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Microsoft

Microsoft's Rebuttal to DoJ 195

Deathlizard writes "CNet News.com reports that Microsoft has released their Rebuttal to the Findings of Fact. The full Rebuttal text can be found Here."
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Microsoft Issues Rebuttal to DoJ Findings of Fact

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  • I thought that the whole idea of a finding of fact is that you CAN'T rebut it. It's not a conviction or a finding of guilt. The Judge has not ruled the outcome of the case yet, this is just a statement of his opinion of the status of MicroSoft's business methods. Any rebuttal is just a bunch of hot air. They can't appeal this anyway. I don't think very many people are going to be swayed by their posturing, either.

  • What's MS worrying about their credibility?

    Didn't their Court-behaviour crush that anyways?

  • It's actually Microsoft's Proposed Conclusions of Law. I didn't read through it but I guess they are just trying to show that what they did is actually legal.

  • Hey, if you were them could you write an argument that Microsoft was not a monopoly?

    Of course not. Legalese and hair splitting take time. Bending the truth can be done on the spot, be to turn it on its ear takes some time. I especially like the idea that IE is an integral part of 98. It is just as integral to 98 as KDE is to Linux, useful, helpful, nice sometimes. But not required, and definitely not a single product.

    Nate Custer
  • by Nemesys ( 6004 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @12:52AM (#1359572)
    This rebuts the proposed conclusions of law. Not the findings of fact, which are made by the judge, not the DoJ!

    Do change the title.

  • No, you STILL have it wrong!
  • by Bradley ( 2330 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @01:01AM (#1359574)
    IANAL.

    Well, from a brief skim of it (how come the entire text was at cnet, not microsoft?), they seem to be trying to show not that what they did was legal, but that the DOJ didn't actually claim hat they did anything illegal. Its not a defence of what they did, more an attack on the DOJ.

    Selected quotes:

    "There is remarkably little law in plaintiffs? proposed conclusions of law. Rather than address the legal principles that govern their claims, plaintiffs devote page after page to recounting the Court?s findings of fact, without regard to which of the facts found (or, in some cases, not found) have decisional significance."

    [No tying arrangement] "The Court did not find that Microsoft forced anyone to purchase a second product in addition to Windows 98. Because Internet Explorer is part of Windows 98, Microsoft has never charged OEMs (or others) a separate royalty for Internet Explorer."

    etc, etc. Plaintiffs haven't shown this, plaintiffs haven't shown that. They're not trying to claim that their actions were misinterpreted by the DOJ (although thats poart of their argument), but that the DOJ hasn't proved anything, and that even if what the DOJ says is right, they're still innocent. At least that's how I read it.

    Does a lawyer want to tell me if that sort of thing (there's nothing to defend, they haven't said we done anything) is common?
  • If Windows 98 and MSIE are one product then how come you can get IE for Solaris, HPUX, MacOS, etc???
  • Well you can't rebut a findings of fact, which they don't:

    Needless to say, Microsoft respectfully disagrees with many of the Court's findings of fact and believes that they are unsupported by the record. For purposes of preparing its proposed conclusions of law, however, Microsoft accepts arguendo the facts as found by the Court.
    This seems to be the rebuttal to the proposed findings of law.
  • That document was released in MSHTML.

    'smart' quotes (or is it ?smart? quotes?), make dumb apostrophes.

    Perhaps the next round of MS-related litigation will be a class action suit by Windows users seeking damages for being made to appear more inept than they actually are.
  • For those of you who are more understanding of the legal system in the US:

    What are Microsoft's lawyers allowed to say beyond the trial? It wouldn't surprise me if they felt that Microsoft ballsed up what could have been a reasonably good case by obfuscating, avoidance and plain 'n' simple lying.

    Can they say anything close to libelous? Assuming they didn't care for the business (which, looking at the string of cases ahead for Microsoft, I doubt), would they be able to come out on the steps and tell us Bill buggered it for himself?

    I'm sure there's a few interesting books being written about this case even so... :)
  • by Frodo ( 1221 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @01:08AM (#1359580) Homepage
    Interesting things here are that:

    1. Windows 98 Is a Single, Integrated Product.

    That's true indeed. MSIE is now no more than a GUI wrapper to a set of objects for talking HTTP, displaying HTML, etc., etc. That was a clever move, and a silly move was to include this thing in a monopoly lawsuit.

    2. The Alleged Tie Does Not Foreclose a Substantial Amount of Sales of the Tied Product

    And here we all can cry "lie!". I'm sure most of users won't bother to d/l netscape if they have a working IE (there were times when IE was hardly working, but it did improve - it is now working in about 90% of cases and in 99.9% of cases that Netscape is working). And the fact is that IE is better than Netscape, at least for now. I'm really dissatisfied with my Netscape on Unix, and would change it to a better product, if such one was available. Maybe Opera? Mozilla, which is in permanent pre-alpha? What?
    In fact, would MS care to make MSIE cross-platform, it could be a web-browser monopoly indeed. But they left the niche to competitors - which failed miserably. Too bad for us.

    3. Plaintiffs Failed To Prove That There Is a Dangerous Probability That Microsoft Will Achieve Monopoly Power in the Alleged Market for Web Browsing Software. and Microsoft Does Not Have the Power To Control Prices or Exclude Competition in the Relevant Market.

    Huh, this is plain silly. They not "will achieve", they "had achieved", if we talk about Windows market. And other markets would be the same if they'd care to do them. And if they, having 90% of desktop OS market, still have no power to control the market, then who has, indeed? But they aruments of why they aren't monopoly are really amazing. Not only they refer to grocery stores analogy, they say they can't raise price on Windows because they can't restrict total output of the market of OSes... As if it is possible at all to restrict number of copies of Windows, given that lovely CD-Rs :) Application of middle-age law to a current technical level could be really funny, if they'd not take it so seriously.
  • Very simple. They are another products, called IE for marketing purposes. I can write three products, and call them FooBar for Windows, FooBar for Solaris and FooBar for MacOS, that alone won't make it same product. I'm pretty sure you can't just take IE code and compile it on SOlaris and get MSIE for Solaris - too much COM/OLE/whatever-they-call-it-now for this. You would end up porting half of windows that way - much simpler to make something quick-and-dirty that has the same GUI and works in a similiar way. And judging from reports on the quality of IE for Solaris, that's what they deed in fact.
  • Although the Court concluded in its findings of fact that Microsoft possesses monopoly power in the market for "Intel-compatible PC operating systems" (Findings 33), the individual facts found by the Court do not establish monopoly power in a relevant antitrust market: (i) under the governing legal principles, the arena of competition relevant to decision of this case extends beyond "Intel-compatible PC operating systems" to encompass all platforms competing for the attention of software developers and users, and (ii)
    ....blablabla........
    1. The Relevant Product Market in This Case Is Not Restricted to "Intel-Compatible PC Operating Systems."
    .......blablabla......
    On the demand side, consumers looking for computing solutions have an increasing array of alternatives, including, among other options, an Apple Macintosh running the Mac OS or a workstation running some variant of the UNIX operating system. (See, e.g., Findings 21.) Within the next few years, if not already, consumers who use their computers primarily "for storing addresses and schedules, for sending and receiving E-mail, for browsing the Web, and for playing video games" also will be able to choose an "information appliance" such as a handheld personal computer, a "smart" wireless telephone or a television set-top box. (Id. 23.) Consumers likewise may be able to choose a network computer or terminal attached to a server or mainframe computer. (See, e.g., id. 24.) Moreover, "[a]s the bandwidth available to the average user increases, ?portal? Web sites . . . could begin to host full lines of the server-based, personal-productivity applications," thus enabling "increasing numbers of computer users equipped with Web browsers . . . to conduct a significant portion of their computing through these portals" without regard to their underlying operating system. (Id. 27.)

    It's interesting that Microsoft in a sense admit that they have a monopoly now, but that in the future they might not.

  • As far as I can see Microsoft are grasping at straws with these findings.

    They are still putting spin on things rather than trying to get themselves out of the hole.
  • A very insightful critique. To play devils advocate (I know bad pun) for a second, Microsoft would respond:

    "Well IE is a very important program. It is so useful that we have chosen to integrate it with Win 98 so that we can leverage this brilliant code in all the places we possibly can. As for your comment that you can get IE for Mac IE for x86 is separate from IE for Solaris or IE for the Mac so it has no relevance in this discussion."

    I am not saying this is a good argument, simply it is the best I can write for Microsoft.

    Nate Custer
  • by Anonymous Coward
    From what I understand, the procedure goes as follows... Judge presents his findings of fact (Nov) Plaintiffs present their findings of law Defendants present their findings of law Basically, the schedule for all this was set out when the findings of fact came out. MS didn't take a long time to reply, they replied on the date given to them by the judge, as did the DOJ. Also, the findings of fact only state facts, that MS was a monopoly and what they did. It doesn't state what was illegal in that or not. THe idea was to create a firm ground from which each party can argue. So, the DOJ takes this and from it, pics out what MS did that was illegall and presented that 2 weeks ago or so. Now, MS looks at it, and puts their spin on it, stating how it doesn't show any illegal behaviour. THey are not arguing the findings of fact, but that they didn't break the law and that the DOJ findings of law were wrong. Granted, this boils down to splitting hairs, but what else should they do? For better or worse, they have a responsibility to their shareholders (I am not one) to proceed this way and deny deny deny. It's like a murder trial, you'd never expect the killer (even if everyone knows he did it) to get up and say "I DID IT!" would you? Hell no, he'll defend himself, split hairs, and hope to god that he convinces someone. The other thing is, and this has been bugging me for a while, is that regardless of wheter or not MS did something immoral that harmed the industry yada yada yada....there is a fine line of what is illegal. They walked that line. DOJ says they crossed it. Who knows. But we can't, as educated people, simply assume their guilty of breaking the law simply because what they did offends us personally. Just my two cents.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @01:20AM (#1359587)
    From what I understand, the procedure goes as follows...

    Judge presents his findings of fact (Nov)
    Plaintiffs present their findings of law
    Defendants present their findings of law


    Basically, the schedule for all this was set out when the findings of fact came out. MS didn't take a long time to reply, they replied on the date given to them by the judge, as did the DOJ.

    Also, the findings of fact only state facts, that MS was a monopoly and what they did. It doesn't state what was illegal in that or not. THe idea was to create a firm ground from which each party can argue.

    So, the DOJ takes this and from it, pics out what MS did that was illegall and presented that 2 weeks ago or so.

    Now, MS looks at it, and puts their spin on it, stating how it doesn't show any illegal behaviour. THey are not arguing the findings of fact, but that they didn't break the law and that the DOJ findings of law were wrong. Granted, this boils down to splitting hairs, but what else should they do?

    For better or worse, they have a responsibility to their shareholders (I am not one) to proceed this way and deny deny deny. It's like a murder trial, you'd never expect the killer (even if everyone knows he did it) to get up and say "I DID IT!" would you? Hell no, he'll defend himself, split hairs, and hope to god that he convinces someone.

    The other thing is, and this has been bugging me for a while, is that regardless of wheter or not MS did something immoral that harmed the industry yada yada yada....there is a fine line of what is illegal. They walked that line. DOJ says they crossed it. Who knows. But we can't, as educated people, simply assume their guilty of breaking the law simply because what they did offends us personally.

    Just my two cents.
  • But what can they pull themselves out of the hole with? They don't have any facts so they are trying to dazzle the judge with BS.

    Nate Custer
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The whole point of the rebuttal is to show that the judge was in breach of the law in concluding as he did. By not exercising due diligence, taking into account evidence from biased witnesses and committing numerous breaches of due process, Microsoft are aiming to prove that the Findings of Fact are inherently tainted by the illegal process used to obtain them. This sort of thing is more normal in criminal trials in the USA than in civil cases, but I guess that both sides must have agreed on this format to speed up the appeals process. Of course, IIRC, by challenging the findings of fact on legal grounds at this stage, Microsoft loses its right to appeal to the Supreme Court at a later stage if those findings of fact turn out to have been legally reached -- they've already admitted that the claims are factual in filing the brief this way.

    This is why Microsoft hired Professor Richard Posner, the noted economist and jurist, to make their case that the judge's economic reasoning was legally invalid. Read the document, it's all there.
  • Wow. It's like one of those old science fiction movies where you tell the computer "The next sentence is false. The previous sentence was true" and it blows up, fireworks shooting from the front panel as it desperately spins its tapes trying to figure out the paradox.

    The findings of fact game is over. Jackson's findings are pretty much set in stone now; they couldn't be much more irreversible if they were a constitutional amendment. But Microsoft just can't adjust to the new game, where they try to limit the damage done to them by the findings of law and the judgement, because that means working in the framework the findings of fact create. In other words, it means admitting they're at fault. And that just does not compute for them; they don't know how to do it. They'll sooner thrash about in useless, irrelevant legal nonsense, because they simply don't know how to play this new game.

    Mind you, they barely knew how to play the old one. Their Achilles Heel all along has been that the court was just another trade show, and you can baffle 'em with bullshit and wow 'em with a rigged demo. They really can't adjust to what's happening to them, and now it will be their downfall.

    I just hope that the sentencing is chosen to do the rest of us some good.
    --
  • OK Kill my karma you damn slashdot moderator A$$holes I dont care anymore.

    I agreee MS is a monopoly and should be dealt with but.....if they are to go down it should be for the right reasons.

    Intergrating IE with windows might have hurt netscapes market share in the PC market, but in all honesty netscape has never made jack off the home user.
    with the "if you are old, young, a student, teacher, or anyone not in a company or goverment"
    license it had it was no loss to netscape in the area of home computer users.

    When it comes to terms of market share and % of computer runnign IE v Netscape the polls are always based on PC and not "Computers". There is a big disinction.

    As for the OS intergration side of things, with the internet and people signing on in the 90's it makes sense to add a web browseer to the operation system. People started buying computers to get online.

    "Nevermind I cant sell you that lense with this camra you have to go buy the telophoto from someone else and fork out more money to do the thing you wanted to do"

    "We cant hurt lense maker market share"

    See in cars you have this thing called a Radio.
    you can get AMPs either "Factory" ie IE. or a name brand.

    Now I agree they have a monopoly. I belive they should be broken up. But not for this. They make Shity OS's. There API blows and is closed. But for the love of god why muyst the free market go after every winner?

    MS has made it easyer for the morons to get online
    and Make us all alot of money in the brave new techie world. We should be thankfull windows sucks
    I run linux but I make alot of money fixing stupid peoples computer when windows messes up.

    Why not try going after them for the fact that they used there market share to kill apple buy not porting/licsing windows and in the process left us stuck with the x86 CISC shit.

    All I'm saying is get them for something that is a real case and not a bunch of BS


  • by xeno ( 2667 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @01:31AM (#1359592)
    Did we, the public, expect anything less? Microsoft is nothing if not an extraordinary spin factory.

    The Microsoft Proposed Findings of Law (MSPFOL) is a very well-written house of cards that depends on the legal fiction that Windows 98 and Internet Explorer are one product. I don't need to go into detail with this; if IE is available for Solaris, it ain't an inseparable part of Win98. Their lawyers may be able to say "one product" in section 1A with a straight face, but that don't make it so. Pull that card out, and the whole argument falls. (Not to say that there aren't other flaws in the MSPFOL.)

    Admittedly, from a purely functional standpoint it's hard to say where any given OS ends and the applications begin, but the issue here has more to do with integration that was motivated by the desire to stamp competitors out of existence. All the arguments I've seen to the contrary are just so much hot air. IE's quality took huge leaps forward *after* it gained large market share by being forced on OEMs and customers. Win95 and IE4 were separate products, and there's not much real evidence to support the notion that there was real qualifying benefit to the consumer in the ensuing (flagrantly defiant) "integration."

    So the crux of the matter (for me) lies in arguments such as claiming IE5 is a product when it suits Microsoft's interest to offer it on another platform, but it's an inseparable OS component when they walk into the courtroom. And then there's the attempt to redefine the market (section 5A, where I should take into account mainframes and PalmPilots in the same breath) to support the laughable fiction that the Windows platform does not compose a monopoly power. To me there's a line short of which their legal hairsplitting that may keep them in the right, and over that line there's a ridiculous denial of reality that irreparably harms their own credibility. Once they cross that line, how can they expect to be taken seriously again? Is it just that they're dug in so far that there's no other alternative but to fight dead-on? Or is it just that the arrogance is so deeply ingrained that even the law is just another business obstacle to be overcome, without a second thought about the ethical, social, and other long-term reasoning behind the law?


    Jon
    Just my rambling thoughts. Me? I want to work for a company that still has a collective conscience.
  • Yes, I know these are proposed findings of law, not of fact. The point is that if Microsoft want to have a serious go at proposing findings of law, they have to propose findings that don't contradict the findings of fact, and they can't do that. Until they learn to admit they're a monopoly, their legal submissions basically go in the round file, giving the DoJ carte blanche.
    --
  • by freeBill ( 3843 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @01:38AM (#1359594) Homepage
    Technically, this is not a rebuttal of the Findings of Fact, but Microsoft's arguments for what they think should be concluded from the FoF. Of course, they say they "respectfully" disagree with the FoF, but will accept them for the sake of these arguments.

    But Robin's characterization is not as far off as it sounds. Since they cannot really get from the facts as Judge Jackson originally ruled to the conclusions they want, they did try to refute the fact the judge ruled they have a monopoly.

    This is a hint they are adopting an appeals-based strategy. To insult the judge by disagreeing with the judge on something he has already ruled on (for more than 25 pages, no less) indicates they believe they have no hope of winning at this level. The only way this kind of strategy can work is if -- by insulting the guy who's ruling on your case -- you can provoke him into doing something rash. Then you can get a ruling on appeal by showing he over-reached.

    Not likely in this case: This is a conservative jurist who is likely to shade his Findings of Law in Microsoft's favor after shading his Findings of Fact in the government's favor. The result will be an appeal-proof compromise.

    The really interesting thing about this filing is the fact that MS's lawyers still don't have the guts to tell a man who's got close to $100 billion that he blew it in his deposition. This is most interesting when you consider that MS shareholder money is being used to take actions which are probably not in their best interest (although breaking up the company -- an unlikely outcome, in my opinion -- would probably be the most favorable outcome from a stockholder viewpoint).
  • So, if I can't remove the factory radio because it also times the alternator, then what?

  • From the way the rebuttal is being stated, they not only belittled the Plantifs and the Judge, but also seems to indicate that the Judge has made critical error in judging the case. I am not sure what are they trying to do, the decision was reached after months of deliberation. And now they are trying to discredit the Judge for making, what is in their opinion, a stupid decision based on the past cases.

    They are saying, "the Judge didn't know the law or he won't be judging the case the way he did. Lets educate the Judge with some history lessons to see if this would enlighten the Judge to reverse his decision." This is plain stupid, they are way over their head again.

  • Hello? Ranked 5 for reproducing the text at the
    far end of the link? I can't see how this comment
    would be informative to anyone who actually had
    read the linked article (and hence seen the
    table of contents) - shouldn't marking comments
    up on information content be kept for ppl who
    introduce supplementary useful information rather
    than regurgitating the original article?

    Sorry - just a minor rant.

    Savant
  • I agree. Having read the article before the comments I'd have to say this is redundant. Perhaps if clicking on the comment button opened the comments in the same window, and popped up the article in a new one on top of this.

    Reposting the whole thing is only useful when the object of interest is on some slashdotted site. IMO C|net's unlikely to be slashdotted.
  • who don't know the difference between a " ' " and a " ? " ?

    I thought Microsoft would have smarter people... especially with all the money they have.

  • I don't need to go into detail with this; if IE is available for Solaris, it ain't an inseparable part of Win98.

    I think you gloss over what you admit is a crucial point of the case. If it is as important as you say it is, then support your opinion. Just because a product is available for another platform, does not mean that it can be separated from Win98. The decision to incorporate IE into the operating system may have been a bonehead technical move, it may have been a bonehead legal move, but I don't think you have convinced anyone that it's separate or easily separable.

    Microsoft is a monopoly. As a monopoly they have the right to design their OS any way they choose (just as non-monopoly companies do) but they are outside of the law if they use that monopoly power to squash competition. Lawyers and judges shouldn't make decisions about software design, but they should rule on legal agreements between Microsoft and the OEMs. This is where Netscape got squeezed.
  • When I installed TurboLinux on my laptop it dumped Netscape onto my machine without my asking and gave Netscape a prominent place on my FVWM-95 desktop.

    If it is okay for Linux distributions to include browsers then why is it wrong for Windows to do it.

    I prefer Linux to Windows, but I want Linux to win fair and square, not as a result of government regulation. Those who support government harassment of Microsoft don't really believe in Linux, in my opinion.

    Linux is free! How can Microsoft stop it?


  • MSIE is now no more than a GUI wrapper to a set of objects for talking HTTP, displaying HTML, etc.

    This raises an interesting issue: when software is a co-operating network of objects, where does one 'application' end and another begin?
  • You can rebut anything you like. If it had been a ruling, then they could appeal. The main purpose for the rebuttal (actually a "conclusions of law" filing) in this case is to set up for the appeal after they lose. I've talked to a lot of people who thought that Microsoft actually *wanted* to lose the first round, and to go in prepared to win the appeal. Especially after they discovered that they didn't have a pro-MS judge.
  • To take Microsoft's example. If a car + engine are one product, then how come I can buy an engine seperately?

    Also, if Office is one product, how come I can buy Word seperately?

    Like microsoft said, any product except the simplist, can always be broken down into 2 or more components that are "tied together".

    The issue here is is microsoft allowed to do this with IE since there is a whiney company out there that basis it's entire business on a browser.
    Certainly "Windows Explorer" is part of Windows (but it's not impossible to write Windows Explorer for Unix - it's just a shell).

    Just cause IE can come as a seperate product, doesn't mean it isn't an important part of Windows 98.

    Just cause vi can come as a seperate component doesn't mean it isn't an important part of
    Unix.
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @02:42AM (#1359610) Homepage
    Of course they did nothing wrong. You don't get to be a monopoly by doing anything wrong. You only get to be a monopoly if you do everything right. If Microsoft behaved any differently than it did it should have been sued by its stockholders, and rightly so.

    But that is not the point.

    Antitrust law is not about "you have been a bad boy, now you will be punished". It's not about right and wrong. It's about what works, and monopolys don't work for consumers. The free market works remarkably well most of the time but when it doesn't antittrust laws kick in.

    ----
  • Here are two small excerpts from MS's filing:
    As one court recently held, "where a patent or copyright has been lawfully acquired, subsequent conduct permissible under the patent or copyright laws cannot give rise to any liability under the antitrust laws."

    Plaintiffs do not contend that Microsoft unlawfully acquired its copyrights. Consequently, Microsoft cannot be held to have violated the antitrust laws simply because it exercised its rights under federal copyright law to prevent unauthorized modifications of Windows.


    Specifically, MS then states that since the Windows startup screen is part of their copyrighted software - any modifications are prohibited even if the licensing clause didn't expressly forbid such modifications. Several precedents involving television (Monty Pyhton!) and books are referenced.

    This is an interesting argument and, unfortunately, I think under current copyright law it is an argument that may be upheld in higher courts. If you treat a computer operating system like a book, then the OEMs have no legal right to make any modifications to the Windows startup screen. Frankly, this simply reflects some of the problems with current copyright law.

    It will be very interesting to see how the courts respond to MS's copyright arguments.
  • by xeno ( 2667 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @02:57AM (#1359614)
    You're right, that is glossing over an important point. Here's my thinking:

    The basic design model for IE is consistent across platforms. MS used various tools (I can't remember the primary Win2Unix tool's name off the top of my head) to port the code. However, on the Windows platform Microsoft has manipulated the structure of the program such that the various functions are now distributed throughout the OS, and the IE application is pretty much just a shell that calls various network, parsing, script execution, and other components implemented as DLLs throughout the OS. However, I'm of the opinion that just because they sprinkled the DLLs into the OS and made use of them elsewhere does not justify the various claims of "integration", claims that the integration benefits the consumer, and that this integration was a natural evolution of the product. There is still a distinct application hidden in the woodwork of the operating system.

    To me, Microsoft's arguments about WIn98/IE integration sound a lot like the Iraqi behavior concerning chemical weapons in the gulf war -- they separated the components and distributed them throughout the country. While some of the components may have then been legit pharmeceuticals stored in a given factory, that doesn't preclude a factual conclusion that there still existed chemical weapons in the country. I see the MS lawyers saying "Look, no browser here, just an OS." But I see a distinct app with a distinct model, development plan, characteristics, features, and even portability, all swirled around in Win98. The only real effect of that "swirling" that I can see is to prevent easy removal of the application, and to (successfully) stifle a competitor.

    Jon
  • by Darchmare ( 5387 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @02:59AM (#1359616) Homepage
    Interesting argument. I can see it now:

    "This car is nice, but... It looks just like the other one over there."

    "Oh, no, ignore that. They copied our design. Besides, our car NEVER crashes, and is much easier to use. Just look at this interior, the seats, the wheel. That one is obviously a knock-off."

    "Are you sure? I thought it came out in 1984? I heard your model didn't come out until a few years..."

    "HEY! Look at this, this car's radio is really great. It works best with the MS Radio station standard - a vast improvement on the current, old standard. No other player can do the things ours can."

    "Really? I didn't know there was such thing as MS Radio"

    "There isn't. We're working on that."

    "Oh, well... Can I replace it with another radio?"

    "Sorry, you can't remove the radio. It's an integral part of the vehicle. We make a similar radio for a couple of other kinds of cars, but in the Super Deluxe car it must stay."

    "Oh"

    "We'd help you remove it, but really, it will break everything. You see, the structure of the car is built around it. Of course, this was done purely by accident - we didn't at all think it'd be a good idea to design a way for other radios to be used as well. Oh well, it's too late now."

    "Yeah, I guess."

    "Anyhow, here are your keys. Please enjoy your drive home. While you're at it, here's $40. Could you write a nice little letter to the editor about how much you like our cars? Thanks!"



    "By the way, the swelling should go down in a few days. A soft cushion and some Preperation H, and you'll be good as new. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me - we sure do love to innovate!"


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • by nlvp ( 115149 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @03:08AM (#1359617)
    They not "will achieve", they "had achieved", if we talk about Windows market.

    Is Windows a market or a product? They claim that the Operating System market is not their monopoly, and they're right - I use Linux. Windows is not a market as such, just a specific GUI wrapped around an Operating System with a bunch of embedded/associated software. (not 100% accurate, but it'll do).

    On the other hand, what we have is a market for OSs where the most high-margin section of the market is tied to Windows. This is not because they have the ability to squash competitors with anti-competitive practices (although they do have this ability). They used their market power (possibly illegally) in the past to establish their market position, but at the moment, any company wanting to set up a few hundred workstations for employees from financial accountants to marketeers will inevitably buy PCs with pre-loaded Windows. This is because all of their suppliers, all of their customers and all of their subcontractors will also use Windows, and will want to exchange files with them. It's because when they get consultants in, the employees have to be able to work with the consultants on the same software. It's because the accounting software they want to use comes on Windows, not Linux, because the manufacturer of that software knows that Windows is the only sigificant market when it comes to large volumes of sales. It's because there is a very large pool of Windows-aware skilled individuals out there, and computer literacy is important when you are recruiting.

    Nothing would please me more than to see Linux begin to erode the mountain that is Microsoft's entrenched market position, but there is a long road ahead.

  • Steve Jobs was referring to version 5.0 of IE which is not even available yet (looks to be late Feb/March).

    Netscape blows goats because Microsoft pushed it out of business. AOL bought what remained of the battle-worn company for a pittance. So, while revisons of IE keep coming, there's no equivalent movement on the Netscape side...

    If microsoft had played fair, the situation would be much different today.

    You pay for your web-access by the second? You can get it free you know.
  • I think the issue is more one of code construction to support a business model. If TurboLinux installs Netscape by default, integrates it into the system so that it's hard to remove, and generally makes it hard for you to use a competing tool, then that's a Bad Thing.

    OTOH, I don't see anything wrong with including an application in an OS package. The only rub comes in when a monopoly uses its power to extend the monopoly. I hope the DOJ kicks MS's corporate ass, but only insofar as they have broken the law and prevented people from exercising free market choice. (I believe they did, and they have.) People should use Linux, Mac, BeOS, etc etc because they want to, not because they want to hurt MS.
  • by jilles ( 20976 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @03:20AM (#1359622) Homepage
    they say somewhere in their document that no products but the simplest product cannot be split into two components. That seems like a valid claim.

    I think that they have some good points about why it is not illegal to bundle two products.
    I also think many of the criticism MS received for bundling IE and windows is a direct result from the fact that some people for various reasons don't symphatize with MS and dislike most of their products (for varioous reasons).

    The fact remains that bundling the two adds value. I.e. the resulted integrated product provides is more valuable than the two seperate products. Since building software like any business consists of adding value it makes perfect sense to integrate two products you have.

    The claim that you could also achieve this with a third party product is also not correct. MS like it or not has several non standard features in IE and in the integrated OS there are several things that depend on those features and would be difficult to provide with a third party browser. The only thing you therefore can claim that MS is stimulating the use of their propietary technology. Since there is no law stating that you should comply with W3C standards that is perfectly legal.

    From a business point of view it is also a smart thing to do (See latest profit figures for MS).

    Those people thinking that MS stood trial for their browser integration are wrong. Sure it was part of the trial but the real issues MS misuse of their monopoly position. The way they forced customers to buy their products rather than those of competitors.

    Being anti MS is easy that's probably why it's so popular these days. In my eyes they are a normal company that operate their business like all their big competitors do. In my eyes stuff like AOL and Time warner merging is much more scary than the way MS is doing business. I'm under the impression that the only reason this trial got this far is because other companies lobbied for it to happen. The DOJ is not trying to protect our interests he's just trying to score in a big case. The companies that lobbied for this case are not interested in serving our interests but are just trying to protect their market shares.

    Many people blame MS for netscape's way downhill but lets face: it they were out competed by a a better product. Perhaps it wasn't such a healthy company. Especially the first generation of web users are smart enough to download and install software. They downloaded IE more often. The stuff about AOL forcing their users to use IE is bullshit because that only accounts for a few million users (on a much larger population).

    Netscape had a technological edge over internet explorer until version 3. After that they've produced crap. The one thing that kept them alive is that they could run their crap on non MS operating systems while MS chose not to do so (talking about monopolies).

    Mozilla isn't crap though. If it's as good as people promise it will have a chance, also on the windows platform. It will have to compete with IE on quality. If it can provide a better end user experience (end users don't know what w3c is and don't care about the standards that originate from that institute)it will gain popularity. quickly. If it doesn't it won't gain much popularity.

    The latest builds of mozilla look promising and there's definately a coolness factor around the whole thing.

    The whole point of this post: compete on quality not in court.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Read the document, it's all there.
    Read it? Nooo.. this is slash dot...far more important to just post away...
  • You pay for your web-access by the second? You can get it free you know.
    Depends, outside the US a lot of us have to pay for the phone time.
  • Netscape have been blowing goats for years (now there's an image), even when they had the monopoly in the browser market and were charging for Navigator - I was driven into the arms of IE3 by too many failed downloads and crashes in Netscape - I don't think attributing their downfall entirely to dark powers is completely fair...
  • by rlp ( 11898 )
    Actually, the full rebuttal text can be found here:

    Did not!

    :-)
  • I often wonder why it is Microsoft has never chosen to integrate Zip compression into the OS. Seems like an obvious step.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "But for the love of god why muyst the free market go after every winner?"

    That's pretty funny. We're talking about a couple of multinational companies worth hundreds of billion of dollars being valid targets for anti-trust law. The free market does not go after them. The free market allows them to breed and grow uncontrollably. Anti-trust law is justified in the fact that the free market is not a utopia where everyone gets along. We're talking about a system based on self interest here. Self interest of the employees; self interest of the management; and self interest of the shareholders. I'm sorry, the system does not magically work. Power needs balance - otherwise we have a broken system.
  • 1. Windows 98 Is a Single, Integrated Product.

    That may indeed be true. However it's an attempt to change the past based on the present. The case was brought about around Windows 95, not 98 as Microsoft would love you to believe.

    So maybe they mended their ways? Big deal. Only after they had achieved what they wanted to achieve (killing Netscape).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What's interesting about Microsoft's proposed conclusions of law is that they consistently speak of Windows 98, but Judge Jackson's Findings of Facts were all about Windows 95! With W95 there was clear evidence of tying because IE was a program separate from W95 but OEM's were required to include it and MS made it hard for owners to get or use Netscape in its place.

    About the only thing MS did with W98 was "integrate" IE into the OS to render moot questions about tying of IE to Windows, just as DOS was integrated into Windows 4 ("Chicago" / W95) to do away with Novell's claim that MS was illegally tying Dos to Windows. I think the reason MS is arguing from the standpoint of W98 is because they've already won a court ruling that W98 does not violate the prior consent decree regarding typing W95 with IE. They're trying to confuse the issue.

    beb01@sprynet.com

  • The other thing is, and this has been bugging me for a while, is that regardless of wheter or not MS did something immoral that harmed the industry yada yada yada....there is a fine line of what is illegal. They walked that line. DOJ says they crossed it. Who knows. But we can't, as educated people, simply assume their guilty of breaking the law simply because what they did offends us personally.

    This may or may not be what you're saying, but if it's not the general educated public that decides what is and isn't law, then something is horribly wrong with the judicial system.
  • Check Plus! 98 or Windows Millennium. They
    have. And it sucks. I don't know about you but I don't want it integrated, at least not the way they implemented it.
  • AOL bought what remained of the battle-worn company for a pittance.


    A pittance, yeah. As reported, about $4,000,000,000 (in stock, of course).
  • Steve Jobs was referring to version 5.0 of IE which is not even available yet (looks to be late Feb/March).

    Wow...he was referring IE 5 back at MacWorld New York 1998 when he said that the best browser on the market ran on the Mac and was IE? He must be a visionary! IE 4 was the latest version out then, and I didn't like it very much. IE 4.5 approached usability. I hope 5.0 is decent and not a downgrade like OE 5.0 was.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Uhhhh.... but if a company does something illegal - why the hell should we ignore that, on the basis of what they did in the PAST?

    Sure, Mr. fictional John H. Smith may have donated $X to a charity and been nice to my kids, but if he's convicted of murder, we don't forgive him because he was NICE in the PAST!!!!

    Claiming that MS is a good company and shouldn't be punished for shady/illegal business practices because they "may" have helped the rise of the PC (which is your OPINION anyways, although I am in some agreement)is poor and rather shady logic.

    Respectfully,
    Kevin Christie
    kwchri@wm.edu
  • I disagree that W98 is a singled, integrated product. If they had created an API in both directions, then I would agree. What they did was put IE into the system libraries. Can netscape write a "Navigator" that looks and feels just like their current product, but uses MS' API? Nope. If they could replace the IE parts of the system libraries with Netscape, and have everything work, that too would count, IMHO.

    None of the above. Thus, Windows 98 is both "The product formerly known as IE" and "The product formerly known as Windows 95". Microsoft was clearly trying to eliminate Netscape as competition by employing their operating system as leverage. And, it worked. Netscape would have been the one buying AOL if it had not....
  • Your argument is quite valid IMO, but this is not entirely a question of wether bundling two products together is legal or wether you like Microsoft or not.

    Look at it this way: Ford has 90% share of the automobile-market (for arguments sake:-) and they decide to build their own proprietary stereo-equipment into every one of the cars they sell. They argue that it gives the customer more value, besides, the stereo equipment is tied to the rest of the car in such a way that the driver gets some important information about the engine, the road or whatnot through a friendly voice in the speakers (Brit-slashdotters may remember that Dave Allen sketch:-). Manufacturers such as Pioneer can not build this functionality into their product, and what's more, removing the original stereo means the car wont work anymore. How would the courts handle this kind of case?

    I agree that much of the rhetoric generated around this case is anti-microsoft, and Judge Jackson's role is to weed out all the anti-rant and find the facts. Which he said he did. Netscape may have been out competed by a better product, but if Microsoft hadn't used these kind of tactics they would have lasted longer. And it also prevented manufacturers of other browser (f.ex. Opera) to compete on an even playground, making it almost impossible to penetrate the browser market with a new product.

    regards,

    Guðmundur

  • Can netscape write a "Navigator" that looks and feels just like their current product, but uses MS' API?

    Yes. Neoplanet [neoplanet.com] already makes a browser with its own look-and-feel that uses Microsoft's .dlls for HTML rendering.
  • Linux is free! How can Microsoft stop it?

    Oh, lots of ways.

    Sitting hard on OEMs with low per lisence price on windows if they only ship windows on their computers, or requiring them to pay the windows tax for each computer shipped regardless of OS installed.

    Forcing proprietary protocols even more than they do today.

    etc..
  • Actually, there's nothing bad for consumers with one company holding a monopoly on a market. It only gets nasty when that company abuses there position to squash competition, as a way of keeping their monopoly going.

    Legally, you can either use bullying tactics, or be a monopoly, but not both (from what I understand of the current legal proceedings). Judge Jackson's Findings of Fact showed that Microsoft does indeed have a monopoly. Now, did they abuse their power?

    If only courtroom battles took place in Internet Time. This has been dragging on for what seems like an eternity!
  • Well, if the lawyers did come out and say "Bill buggered it for himself," they might get a reprimand from the state's Bar Association, depending on circumstances. And if they revealed a client-attorney confidence in a book, they'd certainly get a reprimand and might lose their license.

    But libel? If it's dealing with a public figure, you have to a) say something that can be proved to be false, and b) say it with intentional malice, for it to be considered libelous in the U.S.

    In short, the biggest sanction the lawyers would face is losing Microsoft's buisness.
  • Um, no.

    Actually, IIRC, Microsoft used technology from MainWin (which they later bought--it's a company that specialized in porting Windows applications to UNIX), and MainWin had already ported at least half of Windows to UNIX. IE runs on top of that. But it still sucks, bigtime. :)

    As I've said before, IE 3.0 for Windows 3.1 (separate product, woo hoo!) runs fine under Wine, and much better than IE 3.0 "for UNIX" runs on any UNIX. :) I haven't been able to install the other two to test them, but they look like Windows applications to me...
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11].

  • Why do people keep harping on IE/Windows integration? As much as I used to be a Netscape booster, reality must be faced -- Netscape fell behind, and failed to execute. Looking at original Netscape source release, you can see how spaghetti coded it is, virtually unmaintainable. It needed a rewrite (Mozilla). I used to be one of the big anti-IE/MS bashers in the newsgroups until IE4 came out.

    Besides Netscape being inferior to IE3/4 on all fronts (Javascript, object model, plugin distribution, java vm, xml support, etc), Netscape failed to componentize the browser in a library so that AOL, for example, could embed it in their client, or application writers could use it as a widget. The list of criticisms goes on.

    Furthermore, users now expect their computer to come with a browser. When I use a computer now, I DEMAND that it come with a TCP/IP stack, and I would be outraged if I had to buy Trumpet Winsock now. Simply put: the browser is a commodity, just like a TCP/IP stack, and Microsoft's *NATURAL* inclination would be to embed it in the OS, just like all the other little utilities, even if Netscape didn't exist. Frankly, I'm pissed that Windows doesn't bundle a better Telnet client, like CRT.

    How many people would buy a Linux distribution that simply left the networking support out of the kernel, including the source, so that you had to buy a separate TCP/IP stack?

    Likewise, KDE bundles a browser Widget, and soon, we can expect Mozilla to be bundled with Linux. Does anyone think this is bad?

    Netscape had over 50% of the browser market when they started complaining, and IMHO, the reason they complained was because they were failing to execute, and needed to be protected, not because Microsoft crushed them. Did anyone else read the original Networked Enterprise whitepapers that Netscape put out on Gemini and Apollo? They delivered on *ZERO* of the concepts described in that paper, and their business strategy was all over the map. Open source developers have already been able to replace IE with Mozilla as Windows98's preferred rendering engine. Why couldn't Netscape make NS4 an ActiveX component if a single open-source developer did it? Especially since developers were demanding a browser widget to embed in apps like Quicken, IDE's, etc.

    Anyway, putting IE4 in the OS significantly helped the consumer by giving them, out of the box, a superior web browser. If Netscape's browser had truly been "way better", I could see a case for a non-optimal outcome.


    Finally, in reading the document, Microsoft makes an interesting case about monopoly power:

    "Indeed, "[m]arket share indicates [monopoly] power only when sales reflect control of the productive assets [i.e., capacity to supply] in the business." Indiana Grocery, 864 F.2d at 1414. "If a firm's share of market sales does not reflect control of a significant percentage of the market's productive assets, it does not indicate [monopoly] power." Id. There is no finding, nor could there be, that Microsoft controls a significant percentage of the productive assets in the software business or any part thereof."

    It then goes on to list examples.

    Another:

    "entry is [not] limited by government regulation or licensing requirements. Nor is this the type of industry, like heavy manufacturing or mining, which requires onerous front-end investments that might deter competition from all but the hardiest and most financially secure investors. Nor do we have here a business dependent on a scarce commodity, control over which might give the incumbent a substantial structural advantage."


    Which basically says that Microsoft can neither restrict the supply of operating systems (Linux being the obvious example), nor are there structural barriers to entry for creating OSes.

    In fact, the internet is full of many OS projects, not just Unix ones, most of them written by university students for projects. I wrote a small OS myself in 80x86 assembly a few years ago, with a text mode windowing system.

    Will these OSes be able to take the public mindshare by storm? Probably not, but there is no significant barrier imposed by Microsoft towards creating them, besides the hard work neccessary.


    Linux itself is poised to enter the desktop realm soon, and they will be bundling everything under the sun, from browsers to dbs to image processing to IDEs and office suites. Most of these apps will be clones of commercially successful pioneers, but offered at zero price, probably condemning many companies to the same fate as Netscape.

    If anything, MS has to be more afraid of this than of the DoJ, which is why I think breaking them up is silly when they may be defeated by Linux in under 5 years.

    -Ray





  • but if it's not the general educated public that decides what is and isn't law, then something is horribly wrong

    Well now. This educated person thinks this about the law in question: Where, in the Constitution, is the government permitted to sieze or otherwise modify the property shareholders in Microsoft own? Maybe if Microsoft were a railroad, Microsoft could inhibit interstate commerce (a clause which has been stretched far, far beyond the breaking point). But, I ask of all you educated Slashdotters, take a step away from the details and ask: "Who is Janet Reno to decide what a private and voluntary association of owners, employees, customers, and other contractually bound participants can do with their time and effort?"

    This is software after all - the most insubstantial and ephemeral product in existence. Literally nobody is coerced to or prevented from doing anything with software. And to act otherwise invites the kind of intervention against DVD software, reverse-engineering of multi-player game hosting, etc. that has been oft recounted and lamented at this site.

    Keep crime in the phsyical domain for your own good. Letting the notion of crime seep into what can be expressed in software has already wrought tragedies in the form of miscarriages of justice against minor hackers, novel thought-crimes, and the supression of legitimate businesses that work against the goals of really bad monopolists in established media companies that use the government as a club with which to beat new-technology competitors.

  • Microsoft's reply keeps talking about the alleged browser market.

    Are they even refusing to concede that there is a market for browsers out there? Did they invent the browser or something? If so, why do I keep seeing spyglass.exe get copied to hard disks when I install NT around here? Gee, where did that spyglass.exe come from?! :)

  • Plaintiffs contend that the relevant product market in this case is limited to "operating systems for Intel-compatible personal computers." (Pls. Conclusions at 4.) This purported market is too narrow to constitute a relevant product market for analysis in this case as a legal matter because it excludes many of the most serious competitive threats faced by Microsoft's operating systems.

    What a crock! M$ is and has been the predominant OS provider in the PC market. Period. Now they want to say that PC's are too narrow a market to consider a monopoly on the industry because Macs and handheld devices can browse the web.

    Lotsa luck with that argument.

  • I'm not often in personal contact with Microsoft machinery, but when I cannot avoid it, it often drives me up the wall that unless one is using all-Microsoft components, things often just fail to work.

    This is particularly so in respect of their web browser, eg. if you have Netscape installed instead of MS Internet Explorer then don't bother attempting to install Netmeeting --- it notes the absence of MSIE and refuses point blank to install at all.

    It's this kind of tie-in that makes a mockery of Microsoft's claim that Windows is really an open platform, ie. in the browser case they make damn sure that MSIE *cannot* be replaced by an alternative. It may look an open platform from the outside, but they do everything in their power to prevent non-Microsoft choices from being made. It's the pits for user choice, and this kind of tie-in dependency is one of the principal drivers of the MS monopoly.

    Do the Findings of Fact address this tie-in issue in any way?
  • I would have expected pitchforks and flaming torches on this one. I'm surprised to find that many of the posts are readily admitting that IE is a better browser than Netscape.

    Well, I DON'T feel even-handed at all. I don't care if IE is the first browser to be written by a team of crack ubergeeks assembled by God himself. Neither it nor Netscape approaches full compliance with the HTTP/1.1 spec, and most of the stuff that they leave out is stuff that I want.

    Just glancing at Microsoft's "Conclusions of Law", I gasped in stunned bemusement many times before the end of the contents page. I liken my bafflement to the increasing sense of horror, confusion, and ulimately, frustration that occured last time I tried to repair a non-functional Windows 98 system.

    Is it just me seeing this, or is every single chapter titled to directly contradict an element of the judge's earlier findings? Of what possible use can this document be, if it is merely a reassertion of Microsoft's belief in it's inalienable right to crush opposition in any arena by any means. We already know that they believe this about themselves. I'm sure we don't need to be reminded on a monthly basis.

    From my point of view, the entire document is an attempt by MS to cloud the issues surrounding the case, to better their chances in the inevitable appeals process. It strikes me more as an effort to continue an argument about the findings of fact more than an attempt to draw conlusions from the facts.

    I've heard a lot of spurious nonsense about this case, from the "MS is being victimised for being successful" line (No, they are being tried for breaking certain laws. Broken with gusto, I might add), to "MS's competitors can't keep up on a level playing field, so they try to beat MS in court." (What level playing field?)

    I'm just as happy to see MS eliminated in court as to see them lose their market share outside of court. It makes absolutely no difference to me, as long as they are out of business, and their ridiculous attempt at a modern operating system is gone with them.

  • The claim that you could also achieve this with a third party product is also not correct. MS like it or not has several non standard features in IE and in the integrated OS there are several things that depend on those features and would be difficult to provide with a third party browser.

    It can be done and is not difficult. The problem is the illegality of such. It has been stated by developers that if given the right to alter the platform for which they develop to, they could better the operations of their product with said platform. (This is the case with modifying the boot sequence of Windows by OEM's) Since Netscape, among others, is not allowed to alter or tamper with said platform, they can not provide the same operations with their product as IE can because it has this allowance.

    IE on other platforms, such as Solaris and Mac, demonstrates the position Navigator/Communicator has on the Windows platform. MS can not modify said platforms and thus demonstrated the lack of operations Navigator/Communicator has on the Windows platform.

    A break-up of MS into OS, Apps, etc. would call for IE to be removed and applied as a separate application. If MS OS, wished to continue your stated "added value", they must extend the same privilege that IE enjoyed prior to the break-up to all third-party developers (which includes MS Applications). MS Applications could now create IE for Windows as was previously done and so could others (including Netscape).

    In my eyes stuff like AOL and Time warner merging is much more scary than the way MS is doing business.

    1. This is a proposed merger which must past review/inspection.

    2. This proposed merger has yet to give cause for an investigation into probable misconduct and violation(s) of law(s).

    The DOJ is not trying to protect our interests he's just trying to score in a big case. The companies that lobbied for this case are not interested in serving our interests but are just trying to protect their market shares.

    The "our interests" takes into account those of the government since the government is the single largest consumer in the US. Such is the life under a democracy and as a US citizen.

    Many people blame MS for netscape's way downhill but lets face: it they were out competed by a better product.

    Netscape was outmanuevered on a legal issue -- one can not modify the platform without permission.

    'til dawn...

  • I think it's pointless to break up Microsoft. Their mindshare has been eroded by the progress of the internet. They are already in a defensive position. Breaking them up serves only the egos and purposes of a few executives and government lawyers.

    But, the legal system being what it is, nonsensical rules will apply and they will likely be broken up.

    If this is going to happen, most pundits have spoken of the OS division being broken apart from the Apps division. There is a simpler solution.

    The key restraint on the development of the web (and competition for MS) right now is the browser. Microsoft's ubiquitous browser has won the war, but is stagnant and retarding development of the object web.

    The solution? Force Microsoft to divest itself of the IE browser, either to a non-profit holding company or open-source.

    Once its control of IE is taken away (the market share for which was gained in an illegal manner, apparently), the open source movement could pick it up and run with it. IE could become standards-based. The web can evolve.

    Companies are routinely forced by the FTC to divest certain holdings lest they run afoul of anti-trust law. Apply that common practice to Microsoft.

  • by Zoltar ( 24850 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @06:08AM (#1359665)
    Hmmm... I repectfully disagree with you.

    **Consider that it was MS dos and then windows that led to the exploding PC market**

    I would have to say that the invention of the browser and hypertext and cheap hardware has led to the exploding PC market, dos/windows has just gone along for the ride.

    **But they were there, with the minimal functionality and ease of use to make people take a chance and buy a PC**

    I believe that most people who buy computers are not informed with regrds to technology or operating systems. They buy computers because they want to take part in this whole internet thing, or maybe they want to make their own greeting cards, etc... The OS on the machine has nothing to do with people "taking a chance to buy a PC"

    IMHO most consumers are sheep, you can give MS credit for realizing this and hiring brilliant marketing people.
  • I also think many of the criticism MS received for bundling IE and windows is a direct result from the fact that some people for various reasons don't symphatize with MS and dislike most of their products (for varioous reasons).

    The fact remains that bundling the two adds value. I.e. the resulted integrated product provides is more valuable than the two seperate products.

    Wrong. To say that adding IE to Windows adds value is a vast oversimplification. The value is not in having IE in particular, it's the capabilities of ubiquitous browser access which MS added to Windows.

    This is not, from a user's perspective, specific to IE. It most certainly could have been done in such a way that you could use many different browsers with it. Look at the way MIME types are handled on UNIX systems through your mailcap file. Look at the way browser invocation is handled on the Mac through Internet Config [stairways.com] and Apple's Internet Address Detectors [apple.com].

    The right answer is simple: define an dispatch interface that allows you to plug in any appropriate receiver. Microsoft specifically chose not to do this. They chose to implement this in a manner which is IE-specific and locks out competing browsers. Why did they do this? Because They wanted the browser market for themselves. Why could they do it? Because they have such a huge share of the desktop OS market.

    The claim that you could also achieve this with a third party product is also not correct. MS like it or not has several non standard features in IE and in the integrated OS there are several things that depend on those features and would be difficult to provide with a third party browser.

    The only reason that it doesn't work as well with 3rd-party browsers is that MS chose to implement something which only works with their product. Did it make good business sense? Certainly. But that does not make it ethically right.

    Being anti MS is easy that's probably why it's so popular these days. In my eyes they are a normal company that operate their business like all their big competitors do.

    Wrong. They are not a normal company, they are the largest software company in the world, and the provider of the dominant OS platform. That is absolutely not normal, it is exceptional.

    Microsoft needs to grow up and learn that the rules change when you're #1. You can't play the game the same way anymore. It's one thing for small companies to stab each other in the back. It's quite another for the sole supplier of a core technology (the OS) to decide to crush another company's product.

    The whole point of this post: compete on quality not in court.

    The real point: It is mean, nasty, unethical, and illegal to use monopoly or near-monopoly power in one market to affect a related but separate market. That is precisely what MS has done, and it is precisely why they are in court now.

    Nobody who can find their compiler with both hands was fooled for a minute by that "it's a part of the OS" argument. Browsers have always been and always will be applications. What is part of the OS is underlying services, such as inter-application communication. All MS has done is implement a special, IE-specific kind of IAC. Choosing to lock out competitors in this way was not just illegal, it was a poor engineering choice, and it was made for market rather than technical reasons. That's what annoys me most about the whole thing.

  • This may or may not be what you're saying, but if it's not the general educated public that decides what is and isn't law, then something is horribly wrong with the judicial system

    It isn't. Deciding what is or isn't law at a given moment is an issue argued by state and federal judges, and legal counsel for concerned parties. Deciding on what is to become law is the concern of the legislature. The "general educated public" doesn't have a say.

  • "To take Microsoft's example."

    It's almost always a bad idea to take anything from MS... ;)

    "If a car + engine are one product, then how come I can buy an engine seperately?"

    This comparison is unsound which makes your analysis flawed and here's why... An engine is a vital part of a car and without one a car is useless. Windows can certainly run without IE (one of the govt's witnesses uninstalled IE) and therefore isn't vital to Windows' operation. Windows certainly isn't useless without IE as a car is without an engine. A better comparison would be that of a car and it's radio. A radio is a little extra that's added to your car by the car manufacturer just as IE is an extra to Windows. Can you get a car without a radio? Sure, if you want. Can you take out the radio that came with your car or get different a kind of radio to put in your car? Yep. Can you get Windows without IE? errr... Can you easily uninstall IE? hrmmm... If we saw Ford installing radios that could only be replaced with a newer Ford radio the uproar coming from those Low Rider Truck Magazines (not to mention everyone else) causes my bitchometer to go off the scale.

    "Just cause IE can come as a seperate product, doesn't mean it isn't an important part of Windows 98."

    Evidently not that important a part of since one of the government witnesses managed to completely uninstall IE from Windows. Funny that this "important part of Windows" didn't start binding itself to Windows until v4.0 of IE.
    I'd also like to mention that when IE 4.0 first came out, during the install process MS didn't tell you that you wouldn't be able to uninstall IE 4. Removing IE from the control panel would break your system with extreme prejudice. Truly that is evil...

    "Just cause vi can come as a seperate component doesn't mean it isn't an important part of Unix."

    The point is that with *nix you have a choice! You can easily remove vi if you like but it's not that easy to remove IE thanks to our friends in Redmond. But then again Microsoft has never been about choice or freedom for the consumer. MS has always been about building a bunker in the OS market (or whatever else they can get their claws into) so that consumers don't have any choices and Ft. Redmond is unassailable by any competitors.

  • understand copirights this would be applied to end users as well.
    Wow, then that means that making _any_ modification to windows (eg. changing a ini file) is unlawful.
    Should we run windows from read only drivers, then?
  • Nope, not at all.

    Basically MS, by "integrating" their browser into their OS, is trying to stop there from being a browser market in and of itself, by making the browser a commodity.

    Because you have to install Windows (for whatever reason - compatibility with coworkers, games, etc...), you get IE. You don't have a choice in the matter - it's part of the OS.

    Now, as far as browsers go, IE isn't that bad - it has it's quirks (but so do Netscape, Opera, Mozilla, and the various others) but it does a decent job of rendering most stuff on the web.

    You have IE. It does what you need. Why would you (generic end-user) pay money to get another program that does the same thing? Chances are you wouldn't.

    Because of this, there's little money to be made in the browser "market". The browser has been/is transformed from a product to a commodity (look at Konqueror, KDE's native browser...). So now there really *isn't* a browser market.

    Fortunately, the DOJ case deals more with Win95 and IE3 than it does with the more recent developments, so hopefully that won't be taken into account.

  • Look at it this way...

    Let's not and say we did. This is a speculative point that holds no water. What purpose does it serve to integrate a radio with the car's computer allowing anyone that steals the radio to disable the vehicle? Or, for a radio frequency to inhibit the operations of said vehicle causing a safety hazard?

    How would the courts handle this kind of case?

    They wouldn't have to as it would not pass inspection to be released for use. (NHTSA)

    Another thing... When the software industry becomes comparable to the auto industry (i.e. Lemon Laws) then you can start making some comparisons of the two industries. Until then, use restraint in making such comparisons.

    'til dawn...

  • What you say may be true and I like the analogy.

    However, it is legal to put the book in a bag with the bookstore's name on it, or even wrap the book in brown paper and tie it with a string. This in no way changes the copyrighted material.

    What computer manufacturers were doing is precisely that, wrapping Windows in their own packaging. That is entirely legal in spite of any interpretation of the copyright law.

    Microsoft just doesn't get it. And their Nanner! Nanner! Did not! Did not! defense isn't going to work.

  • See, I knew you had it in you. Aren't you glad I made you go through the extra work? You'll thank me someday.

    There is still a distinct application hidden in the woodwork of the operating system.

    True. But utilities in any operating system can be distinct and yet still integral. You could write a prgram that launched itself on top of the Window's GUI and handled all file system functionality, but only MS can strip the GUI clean and create a new one. It's their product, and they don't have to make it infinitely flexible for their competitors.

    The only real effect of that "swirling" that I can see is to prevent easy removal of the application, and to (successfully) stifle a competitor.

    Maybe. More importantly, the only real "intent" was for Netscape to die. Microsoft dug in their heels rather than risk becoming irrelevant. Win98 blows, but it blows less than Win95 and one of the reasons is the the integrated browser.

    They changed their product to fit the market. Again, the real problem is how they leveraged OEMs to prevent competition. It's the difference between making competition difficult by redesigning your product, or making competition difficult by threatening the distribution channel. The first should be legal, but IANAL, and the second should be illegal, but IANAL. (Thank God).
  • "Who is Janet Reno to decide what a private and voluntary
    association of owners, employees, customers, and other contractually bound participants can do with their time and effort?"


    They can do whatever they like in a closed room. Once the door opens and they start impacting other people's lives, the communal agreements we refer to as "laws" are the best solutions we have to settling the inevitable disagreements over boundaries.

    Janet Reno is, last time I checked, the duly appointed head of the section of government in charge of enforcing those laws. Disagree with the law, but don't try to make it out like Janet reno has no business doing her job.
  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @06:47AM (#1359681) Homepage

    C. The Alleged Tie Does Not Foreclose a Substantial Amount of Sales of the Tied Product.

    A lot of this hinges on strangeness that both Netscape Navigator and IE are free products. Microsoft can claim a lot since both IE and Netscape are free to download.

    Adding IE doesn't change the price of Windows 98 because they're the same product and IE is free anyhow (of course they simply bury the cost of IE in the price of Windows...)

    But this line is where they cheat. The legal requirement is that the tie forcloses a substantial amount of sales of the tied product. The fact is that Netscape Navigator is free now, but it used to be a product you were supposed to pay for if you were going to use it for non-educational uses. This wasn't strictly enforced, but it most definitely was for sale. It seems pretty clear to me that Netscape was forced to give Netscape away because they were trying to compete with Microsoft who was giving IE away for free. Therefore doesn't this prove that Microsoft cost Netscape a substantial amount of sales of Navigator? It didn't deny anyone the ability to download Navigator, but it sure did deny sales.

    And one more question here -- at one point Microsoft announced that IE was free and would always be free. Microsoft is now claiming that IE and Windows 98 are not seperate products, but are in fact the same thing. Does this mean that Windows 98 is free?

  • The finding of fact was what the Judge (thomas pennfield) decided were facts relevant to the case. That can't be rebuted, you're right. But what both the DOJ and Microsoft did was release their interpretations of the finding of fact. The DOJ obviously would point to a number of examples that they felt showed Microsoft had monopoly power and abused it, while Microsoft is obviously trying to point out area's where it feels show that it does not have monopoly power and competed fairly.

    I'm fairly certain that this was a required event, and not just Microsoft posturing, in order to move the case along. At this point, I'm sure that the DOJ want's to get everything overwith, as does Microsoft, because obviously Microsoft's been slammed thus far, and they're going to appeal, possibly straight to the supreme court.

    I just hope that this whole case is finished before election time comes.... It'll be a sad day if Microsoft gets off completely because the powers change and remove Reno, Klein, etc.
  • Okay, I'll bite. You'll have to trust that I am educated enough or at least judge by me response:

    Where, in the Constitution, is the government permitted to seize or otherwise modify the property shareholders in Microsoft own? It's not in the Constitution, and we both know it. However, the Sherman Anti-trust act(s) have been found to be in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, ergo the government has a right to intervene, a la Standard Oil or AT&T.

    I ask of all you educated Slashdotters, take a step away from the details and ask: "Who is Janet Reno to decide what a private and voluntary association of owners, employees, customers, and other contractually bound participants can do with their time and effort?"

    Well, IIRC Janet Reno is the Attorney General of the US of A, and is charged with seeing that violations of federal law are prosecuted. AKA the Sherman Anti-trust acts under which the DOJ sued Microsoft.

    This is software after all - the most insubstantial and ephemeral product in existence. Literally nobody is coerced to or prevented from doing anything with software.

    You could just as easily argue that "literally nobody is coerced to or prevented from doing anything with electricity." [aside: too bad most of us live in communities where the local electrical company has a de facto monopoly...] My point is, if company A acts in violation of the law and in the process takes down the profitability and therefore of company B, thus limiting my choices to a quality product which would have otherwise been developed, damage has occurred.

    I won't italicize and copy the my most vehement area of disagreement... the part about the suppression of legit businesses, etc. Because Microsoft has used every tactic in the book as clubs to beat new-technology competitors.

    Some of those tactics have been found by Judge Jackson to be (findings of fact) horribly and completely beyond the scope of fair business practices and way into the domain of monopoly-protecting stuff that is AFAICT against the law.

  • For a while I wondered the same thing. But then look at Apple's QuickTime. Originally it was a piece of system software, but now it's been ported to Windows as more of an application rather than a set of extensions. Since most apps written for Macs make use of QuickTime, they all benefit from upgrades to it, as it is indeed integrated with the OS (as a set of extensions). One Windows, very few programs use Quicktime, aside from graphic apps. QuickTime is more of a utilitiy on Win32, enabling the playback of various types of media.

    The same could be argued with Microsoft and IE. On Windows, IE is indeed well integrated with the rest of the OS. But microsoft also provides a lot of IE's functionality to other OSes, which is also called Internet Explorer.

    I'm not defending them or their motives for doing what they did. I'm just giving an example of how an integrated part of the OS can still be available for other platforms. If you dig a centimeter deeper, you'll find that (in my opinion) Microsoft did what it did not for customer benefit as they always say, but as a weapon to destroy netscape with.
  • I tried, honest I did. Of course, with better than 100 cases listed to support their position, not counting other stuff, and not knowing the background or results of the cases in question, the Microsoft Rebuttal is little more than a hugely legal research paper only comprehensible to lawyers and scholars, and not to most of us. A paper which (AFAICT) basically repeats what has been the Microsoft position all along: "hey, we didn't do anything wrong, and we don't want you government types involved in the software industry... so here's are legalese way of saying that the judge f---ed up his decision... Look at all these examples of case law that we've paid our lawyers $150 an hour to find...

    Trouble is, sometimes legalese works to get bad folks off the hook. I hope it doesn't in this case.

  • Quote from MS rebuttal:

    Indiana Grocery, 864 F.2d at 1414. There is no finding that Microsoft could restrict the total market output of operating systems and thereby raise prices. In fact, existing operating system competitors, such as the producers of BeOS or Linux, could readily expand their "output" to meet the entire demand for operating systems without acquiring new productive assets. It is simply a matter of signing new license agreements.

    So, how about it Slashdotters? Is Linux competition for Windows or isn't it? This is a central question that probably tears at a lot of you. If Linux is a competitor to Windows, then you have to give up some of your attacks on MS. If Linux is not competitive with Windows, then you have to back off on your promotion of Linux as a desktop OS. I don't see how you can have it both ways.

  • You're nit-picking. The whole point of democracy is power to the people. If that's not the case then something is wrong. Case in point: if it weren't the case the US would still have black slavery.
  • Steve Jobs was referring to version 5.0 of IE which is not even available yet (looks to be late Feb/March). He also said this about IE 4.5, calling it "the best browser running on the best operating system." He was probably right; Netscape from version 3 on has had hideous memory leaks on MacOS, which, given MacOS's nightmarish memory management, is a real big problem. Some Mac power users elect to stick with Netscape 2 unless they have to have Javascript.
  • Many people blame MS for netscape's way downhill but lets face: it they were out competed by a a better product.
    Which part of "better product" is establishing deals with ISPs where the ISP got listed in the internet setup wizard in exchange for only pushing IE, and making sure that no more than a certain percentage of their clients used Netscape? And how, my exchanging a listing on the Channel Bar with major web site in agreement to only push IE, does that make IE a better product?

    IE has improved in quality by leaps and bounds. It probably would have gained market share anyway. However, saying that the many steps taken by Microsoft to make it appear that Netscape didn't exist to new users didn't affect market share is foolish.

    My point: Compete on quality, not by monopolistic tactics.

  • "The burden of proof in establishing a market for antitrust purposes is on the plaintiff." R.C. Dick Geothermal Corp. v. Thermogenics, Inc., 890 F.2d 139, 143 (9th Cir. 1989). Plaintiffs contend that the relevant product market in this case is limited to "operating systems for Intel-compatible personal computers." (Pls. Conclusions at 4.) This purported market is too narrow to constitute a relevant product market for analysis in this case as a legal matter because it excludes many of the most serious competitive threats faced by Microsoft's operating systems.

    Now I am not a lawyer, but this seems to be saying that Microsoft can't be considered a monopoly because the area they dominate (Intel-compatible PC OSes) is just one of many types of computer, and with Macs, Linux, and good ole mainframes out there MS isn't a monopoly.

    Hmm... where I work there are about 60 computers, all Intel compatible, all running a flavour of Windows (although a few also run another OS as well). Maybe I'm confused, but I thought that the majority of desktop computers were Intel-compatible. Guess I'm wrong huh MS?

    More cute quotes: "There is no finding, nor could there be, that Microsoft controls a significant percentage of the productive assets in the software business or any part thereof."

    From what I can find, Microsoft has a Market Cap of $564,000,000,000. The next biggest public software companies are Oracle and SAP which have Market Caps of $78,000,000,000 and $75,000,000,000 respectively. If Microsoft has an order of magnitude in size over these guys, yet doesn't control a "significant percentage of the productive assets in the software business", they must have a hell of a lot of unproductive assets.

    "In fact, existing operating system competitors, such as the producers of BeOS or Linux, could readily expand their "output" to meet the entire demand for operating systems without acquiring new productive assets. It is simply a matter of signing new license agreements."

    Nice of them to acknowledge Linux and BeOS as competitors. Anyhow, the above quote just shows that the issues are different when it comes to software so you can't use the same rules as for groceries. But even so, the above argument is obviously untrue. Commercial Linux vendors and other OS venders, whoever they may BeOS do still have to provide upgrades, tech support, and a distribution channel for their OSes. At this stage no commercial entity could take up the slack if MS stopped selling Windows.

    As the Court found, Microsoft itself invests hundreds of millions of dollars "each year inducing ISVs to write applications for Windows." (Findings P. 43.) In fact, each time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, "Microsoft must convince ISVs to write applications that take advantage of new APIs, so that existing Windows users will have incentive to buy an upgrade." (Id. P. 44.) The Court thus found that "Microsoft may spend more on platform 'evangelization,' even in relative terms, than any other PC operating-system vendor."

    And to think -- if they produced a decent product people would evangelize it because they liked it! This above just goes to show that the advances between subsequent versions of Windows OSes are so minor that they have to spend money convincing people to pretend the changes are useful and develop software that requires the advances, therefore requiring people to buy the new copy of Windows.

    This doesn't show what they want it to -- that competitors don't face an entry barrier that MS does not because they too have to spend money on marketing. If MS didn't spend these millions people would still be developing for Windows -- maybe not for Windows SE 4.10.2222A, but for Windows nonetheless. Are they seriously trying to claim that the fact they have a 90% market share doesn't give competing OSes a disadvantage in getting people to develop applications for them?

    Anyhow, there are tons of funny bits in this document. I encourage everyone to at least skim it so they actually know what this is all about. MS does make a few good and relevant points, but overall the arguements just don't make sense to anyone who understands the facts.

  • It's not in the Constitution, and we both know it. However, the Sherman Anti-trust act(s) have been found to be in accordance with the U.S. Constitution

    That's the point. There is a huge overhang of dubious law, cantilevered out from a foundation of the commerce clause. You, and I, can form our own opinion on it, tempered by the practical issue of challenging constitutionality, of course. But in this case even the interpretation of the law is quite novel, by the admission of the DoJ themselves. If we want to see where the edges of a fuzzy law are, it's a good idea to look at the Constitution.

    Specifically, Microsoft is neither an electric utility nor a railroad. You can go around them. Other people who have an ambition to sell OSs can go around them. There is no physical impediment to doing so. IBM tried, and screwed it up. Apple tried, and screwed it up after being on the road to success, and may take another run at it. Be is trying. Linux is succeeding. All these examples are as unlike as possible to the situation where electric transmission lines, rails, pipelines or other physical impediments get in the way of competition (and if you want to relate it back to the Constitution, commerce across state lines).

    Microsoft's behavior relative to competitors is natural. What was Apple's behavior w.r.t. Mac cloners? Brutal, but effective, and within their rights as owners of Mac OS.

    Microsoft is alleged to have broken a novel interpretation of a complex law with qustionable applicability and a dubious constitutional foundation. The rest of my post highlights the downside of allowing this to proceed: Everyone's rights are diminished in measurable ways and where the effects are much the subject of Slashdot postings.

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @09:11AM (#1359708) Journal
    There seems to be quite a bit of confusion as to the subject of this document. In the United States and other common law countries, a legal result depends, in part, upon certain findings of fact, and in part, upon the application of the law to those findings.

    In some cases, the facts are determined by a jury, who returns a written verdict reporting their results, and in other cases, the facts will be decided by a judge. US v. MS is the latter type of case, and thus a so-called "bench trial," was held.

    Here, the Court wears two hats, one as the finder of facts, and the other as the finder of law, who will issue judgment based upon those fact-findings. Since the Court is accountable to the appellate bench, these findings are typically memorialized in an Opinion, which separately states (sometimes in numbered paragraphs) findings of fact and findings of law.

    The distinction between fact and legal findings is not always clear, and there are such creatures as "mixed questions of fact and law." For these purposes, however, this much of an introduction should suffice.

    It will not surprise many readers that the Court frequently invites the parties to offer their respective views on how the trial went, by submitting proposed "Findings of Law and Fact." Since neither party reasonably expects their proposed findings to be adopted entirely, they are often written somewhat as advocacy pieces.

    In this case, the Court split the fact-findings and law-findings in two, publishing the Court's fact-findings. The document referred to here is Microsoft's proposal for the findings of law with respect to those facts.

    However egregious the conduct in the findings of fact, it is possible that as a matter of law, those facts do not satisfy the elements required to prove an actionable offense. That is what Microsoft is trying to argue here, with a sound, albeit highly technical, legal analysis, that the government, may have proved too much (that Microsoft is really nasty), but that they didn't prove enough (the specific elements and all relevant findings required for antitrust liability).

    The document, accordingly, is a rebuttal, not to the findings of fact (which are necessarily and expressly assumed "arguendo" -- for the purpose of the argument), but to the proposed findings of law set forth earlier by the government.

    In due course, the Court will complete its "opinion," dropping the other shoe with its findings of law. From this composite Opinion, the Court will then determine what Judgment shall issue, and will render that Judgment by filing it with the Clerk of the Court, triggering the time for Motions and appeals.

    Expect there to be substantially more action between those events, however, as I am sure that the Court, if it finds liability, will invite the parties to suggest appropriate sanctions, and so on and so forth.

    Hope this is of some help to those who may have been lost in the Findings.
  • by xeno ( 2667 ) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @10:52AM (#1359719)
    Ok, you wanted some opinions, so here you go:


    Settings=Control Panel=Add/Remove Programs=Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and Internet Tools=Add/Remove only removes a shell application, leaving behind some 30-40 megs of web-related crap that you really can't get rid of because of intentional dependencies in the OS. It may be just as hard or harder than removing the Netscape icon on your TurboLinux desktop; if TurboLinux makes it hard to get rid of then shame on them.


    Microsoft only does with IE what every other OS supplier does -- they installed and featured a preferred browser. Um, no. What they did was to install a browser on a monopoly product and make it difficult enough to get rid of that the average user would become frustrated and simply use what they were given. Most users would try to drag IE to the trash and give up when told that that operation was not permitted.


    There is no harm to the consumer. We all know that Netscape Navigator is an inferior product which does not support CSS in a consistent way. Flamebait! Inferiority is a matter of opinion. Personally I think that CSS is a POS junk technology that extends a terrible model of client-side content control, breaking tons of business security models in its path. IE's consistent and tight integration with a platform that suffers from major security problems means that those security problems are extended so far that even my browsing of the web can damage my system. OTOH, I can fire up Netscape as 'nobody' on Linux and safely cruise the web with Javascript and Java turned on. From this security-centric point of view (one which is much more important in a corporate setting than CSS functionality), Internet Explorer is a vastly inferior product.


    Is it Microsoft's fault that Netscape degraded its own browser with useless proprietary mush that no one wanted? Nope. Netscape shot themselves in the foot by allowing Microsoft to define the development game. But then again, MS controls 90%+ of the deployment platforms, which makes fighting a feature-driven battle an almost unwinnable one.


    Do we really want the government regulating the computer desktop in favor of an inferior product? Clearly not. I want the government to punish Microsoft for its illegal behavior. That's all. Netscape, IE, Linux, W2K; all of these should live or die by their own merits. A monopoly that tries to force product acceptance outside of these merits ought to be treated to interference by the DOJ. Funny that...


    J
  • I agree with you that metaphors get way out of hand and are a poor argument tool.

    However, I think your counter argument actually re-inforced the other's points.


    What purpose does it serve to integrate a radio with the car's computer allowing anyone that steals the radio to disable the vehicle? Or, for a radio frequency to inhibit the operations of said vehicle causing a safety hazard?

    What purpose does it serve to integrate a browser with poor security with an OS, allowing any malicious ActiveX complete control over the OS?

    What real benifits does "Integrating" the browser with the OS give you that a properly COM/DCOM/OLE/ActiveSquigy/HeyBaby2000 enabled 3rd party browser wouldn't be able to do? And don't say "speed" as Microsoft did a wonderful job of convincing the Judge that performance was not impacted when IE was removed when they manufactured false evidence.

    Maybe it's time for Lemon Laws in the software industry.
  • Merk wrote:


    Nice of them to acknowledge Linux and BeOS as competitors. Anyhow, the above quote just shows that the issues are different when it comes to software so you can't use the same rules as for groceries. But even so, the above argument is obviously untrue. Commercial Linux vendors and other OS venders, whoever they may BeOS do still have to provide upgrades, tech support, and a distribution channel for their OSes. At this stage no commercial entity could take up the slack if MS stopped selling Windows.


    Actually, there is another way to see it. If Microsoft stopped selling Windows, other companies (or more loosely, organizations -- "company" in the older, more general sense) would do exactly what you say that couldn't. The only way to measure the slack you mention would be to remove Microsoft from the equation. (I'm not advocating it -- in fact, I am agreeing with this aspect of the MS rebuttal.)

    If there were no Microsoft, it would be some other company, but it is a reasonable / expectable expectation for one OS manufacturer [or at least one style of OS] to dominate for a period of time. Not inevitable, only one reasonable possibility. Just like bellbottoms, or road widths -- or maybe just like connectors. If all the neighbors have metric nut drivers, it's hard to borrow bits unless you do too. A new kind of nut driver has to overcome the friction of conventional wisdom and widespread availability, and this places a pretty high burden of proof on it, but it also tends to ensure that new drivers will indeed kick ass, or at least be sufficiently intriguing to spark trial.[Like all analogies, it's got limits, but hey.] The important thing is that it would be unreasonable to expect a single manufacturer (OS or nut driver)to dominate for an infinite length of time, without true and determined coercion. For another analogy, just as limited, consider how strange it would be if a single engine type didn't dominate the automobile market. Now there are many type of internal combustion gasoline engines, but if you buy a car, chances are it will have some variety of (shorter) i.c.g.e. For most people, they offer a more acceptable alternative than alternatives such as electric motors, fuel cells, etc -- taking into account all the factors (availability, initial cost, upkeep, range-of-tank, etc etc etc), people buy them in greater numbers than the others. But that won't always be the case, or at least there's no reason to think that it will always be the case. There's still enormous variety in the designs of available i.c.g.e.'s -- some are for racing, some sip gas but go put-put-put ;)

    With MS operating systems, it's sort of like one brand of engine dominating the field, because the mechanics and drivers are all used to its machinations and "feel" respectively. Again, there's friction, but it's finite.

    And this is not something that can be neatly legislated; while it's not inconceivable that a government could try to make decisions about what the marketplace should feature (it does, all the time), nothing does this as neatly as a price system. With the availability of excellent operating systems (free in either or both senses), Microsoft is pricing itself out of its own OS market, at least for some sectors.

    Back to the slack you mentioned! If MS were to fly lock, stock and barrel to outer space tomorrow at 8:13 a.m. (Pacific), there would be a hefty period of adjustment -- but things would settle. Some people would use other OSes, others would band together as a sort of support group to keep using Windows for a while (damn legacy apps!), still others would decide it's a grand time to finish up that revolutionary OS they started for the PhD and abandoned to take a 12-digit salary somewhere. But when you tug on a slack rope, it jerks before tension is restored.

    just some thoughts,

    timothy





  • actually they did, sort of. There's a patch/upgrade on the MS site that allows you to use CAB files as if it were normal folders.
  • Netscape used to be sold for around $30/license if I recall correctly. Although downloadable for free, for a time it was free only for personal use. Commercial users had to pay for a license, until Microsoft dumped IE on the market at no cost whatsoever and Netscape was forced to reply in kind or lose 100% of their market. It was clear then, as it is now, that Microsoft was leveraging their monopoly on desktop pcs to strangle Netscape's revinue stream and put them out of business.

    The only thing "strange" about this case are the absurdities and mutations of fact eminating from Redmond, and being repeated here by certain (quite possibly well financed) parties.
  • Um, okay... That's fine. Different things for different people I guess.

    But - what's a panguine?

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