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Microsoft Settles Iowa Antitrust Case

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the everyone-loves-to-hate dept.

Microsoft 198

ForestRangerBob writes "Comes v. Microsoft is over after Microsoft agreed to a settlement. The class action lawsuit alleged that Iowa consumers had been overcharged for Microsoft products for a decade owing to Microsoft's monopoly of the market. Predictably, the lawyers are about to get a big payday and 'the software giant will certainly be on the hook for millions of dollars, some of which may end up helping Iowa school kids. Average consumers will probably end up with a few bucks or a coupon for a free operating system upgrade, but the real winners will no doubt be the lawyers — the team prosecuting the case has already earned $60 million in legal fees from a 2004 case in Minnesota that charged Microsoft with similar offenses.'"

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documents on iowaconsumercase.org gone (4, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18014958)

When I first tried to read the comments, I got /.'s familiar "nothing to see here..." message, which also describes the site that hosted the documents from the Iowa case. Going to the site hosting the documents [iowaconsumercase.org] now results in a login request.

Re:documents on iowaconsumercase.org gone (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015340)

I see that google caches [google.com] of some of it are still available. I couldn't find anything at archive.org though on the WBM [archive.org] .

A quick glance at Groklaw shows more links to the Iowa site then copies of the docs. What a shame the public record gets so quickly covered up once the money starts changing hands.

Re:documents on iowaconsumercase.org gone (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18015570)

I used wget to take a mirrored copy of the entire site about two weeks ago so some of it could be available then. If someone could advise me regarding the legal side of making it public, then I will make it public. Please send advice to iowaconsumercase@dodgeit.com

Re:documents on iowaconsumercase.org gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016290)

Most of the site consisted of public court documents,
those should be fine. It's the other stuff that made
up the site that you would be violating copyright on.

Re:documents on iowaconsumercase.org gone (1)

inf4m0usB (991305) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015754)

I managed to download the whole (except the vid streams) site (2.59 GB) the day I read about the case here.

Torrent desperately needed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18015848)

We desperately need this up on bittorrent. Please do it if you can or ask for help if you can't.

Re:documents on iowaconsumercase.org gone (1)

oldgeezer1954 (706420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016066)

I've got the streams for Gates deposition except for one corrupt file... If there's interest I'll put them out on a torrent.

Of course we're want. Why sadism? Instructions: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016318)

Why is everybody posting "I have them... I might post them if you are interested".. do you want us to beg or what??

Just in case you don't know how to make a torrent, here's a guide for windows.

http://www.bittorrent.com/guide.html [bittorrent.com]

download link if you don't have it

http://www.bittorrent.com/download.html [bittorrent.com]

If you have linux, e.g. Fedora, then it's installed by default and should be even easier.

You're kidding, right? (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18014962)

Average consumers will probably end up with a few bucks or a coupon for a free operating system upgrade

      No, that's worth WAAAAAY too much. The consumers will get a free Microsft Vista (tm) mousepad.

Re:You're kidding, right? (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015046)

Oh, they'll get a free Vista upgrade alright...

Re:You're kidding, right? (4, Insightful)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015372)

Average consumers won't even hear about this. Just like in the California settlement, I don't know anyone who actually filed. Two people I know started the process and were intimidated by the paperwork because they didn't have receipts for computers they bought years before and were afraid of being audited. (They both had legitimately purchased copies of eligible MS products.)

Hopefully the money that doesn't go to the lawyers will at least go to schools or something.

Re:You're kidding, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016016)

There is a similar settlement in NY Microsoft NY Settlement [microsoftn...lement.com] worth $10 an OS and $5 a copy of Office. Extra money goes to the kids.

Laywers are the winners (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015022)

Well duh.. even the losing side's laywers get paid well.

Re:Laywers are the winners (2, Insightful)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015506)

Yeah, I love how the article makes it sounds like lawyers don't almost always work for winning case payouts. I'm sure lawyers would love if retainer fees could pay for running an independent business, but that's simply not the case.

If people are anti-lawyer, they should stop suing people. But then other people would have to stop trying to break the law. <sigh>

Re:Laywers are the winners (2, Interesting)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015714)

Well duh.. even the losing side's laywers get paid well.

The problem is that MS is a little upset that it cost them some of their beloved cash, but they shake it off and think of this as the cost of doing business. They are like everyone else, they don't want to pay for utilities, taxes, or whatever, but its just the cost of doing what you do.

What I want is a real judgement or change from these cases, not a glorified parking ticket. What is going to change from this? Nada.

What is microsoft a monopoly on? A poorly implemented, poorly documented, closed source, closed API "standard" operating system where the only people who know the standard is MS.

From what I understand, cifs was opened up (don't know the details here, but that is what I understand), but that is only the tip of the iceburg of MS's embrace and extend vendor lockin thing.

UNIX/Linux has POSIX, IEEE specs, open source, rfcs, and all this. Heck, Microsoft had its own version of UNIX back in the day, and it was pretty decent. But the fact is that we don't want BSODs, we don't want viruses, we don't want to be yelled at by paperclips, we don't want to have the tray yell at us or telling us we have too many icons on our desktop, we don't want crappy browsers pushed on us, we don't want 99% of what MS gives us, we want something that runs our applications on our hardware, and something that "just works".

I say its time for MS to be forced to publish their "standards" and APIs.

I disagree (2, Interesting)

rajafarian (49150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016008)

I say its time for MS to be forced to publish their "standards" and APIs.

I disagree. I think that Microsoft has to be stopped from using anti-competitive tactics in their way of doing business and the rest will take care of itself. Let them keep their junk, closed source, buggy operating system.

I say one set of prices for EVERYONE published publicly with no contract tie-ins to any other MS or competing product coming into the equation will take care of everything!

The system works! (3, Funny)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015034)

Not...

Almost makes me wish I was a lawyer. Almost.

Re:The system works! (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015478)

in fact, it seems there is more money to be made in the good ole' USA by SUING for IP than actually INVENTING IP.

if some kid in college asked me if he should go into law or engineering, I know what I'd say.

(up until the point where lawyers are OUTSOURCED. now wouldn't that be a nice bit of irony? don't laugh - I bet this move is on its way over the next decade and so lawyers will be 'out of work' just like many of my fellow engineers in the USA are).

and I do like that comment, a few above this one, that says the lawyers should be paid in the same form as the consumers. lol! what a great stipulation. closer to real justice, too. of course that would mean they would not even WANT to spend time on the suit.

wow (5, Funny)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015066)

A coupon so Microsoft can increase sales of more copies of windows.

Boy, that sure showed Microsoft.

Re:wow (2, Insightful)

KKlaus (1012919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015902)

That's actually more insightful than funny, in my opinion. If I buy a laptop that burns my house down, you think I really want store credit? The worst thing is that I suspect it's actually profitable for the "losing" company when coupons are forced. Customers are drawn back to someone they never would have bought from again because bargains are attractive. Some punishment.

Makes You Wonder (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015072)

I have no grudge against most legal professionals, but what a huge waste of time and money. Rules should be enforced to prevent wrong doing rather than punishing for it. MS throwing a huge amount of money into a settlement does very little to help anyone and does no more to rectify a wrong (prehaps less) than jailing a murderer.

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015180)

You expect Justice? ....Lawyers... Microsoft...did I somehow miss another player here?

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015282)

No, you're right and that is exactly my point. It isn't justice, and could never have been justice..
Besides, I'll conceed the point that there's no money in provention, except for the money left in "people's" pockets, everone knows how well the capitalism machine works for "people".

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015554)

Rules should be enforced to prevent wrong doing rather than punishing for it. MS throwing a huge amount of money into a settlement does very little to help anyone and does no more to rectify a wrong (prehaps less) than jailing a murderer.


How on earth are you going to "enforce rules to prevent wrong" without using punishment methods? You don't execute or jail a murderer in order to resurrect the people he killed; you execute/imprison him so that 1. he's unable to kill any more and 2. others are less likely to murder because they don't want to be imprisoned/executed.

The problem here is that the criminal can shrug off the penalty. If they fined MS, say, ten billion dollars that had to be paid in cash (not worthless coupons), it WOULD have an effect on the company's future behavior because they would have to straighten up or die (which would leave them unable to commit further crimes).

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015826)

Imprisonment of a murderer is 'enforcing rules to prevent wrong [doing]' since, though it doesn't correct for the issues before, it prevents wrong from them doing it again. In the case of Microsoft, they have grown large enough that the punishments written into law are not sufficient in size to hamper them, and do not serve as a deterrent. In a case like this, they need to seek a non-monetary remedy that seeks to prevent future occurrences, much like putting a murderer in jail.

The Judicial system in the US is badly flawed for this notion. There is no notion of preventing repeat offenses, simply punishment for past acts done. If you just don't care, then the punishment will never be a deterrent, and you work that much harder not to be caught.

A lot of flaws in the legal system. Justice isn't, in most cases.

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015986)

I agree, but that kind of punishment just isn't going to be applied. At this point we're looking at damage done almost a decade ago, which is part of the problem. Sadly, I can't see a clear way that any branch of gov't could have stepped in before 2000 to help fix this before the situation really got out of hand. Now it will take years more, if ever, for the market to really open up to MS alternatives. In the case of software, I think things like open standards backed by governments will help prevent these problems, but we obviously can't have some body explicitly running all the market places (like we have seen with Communism).

Re:Makes You Wonder (3, Funny)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015668)

I've been running for president under the "common sense" party for years. I can solve ALL problems with simple common sense. For example crime: As you say, it is better to PREVENT the crime. So simple common sense says to put people in jail BEFORE they commit the crime. Gosh how easy was that! I'm for the death penalty too. We should execute people before they can murder someone. Prevention, that's the way to go.

I have other common sense solutions to all the other problems too.

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015820)

Meh, you're making a straw man argument by vastly oversimplified solution. I didn't say it was going to be easy, but nothing is every accomplished unless you try. The legal/justice system is by far not the only way to prevent the problems in society, it's just the most obvious (an likely vastly overused one). Unfortunately, it's hard to say whether any other solutions have been successful (and how much) where the justice system seems to have failed.

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

sjlumme (719239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015896)

That's not always true. If the rules for when you do and do not get punished for wrongdoing are clear and the courts predictable and reliable (big if!), then punishing people after the fact for wrongdoing is a way of preventing wrongdoing. After all, if a you know that your wrongdoing will cost you money in the end, you'd be stupid to do it. (Unless, of course, the fines or damages aren't set high enough.)

For instance, the government can prohibit all the things that might cause traffic accidents, like talking with passengers, not being well rested, talking on cell phones, fiddling with the radio, and so on. It's enormously expensive to enforce those rules, and people will only stick to them if you do actually enforce them a lot. You need lots of police to patrol the streets all the time, and everybody has an incentive to be as uncooperative with them as they can.

On the other hand, if you just make people liable for crashing into each other, you only need to enforce that law in cases where it's very obvious that a crash happened, and you don't need oodles of police patrols just to check whether people are using cell phones. And moreover, you have victims of accidents who voluntarily are going to put time, money, and effort into prosecuting the cases, so you barely need to involve a police force at all. But best of all, just the threat of having to pay (or of losing eligibility for cheap insurance) will prevent people from driving recklessly in the first place.

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016046)

The problem is that people will always make some poor decisions, regardless of the consequences. There's a very fine balance between making the rules too fine or too broad and the line will always be a moving target :-(

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015944)

I have no grudge against most legal professionals, but what a huge waste of time and money. Rules should be enforced to prevent wrong doing rather than punishing for it.

Well, if there were no consequences for vilating the rules, WTF would be the value of the rule? It would be a complete joke -- "you're not allowed to do this", "oh, darn you to heck, you did it again".

The whole point about rules (ie laws) is there is presumed to be an or else part of it. Once someone has broken the rules, you need to punish it. Now, this time it was a reltively light slap for Microsoft. If they break the rule again, the level of the punishment will go up.

Is this really an alien concept?

Cheers

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016116)

I don't disagree. I really should have argued that in my opinion, the system leans to far towards punishment (specifically punishment long after the fact), than prevention (punishment much closer to the offence and continual efforts to discourage offences before they happen). Obviously, saying it is much easier than doing it.

Re:Makes You Wonder (1)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016442)

Rules should be enforced to prevent wrong doing rather than punishing for it.

Is this a joke? Is there to be some enforcement organization responsible for scrutinizing every activity in order to prevent a misdeed before it occurs? How far do you want Big Brother to go in order to prevent wrongdoing?

Bet the states are licking their chops now (1)

fishyfool (854019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015088)

with Vista Ultimate pegged at 399.99. talk about overcharging.

Re:Bet the states are licking their chops now (3, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015186)

But... but... it's the ultimate. No price is too high!

Re:Bet the states are licking their chops now (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016590)

Oh, I dunno. $640K should be enough for anyone.

Re:Bet the states are licking their chops now (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015362)

Personally I'd only pay that much for the eXtreme eDition! Ultimate. A kids toy I tell you...

Re:Bet the states are licking their chops now (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015476)

Hah. The eXtreme eDition pales in comparison to the Home Equity Loan edition... That one even includes Microsoft Tax Manager that automatically redirects your income tax refunds to Redmond!

Doesn't Qualify (2, Informative)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015452)

"Bet the states are licking their chops now... with Vista Ultimate pegged at 399.99. talk about overcharging."

I doubt it would qualify. After all, there are three editions below it, each of which will successfully run the vast majority of Vista-compatible products. In no way are you forced to buy the top of the line. You'd have to argue they are overcharging for the "core" or basic product. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. That's a different question.

Payoff to the Lawyers (5, Funny)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015116)

To be fair, the lawyers should have to take their cut in coupons for Microsoft products, just like everyone else will.

Re:Payoff to the Lawyers (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015888)

Yeah, I'm sure they'll go along with that -- right after you pry their check-endorsing pens out of their cold, dead hands.

what's this noise? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18015130)

why do you people act like this is a big deal when today's google graphic for valentine's day is clearly lacking the "l"?

for god's sake, wake up!

Re:what's this noise? (0, Offtopic)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015228)

No, it's chocolate!

The graphic clearly says "gooie" with the strawberry and chocolate being the "i"

Now, I can finally get a google No-Prize.

Bias against lawyers? (2, Funny)

Biff98 (633281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015150)

NAH! That's objective reporting at it's best. NO bias at ALL!

And the truth.. (1, Informative)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015178)

but the real winners will no doubt be the lawyers

Isn't this always the case? I hate these lawsuits because the rich fat-cat lawyers make out and the real people that deserve something get like $10. No sh*t M$ is settling. They have to pay millions of dollars for thousands of dollars in product just because the lawyers litigated the case at 500 per hour. It just sucks, all the people involved as plaintiffs that essentially allow those blood suckers to make millions should get some sort of profit sharing, not just their $10 cut. And don't bitch about the actual cost of doing the litigation, because that is BS and you know it!

Re:And the truth.. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015290)

And don't bitch about the actual cost of doing the litigation, because that is BS and you know it!

Do you have some understanding of litigation costs that you want to share with us? Are you speaking from personal knowledge?

Re:And the truth.. (1)

mrbbad (1059772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015302)

no! litigation is hard work, it involves setting dates and times... stamps sometimes... pens... chair... then talking to the other side... uhm... It is hard work comparable to the guy that cleans port-a-potties and builds bridges! Now realistically, sometimes hard work can go into these things for certain cases. But in this case, I *really* doubt the lawyers were losing their homes or anything trying to fight the 'big evil corporation.'

Re:And the truth.. (1)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015366)

Not to defend the amount lawyers make, because it does seem a bit much, but isn't it also logical that a large group of people would go to law school, charge less, and take away an enormous amount of business? Even $10 an hour would make a large difference in big litigation. Maybe the market isn't clear, but there are market forces at work, even in litigation.

Re:And the truth.. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015490)

It's the same principle as how neurosurgeons can charge a lot of money. If the issue is important enough, you want to hire the best, not just anybody with a JD and bar membership.

Re:And the truth.. (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015486)

Where's Erin Brockovich when we need her?

But seriously thats how these things SHOULD work, lawyers getting a few millions sure, but people actually getting what they deserve as well.

Class action lawsuits: welfare for lawyers (5, Informative)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015252)

Class action lawsuits are one of the most mis-used legal tactics in the country. Look at ANY class action lawsuit against ANY company. The 'remedy' afforded to consumers is on the same level as a few bucks in rebates: Most people don't bother with jumping through the hoops (and be sure and include the SKU from the inner flap of the outer box you just threw away and a certified copy of your birth certificate) and the companies know this. They don't amount to anything anyway. It's just an accountng trick. But the lawyers, oh, my goodness. Millions of dollars to the law firms for "all their hard work." What a crock. The kids of Iowa will see nothing tangible. /rant

Re:Class action lawsuits: welfare for lawyers (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015450)

Look at ANY class action lawsuit against ANY company. The 'remedy' afforded to consumers is on the same level as a few bucks in rebates

Ok, you completely misunderstand what a class action is. It is not limited exclusively to consumers, or especially large numbers--you can have a class action on behalf of just a few people. And there have been plenty of class actions where class plaintiffs each recovered significant amounts of money. Just because something hasn't been reported on slashdot doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Re:Class action lawsuits: welfare for lawyers (3, Insightful)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015488)

Here's the thing. Our market uses a capitalist market structure, so the firms that make the most money beat the other firms. Put another way, if there is a way to make more money, the contentious executive who is thinking of his shareholders will make the money (most MBA graduates say that the maximizing shareholder value is the primary focus of an employee).

In light of this, when someone does something counter competitive, just taking money away from them helps quite a bit. Now we can argue about where it should go, but this is better than the other options (leaving the money with the company that swindled the consumer). Put another way, if one company starts to swindle and nothing happens, all competitors will either start to do the same or go out of business. Class action lawsuits provide some protection against that and are an overall boon for the consumer in net, if not in effect per lawsuit.

then opt out of the settlement (1)

kansas1051 (720008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015800)

If you are so bothered by having someone represent you for free, you should just opt out of the class action settlement and file suit yourself. In everyone one of these class action settlements, all known class members will receive a letter from the court informing them of the settlement and of how to opt out (you just need to send a letter to the court). I'm sure most people receive several of these every year and just throw them out because they haven't been harmed enough to care.

As for the "kids of Iowa", the Iowa AG should file suit against Microsoft to recover money for the kids, that way greedy plaintiff's lawyers can't get any of it. If the Iowa AG doesn't want to do this, your problem is with him (and Microsoft of course)

Re:Class action lawsuits: welfare for lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18015812)

Railing against class action lawsuits because they might be abused is like railing against your own right to sue because of all the fools who put on a neckbrace every time they get rear-ended.

You complain about ambulance chasers, but what about all the abuse of consumers by corporations that go unpunished?

I notice you didn't argue that Microsoft was actually not guilty in this case. They got the spanking they deserved. So some lawyers got rich, that's our system.

Read "King of Torts".. (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015932)

by John Grisham. It's about how class-action suits work, or don't, at least for the members of the class. Very interesting reading. Be prepared to be angry whenever you hear the term class-action. The only winners are the lawyers. I wish, as another poster commented, that they were paid with Microsoft coupons.

Re:Class action lawsuits: welfare for lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016000)

Come on, any one of those consumers could have sued MS on his own (and risked winning a lot, or nothing) or he could have done as most people do and remained unaware that MS even owed him anything. Do you think zero is better than a portion of the verdict shared with the lawyer who went to the trouble of investigating and pursuing MS?

Good to know (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18015254)

Wow, I never knew you could sue people if for overcharging. This is great. Now I am going to go sue that burger place i just ate at for charging me $10 for a burger, when it obviously should have cost six dollars (according to Carl's Jr.)

And for some reason, I thought we won the cold war...

Re:Good to know (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015604)

Terrible analogy. The fact that you have a choice to spend $10 or $6 on a burger means the price you paid was fair (if you thought the price was unfair, you would have gone elsewhere). Plainly, the more expensive burger joint thinks the merits of its burgers exceed those of the fast food joint's.

In contrast, the very point of monopoly litigation is that the is nowhere else to go. No competition.

Re:Good to know (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016364)

You're right, there is no other operating system I can buy besides Microsoft Windows. I'm glad you cleared up that egregious error in logic.

Linux doesn't exist, MacOS doesn't exist, *BSD doesn't exist, and none of the dozens of more specialized OS's actually exist.

Re:Good to know (1)

Sacrelicious2 (1064224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016586)

And you know, I think part of the reason that it is so hard to find computers with alternate operating systems have more to do with the producers of those operating systems. I'm sure Dell would love to sell computers with the MacOS, problem is Apple doesn't let them. Plus, selling other operating systems creates more costs in things like installation and technical support than they would make in sales. If there was a huge demand for *nix OS's, then the OEMs that make them (yes, they do exist) would see an increase in sales, and by the laws of supply and demand, more companies would work to incorporate those sales. However, the demand is not there, thus there is no increase in sales, thus most companies will not bother to sell those computers. In regards to *nix systems: since even basic use of the system requires a decent background knowledge of computers, it will never be used by the large majority of non-tech savvy consumers. For the people who are tech-savvy enough to effectively use *nix, they are more likely to build their own computers, and thus the OEMs make no money off of them. MacOS does stand a much better chance of taking down windows than *nix does, since it is easier to use by the masses, combined with the fact that it is now considered the 'cool' computer. I don't think this will happen, however, do to the fact that gaming is on the rise as far as standard uses of a computer, and macs are no good for games, thus the jokes regarding the lack of existence of 'mac gamers'.

Re:Good to know (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016636)

You don't have to tell me that. The last Windows I owned or used was ME. But the existence of fringe OSes (and I don't mean "fring" to be any sort of insult, just an acceptance of market share data) doesn't mean that MS has not engaged in monopolistic pricing and practices.

Perhaps the better analogy would that there are several tofu burger joints giving out free lunches, and a meat burger joint charging $20 a meal. Nobody believes the tofu burgers are good, or somehow has managed to fail to notice the existence of these places, so people feel compelled to eat at the meat burger place and pay the crazy prices. Then there's lock-in, which I somehow can't fit into this lame meat burger analogy. The fact is, for most people, only Windows exists for one reason or another. Like how MS has coerced OEMs to put their OS on machines.

Re:Good to know (1)

rajafarian (49150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015646)

Wow, I never knew you could sue people if for overcharging.

Dude, the lawsuit was supposed to have been not so much about overcharging but over the things they did and still do to allow the overcharging. Things, you know, like penalizing OEMs for installing alternate operating systems.

I read some things that came out about Microsoft and Gates during the lawsuit and I came out thinking that Gates IS evil and his charity foundation has to be more about PR than actually helping someone else out, although they do inadvertently end up doing that, too. Someone asked me, "Don't you think that the world is better off with Gates giving so much money away?" and I replied, "Sure, but it would be a even better world if they didn't behave like monsters in taking the money in the ways that they do in the first place!"

Too bad all the documents are gone now.

like always (0, Flamebait)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015268)

like always microsoft buys it's rights to do whatever they want...
thats fascism (read the definition of fascism before bashing me)

Re:like always (1)

Frequently_Asked_Ans (1063654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015396)

Fascism is a political ideology and mass movement that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community. Many different characteristics are attributed to fascism by different scholars, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, authoritarianism, militarism, corporatism, totalitarianism, anti-liberalism, and anti-communism. There are numerous debates between scholars regarding the nature of fascism, and the kinds of political movements and governments that may be called fascist. For further elaboration, please see definitions of fascism and fascism and ideology. Fascism emphasizes the role of the personal will in creating political institutions, the use of violence in supressing political and ideological enemies and an existentialist emphasis on "living the moment dangerously". The term fascism was first used by Benito Mussolini, and it comes from the Italian word fascio, which means "union" or "league", and from the Latin word fasces (fascis, in singular), which means rods bundled around an axe. The fasces was an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of magistrates, and the symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is very difficult to break.

Sieg Hail long live the master Operating System!
I see your and "The Failing" Wikipedia's definitions differ....slightly

$60 Million? Oh Noes! (1, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015318)

Demanding $60 million from Microsoft is like Dr. Evil demanding ONE MILLION DOLLARS from the World's Leaders today. Bill Gates could probably find that much money just by scrounging around in the various couches in his mansion. That provides no incentive for the company to change its behavior. No... if you want them to take notice you need to ding them for THIRTY THREE BILLION DOLLARS! Mua ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa!

Re:$60 Million? Oh Noes! (1)

Alaria Phrozen (975601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016130)

Um.. you do know he gave almost all his money to charity, right?

I guess you haven't heard of the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [gatesfoundation.org] . Or maybe it's just popular to rip on the guy. Oh don't get me wrong; I'm sure he still has a nice house.

I don't know.... (1)

RootWind (993172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016158)

That will probably end up being $32.99 billion in the hands of the lawyers...

Justice? There is only one kind of justice.... (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015324)

that is when the people who are dissatisfied with MS and how the courts fail to create fair business practices from them all switch to Linux or Apple.... THAT would be justice

Changing masters is not freedom. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016108)

Switching to free software is far better than switching from one master to another. Apple is largely just another proprietor, but with a completely free software operating system and only free software apps on top of that, you can liberate yourself from proprietors/monopolists.

Re:Justice? There is only one kind of justice.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016450)

especially Apple... that would mean big-time justice for Apple.

Real winners are Microsoft (3, Interesting)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015436)

but the real winners will no doubt be the lawyers
Of course, but here Microsoft wins, too. The article doesn't say how the exact payment would be (the article says just "millions of dollars"), but we'll be conservative and say that Microsoft will have to pay out at least 50 million (if it were 100 million, they probably would have said "hundreds of millions"). A quick Google search says that their revenue is around 10 billion. That means they have to pay a half of a percent of their annual revenue. Looking at it another way, it will take them less than a week to recoup that.

This is only a bit more of a punishment than the fine from the EU of a couple ten thousand dollars a day.

And what else do they have to give out? More Microsoft products! Either a voucher, or software for schools. And from that comes support contracts, future upgrades, additional add-ons, all which will cost the schools and/or users additional money.

Why do courts and defendants even allow this? If I cut myself with a razor because it was used shoddy construction and a blade wasn't secured properly, and sue the company, why would I want another razor from them? I may get the razor free, but I still wind up having to buy blades for it later.

Granted, they aren't saying they don't want Windows, just that they were overcharged, but this still seems ludicrous.

The obvious next step (3, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015462)

So when do we start the law suits against the lawyers who screw the average guy by filing lawsuits on their behalf and then making all the profits and getting us coupons? Seems like a lawsuit that the jury couldn't help but award to us.

Re:The obvious next step (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015672)

How are you getting screwed? You're getting compensated for what you've suffered, which in this case isn't a whole lot.

You think you should make a million dollars because you had to pay $100 for Microsoft software?

Re:The obvious next step (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015924)

No, but $50 because I had to pay $100 for Microsoft software sure would be nice.

Re:The obvious next step (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015974)

Oh, come on The consumer gets screwed big time in these suits, we see it over and over again. The often end up with no more than a worthless coupon good only at the manufacturers website for items bought at "full retail"(in other words at whatever price the seller wants to set) and not even available for use with any other offer, while the lawyers make millions. If the claim that the consumer suffered no real harm could be made, then the party being sued would have made it and the lawyers would have had no validity in filing the suit in the first place. Clearly they frequently sell out the public in order to make their own profits.

Microsoft, Lawyers and Evil (1, Interesting)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015504)

Microsoft cannot begin to dream of reaching the level of evil that lawyers as a group have attained. You think the cost of having a Microsoft monopoly is high? Lawyers and legal organizations increase the cost of every single thing you ever bought in your life, from penny candy to auto insurance. They take a portion of every bit of money that changes hands for legal reasons, they siphon money off of broken families and child support settlements, and from birth death they get their cut every step of the way.

Let's sue on behalf of Linux (0, Flamebait)

sean_ex_machina (1026748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015518)

Although I'm sure this suit is pretty low on the merit-scale (wow, a Vista Home Premium upgrade costs a whole $20 more than the latest OS X), it sets a great precedent.

I can download Linux for $0. It is a full-fledged operating system. If Linux can cost $0, so should Windows and Mac OS X. Never that Linux is free mostly because the developers are volunteers, it's obvious that this is high time for a suit against both Apple and Microsoft. Whee!

Re:Let's sue on behalf of Linux (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015750)

I can download Linux for $0. It is a full-fledged operating system. If Linux can cost $0, so should Windows and Mac OS X.

But do you know what isn't free for Linux? Drivers for my 600 USD printer.

I have no problems getting these drivers for Windows and probably no problem getting them for OSX as well.

While I do run Linux on a limited basis in my home I can honestly say that it's not a solution. Grumble all you want to about it but when it comes down to it Linux doesn't support what Windows does in my environment.

So I'd gladly pay the 400 USD for Vista Extreme (or whatever the hell they're calling it) to keep my printer going. I'd pay for a Linux driver for my printer too. One simply does not exist.

This is yet another example (in a long list of examples) of why some people can not simply "march with the penguins".

Linux is not a total solution, stop marketing it like it is one or be just as guilty as the asshats at Microsoft and Apple. At least in their cases I can honestly say there is support for my hardware.

And even if I could get these drivers I'm still not going 100% Linux because of the lack of applications I need to do my daily things. Don't get me wrong; Linux is neat, I enjoy playing around with it, it does a lot of what Joe Sixpack needs it to do but it's still not where Windows is today in overall applications and hardware support. You may complain that it's the fault of MS and the market forces but that doesn't get my printer printing.

Re:Let's sue on behalf of Linux (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016040)

What printer do you have?

Re:Let's sue on behalf of Linux (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016294)

It's an OkiData C5300n. (and yes, I know they're cheaper now).

In all honesty I thought about trying to create my own print driver for it but I know nothing about print drivers and I highly doubt I have enough coding skill to pull it off.

iowaconsumercase.org mirror? (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015542)

Anyone have the iowaconsumercase.org documents mirrored? The site now requires authentication.

Helping schoolkids? (2, Informative)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015658)

the software giant will certainly be on the hook for millions of dollars, some of which may end up helping Iowa school kids
Oh, yeah, Microsoft loves helping schools. I remember when I lived in Portland, Microsoft was incredibly helpful [computerworld.com] .

Actually, as it turned out, they were helpful — they helped spur the development of K12OS [k12os.org] ...

$50? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015676)

What I thought was interesting is the claim that Windows adds $50 on average to the cost of a computer, pre-installed. First off, that's a lot less than the retail price. Second, regardless what you think of it, it's pretty cheap for a substantial piece of software that comes with installation and support.

As a citizen (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015718)

these cases really upset me.
I get mail all the time showing the lawyers are going to make 4 to 16 million dollars and as a member of the class I'll get less than a hundred bucks. I do not join the class. I know ultimately, i'm going to be paying higher prices because of this crap.

There should be a limit (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015726)

The lawyer's fees should be limited to a percentage of the actual damages collected by their clients. Using pseudo calculations like, "5 million customers would be given as much as 30$ worth of coupons and so the lawyers will collect 50 million dollars (33% of the total) in hard cash right now" is a farce. Just making sure that the lawyer's take would not exceed 33% of the what the class of victims collect as a total would be a step in the right direction. In the present system, once the award is declared and the lawyers have been paid, there is no incentive for anyone to seach and find all the members of the class and compensate them.

It's the same no matter what. (1)

singingjim (957822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015768)

In any court case for any matter the lawyers are always the only ones who benefit. Law is for lawyers and their enrichment. It stopped being about justice years and years ago.

Lawyers should be outlawed.

Too bad in a way.... (1)

oldgeezer1954 (706420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015920)

It's unfortunate that the case is settled as the truth of MS as an organization was finally getting out in detail with their website. While it's too bad that the documents are now unavailable there are many who claim they have copies. At the very least the documents made public in the case to this point clearly put to bed the myth/fiction that MS competes on the merits of their products. Their use of secret api's and intentional sabotaging of competitors products is now proven by their own internal documents.

Price controls (1)

duncan bayne (544299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18015938)

It's sad that the US Government is implementing price controls on the market - but in order to maintain the veneer of laissez-faire capitalism, they're doing so via 'anti-trust' legislation, rather than through explicit legislation.

Re:Price controls (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016446)

Yeah, that's exactly what it is - price controls. They call it anti-trust, which is ridiculous because MS has no OS monopoly. They have a Windows monopoly, meaning it's an IP and trademark "monopoly". Logic dictates that antitrust law applies to limited physical resources and government granted monopolies. Most of the dweebs who hate MS and the greedy government entities who attack Microsoft aren't logical, though.

This just in: Apple has a monopoly on the Ipod! McDonald's has a monopoly on the Big Mac, and Brittney Spears has a monopoly on the song "Hit Me Baby One More Time"! Also, Tivo has a monopoly on the Tivo software! Good God, sue them all, quick!

Re:Price controls (1)

duncan bayne (544299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016584)

> Most of the dweebs who hate MS and the greedy government entities who attack Microsoft aren't logical, though.

But it's not just Government entities. A lot of anti-trust legislation is the result of careful lobbying on the part of companies that are losing in the marketplace, & who see anti-trust legislation as a means of harming their competitors. Here in New Zealand, the Government is nationalising the key infrastructural assets of our major telecommunications company as the result of a clever lobbying & public PR campaign by many of the other industry players.

As P. J. O'Rourke said, "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."

why.... (1)

Grinin (1050028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016050)

Aside from this Iowa case, why can't Microsoft be tried once more by the government on anti-trust violations. I'm no lawyer, but I feel that every time Microsoft releases something new they do so not for the benefit of the consumer but for the benefit of the share holders. Is the government simply too computer illiterate to realize what Microsoft is doing with their latest operating system, or has the whole world gone mad with power money and greed? I'm leaning towards the latter, but there has to be something or someone who can stand up to Microsoft for the consumers. I feel like the majority of the population just walks in a row like sheep and recites a mantra to themselves, "Must buy, latest and greatest MS release".... Like lemmings.

Re:why.... (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016594)

Aside from this Iowa case, why can't Microsoft be tried once more by the government on anti-trust violations. I'm no lawyer, but I feel that every time Microsoft releases something new they do so not for the benefit of the consumer but for the benefit of the share holders.
Nothing illegal here, if you want to stay in business you develop new product. And a company is suppose to act in the best interest of the share holders...

Is the government simply too computer illiterate to realize what Microsoft is doing with their latest operating system, or has the whole world gone mad with power money and greed?
I don't understand why Microsoft gets blamed so much. What they have done is no different than the industry leader in just about every industry. You don't rise to the top by being best friends with your competition.

I feel like the majority of the population just walks in a row like sheep and recites a mantra to themselves, "Must buy, latest and greatest MS release".... Like lemmings.
After reading this part I wasn't surprised to see a linix signature.

Until mainstream programs/games are released for linix at the same time as windows and/or mac, there won't be a shift in market share. Personally, I don't switch because I wouldn't be able to play games. And since gaming is what I mainly use my home PC for, there is no need to switch.

You should focus your Microsoft hatred towards the 3rd party software companies, they are the ones that enable windows to maintain their market dominance.

Giving MS products away is NOT punishment! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016058)

Giving MS products away is NOT punishment, it is only helping Monkey$haft.

I think M$ should be forced to pay out money to the schools and then the schools can decide where they want to spend it. M$, linux, Mac, it should be the schools' choice.

Still a Monopoly (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016118)

And Microsoft is still a monopoly. If Iowa dealt with all organized criminals by just making them give back what they'd stolen when caught, every Iowan would have to join the gang to make a living.

Limit lawyers' fees from class action lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016124)

I am a lawyer. I do trial work. I charge an hourly rate which I think fairly represents my time, taking into account expenses, experience and the years of study and training it took to get qualified.

It is not all that different from the fees I am charged by my plumber, and less than my dentist charges.

Trial lawyers who run these class action suits, however, usually settle for a piece of the pie, or charge for inflated time at inflated amounts, or both. Have no doubt, while they *profess* to be doing it for good ol' justice & the common man, they are doing it because it is as lucrative as hell.

Result: they take on many suits that should not be brought. Dubious allegations of stock manipulation, product liability, etc etc. Many defendants settle rather than go through the years of expense, even if they know they have done nothing wrong. It has to be factored in as a cost of business, and either drives them out of business altogether, or raises their costs to the consumers if they survive.

Remedy: ban any lawyers from taking any portion of the amount at offer, and limit them to capped hourly rates. Then have an assessor go over the reasonableness of all hourly costs they have charged, and discount it according to what is reasonable for the work. And if the consumers/plaintiffs get paid in rebates or coupons only, then so should their lawyers.

And to those who say that doing so will lead to no justice for the 'lil man, etc: if there is a meritorious case, then there will be a non-money grubbing lawyer willing and able to bring it. Clear out the parasites, and you will leave only those lawyers who actually do it because they give a damn about what they are doing, not because it buys them fast cars, big condos and lots of bling.

Average price? (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016226)

From TFA:

The company claims that the average price of Windows has held steady at $50 (PDF) for the last ten years,

Why is it I've never seen a full version of Windows for $50 at Staples, Office Depot, etc.? And, if I remember correctly, the "Microsoft tax" I paid when I bought my Dell laptop last year was around $100.

Too bad I don't live in Iowa. Well, maybe not. It's ten degrees Fahrenheit in Cedar Rapids right now.

Re:Average price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18016482)

And it's the only part in a computer where the price has increased rather than decreased.

Kill the lawyers! (1)

Yaksha42 (856623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016510)

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Microsoft Settles (1)

hisstory student (745582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18016534)

SCO should be so fortunate.
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