Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

U.S. Adds Years To Microsoft's 'Probation' 206

Posted by Zonk
from the bad-multinational-corporation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Justice Department has added another two years to its agreement with Microsoft, extending the protocol licensing program that is part of the company's penance for anti-competitive activities. The organization feels Microsoft is providing documentation too slowly to its licensees." From the article: "At one time, the Justice Department and several state Attorneys General had sought a breakup of Microsoft in order to prevent it from abusing its Windows monopoly. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson at one point ordered such a move, though his ruling was later reversed on appeal. Ultimately Microsoft settled with the Department of Justice, agreeing to far more modest restrictions, including the protocol licensing program." Relatedly, regulators have cleared Vista of anti-competitive elements. They examined the OS on concerns an added search box may have given the company a home-field advantage.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U.S. Adds Years To Microsoft's 'Probation'

Comments Filter:
  • Probation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trelane (16124) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:39PM (#15322388) Journal
    I thought that probation was about...
    well... you know...
    keeping you from doing the stuff you got in trouble for .
    • No, probation is for when the prosecution needs to look like tough guys who can handle the case, in spite of the fact that a) they don't have a legal leg to stand on; and/or b) someone higher-up in the process for making these decisions tells them not to hurt a defendant who has close ties with said higher-up. If you offer to settle for probation, the prosecution doesn't have to admit they fucked up and look like jackasses, and nine defendants out of ten will settle for it because it means no prison time.

      I
    • keeping you from doing the stuff you got in trouble for .

      This is the beginning of the end of mediocrity ruling.

  • harsh penalty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:42PM (#15322402)
    "You haven't supplied the information you were required to as part of the terms of settlement, so instead of doing something about it, we'll give you more time."
  • two more years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:42PM (#15322407)
    Two more years of looking the other way.
    • They are not being given two more years; that was a typo.

      They are being given two more beers!

      So they can celebrate being able to violate federal law over and over [gpo.gov] with impunity.

  • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:43PM (#15322414)
    regulators have cleared Vista of anti-competitive elements. They examined the OS on concerns an added search box may have given the company a home-field advantage.

          First software was designed to do stuff because it was needed.
          Later, software was designed to do stuff that was cool.
          Still later, software was designed to make money.
          Then software was designed primarily by marketing departments
          Now, software is designed by lawyers and the judicial system?

          What a great world we live in.
    • Uh, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:04PM (#15322552) Homepage Journal
      The court case was intended to stop Microsoft designing OTHER people's software by means of lawyers and judges. (That's why they refer to "anti-competitive".)


      I don't approve of laws designing software, but I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with stopping people abusing laws to prevent software from being designed. I also have no problem with laws that enforce progress.


      (The State of Oregon recently received some thinly-veiled threats from Microsoft's CEO over Oregon's active support for Open Source - both towards Oregon and towards all Microsoft shops in Oregon. Although not a part of the DoJ lawsuit, and therefore probably not a part of this review, I would feel a lot more comfortable if States receiving such threats reviewed their legality. Last I heard, "demands with menaces" was not considered an OK activity.)

    • Pesky gubmint, I want my gas guzzling death trap behemoth with no seat belts and impaling steering column!

      Yeah, I know the market would have delievered it without Nader.

      Xix
      • If motorcycles are still legal, then why not? I for one would love to have a simple sport roadster with none of that high-tech safty shit that adds 2/3rds the total cost. Just give me a Miata with 400+ HP under the hood for 12 grand. It CAN be done, far cheaper even. But it will NEVER happen do to all the beurocratic overhead in legal costs.
        • Consistent, rarional government is too much to hope for. And all that tech stuff has made cars cheaper if more disposable.

          FWIW, I think the best approach to cars, bikes, mountain climbing, smoking, drugs is to build in any costs to the public and let people do whatever they want to themselves. Not very likely I know.

          Oh, and you *can* still get the car I describe, only it's called a HumVee.

          Xix.
        • The smallest 4 wheeled cars you can buy in the US today are still nearly 3000 pounds. The Ariel Atom [arielmotor.co.uk] (reviewed: here [google.com] is interesting, for $30,000 it smokes most $400,000+ supercars becasue it is only ~1,000 lbs (F1 inspired design).

          Due to regulation, such cars will never make it in the US, which is a shame since they could get the same MPG as a hybrid car but with half the cost and twice the performance (like a motorcycle).

          • Oh, SWEET JESUS! Now that's what I'm talking about. Funny how bikers get their 1,000cc crotch rockets (Yamaha YZF-R1 for example), but I'm limited to what I can drive on four wheels. Seriously, this sucks so much ass!

            Sorry folks, but when it comes to super roadsters, I will never stop ranting how fucked up the regulations are here in the US. Arrrgggh!!
            • So get yourself that bike. Or, if you're afraid that you won't be able to balance it, get one with a sidecar.

              BTW, you'll probably find a 600 cc sportbike sufficient. Few sport bikers out there can or would really put the full liter to good use. The primary need for the bigger sportbikes is for guys that are, well, bigger. A large percentage of people buying the liter + sportbikes are the ones that want something to pose with. Let's face it. Where are you going to really be able to open up a Hayabusa?

              If you
    • Now, software is designed by lawyers and the judicial system?

      You're more correct than you know.

      Only it's usually not federal lawyers, it's now usually patent attorneys...
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:46PM (#15322436)
    Well maybe this signifies that the Justice Dept now realizes WHY Microsoft was brought before them and that their measures taken thus far have proven futile in getting the company to change their tactics.
    • I expect that the justice department is quite aware of the reasons. Given the fact that they were in a strong position and settled for a pittance, it seems quite clear that they received political orders to back down, probably related to changes in the government at that time and some of Microsoft's campaign contributions.

      If that's true then this new development must also be political. Who did Microsoft piss off this time?
      • Actually keep in mind that the Clinton administration started this when Microsoft WAS NOT doing lobbying. They were very insistant that they would not settle.

        Then Bush got into the chicken coop and Microsoft started lobbying shortly therafter. The justice dept then did a complete switcheroo and settled with just a slap on the wrist.

        Now whether the reason was due to a political change or Microsoft change in lobbying, who can say. But regardless, it is obvious in the stance of the justice dept that something
  • Ah ha! (Score:4, Funny)

    by AWhiteFlame (928642) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:46PM (#15322441) Homepage
    Here, here -- A toast, to two more years being everyone's favorite illegal monopoly!

    Cheers!
  • Bureaucratic waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toby The Economist (811138) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:48PM (#15322447)
    What a complete waste of time.

    Has the State involvement in this issue achieved anything?

    And how much did it COST?

    We're all sitting here paying tax through our noses.

    Who's spending this money?

    What are we getting for it?

    How many millions have been spent on this excercise which has had no significant impact on the MS monopoly?

    • So where is the failure? And what is the alternative?

      Perhaps there is too much corporate involvemeent in the State.

      How much taxpayer money is being spent to create and maintain exclusive scarcity for MS and other IP claimants?

      Xix.
    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:15PM (#15322610)
      Well, things were moving along pretty nicely and for a moment it looked like something was actually going to be done. Then in 2001, everything changed for some inexplicable reason...
    • Has the State involvement in this issue achieved anything?

      Mainly restrictions on MS's behavior with OEMs:

      + Dell and other OEMs can now load up their machines with RealPlayer, Firefox, Googlebar, etc without worrying about losing their Windows contract.
      + You can buy Linux or other alt-OS machines from major OEMs -- these were very scarse before the trial.
      + In theory, all OEMs have the same pricing, so MS can't threaten them with removing the special dicounts.

      That's not very much, but it hits on the core issu
  • by xixax (44677) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:48PM (#15322449)
    Meanwhile over in the EU, Microsoft has been accused of exaggerating what is being asked for [nwsource.com]
      and the difficulty of providing it [groklaw.net].

    Xix.
    • Man, they haven't been accused of anything like exaggerating what is being asked for, their lawyers are doing their job. The testimony of A SAMBA project leader is not a court accusation.

      Also, the problem obtaining it is coming from the Judge, John Cooke, in this instance - not Microsoft.

      The larger problem is that people only get their news from sources that confirm what they wanted to believe in the first place. I'm not advocating either side in this issue, but your post is so anti-MS leaning that its not
      • I agree totally, the testimony of a Samba project leaders is not a court accusation.

        The larger problem is that the truth ends up being what we publicise as being the truth. The Samba PoV suits me better than MS's.
  • by camcorder (759720) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:55PM (#15322499)
    I can only dream of a computing experience, which has lack of unknown formats. I would really be a lot more happy to see wmv files to be played without any problem, or office documents openning flawlessly in various applications.

    Real question is why should we stick to just one application for any format. If every unique application made their own file format, nobody would be able to share anything, and why does Internet ever exists if we won't be able share our documents.

    That's not an open source issue, or free market problem. It's the lack of mentality for sharing of information. People really suffer from these compatibility problems, and if someone made a research about the lost and or wasted time related to these issues, it would be easily seen that it's very huge problem that computer users experience. And with the growing trend of DRM and stuff we will just suffer this more and more.

    People should convert, open, edit any format with any application coded for them. To let this, those willing to create a format, should clearly state specifications for these formats, or clearly state that this format is just for a specific application and should not be shared so that users won't use those files for sharing. A .doc file created with 200x version of Microsoft Word is just like the feces of this application. And if we don't want to make Internet or our networks sewer we should definately stop sharing those crap (literally) through the wires.
    • To let this, those willing to create a format, should clearly state specifications for these formats, or clearly state that this format is just for a specific application and should not be shared so that users won't use those files for sharing. A .doc file created with 200x version of Microsoft Word is just like the feces of this application.

      In Office 12 (the next version of Office), Microsoft will use an XML-based, open standard for documents. The extensions will be .docx, .xlsx, etc.

      From http://www.wi [winsupersite.com]

      • Except that the XML will likely have encoded binary tags in it that will be proprietary. While it LOOKS like it's an open format, because you can mirraculously now read it in a text editor, it won't really be open. How do you render the document just the same if you can't decypher that binary tag data? Looks like the same ol' mess all over again, but with a pretty pink ribbon to make it look ok.

        If the spec is not open so that anyone can read it and produce a product that reads those files, it is NOT an OPEN
      • RTF was an 'open standard for documents' too. MS screwed that up too (RTF support in word is terrible).

        The format is patented. Other applications cannot be fully compatible - they can't even reverse engineer it.
  • Noooo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Friday May 12, 2006 @06:58PM (#15322512)
    Relatedly, regulators have cleared Vista of anti-competitive elements.

    Nooooooo! That means the search box remains with MSN selected by default!

    Why can't Microsoft be "fair" and set Google default like with the other browsers!

    I'm devastated.
  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:01PM (#15322530) Journal

    What I don't understand is that since the DOJ judegement against Microsoft they've had time to rewrite their entire flagship OS from scratch, yet still haven't been able to document it? How naive does the government have to be?

  • Real Issue (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:02PM (#15322539)
    (rant mode)

    I dont know if this issue has been looked at by the US or EU but it is much more of a concern to me that MS is activly releasing / selling software that is so insecure to the point that it seems to go out of its way to prevent techies and end users from properly securing it in order to keep (often confidential) data safe from malware, viruses etc.

    There is also the wider issue of MS through their lack of a proper security model facilitating the creation and operation of botnets which are used to the detrement of users, businesses and the internet at large.

    I use Windows and find it annoying that I need to apply 3rd party apps in an attept to minimise security risks to my computer when the OS maker should have secured the software before release.

    Its not that I hate MS for their propriatory nature etc but I find myself trying a few Linux distos in an attmept to find a viable alternative although I am into the frame of mind that for my next computer purchase I will go for a mac depsite the high prices and the fact that I enjoy building my own systems.

    If Windows worked properly and had a good security model then I would be happy; I think MS are wasting their time trying to fight the "pirates" and that their real problem (and as such priority) should be to make an OS that is suitable for widespread use. They should secure their software and if they feel the need add an "anti-piracy" function like activation, genuine advantage etc then whatever but make the software safe for people to use first.

    (/rant mode)
  • by RedHatLinux (453603) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:13PM (#15322596) Homepage
    When the average person violates probation, they go straight to prison. They dont get a trial or a hearing to prove their innocence, nor does the state give them more time to get it right, or get their affairs in order.

    • by SecureTheNet (915798) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:33PM (#15322948) Homepage
      When the average person violates probation, they go straight to prison. They dont get a trial or a hearing to prove their innocence, nor does the state give them more time to get it right, or get their affairs in order.

      When the average person violates probation they are giving a probation violation hearing. The judge takes a look at the violation and can give prison time, but can also give community service, depending on the violation.
  • Settled (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bblboy54 (926265) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:17PM (#15322614) Homepage
    The best word in the whole article is "settled" ... Microsoft settled with the government. This means if I get pulled over for speeding, I can settle with the office by giving him $50 and him leaving me alone, right? When you settle in court, you settle with the person you wronged.... You can't settle with the enforcement -- or at least shouldnt be able to. Your punishment is your punishment.
    • you can got to court, and then settle your ticket.
    • You've made a mistake, confusing criminal and civil courts. In a civil case, the defendant and the plaintiff may settle. In criminal matters the prosecution might offer the defense a deal, sometimes in consultation with the victims, sometimes not. In a criminal case, the prosecutor represents "the people", not the victims, although surely they are motivated to "get justice done for the victims", and will often want to get approval from the victims for plea bargain terms.

      Just to review:

      Criminal case: Prosecu
      • You've made a mistake, confusing criminal and civil courts.

        Anti-trust is supposed to be a criminal matter. The DOJ has refined the law so that only three types of violations are considered criminal: price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation schemes.

        Microsoft has been found guilty of two of the three illegal activities.

    • When you settle in court, you settle with the person you wronged


      What about plea bargaining?
      Are you settling with the court there or with
      the person you wronged?
  • Unjust (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:26PM (#15322652)
    So, Microsoft violates their probation. What *should* happen is this:

    The company should be disbanded, all its assets forfeited and sold at auction. Anyone on the executive committee of the company, and anyone else who knew or should have known that this violation would have occurred, should be sentenced to at least ten years in prison, and their personal assets forfeited and auctioned off.

    Nothing less that that would happen to you or me and the company we controlled, if we purposely used our company to violate federal laws. The last thing we'd hear from a judge is "I see you are having trouble complying with the orders of this court. Perhaps if we give you a few more years to work on it you can get back to us on how you're coming with the whole court-mandated actions thing, okay?"

    You and I wouldn't get that treatment. We would go to prison, our assets woudl be seized, and it wouldn't make the news.
    • The company should be disbanded, all its assets forfeited and sold at auction. Anyone on the executive committee of the company, and anyone else who knew or should have known that this violation would have occurred, should be sentenced to at least ten years in prison, and their personal assets forfeited and auctioned off.
      In other news, Microsoft HQ moves to India, all the top execs are offered amnesty in India. US economy collapses. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has more wealth than the bottom 45 percent of A
    • Re:Unjust (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BradleyUffner (103496)
      Do you have any idea how much this would cost the government, corporations, and small businesses? All their support would instantly vanish, they would all have to do a massive retool of almost every piece of software they own, or have developed independently. Doing what you propose would decimate the US economy. If you thought the unemployment of Tech people after the internet bubble burst was bad, your idea would cause an utter nightmare.

      There are bigger issues here to consider then a few people's hate
    • You go to jail and have your assets seized for fraud, not for traffic violations. "Anti-competitive behavior" is the speeding ticket of corporate crime. Fraud gets the company disbanded. Plus, no one gives a shit if you or I go to jail or lose all our money except us. An entire industry and thousands upon thousands of jobs and the investment of millions of people in stock would be severely damaged. When considering cases like this, it's not so simple as comparing a person to a major multinational corporatio
      • When considering cases like this, it's not so simple as comparing a person to a major multinational corporation.

        Voice in a desert. It's the same damn old discussion everytime an article about MS is posted. Maybe we should just ignore the little MS hater trolls.
    • The company should be disbanded, all its assets forfeited and sold at auction.

      So the tens of thousands of employees and their families should be punished because of the disregard of the law of a few people at the top of the company? Nice.

      If a company flagrantly violates the law like this, those responsible should be brought to trial. The whole concept of incorporation protecting the individuals involved from responsibility for their actions is bullshit. However, destroying the entire company and thus punish
    • The company should be disbanded, all its assets forfeited and sold at auction.

      You forgot the part where Microsoft should give free mony and blonde chicks to anyone who stood for Linux and OSS throughout the years.

      Why won't Slashdotters just grow up, damn it :(
  • by ninjaz (1202) on Friday May 12, 2006 @07:31PM (#15322685)
    The cynic in me suspects this is a move to ensure that the huge bribes^H^H^H^H^H^Hcampaign donations keep rolling in from Microsoft at least through the next US presidential election. The only real downside of this ruling for Microsoft appears to be the risk of a less-friendly attorney general taking office -- that is, through a Republican Party loss in the 2008 presidential elections.
  • usual monopoly crap i imagine

    instead of moaning about what people willingly spent their hard earned cash on offer a compelling alternative. Then you can have the moral high ground.
    • if MS hadn't used fraud and it's monopoly position to drive all significant competition into the ground.

      Quick (no Googling), other that OO (which doesn't depend upon making a profit for survival), what other word processors or spreadsheets are available?

  • by KidSock (150684) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:14PM (#15322877)
    That legal strategy was designed by Real, Netscape and others to yield compensation dollars. The problem with Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior has to do with Inter Process Communication (IPC). A file is a form of IPC. A network message is IPC. If the details of the various forms of IPC are widely available products can interoperate and that is bad for Microsoft's market share. I believe that if a product is completely dominant in a market (e.g. Exchange / Outlook mail system on corporate intranets) the details regarding it's IPC should be made available so as to reduce the liability associated with using that product. In this particular case that liability is the unfair business practice of forcing other companies out of a market by leveraging undisclosed IPCs. Secondarily there are a number of other very good reasons for having alternative programs that understand the same IPCs but it's not clear that they have legal bearing.
  • by EllynGeek (824747) on Friday May 12, 2006 @08:23PM (#15322918)
    who gives a rip about bundled software? Everyone bundles. Duh. Their biggest crime is their illegal collusion with hardware vendors. That's their biggest lock on the market. Everything else flows from that- all those nice customers to bully and abuse, all those captive devs trapped in lardy Microsoft Foundation Classes, and their giant politician-purchasing war chest. The DOJ doesn't want to punish MS, it's just a big empty show.
  • Those who try to document Microsoft's abuses find that there are too many to investigate and explain.

    For example, Ed Foster's Gripelog has a story about Microsoft's Harshest EULA [gripe2ed.com]. Windows users who download the "High-Priority Update" called Windows Genuine Advantage Notification are required to agree to a new contract. Ed says, "Not only does Microsoft place restrictions on your right to criticize the software, it won't allow you to uninstall the software or to test it in an operating environment."

    EULAs are a unique kind of contract in that they supposedly allow one party to the contract to force new contract provisions on the other. Contract law has always held that forced contracts are illegal.

    If you buy, agree to the terms of use, and install Windows for your company and train your staff to use it and applications you buy for it, your total cost is far greater than the cost of Windows. Yet EULAs supposedly allow the software provider to change the contract provisions at any time, with no restrictions whatsoever. Your only option if you don't agree to the new contract provisions is to lose all the money you have invested and stop doing business until you can get new software. This is especially severe when a company has a monopoly on the operating system your business software needs to run.

    The concept of fairness is completely absent from EULAs. Those who write EULAs believe that they can do anything they like. If you go to your kitchen and find a Microsoft employee eating your ice cream, check your EULA; maybe Microsoft has decided that Microsoft employees can raid your refrigerator.
    • If it's enforced, it's not binding anymore, is it?

      I'm sure there's some ammendment out there that could be used.
    • Thanks for the warning, That is a vile EULA, even by MS standards. Particularly troubling is the business about it getting into the BIOS, WTF is that supposed to be about?! I will never accept that EULA. I was thinking of booting my Windows partition tomorrow to let it update, as its been 2 or 3 months. Plan A:shut the box off, then 1) disable eth0, 2) reboot, 3) disable Automatic Updates, 4) shutdown, 5) re-enable eth0, 5) reboot, 6) cherry-pick the alleged security updates, and 7) reboot into Linux. OR
    • Windows users who download the "High-Priority Update" called Windows Genuine Advantage Notification are required to agree to a new contract.

      Yes; we agree to a contract covering the WGAN tool, not Windows. The EULA for Windows XP is not affected.

      it won't allow you to uninstall the software

      The licence actually says "you will not be able to uninstall the software". That is not the same as you aren't allowed to uninstall it; MS are not denying you permission, they're saying that it isn't possible. In other word
  • The whole theory of copyright is to provide an "incentive" to bring beneficial creations out into the open. Considering that it has been proven that MS violated this purpose, an appropiate punishment wouldn't require Microsoft to do anything - it would simply assert that Microsoft copyrights could no longer be enforced.

    But as it is, the punishment that Microsoft gets is nothing compaired to the punishment we get as Microsoft still has the nearly unlimited right and leverage to squeese and sue us using copy
  • Microsoft is either
    Incompetent - Evidence: Vista has been being delayed again and again.
    or
    Anticompetitive - Evidence: Open Document Format plugin team had to use undocumented APIs to write the plugin.

    Microsoft may be both, but I am leaning toward anticompetitive.
  • Internet, Schminternet,
    Microsoft protocol
    Documentation is
    Coming too slow.

    Hurry it up, for your
    Anticompetitive
    Tactics sow hatred for
    Your CEO.

  • I always wondered (Score:2, Interesting)

    by onemorechip (816444)
    I always wondered why the DoJ settled this case. They already had a conviction. The conviction was not reversed, only the penalty was. This was in the penalty phase! Imagine a bank robber being convicted, and then the prosecution going into settlement talks over the penalty.

    OK, now I'll stop pretending to be naive. I knew in 2000 that if Bush was elected, his administration would drop the ball on this case. Was I right?

    As it turned out, that should have been one of my lesser worries about a Bush administrat
  • As a former MSFTie I can tell you why "it takes too long" to provide documentation. Because they don't have any (except in rare instances). They have to write it from scratch by looking at the code.
  • Since the "probation" is a meaningless joke, it matters not at all if they continue it or not.

Possessions increase to fill the space available for their storage. -- Ryan

Working...