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California Takes Issue With Microsoft Settlement Idea 443

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-just-print-money dept.
Deepfoo writes: "Note from CNet on the California challenge to Microsoft's attempt to settle the 100 civil cases on file against it by donating equipment. The dissenters will argue that those harmed in the lawsuit aren't getting compensated directly in this way, and that the ploy of donating equipment to schools is a transparent effort to further extend its monopoly. The dissenting California lawyers estimate the actual damages due to Californians alone could be on the order of 3 to 9 billion (wide range, but that's what they've said). Is Microsoft a do-gooder, or up to no good?"
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California Takes Issue With Microsoft Settlement Idea

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  • please fix url (Score:5, Informative)

    by theantix (466036) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:28PM (#2616693) Journal
  • by Cpyder (57655) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:28PM (#2616696) Journal
    is that California would ask Microsoft to take the approach RedHat suggested [redhat.com]. (In short: MS buys the hardware and RedHat gives away the soft)
    • ...thus guaranteeing that these machines will never run Windows, and also helping to work against Intel's monopoly.

      Intel does actually innovate, as well as monopolise. In this respect they're ahead of Microsoft.

      Also, $1.1G is literally petty cash for Microsoft. If California suffered $3G-$9G, let's call it $3G and figure out the value per capita, then amortise that across the whole world, call that the spend, and make sure it gets spent worldwide too. (-:

      Can anyone improve on the justice of this proposal? (-:
  • Carnegie Libraries (Score:2, Interesting)

    by horster (516139)
    I heard somewhere that Carnegie used to do the same thing with all of the money he donated for libraries and the like - the catch there was that the money came back to him because they were forced to buy all the steel & books and whatnot from his companies.
    • by EisPick (29965) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:41PM (#2616752)
      I heard somewhere that Carnegie used to do the same thing ...

      There is at least one big difference here. Carnegie didn't build libraries to settle an anti-trust lawsuit. No judge compelled him to be a philanthropist. And it was Carnegie personally giving money for the libraries, not the steel trust.

      No matter what you may think of Carnegie and they way he acquired his wealth, you must acknowledge that he gave away almost all his money before he died, and that he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do.

      And I'm not saying Gates hasn't begun philanthropy on the same scale. It's a bit too early to judge that.

      Let's just make sure we don't confuse Gates' (and Ballmer's and Allen's, etc.) own personal philanthropy with Microsoft Inc.'s brazen attempt to disguise a marketing ploy as a philanthropic endeavor.
      • Let's just make sure we don't confuse Gates' (and Ballmer's and Allen's, etc.) own personal philanthropy with Microsoft Inc.'s brazen attempt to disguise a marketing ploy as a philanthropic endeavor

        Some would do just that. - but I agree with you. Where do you draw the line? After all, the three you mentioned are the very same people who make the decision that MS should slip the k-y to everyone it can; an attitude that perpetuates down the hierarchy and into the rank-file. And as such, it's far more likely that Bill's "generosity" comes from a misguided attempt to make up for a lack of business ethics, and general moral compass. As top dogs these guys could be settings positive standards but choose otherwise. No shareholder would complain if profits were *only* 5 billion where the company was seen as a positive force in the industry vs the current EVIL EMPIRE attitude but making 6 billion..
        • by Anonymous Coward
          No shareholder would complain if profits were *only* 5 billion where the company was seen as a positive force in the industry vs the current EVIL EMPIRE attitude but making 6 billion

          Are you kidding? Microsoft's largest shareholders are the people running the company (Gates, Ballmer), or people who used to run the company (Allen). The other large shareholders are probably large financial houses and other major capitalists who would like nothing more than for Microsoft to grow rapidly BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. If it means buying politicians, screwing consumers, or breaking the law, they'll support it 100%. They might even organize a shareholder lawsuit if they don't see enough of this.
  • RedHat's take (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mughi (32874) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:30PM (#2616703)

    I think it's quite interesting that under RedHat's proposal [redhat.com] (where Microsoft puts all that money to hardware, and RedHat gives all the software for free) that was mentioned here the other day [slashdot.org] things change the settlement from giving 200,000 computers to giving over a million.

    That alone should make one pause at the "stink test". At the very least it should point out the valuation of Microsoft's software in their proposal.

    • Re:RedHat's take (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Scutter (18425) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:48PM (#2616787) Journal
      As much as I like and respect the power of computers, it occurs to me that there are a number of higher priorities for schools, especially poor ones. How about books that aren't 25 years out of date? How about hot lunches for kids who can't afford to eat? How about pencils and other supplies? How about furnaces and boilers that actually work? How about kicking in a subsidy to help pay teachers what they're worth instead of keeping them at the poverty level?

      Microsoft and RedHat will continue to play their little P.R. power games, using our schools as pawns. But each time I hear a story like this, I lose a little more respect for each of them.
      • by BlueboyX (322884) on Monday November 26, 2001 @09:54PM (#2617039)
        I do volunteer work in several elementary schools in a middle-of-nowhere city. I have worked in about a half dozen schools now, and the best one at fighting illiteracy is the one with the most computers (that are actually used). The majority of the computers in this school are all rather old, many of them running on ancient macs or win3.1 machines. However, they are well used in the 'Accelerated Reader' program. I have seen this program make a sharp difference in the children's willingness to actually pick up a book with this program. Getting a child willing to read is a big part of fighting illiteracy. This isn't someone else's rhetoric I am regurgitating; I have seen this myself.

        Then I have seen other schools where the 'Clinton computers' just get stuck in a corner and get occasional use from teachers and teachers' aids only. That sure helps...

        Ironically, the other schools in this area get more funding than this one because they have a higher percentage of low-income students (90% is the average, the one I am praising has 'only' 30-60%). However, the extra money doesn't seem to be well spent. Just throwing money at the problem doesn't even make a dent. All of the problems you listed will not be affected at all by putting more money in the system; it all depends on how the local government apportions it and handles it. For example, it doesn't matter if $X of extra money gets apportioned to schools if it takes > 6 months to get anything approved. 'Need a new boiler? No problem! You just have to call a long list of people and then wait another 6 months and hope for no additional delays. Yes, you will get that new boiler; it is guaranteed by law... just not when you get it.' This is the real trouble I have been dealing with.

        So what we really need are local responsive governments (including school boards), sane teachers (You wont believe some of the oddities I have seen; Well, maybe you might. Your childhood memories probably weren't exaggerated...) and good school equipment that actually gets incorporated into the curriculum. Meet these three needs, and our schools will actually be pretty good despite other problems. As long as these needs aren't met, throwing money or books at the problem won't cause much change at all.
        • I am not to sure about this. You only give one example and that is for illiteracy. In my school where that was a smaller problem, computers went unused except for once in a while, because they didnt have any good software. We had macs, they were used by science classes once in a while and only to use some funky software on them, and once for a chemistry test I had. We had apple2s and they had classes teaching basic things like word processors, etc, and were also used in the computer programming class, I took that class but it didnt last 1 semester because most of the students didnt care about it, I learned all my programming out side of school on my own from books I was even using C++ when I took that class, from my own computer. I would think more people would be interested in computers if they had them at home, since I had one at home I was interested. At the time I thought it would be cool if we had more computers, but when I look back at it now, they could have been using any computer they wanted and it would have made little diffrence except for the rare person like me and one other student who learned programming on his own outside of school. I mean this was 6 or so years ago in high school mostly.
        • My wife is a reading specialist, a 4th grade teacher in the public schools, and about 2/3 the way completed on her PhD. in education. So I hear a lot about this kind of thing from her.

          The first problem I have with this guy is that he tries to claim that doing a little volunteer work validates his pronouncements that computers promote avid reading habits by children. To what extent this is true I don't know but I do know that parents have the most influence on a child's educational habits - followed by teachers. If parents want their children to read they need to switch-off the TV AND the computer and get some books in the house. Parents need to set the example by reading books themselves!!! My wife tries to motivate her 4th graders by devoting classroom time to her reading out loud. She takes the time to find great books and tries to act-out the parts. The kids love it. But things like this can not help if the student's home life is not one where education - and reading - is valued.


          As for the remark about the "Clinton computers" ... well I guess Bush really sets an example for students... even a kid with a "C" average can get into Yale... so why bother working hard.

      • Re:RedHat's take (Score:2, Insightful)

        by -=Cynic=- (73089)
        Yes, schools need books, pencils, supplies, etc. But the important thing to remember here is that an entity can be most generous within it's own field. In other words, RedHat can offer a million RedHat Linux installations, with support, at a cost to them of X. If they were to spend X on, for example, stationery they'd be able to do far less good, since they'd have to first buy it and then distribute it, thus incurring additional costs to them. That's why you'd ask a software company like RedHat for software, and a stationery company like Faber-Castell for stationery, etc.

        They're doing the best they can, don't knock it.
      • As much as I like and respect the power of computers, it occurs to me that there are a number of higher priorities for schools, especially poor ones. How about books that aren't 25 years out of date? How about hot lunches for kids who can't afford to eat? How about pencils and other supplies? How about furnaces and boilers that actually work? How about kicking in a subsidy to help pay teachers what they're worth instead of keeping them at the poverty level?

        Those are all good, and all more necessary than computer, but computers are becomming more and more necessary as well. The thing is I can't really see Red Hat or Microsoft providing either. On the other hand, if a book publisher were to offer to provide books, I doubt someone would be screaming that they should be providing food, or if Kraft were offering food, would someone gripe that they should provide books? I doubt anyone would take any such complaint seriously.

        Computers are important, and becomming more so. They obviously aren't in the same class as books, or food, but thery are important in any case. Let each provide what they can provide best.

        Microsoft and RedHat will continue to play their little P.R. power games, using our schools as pawns. But each time I hear a story like this, I lose a little more respect for each of them.

        Every time someone bitches about this, I am astounded that so few people get what red hat is actually saying. What does Red Hat really have to do to provide Linux to all of the schools that want it? An email with the URL ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/redhat-7.2-en/iso/ i386/ should be sufficient. There they have provided the schools with Red Hat Linux for any hardware the want.

        Red Hat simply pointed out in an obscure manner that if someone else provides the hardware Linux is always available at little or no cost. Microsoft could do the same, and it would cost them nothing, but since they get to set the 'cost', they can claim to be donating far more than they are.

        Microsoft is trying to use the judgment against them on to deepen their control over the market, and using the schools to do it. Red Hat is simply tryint to call attention to that fact.

        Red Hat is far better to call attention to this fact than is slashdot. Why? just look at the tone of most of the posts on slashot. Most people here write like 15 year old kids who think they know everything there is to know. Such individuals are usually ignored by those who hold the purse strings.

        The point is that although M$ is trying to use the schools as pawns, Red Hat is trying to prevent it.

        Finally some more specific comments on the teachers. My knee jerk response is most teachers aren't even worth what we're paying them, but that's just bitterness talking. The truth though is that the problems with teachers isn't the just the pay. It's a portion of it, but really a small one.

        I once thought that schools would magically improve if teachers were paid more, but then I entered a University, and witinessed first hand how education majors are taught and where they come from.

        About 10-15% of the Education students actually care about becomming educatiors. Unfortunatly many of them are doing so so that they can be qualified for something other than the public education system.

        Most of the rest kind of end up in education as a major. It requires very little math, and very little science. There is a small amount of computer exposure (only after a being forced to do so), and most of the rest is theory. Except for bit teaching, and student teaching, there is little practical expierence, and most of the professors have the attitude that theory is better than practice. In other words, future teachers are learning how to teach children from people who have never taught children.

        Education becomes a dumping ground for people who can't handle the elementry algebra, and science classes. It seems to be the last stop before going to the trade school and taking cosmetology (hairdressing) or some such.

        Perhaps there are better education schools out there, but I've seen programs on just this problem. I tend to think that without a serious overhaul of who is becomming teachers, many of the problems with teachers will persist.

        Now if requirments were similar to what is required for a university professorship...
      • And don't forget salaries for good educators. Schools do NOT need computers. As for books, unless they are worn and in need of replacement, grammar doesn't change too often, and math doesn't really at all, especially at that level. Pay for good teachers so the kids learn something. The only place computers should be used is in a lab for report writing, and in a computer lab for learning to write software. No internet access, except perhaps a few terminals clearly in view, unfiltered, in the library.
      • But the whole settlement is an abuse of the class action in the first place. It is consumers and individuals that were hurt, not the schools.


        Look, it's pretty much standard to settle class actions by paying the plaintiff's lawyers and paying the class close to nothing (thought that's more than they should get in many cases). Here, the class gets nothing. Zilch. Their attorney's hve *no* authority to do this, and are violating their ethical duties in doing so. The attorneys in states with stronger laws are objecting. There's no basis for microsoft handing things to schools instead of the plaintiffs. It's an even farther stretch for them to send the schools a check. . .


        hawk

    • Re:RedHat's take (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hercynium (237328)
      That's a very interesting point.

      Software is treated like a commodity, like cars or gold or anything of which there is a definable finite limit to the supply. (I'm trying to be simplistic and I'm not an economist so tell my if my logic is wrong) However, the actual cost of software itself, a specific version of a specific piece of software, would be defined as the total cost of development, research, and also marketing (to be fair to business.) For software, another factor in the cost is also the distribution method, usually CD's manuals and packaging.

      The physical shipped product is mass produced. Therefore, every unit already costs the amount paid for manuals, boxes and CD's. But unlike cars or pigs or pencils, once software is put into distribution, production (for that SPECIFIC version) is essentially over (excluding debugging and maintenance). Because the shippable distribution is usually so large, The production cost is split over potientially millions of units. Per shipped unit, the production cost is likely to be fairly small.

      The question is, what is the ACTUAL COST of making the software product? The question this leads to is, How is the VALUE of the software determined?

      Since a true commodity has a physical limit as to the amount of the product in existience, software companies created EUA licenses and such, creating an artificial limit. Thus, the number of licenses available helps control the market value of the software product.

      I think you know where I'm going with this...

      From what I gather, Microsoft is donating hardware AND software VALUED at a billion dollars to the schools... but the actual COST of the software is MUCH lower than it's value. Microsoft should be donating hardware valued at cost and, if we ignore the "mind-share lock-in theory" for a minute, software the same way (or how about FOR FREE???)

      Frankly, I think RedHat had the right idea, though I think the donation should go a step further... Microsoft donates a full Billion dollars worth of hardware... and gives the schools their choice of operating systems at NO VALUE whatsoever.
    • Of course Microsoft is just trying to extend their reach into other areas and get more kids hooked on their 'crack'.

      Everyone knows that poor schools have no money for software purchases.

      Everyone knows that Apple used to rule the education market.

      Everyone knows that Linux deployment in schools and 3rd world countries is the only alternative to flat out software piracy.

      So, Microsoft gives away current versions of software that costs them nothing. They display Apple. The keep Linux at a distance. They get the kids hooked into an OS that provides no development environment, is not as manageable, is harder to administer, is a petri dish for viruses, and requires that the schools eventually bow down to Micros~1, and sign up for SOFTWARE ASSURANCE support.

      That's the real agenda -- Microsoft is semi-secretly moving towards a subscription software model.

      No more upgrades, just by a year's support contract. Heck, they can give away the software for FREE! Just pay them support every year, and you'll get the newest software. If you don't join Software Assurance, they're not going to fix your bugs in old versions, so you'd better upgrade! If Microsoft doesn't make enough money, they can just threaten a site audit for license compliance, and that's enough to scare organizations into lock-step with Microsoft's subscription software model.

      Giving Windows software to a poor school is going to end up costing the US taxpayers money.

      Catch-22 - Microsoft wins either way.
  • MS may just be wanting what Apple was doing during the 80s and early 90s: Trying to get people familiarized and hooked young on their platform. However, if California really wants MS to pay, why not have MS pay for the hardware for public schools and libraries to upgrade or implement computers for the classes, and then have another company, say Red Hat, etc., provide the software and training, at MS's expense. That way, they're not getting anything out of the settlement, and they can't possibly profit from it. Seems fair to me.
  • by jonfromspace (179394) <jonwilkins@gmail ... inus threevowels> on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:31PM (#2616707)
    Firestone [firestone.com] announces it will be donating surplus "Wilderness XT" [cbsnews.com] tires to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, as well as any Goodyear employee involved in R&D or Marketing.

    • And Union Carbide will give a free bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to every child with 11 fingers in the village of Roliepolieolie, India.

      --Blair
      "Technical support will be charged at the usual rate."
  • by sabinm (447146) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:32PM (#2616710) Homepage Journal
    It's just like going shopping for your wife and getting her a digital camera beacuse *she really needs it* and you end up using it all the time. The gift, or the donation is really for you. Only you benefit for it.

    I find it hard to believe that donating a bunch of windows software and hardware to communities on a limited basis is going to resurrect the BeOS, put Sun back on the line as the company of the internet or put money into developing better products for less money for billions of people. This think of the children ploy is as transparent as those "feed the children in 3rd world country" foundations. Most of the money goes to to the Not for profit administrator and a scant few cents actually makes it past the us border.

    what a joke
  • by Pstrobus (149491) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:35PM (#2616717) Homepage
    has already covered this topic fairly well here [userfriendly.org]

    "sir, we're a monopoly, we get to set the price"

    Not to mention that education is the last Mac stronghold. I just wonder what'll happen in five years when the 'free stuff' runs out. Will MS continue to provide low cost solutions? Didn't think so.

    Drug dealers always like to give out free samples

  • by Zspdude (531908) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:37PM (#2616727) Homepage
    I hate to be objective when it comes to Microsoft, but I'm afraid that they do not have good or evil motives. They simply want to turn a profit and they will attempt to alter circumstances in whatever ways allow them to produce the maximum profit. On the short term their actions may sometimes seem contradictory to this purpose, however it is their long term goal.

    In this case I see their attempted settlement as something that is good for PR(what is less loveable than donating computers to be used by kids in schools?), that is less expensive than some other alternatives, and which will cause the least damage to their reputation and ability to turn a profit in the future. If they thought that forking over $9 billion was the only way they could continue to make a profit they would do that. However, they will exhaust all alternatives before resorting to that and hope to find one which is preferable(like donating to schools). It's a simple, logical fact.

    • Trying to succeed is one things. Succeeding at any cost is another. I don't believe Microsoft is going for the first - they want to get as much money as possible in any way they can.
    • I hate to be objective when it comes to Microsoft, but I'm afraid that they do not have good or evil motives. They simply want to turn a profit and they will attempt to alter circumstances in whatever ways allow them to produce the maximum profit.

      One might say that the pursuing maximization of profit without regard for any other values is inherently evil (In fact, a guy named Paul once said pretty close to the exact same thing). It's obvious there are lots of ways to profit that tread on others. Objectivity in most circles does not mean giving up these kinds of judgements.

      So I think your suspension of judgement regarding Microsoft's motives/behaviors/impacts is wrong. Especially in light of the fact that the courts have found microsoft guilty of treading on others in ways proscribed by law.

      That said, your assesment of what their actual motives/behavior/impacts have been and will continue to be seems pretty good. The thing you left out is that they're not content with maximizing profit. They must also maximize control. It comes down to a similar thing in the end, but I think that their corporate culture even values control over profit. As long as there's an alternative to what they offer out there, Microsoft will try to destroy it in any way they can get away with. Which now appears to be just about anything short of physical attack.
    • by Alpha State (89105) on Monday November 26, 2001 @10:04PM (#2617067) Homepage
      I hate to be objective when it comes to Microsoft, but I'm afraid that they do not have good or evil motives. They simply want to turn a profit and they will attempt to alter circumstances in whatever ways allow them to produce the maximum profit. On the short term their actions may sometimes seem contradictory to this purpose, however it is their long term goal.

      Complete nonsense. By this argument someone who makes his money by killing and robbing is not evil - he's just trying to make a living like everyone else. The notion that corporations should be outside ethics and moral considerations is ridiculous.

  • Reminds me a lot of Andrew Carnegie. There were an awful lot of mistreated workers in his companies. He ruthlessly used individuals and destroyed competetors. He was a beleiver in social darwinism.

    On the other hand, in his later years, he was a noted philanthropist. Or at least, he gave money to various causes he liked.

    At its deepest level, this is a question about whether or not you're good if you're selective about which kinds of good you live up to. Carnegie could have gotten a good image by actually just treating his employees well. Microsoft could get a good image by just agreeing to only compete on the merits of their products (well....). But that wasn't their preference.

    I wouldn't mitigate the fact that giving computers away or founding charitable organizations is a good thing. I just think that true goodness sometimes has to respond to demands outside its own interest.

    And it's especially disenchanting, though, if the only good you choose to do is that which does you good, and you'd like to look noble for it.
  • Amazing (Score:4, Funny)

    by moz711 (217919) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:38PM (#2616733)
    I'm still amazed at the pair of brass balls needed to even suggest a settlement like this.
    Can you think of any other company that would see flooding the market with their product as a good solution to a monopoly lawsuit? If AT&T had suggested adding free phone lines to schools in reponse to the goverment saying they already had too much control, they would have been laughed out of the court room.
    • Back in the days when the typewriter was king of the office, IBM's office products division was accused of monopolising the market, and asked to propose a solution, before one was imposed on them.

      No worries, they said, we'll just double the price. And they did. And guess what? They sold more units than at half the price, because people figured that the more expensive product had to be better...

      Microsoft haven't actually doubled the price of Windows here, but there proposed remedy reeks of similar or worse chutzpah, what with getting a full-price tax break on what they supply for peanuts, swamping the schools with their monopoly product, and proposing a ``penalty'' that amounts to a few weeks' interest on their cash holdings, and at the end of five years leaves the poverty-stricken schools dependent on paying licence fees in order to keep using their now-established software.

      As another poster said, it's like tabacco companies handing out free cigarette in apology for luring people into using a product that kills them slowly and painfully.
    • I don't really care who suggested it. The deal doesn't improve just because of who suggested it. And it seems like the kind of thing that companies had to stop doing because of unfair trade complaints.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:40PM (#2616746)
    So, what M$ proposes as a remedy for their monopoly is to install more M$ software on new machines, and worse, on machines destined to kids, which will naturally swear by M$ products later. Then of course M$'ll make the lucky schools pay to get support for their donated OSes !

    That sounds exactly like a convicted arsonist who proposes to make up for his deeds by distributing matches in the schoolyard, then sets up an extinguisher manufacture. As much as I hate M$, I have to say I admire them and their attorneys for having the guts to even think about proposing a deal like that, that's classic Microsoft. If the DOJ goes for that, it sure won't be their finest hour ...

    • So, what M$ proposes as a remedy for their monopoly is to install more M$ software on new machines, and worse, on machines destined to kids, which will naturally swear by M$ products later.

      Yeah -- that's a big help. We had loads of Apple ][ computers lying about our school, and most every other school in the '80s (don't know what its like now) and look at what good it did them.

    • The settlement offer was donating 1.1 billion in software and hardware to the "poorest" public schools. 900 million in software alone, which after 5 years the schools would have to renew the licence! On the otherhand, Redhat has offered to distribute and support all software needed if microsoft only provides the hardware instead. With the 5th largest economy in the world Cailforina has the ability hold out against MS until a cash settlement is provided.
    • The thing I find interesting is that they don't swear by them. They hate them and get frustrated and angry at them. But not at the M$ product at the computer because they have been taught to be 'computer skilled' not 'computer literate', and don't know that there is a difference between the software and the computer.

      "worse, on machines destined to kids, which will naturally swear by M$ products later."
  • A vile strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nsample (261457) <nsample@s[ ]ford.edu ['tan' in gap]> on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:41PM (#2616749) Homepage
    I'm a Windows user at home, a Solaris user at the University, and about the farthest thing from a linux zealot that there is. I can't say that I have much passion about my OSes. It's just not something I can get riled up about.

    However, this decision sets a new standard for abuse and irony. My wife's a worker's compensation attorney, so I get stories of liars and shenanigans in courts every day. It's never anything close to this, however.

    The settlement is supposed to punish Microsoft for abusive practices, but actually rewards them greatly:


    1. No real cash payment - they "charge themselves" for software, rather than paying penalties. win.

    2. Cash from the US government - that same self-charge comes as a business expense and a loss against an MS business division, thus it is treated as a TAX WRITE-OFF. The write-off value is far greater than the charge, thus they MAKE money on balance.

    3. The schools - Schools are one place alternatives still ahve penetration. (They used to be the bastion of Apple...)

    4. The children - Lo', the children! In the silliest irony of all, the sacrifice one monopoly for bringing MS products to the schools. These guys make Big Tobacco look good.

    5. Perception - The public will see this as an overture to help those same children, thus improving the MS image.

    In the end, Microsoft wins at every turn. How could this settlement possibly have come about? There is literally no aspect of punishment at all. Microsoft even makes money on the deal.

    This is a sad day for our courts.

    • Actually, right at the bottom of the article, Ballmer is quoted as saying that "money from the settlement could be used to buy software from Microsoft competitors." Of course, if Microsoft really simply have its own interests at heart here, they would simply be offering cash for the schools to spend on whatever they really needed.
    • Re:A vile strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rothfuss (47480) <chris...rothfuss@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 26, 2001 @09:42PM (#2617004) Homepage
      I agree with Mr. Ample.

      In addition:

      Microsoft said it would take a $550 million charge before taxes against earnings in the current fiscal quarter if the court approves the pact.

      So the company also counts this as a loss from earnings, despite the fact that it is softmoney, resulting in stock holders getting less earnings per share for the quarter. I suspect in response the stockholders will file a class action suit against MS for earnings shortcomings in an ironic display of legal recursion.

      -Rothfuss
      • Yo, moderator!!! That post was FUNNY, not INTERESTING. Get out more often, or something!

        (I bet you used them all up by now, didn't you! Don't worry, someone else will :)
    • Re:A vile strategy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RobertEwing (100767) on Monday November 26, 2001 @09:45PM (#2617017) Homepage
      These guys make Big Tobacco look good.
      OK, I don't often post here, but sometimes I see something so egregious it just annoys me...

      Slashdot is the home of the big-bad MS bashing, but worse than Big Tobacco? These guys deliberately withheld information that showed smoking was addictive and killed people. What's MS done? At worst played fairly dirty when competing, and trying to achieve a monopoly. Hardly a fair comparison here.

      Now I agree the settlement is pretty silly, mainly because it doesn't cost MS very much at all. Personally I think even the Red Hat solution is poor. After all, they're saying that these poor schools just don't know how to spend the money, so we'll pick for them. Wouldn't a better solution be to just give the money directly to the schools in question so they can spend it where it's needed? There's not much point providing computers to schools if the literacy standards are too low, for instance.

      • What's MS done?

        What MS have done is sucessfully tax going to work. At least I have a choice about smoking. True, I guess I have a choice about working but my life sucks a lot more if I don't (and yes, I did try).

        Dave
      • After all, they're saying that these poor schools just don't know how to spend the money, so we'll pick for them.

        But they really don't know how. Look at all those Macs, clearly these people have misspent money in the past.
      • If a person smokes they die. Maybe a million or two will die it's sad but no big deal there are over two hundred million in the US.

        MS has a monopoly and that monopoly costs every single human being in the US more money. MS will one day control the internet and that will cost every single person on the planet.
        Ability to communicate is what separates us from the animals. MS is now firmly in control of just about all electronic communication and will tighten this control even further. They will essentially control what makes us human. This is much worse then a couple of million killed by smoke especially since those people chose to smoke.
      • ... worse than Big Tobacco? These guys deliberately withheld information that showed smoking was addictive and killed people. What's MS done? At worst played fairly dirty when competing, and trying to achieve a monopoly. Hardly a fair comparison here.

        What is kiling someone except the removal of a person's remaining time in this world, removal of their productivity from society, and removal of their presence from friends and loved ones? Microsoft, by the shoddy quality of their software has taken up copious amounts of my limited time in this world, removed my productivity from society, and caused me to stay away from my friends and loved ones. I see no difference other than to degree. It is a perfect comparison.

        Well, not quite perfect - if you believe in souls, Microsoft has not yet started driving them away from this world, yet. It likes to keep them around in case the corporate officers come up with some reason to steal them...

    • If this is such a good deal for Microsoft, why haven't they been doing this all along? I think this is neither a win or loss based on the economics, but if it makes a bunch of lawsuits go away, it is definately a win.
    • Re:A vile strategy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malcontent (40834)
      Ask your wife this for me.

      Are judges that stupid? or are they simply easily bought?

      My confidence in the US legal system was shaken by the election fiasco. When the DOJ decided to reward MS instead of punishing them it sank further. When some judge actually gives them competitive advantage as punishment it's gone. As of today I have zero faith in the justice system of this govt. I pity every single soul who has the misfortune to stand before a judge or be represented by a charlatan attorney. Maybe one day I'll be dragged into that godforsaken pool or corruption I hope I have the presence of mind to skip the country if that ever happens.
    • Judge Motz's office's fax number is (410) 962-7574 - let them know this will only help M$, maybe a lot of messages can convince them to do the right thing(tm).
  • by foqn1bo (519064) on Monday November 26, 2001 @08:42PM (#2616759)

    Typically(as I understand it) in a lawsuit the whole idea is restitution of damages. I love the idea of Microsoft giving technology to underprivilaged schools, and if they want to do it then full steam ahead. But... their donation of resources shouldn't have any bearing on the actual civil litigation going on.
    Companies donate money and services to charity all the time. In marketing that's called PR. Make the rest of the world think that you're allright. I'm from Southern California and I remember that when the Indian Gaming tribes went under fire during Proposition 5, they were donating money to charities left and right. Still do as a matter of fact.

    Does anyone *really* think that the poor school districts are the ones who were hurt by Microsoft's Monopolistic(tm) practices? No, of course not. They wouldn't have been buying computers either way, it's the hardware that's too expensive for them--not Microsoft's inflated prices and crappy software. So after years of bullshit the average consumer has put up with by dealing with Microsoft's business tactics, as a settlement we get a company donating to an unrelated charity. Well, sign me up Frank.

    There isn't any need to debate whether this sort of thing is going to extend Microsoft's monopoly or not. They do that kind of stuff all the time. It's the fact that people are willing to accept it as a term of a lawsuit settlement that pisses me off. Give'm hell boys.

  • by interiot (50685)
    Use this link [cnet.com] instead. ("ttp://" => "http://")
  • I was frankly shocked that so many states would go for this ludicrous M$ settlement proposal. Not only would they be able to set the price for the software that they were "giving away" to match the required monetary value of the settlement, but these schools that are the poorest of the poor would have to upgrade their site licenses in something like 5 years.

    Let's make this clear: they are going to make money off of poor schools while coming off as altruistic at the same time. Can you imagine the M$ software audit nazis shutting down a school because it couldn't afford to upgrade the site license to their "free" software? I'm glad to see that the State of California, home of many good things, has the balls to stand up to this crap.

    Which reminds me of another thing: how the hell is "giving away" software to poor schools going to help all of the victims of the M$ monopoly? How long have these lawyers been away from the outside world, that they would lose sight of their objectives? I guess since its all money to them, they don't really give two shits one way or the other...

    • Which reminds me of another thing: how the hell is "giving away" software to poor schools going to help all of the victims of the M$ monopoly? How long have these lawyers been away from the outside world, that they would lose sight of their objectives? I guess since its all money to them, they don't really give two shits one way or the other...

      Maybe you should ask the PROSECUTION , as they set the terms of the settlement.

      Simon
  • Somehow, i don't think slashdot "thinks" anymore.

    What good is california going to do with making this decision? Do you think poor schools in california will get computers with software pre-loaded on it?

    Do you think a kid will be more well off With Linux over Windows? Does that teach them anything else other then the philosphy of free software?

    I personally want my kids to understand Word and Excell and possibly how to use Photoshop and applications like that for when they go to work. I would want linux to be an afterthought, as it has never occured to me to run it as a core os.

    Somehow i don't see Redhat or california providing the means that Microsoft can. Monopoly or not, microsoft has the money and power to provide an education for our kids. Monopoly aside, California has no right deciding this fate.

    Put the computer and the software at the kids choice, if RedHat has the means to do this then don't take a free ride off microfts problems, go out there and support our schools.
    • I personally want my kids to understand Word and Excell and possibly how to use Photoshop and applications like that for when they go to work. I would want linux to be an afterthought, as it has never occured to me to run it as a core os.

      Yes, but the school should teach kids how to use Office on Windows and teach them how to use Photoshop on Macs. They should also be offering programming classes earlier, and be teaching them on Linux by the high school level, allowing them to use $300 built-from-scratch PCs and saving hundreds by not having to buy Windows licenses. Mac and Windows platforms should be available at all levels, Linux machines in high school and above, along with basic classes in using them. They should be running school servers on Linux at all levels.

      The real issue (if you read the article) is whether you think a charitable donation is an acceptable remedy for an antitrust case.

  • I believe Microsoft is up to no good.

    Suppose they decide to donate 1 billion dollars worth of equipment. Think of the advantages of donating computer equipment to schools:

    Microsoft would choose the schools and then supply the cheapest computers available on the market. The cost of these computers would be deducted from the 1 billion dollars. Microsoft would then install their own software on these computers. This would definitely include one of their operating systems and a bunch of office productivity, educational, art applications and games. Microsoft would then deduct their suggested retail price of the software from the 1 billion dollars.

    If each computer costs Microsoft $500.00, and then they deduct $2000.00 for software (the more software they install on these computers, the more they can deduct), Microsoft actually spends only one fifth of the 1 billion dollars. The rest is money they never spend. They would be giving away copies of their own software. This does not cost them anything, since software is not a tangible product, and they don't actually have to manufacture those copies (other than putting them on a CD, the cost of which is negligible at their high quantities). Microsoft ends up spending 200,000,000 instead of 1,000,000,000--a huge savings!

    But wait, there's more! These computers would simply serve as an advertisement for Microsoft. Furthermore, they'll probably put a different spin on the donation, making it appear as an act of good will, instead of a punishment for an abusive monopoly. Most folks would think Microsoft is very noble, as they don't follow the lawsuits. And I haven't even gotten started yet. Here's the best part! Microsoft would write off the entire 1 billion dollars as an expense, and end up not paying taxes on that money, even though four fifths of it never left Microsoft's bank account! (Microsoft has some genius accountants. They will somehow manage to do this, and the government won't be able to do a damn thing about it.) There are probably another ten or so huge benefits to Microsoft. They would essentially turn this "punishment" into a marketing ploy, and further expand their monopoly.

    My suggestion for a real punishment follows: The government should decide which schools most need free computer equipment. Then, the government will decide on an amount of money to be spent on that school. Microsoft will be required to give the school a cash grant, which the school can use to purchase anything in the realm of computer equipment. The total amount of money spent by Microsoft on grants should be not less than 2 billion dollars.

    Here's where my suggestion gets interesting: The schools have 100 percent choice as to which products to buy with the grant money. This could include scanners, printers, monitors, speakers, any computer hardware, etc. They could buy a PDP-11 or an SGI Onyx, or anything in between. Furthermore, they could get any software they want, whether it is IRIX, Windows 2000, Linux, or anything else out there. But here's the catch: If the school decides to use software products from Microsoft, Microsoft may NOT charge for them. They will be required to give the school a special, 100 percent free, totally unlimited, site-wide license for that product. (The license is special in that any faculty member or student of that school would be permitted to install that piece of software at any number of computers in their home at no cost. This prevents the grant from being used as an advertisement, which would benefit Microsoft instead of punishing them.) To close another loophole, if the school wants a software product made by another company, and Microsoft would somehow profit from this (through licensing fees, by owning shares of the company, or any other method), Microsoft is not allowed to make that profit. In other words, the ruling would prevent Microsoft from IN ANY WAY profiting from their products being given to the school. And finally, this requirement lasts forever. If Microsoft is still in business 200 years from now, and that school wants to use some software of theirs, Microsoft must still follow this rule.

    In other words, the school may purchase (or obtain freely, if applicable) whatever computer related products they want, including Microsoft products, if they wish, but Microsoft may in no way profit from this punishment. If these were the terms of the punishment, I would agree to it 100 percent. Otherwise, I think Microsoft is playing games again.

    Oh well.

  • This [satirewire.com] is getting less and less funny every day. :/
  • In other news, Philip Morris [philipmorrisusa.com] has announced plans to settle lawsuits filed against it for smoking related deaths and illnesses. The cigarette maker tentatively has agreed to a five-year project to provide cigarettes and other tobacco-related products to more than 14,000 of the poorest schools in the U.S., resolving most of its pending private class-action lawsuits, lawyers and academics briefed on the case said. Many details of the complex agreement still were being worked out Monday night, but the estimated cost to Philip Morris will be about $1.1 billion, with additional support coming from other contributions, these people said. Philip Morris has $36 billion in cash on hand.

    According to lawyers and others briefed on the deal, Philip Morris would provide tobacco products valued at about $900 million over five years to schools where most students qualify for free federal lunch programs. Philip Morris also would be responsible for making available 200,000 reconditioned ashtrays and tobacco pipes during that period, $90 million in teacher training and $38 million in technical support. It would provide as much as $250 million to set up an independent foundation to meet project goals, and would seek an additional $200 million in matching funds.

    If the settlement goes through, Philip Morris's brand name and products will gain even greater presence in the nation's schools. Some of the lawyers in the class-action cases were uncomfortable with this but concluded that Philip Morris's monopoly already is so pervasive that students would have to learn to use their products anyway.

    • maybe we need some anti-MS commercials like those stupid Truth.com commercials which rarely resemble the truth. They could say things like, "Here is a store in an 'ethnic' community, you'll notice there are no MS products in this convenience store. Here is a computer store in the 'good neighborhood', does MS have something against 'ethnic people'?" That was probably the most annoying "Truth" commercial that really had very little to do with "big tobacco"
      or maybe "The IQ of the average Senior UNIX adminstrator is much higher than the IQ of the average 10 year old windows user." That sounds like a very truth.com-like spin.
      Not that I have some love for tobacco companies mind you, my mother would probably be alive today if not for cigarettes, it's just that there's only so much we can blame on "big tobacco", which stores advertise their products and which ethnic groups are more susceptible to cancer really are beyond "big tobacco"'s control, but the public sure seems to believe it. And after all "MS has killed more computers than big tobacco has people!" hehe :)
  • Wait!
    It's um . . . uh.
    Crap!
    Let me check my copy of "Slashdot Answers to Microsoft Questions For Dummys". Here it is!
    What was the question?

    • Let me check my copy of "Slashdot Answers to Microsoft Questions For Dummys". Here it is!
      What was the question?


      Does it matter? The answer to all of them is "Microsoft sucks!"

      Really, the book has a good deal more pages then it needs to. The whole thing rates a -1, Redundant.
    • umm... don't you mean..

      O'Reilly's MS Bashing in a Nutshell (tm)

      No self respecting slashdotter would stoop to the level of the Dummy's series.

  • If I were handling this settlement for one of the plaintiffs, I'd say to Microsoft,
    "That's great that your willing to settle, but we don't want any of your products. We would rather have the
    retail value of all those windows licenses in cash, plus the hardware, so we can spend it on what we actually need. A pile of windows licenses won't do us any good when our teachers are underpaid and our school's roofs are leaking."
  • C'mon!

    They've entrenched themselves in a monopoly.

    Now the government's soloution is to further EXTEND that monopoly?

    What do the THINK putting a bunch of Windows machines in school is GOING to do?

    Yeah. MS takes a licensing loss.

    BOO FRICKING HOO!

    Like they don't lose at least that much to people who ALREADY install their products on multiple systems?

    They still have primary imprint on kids at school.

    Basically hooking them into the MS cycle of endless bugfixes re-dressed into expensive upgrades.
  • by demon (1039)
    If the deal went through, Microsoft would be really getting a sweet deal. Consider that the majority of that 1.1 billion dollars, somewhere around 80% - nearly 900 million - would be to supposedly "pay" for their own software. But how much does it cost them to produce that package, the CDs, and the (ever shrinking) enclosed printed documentation? Have you ever seen the prices for products in their company store? $50, $60 for even their highest-dollar packages, and you can bet that's well more than the materials cost.

    So, they lose (let's be generous) around $300 million (around $200 million in PCs, somewhere about $100 million in materials costs on the software and its packaging), to get themselves absolved of any wrongdoing. For a company that has supposedly billions of dollars in cash on-hand, that's chump change.
  • by ProfDumb (67790) on Monday November 26, 2001 @10:03PM (#2617065)

    IANAL, but . . .

    In most states, only "direct consumers" can sue for anti-trust damages -- e.g. typically this means Dell or Compaq, not the end-user. The suits involving these states are going to get thrown out anyway, so they are willing to settle for anything .

    In CA (and some other places), indirect consumers can sue. So these states don't want to give in. But, MS cleverly made the settlement contingent on all suits being settled.

    The class-action lawyers for the consumers in states that can't really sue are trying to force this settlement down the throats of the other groups. What will the judge say? Who knows.

    • Yeah, I noticed that point as well.

      Since these laws don't exist in most states, Microsoft is in a great position on this one. They can't be sued because the computer purchasers get Windows from the OEMs, but the OEMs are forced by Microsoft to provide nothing but Windows with their systems... And the computer purchaser gets screwed six ways to Sunday.

      Funny, in this case their EULA is effectively accurate. As far as state laws are concerned, they're not obliged to offer any warantee for anything, as there's no law that allows them to be sued.
  • Who's been harmed (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by HardCase (14757)
    Flame away, I guess, but I still have to ask who has been harmed? I haven't. I use Linux for my day to day work and Windows 2000 for the few things that I can't do with Linux. I haven't bought a pre-built computer for several years, so I haven't had to wrangle over whether or not I'm going to pay for a copy of Windows.


    I guess my point is that even though I don't agree with the business tactics that Microsoft has taken, even though I think that Windows XP is overpriced for what you get, I believe that there are alternatives out there.


    Here's the hard part: to get what you really want takes a little work. So I built my own computers and installed my own operating systems. And I can honestly say that Microsoft hasn't harmed me, hasn't stifled my innovation and basically has had little to no impact on me.


    My personal opinion is that much of the Microsoft bashing goes on for a few reasons:


    1. You're jealous of Bill Gates because he made a lot of money.


    2. Microsoft is a big (relatively speaking) company and big companies are easy to hate.


    3. Microsoft aggressively protects its intellectual property interests.


    It seems to me that only the third reason *might* be a position to argue from, except that, from a legal perspective, MUST protect their IP interests.


    As far as the "innovation" issue, I'd say that's a red herring. Innovation, at least in the sense that most people bandy the word around, really doesn't exist. Very little work in any industry is innovative, regardless of what the marketing flacks might say. For the last several years almost every "new" product or idea has really been nothing more than an evolutionary improvement on existing work. Now that's not a bad thing...it really is how new products get introduced. But I don't think it's appropriate to say that Microsoft stifles innovation...the very complexity of many of the "things" that we use today really limits true innovation.


    And just as a bonus...for everyone who rails at companies who (mis)use US patent laws to protect their patently obvious software developments, remember that the antitrust laws that Microsoft was accused of violating were put in place to combat the excesses of the railroad barons of the 19th century...just as poor an application of the law to the Microsoft situation as the application of patent law to software and "methods". Read your history!


    And finally...the "Windows tax" isn't necessarily a Microsoft invention. Consider the economies of scale. I was part of management for a major computer manufacturer and one of the decisions that we had to make regarded the shipment of systems with no OS or a custom OS installed. From a cost perspective, it simply was too expensive to delete Windows from our configurations and create a special process for the small number of orders that required no OS. It wasn't a contract requirement, it wasn't Microsoft leaning on us to ship Windows, it was economics plain and simple. To knock $40 off the cost of a system and ship with no OS cost well over $40 to implement on such a small volume of computers. Want to blame somebody on the "Windows tax"? It's the corporate bottom line. Oh, and the company is still in business. And, in a sea of red ink, actually made a profit last quarter.


    -h-

    • by zulux (112259) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @01:30AM (#2617780) Homepage Journal
      My personal opinion is that much of the Microsoft bashing goes on for a few reasons:

      We bash Microsoft because most of us are computing professionals. I'm sure a lot of McDonald's bashing goes on in kitchens, and a lot of KIA bashing goes on in garages.
    • A lot of people get harmed as Microsoft increases their Monolopy.

      I guess my point is that even though I don't agree with the business tactics that Microsoft has taken, even though I think that Windows XP is overpriced for what you get, I believe that there are alternatives out there.

      For now, but Microsoft has and does try to leverage that monopoly into closed standards that prevent interoperability. Even if laws allow reverse engineering, they prevent a speedy driver release. Linux then looks like it's going slower, fewer companies release drivers or specs for their hardware, and there is this downward spiral.

      Microsoft aggressively protects its intellectual property interests.

      I doubt anyone has a problem with this. After all the GPL does the same thing. What the problem is that Microsoft swallows other IP, takes credit for and tries to stomp out anything else.

      Microsoft preaches a computer on every desk and a Microsoft OS on every computer. Their party line is that there can be no exception.

      I really don't care if Microsoft exists. I just think that they have far too much power in the market.

      Why am I harmed? I don't want to use a Microsoft OS. Don't by one you say? Even taking into account your microsoft tax argumet, I didn't say I didn't want one, I said I don't want to use one. Not at home, and not at work. I want at least the option to use a real OS in my place of employment, or at least a chance that my place of employment might not force everyone to use Microsoft softwar, but with their current control, your current choice is between the various flavors of excrement offered by Microsoft.

      I want decent games under Linux, but I can't get them. Why? because very few of the games I want have been ported to Linux. Most of the ones that have are ones that don't particularly interest me, and I'm not about to lay down money for a game I don't want just so someone might think of porting other games to the platform. If Microsoft were a small player, there would be no choice but to port games to several platforms.

      Microsoft's dominance has harmed me, and even if you don't know it, it has harmed you.
    • by nagora (177841)
      Flame away, I guess, but I still have to ask who has been harmed?

      Every programmer in the world. We have all had the right to write programs for money removed from us. Basically, any programmer who comes up with a good, popular, program can have that program copied by MS and see it given away as part of Windows and there is nothing they can do about it because MS can run them through the courts until they're broke.

      Microsoft is a big (relatively speaking)

      Yes, relative to all other companies.

      big companies are easy to hate.

      This is a classic cop-out by MS apologists. Big companies are hated because they treat everyone like shit. It's not the bigness which people hate, it's the treatment.

      Big companies can not, even if they want to, treat their customers well. The best they can do is treat the important customers well and everyone else has to lump it. In MS's case, they are so big that NO single customer is important and they can treat everyone like shit.

      You're jealous of Bill Gates because he made a lot of money.

      I am jealous of Gates because he has been given a lot of money while I'm stuck here having to earn it. I didn't have a million dollar gift from my granddad when I was born and IBM never gave me a licence to print money. The government has never said to me "the last version of your software failed and crashed, was late arriving and didn't do what you said it would; could we have another million copies, please?".

      Gates has sponged of the rest of us while destroying other companies (Netscape being the best known) for years. Why should anyone innovate in the face of that? If you thought of a new way to browse the web, would you spend time working on it knowing that if it works it'll just appear in IE7?

      And just as a bonus...for everyone who rails at companies who (mis)use US patent laws to protect their patently obvious software developments, remember that the antitrust laws that Microsoft was accused of violating were put in place to combat the excesses of the railroad barons of the 19th century...just as poor an application of the law to the Microsoft situation as the application of patent law to software and "methods". Read your history!

      This didn't make sense. What are you talking about? Are you saying that only railway companies can be monoplies?

      From a cost perspective, it simply was too expensive to delete Windows from our configurations and create a special process for the small number of orders that required no OS.

      I think you're lying. It doesn't cost 40 dollars to not install Windows on every tenth computer. Uninstalling it would be stupid.

      Anyway, the phrase "Windows Tax" disguises what it really is: blackmail and extortion. Your company may have not wanted to remove Windows from its machines but, if it had, it would have quickly found out that it didn't have the option. MS simply would have stopped providing you with Windows and there sure as hell ain't enough of a non-Windows market to support a large OEM with no OS to pre-install.

      This is the biggest abuse of the monopoly position: forcing OEM's to pay protection money in order to stay "in the game".

      TWW

  • It is nothing but a transparent ploy to extend monopoly. I can't believe anyone would fail to see it, or ignore it. It's blatent and it's obvious. And it's predictable. This is precisely the way we've all come to expect MS to behave.
    • -- >>
      It is nothing but a transparent ploy to extend monopoly. I can't believe anyone would fail to see it, or ignore it.
      -- >>

      well, wouldn't we have all thought that of a case which the government won, twice? and yet still managed to lose...hmmm.

      i'm not sure how to explain the way these guys can bamboozle just about anyone. a good friend from Apple days is convinced he is the anti-christ. perhaps if someone had mentioned that to Ashcroft things would have turned out differently.
      • Well, if I believed in the notion of an anti-christ, I'm pretty sure BillG would be right up at the top of my list of anti-christ candidates.

        Or maybe he's the devil himself. That would make Balmer the anti-christ I guess.

        But that would mean Linus must be Jesus. OK, that's just getting too corny for me.

        :-)
  • "Ballmer has denied the settlement is aimed at boosting the company's market share in American schools. He said money from the settlement could be used to buy software from Microsoft competitors."

    So... Ballmer thinks that even if people were given the choice they would still install Microsoft software.

    What is depressing is that he is probably right. Microsoft does have a monopoly on the desktop after all.

    I think that Microsoft should just give the schools the money and let them do what ever they want with it. Buy desks or chairs. New basketball uniforms... What ever the schools wants.

    It's ridiculous to pretend that giving a billion dollars worth of software to schools costs Microsoft anything. Probably it costs them 4 million dollars in packaging. But they can more than make that up from the advertising they get as a result... Microsoft has probably spent 500 million advertising XP and 2k already.

    That isn't even a punishment. And they have been convicted, right?

  • Not two weeks ago I wrote our (CA's) attorney general, supporting his decision to not settle...
    • Me too. And his office wrote me back, asking if I'd participate in the Tunney hearings.

      This case, however, is a different case. It's a proposed settlement of the class-action suits for private harm caused by MS abusing its monopoly. It's only tangentially related to the DOJ/state antitrust case, in that Judge Jackson's FoF was major ammo.
  • by Ms.Taken (324811) on Monday November 26, 2001 @11:58PM (#2617552)
    If this works, maybe I'll try it myself next April:

    "Dear IRS, Instead of a check, enclosed please find 800 copies of my latest shareware valued at $40.00 each. I'm sure you'll agree that the benefit to society of making my software available to hundreds of schools serving hundreds of thousands of children far outweighs some petty cash payment."

    I could save a fortune this way. Go Microsoft!
  • by jeffsilv (527641) on Tuesday November 27, 2001 @03:15AM (#2618024)
    Please! There is something you can do about this!!! Go to Red Hat's web site [redhat.com] and get the contact information and then FAX the judge. He is soliciting input via FAX!

    If we don't do it, then it won't get done. Even a one page letter ("This is a bad idea, don't do it!") will be helpful.

    The letter should be FAXed to

    Hon. Judge J. Frederick Motz, H.S. District Court for the District of Maryland,
    Fax #: (410) 962-7574

  • Ok, correct me if I'm wrong, but the majority of these lawsuits are centered around the idea that MS "over-charged" them for their OS. Does this sound rediculous to anyone else?
    But before I go any further, lets just get this out of the way. MS is BIG. MS IS a monopoly. And MS isn't innocent of the FEDERAL charges.
    Whew, now that was tough, but back on task... Ok, so these people claim MS charged them too much. Whoop de doo. If this is true, they're entitled to what? A whole $40?!? (just a guessimate as to what they were over-charged by) To me, the facts do actually speak for themselves in this case. 1) The majority of the people in on the lawsuit purchased their PCs from an OEM. OEM's purchase MS's OS's at an extremely discounted price. So how is it that MS is the one that "over-charged"? Couldn't the OEM's be held liable instead? 2) This is an OS (quality is not an issue here) that is under $200 (and no, comparing price to linux is not an issue either). MS Office suite costs more than any of its "Home Edition" OS's. Photoshop costs more. I could name many other pieces of software that cost WAY more.
    So again, I ask you... What are these people really entitled to? In my opinion... Nothing. They do not deserve any of the money (assuming MS loses) that would come from the lawsuit. All of them can easily be compared to ambulance chasers. If they do actually pull this off (which I really hope they don't), this will be the biggest con in history.
    But aside from that, I'd wish that everyone would just take a step back and look at the issues objectively instead of fanatically. This industry was conceived by individuals who did not strictly adhere to the status quo, and since all these lawsuits have surfaced... a new status quo is blindly being followed.
    • So how is it that MS is the one that "over-charged"? Couldn't the OEM's be held liable instead?

      Since MS forces OEMs to install Windows it's hard to see how the OEMs could then be held responsible for the cost of the OS.

      TWW

  • From now on, each grammar school graduate will receive the following:
    • Coupon for $25 off an Xbox and ...
    • Windows XP home edition from Microsoft
    • 4 Wilderness AT tires from Firestone
    • Coupon for $25 off a cell phone from Verizon
    • Free installation CD and one month's service from AOL
    • 50,000 frequent flier miles from American Airlines
    • Free carton of cigarettes (from a random assortment of the leading tobacco companies)

    The value of my proposal is hidden in the details. You see, all of these class action suits could be settled without giving anything to the plaintiffs. According to me, this entitles their lawyers to 40% of what the plaintiffs receive, which is NOTHING. Of course this means no meaningful relief to the plaintiffs and no punishment for the defendants, but that's a small price to pay if it means pulling the plug on litigation, which seldom provides anything other than a paycheck for the lawyers.

    The bottom line is that this "settle by charitable contribution" trend will eliminate anyone's motivation to pursue a class action suit. Since there are only so many political patronage jobs to go around, putting the lawyers out of work would force them to pursue meaningful employment elsewhere, thus resulting in a benefit to the economy. Without the threat of those pesky class action suits, just imagine how many jobs these benevolent corporations would create! This could stop the recession!

    Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment only; not to be taken seriously. I am not a lawyer. This not an offer to settle anything. Any copyrights/trademarks belong to their respective owners. The companies mentioned here may or may not be involved in a current or past class action suit. Use as directed. Your actual mileage may vary.

  • For having the guts to take a stance against this particular settlement.

    Apart from Californian resistance, much of the gist of this story has been covered by an earlier one [slashdot.org].

    Likewise, my opinion [slashdot.org] has been expressed there, including why it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to this settlement.

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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