mean making a web page in Python or PHP, but actual programming, say C++).

Well I'm developing code for a gumstix (400mhz Intel X-scale processor bassed on the ARM architecture, no FPU),
and I can write all my code for my laptop(x86), then just cross compile it and it works exactly the same.
Why is that? ohhhh, yea they are both running Linux. so that covers your multiple CPU problem.

Then we look at the multiple os problem...I mean if you have never heard of Java or QT, then I guess this would sound like a huge problem.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663804)

I mean if you have never heard of Java or QT

You're claiming Java and QT are generic solution to the multi-OS problem (I wonder: what IF you're the one writing the JRE... but that's another topic)

Oh my god, what is Adobe doing! They spent so much resources to port that port Flash to Linux properly, while they could've just used Java or QT!?

And all their other software! And Mac software, why isn't it all written in Java so we poor Windows users can run it?

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663422)

No, having interoperability and standards is better than one major OS in my opinion.

Well, in your Fairy Dream Land, every OS works together and we all hold hands and sing together. The reality is that this has never happened, and if you were around during the birth of PC's in the 80's, you'd remember the nightmare of having several different platforms to develop for.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664312)

It may not have happened yet, but it is happening. In the 80's, there were several platforms to develop for, but the cross platform libraries and standards weren't nearly as well developed. Today, there are numerous libraries out there that allow code to either be run directly on different platforms (Java, Python, Perl), or easily compiled for different platforms (QT, GTK+). There are already numerous products that are released on a variety of platforms. Most of the software I use on Linux can simply be compiled for a different CPU architecture, or can be compiled against Cygwin libraries to run on Windows (if not just compiled for Windows). Computers are also cooperating better than they ever have before, as the SMB standard becomes used on Linux and OSX, as well as Windows, and the web begins to replace some past applications.

I don't know what your major objection is to interoperability and standards as opposed to one OS, but to me it seems desirable, and while we've got a ways to go yet, it doesn't seem unachievable.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663550)

"We all agree one major platform is better than many wildly different platforms right?"

No. For the same reason that one species of banana is bad news. How about potato blight? Oh, biology. Doesn't have anything to do with computers. While in biology, a monoculture is a bad thing and means that a simple virus can drop a culture into famine and poverty, that simply doesn't happen in the world of computing.......oh wait.

Different code bases implementing fully documented standards is the only way we will get through all this. One company should not control everything regardless of how hard they work to make their code secure. In the end the computers will either have to be complete black boxes with no user modifiable features or there will need to be multiple implementations from different sources to avoid a catastrophic single point failure.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663768)

So one major OS is better. But Microsoft sucks, so which one.

You're misunderstanding the reason that MS is considered evil. As much as people may dislike their OS and software, their business tactics are the real problem. The DOJ had them dead to rights during the last trial. MS execs had been caught lying on multiple occasions. They had destroyed evidence. Their expert witnesses often ended up looking like fools. Everything was going great for the DOJ. Then Bush got elected and the DOJ folded and settled with MS. So Microsoft basically got away with years of illegal tactics and abuse. That's why we should come down hard on them anytime they step out of line. Maybe in another year or so we'll have a government willing to do that.

Re:If it weren't Microsoft...? (0)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663916)

"We all agree one major platform is better than many wildly different platforms right? One processor architecture (x86) is better than four completely different, and one computer platform (PC) is better than many (even Apple understood that.. and effectively sells shiny PC-s loaded with OSX right now)."

I don't agree with that at all. It does have one merit: cost of production should be lower. Personally, I think having wildly different platforms is the way to go. If some hardware manufacturer creates a new architecture, they should publish the hardware interfaces, let the software writers write a layer of code to interface with it. Instead of basing the entire project around that architecture, abstracting that layer, and writing generic code at higher level layers is the way to go. Largely, this IS what is done nowadays, but incompletely, and hence imperfectly. Having wildly different architectures would force better abstraction, and improve program design. Code would then be more responsive to changes in hardware technology, and software developments could more readily demonstrate needed changes in hardware design.

As well, having different platforms makes sense due to different use requirements. There are many real world uses that make an Intel platform, or whatever, less than ideal. Having hardware available which suits the intended use cuts out needless hardware bloat. If my device only needs an 8-bit math-processor, I don't need all the bells and whistles (including energy use, size, and unit cost) associated with a more all purpose solution. (This would still apply, though less so, if we are simply talking about desktops.)

The same goes for homogenization of the OS.

That's obvious... (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17662864)

Given that if you buy a product, you don't even get to see all the API hooks you can use with the product. Why would they give it to their competitors when they won't even give all the API stuff to customers that paid for it?

Democrats (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17663070)


Let's see if the democrats jump on this or was it all just hot air.

Groklaw eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17663110)

So how much of this is really true?

Ever since the hysteria of the Freespire debacle (PJ directly accused the Linspire CEO of hiring astroturfers to invade her forum and was deleting all comments that weren't rabidly anti-Linspire), I just can't see PJ and Groklaw as I did previously. The groupthink and zealotry was a bit of a wake-up call to myself and my own prejudices.

While I still think PJ and Co. have done tremendously well in the SCO case, I take their analysis with a rather large pinch of salt. I hope they're right in this case, though (there's those prejudices again).

So? (1, Funny)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663290)

Don't be lazy and do you own code. Do it better than the MS API that they are using. Oh, no, I forgot, it's easier to cry foul!

And I don't care if you mod me down for this. Cry babies.

Then get done for patent infringemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17663794)

or look and feel
or methods and concepts
or even an ACCUSATION of copying "because how could you have the same bugs if you didn't copy the software" (see OOXML for an example of why: you are required to run bug-for-bug compatible. Same with Win32 and CIFS/SMB).

Tit.

Four words (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17663340)

Four words: revocation of corporate charter.

This is something that needs to start happening a lot if we ever want to reduce the problem of corrupt business damaging society.

Re:Four words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17663586)

Yeah, let's go after the best company in the world when we could be going after real corrupt businesses like Haliburton, Exxon/Mobile, etc...

4 more words (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664296)

Have Billions, Will Travel.

The Solution (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664452)

This is a little more general and less about this particular instance of abuse but... Does anyone here have any confidence that MS will stop breaking the law unless the courts effectively intervene? Does anyone here think that MS's huge contributions to the political campaigns of those corrupt people in charge of enforcing said laws will be able to prevent them from being effectively punished for a given abuse? Does anyone think the courts can act quickly enough so that they stop all the existing players in a market from being destroyed?

The courts are slow as molasses when lots of high priced lawyers get involved. The justice department is directed by corrupt politicians who will do anything they can get away with for money. MS has piles of money. As a result MS can break the law and suffer little or no repercussions. Sure they pay a fine here and settle a lawsuit there, but at nowhere near an expense equalling the amount of money they make from their crimes. They built their business model upon the assumption that breaking the law and then buying their way out of it would be more profitable than obeying the law, and they've been 100% correct.

I don't think it will ever be possible for a bureaucracy like most governments to deal with MS on a micro-managing level. The only way to repair the destroyed markets and make sure MS does not have motivation to commit more crimes is to break their business model for them. The best way I can see to do this is the classic way, destroy their monopoly by breaking them into competing factions. You can't abuse a monopoly if you don't have one.

Here is what I think would work. Assign all intellectual property, copyrights, and patents relating to Windows to two new companies MS-A and MS-B. Split the workforce and financial resources between them. Investors get a stock split. Now you have two companies both of whom can sell Windows and make changes to Windows and both of whom have some of the manpower needed to do that. Forbid the two companies from any non-public communication with one another. Every single MS lock-in is instantly destroyed. Dell can buy Windows from MS-A or MS-B and can take bids from both. Dell can also choose based upon competition on features. Windows A now has improved graphics performance for OpenGL and DirectX and is great for gamers. Windows B, however, concentrated on developing the best anti-virus and security solution possible mitigating almost all malware without the user ever doing a thing. Dell can buy either version or both for different customers, but they have a choice. Both new companies are actually motivated to deliver what they think customers want, instead of anti-features that provide MS with what MS wants and ignores the customers under the assumption that they will have to buy from MS.

Windows fans will get a temporary slowdown in development during the reorganization, then a huge boom in development as the new companies streamline and invest in giving users what they want in order to compete with the other new MS. People who think bundling is critical to innovation can likewise be happy, since both new companies are now free to bundle anything and everything they want, as that does not lock anyone in.

Both new companies are motivated to provide interoperability and play nice with others to a much greater extent since they will be trying to win customers from one another. Application developers will no longer be motivated to write non-portable code and thus applications that run on many platforms will become more common. Java VM applications, for example will get a lot better and a lot more common. All of this will make Linux distributions, OS X, and other OS players more viable and more likely to be adopted. Apple will probably be forced to de-couple their OS and hardware in order to compete and will no longer be assured of destruction from monopoly abuse if they take that action. Users and OEMs will have choices and investment in the OS market will skyrocket with accompanying rapid improvements in the state of the art.

It is a great pipe dream. If we could just keep MS's money from bribing politicians for long enough to get the courts to act decisively we could all have a healthy, competitive OS market, and all the benefits of low prices and rapid innovation that would entail. It's too bad the US government is so corrupt and foreign governments are too concerned with maintaining good relations. The market will stagnate for another decade or so at this rate, with the current, glacial rate of improvement. Hell, most people still don't have the ability to use a spell checker globally and this has not been perfected on any OS I've seen. How bloody basic is that feature? Those of us who are passionate about this field have to shake our heads sadly as greed gets in the way of progress, instead of motivates it as it would in a competitive market.

Stop or I will yell stop again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17664596)

I expect the penalty for their actions is in my subject line.

Can Microsoft be accused of anti-trust against... (1)

Ice.Saoshyant (993846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17664614)

...other media formats, namely those of Xiph.Org (FLAC, Vorbis, Speex, Theora, etc)? I mean, they have competiting products in the form of WMV and WMA, and their Janus DRM specification explicitely required devices not to support Ogg Vorbis until recently. They aren't going to provide support for any of the free software audio/video formats any time soon, neither in Windows, Media Center, Xbox or Zune. And Apple's pretty much in the same boat with iPod and Mac OS X. I wonder, can an anti-trust case be held against those two companies in either Europe or USA? And if so, how does the average joe turns the attention of (say) DOJ to this issue?
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