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DoJ Finds Microsoft Antitrust Compliance 'On Track'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the they're-going-to-frame-that dept.

Microsoft 110

eldavojohn writes "Despite demand for more oversight from the states, the Department of Justice has found that Microsoft's antitrust compliance plan is right on track. These specific investigations centered around Vista's compliance with Google's concerns surrounding search tools for the desktop. From the article: 'Preliminary testing shows the new version, which will let Vista users set a competing search program as their default and see it in the Windows Start menu, works as expected. The changes will be available in Service Pack 1, a package of upgrades and fixes expected in the first quarter of 2008, the department said. The department also said in its report that it is looking into differences between original technical documentation and rewritten versions from Microsoft, and that it is testing fixes Microsoft made to some software.'"

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/me finds DoJ's finding 'On Crack' (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432579)

'nuff said

Re:/me finds DoJ's finding 'On Crack' (1)

ADHDYoshi (1101883) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435175)

I actually misread the title of this article as 'On Crack' at first. I almost died from laughter.

Of course it does... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432603)

Has anybody expected something different?

Quote from http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/artic les/2007/06/10/microsoft_finds_defender_in_us_just ice_department/ [boston.com]

The official, Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett, had until 2004 been a top antitrust partner at Covington & Burlington, the law firm that has represented Microsoft in several antitrust disputes.

Re:Of course it does... (3, Interesting)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432941)

Has anybody expected something different?
Sadly, no. And it isn't hard to see why this is so: What does the US have left, in the area of actual productive industry? Sure, there are successful investment firms, etc., but most actual manufacturing has long been lost to other nations. There are basically two fields that are actually producing goods, Big Content (symbolized by the RIAA/MPAA) and software, and by software I mean basically Microsoft.

The US government isn't just corrupt and pandering to these two groups for no reason. Yes, they are corrupt, but they aren't stupid - IMO they see supporting these groups as vital to the future of the nation. And that is why you get things like the DMCA and a lack of antitrust litigation against Microsoft. If you thought these two things weren't connected, then I think you were wrong.

If/when piracy is stamped out in Asia, then Microsoft and Big Content will get around $100 per computer sold there, and $10 per movie watched (rough figures, but you get the idea). The crucial issue is that (1) the US has an advantage in manufacturing both types of content (by history and monopoly), and (2) in both cases there is no need to 'scale up' your actual physical manufacturing processes, since there are none (although support staff, perhaps) - you can adapt to 1,000,000 new Chinese users of Microsoft software by basically doing nothing. Copying them Windows is no problem.

As a Linux user this issue concerns me, since it indicates that in the US we basically have no hope of winning out against Microsoft; the government will step in (or not step in) to assure their continued domination. The hope, if any, lies overseas.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433071)

What does the US have left, in the area of actual productive industry? [...] There are basically two fields [in the United States] that are actually producing goods

Where did you get this myth from? Sounds like one of those Microsoft advocacy websites paid for by Microsoft.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433127)

I would be (literally!) very happy to be proven wrong. Do you have an example of another productive, exporting industry in the US?

Agriculture (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433245)

I would be (literally!) very happy to be proven wrong. Do you have an example of another productive, exporting industry in the US?

Agriculture.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2007 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced a record $79 billion forecast in FY 2007 agricultural exports. For fiscal year 2008, USDA forecasts exports to reach $83.5 billion with growth and new sales across all major agricultural product groups. U.S. Agricultural Exports Expected To Reach Record Levels [usda.gov]

Re:Agriculture (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433373)

Thanks, I was not aware that US agriculture was doing so well.

Re:Agriculture (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433403)

Heh, impressive..
Dutch export of agriculture in 2006 was 50 billion euros. Import was close to 31 billion euros. So even if that number of yours is the difference (19 billion euros here) then you should still consider that the Netherlands are a tiny country compared to the USA.

Re:Agriculture (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433633)

you should still consider that the Netherlands are a tiny country compared to the USA.

US agriculture is also supporting a domestic population of 300 million.

Re:Agriculture (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433775)

Not as if that really matters considering what the topic under discussion was.
The Netherlands are one of the most densily populated countries in the world. Still we manage to feed our small amount of 16 million people with the area left (and import) and have good export (probably because the agricultural goods we're exporting are of high value, compared to what we import; about EUR 7 billion is for flower export).

Anyway, the deficiency issue stated in another reply to the parent illustrates this parent's point being moot even better.

Re:Agriculture (4, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433413)

$79 billion annually? Is that a WHOLE $79 billion? Well, thank God, then. I guess we have nothing to worry about then.

Wait a second, that's wrong! Our trade deficit is roughly $60 billion per month. In the face of that, $79 billion is a drop in the bucket. We're hemorrhaging money, jobs, and manufacturing capacity and if we don't end it and encourage domestic manufacturing, we'll be totally fucked soon, ESPECIALLY if WWIII breaks out (that's where we're heading with our current foreign policies) and need to manufacture artillery and vehicles on short order.

Check this out for monthly trade deficit tallies: http://www.americaneconomicalert.org/ticker_home.a sp [americanec...calert.org]

For a US trade deficit graph underscoring the seriousness of the matter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_surplus#United_ States_trade_deficit [wikipedia.org]

Re:Agriculture (1)

ball-lightning (594495) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434419)

Like Russia and China, the United States has extensive natural resources (energy included), it is just cheaper for us to import them from other countries. Now, I'm not advocating WWIII, or saying we [Americans] have nothing to worry about if WWIII breaks out, BUT if a major war does occur, I would expect the United States to convert to a controlled economy, ala WWII, and you'd see domestic production skyrocket in relatively short order.

Re:Agriculture (2, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435299)

BUT if a major war does occur, I would expect the United States to convert to a controlled economy, ala WWII, and you'd see domestic production skyrocket in relatively short order.


During WWII it was possible only because the US was capable of being entirely self-sufficient. Modern stealth technology require exotic minerals which can only be mined in two places in the world; one in a "protected" area in one of the US's deserts (it's a wildlife preservation and cannot be mined) and in china. Unfortunately on the talk radio discussion I didn't catch what the compound in question is.

Modern weaponly also requires sophisticated microprocessors and circuits -- with our domestic chip fabs having been closed down and nearly all production shifted overseas, our domestic facilities are woefully out of date and cannot be modernized in a matter of days or weeks.

Likewise, tooling facilities and steel and titanium production in this country have been shut down, are old, run down, and not practical to convert to producing ships, aircraft, and missiles on short order. This has resulted in American workers having experience in the service industry, not manufacturing, and

Also, in this country, to sneeze you need to grease the palms of politicians to obtain permits, and have an environmental impact study conducted before building or even upgrading chemicals processing, manufacturing, and similar plants, or to even simply pave a large parking lot for a light industrial facility.

Lastly, chemicals are tightly controlled in this country; this has been stifling grassroots innovation. If today's regulations were in place back during WWI-WWII, we'd never have making missiles/rockets practical, never would have succeeded in perfecting turbine technology, and munitions? They would not have become as effective as they are now were it not for engineers independently researching and developing

When I was about 18 I wanted to get into amateur rocket building - I wanted to buy saltpeter, activated charcoal, and other chemicals for a really small homemade rocket, and no one I contacted was willing to help. If I were to try that now, I'd be reported to homeland security and be investigated for simply having interest in a new hobby.

What we have done in this country has crippled ourselves, AND we have modernized our enemies, AND are currently giving them money hand over fist for products we SHOULD be producing domestically.

What we had during WWII was factories which could be rapidly retooled to build ANYTHING, skilled machinists who could build anything by hand, domestic chemicals and metal production plants which could supply any steel or titanium or chemicals required, and there was little obstruction to getting what one needed for development and production. Grassroots innovation was encouraged and invited, and our technology advanced rapidly. The end result of this was a massive explosion in domestic production capability and skills which were capitalized on in the 1950s and 1960s, where we had tremendous trade surpluses with practically every trading partner, and if the US _had_ to be totally isolationist and self-sufficient, it was entirely possible.

No, the situation is totally different now. We're fucked. If the world were a game of chess, either Russia or China would have us in checkmate in one move.

Re:Agriculture (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433713)

Is there a stat on how well agriculture would be doing without any government subsidies?

Re:Agriculture (1)

Columcille (88542) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434885)

I think you are undermining your own point... The subsidies exist because the market is flooded. Agriculture in the US is doing TOO well. We're producing so much food, many farmers are being paid NOT to grow crops. The excess of food means cheaper prices, which means farmers have to sell for really cheap just to be competitive. So cheap that they themselves are making next to nothing and require subsidies in order to pay the bills. Agriculture in America is doing quite well as far as volume of produce, and if we needed them to produce more, the capacity is there, ready and waiting.

Re:Agriculture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20435267)

What a joke, commodity prices are at all time highs. American agriculture is just uncompetitive.

Re:Of course it does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433367)

Hate, Death, Weapons, Fear, Corruption, Patents, Pharmaceuticals... the US leads the world in many industries.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 7 years ago | (#20436023)

Nice troll.

Hate: There are countries that claim that the only problem with the Holocaust was that it ended too early. Iran refers to us as the Great Satan.

Death: China kills more of its own every year than we do.

Weapons: Ok, you got me. I approve though, as having the best guns has a chilling effect on other nations going to war.

Fear: China. Venezuela. Israel.

Corruption: Bangladesh.

Patents: Yep, that's probably us. Japan has a pretty messed up patent system too, though.

Pharmaceuticals: I don't see anything wrong with being the worlds largest producer of healing. Not all pharmaceuticals are Viagra and Prozac, after all.

Re:Of course it does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20434063)

Intel. AMD. Raytheon. Boeing. JDSU Uniphase (may be canada flagged but operates in this country). Corning.

And 1000s of others.

There is a reason the US GDP is 13 trillion.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434235)

You're right, I was too hasty. What I should have said was that Software and Big Content are the only two areas in which the US has both (1) an intrinsic advantage, and (2) little or no competition. Sure, Bollywood is great, but it doesn't quite compete in the same area as Hollywood. Likewise, no software vendor (anywhere) really competes with Microsoft.

Boeing has serious competition, despite dominating its field. Intel has some competition, not too much, but it is possible to envision a near future where Asian chipmakers put up a serious fight against them. The same can't be said for Software and Big Content, as I see it.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434897)

Do you have an example of another productive, exporting industry in the US?

Historically, education has been one of the US's major "export industries".

There is a certain amount of irony here, since the US population as a whole has a rather deep antipathy towards education and educated people. It's easy to see this in American politics, where a college degree is a handicap that politicians tend to downplay. The recent fun over the video clip of a Miss Teen USA contestant explaining why Americans can't find things on a map [youtube.com] is, sadly, all too typical of the general population.

But at the university level, the US has long attracted a large number of students from the rest of the world. And, again sadly, the recent "anti-terrorism" measures of the US government has seriously impacted this, by viewing most foreign students as potential terrorists and blocking their entry or seriously harassing them. I suppose this might be considered good news for educational institutions in the rest of the world, but it's not good news to people who just want good education to be available to anyone that wants it (and can pay for it ;-).

Here in the Boston area, people are generally aware that education is now the most important local "industry". There are around 250,000 college-level students in the metro area (and most of them are arriving this weekend, making for some major traffic problems ;-). My wife got a degree at BU (Boston University) some years back, and most of her friends there were foreign students. Actually, most of them were female, and the conventional explanation was that BU is where the wives of foreign Harvard and MIT students went. They liked to explain that their governments generally paid for their husbands' education, but women have to rely on their families for such funding. So the women usually go to a somewhat cheaper school in the area, while their husbands are off making business connections at the high-status schools.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

nameer (706715) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435313)

Pharmaceuticals, food, computers, fabricated metals, ... Manufactured goods accounted for nearly $1T in 2006 [nam.org] . More than double services. I agree that US manufacturing is in bad shape, but it's not non-existent.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433309)

I know it's easy to view the government as corrupt and not stupid. But in my opinion it explains a lot more if you realize that the 'government', that is the bureaucrats, is made up of the people that are all around us. Which leads me to believe that the government is not nearly as corrupt as it is stupid.

Re:Of course it does... (2, Insightful)

Dak RIT (556128) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433527)

The US economy long ago has transitioned from a primarily manufacturing-based economy to a (higher paying) service-based one. In fact, Microsoft itself would be counted more in the service-based section than in the area of manufacturing. There's nothing particularly wrong with this in general, except that the transition was somewhat mismanaged and has occurred faster than we have been able to adequately re-train our labor, which has left us in the ironic situation of being dependent on both illegal immigration for many of the lower paying jobs in the country, particularly in agriculture, and also with a shortage of qualified people for many higher paying (service-oriented) technical jobs. But despite the stumble, the US economy on the whole is still extremely strong and the average income and consumption by Americans is higher than anywhere else in the world (as is the amount produced per capita if you use GDP/working population)

I'd suspect that while certainly the Justice Department has no interest in completely dismantling a major US company, the decisions that got people like Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett into the JD originally had a lot more to do with lobbying and campaign dollars than it did with any particular interest in sustaining the Microsoft monopoly on a global scale. Similarly I doubt the DMCA has as much to do with any Senator trying to protect some global US monopoly as it does with the RIAA and MPAA spending huge amounts of money on lobbying efforts.

Re:Of course it does... (2, Interesting)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434983)

"A service based economy" is analagous to paying yourself to wash your own dishes as a method of earning the rent!

It fails top take into account that if you need to pay others for something, you need to earn the money from them and not earn it from yourself. Taking money from your left pocket and putting it in the right pocet does not make you richer.

And you won't get rich by getting the commission on lending your money to people who are not economically viable, but have falsified the paperwork.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

can.i.have.free.beer (1141057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434855)

you have no hope against winning against microsoft because you have no clue how to compete in the consumer software arena...
mod me down.. my karka already sucks.

Re:Of course it does... (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435959)

What does the US have left, in the area of actual productive industry? Sure, there are successful investment firms, etc., but most actual manufacturing has long been lost to other nations. There are basically two fields that are actually producing goods, Big Content (symbolized by the RIAA/MPAA) and software, and by software I mean basically Microsoft.
You forgot high speed pizza delivery.

Re:Of course it does... (2, Insightful)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433451)

Has anybody expected something different?
Of course not: Bush and his buddies let M$ off the hook in 2001 and are still big friends with them. Was that supposed to have changed? No. If anything substantial is going to be done about the M$ monopoly, it'll have to wait until after the next administration takes over in 2009. The only danger is if M$ succeeds in once again stalling the judicial process long enough to last until the next Republican administration. But, since they've already been convicted of monopolistic practices once before, let's hope that won't be so easy to do the next time around. Remember, all "good" things must come to an end, even for M$.

Which DOJ? (2, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432613)

The one that let MS off the hook with a slap on the wrist? The one whose head just stepped down in disgrace? Yeah, I believe their findings. I also believe I'm married to Morgan Fairchild.

The Bush administration and Microsoft Corporation are both rotten.

Re:Which DOJ? (2, Funny)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432637)

You are one lucky man Tommy Flanagan.

Re:Which DOJ? (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 7 years ago | (#20436273)

And you sir have a well deserved /. nick!!!

Re:Which DOJ? (3, Insightful)

EriDay (679359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432777)

The one that doesn't have a #1, #2, or #3 person; the one where everyone who was not political hack was fired. To recap, the one with a 4th string political hack in charge of a bunch of fellow political hacks. The former #3 went to a tier 4 law school. For details see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaIOX4zCRLg [youtube.com]

For some values of On Track? (2, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432617)

So Microsoft does a whole bunch of things that are "non-compliant" and then fixes the ones its called on in a Service Pack over 12 months after the "non-compliant" code is sold? Wow, that's simply amazing justice there.

Re:For some values of On Track? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433651)

Actually, it's completely on track:
http://lifeiscute.com/images/train.jpg [lifeiscute.com]

Antitrust (4, Interesting)

laederkeps (976361) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432623)

Is it just me, or are we treating Microsoft differently from all the other mega corporations?

I never quite understood the rationale behind, for example, trying to force Windows Media Player out of the Windows XP bundle. Really, Microsoft sells an OS and its customers want a somewhat functional system at that. These days, a PC isn't really complete until it can play some digital media and thus MS includes a media player with its OS.
I don't use windows unless I really have to. I don't use Windows media player unless I happen to find myself on a deserted island in the body of an evil zombie pirate with two matching pink socks.
I also don't encourage others to use Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer or any of the other crud that MS ships with their (Others, that is) new computers.

Still, isn't this a bit out of line? Why on earth should they not be allowed to supply a search function in their own OS (And as far as I understand, they still claim that Windows => IE?)
Why is anyone at all listening to the people who complain about Opera/VLC/whatever not getting a fair chance on the windows market?

I say "no" to Microsoft products, but I don't think we should force anyone to come to the same conclusion like this.

Re:Antitrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432729)

"Give me a big enough lever and I can move the earth." Owning the OS is a pretty big lever. If you've been paying attention the last 10 years you've seen MS using their monopoly to destroy, stifle, and expand.

Freedom to innovate is a nice catchphrase and all, but it's not what they really want - they want freedom for themselves to engage in dirty business, and freedom for everyone else to create innovative software and then be driven out of business.

MS isn't evil, but they do need to be reined in.

Re:Antitrust (3, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433497)

"Give me a big enough lever and I can move the earth." Owning the OS is a pretty big lever. If you've been paying attention the last 10 years you've seen MS using their monopoly to destroy, stifle, and expand.


In addition to that, since the antitrust procedings started, the list price for Windows has quadrupled. THAT is clearly illegal as it is abusing their monopoly status to force price increases. Microsoft is a coercive monopoly [wikipedia.org] and the DoJ and FTC are doing NOTHING about it.

Microsoft has a coercive monopoly because they are abusing their position to increase prices, and have been taking technical measures dating all the way back to Windows 3.x to break interoperability with third-party products. In addition, they push third parties in other industry segments out of business by bundling half-baked solutions with the OS (MSIE 1.x and 2.x, anyone?) in effort to take over their other markets where they see others' enjoying even a mediocum of success. Lastly, they held their prices artificially low (especially on MSDN, it has been alleged by some that Microsoft set up shell companies to get developers hooked on MSDN and shut them down when popularity hit critical mass [asp.net] at which point the new equivalent of an MSDN Universal subscription (the highest end non-volume-licensed subscription) which once was obtainable for $800 to $1200 is not unobtainable for less than $9,000, pushing out the ability of independent newcomers from entering the market. You may claim that $9,000 is not much for a company, but in reality for software it's insane, especially when you consider that many of today's megacorps were started in the '70s, '80s, and '90s by one or two people hacking some code on a new interesting program idea. $9,000 to a developer hacking a prototype on his or her own time at home -- it is a LOT of money.

Re:Antitrust (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435633)

As much as I agree with most of your post, please don't talk about the increase in price of product without taking inflation into account.

Re:Antitrust (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435777)

or the increased quality...

Re:Antitrust (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432737)

Is it just me, or are we treating Microsoft differently from all the other mega corporations?

What about Net Neutrality? We demand that local cable monopolies not give preferred treatment to their own products. This is exactly like Microsoft giving preferred treatment to its own search engine, media player, web browser, etc.

What about calls for open access in the cell phone airwaves? We want those who control the airwaves to let consumers choose to use whatever phone they want. Again, this is just like requiring Microsoft to let users plug in whatever browser they want.

Debate the value of a level playing field all you want, but don't for a moment think that Microsoft is being singled out.

Re:Antitrust (1)

laederkeps (976361) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432833)

Again, this is just like requiring Microsoft to let users plug in whatever browser they want.
Who is stopping Me or You from running Windows and using an alternative browser?

You are right, of course, but I still think it is a bit childish to complain about the search engine used by default (Or the Media player or the Browser or mspaint.exe). Where do we draw the line between Microsoft giving you (the consumer, that is) something you ask for and the same Microsoft attempting to force you into using something?

Perhaps I just see it a bit differently since my country isn't quite as infested with monoplistic villains as the U.S.
I can choose whatever phone I want.
I can expect my ISP to stay the f*ck out of my business and not discriminate traffic.
Looking at it from afar (I'll get to eat these words eventually) the U.S. looks like one big "SUPRISE! BUTTRAPE!" for the customers.

Still, my point is that in my book, shipping your OS with a certain Browser that uses a certain search engine by default - even if you happen to own both the browser and the search engine - should not be punisehed as such for being "Anticompetitive". Microsoft has done plenty of stuff that we can punish them for already, but this seems like something one should be allowed to do.

My distro of choice comes with Xine but not Mplayer, and if the Slackware folks had developed their own media player, I'm quite certain they would ship that instead. How is that any different?

Re:Antitrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433909)

It is one thing for Slackware to include their own media player. It is another for Slackware, in their license agreement, to require that should Dell/HP/etc wish to ship Slackware on a computer, they can only ship the computer with Slackware's media player; trying to turn an ecosystem into a monoculture by limiting the supplier of software is an attempt to create a monopoly. Slackware really only has any business in its own software, not anyone else's.

Re:Antitrust (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434021)

I start an auto company. Through a lot of innovation and hard work (and bribes and back-alley deals), I obtain 95% market share. Everyone owns one of my cars, and every auto dealership sells only my cars.

Suddenly, I decide that I want to make tires, too. Who could begrudge me from bundling my cars with my tires? Certainly, if the customers want to use Michelin or Firestone tires, they could replace the bundled tires when they buy the car. I'll even be a nice guy and do an even trade for the tires, but it's up to the customer to do the work of putting on the tires or paying a mechanic to do it.

Re:Antitrust (2, Insightful)

oldgeezer1954 (706420) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434293)

But if Microsoft was that car maker you'd have to bolt on your Michelins, for example, and continue to have their tires on as well. You can't remove them.

Additionally while you may make the other tires your default the car will continue to use the Microsoft tires for some functions.

In that scenario it is more costly to opt for anything other than MS tires. Both for the consumer and the dealer.

As well by ensuring all microsoft cars have microsoft tires stores that sell plug kits will stock primarily those designed for ms tires as everyone has them. In the computer world of course the real impact is that anyone serving media content knows 95% of the market are running win media player and to ensure that they can reach that 95% they use win media server. They're now leveraging their desktop o/s monopoly into ensuring the back end server side picks up steam. It's exactly one of the types of activities that antitrust laws are intended to protect the consumer from.

It's not the bundling per se that causes the problem. It's the product tying that requires the media player/browser/etc to be there. Additionally it's their use of marketing money (profits from operating system and office sales) to subsidize it's entry into the media player and media server business.

Re:Antitrust (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432755)

I never quite understood the rationale


I think what you meant to say is that you don't understand the concept of monopoly or antitrust or why consumers should need or get relief from same. This information is widely available in economics classes and texts. If you wanted to know, you could find out.

A monopoly has a different role in the economy from what you call a "megacorporation" whatever that is. You sound like your only economics education is from Slashdot comments. You might want to crack a book on the topic.

In the past, DOJ has distinguished itself by providing relief from monopolies such as Standard Oil, with great effect. The problem now is that DOJ is toothless. This is in part due to voters with no better understanding of government's role than you have and who'll vote in a regime because it claims to stand tall and square jawed against terrists. Try to educate yourself. That's the best protection for all of us.

Re:Antitrust (3, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432971)

I think what you meant to say is that you don't understand the concept of monopoly or antitrust or why consumers should need or get relief from same.


I think the OP is confusing a monopoly, something that is totally legal and is actually something that true open markets lead to, with antitrust (abuse of that monopoly) which is something that is illegal. To add to the confusion, there are several forms of monopoly that are protected in law (copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret). It is little wonder that such a complex concept is beyond the modern citizen especially since the very things that are being challenged are also protected by those laws.

Microsoft has been convicted of abuse of its monopoly position. The settlement would have worked somewhat had not only the DOJ but the court's oversight body been doing their job. The fact that Vista was allowed to be released without the "features" they are just now putting into SP1 is proof that there is no oversight of the settlement. The rigging of votes in standards bodies and lack of released documentation for their APIs and document formats is another.

Many here are speculating that the EU will be tougher, and that may be the case, but in the end it will have no effect on Microsoft's abuse of monopoly anywhere else outside of Europe. Microsoft will ship a neutered version of their product to Europe and point fingers at the EU saying, "Blame them for the lack of features (or a broken OS more likely since media DRM is so tied into Vista) that others around the globe have. Can't play that DVD you just bought? Blame the EU Commission not us!"

Microsoft is walking a fine line (often crossing it with impunity it seems) between functionality and abuse of monopoly. Any new technology out of Redmond becomes suspect since they always seem to be pushing that technology onto vendors via their OS dominance. I don't think Microsoft will ever get out from under the cloud they have cast over themselves of being "evil". I also don't see things changing no matter who gains the White House hot seat simply because of the political clout such a large employer has.

The other thing that is in relation to what I just said is Microsoft is damned if they do and damned if they don't in many cases especially where security is concerned. Companies like Symantic and McAffee and the like have built a large business on the insecurities inherent in the Microsoft platform. When Microsoft announced Windows Defender these companies screamed "antitrust!" The same is happening for any features Microsoft adds be it media, search indexing, security, etc. These are things that Microsoft customers are screaming for but any attempt by Microsoft to address them gets a call for antitrust because they will always step on some provider's toes no matter what they do. Consider this, if Microsoft were to include into their OS all the things that a Linux distro does, the calls for antitrust would be so great you could hear it on Pluto without the need for a radio.

Re:Antitrust (1, Troll)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433395)

The other thing that is in relation to what I just said is Microsoft is damned if they do and damned if they don't in many cases especially where security is concerned. Companies like Symantic and McAffee and the like have built a large business on the insecurities inherent in the Microsoft platform. When Microsoft announced Windows Defender these companies screamed "antitrust!" The same is happening for any features Microsoft adds be it media, search indexing, security, etc. These are things that Microsoft customers are screaming for but any attempt by Microsoft to address them gets a call for antitrust because they will always step on some provider's toes no matter what they do. Consider this, if Microsoft were to include into their OS all the things that a Linux distro does, the calls for antitrust would be so great you could hear it on Pluto without the need for a radio.
Would you be on the MS payroll I could understand you.
But for non-MS people your writing is incomprehensible.

The big difference between MS and Linux distro's including such utilities is that MS is forcing competing commercial offerings out of the market by leveraging it's OS.

The one about Windows Defender is quite transparent, first they write software (OS and applications) that is suseptible to abuse and expect others to build a line of defence. By the time the defensive stuff starts making money off it's own, Microsoft (the originator of the weaknesses) comes up with an in-house 'solution'.
Had that solution been the hardening of the OS and applications no-one would have complained but with Defender they try to make money off their own failings.

Re:Antitrust (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433727)

Would you be on the MS payroll I could understand you.
  But for non-MS people your writing is incomprehensible.


I am not now, nor have I ever been on any software company's payroll. If I had to write software for a living, I'd starve. I don't even own a copy (legal or otherwise) of any version of Windows. My preferred OS is Gentoo Linux since 2000. That aside...

The big difference between MS and Linux distro's including such utilities is that MS is forcing competing commercial offerings out of the market by leveraging it's OS.


I said so much in my post. I also know (as well as I suspect you do) that for them to try to include such programs would raise the roof on complaints of antitrust even if the software they included were FOSS ones (something that will NEVER happen with the current thinking in Redmond).

The one about Windows Defender is quite transparent, first they write software (OS and applications) that is suseptible to abuse and expect others to build a line of defence. By the time the defensive stuff starts making money off it's own, Microsoft (the originator of the weaknesses) comes up with an in-house 'solution'.
  Had that solution been the hardening of the OS and applications no-one would have complained but with Defender they try to make money off their own failings.


I never said that Microsoft didn't create their own nightmare. In fact, I said they did. But when they tried to fix it, the first words out of those companies that it affected was "antitrust". Thier push for TCP in Vista is another example with the antivirus vendors (Symantic in particular) when they weren't given the "trusted software" status. The first thing Symantic did was scream antitrust even though I do consider their program an intrusive resource hog that buries itself deeper into the OS than any spyware can possibly do. Now you have Google screaming antitrust because Microsoft includes search features that Google thinks only it should provide. Again, no matter what Microsoft does, it will always step on some other company's toes. That's the nature of the closed source for-profit beast. There will always be some need that will be met by 3rd party providers that will be challenged when Microsoft enters their arena for whatever reason. And the first thing those companies will cry is "antitrust". This is Microsoft's own doing. No doubt about it.

Re:Antitrust (1)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435581)

no one was forcing microsoft to write their own anti-virus software. just like no one was forcing them to write their own media player.

that however is not the main difference between bundling in a linux distribution and bundling in windows. Linux is not made by one company but by hundreds of thousands of amateur and professional developers worldwide. commercial software for watching videos or browsing the web does not really exist for linux, so let's take a different example. what would happen if a bunch of amateur programmers got together and improved blender so far that it really ate into maya's sales? could maya scream anti-trust? no they couldn't. the blender code would presumably remain freely available for everybody and freedom is the most important thing for the gpl, be it freedom for the user to use the software for whatever he/she wants or freedom for the distributor to include whatever gpl or free software he/she wants.

what would happen, however, if microsoft invested billions of dollars in developing a competitor for maya and then released it free of charge bundled with the operating system? one would understandably be suspicious. why would microsoft want to do such a thing? it is clear why they introduced media player and internet explorer: they wanted to extend their monopoly into new fields. taking control of the net and common media formats was a good start.

you say "microsoft is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't" as if that's a reason to cut microsoft some slack. i do not agree. it is quite possible to be in a situation where there is no acceptable way out. microsoft is in this situation now.

Re:Antitrust (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20437259)

no one was forcing microsoft to write their own anti-virus software. just like no one was forcing them to write their own media player.


That isn't exactly true is it? There are three factors that can be perceived as force. First, the customers and partners that call and demand those features. That isn't really as compelling as it needs to be but it still exists. Second, competition in the market, especially in emerging markets. This is much more of a reason than customer demand. The lure of money in a market will always be a driving force. It is why Microsoft wants to get into the "services" business. Lastly, and most importantly, share holder pressure. A publicly traded company has a responsibility to the stockholders to increase shareholder value. The moment it becomes public that Microsoft let an opportunity slip by them, the stockholders would let them know, sometimes very vocally. Large companies like Microsoft sometimes see this as their only reason for existence. I've seen companies doing fine up until the IPO then their whole focus shifts from product and customer to shareholder interests. What happened to Mandrake (now Mandriva) is a classic example of this in action.

None of this excuses Microsoft of their nasty business practices nor does it excuse the DOJ / Courts in their neglect of their oversight duties as agreed to in the settlement. It does show that they may have felt "pressure" to expand in those areas that they have done.

that however is not the main difference between bundling in a linux distribution and bundling in windows. Linux is not made by one company but by hundreds of thousands of amateur and professional developers worldwide. commercial software for watching videos or browsing the web does not really exist for linux, so let's take a different example. what would happen if a bunch of amateur programmers got together and improved blender so far that it really ate into maya's sales? could maya scream anti-trust? no they couldn't. the blender code would presumably remain freely available for everybody and freedom is the most important thing for the gpl, be it freedom for the user to use the software for whatever he/she wants or freedom for the distributor to include whatever gpl or free software he/she wants.


The only reason Maya couldn't cry antitrust is because the Blender Foundation isn't a monopoly. If it was, then they could and probably would make that cry. As I said in my original post, monopolies aren't illegal and indeed are sanctioned by law in some cases. Only the abuse of the monopoly is illegal. As I replied to the other guy, I think Microsoft would still be accused of antitrust even if it was to include FOSS applications with its OS. If not by the closed source folk then by the FOSS folk who weren't included. They would be stepping on toes no matter what they did closed or open. This is the dilemma Microsoft created, and continues to create, for itself.

what would happen, however, if microsoft invested billions of dollars in developing a competitor for maya and then released it free of charge bundled with the operating system? one would understandably be suspicious. why would microsoft want to do such a thing? it is clear why they introduced media player and internet explorer: they wanted to extend their monopoly into new fields. taking control of the net and common media formats was a good start.


That's only because Microsoft *is* a monopoly and has shown that it will abuse that monopoly position to stay a monopoly. I don't disagree with your assessment but I don't think monopoly maintenance is the only reasons (see above).

you say "microsoft is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't" as if that's a reason to cut microsoft some slack. i do not agree. it is quite possible to be in a situation where there is no acceptable way out. microsoft is in this situation now.


Oh, quite the opposite. I don't think Microsoft either deserves slack or should be given any slack. I think the failure of Microsoft to abide by the settlement agreement should be be punished with the instant remedy proposed by the first judge. Split them up. Make separate companies out of the parts. Commit oversight of those parts to ensure they don't collude and can't abuse the OS monopoly again. I also think the bundling agreements they have with OEMs should be nullified and the OEMs set free to choose the best solution for their customers instead of being forced into a single platform solution. I also think that part of the punishment should include a disbarment from lobbying activities. That is how I feel about it. Will it ever happen? I doubt it very much. I think you will see pigs fly before Microsoft allows that to happen.

Innocent? (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432809)

You're resuming all the story in the european RealPlayer case. The problem here is not include-or-not a media player. The problem is: you cannot install a fresh Windows installation without put Media Player, IE, or the MS Search Engine. Or worse, you cannot remove them. This is the problem, not include them in the install CD.

Re:Innocent? (1)

laederkeps (976361) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432887)

The problem is: you cannot install a fresh Windows installation without put Media Player, IE, or the MS Search Engine. Or worse, you cannot remove them..
Heh, why didn't I think of that?
This makes the "grip" of their products somewhat tighter, but still I don't se a good reason to force a change unless they decide that you are no longer allowed to use a different browser\media player\search.
Maybe, as someone else pointed out, it's all more complicated than this (Economics and monopolies etc.), but I know I would be pissed if I wasn't allowed to make my own software depend on different parts of itself or some other piece of software that I wrote.

Sure, a monopoly is no way to go, and I don't think Microsoft wants anything but, and maybe it is better for the law to start fighting it earlier rather than later.

Re:Antitrust (3, Informative)

$pace6host (865145) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433435)

I thought the problem was that Microsoft was already judged to be a monopoly, and to have abused their monopoly. See, if Microsoft has a monopoly on the O/S, and they use that O/S monopoly to harm competitors in other markets (office software, search software, media players, etc.) then the government is supposed to step in and protect competition to protect the consumers. How do they abuse their monopoly? Well, I assume you will agree that their O/S is essentially the only O/S shipped by the vast majority of vendors. The first link in Google for "O/S marketshare" would indicate that various flavors of Windows have over 90%. Examples?
  • A company comes along and decides to sell browsers, great! Then Microsoft makes their own browser, and "bundles" it with the O/S (or makes it "an integral part" of the O/S). No one buys the competitor, because they get one "free" with the O/S; additionally, any non-standard "features" of Microsoft's browser become the instant standard. Competition harmed.
  • Someone decides to make search software, great! Microsoft makes their own, and bundles it with the O/S. No one downloads or uses the competitor, because they get one "free" with the O/S. Competition harmed.
  • Someone makes a good media player, great! Microsoft decides to "bundle" one with the O/S - no one buys the competitor and no one makes files in the competitor's format, because consumers get one "free" with the O/S. Why make content in a format no one will ever use? Competition harmed.
Do you see how having a monopoly on the O/S can allow you to throw around an instant 90% marketshare? Name any application. Now, imagine what happens to vendors of that type of application when Microsoft "bundles" an app of that type with the O/S. Remember, no one has the choice to buy the O/S without the bundling. It's not like Microsoft is saying "Hey, we make a great widget, too, buy ours!" They're saying "hidden in the cost of the O/S you're going to get anyway will be a widget -- why buy our competitors?" And these things AREN'T integral to the O/S. They're things that can be, should be, and originally were separate products. Microsoft didn't invent the browser, the media player, or the search feature. The O/S existed without all of them before. Now, did they do this because everyone was having problems finding these applications before Microsoft nobly put their own versions in a bundle with the O/S? Or, was it that Microsoft wanted to force the adoption of their product and extend their monopoly into other markets?

Additionally, suppose Microsoft also publishes public APIs for their O/S, to allow vendors to sell products that run on it, but they intentionally leave out critical information that would allow those vendors to compete with Microsoft's own offerings.

These types of practices trample competitors, who may have superior products that no one will ever discover because a monopoly has been abused.

Here's a analogy that is probably flawed, but which I hope illustrates the problem. Imagine that 90% of all TVs are made by MegaTV. An engineer sitting around at home gets a great idea - we can sell movies on little plastic disks that people can watch on their TVs! He starts a company (DiskCo) that sells movie disk players you can hook up to your MegaTV. A few other companies think this is a great opportunity, and they get into the disk player market, playing movies in the DiskCo format. Seeing this, MegaTV makes their own disk player and bundles it into every new TV sold, so 90% of all TVs sold now have a MegaTV disk player in them. Sure, all the new TVs are slightly more expensive, but the player is "free!" And, the MegaTV player has a quirk in it, it handles something slightly different. Movie studios have to choose -- do they put out content that works on DiskCo's player? Or on the one that 90% of all new TV owners will have? Hmmm... DiskCo and the other small vendors go out of business, no one wants their players and their players don't handle the "non standard" (but most prevalent) content "properly". MegaTV claims it only did this "bundling" out of the goodness of their corporate heart, because customers WANT to play movies. Too bad for DiskCo and everyone else that THEY didn't have a monopoly in the TV market.

Now, back to reality -- no one has a monopoly on the TV market, so no one is subject to this kind of restriction. If Samsung wants to bundle movie players with all their TVs, bully for them. You don't want a player, buy your TV from Sony, Mitsubishi, LG, Pioneer, Magnavox, Toshiba, Sharp, Emerson, Phillips, etc. Practically every electronics retailer has at least 3 different brands in stock and in the showroom. But Microsoft DOES have a monopoly in the O/S market. It was decided as a matter of fact by the courts. So, they are subject to additional restrictions to protect competition.

Re:Antitrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433817)

A small correction to your post.

A company comes along and decides to sell browsers, great! Then Microsoft makes their own browser, and "bundles" it with the O/S (or makes it "an integral part" of the O/S). No one buys the competitor, because they get one "free" with the O/S; ...

That's not quite what happened. What happened was, even after Microsoft started bundling IE with their OS, people *still* were buying the competitor product (one could argue the reasons, from brand loyalty to it being a superior product). Seeing this, Microsoft renegotiated their contracts with OEMs making is so that people effectively couldn't buy the competing browser with their new computer. The most evil part of what Microsoft did wasn't that they bundled their product: it was that they forced OEMs to unbundle a competitor's product. It's why I don't think Real player has much of a case against Microsoft. AFAIK, Microsoft has yet to attempt to prevent Real from bundling their product with new computers. If bundling was allowed, competition could occur and that is reasonable to me.

Re:Antitrust (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435977)

"I thought the problem was that Microsoft was already judged to be a monopoly, and to have abused their monopoly. See, if Microsoft has a monopoly on the O/S, and they use that O/S monopoly to harm competitors in other markets (office software, search software, media players, etc.) then the government is supposed to step in and protect competition to protect the consumers."

I think if you looked at past US antitrust actions, you won't find much evidence of the level of ongoing scrutiny of monopolies that you wish the current government would exercise with respect to MS. The DOJ has had it's day in court and won. Now it's ready to move on.

Re:Antitrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433535)

Why should a phone company not be allowed to force you to
only use certain phones (theirs) on their lines?

Why should a car company not be allowed to force you to
only use certain tires (theirs) on their cars?

Why should an electric utility not be allowed to force you
to use only certain appliances (theirs)? ...

Re:Antitrust (1)

jmac1492 (1036880) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433679)

Why should a car company not be allowed to force you to
only use certain tires (theirs) on their cars?
Well, the car analogy is easily shot down. My car does not belong to the Chrysler Corporation, it belongs to me. But on the other hand, my car included a radio when I bought it. I decided I wanted a better radio with more features, so I went out and bought one. Similarly, my computer runs Windows and included a browser when I bought it. I decided I wanted a better browser with more features, so I went out and downloaded one. I haven't touched IE in at least 2 years. That's hardly being "forced" to use it.

Joke (4, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432665)

Personally, I think the whole anti-trust thing has been a joke. It has had no teeth and no real effect. Every week we read about yet something else MS has done to reinforce its monopoly status... just this week, the whole "let's pay off companies to corrupt the ISO standards process on the interestingly named, Office Open XML". The entire "let's use tons of meaningless patents to scare off competition". The political shenanigans to kill ODT in several states and even countries. The "deal" with Novell to chill other distros. The bankrolling of SCO vs. Linux. The ever-popular "let's spew continous FUD about Linux rather than tout or own good points". The list goes on and on.

Microsoft has been doing and continues to do exactly what monopolies are not supposed to be allowed to do: use its market position and control to actively suppress competition and innovation. The Justice Department is 1) inept, 2) blind, and/or 3) 0wned.

Re:Joke (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432765)

It has had no teeth and no real effect.
As is so often the case, government action reflects the will of the people.
Most don't care to be bothered with any of the details of technology.
The information superhighway is just another road, to be ignored unless the bridge goes out from under them.
Many would choose OOXML over ODF because the longer acronym is probably better, no?

Re:Joke (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432837)

Or, just perhaps, the people have correctly concluded that the original basis for the antitrust decision is an unrealized fantasy.

The browser has not become the operating system, Java is primarily used to create applications for mobile phones, there are multiple free open source browsers, and multiple bundled or for-pay drop-in browsers.

You're right. I don't care to be bothered with the details of the technology. I don't care that Windows bundles the TCP/IP stack, compressible files, zip-format archiving, or any of a number of other previously seperate and commercial functionalities that somehow were sold at 1/3 of the cost of the OS each despite the fact that they added a minor utilitarian feature.

You can lob insults until you have a stress induced heart attack, but antitrust legislation was introduced to benefit society, and if the majority of society sees this behavior as being beneficial, at least for the time being, then grin and bear it, because you're SOL.

Re:Joke (1)

bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432897)

Nice over-simplification of the issue. Society at large is fairly ignorant of how PCs work, by your post this is nothing more than VHS vs BETAMax. I would suggest to you a little more is at stake here, and a society that takes American Idol seriously should not be allowed to steer the future of desktop technology.

Re:Joke (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435207)

Java is primarily used to create applications for mobile phones...
You're right. I don't care to be bothered with the details of the technology
+1 Best-self-answering-comment-of-the-day

Re:Joke (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432921)

Personally, I think the whole anti-trust thing has been a joke.

At this point, yes it is. But that's because the people that are supposed to be overseeing the whole thing are about the biggest pro-business group you can find. If we had an administration that actually cared about anything more than money, then it wouldn't be such a joke. And for all you Ron Paul fans out there, keep in mind that in his ideal world there's no such thing as antitrust. It's all about business, and anything and everything in the world should be bought or sold, as far as he's concerned.

Re:Joke (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432957)

the whole "let's pay off companies to corrupt the ISO standards process on the interestingly named, Office Open XML"

I don't suppose you'd care to explain how the U.S. would go about enforcing domestic law in Sweden.

The "deal" with Novell to chill other distros. The bankrolling of SCO vs. Linux. The ever-popular "let's spew continous FUD about Linux rather than tout or own good points"

None of which are illegal.

Re:Joke (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433557)

>None of which are illegal.

It is not a matter of legality.

The whole point of monopoly regulation/oversight is to prevent them from doing things that stifle the free, competitive market... tactics that WOULD be LEGAL for non-monopolies are not necessary legal for monopolies. It depends on what the regulators dictate. Once a monopoly is declared, it is the job of the oversight body to examine the practices of the monopoly. What remedies they formulate *are* the law, for that monopoly.

Re:Joke (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435015)

I don't suppose you'd care to explain how the U.S. would go about enforcing domestic law in Sweden.

Easy. The US government's law-enforcement agencies, such as the Dept of Justice, the FBI, etc., have a long history of cooperating with corresponding agencies in other countries. It's quite common for such agencies to assist each other in investigations, collecting evidence that can be used in another country's legal proceedings. I'd guess that the Swedish government has already contacted several American government agencies on the topic of the recent vote buying. The ISO is probably also talking to NIST and the US Dept of State about the issue.

National borders aren't really all that serious a problem when government want to cooperate on something. The real question here is whether the Bush administration (and the Gonzales Justice Dept ;-) want to cooperate when the suspect is one of their largest campaign contributors. That's really the important question. Whether the US and Swedish government cooperate isn't a question; they generally do. But the Bush people may well decide to block such cooperation in this instance.

Re:Joke (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433401)

Yes, it's a joke [eweek.com] but it goes on too long to be funny.

Re:Joke (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433541)

Personally, I think the whole anti-trust thing has been a joke. It has had no teeth and no real effect.

Anti-trust sentiment in the states has always been short-lived.

It was a fairly common thing for an oil lamp or a kitchen stove to blow up in your face. Petroleum at retail prices was expensive. Standard Oil changed all that.

When the cartel was broken, customers didn't flee to the small independents as the reformers expected, they stuck with Rockefeller's regional operating companies - and the old man prospered.

gln4a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432689)

alike to reap the nu8bers. The Are you GAY

It's not just about the Google Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20432733)

Why don't they consider Microsoft's funding of the SCO litigation against Linux, or the way they have fought governments trying to use open document standards?

On track (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432797)

Somebody just got themselves some free laptops!

A real anti-trust ruling... (2, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 7 years ago | (#20432993)

The rulings ( both in the US and EU ) has so far been jokes.
A real anti-trust ruling would be something along the following lines:

a)Microsoft are forced to offer the same price for OEM licenses to all retailers ( and disclose its magnitude ).
b)Retailers are forced to offer systems without an OEM license, should the customer ask for it, with the cost reduced in accordance with the price of the license ( which Microsoft must disclose )
c)Microsoft is banned from charging more for their retail version than the OEM license.

Now THAT would actually cause them to shit themselves.

Oh, and before somebody starts claiming this is unfair and Microsoft having the right to charge whatever and whatnot... NO! They lost that right because they abused their market position. We give them those rights with the intention to stimulate development that benefits society, if Microsoft abuses those rights in a way that is detrimental to the market, we are perfectly justified in taking them away again.

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433187)

Well, I may be a Mac fanboi but I'd cut MS a little bit more slack.

a) The price may depend on the number of licenses sold.
b) Any PC manufacturers can get the OEM license, without further conditions. This makes retailers free to offer dual boot Windows/Linux systems. It is something we currently don't see, would allow PC manufacturers to advertise the systems, getting Linux in the hands of more people. Theres days HDs are big and cheap.
c) The retail version may be up to $50 more expensive than the OEM license (box, manual, profit for retailers etc. cost money too)
d) any protocol/file format must be open and clear.

Other than that, your points are basically OK, and would achieve way more than fines, penitence donations etc.

Bert

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433203)

Here's some more:

e) A user is free to run a legal copy of the OS in a virtual environment; and the manufacturer may take no measures to prevent that.
f) A single copy of the OS on a computer may both be used for direct boot, or for use in a virtual environment, and the manufacturer may not take any measures to prevent that.

Bert

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 7 years ago | (#20437461)

a) The price may depend on the number of licenses sold.

No, that's price fixing. There is no reason why they should be able to charge less for volume with software. Overheads should be charged separately and be justifiable/controlled, otherwise it's a form of bundling.

b) Any PC manufacturers can get the OEM license, without further conditions. This makes retailers free to offer dual boot Windows/Linux systems. It is something we currently don't see,

Agreed, but I would put it in terms of saying all copies of windows are transferable. In other words first sale doctrine applies. There is no reason to treat OEM licenses from any other form of license - it's exactly the same product.

c) The retail version may be up to $50 more expensive than the OEM license (box, manual, profit for retailers etc. cost money too)

No, that's price fixing and bundling. All of the services that the OEM and retailer provides should be charged separately.

d) any protocol/file format must be open and clear.
e) A user is free to run a legal copy of the OS in a virtual environment; and the manufacturer may take no measures to prevent that.
f) A single copy of the OS on a computer may both be used for direct boot, or for use in a virtual environment, and the manufacturer may not take any measures to prevent that.

All agreed however I would phrase f by saying that one copy can run anywhere. Where a customer puts a licensed copy of software is their own business and the vendor should not be able to control that. If they can it's not a free market.

---

It's wrong that an intellectual property creator should not be rewarded for their work.
It's equally wrong that an IP creator should be rewarded too many times for the one piece of work, for exactly the same reasons.
Reform IP law and stop the M$/RIAA abuse.

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433405)

That isn't fair. What would be fair is to force the closure of Micro$haft by the governments confiscating everything from them, including the little "non-profit" organization Bill & Melinda Gatu$ has on the side. What will the M$ employees do once they lose their jobs? Go find a fucking job. They should have realized what they were doing by applying for M$. Personally, I would love to see Bill and his fucktarded wife at the Seattle McPuke asking "Do you want fries with that?"

Once the governments confiscate everthing from them, open up all of the specs and code to the open source developers and the money could be used to repair the economies of both the EU and US which was caused mainly by M$ and Windoze.

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20434477)

Twitter, is that you?!? Are you finally posting AC becuase your fucking karma is terrible?

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20437029)

Why post as AC when you can pretend you're someone else? [slashdot.org]

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

James Youngman (3732) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433547)

I believe that your proposal is quite unfair.

If Microsoft had to offer the same price to tiny reseller outfits who sell in small volume but sell expensive stuff (e.g. because they add lots of value by shipping special-purpose systems), then that price will need to be quite high; if you ship only 50 units per year but still have support needs, the cost of supporting you and keeping you informed about products etc. is quite high.

The high-volume box-shifters often operate on such low margins that they couldn't tolerate this. Forcing a certain behaviour on retailers is also unfair. They are not Microsoft, and have not themselves been convicted of any monopolistic practice. As I understand things the principle of the OEM license is that the OEM provides first-line support. Why should Microsoft be forced to provide support for the Retail version at no extra cost? (Though perhaps I just see things this way because, using no Microsoft products, I am insensitive to the costs of getting support for Microsoft products).

Certainly your proposal has teeth. But I think Microsoft would not be the only company bitten by those teeth. Antitrust remedies are generally intended to adjust the behaviour of the miscreant, not make business difficult for everybody in the PC manufacturing industry.

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 7 years ago | (#20437079)

I believe that your proposal is quite unfair.

Nonsense. The only reason why M$ can charge differently is because they are a monopoly and can price fix.

As I understand things the principle of the OEM license is that the OEM provides first-line support.

So they unbundle and charge for support separately.

In a true free market where there was competition and the first sale doctrine actually applied a vendor like M$ wouldn't be able to price fix because customers would on-sell cheaper copies of Windows. Since there is no free market having legislation to at least partially enforce it is a good idea.

---

Don't be fooled, slashdot has many lying astroturfers [wikipedia.org] fraudulently misrepresenting company propaganda as third party opinion. FUD [wikipedia.org] too.

Re:A real anti-trust ruling... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434125)

Microsoft are forced to offer the same price for OEM licenses to all retailers

This is nothing more than a resurrection of the old price-fixing scheme - the "fair trade price" - intended to drive the volume purchaser - the discount retailer - out of the market.

Retailers are forced to offer systems without an OEM license, should the customer ask for it, with the cost reduced in accordance with the price of the license

In other words, retailers should be forced to offer a product that their mass market customers abandoned twenty-five years - thirty years ago - because it appeals only to the technical hobbyist and the IT pro.

No matter that the "naked box" has its own marketing, inventory and support costs. No matter that the OEM Windows box usually ships with popular and profitable OEM installs like Microsoft Office.

Microsoft is banned from charging more for their retail version than the OEM license.
Now THAT would actually cause them to shit themselves.

Nope.

That would cause the geek to shit himself because he knows damn well that pirated Windows is the OS of choice world-wide. The steeply discounted legit installer is another nail in the coffin.

What are the standards? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433095)

Are any standards specified? Or does the DoJ just shrug and say: "Idunno, I guess everythings all right." ?

Re:What are the standards? (1)

indiejade (850391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433569)

The main update page about this case, at the DoJ website [usdoj.gov] lists quite a few standards.

And isn't this interesting?

The filing also notes that, as Microsoft was never found to have acquired or increased its monopoly market share unlawfully, the final judgments were not designed to eliminate Microsoft's Windows monopoly or reduce Windows' market share by any particular amount. Rather, the final judgments were designed to re-invigorate competitive conditions that Microsoft had suppressed so that the market could determine the success of these software products. The final judgments are succeeding in that goal.
from here [usdoj.gov] .

Ha! How exactly does an entity "increase" its monopoly share? By making its monopoly bigger? By slapping the Microsoft Windows logo on practically every OEM hardware component or vendor it can get its sticker on? By throwing up barriers to entry? By threatening any competitors with lawsuits about supposed patented code?

Sounds pretty unlawful to me. But I, for one, have ethics.

We know who to thank (0, Offtopic)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433117)

You're doing a heck of a job, Roberto.

Re:We know who to thank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433281)

Who's Roberto?

Re:We know who to thank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433723)

The successor of Alberto Gonzalez? ;-)

"on trek" ? (1)

Toon Moene (883988) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433173)

As in "outer space".

The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433291)

The problem is anything Microsoft supplies in the basic operating system cannot be uninstalled. That is there unfair advantage. You might not use their addons but you can't get rid of them. It there way of extending there monopoly.. Business as usual. Look at all the other companies ideas that they have added to the operating system over the last couple of years and it's a blatant abuse. Zip. GoBack, MSN Messenger, Media Player. Search. It a pattern of abuse. I'm sure there is lots more I missed.
Buying votes. Same old story.

laughable and criable. (0, Troll)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433493)

IE is still bundled with Windows Vista
If you call this "on-track" then you're not worried about the pesky laws.

Re:laughable and criable. (2, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#20433881)

IE is still bundled with Windows Vista
If you call this "on-track" then you're not worried about the pesky laws.


Just like Safari with OS X and Konqueror in Gnome...?

Re:laughable and criable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20433995)

Disclaimer: my humor-o-stat doesn't work until after lunch.

Don't you mean "Konqueror in KDE"? Gnome-based distros traditionally come with Firefox/IceWeael or Ephiphany.

Re:laughable and criable. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20434769)

Konqueror in Gnome? Hmmm... I know you love your Windows, but at least you could use Gogle to find out which desktop enviro Konqueror really goes with (hint: there's a reason its spelled with a K).

Re:laughable and criable. (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#20436069)

I didn't know Apple or GNOME (or KDE since Konqueror is for KDE) were convicted monopolists...

Re:laughable and criable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20436143)

You can easily remove Konqueror in KDE, Firefox/Epiphany in GNOME, and Safari in OS X to replace all their functions with another browser. But you CAN'T remove IE from Windows. Period. It's so far tangled with the core system that to even attempt to remove it requires a good deal of know-how and patience, and even then, things WILL break. Often. Plus IE's components (the insecure crap) are required for just about everything you do.

And like the other guy said, the rules are different for convicted monopolists.

I should probably say, though, that the issue isn't *exactly* that IE is bundled with Windows. It's more that IE is married to the OS (despite MS's claims otherwise) and cannot really be removed or replaced. IIRC, there are some OEMs that include Firefox now.

burn baby burn (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434019)

Hey it's not like Google doesn't pilfer Microsoft's search results anyway. What's the big diff of letting Google put their icon in place of Microsoft's. Haha! I had karma to burn ......

So... (0)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 7 years ago | (#20434087)

time to move to Europe, anyone?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20435881)

I have been for about a year, now. The only thing stopping me is a lack of financial backing, and the fact that I'm still only 18.

Canada is looking better every day.

On the note of Microsoft and their anti-trust activities, I have to say that I'm not too concerned with what Microsoft chooses to include or not include in their products, as there are always tools like nLite [nliteos.com] that allow you to cut out the cludge you don't want in your system. I myself have been using a very useful copy of Windows XP that has been reduced down to a mere 250MB ISO.

Of course, that's for people who don't pay for their software. For Joe Citizen, who orders up a new PC from $OEM_OF_CHOICE, it's a different story.

On track? (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20435859)

Does Bill have an aisle seat for this track?

Cool Google Search in Vista! (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 7 years ago | (#20436285)

Cool Google Search in Vista!

Now users can accidentally install this crap and wonder why their Vista search abilities don't work right or start crashing the system.

How well will Google search do with audio, image/ocr searches that are necessary for products like OneNote, or developers that write their own plug-ins to Vista's search that are standard APIs, will this now also fail on Vista if Google is installed?

I wonder how Google's search handles remote network shares and other features of the Vista search system, that will really be nice for users when these features stop working... (geesh)

Sometimes you get what you asked for and Google is asking for a lot here and I know their current product DOES NOT even come close to the features that it wants to replace in Vista.
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