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Microsoft Settlement Talks End In Failure 312

fremen was among the first to write with this news: "Yahoo is reporting the end of the mediation talks with Microsoft. Richard Posner has declared the discussions to be at an impasse, and the disagreements to be "too deep-seated to be bridged." The story can be found here." This is not an April Fools joke. Watch this space; we will update this story as more details become available. The outcome may be more dramatic than the strong hints of settlement had suggested. Updated 3:15GMT by timothy: Here's a more detailed article from The New York Times helpfully sent in by reader GenetixSW.
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Microsoft Settlement Talks End In Failure

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You are a fucking idiot, and a liar. You respond to some guy and tell him he doesn't code, but it's clear that you don't yourself.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thats not really true. In the good old days [you wanted to make me feel old didn't you?] If you were lucky you had a company pension. A defined benefit pension [meaning it paid a certain amount every month no matter what] The people running the plan invested the money for you. That money would get spilt up according to various issues. Need to pay out current pensioners meant that the some money went into shorter term paper. The need for general safety meant alot of the money went into government bonds. But some of the money still went into the stock market. The thing is the people getting the pensions never really saw it. They just had a pension the company was responsible for.

    Now you have a large number of people who have control over thier own pensions funds. If you are young you don't need the same level of safety so you put more money into stocks.

    The interesting thing is unlike company defined benefit pension plans there is no sure payout today. That is one reason companies moved away from defined benefit plans. They didn't want the risk. Now you get the risk. If you are smart enough and do a good job at looking after your money it works great. But some [many?] people will end up with very little retirement savings.

    You must be pretty young to have never seen a bear market. Most of the market [not the indexes ] has been in a bear market for almost two years. If Microsoft drops below $100 it will be in a classic bear market [20% off it's highs]

    BTW the first mutual funds were created in the 20's. I want to say 1923 but at my age sometimes the memory goes-)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does any one find it surprising that the talks were going to break down?

    My Two Cents Worth on remedies:

    1) Break the company into three separate companies: Internet, Office and OS.

    2) Enforce an "arms-length" provision between the companies. This would eliminate (or make very difficult) any hidden APIs that would allow the MS companies to regain their monopoly. Additionally, should any of the companies wish to pursue relationships with a competitor of another new MS company - they would be free to do so.

    3) Require all current senior officals of MS to transfer 75% of their stock to a government controlled fund. The government would hold the stock and use the money from a controlled sale of small amounts of stock to fund an oversight committee to ensure that MS does not violate the law again. The stock in the fund, after 5 years, would be placed on the market for consumers to purchase. The original MS senior officials would be prohibited from acquiring any additional stock in any of the three new companies or from the sell off.

    The third item is the key. Most stockholders in MS did not have a direct influence on the companys' conduct and should not be punished. A requirement that senior officals give up their stock would "hurt" the consumer unnecessarily.

    However, all of the current senior officals should be punished for thier conduct. What better way than to "cut off their air supply".

    The bottom line is, the people responsible for the illegal conduct SHOULD NOT profit from that new prosperity or their conduct in the past.

    If MS is truly as innovative as it claims, then the three companies will prosper and the consumer will as well. This also allows any one new MS company to pursue what it whats and forces them (if they want to survive) to listen to the consumer and business wishes.

    That is really the bottom line - listening to the consumer and responding to what THEY want. If the new MS companies can do that and prosper - "more power to them".

    End of My Two Cents.
  • I think you are jumping the gun here. It'll be several more months before the decision on what action to take is renedered, and then it'll be several more years of appeals before it is implemented. By that time, natural market pressures presumably will have weakened the MS monopoly to a reasonable level.

    Even if a quick resolution is put in place and MS is split up next year, this does not mean that the computer industry will fragment. In general, it is the tendency of computer systems to converge on common standards rather than to diverge. Only when a company is intentially trying to deviate (eg: embrace and extend) or a new technology offers significant enough benefits will standards shift or break.
  • Tim said:
    I disagree with the thrust of this claim. And I am
    not in favor of breaking up MS -- making me probably a minority both as a slashdot reader and slashdot author, though I've not seen any real poll data;) -- but not for this reason. In fact, I think a flood of competing 'standards' (none of which is truly fixed, perfect or universally accepted) is the best thing that could happen to the computer industry, and the thing which is most harmful about Microsoft's market dominance.
    Tim: For the record, you aren't the only author that feels that Microsoft shouldn't be broken up(I've got those poll numbers if you want them ). My sole hope from the effects of this trial is that the world's largest software company will, for the first time, have to play on a level field. Sure standards will fluxuate a bit, but it is another hope that standards will finally be chosen based on merit rather than because it follows the One Microsoft Way.

    Microsoft isn't going to dissapear tomorrow, so I also think this prediction of us "losing 6 years" is hogwash. Microsoft still enjoys the marketshare today that it did yesterday. I don't see the government changing this overnight.

  • Oh, they didn't _directly_ come right out and directly ignore their previous settlement, they just paid some lawyer to find some stupid little loophole in the language of it that they could exploit for their own purposes. Typical tactics from that company out of Redmond...
  • by C.Lee ( 1190 )
    >>This will be the ultimate IT manager nightmare, because they will have
    >>be current on multiple competing versions of Windows, Linux, BeOS and
    >>whatever x86-compatible operating system comes along the line.
    >Oh, how horrible. Idiot IS goons will have to choose!

    What's truely horrible is that Idiot IS goons will actually have to *DO* the job they're getting paid for instead of watching Baywatch. You can see the panic starting already at places like PC Week Labs....
  • Settle with whom? They can reach to a some-sort of agreement with DOJ, but those 19 states lawyers doesn't want this agreement. Read the article in the NY times (updated on the topic)
  • Ulterior motives are fine, so long as there's a balance of them among those who hold power. It's when everyone's got the same ulterior motive that I start worrying.

    My ulterior motives are derived from free software. You gotta problem w'dat?

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Scope out Kuro5hin []

  • Bell had infrastrcture -- splitting up AT&T didn't destroy any of its assets, just opened the market for its competitors. M$ has no physical infrastructure other than a building complex at Redmond -- it has "paper" money in its inflated stock, some "investment" in rather mediocre OS/libraries infrastructure and "mindshare" (and I use the word "mind" rather loosely). So while AT&T infrastructure was still good for many years and given all Baby Bells the opportunity to continue being profitable, "Microsoft OS company" after split will lose its "assets" immediately, and "Microsoft applications company" will be hurt less but still will lose any advantage over Sun, Corel and any possible newcomer in the market. What will happen with "Microsoft internet business company" I neither know nor care, but it definitely won't be of any threat to anyone else.
  • MS does not maintain any support burden. They have never been the ones keeping it all running. If they were zapped off the face of the earth, all that would happen is that the MCSEs would _not_ have their licenses 'expired' arbitrarily, and the users of Office and Excel etc etc would have (much) longer before all the file formats change again making everything earlier no longer work.

    Really. From a purely IT perspective, if you obliterated Microsoft it would only help. Everything being done to support Microsoft products in the marketplace is being done by third parties anyhow.

  • You make some very good points; I think the only thing I would add is that in the extremely unlikely event that Microsoft goes essentially unpunished (like they did in 1995), their control of the browser market could mean that they could do some very nasty things, if they felt free to do so.

    But, chances are, they will receive a rather severe smackdown, and your analysis will prove correct: that their defeat of Netscape only accelerated their own self-destruction.

    New XFMail home page []

    /bin/tcsh: Try it; you'll like it.

  • because they are so far outside the law in their heads that they can't even comprehend it (something which shocks the hell out of the judges).

    I don't know how you and Cringely can believe that Microsoft really thinks this way. I don't believe they are so deluded. They understand the law and the fact that they are breaking it. That's clear as a bell to them, as evidenced by the email and testimony we've seen. The way I see it, Microsoft will repeatedly insist that they are right and declare that the government is unfairly prosecuting them for being successful. They'll say that they even tried to be reasonable, but that the DOJ was making insane demands that no company could ever accept. They'll keep claiming that they're trying to defend the freedom of the entire industry from government regulation of software design. They figure that if they repeat these things enough, they'll eventually get people to believe them. I think they believe that if they can play on people's lack of trust of the government and they're lack of understanding of the issues involved in the case, they'll get out of the whole mess when they appeal. Maybe they're even right.

    If it does go to the Supreme Court (which is likely will), I think Microsoft will lose. I think the real problem is that they are so used to being able to manipulate the public and politicians, that they forget that they're not dealing with elected officials anymore. The judges are there for life. Public opinion doesn't matter to them, just the law (I hope).

  • Have you noticed that Bush is somewhat slow? This isn't intended as an insult or anything. The man really isn't very bright. He also doesn't seem to have any opinions or ideas of his own. I get the distinct impression he does nothing but go up on stage and say whatever they tell him to.

    He alternates between smug self assurance and helpless bewilderment. Not that Al Gore is much better. He may be objectivelty smarter but he is far too "handled".

    Of the candidates left (the ones I have seen anyway)Ralph Nader is probably the smartest and most plainspoken, even if he is a bit liberal for me. I just want to vote for a decent guy who wont be an embarassment. I would have voted for McCain, even though I disagreed with him on most issues, but he seemed honest enough, which would be nice for a change.

  • As Martin Luther King Jr put it -

    Free at last, Free at last ;-)

    I hope that MS gets split up - much like the
    baby bells did AND FORBIDDEN to reconstruct
    themselves in 10 to 20 years!!!!

  • Yep, this is breaking some of the major news stations by the way. The verdict will be next week. You can read all about it here: []

  • You have just set back the computer industry six years or more as we have just set the stage for the "balkanization" of the computer industry with multiple competing standards. This will be the ultimate IT manager nightmare, because they will have be current on multiple competing versions of Windows, Linux, BeOS and whatever x86-compatible operating system comes along the line.

    I disagree. Examining what happened to ibm. They were under anti-trust preasure, and were overwhelmed by microsoft. They still remain a potent force in the computing industry, and there are still places where you can 'only buy ibm'. I think its more likely that microsoft, beset by a large number of class actions suits will give way to the next 'demon' of the computing industry.


  • From reading the MS culture article here on slashdot a few weeks ago, the employees at Microsoft appear to be very happy, well paid, and have no major issues with what Microsoft does.

    If they had major issues with what MS does, do you think they would have started working there in the first place? I could have gone to work at MS, but I didn't because I do have issues with what they do. (I almost considered getting interviewed with MS, just to see, but talking to Microsoft HR people makes me queasy) I imagine that most MS employees either don't care about ethics, or they're deluding themselves.

    I have nothing against software companies. (Hint: I'm not a free software zealot) Anyone with any amount of knowledge of computer science and/or software engineering will tell you that Microsoft produces sub-standard software, and the only reason they get away with it is because of their monopoly, and the fact that they have some fairly shady business practices.

    The MS apologists often think that those against MS are against a company being successful, or making a profit. So where's the profit in Microsoft spending millions of dollar on a browser that they give away for free? They're being generous you think? No, they're dumping in order to kill off Netscape, and anyone else that might try to make it big by making a browser.

    If MS wants to make a browser, or a ham sandwich, or whatever, that's fine. But they have a monopoly in operating systems, so they shouldn't be allowed to dump these other products, or tie them to the OS. Separate products should have to compete on their own merits.
  • by craw ( 6958 )
    I have read many of the comments here and haven't seen some the major implications mentioned. I'm sorry if you have stated these points.

    A breakup of MS would be entering uncharted waters. In the past, a breakup of a company (via antitrust or corporate takeover), raises the question of assets. When Standard Oil was broken up, they still had the assets that were undervalued as the anti-trust was an extremely long process. Additionally, the breakup of Standard Oil was based on kerosene. By the time the breakup occurred, another source of revenue for their assets (gasoline) was being established. IOW, Standard Oil had substantial physical assets.

    AT&T had a global communication network. This was a physical network of communication links.

    MS has what? Intellectual property (including personnel), licencing contracts, patents, equity in other companies, etc... MS has a lot of assets. However, Bill Gates and Paul Allen own 20% of the company. Toss in Balmer and others higher smucks, and you realize that the insiders probably own between 25-30% of the company. Do you know why nobody will ever try to make a hostile takeover of MS? The company doesn't have the assets to sell off.

    Additionally, one thing that must be considered is that Jackson *will* issue his ruling very shortly. This will be followed by class action suits against MS. These suits will based their action on the ruling of Jackson.

    MS sowed this course of action during the last Federal case against them. Besides, MS has another virus to contend with. This one is bad, very bad.

  • Very simply, prohibit Microsoft from licensing its software, directly or indirectly, to any part of the Federal Government or co-litigant state governments, for fifteen years.

    First, this creates a significant protected market in which Microsoft cannot compete, giving space for competitors to grow in. This includes non-MS OS pre-loads, as the government is not an insignificant market.

    Second, it stops Microsoft from embracing and extending standards or creating non-open standards, because anyone who has to work with the governments in question will have to use software compatible with non-MS systems.

    Third, it will increase the cost of acquiring people trained in MS systems. Public schools in the litigating state governments will not be able to acquire licenses for MS software, so they will have to use non-MS software for education.

    So why bother with breakup or oversight, when a simple denial-of-market will destroy MS's monopoly power?

    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • Business is competitive and ruthless because, we, as customers are also competitive and ruthless. When we decide that we don't like a particular product or service, or service provider we drop them in a nano-second. Because we stop buying garbage as soon as we realize it is such businesses have no choice but to compete as vigorously as they do.

    1) In their own words, Microsoft indicated that they were giving away IE to undercut Netscape. So. This is business and Microsoft has the freedom to decide for themselves what to do with their browser. Why are you so upset that they made IE free. Isn't that a success for the free-software movement that a commercial company offered its product for free because the free product, Netscape, was doing so well.
    2) They went out and paid off several large ISPs (from AOL on down) so that the ISPs distributed IE instead of Netscape. This is a pretty normal thing to do. You want your software to become dominant so you advertise the best way you can(in this case by putting it on the AOL CDs).
    3) They threatened to raise prices on OEMs such as Compaq if they shipped Netscape preinstalled. Sounds like a good plan. Remember they can sell their product, Windows, at whatever price they want with whatever conditions they want. If Compaq doesn't like Microsoft's offer they can reject it. Compaq is free to sell its PCs with another operating system or make a deal with Microsoft. I would argue that Compaq sells so many PCs and thus is in pretty good position for negotiating favorable terms from Microsoft.
    4) They forbade OEMs from placing any other Internet or ISP-related icon on the preinstalled Windows desktop.How can you say they forbade OEMs from doing anything. They made an offer to OEMs to sell them the Windows operating system, and related applications, under certain conditions. If the OEMs don't like it they can leave it. And I do not accept the argument of these poor OEMs really have no choice but to kowtow to Microsoft. If these OEMs entered the market thinking they could out bargain Microsoft then they were foolish. Anyone entering the PC market that wants to put Windows on their computers has to deal with Microsoft. It doesn't take a business genius to understand this.
    5) They paid and rewarded large websites that included IE-specific features like Channels. Again they are trying to market their product. This is like a perfume manufacturer giving incentives to Macy's for displaying their perfumes in promiment places within the store. If these large websites think it is in their best business interest to include IE specific stuff, then that is their choice.
    6) They tied key Windows system DLLs to Internet Explorer, so that some 3rd party applications would be forced to have IE4 as a prerequisite for install. If you don't like the Windows operating system, then don't develop applications for it. I love your continuing use of the word "force", like Microsoft put a gun to somebody's head. If you want to see force wait till you see how the US government deals with Microsoft. That is real force!

    Business is business. If you don't like Microsoft's practices then don't buy their software for your home or office. Encourage others to use alternatives, but don't encourage the government to "force" companies to behave according to your ideals. That is anti-freedom and will do nothing but harm the entire software industry/free software movement.
    Stuart Eichert

  • I'm going to watch with great interest what happens IF the DoJ does succeed in breaking up Microsoft (but that could not happen until at least the Supreme Court settles the case some 18 to 30 months from now; if George W. Bush gets elected, you can forget about the breakup EVER happening).

    If the breakup can go smoothly like the Standard Oil Trust breakup, fine; but if it ends up like the AT&T breakup it could create a mess of competing standards that will take a few years to resolve, and it's only within the last few years we've finally got over the effects of that breakup.
  • Hello, troll.

    1. Made computers easy to use.

    PC users spent years and years with Bill's horrid little command line - aka. MS-DOS - long after Apple made the easy-to-use Macintosh. 3rd party products like DesqView started the "let's get a GUI on the horrid PC" revolution, and Microsoft didn't get going properly until IBM came around with OS/2 and PM.

    . Started the Internet revolution.

    Hardly. The "Internet" had been in use for several years prior to Microsoft's sudden awakening in 1995; PC users who wanted TCP/IP, though, had to rely on third party applications. The "Internet revolution" was started by the folks at NCSA who wrote the first widely used graphical web browser: Mosaic.

    3. Constantly improved their product.

    You mean constantly stole features or bought companies with interesting technology.

  • Since the basic assumption is that the big split (OS, Apps, ___) is the "final solution" on everyone's mind, I'm curious..

    Do you think that it will accomplish much? 20-some years after the breakup of Ma Bell telecommunications is heading back towards consolidation, most people still get their phone service from a 'Baby' Bell (like 'little' Bell Atlantic). And the oldest telecomm reform, user-selectable long distance, is still something of a disaster with the widespread prevelence of slamming.

    Would Bill Gates be allowed to run more than one of the Baby Bills? Would he be allowed to run any of them? It seems like it would be too easy to put Ballmer in charge of OS and some other henchman in charge of Apps, and have the puppetmaster pull strings from behind the stage. Even if it's not actually Gates-directed, would there be limits on "strategic alliances" to keep MSApps from buying early access to MSOS code?

    Which "division" would be the success story and which would be the failure? Hardware seems an easy target for failure. While the items are often innovative (eg, Intellimouse Explorer) they seem like they're propped up by automatic OS support.

    I'd almost wager that Apps would be the first to face stiff competition. Without direct access to the OS, there would be definite incentive for peripheral Office vendors to produce functional office software without the extra 250MB of baggage and the buggy OS integration and without the fear that they'd get undercut by Gates.

    I'd have to pick OS as the likely entity for real success. They have a huge base, and arguably some of the smartest people in the industry. Given the chance to actually work on the OS and not write 10 of every 100 lines of code for dubious application integration, OS has some real chances.

  • you misunderstood what i said. what you say is more or less right, but it is not relevant. you have contradicted nothing i said. so since what i said obviously came across wrong, i will attempt to clarify the things i said that prompted your post. :

    i have no sympathy for MS. understand? none.
    the only reason anything the gov could do in this case (besides not going far enough) could possibly upset me is precedent.
    i don't care what they do to MS. however there are certain things it would serverely bother me if they did them to ANY software company, just becuase it sets up that certain kinds of things in terms of the amount of intrusion and control and micromanagement the government can have, and says these are an acceptable way to solve a problem. I don't particularly want those to become viewed as acceptable ways to solve problems. i would be happier if they used things which are already established ways that the government has traditionally used to stop a vertical monopoly from abusing its power any more-- for example, breaking the monopoly up. Regulating liscensing of windows is one thing and is neccicary, regulating the ways they can interact with other companies is important. But you shouldn't have to put a government person inside microsoft to read all their code and ensure the APIs are open; you should just split the company and make it so microsoft has no _alternative_ but to make it open.

    that being said, i'm vaguely bothered by the fact you apparently just want revenge, by the fact all you want is to hurt microsoft. That is NOT the way to go about it. The point is to make it so that Microsoft can never again do the simply evil things that got them to where they are now. You don't _need_ to punish them; take away their unethical business practices, and they are nothing. Take away all their weapons, leave no way of gaining customers other than creating a quality product (ha!), and they will wither to nothing.

    i am _not_ taking a philosophy of love the sinner, hate the sin, because in this case if you kill off the sin the sinner will die as well.

    but NOTHING should be done solely for punishment-- anything done should be done _only_ to effect change, in order to stop microsoft. do ANYTHING to act solely for revenge or punishment or spite, and microsoft becomes a "victim", a martyr. Do anything solely designed to degrade the quality of their code (like say they cannot use a {} without filling out a form) and you will make it appear that microsoft is being downtrodden, which should NOT happen. Massive fines are a silly idea. What you want to do is effect change, NOT "hurt" microsoft. Microsoft is like a plague upon the computing industry; it spreads, it poisons, it contaminates everything, it seeps the life out of all. The purpose should be to make it so the disease can cause no more damage; the purpose should not be to cause the disease pain.
  • Don't laugh when I say "I told you so" at the end of 2001 when the computer industry is in the doldrums because of the combination of the collapse of Microsoft and the collapse of the Internet industry due to stockholders demanding profits.

    Well if Microsoft "collapsed", it would be the biggest boost to the software industry ever. But they aren't going to "collapse". They may get split up, but the OSs and applications are not going away. And even if they did "collapse", CA would buy them.

    Also, don't confuse flaky dotcoms going out of business with the "collapse of the Internet industry". Same thing as above -- when Amazon goes out of business, several dozen competitors will take its place. My prediction is that Amazon gets bought by IBM mainly for its patents.

  • So, does your Libertarian POV also cause you to espouse the notions that insider trading, corporate espionage, and price fixing agreements should also be left for The Marketplace to work out, rather than letting a government declare them illegal?

    Truly, I feel sorry for anyone unfortunate enough to live in the Libertarian Utopia. Except of course for the single dog on top of the pyramid.

  • So you'd prefer as president someone with the stance that all encryption should have backdoors?

    I'd rather vote for someone who opposes something he'll have little control of instead of someone who would have much more say over something much bigger in the scope of things.
  • Of course, whatever ruling he passes, MS will likely appeal. Oh well.

    Yup. Microsoft has already signalled that they will definitely appeal.

    What surprises me, though, is that they are continuing to be as uncompromising as they have always been. They didn't abide by the original consent decree, they got dragged into court, they got all sorts of nasty things plastered all over about them, and they keep fighting?

    Even if they appeal, a lot of damage has been done to their reputation. Not necessarily from a "gee, they're bad" point of view, but that little chink in the armor of perceived invulnerability.

    That is to say, they have done a lousy job of maintaining the public relations necessary to stay in the "invincible" spot. (Compare that to the investigation of Intel -- hey, you haven't heard much about that one, now have you?)

    The status of "monopoly" has already been stated as a Finding of Fact. Those facts are practically indisputable, even in the court of appeals. And given their solidity, the findings of law will have to have really large holes in them in order to have a chance of overturning on appeal.

    But that's not the point. The point is that public perception is gradually shifting. Microsoft is still regarded as a powerful, large, and profitable company. On the other hand, the tendrils of doubt are snaking their way into the minds of anyone who follows the news at all.

    Will Microsoft collapse? Not bloody likely! Will the perception of their advancing into new markets (servers, embedded systems) be seen as "inevitable"? Not nearly as much as they once were.

    The desktop OS playing field is very, very tilted in their favor. On the other hand, the scrutiny has been enough to stunt their advance somewhat, and a drawn-out appeals process will only help.

    (Which is why it continues to amaze me that leveller heads haven't prevailed, and they continue to fight this in a very, very public fashion.)

  • According to CNET News [], one of the settlement requests was that Microsoft be compelled to generate MS Office for Linux. Now this, this I didn't see coming.

    I cannot help but think that, at some point along the way, Microsoft Windows crashed on the wrong person at the wrong time, and this is their punishment. Now that the bottom's come out, we will watch the stocks tumble, I imagine. It all just seems so preordained ...

  • I understand what you're saying, and my argument isn't about the cost of the browser or the OS. Some applications use the rendering engine and other parts of IE to perform needed tasks in said application. Why should Microsoft have to build a separate component to do this when they can just use the ones in IE?

    Once IE is installed on the machine, it can be completely hidden from the user and just thought of as Internet technology components rather than a browser if you really need to. You can manage the default browser with a few registry keys and then IE won't even be seen.

    Also, comparing to your car example, if I was to get Netscape with my computer instead I would amount that to buying a sports car and getting $20 worth of free diesel. To me Netscape is not a good browser, and this could very well be a point in -why- they lost market. If they had of spent the time to keep up with the flow (how long since a major update from Netscape????) instead of desparately throwing the source code into the wind, maybe I'd be using it today.

    And still I say... if you don't like it... buy something else!
  • Breaking up the company sure wouldn't produce the benfits that many people (in the Linux world) think it would. Many people in the Linux community just want to see them fall for the fun of it, without thinking about the number of jobs they provide and the amount of wealth they bring to the US.

    As for the "tying" of Internet Explorer, I still don't see the issue with this. It's YOUR choice to install another browser should you wish to do so, and many applications (Office 2000 for example) REQUIRE IE to be installed, so you end up with it anyway. One less rollout if you ask me....

    At the end of this whole case, I still think that the larger point has been missed in that it's a people's choice as to what they put on their PC. Yes, Microsoft has a broad audience and large market share, but maybe... just maybe that's beause it's so easy to develop on and you're right, some people do like Micorosft products *God forbid*.

    Microsoft may have pressured some companies, but what if those companies hadn't of given in to the offers of millions? I bet after enough of them pushed on, things may have been different.

    In the end, it was all about the money. "We lost money" or "consumers lost money" or "Netscape lost money". This whole suit has attracted thousands of people that want to join in and sue for shit loads claiming they've been restricted.... from what I don't know, they chose the OS!
  • Easy for you to say. When %90 of the consumer market has windows on their desktops, developing for windoze is the best way to make money. Again, if M$ did not have a monopoly, then developing a mac-only or linux-only game(for instance) would be commercially viable. As of now, it is not. Let's see, I can write software that %90 of the market can buy, or that only 9% of the market can buy....

    Given that Mac piracy is approximately 15 times that experienced by games developers on Windows, is it suprising that it's uneconomical to produce games for the Mac?

  • The article mentioned above was a preliminary blurb, and was the only thing available when I submitted this. Yahoo has just posted more information here:

    http://dailyne html []
  • If Microsoft drops below $100 it will be in a classic bear market [20% off it's highs]

    Been there, done that. Check out Microsoft's performance over the past quarter []. Microsoft has already spent most of February and March under $100, and closed at 89 3/8 on 29 Feb - that's a 25% drop from the high of 119 15/16. I don't seem to recall the world ending when that happened.

    I'll admit to never having seen a bear market, but I certainly expect to see one in the near future - it's just been far too long since the last one, and Alan Greenspan seems bound and determined to create one. Dubya must be secretly hoping for one this summer - it would be a nasty thing for Algore to have to campaign around.
  • Y'know, at first I was going bitch at you for being such a jackass to that poster. I was going to say that you were rude, obnoxious, and make other civilized-but-derogatory remarks based on your reply. However, as I thought about it, I changed my mind.

    Because, although you were rude and off-the-cuff, everything you said was on-the-money, and if you have to chew out some clueless moron to make a point about the retarded "lawyer-syndrome" that floats around /. then I guess that's just what has to be done... I don't know, but I really am sick of all the people who spout of garbage about things they have no business talking about. Sure, we're all guilty of it to some extent every once in awhile, but it's like a fucking religion here... And what makes it worse is that half of the posts are prepended with "IANAL".

    Do me a favor people - if you're not a lawyer then just shut the hell up, because how you feel personally about an issue is totally irrelevent, and generally drivel.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Don't put words in my mouth. Of course Slashdot is a place for opinions. I was talking about posts in reference to laws and legal issues; those are clearly posts where people opinions, including my own, are worth jack.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • 30 years ago people didn't put most of their retirement money into stocks. Your pension/401K/etc. would have been put in t-bills and bank notes (like HQ CDs) and maybe *some* HQ bonds. After all, mutual funds are a recent invention that didn't get popular till the 80's and retirees old enough to remember the depression aren't too keen on investing what they can't afford to loose in the market.

    Well, at least, this is how it was explained to me, having never seen a bear market, I doubt I'm capable of totally beliveing it :)
  • One benefit of breaking up M$ into seperate OS, Apps and (maybe?) Compiler companies is that the market (and the SEC?) would provide very strict oversite of buisiness practices. It would be very difficult for one company to take a disadvantagous position in order to further the interests of another company without the financal analysts having fits.

    For example, if the application company decided to give a new application away for free as MS did with IE, they'd have to have some really compelling financial reason or else the sockholders would bail.

    Also, if there were seperate OS, Compiler/DevTools and Application companies, the application company would actually have to turn a profit.

    Personally, I'd like to see at least 2 of the companies be "OS" and "Windowing System" :)
  • Is it just me or do some of those stories sound a bit confused?

    Microsoft said for the first time that it would allow computer makers to modify the blueprints to all current and future versions of its Windows software to embed the technology of Microsoft competitors. (ABC)

    The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft's offer included allowing computer makers to modify the blueprints to all current and future versions of its Windows software to embed competitors' technologies. (CBS)

  • That's "Hammer to Fall"
  • what is your base for the number 6? Is it your magic number? Well i have a magic number for you.

    In the past year, during MS anti-trust lawsuit, the software industry enjoyed amazing growth. Because that smaller companies no longer fear MS pressure, the software industry grew 10 times faster than before the trial. So 10-6 we have gained at least 4 years.

    "the collapse of Microsoft and the collapse of the Internet industry due to stockholders demanding profits"--- What did you case this on? Yahoo and Amazon didn't make a profit and did you see stock holder demanding profit?

    "Lack of standard" is another complete outsider's bullshit. MS has never been an industry standard and we hope it never will be. In the past, MS has tried hard to lure consumer away from any open standard. In short, if MS promote "open standard", it wouldn't have been sued today. The only "STANDARD" MS has created is USER INTERFACE. and we have already cloned it pretty darn good. Look at gnome, KDE, Staroffice.

    The truth is, when there are multiple vendors, open stanard agreement will be reached to protect every vendor's profit. Usually these open stanards are open for discussion before being determined. and THAT IS GOOD.

    Lastly, You reap what you sow. Gain some more knowledge will help in your case.
  • Remember, a big business with a huge market share (like Intel or MS or a utility) cannot do things that a small business can do with impunity. Things like product-tying are considered monopolistic if done by a business with 90% marketshare, but are more acceptable as a marketing technique if done by a business with 5% marketshare.
  • I admit a splitup sounds like a satisfying vindication of everyone's Microsoft woes. But, would splitting up Microsoft really do much do keep them in check? Consider the oft-cited example of Ma Bell-- yes, that company was split up, but I, and pretty much everyone else I know, still get my phone service from a Bell. If the bell split up was meant to open up competition to smaller telcos, then it didn't appear to work. I doubt that the situation will be much different with Microsoft.

    Here are two reasons why:
    1. So, let's say you have the MS Office Co, then MS Operating System Co, and so on. Their products will still be compatible with each other (most likely), and people will still use them. Why? Because...

    2. Well, some people actually like MS products. Further, MS has an entrenched presence in many places, from the corporate level to the home user level. To me, this means that people will not be especially inclined to make a massive overhaul of their IT systems, preferring instead to upgrade or augment existing systems. So, at least for a while, MS will still have a stable market for their product.

    So, I don't think a splitup will do that much good either way. Baby MSs will still be large companies with plenty of clout. Better to mandate some open sourcing, or elimination of product tie-ins, etc.
  • Yeah but the original quote was "loose your money in the market" which if read literally, that is in this context "according to strict contemporary spelling rules," is a pleasantly fresh unboring usage - unleash, take off you, get along green lil dogies! Hey where yall goin?! - nicely put, even poetic.

    Yours WDK -

  • What do you mean "standards"? When I think of standards I think of organizations like ISO and the excruciatingly detailed documents they publicly issue and maintain. In contrast a.) MS "standards" change every three years, and b.) no one outside MS is allowed to know what those "standards" are.

    I may be too obtuse to get the joke and you could just be kidding, but I'm not kidding.

    Yours WDK -

  • I'm curious, why is it that whenever someone does muster up the courage to say something mildly positive about Microsoft, they follow it up with "I don't want to sound like a MS flunk/supporter/etc" ? Are you afraid of some mystical curse that might take hold of you if you proclaim that you really do like Microsoft products? It's not a crime, it simply makes you intelligent. You use whatever works best for you. That's the bottom line. Don't apologize, just do it.
  • It's interesting that you mention share holders and employees.

    From reading the MS culture article here on slashdot a few weeks ago, the employees at Microsoft appear to be very happy, well paid, and have no major issues with what Microsoft does.

    As for stockholders...I don't quite follow. How do Microsoft's actions hurt stockholders? A stockholder is concerned with one thing, and one thing only - $. Microsoft has been raking in profits for years, which in turn raise share prices, which in turn make stockholders happy.

    You are right on one part, Microsoft has no-one to blame. However keep in mind, no profitable company survives for long without stepping on a few toes.
  • by Maul ( 83993 )
    I'll probably lose karma for this one, but I'm really counting on Judge Jackson doing something at least moderately nasty to MS if this is infact true. He needs some sort of swift, powerful punishment to help even out the OS playing field.

    Of course, whatever ruling he passes, MS will likely appeal. Oh well.

  • The bundling with the OS may be the least of it.

    Last summer I wanted to install netmon, a packet monitor component of SMS. It forced me to install Internet Explorer. (I subsequently chose not to use the MS product for this reason. Screw you, Bill.)

    This year we want to upgrade our SQL Client to 7.0. If FORCES us to install Internet Explorer.

    In neither case is there any conceivable technical requirement for this.

    This is part of why I despise MS. This arrogance in leveraging their position to force me to use their browser is astonishing. And it is chilling, because if they seriously dominate the Web Client, they can use that to attack the Web server market through their 'embrace, extend, destroy' approach to any standard.
  • Now admittedly, the line for antitrust is a little fuzzy, and we don't want to be lopping heads off for the slightest infractions, but is it a bad thing if firms are encouraged to err on the side of legality?

    I'm compeled to agree with this statement given MSs unlimited funds to fight. They've proven (what is it now, 2+ years?) that they have all the money in the world to delay and deny justice.

    Regardung my earlier post about splitting up the company by characters on a computer keyboard, I have to admit, that it is mostly in gest and clearly not feasable. However it is an illustration of how the government must negotiate from strength.

    There was a famous american president that said "always negotiate from strength" and I think it applies in this case. MSs obvious disregard for the law has given the states and the DoJ a hammer to swing. And swing they must. If they decide to give them a slap on the wrist for these actions, we'll be right back here again when the states bring an action regarding the 63,000 bugs in w2k.

    A monopoly answers to nobody. They don't answer to their customers, they don't answer to their shareholders, they don't answer to their compitition.

    The anti-trust law is the only means the people have to speak out (through their elected states AJ) about abuses and to seek a remedy. If the results of this case do not "punish" the company, it tells the CEO over at cisco that he can grow his company without acountability. It tells the CEO at Intel that he can do whatever he damn well pleases. There must be a disinsentive for these actions in order to avoid further actions.

  • Microsoft, first of all, uses parts of the IE engine for documentation.
    Second, they use parts of IE engine for ActiveX.

    Third, they use parts of it for connectivity libraries.

    Which parts? In what way? How do you know this? Because MS told you it's true?

    You're telling me that with R&D funding that runs into the billions, there is absolutely, positively no possible way to do this another way? Pardon me if I doubt MSs stance on this issue.

    They linked IE to almost everything they touch because they need the distrobution channel to grow share.

    They made a deliberate and concious decision to break other programs and punish users if they *don't* have IE on their computers (in other words, leveraging their monopoly position in operating systems in order to cut off compitition).

  • Why you're post has been up for so long without being moderated as troll is beyond me. Perhaps when a few more moderators log on, they will correctly place your post in -1 land.

    I was going to take your points one by one and dispute them, but there have been others that have done a wonderful job of pointing out the obvious. Instead, I decided to dismiss you're point of view as clearly uninformed and lacking critical thought.

    The only thing I ask is that you please go here: net/History/HIT.html [] to gain a better understanding of MSs lack of influence on anything internet. Please pay close attention to the fact that MSs started their company in the 70s when the internet was hitting it's stride and did nothing, nada, zipo, null-set, bupkiss, zilch, to help, grow, open, dominate, or sqelch the internet untill 2 decades later when a small start-up in Mtn. View threatened to take over their position as the primary development platform.

  • I would agree that the Netscape dominace of the browser market came from being in the right place at the right time.

    What you left out is when Netscape slipped an object model (java) under the browser they were (and still are) a smart choice for developers looking to write a distributed application that runs across multiple platforms.

    This was the threat that MS reacted to. Up untill that point, NS was just another app. in MSs eyes. Once NS went after develpoers they drew MS into the battle.

    I would blame MarcA for this particular mistake. I remember him being interviewed after the 3.0 release and he spoke *very* boldly against MS without fully understanding their power and control over the market. He should have been saying to MS "nice doggie" while looking for a stick to whack it. Instead, he just came out swinging and MS took his stick away.

  • Like a drunken samurai warrior from hell, I want the DOJ to slice and dice MS into such tiny pieces that Balmer and his frat buddies whimper and wine like the children they are.

    "I have no sympathy for MS, but i don't want them to be a precedent that states the government has the right to interfere in scary ways with the internal workings of a software company."

    In short? fuck em'.

    Micros~1 has made it patently clear that as a whole, they have no intention of acting fair, honest, or legal. In light of these actions, MS deserves the full wrath of judgment being applied to them by the people.

    I've heard it before, and I'll say it again, "MS is the Phillip-Morris of the software industry and it's time the government made them pay for Linux adds on TV."

  • I'm guessing Mountain View, CA is somewhere near the FUD headquarters for Redmond, WA.
  • Level the OS playing field? To do what? Anything he does is not going to affect the PC operating system market for years. Sure linux might encorporate any changes they make public, or it would give some people more time to catch up in usability, but there is no one waiting in the wings to come out with a new OS. Nothing here would benefit anyone except out of spite, which is ridiculous.

    There is no playing field to level.

  • It is our choice to install another browser - however, a machine with two browsers installed, especially when each of them requires at least 20Mb of hard disk space, is not what the majority of people consider "lean" - and any John Doe can tell you "I already have one browser, why do I have to install another?"

    The point is, MS does not give us the ability of not including IE in the installation or the ability to uninstall IE like any other app.

    And, having one browser already installed prevented some lazy people from installing the browser of their choice - to forgo their choices easier - if there is a browser that (even just barely) works, I can sacrifice a bit for my choice because installing another one takes so much trouble.

    For people who haven't used a browser (thus have no "favorite"), if you have to choose between an installed browser and a not-installed browser, which would you choose?

    MS prevented vendors from even MENTIONING the other browser, do these people even know they actually have a choice? This is what I call "brainwashing".

    I'd be fine if MS lets people uninstall their stuff and stop preventing vendors to NOT MENTION their competitors, or let vendors install the competing product instead of (NOT ON TOP OF) theirs.
    • Folks,

      You reap what you sow.

      You have just set back the computer industry six years or more [Emphasis mine]

    There seems to be some confusion here. This is /., not the U.S. Department of Justice.

    • This will be the ultimate IT manager nightmare, because they will have be current on multiple competing versions of Windows, Linux, BeOS and whatever x86-compatible operating system comes along the line.

    Actually, OS competition seems to have been forcing companies (*cough* MS *cough*) to make better products. For example, do you really think Windows 2000 would have its UNIXish features if it weren't for the surge in popularity of Linux and *BSD? So why will competition set the industry back? You seem to be arguing that OSes require a natural monopoly like local utilities, but if that is the case, the standard course of action would be for the government to strictly regulate MS's actions, just as local utilities are strictly regulated. You can't have an unregulated natural monopoly without gross abuse by the monopolizing company. (I don't think that OSes require a natural monopoly, but it sounds like you do, which defeats your argument against MS being tried.)

  • Microsoft's profitability (or lack there of) isn't of any relevance (except to the extent that its absurd profit margins demonstrate corruption of the free market). Antitrust laws are designed to protect consumers, not companies.

    Anti-trust laws are designed to protect consumers, but that does not mean they are designed to put corporations out of business. When the government was working out ways to break up the telephone monopoly, they realized that local telcos, which are expensive to operate, would no longer be subsidzed by long-distance telephone service, which is cheap to operate, and the only way this would resolve itself is by massive increases in local telephone rates, which is what happened. The government could have "punished" them by sticking a rate-cap on the RBOC's, but that would have put them out of business.

    So what's the point? People need telephones. Putting the RBOC's out of business would therefor be pointless. Likewise, people need software. Especially Microsoft software, since it's familiar to most people and it breaks everything else. Putting MS out of business would destroy the economy. So opening the source code is a no-no.

  • Why, pray tell, would putting MS out of business destroy the economy?

    Well perhaps "destroy" is a little overdramatic - but the fact remains that MS has purposefully made many, many, many people, and many, many corporations and government agencies dependent on their products and services. The cost to switch to a different product, even a free one, would be ENOURMOUS in terms of product, retraining, restructuring, etc.

    Simply imagine if all the telcos went out of business one day and shut themselves off. The economy would go to shit, because you can't do business without telephones. So the government has a vested interest in keeping MS alive, even though they don't like them.

  • Um, if they were to open the source, then how, pray tell, would Microsoft make money? Their business model depends on being a closed-source company, and, regardless of what the Stallman-worshipping source code Nazis say, there is nothing morally unnacceptable about that. I don't understand why some people here believe open-sourcing everything and its uncle will solve all the world's problems. Could someone enlighten me?
  • I'm perfectly aware of the differences between freedom and things that cost no money. What does this have to do with anything addressed in my original post? I still haven't seen an answer to my question, which is why so many people here seem to think the Open-Source model is the next Messiah.
  • is here []. Unfotunately, I didn't see anything in it that actually stated what the two sides' positions were... just that they were still far apart.

    Does anyone have a good take on what MS's latest settlement offering was? What I've been reading is that the one thing they wouldn't consider was a breakup. If that was the only thing they wouldn't consider, it implies that this was they only thing that DOJ, et al would consider adequate.

  • That's the Justice Department's offer? No breakup, just some rather mild conduct remedies? Justice offered Microsoft freedom to bundle arbitrary features: "The company would be prohibited from tying any of its products to Windows by sales contract, though it would still be free to integrate applications or features into the program." And Microsoft turned it down?

    If that report is correct, Justice offered Microsoft a very good deal. Microsoft is not going to see anything that generous again.

  • Yes. The Visual SourceSafe 6.0 upgrade (required for Y2K compatibility) forces an install of IE. There's even a message during install that "Internet Explorer is an integral part of Visual SourceSafe". Actually, that could backfire, because Visual SourceSafe has a decent warranty, (Microsoft actually commits to fixing VSS bugs) while IE is offered "as-is". One could argue that bundling IE pulled IE under the VSS warranty.
  • To be honest, I don't want to see a breakup. I'd be happy if the government forced all APIs to be disclosed and documented, and if the application group got them at the same time everyone else did. I think that would clear up most of the iniquities.

    Oh, yes, I think there should be no more tying. IE should be separate, and so should the office stuff.

    That should clear up the rest of them.

    But then again, I wouldn't put anything past MS to get past that kind of stuff. Maybe a breakup is the only foolproof way.

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • If this were true then wine would be a lot further along than it is, because then they wouldn't be reverse-engineering system calls and could put their full effort on implementing the API set.

    Every API call is NOT 100% documented.

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • Now you know that's impossible. How can I name one that isn't documented, and therefore named?

    I think you're either a troll or a microsoft flunkie.

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • Yes, I have. I found it cumbersome and annoying.
    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • So NOW you understand why Microsquish is not settling. They can string this thing out till doomsday. They regard legal as just another biz expense. Ethics, morals, etc. be damned...
  • Microsoft can and will keep this crap up as long as their lawyers have breath in their lungs and ink in their pens.

    That's why the law provides for expedited appeals directly to the Supreme Court in the case of antitrust cases. There will be some delay in the appeal, but it won't be more than 12 months.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • Some of us can also buy local phone service from competitive carriers. There are several local phone companies competing in the New York City metropolitan area.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • by Mog0th ( 152257 )
    trikyguy, I could not agree with you more. Finally a recognition of Microsoft's unique contributions. The Linux community has long disgusted me with its pseudo-communist rhetoric.

    What the open source community needs to realize is that the majority of contributions have come from proprietary software companies. This is especially true for the less visable parts of the software economy, such as engineering software. The Gnu-Linux system is a nice system to learn on, but thoroughly second rate in most regards.

    I can tell you that in the scientific computing community, the mass market of powerful PCs, generated mainly by the prolification of Windows, has revolutionized the way research is done, in many fields. We are doing simulations currently that no one would have dreamed of doing a decade or more ago. Clusters of cheap, fast, PCs are an amazing asset, as is the internet, and it is mainly thanks to Microsoft. Humanity owes MS a great debt, and I for one am voting for Bush solely because of his pro-MS stance.

  • The result is very simple: IT managers will start to sit on the sidelines waiting for the standards to settle down before buying any new hardware, and it'll be akin to the side effects of the AT&T breakup in 1984. You can tell what THIS will do computer hardware sales.

    I seriously doubt in the simplest terms MicroSoft is holding together the Computer Industry. First of all, the breakup of a Device Oriented Company is completely irrelevant:

    Telephones and all Equipment that AT&T deals with, to the best of my knowledge - are Devices. There is a very fine line, which is beginning to be reflected between computers & devices. At the moment however, a device is a system incapable of change - whereas a Computer is. The change is implemented through the Software.

    We are already in an Era of multiple OS's running networked multiple-hardware systems in corporate environments. What has happened as a result of this? First of all, IEEE & IETF & ASCII and every other standards association has begun to implement protocol Standards which meet the requirements of every type of connectivity we can imagine. These can be seen from the beginning of SCSI - ISA - PCI - AGP, TCP/IP for the internet... etc. all the way to todays IPv6.0 - lending itself to Voice Over IP communications more efficiently; BlueTooth (back to devices) which is a standard protocol to help computers & "Mellennium" devices communicate with each other. etc. etc.

    Standards & Protocols are the wave of yesterday, they have become a part of every developers code, and they have changed the way we see technology. We no longer think of a program as a miraculous invention because it uses a printer & a modem and communicates with itself on other peoples computers. We think of a program as being good/bad based on the darwinian advances it has lent to the evolution of its purpose. It is built to communicate as all other programs of its design, but its GUI, or its Efficiency, or its Purpose is Entirely different or advanced though it communicates the same, meaning it can run its own clients for the same server applications, and it can communicate with any other OS out there over a network thanks to, yes thats right, standards & protocols.

    I won't even get into what MicroSoft has continually done to destroy these standards or how poorly it has implemented them, or attempted to make them their "own" standard through encapsulating; Or how MS has slowed the progression of every developement through not releasing its own protocol standards.

    What is really important, is that MicroSoft software has nothing to do with the system you buy. The only important thing that matters is that you choose a Server or Client based application which adheres to the important things. Network Device Support, TCP/IP stack, Encryption (DES, MD5), and everything else which is important to you.

    Now when you go to choose your applications for your hardware, keep in mind it doesn't matter which OS you choose at all since they all support that.

    Oh, except I know from experience that MicroSoft encryption is both horrible and not-included-with-WIN98-for-VPNs.


    Second of all, Linux as an Operating System is doing very well. Linux is developed by so many people however, that it tends to come out with different releases. Yet in any release of Linux I believe I would be able to configure the things I wish to configure. This is due to the fact that the software itself has been developed and changed based on the ideas and desires of the World. No single Bill Gates could hold back the developement of something useful for their own gain with an open-sourced project.

    My point being: Every Software company but MicroSoft is changing the computer industry - because they are actually competing against each other to satisfy people for there profits. No competition between these companies could have the ramifications that MicroSofts competition has. They could not fail to adhere to protocols & standards or develop their own and have them succeed if they were inferior.

    When I walk in to an office to Configure a network, I'll read the manual. "Whoa, this OS though obscure uses TCP/IP... probably because it has to. I guess I'll figure out how to configure its internal IP and connect it for the person who actually uses it"... "Oh yeah, page 6: setting the ip.".

    "We're better than you are"
    "... it doesn't matter."

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @04:39PM (#1157087)
    Obviously, MS wants to settle to avoid the FoF becoming legal, while the DoJ is not playing "slap on the wrist" games as its done before. Both these sides are looking to protect their appropriate interests.

    However, one thing that is negligected when talks of the result of this case are mentioned are finacal ones; not just how it will affect MS's finances, but the stock market. Everyone knows that most high tech stocks, especially the IPOs of late, are riding a bubble, and at some point, that bubble *has* to burst. I think both Judge Jackson and most market people realize that even with a ruling on MS that is in accordance with the law and anti-monopoly tactics, it WILL hurt the market. Especially given the levels that have been suggested by the reports of how big the judgement will be. When that stock bubble breaks, it probably will not take down the whole market, but it will ripple through the current booming economy badly.

    So I think that Jackson was trying to encourage a settlement to avoid breaking the market; a settlement is much more pleasing to investors than a government ruling. But, as either DOJ of MS is not yeilding to the other side, that won't be happening. Brace yourselves for a very interesting week this week.

  • by jab ( 9153 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @07:01PM (#1157088) Homepage
    A.P. Newswire -- Talks between the United States Justice Department and Microsoft Corporation broken down today, as American and NATO troops rose to a heightened alert status. The Department of Justice has released photographs of former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates sitting in an what appears to be an underground bunker, holding his hand above a large, red button. President Clinton has officially urged civilians to evacuate from Redmond, Washington, "as quickly as possible." At an emergency meeting of the UN Defence Council, Russia and England both made strong statements supporting "neccessary force, including air strikes, ground forces, whatever it takes." Thus far all parties are responding with "no comment" as to whether nuclear warheads are under consideration in case of conflict.

    Microsoft headquarters also appears to be under a higher alert level, including employee badge checks. These events, combined with instructions transmitted over the US Emergency Broadcast Network to consider shutting down any and all machines running Microsoft OS and applications, for undisclosed "safety reasons", have caused only minor unrest and agitation. We spoke with one source, a computer industry veteran who wishes to remain anonymous at his Y2K survival bunker in Northern California. "Microsoft has breached three major financial and military facilities in the past week, possibly using a Windows NT back door. Electronic warfare between Justice and Microsoft has been escalating over the past week. I beleive it is only a matter of time before this e-war becomes a hot war." Our source pointed out that Microsoft has gained control of the top level internet domain .ms (by acquiring the formerly sovereign nation of Montserrat) and "may attempt to declare independence at any time." Meanwhile, angry computer users, carrying torches and pitchforks, shouting "You'll pay for our suffering" are rumored to be on route to Washington State, and growing by the minute. Some appear to be carrying laptops, cell phone modems, and homemade firewall penetration softwarwe. Microsoft was down one half of one point during trading today on light volume, before rallying to gain 2 points in the afternoon.

  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @06:30PM (#1157089)
    one thing that is negligected when talks of the result of this case are mentioned are finacal ones; not just how it will affect MS's finances, but the stock market. Everyone knows that most high tech stocks, especially the IPOs of late, are riding a bubble, and at some point, that bubble *has* to burst. I think both Judge Jackson and most market people realize that even with a ruling on MS that is in accordance with the law and anti-monopoly tactics, it WILL hurt the market.

    The only market it will hurt is the market for Microsoft shares. Think of how many Linux and independent software vendor shares are going to get a shot in the arm from a ruling that promises to bell the cat, er, um, tame the shrew, hmmm, cut the gordian knot, ahhhh, you know what I mean. It sure wouldn't hurt to be holding some Redhat and Corel when the conclusions of law come down.

    ...When that stock bubble breaks, it probably will not take down the whole market, but it will ripple through the current booming economy badly.

    If, as you suggest, there is some tough medicine to be taken, isn't it best to take it when the economy is strongest?

    In any event, the market as a whole will turn up if anything, the stronger the ruling, the more up.

    No, all Jackson's efforts to achieve settlement have nothing at all to do with the stock market. They have everything to do with (1) trying to achieve effective rememdies without a long draw-out supreme court appeal (2) bringing down a rock-solid judgement that doesn't stand a chance of being overturned on appeal. Showing that every effort was made in good faith to achieve a settlement, and that the defendant did not reciprocate in good faith is just part of building that airtight judgement. No judge likes to be reversed on appeal and Jackson is doing everything he can to avoid that.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Saturday April 01, 2000 @05:07PM (#1157090) Homepage
    seems to me a "settlement" would be silly.
    after all, wasn't this whole thing started because MS failed to abide by their last settlement and refused to abide by their agreement not to tie products together?

    if they didn't do it then why would they do it now? they'd just appear to comply for two years, stop complying, and then when the gov sues them to start complying again the injunction to stop would be overturned again and we'd be back at square one, going into a massive legal battle that will not end until enough time has passed the original issues (in this case netscape) are irrelivant.

    likewise "forcing them to open APIs" by a legal _judgement_ doesn't seem too bright either. How would you insure they _were_ following the judgement? You couldn't, except by having the government surveilance and oversight of MS be so intense it would be seriously scary. I have no sympathy for MS, but i don't want them to be a precedent that states the government has the right to interfere in scary ways with the internal workings of a software company.

    This is why i say a breakup is the only way-- make OS/compilers and software seperate companies, and make it so they can only communicate through openly published, universally usable APIs. This is the only way i can think of to reliably ensure the MS OS is just as integrated with MS apps as it is with non-MS apps without resorting to Shades of Orwell. [although somewhere you still have to do something about OEM contracts]

    I have one other thought, one which may be wrong since i don't think i have all my information straight. so i'm just going to say it, and ask for corrections: i think "opening up" the windows source code would do more in the way of placating the public than of actually solving anything, but one thing that does need to be done is force MS to open-source Visual C++ and MS Developer Studio and all that other crud. MS development tools seem to have an insane stranglehold on the market and seem to have a distinctly unfair advantage, but i think making compilers a third company seperate from both OS and software (as some have suggested) would actually make it very difficult for MS to do things such as propigate APIs.. my opinion probably isn't very meaningful though because i don't know much about this subject. Could someone please correct the flaws in my thinking? does anyone else have comments on what if anything should be done about the situtation involving MS having such a huge advantage when writing the compiler / MS making it virtually impossible to write decent software for their OS without shelling out huge amounts of money to them?

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday April 02, 2000 @06:51AM (#1157091)
    Interesting - though my personal preference would be for only two seperate companies - MS"1" and MS"0".

  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @06:04PM (#1157092) Journal
    Zagato-sama wrote:
    "Revenge against a company that makes software? Oh dear. Move over Hitler, there's a new villain making way. *eyerolls*"


    I think there are legimate gripes with Microsoft, but Zagato-Sama has made a point that doesn't get made enough, except by some very -ahem- 'suspect' sources. Namely, that Microsoft is a company which had made a bunch of "good enough" software for 20 years, put hundreds of thousands of hours and enough money to sink boats into designing interfaces and such, distributed an affordable (or rather, 'more affordable than contemporary competitors') GUI OS, employed thousands of people etc.

    There seems to be a frightening smugness in some of the prescriptions that people have for Microsoft -- like being barred from the software industry for "malpractice." Whaaaa?! What if it was you?

    The impression that an alien would get reading descriptions of Microsoft in the popular press and esp. on fora like slashdot might be that Microsoft is attacking the people of earth, and that anyone who used windows was doing so drugged and at knifepoint, with gritted teeth, and reaching for the cyanide pill. Nothin' doin' -- people have been using MS for the same reason that (as the saying goes) nobody every got fired for buying IBM -- inertia, laziness, other priorities, or (surely, at least in some cases) preference. Businesses can decide that compatibility with their clients / partners / suppliers is the single most important aspect of an OS. (That's why open file formats are important, and why people should demand them from software providers.)

    There is danger is turning over something as important as software to the wisdom of government regulators.

    Just thoughts,


    p.s. I feel like Bruce Perens right now. Not that he'd agree with me, just that my wrists hurt from typing so much.
  • by divec ( 48748 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @04:23PM (#1157093) Homepage

    I think this is good news. If they had settled, and Microsoft were not convicted, then the next monopolist after Microsoft could go and behave in the same way and the DOJ would have to waste another 5 years fighting them in court. Wheras if Microsoft get convicted, then a legal precedent will have been set and it will be much easier to prosecute the next violator.

    Of course, this assumes that Microsoft do get convicted. If this doesn't happen it will be very bad news indeed. Not so much because Microsoft will then wreak havoc; more because then every other potential monopolist knows he has nothing to fear from the law. MS have price-fixed. They've held secret meetings to arrange not to compete in a certain area (with Netscape). They've payed companies to dump a competing product. They've arbitrarily tied products together (other than Windows+IE). If they aren't a monopoly in the eyes of the law, then nobody is.

  • by Zagato-sama ( 79044 ) on Sunday April 02, 2000 @04:47AM (#1157094) Homepage
    First off, do you agree with everything the US government states? I then assume you agree with the DMCA? If Microsoft are a monopoly, so are Intel, Sun, Apple, Cisco, and many other companies who maintain a "majority" share in their perspective field. Personally, I'd say yes, Microsoft is one. Sooner or later, Redhat will become a monopoly in Linux, I hope you'll then stand up and advocate that they be crushed by the DOJ.

    Here's an interesting note for you, Linux is "supposedly" superior to Microsoft's offerings in every way, and is free, and yet the DOJ finds that Microsoft has no competition? Somehow those two things don't go together for me...

    As for my tagline, it's very simple. Here at Slashdot, readers are herded into one particular viewpoint. You may not speak well of Microsoft, you may not support DVD Encryption, you may not speak ill of reverse engineering, you may not suggest that Windows NT/2000 is a better choice for a lot of people then Linux. This is simply not allowed, Slashdot readers must maintain a singular opinion on major issues, otherwise all these Linux podium posts that outnumber real news 2:1 wouldn't have much effect.

    Slashdot is not a "News for nerds" site, it's a podium for Linux advocates to bash Microsoft and closed source, while patting Linux and open source on the back.

    An open minded individual uses all tools presented before him/her to solve a problem. A closed minded individual is trained to one particular way, and refuses to attempt anything else. Which category do the majority of Slashdot readers fall under?

    When actual debates on which tools work, and which don't begin to take place, then maybe you'll be right. Until then it's just a reiteration of the old "Linux r00lz M$ dr00lz" chant.
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @06:16PM (#1157095)
    It's YOUR choice to install another browser should you wish to do so, and many applications (Office 2000 for example) REQUIRE IE to be installed, so you end up with it anyway. One less rollout if you ask me....

    This is the root of the case. Requiring you to take software you don't need. Requiring a user to use IE has nothing to do with technical reasons and everything to do with ms position in the market.

    ms knew full well the consent decree they made with the government not to extend their OS, and they did it anyway. As a result of this blatant and obvious disregard for the law, ms deserves to be choped, minced, and diced into tiny little pieces.

    One of the more interesting points made in Judge Jacksons finding of fact is: When a company offers: "buy one get one free" You're paying for both. This is what ms is doing with IE.

    If a car company throws in a free tank of gas when you buy a car you could say that you payed $20k for the car and you got $20 of gas for free. You can also say you you payed $20k for a tank of gas and they gave you a free car. There is no differance, you've payed for both items.

    One could make the same argument (I have) that Win98 was free and you payed $80 for the IE browser.

    I've heard it before and I'll say it again: "ms is the phillip morris of the software industry and the goverment should force them to put Linux adds on TV."

  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @07:16PM (#1157096)
    From the article [] in the NYT:
    Among the major points in the final draft of the proposed agreement put forward by the Justice Department were these:

    *Microsoft would be required to establish a uniform pricing schedule for the Windows operating system so the company could not use price discrimination to penalize companies that defy its will.

    *The company would be prohibited from tying any of its products to Windows by sales contract, though it would still be free to integrate applications or features into the program.

    *Microsoft would be forbidden to strike exclusive contracts with other companies, as it did with Internet service providers who were asked to feature Microsoft's Web browser and none other.

    *Microsoft would be required to share technical information about its products without discrimination with any company that had a right to it.

    *The company would also be required to disclosure the software interfaces that allow programmers to like their programs to Windows.

    *Microsoft would no longer be allowed to raise the price of older versions of Windows as soon as a new one is released, a tactic to prompt faster migration to the new version. The company would have to support the old version, and sell it at the same price, for three years.

    *Computer manufacturers would be allowed to license the source code to Windows so they could modify it, allowing them to change opening screen users see when they turn the computer on. They could also modify the program to feature a program they prefer, such as a different browser. But Microsoft would disclaim any responsibility for offering technical support for those parts of the program that have been changed, or affected by the changes.

    One official said Judge Posner had been receiving e-mail messages and telephone calls from numerous state officials over the last several days, complaining that their interests were being ignored and warning that there could be no settlement without the states' agreement. Judge Posner, in his statement, noted: "I particularly want to emphasize that the collapse of the mediation is not due to any lack of skill, flexibility, energy, determination, or professionalism on the part of the Department of Justice and Microsoft Corporation." Nowhere did he make mention of the states.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday April 02, 2000 @10:33AM (#1157097) Homepage Journal
    It may be that the best thing to do to Microsoft is rule that they illegally used their monopoly power, do nothing to Microsoft (Hence, nothing to appeal) and let the hordes of civil lawsuits brought by MS Competitors bring Microsoft down?
  • I believe that one of the key reasons that Microsoft's market position has eroded at least somewhat is the DOJ's actions. The very threat of being sued allowed several national ISPs (AOL, CompuServe, AT&T, and a couple of others) to have their access software included alongside MSN in Windows 95. This allowed competition to occur in this arena, and to this day AOL's subscriber base dwarfs that of the Microsoft Network. Had the DOJ not harassed Microsoft on this issue, there is no way these ISPs' icons would have appeared on the Windows 95 desktop, and who knows, Microsoft may have gone even further to ensure that the only ISP s Windows 9x users could use were MSN and smaller companies that paid Microsoft a lot of money so that they could count Win 9x users among their subscribers.

    I am also convinced that the DOJ acted just in time to prevent Microsoft from really throwing its weight around hardware vendors. When I say "hardware vendors", I mean companies that make processors, video cards, sound cards, and other components, not OEMs like Compaq and Dell. I imagine many of you Linux users have been ticked off when you found that your favorite component you used under Windows won't work under Linux because only Windows drivers have been released, and the part's specs are under an NDA. I see no reason why a company with as many connections and resources as Microsoft would not have been able pressure most hardware vendors into producing only Windows-capable products after learning about potential OS threats on the x86 platform like Linux and BeOS. One way this could happen is if Windows simply refused to interact with a component not on some list of approved parts. A component would be approved if only Windows drivers existed for it and the vendor promised to keep enough information secret about it to make rolling one's own driver an extremely difficult task. While this approach probably would not have worked on the large companies like Intel and Creative Labs, I believe enough smaller companies could have been coereced by Microsoft's tactics to ensure Linux and other OS's could not thrive on the Intel platform. Now that the proverbial Linux horse is out of the barn, Microsoft really can't do much to suppress it by using this or any other unfair tactic. By investigating Microsoft for grounds for serious antitrust charges, the DOJ deterred Microsoft from leveraging their OS monopoly in this manner. I would imagine that if Microsoft considered this technique, the punishment would have been more swift and severe than anything that will come out of the browser trial. If it weren't for the DOJ, there would have been no deterrent for this action, and as a result Microsoft could have gained an even tighter hold on the desktop than they have ever previously enjoyed.

    Also, consider the PR fiascos that have taken place during the trial itself. The DOJ has already shown that Microsoft executives habitually lied during the investigation, and in some cases, even under oath in the courtroom. The prosecution made it pretty clear that Microsoft is now mostly about protecting their monopolies at all costs, and are not concerned about who suffers to fulfill this goal. Now that Microsoft's public respect has been greatly diminished, competitors have been embolded to attack them, now that they know that they are less likely to alienate Joe User by going after Microsoft. This has caused further damage to Microsoft's dominance of the PC.

    In conclusion, the DOJ has done quite a lot already to curb Microsoft's behavior through its consent agreements and now the antitrust trial. With a guilty verdict and a substantial penalty against the company, Microsoft's fall from the top may be complete. However, the outcome now is in the hands of the judge, and we must accept the verdict no matter how it turns out. While some may argue the DOJ stepped too late to stop Microsoft from crushing Netscape, it was and still is an open legal question as to what "tying" and "integrating" mean in terms of the Sherman Act. The prosecution had to wait until they had at least a decent chance of conviction before suing, otherwise the trial would simply be a waste of taxpayer money. And Microsoft has already won in other arenas, like office suites. It's too late to undo the damage that's been done here. However, if Microsoft were allowed to use this same behavior pattern to gain a monopoly on the ISP market, the results would have a much greater disaster than anything that's happened previously. DOJ action prevented this from happening, and now as result of threatened legal action, Linux has taken advantage of its opportunity to become a fast growing, viable OS on the x86 platform. Five years ago, no such product existed (outside of the very small Linux community at the time), and Microsoft was in a position to make sure that no such product could ever exist. However, current antitrust legislation prevented Microsoft from sufficiently leveraging their market share to meet this goal. So this trial is not the end-all-be-all that many have proposed it to be. Well a guilty verdict will most likely be the last straw that breaks MS's stranglehold once and for all, one must look at what's already come out of this case even if the judge finds that Microsoft has done nothing legally wrong.
  • Well, its that time again folks. MS is on the agenda, and the FUD starts flying... Just a shame therefore that its from both sides of the argument!

    To my tale: I'm a long time computer user, various formats and various Operating Systems, from the old (DOS and whatever CP/M the Amstrad used, AmigaOS) to the new (Mac OS briefly, Win9x/NT/2000, Linux, Solaris). I know what I have found to be the practical plus-points of all of these systems, as well as the minus points. I have read all about the business practices of the people who make (made) these systems, and judged for myself when I think they're being unfair, and when they're just being plain stupid.

    However, I don't let the business practices of the companies involved dictate my choice of operating system. Nor do I base my choice on my ideas of 'free as in speech', or even 'free as in beer'. Nope, I've decided on Windows because I can use it to get the job done with the minimum of fuss in almost all circumstances. I love the idea of Linux, BeOS, *BSD, any and all free operating systems and open source software in general. I just don't like the practical aspect of using them.

    I don't consider myself to be a geek by the standards people on here seem to apply (I mainly use my computer for 3D art, in fact), so maybe what I'm saying isn't true for everyone. But for my needs, NT/9x are stable enough and give me months of use with virtually no maintainance, run all the software I need or use, and don't stand between me and what I want to do. On the occasions it has crashed, and yes there have been quite a few, a reboot has sufficed. So, when people talk about how unstable Windows is, I take it with a very large pinch of salt, because I can see the FUD going both ways.

    In a way its a bit like the subject story - MS users like myself have irreconcilable differences with many Linux advocates, who seek to persuade us to use their favoured operating system, all the while deriding our choice which has been made for logical reasons which just don't fit their world-view. Which is sad, really.

  • by Kenelson ( 4445 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @04:16PM (#1157100) Homepage
    In case someone thinks this is a joke, here are some other stories on it...

    Maybe it is a April fools joke, but if it is everyone is taken.

    Clearly, this is a very bad thing for Microsoft as a company (who knows about the stockholders.) The decision will be released and can be used in other Microsoft trials. Settlement was really in their best interest.


  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @05:44PM (#1157101) Journal
    RayChuang wrote (in part): "You reap what you sow. You have just set back the computer industry six years or more as we have just set the stage for the 'balkanization' of the computer industry with multiple competing standards."

    I disagree with the thrust of this claim. And I am *not* in favor of breaking up MS -- making me probably a minority both as a slashdot reader and slashdot author, though I've not seen any real poll data;) -- but not for this reason. In fact, I think a flood of competing 'standards' (none of which is truly fixed, perfect or universally accepted) is the best thing that could happen to the computer industry, and the thing which is most harmful about Microsoft's market dominance.

    Why? Because a robust marketplace of ideas is anything but abstract in the computer world. Ideas in the form of bits really are competing for acceptance, based on the interaction of human prejudices, interface, capabilities, availability.

    There are simultaneous upheavals in the hardware world as well as the software world -- and not just whether chips are 32 or 64 bits, or whether they take RAMBUS memory. The whole idea of what computers are for, whether they ought to be special-purpose or general (and as part of this, whether the processing power that defines the abstract "computer" available to a given person / organization ought to be distributed or all in one place) is still up in the air.

    We could 'standardize' on something -- new law passed tomorrow says "You may only use MS Windows 2000, rev 2 or below" -- but that's not how a free market works, or ought to. Standards shift, mindsets change, the unthinkable becomes commonplace. Sure, the software environment will affect the hardware environment, but in the case of OSes running on commodity hardware (as is the case with Linux, the various BSDs, Be, Solaris and others*), why should a breakup of MS per se have an effect on hardware sales? It could go /either way/ is all I'm saying. It's no exaggeration to say that a lot of hardware sales have been because Windows does not take advantage of hardware the way that Linux and other UNIX variants do.

    Just thoughts,


    *I'm ignoring the other processors these can run on only because they're not germane to this line of reasoning.
  • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @04:53PM (#1157102) Homepage
    Oh, yes, I think there should be no more tying. IE should be separate, and so should the office stuff.

    I was just pondering the implications of that statement... does that mean Be would no longer be able to ship NetPositive (their web browser), sound recorder, CD burner, etc. with the OS? Or would the ruling apply only Microsoft because they were the ones guilty of predatory marketing?

    As a side note, something fishy's going on: as of right now, not one moderation has been performed on this story... please say it's not another April Fool's Joke(tm)
  • by Zagato-sama ( 79044 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @05:02PM (#1157103) Homepage
    Revenge against a company that makes software? Oh dear. Move over Hitler, there's a new villain making way.


    Open Source. Closed Minds. We are Slashdot
  • by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @10:10PM (#1157104) Homepage
    What I find most amazing about this whole thing is that it was started to protect Netscape, as lame a software company as ever came down the pike.

    Here was a company that took a free browser, made it proprietary, cleaned it up a little, and grabbed 85% market share, not because it was any good, but because they had a head start. On the basis of what was basically an HTML file viewer, they announced their intention to topple Microsoft. Investors believed them, and the money started pouring in. They used it to go on an acquisition spree, hoping they could buy and popularize enough stuff fast enough to maintain their lead; relatively little original code ever came out of Mountain View. And when this silly plan didn't work, they were lame enough to blame Microsoft instead of their own hollow business plan.

    Netscape's stated plan was to leverage their browser share, and they immediately started doing all the things that we get ticked off at Microsoft for: adding proprietary tags, encouraging sites to write to their specifications instead of to the open specs. In the early days, this was pretty effective, since Netscape jumped the gun with such things as table tags and font tags, which were pretty radical tools for early web designers. But such a strategy was doomed to failure, since each new feature became increasingly less useful than the previous one. When people started to notice that very few copies of Netscape were ever purchased (it was free for students, government, and non-profits), they said that their plan was to make money by selling servers, and that they were going to use their browser share to drive the server business!

    Eventually, the investors lost their shirts and nearly everything else, but not before Netscape management became wealthy. But of course, it would have been suicidal to admit that their business plan had been as bad as it was; to do so would have invited a massive shareholder's suit. Instead, we've been treated to the spectacle of whining billionaires, one of the worst inventions ever to come out of Silicon Valley.

    The most ironic thing is to hear these losers tell us the secret to Microsoft's success. Well, if they're so damned smart, how come so many people lost so much money on their company?

    Please don't construe any of this as a defense of MS; I'm just sick of hearing guys with zillions of other people's dollars complaining that they didn't end get more. Yeah, maybe MS did end up with a monopoly in browsers, but if Netscape had concentrated on making a decent product instead of trying to topple Microsoft by churning out crap quickly, they might still be a player instead of a little component in AOL 6.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @08:44PM (#1157105) Homepage Journal
    Very shrewd! Very shrewd indeed. I buy Cringely's take on this completely- I just draw the line at his conclusions.

    Yes, the judge doesn't understand that Microsoft is criminal to the core. Yes, the judge is continually trying to look for a change of heart, a sign somebody there has a clue. Yes, MS is taking all of this as signs of weakness in a purely darwinian armwrestling match. But there's still the law, and there's still the judge- and Microsoft doesn't make all the rules. Who noticed all the details on the failure of settlement? Posner pointedly avoids laying blame for the failure on Microsoft- yet the last straw was when he read Microsoft's latest proposed terms. _I_ think Posner is going back to Jackson and saying "I give up. These guys are the biggest criminals I've ever seen! They're not even ashamed of it! Everything they've proposed has intentionally had loopholes you could drive a truck through, they don't even bother concealing it. They have no good faith at all, it's absolutely sick to watch. Nail 'em. Nobody can say we didn't try, and they can't even say I was prejudiced- I thanked them and implied it was the states' fault. Excuse me while I go _wash_ _my_ _hands_... euggggh!"

    I'm serious- I think these judges have been beating their heads against Microsoft's obvious, relentless criminality, astonished that it doesn't even understand what they're trying to do. And I agree with Cringely that MS can see this only as a sign of weakness, because they are so far outside the law in their heads that they can't even comprehend it (something which shocks the hell out of the judges). But Cringely is wrong if he thinks that is going to help them- MS is NOT the law, and to the legal system, it is not a defense to say "I am innocent because all this legal stuff is crap anyway! I kick ass wherever I want and you can't stop me 'cause you're weak and cowardly!". That is... not an effective position to take.

    It is the position Microsoft believes, in its heart. And so, I see Posner giving up, going irreconcilably against Microsoft (Posner's first love is the law, not power) and cleverly issuing statements to block even the implication that he was biased and quit due to unfair prejudice against Microsoft. His statement seeming to blame the states... is for the appeals courts to appreciate, not us.

  • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @04:45PM (#1157106) Homepage Journal
    The latest Cringely [] has a very interesting take on the vast difference between the judge's way of looking at things and Microsoft's, and how that explains the failure to reach any agreement.
  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @05:08PM (#1157107)

    You reap what you sow.

    You have just set back the computer industry six years or more as we have just set the stage for the "balkanization" of the computer industry with multiple competing standards. This will be the ultimate IT manager nightmare, because they will have be current on multiple competing versions of Windows, Linux, BeOS and whatever x86-compatible operating system comes along the line.

    The result is very simple: IT managers will start to sit on the sidelines waiting for the standards to settle down before buying any new hardware, and it'll be akin to the side effects of the AT&T breakup in 1984. You can tell what THIS will do computer hardware sales.

    Don't laugh when I say "I told you so" at the end of 2001 when the computer industry is in the doldrums because of the combination of the collapse of Microsoft and the collapse of the Internet industry due to stockholders demanding profits.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @06:29PM (#1157108) Journal
    As for the "tying" of Internet Explorer, I still don't see the issue with this.

    The issues isn't that they did it. It's how they did it.

    1) In their own words, Microsoft indicated that they were giving away IE to undercut Netscape.
    2) They went out and paid off several large ISPs (from AOL on down) so that the ISPs distributed IE instead of Netscape.
    3) They threatened to raise prices on OEMs such as Compaq if they shipped Netscape preinstalled.
    4) They forbade OEMs from placing any other Internet or ISP-related icon on the preinstalled Windows desktop.
    5) They paid and rewarded large websites that included IE-specific features like Channels.
    6) They tied key Windows system DLLs to Internet Explorer, so that some 3rd party applications would be forced to have IE4 as a prerequisite for install.

    The plan was to cut off Netscape's "air supply" -- meaning cut their revenue stream, cut their distribution points, cut their new user supply, and discourage development on Netscape-specific features. During a period when the Internet was growing exponentially, the plan was a incredible success -- By 1997-8, many of the early web users were still on Netscape. but a huge majority of new users were on IE.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @05:16PM (#1157109) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows that most high tech stocks, especially the IPOs of late, are riding a bubble, and at some point, that bubble *has* to burst
    The burst will not happen for another five years or so. What is driving the rediculous stock prices is all the 401K money the various retirement plans have: they have to do something with it, so in a classic case of large demand and small supply, the price of stock in general is being driven up as the fund managers look for something, anything to invest in.

    In large part, this money is coming from the baby boomers, the largest segment of which were born about nine months after 1945. They are now 55 years old, and will be retiring in about ten years. In about five years, they will start moving their retirement money from long term growth (stocks) into guaranteed value high liquidity (bonds), and thus the demand for stock will drop precipitously. Once the slide begins, other fund managers will sell, and the system will cacade downward.

    The folks who will really be shafted are those who will be retiring in about 15 years: they will be trying to convert to liquid assets right at the wrong time.

    Luckily for folks like me who were born at the end of the boom, things should have stabilized by the time we start moving our funds over. If our fund managers are smart, they will be buying stock like mad during the correction, and thus we'll make out like bandits.

    Now, I'm on record. Let's see if I'm right...

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Saturday April 01, 2000 @05:19PM (#1157110) Homepage Journal
    (let's try that again...)
    I have a song request: anybody who lives in the Redmond area, see if you can get your local classic rock station to start playing Queen's Waiting for the Hammer to Fall off of Radio Ga-Ga, and dedicate it to Bill.
  • While Microsoft was a monopoly from 1995 - 1998, owing to the overwhelming success of Windows 95, the changing state of computers has done more to level the competitive playing field than any consent decree possibly could.

    Much has been written about Microsoft's ability to dominate the desktop. Nearly every Microsoft basher worries that Microsoft will be able to leverage its strong desktop position into a powerful server and internet position. They argue that Microsoft will assimilate like the Borg, spread like a virus, but the numbers simply do not bear this out.

    IF Microsoft were a classic monopoly, they would try and leverage IE into forcing NT / Win2K sales. IE now dominates the Windows desktop space - it's bundled after all. However, as much as IE has gone up, the use of IIS and WinNT as a web server has remained even at best in terms of share. In fact, IIS is starting to go DOWN against Apache.

    You would think that since Microsoft completely owns the client, that they would be able to force Windows NT as a server, or at least provide a compelling reason to use NT over some other server technology. They have not. Windows NT / 2000 market shares are steady, not increasing. Indeed, Linux is the growth player in operating systems. Not Windows.

    One might also think that because Microsoft rules the desktop, they ought to be able to leverage an online service. This has been the biggest and most damning failure of the company. MSN has been bundled into Windows 95 since the get go. This alarmed a lot of people, but as it turned out, AOL not only succeeded in the face of this, but triumphed. While MSN goes from being a core part of the operating system to being a web based streaming media thing to a web based thing to possibly up for sale to something else, AOL has become the dominant owner of not only network infrastructure (Cable), but content (Time / CNN / etc). At AOLs level, the choice of browser or even operating system is almost trivial and is certainly non-relevant.

    All of the talk about Microsoft dominating the Internet has been just that, talk. That they destroyed Netscape was sad, but in the grand scheme of things the destruction bought them absolutely nothing. They have not dominated the server market. They have not dominated the online services market. They have not even protected their interest in retaining control of the PC - internet appliances are all the rage. Microsoft is about to be slammed by the justice for committing a crime that had no reward. In retrospect, the destruction of Netscape was a phyrric victory, a business decision that achieved none of its objectives for a price that may ultimately threaten the business itself. You may not like the destruction of Netscape because you whine and sob, Cat Stevens like, about the evils of capitalism. But even the most hardcore capitalist at this point has to conclude that the destruction of Netscape was not even very smart.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev