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Survey Says 63% of Americans Like MS the Way It Is 453

Sami writes "Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL) has released the results of their Nationwide Technology Survey (in PDF). It seems that the majority of Americans (63%) think that breaking up Microsoft would be a mistake. Guess who is one of the Founding Members of ATL."
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Survey Says 63% of Americans Like MS the Way It Is

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  • Ha! That's the refrigerator calling the toaster white.
  • Is anyone else tired of Microsoft paid or founded companies releasing poll data and benchmarks that are in their favor? Shouldn't it be illegal to post results in such a bias? I dunno, this stuff is just sorta sad that people let this keep happening. It should be fraud. Who knows.
  • by blane.bramble ( 133160 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @04:55AM (#1305979) Homepage
    The average person probably isn't bothered about whether or not microsoft has a monopoly. Not at the moment anyway, and they probably believe that Microsoft is responsible for the technology they use, and a great innovater. It's amazing what the marketing dollar can achieve.
  • Microsoft is all over the place. That doesn't mean they might have manipulated the data from this survey (ok, so they have a history of doing so ;).

    I think the results stem from the fact that many people don't see how a break-up would be a good thing. MS would still be MS if broken in a couple of pieces. People just want an OS and software that doesn't require them to learn that scary computer stuff.
  • by Mark__ ( 87839 )
    more due to the fact that these people aren't aware of anything else. You really think the general public are that aware of what really goes on ??? if so, then get a clue :P
  • Ok guys, let's not /. these poor systems that have to run a webserver and keep their NT from crashing to a DOS prompt as well.

    Alternate download location click here []
  • 70% of all statistics are made up on the spot ;^)

  • by ebbv ( 34786 )

    it's amazing to me that mikkkrosoft can pull
    stunts like this without losing credibility with
    the rest of the world. forward this to your IT
    folks who still have any respect for bilbo of
    the gatespeople and his flock of PR demons, if
    they haven't lost any trust they had, then your
    next point of business should be having them
    removed from their position..

    imagine ford making a dummy little company to
    make a fake survey that said most americans love
    their ford automobiles most of all, and don't
    want any research into fuel cells, electric/gas
    hybrids, etc. etc.

    they would be crucified.
  • "The survey was conducted January 20 through January 23, 2000. A total of 1124 registered employees of Microsoft (476 Democrats/417 Republicans /231 Independents) were interviewed nationwide by telephone. All stated they vote regularly in general elections. Those interviewed were selected from a randomly generated list of telephone numbers." It helps to be a careful listener.

  • "If a thousand people say a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing."


  • Yep, I'm sure there's no possible way that these results could be arrived at unless they were somehow biased, huh?

    It's time for some of us to wake up and realize that the rest of the world does not always think the same way the Slashdot community does.

    If the results had come from a Linux company and indicated that 75% of Americans wanted Microsoft to be broken up into Baby Bills, would anyone be spouting claims of bias?

  • I'm not so sure that that figure isn't about right. Most of those users who claim that they're happy with Microsoft probably boot up, write a letter and send a few emails. Then they shutdown and turn off the box. That's how my parents use their computer. Stability isn't an issue for these users and they see all the chest thumping, especially from within the Linux community, as overblown. Of course, those of us who do use our computers for more than 1 hour a day find stability to be one of the biggest issues with the Microsoft Windoze fiasco. I don't particularly care if Microsoft gets broken up into smaller fragments or not. I'm just going to sit back and watch and enjoy while the company crashes and burns.
  • by Klaruz ( 734 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:01AM (#1305993)
    As soon as I mentioned this article to a friend he likened it to the abused wife syndrom.

    People don't like what microsoft is doing, but they're afraid of what will happen if they try to leave...
  • that was 63% of the people who worked for Microsoft. After all, they are a founding member.
  • The only thing this survey proves is that 63% of Americans can barely use Windows, and the only computer brand names they know about are Microsoft and Gateway.

    Wrapping up a purported leadership strategy based on what the lowest common denominator managed to say yes or no to is pretty flawed.
  • I'd bet a majority of Americans don't have even the slightest *clue* as to what this whole situation is about. It's probably about as relevant as surveying Americans on the situation in Kosovo. So, once again, screw the polls.....
  • Apparently Microsoft likes themselves just the way they are.

    The survey is interesting, but the questions don't apply. I mean, "Microsoft's freedom to innovate"? They have that freedom, I'm just waiting for them to *use* it.

    Also, half of America isn't really following the MS Trial. I'd be more interested in the opinions of the half that is... (Slashdot?)

    Of course, the Republicans are favoring the big business, and the Democrats tend not to, with the Independents in the middle. But what else is new, eh?

    Also, the implication that the DOJ would end up *increasing* the prices of Microsoft software is ludicrous. Microsoft does a fine job all by themselves, they aren't going to get any help in that department.

    The argument for strong competitors was biased, considering they didn't state the argument *against* strong competitors: Microsoft currently owns the x86 operating system business. Those are the facts, look up the percentages. This might be starting to change, but it hasn't changed enough yet. Basically, Microsoft doesn't have enough competition where it counts, and it's not because their products are technically superior, either.

    ...and I guarantee you, 63% of Americans also don't know how to use those darn PDF thingies...
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • That's why they replied things like those... The vast majority of "ordinary people" who used computers never had to simply think about the possible options it has to offer... And that vast majority like to have only one choice : Having more than one implies that you can make a wrong pick...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Really man, who among you would not like to work there. So what if they don't share source. Just think of the technology you could get involved in. Cutting edge user unfriendlyness! You all hate users anyway, it's required of you. Admit it!
  • A recent statistical report shows that statistics is the leading cause of statistics! Film at 11!
  • Perhaps the results are what they are because people have an innate fear of the unknown. Whatever it is, Micrrosofft does have the dominant OS, and many people are satisfied with it. Personally I dislike Microsoft, but I can see what people are thinking: it's not all that stable, but I can get what I need done.

    Since this has worked for them in the past, and they _don't_know_ what would happen if M$ was broken up, they probably feel that breaking the company up is a little like trying to fix something that isn't broken. At least that's how I think I would feel if I were the average Windows user.
  • I've learned to take every survey and benchmark associated with Microsoft Corporation with a grain of salt. With that whole NT/Linux fiasco a while back regarding performance of servers, I remember MS helping the surveyors to "prove" that NT was a better server OS than Linux. Looks like a possibly similar situation here....
  • I personally have never seen hot grits. Nor a person satisfied with Mikrosoft.

  • Sorry, but much as I hate Microsoft, I also hate the idea of a Governement breaking up a company purely because 90% of computer users are stupid enough to believe their FUD.

    I'm also enough of a romantic to believe that eventually Microsoft will collapse from the weight of trying to keep Windows backwardly compatible, and at the same time copying all the new features that everyone else will invent.
  • The real problem here is fear of change. It's built into humans. Most people I come across are happy and comfortable in their Microsoft niche, or so they think. You know, Windows crashes every once in a while, I don't mind paying $200 for an upgrade, etc. I've seen this everywhere. Many people respect Microsoft just because it's in the position that it is, not for anything else. That's why the story didn't surprise me. People are afraid to get out of their Microsoft habitat.
  • The surveys also said McCain would beat Bush in New Hampshire by only one or two points.

  • Actually, according to the latest polls, %67.9 of people think the same way the Slashdot community does.

  • This is a funny read! Perhaps it should be offered up with the humor icon.

    My favorite bits:

    "72% (of Americans) would oppose government regulations that would result in higher prices."

    "A similar majority (59%)say that increase (sic) regulation and litigation will have a negative effect on high technology industry's ability to innovate and bring new products to the marketplace."


    In an unrelated survey released today 98% of Americans agreed that rape is "A bad thing".

    At least try to disguise the propaganda a little.

  • 20% of Americans are practically illiterate.

    20% have trouble finding power switch of a computer.

    20% are absolutely certain that their computers are manufactured by MS.

    3% of Americans like MS the way it is.

  • actually its 84.2% of all stats are mae up on the spot:) Actually this probably isn't a bias survey at all. AS much as we all hate to say it there are some people out there who like microsoft complete. These people don't want to take the time to learn all commands, and apps that systems like linux have to offer but since windows is so easy to use for what the majority of the country does(type papers and surf the net) they give up haveing a stable system(not to mention they constently use or the ctrl+alt+Delete buttons :)) and go with windows. Yes it hurts us all but the truth is pain.
  • by blane.bramble ( 133160 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:07AM (#1306011) Homepage
    More interestingly, of these 63% who are against Microsoft being broken up, approximately 5% say they are following the trial very closely. So the other 95% are either not following it or "somewhat closely" (the lack of options would seem to put anyone who has heard of the trial into "somewhat closely". Seems an awful lot of people said they were against the break up without understanding what they were being asked.
  • by Surak ( 18578 ) <surak AT mailblocks DOT com> on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:09AM (#1306020) Homepage Journal
    I think the results stem from the fact that many people don't see how a break-up would be a good thing.

    I don't think that most consumers are quite that saavy. In fact, on last night's "Who Wants to Be A Derrier...err...Millionaire?" (hey, I leave the TV on for noise while I code :) ), less than half the audience knew that "Where Do You Want To Go Today?" was Microsoft's slogan. (Given the choice of IBM, Dell, Compaq or Microsoft.) (The contestant had to burn his "ask the audience" lifeline on this seemingly easy question)

    Nay, I think that consumers just either don't know enough about it or they just don't care.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:11AM (#1306028)
    Why is it, that whenever *anything* positive is said about Microsoft, it is immediately assumed that it's false, manipulated information, or whatnot. Do any of you people *think* before you run off on a rampage to slam the mighty evil empire?

    A large portion of the /. population is, while often educated and knowledgeable, extremely narrowminded and biased.

  • Well, there's massaging the data and massaging the questions. Not that MS would have been able to get "Do you think the government should impose extreme penalties to break Microsoft's "supposed" monopoly?" on the quiz, but no doubt they could slant the questions so as to make people view the proposed governmental action in a negative light. Add to that the fact that 90% of people don't really know or care about "scary computer stuff," and you get that people aren't likely, on the whole, to want to break MS up. Add to that that many people own stock (or know and care for someone who owns stock) in MS and thus have self-interested reasons not to want to see MS broken up (not, of course, that a breakup of MS entails their stock would devalue, but as long as they believe it's likely, they'll have the motivation).

    Moreover: since when do we take polls on technical questions anyhow? ("63% of people say the sun is five million miles from earth") The degree of harm caused by MS is a matter to be decided by looking at evidence most people (including, I bet, you and me) don't really know that much about. So the poll results don't seem all that meaningful anyhow.

  • And in breaking news, Microsoft sanctions an unbiased statistical survey that puts them in good light.

    In other news, MPAA is helping consumers by preventing copyright violations, SDMI is useful for consumer and music artists alike, and rich corporations are found to be the least arrogant of all commercial entities.

    Yeah, and next we'll see cloned bulls from cloned bulls. Sure.

  • A scare campaign is the easiest campaign on earth to run- especially about things most people don't understand - computers, economics & law.

    If that is the best MS can do they really need to worry.

  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:17AM (#1306041) Homepage Journal

    Go grab the PDF file, and read for yourself how loaded these questions are. Here's a quick sample:

    QUESTION: If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would end up slowing the pace of technological innovation, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you stringly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?

    <RANT> Most regulations are not designed to specifically slow down technical innovation. How do we know a priori that a given regulation will slow down innovation? Sure, a regulation could be designed to do that specifically, but in most cases, regulations are meant to stimulate and guide industry, while curtailing harmful practices that hurt everyone in the long run. This question begs the person being asked to oppose this particular form of regulation (regulate to slow down innovation), and then tacitly extends the answer to cover all possible forms of regulation.</RANT>


    Alot of the questions are of this form. Go read it.

  • by shambler snack ( 17630 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:17AM (#1306042) Homepage
    The site is inflamatory to say the least. After looking at the list of questions, it appears to my paranoid mind that the whole thing was meant to subtley fan the fears of 'guvment meddlin' in our affairs. As a consequence, all 1124 respondents were played like a fine violin, and so will a lot more people who read this 'report'. Unfortunately, the questions don't touch on the real issues, which are the brutal methods that Microsoft used to attain market dominance and thus get itself into this pickle in the first place. But them that controls the questions control the outcome to their own ends, not to the ends of truth.
  • def. Monopoly - A market that exists with only one vendor and barriers such that no other vendors may enter. Other companies have NO PROBLEM entering the market. Microsoft is the PREDOMINANT software vendor - not a monopolist. They are here for a reason, although not for long (break up or not, MS is going down). The only other company that could hang in the consumer market right now is Apple and they screw their customers all the time. With all the stock market madness right now, Linux is just beginning to see the kind of financial backing that it needs to replace Windows. Give it two years - Linux will replace Windows (and all their other MS apps - unless the giant bows and starts to support the free OS). The taste will be much sweeter if Microsoft is left as a whole.
  • While I agree with you that a good number of /. readers are narrow-minded, I think it may be warranted in this case. Obviously Microsoft is a member of the organization that spawned the survey. The questions that were asked (read the PDF) were extraordinarily biased. You'll notice that all of the questions are worded in such a way that the first thing you hear is the "Pro-Microsoft" answer or emphasize "big brother is watching". I'm willing to bet that these questions were designed soley so that Microsoft could answer all of the legality questions that the fed's are bringing up with the "common grass roots response". I'd like to end by saying that I am writing this from Windows 98. =)
  • by Zoltar ( 24850 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:23AM (#1306057)
    Bingo !! You score a big 100 on that one my brother.

    I was listening to some cheesey talk radio show the day after the FOF came out and they were talking about the judges decision...etc... some woman calls in and starts going on and on about how people were just picking on Bill G. because he's rich and how they should just leave MS alone because they have done so much for the world by making computers easy to use..etc... She sounded just like all of the marketing stuff that MS pumps out...It was obvious that this woman had not read one word from the FOF...she was completely uninformed.

    Unfortunatly I think that this woman is part of the majority of the fact it would not surprise me if 63% of the consumers are exactly like her.

    I love a good consiracy theory, but IMHO this is one poll MS would not need to taint to get the results they want.

  • Just to prove that you really can spin statistics anyway you choose, lets take a look through some of those questions and answers.

    Question 1: STATEMENT: Increased government regulation and litigation of the Technology industry will lead to consumers paying higher prices.

    Loaded question number one. Litigation => lawyers. Higher costs are inevitable in this scenario, and not surprisingly, over half the respondents thought this was the case. Had they bothered to separate regulation from litigation it's not so clear what the answer would be.

    Question 2: Do you think increased government regulation, including the regulation of software design, will have a negative or positive effect on the high tech industry and companies, like Microsoft, to innovate and bring new products to consumers?

    This is another interesting slant. Regulation of software design? Wow. Just load those questions with negative impact - the idea of regulating software 'design' would have the whole of Slashdot up in arms faster than a DVD case. Funnily enough, over half the respondants felt this was a bad thing too.

    Question 3: The U.S. Justice Department is currently suing Microsoft. How closely are you following the trial - very closely, somewhat closely, or not closely at all?

    Now this is an interesting question. And the answer is very revealing - only 5% of the respondants were paying close attention to the trial. So this survey, even given it's headline claim of 63% Americans thought that breaking up MS was a bad thing, actually managed to pick a group of people who were split between having occassionally heard of the MS vs DOJ case and those who haven't followed the case at all.

    I could go on. Most of the questions are too loaded to be worth discussing. If you are planning on spending money on a real survey, just remember that you must not lead the interviewee by loading up your questions one way. I would also suggest asking questions in random order. Once you find someone leaning one way at the start of a questionnaire, people tend to follow that path. So, had the questionnaire started with:

    Question: If there were more alternatives to the Microsoft Windows platform available to you at lower cost, would you be interested?

    ... and ...

    Question: If the MS vs DOJ trial results in Microsoft being broken up and you end up having a wider choice of quality software for your computer as a result of the increased competition in the software market, would you be interested?

    ... the results might just have been different :-)


    Toby Haynes

  • Ask a socialogist and statician. When compiling data it is very important to ask the question properly to remove any biases. For example it has been claimed that durring an election the first name on the ballot will get 4% of the vote. It would be very easy for to ask a substlely biased question.

    However I agree with other posters that this is probably valid as most people just don't know any better.

  • >If the results had come from a Linux company and
    >indicated that 75% of Americans wanted Microsoft
    >to be broken up into Baby Bills, would anyone be
    >spouting claims of bias?

    Probably at least you.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2000 @05:30AM (#1306065) Homepage Journal
    This is (from what I've heard) one of the strongest bonds a person can form, linking an abuser with the abusee in a way that will often prevent either party walking away.

    It wouldn't surprise me if something like that could form between a company and it's customers, under the sorts of conditions Microsoft has developed.

    Certainly, the kinds of responses that are being reported by people shifting away from Microsoft (eg: SGI, IBM and the NSA) are far more dramatic and sudden than you would expect from just changing one program on a machine holding thousands. But it's -exactly- the sort of response you could expect from people who have experienced traumatic bonding.

  • Clearly, this was scientifically designed to get the desired answer. It's well known that things like word choices, associating things that don't necessarily go together, using hot-button words, and question order will skew the results of the following questions.

    What's the very first question that they ask?

    STATEMENT: Increased government regulation and litigation of the
    Technology industry will lead to consumers paying higher prices.

    Right off the bat, they are trying to color the results of the rest of the survey. They are trying to get the respondent in the mindset of thingking about frivolous lawsuits and intrusive regulation. Furthermore, everyone knows its more sophisticated to be a cynic, so they crafted the question to take advantage of that.

    What if we crafted the question so the cynical position was on the other side of the fence? What if they asked this, more or less equivalent question:

    STATEMENT: If the government reduces its efforts to stop abuse of monopoly power in the technology industry, then the technology industry will pass its savings on to consumers.

    Really, these two questions are asking pretty much the same thing, but putting a different light on the question.
  • Surprise surprise. A newsbit is released where someone doesn't bash Microsoft, and they're automaticly labeled by Slashdot as sellouts and fakers.

    Of course if they released a survey making Linux look "leet" then they would be praised for singing the holy truth.

    Please, give me a break, get a clue. Not everyone sees the world black and white like you. If you wish to report news, at least make an attempt to do so in a mildly unbiased manner. Post an article, write a summary about it, but don't include idiotic comments to herd readers into one particular direction.

    Unless of course you believe Slashdot readers are incapable of forming their own opinion.

    Open source. Closed minds. We are Slashdot.
  • Microsoft have demonstrated their monopolistic tendencies many times in the past.
    Windows was only passed on to distributors who agreed not to sell DR-DOS.
    Windows was tweaked *specifically* not to run on DR-DOS.
    The first point of call for any windows fault was to blame DR-DOS, if that happened to be on the machine.

    Then again for applications running on windows (We'll only give you windows if you agree not to sell ).

    Too stupid to live.

  • I'm don't understand how you turned 1124 registered voters into 1124 registered employees of MSFT but I do understand that such senseless zealotry is probably not healthy. If I ever started hallucinating and seeing the word Microsoft in every pro-MSFT article I read I'd go see a doctor before the talking penguins come and get me.

    That said why is anybody on slashdot surprised? American voters are the same people who voted in a suspected criminal (whitewater) , known philanderer and liar into a second term of presidency. American voters gave Clinton the highest approval rating in 6 years when it turned out he had been lying about a sexual indiscretion as well as obstructing justice to prevent the disclosure of said indiscretion. This is the same group of people that surveys have shown [a significant portion i.e. over 25%] have difficulty understanding the entire contents of the average newspaper (even though newspapers are written at a 6th grade level) and cannot properly fill out a job application due to lack of understanding. This group of people are the ones who have come to take it for granted that computers crash, consider linux users as geeks and freaks with a major case of sour grapes and believe BillG is the reason they are on the Internet (after all without MSFT there would be no Windows(tm) or Internet Explorer(tm) and everyone one knows you need them to get on the web).

    My suggestion to slashdot readers is to calm down and realize that the average citizen actually believes ads, marketing and spin thus just because you are informed or intelligent enough to seperate the fact from the BS does not mean everyone else can or does.
  • 67% of Americans like MS as it is.

    More than that do not understand technology any farther than they can throw a 21" monitor. It intimidates them, and makes their couch-potato heads hurt. So if a single company were to keep them safe from all dem goddanged teknikal details then that would be just honkey-dorey..

    You'd probably get similar numbers if you asked if MS and AOL should merge.

    We have to remember that the readership on /. is probably the top-most technically savvy 1%-10% of the online community. We see these issues from a different perspective than most 'computer users', and certainly different than most Americans.

    67% of Americans like MS as it is. Jerry Springer is the most popular day-time talk show. Coincidence? I think not!
  • by guran ( 98325 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @06:03AM (#1306122)
    (Note 1 I used to work for a survey company
    note 2 I'll try to be impartial here (wrt the survey))

    Here is the survey:

    I'm going to read a statement and would like you to tell me if you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with it.

    STATEMENT: Increased government regulation and litigation of the Technology industry will lead to consumers paying higher prices.
    "Regulation" and "ligitation" will most likely be percieved as bad things just as "Higher prices" It is very likely that the respondant will link the two
    QUESTION: Do you think increased government regulation, including the regulation of software design, will have a negative or positive effect on the high tech industry and companies, like Microsoft, to innovate and bring new products to consumers?
    Government regulation of software design is not exacly what the monopoly case is about is it?
    QUESTION: The U.S. Justice Department is currently suing Microsoft. How closely are you following the trial - very closely, somewhat closely, or not closely at all?
    I'll just note this for now.
    QUESTION: As you may know, the case impacts consumers. Some people say that Microsoft has repeatedly benefited consumers with its products. Others say Microsoft's business practices have hurt consumers. Which side do you agree with more?
    Tricky one. But the two are *not* mutually exclusive. I benefit from Windows, even though I might be hurt by MS business practices.
    QUESTION: Recent press reports suggest that the Justice Department will seek to break-up Microsoft into separate companies. Do you favor efforts by the government to break-up Microsoft, or do you think a penalty like break-up would be too extreme given what you know about the case?
    This is a valid question. Keep in mind, though that 44% said that they did not follow the case at all
    QUESTION: The Department of Justice is deciding what, if any, regulations to pursue against Microsoft. If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would end up increasing the cost of software to consumers, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?
    Duh! Mesa want chepa missosoft thingy
    That question is bogus.
    QUESTION: If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would end up slowing the pace of technological innovation, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?
    QUESTION: If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would give government the power to decide how to design parts of Microsoft's software, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?
    How many slashdotters would want government code in windows?
    QUESTION: Some suggest that regulation of Microsoft will require the creation of a new government office or agency. Do you support or oppose the creation of a new government office or agency to regulate or monitor Microsoft's business practices? Do you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?
    Again, Who wants more bureaucracy?
    QUESTION: Some people say Microsoft has strong competitors - they point to the recent merger of America Online and Time Warner, as well as companies like IBM, Sony, Sun, and Apple. Other people say Microsoft doesn't have strong competitors. Which side do you agree with more?
    Why did they not mention GM as well?

    To summarize: That survey said *nothing*

    Also they fail to say wether knowledge of the case had any impact. And just calling registered voters creates a bias too (even if that probably does not matter here).

    I actually *tried* not to be partial here, but that was one of the most crappy surveys I'vs seen (and i've seen some)

  • According to recent polls, 99.44% of all poll data is irrelevant 8^)
  • Be came to the market late and hit the high-barriers to entry that the consumer OS market provides. This isn't MS's fault

    Read Judge Jackson's Finding of Fact. He seems to think so, and it's his opinion that matters.

    I don't think the lack of consumer Unix based systems had anything to do with MS monopoly in 90-94

    There was no lack of consumer Unix. Minix cost less than a copy of Windows 3.0, and one could get Xenix, from Microsoft, for only slightly more. Hell, buying my first 386 Olivetti cost LESS with Xenix than with their 'standard' Windows developer package.
  • Well, in a democracy, the laws should me made by the people. If the people decide that a law is wrong then it should be repealed.

    Fine. Was that a question on the survey? I believe the only questions regarding regulation were whether people think there should be more regulation by the government, not whether the existing laws are wrong. Furthermore, the antitrust laws came from somewhere. True they didn't come directly from the people, but at least to the same extent as most other laws in a representative democracy.

    But, once the laws have been passed the popularity of one defendant being tried under those laws is irrelevant. This is especially true when the defendant is helping to gather the information on his popularity.

  • Well, if anybody checks, if you go to their home page, the "about us" they are FUNDED by Microsoft and CompUSA. They were the last folks on the microphone on C-SPAN when Jackson issued his dissent (sic) decree. Mostly a bunch of irreverent jerks. That's JMHO...
  • by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @06:24AM (#1306156)

    Ask a socialogist and statician.

    Glad you asked. ;) (I am not one, but I am studying in the field...)

    I looked over this survey, and it is basically a 'push poll'. That is where you ask questions which are designed to influence a person's opinion. You do this by asking questions about one point of view, especially agree/disagree questions which bring up points in a person's head. By manipulating the questions, and the order in which they are asked, and getting the wording right, you have maneuvered a person who previously didn't have an opinion into having the one you want. Especially if you imply that a person should have an opinion.

    They ask all these questions which imply the importance of the trial, then ask how closely they are following the MS trial. The options were 'following closely', 'somewhat closely' and 'not following'. Surprise surprise, people pick the middle answer.

    I wouldn't put too much stock in this. In fact, we should be happy that people have this instinctive fear of regulation and government intrusion into our field. If they learn the details of the MS suit, then we'll see if opinion shifts, but the last thing we want is a list of rules and procedures which would strangle the small startups before they got off the ground.

    I'd say there is virtually nothing we want the government to do about MS's monopoly. Now that we have the finding of fact, there are grounds for lawsuits against MS. I can see an argument for taking the "MS embraced and extended" proprietary standards and releasing them to an industry coalition. But open sourcing Windows 2000 would accomplish nothing (except reveal to programmers what they already know about the Mother of All Kludges). Break up MS? It would be like those slime monsters in D&D which when you cut them in half, now there are two of them! We'd have three or four MS monopolies (OfficeCorp, WindozeCorp, etc).

    Mainly, we can watch the companies MS buried in the past go after them now. Since the industry is moving away from the desktop anyway, MS might be contained by technology already.

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @06:24AM (#1306158) Homepage
    The average person will believe on faith any statement attributed to a scientist, a recent study showed.

    Scientists reported that 93% of those surveyed believed all statements prefaced with "Scientists say", "Studies show", "Other findings include", or "According to recent research". According to this research, even when very few details of the study are given, and no controls are mentioned, 43% of respondents believe any random statistic given.

    Among their other findings, these scientists have concluded that the gullibility effect is increased if unrelated vague future applications are presented. "A direct quote from someone involved in the project also has a measurable impact" said Dr. J. J. Charfman, leader of this effort. Dr. Charfman further added that a note of dissent from a random other party with no obvious qualifications actually increased the gullibility effect, contrary to expectations.

    However, not all agree with Dr. Charfman's findings. "This research drastically overestimates the number of people who can read, and therefore the number of people who will be affected by reading articles of the type mentioned" pointed out Dr. C. Rackpot.

    Dr. Charfman and his group believe that therapy based on their research could one day lead to a cure for cancer.

    {From SegFault archives}
  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @06:26AM (#1306159) Homepage Journal
    I took this poll. I posted about it on /. at the time, but noone believed me, and claimed I was spreading FUD.. That's okay, I probably would have said the same thing.

    Anyway, someone called me at my house and asked these exact questions (plus a lot more). But what strikes me as odd is that these results claim to have been taken on January 20-23, 2000. When someone running a survey asking me these exact same questions, it was well before that. Still in 1999, as a matter of fact.

    So, I'm forced to wonder. Did they just do enough surveys until they got the results they wanted? I'm not entirely sure the same people called me as conducted this survey, but the questions are _exactly_ the same.

  • Well, how about the barriers against entry which Microsoft created? MS used secret OS calls in its own spreadsheet, creating barriers for other spreadsheets. MS altered MS-Windows to complain about DR-DOS, creating a barrier against using DR-DOS. MS repeatedly alters file formats, creating barriers for compatible applications (even barriers for past customers, forcing them to update and buy new versions).
  • Who think they know everything often find their way here, too... in fact, they are the very ones who moderate based on unfounded opinions on stories they know nothing about. (-2; Offtopic Flamebait).

    But really, the 5% who think they know what they are doing are just as likely to be the ones who don't turn on the printer...
  • Well, in a democracy, the laws should me made by the people. If the people decide that a law is wrong then it should be repealed.

    Then it's a good thing we don't live in a democracy :) . Seriously, the United States is not a democracy, has never been a democracy, and was never intented to be a democracy. We are a Republic, and the people who claim otherwise have listened to too much of Ross Perot's "direct electronic referenda" rhetoric.

    The founders of this country were well aware of the problems attendant with democracy as a form of government, they were classically educated and had all read their Plutarch (democracy will invariably degenerate to mob rule). Consequently, they adopted a system based on elected representation, where the people, who in the course of their daily lives as farmers or bankers or whatever could not be troubled to know enough to make intelligent decisions about every issue confronting the country, would instead elect representatives, whose jobs it would be to make the intelligent and informed decisions. We can lament about how the republic has degenerated in its own way, but the reality is that the current system, with all its faults, is still the best there is -- we can work to improve it, but the last thing we need (for example) is a system whereby people vote to prevent the government from breaking up Microsoft because they like the fact that a 4-year-old can use Excel competently. In fact, if you read the Constitution, Article 4 Section 4 states that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government," indicating that the founders' commitment against democracy extended beyond just the Federal government, down into the states as well.

    The fact is, the public doesn't generally think things through very well, study issues, and understand the ramifications of its decisions. If you were to conduct a poll, I'm quite sure that most people would oppose milk price supports; what they don't realize is that without those supports, most dairy farmers would go out of business, the industry would be controlled by a handful of mega-producers, and they'd be paying twice as much for milk as they do otherwise. Unpopular government exercises generally do serve a purpose, and in many instances it involves getting the government we need rather than the government we say we want.

    This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.

  • Interesting statistic.
    How closly are you following the trial: Very closely 5%, somewhat closely 51%, not at all 44%.
    So in other words we should really only be able to ask opinions about the trial to the people who follow closely, and maby 2/3 of the people who follow it somewhat closely. It would be REAL interesting to break down the other statistics based on how they answered this question.

    Whats also freaky, is democrats where more likly to answer to not breakup microsoft, and that microsoft has benifited consumers. But yet, when asked weither they would support a regulation that would increase the price of software for consumers. 6% of democrats as compareed to 3% of republicans answered that they Strongly Support such regulation. (Though remember these polls have a 3% margin or error, so this could mean nothing.)
    P.S. Not really trying to make a statement its just that the statistic suprised me, wanted to know what others though.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, this is going to come out sounding like elitist flamebait, but I don't care. I'm sick and tired of people posing loaded questions to other people who don't have the necessary intellectual capital to be able to meaningfully answer the questions in the first place.

    I remember reading somewhere that 30 or 40-some percent of Americans believe that the entire universe was poofed into existence by an omnipotent diety no more than 10,000 years ago in pretty much its current state (never minding things like dinosaurs, distant galaxies, etc.) I think that we should keep this in mind before attempting to assign any meaning to the results of this survey (or indeed, any other survey.) Surveying "average Americans" about technology is like surveying kindergarteners to find out where the best grad schools are at.

    You may now moderate me into the ground.
  • That's the same way many political polls are run. I remember answering the phone one afternoon and getting polled about NAFTA. One of the 20+ questions was like "Do you think that opening the borders to Mexico will increase unemployment or decrease employment?" O.k. maybe I can't remember the exact questions, but all of them were long and leading. Remember 42% of statistics are made up on the spot (or biased so much in their gathering as to mean nothing, which amounts to the same thing)
  • The responses to the question, "The U.S. Justice Department is currently suing Microsoft. How closely are you following the trial - very closely, somewhat closely, or not closely at all?" went as follows:

    5% said that they were following it closely.
    51% said they were somewhat following it.
    44% said that they didn't follow it at all.

    Ok, if you're not following it or only partly following it, how do you know if a breakup is too extreme a punishment? If the populace is ignorant of the details, why should saying that 65% of them are against the breakup have any relavence whatsoever?

    And the breakdowns on the answers- why the breakdowns by pollitical party affiliation?
  • They are not just founding memebers of the ATL but also the Assocation for Competitive Technology, a founding group of the ATL! Double Dipping! Also it's supported by the Clarity Group whcih if you look at their web site is enamored wiht Microsoft. Some of these groups have an obvious vested interest in keep Microsoft together, how can we believe this poll then? I wonder why there hasn't been a truly impartial poll, one with no finacial support to groups doing the poll, about whether Microsoft should break up. Perhaps the answer would be unsavory?
  • Survey says 63% of Americans are Dumb as a Sack of Hammers.

    Seriously folks, with the stats on things like highschool graduation, college acceptance, etc, do you really care what 63% of americans think?

    Do you ever wonder why this is a Republic and not a direct democracy? I believe the words were "Your people, sir, are a great beast"

    Heck, I'm almost willing to help fund a survey to call thousands of lonely housewives and ask them if, in their opinion, should the American People have to pay to bail us out of our national debt, or should the US Government have to pay for it?

    On a more relivant note, does anybody have access to historical data re: the AT&T breakup? Did they pull any stunts like this?

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @06:51AM (#1306206)

    As Mr. Z's comment [] points out, the survey questions were of the unfair "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" variety.

    Back in the spring of 1998 Microsoft attempted to orchestrate a "Grassroots" movement, in which they staged a phony letter writing campaign to the press. Here's a little article about the incident, from the Detroit News, "Microsoft may try to orchestrate grassroots support []":

    "...The Los Angeles Times, in an article Friday, disclosed plans for a media strategy that includes opinion pieces and letters to the editor that appear to be local testimonials but are written by Microsoft's publicity machine..."

    "...The documents reported by the Los Angeles Times, some labeled as draft copies and carrying [MS Spokesman] Shaw's name, stated that the media blitz was "geared to generating leverageable tools for the company's state-based lobbyists" and positive press clippings that "state political consultants can use to bolster the case..."

    I'll bet this latest survey will be used as part of their "Freedom to Innovate" [] program. Here's a little quote from that page:

    "...Contact Your Elected Officials Think your public officials need to hear from real consumers about Microsoft and the industry? Send them an e-message..."

    "...We formed the Freedom to Innovate Network (FIN) as a response to the overwhelming amount of correspondence we received from around the U.S. and overseas regarding the trial with the Department of Justice and other public policy issues. The FIN is a non-partisan, grassroots network of citizens and businesses who have a stake in the success of Microsoft and the high-tech industry..."

    So let's all do as they suggest, and "Contact Your Elected Officials" and let them "hear from real consumers about Microsoft and the industry." And then let's see just exactly what our congressmen think of MS's tactics.

  • Other companies have NO PROBLEM entering the market. True. But, irrelevant. A company can enter the market, and come up with something absolutely fantastic. If it isn't for a M$ OS, then it's declared a "niche" item, and doesn't get picked up by most IT departments. If it *is* for a M$ OS, then one of several things happen:

    1. M$ changes things to make it harder for the application to run under Windows. People give up on the product, and the company goes under.
    2. M$ announces that they will soon release something similiar. Everyone drops the product and waits for the M$ version which might ever actually be produced.
    3. There is already too much support for #2 to happen (e.g., Netscape), and M$ actually does make another product, using libraries that aren't as broken as the ones they license out to companies to make Windows-based applications. It runs faster (comparatively) then the product or (more common) gets bundled in with the OS, and the company goes under.

    I find it interesting to note that the last few weeks of Doonesbury have been targeting just this very effect. Mikim didn't go under because they didn't have a good product. They entered the market. They just lost everything immediately because when they didn't sell themselves to M$, they had no way to compete.

    Of course, in that example, M$ made a comparable product to Mikim's freely available on their website. Were Linux to be, say, 70% of the market share, I wouldn't expect many people to be all that interested in Win2000. But the similarity doesn't exist because open source groups lack the capital (and market share) that M$ has.

    In any case, the claim that M$ isn't a monopoly by using a dictionary definition of "monopoly" isn't really valid. IMHO, the definition needs to be broadened to cover "effective" monopolies as they can exist now (and couldn't years ago when the definition as offered was valid).

    Me, I don't see where breaking them up really solves anything. If you want real competition, then require that the licensed libraries that are made available to developers be the same libraries that M$ itself uses! Then, companies can compete, because they can integrate their software to the OS the same way that M$ does. Furthermore, 3rd parties will be able to fix long-standing bugs in the M$ code (or work around them), etc. At worst, at least there'd be a more-stable version of Windows produced.

  • What was it that Benjamin Disraeli (already then!) used to complain about? Oh yes:

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    ``Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose.''

  • Of course, the classic loaded question is:

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?
    ( ) Yes
    ( ) No

    Some people say Microsoft has strong competition - AOL/TW, IBM, Sony, Sun & Apple ---- could be reworded to read "If you wanted to buy an open hardware system such as an IBM compatible PC, do you feel you have a choice of operating system software to run on it?"

    ( ) yes
    ( ) no
    ( ) oh, I just use whatever the 'experts' tell me to!

    No alter ego today
  • Actually the US is based on common law, which means in a sense that the judges get to make it up as they go along depending on the current thinking in legal circles and the current sentiment of the american public. Thus, the current wishy-washy state of things like abortion law or death penalty law.

    We don't have slavery, Jim Crow laws and the civil rights movement because a strong willed minority in our government imposed their ethics on an unruly mob; we have these things because the unruly mob by and large wanted them, dispite a vocal minority. And we only have gotten these things recently--while the american Civil War settled the notion of slavery by turning it into a succession question, these other things have only been around with any meaning since the 60's, dispite the efforts of a few for at least a hundred and fifty years.

    Public opinion matters when new law is settled on; that's why public opinion is asked for in this case. And in the case of Microsoft, this is one of those rare occassions where we are charting untested waters. (This will be the first time a non-government sanctioned technology monopoly will be dismantled.) So the judges want to know what informed people think.
  • What you say is entirely true; /. is loaded with anti-MS, Anti-Windows, Anti-Bill zealots. Anything nice written about MS is by definition a lie, etc. etc..

    That said, have you looked at the poll questions and the organisation's website? What a scary bunch of anti-regulation "America First!" rah rah types. Eek!

  • ... if the questions are as loaded as that. It means that at least 37% of the people polled have a strong enough negative opinion to answer "no" in spite of the large bias of the question. That means that with a bit of two-sided reporting, there's probably a big majority in *favour* of MS being split up.
  • by w3woody ( 44457 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @07:25AM (#1306240) Homepage
    ... except that Microsoft still hasn't learned the art of being subtle in playing politics--probably because they have such contept for anyone outside the Redmond campus.

    I get these sorts of surveys all the time. They're used to manipulate politicians--or at least the stupid ones, as any politician with the IQ of a house plant knows these sorts of surveys are always loaded.

    But typical questions on the surveys I get are things like "should Americans keep their God given right to bare arms as was granted to us by our Founding Fathers, or should the government take their cue from athiest God-hating communist countries and take our rights away." (Gun Control) Or "should Women have control over their reproductive selves or should government be able to inprison women for attempting to control their fate in light of an unwanted pregnancy?" (Abortion).

    These sorts of questionares are always loaded, and it's not a supprise that Microsoft is trying to play the same game. Too bad they're too arrogant to play it well.
  • That may be correct, but the dictionary definition of monopoly is irrelevant here. A judge has found MS to be a monopoly, therefore microsoft IS a monopoly (in the eyes of the law) until that finding is overturned.
  • You know, I wouldn't be surprised if this survey were totally fair and the results were as accurate as the best surverys are (I know it's neither, but hear me out here). That's part of the biggest problem, not necessarily with M$, but with computing in general today: people don't know what's going on.

    MS has always been good at hiding the things they're really doing. You'd be surprised at just how few people really understand the issue (most Slashdotters do, I realize, but we're a comparatively tiny minority). The DOJ trials have helped raise awareness (I know several people who thought before the trial that I was just taking things a bit too far when I tried to explain about M$, but now they're quite firmly on our side). But they're not enough, what with Microsoft (who's in this for personal gain) and many Objectivists (most of whom don't yet seem to realize that the things M$ has done actually go against their philosophy, not in agreement with it) spreading FUD.

    In the end, the only real way to fight M$ will be education (it's odd, just how many things can only be fought by that). That's also where the problem comes in; convicing people that Microsoft really isn't everything it claims to be is not an easy task. But I'd say it has to be done. It's hard to believe that a company that's only ever produced one decent program (Excel) and one decent hardware innovation (the mouse wheel, if that was even their idea to start with; I don't know) has risen to power. But if you don't know just how bad their software really is, or where the rest of their so-called "innovations" really came from, then it becomed easier, and that's what needs to change.
  • See, you obviously missed it, the guy was trying to be funny, did you not note the comment about the x-rays zapping your feet.
  • No accually it was right when the sputnik went up, that the American school system started teaching kids about how to "duck and cover" when they saw the flash. Yep, we sure need those times again, like we need a hole in our head.
  • Not only is M$ a founding member of ATL itself, but they're behind some of the other ATL members too, e.g., ACT []. They're heavily involved in others, e.g., Clarity [].

    There's more [] (but I don't think I can stomach any more right-wing conservative propaganda. Yikes.

  • The only Republic like facility we still share is the famed electoral college which also does not operate as intended.

    I disagree. Your arguments about direct election of Senators are a good indication that the United States has ceased to become as Federal as it once was, but don't bear on the fact that it's a republic and not a democracy. It doesn't matter that the extra tier was removed between the people and their elected senators (that tier being the state legislatures which used to designate senators), the senators are still delegated representatives whose responsibility is to make decisions on behalf of the public; that is, by its very nature, a republic. Nor does it matter how taxes are collected, or whether they are collected from the people are the states. You've effectively confused federalism with republicanism....

    Like I said in my earlier post, the only people who are seriously discussing democracy in the US are the Perot groupies with their rhetoric about "direct electronic referenda". Just because we've effectively eliminated through constitutional amendement an extra layer between the people and some of their representatives does not mean we've fallen down the slippery slope into democracy. If you want to be particular about areas where we have, there are a number of conservatives I know who have real issues with the "Oregon System" (statewide ballot initiatives) adopted by a number of states, because it (1) does trample down that slippery slope and (2) appears to be unconstitutional under Article 4 Section 4 that I discussed previously.

    Not that I disagree with you entirely in philosophy, however: the break from federalism that we have made has had fairly substantial consequences, many of which are negative. Like you said, the ability of the federal calf to wean itself off the tax teat of the states with the income tax has resulted in a far-less-restrained federal government than was originally envisioned. On the other hand, the relative drop in importance of the states has helped forge more of a national identity in the last several years, where people consider themselves "Americans" more than "Nutmeggers" or "Hoosiers," and that is in-and-of-itself arguably an improvement; I myself have lived in five different states during the last five years, migrating as my needs progressed, something I'm quite sure would have been unthinkable had I perceived myself as a fiercely committed and patriotic "Idahoan."

    In fact, it is arguable that we are, by creating communities in the virtual realm that are forged out of common interest rather than common geography, effectively rendering irrelevant governments themselves which are predicated on common geography. Do I, for example, have more in common, in terms of political interests, with the people who live three miles away on the other side of my current town, or with the people three thousand miles away on the other coast who practice the same profession I do and have remarkably similar social and economic interests? In my case, it is quite clearly the latter, yet my voice is heavily diluted by having the intermediary layers of our republic divided along geographic boundaries. Will states ever be completely obsolete? No, somebody has to collect the garbage and franchise electric utilities. But in twenty-first century America, has their relative importance diminished? Certainly, and that is not altogether inappropriate, for the reason I described above.

    This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.

  • You're forgetting to comment on the certain style that the questions are presented in:
    "Some say that Bill Gates is a pedophile, that he routinely eats spotted owls for breakfast, that he doubleparks on busy streets, that he doesn't give generous tips, that he keeps all his money in a so-called 'money bin' and swims through it like Scrooge MacDuck, that he doesn't call his mother, that he keeps his children in the basement for medical experiments, and that he advocates the violent overthrow of the American government in favor of a New International World Order where he, as fuhrer, reigns over the newly enslaved American populace. Others say he doesn't do those things. What do you think?"

    You really can't get much more leading than some of the questions here. People who don't know any better usually choose the side with more words and more clauses. It's human-nature == stupidity.
  • It is simple my friend. is a Linux news site, and so linux oriented news is the major thing reported here. Of course, it would be nice if the nuevo-wealthy maintainers of this site would practice some unbiassed journalism. By that I mean not focusing on anti-MS news and ignoring anything about Linux that is slightly negative.

    And before trolls start with the "Slashdot isn't all about Linux", I suggest you read some of the press releases by and va linux as well as some of the details regarding in the andover SEC filings.

  • I agree that there would have been a barrier to entry for Be, but that wall was enlarged greatly by Microsoft and their 'If you ship it, you must pay' licenses.. Be would have stood a pretty good chance at market share if Microsoft hadn't had those 'innovative' contracts with the OEMs..
  • Loaded maybe, but isn't it the truth?

    This isn't directed to you, desertfool:

    Some people think that it is great that the government is going after microsoft ONLY BECAUSE it is microsoft. They aren't looking at the bigger picture to realize that this can set a standard to allow the government _control_ and _regulate_ the software industry. All these people care about is satisfying the rabid linux jihad by seeing microsoft punished in any way possible. Imagine for a moment if you will that the DOJ turns its laser-beam to VA LINUX for participating in uncompetitive practices by gobbling up all the linux-orineted news sites on the net and ony allowing VA LINUX related hardware adds to be shown on there.

    Do you _HONESTTLY_ think that the slashdot linux zealots would be supprting the DOJ? Of course not! They would be saying silly things like "Boycott the united states!" or "Lets all try to hack the DOJ page to make them suffer!"

    I would rather let the FREE MARKET decide who swims and who sinks. I don't want the goverment _regulating_ and _controlling_ the software industry.

    If you don't like capitolism, why don't you move in with your comrades in China?

  • True, you should always check if something is true or false. But statisticly speaking (like our dear microsoft so likes to do), if something nice is being said about ms, it's usually microsoft 'sponsoring' it or something like that.
  • No one seems to realize that the money people spend on things isn't infinite. If someone pirates win2k because microsofts *decent* OS's cost an arm and a leg, who's to say that person won't take that 300 bucks and buy a Dreamcast with it? And most of all, if that person COULDN'T pirate win2k because of some uber leet encryption method, who says he/she wouldn't just give up and run linux? Slightyly off topic I know, but kind of relevant I guess... I just had to get it of my chest.

  • Me, I don't see where breaking them up really solves anything. If you want real competition, then require that the licensed libraries that are made available to developers be the same libraries that M$ itself uses! Then, companies can compete, because they can integrate their software to the OS the same way that M$ does. Furthermore, 3rd parties will be able to fix long-standing bugs in the M$ code (or work around them), etc. At worst, at least there'd be a more-stable version of Windows produced.

    As someone who used to work on the Visual Studio team, I've got to wonder what these magic libraries supposedly are that Microsoft gets to use and nobody else does. Got any examples? Or are you just blowing FUD and smoke in the hope that everyone will just nod and agree?

    Wouldn't mind seeing some concrete examples of your cases (1) and (2) either...

  • Question: Some people say Microsoft has stifled competition with it's business practices. Other people say that consumers benefit from the reliability of their products. Which do you agree with more? [emphasis mine]

    Oh, that's good! Give yourself a cookie for that one.


  • This doesn't surprise me, and not because I'm cynical about the U.S. population or MS propaganda.

    But there is a 'problem' with human intuition. People can only see what is, and they rarely consider what could be. People tend not to think economically, the think like accountants; they fail to consider opportunity costs.

    Consider the claim that war is good for business. This is probably true if your business is munitions or reconstruction or if it relies on slave labor. But what really happens is that resources are reallocated to compensate for losses. This reallocation appears like a great boon to the economy as a whole because people do no think of for what those resources could have been used if there had not been a war.

    That example isn't really analagous to MS, but the principle is the same. People see that MS has made life better in some way. They do not see how much better it could have been otherwise. If the only historical fact that you change is the existence of MS without considering the effects of that absence, we are better of with MS than without it.

    So these results are probably true - i.e., people really believe what is reported. (I've had people ask me, knowing that I dislike MS, why MS is being persecuted for doing a good thing.) Are they right? That's another issue.

    Microsoft has been a good thing in some ways. They've also been a bad thing in some ways. On the level of accounting, I think MS has been good (as I indicated above). I suspect that a consideration of economic costs puts society in the red, but I really can't be certain because I simply don't know enough.
    Ever notice . . .
    Microsoft and its allies assume everyone is stupid.
  • by sustik ( 90111 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @11:39AM (#1306343)

    They say:
    "STATEMENT: Increased government regulation and litigation of the Technology industry will lead to consumers paying higher prices."

    What about this instead:
    "STATEMENT: Increased government regulation and litigation of the monopolies in Technology industry will lead to better competition and result consumers paying lower prices."

    They ask:
    "QUESTION: Do you think increased government regulation, including the regulation of software design, will have a negative or positive effect on the high tech industry and companies, like Microsoft, to innovate and bring new products to consumers?"

    "QUESTION: Do you think increased government regulation, including the regulation of software licensing and interoperability issues, will have a negative or positive effect on the high tech industry and the companies', like Microsoft's business ethics; will it prevent anticompetitive practices and bring wider choice to consumers?"

    They ask:
    "QUESTION: Recent press reports suggest that the Justice Department will seek to break-up Microsoft into separate companies. Do you favor efforts by the government to break-up Microsoft, or do you think a penalty like break-up would be too extreme given what you know about the case?"

    What about this:
    "QUESTION: Recent press reports suggest that the Justice Department will seek to break-up Microsoft into separate companies. Do you favor efforts by the government to break-up Microsoft, or do you think another solution would be better suited to prevent further anticompetitive behaviour, given what you know about the case?"

    They ask:
    "QUESTION: The Department of Justice is deciding what, if any, regulations to pursue against Microsoft. If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would end up increasing the cost of software to consumers, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?"

    "QUESTION: The Department of Justice is deciding what, if any, regulations to pursue against Microsoft. If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would end up decreasing the cost of software to consumers, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?"

    They ask:
    "QUESTION: If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would give government the power to decide how to design parts of Microsoft's software, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?"

    Could be:
    "QUESTION: If you knew that the Department of Justice was proposing a regulation that would give government the power to enforce open standards and portability of Microsoft's software, would you support or oppose the regulation? Would you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?"

    They ask:
    "QUESTION: Some suggest that regulation of Microsoft will require the creation of a new government office or agency. Do you support or oppose the creation of a new government office or agency to regulate or monitor Microsoft's business practices? Do you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?"

    Should ask:
    "QUESTION: Some suggest that this survey is funded by Microsoft and contains very stupid and ill-worded questions. Do you support or oppose the creation of a new government office or agency to regulate or monitor ethics followed by polling agencies? Do you strongly (support/oppose) it or (support/oppose) it somewhat?"

    "QUESTION: Some people say Microsoft has strong competitors in the PC operating system/applications market- they point to the recent merger of VA LINUX and Andover Net, as well as 'companies' like Apple, Red Hat, Debian, Suse, Be, FreeBSD. Other people say Microsoft doesn't have strong competitors based on market share percentages. Which side do you (dis)agree with more?"

    Finally, if YOU are asked next time: refuse to take part in polls like this. It was just so unfair.

  • I agree that a motivator is necessary. The previous poster was thinking too narrowly there. The motivator doesn't need to be fear of the Russians gaining technological superiority during a time when we could have gone to war with them at any moment. It could be something much more benign, but it must be something that people will respond to. People respond to fear and patriotism, which motivated things back in the 50s. People also tend to respond positively to a challenge if they feel that there is something to be proven. If we could come up with some suitable goal, perhaps we could motivate kids and adults alike by challenging them to help us meet some goal. Just a thought.

  • Everyone who is even considering whether the consumer would be better off if Microsoft is regulated/broken up/forced to open source windows is completely missing the point. Microsoft should be allowed to develop, license, and market it's products in any way it pleases(*) NOT because it is what is best for the consumer, but because of the precident it would set. Whether it is best for the consumers is irrelevant. It is probably the case that forcing Microsoft to open source windows would have a positive short term effect on consumers. But imagine software 5 years from now. No one will be interested in writing software that needs to be extremely widely used to be useful. Look at Acrobat, Real Player, ICQ -- all of these need to be widely used before they are of significant benefit to the consumer (what use was it to the first person to get on ICQ?). If Microsoft is punished for succeeding at what everyone else tried to do, people will be more reluctant to enter these markets.

    It's similar to someone suggesting forcing biotech companies to sell their drugs at a reasonable price. In the short term it sounds like a good idea, but in the long term all it means is that you aren't going to have any new drugs.

    The United States heavily taxes what are called "Windfall Profits", which just means really high returns on investment. Never mind that someone may have invested in 10 extremely risky businesses, 9 of them went belly-up, and only one returned "windfall profits". The effect is that even if the expected return given the risk is really good, people won't make the investment, because in the 1 in 100 chance the company does make money, it will all be taken in the form of taxes.

    Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. And once the government starts thinking it needs to keep an eye on software developers, you can kiss innovation and profits goodbye.


    * I said "any way it pleases", but I would exclude a few clearly monopolistic practices: prohibiting computer manufacturers from including non-microsoft software (Word Perfect installed on a Windows machine, some computers sold with linux instead) as a condition of their licensing; and also tying of sales in a way that putting one product (e.g. windows) on a computer is more expense if you don't also put another product on the computer (e.g. IIS).
  • Yes, and 63% of Americans saw Elvis last year. So what? This is the "wishing makes it so" implicit in all polling and reporting on polls. Quite apart from the fact that this is a "study" from the lobbying organization that Microsoft founded when it began having Justice Department problems, there is the basic fact that what a large cross-section of America thinks about anything probably has no connection with the truth.

    You see, the question of whether or not breaking up Microsoft would be "good" or "bad" is an unanswerable question. Two people you ask will not only have a different idea of what is "good," but will also have totally different levels of knowledge about the issues behind the question.

    Taking a complex question and putting a precise-seeming number on doesn't mean a damned thing.

    I remember a poll during the Gulf War that reported something like "72% of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the Gulf Crisis." My reaction was, who the hell cares? More interesting would have been a series of poll results:

    What percentage of:
    Mothers of American Soldiers
    American Military Leaders
    Iraqui citizens
    Iraqui Military Leaders
    Kuwaiti citizens
    Kuwaiti Military Leaders
    Families of Killed American Soldiers
    Oil company executives
    VFW members
    approved of Bush's handling of the Gulf Crisis?

    I would bet you would get radically different numbers. When you try to reduce a complex question to a single simple number, it looks like information, but it is not.

    As a student of history, I would have to say that the question of whether the Gulf War was a "good" thing or not will be open for quite some time.

    I'm not taking a position here, I tend to think all the parties involved did what they felt they had to do for reasons that seemed good at the time. You can't ask them to do anything more than that. But that 72% approval number doesn't mean a thing. Futhermore, if the number had been 12% or 85% it would not have changed anything about the real effect of the war on the people, the region, or the outcome (except to the extent that the American government must respond to the popular will -- the war would not have happened in quite the same way if the American people were so against it that it would have brought down the government).

    In fact, my parenthesized point is perhaps the central point. We are so used to polls affecting decisions that we now mistake our collective will as collective power. The problem is that if 87% of Americans don't believe in gravity, we still remain earthbound. Some things are not governed by the popular will.

    Some things are only influenced by the popular will.

    Some things are totally determined by the popular will.

    Until we learn to tell these cases apart, we will continue to over-simplify, misunderstand, and make poor decisions.

    Wishing does not always make it so.

  • How closly are you following the trial: Very closely 5%, somewhat closely 51%, not at all 44%. So in other words we should really only be able to ask opinions about the trial to the people who follow closely, and maby 2/3 of the people who follow it somewhat closely.

    Not to even mention the probability that, of those who "closely" or "somewhat closely" follow the trial, the definition of "follow the trial" actually means "accept without question whatever Ted Koppel says about the trial".

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • by Joeeeee ( 46278 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @02:19PM (#1306380)
    Look at how slashdot mininterprets the poll information, the poll says that 63% of Americans believe that breaking up Microsoft is too extreme. I am not so sure that it is either, but in any case this is definately not the same as the slashdot headline that "Survey Says 63% of Americans Like MS the Way It Is." Hopefully other newspapers won't report it like this. (Of course with only 5% of the population paying close attention to the anti-trust trial, I don't think it matters too much).
  • 63 % of americans (or any other country probably) also have no idea of what the implications of Microsoft's business practices have been/could be.
    Sure they like it just the way it is.. it doesn't concern them.

    99% of informed technical people who have 5+ years of experience in the network computing environment, and who are skilled at more platforms than just MS Windows do *not* like the way MS works at all.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday February 04, 2000 @03:00PM (#1306386) Homepage
    Of course the government can control and regulate the software industry. They can control and regulate virtually _any_ industry in one way or another. Most industries are, in fact, regulated.

    Furthermore, I submit that regulation is frequently a good thing:

    • Would you like to travel on a plane in a country in which there was no FAA, maintenance was performed whenever it made sense economically (rather than on a basis of safety) and pilots took off and landed when and where they pleased?
    • How about chucking the FDA - who needs medicines to be carefully tested before being approved for use or foods to be inspected for quality and disease?
    • Naturally the SEC is useless, as insider trading actually promotes the economy.

    You see Noke, we don't live in a free market. The government, acting on the authority of the people, passes laws for the general good, even if this might constrain some individual freedom (like man x's freedom to rob man y). If they go to far, it tends to get overturned. Often though, everyone agrees that it is well worth it.

    America would be a very different, and probably very lousy place had the government not regulated various industries. Though it should be noted that regulation usually only comes after that industry has gone beyond the bounds of what decent people are willing to put up with.

    MS is turning out to be one of the first, although I'm sure you already knew about IBM's famous antitrust suit in which they were nearly broken up. IBM's business practices had to be significantly altered to avoid that fate, and it has improved the industry greatly. Hell, there probably would never have been an MS (or an Apple, or a Sun, or a Compaq, or a Dell, or an SGI...) had it not been for the government stepping in.

    You'd do well to remember that the US does not operate as a free market. The only well-known free-marketeers I can think of offhand - the only people who will sell, buy or trade absolutely anything - would be the Mafia. Heck, they'll sell you your life, and they don't take kindly to government regulation. But I don't think you want to do business with them all the same ;)

  • Sorry, your right.. sometimes my eyes skip a beat, or whatever.. My BAD!
  • by guran ( 98325 )
    In my mind [rigged survey] == [crap]
    From a professional point of view that just means that survey institutes gets an even worse name. That means that friends of mine in that business who actually try to do honest surveys, will have a harder time competing with those that are not.

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