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The Post-Microsoft Era

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the -Morning-After-Judge-Jackson's-Findings-Of-Fact dept.

Microsoft 525

On the Net, the notion that Microsoft is predatory and monopolistic is old news, but this was sure a stunner to most Americans, who've been reading all those adoring profiles for more than a decade. Judge Jackson's findings of fact drew big headlines and flooded the talk shows all weekend. Microsoft's fat stockholders won't have a happy day today either, as brokers and analysts weigh in after a busy weekend of reading. As one said on CNN yesterday: the judge's report isn't pretty.

Welcome to the Post-Microsoft Era.

For many of the people reading this, today offers a different reality than Friday morning, the demarcation between one period and, suddenly, another.

On the Net, the idea that Microsoft is predatory, ruthless, greedy and monopolistic is so endemic, so long ingrained, that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's findings of fact almost seem to be merely affirming an obvious truth.

Off-line, in the parallel universe, it's a different story. There, where Bill Gates has been lionized as a mainstream icon and Millenial visionary, the findings are a shock. America's favorite new media executive, the one who made all this crazy new stuff seem safe and comprehensible to old-line businesspeople and adoring journalists, was de-constructed in the very cold-blooded, take-no-prisoners, business-like manner that's been such a hallmark of his own style.

It's almost impossible to find a critical profile or probing interview of the man in all of traditional media. Try it yourself. For years, the most powerful people in journalism and politics have made the pilgrimages to Redmond, kneeling before the great man, appropriately admiring the digital chips that change the artwork on the walls of his gargantuan home.

So the idea that his mythic company brutalized competitors and then brazenly lied about it in federal court for months is an understandable surprise, triggering big headlines, special TV reports, and a talk show blabathon - especially on CNN, MSNBC and CNBC -- that will only accelerate today when financial markets re-open and brokers and analysts get their sound-bites off.

This will not be a happy day for Microsoft or its many fat and happy stockholders. Investors and analysts have now had the weekend to digest Judge Jackson's brutal indictment of Microsoft and its business practices and, as one of them told CNN on Sunday, "It isn't pretty, I can tell you."


Judge Jackson, First Finding Of Fact: 'Three main facts indicate that Microsoft enjoys monopoly power. First, Microsoft's chare of the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems is extremely large and stable. Second, Microsoft's dominant market share is protected by a high barrier to entry. Third, and largely as a result of that barrier, Microsoft's customers lack a commercially viable alternative to Windows.'

The shock waves seemed to spread in concentric circles Friday, starting with media, moving through the computing industry, then onto Wall Street and, over the weekend, through countless Net chat rooms, mailing lists and messaging system conferences.

"Judge Wakes Up the Blasé Investors Who Shrugged Off the Antitrust Case," headlined the Sunday New York Times.


Judge Jackson's Second Finding Of Fact: '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 sofware products.'

The irony is that even before the Judge's ruling -- in which he officially found that MS had engaged in a longstanding bullying campaign to screw consumers, monopolize the software market, discourage competitors and slow new-product innovation - we were already entering the Post-Microsoft Era.

Bill Gates was slow to spot the Web explosion in the mid-90s. Even when he did, Microsoft's efforts to compete in the Web media, communications, electronic, portal and e-commerce fields have generally failed.

To be sure, Microsoft is a vast, enormously powerful company with staggering reserves, and notions that it will perish or disintegrate are silly. But the most exciting, significant and profitable evolutions of the Web have been happening at a distance from the company for some time. Microsoft no longer dominates business computing, and is much less feared and respected that it was even a year ago.

Although Microsoft seemed - arrogantly and unaccountably - to almost brush off the Justice Department's suit (the Judge openly sneered at Gates' testimony, and the company rejected a number of settlement opportunities and was almost brazenly contemptuous and dishonest in its versions of events), it seems fitting that this unspeakably rich and powerful corporation has finally been taken down by the one monopolistic entity left that's more powerful than it is - the United States government.

Whether it's a good or bad thing that federal intervention rather than the marketplace brought this about will be the subject of ferocious debate on the Net for a long while. Maybe this evokes the old adage: Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

"There's no question that this lawsuit greatly influenced the company's behavior in the past year or so," a Silicon Valley writer close to Microsoft officials told me Saturday night. "They probably would have bought Amazon or eBay by now, if they weren't distracted or afraid of calling attention to their size or power. Microsoft was slow to get the impact of the Web - this is where all the real action is now - and in this world, if you're taken out of things for a year or so, that's like a generation in the off-line business world. It will be a long time before Microsoft can get aggressive about competing again, especially if they are, as they seem, so determined to fight. In the meantime, they're still making cheap and derivative products that cost pennies and sell for many dollars. That will be their fate for awhile, and they'll do well at it."

Microsoft will be preoccupied for a bit. The Judge's findings were not a final decision in the case. He hasn't yet decided whether Microsoft broke the law, or decided on any possible remedies or punishments (which could range from a forced break-up, a la AT&T, to fines or rebates to wronged competitors or consumers). There are sure to be a raft of lawsuits if the Judge follows through on his initial instincts and declares that the company broke anti-trust laws). Nineteen states joined in the federal government's suit against Microsoft, all of them drooling over a potentially favorable verdict.

Judge Jackson's findings were an astonishing series of declarations that made it clear that he didn't believe a word Microsoft's executives and lawyers had been telling him for nearly a year.

The government's version of events, he said - that Microsoft sought to monopolize markets, destroy competitors, put consumers at an unfair advantage - were true, almost in their entirety. There was not one finding that Microsoft could point to as favorable or hopeful to their case.

This brutal declaration was so completely at odds with mainstream journalism's long-running adoration of the man and his company that media consumers, politicians and investors have every right to be puzzled at the disparity between the Gates they've been reading about and seeing on TV and the man Judge Jackson has dramatically re-defined.

Thebitterness and elation expressed by Microsoft's competitors was almost unnerving. Fear and resentment towards Microsoft has been building and festering for so long the bloodlust was almost mob-like. [Cnet.com this weekend demonstrated its growing primacy in technology news related to the Net, the Web and computing in general. Its coverage of the Microsoft ruling was quick, thorough and knowing.]

Saturday, Reuters reported that Net chat rooms from Yahoo to TheStreet.com were teeming with analysis and discussion about the ruling, little of it sympathetic to Microsoft.

"Hallelujah!," exulted Ransome Love, chief executive of Linux operating system-seller Caldera.

As exciting as it was to see a federal judge smack Microsoft around, it's also tantalizing to wonder what might have happened if nature had been permitted to take its own course. Even though Judge Jackson's findings read at times like an open-source manifesto, OS advocates seemed a bit stung that Judge Jackson dissed the movement, saying he didn't consider Linux a serious competitive threat to Microsoft.

As happy as they were with his opinions, OS champions were also clearly disappointed that they weren't the ones who get to bring Microsoft to its knees without federal judicial help, something they're confident they would eventually have done.

Net libertarians also worried that the ruling legitimized the idea that the government needs to step in and regulate the Internet. History suggests they have good for concern. Judge Jackson's ruling was, in fact, by far the most significant and far-reaching intrusion into Net commerce by a federal authority, and represents a landmark judicial effort to begin writing Net law.

That could have lots of implications. Judge Jackson wasn't just curbing the power of a company, he was also seeking to redefine anti-trust law as it applies to commerce online.

And he was definitely plowing new ground. Traditionally, companies have gotten into anti-trust trouble when their monopolies become so vast they monopolize products and goods, prevent competition and innovation, and unfairly control and drive up the price consumers pay for those products. That was the rationale behind one of the first landmark anti-trust rulings, the one that broke up Standard Oil, and behind the decision that dispersed AT&T.

Net commerce works in very different ways, yet anti-trust law hasn't evolved. Microsoft didn't become a monopoly by jacking up prices, but by using practically the opposite tactic - in effect giving products away to obtain staggering market share. Gate's big idea was to make sure his company's software and operating systems were distributed so freely and aggressively they were on every desktop.

Once there, Microsoft could sell ancillary products forever, and play their primacy off against consumers as well as other companies. You can't buy Microsoft Word any longer, for example, without buying Microsoft Office. As Microsoft's operating systems controlled more than 90 per cent of the world's PCs, the company made billions by charging for related, bundled, updated or connected products. Judge Jackson is suggesting that this tactic - unique to the Net - may be monopolistic, thus illegal.

In addition, Microsoft protected this market share, according to Judge Jackson's findings, by ruthlessly buying, bullying or stamping out competitors and potential competitors. That's also against the law when done on so grand a scale.

This could conceivably be written off as old-fashioned, bare-knuckles competiveness. That the company refused to acknowledge such practices, and repeatedly misled a federal judge about them in a trial court, takes the case into another realm. In a way, this rattles investigators and regulators more than the accusations of monopolistic practices. It speaks not only to a manner of doing business, but to a willful refusal to accept responsibility or accept any authority but that of Bill Gates.


Judge Jackson's Third Finding of Fact: 'Through its conduct toward Netscape, I.B.M., Compaq, Intel and others, Microsoft has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft's core products. Microsoft's past success in hurting such companies and stifling innovation deters investment in technologies and business that exhibit the potential to threaten Microsoft.'

Still, it would be premature to do too much gloating. Concerns about whether the marketplace should ultimately have been permitted to make its own findings of fact are troubling.

If the explosive growth of networked computing - the rise of the PC, the Net, the Web, e-commerce - has proven anything about government, it's that real innovation takes place far from regulators, bureaucrats, lawyers and politicians. The Internet was initially sparked by government-funded research, but began to take off once government got out of the picture.

When it comes to the Net, Congress mostly seems to legislate lunacy. It has never shown the slightest inclination to intelligently consider the many serious policy issues raised by the rapid growth of the network, instead passing block-headed decency acts and fussing about sex online.

It's hard not to notice that the computing and software industries, the Net and the Web, all began growing so explosively at a time when Wall Street, government and journalism were paying almost no attention.

The Web's stunning take-off in the past few years is almost a textbook case of how a creative environment can flourish when it's left alone. Innovators, programmers and entrepreneurs were free to think outside the regulatory, cultural and commercial boxes that dominate American business and culture. Judge Jackson's ruling may mark the end of that period as well as the beginning of the Post-Microsoft Era.

Even though the judge dismissed them as still-marginal, powerful and resilient techno-movements like Linux and open source ("I think he underestimates the competitive threat of Linux," OS advocate Eric Raymond told Salon Friday) were already nibbling away at the monolith from one end.

Raymond may be right.

This year Compaq, Dell and HP all started shipping computers with Linux instead of Windows NT. International Data Corp. estimated Linux's server market share at 17.2 per cent this year, about half that for Windows NT. This year, a number of prestigious companies, colleges and universities, along with Southwestern Bell's network-monitoring center in Kansas City, switched to Linux, which Business Week earlier this year called "Microsoft's Vietnam."

Culturally, the Web has roared past Redmond. So-called "dot.com" ads flood commercial TV. Mp3s transformed the way music is distributed and sold in America. Ebay has legitimized the notion of global shopping and retailing. George Lucas's "Phantom Menace" was initially marketed and promoted on the Net. "The Blair Witch Project" showed that the Web can now, under certain circumstances, make a movie a hit. Earlier this year, online "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" fans rebelled over the WB's post-Columbine decision to delay the show's season finale. The video and transcript was all soon over the Web. These events all heralded the fusion of the Web with the entertainment industry. In fact, entertainment has become the primary consumer use on the Net, followed by e-trading, e-commerce, sports and sex.

Microsoft is not at the center of any of these critical evolutions. Of all the countless sound bites, opinions, and interpretations pouring online and off in the media all weekend, one stood out. It was from Tim O'Reilly, the CEO of computer book publisher O'Reilly & Associates, who said: "The frontier of innovation has moved beyond the sphere that Microsoft controls. I think there is more competition for Microsoft than there has ever been."

One of the many questions journalism ought to be asking in the wake of the Microsoft shock is how it managed to award Bill Gates so much space, print and videotape - he was on the cover of almost every news and business magazine in America, usually multiple times - and completely misrepresent his essential character, goals and philosophy.

More significantly, how did so many journalists miss the brutally, perhaps illegally competitive nature of his company?

Bill Gates had some prescient, even brilliant ideas about controlling the computer desktop. But was he ever really a visionary?

This is, after all, a man who never once mentioned the Internet in his first best-seller, "The Road Ahead," and who concluded his latest best-selling book, Business@The Speed Of Thought with this soulless admonition: "The next steps, which can happen project by project, are to connect these knowledge systems with existing business operations systems, to build new business systems on the new architecture, and, over time, to replace older business systems."

Now it's Jackson's ruling that's a sure bet to grace the covers of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News&World Report, as well as a host of business and computing trade publications.

In public this weekend, Gates was conciliatory and statesman-like. In private, he was reported to be enraged and defiant. That might be expected from a man who's spent untold millions building a vast, digitally-controlled mansion and who acquired many of the personal notes, diaries and sketches of both Leonardo DaVinci and Napoleon.

Microsoft will almost surely continue to make billions peddling cheap, generally mediocre software products for many times what it's worth to people who now have little choice but to buy and use it.

But all this proves is that in this sphere, it's possible to be enormously rich and successful and still rapidly become marginal, even insignificant. This seems to be Microsoft's curious fate.

If Gates stood for anything the past few years, it may be the looming confrontation between individualism and corporatism so perfectly embodied by the past and present history of the Net.

The Net was founded by individualists - hackers, scientists, engineers, gurus, hippies, academics, teenaged oddballs and social innovators. Increasingly, they find themselves - as so many Americans do - at odds with vast, predatory, innately greedy corporations, with Microsoft by far the most enduring and visible symbol.

It's not that such companies are evil - corporations can't be evil any more than they can be moral. It's that they inevitably, as the writer John Raulston Saul once put it in his book "The Unconscious Civilization," cause us to deny and undermine the legitimacy of the individual as a free and dignified citizen in a given sphere, time or place. The pervasive effects of corporatism on the individual, warns Saul, are passivity and conformity in those areas which matter and non-conformism in those which don't.

Microsoft and its founder have stood not for innovation, but for the acquisition of other's innovations; not for the free dissemination of information but for domination of the market for information that's disseminated. Meanwhile, millions of computer users have struggled through mediocre and buggy software, paying significant sums for simple programs they may or may not need while being deprived of the incalculable benefits that might have come from silenced, bought out or intimidated innovators whose ideas never came to light.

Those traits aren't unique to Microsoft. Corporatism is perhaps the dominant and most noxious ideology of our time. Confrontations between individualism and corporatism may well be the primary political struggles of the 21st century.

This conflict now moves onto the Net.

Corporatism online comes into almost head-on collision with the individualistic traditions that comprise the Net's most enduring tradition, from its earliest hackers to the programmers patching together the open source and free software movements.

It's hard to feel much sympathy for a man as arrogant or rich as Bill Gates, but one can't spend the last few days, poring through newspapers, trawling through websites and watching almost dependably mindless TV talk shows without thinking there's something tragic about Gates, Microsoft and the fading Microsoft Era.

Reading and re-reading Judge Jackson's blistering indictment of the world's biggest corporation, it's impossible not to wonder what might have happened if a corporation like Microsoft had been free to transcend itself, to really step outside the conventional corporate box.

As it stands, Gates' legacy has just been written by Judge Jackson, but it could have been radically different. Think of the software a company with $22 billion in the bank (Gates himself has close to $50 billion, at least as of this morning) might have created, the advances it could have made in information technology.

Imagine the computers it could have given away, the schools it could have equipped, the tech support it could have provided to the millions of newcomers struggling to get connected, the innovations it could have funded, the programming codes it could have shared, the small, struggling entrepeneurs it could have fostered rather than squash.

In this sense, Gates becomes an almost Shakespearean figure and, indirectly at least, a tragic one.

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I love it. (1)

Delta-9 (19355) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552648)

Cheers - To the fall of Microsloth.

[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (1)

dayeight (21335) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552649)

but, this is the Supreme Court, so Microshaft can't appeal right? Who'd they appeal too? If some shocking evidance was found ("Win98 is based on the MacOS, so apple has the monopolly!") could they appeal?

Funny thing (1)

schporto (20516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552650)

Why is m$ stock going up?
Friday afternoon it was down ~4. Now its down ~2 and has been climbing all day. Anybody got an explanation?
-cpd

Re:I love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552651)

This will only make Microsoft stronger.

does this remind you of... (1)

neko the frog (94213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552652)

apple's 1984 commercial? judge jackson as the hammer throwing east german athlete? hmm.

(note this an observation, not a message of system advocacy. so cheese it.)

It's nice but... (1)

Matthew Sullivan (83658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552653)

I dislike Microsoft as much as the next user but do we really need rulings like this? Aren't Linux and the other open OS's rising on their own merits? I suspect that regardless of Microsoft's practices a year from now just about anywhere you go when you buy a computer you will be asked what OS('s) would you like with it.

Re:I love it. (1)

ChrisUK (92178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552654)

Woo!

Re:Funny thing (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552655)

more buyers than sellers

Re:Funny thing (1)

iKev (73931) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552656)

M$st stock is down ~3.2 %, not much. Every mutual fund in the US has a piece of it..tey can't just start dumping the thing..

No biggie (1)

robbo (4388) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552657)

Well, the predicted crash never really happened- as of 11:00 MSFT was down only $2. The real winner today is RHAT which is up $17. Sweet!

Let's face it, there's still an awfully long road ahead for the DOJ and for linux as well. The news was more or less a buying opportunity for investors who managed to snatch up some discount shares when the stock bottomed out at -$6.

The war's not over!

Katz is a windbag (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552658)

Here's one netizen who doesn't believe that Microsoft is "predatory, ruthless, monopolistic, and greedy." They certainly are greedy, (as are all businesses) but they acquired their position by developing products their customers want and marketing them effectively. They are in essence being punished for their success, for being "too competitive, and making "too much" money. Microsoft has done nothing that other companies don't do on a daily basis. They're just better at it than other companies.

I think that consumers have benefited a great deal from Microsoft's products, and it sickens me that the government would bring them down to please the whiny mediocrities at Netscape and Sun.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Flame away.

This doesn't mean much at the moment (1)

MISplice (19058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552659)

This is just a finding of fact and does really mean anything right now. By the time we actually get to the damage stage and what should be done it is very possible Microsoft won't be dependant on Windows at all. As far as their investors go, they knew what Microsoft was/is and their stock price won't be affected that much in the long term as long as they continue to make a profit and keep the shareholders happy.

This is really a non-event. The only people who didn't see this coming were the ones that don't know anything about Microsoft beside their product came preloaded on their machine.

not really (2)

mjankows (21230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552660)

No, this is not a new era for mankind. I still got out of the right side of my bed and put my pants on one leg at a time this morning. My computer still ran linux, and a couple hundred million other computers still run windows, just like they did last friday. They still work with the same functionality(or lack thereof) as they did last friday. When Joe Consumer walks into COMPSUPERSTOREGALORE next weekend, they are still going to be presented with a variety of wintel options. This is a step, but this is not a revolution.
-Matt Jankowski

Re:Funny thing (1)

AndyRae (39251) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552661)

It was down about 7% or 8% first thing, and has been climbing steadily since then, with blips to about -5%, currently it is -2.875 (-3.14%). I've been enjoying watching it side-by-side with Be, who have been up to +103 %, Go Be :-)
As to why it has made little difference, well, as some of the comments have been saying, "It doesn't really change anything" - which I guess will remain true until the final judgement appears.

andy

Re:[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (1)

MISplice (19058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552662)

No it is not the Supreme court so Yes they can appeal. This is only the Federal court.

Re:It's nice but...(not really) (3)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552663)

Jackson does mention Linux and BeOS as competition, but states that they (we) have the same issues of breaking into the market as any other OS vendor. The biggest issue is the "chicken and the egg" problem, where an OS isn't "worthy" until it gets the apps. It doesn't get the apps unless it's "worthy". MS has gone out of their way to perpetuate this view. Yes, it's changing because of Linux and Be, but it's taken 7+ years to get to this point. Any commercial organization spending this much time and money to develop an OS would have been bankrupt long ago. And *that* is the point that Judge Jackson is making.

I agree. (1)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552664)

Punishing someone for success removes the desire for success.
The goal of capitolism is to make as MUCH money as possible. Microsoft just happens to have this knack.

Luckily we live in a "free" society and you dont have to buy MS products if you dont want to.

Most of the industry has decided that WinNT/98 is what they'll do because of the installed base. Why do car makers make cars powered by gasoline and not natural gas?

MSFT Stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552665)

This MS fiasco is going to be great for stock, just look what happend with AT&T and Standard OIL. wish i had some now.

Re:[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (1)

fr0g (63626) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552666)

I thought this was at a district level not the Supreme Court. Please give me a link or a clue if I am wrong.

the two faces of Billy Gates... (2)

rednic (8954) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552667)

as Jon pointed out, the mainstream oftentimes portrays Bill Gates as the hero of the new computing era, whereas people on the net more or less portray him as satan himself. My Dad knows who Bill Gates is, but he doesn't know what he does... for him, Bill Gates is one successfull software-dude...

It is wonderful that Judge Jackson has finally pointed out to the mainstream how Bill Gates runs his company and how he achieved his wealth.

I don't want to interpret this as a new era, but it certainly means a great boost for the linux and mac communities. :-)

What I find interesting (2)

jabber (13196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552668)

Katz is right, the 'off-line' people, who are not techies at heart, have admired Microsoft for a long time. They seem (those I know at least) stunned at the ruling that Microsoft has an OS monopoly.

But the vast majority of these people have never used, (and many have never even seen) a non-Microsoft OS. That just floors me.

Re:[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (1)

Oirad (19452) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552669)

Someone might have already answered this, but no, this was only Federal District Court, I think. There's still a few levels of appellate courts before MS could conceivably be arguing to the Supreme Court. However, I'm not even sure (from what I've been hearing, IANAL) that an appellate court would hear MS' appeal...

The Microsoft era has only begun (1)

Willennium (111241) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552670)

You have no idea how wrong you are. Nothing can keep Microsoft from being the #1 software company for decades to come - you Linuxlusers may be all happy now, but you will find that nothing will change because of this lawsuit. OK so maybe Microsoft is forced to change its practices. Well they've changed them so much already that would change nothing. OK so maybe Microsoft is lots of $$$. Well, with Bill being good for $50 billion or so, they can afford it. 90% of the websurfing world will still be using Windows, Internet Explorer and Office when this is all over. Microsoft doesn't need dirty tricks to prosper.

There are appeals available (1)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552671)

This isn't the supreme court. It's district court. The appeal is first taken to a three judge panel, then the full district court, and only then to the supreme court.

Microsoft also can ask for the law to change, legitimizing their practices through the political process.

The appeals process is premature, there first has to be a final judgement rendered (which should be this spring). Only then can an appeal be drafted.

TML

As a consumer... (2)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552672)

I sure as hell know that I benefited when they removed the OS/2 support from their C compiler and simultaneously refused to support all older versions of their C compiler.

I know that it certainly benefited my company in its quest to maintain a suite of OS/2 applications to be suddenly left with only an unsupported compiler, with no warning.

I'd continue on to describe the benefits I've personally felt as a consumer, but I don't the time...

Yeah well... (2)

Rabbins (70965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552673)

Microsoft's stock is down only about 4% right now.

Though anyone who competes with Microsoft is doing quite nicely today:

Redhat
Be Inc.
Oracle
Sun Microsystems
AOL

The thing is, this is not really bad news for Microsoft... kinda like Clinton being impeached, we have no idea what is really going to happen.

As for the fat, greedy shareholders of Microsft... they are going to be just fine. In fact, they would be wise to actually HOPE Microsoft is broken up. That would give them holdings in 4 or 5 extremely profitable companies, as opposed to only one.

For instance, holder's of AT&T have done incredibly well since the breakup in 1984.
It is a great thing to let these companies flourish autonomously... the best companies in the world today are extremely de-centralized. General Electric for example.

It reminds me of the AT&T breakup (4)

georgeha (43752) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552674)

There was a time, a few decades ago, when the only telephone service in America was AT&T, except for a few, rural phone corporations.

If you wanted a second phone, you could go to only one place, a Bell/AT&T shop, and pay an arm and a leg for a phone. True, the phone was so overengineered that it could survive being run over by tank, but it was very pricey.

Long distance was pricey.

Second phone lines were presumably pricey.

My parents were hackers, in a weird sort of way. Their biggest find at a garage sale was a telephone. Telephones were rare at garage sales, and much cheaper than buying one from AT&T.

They used their garage sale phones to wire every room of the house, but these were not AT&T authorized extensions, and the phones were not authorized phones, so if a repairman came over, we had to disconnect and hide the extensions.

Substitute Miscrosoft for AT&T, and phones for applications, and you can see what might happen.

In the future, you might get asked to switch word processors, this new competitor's word processor is 100% compatible, and cheaper too.

Operating systems might drop to commodity prices, except for the worthy free ones.

New ideas for computers might pop up and proliferate.

Exciting times,

George

Katz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552675)

I relly fail to see how this ruling will change anything. The best punsihment for microsoft is t have this trial go on into eternity, so they can't get up to their old tricks again.

Re:Katz is a windbag (1)

MISplice (19058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552676)

I would have to say you are right in the aspect that Microsoft has had advancements that have helped the consumer, and they are an extremely aggressive company. My problem is not that they make too much money but that they will do anything in their power to keep someone from competing with them if it seems a threat to their core business.. That is what they are on trial for, not because they are a "bad" company but because the way they deal with competitors is very possibly illegal.

I wonder..... (1)

kyanite (73015) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552677)

I kinda wonder if the judge type up his big fat report on a Linux box. The way the media describes him makes him sound almost like a Microsoft basher himself. Then again, he probably had it typed up in MS Word. That actually would be a bit more ironic and funnier.
_________________________
Words of Wisdom:

Re:No biggie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552678)

The Market seems to have pretty much shrugged off the news, actually. MSFT has been rising fast all morning, and is barely below Firday's close. It may end the day up. Certainly, it will end within one standard deviation of its average daily volatility.

Stock (3)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552679)

This is really having very little effect on MS stock. Aside from an initial fall of about $5 due to overseas (and after hours) trading it's not being dumped in any spectacular way - much to my surprise.

However if you think carefully about this, it's not too surprising. Fund managers aren't about to dump and run from one of their major holdings and major earners until something more happens. To them this is still just a minor blip.

The last thing people want is a panic on MS stock. The reason being that MS stock is often part of a larger fund, and to see that price go down sees the price of the fund go down. Analysts know this, and aren't about to create a frenzy.

I think also it's hard to see a negative outcome for Microsoft from this. We can only look at previous similar cases such as Bell (split up, but still getting bigger and stronger), IBM (punished, but still getting bigger and stronger), AT&T, etc. None of these companies have truly suffered at the hands of the monopoly police that would mean time to dump the stock. This is probably good news - stability in the stock market is good.

I think the truly beneficial outcome of all this is to wipe away the squeaky clean image of MS from the American (and a lot of the rest of the world) householder's viewpoint. And to finally give the players a chance.

Now we've just got to wait for someone to post how Red Hat are going to take their position :-)

Re:Katz is a windbag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552680)

Exactly.. isn't that the ultimate goal of any for-profit business? To develop the superior product/service and stamp out the competition? Seems MS has done just that, and now they're being punished for it.

Building a Monopoly (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552681)


Sorry, Jon, but Microsoft didn't become a monopoly by giving software away. It became a monopoly by making shrewd deals with computer manufacturers -- the same ones the Judge discussed as being rather unethical.

Unless you're talking about becoming a monopoly in the web browsing market (not the case), the web server market (not the case), the music software playing market (not the case), you're wrong. Microsoft has a monopoly in approximately none of the markets in which it has given away software. (Not that it hasn't tried....) Perhaps if Microsoft were truly innovative, things would be different.

Remember Windows refund day? There's the monopoly product.

--
QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4!

Re:I wonder..... (1)

bakert (57600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552682)

The report was in Word Perfect format according to the news site I read. Operating System was not mentioned.

If broken up, do they have to publish API's? (2)

chamelion (85030) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552683)

I've been reading that Microsoft might be broken into different companies, with one company doing OS work, another doing Office products, and another doing Internet work. My question is whether the Office and Internet companies could continue to create software using the undocumented API's that they are aware of in the OS.

If Microsoft is broken up, I think they should be forced to release all the undocumented API information that is being used by their products, or force the new companies to use only documented API's.

This could allow others to write more competetive office and internet server packages on the microsoft OS platform. (Not that I want the microsoft OS to be used, but competetion there would help!).

Honestly, are you serious? (1)

KurtP (64223) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552684)

Microsoft is not "just doing what everyone else does", as anyone who had read the finding of fact can easily see. In an environment where the cost of every other component of the computer has dropped by a factor of three or so, Microsoft software has held steady in price. In an open and competitive market, this is clearly an impossibility. As for being punished for being "too successful", that's even more laughable. Do you see breakup talk regarding GE, or Disney, who both bring in more revenue than Microsoft? Of course not, because they don't behave the same way that Microsoft does.

Honestly!

Let's not get too emotionally swept up here (1)

msuzio (3104) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552685)

*sigh*

Once again, Jon, you're trying to whip up emotion out of nothing. This is not the end of the "War of the Geeks", where 'our boys' win out over the Evil Empire. Those of us who hate Microsoft have really gained very little from this. It's not V-Day!
Microsoft isn't falling like the Nazi's, they are slowly (very slowly) becoming irrelevant like the Roman Empire as it declined. If you want to write a stirring story, portray the 'Geeks' as the barbarian raiders :-).

Re:I wonder..... (1)

nstrug (1741) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552686)

I doubt if he used MSWord - most lawyers use Wordperfect and if you look at the official site [gpo.gov] the text of the ruling is available as HTML, PDF and WordPerfect 6.

Nick

Re:[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552687)

Where did you get the idea that this is the supreme court? Judge Jackson is a Federal District Juge.

Re:Funny thing (1)

Phoenix Rising (28955) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552688)

It seems like every major market analyst has re-iterated strong buy ratings on MSFT this morning. Perhaps it's because if it lost out, the market would crash???

Face it - MSFT is the most widely-held stock on the market. It is the leading stock on the most widely-used index (the S&P 500) for investors. No-one wants to see it fall. If this holds up, Gates could probably resort to selling ice to eskimos and maintain the stock price!

It appears that guy stating MS stock fraud wasn't too far off!

Re:Katz is a windbag (1)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552689)

They certainly are greedy, (as are all businesses) but they acquired their position by developing products their customers want and marketing them effectively. They are in essence being punished for their success, for being "too competitive, and making "too much" money.

You didn't read Jackson's "findings of fact" paper, did you? MS are most certainly not merely being punished for being too successful. It is probably true that Sun, Netscape, etc. would happily have done all the same things that Microsoft has done, were they in a position to do so, but that doesn't justify Microsoft.

In general, I agree that Katz is a windbag, but for once in his life, this time he got it right.

Don't jump the gun. (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552690)

One of the biggest problems with the mainstream press is its habit of analysing everything to death the instant anything interesting happens. Those analyses invariably look silly a month or a year later, because they are always made too quickly, before things really settle. That's exactly what is happening here.

It is far, far too early to call this a "Post-Microsoft Era", either in referring to the trial or the effects of Linux. In regards to the trial, the true effects won't really be known for years, or even decades. It is silly to try to pretend that we know what this will mean for the future. We can't. We can just sit along and watch, and perhaps nudge our little part of it in the direction we want it to go.

In regards to Linux, there are a number of huge hurdles to overcome before it can really be a threat to Windows in the desktop market. (And most of them are not technical.) This ruling probably helps, but who can really say at this point?

It's going to be a long fight. (1)

nevets (39138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552691)

According to quicken [quicken.com] as of 11:00am EST MS is only -2 13/16 points down, and slowly rising. This is not surprising to me, since a lot of people believe that MS has the resources to fight/appeal against the ruling. It now goes to the Supreme Court where they are more "business" friendly. MS will survive, the only thing that could really damage them is a break up. I doubt that will happen, and actually don't really want it to. Although I think that MS should separate their OS from their apps, things are changing so drastically, I don't think it will help. I really don't want the government to punish MS too badly. I like the idea of a long fight, because this gives the opportunity for competitors to get back to where they belong. MS will be too scared to attack in full force because of the law suit, and that is where I want them to be. Let MS fight only with quality (hee hee) products, and not with shady deals.

Side note: Another thing that the Net has changed and wasn't mentioned is politics. Just look at Jesse Ventura, who ran his campaign only through the web. And he won!!!

Steven Rostedt

Post-MS World? (1)

Scott (1049) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552692)

I wasn't even aware Microsoft was gone!

not the post microsoft era (2)

trance9 (10504) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552693)

POST-microsoft era? What a laugh.

I don't think you people realize just how much money Microsoft has. When you have that much money, then the rumors of your demise are sure to be greatly exaggerated.

Let's suppose that MSFT is forced to stop using it's Win32 monopoly as an unfair advantage. What would they do? If I were MSFT, I'd work hard to create a brand new monopoly. Perhaps my low flying sattelites would give me a wireless bandwidth monopoly. Perhaps my WinCE platform would give me a monopoly on embedded systems. Or perhaps I'd finish kicking the pants off Netscape and build myself a healthy browser monopoly.

Think they would need the unfair advantage of a Win32 monopoly to do this? Wrong. When you're sitting on the worlds biggest pile of money, you can buy your way into just about anything you like. MSFT could afford to give all these things away for years and years and years, until there was nobody else left, just on the basis of the money they have.

But, even if they failed to do that, would we then be living in a post Microsoft era?

Nope. The first thing they'd do is release Office-2013 for Linux. It would be a hugely successful product, and they'd take home pots of money from selling it. Corel/StarOffice/Applix would still get crushed by the huge Microsoft marketting machine, able to bring more resources (ie: Money) to the battle than everyone else combined.

Also notice that I said Office-2013--let's be realistic, that's about how long it's going to take for this decision to have ANY practical effect. It will be 2010 before this thing gets out of appeals, and Microsoft will be given a couple of years to implement the decision at that point.

We won't be living in the post Microsoft era until that enormous fortune is somewhat diminished.

Re:The Microsoft era has only begun... NOT! (1)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552694)

Unfortunately, the MS trial focuses on the wrong issues. MS lies to their developers (this is the entire win32 API... honest!) and they use unpublished OS tricks to improve their own applications performance. They change their products to intentionally break competitors products. They make their cross-platform products crippled for non-MS operating systems while promising comparable performance.

In short, MS is guilty of massive, systemic fraud along a wide range of issues and across a long time span.

MS shouldn't be the target of an anti-trust prosecution. They should be the target of a criminal RICO fraud prosecution.

TML

And Novell is up more than 5% (1)

haggar (72771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552695)

IBM is oding fairly, too!
In other words, all the "nasty" gusy who were more or less anti-MS.

Yes. (1)

addison (80477) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552696)

Aren't Linux and the other open OS's rising on their own merits?


Partially, and partially _because_ of MS's bloat and attempt to monopolize everything.


But the preloads of Linux, the media attention? Wouldn't have happened without the DoJ trial.


Notice that the Dell and Compaq preloads happened under a week after testimony what happened if OEM's preloaded other than Windows?


I suspect that regardless of Microsoft's practices a year from now just about anywhere you go when you buy a computer you will be asked what OS('s) would you like with it.


Why? How? That wasn't about to change. Why would someone support a 2-5% OS, and incur 100% increase in their 95% OS?


Yes, we needed this ruling. Other companies did. Microsoft did. They've been believing their own PR - and now perhaps they'll start actually TRYING to make better products.


Internet Explorer 5 is one of the few products that has advantages (still arguable) over the competition. Has file/print sharing been improved? Not really. What about stablity? Not really. Clustering? Nope.


In fact, a lot of things about Windows have gotten far far worse.


And as of 2 weeks ago -OEM's were not allowed to give you Windows, period. Only in a format that would ONLY install on your system.


Many many better products have hit the road and been run over by the OEM preloads and secret contracts. Now - these are in the open, we've got a federal judge's ruling, and things (may) change.


Perhaps Linux (or something else) would have supplanted Windows - that's unknown. But in the desktop arena, it wasn't making that progress (yet).


And as things stand, if everyone who buys a machine next year from an OEM installs another OS - Windows records 50% of the sold/installed OSes.


Lets not forget OS/2 has stomped Windows into the ground in terms of *sales* (not preloads). I imagine Linux is passing OS/2, or has. Certainly in terms of installs, (not preloads, or re-installs of preloads).


Yes, we needed this. Despite the strength's of any of the competition.


Addison

And Novell is up more than 5% (1)

haggar (72771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552697)

IBM is oding fairly, too!
In other words, all the "nasty" gusy who were more or less anti-MS.



Don't celebrate yet... (1)

Aqualung (29956) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552698)

I'm not a Katz-basher, but I have to disagree with the premise of this article. Calling this the "Post-Microsoft era" is probably a bit on the premature side. Gates is a very smart man (in a very evil-overlordish way) and I seriously doubt that this is going to mark an end of some sort for M$. Somehow Gates doesn't strike me as the type of person (unfortunate as it may be) that will just curl up and die when he loses his big marketing club that he can beat everyone over the head with.

OTOH, hopefully this will set him back somewhat, and wake people up to the (better) alternatives that are out there. At the very worst, it won't have an effect one way or another, and any benefit to the OpenSource/Linux/BSD movement is better than none.

----
Dave

"I love chess! It is like ballet only with more explosions!"

Re:No biggie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552699)

Ehhhh wrong ... but thanks for playing ... The Real Winner today appears to be BE that is up a whoppin' 82% (ok only $3 but anyway) .... SUN is rising to at the moment at about 7%.

Pre-installed linux? (1)

decsnake (6658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552700)

IMO none of the big guys would be selling systems with linux pre-installed if it hadn't been for the lawsuit. It provided the large OEMs enough protection from M$'s standard business practices to allow them some freedom to innovate.

Recall that that M$ threatened to withhold Windows from Compaq when Compaq was considering pre-installing Netscape. Do you suppose that M$ would have permitted Compaq to offer systems with linux when they wouldn't even allow them to ship a competing application?

If nothing else, the suit has accomplished this.

Shareholder lawsuit? (1)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552701)

On this theory of better value via breakup isn't MS guilty of corporate malfeasance by not breaking up MS? The board of directors of MS is charged with maximizing shareholder value, not building a monolithic empire. If shareholders would get a better deal if MS broke up, the board is legally obligated to break up.

TML

typical Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552702)

At least he got his Columbine reference in there. I liked it better when he was writing columns he said point-blank he was not knowledgeable about, like that made-up "the dog ate my Linux box" story instead of these long winded rehashes of a topic he (incorrectly) THINKS he has a clue about.

You're just ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552703)

MS is not being punished for "making too much money". Nor are they being "punished for their success". Actually, no punishment has been meted out yet. Being a monopoly isn't illegal. Using a monopoly position to crush competition is illegal. This is the law that MS violated. This is what they will be punished for.

My .02 (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552704)

What's really scary is I've seen two people on here already defending Microsloth with hatred and virol. Sad.

This changes nothing except a few opinions in the media. now they get a big new story to report.

I don't think Linux was gaining as fast as Katz and Raymond hope. Both seem to hav his naieve idea that the "market" (spoken in tones that bring to mind worship) would have eventually evened things out is naieve and down right stupid. This is a corporation that _Controls_ the market. That's what a monopoly is.

Biggest corporation? (1)

penguinicide (73759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552705)

...indictment of the world's biggest corporation...

Um, according to the fortune 500 index, last I heard General Motors was the largest with revenues of ~$161 billion.
Microsoft rated 109 in the Fortune 500 index making ~$14 billion.

They may be the largest computer software corporation tho.

Re:The Microsoft era has only begun (1)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552706)

That was a troll, right?

Re:Funny thing (1)

rkms (12026) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552707)

Probably one or more of the following:
  • Fear. Large-scale selling of MSFT would crash the US (and world) market.
  • Apathy. Despite what Katz said, the ruling is still to come. No judgement has been made yet.
  • Uncertainty. Institutions will be able to take a small hit to their MSFT holding whilst waiting to see what happens in the mid- to long-term.
  • Corruption. Micros~1 are probably burning reserves like mad buying their own stock. Check the volumes traded figures for sharp upward movements.

Re:[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (2)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552708)

The court is officially responsible for determining the facts. Then, as a separate matter, it is responsible for making a judgement based upon those facts.

As a general rule, the facts themselves are very rarely disupted in an appeal, only the interpretation of those facts (the judgement).

So this is in a sense more important than the judgement, because the judgement can be overturned upon appeal, but any appeal has to use these findings as its base.

D

----

Punishment? (1)

8ballcane (65010) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552709)

With the US government in a much greater position to leverage a settlement out of microsoft, what do you think will come of the settlement and/or ruling? If microsoft has some small bit of intelligence in the area of politics, though none has been seen yet, they will go for a settlement.

I doubt that the government will want and try to split up Microsoft, just because they are (sarcasm) a shining example of the US economy. I do see, however, the following:

1. Huge fine. It's something that microsoft has in bushels, so it wouldn't hurt them too much. Maybe something on the order of a half to a full billion.

2. Stop the OEM contracts. Either stop microsoft from using price leverage, or allow no difference in the price for selling copies with or without a certain product.

3. Stop putting IE with windows. This was the straw that broke the camels back. A link can be put up to download IE, but the web browser installed can be left to the manufacter.

As for the breaking up of microsoft, I can only see this happening if ms is stupid enough to appeal and go on to the court. This gives us a 60% chance of this happening, so it's possible.

In a way, it would be worse if microsoft was split up. The smaller companies would stand a better chance of survivng if any other part fell. If microsoft fell together, it might sell of its parts, giving them a greater chance of being bought by someone who might open source them, or at least release API's.

Re:Funny thing (1)

greulich (87871) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552710)

M$ is not falling because, despite the ruling, nothing is going to be settled for many years. Judge Jackson's findings were so harsh against M$ that the government is in a position to ask for pretty much whatever it wants. M$ is going to let this thing go through the courts, and then appeal the decision. It will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court. We are talking years before this is finished. In the meantime, M$ will continue to be profitable. Hence the near term strength of the stock. My 0.02

Open Source's success, could it beat MS by itself? (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552711)

A little reminder in time line for those gov't-bashing libertarians who believe that Linux's and OSS can overthrow MS by themselves and therefore are a proof that 'gov't' intervention is useless in this case ...
When did the Microsoft trial began? About a year ago, isn't it? And since when did Linux start to become mainstream? About the same time, isn't it?
I can't claim that it would'nt have happened otherwise, but no one can claim the opposite either ...

Sigh... (2)

Seth Scali (18018) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552712)

Okay, I have problems with antitrust law-- I don't consider them right. But I also won't hold up Bill Gates as a visionary who creates "trailblazing" operating systems (http://microsoft.aynrand.org -- ugh!). But I'm going to put aside the moral and political issues for the moment and say this:

I really wanted to see Linux kick Microsoft's ass. I wanted to see Linux, NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and other open source alternatives (even GNU/Hurd) take the place of Windows. And I think it would have happened.

Let's take a look at the following: Western Union was in the business of communications. Messages were telegraphs sent via morse code over copper wires. Along came this goldurned telephone thingy-- it couldn't *possibly* compete with telegraphs! It was an interesting toy, but it had no practical value, and nobody wanted to use it. But telephones are now so commonplace that you have very few situations in which you need to use Western Union. So now WU isn't so big. Why? Because they forgot-- they were in the communications industry, not the telegraph industry. They forgot what business they were in.

Or how about railroads? They're still a big method of transportation. It's still profitable to be in the railroad biz. But not as profitable as it used to be. Why? Because the railroad companies thought that they were in the railroad business-- not the transportation industry. Along came trucks. Trucks were extremely regulated in the beginning, due in part to the legislation and lobbying done by the railroads. But trucking won out-- it's a more common mode of transportation today. The railroads lost because they forgot what business they were in.


Now look at Microsoft. They're in the software business, right? Well, that's the business they *could* be in. But they're in the Windows business, not software. And this Linux thing, this Open Source stuff-- it's the equivalent of trucking to railroads, of telephones to telegraphs. While railroads and telegraphs are still used to a small extent today, telephones and trucks are more common.

Microsoft was on its way to doing massive damage to itself. It wasn't going to go away completely, but damned if it wasn't going to suffer like every other company that forgets its origins.

But now, if the appeals exhaust and the DoJ has its way, Microsoft is going to be dismantled by the government. And that's a lot less exciting to watch. It's like watching all sorts of character development in a tragedy-- you know the hero's tragic flaw, and you *see* how his downfall will come-- only to have the hero killed by a bit player. It really *sucks*.

Oh well... enough of my ranting. I'm not trying to advocate a political, social, or economic viewpoint here, I'm just saying that I'm going to be much less amused at Microsoft's slow death because of this. Such is life, I suppose...

Just my $0.02

Analysts called MS a good buy this morning (1)

MagPulse (316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552713)

On CNBC, they showed MS with two "strong buy"s and four "buy" recommendations right around when trading started. Who knows why, but that might've either helped or have been a good indicator of what was going on.

And it was also said this morning that any money that companies will get from MS will take 5-6 years to get. While the govt. and competition wait around trying to do something, Microsoft is still moving and profiting.

Re:Yeah well... (1)

OneThreeSeven (101738) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552714)

For instance, holder's of AT&T have done incredibly well since the breakup in 1984.

In fact, no company that the US has brought anti-trust lawsuits against has done poorly, even after a breakup. One thing an anti-trust lawsuit says is "This company is dominant in their market," and investors like that.

Katz Bash
If Jon had done some homework, instead of his typical poor job, he'd know Microsoft's "Fat" shareholders (of which I am one) realy aren't all that worried.

Re:Katz is a windbag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552715)

> Here's one netizen who doesn't believe that
> Microsoft is "predatory, ruthless, monopolistic,
> and greedy."

So you don't think Micro$oft telling Compaq, "If you ship Netscape on your desktop you will lose your OEM discount" is "predatory, ruthless, monopolistic, etc" then you might want to look those terms up in the dictionary.

I do agree however that they really are just greedy, at least you didn't try and say, "oh there not so bad they're just innovative"... :)

(I can't think of a single "innovative" thing that Micro$oft has ever done)

Analysts called MS a good buy this morning (1)

MagPulse (316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552716)

On CNBC, they showed MS with two "strong buy"s and four "buy" recommendations right around when trading started. Who knows why, but that might've either helped or have been a good indicator of what was going on. Well, okay, I know why.. because they knew it wouldn't fall too hard and they don't think anything will happen to MS, just like the Clinton impeachment analogy.

And it was also said this morning that any money that companies will get from MS will take 5-6 years to get. While the govt. and competition wait around trying to do something, Microsoft is still moving and profiting.

Re:Funny thing (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552717)

MS was added to the DOW last week.

Opinions are like..... (1)

addison (80477) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552718)

Here's one netizen who doesn't believe that Microsoft is "predatory, ruthless, monopolistic, and greedy."

Well, that's certainly your choice. However, the trial, and the Findings of Fact would greatly damage that opinion of most people who hadn't made up their mind.

Its very obvious that Microsoft has been EXACTLY predatory (and by definition has a monopoly), and greedy. They doubled the price of Windows 98 - because they could. And even most Microsoft _defenders_ admit that they're "ruthless" and say that its the American way...

So the best you can really argue is predatory. Again, read the memoes from Microsoft. Welding on Internet Explorer (IE is a trademark not owned by Microsoft, and they promised not to use it) _because_ even when it was included and free - people weren't using it.

They are in essence being punished for their success

They've not been "Punished" at _all_.

This was the findings of fact. Any punishment will be a seperate phase - or in another trial, such as Caldera. And their success is not at issue - their illegal use of a monopoly is.

And they may be punished for that - they did break the law.

I think that consumers have benefited a great deal from Microsoft's products,

As is your right - and further, not even the point at hand. They may have. They've also been damaged by the lack of competition.

and it sickens me that the government would bring them down to please the whiny mediocrities at Netscape and Sun.

The "government brought them down" because they broke the law. And violated a court order.

And Sun's court case is in civil - not antitrust.

Would you like to explain why they shouldn't be prosecuted for breaking the law?

Many criminals are successful - do we only prosecute the unsuccessful ones?

Read the FoF. Much of Microsoft's recent "success" was in violation of the law.

Addison

Linux marginal? (1)

FortranDragon (98478) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552719)

I think Linux is marginal on the *desktop*. I think it is going to continue to be marginal on the desktop until there are developers that create world class apps for things as varied as basic accounting stuff (we all like to get paid, right? :)), personal tax software, geneology, hobby specific software (things like PC Stitch), and of course, games.

My point is that there is a wide variety of necessary and/or desired software out there that people look for that isn't cool for programmers to be working on. Stuff that you have to _pay_ programmers to develop. (I'm a programmer myself :) and a bunch of stuff I work on I wouldn't touch if I wasn't paid to do so.) Until we start seeing more basic, mundane programs such as Star Office, Linux just isn't going to be a real option for most users (and this assumes that the stuff is given away for free -- if developers charge for it the barriers for Linux get even higher).

Ultimately if people want to marginalize Microsoft they are going to have to fulfill *all* of the functions and services Microsoft provides, better, cheaper, and faster.

Re:Stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552720)

That, of course, didn't affect CNN, who at 8:30AM had as a top headline "World Markets Slip on Microsoft Ruling" or some such bullshit. I did some digging and couldn't find an article or even any mention of a significant slip.

It'd be nice if they reported ACTUAL news instead of made up news.

Yes and no (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552721)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with regulation. Without -some- regulation, Microsoft would have been far more agressive than it was. Katz, himself, admits this. A more agressive Microsoft, unhindrered by any regulation, would have bought the entire games industry and most of the Internet as well.

(Microsoft, together with Bill Gates, probably has more money than the net worth of Nintendo, Sony, the US Internet backbone, Netscape, Yahoo and the Bell companies, combined.)

Can you imagine what life would be like, without regulation, and the only TV stations with licences are all Microsoft-run, the only pre-packaged food you can buy was all Microsoft-made, and could only be cooked in a Microsoft oven, the only software you could buy was all Microsoft-made, and the only Internet ISPs and backbones were all Microsoft-run?

That's the soft of world we would have had, had there been nothing to slow Microsoft down. Before castigating the Government, Katz should remember that Microsoft was trying to run it's own global satellite telephone service, involving 1000 low-orbit satellites. With so many satellites, travelling so low in orbit and so close together, Microsoft would have basically controlled all space operations, globally, because they could control where and when it would be safe to launch.

As you might gather, I'm no libertarian. I don't believe in letting someone wield god-like power on the hope (and prayer) that they'll be a benevolent God. Doubly so, when they've shown no signs of being a benevolent mortal.

On the flip side, I agree that this wasn't unexpected to a lot of people. The idea of Microsoft being a monopoly is "old news" to a lot of people who have been on the Internet for a while.

Last, but not least, Judge Jackson did NOT "diss" Linux, BeOS or other OS'. He made it clear that he did NOT see them as competition on the desktop, which they aren't, and only a fool would think otherwise.

If ESR takes insult from the Judge's words, that is his problem, and has nothing to do with either what was said or implied. What was said was that Linux is not a desktop OS. It's not, it's a server OS, and most of it's sales have been in the server market, displacing both low-end Unix systems and Windows NT. BeOS is also not a general-purpose desktop OS, although it could be. Be, Inc, have chosen to constrain it. Stupidly, IMHO, but there you go. It ain't a rival for Windows 2000, however you cut it.

Legal Loopholes... (1)

Pollux (102520) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552722)

Here's the annoying thing about Microsoft appealing (and the annoying thing about our judicial system in general):

The ruling took place in a Federal District Court. If Microsoft were to appeal (which is pretty much guaranteed at this point), it would go to the District Appellate court, who then decides if the case has enough power to be appealed to the next level court. I forget what it's called, but there is one other, higher-level federal court before the Supreme Court that Microsoft could appeal to.

But the pain of the matter is this: Microsft (and their billion-dollar lawyers) could drag this case on for AT LEAST another eight months. Minimum. Truthfully, I wouldn't be suprised if it takes at least another year. The time it takes for preparation for an appealate hearing takes months. If the Appellate court allows them to appeal, that's another year, and who knows how long from there.

Of course, by that time, the case would become meaningless, since Linux would take over the desktop world by then! :)

Re:Yeah well... (IBM) (1)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552723)

IBM did pretty poorly in the late 80s after their bout with the US. Stock prices slumped pretty seriously. It's just now that they're really recovering.

Be careful what you wish for ... (1)

dgb2n (85206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552724)

I would like to momentarily set aside the emotional baggage that is so unavoidably attached to the topic of Microsoft monopolistic tendencies and propose some likely results from this lawsuit.

I will not argue that Microsoft's practices were predatory. They were. I also won't argue that Microsoft is a monopoly. They are.

That said, consider the results of a Microsoft breakup. The likely scenario bandied about by financial analysts it that Microsoft could be divided into 3 or more separate companies. A typical breakout is: 1. Operating System Software 2. Application Software 3. Network Software systems. Even if the company is divided this way, Windows will still be the default operating system on > 90% of consumer systems sold. Breaking the company up won't change that and the separate company will likely have to charge MORE not LESS for the operating system to compensate for the fact that: 1. OS's are their only source of revenue and 2. They will continue to lose a greater portion of the server OS market to Linux and Sun. End result, higher OS prices rather than lower. Thanks, DOJ.

Now consider the application software business. For consumer software, simple business practice would indicate that developers would develop for OS's for which there was the greatest potential for sales. Still Windows. Think about it, IBM wouldn't port DB2 to Linux until they had a viable market in the Linux community. Most developers will hold their nose and continue to develop for Windows simply because it has the largest installed user base to which to market their product.

The monopolistic damage has already been done. Sure they're a monopoly. We just better start asking ourselves if cutting them into pieces won't just create three angry snakes to battle instead of one slightly crippled one. Lets cripple the beast, not dismember it.

I just hope everyone starts to analyze rather than emotionalize (is that a word?) this issue.

Dave

Key Mistake (2)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552725)

You're making one HUGE mistake in evaluating his ruling. It is NOT illegal to have a monopoly. It is NOT illegal to compete as disgustingly as you can to get that monopoly. Once you have a monopoly, you can even charge high prices. However, you CANNOT act terribly competitively once you get that monopoly.

You cannot use your status as a monopoly to kill competition. That is what the law says, and that is what he found that Microsoft did (so his finding of fact is a pretty safe guess). You cannot use a monopoly to try to establish another monopoly.

Basically, under Anti-trust law, your monopoly may be a cash cow, but you can't do much with it, because anti-trust law serves to protect competitors that will help customers.

Microsoft was allowed to release Internet Explorer. They could probably give it away free, although that might have been considered dumping (but dumping requires P MC, not P AC, so unless you can prove a marginal cost for distributing another version of i.e., you can't prove dumping. Basically, according to economics, there are times you should take a loss on a product, but you should never set production so that you are losing money on a particular unit, just overall, i.e., high fixed costs) but probably not.

Had Microsoft included IE on Windows and Office CDs, they probably would have been okay, although it would have violated anti-trust laws. However, by requiring customers to install IE, it potentially hurt them, because they lost an option and got nothing.

Companies are welcome to bundle, but once you have a monopoly, you play by different rules.

Imagine a small tow, with a few market, and only 2 roads in. Imaging that both roads are owned by he owner of the market and they are toll roads. If he jacked up the cost of bringing food in for suppliers going anywhere but his store, that would be antitrust violations, because it would prevent the market from competing assuming there were sufficient barriers to entry to build another road.

However, if two market owners each owned a road, they could be as disgusting as they want as long as they didn't collaborate. Customers would be better served with a dozen suppliers, but there will be competition, because each owner will try to undercut the other. If the owners collaborate to rip off the customers, then that would be illegal collusions.

If the market owner owned all the roads and charged rediculous tolls, he would be entitled to that. As long as he didn't use his monopoly to try to steal another monopoly (the grocery markets), he can profit from his monopoly. If he threatens unions or businesses that are trying to build a third road that he will starve them out while they try to build it, that would be erecting a barrier to entry to protect his monopoly. If he sat there as a fat cat making profits, and when the new toll road owners tried to make the same profits dropped prices to compete, then the market would be working as it should. If he dropped his road maintenance to a loss to drive out competition (so he could jack his prices up), he would then be breaking the law.

You can compete as much as you want. However, as a monopolist, you can not use that monopoly as unfair leverage. You can profit all you want, but you have to fight competition when it arrives fairly. You can't use your existing monopoly to destroy others.

Alex

Re:What I find interesting (1)

TMB (70166) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552726)

I don't think anyone off-line didn't think that MS had a monopoly. I think what they're shocked at (and I haven't talked to any non-techies about it yet, so take this with appropriate amounts of NaCl) is how MS leveraged their monopoly in nasty ways.

[TMB]

Re:The Microsoft era has only begun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552727)

Potentially Microsoft may not exist in its present form any longer 'when this is over', as they may be split up into separate companies.

Re:I agree. (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552728)

Luckily we live in a "free" society and you dont have to buy MS products if you dont want to.

That's exactly the problem. Until the anti-trust case went to court, you DID have to buy a MS product if you wanted a laptop. If you wanted a desktop, you could avoid it, but only by avoiding all major vendors. That's not exactly free.

Why do car makers make cars powered by gasoline and not natural gas?

You can special order a car that runs on natural gas. You also have the option of moonshine for any car.

Quotes and quotes (4)

ChrisRijk (1818) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552729)

Here's some stock quotes: Microsoft [yahoo.com] , RedHat [yahoo.com] , Sun [yahoo.com] and Oracle [yahoo.com] . MS is down but recovering, but all the others are up - Red Hat by 20%!

At The Register, there is an interesting article: Judge: Linux can't break Windows monopoly [theregister.co.uk] . See also, What will happen if Microsoft finally loses? [theregister.co.uk] , Judge's ruling opens way for Caldera Win95 suit [theregister.co.uk] , Caldera judge finds MS 'grossly misprepresented' facts [theregister.co.uk] .

At Reuters Business News, there is this report: Silicon Valley Cheers Microsoft Ruling [yahoo.com] , I liked the quote from a Sun lawyer "The aura that surrounded Microsoft as this all powerful, inexorable force that always won has now been significantly diminished,"

On Sun's website, on Friday, they put up this page: Sun Responds to Department of Justice vs Microsoft Case [sun.com] , where they give their own ideas about what to do to MS:

  • Microsoft should be prohibited from buying the distribution channels of the future (e.g. cable and wireless) and from buying rather than inventing technologies. Microsoft's unfettered use of a cash hoard created out of monopoly profits is a competition killer;

  • The government needs to foster competition in the software industry by assuring that the technical interfaces of Microsoft's monopoly products are open;

  • Microsoft must be forbidden from entering into exclusive or preclusive agreements;

  • Microsoft must be required to make their pricing policies non- discriminatory and public.

re: The Microsoft era has only begun (1)

Oirad (19452) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552730)

I honestly think you're forgetting something. As has been stated in this article, this has been big news. The media, up until now, has portrayed Bill Gates as a quiet, philanthropic, good guy. People can't exactly imagine him doing anything like what Judge Jackson penned in his Findings.

Microsoft and Bill Gates took a *huge* PR hit Friday evening, and while they may be able to recover in a business sense, I don't think they'll be able to overcome this blow to their image. You're right, this may make no immediate difference in what operating systems are placed on millions of OEM computers. But this could be the first step that makes lots of computer buyers who aren't overly tech-savvy think "Well, maybe I don't want to support this kind of man/company, I'm going to go buy an iMac." Or it could push some more people towards Linux, or something else.

In the short term, yes, Microsoft isn't going to be affected to heavily. But in the longer term, I think this is going to cause problems. Personally, I am hoping Judge Jackson decides to break up Microsoft, like AT&T. I think that would benefit the consumer the most out of any of the other possible outcomes. I especially like having an Office Division out there...it's about the only thing I still use my Windows partition for. Star Office is coming along, but I still have my own problems with it.

Re:Biggest corporation? (1)

weloytty (53582) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552731)

They are talking Market Capitalization (num shares outstanding * price), where MSFT has (according to yahoo) 453.8Bn. AFAIK, the second biggest (according to market capitalization) is GE, with 438.4Bn.

SOme thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552732)

Ok.. Facts are nice and all but let's see some other "HARD FACTS". MS has LITERALLY enough money to buy the whole US 2 times over. Even if they are fined astronomical amounts of money they will just go about it like "business as usual". No matter how much they are asked to pay they will make it back in no less than 1 year. Breaking it up? Laughable idea. We will have MULTIPLE companies that will be exercising illegal tactics then. And what will breaking up MS achieve ? NOTHING. It is Allready hard enough to keep an eye on ONE microsoft. Imagine 3-4 of em! And i wonder what gave the silly idea that the "children companies" will be in a worse position? They will be in essence one company again fighting on different fronts. They will STILL have the API's they will need to tie the producst even tighter together , they will STILL have all the money in the world they would need. AND on top of that we will have MULTIPLE comapanies trying to "embrace" the current standards. We will have multiple companies that will be bullying up to the OEM's. We will have multiple companies that will be pushing their way on top and there will be nothing to stop them.... Not even the great DOJ will be able to go against multiple companies of that magnitude anymore. Leave em be and put watchdogs over them. Everytime they cross the line bring them down. Do not let them practise illegal tactics anymore. Make em pay a reasonable fine so that the gov can afford to pay some watchdogs to monitor MS closely. That is the only real solution i see. As much i dislike MS i can't see any other solution than that. Making them pay some money will not achieve anything. Breaking them up will even make things worse.

Re:Katz is a windbag (1)

drMental (60513) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552733)

If GM had the only engine (OS) that can use gasoline, diesel and natural gas (Apps) and they told Ford, who was developing a possible alternative engine, that if they did not stop the development they would not be able to buy the GM engine and thus loose all their sales. This is in fact what the judge found in the MS ruling.

Re:Funny thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552734)

Well, over the weekend the stock price DID go down. I'm suggesting this is what happened. Friday it closed at 91. Today it open at 84. Microsoft is currently a very solid investment. (Hey, they lock users into their operating system and force them to buy new OS's every few years just to stay compatible.)
So, after the inital plummet this morning, every stock trader who has his computer set to buy (MSFT) at, say, 87 goes beserk. Trading mostly involves percieved value. You can read all you want into MS's price.

Later
ErikZ

The challenge of the findings (2)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552735)

We're more or less civilized nowadays, so we can't expropriate Microsoft and destroy them.

We can break 'em up, but that's not going to make their OS into any less of a monopoly.

We can slap 'em with fines and distribute the results to their competitors. I don't know how much good that will do; most of the affected companies are actually not doing that badly. Netscape is part of prospering AOL; Sun is, well, Sun; Oracle is, well, Larry Ellison; etc.

The best solution I see is a breakup, but look what that did to AT&T. The original AT&T is being re-formed pretty darn quick nowadays. So was all that antitrust effort for naught?

In the end, the only way to end Microsoft's dominance is to consciously choose to use non-MS products - which is not something antitrust law can control.

I don't see any type of penalty that would actually make a difference in the way the world worked today.

Thoughts?

D

----

Re:[question] pardon my legal ignorance... (1)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552736)

Flamebait warning. Not everyone is from the United States, and not every American has the Supreme Court Justices memorized. I can understand how someone (who admits that they have legal ignorance) could confuse this as a Supreme Court issue.

Where did you get the idea that Judge Jackson is a Federal District Juge? Judge Jackson is a Federal District Judge

I LOVE it when picky people make mistakes!!!

Re:I agree. (1)

Paulo (3416) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552737)

Luckily we live in a "free" society and you dont have to buy MS products if you dont want to.

Per processor OEM licenses, anyone?

Re:Yeah well... (2)

jflynn (61543) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552738)

I tend to agree a breakup of Microsoft might even prove beneficial to them in the long term. I don't think the judge or the government will go for that however.

If a baby Bill was making Office and nothing else, they would still be able to bully OEMs and vendors with the threat of witholding sales. The upgrade treadmill would still be running using the same closed proprietary format. You could easily end up with three companies, all monopolies in their market, still needing further regulation.

A behavorial remedy forcing Microsoft to play fair would be far more effective in promoting competition and getting Microsoft back on track. Holding Gates personally responsible for it's enforcement seems like it might work to me.

Re:I agree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1552739)

Actually, with three of the last four computers that I purchased, I was FORCED to buy either Win98 or WinNT. The companies refused to ship a machine without an MS operating system. I had to build my own machine from parts to avoid paying the Microsoft Tax. Random consumers are not capable of doing that and (at least until very recently) were stuck with Windows.

Re:Biggest corporation? (Stock value) (1)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552740)

In terms of market cap (# stocks X stock price) MSFT is the largest, at about 450B (that's Billion) dollars US.

GM has a market cap of 45B, and GE (former market cap leader) is 440B.

Re:Funny thing (1)

xyzzy (10685) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552741)

Actually, I believe that AT&T is the most widely held stock, by a large margin. But they might have recently been passed by Lucent (stands to reason -- all AT&T shareholders got Lucent stock recently)

Re:I agree. (1)

Stalky (31519) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552742)

'The goal of capitolism is to make as MUCH money as possible.'

No, the goal of capitolism is to move the seat of government from one city to another as often as possible, so that the resulting construction can give the economy a boost -- what's that? Capitalism?
Oh.
Never mind.

And AAPL is hitting All-Time highs... (1)

The Cunctator (15267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552743)

AAPL is at all-time highs, too. It hit 91 before subsiding to 90 1/4...

Note what's happening: Microsoft isn't really being hurt, but it's competition is doing better. Funny how that's what antitrust law is intended to do. And institutional investors recognize that.

Re:Linux marginal? (2)

blazer1024 (72405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552744)

Well, this whole case was really about the desktop, wasn't it? It originally started because M$ bundled IE with Win9x. Maybe NT workstation could come into play, but it's really about monopolizing the desktop. M$ really doesn't monopolize the server market, because you've got *many* choices when it comes to that, Commercial Unices(Many of them), NT, NetWare, etc. This is really only where Linux could be considered a threat to M$, and that's why Linux shouldn't be considered a competitor to Win9x.

umm, superior? (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552745)

to be superior you have to have something inferior, that something doesn't exist. If the goal for any business is to hurt consumers (read the FoF if you don't agree) than M$ is a great company.

Re:Analysts called MS a good buy this morning (1)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552746)

Oh course! Take a look at the other companies that were broken up as a result of anti-trust cases. The best (and most recent) is AT&T.

If MSFT gets broken up, the smaller babysofts will still be making money, and 1 share of MSFT gets translated into each of the BSFTs.

What's this net commerce crap?? (1)

Big Jojo (50231) | more than 14 years ago | (#1552749)

Judge Jackson's ruling was, in fact, by far the most significant and far-reaching intrusion into Net commerce by a federal authority, and represents a landmark judicial effort to begin writing Net law.

But there was no intrusion at all into "net commerce". Not only is the case not about net commerce, but a finding of fact isn't by itself going to do anything. Similarly, this has NOTHING to do with "net law".

That could have lots of implications. Judge Jackson wasn't just curbing the power of a company, he was also seeking to redefine anti-trust law as it applies to commerce online.

Again, online commerce isn't the issue.

With "facts" like these, we don't need BillGatus of Borg to tell us his version.

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