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Microsoft

Microsoft Flouting DOJ Settlement? 580

Posted by michael
from the par-for-the-course dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Washington Post, Microsoft is not adhering to the terms of its deal with the DOJ. Specifically, there are allegations that it is "trying to license key pieces of its technology at inflated rates" and "thwarting its antitrust settlement with the federal government". They're charging $100,000 just to see technical info about their communication protocols, and you only get $50,000 back if you decide you don't want to license them. Whoda thunk?"
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Microsoft Flouting DOJ Settlement?

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  • by Got-Tea-Rolls (681042) on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:56AM (#6190284)
    because I don't abide by their EULAs either, so it all settles out.
  • ObFightClub (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:57AM (#6190294)
    I am Jack's utter lack of surprise.
  • gosh (Score:5, Funny)

    by boogy nightmare (207669) on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:57AM (#6190297) Homepage
    oh shock horror, never saw that one coming.....

    i mean really, what did you think they were going to do.

    S

  • Okay.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by jagilbertvt (447707) on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:57AM (#6190298)
    So, we pay $100k to find out they have no communication protocols, and only get $50k back? I'll charge half that if anyone's interested in seeing my communication protocols.
    • Re:Okay.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by yatest5 (455123) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:01AM (#6190331) Homepage
      So, we pay $100k to find out they have no communication protocols, and only get $50k back? I'll charge half that if anyone's interested in seeing my communication protocols.

      Yeah, don't wait up - not too much interest in "uh, huh-huh, you're a girl, aren't you, uh-huh-huh-huh".

    • ...particularly if the protocol provided an interface for communicating with hosts running a different OS (closed source, with totally incomprehensinle internals), and allowed for better integration than just a handshake. Particular one that would facilitate the transfer of data encoded as deoxyribose nucleic acid.

      Kjella
    • I got some! (Score:5, Funny)

      by siskbc (598067) on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:01AM (#6190854) Homepage
      Let's see here....I have some wood and a blanket for smoke signals. I have a mirror, that might work when it's sunny. I also have a big steel barrel I can bang Morse code on real loud. Oh, and none of them are standards compliant - the wood is wet, the blanket is moth-eaten, the mirror is broken, and I don't actually know Morse code.

      I think that's all. Want your $50k back?

  • supose... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uhhhhhhh (673093)
    it's their perogative to charge what they want for information. Supply and Demand may change it eventually but they can start the prices where ever they want.
    • Re:supose... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by julesh (229690) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:02AM (#6190334)
      Except of course that part of their settlement for abusing their monopoly position was a court order that they open all the information on their protocols to the general public.
      • Re:supose... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mr2cents (323101) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:17AM (#6190503)
        Microsoft couldn't care less about the law. They just do whatever they like, and if they get a settlement, they implement THAT however they like. Just plain arrogance.
        • Re:supose... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Brian Kendig (1959) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:36AM (#6190642) Homepage
          Agreed. And what's anybody gonna go about it? Ooooh, Microsoft broke the law again, now in three or four years the DOJ might bring legal action against 'em and in another eight or ten years they might get slapped with another settlement to ignore. Ooooooooohhh. Like, they're really scared.

          • Re:supose... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dbrutus (71639)
            I have two words of reassurance for you. Arthur Anderson.

            Past a certain point, corporate flouting of the law visibly erodes respect for the rule of law. The politicians can't tolerate that and retain their own power. MS will be squashed like a bug if they cross that line and they're getting awfully close.
        • Re:supose... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dbrutus (71639)
          That arrogance will be their undoing. Politicians are real big on the revenge business. Past a certain point, nobody's too big to do the perp walk.
      • Re:supose... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:25AM (#6190562)
        open all the information on their protocols to the general public.
        Are you sure about that statement? 'General Public'?

        I thought it was more like they could offer it to different people for different rates. Can you backup the 'general public' claim?
      • Re:supose... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kilted_Ghost (559000) <kilted@tampa[ ].rr.com ['bay' in gap]> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:44AM (#6190704)
        "But Microsoft was allowed to charge for the protocols because servers were not part of the antitrust case. " Even thought this is Slashdot, at least try and read the article. That goes for whoever modded this up as well.
    • Re:supose... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daemonik (171801) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:03AM (#6190352) Homepage
      In a market with actual competition that would work. Unfortunately Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, which puts it out of the supply/demand argument as they supply what they want, to whom they want, under whatever terms they want, to the detriment of an open market.
      • Phu-lease! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RoLi (141856) on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:06AM (#6190914)
        Can't you get it in your head?

        Just the facts:

        • Microsoft doesn't care about the law.
        • The DOJ won't help us.

        All the monopoly-whining in the world won't help. On the contrary, it will help Microsoft by portraing them as invulnerable, always winning and not worth resisting.

        What will make a difference is use products and open standards.

        For example in southern Germany the tiny town of SchwÃbisch Hall has moved to Linux a few months ago, a few weeks ago Munich was inspired by that and (just a few kilometers away) has decided to do the same and a week later Stuttgart und Oldenburg, 2 other south-German cities are evaluating to join in, others will follow.

        The dominos are falling. With all the relevant software being ported to Linux, expect a lot of other european cities to move to KDE/Linux as well within 3 years.

        So please:

        Stop whining, start doing. Whining will not achieve anything.

        Tell your coworkers and your boss about Mozilla and OpenOffice, explain to your boss that Microsoft will give anybody huge discounts who is able to move away from Microsoft, etc.

    • Re:supose... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      it's their perogative to charge what they want for information. Supply and Demand may change it eventually but they can start the prices where ever they want.

      Copyright is a government-granted monopoly. The whole point of copyright is that the author controls supply. In this case, Microsoft doesn't want to supply the market at all. The only reason they do, is because their DOJ settlement requires it.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:58AM (#6190308)


    How can you suggest such a thing? There's absolutely no evidence that Microsoft isn't just as well behaved as every other American corporation, such as Enron, WorldCom, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, etc.

    • Riiiiight.

      There are consequences to actions. Unfortunately the American people cannot seem to draw a line between point A and point B.
      • There are consequences to actions. Unfortunately the American people cannot seem to draw a line between point A and point B.

        The American way is to patent a device for drawing a line between A and B, and sell licenses to the highest bidder. Drawing the line is left to lesser countries, like Japan, Taiwan and Germany.

        Of course, with the Microsoft Ruler, you can get the source CAD code for a mere $100,000, which allows you to verify that the lines are indeed straight. Or not.

        Regards,
        --
        *Art

      • by pcwhalen (230935) <pcwhalen@gma i l . c om> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:44AM (#6190707) Journal
        Like oil and water, Republicans and antitrust don't mix.

        I worked in the state AG's office in the antitrust division during 3 AG's tenures. When we went from a Democrat to a Republican, we were told there were certain types of cases we were just not going to bring. Ever.

        Now I am all for the American Way and for business making a buck. It ain't Romper Room out there. The Fed is supposed to level the playing field for fair competition. I guess "fair" can be defined several diferent ways, depending on who contributes to your campaign.

        Write to those Congressmen, people. They are working on your dime.
        • what's funny is (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Ender Ryan (79406) < > on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:18AM (#6191047) Journal
          Earlier Republicans were supporters of anti-trust laws. Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt to name two.

          Their reasoning was they didn't want corporations to become more powerful than the government, and hence, have influence over it.

          BTW, if you think corruption is bad today, read all about Teddy, he started his political career fighting corruption that was taking place basically out in the open.

  • by RLiegh (247921) on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:59AM (#6190311) Homepage Journal
    Next on slashdot: The sun is fuckin' HOT
  • What?! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:59AM (#6190315)
    Thats a scandalous acussation! Microsoft are kind and gentle, and they certainly learnt their lesson after the nasty talking to the DOJ gave them after that whole "monopoly abusing" thing. Balmer and Gates are such nice men and they wear such nice suits, how could you even think of making such a slanderous comment?

    No, I'm sure they're just misunderstood.
  • No way! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2003 @08:59AM (#6190317)
    Microsoft is being accused of doing something illegal on slashdot?

    What's next? More SCO villification?
  • But they PROMISED... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:00AM (#6190320) Homepage

    They even had to set up a committee internally to make sure they didn't break the rules. Surely the DoJ wouldn't have given them such a limp-wristed settlement if it didn't believe they were honest people.

    Oh hang on its only George Bush who lives in a 1950s "Wonderful Life" style world.

    Is ANYONE suprised by this move ? M$ have also just bought some AV software, umm will they bundle theirs into the OS to drive other people away, its a shot in the dark, and against the DoJ settlement but it might just be true.

    M$ know that with the massively pro-business pro-monopoly president there is right now that they have AT LEAST 5 more years before a President who might go after them. Add 5-10 years of DoJ cases and they might get the next numbskull to let them off.

    The only hope for the US Software industry is if the EU crackdown.
    • by laetus (45131) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:28AM (#6190578)
      Actually, It's a Wonderful Life [ozcraft.com] came out in 1946 directly after WWII and though had a happy ending, pretty much dealt with the shaddy side of the business world and one man's despair (and near suicide) because of it.

      It is a great movie and stands as one of the classics.
      • by mattsucks (541950) on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:19AM (#6191062) Homepage
        This is way offtopic, but the history of this movie fascinates me. "It's a Wonderful Life" was released in '46, received mixed reviews, nominated for some awards, but sank into obscurity. It fell out of copyright and into the public domain in 1974. And because of THAT, TV stations, starting mainly with PBS, picked it up for FREE and started broadcasting it at Christmas. It became one of the most loved, most aired Christmas movies ever. All because it went into the public domain.

        Well, until 1993, when some copyright sleight-of-hand pulled it out of PD.

        RIAA? MPAA? DMCA? hello? is this thing on?

        references:

        http://slate.msn.com/id/1004242/
        http://movie-r eviews.colossus.net/movies/i/its_won derful.html
        http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/greatmo vies/wonderfu l_life.html

        http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=U TF -8&q=%22It%27s+a+wonderful+life%22+public+domain&b tnG=Google+Search
  • The low number of licensees concerns the Justice Department, which says it is devoting extensive resources to evaluating the program.

    "I'm Shocked! Shocked!"

  • by PFactor (135319) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:00AM (#6190324) Journal
    I bet DOJ used Windows Update. Now, none of their computers work. That would explain their lack of follow-through in this case.
  • Drugs are bad (Score:3, Redundant)

    by haydenth (588730) <haydenth@m s u . edu> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:02AM (#6190335)
    If any of you thought for a second that Microsoft would actually abide by the settlement with the DOJ you are on crack. What incentive do they have to abide by it? What is the worst that will happen if they don't abide by it? They'll get taken back to court the DOJ, and I'm sure they'll settle again and continue doing what they are doing. I personally have no problem with Microsoft, but If the DOJ is going to settle with them, they better be prepared to enforce the settlement.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:03AM (#6190355) Homepage Journal

    No, this is not a big surprise to the very large crowd of people who think MS got off lightly for what they have done.

    The significance, though, is that there are still a couple of states (WV, MA, I think) holding out on the DOJ settlement.

    Their case could be made stronger if they can show the settlement is not working properly.

  • by bpland (529369) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:04AM (#6190362)
    "Basically, I'd have to shoot the engineers when they came back," said one irate company executive.

    So this is what happens to our best and brightest programmers.....

  • Thunking (Score:4, Funny)

    by julesh (229690) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:04AM (#6190365)
    Whoda thunk?

    I would. Thunking is fun, and a wonderful way of ensuring you keep compatible. Try thunking to another operating system running in a virtual machine, that's cool :-)
  • Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Kholdan (670731)
    What they're doing might be immoral, but illegal? Hardly. If they ask 100k from everyone wanting to use the protocol they're not discriminating against anyone.

  • [1] Do what you like, flout all laws, profit. Laws are for others.

    [2] If they sue you, get a friendly government.

    [3] If you are likely to lose, settle, the settlement being "Agree to obey laws in future".

    [4] Of course, don't worry to 3, go to step 1, repear.
  • by !Squalus (258239) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:05AM (#6190382) Homepage
    This should not come as a surprise Judge CK and Justice both bent over backwards to please Billy since Ashcroft and others could only recuse themselves from direct involvement because of the contributions they received. This does not mean they did not have a hand in giving Microsoft the power to act as though there was no settlement, it merely means that the settlement was thus: Microsoft is free to be a monopoly and self-enforcing monopolies never can do anything wrong (or at least they SEE no evil, HEAR no evil, and SPEAK of no evil that they are involved in).

    Really, who won the case? Not the people, well they did, but the newly elected administration had that overturned and gave Microsoft everything they ever wanted and then some.

    Crash, bang, pow! The sound of companies being crushed, jobs being lost, and consumers losing more and more to the power of a global monopoly that is in fact a de facto government taxing American citizens on a national basis every time our government (once elected - now paid) buys from the Nation of Microsoft.

    Do we really want more media consolidation - must be, someone in the government says its cool for one company to own everything and offer us the same crappy meals every day.

    To borrow a line we might have to get used to""You will work harder with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day."

    Thanks to Justice and Judge CK the animal is free to prowl and kill whatever it wants. Nice, real nice.
  • Price Inflation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    there are allegations that it is "trying to license key pieces of its technology at inflated rates" Doesn't the fact that they are trying to dump other pieces of technology balance this out, though? mmmmmm... $50 windows licenses.....
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06.email@com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:06AM (#6190384)
    Microsoft requires companies that license the protocols to be audited -- at their own expense, by a third-party auditor selected by Microsoft -- to ensure that they are only using them for appropriate purposes. This raises the possibility of the auditor learning about the company's new product and its source code, but companies say they have no information on how much the auditor could then pass on to Microsoft.

    Wow! Paying someone to steal your intellectual property. Thank you Microsoft. Now I understand all that innovation.

    At the urging of the Justice Department, Microsoft will now allow engineers from potential licensees to visit its headquarters to examine more technical data. But the rivals say the company is requiring the engineers to sign such strict confidentiality agreements that their ability to work on related products for their employers would be hampered.

    "Basically, I'd have to shoot the engineers when they came back," said one irate company executive.

    Wow! Paying Microsoft to make your employees unuseable. Thank you Microsoft. Useful employees were a burden anyway.

  • by dereklam (621517) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:06AM (#6190385)
    "Basically, I'd have to shoot the engineers when they came back," said one irate company executive.

    Yeah, I'd do the same thing if I were forced to send my engineers to visit Redmond...

  • Which protocols? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zathrus (232140) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:06AM (#6190393) Homepage
    Anyone have a list of the protocols under discussion? The article refers to there being 133 protocols in the package, and there are claims (refuted by MS) that some of them are in the public domain (by which I suspect they mistakenly include open source solutions like Samba).

    So, what protocols are they? I'm certain that a large number haven't been externally engineered, but I'd be willing to bet that quite a few have, or that they originate from public protocols that MS has since modified.
  • DOJ ph34rs MS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Graspee_Leemoor (302316) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:06AM (#6190396) Homepage Journal
    '"We have made progress with Microsoft," one official said, adding that the department is following up on complaints from other firms. "We have gotten them to make changes."'

    This just shows how scared the DOJ is of MS. I mean if I got taken to court for not paying back a loan and the court ordered me to pay £x back per month and I only paid a fraction of it back per month do you think they would say "We have made progress with graspee. We have gotten him to pay back some of the money he owes." ???

    graspee

  • After the last time Microsoft was found guilty the chaiman of Enron was playing golf with the chairman of Worldcom, so goes the story...

    "So Bob, should we stop doing business with these criminals?"
    "Hell no, Joe, I just got a $2bn kickback! Ye hah for corporate America! Anything goes."
    "Good thinking Bob, oh, and I love your new caddy by the way - a Senator is just so much better than my Congressman."
  • Samba (Score:5, Interesting)

    by barcodez (580516) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:09AM (#6190433)
    How does this effect reverse engineering projects such as Samba (smb) and Gaim (MSN)? Is it free if you can figure it out using a packet sniffer?
  • DOJ Scared? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SamBC (600988) <s.barnett-cormack@lancaster.ac.uk> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:13AM (#6190469)

    It is mentioned in the article, and in some comments before mine, that the DOJ seems to be scared of Microsoft. Indeed, the behaviour even seems to suggest it - they are behaving very trepidatiously, despite their obvious power within the US.

    My question is, why are they scared? What have they to be scared of?

    • Re:DOJ Scared? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zathrus (232140) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:55AM (#6190796) Homepage
      Politics.

      The current administraton has little interest in pursuing MS. The DOJ is headed by the Attourney General, who is a political appointee of the president. You do something that pisses off the administration -- such as being overly aggressive toward a large employer in a down economy -- you're going to find yourself being one of the people looking for work. And whatever casework you did will be quietly filed until such a time as it can be shredded.

      Not that this would be much different under a Democrat administration (what, you don't remember people complaining about the DOJ pursuing MS under Clinton/Reno because they are such a big employer? Go read some older news coverage...) -- the fact is, prosecuting large employers (corporations) when there's relatively high unemployment, particularly in the sector the company is involved in, is a bad political move. The company will complain to the media, and your political opponents, regardless of color or stripe, will jump on it and harp about how you're destroying the economy.
    • by pcwhalen (230935) <pcwhalen@gma i l . c om> on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:04AM (#6190897) Journal
      http://www.microsoft.com/careers/search/details.as px?JobID=b0e72d5b-89f2-41ed-bb86-36928c903514

      MS hires bigtime for its legal department. It has a budget bigger than the DOJ and more experienced lawyers. Look at http://www.idg.net/english/crd_gates_888634.html

      Bill "Nuke 'Em" Neukom built a 600 lawyer in-house team for MS. There are 9,000 lawyers in the DOJ. According to the 2003 Budget at http://www.usdoj.gov/jmd/2003summary/html/atr.htm

      The DOJ spent 100,000,000 on ALL cartel activity, not just MS.

      The DOJ is outgunned.
    • Re:DOJ Scared? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dpilot (134227)
      Look at it this way... The DOJ consists mostly of working people just trying to do their jobs. Every 4 or 8 years or so, their entire upper management structure changes, and so does the focus of the organization. The workers generally survive the administration, but they have to adapt.

      Now apply that to the antitrust division. Under the current administration, they basically don't have a job, except to put up the appearances of doing a job. They have to draw the fine line between sufficient appearance with
  • ⦠or rather same old legal-tech story (SOLTS)

    How come so many of the tech stories nowadays include the words:
    court, settlement, legal .

    Getting tired of the misbehaviour and squabbling frankly.

    All right letâ(TM)s see:

    Loophole alert: âoeOne unusual provision, however, allows Microsoft to license some of the code â¦â

    So thereâ(TM)s a disagreement on interpreting the scope of a term of the settlement. Just great.

    ⦠and now the second page of the story
  • by alchemist68 (550641) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:15AM (#6190486)
    If the enemy in a war (legal or otherwise) is not defeated on every front, it will come back to fight again in the future. This is an ingrained law in our survival instincts. It's all about obtain resources to ensure survival. It's also a component or the very seat of primate social dynamics and POLITICS. The Borg undefeated, will regroup and launch another attack in a DIFFERENT area. Has Star Trek taught us nothing? Defeating the Borg requires implanting a fractal virus in their neural net, like this hasn't been tried before and would not be difficult to do again with its rampant security holes. People, seriously, to beat M$ is going to require a coordinated strategy on multiple fronts from negative advertising, publishing the truth about its business tactics, translating legalese of the EULA into common laymen's terms, word of mouth, and absolute bias towards other alternatives (Linux, Lindows, Mac OS X, etc...). This requires pushing hard the alternatives showing clear examples (demos) that are more cost efficient than M$ bugware.
  • by bilbobuggins (535860) <bilbobuggins@@@juntjunt...com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:17AM (#6190500)
    why the hell would i pay $100,000 to look at freebsd code?
  • by pubjames (468013) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:17AM (#6190506)
    From the article:

    Microsoft requires companies that license the protocols to be audited -- at their own expense, by a third-party auditor selected by Microsoft -- to ensure that they are only using them for appropriate purposes.

    What are "appropriate purposes" when it comes to protocols?

    Auditor [pointing, exasperated] And what the hell are you using that one for?

    Company rep Oh, we keep donuts in that one.

    Auditor And that one?

    Company rep Oh, that one is forced into the green button on the air-conditioner, otherwise it keeps switching itself off.

    Auditor That one?

    Company rep Oh. Erm. Sorry. We ran out of cat litter.

    Auditor I am truly shocked at your inappropriate use of MS protocols! You'll be hearing from Bill Gates about this!
  • Shocked that they're violating what little they had to do under the DOJ capitula... er, agreement. Really, MS not obeying antitrust or the terms of their agreement? Remarkable. Who could have predicted this?

    Next stunner please. Anyone suing somebody new over UN*X today?
  • Another Ten Years (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tacocat (527354) <tallison1 AT twmi DOT rr DOT com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:31AM (#6190600)

    Iraq played with the rules for over 10 years before they got their hands slapped

    My guess is, it will be another 10 years before the US Government gets around to making a decapitating strike of "Shock and Awe" against Redmond

    Seriously though, I think it's rather obvious that the current Administration and Microsoft have come to some understanding to look the other way regarding Microsoft activities. No one will admit that, but that's what PACs are for

  • My main worry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <`jhummel' `at' `johnhummel.net'> on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:34AM (#6190627) Homepage
    My biggest worry isn't the "Nyah - so we'll show you our stuff as required by law but charge so much for it - nyah", but the way they've gone back to buying/threatening anybody who might compete with them.

    Take the whole Virtual PC thing. I switch from Linux to OS X on the desktop, and get all excited about Virtual PC - now for those few Windows Apps I *need* to run (like Sharkport for my PS2, Ultima VII in DOS mode - you know, the important stuff), I can have that.

    Then - Microsoft buys Connectix. OK, I say. Then RealPC announces "We're comin' back - and better!" I see light at the end of the tunnel. If RealPC can do its "direct hardware technology" right, I could even play Half-Life I (and hope that HL2 gets ported to OS X) in a Virtual Window (yes, I'm sure I'd have to grab more RAM, but it's the *potential* of the idea).

    Nope - MS is sueing them now too.

    That's the part that worries me - the buyiing/sueing of companies who even *look* like they might do something that MS wants (remember how they tried to buy Quicken, and at least that one was nixed?). At least during the DOJ trial they *tried* to act nice - but now that it's over, it back to the Bad Old Days of either buying somebody out, locking them out, or sueing them into oblivion.

    Patience, I tell myself. Someday, maybe 50 years from now when MS is just another fair player in the market, this will all be looked backed upon and laughed, like Standard Oil and AT&T. Patience.
  • by zigzag (2071) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:36AM (#6190647)
    http://www.lindows.com/lindows_michaelsminutes_arc hives.php?id=66

    "Microsoft routinely offers financial inducements to computer companies to not carry LindowsOS computers. With $40 billion in the bank, it's an easy decision for them to use a few million dollars to block Lindows.com from major retailers."
  • MS has proven itself untrustworthy in word and in practice. Antitrust settlements aren't worth the paper they're printed on. No surprise. I guess this sounds like flamebait, but what is stopping an enterprising OSS from creating a better protocol?

    We all know that MS is good at copying, but poor at actually 'innovating'.

    Ironically, the reverse is usually true for OSS.

    Yes, I know that better tech doesn't always win (Beta vs VHS), but if an OSS solution is found to this problem, MS can follow or get out of the way.

    The key is to put the shoe on the other foot - force MS's compatabillity with OSS protocols, rather than the other way around. A tough road indeed, but one that we'd better get used to.

    Look at Flash (not too long;), there was tech that was released by one company and went on to become a web standard. Everyone has the flash plugin, and if they don't, they can get it easily.

    This was a tough story to write a comment to - it was like pointing up and saying, "The sky is blue! What can we do?"

  • by jmv (93421) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:40AM (#6190678) Homepage
    Mafia just won't stop their illegal activities.
  • by k98sven (324383) on Friday June 13, 2003 @09:52AM (#6190778) Journal
    Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

    Police Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

    [A croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

    Police Captain Renault: [sotto voice] Oh, thank you very much.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:12AM (#6190982) Homepage
    Companies must put up $100,000 just to see the technical information about the 133 protocols, which helps a potential licensee determine if it wants or needs any of them. But if the company chooses not to license, it gets back only $50,000.

    Somebody send a correction to the Washington Post. When making fun of an underskilled and overarrogant programmer or group of programmers, the correct derogatory spelling would be, "l33t protocols".
  • Why obey the law? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Peaker (72084) <gnupeakerNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:16AM (#6191583) Homepage
    When you have enough money to discard any fine?
    When you have enough power to force any business entity to do almost anything you need?
    When the authorities of the law are so weak and limited in their power?

    The only way to get Microsoft, as well as many other unethical, illegal and otherwise misbehaving companies to obey the law is to gradually increase the punishments given when they are found guilty.

    The "corporate death penalty" [lightparty.com] (the destruction of a corporation and the auctioning of all of its assets) was and still is a possible punishment that can threaten those corporations who show contempt for the law and repeatedly defy it.

    The "corporate death penalty" brought, and could bring today - respect of the law.

    Call to restore the "corporate death penalty" today!
  • by crovira (10242) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:04PM (#6192126) Homepage
    a profit center.

    Some insurance companies did that years ago with a billion dollar settlement against them and they used the opportunity to charge off a lot of hardware and document scanning software and the people and procedure development against it.

    End result, they got lots of new toys which they used to develop in-house technology and processing and they had bugger all left to share between the poor fools who applied for their redress.

    Specially since most of the process was to make the poor schmucks provide information (that's why the scanning,) that was then checked against the companies' own records. If there was a discrepancy, they got squat. Like there was a chance an outsider has access to that data.

    End result, insurance companies win, their customers lose, again, and the law was flouted once again.

    No surprise there either.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 13, 2003 @12:14PM (#6192228) Homepage
    When AT&T was broken up, they had to disclose the phone system's interfaces, so that you could build everything from a compatible telephone handset to a compatible central office. And they did so. There was a "Catalog of Technical Information", which I have, from which you could order other documents, for prices like $18. Everything from the standards for telephone poles to the interfaces for a PBX was in there.

    This created a whole independent industry, where before, only Western Electric made most of that stuff. Today you can buy everything from a phone from a central office switch from multiple vendors, and they all interoperate properly.

    The same thing happened over a decade previously with IBM. At one time, you could only buy IBM peripherals from IBM. IBM lost an antitrust case, had to disclose their interfaces six months before they shipped a product that used them. The third-party disk drive industry was born. This forced price competition in disk drives, and started the fiercely competitive disk industry that we know today.

    That's what was supposed to happen with Microsoft. That's what antitrust law is supposed to do.

    One option at this point is for the Justice Department to go back to the court and say "well, disclosure didn't work, we're going to have to go back to breaking up Microsoft". That's an option, probably for the next post-Bush administration.

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