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Interview: Ask Antitrust Experts About Microsoft

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the satisfying-your-curiosity dept.

Microsoft 309

This week, for your questioning pleasure, we have assembled a four-member panel of antitrust experts who are willing to speculate on what might happen to Microsoft next - if anything. But before you start posting questions, please hit some of the links we've provided to several other stories about the potential results of Judge Jackson's Nov. 5 Findings of Fact. (more below)

First, let's introduce our guests:

Don Weightman was the gentleman who did our Instant Legal Analysis immediately after the Findings of Fact announcement. We had many requests for him as an interview guest. So here he is.

Richard Hawkins engaged in the general practice of law for five years prior to obtaining his Ph.D. in Economics and Statistics. He is currently a visiting assistant professor of economics at the University of Northern Iowa, and practices only in antitrust and other economic issues in the law. His past includes both hardware and software development, including the mail-merge patch for LyX.

John Lederer is a retired lawyer in Oregon, Wisconsin. He is currently active in technology and intellectual property issues. He practiced in the antitrust and transportation areas and argued three U.S., Supreme Court cases.

David Niemi is a system engineer with a background in economics as well as software. He has been administering and developing for UNIX and Linux since 1987, and has been following Microsoft's antitrust adventures closely since 1993.

Next, a few selected stories about the Microsoft Saga that you may not have read:

Necessary Legal Disclaimer: Although three out of our four panelists are attorneys, all they are providing here is speculation. While our panelists are smart and well-read, no one can predict the future accurately, so you should not base business or personal decisions on their answers to Slashdot readers' questions. For legal or investment advice, please arrange a personal consultation with a qualified professional.

Now Let's Get Down to Business

As usual, moderators will select the most interesting questions, and Tuesday afternoon Slashdot editors will do the final "cut" and forward 10 - 15 chosen questions to the panelists - who are all Slashdot readers, just so you know. Answers will appear Friday. So ask away!

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309 comments

Open APIs? (5)

c+era (102193) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531290)

What do you think are the chances of forcing MS to make their APIs open source? Would this be continuous (such as a gnu license), or a one-time release? I would also like to know if there is any president to such a ruling?

For the Panel at Large (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531292)


From what I've heard most people surmise that it would end up being a Good Thing for Bill Gates if MS were broken up along product lines as he would then own stock in half a dozen or more highly succesfull, smaller companies.
In light of this what is your opinion of what a proper punishment should be assuming that punishment is warranted?


Kintanon

How can I sue thee, let me count the ways (5)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531293)

I'm curious about the potential for legal action outside the DOJ's case now that it's been found that Microsoft is in fact a monopoly and has used their position to stamp out competition.

If I spent my time and money to become certified in a product competing with Microsoft (Say, A Novell or OS/2 Certified Engineer) and that product was subsequently stomped into the ground by Microsoft, could I justifiably sue Microsoft for making that investment of time and money worthless?

On a slightly related note, if I owned stock in one of their competitors who was eliminated through their dirty tricks, could I sue them for that?

What are the politics involved in this ruling? (4)

brennanw (5761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531294)

Specifically, is overturning a Judge's finding of fact a faux paus among judges? Is it the kind of thing that would make a Judge resign?

I ask because some of the antics MS pulled seem a lot like the antics of the Chicago 7 trial -- where they just kept pissing off the judge. In the Chicago 7 trial, all the Judge's contempt rulings were overturned by the Supreme Court b/c he didn't site them for contempt immediately, and Judge Hoffman resigned.

Do you think Microsoft might be deliberately trying to provoke the same kind of actions?

I guess that's actually three questions...

What damages do you recommend? (1)

Gerv (15179) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531295)

We know the Findings of Fact are just one stage on the road, but what are the panel's personal opinions on the sanctions that should be applied to Microsoft if they lose this case completely?

Gerv

For the Panel, again. (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531296)


In your opinion what are the chances of succesful Class Action suites against Microsoft regardless of the outcome of the trial or the DoJs actions?

Kintanon

Size of fine (3)

Tet (2721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531297)

If Microsoft were to be punished with a fine, it would have to be spectacularly huge in order to make any significant difference. For example, it's been said that MS could easily pay off a $100 million fine without problems. The question is, would the American public (who are generally ingorant of just how much money MS has) stand for a bigger fine, or would they see it as an attack on a legitamate business?

Overturning FoF (5)

Myddrin (54596) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531298)

I've read in many places that the FoF is hard to overturn. Reading the FoF it seems to me that if you accept it as fact, then you have to conclude that MS broke the law and should be punished (harshly).

Assuming the FoF is unappealable then, where is the opening for Microsoft to appeal the discision? I.E. Assuming the FoF is untouchable how could MS "win on appeal" as we keep hearing from various tech analysts?

The "Things Have Changed" Defense (5)

chromatic (9471) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531299)


From a legal standpoint, can Microsoft point to such developments as the Sun/AOL/Netscape deal and the mainstream attention devoted to Linux and the BSDs and say, "Things move too fast and we're struggling to catch up" and avoid or beg down punishment?

Contrariwise, is the case focused only on what Microsoft has done in the past? Even if the company has broken the law, if it falls apart tomorrow, will it still be held responsible for its actions?

--
QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4!

windows get naked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531300)

I read a little article entitled "windows get naked" and it basically said the judge could force MS to open source they api's. I the api's were opened say under a rather restictive license could people in say the wine community still use them?

which are illegal? (4)

TMB (70166) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531301)

The FoF points out a multitude of nasty things MS has done over the years. However it struck me that only about a third of them seemed to be truly anti-trust issues (ie. unfairly leveraging their monopoly to take over competition in other venues). Which of the Judge's facts do you think will actually be deemed illegal, and which are just run-of-the-mill business nastiness?

[TMB]

Likely Outcome if Anti-Trust Pursued (2)

grahamkg (5290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531302)

Reading the findings points to a few likely outcomes if the government pursues an anti-trust case against Microsoft, at least to me. How realistic are they?

1. Separate Microsoft Internet Explorer from the Windows operating system.
2. Compensate Netscape Communications for damages up to $100M.
3. Remove browser restrictions from any contractual agreements with other companies, including IAPs and companies such as Apple.

I do not see anything in the findings that would give the government the justification to break Microsoft into multiple companies.

I do not see anything in the findings that would give sufficient justification to pursue action against Microsoft as regards Java.

Is this reasonable? Must an anti-trust case against Microsoft be based strictly on the findings report?

Graham

Would a breakup really work? (4)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531303)

This is a question I hear asked a lot -- on news programs on television, all over the internet, and on slashdot. I'm not so sure breaking up Microsoft would solve everyone's problems, even though there are several ways the company could be split. Which of the ways of splitting the company do you think would be most effective? I've heard talk of creating four separate Microsofts, each with access to the same source code base. I've also heard of splitting the company by division -- one Microsoft handles applications, another handles operating systems, still another deals with the Internet.

On the other hand, what about other alternatives? I've been a big fan of the following as a partial remedy: force Microsoft to fully and completely document each and every API call in Windows, and thoroughly audit them every few months to ensure they're playing by the rules. This would go a long way toward leveling the playing field (though it would not solve every problem, admittedly.) There's really not even a reason the general public *needs* to see the actual source code as long as the interfaces to the system are all out in the open.

What do you all think would be a good remedy, assuming Microsoft does indeed lose?

- A.P.
--


"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

economic influences on decision (2)

bmabray (84486) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531304)

We keep hearing how Microsoft has been a big part of the current economic boom and how breaking up Microsoft would be a blow to the U.S. economy. My question is, how much do you think this will affect the judge's decision? If he finds they did break the law, would he let them off with a slap on the wrist in order to protect the economy? If it goes to the Supreme Court, how would they take the economy into account?

Windows Refund Day (1)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531305)

How would this finding affect getting a refund from system vendors or MSFT for purchasing a PC with Windows pre-installed?

What do you think Baby Bill-style breakup? (2)

Victor Danilchenko (18251) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531306)

Is it a viable long-term alternative? AT&T could be reasonably broken up thusly because individual Baby Bells were regionally separated, but wouldn't the Baby Bills rather rapidly squeeze each other out of the market -- or is there some legal way of ensuring that Baby Bills remain mutually competitive, rather than having one of them emerge as the Big Bill?

--

What about sea changes in the Supreme Court? (5)

jabbo (860) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531307)

Let's say that George W. Bush gets elected, and as I have been told he is wont to do, embraces a laissez-faire, hands-off style of conservatism which places a more conservative judge on the Supreme Court (assuming one or more of the present justices were to die or step down). Let's assume further that these judges feel that Microsoft has done nothing so wrong as to merit real punitive action.

What is to stop such a bench from favoring Microsoft and their beyond-hardball tactics? Are Judge Jackson's Findings of Fact so unassailable that, by the rules of the game (as it were), their content cannot be ignored or overruled even by a higher court? (from the paucity of cases that I have read in classes, it seems that the Supreme Court justices can do just about anything short of striking down an existing law) Moreover, if justice is actually meted out, is it possible for Microsoft to simply buy enough senators/congressmen that new laws protecting their investments in the role of Digital Media Broker To The World will favor MS or the Baby Bills?

In short, "Can this finding be made to stick, even with all of Microsoft's money aligned against it, and even in light of a potentially conservative government coming to the fore? If so, why?"

(I'm thrilled that a group of high-powered antitrust lawyers can find the time to read questions from the unwashed /. masses, by the way. Thanks in advance for considering my question.)

Early celebration? (1)

pen (7191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531308)

Most anti-Microsoft people (or at least those that can see through the PR) have been singing and rejoicing due to the FoF decision. However, this is just a milestone, and the final decision has yet to come.

Now, the question: Which do you think is more likely, Microsoft settling or appealing?

--

Breakups and Bustups (1)

datapaq (111022) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531309)

If they were to break up Microsoft into seperate companies, a la AT&T, what would the most likely dividing line be? Would it be more likely that there would be 500 different COs for each app/platform or perhaps just an OS branch and a "Applications" branch.

Speedy Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531310)

First I want to say that this interview idea is wonderful and timely. It is a stark contrast to last weeks attempt at an interview. More just like this one :)

Jackson has been very careful about this entire case. He seems to take it very seriously (even he if has laughed at MS's court room follies). He has stressed settlements on several occasions and even the unusual separation of FoF and FoL pushes for settlement talks. The limited number of witnesses is another factor he employed to speed the process. Since speed of resolution appears to be a theme with Jackson, what sort of remedies could be used to force MS to move towards a rapid final conclusion?

Oh - my login in slothmonster (can't remember the password). If you are only submitting non-AC posts please consider this as non-AC.

reality check and punishments (1)

mackga (990) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531311)

Given the pervasiveness of MS software in both consumer and business areas, how realistically damaging can any punishments handed out to MS be?

Busting up Microsoft (5)

dieMSdie (24109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531312)

Many people seem to be considering the breakup of Microsoft into 2 or more separate companies as the most likely outcome of all this. However, would that really do us any good? Let's say you broke them up into an OS division and an APPS division. What is to stop the OS folks from sharing their secret API's with the APPS company? Would we not just be right back where we are now? What would all of you recommend as a solution that would allow MS to survive, but not as a predator that destroys all competition and stifles true innovation?

How Will Appeals Play Out? (2)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531313)

In reading Judge Jackson's Findings of Fact, it appears that he is repeating a lot of his arguments from the earlier consent decree case regarding the tying of Internet Explorer. That opinion was rejected by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision marked by particularly blunt language about the advisability of judges ruling on new product features.

There has been discussion (on MSNBC, the AP, and the NY Times) observing that if Microsoft appeals, the Dept. of Justice can move to have the appeal heard directly by the Supreme Court--avoiding review (and the consequent delay) by the Second Circuit. There has also been a suggestion floated around that the Second Circuit in general views Judge Jackson as "a lightweight" and "stupid"--hinting that if the Second Circuit gets this case they may well spank Judge Jackson again.

Can you elucidate on this? Would the Dept. of Justice try to avoid review by the Second Circuit? Would the Supremes accept the case? Would they send it back to Jackson, or could they send it to the Second Circuit?

And on top of that, based on your experience, could you provide some handicapping of the likely sympathies of the players?

(Thanks for agreeing to the interview. Given that the last interviewee still has smouldering tailfeathers, I think you're all pretty brave to do this. [smile])

Other Countries (1)

Gerv (15179) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531314)

How much of an impact would a successful conviction of Microsoft have outside the US?

Obviously if the company was sanctioned, it would affect its operations worldwide, but I'm thinking more in terms of compensation for customers (what in the US would be a class action suit).

Gerv

Supreme Court (3)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531315)

Since there is a good chance that this will hit the Supreme Court before all is done, what is the current attitude of the sitting court in regards to anti-trust cases?

Also, what are the chances that this will get some sort of fast track to the Supreme Court? Is a ten year set of appeals inevitable, or could we conceivably be done in a year?

Is departmental breakup viable? (2)

Victor Danilchenko (18251) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531316)

Would breaking up MS into OS company, application company, and Internet company, do the trick? Even if OS MS is prevented from competing in the application market, one of the main strengths of MS Office is its use of undocumented Windows APIs. Both App-MS and OS-MS would still benefit from MS Office continuing this practice, so can the breakup along departmental lines be actually a solution to the MS monopoly?

--

Alternative to a breakup (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531317)

It's been suggested that breaking up Microsoft into so-called "Baby Bills" would not be an effective method of undercutting the abusive monopoly powers that MS holds. One alternative method that has been suggested is to force Microsoft to fully disclose and support all their programming APIs. Mind you, just interfaces, no implementation details.

What legal precedent, if any, is there for this course of action, and what legal 'issues' can we expect to see as a result if this action is taken ?

OpenWindows? (1)

einstein (10761) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531318)

what do you think are the chances of MS being forced to release the source of Windows under a GPL-like license and different Windows Distrobutions popping up? and if you answer yes to that question, how will that affect linux? will we just gobble up the good and throw out the bad, or will we continue to fight for the desktop space?

Re:For the Panel at Large (1)

Sensor (15246) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531319)

From what I understand a breakup is not punishment - its a way of removing the monopoly. From my laymans point of view I would expect punishment to be in the form of either a HUGE fine or of some forced concessions to competitors.

Opensource Microsoft (1)

shomon2 (71232) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531320)

What cards would MS be able to pull in order to stop a possible open sourcing of it's software?

And in economic terms, what would this bring about? ie, is it possible to speculate that microsoft would lose a lot and very quickly were this to happen?

Undo the damage? (1)

brwn (45631) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531321)

Hi, Many people seems to be satisfied about the outcome of the trial so far. But, can the damage that has been caused by MS be undone? Both from a techinical and commercial point of view. regards

Can findings of fact be appealed? (2)

kzinti (9651) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531322)

Since the first ruling has come out, some in the press have been saying that findings of fact cannot be appealed. Others say that the findings can be appealed, but that the chances for success in such an appeal are unlikely.

Please set the record straight for us -- can findings of fact be appealed, in general, and what are the criteria for overturning these findings? In the Microsoft case in particular, please speculate for us: is it likely that Microsoft will choose to appeal the findings of fact? If they do appeal, what attack are they likely to pursue, and what do you feel their chances of success are?

--JT

Clarification about "striking down existing laws" (2)

jabbo (860) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531323)

When I re-read this comment, I realized that I was ambiguous in said passage. What I meant was, "the Justices can use as justification for their rulings just about anything, short of arbitrarily flouting an existing, Constitutionally upheld piece of legislature passed by the representatives of the people in good faith and by the correct process". Eg. Potter (?) writing "I don't know what pornography is, but I know it when I see it".

I'm curious whether a majority of the judges could concievably say "I don't know what a leveraged monopoly looks like, but this isn't it. Remanded to the lower court for further consideration."

Stock Reactions (2)

Lefthand (100987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531324)

In light of the recent DOJ's FoF, what would you advise someone to do if they had invested monies in Microsoft Stock? It sounds like a split would help Bill but what about the rest of the stock holders in general?

Loopholes in the Antitrust law (3)

pogtal (88024) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531325)

I have read a lot about the varying clauses in the antitrust law, like the ability for the DoJ to take the MSFT case right to the Supreme Court and bypass the lower Appelate judges that have been more compassionate towards MSFT's "plight" than have the regular courts.

What do you feel are the chances of something like that happening? Do you think it is likely that the DoJ will allow the case to continue if MSFT attempts to appeal the FoF before the rest of the trial is over? What do you think the impact of the other class action suits arleady being brought against MSFT after the FoF was released is going to have, if any, on the final stages of the case?

What's up with their defense? (5)

Otter (3800) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531326)

This isn't specifically an antitrust matter, but since most of the panelists are lawyers I figured I'd ask it:

One of the most startling things about this trial was how utterly inept Microsoft's defense seemed. Who do you think is at fault there -- Sullivan & Cromwell, MS leadership or both? I find it hard to believe that such a prestigious firm could keep botching things so badly, especially when the media were full of stories ridiculing them. My guess is that MS wanted the defense to go a certain way (give no ground on any front) and the lawyers felt obliged to go along. What do you think?

Questions (1)

bungalow (61001) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531327)

What are the real chances that any of the following will happen, as has been speculated:

1 Breakup of Microsoft

2 Escalation of appeals directly to the Supreme Court

__
Is it possible for Microsoft to stipulate in the settlement that "all independent civil lawsuits", from private citizens / corporations be null and void?

If Microsoft IS broken up, how far can / will the Government go towards preventing a reassimilation of the Baby Bills?

Is there any legal way to force Bill Gates, or others, into retirement?

Might there be independent civil or criminal lawsuits for the individuals responsible for the more flagrant violations?


_______________________________

Possibility of appeal (1)

fremen (33537) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531328)

The New York Times recently had an article that called into question the notion that Judge Jackson's finding of fact are indeed bullet proof. Specifically, they mentioned that previous rulings by other appeals courts could possibly counter some of Judge Jackson's findings, creating the strong possibility for an appeal. These issues included the idea that consumers are or are not benefitted by the tying of two products.

In this light, how easy will it be for Microsoft to appeal these finding successfully? How useful are the previous rulings by other appeals courts in deciding the validity of the new findings of fact?

lawsuits, breakups, etc. (1)

BadERA (107121) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531329)

What are the chances of M$ competition (both solvent and bankrupt, in business and out) successfully pursuing damages against Microsoft? Further, what about a consumer class action lawsuit - is it possible under current antitrust law? Where would liability fall if M$ is busted into Baby Bills, either by product/market or into vertical clones? Also, what would prevent one Baby Bill from gobbling up the rest, via fair and competitive business practices?

Future Ramifications? (2)

God I hate mornings (110205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531330)

Personally, I think this trial couldn't have happened to a more deserving company.
But it also has given me pause to think on a thing or two.

1. Could this open up Microsoft to not only class action lawsuits but other lawsuits from companies claiming that the monopoly has damaged them so that it need compensation to recup the damages it has suffered. If so.. and these lawsuits become rampant, could we possibly see Microsoft file for reorganization? With MS stock now being part of the Dow Jones.. how would that effect our economy, in a time where the slighest rumor of interest rate hikes send investors in to a frenzy?

2. Could we be seeing the end of MS as the "Big Blue" of the 90's possibly passing the torch to AOL? If so, could this set precedent that AOL might be accused of having an unfair monopoly with it's aquisition of COmpuserve, and basically squashing the other ISP (should it ever come to that?).

Structural Changes verses Oversight (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531331)

I know a lot of people here (including myself) would like to see the breakup of Microsoft a'la the AT&T breakup. However, it appears to me that a breakup is not warranted given the limited scope of the Findings of Fact.

Given the Findings, do you believe that Judge Jackson may be leaning towards some other form of relief, such as perhaps banning Microsoft from engaging in coersive activities in order to squash "middleware" and otherwise limit activities by it's competitors which may not be in Microsoft's own interests?

The Politics of Appeal (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531332)

How likely are the appeals bench to let themselves be swayed by external politics, rather than the facts or the law?

(eg: Financial impacts in their local areas, if Microsoft were de-throned, or any political cries from the Senate or House of Representitives)

In short, is there a whelk's chance in a supernova of there being a neutral, unbiased appeal, or are we in for a kangaroo court, one way or the other?

Bell parallels (1)

Joe_NoOne (48818) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531333)

Ok,

Looking at the presidence the breakup of Ma Bell (the last big monopoly), does the judge have the leeway to force Microsoft to open up their operationg system? I.e., Since Bell had a monopolistic control on the phone lines, the court said that they had to share the infrastructure with competitors. Could the same be applied here? Since the ruling states Microsoft has a monopoly on the operating system, could they be forced to open up Windows??

Re:Undo the damage? (1)

brwn (45631) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531334)

Hi


Oops!, I should maybe LOOK at the preview not just use it :)

Regards

Microsoft Certifications (1)

SpookComix (113948) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531335)

I finally completed my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification in August. The 6 tests I took spanned a few of their products, mainly Windows NT Server, Windows NT Workstation, and Internet Information Server.

If the company is broken up, will their certification be nullified as well--especially if different "pieces" of the certification fall to different companies?

Respectfully,

--SpookComix

"Tough But Fair" (1)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531336)

I keep seeing that phrase ("Tough but fair") repeated in press item Microsoft has any hand in. There seems to be the mentality that anything not explicitly illegal is fair game -- is this accurate? Is it accurate for both monopolies and non-monopolies?

Could Gates be kept out? (1)

Tim Randolph (10300) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531337)

If Microsoft is split up, it seems whatever company Gates went to would have a huge advantage in terms of regaining a dominant position. Customers would be inclined to view Bill's company as the "real" Microsoft. And I beleive that many employees of the other Baby Bills would leave their companies for Big Bill's. The fact that Gates would own about 15-20% of all these companies complicates the matter even further.

Given the above and the fact that Microsoft's illegal behavior starts at the top, is there any recourse to keep Bill Gates (and possible Steve Balmer) from participating in the day-to-day operations of any future version of Microsoft?

--Tim

Possibility of rapidy applicable measures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531338)

To prevent M$ to drag things in court while continuing to go around hacking, slashing and killing the competition and thus making any final ruling moot/non-applicable/whatever, would it be possible for the DOJ and judge Jackson to impose measures that could apply *RIGHT NOW* and could not be tied/countered in appeals?

Can "special legal measures" (some form of decree) be taken before a final ruling is issued?

Like, say, forbidding M$ (actually, the OEMs) to bundle M$ applications with its M$ "OS", if OEM x-y-z chooses to include M$ Win9x-NT?

Or in other words, absolutely no OA suite bundled with a computer, and finding a way to ensure that non-M$ apps/suites get equal shelf space and placement in stores?

Considering that bundling is M$'s platinum cash cow (come on, it's beyond a simple cash cow, it ensures boatloads of $$$ for M$ and garanties mindshare -- why look for something else to replace an M$ product that came bundled with your computer?), cutting down on the bundling would reduce M$'s supply of oxygen and give a competition a better chance (but not garanties) to reach the consumer.

Whatever the outcome of the trial is, measures must be taken RIGHT NOW(!!!) so that the competition can have a chance of survival. As long as M$ gets to the consumer first and blocks the competition from the main channels to the consumers, we will not be any further...

Re:What about sea changes in the Supreme Court? (1)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531339)

"...from the paucity of cases that I have read in classes, it seems that the Supreme Court justices can do just about anything short of striking down an existing law."

Actually, striking down existing laws is precisely what the Supreme Court is there to do. As part of the constitutional system of checks and balances the courts act as a check on the actions of the Executive and Legislative branches. Appeals to the Supreme Court typically either argue that an existing law is unconstitutional, or that a law is being applied unconstitutionally. If/when the Supremes find a law to be unconstitutional (the Alien & Sedition Acts in the 19th century, for instance, or state laws prohibiting the practice of abortion in the early 1970s) those existing laws are struck down.

In the case of Microsoft any appeal will be based on the concept that existing law is being applied unfairly. Microsoft isn't going to argue aginst the validity of the Sherman Antitrust Act (and related statutes). Instead, they'll argue that Judge Jackson is incorrectly applying the law, and thus his opinion needs to be overturned.

Suitable punishment - for the industry? (1)

jem (78392) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531340)

While I find many of Microsoft's products and marketing techniques loathsome, I do think that for the mainstream market these products are essential. Why? Because people know and loathe^H^H^H^Hve them. Fact. Microsoft cannot simply disappear.

When Microsoft is split up, how will this affect companies that depend on "integrated solutions". The most obvious split for Microsoft might be O/S and applications - but this could be subdivided much further. This is sure to hurt consumers (no matter how wrong-headed they are for buying the products in the first place, etc) with large existing investments.

What about stock price? It is clear that someone has been propping up Microsoft's stock since the announcement - if it kept on falling as it was, this could have had a serious impact on the stock market and possibly the industry at large (due to the way indices are calculated.

To summarise:
  1. What will be done to protect customers with large existing investments in Microsoft products and support? (typically)
  2. How will the break up affect Microsoft stock and thus the prices of shares everywhere.


These questions will have to be addressed sooner or later in our brave new world of "NanoSofts" ;-)

Is a blanket settlement possible? (5)

Effugas (2378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531341)

(My question is in boldface, at the end of this post. You may ignore my observations if you like.)

Ever since the Finding of Fact was released, I've been thinking about this one scene from a story I read a couple years ago. The lead vampire, strongest and most vicious creature in the land, is finally defeated when the hordes of zombies he created are turned against him. He easily fights off the first few, but they keep coming, wave after wave, a nick here, a scratch there, until he is finally torn asunder.

Take one incredibly deep pocketed corporation. Add in thousands of unprofitable Internet companies, all with venture capitalists screaming for some way to get their money back. Now toss in a tremendous number of lawyers, each desperate to feed at the Trough of Infinite Wealth, and you have a potential legal evisceration of one of the country's most powerful companies.

I may be a Linux supporter, but I try to be consistent. Abuse and overuse of the legal system genuinely isn't all that productive, and is often used to replace that oft-repeated concept of "Innovation". (Witness Unisys's exploitation of GIF without a single byte of optimized GIF generation code coming out of them, and other entirely corrupt abuses of the USPTO.)

I want to see something done to check the abuses of Microsoft, but I don't want to see the company converted into a liquidation sale for hungry lawyers and startups that (sadly) didn't have much of a working business plan in the first place. Thus my question:

Is it a) Legally possible and b) Remotely conceivable that Microsoft and the U.S. Government will come to a settlement that will insulate Microsoft from any and all lawsuits based upon their abuses over the last ten years?

Yours Truly,

Dan Kaminsky
DoxPara Research
http://www.doxpara.com

Impact of FoF on other cases? (2)

KMSelf (361) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531342)

What is the legal importance of the Findings of Fact for other current or new lawsuits against Microsoft? Does the FoF lower the bar of evidence that a plaintif would have to demonstrate in a damages or illegal practices claim? If so, is this limited only to the companies named in the FoF (Caldera, Sun, IBM, Netscape), or would other companies also be able to find some support in the FoF? Does this open Microsoft to increased legal risks?

If not -- why don't the "facts" found in the FoF apply to other cases.

Related question (also asked elsewhere), what is the appealability of the FoF as compared with any remedies or damages which might be levied against Microsoft?

Some basic legal questions (5)

heretic (5829) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531343)

My understanding is that will next be a verdict followed by the remedy phase.

What are the applicable statutes that apply to Microsoft's behavior? Is it limited to the Sherman Act and the Consent Decree, or is there a boatload of other law that has to be taken into account?

Regarding the remedy phase, I presume that that the DOJ and the state attorneys general will have some recommmendations. Is the judge limited to the scope of these recommendations, or is he free to devise whatever remedy he sees fit? If the judge does have a free hand, what are the limitations to his remedies?

Thanks.

Presidential power (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531344)

If the next President were favorably disposed towards Microsoft's side what power can he exert to ensure a good outcome for them? Can he order the Attorney General to drop the case?

Lesser of two Evils (5)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531345)

I see Microsofts transgresses as a /behavioral/ problem. Many proposed solutions, such as opening their source, or breaking MS into smaller MSs, do not address this central problem, and thus will not be successful strategies. Are there any legal mechanisms by which Microsoft can be restrained from /behaving/ in the detrimental way it has in the past (coercing OEMs, making exclusionary pacts, "blackmailing" other companies, embracing-extending-extinguishing technologies), but at the same time not hamper its, and its competitors', ability to innovate and compete in the computer industry? It seems to me, we have to pick the lesser of the two evils of Microsoft's bad behavior and (possibly misguided) government intervention.

Fall-out lawsuits, DOJ settlement, etc. (1)

proberts (9821) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531346)

What do you think of the possibility of fall-out
lawsuits from harmed companies, and class-actions
on behalf of consumers will be (a) if the DOJ case
goes to decision, and (b) if it's settled?

Is there any compelling reason for Microsoft to
worry about similar suits in other countries? Has
there traditionally been a follow-on of suits in
non-US courts when a company such as IBM was found
to be abusing a monopoly status?

What are the chances for the DOJ to settle
given the fact that litigating the case fully
will set precident? Do you agree or disagree
with the premise that it should be litigated
rather than settled to provide precident?

Thanks,

Paul

Class Action Suits (1)

laertes (4218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531347)

I know that this is a question many linux users will have. Since, for the past few years, PC
(as the findings of fact define PC) owners have had to pay a higher price for their PCs because of unwanted Microsoft software, like windows and IE. I think that alternative Operating system users, or even just netscape users, would have a case for a class action suit. Please let me know what you think.

How much of the monopoly can be considered ? (1)

artg (24127) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531348)

The FoF concentrates on MS's protection of the Windows API, and describes the attempt to force acceptance of IE in order to avoid losing control of 3rd party apps.

The economist article describes a possible break-up remedy where MS's internet interests are discarded and the application software division is separated, in order to create an stable, open API to the Windows OS. This shows that some other opinion also concentrates on MS's monopoly in this area.

However, MS also has an effective monopoly in the Word document format, and if IE usage continues to grow in the browser market they will also have sufficient control of web-related network protocols to provide a monopoly position there, too. This is already apparent in the number of sites (especially service sites such as banks) which will work only with IE or Windows due to the use of proprietary plugins or extensions.

Is it possible to produce a judgement which will also restrict MS's monopoly (or potential monopoly) in these areas too, or will it have to address only the OS API, perhaps leaving an applications company intact to pursue the same damaging strategies ?

Anti-trust fast tracking? (4)

Palin Majere (4000) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531349)

I've seen mentioned in several different places now a special law that allows government anti-trust prosecuters to fast-track appealed decisions to the Supreme Court. One of the things that is mentioned is that, if this were to happen, it would likely be determined that the state's portion of the case could not follow it.

Should the appeals process be split like this (seperating the states from the DOJ), what happens? If the two appeals trials become seperate entities, what happens if there are mixed decisions? (one upholding the ruling, one opposing)

Where to from here? (1)

Owen Lynn (46218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531350)

Do you think this will look like IBM (long,
drawn out with no real decision made), or T
(long drawn out with an eventual decision)
in terms of what eventually happens to MSFT?
In other words, what is the gov't most likely
to do?

How long do you think it will take the gov't
to make a decision on what to do?

If it takes over 1 year, how relevant do you
think the decision will be?

Re:What about sea changes in the Supreme Court? (1)

freakho (28342) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531351)

...is it possible for Microsoft to simply buy enough senators/congressmen that new laws protecting their investments in the role of Digital Media Broker To The World will favor MS or the Baby Bills?

I can answer this portion of your question straight off: It's not just possible, it's done. As for the likelyhood of any of the current justices stepping down (my info may be slightly out-of-date), based on what I know of the current justices, this is unlikely. Unless there is some major illness I'm not informed of, I believe at least the next president and possibly the next two presidents will be looking at the same Court.

Can Jackson Penalize Gates for MSFT's Actions? (2)

llywrch (9023) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531352)

Judge Jackson's FOF singled out Bill Gates in several places as the instigator of Microsoft's monopolistic actions. Some have seen this as suggesting that Gates may suffer some of the penalties from this suit.

My understanding is that as an officer of a corporation, Gates is shielded from any liability in any suit of law against MS. Is my understanding correct? Could Gates be held liable & punished with fines, or being forced to divest his MS stock holdings -- or similar penalties?

Could another lawsuit use this FOF & put Gates at risk for penalties?

(Sorry if the above sounds convoluted when the title basically says it all.)


Geoff

Scope of Antitrust Laws (1)

Cygnus v1 (32061) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531353)

Many of the opinions I've seen have defended Microsoft's business practices and do not think they should be found in violation of antitrust laws; however, they have accepted the fact that Microsoft is a monopoly. Since the Antitrust laws apply to a company's actions in a defined market during a defined time period, is it safe to assume that regardless of how they achieved their market dominance, Microsoft should be subject to the applicable laws just as any other company with a monopoly would?

This seems like a simple question, but many of the pundits appear to assume that a decade of legal actions can't lead add up to one or more illegal actions.

Microsoft Moving Overseas? (2)

Yarn (75) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531354)

If the decision is to the detriment of MS, what do you think about the possibility that they'd move to another country with laxer anti-trust laws?

Appeals process (1)

Status Quo (27191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531355)

We have read recently that there may be laws on the books to speed up the appeals process for anit-trust style cases by sending it directly to the Supreme Court. Assuming that the case under Judge Jackson turns unfavorably for either side, which side would side would have the most to gain these laws? (i.e. Would MS prefer to drag thongs out or would they be confident that the Supreme Court would see things their way? Would the DOJ try to hamstring MS in the appeals process by forcing the decision to the top?)

Which Victim Does the Anti Trust Act Protect? (3)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531356)

The original Anti Trust Acts were developed to protect small farmers and businesses from predatory actions by trusts--Standard Oil regulating who got railroad tank cars, for instance, so small oil producers couldn't compete.

Can Microsoft argue that Judge Jackson is misapplying the law? Jerry Pournelle cogently points out that Microsoft's presence in any market category has consistently driven prices lower. He particularly points out that Microsoft has been remarkably aggressive in providing tools and support to developers--handing out developer tools for free to anybody who even looked like a programmer.

Microsoft has spent zillions of dollars providing tools and support to tens of thousands of small businesses through their ISV and Microsoft Certified Solution Provider program. Other vendors that have emulated those programs don't provide nearly as much, and charge much, much more for their programs.

Judge Jackson's finding that Microsoft's actions have hurt competition seems to be predicated on the idea that (variously) Apple, IBM, Netscape, and Sun are the competition. But doesn't a small consulting firm (say...mine) that employs a few people and uses Microsoft's tools to compete (successfully, I might add) with IBM, Oracle, and others, better represent the small business that the Anti Trust laws were written to protect?

Re:Other Countries (1)

MR_URC (63263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531357)

More specifically, how will the ruling affect Microsoft's business practices in other countries and would it have economic benefit for the company to move to a less hostile country?

Microsoft recently made a 31.5 million dollar "investment" into a Taiwanese major cable internet provider. While this type of action might be covered in the ruling (insofar as the USA is concerned), will this apply to these practices in other countries and, assuming that it will not apply to other countries, how likely is it that other countries will take action similar to the action taken by the DoJ?

Previously it would have had great economic impact for a monopolistic company to change their location to another continent, but in the IT industry, this would not be as difficult as before. Could Microsoft feasibly move their base of operations to escape some repercussions of the ruling?

What good will it do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531358)

If MS is required to open up their API's then So What!? We still have to write software for an MS operating system if we want our software to sell. If MS is broken up then how does that help the consumers? So isn't the big question this: "What can we legaly do to Microsoft that will actually help the end user?" Opening up the API doesn't help my Mom who will never write a line of code in her life. Spitting up MS doesn't help me who still has to send my documents and slide show in MS Word and MS PowerPoint because that's what everyone else uses. Isn't Microsoft's existing monopoly so big that it's already crushing future competition?

How to Stop the Next Microsoft? (1)

costas (38724) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531359)

Even if the courts do penalize Microsoft in an appropriate and significant way, what do you think should be done to stop other companies waiting in the sidelines from becoming the next monopoly (Sun and AOL come to mind?).

Can the courts force *everybody* to open up their APIs and/or file formats? To me, this seems the only way to stop companies from using the Network Effect for their own gain and fortune...


engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.

Breakup (2)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531360)

How many different companies could MS be feasibly broken up into? It looks like the DOJ might be cool with 2 (applications/internet, and Operating systems). Who could lead the companies? Wouldn't MS have to split up the execs? Could Gates or Ballmer be involved in both companies?

Re:Possibility of appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531361)

>The New York Times recently had an article that called into question the notion that Judge Jackson's finding of fact are indeed bullet proof.
Specifically, they mentioned that previous rulings by other appeals courts could possibly counter some of Judge Jackson's findings, creating
the strong possibility for an appeal. These issues included the idea that consumers are or are not benefitted by the tying of two products.

Well, even if Windows and IE being tied together isn't bad or illegal (noone says anything about Windows and Solitare), there's still the issue of MS's stopping VARs from innovating in any manner that could hurt MS sales. Like packaging Netscape with the computer. Or adding a bootloader. Or, selling with no OS at all. That's what the real issue seems to be, and I have no idea what the law has to say about it.

>In this light, how easy will it be for Microsoft to appeal these finding successfully? How useful are the previous rulings by other appeals courts in deciding the validity of the new findings of fact?

Depends how tech-headed the judges of the appeals courts are. Hopefully, they won't believe Microsoft either, else government lawyers will have a work on their hands.

The Anti-Tobacco Attorneys Warming Up Pencils (1)

quasimoto (111111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531362)

It has been reported that the Anti-Tobacco guys are ready to submit their case by December. Their case, as reported, is not in support of consumers but, by and for the competitors of Microsoft. Is this another attempt to line their pockets (the lawyers) or does it have merit? What will the consumer get by this action? Or better yet, benefit from the case? -dutch

AT&T, Standard Oil & Microsoft (3)

Godai (104143) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531363)

I've been getting something of a history lesson reading up on the implcations of the ruling. I've seen it posted quite a few times on /. how stockholders in AT&T (ATT) and Standard Oil (SO) benefited from the break-ups of both companies.

How might the break-up of Microsoft (MS) differ from those landmark anti-trust cases with regard to stock? Specifically (and my lack of historical knowledge shows here) what kind of damages were ATT and SO facing? As I understand it, ATT and SO were basically monopolies that prevented entry, but did they bully smaller companies a la MS?

I guess my underlying question is this: given MS' bullying tactics, would a break-up of MS be different from those of ATT and SO because of all the people MS has stepped on along the way who are now looking to loot the MS coffers in compensation for years of abuse? Could this be a critical difference between those earlier decisions and this one, or is this nothing new? ie. were there companies like AOL, Sun, etc. around ready to pounce on ATT or SO when they were ruled against?

No Simple Solution? (1)

Phoenix Rising (28955) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531364)

I actually have two questions, somewhat inter-related:
  1. It would seem that a simple solution (just breaking up the company, or just imposing restrictions) wouldn't work.
    If you break up the company into OS, Internet, and Apps, the OS company can still "integrate" features as it sees fit, and the appeals court has already shot down the previous restrictions on "integration".
    If you break it up into Baby Bills, then either they would fragment badly (doing consumer damage), or one would emerge as dominant, and we are back to square one...
    You could impose restrictions (full API disclosure, open licensing), but these are hard to patrol - witness the efforts put into hiding undocumented APIs in the past.

    I am kind of in favor of breaking up the company into component parts and then imposing restrictions - the incentive to overcome the restrictions is minimized by the lack of cross-functionality in each new group. Where do you think the balance lies? Are there any effective alternatives you feel haven't been discussed?
  2. In most anti-trust cases, current shareholders get shares in each of the new companies created. Bill Gates as a common shareholder seems to create a conflict of interest with the findings of the court. Is is possible to force shareholders to choose their new stock holdings - limit them (or just the major shareholders) to one or two of the new companies?

Re:For the Panel at Large (3)

RobSweeney (19353) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531365)

.. and another thing which might be interesting if MS is broken up is the concentration of ownership of MS in relatively few hands. Unlike AT&T, which I believe was the most widely held stock on the NYSE, with no dominant shareholders at the time of the breakup, MS, while still widely held (in comparison with other/smaller tech companies), still has shareholders, such as Bill himself, with huge positions.

If MS were to be broken up, what's to prevent current large MS shareholders, like Bill and Steve Ballmer, etc., from maintaining control of the boards of the Baby Bills, and thereby maintaining the status quo by having the spinoffs collude? Forced divesiture? Does the Sherman act provide for this?

Open source? (5)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531366)

What are the chances of Microsoft being forced to open the entire source code to Windows, not just its APIs? Some articles I've read/listened to bandied that about as a possible solution.

What sort of software licence would an "opened Windows" be most likely to employ?

What would the short- and long-term effects of such a release be? (Other than a sudden dreadful attrition of open source programmers as about half of those who take a look at the Windows source code die laughing. :)

Will not happen (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531367)

Sorry folks, but the judge did not address this issue at all in the FoF. I remember reading about ever-changing APIs and IBM trying to catch up, but nowhere did it say that some APIs are closed (a large number in fact). So, given that, I don't see the judge dering MS to open up their APIs an keep thenm that way.

What would be the optimal punishment? (1)

Darkforge (28199) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531368)

Assuming that Microsoft settles or is found guilty, what would be the best thing to have happen, in your expert legal opinion? Open up the Windows APIs? Open up the source? "Break up" the company into smaller OS companies?

Breaking up Microsoft? (1)

seoman70 (69627) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531369)

I, as well as a number of other people, I'd wager, think that a breakup of Microsoft could actually be more harmful by replacing a large monopoly with a number of smaller ones (ala AT&T and the Baby Bells). Yet from what I read, it seems that that is what they are going for.

My question is, do you think it will be more likely that this will result in a breakup (if it results in anything), or some other action. If so, what?

Two questions (5)

bhurt (1081) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531370)

1) What are the chances that the Supreme Court will decline to hear the appeal? And what justifications are they likely use should they decline the appeal? I remember hearing that the Supreme Court prefers to only hear cases with constitutional implications- could the Supreme Court refuse the appeal based simply on that (and a full schedule)?

2) What implications would this have on the Caldera/DR-DOS lawsuit against Microsoft?

Re:Open APIs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531371)

I think Ben Franklin would be the president here!

scope of remedies permitted by this trial? (3)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531372)

IANAL, but AFAIK, the proscecution has filed a complaint regarding a specific violation or set of violations. Judge Jackson can only impose a judgement that addresses the violation(s) discussed in this case. For example, since no evidence (presented this time around) alleged how Microsoft might have abused its Windows monopoly to push Office, does that mean Judge Jackson cannot impose a remedy splitting OSs and applications into different companies?

To me, the most significant aspect of the Findings of Fact was Jackson's constant use of the phrase, "application barrier to entry." It seems to me as if the judge is using this concept, rather than the narrow Netscape vs. IE browser war, to broaden the scope of the trial, and thus the remedies open to him.

So, how broad a scope can Judge Jackson's potential remedies address? --PSRC

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531373)

>> Is it possible for Microsoft to stipulate in the settlement that "all independent civil lawsuits", from private citizens / corporations be null and void? Yes. But it won't do any good without a new law behind it. The tobacco companies tried this, remember? -Dave Turner, AC of convinience

Effect of the Caldera suit (1)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531374)

Will the ruling in this case directly impact the Caldera vs. Microsoft case? It seems already that the Judge's findings of fact should provide a significant advantage to Caldera's case, concerning the dirty tricks employed by Microsoft to run DR DOS out of town. And if the Caldera vs. Microsoft case were to finish before the Govt. vs. Microsoft case, would the former case's outcome be a significant weight in the latter case's outcome?

Re:Microsoft Moving Overseas? (1)

Mystikite (51271) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531375)

I think that would be a potentially bad move for M$. if the case goes bad for them, and the skip contry, couldn't the US Gov. just Ban their products in the US?

I mean, why not? we ban movies, books, drugs...
why not the Products of a company that took its ball home when it was told it played unfairly?

Placing Windows under GPL? (1)

sgml4kids (56151) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531376)

Can the federal court unilaterally impose the GPL on the Windows (95/98,NT,CE) source code?

Would this be more or less effective than trying to break up the corporation?

How would the court deal with parts of the source code that MS licensed from third parties?

Finding of Fact Questions (1)

Pedersen (46721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531377)

I've just got too many questions to ask, but I will try and keep them to as few as possible.


1) I've heard that the finding of fact is pretty much untouchable, and I've heard that it can be moderately easily overturned on appeal. Can you tell me how easily overturned this would be, and why?


2) Judging from the Finding of Fact (and economic factors), how harsh do you believe a final verdict from Judge Jackson will be (assuming that the final verdict is that Microsoft did, indeed break the law)? Not in terms of the details (what fines, etc), but rather in terms of "Wrist Slap" or "MS will need to file for Chapter 11" (and everything in between) type of terms.


3) I've also heard that MicroSoft would be very interested in settling before a final ruling by Judge Jackson. Failure to settle before then would mean that the Finding of Fact would stand as is, and be admissible in other courts as evidence against MicroSoft. This is actually a multi-part question, but here goes: a) When this case goes to the Supreme Court, the justices have the option of overturning any verdict from Judge Jackson (which is likely to be hard on Microsoft, from what I and others have read). Will the Findings of Fact still be admissible in other courts? b) Is this document admissible as evidence until then? c) Will it be admissable in case of a settlement?


Sorry to have asked so many, but they are all closely related, and I felt belonged in the same post as one group of questions.

Government interaction (1)

PenguinDude (27312) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531378)

Do you think that it is healthy for the country that the government step in and take action? Could there be nasty legal precedence set in the technology market if Microsoft is broken up that could bite us back big time in the long term?

Re:For the Panel at Large (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531379)

How would a breakup down software lines help open up the market? What I mean is, would baby-Soft "Windows/NT Inc." be any less dominant all alone?

What about the rest of the world? (1)

gregbaker (22648) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531381)

Everything I've seen about the MS-DOJ trial has been US-focused (for obvious reasons), but what about the rest of the world?

Is there anything stopping MS from picking up shop, leaving the US and becoming a foriegn-based company? Of course, they might still have most of their operations in Redmond--Corel is in this situation where their "head office" is in Europe (Ireland?) but they clearly do most of their work in Ottawa.

Would this put them beyond the reach of the DOJ and negate the whole process?

Various Questions (1)

Sebastian Knight (105777) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531382)

  1. What are the specific combinations of M$ holdings, products, and so forth that give them "monopoly power"? For example, in the FOF it is pointed out that M$ pressured Apple to de-emphasise Netscape for Mac by threatening to discontinue development of Office for Mac. That's a "monopolistic" abuse that doesn't even rely on M$ owning Windows.
  2. Assuming it is given that certain M$ products give it monopolistic powers, does that strongly suggest that splitting up M$ is a solution, or is it more likely that M$ will be given a kind of probation, with detailed restrictions on the kinds of actions they are allowed to take?
  3. There are several different arenas in which M$ uses it's leverage to arguably unfair advantage. Alternate OS's, hardware vendors, developers of Windows software, developers of thin-client systems, etc. Are any of these areas especially targeted by the FOF, and what implications does that have for any solution?
  4. Does the highly technical nature of the subject make it more difficult to appeal? It seems like the judge really learned the computer business -- are other judges (or the Supreme Court) likely to simply "take his word for it", rather than spend weeks and weeks educating themselves on the industry?

Change of class action (1)

vinn (4370) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531383)

While the finding of fact greatly increases the
change of a lawsuit against Microsoft getting
damages awarded, most of us (including small
companies) could never afford to do such a thing.
However, class action suits were designed for
such instances. Do you feel there will be class
action suits against Microsoft and how will they
affect Slashdot readers? What is the precedent
for such action in monopoly cases?

Punishments (1)

Pedersen (46721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531384)

These questions are related to my others, but are distinct enough to deserve a second posting. Judge Jackson has found that MicroSoft does enjoy monopoly power in the market. He has also found occasions where they have abused this power. It is likely that they will be found to have broken the law, and punishments will be meted out to Microsoft. Now comes the very important part, deciding what to do:
  1. They could have their IP rights stripped from them.
  2. They could have massive fines (to the tune of billions of dollars) assessed.
  3. They could have all existing contracts nullified, with no legal ability to generate new ones for a time. Any licensing which they wish to do would be overseen by an independent body.
  4. They could be broken up into a bunch of BabySofts (BS :)

Of these options, which do you feel are likely to be taken, and why (or why not)? Furthermore, which of these options should be taken, and which shouldn't? Again, why on all of that.


I'd like to thank you all for taking the time to do this. I know enough of the law to get myself in trouble, and appreciate the opportunity to hear from people who have actually studied these areas of law.

We have a Monopoly, did it hurt the consumer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531385)

It is very obvious that Microsoft is a monopoly, and that it abuses and has abused it's power in the marketplace. The question is did it hurt consumers? I'm no big fan of the company, but it seems that it may be pretty hard to "prove" that Microsoft hurt the consumer. What are "legal views" on this matter? What if MS settles? Does that damage the other cases against MS (the dr. dos case and Caldera I believe are still pending)?

Future Courts? (1)

Eric Seppanen (79060) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531386)

What courts is this case likely to cross before its resolution? Do you feel they are likely to take a more Microsoft-friendly stance? How long is this thing going to drag on, anyway?

Microsoft stockholders (1)

peter hoffman (2017) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531387)

Assuming a punishment of Microsoft comes out of all this... I see a problem in designing a punishment for Microsoft that does not also punish innocent stockholders.

It would seem that justice would be better served by somehow punishing individuals at Microsoft. It is my understanding that the actions of individuals are not necessarily protected by the fact that their company is incorporated. What is the likelihood of personal punishments? If the likelihood is non-zero, what sort of punishments are likely?

Even if a punishment does not come out of this, it seems to be an injustice that most of the proposed actions (e.g., restructuring into baby-bills) would result in greater personal wealth for the officers of Microsoft. What could be done to ensure justice is served?

Hardware Drivers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1531388)

For any slashdotter: Would having the source code allow linux developers to implement some sort of layer that would allow windows drivers to work under linux too? Seems like an easy way to get 100% hardware compatibility.

If you were Microsoft's attorney... (2)

sethg (15187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1531389)

...what settlement would you propose making with the DOJ?
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