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Slashdot's "Instant" Legal Analysis of the MS Ruling

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the some-of-our-best-friends-are-lawyers dept.

Microsoft 455

As soon as Judge Jackson's decision was available for download (from this mirror site, among others), I was on the phone with Washington DC attorney Don Weightman, who often serves as the informal "Slashdot legal interpreter" on federal law, especially for antitrust and regulatory matters. Click below for a transcript of the phone conversation Don and I had as we read the decision together. Don makes some great points!

Don - This decision from Judge Jackson is the best legal field guide I've seen to the new economy. It's great. This judge really gets it!

Robin - What do you mean?

Don - The judge appears to understand why and how people have been fighting the battle they've been fighting about software. Where Microsoft has been getting its competitive advantage and what it's been doing to keep it. What's more, there's a clear account of the relationship between big fish like MS and perhaps Sun and Netscape and the thousands of smaller developer who have to cope with program interfaces and live and die on the the competitive possibilities that the big fish allow them.

Note: Don says to pay particular attention to Paragraph 18 of Judge Jackson's ruling, which says the market MS controls is for PC operating systems, and also says Mac, Linux, and handheld appliances aren't in the same "ballpark" as PC OSes. Two other critical paragraphs Don notes are numbers 33 & 34, where the Judge describes why he considers that MS controls that market.

Paragraph 38 talks about the economics of software and #39 talks about positive network effect, or "why if everybody else has a piece of critical software you have to get it too." Paragraph 50 specifically mentions Linux, but Don says "I'll leave that one to you guys to decide how spot-on it is." :)

Beyond that, you might as well read the decision yourself. Don says, again, "This Judge really gets it!

Now back to the questions...

Robin - Now what happens? Does every software company that feels MS ever abused it file on them?

Don - I'm going to read to you from paragraph 93 ... "It is Microsoft's corporate practice to pressure other firms to halt software development that either shows the potential to weaken the applications barrier to entry or competes directly with Microsoft's most cherished software products." These are Judge Jackson's words for what happens to you if you try to compete with Microsoft. A lot of software company will be sharpening their word processors tonight...

Robin - How do you think consumers will react?

Don - When they realize that they've had to pay more for computers because MS has charged high prices for their OS, they may take the issue more personally. It's close to certain that someone, somewhere will file a class action suit.

Robin - What about the "browser wars" that actually started the whole thing? Where do they fit into all this?

Don - It looks as if (he stops for a moment to laugh some more) the Judge is finding that MS went after Netscape with both guns blazing, giving Explorer away with one hand and preventing Netscape's installation on new computers with the other, and that all of this was done for anti-competitive purposes. The other thing I'm seeing on the browser wars is that it's pretty clear that the Judge did not buy MS's story on why MSIE was bundled with Windows. He says, "Microsoft's actions have inflicted [collateral] harm on consumers who have no interest in using a Web browser at all" because Win98 runs more slowly it would if they hadn't put the browser in.

Also in paragraph 173 -- which I just quoted part of -- it says,"Microsoft has forced Windows 98 users uninterested in using [it] to carry software that, while providing them with no benefits, brings with it all the costs associated with carrying addtional software on a system. These include performance degradation, increased risk of incompatibilities, and the introduction of bugs."

Note: (At this point Don starts laughing and says, "It gets even better..") Really, you do need to read the decision for yourself! Don says, "You get the feeling that the Judge is a disgruntled Windows user!" But unlike most disgruntled Windows users, this one has the power to do something about it. Right on, Judge Jackson!

Robin - But Don, all the lovely legal language and Windows-knocking aside, isn't this decision going to end up getting appealed forever?

Don - Yes. However, it is unlikely that an appellate court will want to get its hands under the hood of the relationship between Windows and browsers and between MS and its competitors at level of detail shown by Judge Jackson's findings. It's possible to overturn this but it would be hard.

Robin - Don, how much do you figure MS has spent on legal fees so far, and how much more are they going to spend before this is over?

Don - I'm guessing that they've spent more than $50 million so far. And when you say "when all this is over," if you include the industry suits and class action suits brought by private plaintiffs, you could could be talking about real money. Even for MS.

Robin - What's "real money"?

Don - It depends on whether someone nails them for damages. A $10 rebate for each customer who has bought Windows would run into billions. When you add in the damages that could be claimed by other software makers besides Netscape [like Corel], and by users who ended up with MS products, perhaps at excessive prices, because others weren't available, then only the sky is the limit.

Robin - Do you think Bill Gates will have a "House For Sale" ad in the Seattle newspapers next Sunday?

Don - It depends on how fast and far Microsoft's stock price drops. It's already started to drop, according to a story that just went up on ZDNet.

Robin - Don't forget: all that happened today was that Judge Jackson decided MS was naughty. He didn't say what kind of punishment they should get, which he won't do until he hears a whole new set of arguments. Don's best guess is that the ruling on punishment won't come out "until early next year."

Don Weightman and I will try to get a "Microsoft antitrust legal issues" follow-up together by sometime next week. Or perhaps you would like to do it? If so -- and if you're qualified -- e-mail roblimo@slashdot.org and we'll talk about it.

- Robin "roblimo" Miller

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455 comments

idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557824)

posting "first" messages is plain lameness go get yourself a life fucking idiot

A New Era? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557825)

I get the impression that Microsoft believed that they could get away with anything they wished, because legal types would never understand the complexities of computer software.

This finding suggests otherwise and that Judge Jackson really "gets it". Things will never be the same again. I wonder if Microsoft "gets it"?

Is a new era dawning?

Microsofts Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557826)

This is a long awaited descion.. I don't only greet this on the level that somsone has finally had the guts to finally declare microsoft are 'evil' on an offical level, but it opens up a whole class of lawsuits that can be brought agianst microsoft by small companies for taking over their markets.

Take internet connection sharing for example. I've gone through wingate, sygate, and finally winroute, all shareware applications operating in a viable market. Now microsoft in windows 98 second edition has come out with 'internet connection sharing' - which makes the entire market defunct!!! Microsoft is going around squashing honest programmers and companies.

This is a good step in the right direction.

American Legal System, you have finally earned my respect!

Steve Thorne
sjthorne@ozemail.com.au

--
A little overkill never hurt anybody

but what will actually happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557827)

After all the suits settle, and lots of money changes hands, what's going to happen to the average PC user? Windows can't just be erased instantenously, and people can't be forced to use different operating systems until market share balances. Is there even an operating system with a wide enough application base to compete? How long would it take the average PC distributer to learn Linux installation? What we need is a stable OS that has a published interface (like, say, Linux). But will this ruling, or any legal action arising from it, get us there?

Happy Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557828)

Monoposoft tried the old "if you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance,
baffle 'em with bullshit" trick on Judge Jackson's Court. With the
predictable outcome. This time, in Judge Jackson's Court, Monoposoft
tried their marketing tricks in the wrong place.

I'm a Libertarian. And so I'm generally opposed to Government
intervention in the affairs of individuals and private business.
But as a long-time victim of Monoposoft's sub-standard products
and heavy-handed business practices, it's good to see them get
a comeuppance.

Did you see the smirk on Bill's face? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557829)

It seemed to me to be a display of arrogant giddiness... like a young boy just caught and in trouble but thinking he's somehow above it all.

The judge, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557830)

I believe it's the judge who can suggest that the Supreme Court accept the case immediately... if he believes that the case has significant national merit.

Since Microsoft is now part of the DJIA and countless commentators have drawn parallels to the other two recent anti-trust cases involving DJIA companies (AT&T and IBM), this would be against precedence but not unwarranted considering the consequences of both actions and how much "faster" the internet economy moves.

I don't think Don gets it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557831)

This is the first step of the feds to regulate the computer industry. Their foot is now in the door.

Let's also not forget the large amount of money that large companies have been pouring into Linux. If say they make windozes free, or open the code up to everyone. Who will want to invest in Linux? We already have a hard enough time getting real top of the line apps like it is. Linux's biggest thing is that it works alot better than winblows, and it's free.

Linux has gained many new users over the past year. One common question I see in newsgroups is always about apps, and hardware support. We are just beginning to get companies to move in our direction for a choice. A free windoze might reverse that.

Breaking M$ up isn't going to solve anything. Opening it up would, but at the same time it would harm Linux as a whole a lot more. Will the feds tell Redhat what text editor they can include just because some company sells one?

Re:NOT a "NAUGHTY" ruling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557832)

Yes, he mentions these things.
But the good Judges task was to decide whether or not Microsoft was a MONOPOLY.

In order to head off the whole antitrust case, Microsoft's basic defense was 'We are not a monopoly! So our business practices can't be tried as if we were a monopoly.'

Now, it has been ruled that they ARE a monopoly.
The judge speaks of several different things about other os's, and their business practices.. but only to point out that MS is a monopoly (read: these practices wouldn't work if it wasn't.)



No Nuisance Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557833)

Cuz I simply refuse to have anything to do with that God-forsaken snake pit known as "Windoze."

:-)

Re:Hm. Appealed forever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557834)

Bah, this judge is a moron who's rulings have been overturned in the past and will again on appeal. Do none of the Slashdot readers disagree with his opinion that Linux isn't even a remote threat to Windows, not even on the horizon? If you say you agree with that you're showing yourselves to be hypocrites. Every day it's "we'll beat Microsoft" "Microsoft sucks, they're fading away" "Microsoft has lost.." etc. So is that all bullshit or is Linux really a loser OS that's not even a remot threat?

Re:WordPerfect format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557835)

You're forgetting about the macros that time how long you spend reading each section, then report this back to the central office. Microsoft has to know what issues people care about, in order to allocate its budget for the next FUD/Astroturf campaign. :)

Re:Malda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557836)

All this time I though you were rob malda, cause of your login, thanks for getting us the info.

Its not as bad as it should have been.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557837)

He didnt declare they had acted illegally, and did not formally rule microsoft breached the sherman anti-trust act.. there is a few months more to go before their old foes can call their lawyers.

Another bit of reality: microsoft stock has _doubled_ since the case started.. there is an even longer way to go before the microserfs will feel any out of the money option pain from this.. and that which doesnt break you makes you stronger.

To me, it is more worrying that internet explorer now has open season on html/plugins/multimedia standards.. (netscape is now basically a AOL home shopping channel), for the consumer end, an alternative OS is not as important as an alternative broswer. Judge Jackson should have simply ruled that microsoft be forced to offer IE over all platforms without favour to any one, until a credible competitor is built, or the the issue moves onward to the next thing.

Re:idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557838)

no, response was lamer. but it made me laugh so I responded to it.

Re:idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557839)

yer just jealous you never get the first post

Wait for the ripples (erm tidal waves) to settle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557840)

I've just spent the last 2 1/2 hours listening to the media reports, MS press conferences/statements, and finally, by reading the bulk of Judge Jackson's decision. In a word, wow. Jackson "gets it", and in a big way. based on the FoF MS looks to be in big trouble. The FoF is an asteroid slamming into the ocean. I think there will be repercussions for the industry as a whole at first, not just at MS. But the bulk of the damage will hit MS square in the chops. On CNN's "Crossfire" tonight, Mary Matalin tried her best to put a "anto-Janet Reno" spin on the decision. But she was nicely thwarted by one of the two guests, who pointed out that the whole Silicon Valley revolution had its inception in the successful anti-trust case against IBM in the 70's. If the FoF turns out to as bad for MS as the case against IBM was, I can only boggle in wonder at where the industry will be (in a positive way) 20 years from now.

Either way, MS stock goes up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557841)

I suspect that this ruling will have the same effect as other simliar cases:

- company stays undivided, stock goes up because big MS has clout

- company breaks up, stock goes up because baby-MSs are more effiecient

It is a win-win situation.

t-shirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557842)

Where can I get a Judge Jackson t-shirt? The man obviously 'gets it'... :)

Re:WordPerfect format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557843)

Nope. Unicode is an in-memory representation. Unless the implementer is really dumb(!), the on-disk format for a Unicode document containing only ASCII characters should be pretty much the same size as the corresponding ASCII file. See UTF-8 spec for an example encoding...

Re:I don't think Don gets it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557844)

If Red Hat becomes powerful enough that it can decide what companies live or die (as Microsoft managed to do in Netscape's case, and certainly would have done to JavaSoft if it had not been part of Sun)... then I demand that the government do to them what they've done to MS.

Could we forget MS for a sec? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557845)

Could be get back to News for Nerds, Stuff that MATTERS please?

I dont care about Microsoft.

Re:Hm. Appealed forever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557846)

Actually, for technical users, Linux is already a superior alternative. But for the average Joe, it still has a couple of years to go. Even though we have made inroads many places, it is very hard to buy computers with Linux preinstalled now.

But dont worry, the time will come.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557847)

You would be suprised. When one company's stock, especially one that has a large impact in many areas as Microsoft, goes down, people tend to dump their stock in related areas. When Steve Ballmer said that tech stocks were overpriced, including MSFT's, the Nasdaq fell several points, and it WAS due to his statement. It is important to remember that what drives the stock market is people. And people's emotions and reactions is what causes people to buy or sell, not necessarily how a company is doing or will be doing. So expect MSFT to drop a bit on Monday and other companies to drop as well.

Re:Hm. Appealed forever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557848)

Read the decision. He said that Linux isn't currently a threat because most of the major apps being written for it are coming from the open source movement; in order for it to be a threat to Windows, major ISV's would have to be writing apps for it in large numbers, which is obviously not happening.

You can take your foot out of your mouth now...

M$'s website (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557977)

Interesting how MS has the finding of fact in both Word and WordPerfect formats, of course, they wouldn't put it in .txt format or anything, that would make it easier for someone who doesn't use windoze.

Oddly enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1557978)

Washington DC attorney Don Weightman, who often serves as the informal "Slashdot legal interpreter" on federal law,

Odd, searching slashdot for Weightman returns:
1 Feature: The Broadband Wars by Roblimo on Tuesday July 20, @09:17AM EST 301

One article does not "often" make... but:
When you say "Slashdot", You mean Andover.net, don't you?

Re:Oddly enough (3)

Roblimo (357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1557985)

When we - and I mean Slashdot editors - have a question about a point of federal antitrust law or FCC regulation, Don is always happy to give us advice or steer us to someone who can. The "Broadband Wars" story to which you refer was his only previous *public* appearance here, but a lot more "behind the scenes" work goes into Slashdot than most people realize. (Believe it or not, Rob and Jeff don't spend all day playing with Rob's robot dog. They bust ass most of the time!)

Anyway, I think Don deserves great thanks for having blown part of a Friday evening with his family to share his insights with us. He works long, hard hours -- and I happen to know that today was particularly busy for him. ;-)

- Robin

They're going to lose employees... (3)

Ami Ganguli (921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1557994)

Probably the most immediate and tangible effect this will have on Microsoft is in employee turnover.

As I understand it, MS doesn't really pay that well, except employees get rich on the stock options. Suddenly those stocks aren't so attractive. MS will have trouble holding on to its talent, or hiring new staff.

Anybody know how much it would cost Microsoft to pay market rates for it's staff?

Re:HTML Version of the Findings is available (1)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1557997)

Hey, thanks, that *is* easier to read!

Anyone with mod points, bump this up, if it hasn't been mentioned already.

I just converted the .pdf file to text, but the HTML document is much more accessible, as it is on what is commonly called a "web page", found on the "Internet". (did this give anyone else Dr. Evil flashbacks? 'Using a "laser", I will punch a hole in the "ozone layer"'... :)
---
pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.

Re:NOT a "NAUGHTY" ruling! (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 14 years ago | (#1557998)

Yes, he mentions these things. But the good Judges task was to decide whether or not Microsoft was a MONOPOLY.

That was certainly the most important issue he had to decide, but it was far from being the only one. He had to determine (after the trial proceedings and a review of all the evidence) what the facts of the case were. The facts, as he's determined them, say not only that Microsoft is a monopoly, but that they used that monopoly in ways which will almost certainly be deemed illegal when they get around to the findings of law portion.

He laid out many facts that will be of much help to other companies and individuals who have brought (or will soon bring) suits against Microsoft. Caldera is a perfect example. This will be a great boost for their case since they will not have to prove that Microsoft is a monopoly since Judge Jackson already determined that they are.

All in all, this is a very bad thing for Microsoft. Yes, they will appeal it as long as possible. But the DOJ has a nice advantage after this point. These facts can't be appealed. Only the findings of law can be appealed. I think the facts are damning enough that they won't have much luck with their appeals. If some useful injunctions are put in place while the appeals process goes on, and they are actually enforced this time, then perhaps something good was accomplished by this suit.

Re:Mirror of ruling (Another) (1)

lordhades (1091) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558003)

Make that:
http://federal.gallerywatch.com/ms-findings.pdf
but, both are there...;)

Agree, Judge "gets it" (3)

ChrisRijk (1818) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558007)

I've read most of the "Findings of Fact" - skimmed some bits. Not bad reading actually. I'd followed the trial pretty closely (mostly by reading stuff at The Register [theregister.co.uk] who did include a lot of detail and analysis) and I can see where pretty much all the points Judge Jackson brought up. I agree pretty much right on with just about everything the good Judge said. I'm no lawyer though... but my studies in Economics helped!

I remember an article that appeared on Infoworld about a year ago, basically saying that if MS is offically declared a monopoly, it'll basically open the sluice gates for law-suits against MS.

It'll probabaly have a decent effect on the two other major current MS lawsuits - Sun against MS over Java (that Judge for that lawsuit is expected to re-rule on some major points soon) and the Caldera one which will go to trial soon. (couldn't find any references to Caldera in the "findings of fact" though)

Another interesting point is that it is (apparantly) possible for the DoJ to ask for any full appeal to go directly the the Supreme Court! (or something like that) Uh oh... ^-^

Finally... I wish the people I do share dealings with would do "future" shares - basically betting that the share price will fall, as I had some money I'd quite happily put on MS's shares falling. Oh well... It'll be interesting to see the affect on MS's main competitors.

Re:Finding format (1)

mmontour (2208) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558013)

every format? Not really. For example, there was no Applixware native format. What I was was one proprietary format (Wordperfect, presumably what the document was created in) and a few other mostly-open formats like PDF and HTML. This seems reasonable to me. Text might be nice, but HTML is close enough (since it's all a single page; just strip the tags).

Re:could Win2K be delayed? (1)

craw (6958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558031)

If you read the FOF, separating the browser from the OS is trivial and can lead to an improved OS. However, it would not behoove MS at this time to do this separation as it would only boister the DoJ case.

Win2K is going to be very interesting to watch. In the corporate world, this OS is being sold as the next best thing since sliced bread. Win2K is suppose to be the Unix killer. OTOH, I believe that there is no scaled down version for the average user. That is why MacOS X should be interesting; bringing Unix to the masses.

I'm happy (2)

craw (6958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558032)

Smirking aside, the FOF as pointed out by this thread is extremely one-sided towards the argument of the DoJ. While the stock market may rock and roll on Monday, many companies will actually see their stock go up. Who? MS competitors and the various companies that were portrayed as being negatively affected by MS actions. Some of these companies are rather big; IBM, AOL, Sun, Intel.

I've looked at this thread and the previous one. Many expected reactionary comments abound. I finally finished reading most of the FOF and can say that I'm astounded by the one-sidedness of the this document. It reads like David Boiles or Joe Klein were the authors.

My final comments. MS loses big time. The FOF essentially says that the MS witnesses had very little credibility. MS stock will initially go down (as it doing now). However, the various media folks (investment experts) will try to stop the bleeding. Investment advisers will also do the same. Both will do this because they did not see this coming.

Ultimately, all pyramid schemes collapse under their own weight. If MS valuation goes down, then their ability to take a shotgun approach to investing in other companies will come to an end. Carefully watch the Portland AT&T case as MS has staked their claim on the internet connectivity via cable.

Re:Agree, Judge "gets it" (1)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558033)

Finally... I wish the people I do share dealings with would do "future" shares - basically betting that the share price will fall, as I had some money I'd quite happily put on MS's shares falling. Oh well... It'll be interesting to see the affect on MS's main competitors

It's called shorting, and if they don't do it, find a competent broker.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (1)

Baggio (8432) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558039)

Guess we should have already known what the decision would be then... If the findings were for MS, then the anouncement would have been made Monday morning to boost the market... ;)

Time flies like an arrow;

Re:M$'s website (1)

Baggio (8432) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558040)

That's funny, I guess they converted it, but from what source? WordPerfect? :)
Time flies like an arrow;

reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (3)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558047)

It's obviously to avoid stock market chaos. Now we have a weekend to analyze this, and people will talk about it. So on Monday, when MSFT goes down 10 or 20 points, it won't drag the rest of the market with this.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (2)

Spud Zeppelin (13403) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558073)

...surely the laws you have in America provide you with adequate rights to appeal?

Since I take it you're not an American, a brief civics lesson:

Suppose I am tried and convicted of something... I have every right to appeal, but:

The appeals court has every right to refuse to hear the appeal. Appeals get refused all the time in this country -- all the way up to the Supreme Court, which only hears those cases it chooses to rule on. (Or those in which it has original jurisdiction, but that's another matter entirely).







This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.

Re:Thank you, Slashdot! (1)

wilkinsm (13507) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558074)

Yes! A Slash-lawyer is a wonderful idea!
God knows how many times we argue about points of legal trivia!

I will take the good man's advice and read the FoF from cover to cover.

Gee, it's not too late for me to enter law school...

Re:Thank you, Slashdot! (2)

kijiki (16916) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558087)

Can we ask this lawyer about the issues involved in a Linux software-only DVD decoder?

could Win2K be delayed? (2)

pnkflyd51 (17070) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558089)

Hmmm... I wonder if there's any chance of Windows 2000 being delayed past Feb 17th 2000.

I suppose the only way it could be is if MS and the DOJ settle- 'cause if it's dragged through the court systems, there'll be years of appeals before any "penalty" or "remedy" occurs- even if it gets fast tracked to the Supreme Court like the AT&T case.

I wonder if Microsoft has an IE-less version of Win2K waiting in the wings in case of a settlement. While I'm an avid Linux user, I've also been anticipating the arrival of Win2K and would hate to see a delay.

Anyway, I think we've already seen MS's competitors become more brave since the trial began. One example is that there are quite a few companies standing (meekly?) behind Linux. I hope they'll stand taller now.

I hope in five years, we'll be able to look back on Win2K as Microsoft's swan song from a monopolist OS vendor point of view.

Re:Hm. Appealed forever? (1)

alfredo (18243) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558093)

all this action, Linux being loaded on IBM's Dells, and such would not have been possible before the trial. Gates had such a strangle hold on the PC vendors, that they feared would lose their license if they even tried to sell PC's with any other OS.

The competition you see now is the result of the trial. MS had to be on it's best behavior for the judge. It didn't work, the judge ruled against MS. Just think of all that money Gates gave to charity. Where was all that giving before the trial? Gates is a scumbag.

MS gave the 150 million to Apple to prop them up to make the appearance that they were not a monopoly. You know Jobs gave him that idea.;)

Re:NOT a "NAUGHTY" ruling! (1)

deranged unix nut (20524) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558107)

Actually, in the finding of fact, the judge lists actions like pricing Win98 at $89 instead of $49 when $89 was the profit maximizing price and $49 was a competitive yet profitable price. Other actions like bullying other companies around also would seem to me that the Judge has already stated that Microsoft is a monopoly, and Microsoft is using that monopoly power to eliminate competitive pressure to their main products.

NOT a "NAUGHTY" ruling! (2)

plunge (27239) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558115)

I may be wrong on this, but the judge ruled that Microsoft was a monopoly. As much as we'd like it to be, that's not illegal- case law has shown that companies are perfectly within their rights to attain a monopoly as long as they do it competitivaly, which M$ will now be trying VERY hard to prove that they did. This judge was authorized to rule on findings of fact, which was basically limited to whether or not M$ was a monopoly or not, NOT whether it was an illegal monopoly or not. That gets decided later, and a different question of law. So even if this ruling implies that Microsoft was "naughty" the judge isn't yet empowered to legally rule on that (he can say so all he wants, but that's not the ruling, just like Supreme Court justices go on and on about things that may not bear on their actual findings).

What happens to BillG's net worth? (1)

webmaven (27463) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558119)

Does anyone know how much of Billy Boy's net worth is still tied up in MS stock?

Regardless, he's still turned a pretty profit on the million dollar trust fund he started with.

meanwhile, check out the Bill Gates Personal Weath Clock [webho.com]


--

Section(s) on Linux (1)

chandoni (28843) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558121)

Here are the 2 sections of the decision that specifically discuss Linux/OSS. Comments?

50. The experience of the Linux operating system, a version of which runs on Intel-compatible PCs, similarly fails to refute the existence of an applications barrier to entry. Linux is an "open source" operating system that was created, and is continuously updated, by a global network of software developers who contribute their labor for free. Although Linux has between ten and fifteen million users, the majority of them use the operating system to run servers, not PCs. Several ISVs have announced their development of (or plans to develop) Linux versions of their applications. To date, though, legions of ISVs have not followed the lead of these first movers. Similarly, consumers have by and large shown little inclination to abandon Windows, with its reliable developer support, in favor of an operating system whose future in the PC realm is unclear. By itself, Linux's open-source development model shows no signs of liberating that operating system from the cycle of consumer preferences and developer incentives that, when fueled by Windows' enormous reservoir of applications, prevents non-Microsoft operating systems from competing.

51. Since application developers working under an open-source model are not looking to recoup their investment and make a profit by selling copies of their finished products, they are free from the imperative that compels proprietary developers to concentrate their efforts on Windows. In theory, then, open-source developers are at least as likely to develop applications for a non-Microsoft operating system as they are to write Windows-compatible applications. In fact, they may be disposed ideologically to focus their efforts on open-source platforms like Linux. Fortunately for Microsoft, however, there are only so many developers in the world willing to devote their talents to writing, testing, and debugging software pro bono publico. A small corps may be willing to concentrate its efforts on popular applications, such as browsers and office productivity applications, that are of value to most users. It is unlikely, though, that a sufficient number of open-source developers will commit to developing and continually updating the large variety of applications that an operating system would need to attract in order to present a significant number of users with a viable alternative to Windows. In practice, then, the open-source model of applications development may increase the base of applications that run on non-Microsoft PC operating systems, but it cannot dissolve the barrier that prevents such operating systems from challenging Windows.

Re:Section(s) on Linux (1)

chandoni (28843) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558122)

So, to keep my opinions on this separate:

On 50... the majority of linux users are only running servers? I don't think that's the case any more; at least most "servers" are also running things on the desktop. Of course the same argument used to be made about OS/2... "sure it has 15 million users, but most of them are ATMs, not PCs."

On 51... this seems to be untrue in practice, since there is such a wide variety of apps available for linux which you would never imagine anybody could need. I think "cannot" is too strong; "might not" would be more realistic. Certainly legal action which slows or harms MS could only help dissolve the barrier, just as early adoption of Linux was helped by court cases which slowed down its potential competitor, BSD.

JMC

Better than hoped (1)

homunq (30657) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558124)

As this trial was going on and stories were being leaked, I was somewhat contemptuous. "The whole thrust of the trial is on the Netscape vs. IE issue. While I wouldn't mind it if that was the particular slung shot that brings down the MS Goliath, it is a relatively trivial issue next to other microsoft practices (the "AARD" code, bullying of OEM's). The whole thing is predicated on that early-internet hype that a combination of Netscape and Java was poised to replace the OS or make it irrelevant."

But this judgement succeeds in showing exactly why the browser war was important. Netscape is clearly portrayed, not as a competitor for IE, but as a competitor for Windows. And it's not because anyone would use Netscape instead of Windows. Even if Microsoft had played nice, it's doubtful that that would have happened. The argument that Netscape threatened Windows itself is the following:
  • Any universally deployed API (such as Netscape had the potential to provide) makes it easier to write software that's a little more portable.
  • Just as Microsoft's power comes from the difficulty of cross-platform development, any reduction of that difficulty, even a small incremental reduction, reduces that power.
  • Since the price of a Windows license is a result of MS monopoly power, Microsoft is forced to guard, not only against actual OS competition, but against the potential for such competition. Useful, non-portable windows apps are money in the bank for Microsoft.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (1)

MacBoy (30701) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558125)

10 or 20 points? That's laughable. It will drop a lot more than that.

Re:He does get it. (CORRECTION) (4)

alexalexis (31082) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558127)


In my second paragraph I used the word "illegally" .. it shouldn't be there -- this is just a Finding of Fact. Of course, one could deduce that Microsoft's actions are illegal (especially regarding the licensing issues), but this was not a legal ruling on the case.


Sorry if I caused any confusion.

He does get it. (5)

alexalexis (31082) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558128)


I've read the first hundred pages of the FoF, and Judge Jackson really does get it. He spells out very clearly what Microsoft has done, how Microsoft did it, and why it's an abuse of monopoly power. He clearly spells out their position in the market relative to other operating systems. He goes to great lengths to define the difference between the OS, applications, and APIs.


In summary, he states that Microsoft illegally used it's control over the operating system market to gain advantage over Netscape and Sun in regards to the web browser and java runtime environment markets, through restrictive licensing agreements and deliberately smearing the line between application and operating system. (That is my understanding thus far -- there are quite a few smaller issues that he touches on)


I know a lot of people are going to read the press clippings that are saturated with some pretty charged statements from both Microsoft and the Judge Jackson. Unfortunately, they really don't give a good representation of the FoF, which is not only an easy read, but a very enlightening one.


I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU READ THE FIRST 25 PAGES OF THE FoF. Educate yourself before you become a victim of the avalanche of spin doctoring that's going to consume the media for the next week.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (1)

cloos (31168) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558130)

Can an appeals court actually refuse to get involved? I know we're talking about M$ here, but surely the laws you have in America provide you with adequate rights to appeal?

I beleive it is the case that at the appelate level only matters of law are relevant. Matters of fact -- such as those in the Findings of Fact released today -- can not be argued.

(Disclaimer: IANAL, but a lawyer has mentioned this to me, referencing -- in fact -- this case.)

-JimC

HTML Version of the Findings is available (3)

cloos (31168) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558131)

Note the the GPO site [gpo.gov] has not only PDF [gpo.gov] and WP [gpo.gov] but also HTML [gpo.gov] versions of the Findings up.

It May be a bit easier for some to read....

-JimC

Re:Microsofts Monopoly (1)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558133)

Take internet connection sharing for example. I've gone through wingate, sygate, and finally winroute, all shareware applications operating in a viable market. Now microsoft in windows 98 second edition has come out with 'internet connection sharing' - which makes the entire market defunct!!! Microsoft is going around squashing honest programmers and companies.

So what would you do if I'd ported the same functionality from Linux over to Windows and released it under the GPL? Probably nothing. You wouldn't be jumping up and down about it.

Same end result, two different mechanisms. One of which you favor.

Hypocrit.

Re:WordPerfect format (1)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558134)

Hmmm... you would appear to be correct. It's probably all that OLE structured storage stuff that's ballooning it up.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (1)

ItsBacon (32095) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558138)

IANAL also, but I was under the impression that you could not appeal a finding of fact, so it really doesn't matter yet.

I'm probably talking out of my ass here...

WordPerfect format (1)

MatriXOracle (33400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558140)

I find it pretty funny that M$ would actually put the file in WordPerfect format on their own site. What's even funnier is this (right from the M$ page [microsoft.com] ):

Word Format (851k)
WordPerfect Format (438k)

Can you say "b-l-o-a-t"?

The Evil Empire is falling (1)

EricHeinz (34163) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558141)

It looks as though microsoft might finally be falling. Now if only I could get a complient browser for Linux.

Great transcript -- (1)

Kyrrin (35570) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558142)

Thanks Robin, this is a great analysis for those of us who haven't been able to get to any of the mirrors yet -- this discussion promises to be valuable as hell. Top-notch journalism!

Time for a nuisance suit! (2)

Ugmo (36922) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558145)

Maybe we users can start some nice class action suits against M$. Anyone have ulcers from having to support Windows at work? Not gotten a job because the company wanted your resume in M$ Word format?

Oh Yeah, sell all your Microsoft Stock and invest it in some Law Firms.

Finding format (1)

dfreed (40276) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558147)

Did anyone else notice that the finding was posted in every format exept MS Word? Interesting.

The good stuff... (1)

Thalia (42305) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558150)

Ah yes, the judge does get it... from Para 302

--Microsoft threatened to terminate the Windows license of any OEM that removed Microsoft's chosen icons and program entries from the Windows desktop or the "Start" menu. It threatened similar punishment for OEMs who added programs that promoted third-party software to the Windows "boot" sequence. These inhibitions soured Microsoft's relations with OEMs and stymied innovation that might have made Windows PC systems more satisfying to users. Microsoft would not have paid this price had it not been convinced that its actions were necessary to ostracize Navigator from the vital OEM distribution channel.--

This, by legal definition is called TYING, and it's illegal. There is very specific case law on this.

I can't wait for the actual verdict. Although my predition is that M$ will attempt to settle by providing discounts on future M$ products (it worked for GM!) This would force people to buy even more M$ product. I don't expect the judge would sign that agreement...

IP Monopoly? (2)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558151)

You know, when the DoJ came after Standard Oil and formally Got Some, they had to break 'em into little companies, because there wasn't anybody else out there willing and able to move oil like they could.
When the DoJ came after Bell Telephony and Got Some, they "had" to break them up, because nobody else had phone lines laid.
But the issue HERE -- the monopoly -- is held mainly by intellectual property -- code.

Oil tankers and miles of copper wiring aren't amenable to easy division and distrobution, but this is INFORMATION, guys.

What all might happen if the judge simply ordered MS to hand over all their IP -- API documentation, say -- and order MS to publish/post it under some license -- I'll let you guys argue about which one, but my favorite rhymes with "EPL".
He could even let MS off the hook for the [possible] zillion-dollar fine in exchange for prettying it all up and posting it on a web server.

Wouldn't -that- be fun. The WINE people would have heart attacks. (:

What you mean Crist has already been? (1)

mark.odonohue (45542) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558154)

Damn and here's me still waiting for him. Is he going to return? I mean, well his cup of tea is getting cold.


Oh well now I'll have to wait for his second comming.

Document Formats - here's why it's WordPerfect (2)

slaker (53818) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558162)

Brief note on document formats:
People are commenting on the fact that a Word
copy of the document was not provided, while
Wordperfect, PDF and HTML were.

Most legal documents submitted in electronic
format have to be submitted in WordPerfect format.
It was the industry standard for many years,
and the document format has been stable for
at least the last three releases of the software.

My mother is a paralegal, and she whines on a
daily basis about the fact that there is such
a tremendous intertia within the legal community
that is centered on WordPerfect 5 for DOS and
WordPerfect 6 for Windows. She uses a 300MHz
Pentium II to run WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS every
day. The lawyers she work for say it's the only
thing they can use.

I'm not sure why that inertia exists, but at
least where I live, if you hand the court a
floppy disk, it'd better have a wordperfect file
on it. Everything else is simply unacceptable.

Wait for the appeal (1)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558168)

I don't think everyone should start dancing in the streets until after Micro$oft goes through the appeal process. I can remember some early news articles stating that the court that would handle the appeal for this trial was quite conservative as far as "government interference" in commerce.

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (1)

mantis_p (62535) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558187)

So you are saying that the legal system is worried about whether or not MS stock goes down?

Come on... conspiracy theories are fun and all... but they should actually be plausible.

"The legal decision was released this Friday because I am throwing a Bash Microsoft party tonight and Judge Jackson wanted to make sure my party guests had something about which they could talk."

~m

Re:reason why decision was on Friday at 6:30... (1)

mong (64682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558189)

[ Appeal Court, avoid getting involved ]

Can an appeals court actually refuse to get involved? I know we're talking about M$ here, but surely the laws you have in America provide you with adequate rights to appeal?

What do people think the final ruling will be btw? Are we looking at lots of "Baby-Bills", like you have "Baby Bells"? That'd make sense.

I hope all this litigation doesn't end up putting MS out of business, hard as it is to stomach, they were one of the reasons why computing became widespread. Now if only they'd get back to their old ideal of making good software...

Mong.

* Paul Madley ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *

Re:Great transcript -- (1)

mong (64682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558190)

The above comment should be awarded a 5(Five) for being the most sycophantic thing ever written on SlashDot.

He's right however. Good coverage, with exactly the right level of bias ;)

Bias? I meant "objectivity", or something...

Mong.

* Paul Madley ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *

I love living in DC. (1)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558193)

The commentary is good. It was fun to watch all the stuff going on at the courthouse, too. A lot of people took turns talking to the press... the press asked a few questions, but never of Microsoft people, which seemed funny to me.

We should hold a larger party when the final legal ramifications thing comes out in January or February. Anyone interested?

Careful about class action lawsuits: (1)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558194)

Don - When they realize that they've had to pay more for computers because MS has charged high prices for their OS, they may take the issue more personally. It's close to certain that someone, somewhere will file a class action suit.

One thing I noticed in the reading of the document was the Judge's REPEATED note that an increase in the cost of the OS, even a high percentage increase (ala Windows 2k???) wouldn't appreciably increase the cost of a computer. [Read it, Judge says this often in just the first dozen pages]. Wether true or not, it conflicts with Don's statement, so class action suits based solely on this document will run into problems there.

Compete technically (3)

slag187 (70401) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558199)

This ruling has a chance to finally level the playing field.

Many of us are Linux and/or *BSD users. We've known for quite a while that we have a technically superior OS in many ways. There are also others like BeOS that are trying to compete on the ease of use of their OS.

All I would like to see is enough change instituted so that the playing field can finally be leveled, so that all users can chooses the operating systems and applications that suit their needs and tastes. (Thinking in terms of punishment is the right thing, because that doesn't necessarily change their future behaviour.)

Hopefully we can also see a movement to better embrace ISO, IETF, W3C, etc standards so that me using Linux, and you using Be, and someone else using Windows2005 can all share info, etc.

Now's the time to push for real positive change and not just see how much money we can bleed away from MS (although I'm sure that will happen too).

Hm. Appealed forever? (3)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558201)

Not if it gets to the Supreme Court, it won't be.

It's probably not in MSFT's interests to be fighting this for that long, either, if they can get a settlement that'll end speculation over what the judicial system *might* do; and the DoJ lawyers would get to go home pointing to winning results in a *very* big case. Eh, guess we'll see.

what kind of timetable? (1)

Supergrass (71775) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558202)

I realize that the real ruling is expected sometime next spring, but what I really wonder is how soon Joe Six-Pack will feel the repercussions from this case. Five years, ten years, fifteen years? Will this be lower prices, a choice of pre-installed operating system, or a broken-up Microsoft?

I guess it largely depends on the punishment/settlement reached in this case. In the meantime, hurrah, hurrah, this finding of fact is a great thing indeed!

The WINE People would LOVE IT... (1)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558208)

Once their heart rates stabilized, the WINE project would get VERY quiet for a while, and then would come the announcement on Freshmeat. Oh, if only it would come to pass...

But Wait,the best part is coming (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558219)

the spanking phase in which wild bill bares his
chapped cheeks to the world and penguins snicker
from their polar vantagepoint.

The Simpsons Are Prophets!! (1)

degauss (88443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558223)

Does this remind anyone else of the episode of the Simpsons where Homer tries to start a computer company (the one where he sticks his pencils in butter and has to write lots of "tasty memos)?? Cause later in the episode Bill Gates walks in and has 2 goons just trash the place... Could it be that The Simpsons' writers saw this coming (the forcing smaller companies to give in) and that they knew about this all before we did..??

Stock (1)

ParadoXIII (94293) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558234)

All I can say about this is, Microsoft's going to get its ass short-sold when the market opens down 10% Monday. I pray that the tech market regains its stability soon.
As for the impact on the way tech companies do business in the future, I think this will make start-ups a little more common, as the all-too-common buyout/squelching by a big company in the same field will be reduced by this ruling...

Night of the living Microsoft (1)

Thats_Zena_with_a_Z (95166) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558237)

Interestingly enough breaking up Microsoft into different companies may not be punishment on the long term. Historically, large companies that have been found guilty of anti-trust violations and have been have been "punished" have manged to crawl out of the grave and return in a bigger form. Look at Standard Oil, IBM, AT&T, all of which were found guilty of anti-trust violations. They all fought it tooth and nail in court, and lost, and became mega-powerhouse companies. Standard Oil became the giants Exxon, Mobil and Chevron. AT&T was broken up only to spawn regional mega bells. AT&T itself is re-invading the home via cable. IBM was pursued by DOJ for monopolizing the mainframe market only to return and invent the PC market and give un-holy birth to Microsoft in the first place. Scary, huh?

Re:Get excited. (1)

Mihtjel (95939) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558238)

I would say the exactly opposite. Dont get too excited. M$ is such a big company, this ruling might not matter much, they could buy off the judge anyway, if they wanted to. Stay calm.
Ofcourse, party anyway. It is great fun.

-----------------------------------

Re:Time for a nuisance suit! (1)

Mihtjel (95939) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558239)

Yes, and sue Microsoft for making nasty looking logos...

There are great ways to use this:
'My machine broke down while I was running Windows and a client for the RC5 project. I might have won during the reboot.'

'The default background color of the desktop gave me an epileptic attack'

'I got deaf from listening to M$ error sounds'



-----------------------------------

Right on! woo woo! (1)

Chompster (97289) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558242)

thats all i can say. finally there is "official" evidence for what has been nagging us for so long... and it came from a Judge!
I'm not sure it would be the greatest thing if M$ went totally bankrupt, but then again.. its very complex... so it might reignite real competition between the I-Tech Corporations. We can only hope for the best... maybe M$ will get the 'ol splitter that Bell got? I just am glad that they finally got what was coming to them. And thanks, don, for the great interpretation.

Get excited. (1)

Tamriel (100637) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558244)

Even if this IS "only" a Finding of Fact, it makes it soooo much more likely that M$ will either get punished or settle with the DoJ. The Judge has said he finds that M$ is a monopoly and uses its power unfairly. Party.


-

Stock Market - Dow Jones (1)

recon1984 (108395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558263)

As we can all guess, MS's stock will probably pulmet upon opening on monday. Which, frankly, would be fine by me, excempt for one thing.

The Dow Jones average, often and incorrectly, is used as an economic indicator by many, many individuals and media personnal. And guess whose stock was append to the Dow Jones on November 1st, that's right, Microsoft.

Monday opening should cause a sharp, and artifical, drop in the Dow Jones Industial. Which can be safely ingored by any educated individual. However, me assumation is that many investors are not sufficient knowledgable on such things.

Thus trading volume on services such as E*Trade,etc. will be quite high on monday, as hundred of thousands of "E Traders" panic, try to cut their losses and end up losing their shirts.

All I can hope is that this will not cause some sort of idiotic panic, thus sinking everyone along with Microsoft.

Thank you, Slashdot! (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558264)


For bringing in a credible legal source to provide us professional opinions and insight on legal issues in the industry. I hope that you do this quite often on other issues as well.

Re:The good stuff... (2)

Brave Little Toaster (111113) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558265)

Although my predition is that M$ will attempt to settle by providing discounts on future M$ products

I agree that Microsoft will try to settle now. It is the only sensible option, unless they really want to spend more in legal fees and then wind up paying out to the consumer anyways. The whole point of a settlement is to avoid greater cost in the long run.

Having said that, why would the Government accept a settlement offer? The judge clearly favors the prosecution's case, and the government would probably do better letting the judge decide the penalty than if MS tries to strike a comprimise.

The government won't settle, it has nothing to lose.

-Toaster

Re:NOT a "NAUGHTY" ruling! (1)

wadeomatic (111126) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558267)

True, this isn't the coffin door closing on M$. But the descriptions of how M$ limited technology by using it's OEM muscle against Intel, Apple and others definitely goes into anti-trust areas. See the paragraphs relating to NSP and Quicktime around 96-100. Hopefully, the DOJ will prove that you can't squash out innovation with your money and expect get away with it. If your product sucks, make it better, don't force out the innovator.

Same Rules...... (1)

PAS (111129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1558268)

I doubt that Microsoft or any software manufacture will have much luck if they do enough research. I personally was involved with a Federal Copyright Lawsuit and the Judge ruled in a Summary Judgement the following: "A person(s) cannot copyright something that is based on fact" FACT: Computer of all types use Binary, now what?
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