Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Microsoft

Microsoft And US Have Until April 6 To Make A Deal 278

bahwi writes: "It looks like Judge Jackson has decided to wait until April 6 to issue his next ruling. Most of the states and the Justice Department want a structural change (read "company breakup") and don't want to settle for anything less, but Microsoft keeps saying no. The last two paragraphs are an interesting read, too. Read more about it at Wired."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft And US Have Until April 6 To Make A Deal

Comments Filter:
  • I'm "the troll." Whatever meaning that term may have.

    Read the history of Germany from 1922 through 1937

    With a little study you will discover that

    Wealthy American families financed the Hitler government. These wealthy American families include the Fords, Rockefellers, Bush (as in George H. Walker), Mellon, etc.

    America is sliding into a police state strikingly similar to Nazi Germany. And has now had the son of Hitlers' original financier as the President of the United States. Additionally, it appears that the brain washed American people will - once again - elect the son of a Nazi. W

    Hitler was the creation of an international corporate elite that reigns to this day.

    Have a nice day, "knee-jerk, for-the-children whiners."

    Bibliography:

    Trading with the Enemy by Charles Higham.

    ISBN: 0-440-09064-4

    All information is this book was obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

  • Charles Higham's book is an unadulterated piece of crap. He equates anyone who was not in favor of declaring war on Hitler asap, as a nazi or nazi sympathizer. His methodology directed against those opposed to USA entry into WWII is the same methology used by McCarthy against communists.

    The people you accuse of "financing" Hitler were in charge of corporations doing business with Germany, all perfectly legal and normal and no different from the business they did with other countries. These corporations did business with the USSR; does that make them commies and financiers of communism? It's just the old story of making a buck.

    You may not like it, but your manner and childish love of bold does not say much for your maturity or objectivity. Just because you don't like something doesn't make it "nazi".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    OH my friggin Gawd, that was funny, it is always great to see a rampant AC go off an a tear and just rip up anyone who is in their path. Im not asking to moderate this up, because it is flamebait, without a doubt. But it is posts like this that make it worthwhile for me to view at -1 sometimes. Had it not had the last two sentences, this would be a candidate for funniest post-first post flame.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I've been in tech support going on three years. A substantial (almost 10%) of my calls are due to windows-related instability which results in secondary problems - the ones I deal with. Corrupt data, confusion, non-working programs, just to name a few of the more obvious problems" I was in tech support for 3 years of 9x as well FOR Microsoft. I saw a few bugs, but about 99% of all my calls were for crappy drivers and Cybermedia's sh*tty products. The fact seems to be that MS is the dumping ground for all problems that either the user or tech cannot resolve. I remember the gleeful smile on my face that I had the other day when I had a customer saying that Win2k was crap and crashing his system. Needless to say is was a needed firmware update for his SCSI controller. But again, I guess MS is responsible for that as well. No?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Am I seeing Godwin's law in action? Get the popcorn.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As they look over the world's painful panorama of war and terror, some people conclude that it is too late, that no amount of information or activity could possibly
    complain about lousy geeks. But those who take that pessimistic view understand neither Microsoft nor its current rung on the ladder to total power. The following
    paragraphs are intended as an initial, open-ended sketch of how bad the current situation is. I myself am familiar with Microsoft's goals, I understand how it
    operates, I have long recognized its tactics, and I know just about where Microsoft now stands on the ladder to total power. I can therefore say that, unhesitatingly, I
    experienced quite an epiphany when I first realized that it would be better for it to do nothing than to violate the basic tenets of journalism and scholarship.

    For the record, Microsoft presents itself as a disinterested classicist lamenting the infusion of politically-motivated methods of pedagogy and analysis into higher
    education. It is eloquent in its denunciation of modern scholarship, claiming it favors bookish anti-democratic pickpockets. And here we have the ultimate irony,
    because its cronies are delighted with the potential for violent confrontation. My usual response to Microsoft's crusades is this: Each of these issues is central to the
    anti-intellectualism debate. However, such a response is much too glib and perhaps a little hideous, so let me be more specific. Nothing would make Microsoft
    happier than to see me go crazy. But this is something to be filed away for future letters. At present, I wish to focus on only one thing: the fact that illaudable
    headstrong ideologues are responsible for the neo-choleric tenor of Microsoft's philosophies. Doesn't Microsoft ever get tired of calling everyone "effete cutthroats"?
    My earnest denunciation of Microsoft's statements must have failed to register with it as being legitimate sentiment. With this central point cleared up, the rest of
    Microsoft's arguments are rendered moot, as it seems to think that it is right and everybody else is wrong.

    Microsoft proclaims at every opportunity that it'd never burn books. The organization doth protest too much, methinks. What I mean to say is that the chief difficulty in
    writing about Microsoft is that this is typical of the kind of noise it enjoys making. When I first heard about Microsoft's convictions, I didn't know whether to laugh,
    because Microsoft's holier-than-thou attitudes are so wild, or cry, because I doubtlessly intend to exercise my franchise to provide you with vital information which
    Microsoft has gone to great lengths to prevent you from discovering. One might conclude that failure to define our terms more clearly will lead to a deluge of
    complaints by Microsoft's lackeys. Alternatively, one might conclude that I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to redefine humanity as alienated machines/beasts and then
    convince everyone that they were never human to begin with. In either case, if it wants to complain, it should have an argument. It shouldn't just throw out the word
    "phytosociological", for example, and expect us to be scared.

    I don't have time to go into this in as much detail as I should, but pestilential totalitarianism is widespread and growing stronger as it permeates school systems,
    universities, and the media. But it gets much worse than that. Even with the increasing number of unsympathetic slimeballs, this is sufficiently illustrated by the
    ridicule with which Microsoft's protests are treated by everyone other than condescending turncoats. We will have to become much more vigilant to ensure that
    Microsoft doesn't ruin my entire day. What does Microsoft have to say about all of this? The answer, as expected, is nothing.

    Creating needed understanding is best achieved in a calm, rational environment. Microsoft's actions are counterproductive to society. That being the case, we can
    infer that what our nation needs is more respect for the law, not less. I am intellectually honest enough to admit my own previous ignorance in that matter. I only wish
    that confused vagrants had the same intellectual honesty. Microsoft's viewpoints are related to the elements and bases of oligarchism both organizationally and
    ideologically. Microsoft's rantings are just a rhetorical ploy to get away from the obvious fact that it seems a bit late in the day for Microsoft to turn its putrid diatribes
    to our advantage.

    If Microsoft continues to burn our fair cities to the ground, the result can be a tone-deafness, a cluelessness, on matters that are at the center of experience for vast
    segments of the population. Whatever else may be the case, it is certain that if Microsoft feels ridiculed by all the attention my letters are bringing it, then that's just
    too darn bad. Its arrogance has brought this upon itself. What Microsoft seems to be forgetting is that this makes its claims seem tyrannical and even a bit
    lame-brained. This should be a chance to examine and bring problems to light, to share and join in understanding, but Microsoft often starts with a preconceived
    story and then plugs in supposed "information" in order to create a somewhat believable tale. Let me back up a little: You'll never hear Microsoft admit it made a
    mistake.

    It is important to differentiate between disorganized smart alecks and prodigal heretics who, in a variety of ways, have been lured by Microsoft's psychotic press
    releases, or who have ended up wittingly or unwittingly in coalitions with Microsoft's henchmen, or who maintain contact with Microsoft as part of serious and
    legitimate research. If you want to clear up these muddied waters with some reality, then tell everyone you know the truth, that my concern is with morality itself, not
    with the teleological foundations upon which it rests. Armed only with a white shirt, pocket protector, slide rule, thick glasses, and some other neat stuff, I have
    determined that Microsoft's campaigns are a spiritually destructive propaganda instrument aimed at our children. Regardless of what Microsoft seems to insist, its
    commitment to communism is only part of the story.

    Microsoft places its indelible imprimatur upon a form of jingoism that is fundamentally, pervasively, and inescapably pigheaded. As part of its efforts to gain a
    mainstream following, Microsoft publishes the Journal of Fickle Absenteeism. Included alongside articles discussing history, culture, art, religion, and philosophy are
    endorsements of Microsoft's plans to inject its lethal poison into our children's minds and souls. Daily, the truth is being impressed upon us that loquacious sexism
    has come to occupy a stolid place in the national dialogue.

    If our goal is to oppose evil wherever it rears its revolting head, then we must consider various means to that end. Consider the issue of incorrigible frotteurism.
    Everyone agrees that there's something severely wrong with this picture, but there are still some dodgy crotchety curmudgeons out there who doubt that we must
    always be looking towards the future while keeping the past in mind. To them I say: I do not find bromides that are jaded, hypocritical, and repressive to be "funny".
    Maybe I lack a sense of humor, but I can guarantee the readers of this letter that there are other strains of Maoism active today, and the siren calls of those
    movements may mesmerize soulless big-mouths whose wretched behavior blinds them to historical lessons. There are rumors circulating that heathenism is a crime,
    an outrage, and a delusion, so let me just clarify something: I correctly predicted that Microsoft would retain an institution which, twist and turn as you like, is and
    remains a disgrace to humanity. Alas, I didn't think it'd do that so effectively -- or so soon. It must be pointed out that Microsoft shows a curious unwillingness to
    break the neck of its policy of ruffianism once and for all.

    What so many people find difficult to grasp is that the things Microsoft wants to do are unfair, if not illegal. I certainly cannot emphasize enough how much I resent
    Microsoft's criticisms. There is good reason to believe that until we work together towards a shared vision, Microsoft will continue to produce a large number of
    entirely dirty extravagancies, most crazy indecencies, and, above all, the most stuck-up blasphemies against everything that I hold most sacred and most dear. The
    funny thing is, I sincerely would have expected Microsoft to at least listen to my side of the story. In the end, obtrusive primates like Microsoft tend to conveniently
    ignore the key issues of this or any other situation.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    MCSE = Must Consult Someone Expierenced

  • The Brunching Shuttlecocks (hi fsck!) have a good article on why there's no settlement yet: http://www.brunching.com/features/feature-microsof tsettlement.html [brunching.com]
  • <I> Hmmmm, smells like Microsoft :) </I>

    Not really. It's okay to make discount volume sales. That's okay. What's *not* okay is tieing the discount to another, unrelated product. It would be as if Cisco owned 90% of the router market, and they decided to move into the PC hardware world, and said that if you wanted to buy Cisco routers, you had to buy Cisco PCs as well.

    This is called "product tieing," and it is illegal if you are a monopoly.

    <i>You can't blame MS and Cisco. These companies are out there in a dog-eat-dog marketplace trying to survive. They walk a fine line between honesty, morality and making a buck.<i>

    You can blame them, as a matter of fact. We *should* blame them. If you cannot make an *honest* buck, then you shouldn't be working in that business... or something is wrong. In the case of the software business, something is wrong. MS stopped making money honestly, and started being dishonest, sneaky, and underhanded; it got to the point where some stated business plans were to make an innovative product just so Microsoft would buy them out.

    When your only hope for profit is to be bought out, something is wrong.

  • Whilst I agree with you in part, XEmacs is pretty good with the integration side of things. If you're looking for things like completion and tips, try looking at SciTe, which uses the Scintilla widget (http://www.scintilla.org/). It's used in the Python for Windows package and is very effective.
  • It's about a bazillion times easier (and faster) creating an alias in Mac OS than in Windows. (MacOS: highligh object, command-m - done) (Windows: um, if it's an executable, drag-n-drop it, never mind if you actually wanted to copy or move that file. If it's a document, right click it, wait oh, about 50 years for the CM to open, go down to NEW, wait about 200 years for the submenu to open, search through the submenu's list of a buzillion office document types and other bs that nobody uses to find "shortcut", click on that, wade through the damn wizard, and about 5000 years later, you have your freakin link^H^H^H^Halias^H^H^H^H^Hshortcut - oh yeah, there's the innovation, some genius at Microsoft looked up link or alias in a thesaurus and picked the word "shortcut").

    No joke. Pentium 233, 64megs RAM, NT 4.0SP5. 5 seconds for CM on right click, a full 15 seconds for the damn submenu. Give me a fuckin break.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • Too bad thanks to Intel's gross incompetence, that the hardware high-water mark fell far short of satisfactory.

    (except for my G3 at home)

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • Breaking up Microsoft would be a huge task. Just look at how long it took to deal with AT&T, and realize that Microsoft is far more complicated than AT&T was considering all the interrelated products Microsoft produces, and the fact that Microsoft is far from static

    I think this is an excellent argument for why MS should be broken up, not why they shouldn't. As numerous college courses (and plain old-fashioned experience) teach, all of the products should not be inter-related, they should be modular so you can easily yank one out to be replaced by a different module.

  • Microsoft is not to be punished because it is succesfull or because of its products (Win, Office...).

    It is not even to be guilty of being a monopoly but for taking advantage of its monopoly and using unfair business tactics to keep its monopoly and rip competition!!!

    So stop pointing how good the products are since this is totally irrelevant!

    And for the matter, I agree that Microsoft have done great things to the computer business, bringing PC (and software) to the masses...
    It has been a great challenger to UNIX: who can seriously argue that VI is s proper text editor?
    And remeber how X was a crappy interface 5 years ago? No real desktop environment! No proper grafic al interface for most apps...
    And I am not even mentioning prices here.

    Microsoft deserved to be successfull at that time, but it can note live on its edge to make more $$$, it needs to do great things, beat it's competition by making better/cheaper products, not by killing them...

    This is what the DOJ is trying to address.

    Julien

  • plagiary (play-jer-ree) (v.t.): To copy a misspelling without attribution.
    --
  • There is an internal electronic discussion forum at Microsoft called (IIRC) the Dead Borlanders Club, for ex-Borland employees.

    THAT'S how many Borland employees ended up at MS.
  • That FDA or Dept. of Agriculture reg has the force of law, because Congress is a bunch of wimps who lack the guts to add the details themselves.

    All this regulation of Microsoft is a very ugly camel's nose under the tent. If it happens, you can bet Linux will become contraband because it lacks required interfaces or documentation or facilities for the handicapped.

    The reason there are so few car companies is that there is a huge regulatory burden in producing a car. You would think, with all the outsourcing of subsystem manufacturing there would be more car companies, just as there are new PC companies every day. This does not happen, and, in fact, the reverse happens in the form of industry consolidation because of the exteremely high regulatory hurdles placed in front of new entrants.

    The example of how, if cars were like PCs they would cost $50 and go a thousand miles per hour, comes not from any technology magic. Cars are plenty technological. Stagnation comes from the dead hand of regulation. Do you feel it on your shoulder yet?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, let's go through your points again...

    1. It's easy to use. No argument. Also no complaint. No one has argued successfully that just because a piece of software is easy to use therefore it will win the marketplace (because then we'd be using Macs.). (The usual counter to this is that Windows is 'good-enough'. Fine, then OEM preloads aren't an issue. See below.)

    2. Microsoft's Office suite. I don't know where this came up...but what the hell. Yes, they may have a nice office suite. So, what? If you accespt the fact that they are the defacto standard for desktops, then allowing them to offer a bundled Microsoft Office/Windows combination is using one monopoly to try and extend another one. (This is what the big IBM case was about during the 360's days...remember?)

    3. Breaking up Microsoft won't have an effect? No offense, but you do own your own phone don't you? You know you can get 10 cents / 5 cents a minute long distance? You do remember back to the world of AT&T when this did NOT exist?

    But let's assume that your right. So what? We've tried regulation...where they promise to play nice, and we've got Netscape (which was skyrocketing as a company) now in the dumpster.

    And if it's all Netscape's fault, then why did Gateway, Micron, and Compaq all offer to PAY cash to offer Netscape on their systems? (And why did Microsoft refuse to drop the IE icon?)

    4. The same ol' argument. Punish poor Microsoft for 'doing too well.' They're MUCH better now. (And where were they when they were forcing IE3 on everyone's desktop?) And why the HELL should IE be 'forcibly packaged' with or without alternatives?

    To sum up my case: Why the HELL does Microsoft get to tell the OEM what must (and must not) be on Windows? The OEM PAID for Windows.

    Why can't DELL, Compaq, Gateway, or anyone else offer whatever they want? THEY GIVE THE WINDOWS DISK TO THE CUSTOMER, DON'T THEY?

    (But, of course, that's my realistic solution as a /.ers....take it for what you will.)
  • Assuming you want to see MSFT be held to task for their past actions, not having them broken up, and having Jackson hand down his Findings of Law instead of the DOJ/States/DoC being rushed with complicated legal language from MSFT, is quite possibly the best outcome we could have hoped for.

    Sure it's going to be in appeal for years, but it will likely go straight to the high court and survive; Jackson's being VERY careful here. And a decision by a judge is a lot more powerful than some concent decree which can be ignored by future governments.

    Lastly, by not breaking up MSFT, it means there's a single target for all the harmed parties to focus their (legal) efforts on. I expect MSFT's legal department will soon outnumber their SW development group.

    Frankly, how the end-game plays out doesn't matter any more; the market has been able to recover somewhat with the beast under constant observation, and that isn't going to disappear any time soon. MSFT are having to compete on merit in a few areas, and as one might expect, failing terribly.

  • You're missing the point of abuse of monopoly power...

    You seem to think that MS bundling the browser for free was good competition for Netscape. But think about it a bit more... MS spent millions of dollars on IE development (after IE 2), to what - bundle it for free? This practice is called dumping. They dumped IE on the market, admittedly a comparable product to Netscape at version 3. This isn't healthy competition, it's anti-competition. It says "We've got billions of dollars to burn, and we're going to burn it until you're not in the market any more".

    Did you people not read the findings of facts? It detailed these things in excrutiating detail. It covered internal emails saying just such things.

    The facts of this case stand: MS used anti-competitive practices. Specifically in the netscape side of things: dumping. This is illegal. Companies who do illegal things require punishment of some sort. That's all.

  • 1) It's a whole lot easier to set up and use "out of the box" than Linux.

    I'll concede you the use, although that's only because it sucks in different ways than a Mac and a bit less than Linux, but setup on Windows is only easy because it comes preinstalled. Go install Windows9X off a cd onto a bare (unpartitioned, unformatted) harddrive and tell me how easy it is to set up, get networked etc, relative, say to Redhat 6.1. I did this on a dual boot system I built and was amazed that the Windows 98 CD did not boot off my CDROM drive (although my Redhat CD did) and that installation onto a bare harddrive did not automagically create partitions and format them but died midway through an error message saying I didn't have enough disk space. Configuration is fairly good for simple things, but I still detest having to reboot my computer for a change in DNS.

    For extra credit install NT 4.0 (on a partition of less than 2GB of course), use the default browser (IE 2.0) to go to www.microsoft.com and be prepared for a suprise (for the uninitiated it gives the oh so helpful error message "The virtual directory / does not allow it's contents to be listed." and does not allow access to the site AT ALL). I know it's an old installer, but that's the point. In a competitive world, they would have released an upgraded installer long ago. Even now that Win2K is out, lots of people still need to install NT4, go through the arcane dance of the service packs etc.

    2)Microsoft's office suite is damn good. Some may argue that it's "good" because of anti-competitive integration with the operating system, but regardless, objectively, it is a feature-rich, fast, and easy-to-use suite. Nobody I know has ever had a problem learning Word.

    I find it is relatively easy to learn Word, but hard to be truly efficient in it. This is partly due to it's "feature richness" which effectively means, lots of features I don't need right now but which make it harder to find the one I do. And partly due to halfassed implementations, such as adding pictures to documents, captioning them and having text flow nicely without having to do document surgery. I have also been bit by more than my fair share of bugs, such as a document which was unprintable, and which made any document to which part of the uprintable document was pasted unprintabl (no macros, macros disabled in Word...OS integration at it's best no doubt.).

    3)Breaking up Microsoft will have little effect on its day-to-day business. Sure, the overhead will increase, but I don't think it'll help foster competition. It shouldn't be allowed to unfairly push manufacturers, but breaking it up will have no effect on all this.

    I actually agree with you here. Breaking up MS would be ineffective. It would be better, IMHO to force transparent pricing and licensing, since that's the big hammer MS has, and perhaps keep it from acquiring any more companies for some length of time, say 2-4 years.

    4)Microsoft shouldn't be punished for having a better product. Netscape (which helped initiate the litigation) complains about IE, and although I agree it shouldn't be forcibly packaged without alternatives by OEMs, the fact remains that today IE is way better than Navigator. Shell integration aside, IE crashes on me less often than Navigator.

    Ahh yes... but was this true at first bundling. Netscape obviously played a role in shooting themselves in the foot, but there revenue model (for what it was worth) was actively taken away, in legal (a better browser) and questionable (not letting OEMs ship netscape as default) ways.

    To sum it up, the case seems like punishment for Microsoft for being too successful.

    But you conceded that they shouldn't force OEMs to not bundle Navigator and otherwise "push manufactures". IMHO, it is this end of MS and no the "innovation" end that can and should be reformed by the court. Transparent and non-discriminatory pricing and licensing would be a start, with strong protections for letting OEMs change the boot sequence and initial configuration.
    --
  • My life has improved since the DOJ's antitrust actions against IBM.

    Do you honestly think that any of the following would exist in a world where IBM dominated computing:
    *Microcomputers
    *Microsoft
    *The Internet

    No, because all of those things (along with many more) were developments that IBM would have squished given half a chance. You simply are not free when there's a dictator, even if he's benevolent. Having one giant company in a field will impair competition even if it is not hostile. But oddly enough, they are always hostile.
  • Actually, there's a kernel of truth to this. While there are still a lot of Mac users (and, erm, some zealots) out there, Apple has definately changed their direction.

    As far as UI is concerned, I'm talking about the MacOS from '84 up until recently. Apple has demonstrated a disregard for its own UI design recently that is more than a little bit disturbing. Witness QuickTime 4, Sherlock 2, and much of MacOS X.

    For the record, I run LinuxPPC on my Mac hardware, but still end up switching back to the MacOS to get stuff done. The Gnome/KDE UI just isn't there yet (given a year or two, though, it may very well pass Windows in that regard).

    [watches as this message, like the previous, is marked as flamebait for no reason whatsoever] :>


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • It's there, but not as usable.

    Being supported isn't the same as being usefully supported. :>


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • ---
    You can go right on admitting that, too. It does one thing, and only one thing, well, and that is user interface.
    ---

    [Insert fits of laughter from the Mac crowd here]

    Sorry, had to be said. Windows does not have a good user interface by any stretch of the imagination.



    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Um, AOLers are inferior*. Have you ever actually tried communicating with one? It's usually a lesson in futility.

    I'm surprised nobody told you.

    *('inferior' in the sense that many are really, really annoying. This is not all-inclusive - occasionally there are non-annoying AOLers that pop up. As a group, though, they rank somewhere around the WebTV and MSN factions)

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • I don't know about the rest, but the Windows version of Perl currently has some non-trivial problems compared to its Unix/Linux cousin.

    That may be solved sooner or later, but you still have to use Windows.


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Of course, this is all based on the assumption that software surrounded by a box is somehow more stable and efficient than software lacking a box.



    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Someone needs to re-moderate this to something else. It is very much not a troll.

    Misguided? Perhaps - I don't agree with the original poster. But it's obvious that the intent was not to 'troll' this forum.


    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • It looks like the DOJ will become the DOG and wimp out again.
    If I got caught lying under oath in court during my trial but was convicted anyway
    of extortion, bribery, witness tampering, and falsifying evidence
    and obstruction of justice anyway, would I go directly to sentencing
    and hard prision time or would I be able to say to the judge, "No,
    thanks, I won't accept your judgement or your punishment. Let's
    negotiate something that seems like punishment to those who don't
    know any better but in reality isn't even a hand slap. Ok?"
    A better example of one standard of Justice for the rich and
    another for the poor could not be found, except for the poor slob
    who was accused of murdering his girl friend at the same time
    O.J. was. His trial lasted 3 months and he's doing life. O.J. still
    visiting golf courses searching for the real murder.

  • I am afraid of the US Federal government in my industry. I am cheering for Microsoft even though I am a Linux user who doesn't like Microsoft's licensing practices.

    Our industry is, for the most part, unregulated. If I release my own word processor tomorrow, I can give it the features I want. If I want a spell check, I'll add a spell check. If I want a talking paperclip, I'll add a talking paperclip. It's my software.

    But lets be honest here. Industry that is not held in check by anything will screw the consumer/public anyway they can get away with. This has happened again and again. From chemistry to credit. And in our industry it comes from eulas that sign away your first born (more specifically the vender's responiblity), crap software pushed through a forced upgrade chain, security as an after thought... I could go on.

    So now, here we are. After years of telling the consumer to bend over, the gov. might tell the SW industry to clean up its act. You know what, its about god damn time. The sw industry has once again proven the point that industries can't regulate themselves because they live in thier own little world with no external responsiblity.

    The fact is that the gov. already tells you what features you can't implement (broadly, encryption). There are already laws about sw accesablity. Its perfectly reasonable that if sw is required infrastructure for particular (especially gov.) jobs then it like the building will be made accessible.

    So to sum it up. Your unregulated industry already is. It has proven that it needs regulations so that it takes some responsibilty for its products (wouldn't you like to click through the eula on the new MS embeded elevator controller software -thank God for Mr. Otis). Hope to God MS gets its teeth kicked in in a major way, 'cause untill most bosses get a clue, that the only way the SW some of us have to use @work will get better. Somebody moderate me down for ranting.

    --locsut

  • Unfortunately, that would require executive approval as well as a formal declaration of war from congress. Given the breakneck pace of congressional actions, we can expect an approval by the end of 2008.

    However, the alternative would be to enable a 'peace-keeping action' in the Redmond, WA area. Napalm was dropped on the Campus to prevent dissidents, you know. However, this would only happen if the DOJ could catch our president with his pants down again. Desperate for an excuse to get him out of the hot seat, I'm sure he'd sign an executive order to napalm mr. gates' mansion. Unfortunately, the white house is fresh out of interns.

    The other problem is, of course, that most of the military's infrastructure now runs on NT. Like Arnold in Terminator 2... it cannot self-terminate. So, even if you managed to somehow bypass the 32 safeguards preventing launch, you'd still be stuck at a BSOD on the console.

  • Microsoft's office suite is damn good. Some may argue that it's "good" because of anti-competitive integration with the operating system, but regardless, objectively, it is a feature-rich, fast, and easy-to-use suite. Nobody I know has ever had a problem learning Word.

    MS Office is mediocre and not improving. I use it extensively, and it's definately a mixed bag. It's a feature landfill.

    Take Word for example, since it is the app I know best. You CAN get it to work for most jobs, but you usually have to know how to work around its shortcomings. It has lots of features, but they aren't always usable, and many of them have been poorly implemented, like the Master Document feature which nobody uses because it just doesn't work. Some of the new features are crap, like being able to format your document with blinking Las Vegas lights around the titles (I'm not kidding). In addition, there are many features that I turn off because they get in my way, like auto spell-checking, which is distracting, and auto grammar checking, which is distracting and inaccurate and doesn't always catch errors. Lastly, there are the features I wish I could undo, like the WYSIWYG Styles list in the toolbar, which is slow, doesn't display white text, and is sorted in no comprehensible order. It's been a complaint of writers since it was introduced, and it isn't going away.

    A deeper problem with Word and other Office apps is that Microsoft hasn't been able to fix the deep bugs in the apps, so that they're not nearly as reliable as a 6th generation app is supposed to be. There is a well-known bug in Word where "next page" section breaks turn into continuous section breaks. It's been there since Word for Windows 1. It's still there in Word 2000. There was a major bug in the automatic numbering system for Word 97, which forces users to go back to manual numbering, because the automatic numbering just can't be relied upon. It's still there in Word 2000.

    Getting rid of Word is a major professional goal of mine.

    Jon
  • > What an absolute crock of shit. The only people posting that kind of idiocy are anonymous cowardly trolls ...

    > the paid Microsoft Astroturfers and FUDders who substitute ad hominim attacks against slashdot readers for well reasoned arguments.

    > What you fail to realize is, there is only a vanishingly small minority of people here stupid enough to believe your propoganda.

    If this is what passes for reasoned argument from your point of view, it's no wonder no one even condescends to offer their argument to the contrary. Just because you don't speak like a script-kiddie doesn't mean you offer any more reasoned analysis than one.
  • Could you all do me a big favor, dust off your english composition books, and learn to summarize and rebut with whole paragraphs? This point-for-point nonsense you and a thousand other would-be debate-club types foist isn't somehow incisive and well-related to the surrounding context, it's snippy, interruptive, and incoherent. Criminy, it's bad enough seeing a back-and-forth, it's dowright pathetic when half the responses are "oh yeah? says you!"

    I may be guilty of abusing the snippy one-liner myself, but I don't go running a post through a shredder like some kind of dadaist art in order to deflect from the lack of coherency in my reply.
  • It's just that most people are afraid of expressing such a view because the 1337 bandwagon-jumpers will flame them to death with shit like "L1NUX R00LZ, D00D! MIRCO$OFT SUX0RZZ!!".

    What an absolute crock of shit. The only people posting that kind of idiocy are anonymous cowardly trolls, which anyone with an IQ of two digits or more recongizes for what they are and ignores (or never reads, if one's threshhold is set at +1), and the paid Microsoft Astroturfers and FUDders who substitute ad hominim attacks against slashdot readers for well reasoned arguments.

    The latter may be a result of the fact, obvious even to the most casual observer, that Microsoft's behavior has been reprehensible, harmful to the consumer, the technology, and the industry, and above all illegal.

    You can inundate our threads with hoards of underpaid (or well paid) Microsoft public relations droids and attempt to distort the public dialogue of slashdot and other technical forums all you like. What you fail to realize is, there is only a vanishingly small minority of people here stupid enough to believe your propoganda.

    Face it. Microsoft broke the law, harmed millions in the process, and is now (finally) beginning to reap the natural consiquences of their behavior. Get over it already.

  • So Microsoft bundles their browser with their system. And while I don't particularly care for the fact that the browser and system are integrated, it was a smart move by Microsoft nonetheless. Why pay $49 for Netscape when IE comes free? Cry "monopoly" all you want, but it did give Netscape some serious competition...competition is what this is all about, right? They offered their browser for free and even opened up the source, yet IE still prevailed.

    Netscape and IE both were (and still are) available for free. IE had the upper hand of "already being there" due to it's bundling with the OS .. thereby eliminating the need for Netscape's presence on the computer.

    The line gets drawn where Microsoft blatantly began using it's stronghold as a monopoly in order to devalue Netscape's product. (as seen in the e-mails brought up in the trial, I don't remember specifics, but it's something along the lines "We have to leverage windows in order to get rid of the need for Netscape")

    Also, if you read through the findings of fact you can see that MS also had many instances of leveraging their unique standpoint of having the OS on the huge majority of home PCs in order to scheme their way into buying out companies and infiltrating markets as well as devaluing software which wouldn't be or couldn't be taken over by them (Java is a prime example.)

    Hope this sheds some light on things.

    modern day geek. [dhs.org]
  • Yeah, he is just a troll, but I find

    >This is a government

    >of the corporations
    >by the corporations
    >for the corporations

    to be frighteningly accurate. It seems that only
    'The People' that have fantastic amounts of money
    actually have any influence anymore in America.
    Oh, excuse me, knee-jerk, for-the-children whiners
    also seem to have a lot of influence.

    --Kevin


    =-=-=-=-=-=
    "Just take another hit 'cause you don't give a f*ck-
    You're a junkie and you're proud!"
  • Cute, but it would've been funnier if you had used a pun of some Perl feature that isn't a part of the Windows version of Perl.

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • I don't know about the rest, but the Windows version of Perl currently has some non-trivial problems compared to its Unix/Linux cousin.

    Your statement sounds pretty dubious. Care to name some?

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • I must admit that I am very pleased by the relatively standard architecture that descended from the IBM/MS PC, not because it isn't chock full of technical compromises -- of course it is -- but because we could every easily be a shattered tangle of architectures now, with few sharing enough market share to make intercompatibility very promising.

    I don't think that the Unices would be in as good a position today, if we'd continued the trend of the early 80's: even "PC clones" weren't entirely compatible. Apple, Atari, Amiga, etc. were fine hardware, but can you imagine a market with 5-6 primary architectures (and their clones) with 10-20% share each?

    Does anyone remember when the exciting 'intercompatibility' technology was the 'emulator board' (basically an entirely separate processor, on a limited motherboard, communicating over a peripheral bus). I shudder to think how easily this could have remained widespread, despite its many drawbacks. [Internetworking full-featured machines would not be a viable alternative to slot-cards, because few small shops or SOHO's would want to support many very different platforms and their associated OS's]

    Today's desktop market of a single overwhelmingly common general architecture provides a single large market for initial development, which actually helps cross-platform development more than 5 disparate platforms with 20% market share. Even when hampered by legacy hardware support (e.g. ISA) these desktops function well into the 'big iron range' (SMP quad PIII/K7 1GHz; server farms; Beowulf).

    OS legacy support of hardware (CPUs) has served us well, even if we may choose not to keep that as a primary feature of our OS's. A low end pentium server can be bought for $50, minus HDD or maybe RAM. I bought 2 in the past month for my home LAN. Time to let go of 386/486 (except as hobbies), not because of a lack of capacity for special tasks, but because of cheaper easier alternatives.

    But I'm glad things were backwards compatible while they were. It made things a lot easier.

    I am pleased that the Unices (and others will follow) are returning to re-compiling to suitm hardware, but I admit the binary-only era that actually *did* make life easier as we transitioned into a era of widespread computing.

    Look, it's been a long, crazy ride. There have been some dark chapters, and some of us have lost our hair unnecessarily, but...

    You know, things didn't work out half-bad.

    Of course, in a few years it'll all fragment. Let it. We've learned some things along the way, and we're better suited to face it now. We've got a lot of experience, and solved a lot of problems. Now we can face the next set of 'needlessly irritating, suboptimal solutions to fundametal problems' and curse compilers instead of installers -- or whatever we'll be doing.

    That *is* part of the fun, after all.

    Smile. if you didn't enjoy the hassles, you probably wouldn't be /.'ing right now.

    __________

  • If you favor a breakup of MS, then I think one of the goals would have to be to integrate the parts into the marketplace as individual competitors.

    In other words, PicoSofts (micro-Microsofts) would have to compete against each other, just as the rest of the market would comepete against them.

    I would be skeptical of this possibility, but we did somehow manage this with the RBOCs/baby Bells (it was a hassle, but it worked)

    However, dividing MS along strictly functional lines would probably have the problems people have described, because Win9x does not compete with NT or Office or MSIE etc.

    So how do we divide it along non-function lines? How do we create competing teams and projects working on the same problems. It seemed a nightmare, until it hit me: Regional Microsofts.

    That's obviously not the answer. MS is not uniformly distributed across the states as a corporate entity (unlike the Bell system). Still, it was the first glimmer of a manageable breakup strategy I'd seen.

    Think about it, if you wanted to split a person, you wouldn't split the kidneys from the liver, etc. You'd split the liver, give each progeny one kidney, lung, etc... then let them live independently

    (thinks back on Gross Anatomy and all those exotic surgeries we did in third year pig lab... and gets immmediate headache from trying to make this analogy work)

    Okay... I know someone else out there can come up with a better division strategy that doesn't just slice along non-competing product lines. Remember, division for it's own sake won't serve us here. If we divide (and I'm not saying we should) we need to divide well -- for competition.

    They are charged with anti-competitive practices, after all

    __________

  • To the company whose inefficient OS
    ...drove users to needlessly upgrade
    ...drove developers to write programs that did the same
    ...made insecure computing so real that it might never be so ignored again.

    To the company whose inefficient OS
    ...created massive demand for faster/better hardware
    ...which spurred the hardware makers to develop and introduce faster
    (when profiting from established products had always been more prudent)
    ...which drove prices down on the the new and supposedly-obsolete alike

    Leading to Horror That Ruled The Earth
    and will someday fall,

    ...leaving an Open Source movement that is something more than a extremist corner of geekdom
    ...leaving lots of cheap, perfectly good, but 'outdated' hardware (and the will to turn them to clever uses)
    ...leaving a hardware highwater mark might not otherwise have reached (or needed) so soon
    ...and a better chance for a new beginning
    ...and a memory of a cautionary chapter that may make us wiser

    May this toast help us remember MS fondly if it falls, and console our sorrows if it doesn't

    __________

  • Thank you for your reply.

    My concern is primarily about the effect on investors (and the general industry) that could be caused by a lack of uncerstand ing of the accounting practices outlined in the article cited at the beginning of the thread. [fool.com]

    I don't want to press this issue except to say that I do not understand your definition of fundamentals. That term was once used strictly, and was calculated by the 'technical analysis' you disparage. Now 'fundamentals' is used to mean something very loose and intuitive, and technical analysis is often used to mean meaningless short-term number crunching, often used in an attempt to time the market. I think most people who use the words today don't *have* a strict definition of either.

    The data is there. the accounting practices are extreme by industry standards (what other company MS's size accounts their stock option this way?) Therefore, I worry that the usual 'quickie indices like P/E or profit are misleading for MS. That's why I think volatility will enhanced if there is a downturn.

    There are solid issues here. I'm pointing, not prognosticating. let those who read the article decide if they were already aware of these factors -- and if they weren't, then they couldn't possibly have factored them into their decisions.

    "Fundamentals" are not the opposite of hard numbers, they are the basic underlying hard numbers. the website this article came from is a major proponent of fundamentals. That's why they not only mention the MS stock buybacks, you mentioned, but gave the numbers: $3B in 1999 vs. $60B in outstanding employee stock options exercised -- $9B this year alone (a mere mitigating factor). MS, as most investors know, has over $650B in outstanding stock overall. $3B is a sneeze.

    __________

  • Well, its been stated many times that in the occurance of a breakup, there would also be blocks as to the communication between the different companies. Essentially, if Microsoft Application Corp A, wants information on the new APIs of Microsoft Operating Corp B. The only way to get it would be from B releasing such info to the public and A taking. Now I wondering if they would encrypt it :)
  • Excellent post. Kudos.

    No, they wouldn't. Because if they did, we would go to Wendys or Burger King or any one of a million other restaurants. Even though McDonalds is, by far, the largest restaurant chain.
    I think this is where your argument could use a better analogy. The only reason I can go to Wendys in the first place is that Wendys is able to compete with McDonalds. McDonalds did not contract all the major construction companies in the world to build only McDonalds restaurants. The construction companies are free to build Wendys, Burger King, and McDonalds. If McD had contracted the contruction companies to only build McDs, then there would be no Burger Kings or Wendys. This is exactly what MS did.

    MS crushed the competition by making the OS cheaper to manufacturers who would bundle MS products. That is a fact. In the razor thin margins of the hardware market, what could the PC makers do but use MS products? If you don't run Windows, you don't sell PCs.

    Without any competition in the OS market, MS was able to add features to the OS rather than fix problems and improve stability. MS has the talent and resources to produce a version of Windows that would be a good and stable OS. What they don't have is the need. Why improve a product when you can write a new one and convince everyone they need to upgrade?

    Splitting up MS is not the solution. Too many companies depend on MS for day to day operations. What we need is a big fine, say 20 billion USD, and documented APIs and file formats.

    I personally would love to see MS voluntarily release the source code and make Windows an open source project. They could still sell the OS, and people would still buy it. Hackers could track down bugs and submit patches to MS. The average consumer would not be interested in downloading 30 megs of source and compiling it to have a new OS. And they would always have the Office cash cow to fall back on. MS can't continue to grow forever as a company. The curve has to level off sometime.
    --
  • So Judge Jackson basically agrees with the DOJ's findings of fact. He probably then thinks that MS has been acting bad and needs to change. Suppose, however, that he can't agree at all with the DOJ's findings of law; that although evil, Microsoft has done nothing illegal. Then maybe he's strongly urging a settlement in order that something be done about Microsoft, before he's forced to let them off the hook.

    (I don't actually believe this myself; its just a thought that occured to me.)

  • plus a dozen service packs, which you have to install before and after you install any servers. Not to mention the 500+ reboots. I aint lying, I do this at least once a month with my workstation and more regularly with servers.
  • man.. I never had a problem with there being multiple archetectures.. it was great.. you could write a product for one computer then once you starting selling well you could port it to other machines. Quickly people would buy it because it proved that their computer was just as good as the next guys. When there was no dominate computer (well, the Apple II was always dominate) you had people developing for all the platforms. There were heaps of amiga games that got "scaled down" to the c64 and then ported (or re-written) across to Apple AND PC.
  • I can't comment on Cisco's practices, as I do not really keep up on the company (I know they sell networking equipment, that's about it).

    I can point out a few differences here, as to why these cases cannot be compared. First off, I honestly don't think Cisco can be considered a monopoly at this stage of the game. Secondly, Microsoft was making deals to push products OTHER than their OS onto the market, wheras Cisco (according to you) is making deals to push their established product onto the network.

    However, if Cisco were to be considered a monopoly, I think the actions that you described would be considered illegal maintenance of the monopoly, but again this is different that what Microsoft has done.

    It's one thing being in a dog-eat-dog market place. It's another when you're the only dog with a bone and a SHOTGUN (ok, pretend dogs can use a shotgun) and kill the other dogs when they get their own unique bone (then taking that bone for yourself and killing any dog that tries to get a piece of one of the dozens of bones you have). Yeah, really crappy analogy but it's the best I could come up with.

    You are correct when you state Microsft was trying to WALK the fine line between honesty, morality, and making a buck. They wern't trying to live up to the principles in that statement. They tried to get away with stuff and contort the language of the law. I guess a more appropriate way of saying it would be that microsoft was walking on a line that had 10 detours and an huge curve between points A and B...

    A hands off policy won't work..."ignoring a problem won't make it go away". How many times have you seen that statement in action? It's no different here. Open Source could be stomped out as a viable *alternative* (not subsitution) to Microsoft products by MS in a matter of months if it wanted to. The movement isn't large enough yet. They need a foothold, not a toehold ('cause toes can be amputated ;).

    I'm not saying that a solution arrived to will be a great one, or even a good one -- especially in the short term. But it will be better for the industry as a whole over the long term.
  • Well yeah, but we might also have competition (or an oligarchy, like the "always marching in lockstep" airlines...). That might make a difference here -- bloat presumably can't last if they can't monopolistically defend themselves like they can now.

    Slice and dice, that's what I say -- they've already tried settling a couple years ago and look where we are now: back where we started, if not in an even worse position. I'm not sure what the best solution is here. Opening their code won't necessarily halt their predatory tactics, and breaking the company up into different divisions (OS, desktop applications, server applications, etc) seems clumsy and problematic. But if it hurts MS to do it, so be it -- we've had enough of this, and punative action is called for.

    Actually, upon reflection (if it isn't obvious, I haven't really considered what the court should do before just now), I'd be happy just to see them change their marketing strategy. It would be nice to stop hearing parroting about how much Microsoft has innovated and improved technology and done so much to bring it into our homes -- and nevermind the Mac, nevermind Tim Berners-Lee, nevermind the 1001 things that they've re-implemented badly. I'd be happy just to see them clueing people into what a shoddy (but admittedly powerful) pack of imitators they've been.

    Call it a public apology for lameness, I guess. I'd like to see that...



  • April 1, 2000
    Microsoft Withdraws Bid for World Domination

    Microsoft (www.microsoft.com [microsoft.com]) withdrew its undiclosed-size bid [un.org] for world domination this Saturday morning. Bob Young declined to comment on the status of his competing bid.

    Shortly afterward, the United States Department of Justice [usdoj.gov] announced that it had reached an agreement with the software giant five days ahead of time. Judge Jackson [mailto] declined to outline the agreement, but stated that it was a "fairly simple" agreement and that the United States was "satisfied" with the outcome. A Microsoft spokesperson said that she was not able to comment about the ruling.

    In related news, Microsoft is also considering withdrawing its sponsorship [gcfl.net] of the space shuttle program. When asked what corporation might replace Microsoft, NASA head Daniel Goldin [nasa.gov] said he hadn't started accepting new bids yet, but added that he definately didn't want Microsoft's motto to be replaced by a penguin. "Then we would get tens of e-mails a day asking why we didn't open-source this [slashdot.org] or OPL t hat [uni-stuttgart.de]. On peak days [slashdot.org] we would be sure to get tens of thousands of e-mails."

    --

  • Yes, and perhaps someone will create a spell-checker for you Linux trolls.
  • The earlier poster who commented on the fear of govt. control over what you can and can't code into an application is a very real concern. The Microsoft case allows a "foot in the door" towards this type of regulation - like it or not.

    I don't think comparing the temporary shutdown of restaurants over health violations to the Microsoft "monopoly breakup" is fair.

    In the case of the restaurants, people's lives and health are directly at stake. It's very clear that one of the primary purposes of a restaurant is to serve food that is safe to eat.

    Same thing with a city yanking a business license after numerous complaints of being ripped off.

    MS may make products you personally feel are rip-offs, but the entire reason they're so successful is that the vast majority of computer users *don't* feel that way. Otherwise, why would they buy the software licenses at all?

    If you truly let Capitalism work, you leave businesses alone. You don't try to "level the playing field" artificially by punishing the most successful. That sounds a lot more like a Socialist system of govt. to me.

    IBM was so good at what they do (look at how many patents per year they churn out!) that they were successful *despite* damaging govt. intervention. It didn't make things better for anyone I know, though. Can you really say "Gee, my life improved since they punished IBM's success!"??

    Honestly, I think more Linux users should welcome Microsoft's huge influence. The reality is, the GUI built by them is a large motivating factor pushing Linux apps to improve. I know some would disagree, but man - I thought the average X desktop looked pretty ugly before people felt the pressure to develop interfaces like KDE and Gnome/E to counteract Windows. If MS wasn't such a big player, would we have these same kinds of things? I'm not so sure....
  • Breaking up Microsoft will have little effect on its day-to-day business. Sure, the overhead will increase, but I don't think it'll help foster competition. It shouldn't be allowed to unfairly push manufacturers, but breaking it up will have no effect on all this

    MS does some good things, but it would be better for the marketplace if MS were broken up. We might even see MS Word and IE for Linux and other platforms.
  • [Insert fits of laughter from the Mac crowd here]

    Sorry, had to be said. Windows does not have a good user interface by any stretch of the imagination.


    Strange, because I find the Windows interface much better than the Mac or any of the Linux desktops.
  • Personally, I *hate* those pickles. Burger King for me.

    Steff

  • ---
    You can go right on admitting that, too. It does one thing, and only one thing, well, and that is user interface.
    ---

    [Insert fits of laughter from the Mac crowd here]

    The one thing I've found after discussing user interfaces over the past few years is that while some interfaces may be just plain bad, there are far more that some people find good and others find bad. I know people that swear by MacOS and swear at Windows. I, myself, do the opposite :) Still others prefer X-Windows over anything else, and so on. After a while, it just comes down to personal taste, and there's usually not much sense in arguing over personal taste....

  • OK, as you have already read, the last two lines of the article:
    But Kolasky had a different view. He said the appeals court decision noted that what the Justice Department had deemed a violation "actually benefited consumers by giving them a better software product."

    WTF^10!?!?!?!?!?!
    Ok, so if I kill someone because they are stupid, then what the government calls murder actually benefited the gene pool, right?

    IMHO, that has to be the stupidest thing I have ever read!
    Appeals Court: Yeah, it was wrong, but look at this sweet OS, er..I mean browser. Oops, cannot install SMS, SQL, or anything else unless I have this OS, er..I mean browser..
    Yep, sure did humanity a favor here!
  • What are you talking about? There has been no judgment. This type of thing goes on all the time. Microsoft and the DOJ have been given time to make a deal, a settlement, if you will. Failing that by the deadline, the judge makes his ruling. Regular criminal cases have deals, too. It's called pleabargaining. What's your point?
  • I was, until the end of last year. No, I wasn't worried about the court case (or settlement or lack of settlement of the same). No I wasn't worried about Y2K (although I did buy a few jugs of water [in retrospect: Why?]).

    I just began to sense the slowing down of their momentum. They seemed less important. Hey, juct compare the pomp and circumstance of Windows 95's roll-out versus the Win2K roll-out ("Umm. *ahem* It's available -- but you don't have to buy it. We're not a monopoly. Really").

    Consider the fact that MSFT's stock price is nowhere near as "overvalued" against earnings as other Internet-oriented stocks. Doesn't this bother you? It did me. I realized the reason Yahoo! is market-cap'ed where it is relates to the general feeling that Yahoo!'s future is so bright. But where can Microsoft go but down? Where is the next generation of techies going to work? Not Microsoft!

    When Microsoft started admitting the Internet was the future, their fate was sealed. Why? Because the Internet is not proprietary, but is based on an assumption of open standards and open access. Microsoft's business model does not fit this new culture (but it could, I suppose, at a cost).

    I stopped investing in MSFT and stopped following this case so closely because it has largely become irrelevant to the future.

  • i don't know why people bitch out microsoft so much. oh my god, it's closed source, oh my god it crashes. big f' deal. win2k is awesome, and much more useful than linux, why work for it in linux when it's easy to do in win2k??? laziness is zen. hurray for me. i bow down to the awe and mystery that is microsoft. -dennis the kid
  • Good post, very well argued.

    I only have one issue with it: My problem with Microsoft (and I suspect the problem several other /.ers have) has little to do with their functional monopoly on the desktop OS market, but how they are using that stranglehold to leverage their way into other markets without having to compete fairly.

    Splitting their OS division from applications and hardware would make it more difficult from them to use "embrace and extend" tactics outside of the OS arena...which would be a good thing. Unfortunately, it would only partially sove the problem, because it isn't really clear what is part of the OS proper and what is not, making all sorts of loopholes MS could use to leverage other markets. Also, within the desktop and networking market itself, MS would still be able to wreak havoc. For these reasons, a split must be accompanied by rigid oversight (or some other method of hobbling) of (at least) the OS division in order to be effective.

    --WhiskeyJack

  • Did you know that there is a federal law determining the minimum width of a pickle on your McDonald's hamburger?

    Damn, what kind of FUD is this? It is reasonable that the "pickle width" be controlled. If I go to a fast food chain and the hamburger is described as having a pickle, god damn I'd be pissed if it was some puny-assed thing. It's called truth in advertising, and laws like this are very common, and necessary in our economy where many different businesses exist within the same market. It stops any particular business from getting an edge over its competition by cheating the customer.

    A couple common examples:

    • The percentage of real fruit juice in anything described as a "fruit drink", "fruit juice", etc. is controlled.
    • If something is described as "sodium free", "fat free", or "sugar free" there is a limit to how much actual sodium, fat, or sugar can exist in the product.

    Don't construe this law, and don't try to focus on McDonalds as the sole reason for it. It's there for a good reason.

  • MS may make products you personally feel are rip-offs, but the entire reason they're so successful is that the vast majority of computer users *don't* feel that way. Otherwise, why would they buy the software licenses at all?

    The equating of business success and quality products is specious. There are several reasons that Microsoft product dominate several categories and the reason "Because consumers like the products" is not among them except, perhaps, in the case of browsers where Microsoft buried their only viable competitor so that they could not afford to keep up with browser development.

    Reasons such as bundling, illegal coersion of vendors selling multiple operating systems to sell only Microsoft, price fixind and pure, unadulterated FUD are the reasons that these products dominate, not that consumers all love them.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • But I think breaking up a company that large has repurcussions nobody can predict, and I'm sure the judge is more than a little wary of undertaking something like that.

    Actually, there's a fair amount of precident. Standard Oil was a huge company that was broken up. The result was more competition and lower prices for consumers.

    AT&T was another huge company that was broken up. That ushered in the era of competition in Long Distance services. Local serivce is attempting to reestablish it's national monopoly, but the FCC is demanding acces to the local loop for competitors.

    If we break up Microsoft, I think that you will see increased innovation (real innovation not Microsoft's idea of "innovation") and a virtual explosion of computer products.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • You've made some strong counter-arguments. You point out an example of how Microsoft forces distributors to sell/bundle XYZ if they want to sell ABC. There's nothing wrong with that, let me give you a counterexample which ties in with the last paragraph:

    Cisco has been known to make binding agreements and with companies, giving them discounts, free support, free hardware on the condition that they ONLY use Cisco equipment on their network. Hmmmm, smells like Microsoft :)

    I think what it boils down to is that all humongous companies are going to inherently be evil and try to muscle other companies.

    You can't blame MS and Cisco. These companies are out there in a dog-eat-dog marketplace trying to survive. They walk a fine line between honesty, morality and making a buck. I'm not saying that whatever they do is right, I'm just saying it's to be expected.

    But what do we do? I think that we should adopt a hands-off policy and let the open source take off. The GNU and FSF organizations have such a toe-hold and momentum I think they'll eventually break down Microsoft to be more managable.
  • Please mention the "Navy Ship Dead In The Water" stuff earlier in your comment, so those of us who know about that little canard can stop reading your uninformed BS right away and not be halfway through your little tome before we discover you're merely another zealot parroting folklore.

    "Software glitches leave Navy Smart Ship dead in the water" [gcn.com]

    Read this article for yourself from the Government Computer News archives and decide the "folklore value" for yourself!

    ;-)

  • Monty Hall: I'm going to find out how a Chief Software Architect and a District Judge trade under the exact same circumstances!

    (Bill Gates and Judge Jackson enter)

    Monty Hall: What items have you folks brought?

    Bill Gates: I've brought a copy of Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 2000.

    Judge Jackson: I've brought an anti-trust lawsuit from 19 states and the Justice Department.

    Bill Gates: You suck.

    Monty Hall: Let's see how you do with this boxed copy of Red Hat, and what's under this box on Jay's tray.

    Jay: This is the Red Hat distribution of Linux, a free, open-source operating system. It retails for approximately $5.

    (RMS enters)

    RMS: You mean "GNU / Linux."

    Jay: Er, right.

    Monty Hall: Now, you can trade what you brought today for either one of these items. Mr. Gates, do you want Red Hat, the item in Jay's box, or your own copy of Windows 2000?

    Bill Gates: Linux sucks. I'll keep Windows 2000.

    Monty Hall: Judge Jackson?

    Judge Jackson: I'll take the item in Jay's box.

    (Jay uncovers it. It's a bowl of hot grits.)

    Monty Hall: A bowl of hot grits, perfect for pouring down your pants! It's all yours!

    Bill Gates: Ha ha! Sucker!

    (Judge Jackson trades the lawsuit for the hot grits. But wait!)

    Judge Jackson: Wow, there's $400 in this bowl of hot grits!

    Monty Hall: It must have been a rich grits crop this year! Now, Mr. Gates, do you want to keep your copy of Windows 2000, or would you rather trade it for what's behind the curtain that Natalie Portman is now pointing to?

    (Gates thinks)

    Bill Gates: I'll trade.

    (Gates hands over his copy of Windows 2000. Natalie Portman opens Curtain #2)

    Monty Hall: It's a pack of AIBOs! You can start your own electronic dog pound!

    Bill Gates: What the hell? I want my copy of Windows 2000 back.

    Monty Hall: Too late! That's it for today's show. Believe me, it's been fun -- and I'm not barking up the wrong tree!

  • Great, if the gov't gets it's way... we'll have a bunch of smaller misguided bloatware companies running around.

    You've actually made a very important point: in the end, if there is a structural remedy which breaks Microsoft up, the resulting components would still need a "monitoring and enforcement plan that doesn't equate to government regulation of the industry" -- to quote Ken Wasch (maybe a bit out of context).

    I have looked long and hard at the situation, and it isn't clear to me what a structural remedy would gain us. If you split M$ along functional lines (OS, apps, and internet), you have three very large companies who can still share information, and who have close historical ties with each other. What do you suppose they'll do next? But if you split M$ into three different OS companies, all you've managed to do is make Sun fourth instead of second... what the hell good does that do?

    To my way of thinking, there isn't anything other than a monitoring and enforcement plan which can potentially work. The devil is (as always) in the details. So the question is: "What can we do to make sure the monitoring and enforcement plan works?"

    I think the answer is to get involved, rather than just bitch.

    ...just my $0.02

    ---

  • a fictional account, based on a real life events

    Hi. My name's Bob. I'm an end user. I like computers, and I've had one around since the old days of Windows 3.1. Remember that? Anyway, I read magazines like everyone else, and I hate to think that my next door neightbor might have a faster computer than me, or that he got the office-supply store to get his copy of Windows 98SE first, so I make sure I do too.

    I used to have Windows 95 on my machine, but they all changed to Windows 98 at work. I didn't like the difference so I bought Win98 as well. Then, I decided that my computer wasn't fast enough for Win98 so I bought a $2500 Intel system, since everyone I know uses Intel.

    I've heard about things like Linux, but I'm afraid I won't be able to access things like my favorite game: Microsoft Golf (version 1.0). And what about my wife who still likes to use WordPerfect 5.1? And gosh, I just don't know if that digital camera I got to take pictures of my lawn will work with something other than Windows. And what about all the neat Norton software I have? I mean, I have Norton system utilities, Norton Anti-virus, Norton ass-wiper...you name it, I got it! And gosh, Windows98 came with a free browser and e-mail program, too. That's really neat.
    end fictional narrative

    Microsoft definitely has a monopoly, but a lot of the reasons for it exist because 90% of users want something that is (appropriately enough) idiot-proof, and they perceive that Microsoft will give that to them. Their concerns are compatibility, backward compatibility, upgradeability, and universal application. Why would they choose anything else?

    --------
    sig files are for weenies

  • Hum. If US Federal Government become really a pain in someone's ass for creating software, I can tell you there's over 300 other countries in the world. With Internet, you won't even have to force your employees to travel. And, a little quiz: where countries is an OSS from? What laws must applies for regulating what features an OSS must include?

    Sometimes, "Free" can mean free for the product developers also. And if a Judge Jackson, or John Doe, start to complain because there is a US Federal Law that clearly stipulate your wordprocessor must include a talking paperclip, you can tell him: "Go on, write the code and send it to me, I'll include it." or "What US laws? My project is a [a_country_somewhere_else_in_the world]-an one, it don't have to obey to US laws.", couldn't you?

  • To:George W. Bush Coronation Headquarters
    From:William Gates III

    I'm beginning to come under serious pressure you idiot!These rediculous anti-trust laws are breaking my back.I've wired along a few billion dollars to help speed up your upcomming coronation.I don't care what it takes...kill Gore if need be,everyone hates him as much as those Linux-commies hate you.Buy congress.I don't care!Stop those commies in the Dept. of Justice and make it snappy...my stock options are depending on you!


    -Secret BillyBorg(tm) Bank Info snipped so comradePenguin doesn't go to jail-


    The penguins have revolted...Visit The UPGR [bored.org]
  • In France many French people have switched to Linux as they were too upset with Windows bugs.
    You're right, in their mind, people wants their old pirated programs running...until you tell them Linux programs are free and more powerful (usually, it's true).
    And when you say to a man his $1000 camera or $200 scanner won't work with anything but Windows, he feels cheated by Microsoft.
    If backward compatibility was one of user's concerns, they'll have left Microsoft a long time ago... I have a RealMagic card, and it doesn't work with Windows > 3.11, for example.
    Not to mention numerous DOS programs 'now calling a general protection fault' when run with windows >= 95
    Also try to read a DOS MS-word 2.0 document from Office 2000... Backward compatibility hum ? Good luck !
    Nowadays, Windows is kept by French *only* for games, as professional programs are okay for Linux. Many French people are ready to throw off their pirated copy of Windows as soon as a few games will run with Linux.

    ----------------
  • it would put IE onto Linux; it would port Office apps to Linux and elsewhere

    And how is this a bad thing [tm]? Thats what competition is about. If the applications have to stand on their own two feet, and not rely on the "it's already here so I might as well just use it" bundling effect, then they must either improve or die.

    A structurally altered Microsoft would be worth more -- not less -- on the market than the current monolithic Microsoft.

    Once again is this a bad thing? They will be worth more combined (and the current share holders could well make a killing) but Individually they will be smaller. The point being they can not use bundling to make profit in one area by sacrificing another. If the products can not stand on their own feet then they die and the shareholders lose money. More to the point it doesn't stop other applications/OS/companies (Netscape? Wordperfect? BeOS? Apple? Linux?) from competing with a more even chance in there niche market. Netscape has struggled not due to an inferrior product (arguably at the time they had a superior product) but because market share (and thus income) was taken away by unfair leverage of the OS. IE would not be able to be bundled because it would be part of a seperate company (under one debated scheme at least).

    Because free to innovate and chase opportunities -- as well as to better attract and reward engineers -- the company would once again be the worst nightmare of most of its competitors.

    The company, or the companies? Thats the important question. If IE has to stand on it's own feet, and can't just be given away with the OS do you think that the company would remain free to innovate and chase opportunities without at least charging for a product? Could Netscape not also innovate and chase opportunites on the same grounds as a Baby Bill?

    But a monolithic Microsoft, especially one stung by having to a) agree that it had done wrong, and b) sit under the eye of DOJ overseers, will be a mess.

    Do you think Microsoft would not find ways to bypass the overseers/restrictions? They will work on that. At the same time they will keep supplying IE with the OS, just not as tightly coupled, and they will still unfairly maintain market share. They will still be able to use "undocumented" API features, they will just need to be sneaker about how different development teams find out about it.

    The only way you can be assured that a tiger won't attack someone is to either lock it up and watch it closely all the time (that means watching it very closely ALL the time, with no mistakes or breaks to scratch yourself) or to kill the tiger. Both actions can work, what is "best" or wise or even feasible are things that we hope the DOJ/states/courts can figure out.

    Careful what wish for ...

    Like a chance for my company to choose something other than SQLServer on NT as a datbase because there are products as good, stable *shudder* and cheap, supported and not stupidly chosen because "It's Microsoft."

    Ahh for a perfect world!

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:42PM (#1161710)
    MS: Well, I know I beat you up for most of your life, but it's okay now.. I mean, I can change.

    DOJ: Well, I don't know, are you sure you've changed?

    MS: Sure! I mean, check out the polls.. 68% think I'm a great guy now! Honest. I'm ready to get back to being a contributing member of society.

    DOJ: And what about the 32 other counts of misconduct that are still pending?

    MS: Oh, they're all out to get me, but don't worry.. when I get out I'll squash the f-- er, really nice people and give them all kinds of innovative love.

    DOJ: Well... we'll need some time to consider it.

    If only convicted felons had it this easy....

  • by sinator ( 7980 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:58PM (#1161711)
    RMS aka Richard Stallman had a problem with a printer.

    He wanted to fix the printer and needed some source code to make a good driver.

    AT&T wouldn't give him the source.

    He got mad and founded the GNU project which was open source. A year later (1985) he founded the FSF to help defend and delineate the GNU license.

    The rest is history..
  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:02PM (#1161712)
    I'd like to draw the attention of interested parties to a basic fact underlying Microsoft's "wealth"...

    Most of their so-called 'profits' are really just wages deferred as stock options, and the funds MS collects when employees collect them, reported as income (Yes, they found a way to move employees and benefits from debits to credits!)

    Here' s a fairly well written, clear description of the practice [fool.com]

    This will certainly make it interesting when the Ponzi scheme unravels and MS stock prices suffer their first real sustained decline.

    Considering how many outstanding shares there are in institutional holding, and how the scheme only works in a steadily climbing stock... we could be looking at the Big Dump

    __________

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday March 30, 2000 @01:30AM (#1161713)
    > That would make Gates richer. Do you really want that?

    Frankly, I don't care how much money he has -- so long as he isn't allowed to use it to cut off my air supply.

    --
  • by AME ( 49105 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:09PM (#1161714) Homepage
    So all the government needs to do here, is establish an 'operating system pricing commission' or suchlike, which tells Microsoft that they cannot charge more than a certain price for their operating systems.

    This is a monumentally bad idea. Do you really want the federal government deciding what any software should cost? (I don't) Do you trust the government to make a good decision? (I don't) Do you believe that ten or twenty years from now they will still be making good decisions? (I don't) Perhaps we should establish a commission to oversee the pricing commission and make sure they continue to do their jobs right as years go by.

    Would Linux and FreeBSD be subject to this pricing commission? Maybe we would be forced to charge similar prices for these OS's in order to keep the OS market "competitive."

    The problem with monitoring is that it just boils down to a game between the monitoring committee and the people they are monitoring. The monitors try to prevent violations, and their wily opponents try to use their power in new ways that the monitoring committee is not allowed to challenge. This consumes resources and creates ill will. History tells us, imperically, that this doesn't work. And Microsoft has demonstrated, repeatedly, that it will hide behind any technicality and take advantage of any ambiguous language in order to maintain business as usual.

    There is nothing wrong with having a monopoly, but abuse of one is a crime. Microsoft will abuse any monopoly position it has in any way that it can. Haven't we learned this yet? This is why all of the concessions proposed by Microsoft are just so much talk. All of them involve keeping Microsoft's monopoly intact. The last thing Microsoft wants to have to do is compete for its income.

    --

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @09:16PM (#1161715) Homepage Journal


    Microsoft has really started to hammer the DOJ and although ample research has gone into coverage of the anti-microsoft side of the argument, next to none has been done into the tactics that DOJ is using. Microsoft has its propoganda machine that declares the DOJ is stiffling innovation [microsoft.com] which woes the converted to sign petitions and contact their state representatives but fails to defend any of the claims made by the DOJ. Perhaps the most scary part is that Microsoft's web site is not written by people who know they are trying to keep a monopoly in place for their own benefit. The authors of the Microsoft site truely beleive that they are fighting the good fight. Their readiship definately beleives it and sites like slashdot and wired just look like sploiled grapes. So maybe it is a good thing that your average newspaper prefers the "overthrow of the evil overload" story to the Microsoft version but I would hate to see the down fall of Microsoft if any of their claims is true. From an us-against-them perspective we must not be blind to what is the correct course of action.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @09:25PM (#1161716) Homepage Journal
    I dont get it.. Microsoft has this picture [microsoft.com] on their DOJ vs Freedom to Innovate web page.. what are they saying?

    • "Why don't you sue us too?"
    • "Them bastards forced people to sue us!"
    • "This never would have happened if it wasn't for Judge Jackson!"
    • "Look.. we really are bad!"
    • "boo hoo.. please stop the DOJ now before we go out of business!"


    Really.. I just dont get it.. That's the kind of picture I would expect to be scattered around Wired with a click through to their DOJ-vs-Microsoft coverage.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:10PM (#1161717) Homepage Journal
    bah.. look at IE at the time that netscape was actively competing with it and you have a real comparison. After Netscape spent more money on court fees than on development and then said "lets open source it!" and stopped virtually all development of the product, Microsoft had a chance to catch up. Now IE is a way better browser than Netscape, and so it should be, people have actually been developing it for the last 2 years.
  • by Keeper ( 56691 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:14PM (#1161718)
    Nah, Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly. They've only got 95%+ of all OS sales. A monopoly does not mean you are the only company offering a product in a certain category. A monopoly is a company which controls such a significant portion of their "market" that the mere fact that they exist becomes an entry barrier.

    Hell, you have to GIVE AWAY your OS in order to "compete" with microsoft (BeOS, linux, etc) or bundle it with hardware that only free OS's will run on (Apple, Sun, etc) -- and I might also note that windows doesn't run on their hardware either.

    Now, just the fact that they are a monopoly isn't wrong in and of itself. But a monopoly has to be more...careful. The best way to put it is that your business practices are held to a higher standard; ie: you can't use your monopoly to "do stuff" that you wouldn't be able to do without a monopoly.

    This is what MS has done with their "power". Ex: they've used their monopoly to push products (IE, Word, Excel, Outlook, etc) in areas they didn't have a monopoly in -- they told companies "If you want to put Windows on machines you sell, you have to put this other stuff on here too". If the manufacturer didn't, they wouldn't be able to sell their computers because everyone EXPECTS to have windows pre-installed (because everyone else uses it). This isn't the only thing Microsoft has done, but it's the easiest to understand. If you really want to know it all, read the findings of fact that have come out from the trial. That thing ain't long because the Judge likes to write novels.

    Now, there isn't an easy way to solve this problem. It wouldn't be so big of a deal if MS had shown a willingness to "play fair" in the sandbox. However, the way they twisted the language/abused the Concent Decree has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted (hell, look at how they deal with other companies in general). This is where the real dilema comes to play. How do you get a company which is run by people sneaker than a set of 10 law firms?

    The breakup idea is an interesting one -- the one you refer to. What this would do is split the company off into at least two segments. The first would only be permitted to produce the monopoly produce -- Windows. The other would get the non-monopoly produce. These two companies wouldn't be permitted to enter into any agreements with each other, or merge, or anything else that would defeat the purpose of splitting them up in the first place. Now you still have the monopoly, but the monopoly doesn't have anything to abuse. They don't have a streaming media player, they don't have a word process ... just the os.

    Splitting the company into a bunch of mini-companies is also another solution I've seen bandied about. This one, to me, doesn't appear to be a good one. This would fork off a few "twin" companies that would compete with one another. I must admit, I don't think having 4 different version of Windows out there is gonna help (oh man, you think it's a nightmare writing for windows now, wait until you have to write software that gets around bugs in *4* OS's :)

    Now, as to Cisco... Cisco doesn't have a problem unless it starts abusing it's monopoly powers as well. When was the last time you *had* to buy (or go with nothing instead) Cisco hubs with Cisco routers, or a Cisco NIC with a Cisco cable?
  • by megabulk ( 76174 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:39PM (#1161719) Homepage
    I am not a programmer, nor am I a lawyer, but I read the entire Dept. of Justice's Findings of Fact against MS, and came to the conclusion that (at the time) the judge realized that MS's dominance was maintained by keeping its APIs secret, thus preventing other companies (Netscape, Sun) from writing decent code on the MS platform. It seemed as though Judge Jackson was advocating the release of this information rather than the breaking up of MS.

    Does it follow that if MS reveals its code to its competitors, that those companies will be able to write middleware apps that take advantage of MS's APIs, and in turn provide a platform for further applications (i.e. a web-based spreadsheet), which would make cross-platform programming much easier (easier to port apps to other platforms), eroding MSs platform dominance?

    Does this make sense, or am I misunderstanding something?
  • by guran ( 98325 ) on Thursday March 30, 2000 @04:24AM (#1161720)
    You are certainly right about overregulation being evil(tm) However:
    If McDonalds added a substance that made their burgers taste better, but made another brand burger taste worse if eaten after a McD burger, that would call for regulation n'est ce pas?

    A McDonalds-only customer would benefit, since he would get a tastier burger. Still his freedom of choice would be seriously narrowed. Other chains would have a hard time getting customers to try their product, since McD had introduced a penalty for those who strayed from The Right Way (tm)

  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:39PM (#1161721) Homepage
    This case isn't going to be solved by structural remedies, because they would be both unnecessary and far too complex.
    Breaking up Microsoft would be a huge task. Just look at how long it took to deal with AT&T, and realize that Microsoft is far more complicated than AT&T was considering all the interrelated products Microsoft produces, and the fact that Microsoft is far from static. Any breakup would be so complicated and take so long that nobody would really end up happy.
    But it is also unnecessary. Look at what the problem is. Microsoft has a monopoly on operating systems, and has leveraged that monopoly to both eliminate competitors and gain dominance in other markets. Those are easy problems to deal with without structural remedies.
    To deal with the issue of competition in the OS market, first realize that competition is not always a good thing. For example, cable operators tend to have monopolies -- because it is more efficient to have one cable network in any given city than two. The issue of pricing is dealt with by government supervision: In Canada, if a cable operator wants to increase prices, the increases have to be justified to, and approved by, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission. So all the government needs to do here, is establish an 'operating system pricing commission' or suchlike, which tells Microsoft that they cannot charge more than a certain price for their operating systems.
    The other issue -- Microsoft leveraging its OS monopoly to gain dominance in other markets -- is even simpler to deal with. To stop them gaining market share by bundling products, insist upon a uniform pricing scheme for their operating systems, independant of other products on the same system. And to stop them using their technical knowledge of their own operating system, open the APIs.
    With those three steps -- government control over pricing, a uniform pricing scheme, and open APIs -- Microsoft becomes unable to leverage its monopoly illegally any more.
    Oh, and slap a $50B fine on them for their past illegal practices, of course.
  • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:11PM (#1161722)
    ...Netscape couldn't deal with a little competition.

    [ WARNING: Possible flame material may follow ]

    You can say what you want, but if Internet Explorer was really that bad a browser, then wouldn't people have stuck with Netscape? People did stick with Netscape in the IE 2.0 and below days, because IE just plain sucked.

    So Microsoft bundles their browser with their system. And while I don't particularly care for the fact that the browser and system are integrated, it was a smart move by Microsoft nonetheless. Why pay $49 for Netscape when IE comes free? Cry "monopoly" all you want, but it did give Netscape some serious competition...competition is what this is all about, right? They offered their browser for free and even opened up the source, yet IE still prevailed.

    Was it because of this stupid integration idea? Could be. But nothing's stopping those IE users from installing Netscape. Hell, my college library has computers running Windows 98 and Netscape. Same goes for the labs. Microsoft didn't stop them, did they? IE prevailed because it was free, and before Netscape could adjust, people had made the switch to IE, and Microsoft wasn't twisting their arms either.

    So what does Netscape do? Improve their browser to reclaim the IE crowd? Nope, they run off crying to the DOJ about how Microsoft monopolized them off the market. And here we are today. Honestly, has there been any massive protesting from consumers and/or consumer groups? The only people protesting are a small, but vocal, number of Linux users.

    If this post is going to be flamed to hell and back (I'm expecting this) and get moderated to a -1 (Ditto), I'd just like an answer to that question. Has there been any widescale protesting by consumers and consumer groups? It doesn't make sense to claim that Microsoft has harmed consumers when the consumers aren't speaking up.

  • by oobfrist ( 169357 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:24PM (#1161723)
    Can the DOJ have them nuked and be done with it?
  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @06:57PM (#1161724) Homepage Journal
    So, how many second chances, third chances, etc. are we going to give Microsoft?

    - Sam

  • by Fyndo ( 11748 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:56PM (#1161725) Homepage
    No, they wouldn't. Because if they did, we would go to Wendys or Burger King or any one of a million other restaurants. Even though McDonalds is, by far, the largest restaurant chain.
    Many less network effects in fast food. It's not like you can only put a McD French Fry in your McD stomach.
    That's not what the Justice Department wants. It's no secret that they want some authority over what Microsoft adds to their next generation operating system. That is fact.
    Yes, they want to prevent MS from illegally tying products by incorporating features in their OS just in order to drive competetors out of the marketplace. That degree of control, yes, they want. Is there something beyond that that you have evidence they have an agenda for?

    And do you have any evidence that they want to mandate including features in the OS? After all, Judge Jackson found, in agreement with the DOJ, that MS caused harm to the consumer by depriving the consumer of the choice of not buying a browser. Yes, they wanted MS to provide netscape, but only if they were going to ship the OS with their browser. I can't see any evidence that a browserless OS would have upset the DOJ at all....

    Linux may well be fragmented. It's only a matter of time until the kernel is forked. Then what? Sure, now we can say "No real Linux user would switch to the forked kernel." But what if the forked kernel was good? I mean Real good. You'd switch if there was something in it for you. A faster server or some such.
    Offtopic, but if the forked kernel were Real Good (tm), Linus would incorporate the changes back into the main fork. It's GPL'ed, he could do that...
    An OS without a browser out of the box is useless to almost everyone. ... Nobody would be helped by removing the browser, and don't kid yourselves - nobody would switch to Linux just because it comes with a browser and Windows doesn't.
    Pick one, either the OS is useless, and consumers, being not, on the whole, drooling zombies, would switch to one that isn't, OR nobody would switch to Linux (unless you're arguing they'd go Be, or Mac or something, which is at least arguable). Or consumers are drooling zombies, in which case we need the government regulating pickle widths 'cause they're too stupid to go to wendys.

  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:10PM (#1161726) Homepage
    I have to disagree. The IBM PC was a disaster for the microcomputer industry. It set back hardware design for years. Instead of designing new and improved chips and systems, everyone got sucked into building hardware clones of a mediocre computer.

    I used to have a 4 MHz Z-80A CP/M system with 64K and dual 8" DSDD floppy drives. That "obsolete" system was noticably faster than the original IBM PC. The floppy drives were twice as fast and had three times the capacity of the 5.25" drives in the IBM PC. The CPU was also faster, probably due to the sloppy ports of many programs to the 8088.

    Software vendors produced hardware independent programs for CP/M, giving hardware engineers freedom to use new technology. They were not locked in to using the 6845 (video), 8250 (serial), 1791 (floppy) and the Intel PIC, CTC and DMA chips. Except for the 6845, these chips still exist in modern PC chipsets.

    Digital Research was a much nicer company than Microsoft. If you wanted to, you could buy a copy of CP/M, write a BIOS for your hardware, and have it running in a matter of a week or two. You didn't have to be a DRI approved OEM with a DRI approved business plan to build a CP/M system.

    The IBM PC resulted in a decades long stagnation of hardware design and gave control of the systems software to Microsoft , who expertly exploited that control for their own benefit.

  • by WasterDave ( 20047 ) <davep AT zedkep DOT com> on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:33PM (#1161727)
    Linux, kick-arse development? What *are* you talking about? Windows has fantastic development tools: I've recently been playing with FreeBSD devlopment, and getting paid for Windows stuff. Going back to Visual C++ feels like the most productive thing on earth - Dereference a pointer, and up comes a list of the methods you can call and public members. Call an API function, and you get a tool tip to hand hold you through all those parameters. Even call across a COM boundary and get tab completion - seen that done with CORBA recently? I didn't think so. Can't remeber what the return codes mean? Press F1 and you'll get a nice concise page on what the function does. And, yes, the Win32 API is a piece of clouded thought like you can't imagine, and MFC is ten times worse - but they're getting better: ATL is really quite powerful, and the OLEDB classes and MSDE between them make an excellent back end.

    It just costs *so* *fucking* *MUCH*!.

    And you've got donkey's all chance of porting it to a stable platform.

    Says he, donning his flameproof suit. And yes, I'll get to KDevelop soon, but right now I'm busy with ddd - which I thought was quite good till I got Visual C back.

    Dave :)

  • by doozy ( 20820 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:28PM (#1161728)
    ...I don't think breaking up Microsoft is necessarily the "right" thing to do.


    Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Windows is a decent operating system. Microsoft did NOT get to where it's at solely through muscling its competitors or engaging in anti-trust practices, although that HAS played a part.


    No matter how buggy anyone claims Windows is (and I have to agree, it isn't nearly bug-free) the fact remains that:

    1) It's a whole lot easier to set up and use "out of the box" than Linux. This fact has little to do with anti-trust practices (except driver support and that's just nitpicking)

    2)Microsoft's office suite is damn good. Some may argue that it's "good" because of anti-competitive integration with the operating system, but regardless, objectively, it is a feature-rich, fast, and easy-to-use suite. Nobody I know has ever had a problem learning Word.

    3)Breaking up Microsoft will have little effect on its day-to-day business. Sure, the overhead will increase, but I don't think it'll help foster competition. It shouldn't be allowed to unfairly push manufacturers, but breaking it up will have no effect on all this.

    4)Microsoft shouldn't be punished for having a better product. Netscape (which helped initiate the litigation) complains about IE, and although I agree it shouldn't be forcibly packaged without alternatives by OEMs, the fact remains that today IE is way better than Navigator. Shell integration aside, IE crashes on me less often than Navigator.


    To sum it up, the case seems like punishment for Microsoft for being too successful.


    And one more note: why open up the Windows source code? How is that going to foster competition? Perhaps forcible documentation of everything in Windows is a good idea, but making them release source code sounds like an over-envangelized idea from /.ers. It ain't a realistic solution.

  • by GrokSoup ( 30253 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:51PM (#1161729) Homepage
    I know it's considered de rigeur 'round these parts to call for structural change. After all, the usual argument goes, it would be bad for Microsoft -- and whatever is bad for Microsoft must be good for Slashdot-ers ... right?

    Wrong. I think a Microsoft broken into operating system, Internet tools, and applications would be a much more formidable competitor. No longer hamstrung by its reliance on legacy apps and a single operating system, developers would be free to push the MSXML DOM, for example, onto multiple platforms; it would put IE onto Linux; it would port Office apps to Linux and elsewhere.

    A structurally altered Microsoft would be worth more -- not less -- on the market than the current monolithic Microsoft. I would even applaud it doing a Seagate and taking part of the company private in an LBO, do some tweaking and pruning, and re-emerge a few years later in a blaze of market capitalization.

    Because free to innovate and chase opportunities -- as well as to better attract and reward engineers -- the company would once again be the worst nightmare of most of its competitors.

    But a monolithic Microsoft, especially one stung by having to a) agree that it had done wrong, and b) sit under the eye of DOJ overseers, will be a mess.

    Careful what wish for ...

    P.
    http://www.groksoup.com [groksoup.com]
  • Did you know that there is a federal law determining the minimum width of a pickle on your McDonald's hamburger?

    Would you mind giving the law's statute number, so we know you aren't pulling this out of some nether region? I would guess that the "law" you are quoting is more of a regulation by the FDA, which is not a law!


    Moreover, McyD's may elect not to put any pickles on your burger. They are not required to make burgers with pickles. They have a choice.


    As you (and other posters) have observered, breaking up MS will

    increase their total market capitalization by increasing the stock price of each company

    allow MS to enter other markets

    give MS a chance to abandon the legacy crap and move forward. In other words, "Don't throw me into dat briar patch Breir Bear!" If anything, this makes structural remedies more likely to be accepted by MS.


    You might ask, "Why then is MS saying they are opposed to breakup if it will benefit them?" Simple: by playing this game they depress their stock price, allowing the head softies to buy up more of the company stock. Then, the breakup happens and their wealth skyrockets.

  • by GenChalupa ( 150051 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:06PM (#1161731)
    OK...

    Nobody here likes Microsoft. So before replying to me with "YEAH BUT LINUX IS 3l33t AND BILL GATE$ IS EVIL!" keep in mind that I am aware of your opinion.

    Here's mine.

    I am afraid of the US Federal government in my industry. I am cheering for Microsoft even though I am a Linux user who doesn't like Microsoft's licensing practices.

    Why?

    Did you know that there is a federal law determining the minimum width of a pickle on your McDonald's hamburger?

    There is. That's the result of opening the Federal Government's floodgates.

    I know: "Well, gee, if there wasn't a law, McDonalds would only put a tiny sliver on the burger."

    No, they wouldn't. Because if they did, we would go to Wendys or Burger King or any one of a million other restaurants. Even though McDonalds is, by far, the largest restaurant chain.

    Yes, this applies to Microsoft.

    Our industry is, for the most part, unregulated. If I release my own word processor tomorrow, I can give it the features I want. If I want a spell check, I'll add a spell check. If I want a talking paperclip, I'll add a talking paperclip. It's my software.

    That's not what the Justice Department wants. It's no secret that they want some authority over what Microsoft adds to their next generation operating system.

    That is fact.

    And in the beginning, everyone is as happy as hell, because the MS behemoth won't add "their" application.

    The Federal Government won't let them. Yeah government!

    But then we find that Microsoft Windows 2004 doesn't support a talkback feature to assist the deaf in word processing.

    The Federal Government will have the authority to make them.

    Remember: there is a law mandating pickle sizes at McDonalds. There is no limit to where government authority can take us.

    Now, maybe you say, well, good! The deaf should be able to use word processors. Go government!

    It's not that simple; the government won't be focusing only on Microsoft. They can't go on forever making "Microsoft laws."

    They'll be making "industry laws." Now, maybe your startup with the 20 billion dollar IPO can afford to add mandated features. Mine cannot.

    That is what I am afraid of. Please don't tell me that the government will rest once they get a bit of leverage over Microsoft. They will not. If they'll go so far as to regulate pickle size, they'll regulate anything.

    What is the solution?

    The solution is not content regulation. (For reasoning above... once the regulation in this area starts, it will never die. You think software is bloated now? Wait until the "mandate" list arrives in Redmond.

    The solution is not opening the Windows source.

    I know, this is a point of contention. Software should be free and all that.

    For one thing, we all know that there are many security holes in Windows. I'd say thousands. We also know that most banks/high security institutions run Windows as their primary OS.

    That is trouble.

    Please don't say "Open Source != security problems."

    On Linux, you would be right. Linux was designed free from the beginning, and the gaping holes have been patched.

    But Windows? The massive security problems that would be exposed might take years to straighten out, far enough time for our savings accounts to be purged by a greedy cracker.

    Please, also, don't demand MS release the source to their competitors in order to level the playing field.

    This sounds nice, but then I ask you "what competitors?" If my startup want to do it's own Windows, will I be able to? Or will Sun be the only company allowed?

    A playing field of MS and Sun is not an attractive one.

    Also, if the Windows source is released, there is a good chance that the consumer applications market will suffer. Unix was forked, fragmented and has been permanently damaged. And Unix was a well designed system.

    Linux may well be fragmented. It's only a matter of time until the kernel is forked. Then what? Sure, now we can say "No real Linux user would switch to the forked kernel."

    But what if the forked kernel was good? I mean Real good. You'd switch if there was something in it for you. A faster server or some such.

    Unlikely? Yes.

    But in Windows? If the Windows source were released, you bet your ass there'd be a fork. Probably a month later. Because Windows is not well designed. It is not efficient. It is a bad OS.

    At first, sure, a forked Windows would be great. We'd all get the better one. Right?

    Until it was forked again. And again. Until we get another Unix trainwreck, where the app I wrote on Sun Windows doesn't work on AOL Windows, Microsoft Windows or Red Hat Windows.

    I'm a poor startup. I can't afford to write ten versions of my program.

    I also don't want the government to demand that vendors offer every OS to every customer on every computer sold.

    Sure, Dell could afford it. But could Mom and Pop operations struggling as it is to compete with CompUSA? It wouldn't hurt Gateway to support ten flavors of Linux, BSD, Be, Windows and Amiga. But your corner store couldn't do it. Not in a million years.

    In essence, forcing OS distribution on a sales level would serve only to help the titans by killing their smaller less financed competition. And God knows if you want to buy a computer WITHOUT a WinModem, you can pretty much dismiss Gateway/eMachine/Dell/HP/Compaq altogether.

    The government should not levy a "standards" list for Windows, where everyone can develop according to the specs. Let's face it, the US Federal Government is not the fastest moving body in existence. I don't want to have to wait three years for the government to release study after study to determine that the best place to position the scroll bar is on the left. As a business, I want to say, "We're doing it this way. If it works, we'll be big. If we don't, we'll die" rather than "When the government releases the big specs sheet next year, we'll be able to write the windowing interface. Until then, we're stuck on writing mode 13h solitare."

    Oh, and please don't force them to remove their web browser or bundle a competing one.

    An OS without a browser out of the box is useless to almost everyone. Almost all new OSes come with browsers from Linux to PalmOS to Be to Windows. Nobody would be helped by removing the browser, and don't kid yourselves - nobody would switch to Linux just because it comes with a browser and Windows doesn't.

    Bundling multiple browsers wouldn't help either. Who gets bundled? Netscape? Mozilla? Lynx? All of them?

    Aren't we the ones complaining that Windows is bloated? Can you imagined forced bundling of products? What about Solitare? I be the Hoyle people would love to get a shot at that. And why not? What's so special about the browser?

    So what should they do?

    Restrict their licensing practices. Don't let them sell Win98 to Dell for $1.00 and to Compaq for $100.00. That'll severely limit their leverage over what is bundled with new PCs. It would have virtually eliminated the catalyst for this trial in the first place, the browser bundling war. And if HP wanted to ship their PCs with Sun Java VM, that would be fine.

    Oh, and one last thing. The notion that breaking up MS would cripple them is ridiculous. The powerful MS would be the one who sells Windows. They would still have a monopoly on OSes, and their stock would skyrocket on the first day of trading to, likely, MS's present day value.

    That would make Gates richer. Do you really want that? :)

    I welcome debate, but not flames, please.

    GenChalupa
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:58PM (#1161732)
    Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Windows is a decent operating system.

    You can go right on admitting that, too. It does one thing, and only one thing, well, and that is user interface. With uptime measured in the hours, hundreds of millions being spent in technical support for NT servers, a half-billion dollar state-of-the-art Navy ship sitting dead in the water over a divide by zero error, and questionable security, I would disagree with you. Windows is good UI.. nothing else. I've been in tech support going on three years. A substantial (almost 10%) of my calls are due to windows-related instability which results in secondary problems - the ones I deal with. Corrupt data, confusion, non-working programs, just to name a few of the more obvious problems.

    It's a whole lot easier to set up and use "out of the box" than Linux.

    Maybe for you.

    ome may argue that it's "good" because of anti-competitive integration with the operating system, but regardless,

    Well, this WAS an anti-trust trial... heaven forbid they'd be found guilty and then allowed to keep screwing over the competition.. and the customer.

    Breaking up Microsoft will have little effect on its day-to-day business.

    Hey, I'm going to take you, and put your arm across the street, your head on the kitchen stove, your legs will be in the shower. And your car keys are in your pants.. in the dryer. This won't affect your day's planning, will it?

    Microsoft shouldn't be punished for having a better product.

    You're right. It should be punished for so completely oblitherating competition that no other products existed to compare it to.

    And one more note: why open up the Windows source code?

    Oh, I don't know. Interoperability, put a stop to the extend-and-embrace tactics, proprietary standards, and higher costs as a result of needing to work around that?

    Perhaps forcible documentation of everything in Windows is a good idea

    You mean like they're doing now? "Sure, we're using Kerberos, an open and highly documented standard.. and don't worry about that unused field over there.. even though we're using it to keep you out of our network.."

  • by Rombuu ( 22914 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @07:25PM (#1161733)
    Be has basically NO printer support what-so-ever which knocks it out of the "Operating System Contender Category" let's call it the OSCC ...


    Of course, we all know what happened that fateful day when RMS couldn't get a printer driver....
  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @08:12PM (#1161734)
    Back in the day, I remember the DOJ forcing a media conglomerate in our town to sell off some stations -- the owner was pissed and hated it, but he had to obey the law, just like us little people. A company can't do anything it wants; might does not make right.

    In another instance, a company I knew of was regulary breaking the law; failing to honor contracts, etc. Eventually (it took awhile) the city rescinded their right to do business.

    How many of you have seen restaurants closed down for a week by the health department? I've seen several. They fail to properly handle the food, they get penalized. At least there are other restaurants...think about that one.

    Microsoft attained it's position by breaking federal and state laws repeatedly. They grossly violated written contracts with Sun, IBM, Novell and STAC, and in the case of Borland, launched a covert operation to brain-drain the company through a elaborate "technology day" at a nearby hotel, which was in actuality a Microsoft recruiting center. This was a completely illegal manouver (brain draining a competitor is a crime in California) but it did give MS Borland's high end developers, including Anders Helsjborg(sp), the chief architect of Delphi, arguably the most terrifying piece of software BG ever saw. In every case, Microsoft tied up the various plaintif's resources until the bitter end, only offering to settle in the final days of the trial.

    Microsoft is the mafia without the murder. Although I bet you could find some people who were pushed to suicide after there companies were ruined by MS. Murder? That would be a stretch.

    Criminal behavior used to obtain their current market share? No doubt whatsoever. This wasn't innovation, this wasn't healthy corporate aggression. It's the cogent, repeated use of criminal behavior to increase profitablility and market share.

    The government intervention is proper. When freedom fails, the government has to step in to correct the injustice. Just as you would call the police if you saw a crime committed, many companies in many states have had enough. And many citizens have had enough. They overwhelmingly support action against Microsoft.

    As I recall, IBM wiseley settled their case with the DOJ in the 1970's. MS, Sun, SGI, Apple probably never would have happened without that settlement. I have heard part of the agreement allowed the R&D departments of competitors, as well as inspectors from the government, to review IBM engineering tasks prior to implementation, and some measure of control.

    Is IBM dead now? Were they broken up? No, and no. IBM is a big, powerful, robust company that is fairly cutting edge in a number of technologies. Does IBM sell anything you can't get from a competitor? Not really. The solution worked.

    Similarly, the DOJ needs to come up with a system to end Microsoft's illegal activities, and implement the necessary strategies such that MS' market share is (eventually) dropped to 33% (or less) of the desktop and/or servers.

    Micosoft forced this issue by failing to recognize what it means to do business in America. There are rules you have to live by, like it or not. Microsoft could have a very favorable, healthy image in the eyes of the government and the public if they would have dome the right thing -- settle the case, admit their errors, accept that they would be forced to lose market share for the common good, and as a penalty for illegal behavior. But no, Bill Gates won't have that. It's all or nothing, baby! Megalomania roolz!

    So be it. You made your bed...

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

Working...