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Microsoft

Microsoft Ruling On Hold - Still Talking 180

Bahwi was the first to write with the news that Microsoft and the Government are still talking, at Judge Jackson's suggestion. So, it looks as if a settlement may still be reached.
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Microsoft Ruling On Hold - Still Talking

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Things may be done today that change each and every one of our lives.

    And this is supposed to be scary how? :-)

    Present: the future of the computing world is increasingly threatened by the specter of being overwhelmed by mediocre, proprietary bloatware from what amounts to little more than a predatory monopolist. This entity threatens to make itself a part of everything we do. It wants to have a piece (and it's not satisfied with little pieces, either) of just about every pie there is that matters.

    Possible scary future: the future of the computing world is threatened by... ???

    In this case: better the devil I don't know than the one I know all too well!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And why, pray tell me, you are so interested in sending Mr.Gates to jail?

    To deter other people from committing similar acts of fraud, perjery, and antitrust violations. Maybe the next time someone considers whether or not to commit a criminal act, they'll think, "Gee, even Gates couldn't save himself after he got caught, and he was even more rich and powerful than I am. Maybe I better reconsider what I'm about to do."

    Mr. Gates, do you know why they call it THE SLAMMER?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    By the fashion police?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In his finding of fact the good judge concluded from Microsoft's pricing models that MS had been getting roughly double $ per copy of Windows as would have been the case in competitive circumstances.

    So yes, consumers can put a dollar figure on it, babe. (That's not even mentioning the office suite monopoly.) Sorry.

  • In a story here [excite.com] we learn...

    LONDON (Reuters) - A teenager arrested in Wales for allegedly hacking into e-commerce Web sites had obtained the credit card details of Bill Gates, head of Microsoft and the world's richest man, newspapers said on Sunday.

  • >Folks,
    >I personally believe that the reason why Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson
    >is NOT issuing a judgement today is simple: he may have come to his
    >senses and realize it appears that the Department of Justice's
    >Antitrust Division under Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein is NOT
    >wanting any form of settlement.

    Jackson's just giving Mircosoft more rope to hang themselves with for any possible appeals of his ruling by appearing to bend over backwards to encourgage a settlement in the case. Remember Microsoft stated during the trial it couldn't remove the browser from the OS. Now all of a sudden Microsoft is making the offer?
  • IANAL either, but I've heard from several sources that if Microsoft and the DOJ settle, everything which happened in the trial so far basically gets thrown out, including the Findings of Fact.

    This is why I hope the DOJ does *not* settle.

    The thing I believe Microsoft is trying to avoid at all costs is having to officially acknowledge their guilt, because this will open them up to a *lot* of additional lawsuits. They don't want the court to officially stamp a 'guilty of wrongful behavior' label on them, but they also don't want any settlement with the DOJ to have to include any admission of guilt on Microsoft's part.

    I will be terribly, terribly disappointed if a settlement is announced with the words 'Microsoft takes these actions without admitting any guilt.' However, it appears obvious that the judge is going to delay any ruling as long as he can in the hopes that a settlement will happen, and then I predict it's no more than two or three years before Microsoft tries worming its way out of the letter of the law again. Bleah.

  • Indeed they are already documented, and im blue in the face from repeating it. Noone want to hear it, and very few despite their constant gripes about the lack of support for them sees fit to aid the various projects that are importing them, namely that

    Right now, gnumeric [gnome.org] can import excel, and could do with more help

    abiword uses wv [wvware.com] to import word documents, kword also uses wv though they have seen fit to branch off their own version to do so. It too could do with more help

    These specifications are also available on the July 1998 MSDN Microsoft Developer CD. They are stored on this CD in the proprietry .ivt format, but nonetheless I've even implemented an .ivt to .html converter for you to read those files under linux.

    Get ivt2html [csn.ul.ie] and convert that office.ivt on disk 3

    Alternatively wotsit.org [wotsit.org] has versions of many of them as well, including the word 6 file format which wv can handle as well

    Now if someone wanted to do something constructive but wants to start small, then rather than sitting around on their arse blathering uselessly they could take a look at the public specs for mathtype [mathtype.com] and put together a linux equation edit file format to mathml converter which both abi and kword might use as an importer for equations.

    Or they could help enhance libwmf [csn.ul.ie] to convert wmf files into svg format.

    Its not just the office formats that are the problem, its the fact that they all embed or are based upon, or otherwise require the ability to convert all the secondary windows formats as well, so theres loads to see and do

    C.

  • As I said already [slashdot.org], the word 97 format is already public.

    Right now, abiword [abisource.com] is helping wv [wvware.com] achieve winword exporting to go with wv's current ability to import word 2000,97 and 6 formats

    Some code to help those projects would be 100 times better than waiting for any microsoft code to appear, as even if this very unlikely event took place the code would certainly be windows/intel centric and horrific to extract and integrate anyhow

    Getting microsoft code will not be a magic pill, even with the best will in the world as with mozilla it is very hard to seperate and make modular huge codebases, it is even difficult to read and understand them as so much of the knowledge required to make head or tails of them exists only in the heads of the original developers

    Its difficult when they want to make themselves understood, imagine if they were forced

    C.

  • Over at the Smoking Gun (you know, the guys who posted the restraining order against newly-married multimillionaire Rick Rockwell) they have a copy of his mugshot, as well as a copy of an accident report [thesmokinggun.com] where they also mention that the mugshot was the result of some traffic violation.

    -mike kania
  • >Does anyone besides me find it a little creepy
    >that he's *smiling* in his mug shot?

    (goes back to look at the picture again)

    O_O

    Oi vey.
  • Personally, I think that the Justice Department is just wasting time and money really pursuing this.

    If you take the position (as I certainly do) that Micro$oft's business-as-usual practices harm consumers, then there's a very real case to be made that the mere trial activity itself has done a great deal of good over the past couple of years.

    It seems apparent that Micro$oft has felt itself hampered from pursuing some options as aggressively as it would have preferred. Witness for instance the fact that Dell, Compaq, and Gateway are all shipping machines now without a scrap of Micro$oftware on them. Things have changed for the better, IMO, and regardless of the real verdict in this trial, it's been a worthwhile cause.


    --
    Swampfox
    Real Hacker (tm) Wanna-be
  • It /was/ meant as a joke, and I appreciate those who see it as such. :)
  • They should have to both release the docs and also maintain / extend them, so they cover any new or changed APIs in their OS and Office product lines. It's fair though to let them invent new secret APIs anywhere else.
  • Antitrust law doesn't do anything lightly. So whatr is a very likely outcome is some kind of modified final judgment. Something along the lines of establishing guidelines for future conduct, a blue ribbon panel to monitor MS for some number of years into the future and the threat of additional prosecution if the panel deems that the guidelines have been violated. If you think that they will pull down the great leader Bill's statue from the town square, loot the palace and delare a new republic you are delusional.
  • I would like to remind everyone that even if the ruling DID come down today, that doesn't mean they won't appeal it, nor does it mean they'll be broken up. Settlement is the quickest solution for both parties - a ruling would certainly be appealed by one of the two parties.
  • Settlement talks have stalled.
    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail, (G)rab Hammer?


    Abort

    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail ?

    Abort

    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail ?

    Fail

    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail ?

    Retry

    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail ?

    Fail

    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail ?

    Abort

    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail ?

    CTRL+ALT+DEL
    CTRL+ALT+DEL

  • That is really funny. A Psychologist writing on a lawsuit. Is this guy Dave Barry for the MS believers or what. It's really funny.

    "Judge Jackson's Findings of Fiction"

    http://www.moraldefense.com/Campaigns/Microsoft/ Essays/Judge_Jackson's_Findings_of_Fiction .htm

    Dr. Edwin A. Locke is Dean's Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and is affiliated with UMD's Department of Psychology. An internationally renowned behavioral scientist, Locke's work is included in leading textbooks and acknowledged in books on the history of management.
  • Destroy all existing copies of all Microsoft products and watch the personal computer revolution die a quick, untimely death.

    It is too late to prevent the death of the personal computer revolution. It happened in the mid 80s, when homogeneity began to emerge in the form of MS-DOS (and later, Windoze) dominance. Killing MS might bring the revolution back.

    Here's to the personal computer ressurection!


    ---
  • Actually, I fear that a ruling might put us closer to this scenario. If the government starts telling Microsoft what they can and can't do at every turn (which seems to me to be the likliest outcome) then who do you think they'll turn to if they decide we need a "acknowledged, certified, and regulated information public utility in the United States?" Wouldn't they most likely choose the corporation that they have the most influence over?

    Damn straight, dude! It's bad enough to have MS products treated as defacto standards. The last thing we need is for them to become government-sanctioned real standards.

    But I wonder if that's exactly what the aforementioned article [vcnet.com] is talking about at the end, with comment about pitchforks, torches, and consequences.


    ---
  • <i>The Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts were designed to protect _consumers_, not business competitors.</i><br><br>

    As I remember from econ 1 oh so long ago, competition is good for the consumer.. It keeps prices down, gets technology into the market faster, provides greater choice, etc, etc.<br><br>
    So, MS may not have walked into your home or office and stolen money out of your wallet and put horrible programs on your PC, but the effect is largely the same as if they had.

    --Andrew Grossman
  • You are right that they are not supposed to publicly comment on these things while they are before them, but once the settlement is handed down I think it would be great if he could be interviewed.

    This is by far the single most important case facing computers and technology, and it has the potential power to change the way the masses use computers for the next decade.

    Last thing to keep in mind though, with a case this big, the Judge more than likely will give a detailed outline as to how he came to all of his conclusions, so the majority of the questions (besides boxers or briefs, no pun intended) will be answered as soon as his decision is made.

    Am I the only one that sees M$ stalling as much as possible?
    ----
    "War doesn't determine who's right, just who's left"
  • WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The judge in the Microsoft antitrust case has, in order to permit more time for settlement talks, delayed for a week or more his decision on whether the company broke the nation's antitrust laws, sources said Tuesday.

    Sources familiar with the case said there is no fixed time on the delay while the government and Microsoft negotiators continue to talk, but that it will be a week or more.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Any solution that fails to address pre-loads is doomed to fail, or to make things even worse.

    And until hardware vendors start shipping drivers for alternative PC OS's with their products, and until software vendors start releasing alternative PC versions, no real change will take place.

    The zero-choice pre-load is, I think, the causative factor of the other two--if computers start appearing in stores and on web sites pre-loaded with something besides MS-Windows, then vendors will start addressing those other choices.

    I'll repeat my solution, which I've posted here before. Unfortunately, it involves doing very little to Microsoft; fortunately, it doesn't single anyone out for special punishment:

    • Require all system vendors to offer a minimum of two choices of preloaded OS, if they offer any preloads at all. The different OS preloads must be on equal terms--same level of support, same I'm a troll hardware supported, and so on. Only the price difference in the base OS can be passed along.
    • Require all hardware that comes with specialized drivers to provide drivers for a minimum of two OS's. As an alternative, they could publish complete specifications of their device's interface. Any provided drivers must provide equivalent functionality.
    • Require all software that communicates with other software (like networking software) to be accompanied by complete and accurate specifications of the protocols and formats involved in that communication.
    • Require all software that saves data in files to be accompanied by a complete and accurate description of the formats of those files.

    The trouble we're having with Microsoft is only a symptom of a larger problem. If not them, then somebody else would be doing it. If they are only broken up, the problem will continue.

  • An interesting point raised in the monastary was be that Microsoft has to do nothing other than maintain full support for their products on every operating system back to Windows 3.11. So that'd be everything has to work on 3.11, NT3.51, NT4, Win95, Win 98 and Windows 2000.

    Not only would this mean that it was in Microsofts interest to NOT change their API's, but that would be good for consumers as well, because they then couldn't force people to upgrade to run their latest products.

  • oh yeah..learn the facts...Mitnik had a fair trial, he pleaded guilty to cell phone fraud..or something like that...look it up.

    Why don't you look up how long he sat in jail before he got that trial. Or how he was denied the right to know and review the evidence against him. If they're going to make it impossible for him to mount a decent defense, then what choice does he have?

    I don't give a rats ass whether a cop thinks I appear to be speeding. If he's going to pull me over and give me a ticket, he better be able to tell me how fast I was going. If he can't, then I'll just contest the ticket and walk. I've been ticketed for speeding when I wasn't. That's why I believe that the cop should be able to prove it.

  • Now this dosn't always work perfectly but for the most part it does.

    I think it was NBC Dateline that aired a piece last night about the Louisiana State Supreme Court disallowing law students at a state university from providing legal defense for poor people, unless they were below a certain income level, which amounted to allowing them to represent only the absolute poorest of the poor. This was apparently (although they deny it of course) because the students had been representing some poor residents who were trying to block a chemical corporation from setting up another chemical plant near their neighborhood. (There were already 6 plants nearby that put out more than 650 times as much chemical pollution as the US average. They said you're exposed to as much pollution in half a day in that area as most Americans are exposed to in a year). They eventually held up the corp long enough that they built the plant elsewhere.

    That wasn't the end of it though. The chemical and oil corporations got the state governor on their side and were throwing around a lot of money. Since judges in Lousiana are elected, they are much the same as politicians when it comes to getting relelected. They need money, and lots of it. This seems to be what the corps were using as a carrot to get the court to help them out by preventing the law students from representing the people that were getting in their way. The moral of the story? If justice depends on money, only those with money can get "justice."

  • No prob. I just read up on the mitnick case to figure out what happened exactly. I haven't read about it in a while. It looks like you're right about the cell phone thing. He was convicted on that one it looks like, but I'm not sure if he got prison for it. He's been convicted several times for various things, but hasn't spent more than a couple years in jail altogether until this last time, and wasn't serving a sentence when he was accused of breaking into Shimomura's system. (although I think he may have been on probation)

    It's obvious that he's no saint, but it's equally obvious that the prosecution completely disregarded his rights during the course of the case. They wouldn't reveal the evidence against him or the damage amounts among other things. They also wouldn't explain why he was so dangerous that he had to be put in solitary confinement until he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. There were other offenses against him as well. It's scary that they got away with this kind of stuff. The 6 corps that had been hacked later submitted letters declaring that the "losses suffered were not material or non-existant", but the prosecution never turned these letters over to Kevin's attorney. Meanwhile, the prosecution and the press were running stories about Kevin costing these corps billions.. later reduced to millions.

    Here's a few links in case you're curious.

    http://www.kevinmitnick.com/news-04269 9.html [kevinmitnick.com]

    http://www.kevinmitnick.com/news-05289 9.html [kevinmitnick.com]

    ht tp://x30.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=566653614&CONTEXT=9 48113995.419102759&hitnum=72 [deja.com]

  • And it's idiots like you that think it's ok to lock up people just because you *think* they did something wrong. The issue at hand is evidence. If the cop didn't use the radar gun, then he has no evidence of wrongdoing. This is the kind of thinking that gives us a bunch of BS laws that get selectively enforced against people as those in power see fit.

    Mitnik was as guilty as the day is long.

    Fine. Give him a fair trial, access to the evidence against him and every other right that a person is supposed to have when they face our legal system. If they won't do that, then they're just as bad, or worse, than he is.

  • Actually, if Microsoft wants to appeal, the DOJ can have the appeal sent straight to the Supreme Court, bypassing the lower courts altogether. This was a change that was made for the express purpose of getting anti-trust trials finished in time to actually matter.

  • It's only 68% in the polls that are sponsored by Microsoft.

    Additionally, if Microsoft does appeal, it will likely go directly to the Supreme Court.

  • If you are going to state that something is a fact you had better back it up with *something* otherwise you lose credibility.

    I see your point here and I agree that the site is biased. I think that the author means that they haven't seen any reason and that none has been made public. Perhaps one is sealed in a court record or something, but it's not public. You can't prove a negative, so they can't prove to us that no explanation was ever offered. It's conceivable that they could get a prosecution attorney to state that they never made an explanation, or at least didn't make it public, but I doubt that anyone could get them to comment on it. I've read through a lot of info on the case, and I've never seen any explanation for it. The prosecution never really had much to say about little details like that.

    The link you added help fill in some blanks for me, but I'm still having trouble coming up with a complete timeline of events for everything that happened. I've been looking around for a site that has a timeline of his various convictions and probation and prison term beginnings and endings. That would help quite a bit. I don't dispute that he should have done jail time. I was just disturbed by the way his case was handled, mostly by the prosecution, but also by his defense.

  • The objective in my opinion should not be to punish Microsoft solely, and not necessarily to restrict it, but rather to give competitors a more fair chance at competing with Microsoft at an even level.

    Well, this just happens to be the goal of the remedies portion of the trial as well. The DOJ isn't looking to punish Microsoft. They are looking for a solution to a problem, the problem being Microsoft's lack of self-control when it comes to wielding its monopoly power.

    Punitive damages will only be awarded in subsequent cases brought against the corp by other corps or by individuals (class-actions most likely). This is assuming that Microsoft is found guilty. If they settle, it will be a lot harder for people to sue them.

  • Ack. You're right. My mistake.

  • Aside from the obvious fact that Zogby receives a great deal of funding from Microsoft, maybe the poll should have asked every respondant whether they had read even a single day's trial transcript or reviewed any of the evidence or testimony in the case. I bet the answer would have to be no for 90%+ of the respondants, which means their opinions are completely uninformed and therefore all but worthless.

  • Your missing the big picture. If the judge rules against Microsoft in the Findings of Law, then it's established that they have violated anti-trust laws. This then adds fuel to everyone else's lawsuits against Microsoft (most of which are with merit). If there is a settlement in advance of this, then the trial itself can't be used for much evidence.

    So, unless your an MS stock holder, you should be hoping that we at LEAST get the ruling of law done.

  • Even the rumours only suggest that MS offered to license source code. Nobody credible seems to suggest that MS offered to open source anything. They've licensed OS source in the past, so it's not much of an offer. As for "dis-integrating" MSIE, we can all just hop over to the 98lite site [98lite.net] to do that, already!

    Interesting how MS advocates always emphasize that having a monopoly is not against the law. Never mind that it was their abuse of monopoly power that got them in trouble? If there's a reasonable way to take away their monopoly, so they'd have to compete on their products' merit, that would be highly appropriate!

    As for MS claims that breaking up the company would ruin them: How credible is that?! It looks like they're taking the most obvious remedy and claiming that it's extreme just to gain sympathy when it's exactly what happens. Never mind that they already seem to be reorganizing along the divisions that would leave them most profitable?

    It's obvious why the DOJ would like a settlement: The remedies would go into effect right away. I'd much prefer to see a ruling for the same reason MS would not: There would be an unambiguous statement of exactly how they've broken the law.

  • Picture, if you will, Bill Gates and Judge Jackson...embracing on the steps of the Justice Building...shaking hands as Gates hands him one of those HUGE checks ( the photo op kind ), and as the camera zooms in we see the amount....$1. Jackson and Gates shake hands and a few speeches are made and everyone goes home. *sigh*

  • There are two ways to phrase it, so pick whichever your personal politics prefer:

    Liberal:
    Ban Microsoft from licensing its software, directly or indirectly, to the Federal Government or the co-litigant state governments. This denies Microsoft access to the market represented by the single largest employer in the U.S., permanently breaking their monopoly.

    Conservative:
    Ban the Federal Government and the co-litigant state governments from licensing software from Microsoft, thus ending Microsoft's monopoly status without punitive action or invasive oversight.

    ----------------------------------------

    If the problem is the monopoly, then this simply ends the monopoly. This creates a large, protected market for non-MS software. It also cuts off embrace-and-extend decommoditization of file types and protocols by MS, since anyone dealing with the government would have to use systems and file types inteoperable with non-Microsoft software.

    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • ``...and yes I know that spelling is wrong you weasels.
    Not like any one of you has actually SEEN a production of The Rivals...''

    Well, I have. Mrs. Malaprop was my favorite character.
    --

  • ``Something along the lines of establishing guidelines for future conduct, a blue ribbon panel to monitor MS for some number of years into the future and the threat of additional prosecution if the panel deems that the guidelines have been violated.''

    And, of course, this ``blue ribbon'' panel will be comprised of who? Members of the brain trust at the Patent Office? Following the activities of this panel ought to be amusing. Let's see: Take a number of folks in the industry that are pro-MS and a like number that aren't. Stir well. The resulting brew (or is that brewhaha?) will probably turn your stomach. Meanwhile MS haas changed half their file formats and added six more undocumented calls to their APIs.

    This mess will be interesting to watch for a good while longer. I suspect that Linux'll be running on 64 processors with minimal SMP penalty, have C2 security, your choice of five journaled filesystems, and a GUI that cooks your breakfast before the MS/DoJ fracas has settled down.
    --

  • ``If you want to fine them you make it much larger than a couple billion. Then you take the money and pump it into the competitors or perhaps some really nice OSS projects.''

    For a nice discussion of what the Fed. Govt. could do in this area see Lawrence Lessig's article [prospect.org] in The American Prospect Online [prospect.org]. Excellent article. Highly recommended. I found his ideas very interesting and, IMHO, a much better way for the govt. to be attempting to set policy instead of their favorite means (i.e., taxes on what they want to discourage and tax breaks for things they want to encourage -- which usually turns into tax breaks for big campaign contributors).

    Lessig's comments about his experience with the FCC `good ol' boys' saddened me, though. (I had to wonder if the movie ``The President's Analyst'' wasn't right on the money after all.)
    --

  • As much as I don't care what happens to Microsoft, I'd like to see this drag on forever as long as real pressure from government/judge is still there.

    Linux has benefited most of this and will continue to do so as long as this actually stays in the spotlight.

    After that, Microsoft (if left whole) could start toying with RedHat/VA Linux/Caldera stock and future without even doing it itself and that might not be a nice thing for Linux.

    So please Judge/Gov/Micro, keep up the pressure and the break-up warnings or just break the company into:

    -NT
    -Win9x
    -Office/Visual Dev software
    -hardware: mice, gamepads/wheels, soundsystems....

    This would be nice for Linux as it will then get Office, Visual Studio et al...., win9x would die and that is a good thing. Win NT would survive and stay strong and that is also a good thing for competition is always a plus for consumers (us).

    Do you think the Judge reads Slashdot? Can we ask him?

    What about an interview with Judge Jackson here on Slashdot? Is it even possible?

  • IMHO this is one smart judge, because he's looking down the line at how his ruling(s) could potentially be used.

    For those who do not understand this, let me briefly explain: the results of a court case here in the U.S. can be used as "precedents", which are in essence a lawyer's foundation for arguing his side of "what the law really means" based on how previous courts have interpreted those same laws. Thus, a good decision (against M$ probably) in this case can potentially be used in unintended (bad) ways in the future -- which is what I think Judge Jackson is trying to avoid.

    So even if M$ has done all the evil things that the DOJ says they have, every facet of Judge Jackson's rulings can be used to define the interpretation of how anti-trust regulations are used for and against software companies in the future.

    I could be completely off base here, but what this says to me is that the judge is essentially ready to rule against M$, M$ knows it, the DoJ knows it, heck -- we all know it -- but that maybe justice can be better served without a precedent setting judicial decision. The danger is that any decision could potentially cripple parts of the software industry by taking the control out of the hands of innovators and placing it in the domain of lawyers whose sole interest is winning the money and control of the 'Net, etc. for their clients.

  • Pro business ain't necessarily pro Microsoft, and if Dubya has two brain cells to put together, he knows this. Just ask Sun, Caldera, Apple, IBM...
  • I hardly consider dropping people into woodchippers to be humorous. Those that do have a serious mental imbalance.
  • > I happen to be in the minority that believes that what Microsoft is doing isn't necessarily illegal

    What you and your "minority" believe to be illegal is irrelevant. What matters is what the laws say, modulo whatever spin the courts put on them.

    > it brought PCs to the people in a big way

    Apple and others were doing just fine before Microsoft got into the game in a big way.

    > despite incredible achievements

    Such as?

    As for the employees, well, I've met a number of former MS employees who were very talented people. It kinda makes you wonder where the disconnect is, eh?

    > Anyone who thinks this Microsoft thing is over is foolish, this is the American Legal System, it's never over until someone runs out of money.

    Actually, it's over when the Supreme Court has had its say.

    But you're right: money is a big problem with the system. And your implicit threat that MS will win due to vast cash is hardly an endorsement of their position. Indeed, it's a big part of the problem.

    --
  • > The DoJ doesn't really know what to ask for. And MS is naturally stonewalling.

    You can bet that MS won't agree to anything that will limit their ability to exploit their monopoly. Sure, they'll negotiate just to stall for time, and also in hopes that the DoJ will wimp out and settle for something that won't cure the problem (in which case we'll be here again in another 5-10 years), but they will never agree to anything that would cure the root problem.

    I suspect the DoJ will wimp out before it's over.

    --
  • I don't know about the re-education camps, but I like the paintball idea. The DOJ doesn't even need to close the company down, just open it up to the paintballers. Let's see MS try to get W2K SP1 out while a couple hundred guys in camoflage pants are running around shooting at each other.

    -B

  • No, justice is not a popularity contest. But in this country, it is a capitalization context. The golden rule applies, in spades: he who has the gold makes the rules.
  • Who can compete with a company who could simply afford to give everything away for free until no competition exists, then just carry on as normal and still have the odd billion in the bank!

    Hang on... are you talking about Microsoft, or Linux here?

    Oh.. I forgot... Linux isn't a country...

    Simon
  • Is it possible, under any circumstances, for Mr. Gates to be charged criminally? Is there any crime which he has committed for which he could go to jail?

    As an academic point, yes. The famous meeting with Netscape to divide the market was a pretty clear violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and the Act provides for jail sentences.

    As a practical matter, are you outta your flippin' mind?
  • Who modded this down as a Troll? Strange - I find it ironic and not a troll, but anyway...

    From news.com:

    Judge Jackson was expected to rule today, but reports late yesterday indicated he might postpone action for at least a day and possibly for as many as 10 days. "There will be no ruling today," said press liaison Joe Alexander at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

    10 Days! Talk about giving them time, or is JJ stretching out for the pay?

  • Agreed politics are important.

    Don't forget that Billy G made a very large (1 M$ IIRC) party/campaign contribution to Clinton in '92. Lopsided, no less. I was surprised the DoJ went after him at all, but Janet[-from-another-Planet?] has always been a loose cannon and a socialist staff is hard to rein in.

    I don't think Dubya is going to forgive BillyG for hurting his pappy so easily.

  • If the "Findings of Fact" become of no legal weight, then I'm afraid I don't want a settlement either. There's no room for remedies to others hurt by Microsoft.

    AFAIK, all settlements, especially if public, contain a disclaimer of guilt. As you point out, they are `way too damaging otherwise. I'd expect to see language like "Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission by Microsoft that any practices it has engaged in are illegal."

    As for MS worming, it will happen. IMHO, the fundamental problem is the BillG and company _really_ don't understand what they've done wrong. They don't get it. They honestly believe they've played by the rules, otherwise they'd've
    covered up much better.

    The problem becomes BillG&co cannot be trusted to play be the rules [settlement] in the future, because they honestly cannot understand the rules. Very sad.

  • This is a good point. MS truly doesn't understand what they did was wrong. They certainly won't accept restrictions on what they see as their rights.

    As you say, the real question becomes whether the DoJ will wimp out. Who knows? MS's arrogance may make the DoJ more belligerant.

  • Well, go to About Zogby International [zogby.com] and you will see that on the top of their Selected Client List is none other than, you guessed it! : MICROSOFT !!

    Why am I not surprised at the results of this so-called "Poll"" ???

    Gee, what's that smell????

    Smells like.....ASTROTURF!!!

    I love the smell of ASTROTURF in the morning. Smells like, MICROS~1 TROLLS!

  • You need to check the polls. MS is suffering from very little "bad press" over this. Something like 68% of the public doesn't want them broken up.

    And the judge cannot just "deny the appeal". If this goes against Microsoft, it is almost certainly going to the Supreme Court.

  • Because if they make a deal, it can go into effect tomorrow. If they don't make a deal, Microsoft will appeal, and this thing will likely continue for most of the next decade, until it hits the Supreme Court.

  • Would he dare? Unless, say, Gore gets hit by a meteorite, Bush ain't going to be lucky enough to have an easy opponent. Whoever wins probably won't exactly have an overwhelming mandate to go nuts. Bush might make it easier for future mergers and such to go through, or perhaps ease off on other future anti-trust actions, but I don't know whether he has the chutzpah to tamper with a very, VERY public case.
  • But justice is not a popularity contest. The general public has shown to be not informed of the laws of the land... they like using Windows and haven't read the findings of fact.
  • That wouldn't work. System vendors would have to apply to all system vendors, including Apple, Sun, et al. This would require Apple to preload something other than Mac OS or Sun to preload something other than Solaris which would require them to support the other OS's. It just wouldn't fly for the vendors who only support one OS (but say if you wanna install something else, be my guest.)
    • You appear to take the stance of the DOJ - you won't consider any offer from MS an acceptable "compromise" unless it makes provision for legal oversight of future business decisions or a breakup. However, that is not a compromise - it is an utter rout for MS.

    Seeing as the current mess is the result of Microsoft completely ignoring the provisions of the 1995 consent decree with the DOJ, how could the DOJ ask for anything less than such oversight.

    Microsoft has, time and again, shown their utter disregard for the law and the process. Judge Penfield has demonstrated exceptional restraint in not slapping the MS lawyers with contempt charges and moving toward summary judgement after they willfully and brazenly were shown to be manufacturing evidence in the form of the videotaped demonstration.


    -Jordan Henderson

  • Unmmmm, happens to me quite often when I fail to take the "party line"
    ---
  • >Destroy all existing copies of all Microsoft products and watch the personal computer revolution die a quick, untimely death. Or help apple immensely, I guess :) Note to moderators: A PRO-M$ COMMENT IS NOT FLAMEBAIT!
    ---
  • Why does it take the threat of a judge making a ruling on a case to actually get these two together and try to work out an arrangement/resolution to this mess? Wouldn't it have saved both Microsoft and the taxpayers a ton of money if
    they could have tried this out in the first place.


    Maybe it would have saved some money on the part of the "taxpayers" (I really would like to see some hard numbers in regards to income and funding for the DoJ in this matter) and saved Microsoft money (why I should care about Microsoft's moeny is beyond me). But they still have violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and should be punished for their crimes.

    Not only has this been proven by a group of intelligent legal authorities but there is ample evidence that can attest to this.

    Now I know that having a monopoly is not necessarily wrong legally as such however using that monopoly to keep that monopoly and say using unfair business practices that can harm the consumer is an illegal act and should not be tolerated.

    OK, that's out of the way (since I know everyone's going to flame it). I really don't see how Microsoft is going to get any more than a slap on the wrist and told not to do it anymore. We could fine them, but how do you financially
    fine a company that makes 100's of billions a year? We could break it apart, but they would still be owned by the same people and everyone would go on making their profits, just like before. Hell, 3Com/USR/Palm has shown that it
    can even be a usefull business strategy. So then what? They could force MS to quasi-open source their software but ask Red Hat how terrible that is for business.


    If you want to fine them you make it much larger than a couple billion. Then you take the money and pump it into the competitors or perhaps some really nice OSS projects. Imagine just how good linux could become with say $50 billion to spend on getting SMP working *for sure* on say a good sized Sun Enterprise server.

    Red Hat is not exactly rolling in it as far as companies are judged. I know for certain that adding source code would significantly level the playing field and prevent the underhanded tactics that MS is using. Why do you ask? Because simply put all you have to do to make sure your software works for windows is just make sure it works the way the source says windows should work and plan you app accordingly.

    Personally, I think that the Justice Department is just wasting time and money really pursuing this.

    Just because this dosn't affect you dosn't mean it's not important.
  • I hate to say it, but wrong != illegal. Just ask the cop that took my license after pulling me over for speeding, without even using a radar/laser gun.

    Well I don't know about where you live but here the there is something called the point system. Generally speaking offences are tallied up within the space of say 1-3 years and if you exceed the number of points allowed you get your liscence suspended. I sure hope you challenged it.

    People with power will always get away with crimes against those without power.

    In general this is correct. If I can't defend myself I am usually going to get victimized.

    What modern man has developed is various schemes that prevent rampant abuses of power to the extent that it could hurt those that are defenseless. Now this dosn't always work perfectly but for the most part it does.
  • What if Microsoft became the "acknowledged, certified, and regulated information public utility in the United States?"

    What if it became a federal crime in the United States to use any software that was not produced by Microsoft?

    Do these thoughts chill you to the very bone marrow? They certainly do me.

    If you do not think in your wildest dreams that such a nightmare could become possible, then read the article Ma Bell, Meet Ma Bill [vcnet.com] which you can find at this site [vcnet.com] . It gives a sane, compelling reason why Microsoft must be stopped dead in its tracks-- there can be no compromise!

    Microsoft has demonstrated over and over again that they will not give up one inch of the power they have, and this power is very nearly absolute.

    I shouldn't be surprised to learn that Bill Gates, coming as he does from a powerful law firm family, already sees the vision of the future as described in the article [vcnet.com] . Nothing would make him richer or even more powerful than he already is than to have the predictions made in this article [vcnet.com] come true for Microsoft. And, as far as I am concerned, nothing could be more horrific.

    I certainly hope that the DOJ is not going to let Microsoft dilute the terms of this settlement like they did to the antitrust settlement they made with the DOJ in 1994. It will be a tragedy for the entire computer industry if they get away with such nefarious trickery again. Bill Gates has already demonstrated that he is ready to do it again, by his adamant insistance to have four words removed from the end of one of the conditions of settlement-- four words which would come back to haunt the DOJ again in the future-- four words which would yank all the teeth from the document, allowing Microsoft to blithely continue with their unfettered power over the industry.

    The American public has to be educated about this-- everyone has to be made to see that even if they can live with the shoddy software produced by Microsoft, they had better think twice before they give absolute power over the total control and dissemination of the exchange of all information and all e-business in the world to a company as greedy and, yes, evil as Microsoft!

  • The whole Microsoft antitrust trial began over IE and Netscape.

    Let them de-integrate IE from windows entirely and open source it under GPL. Everyone who's been bitching for a good Linux web browser would have it. Busting MSFT into pieces will not help the computer industry. Also it would be nice to ask^H^H^H force MSFT to allow competitors in the office arena to be able to include a save as Office9X format for their word files.

    Let's see what actually happens

  • Actually, I fear that a ruling might put us closer to this scenario. If the government starts telling Microsoft what they can and can't do at every turn (which seems to me to be the likliest outcome) then who do you think they'll turn to if they decide we need a "acknowledged, certified, and regulated information public utility in the United States?" Wouldn't they most likely choose the corporation that they have the most influence over?

    Really, I don't see this happening in any case. It's pretty clear that in every aspect we are moving away from official public utilities. In a lot of communities you now are able to choose who you want to buy phone service, gas, electricity, and water from. It just doesn't seem likely that this will ever come to pass.

    Even if this does happen, wouldn't it be scarier if Apple were thrust into that role. They would be in a position to tell you what hardware and what software to use. In a lot of ways they are closer to the old "Ma Bell" business model than Microsoft, since they control the hardware(phones : computers) and the service(switching stations : operating system). Of course, they don't have the success of Microsoft, so they're okay.
  • M$ already offered to make it's pricing fair and open to the public, and to open source code to Windows including W2K. On top of that, M$ offered to seperate IE and the OS completely. The govt attorneys said that the offer was not enough, but since the offer was in the right direction, Judge Jackson decided a little more time might bring a good settlement. It looks like M$ is going to have to do a lot to get the feds happy, and I am anxious to hear the outcome.

    Since my NCAA Basketball Bracket is all messed up with the exception of MSU; I am going to post my prediction:

    Prediction:
    M$ will not offer a settlement that will please the fed attorneys, so Judge Jackson will have to rule on it at the end of the week or the beginning of next week.
    The feds want the following: Fair pricing, open code, IE and OS seperate, and a split up into divisions. (Perhaps OS, Office, Utilities, Games...)
    M$ will offer all of the above except the split up.
    Judge Jackson will go with what the feds want except the opening of the source will not be exactly as 'open' as we see fit.


    Now let's see if I am right, or really wrong!
  • Perhaps this has been explained, but what exactly is the goverment's motivation (cowardice?) for making a deal?

    How is the MS situation any different from Standard Oil or AT&T? Is the market simply supposed to take MS at their word that they will now "behave"?

    I am encouraged that the dominant software firm in the world is a U.S. company. I would be even more encouraged if that entity became two or three vigorous entities rather than one monolith.

    By the way...am I alone in hoping against hope that the X-Box might return Bushnellesque days back to America? Is Sony not a similar monolith worthy of a challenge and opposition?

    Wouldn't it be great if they actually assembled X-Boxii in the U.S.? Or hell, even in Mexico...

    Ah...ranting...
  • I don't think it's a question of whether he'd dare - or even of chutzpah. It's just seeing which way the wind blows (Winblows?) or, perhaps better, whichever way the cash flows. I don't think the guy has enough cranial matter to make a reasoned assessment of the situation, either way. It's not all that uncommon for presidents to ease off on cases that were filed under their predecessors. I don't remember all of the specifics, but I know when Clinton took office, there were several cases where his DOJ actually took a side opposed to the side Bush Senior's DOJ had taken. It's pretty standard practice.

    And remember - Dubya's the one who gave us the campaign rallying cry - "There ought to be limits to freedom!" in response to a parody website. (The site's http://www.gwbush.com) [gwbush.com].)

  • Yes I can picture it.

    Somewhere secret place, dark empty room except one
    person: Judge Jackson carefully reading something
    at computer. Camera gets closer, familiar green
    color shows at monitor...
  • Statements like this prove that you kids are crazy Microsoft bashers and nothing more. If you want to dislike Microsoft for technical reasons so be it, I can understand that, but to just bash Microsoft because Bill Gates is rich and your not is ludicrous.
  • Wouldn't it have saved both Microsoft and the taxpayers a ton of money if they could have tried this out in the first place.

    Yes, but it didn't happen for the same reason that people don't start talking until after the war. Some of it's human nature, some of it's so you know just how much you can push for.

    We could fine them, but how do you financially fine a company that makes 100's of billions a year?

    A very heavy fine might do it. This has the added advantage that it would help make up for the hole in public finances made by this case in the first place.

    We could break it apart, but they would still be owned by the same people and everyone would go on making their profits, just like before. Hell, 3Com/USR/Palm has shown that it can even be a usefull business strategy.

    Well, it would force them to change their strategy a bit, but that is probably going to be little more than an inconvenience. One advantage of this is that any deal between the new companies could be open to investigation. This would mean that either Microsoft Apps will have to pay through the nose for the information they need to make their apps work better with Microsoft OS than the competition, or other apps makers would have such useful information. In theory. In practice, though, you're probably right.

    They could force MS to quasi-open source their software but ask Red Hat how terrible that is for business.

    I think the idea is that the settlement shouldn't be good for business. Bill Gates, for all his flaws, is really quite a good businessman. He'll probably find a way to adapt, and the result could be better written MS software. Could.

    Personally, I think that the Justice Department is just wasting time and money really pursuing this.

    Personally, I think any attempt to go through the legal system is a waste of time and money. Such a shame it seems to be the only way in so many cases.

  • I happen to agree with you but for different reasons. On your first point, yes it would have saved money, but then again since when does MS care about saving anything except outdated concepts of operating system design (ie the 640k model of memory it held onto until just recently).

    And second, you are exactly right about dissolution of MS. But, think of one solution that would hurt the PC world less than MS being a single entity. Before anyone starts in on this, I would encourage serious thinking. The following factors must be taken into consideration:

    1. 1/3 of servers today are MS NT driven (give or take). Of course, maintenance of these servers is expensive and requires direct support from MS to constantly release patches to keep them operating in scaling environments. Lot's of people made some uninformed decisions that must be considered to avoid PC backlash
    2. Most computer techs are MCSE or on the path toward MCSE or would like to have MCSE. Of these, quite a few scorn anything but microsoft. A few are MCSE only to eat, provide shelter, etc. (cf poll). The rest are lemmings. This broad base of technology trained (unfortunately, they do know how to handle most of MS quirks well enough) must remain either intact or easily modified.
    3. Most (>50%) users would need to have their computers work almost exactly the way it worked before the punishment
    These must all remain intact or the middle and upper management types in America depending on NT would have to admit they made a mistake (I believe I heard of one that admitted his secretary made a typo once, but that's as close as it gets), the lively hood of (est.) 500,000 people in the tech field would be devasted, and the explosion of PC usefulness will be that drives innovation will be seriously cut back and other options will never have a chance, since most people do begin their computer experience with MS today.

    Personally, I don't care what happens to MS. What I don't have or can't get from the web, I write myself. As for work, I do systems work and OS does little but offer me a telnet window and sound card.

    I don't see MS in the picture at work outside of providing TCP/IP services for those who like the MS interface. But, I would prefer that the punishment of MS not destroy what I work with and play with. Be carefule what you wish for! If, for instance, MS does not exist tomorrow, then it is conceivable that the number of computer users will decline over the next 5 years. This means less people using programs, utilizing less programmers, meaning I can no longer demand my working environment.

    So, in closing, I wish to challenge anyone to come up with a punishment for MS better than competition from the open source movement. I personally believe that any company is vulnerable to the whims of the free market.. especially those on top (look at IBM in the 70s). Don't talk to me about AT&T, they were given the monopoly by the federal gov't in the 30s. In other words, every rant and rave are keystrokes lost from coding by those who want to see Gates fall. Maybe, those who cry the loudest cannot code to the standards of Microsoft.

    If everyone ranting thinks Open Source is better than any MS product (which I believe), prove it. Don't purchase MS products. If you think you can design a better UI, do it (I can't, so I must rely on GNOME or KDE, depending on mood). If you think you can design a better client-server scheme, be my guest. Put up or shut up. If you can't put up, learn to code, then put up.

    Sorry about the length, but I get tired of people complaining about an alleged Microsoft monopoly. (As far as I know, I don't personally own or use an MS product, nor do I come in contact with them on my own time. I know quite a few people like me. The fact we have been using computers for about 5 years since we started a personal boycott of MS for less expense than operating an MS computer is a curious kind of monopoly) This monopoly is only in the minds of people. They don't own anything tangible. Is it jealousy driving this or has Microsoft levelled a serious threat to Sun, Linux, *BSD, Lucent, or any other systems oriented software development group?

    Stop bickering, ignore Microsoft, write the best code you can, and prove to whomeverwants to know that there are better alternatives. It is not enough to want in order to succeed in this free market. I would worry more about patent law that MS. A lot more.

    Sorry for the ramble

  • a crime is not merely obnoxious. to say that his crime is being obnoxious is to confuse the point... there isn't any reason you couldn't be put in jail for fraud. but I'm not saying he actually could be. I agree with the others on the nature of these crimes. However, you guys... you CAN be put in jail for antitrust, it just never happens. But that's because it always is like, "ooops, slipped up and broke the antitrust laws... sorry" and the company pays. If, however, there was ever proof of an executive "let's violate those antitrust laws... I love doing that" and then was found guilty of a violation... I think you can send them to jail for overt violations just as with other crimes.
  • Backdoors, illegal End-Users-Licence-Agreements, bugs (where's warranty ?), SDK more or less bugged, depending on the price paid, Halloween document, proprietary protocols to stop Internet... (Microsoft or Big Brother ?)
    If MS trial is injustice, Al Capone's trial was also injustice!
    The REAL problem is NOT MS being monopoly, it's MS *abusing* of its monopoly
    For a proof, please tale a look at www.opensource.org/halloween [opensource.org].
    In France, Microsoft even scored better. The Windows EULA stated the computer seller was responsible for Windows support. But as French shops doesn't have MCSE technicians, there is NO support. BTW, this EULA is illegal in France!
    You worried to pay your Windows $49 ? In France, standard Microsoft price always was 1690 FF (about $256).
    The European Union sent a warning in 1994 europa.eu.int/abc/doc/off/bull/f r/9407/p204001.htm [slashdot.org] (in French, I have to locate the English one)
    As you can see, problem is not money, but how you got this money.

    ----------------
  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @11:17AM (#1165180)

    Why does it take the threat of a judge making a ruling on a case to actually get these two together and try to work out an arrangement/resolution to this mess?

    Because Microsoft had absolutely no incentive to deal until the Findings of Fact were realeased. Then it became readily apparent to them that they it was highly likely that the judge would rule against them. It took that much just to make them consider a deal.

    As for saving money, that hasn't really been a concern of Microsoft. They've (literally) spent over ten times as much on this case as the government has. Last I saw (late last year) the government had just topped $10 million. Microsoft was estimated to have spent well over $100 million. Historically speaking, this anti-trust case has been a real bargain for the government compared to previous large cases. If they manage to reign Microsoft in, it will be worth every penny.

    I really don't see how Microsoft is going to get any more than a slap on the wrist and told not to do it anymore.

    Well, the DOJ tried that already. They got burned bad too. Microsoft laughed off the consent decree last time and I don't think the DOJ wants a repeat performance of something that made them look like complete idiots. That's probably one reason they haven't cut a deal yet. Microsoft has been proposing solutions that weren't any better or more enforceable than the consent decree was.

    We could fine them, but how do you financially fine a company that makes 100's of billions a year?

    Microsoft doesn't make anything approaching "100's of billions a year." IIRC they made less than 10 billion last year. If you want to punish a company like that, you fine them a whole lot of money. That's not what this case is about and I doubt that a fine will play a significant part in the outcome of the trial, simply because it wouldn't solve the problem. Punitive damages will likely be awarded to those people and companies that sue Microsoft if the judge rules that they broke anti-trust laws.

    The remedies portion of the trial is supposed to provide a solution that will allow competition to return to the market. The only competition Windows currently faces is from open source software. If the only way to compete with Windows is to get people to produce a competitor for no charge, the market for that product is screwed up. Commercial companies have all been undermined by Microsoft's dirty tactics. Even when they produced a superior product. Microsoft cut them off from consumers and that was all it took to kill them.

    Perhaps Linux will make headway in the desktop OS market. Maybe it will eventually replace Windows altogether. Certain software markets may disappear, but I doubt it. People will still sell proprietary apps and services for Linux. They will still sell customized versions. The market will change, but it won't disappear. Software makers will make sure their software plays well with others, simply because that's what consumers will expect. I think we'll all be better off in that situation than in the current one where the standard is controlled by a single company that isn't averse to using that control to squash anyone that gets in their way or to take over new markets.

  • Actually, I do believe that Microsoft and its people know exactly the implications of what they're doing. I don't think any of them are too dumb to realize that they're not 'playing fair.'

    I think what's happening is that they're trying to transcend the law in rather interesting ways, and what's most interesting is that, so far, they've been succeeding.

    Nowhere in United States law does it say 'you must play fair.' Instead, the law delineates very specific behaviors and intents which are illegal, because vague altruistic laws aren't enforceable -- but the flip side of it is that the more specific a law is, the greater the possibility to find a loophole of some sort. And that's what Microsoft has been doing, redefining terms and feigning confusion just enough to worm its way around the letter of the law, and crying holy indignities whenever anyone dare try to mention the spirit of the law, because Microsoft asserts that its own belief that it's playing nice is just as strong as anyone else's belief that it's not.

    So the first thing Microsoft has done is to treat the law as a list of rules devoid of any moral obligation whatsoever. It's kind of like in _The Matrix_, where Morpheus tells Neo that he can gain unbelievable powers simply by realizing that the world around him is governed by rules which can be bent or broken, and that the only thing limiting him is his own set of preconceptions.

    And therefore, the second clever thing Microsoft has done has been to realize that laws *can* be broken, and that breaking them doesn't immediately cause the big foot from Monty Python to come down and smoosh them. They are obviously not out to keep their nose clean; they've done a lot of highly questionable things in several different cases, all the way down to destroying incriminating documents in the Caldera case. (I'm referring to the recent incident where a woman employed by Microsoft in Germany, I believe it was, admitted to having deleted a lot of subpoena'ed email at her manager's directive.) What Microsoft is depending on -- and what has so far held up for them -- is that court cases can drag on for years, well beyond any relevancy they once had in the Internet marketplace. Why behave legally today if you can escape punishment for another five to ten years or more, long after the companies which brought suit against you have gone out of business? And who knows, maybe by that time your founder will have donated so many millions of dollars to charities and political parties that no one (and least of all a Republican president) would ever consider continuing a lawsuit against your company? Or maybe the industry will have changed so much that any punishment against you will be irrelevant?

    Much as I absolutely despise Microsoft's tactics in its court battles, I really have a lot of respect for their brazen ability to keep using the law to their own advantage. They have *never* admitted one iota of guilt for anything (which is amazing in itself), they've successfully managed to misrepresent the issue to the average American so that it looks like a simple matter of 'freedom to innovate' versus 'heavy-handed government intervention' rather than a straightforward tying issue, and they've managed to snarl up every court case they've been through and drag it on *much* longer than necessary, even while committing barefaced perjury, such as faking a videotape and using it as a 'smoking gun' until they were caught. They've been trying hard to get the judge or the prosecution ticked off enough to make a mistake so that Microsoft can declare it a mistrial and make everyone start all over again. They know, and everybody else knows, that Microsoft doesn't have a legal leg to stand on here; it's truly incredible that they've managed to drag the anti-trust case itself out for an entire year and a half already, where initially people expected it to last no longer than six weeks.

    Microsoft is a shining example of modern capitalism, and of the ability of a United States corporation to do anything in its power to enture a good return for its shareholders. Unfortunately, it's showing the bad sides of this as well as the good.

  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @12:45PM (#1165182)
    Folks,

    I personally believe that the reason why Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is NOT issuing a judgement today is simple: he may have come to his senses and realize it appears that the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division under Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein is NOT wanting any form of settlement.

    Remember, Microsoft last Friday made a major offer that should have been the basis for accelerated settlement talks. Yet, Klein and his team at DoJ have thumbed their noses at the offer without even bothering to do a written response back to Microsoft. Given the fact that Judge Jackson wants this case settled and so does his arbitrator (Judge Posner in Chicago, IL) wants the same, the two judges may have just caught onto the fact that much of this case is a political sham by the DoJ as a favor to big donors who are Microsoft competitors. (I'd like to know just how much Sun, Oracle, Novell, Caldera, and Real Networks have paid to Democratic National Committee coffers laterly at fundraisers where Bill Clinton and Al Gore were present.)

    In my opinion, a large portion of this case smacks of extortion and political favoritism as some competitors in the software industry are using their influence in the Clinton Administration to use the DoJ to extort concessions from Microsoft.

    Two things people forget:

    1. The Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts were designed to protect _consumers_, not business competitors. I mean, has Microsoft harmed consumers? Has there been a backlash from a vast majority of consumers because they feel they got ripped off? No. Where has the backlash come from? Mostly a small, but very vocal group of Linux users (and that's till a small number of Linux users in general--note that Linus Torvalds is not at the head of this campaign).

    2. Both Judges Jackson and Posner are _Reagan-era_ appointees. They are not as anti-business as you think. Judge Jackson could have issued his judgement TODAY; since he didn't, this indicates Jackson has some concerns about just what the heck is going on on the DoJ side.

    P.S. You can moderate me down to troll or flamebait status, but given the history of the DoJ in the last seven years intimidating people who criticize the Clinton Administration....
  • > But if this actually happened, what would be considered the source code for windows?

    It hardly matters. They could release everything, but next year's version will have changes to the API, and next year's version of Office will use the new API, so everyone will "have to" upgrade.

    A source release is not going to do anything to solve the problem.

    --
  • by kmcardle ( 24757 ) <kmcardle@@@adelphia...net> on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @08:04AM (#1165184)
    ...you just may get it.

    A number of people are hoping for a complete MS breakup of the release of the Windows source.

    MS is a huge company. Any decisions that are made will set the precedent for the way the software businesses are run. We will live with the decisions made about this case for a very long time. Let's all hope they are the right ones.

    Things may be done today that change each and every one of our lives. Some will benefit, some will suffer.

    --
  • I would hope that all file formats would get released 100% into the public domain, so that all software instantly becomes Office compatable (okay, given them a few weeks). That will be a major problem for M$, as long as they are forced to keep their file formats open.
    Same with their APIs


    Just a little hint...

    The Office 97 file format (which is the same as the Office 2000 file format, by the way) is available on:

    MSDN Library January 1999.

    It's also on http://www.wotsit.org [wotsit.org].

    Just thought I'd let you know... because it hasn't seemed to be any kind of major problem for M$ so far...

    Simon
  • Here's to hoping that Micro$oft releases their source code to the public.

    I'm not sure if I'm in the minority here, or what, but I'm pretty anxious to see the source code for Windows. I think it'd probably be very instructive, even if (as a lot of nay-sayers say) it would be a lesson in what not to do.

    But if this actually happened, what would be considered the source code for windows? Windows 2000 has a very different code base than, say, Windows 95 (which is DOS-based); would all the versions be released? I suppose the answer depends on whether they are forced by judicial mandate to release it, or if they release it based on a settlement of their own devising.

    darren


    Cthulhu for President! [cthulhu.org]
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @08:08AM (#1165187) Homepage
    Bill Gates could be convicted of perjury if a Court and jury conclude that he knew he was lying in some of his sworn testimony. He did say things that were flatly contradicted by email. If a court/jury considered the email factual, and Bill's "forgettery" unconvincing, they would convict him of a felony.

    IANAL, but he's very close to that IMHO. MS did things (forced licencing) that he said in swon testimony that they did not do. I find the email convincing that he once knew. And I find it beyond credence that he forgot.

  • by flatrock ( 79357 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @09:19AM (#1165188)
    If you want to fine them you make it much larger than a couple billion. Then you take the money and pump it into the competitors or perhaps some really nice OSS projects. Imagine just how good linux could become with say $50 billion to spend on getting SMP working *for sure* on say a good sized Sun Enterprise server.

    The government may be able to fine Microsoft, but giving the money to competitors or an open source project is not something they can do. It's also in my opinion an extremely bad idea. The last thing you want is the government doling out cash to create a "level playing field". How would they decide who gets the money? What would that do to the stock market? The opertunities for corruption are horrible. Would they give it all to US companies, or share the cash with foreign companies that were allegedly harmed? It would be a nightmare of litigation that would never end.

    If Microsoft is ruled a monopoly, the companies they harmed have a right to sue, and I'm sure many will. This case is about how Microsoft may of harmed consumers, not competitors. The government brought this case against Microsoft, not their competitors. If their competitors want to sue them they are welcome to do so.

    IMO Microsoft has harmed consumers, but mainly through their abusive pricing mothods and their bundling deals with OEMs. In this case the government seems to be more concerned with protecting the likes of Netscape and AOL than protecting consumers. If the government would quit trying to tell Microsoft how to develop software, and concentrate on their business practices we would likely have a settlement which provides relief to consumers by now.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @12:37PM (#1165189) Homepage
    You are very mistaken. ... You appear to take the stance of the DOJ - you won't consider any offer from MS an acceptable "compromise" unless it makes provision for legal oversight of future business decisions or a breakup. However, that is not a compromise - it is an utter rout for MS.
    Those are the range of remedies. If Microsoft loses, there's going to be either judicial oversight of future business decisions(a "conduct remedy") or a breakup (a "structural remedy"). That's what happens in an antitrust case. Look at AT&T, IBM, Standard Oil, United Shoe Machinery, etc. Even the ones that were settled involved judicial oversight of future business decisions.

    Furthermore, the judge has delayed the ruling at the request of the DOJ lawyers, clearly indicating that the DOJ believes there is life yet in the settlement process. Or, more cynically, they desire to portray themselves as the wounded party if settlement talks fail (sigh, we tried your honor, but bad old Microsoft...) Either way, the judge is expressing no clear opinion with this latest delay.
    Good point. It's only for ten days, though. The judge is keeping the pressure on.

    ...a monopoly is not intrinsically illegal.
    There are many actions that are illegal to take if you're a monopoly, and Judge Jackson's findings of fact show Microsoft taking many of them. There's also the issue of how the monopoly was achieved, again addressed in the findings of fact. [microsoft.com]

    There is a provision stating that the DOJ could petition the Supreme Court for direct review, but it is by no means certain.
    Congress has enacted legislation before that fast-tracked appeals to the Supreme Court. Remember how fast the first Communications Decency Act case got to the high court? And the DOJ has already indicated they want to take that option.

    In a higher court, the debate turns to matters of constitutionality, which Jackson doesn't even have under consideration.
    What constitutional issue is there? The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. Congress enacted the Sherman and Clayton anti-trust acts long ago, and there have been no serious constitutional challenges to them. Big companies have been broken up before. Standard Oil and AT&T are the biggest examples, but by no means the only ones.

    They (sic) are many more (chances for Microsoft) to come should this process be protracted. The story is most certainly not concluded, unless a settlement is reached.
    The days when Cravath, Swaine, and Moore could drag an antitrust case out for a decade or two are over. There have been a few changes to the law since then to speed things up.

  • by rhmiller ( 124794 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @08:56AM (#1165190) Homepage
    Microsoft is worried because if the Judge makes a ruling then it is admissible evidence in about 600 other civil cases brought by the companies and people harmed by microsoft. If they reach a settlement the judge's finding of fact are not admissible. So we really want a decision.
  • by snackface ( 131521 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @08:11AM (#1165191)
    George W. has made random noises suggesting he'd be friendlier to Big Business. Let's say Judge Jackson slams Micro$oft later this week - it isn't over then. Micro$oft can appeal, and if Dubya's in office (and controlling DOJ, as well as the Antitrust folks themselves - Klein may be *gone* in a year, y'all...), the vigor with which M$ has been pursued thus far may disappear. A settlement, on the other hand, really can't be as easily rescinded or ignored after November if Bush wins.

    Don't mistake law for reality - politics play a very, very big role here.
  • by kwsNI ( 133721 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:55AM (#1165192) Homepage
    Why does it take the threat of a judge making a ruling on a case to actually get these two together and try to work out an arrangement/resolution to this mess? Wouldn't it have saved both Microsoft and the taxpayers a ton of money if they could have tried this out in the first place.

    OK, that's out of the way (since I know everyone's going to flame it). I really don't see how Microsoft is going to get any more than a slap on the wrist and told not to do it anymore. We could fine them, but how do you financially fine a company that makes 100's of billions a year? We could break it apart, but they would still be owned by the same people and everyone would go on making their profits, just like before. Hell, 3Com/USR/Palm has shown that it can even be a usefull business strategy. So then what? They could force MS to quasi-open source their software but ask Red Hat how terrible that is for business.

    Personally, I think that the Justice Department is just wasting time and money really pursuing this.

    Flame away... :)

    kwsNI

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @08:25AM (#1165193) Homepage Journal
    Here is the ideal settlement:
    • Dump the top 100 Microsoft execs feet-first into a wood chipper
    • Destroy all existing copies of all Microsoft products
    • Send anyone who, for some reason, likes Microsoft products to 're-education' camps
    • Transform the former Microsoft headquarters into a giant paintball arena
    There you have it. Very easy. Have fun, DOJ!

    --
  • I would hope that all file formats would get released 100% into the public domain, so that all software instantly becomes Office compatable (okay, given them a few weeks). That will be a major problem for M$, as long as they are forced to keep their file formats open.

    Same with their APIs.

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:56AM (#1165195) Homepage
    IANAL. In spite of the apparent upper hand the the DoJ has, it is probably seriously considering settlement for a number of advantages that it has over a court decision:

    1) MS cannot appeal a settlement (easily, if at all)
    2) The DoJ can get remedies in a settlement (like opensourcing Windows--yuck) that a Judge would be very reluctant to impose.

    The problem here is a failure of imagination. The DoJ doesn't really know what to ask for. And MS is naturally stonewalling.

    There are no advantages to an imposed decision except maybe the court would be more angry if it were controverted, and might impose contempt penalties quicker.

    OTOH, MS has a history of settling, then worming their way around the settlement. That's a big part of why the DoJ dragged them into Court this time. The case is framed as a breach of a previous settlement agreement.
  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:58AM (#1165196) Homepage
    Settlement talks have stalled.
    (A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail, (G)rab Hammer?
  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @07:57AM (#1165197) Homepage
    Is it possible, under any circumstances, for Mr. Gates to be charged criminally? Is there any crime which he has committed for which he could go to jail?

    And why, pray tell me, you are so interested in sending Mr.Gates to jail? He may be very successful and very obnoxious, but these are hardly reasons to incarcerate him. You may think he harmed software development, but that again is a personal opinion of yours and hardly a crime. Besides, there are plenty less successful but just as obnoxious people -- should they all go to jail, too?

    Kaa
  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @11:04AM (#1165198)
    You are very mistaken.

    This is a clear signal from the judge to Microsoft: settle now, or else. He's tried to get Microsoft to settle, even bringing in another Federal judge to mediate, which is very unusual. But Microsoft hasn't been willing to make any changes that would end their monopoly power

    I don't know any more than you do what was included in the settlement proposal MS faxed to the DOJ last Thursday/Friday, but rumored inclusions were opening the Windows (version?) source and dis-integrating IE from the OS. These are not concessions that would terminate their monopoly power probably, but a monopoly is not intrinsically illegal. The offer is nonetheless very substantial and would certainly give our competitors a vast advantage over us if it were accepted and drafted into practice.

    You appear to take the stance of the DOJ - you won't consider any offer from MS an acceptable "compromise" unless it makes provision for legal oversight of future business decisions or a breakup. However, that is not a compromise - it is an utter rout for MS. Such a bargain does not differ from the DOJ's hardline stance one iota, and no reasonable person could suggest that it would be anything other than capitulation.

    Furthermore, the judge has delayed the ruling at the request of the DOJ lawyers, clearly indicating that the DOJ believes there is life yet in the settlement process. Or, more cynically, they desire to portray themselves as the wounded party if settlement talks fail (sigh, we tried your honor, but bad old Microsoft...) Either way, the judge is expressing no clear opinion with this latest delay.

    Microsoft has had their day in court, and soon the judge will decide their fate. Only the Supreme Court can override him, (there's a provision in antitrust law that fast-tracks big cases to the Supreme Court, bypassing the circuit courts of appeal)

    Again, incorrect. There is a provision stating that the DOJ could petition the Supreme Court for direct review, but it is by no means certain. A district court judge could very well overrule Jackson.

    Legal opinion is generally that Judge Jackson has done an excellent job on a difficult case.

    That doesn't necessarily mean a superior court will rule with him. Remember that MS and the DOJ have confined themselves largely to arguments on the evidence of the case and a smattering of theory. In a higher court, the debate turns to matters of constitutionality, which Jackson doesn't even have under consideration.

    This is Microsoft's last chanced

    With this judge. They are many more to come should this process be protracted. The story is most certainly not concluded, unless a settlement is reached.

    -konstant
    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @10:04AM (#1165199) Homepage
    This is a clear signal from the judge to Microsoft: settle now, or else. He's tried to get Microsoft to settle, even bringing in another Federal judge to mediate, which is very unusual. But Microsoft hasn't been willing to make any changes that would end their monopoly power. This is Microsoft's last chance. The judge is making them show the world they're unwilling to change on their own. Among other things, that neutralizes many political arguments against a breakup. Microsoft will be looked upon by politicians as a business that refused to compromise and forced the courts to break them up.

    Microsoft has had their day in court, and soon the judge will decide their fate. Only the Supreme Court can override him, (there's a provision in antitrust law that fast-tracks big cases to the Supreme Court, bypassing the circuit courts of appeal) and only for serious legal errors. Legal opinion is generally that Judge Jackson has done an excellent job on a difficult case. This case has been so closely watched that any legal mistakes during the trial would have been noticed and widely publicized, so the Supreme Court will affirm.

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