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Microsoft To Go Straight to the Supreme Court?

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the interesting-application-of-law dept.

Microsoft 499

Seth Scali writes "It appears that Microsoft's appeals might not take as long as everybody thought. According to an article in the New York Law Journal, it seems that an obscure federal law, called the Anti-Trust Expediting Act, could allow the DoJ to skip the regular appeals process and take it straight to the Supreme Court. Since the judges in the federal appeals court were sympathetic to Microsoft last June, there's a very real possibility that the DoJ would make use of the law. "

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Question (1)

mischief (6270) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548061)

What are the possible outcomes if it does go straight to the supreme court? What's most likely to happen - Microsoft getting split up, fines, or what?

--

Good. (2)

Lamont (3347) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548064)

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I think everyone would agree that it is best for all the parties concerned if the case is brought to a final resolution quickly.

Of course, there can be no appeals until the Judge is finished. Remember, all that has been issued so far is the FoF.

Over anytime soon? NOT! (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548067)

If what I read was correct, the MS lawyers could still drag the case on for another 10 years even *if* this law is invoked. They could simply argue that the law is vague.

I sure would like to see this case come to an end sometime before 2002. But it seems that this is just going to be a make-work project for the law industry... "I've graduated from Law school and am unemployed. Hey, I know! I could join the Microsoft defense team. I'll have a job for at least 15 years!"

More great news! (1)

cruise (111380) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548070)

This is great to hear! I've been sitting around griping about the millions of dollars (which ultimatly come out of our pockets) which MSFT could waste in the process. This should reduce the costs involed a lot!

I, for one, don't want to see microsoft go away alltogether but they need to be slapped and hard! Giving credit where credit is due, Microsoft has played an enormous role in bringing the masses online and as much as people like to complain abou the masses "infecting" their little net-places, it would be a whole lot more boring without them around to point at and giggle.

Taxpayer Saves $$ (1)

Luke (7869) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548073)

By skipping the innumerable inevitable appeals Microsoft would follow, we'll all save a few bucks by them going straight to the top. Plus, we'll all know the answer sooner.

Microsoft's bad, m'kay.........

Implications (1)

Shaheen (313) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548075)

Does Microsoft really want to tread that water? Look at the past history of Microsoft in the court room.

Judge Jackson has presided over Microsoft in court before - and each time been heavily against them. Also, we should all be reminded of the 1995 consent decree - thou shalt not bundle.

Against the government, Microsoft has had a horrible time in court. (Against other corporations, on the other hand...) Does it really make sense for Microsoft to pursue a ruling which, in all likeliness, will not be awarded to them?

It might show that Microsoft truly stands behind its premise of "innovation" and "providing the customer with the best products," and God knows they have enough money to do it, but what if the Supreme Court doesn't just disagree with them, but places further punishment on the company? (Are they allowed to do that, btw?) It'll just bring Microsoft more into the spotlight and get even more people lined up to bring them to court.

Re:Question (3)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548077)

Well, for one thing, it won't stall in appeals.

Second, the DoJ could get some setbacks in appeals, since some courts between Judge Jackson and the Supreme Court are sympathetic to MS.

Third, there won't be anywhere else for MS to go except make a deal now with the DoJ, or take their chances with the Supreme Court, which could be worse than a deal with the DoJ.

Gosh. (3)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548078)

This one took me totally by surprise; I'd sort of assumed that the FoF was an interim step, and that all decisions for the next ten years were going to be appealed. This would have made the whole series of trials pointless; as MS pointed out, the computer sector moves fast, and by the time the supremes got their hands on the case, it would've been irrelevent.
Now it looks like we may see a resolution; my bet this means MS will have to settle.

Re:Question (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548179)

That's why there are arguments on both sides. It is for the judge to determine what is going to happen. There is no way to predict what each side is going to argue. Nor is there a way to predict what the judge is going to think.

Hyuh? (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548180)

If the DOJ is prosecuting, then Microsoft ought to be entitled to exhaust all possible legal remedies - including a long drawn-out appeals process. That's how it works for private citizens. I think MS is guilty as h*** but they're still entitled the same protections you and I enjoy, IMO. However, IANAL.

--

GOOD news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548185)

Wow, this is great news!! Microsoft can't keep everybody tied up in court! woohoo! This will also save us tax payers a lot of money in court costs.

The damage is done...years ago. (0)

drwatt (10850) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548190)

It won't make a difference to anyone! The damage has been done. Doesn't matter if its appealed for years or expedited. The ruling does overall allow me and others to justify bitter feelings towards Microsoft...

Re:Gosh. (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548199)

Now it looks like we may see a resolution; my bet this means MS will have to settle.

I think the choice to settle is lame. It's basically admitting that you are guilty. It's a form of blackmail where you can say to the prosecution: "I can delay this case for years, so if you give me a break in punishment, I will end this ordeal now".

Re:Gosh. (1)

vectro (54263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548202)

Well, actually the FoF _is_ an interim step. Next Year Judge Jackson will announce his Findings of Law, which will include what he thinks should happen to Microsoft.

Then we can take it to the Supreme Court. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This is _exactly_ what is needed (5)

Keelor (95571) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548205)

The decision needs to be made now (now being within the next year or two, no more) as to what the punishment for Microsoft should be. The judge has found that Microsoft has shown monopolistic behavior--I think just about any judge will agree with that. However, the Supreme Court must decide what to do with that. Four or five years from now, which is when the case could finally get to the Supreme Court under normal circumstances, there is a good chance that Microsoft will no longer be a true monopoly. Even if it is, it will not be a monopoly of the same form, as Gates & company are surely being more careful about who they shoot down right now and will continue to do so for a while.

The important thing to realize here is that, unbelievably, this case is somehow bigger than Microsoft. If 4 years from now, this case is appealed to the Supreme Court, there is a chance they could turn down the case as no longer being worthwhile if MS has lost it's position of power. That would completely lose the point of this case--it's not whether or not MS is a monopoly (it is) or whether it abuses that position (it does) but whether or not the US government has the right to tell any software company that it can't use any means necessary to gain market dominance. This is where the true importance of this case lies, and the Anti-Trust Expediating Act may be the only way for the Supreme Court to really make that decision. There could be another MS in a related market years from now, and it would be nice to be able to stop them before it was too late.

~=Keelor

Re:Hyuh? (2)

luge (4808) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548208)

When you boil it down, what we as private citizens get is the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. This is exactly what MS is getting- except they get to skip all the intermediate crap. While this may not actually be of benefit to MS, the point of the appeals system is to find "truth." They do have the right to that-and since the Supremes are the ultimate arbiter of "truth," that right is being provided in full. Though we take it for granted, no one has the right to delay and obfuscate- so they aren't losing anything.
~luge

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (1)

vitarre (106212) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548212)

At least this way Microsluff won't have too much time to formulate a convoluted defense. I think it helps level the playing field just a little. But you're right, whatever the outcome, it will be too little too late.

Re:Good. (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548228)

All parties except for one. If a negative judgement is in the offing (and given Friday's ruling, it seems likely) then it is in Microsoft's best interest to stall things as long as possible.

For us consumers, though, you are right. It would be best to get this resolved, one way or another.

Re:Hyuh? (1)

luge (4808) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548231)

When you boil it down, what we as private citizens get is the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. This is exactly what MS is getting- except they get to skip all the intermediate crap. While this may not actually be of benefit to MS, the point of the appeals system is to find "truth." They do have the right to that-and since the Supremes are the ultimate arbiter of "truth," that right is being provided in full. Though we take it for granted, no one has the right to delay and obfuscate- so they aren't losing anything.

~luge

Re:Hyuh? (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548235)

Well, its about time the DOJ expidited this along. I remember Microsoft doing battle with the DOJ about the same things that started around 1995. When will it end? How many more cases will open up due to competitors being wiped out due to Microsoft?

Whoa. (1)

borzwazie (101172) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548239)

This is a surprise. I expected the same situation IBM went through in the eighties. The process went through the courts for about ten years in the appeals process, and I believe that IBM really didn't lose much but time.

Whatever happens, Microsoft is an integral (if annoying) part of our economy. The wanton destruction of such a huge company would only hurt us.

This leave MS in a nice position, really. We can slap them about, but we (as a country) are so dependent on them, that destroying them would hurt the economy.

It will take far more intelligence and foresight to deal with the verdict than I have. :)

Hopefully a breakup will follow (0)

dhms (3552) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548241)

Hopefully a breakup of M$ will follow any supreme court review. Even more appealing is the possibility that Bill will be sent to JAIL for knowingly breaking the law.

If he's not sent to the can, the obvious message is tht its okay to be a monopolist, break the law, make a lot of money and then get to make more money.

hmmm... maybe we should all be monopolists... :-)

Re:Over anytime soon? NOT! (1)

NYFreddie (84863) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548249)

I don't think they can drag it out for 10 years based on the vagueness of "final judgement". Interpretation of the law is the business of the courts. A judge would simply make a decision on what final judgement entails. Personally, I don't think "final judgement" is vague at all.

Re:Hyuh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548250)

That's how it works for private citizens.

But corporations are not people.

appeal at any level is likely to be successful (1)

whitey07 (111124) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548252)

THe fof written by Jackson was so poorly constructed from a legal point of view that any appeal is likely to succeed regardless of the merits of the case. The fof contains many holes and overreaching conclusions that any judge would find unexceptable. Don't be surprised if the Supreme Court orders Jackson to try again. Ed

Gosh -- They Are Guilty, They Should Settle (1)

David Jensen (1987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548255)

It's basically admitting that you are guilty.

Since they are (see the Finding of Fact), the faster they settle the smaller the likely punishment.

This really isn't new (2)

luge (4808) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548265)

While the law is obscure, the NYT (for one) reported on this months and months ago, shortly after the trial started. You can be sure that lawyers on both sides have been well aware of it, whether or not it has been mentioned publicly- neither side would benefit by publicizising something that the other side has a chance (however slight) of not knowing.
~luge

This could be great (1)

routecoder (63471) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548270)

I'd like to see the Microsoft case in front of the supreme court today. I think the justices we have there are much more reasonable than Judge Thomas Pinhead Jackson -- perhaps Microsoft would stand a decent chance of being exonerated, as they should be.

Visit my page at www.defendmicrosoft.rog [defendmicrosoft.org] for reasons why.

--Blake

This strategy backfiring? (3)

Hrunting (2191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548273)

Is it really in the DOJ's interests to take this thing to the Supreme Court right now? I may be wrong here (and if anyone has the current statistics, please post them), but I think the Court is majority Republican right now, which means that getting a decision against Microsoft would be a little harder to do (even impartiality is reliant on human views). I can understand the DOJ's pursuit of this quickly in light of what looks like a strong Republican showing in the polls, but I think the Supreme Court will be a lot more sympathetic to Microsoft's arguments than Judge Jackson was.

Again, I may be wrong about the makeup (I'm just going by my current events knowledge), but the DOJ has to remember that they are still playing in a very political arena now.

It's essential to be FAST (1)

cribeiro (105971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548277)

I agree entirely with rde - this case must scalate to the Supreme Court as soon as possible. Otherwise MS will make it go forever, appealing on every court and using all the time possible. This industry changes too fast to allow for it.

Will MS settle? I dont know, but I am a little curious... what would be MS proposal? Would it give up some division of the company? What will be the most probable outcome of this settling?

Oh geez. (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548281)

Microsoft can't keep everybody tied up in court!

So now when Microsoft takes advatage of its legal right to appeal this case, it is "tying everyone up in court?" Who started this lawsuit? And why is it Microsoft's fault that the courts take forever to get things done?

Anyhow, I think this is a bad thing, because the longer this thing is tied up in court, the less damage the government can do to the computer industry in general and Microsoft in particular. I'd be perfectly happy if the trial drags out to 2010, at which point web browsers and operating systems have all been replaced with wareable computers with voice interfaces. The less control the DOJ has over computer products the better.

Let's see something happening (1)

gotan (60103) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548283)

At first i thought: wow now Microsoft is going to get some (justified) really bad press after that ruling. But now it seems we're going to see something more substantial soon.

Anyway, i think this is only the start of it, since this sets a precedent for many other cases where Jacksons ruling will be cited. Also microsoft will get the heat for their business methods in other countries too (wasn't there some case in France?).

Supreme Court (2)

razvedchik (107358) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548287)

Assuming, of course, that the Supreme Court takes the case. They are not obligated in any way to take any case, and they usually take only cases concerning Constitutional Rights of lack thereof.

Every year, hundreds of cases have the opportunity to go before the SC. The SC decides whether to hear a case only if it is in their interests. They are free to pick and choose which statements they wish to make about the Constitutionality of any case.

Another option is that the SC delegates the case to a District Appellate, a more likely situation, because the case is not Constitution-based and therefore not the job of the SC. The SC does have such authority.

Re:Hyuh? (1)

sharv (71041) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548289)

Well, I guess you'll have to take it up with whomever proposed, drafted, and eventually voted the Expediting Act into law.

While IANAL either, I presume the concept behind the Act is this: by their very nature, antitrust actions involve defendants who are gigantic corporations with vast, vast resources at their disposal. That translates to "an army of sharkskin-suited lawyers who can tie up the case in appeals for the better part of a lifetime".

I suspect the idea is to get the case resolved before the issue in question is rendered completely irrelevant by the passing of time. Look at how much changed in the 13 years the IBM antitrust case was ongoing - can you imagine that the pricing of HTML 3.2 browsers will still be relevant in the fall of 2012?

(Disclaimer: yes, I know the DOJ vs MSFT case is about more than browsers, but it illustrates my point.)

So where's an injuction? (1)

RISCy Business (27981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548291)

You know what's desperately needed? An injuction that freezes Microsoft's acquisition fund.

You see, Microsoft just bought a whole bunch of cable companies around DC. Yes, that's right, Microsoft. NOT Charter Communications, but Microsoft proper. And they've been shoving WebTV and cable modems and their new long distance service down everyone's throats.

I don't know about you, but it'll be a cold day in hell before I use M$ long distance. Qwest's leased-line service is absolutely horrific at best currently, and they're supposedly one of the best. BAH. The DOJ needs to clue in and stop Microsoft NOW before they taint everyone. If this is a jury trial (IANAL), Microsoft has just eliminated every possible juror in one fell swoop.

Re:Question (2)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548293)

Getting split up is by far the most likely outcome, and the one that both the WSJ and FT seem to have expected in yesterday's editions. Weaker remedies would have been to have fined the company, to impose restrictions on the kind of bundled features that MS could include with its OS software.


These aren't likely remedies by themselves anymore: the severity of Jackson's initial rulings suggests a similarly severe outcome. The FT suggested that dismantling MS along product lines would be the most likely punishment, and it is rather hard to see how it could otherwise be achieved.


I haven't seen any mention elsewhere (ie. other than on slashdot) of the idea of releasing the source to Win98/WinNT/IE under an open source license. It would be a nice remedy in that it would transform them overnight into non-monopoly goods without restructuring MS or interfering with its `right to innovate'. It would badly hurt MS revenues, but that sounds inevitable anyhow: it seems a much more tenable outcome today than it did before the ruling.

Time is a factor that should not be forgotten. (1)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548311)

In my opinion there is another reason why it is very likely that the DOJ will follow the strategy outlined in the article and move up to the Supreme Court right away. It is time... The case against IBM was in the courts for 10 years. The DOJ realizes they just can't have Micro$oft stalling this indefinitely. If they move up the speed of the case, they might actually have a chance of ending this before the end of the world and having a ruling that actually has any relation to why they started with the case.

Beyond losing access to that potentially sympathetic court, Microsoft faces an even greater problem from the Expediting Act. It precludes a party from appealing until a "final judgment" is issued -- in other words, until Judge Jackson has his say not only on the law's application to his findings of fact, but on what remedies should apply to Microsoft's antitrust violations.

This would be a great thing for the DOJ, cause it keeps everything restricted to one court and lets their resources be concentrated on one place. This way Microsoft can't use divide and conquer. I am a bit worried about the position of the 19 states in this. Could somebody shine his or her light on this?

dangerous (1)

eries (71365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548313)

I have all along maintained that this case is very dangerous, primarily because of its precedent-setting nature. If the case goes to the Supreme Court along a fast track, the danger is magnified. I don't like MS's practices any more than you do, but I don't really want the whole Internet/technology sector subject to a legal ruling that is driven by a lot of anti-MS public sentiment. I'd much rather have a series of incremental FoFs from federal judges than an all-or-nothing ruling from the SC.

Does this mean that MS might get off a littl easier? Yup. But that's a price I'm willing to pay in order to protect the industry's long-term innovative rights.

Can MS be forced... (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548319)

...to stop production? Since the case has focused primarily on the OS and integration of products, is it really fair to stop their total production or only the Win2K staff? But considering that the new versions of apps that MS brings down the line will be optimized to the Win2K standard then, they too, will be semi-integrated since they can make use of proprietary calls that create a faster environment for working. So they too fall in to the category of integration. Can the DoJ really stop the total production line of MS and if it does, what does this do for the industry? The answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. I think this also points to the reason why a MaBell breakup would be the best choice. Because if MS wants to see the babies succeed then they have to open up the calls available to all companies because the DoJ will probably put in clauses to keep MS from reforming by partnerships between the sub-MS companies. That's as much as I can say from these two copper coins in my pocket.

Re:Hyuh? (1)

Komodo (7029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548323)

I'm not a lawyer either, but you know that one way or another this is going before the supreme court anyway. It's relatively cheap for large organizations to push a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court, and this basically cuts to the chase.
MS will appeal any unfavorable decision So will the DoJ. I imagine that the rationale behind the Antitrust Expediting Act was that the legislature realized this would happen and wrote the law to avoid wasting the public's time and money, and to make sure that justice obtained IS relevant to the current day.
The Expediting Act is not a disruption of Due Process, one of the things nearest and dearest to my heart. It just cuts out all of the irrelevant appeals and gets to the only one that CAN matter, in the end.

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (1)

routecoder (63471) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548327)

No "convoluted" defense is necessary. Everybody who bought Microsoft products (from OEMs and partners to end users) did so by their own choice. If no one wanted microsoft products, no one is forced to buy them. The fact that windows is so prevalant in the market underscores the fact that it has been the prefered choice of most users and businesses. I (like every other slashdotter) have been free to use Linux, BeOS, MacOS, DR-DOS, or whatever other software and applications we select as a best value for our desires.

Contrast Microsoft's agreements with customers (which occur by the voluntary censent of both parties) with the tactics used by the government -- if you don't want a government product (such as anti-trust, or a particular use of your tax dollars), Janet Reno's henchmen come after you with guns. I certainly haven't heard stories of troups marching from Redmond, storming the houses of people who didn't use windows!

Check out www.defendmicrosoft.org [defendmicrosoft.org] for some good links on this topic.

You can still use and prefer linux for yourself, while defending Microsoft's right to produce products it chooses to and sell them to people who are willing to buy them!

Re:Gosh -- They Are Guilty, They Should Settle (1)

palop (80846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548330)

And if they don't settle, the FoF can be used in other law suits against microsoft. After all one of the great hurdles in law suits against microsoft is to show thay they are indeed a monopoly. If microsoft does not settle, the FoF can be used as a proof for microsofts monopoly and make civil law suits from competitors much more likely to succeed. By settling, the FoF can be inadmissible in those cases.
At least thats what i have been able to understand from legal analysts in the media. IANAL, so the above should be taken with a kg of salt.

Palop

Re:Over anytime soon? NOT! (1)

solar (94732) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548332)

Yes they could argue that the law is vague but the Judge can simply say "The law is NOT vague" and be done with it. Supreme Court, supreme court, yaaay supreme court!

I would like to see the court order that from now on the operating system and anything bundled with it must be open sourced. Let Microsoft [vcnet.com] bundle IE [mozilla.org] with Windows 2000 [winblows.com] then!

My $0.02 worth.

Re:Hyuh- something wrong here? (2)

plunge (27239) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548334)

It might be misleading to say that anyone can appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court can simply choose not to hear a case. There does not exist a "right" to have your case heard or even paid attention to.

This is old news (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548336)

But it sure doesn't hurt for more people to know about it. I first heard about this in a Register article shortly after the anti-trust trial began, and mentioned it two days ago [slashdot.org] (though I admit it, I was wrong about exactly what act it was: IANAL.) I'm really surprised it hasn't been more extensively reported in the press. Here's a very fine link [cornell.edu] . Note particularly this part [cornell.edu] which says basically that BillG could do time in the slammer for all this.

I'd like to put another prediction on the table: the issue of whether remedies are going to include a large fine is far from settled. Consider that one way to prevent Microsoft from making predatorial acquistions is to confiscate the war chest.

Re:Over anytime soon? NOT! (1)

beagle (99378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548339)

I don't think "final judgement" is vague at all.

That depends on what the definition of is is. Or what you mean by non-Microsoft browser.

:)

Re:Good. (3)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548352)

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I think everyone would agree that it is best for all the parties concerned if the case is brought to a final resolution quickly.

I think that Microsoft would be interested in dragging out the case as long as possible. Why? The longer a case drags out, the more money it costs. If a case is drug out long enough, someone is going to run out of money and will be forced to drop the case. And Microsoft certainly isn't going to run out of money first.

That's why it's imperitive for this case to be resolved as quickly as possible. I have a feeling that Microsoft knows they are dead guilty, and must find absolutely any way of getting out of the case. Relying on public opinion to sway the case didn't help them, so now I believe they will use time.

In an extremely short time I predict that we'll see the mighty PR machines spewing out garbage about how the case should be dropped because it is costing taxpayers "too much money".

-Brent
--

Re:Hyuh? (2)

NYFreddie (84863) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548355)

A corporation is not a private citizen. Additionally, this law applies only to antitrust situations. Where this occurs, the company is rich - very rich from prospering from the monopoly status. If they were able to tie it up in courts, there would never be any legal action against these titans. They would eventually manage to buy their way out of it, or diversify enough that the original ruling would have little or no effect on the whole.

Additionally, the Bill of Rights and Constitution are in respect to people - not corporations. Suing/filing charges against a state sanctioned entity (a company) is not the same as bringing charges against the CEO of said company.

Just my $.02 worth.

Re:Implications (2)

plunge (27239) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548358)

It really depends on what their chances in the Supreme Court ARE. I mean, there really isn't such a thing as "the government" that they're facing here. They'd be facing the conservative Rehnquist court.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548360)

I saw the opening of the source and allowing other Companys to use it, on Dow jones News Wires

I don't think a breakup will change anything... (1)

jdwtiv (107586) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548362)

How about something totally different, since Microsoft's primary weapon against other companies was using OEM pricing to force the PC manufacturers to install Microsoft only products, why not take away their OEM prices.

This way PC makers and consumers will have a real choice!

Re:please oh please oh please please please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548363)

The offenses, such as they are, are pretty widely spaced, as are their consequences to consumers/public/etc. Clinton's dalliance with an aide led mostly to the unfortunate destruction of a (now) very expensive garment and rendered the US the laughingstock of most of the non-sex-obsessed world. Microsoft's dalliance with its greed resulted in the unfortunate strangling of the computer industry as a whole and no one laughs anymore.

Still, I don't wish to see MS wriggle out of sanctions either -- as they did with the Sun-MS Java case, where the court injunction ordered MS to make the Sun JVM available, and MS complied by burying it eight pages deep in small type on a page hidden from search indexers, deliberately to comply with the letter of the injunction whilst avoiding the spirit entirely (this is in the FoF, about page 105 or so).

Now, if MS had gone off for quickies in the bushes with, say, a VAX terminal, and turned up at W3C meetings brushing leaves off itself and finding its cigars too soggy to light, then it'd be a different matter.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548366)

Most possible outcome on appeal:

Supreme court refuses to hear case and lets it stand.

Second most likely:
No preliminary injuction if heard(this is good).
lets stand 5-4, or overturnes remedy which could in itself go either way(i.e. too easy, or too lenient).

Least probable:
Overturnes findings of fact.

economic impact of the FoF & punishments (2)

mackga (990) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548368)

One card that ms and its supporters will be looking to play is the economic impact of ANY punishment to the company. Anyone remember Bill&co's pathetic attempts to manipulate the econmic fears of a delayed Win95 launch - I recall either bg or sb saying that the stock market could loose big time!

Now, how much you wanna bet that any of the judges getting to hear the appeal will be hit with an arguement about present economic reality outweighing past corporate misdeads?

(While I applaud the conclusions in the FoF, I'm not too sanguine about the ultimate punishments for ms.)

So, since this case will get there sooner or later, anyone out there follow the supreme court wrt this type of ruling? Other cases that have come before the court? Individual judge's published decisions re big business and such?

I've been tellin' people this for months... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548371)

...because it was reported months ago on a fairly wide basis.

(Our culture really has a zero attention span.)

Yes, this would be a good thing, I think, because MS has shown that they can leverage their monopoly to maintain certain controls even in the fast changing industry (didja see that IE is now by far the browser leader?).

They were successful in boinking Sun on Java, nearly doinked Apple on QT, and well, things just keep rolling. The only thing that's slowed them down is that they've put on their best during the trial.

Re:Gosh -- They Are Guilty, They Should Settle (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548372)

Since they are (see the Finding of Fact)

In fact they have not admitted guilt, nor should they. The FoF is a lot of high-sounding nonsense, which shows little more than "Microsoft has a large and stable market share, and works to aggressively defend that market share from competitors." Despite Judge Jackson's contentions, I see nothing immoral or illegal about that. He ignored several viable alternatives (most notably Apple) and more importantly he completely failed to demonstrate harm to consumers. Yes the FoF is bad for them and they will probably lose, but to admit their guilt would be big mistake, both legally and morally, since they are not guilty.

Re:Hyuh? (2)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548382)

If the DOJ is prosecuting, then Microsoft ought to be entitled to exhaust all possible legal remedies - including a long drawn-out appeals process. That's how it works for private citizens.

This case is going to end up at the Supreme Court anyways, there's no one who doubts that. So any of the decisions made in court before the Supreme Court is just irrelevant. Since the only decision that counts is the Supreme Courts', you may as well go straight there and prevent Microsoft from not only continuing to waste millions and millions of taxpayers dollars, but also prevent them from continuing to engage in anti-competitive practices for many years in the future.

-Brent
--

Re:Gosh -- They Are Guilty, They Should Settle (1)

hadron (139) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548383)

How exactly are Apple an alternative seller of operating systems for Intel computers (the scope of this trial).

Re:Hyuh- something wrong here? (1)

BranMan (29917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548387)

Nope - I think it is entirely correct to say that anyone can appeal to the Supreme Court. However, like a prayer, your appeal can go unanswered. There is no right to have your case heard by the SC, but you have every right to *ask* them to hear it.

By the way, I think this is a really interesting development - and quite in line with what the Anti-Trust Act is supposed to do. Rather than have a decision dragged from court to court endlessly - and the public bearing the brunt of the delay (they ARE being harmed, by the nature of an Anti-Trust violation) - the delay is bypassed by going directly to the Supreme Court, if warranted.

Judging by the 'new hires' by the DOJ, I'd say MicroSoft is in deep, deep trouble.

Re:This strategy backfiring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548388)

Judge Jackson was appointed by Reagan.

My guess is that the conservative judiciary would keep this ruling. After all the democrat representatives are more pro microsoft on the news shows than the republicans with the exception of the one from Redmond's district. After all Bill Gates is ideologically much closer to the the democrats. Just look at the positions of his charity.

Re:appeal at any level is likely to be successful (1)

Myddrin (54596) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548390)

Are you an anti-trust lawyer? If so please cite why you feel this to be so.
If not please point me to your sources.

I'm asking because most of the anti-trust experts are saying there isn't much room to argue with.
I'm really curious as to why you disagree with them.

Re:Hyuh- something wrong here? (1)

kuro5hin (8501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548395)

If the Supreme Court decides not to hear your case, they are, in effect, making a decision to uphold the ruling of the lower court. They are still the ultimate arbiters of truth.

----
Morning gray ignites a twisted mass of colors shapes and sounds

Old Law, not Obscure Law (2)

CocaCola (30016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548397)

The expediting provision is simply an old law. You cannot call it obscure just because most US presidents were backed by big business and as such they chose not to litigate monopolies. (eg. Raegan and Bush) The Shermann Act has only been applied 3 times, and you can name dozens of monopolies/kartells which survived for a long time. (eg. CocaCola [:-)] and Intel)
By this very same logic the Constitution is obscure as well just because it's old? Expediting makes lots of sense, wasnt it Microsoft who complained about the lengthy legal process preventing them from focusing on innovation?
Microsoft's only hope seems to be the other Bush becoming president - he was quoted saying: 'my administration will always prefer innovation over litigation'.

Didn't MS make the case for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548398)

Didn't Microsoft already make the case for using this law? After all, everything in the software industry moves so fast that by the time the case reaches the SC (via the normal appeals process) it will be totally moot. ;-)

Let's take it straight to the Supreme Court. Counter-arguments in January, ruling in February, and hopefully the SC can hear oral arguments during the 2000-2001 term. That even beats the presidental election!

BTW, this law actually makes a lot of sense. If a company allegedly holds a monopoly, it's a given that it's influence dominates its industry. How many of us haven't started our own small businesses for fear that MS would come in and wipe out everything we worked our ass for, at the first sign of success? The 'net is still an extremely dynamic environment and *we* can't form our small businesses until the MS case is settled... and a few years is an eternity for a group of friends wanting to start a garage business. If you're just out of college, the gamble is probably still worth it. But if you have a kid and 2.3 mortgages...

Re:This is _exactly_ what is needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548401)

>Four or five years from now, which is when the
>case could finally get to the Supreme Court under
>normal circumstances

The point of the law is this isn't normal circumstances. It could be this year or next that it would be appealed to the supreme court and that is the only appeal then. If they refuse to hear it that in affect is a ruling in the DOJ's favor.

Re:appeal at any level is likely to be successful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548410)

You forgot to write IANAL, right? I read plent of articles, and most said the FoF was very well constructed and nearly bullet proof, because a FoF is the judges opinion on what has been proven in his court room. There's not a way to appeal what the judge feels has been proven. Not to say they can't win an appeal, but it won't be because of the FoF... Pick up a copy of the Saturday NY Times...

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (1)

Foz (17040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548413)

Everybody who bought Microsoft products (from OEMs and partners to end users) did so by their own choice.

What color is the sky in your world? I have three licenses to Windows... none of which I wanted, all of which I was forced to accept (and pay for) because the manufacturer wasn't allowed to sell me a bare system.

It's only just now starting to be a choice, but it wasn't a choice for many years. Remember all the Microsoft Refund Day brouhaha, or were you out touring alternate universes that day?

-- Gary F.

Re:Question (1)

AndyL (89715) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548414)

This would be a perfect solution (Win2000 as Open-source). IT would force Microsoft to come up with a better product or be left behind by those that do. They could still make money off windows but it would have to be in a more fair way. (Like Redhat and Linux)

But does the court have the authority to do this? I can't imagine MS agreeing with this in a deal with the DOJ.

Re:Gosh -- They Are Guilty, They Should Settle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548417)

You are making the mistake of taking some 12 year old kid seriously. Read his comment and read some of his older posts. I'd say he's about 10-12 years from becoming semi-intelligent.

The Supreme Court (1)

fizzbin (110016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548420)

I agree that the outocme in the Supreme Court is unclear. But don't assume being "conservative" has anything to do with this. Conservative Rush Limbaugh has come down as solidly pro-Microsoft, while conservative Robert Bork has supported the DOJ's antitrust action. Anyway, only 3 of the 9 justices -- Rehnqiust, Scalia and Thomas are reliably conservate.

Re:Whoa. (1)

beagle (99378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548422)

we (as a country) are so dependent on [Microsoft], that destroying them would hurt the economy.

This is one of the problems with the company. It's a terrible thing that this single company is so large that people are afraid of reprimanding it for fear of adverse, widespread consequences. A single company should not have that much control of our economy - it's dangerous.

the M$ defense team (1)

shaldannon (752) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548425)

... or the OJ defense team ;)


Who am I?
Why am here?
Where is the chocolate?

Re:Gosh -- They Are Guilty, They Should Settle (1)

Tarnar (20289) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548426)

Wow, are you a moron or do you just play one on TV? Have you READ the FoF? It's not all legalese. It's a real honest good read, because the Judge UNDERSTANDS the issue at hand. More importantly, he says why Apple is NOT a viable alternative (entire platform-switch scenario).

The Trial was based on if MS was a monopoly in the Intel/Intel Derivative market. And GASP, there was, and it was exploited! Why do you think the market is called Wintel by people on the other side of the fence?

Would you like to wake up now?

Re:This is _exactly_ what is needed (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548429)

That would completely lose the point of this case--it's not whether or not MS is a monopoly (it is) or whether it abuses that position (it does) but whether or not the US government has the right to tell any software company that it can't use any means necessary to gain market dominance.

This is precisely the issue, except that you are wrong about the correct outcome. The issue *is* whether the government has the right to interfere in the free market and punish successful companies for being "too competitive." It's about whether the high-tech industry will be driven by competition on the merits or by lawyers in smoke-filled rooms. If Microsoft loses this case, it will open the doors for any successful tech company to be assaulted by its lesser competitors for being "anticompetitive" and "predatory."

The success of our industry is largely due to the absense of government meddling. This lawsuit is a dangerous first step into a world in which the tech industry does business the same way as othe industries: concentrating more on legal wrangling and buying government favors than on creating new products and beating competitors to market with them.

One of Microsoft's virtues is that it has been essentially apolitical. Bill Gates has more money than God, yet until this antitrust case he had essentially ignored Washington. If this legal looting succeeds, he may decide that government influence is more important than market leadership, and start buying up influence in Washington. If you think Bill Gates is vicious now, wait until he has several dozen legislators eating out of his hand.

Re:Implications (4)

kickahaota (112048) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548430)

I, for one, hope that the DoJ does not decide to go with the 'expedited' route. Let me explain why.

There are three courts directly involved in this case: Judge Jackson's district court, the DC circuit appeals court, and the Supreme Court. We already have a very clear idea where two of those three courts stand on the issue. Judge Jackson is clearly in agreement with the government; his findings of fact were even harsher than the government's proposed findings in a number of places. The DC circuit appeals court clearly leans much more towards Microsoft's side of things; the language they've used in rejecting many of the government's arguments on appeal makes that clear. Only the Supreme Court is largely a question mark at this point, since they have yet to have occasion to weigh in directly on the issue.

Let's assume, for the moment, that the case is not expedited directly to the Supremes, and instead follows the usual route. Judge Jackson's court will make its findings of law, which will almost certainly go heavily against Microsoft. Microsoft will almost certainly file an immediate appeal at that point, asking the DC circuit court to review the conclusions of law before the district court starts deciding the remedies. That request will almost certainly be granted, and the circuit court may well reverse some of the conclusions of law. Then the remedies will be decided on, and those will almost certainly be appealed as well.

Ultimately, of course, it will all wind up at the Supreme Court. They do have the option to refuse to hear the case; but in a case as important as this one, that's very unlikely. So the Supreme Court will make the final decision, based on both the district court's and the appeals court's findings.

On the other hand, if the DoJ 'expedites' things, both the conclusions of law and the penalties will be decided on at the circuit court level; then the whole thing will go to the Supreme Court for appeal all at once; the appeals court is skipped. This certainly sounds like it would be faster, but let's look at it more closely. It's actually quite rare for an appeals court to dictate a completely new solution; in other words, neither the appeals court nor the Supreme Court is likely to say 'Here's the complete new ruling on the case'. Instead, the appeals court will more often reverse--strike out--particular elements of the lower court's findings, and then send the case back to the lower court. The lower court then re-decides the issue, incorporating those reversals. So in other words, the appeals court won't say "These three conclusions of law are wrong; on that basis, here's the new remedies." It will say "These three conclusions of law are wrong. Now, lower court, go back and re-decide on what the appropriate remedies are."

So the end result of that is: Under the 'expedited' flow of things, both the conclusions of law and the remedies have to be decided at the district court level, before the case is appealed at all. If the Supreme Court agrees wholeheartedly with everything the district court said, that's no problem. But if the Supreme Court decides that even one of the district court's conclusions of law are wrong, and reverses that wrong conclusions, then the district court will probably have to do the 'remedies' phase of the trial all over again, in light of the new conclusions of law. And, of course, once it decides on a new set of remedies, those remedies can be appealed as well. And heaven help us all if the Supremes reverse any of the findings of fact; that would probably throw out not only the remedies, but the conclusions of law as well.

In constrast, in the normal flow of things, the findings of fact and conclusions of law will probably be appealed fully--first to the appeals court, then to the Supreme Court--before the remedies are decided on at all. So the chances are much, much higher than we'll only have to go through the remedies phase once, since those remedies will be based on the final conclusions of law, rather than just the district court's own view of them.

So the 'expedited' path may well not wind up being substantially faster than the standard path after all. And more importantly, what spin will Microsoft be able to place on the expedited process? Don't believe for a moment that the courts are operating wholly in a vacuum on this; there's always public and/or political pressure of one sort or another, especially at the Supreme Court level. And whatever the final solution is, it's almost certain to require various government agencies to implement it; and those government agencies are often governed by politics as well. So public opinion plays a role here.

Everybody who's been watching this case knows what I said in that first paragraph--that the appeals court has been receptive to Microsoft's views on things. So if the DOJ chooses to skip the appeals court and go straight to the Supremes, Microsoft is going to loudly point out everything I just said--that the 'expedited' process isn't likely to be that much faster than the normal process, and may involve quite a bit more wasted effort. So they're going to claim, loudly and repeatedly, that the DOJ isn't doing this out of any desire for efficiency; they're doing this as an excuse to bypass and ignore the views of a court that they know will disagree with them. And that claim is going to strike a chord, because I believe that quite a number of viewers--myself included--are going to conclude that that claim is absolutely right. The DOJ is going to come across looking like an agency that's more interested in twisting the rules for its own benefit than it is in justice--more or less exactly what the DOJ has been claiming about Microsoft. And public opinion, which I think has been shifted the DOJ's way by Judge Jackson's harsh findings of fact, is very likely to shift right back to Microsoft. And I think that shift will have a very real impact on the sort of remedies that are likely to be imposed, and on the degree of vigor with which the government will enforce those remedies.

The government is winning. If they just stay the course, they're likely to get most if not all of what they want. But, just like Microsoft blew their case by coming across as arrogant and manipulative of the rules, it's still not too late for the DOJ to blow it in return.

(Disclaimer: Not a lawyer; not legal advice. Not to be taken internally. May cause drowsiness; alcohol may intensify this effect.)

Re:This strategy backfiring? (1)

drivers (45076) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548432)

After all the democrat representatives are more pro microsoft on the news shows than the republicans with the exception of the one from Redmond's district.

After Friday's big findings of fact release, Washington Governor Gary Locke was on the sound bites saying he disagreed with the judge, Microsoft was a wonderful corporation, blah blah blah.

Last night Gates co-hosted a fundraiser for Locke.

Seattle Times - Locke is the headliner, but Gates monopolizes the crowd [seattletimes.com]

What if Microsoft Moves? (1)

CharlieG (34950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548433)

Here an interesing question. Unlike most old style monopolies, Microsoft as very few fixed assets. Their value is in their source code. Now what happens if:

Microsoft forms a new company, Microsoft Development, based in Redmond, which just does subcontract development, but owns no code copyrights. The Copyright hold (Microsoft) moves to say Grand Cayman Island. NAFTA gives them free access to the US market, the Carribean Island initiative gives them access to the USPS at no extra cost. They tell the US Gov to shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

what is the history of this law? (2)

Capt Dan (70955) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548434)

I wonder what the history for this law is?

For example, did it come about during the huge anti-trust time period of the late 1800's and early 1900's? During that time period it might have been used to circumvent the massive amount of corruption and influence the Trusts had created in the government.

Or maybe it was made becuase someone realized that a Trust/Monopoly has the $$ to make the legal process take decades to execute. Which adds additional cost to the consumer (since the monopoly could conceivably continue operating for that time period... correct me if I am wrong) and also the taxpayer as well. Politics aside, remember how pissed everyone was when we found out how much the Starr investigation was costing? (flamers: chill. It's just an example, albeit a weak one. No need to jump into a political disussion...)


"You want to kiss the sky? Better learn how to kneel." - U2
"It was like trying to herd cats..." - Robert A. Heinlein

Re:Hopefully a breakup will follow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548436)

hmmm... maybe we should all be monopolists... :-)

Hey, you've got still got the opportunity to try. At least for a little while longer.

Re:Didn't MS make the case for this? (1)

kenoyer (80974) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548437)

Or a mortgage and 2.3 kids even?

Blue Screen of Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548447)

1. What specifically do you disagree with the Judge about. He has said nothing about wanting to prevent innovation or capitalism. Rather the Justice department wants to put a stop to Microsoft using it's monopoly power to hurt other companies ability to innovate.
2. Name an innovation has Microsoft given us?
3. Who are you, and why don't you think microsoft is big enough to defend themselves?

We'll know soon... (4)

sterno (16320) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548448)

Actually, the punishment for Microsoft would be determined at the end of the current trial. The Supreme court merely determines whether laws are constitutional and enforced in the proper manner. The supreme court would not determine the punishment, but would rather be responsible for deciding whether the case proceeded on valid legal ground and whether the punishment was reasonable within the bounds of the constitution. In fact, since I do not see any obvious questions about the validity of the law or the way the trial was carried out I would expect the Supreme Court to deny the appeal.

Frankly I don't think Microsoft has a chance in hell of getting out of this unscathed. To get the finding's of fact overturned would be impossible unless they could somehow proove the judge to be incompetent, which he is not. The findings of fact, even without a ruling in this case are very important when dealing with other cases such as Sun or Corel's lawsuit.

Because Microsoft is now officially a monopoly, they are in serious trouble. Monopolies are completely legal, but if you are one you have to be very careful about how you use your power. Things that an ordinary company can get away with, you cannot get away with if you are a monopoly. Microsoft has built up a very nasty hurdle for themselves and I believe that they will fall.

As for punishment, legal precedent indicates that breaking up a company is the most viable option. Regulation of a company would have to be very well crafted, would be subject to all sorts of potential legal boobytraps, and would generally make far more of a mess than there already is. I expect to see Microsoft divided into several small companies with strong restrictions about what boundaries they are allowed to operate within.

A possible breakup situation:

-Microsoft Consumer OS
-Microsoft Server Technologies (SQL Server, NT/2000, IIS, etc)
-Microsoft Palmtop OS
-Microsoft Data Products (SQL Server)
-Microsoft Business Software (Office, etc)
-Microsoft Consumer Software (a long list...)
-Microsoft Web Technologies (Media Player, IE, etc)
-Microsoft Media (the MS in MSNBC)
-Microsoft Network (although this might be part of the media group considering the ongoing mergers of cable, phone, internet, etc)
-WebTV

If that happens it will be very interesting to see what happens. The consumer version of windows without the lock-in of Internet Explorer has the potential to be rendered irrelevant by the growth of the Internet. Internet Explorer, having to survive on its own without the rest of a big corporation to subsidize it will have to charge money and will lose market share to the open source Mozilla project which should be in good shape by the time the ruling comes down.

The server software will be forced to stand on its own two feet without the windows desktop hooks and Internet Explorer hooks. It will have the advantage of being nicely integrated within itself, but the whole proprietary technology garbage will have to go away to compete against other people's products.

Office will continue to survive because, honestly, it is actually good (if somewhat bloated and security hole ridden) software. It won't have the commitment to Windows anymore, so expect to see releases for Linux, BeOS, and any O/S that can get enough people together to buy it. With any luck, competition from other sources will drive the price down a bit too.

In the end, hopefully Microsoft will finally get a necessity to innovate to go with their freedom to innovate. Expect them to play by the same rules they do now, they'll just have to play seperately.

---

Could you be more full of shit? (1)

Daffy Duck (17350) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548451)

Everybody who bought Microsoft products (from OEMs and partners to end users) did so by their own choice. If no one wanted microsoft products, no one is forced to buy them.

Um, what rock have you been living under? It was less than a year ago that the first guy [slashdot.org] managed not to have to buy Windows with his computer.

Isn't this sort of the whole point of the trial? That people didn't have a choice?

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (1)

DustStorm (112660) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548452)

It won't make a difference to anyone? It will make a difference to those who come after us! If we don't do something about this now, when we can, what kind of message does that send? It says "Hey, come walk all over us!" or "M$, do whatever you want!". Is this what we want to say? As far as I'm concerned, it's never to late to change. It's never to late to do the right thing. And if we don't, who will?!?

Supreme Court's Power (1)

LT Grant (371) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548455)

If they so choose the Supreme Court does NOT have to hear the case again. because they can (and often) refuse to hear cases. And with the supreme court there is a different matter of trial-thing. First both sides present their info in writing and very little "in-house" arguing goes down.

Re:This strategy backfiring? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548456)

While the Supreme Court is quite conservative, the appeals court above Judge Jackson is even more conservative. This appeals court has already reversed Jackson at least once on a prior Netscape related issue. Avoiding this appeals court is decidedly favors the DoJ.


Re:Hyuh? (1)

Blitter (15795) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548459)

but they're still entitled the same protections you and I enjoy

IANAL either, but, BS! Microsoft is a corporation. There is no reason for a corporation to get the same protections a person does. There is no "person" on trial here. Be careful of giving all sorts of "rights" to corporations. We don't have a government "of the corps, for the corps," we have a government of and for citizens. The US Constitution give zero "rights" to corps. Its bad enough for corps to have so much power today simply because they are rich. Don't go giving them extra "rights" for free that they have no basis for having. BTW, I am not anti-corporation, and I generally see Big Business as a positive thing for society. But they have their place, and that place is not as a citizen.

My choice in buying ms products (1)

gotan (60103) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548461)

Sorry, but when i have to use MS-DOS (look in your BIOS as what Windows 9X identifies) to get to use most applications and play all that nifty games then it's not really a choice.
The point here is, that MS products (like DOS) won over competing products (like DR-DOS) by dubious marketing strategies (having windows 3.x check if the 'right' DOS is running) and not because it's a superior product.
This means MS is using it's monopoly to bully competitors out of the market, harming competitors and consumers. MS then proceeds to grab other markets with help of that monopoly (establishing IE as major browser when Netscape really was the better choice), leaving customers fewer and fewer choices.
Also the notion of 'choice' is questionable if i have to buy my computer at a special place when i don't want to have Windows preinstalled on it and then have to take IE with it because MS chose it to be an 'essential' part of the OS.

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (2)

chromatic (9471) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548463)


Everybody who bought Microsoft products (from OEMs and partners to end users) did so by their own choice. If no one wanted microsoft products, no one is forced to buy them.

Missed Windows Refund Day, did you?

How about the story in my essay [wgz.org] about the future of business software? One particular company with which I have a passing acquaintance had to purchase Office 2000 just to get one bug fix which prevented them from communicating with their business partners. (I supposed they weren't *forced* to do so, but the company did feel a need to stay in business. If you don't build anything to sell, you'll run out of money pretty quickly.)

Let's try an analogy -- 'everybody' bought petroleum distillates from 'Standard Oil' not because they all thought that it was the best deal, but because that is the only choice they could see. Sure, some people may have been able to drill in their backyards and set up a gasoline still, but did that work for most people?

No, Microsoft isn't in the business of saying 'buy this software or your dog gets it', but the company does behave in such a way to suggest, 'Nice company, pity if you can't read documents from anyone else.'

--
QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4!

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (2)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548464)

Everybody who bought Microsoft products (from OEMs and partners to end users) did so by their own choice. If no one wanted microsoft products, no one is forced to buy them.

Let's see some facts then. Instead of just posting a bunch of sentences, let's see you back them up. Since you probably think that the Findings of Fact are just myth anyways, written by a judge who has no knowledge of the computer market, I'll make it easier for you.

All I want you to do is to get me (preferably signed) documentation from Compaq and Gateway, stating that it was solely their decision to not preload the Netscape browser and that all decisions to not proload competing products occured by voluntary consent between both parties.

I'll even make it easier for you. You can have those documents faxed to me at 209-821-5008. When I see those documents, *then* I'll believe that everyone who sold/preloaded/used Microsoft products did so by their own choice.

-Brent
--

Re:Whoa. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548476)

Whatever happens, Microsoft is an integral (if annoying) part of our economy. The wanton destruction of such a huge company would only hurt us.

Microsoft is #109 on the Fortune500 list.. If people were actually concerned about the damage eliminating it would cause more people would bitch about anti-tobacco gold diggers destroying Philip Morris (which is #8 and taking serious damages.)

dan

Re:appeal at any level (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548478)

The FoF are out there for M$ to respond to by January. These are not the final FoF's by any means. In January, M$ will give the court their objections as to interpretation and sufficiency of evidence. Judge Jackson will then respond to those objections to his "provisional" FoF. Then they go into the penalty phase (assuming his final FoF follow the tenor of his just released FoF).

You have one appeal as of right from any court case. This procedure means the DOJ, et al, can make that one appeal directly to the Supreme Court, eleminating the jurisdiction of any intermediate courts which might have heard an appeal. (There was a bizarre case from New Mexico 15 or so years ago, where a cop drove a speeder60 miles to a crooked JP's court, from which the convicted speeder had no appeal under New Mexico law--his first appeal was direct to the US Supreme Court!). Given the calendar of the Supreme Court, they aren't going to look very far into Judge Jackson's FoF unless there is some extremely glaring holes (and any holes which presently exist have to be pointed out by M$ in January or they are conceded points--in otherwords, Judge Jackson is asking M$ how to write a bulletproof FoF),

Re:This could be great (1)

c-A-d (77980) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548481)

perhaps Microsoft would stand a decent chance of being exonerated, as they should be.

You're kidding, right?

Re:This could be great (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548482)


Sniff...I smell astroturf!

That, or someone who's still too young/naive to realize Ayn Rand and the Scientologists don't really have the secrets to happiness locked in a trunk in the basement...

Re:The damage is done...years ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548485)

I never heard of a company called Microsluff.

Is that yet another Linux distribution?

Re:This strategy backfiring? (1)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548487)

Republicans are strong anti-trust supporters, by and large. Remember that Reagan supported the anti-trust findnings against Bell when he was elected in 1980.


Having said that, it seems as if Microsoft is wooing George Bush. Still, I think it is dangerous to be seen to be too close with Microsoft: Microsoft's favourable media treatment has depended upon Microsoft being seen as an icon of the computer industry, and that might easily stop very soon.

Illegal, immoral? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1548489)

Morality has little play here, it's a question of law. What Microsoft did is illegal: use their monopoly position to run competitors out of business. In the libertarian-ayn-rand-dog-eat-dog-jungle, there is no morality. In the United States of America, the law, as implemented during the Teddy Rosevelt administration almost 100 years ago, is that monoplies can not use their power to gain new markets. If you dont' like the law, vote for the libertarian-ayn-rand-dog-eat-dog-junglelists. Better yet, move to the Amazon jungle and spare the rest of us the right wing radical social experiments.

Re:appeal at any level is likely to be successful (3)

sethg (15187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548491)

THe fof written by Jackson was so poorly constructed from a legal point of view that any appeal is likely to succeed regardless of the merits of the case. The fof contains many holes and overreaching conclusions that any judge would find unexceptable.

Disclaimer: IANAL, but I have read the FoF.

  1. This is a finding of fact, not of law. It's the judge's opinion of what the events were and what their market effects are, based on how he weighed the credibility of everyone who testified. Appeals courts, unless there's a very clear and gross error, don't challenge the lower-level courts on findings of fact. Given this, how can you say the FoF was "poorly constructed from a legal point of view"?
  2. What are the "many holes and overreaching conclusions" in the FoF? Remember, the opening paragraph (before paragraph 1) says "...the Court finds the following facts to have been proved by a preponderance of the evidence". Even if some of the conclusions are overreaching from a physical scientist's point of view, or even from a criminal court's point of view, that doesn't make them invalid in this context.

The best way out for Microsoft, as far as I can tell, is to convince a higher court that "Intel-compatible PC operating systems" (see FoF paragraph 18) is too narrow a field to constitute a "market" for purposes of antitrust law, and therefore its market share of Intel-compatible PC operating systems doesn't constitute a monopoly, and therefore its strong-arming of distributors, competitors, and potential competitors is legal. I wouldn't buy such an argument, but I don't know what the Supremes would do.

When the smoke clears... (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548492)

One reason to speed things up is that if MICROS~1 thinks that they are going to be broken up, they have an increased incentive to clear the field first. Anyone care to guess how many bodies they could pile up if they thought that they had nothing in the long run to lose?

Oh look, more stupid moderators! (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 14 years ago | (#1548493)

A pointless posting gets a score of 2 and a followup by an Anon Coward pointing out why the posting was pointless, remains point-less.

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