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Microsoft Loses 604

Jon Rochmis from wired wrote in to tell us that Declan McCullagh has a story up now: Microsoft Loses. There really isn't a lot of details, except that the news is officially out, and that the penalties (and of course many more lawsuits) will be forthcoming.Update: 04/03 09:08 by H :Check out the official government site for the ruling -- in excruciating detail. CNNfn also has got an analysis up.
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Microsoft Loses

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  • Whether Microsoft broke the law or not IS ABSOLUTELY RELEVANT, and in fact, NOTHING ELSE IS RELEVANT.

    Morally bankrupt people like yourself may not care about ethics when the allmighty buck is involved, but rest assured there is a SIGNIFICANT population in this country WHO DO get conerned when hugely rich companies like Microsoft break the law to their own ends.

    If you are going to start making exceptions to the law simply because your pocketbook will be adversely affected, WHERE WILL IT END?

  • There needs to be significant new evidence in order for a judge to decide that, yes indeed, the ruling might be questionable and a new trial is in order. Microsoft _can't_ continue to appeal forever; they may not even be able to appeal at all, who knows?

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Instead, let's do whatever it takes to make sure my 401(k) remains robust. I mean, hell, it's still hurting from the AT&T breakup. </DRIPPING SARCASM>

    Jesus, does the world really revolve around money this much, at the expense of the letter of the law?

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • MS would merely need to convince the appellate court that another remedy would be better.

    I understand that the court will not be inclined to go with Microsoft's remedy ideas unless the DOJ really goes overboard, but I'm curious about how things might play out. Could the DOJ hold up the last consent decree and examples of Microsoft's behavior to show that Microsoft cannot be trusted to offer their own remedies? It seems like letting them have a say in it is just begging to get burned again.

  • Fines / breakups wont succeed, and a regulated monopoly is still a monopoly.

    Right, MS will still be a monopoly when the whole thing is over. That's not illegal and that wasn't the problem in the first place. The problem was that they were using that monopoly power in order to prevent other companies from competing with their products. That is what the remedy in this case needs to address.

    At the moment 'real' solutions take second fiddle to browser and java crap. Focus on the big issue.

    While the case focused on the browser and java issues as examples, if you read the FoF and FoL, it looks as though the judge understands that the issue is larger than either of those things. That those are just the most obvious (and provable) examples of Microsofts anti-competitive actions. I think he understands the need to impose a remedy that will prevent them from doing anything similar in he future.

    Something that makes end-consumers say 'I dont want windows' has to happen. Support for 3 years for 98 seems shabby, as I use 95 still.

    Consumers don't have to abandon WinXX right now. If Microsoft's bullying can be controlled, then something else will have a chance at changing the status quo. Consumers will see this new thing and buy it. Not because they just don't want WinXX, but because they like this new thing even more. That's the way it's supposed to work. Consumers need to see that there is something out there that is better, and they need to feel that the company offering this new thing will be around to support the product. That's been a key problem with Microsoft around to threaten the viability of any competing company. Nobody will buy an OS from anyone but Microsoft because they know that Microsoft can financially and/or litigiously squash any smaller company and leave them with an unsupported OS. Once we do something to make sure Microsoft can't prevent such a product from being brought to market by another company, and that they can't undermine that company's ability to compete by throwing a lot of money around like they did with Netscape and DRDOS, we'll have the kind of open and competitive market that has been absent in the desktop OS arena for so long now.

  • A fine isn't a likely remedy. Jackson is supposed to impose remedies that will prevent future abuses by Microsoft, not to punish them. That will be taken care of by the coming flood of civil suits. Should be fun to watch. They've had it coming for a long time now.

  • >Nonsense. The CofL are, among other things, dependent on Larry
    >Lessig's construction of the previous appelate court ruling in US. vs

    Not hardly. Lessig's brief is adressed in a footnote as *another*
    wayt that the conclusion might be reached, which the court *declined*
    to take.

    >If that construction is flawed, then Judge Jackson's
    >finding of a section 1 violation is trashed.

    Not at all. And even if it were, the section 2 findings would stand.

    >Given that opinion
    >contained the juicy quotation concerning "allowing judges and
    >incompent attorneys to design software", I would suggest that
    >Jackson's CofL are exceedingly brittle.

    ??? He's not arguing for that at all. He also considers
    the prior appellate decsion at length. He doesn't rely on attorneys
    and judges, but what other firms did in fact produce and market..

    hawk, esq.
  • The court looked at length at what the appellate court said. It noted
    both that taken literally, the decision would conflict with Suprem
    Court precedents, and that the appellate court noted that it did
    not have a factual record available, which could change its opinions.

    At that point in the proceedings (preliminary injunction), Microsoft
    was entitled to have potential evidence viewed in the best possible
    light. After the findings of fact, this just doesn't hold.

    hawk, esq.
  • Buffet's case is succinct, but incomplete.

    Options are, indeed, a form of compensation.

    But the issuance of this form of compensation does not represent an expense to the company. Not, not, not.

    Option compensation represents a dilution of the value of shareholder equity.

    When Buffet suggests otherwise, he is playing a propaganda game.

    It doesn't get any simpler than dilution of the value of shareholder equity; calling that an expense is simply not correct. The fact that some people are either not sufficiently literate in finance, or perhaps incapable of comprehension, does not make it legitimate to call it an expense.

    If the option plan's provisions are disclosed in the enterprise's financial statements, as appears to be required by FASB/AICPA/SEC/CICA rules, then those that want to play pretend games and call option plans "expenses" can adjust for them as they like.

  • The Supreme Court does not have to take the case. They have total discression on what cases they do hear. And whatever they say the buck stops with the nine.

    The Cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • While local phone monopolies suck, I find it hard to accept your assertion that they suck worse than a complete country wide monopoly on phone service and equipment. Do you think that the internet as we know it would have been allowed by AT&T. They didn't even allow people to own their own phones.

    In any case, the opening up of local long distance and CLECs is a case of regulation for the purpose of promoting competition (a good thing). Without strict government regulations, there would never be competition in the local phone space because the telcos could leverage their natural monopoly on phone lines to get a monopoly in everything else.

    Less regulation is not necessarily better if it means less competition. Of course the same is true of more regulation. We need to remember that it is competition, not deregulation that is key to getting the benefits of a free market. Anything which takes away competition without offsetting benefits, whether it is an monopolistic corporation or stupid regulations, should be stopped.
  • MSFT is a NASDAQ listed stock. The Dow is a weighted average of a select group of NYSE and NASDAQ stocks.
  • There's nothing illegal about being big or even having a monopoly.
    Yay. Glad to see people understand this.
    You can thank the DOJ lawsuit for the fact that today you can buy a PC without Windows pre-installed, or even with Linux pre-installed. MS did not allow this before the DOJ started getting on their case.

    This isn't entirely true. They allowed manufacturers to sell computers without Windows pre-installed. They just wouldn't license Windows to you, or made the license fee per PC exorbitantly high enough so it didn't matter.

    Yes, this is a Bad Thing too, but don't spread misinformation.

  • One of the BIG things the DOJ wanted Microsoft to do, as part of the settlement, was to admit guilt. They wouldn't be prosecuted by the DOJ, but they'd still have to admit they'd broken the law.

    That's why Microsoft didn't dare settle. And now they're in even more danger because of the lawsuits. I feel sorry for the innocent workers there; they were just doing their jobs, some of which will undoubtedly be lost in the aftermath of this decision. But the people who've put Microsoft's policies in place deserve one hell of a smackdown. They've been holding back the industry for well over a decade now. They've lied, cheated, stolen, betrayed... suffice to say they've done it all, just for the sake of The Almighty Buck. Success is one thing, and a good one, if obtained by honest, honorable means. But Microsoft didn't -probably couldn't- play by those rules.

    You called the industry's tune, Microsoft, for years. Now the piper wants to collect. Will your money save you now? We'll all see...
  • What pisses me off is that my company's share prices were just slammed, for no frickin reason other than the fact that we are a software company. Sure, we do NT software, but we also do Solaris and HP-UX, SCO, etc. I lost over $150,000 today. That sucks. No frickin reason. We're not monopolists, we write damn good software, and we just had another killer quarter.

    Welcome to capitalism, buddy. Not just capitalism, one of the greatest examples of a capitalist bullmarket that the US has seen since around 1929.

    It is an accepted fact by critics and apologists of capitalism alike that it is an incredibly unstable system, with highs, and lows that match those highs. That's why governments exist, both to protect the private property of the rich, and to intervene into the economy in order to stabilize it. Governments exist because of capitalism, and capitalism couldn't exist without governments. Of course, you might ask why the government is attacking Microsoft, and not helping them, considering their market value. The reason, although it may sound conspiratory, is that there are stronger forces than MS out there, pulling the strings. Forces that have *real* money, not inflated stock-based money.

    As for the $150,000 lost in stocks, I'm sorry if I can't shed much of a tear, not when millions of Americans are living in abject poverty. If you're working for the money alone, then you just have to accept things like this, because the same bullmarket that can make you rich can take it all away. If you're working with technology because you love it, however, my suggestion is to take the money you have (which I'm assuming is a sizable amount), quit your job, create a simpler, more holistic environment for yourself, and write free software in your own interest and the interests of fellow hackers. If you truly love high-tech, don't waste your talents for the profit of the very few.

    Michael Chisari
  • I see your point about dividing up into development teams (though read about the maximum effective team size in "The Mythical Man-Month"). However, there's a serious problem with merely splitting along product lines.

    Splitting along product lines would merely create several smaller monopolies in smaller niches. It would be the equivalent of splitting Ma Bell into Baby Bells, which as we know did NOT result in more competition. Ma Bell should have been split into several national competitors, each with access to the whole network and all consumers. Regarding Microsoft, leaving Windows in the hands of a single company would hardly leave us any better than before. A little better, but I'm not convinced it's much.

    Perhaps a split-up remedy could state that different Windows teams could share code, but any shared code must be made openly available to anyone. ;)

  • If the stock price keeps dropping, how long until Microsoft starts hemorrhaging talent?

    What talent?

    Take a look at Windoze (any version). Take a look at Office and that fscking paperclip. Take a good long steamy gawk at Outlook. Do you really want people capable of such abominations working for your company?


  • To accuse Microsoft of monopolizing the browser market is like accusing the guys who wrote bash of monopolizing the shell market. It's everywhere, it's the default, and it's the best, BUT if you don't want to use it, you sure as hell don't have to. Microsoft didn't put hooks into the operating system to keep Netscape from operating properly. Netscape does a great job of crashing and misbehaving on its own.

    Alright, to wrap up. Microsoft wants the freedom to innovate and we're seriously hurting their and everyone's freedom to innovate by supporting the judge's ruling. So stop the biased "Hoo-rahs" and take a look at the bigger picture here. People will be afraid to try new and exciting things because it may crush or obsolete the current standards or de-facto favorites, but then again people used to think taking a sharpened stick and rubbing it in between your teeth was a good way to clean them before the toothbrush was invented.

    Although I agree in part with you on the browser issue, I think you missed the key point (and as I posted earlier the one that changed my mind): that MS[1] was found guilty of anti-competitive practices not for trying to monopolize the browser market per se or by harming Java, but that both were evidence of a larger practice of using existing monopoly to prevent inovation.

    A quick summary of the idea behind the judge's ruling based on my reading:

    First part: MS enjoys a monopoly in OS which allows it to control the API used for application development. Because there is a symbiotic relationship between OS and apps, this application issue creates a significant barrier of entry for new OSs into the marketplace.

    Now this is just a distillation of the killer or essential app idea that has been running around the PC world since at least the spreadsheet. Although some may argue about the reality of MS's monopoly, this section isn't out to lunch.

    Next, the ruling is that both N$[2] Navigator and Java represented a significant inovation: middleware that allows platform independence. Again, we can argue about this (and as I'll discuss later, this may indicate one of MS's chief points of counter-attack), but this idea isn't out of the mainstream of thinking.

    Finally, MS engaged in business practices designed specifically to prevent these inovations from gaining market share for middleware not to maximize MS profit in the middleware market but to prevent the development of the mareket itself. This is a key point of the ruling. If you read closely, had MS been able to show that their drive to replace N$ with IE in order to PROFIT FROM SALES OF IE the actions would have been much less suspect. The fact (in the judge's opinion) that MS never intended for IE to generate revenue, but to simply control the market implied it was designed to prevent development of web based software that made the Windows API irrelevent. Similar activity occurred with Java according to the ruling. Had J++ not been so broken relative to the Java standard, MS could have claimed it was merely trying to compete with Visual Cafe and others.

    This is how the ruling actually changed my opinion on guilt (although I'm still out on penalties...I guess I'd be leaning more to forced separation of the Computer/OS market as the best, but I'm still thinking). By focusing on MS efforts to deny me, as a developer, multiple options for applications development by monopoly power, they seem to have violated existing anti-trust law.

    Although most of the ruling focuses on N$, I get the impression that MS's actions to create incompatable JVMs was the key to their loss. The judge seemed to see compatable JVMs as important to web based middleware being a valid application development platform (and this was an idea in common currency when the events occurred) as well as a separate market. Without the Java parallels MS might have been able to argue they were merely overzealous in competiting and not anti-competitive.

    It is here when MS both lost the main case and have grist for appeal. If the case had been IE vs. NS the middleware arguement could be countered by MS by stating that IE was simply insurance that if OS independent middleware took off MS was in the game. MS could argue, and if they had played nice with Sun on Java this would be a very strong case, that by providing IE MS was endorcing and furthering the development of this 'new' area. MS could argue that instead of quashing this inovation they were trying to do it better. They can still argue this on appeal because IE is fairly compatable with N$ anymore. If the MS JVM and J++ had been 100% pure java (or whatever their calling it now) this arguement will be damned near unassailible. With the parallel behavior on Java and the percieved importance of the JVM to browsers at that time, MS not only lost a key arguement, but boosted the case against itself. Still, this may be their strongest line of action.

    You are quite correct to worry about competitors using similar suits in the future. Much has been made about the fact that some of the companies driving this were very active in DC, while MS really only got into lobbying after the cases started. I had long thought this was primarilly political, either a reward to contributors or punishment for MS not contributing (or both). The focus of the ruling on the larger middleware and platform independence issue, as opposed to the narrow browser market, have lead me to conclude that this case was brought on merits (even if I still don't find them as strong as many do). The direction penalties take will be the final piece of that picture.

    [1] For the AC who flamed my earlier comment as meaningless because I used M$: Look, I've gotten smarter.
    [2] For the same AC: Look, equal opprotunity abuse.

  • Believe it or not, until I read the actual ruling, I was more on M$ side than the government's. The principle reason I was more on M$'s side than the government was that the government has choosen a single application market and one that was a loss leading market even for the market leader (I've never paid for any version of Netscape, all the way back to 2.0).

    What changed my mind? That the ruling spent the most effort (and yes, I just read it) on establishing that the attack against Netscape was not an attack for a monopoly in the browser market, but to prevent middleware from making the monopoly that M$ has on the Windows API. Given my view that M$ greatest abuse of a legitimate monopoly[1] was the use of the Windows API to make Office a monopoly and the symbiotic relationship between the two since.

    Thus, the judgement does deal with what I consider M$ real abuse: the Windows API and the use of it's current status to prevent competitors from being created. I think the key to making this case wasn't Netscape, but the parallels (and relationships) shown between the Netscape and Java strategies that M$ pursued.

    As for judgement, I'm not sure. I don't think breaking M$ up addresses the key issue here, at least not as discussed. Seperating apps from OS would only allow the OS company to pull a repeat of the earlier API stunt, because I doubt cross-platform versions of Office would take hold. I'll have to think about all of that.

    [1] Nasty tactics aside, the line from the original IBM contract to Win 3.1 dominance seems to be driven more by a mix of luck, good choices, and helpful opponents. The two exception is the DR-DOS/Windows 3.1 message and per cpu licenses. I honestly question how effective the first was (to be aware of it you pretty much had to have an ear to the developer world where most people have enough of a clue to know it for what it was). The latter is more probamatic, but still seems to me to be overshadowed by M$ biggest victory: IBM support ealry.

  • You say The whole tech industry has flourished (in the US) partly because no one government paid attention to us at all and pretty much let all problems be solved by technical means and by market forces.

    But this is completely false! The Internet was designed on government contract. The net exists in the form it does today because of a previous breakup of a big company by antitrust action: the AT&T breakup in 1984. Even pre-84 the only thing stopping the phone company from killing any attempt at networking dead in its tracks were consent decrees. Unix (and therefore Linux) only exists as well because of legal constraints on the old phone company; otherwise it would have been an unreleased internal research product.

    Up through the early 1980s half of the revenues for the electronics industry in the US came from the Dept. of Defense; in other countries it was government money as well. The Japanese (Sony) were the first to make a commercial success from electronics (here "commercial" means a taxpayer wasn't paying). Many successful US tech firms are spinoffs of university research projects that got their funding from the taxpayers.

    Both CERN and NCSA were government-funded entities, meaning that the taxpayers of Europe and the US put up the funds for the creation of the Web, Mosaic, etc.

    The Internet has prospered because up until recently, market forces were not running the show: the IETF was deciding things based on consensus and engineering excellence, not by a dollar-based bidding war of corporate alliances.

    Now, there are nice things about the market, especially when it works the way the textbooks say: many buyers, many sellers, perfect information (all the buyers know all the prices and quality available from each seller, etc). But it isn't and never was the whole story.

  • []

    Get it while its hot.

  • When you consider everything MS has done to improve computing, no one would be happy to hear this verdict.

    Quite the contrary. When you consider everything Microsoft has done *to* the computing industry, lots of people are going to be ecstatic over this ruling.

    Microsoft brought the computer to the masses, enhancing productivity and the usability of PCs.

    It's not under question on whether Microsoft made Computerland "fun and easy", but it's a matter of HOW they got there. They strangled competition, and stifled any chances of anything else rising up into the market.

    They actualy made it so EASY to use that even my 6 year old sister figured out how to use Win95 in a few hours.

    Sit her in front of a Mac, and see if the same thing doesn't happen. Then take her and sit her in front of X. Graphical interfaces aren't that tough to figure out. (Oh, and don't be so quick to thank Microsoft on that. Thank Xerox and Apple.)

    Do you even consider how many corporations rely on MS products for all of their operations?

    And you don't think that's sad? Even in the slightest?

    Their success would be impossible if the only available tools they had was a "superior OS" which they had to learn a ~200 page manual before being able to use effectively.

    So? You think that's such a horrible atrocity to actually have to LEARN something? Many companies send their employees to schools and pay about $3000 for classes and materials for certifications that are essentially meaningless. If you were a company, wouldn't you rather spend $80 on that ~200 page manual?

    About this browser thing.. imagine you were totally clueless about computers, and just booted to your OS. The first thing many in this age would want to do is hop on the Web..

    Five years ago, this was not the case. Seven years ago, 87% of the population didn't know what the Internet WAS. This was the time period when I got my hands on the IBM-PC. These days, it's a shame that the Internet has become the "be all and do all" of computing.

    but oh no! theres no browser!

    Microsoft wasn't forced to weave Internet Explorer so tightly into Windows. That move was to squeeze Netscape out of the market.

    Integrating IE to Windows is FAR from "abuse of their monopoly powers,"

    HOW do you come to THAT conclusion? Microsoft Windows runs on +/-95% of ALL COMPUTERS. Netscape made a browser for the Internet. Microsoft said "WOAH. They're charging $40 for this thing. Let's make our own browser, and package it with Windows." BOOM. Now, +/-95% of ALL COMPUTERS now come with Internet Explorer. Then, Microsoft said "We don't want Netscape cutting in on our action. Let's make Internet Explorer FREE, and integrate it real tight with Windows so users are FORCED to use it." BOOM. Now, +/-95% of ALL COMPUTERS now come with Internet Explorer, have the option to download it for free, and are stuck with using it. And you think this is "just a way to help people out:"? This is doing more harm than help, my friend.


    Microsoft has proven long ago that they're in this business for self-interest. If they really wanted to help the consumer, they would make it a point to create better avenues for choice. (The sad fact is, almost NO company is truly out to benefit the consumer. Microsoft is no exception.)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Yeah, it's awful how MS helped build it into a trillion dollar society-changing phenomenon not seen since the advent of the printed word.

    Again, it's not WHAT they are, it's HOW they got there.

    Oh really? So how do you strangle competition before you hold a supposed monopoly? Hmmm, could it be by making a better product that people choose to buy?

    In the beginning, that was true. Microsoft introduced Windows 1.0 (Which was a far cry from anything good), and it made computers (kinda) graphical. They rushed Windows out the door because Apple was stealing the show with their pretty UI. However, when Microsoft 'came to power' with Windows 3.0, that's when the strangle-hold tactics came into view. Then, when they brought out 3.11 (Just to incorporate some bug fixes, minimal networking, and that spiffy Certificate of Authenticity), it became the industry standard for User Interfaces on the PC. Microsoft knew this, and they took advantage of it.

    That sounds like regular competition to me, not strangling.

    Charging one company $15 for an OEM licence at the same time you charge a competing company $50 for the VERY SAME LICENSE isn't "regular competition".

    And I didn't realize that Linux couldn't rise into the market. I thought most MS bashers held that it was.

    What the -- Who brought Linux into this discussion? Linux doesn't even follow the same market policies as retail closed-source OS's, so it has no place here. I was referring to things like OS/2, or any other brilliant ideas that didn't have a chance because of Microsoft's hold.

    You have a point about the graphical interface being easy to use and not a MS invention. But I bet that same 6 year old could set up the computer, too. According to some people on here, that isn't what computing is supposed to be. It's supposed to be hard. Well, Linux is definitely helping in that regard.

    I agree with you on the 6 year-old issue, but I'm not one to think computing should be hard. However, I don't like your bash against Linux about helping to make computing difficult - It's not. Linux is not an easy OS to use, but it's not making computing difficult. *THAT* is an ignorant statement.

    No. Why would anyone think that's sad?

    I think it's sad that all of these companies rely so heavily on Microsoft, and if something happens to Microsoft, they can't survive? NT is a bloated, unstable piece of crap - Yet hundreds of thousands of mission-critical apps are run on it, HOPING the system stays together. Windows NT Server Resource kit comes with THEMES. *THEMES* On a goddamn SERVER?! What is the point? We're up to NT Service Pack 6, and Windows 2000 shipped with ~28,000 potential problems - Yet hundreds of thousands of companies place their trust in these systems. THAT'S sad.

    That's how MS got market share from Unix in the first place.

    Microsoft has a ways to go before capturing all the marketshare from *nix in the server market.

    Learning is good. MS makes it easy. Being a business owner, I say that if people can retain information from a $3000 class better than a $80 book, I need to send them to the class.

    I agree.

    What's easier to remember: lame-ass PowerPoint presentations or pounds of dry text with words like 'grep' and 'fstab'? Maybe you overestimate people.

    I hate to disagree with you, but the book is a lot better than the "lame-ass PowerPoint presentation." At least with the book, you can go back and reference what you read.

    Jesus, you sound like an old man.

    Heh. Scary, isn't it? That's because I remember the glory days of computing. (They're long gone, by the way.)

    Who gives a shit what it was like 5 or 7 years ago? Whether you like it or not, the Internet is the be-all end-all for most people in computing right now.

    I didn't dispute that point. In fact, you only stand to reaffirm it.

    That's how the majority of people getting into it are finding out about Linux in the first place. You should be happy.

    You brought Linux into this AGAIN? Why? (By the way, I'm thrilled of people discovering Linux. Many of the people I've gotten to try it are very pleased with it.)

    MS chose to integrate their browser.

    Yes they did. And why was that? To push Netscape out of the way.

    Netscape was on it's way out, anyway.

    Prove it. Had Microsoft not pounded them out of their path, they might have had a decent shot.

    I have IE and NS on this 98 box right now. I use both so I can design web pages effectively. But I prefer IE because it's a better product.

    I agree FULLY. I don't run Netscape because I don't like it. I believe Internet Explorer is a far better browser. That doesn't change the fact on how it came to exist.

    How can you make an argument against downloading IE for free?

    I'm not. What I'm saying is that Netscape was making their business from selling their browser package. Microsoft decided to take them out of the picture by giving THEIR browser away for free. Naturally, the population went with the free solution (And the easy one, seeing as how it was bundled with Windows), and so Netscape was forced to give their browser away too.

    Isn't that what's so great about Linux? You don't like free?

    Why do you keep bringing Linux into this? I didn't mention Linux ONCE in my original post, yet you're basing much of your side on it. (No, I like Free very much, but you're thinking "Free Beer")

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I don't agree with everything you said, but I can appreciate someone who makes valid points.

    As do I, and I like rebutting with my own. ;)

    I mistook you for the typical denizen of these boards, i.e.; a kid who says, 'Linux rules, MS drools'. Obviously you're not.

    I have a very open mind when it comes to Operating Systems and their uses. That's why I didn't mention any one competing Operating System from Windows.

    I also crafted an incredibly pithy response for the past hour in response to your last message. The irony is, my IE crashed when I went to post it. Haha.

    Go figure! heh.

    Anyway, the gist of it is, I don't want to fight with you about this anymore.

    I hope this didn't come across as a fight. I viewed it as a debate.

    I can respect your position as I hope you can respect mine.


    Now let's go get that beer.

    Quite Right. (Except I have to wait 2 weeks. Then I turn 21. ;)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • If people follow your advice to the lemmings, they'll pull their money out of all tech stocks, resulting in a severe NASDAQ crash...such advice just fuels the paranoia. If they wait several months, their (non-MS) tech stocks should rebound.

    Disclaimer: I have no training in stocks or securities training, nor does this message proport to be giving investment advice.

  • Face it, Msft is just an overblown code works that takes itself much to seriously. They have a long history of taking other people creations out of the obscure computing world and making X86 knock offs and marketing the heck out of it to people who have never seen a real, rock solid computer work. Win2k? - ohhhh, you can mount a drive on a directory! You have distributed file systems!! Wow! Look at THIS innovation - a network directory service!!!! Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.
  • I have never used IE, so I can't say whether it's better or worse that Netscape.

    Still, even if it is better, it didn't get to be better fairly. Microsoft poured billions of dollars of their stockholder's money into IE, then gave it away for free; while at the same time well-nigh forcing people to install it at the expense of Netscape.

    That is what the Judge is saying is illegal, and he is right.


  • Microsoft put up this [] page to write to members of the White House, Congress and State Officials...

    So why wouldn't we use that!? :-)

  • Ma Bell was a government-granted monopoly. Microsoft has attained its position without any significant help from the government. And if Microsoft is broken up, how is that going to improve things? Whichever piece gets Windows will likely continue to charge the same prices, and even if multiple versions of Windoze results, the prices aren't going to come down that much-- most software packages cost at least $50.

    Maybe some think the law shouldn't exist, but that's a different issue

    I do. I think the Sherman Act is a terrible law and should be repealed. Perhaps Judge Jackson has the obligation to enforce it, but that doesn't mean I have to improve.

    I also don't think Microsoft has a monopoly. Sure, Microsoft has a monopoly on commercially viable, desktop OS's for x86, just as apple has a monopoly on desktop PPC OS's, and Sun has a monopoly on UltraSparc server OS's. But the issue is whether consumers have alternatives if they don't like Microsoft's product. The clear answer is yes. desktop users can get Macs or install BeOS. Server users can run Linux, Solaris, or *BSD. Yes, they have a large market share, but as long as there are alternatives, it's not a monopoly.

    And even on the terms of antitrust law, it's not clear that they are guilty of abusing their monopoly. They have not acted like a monopoly. They have kept their prices pretty much constant-- Win98 is about the same as Apple charges for OS9, and NT is in the same ballpark as commercial Unices. Their pace of development has not slowed. And although I hate to admit it, some of their products aren't that bad. The Mac version of IE (the only MS product I use regularly) is better than any other browser on the platform IMHO.

    A monopolist would raise their prices to $500, sit on their asses, and rake in profits. The fact that MS hasn't done this tells me that they don't believe this would be profitable. So how exactly are they abusing their monopoly?
  • Of course Windows isn't perfect. No product is. But the point is that none of the alternatives are any better. Mac OS is going to crash just as much, and the other fringe OS's simply don't have the user friendly interface, productivity apps, nice installer, etc, that are necessary for a useful desktop OS.

    So no, not all users are happy with everything about MS products. But on balance they prefer them to any of the alternatives. And there are very few users who feel they are being treated unfairly by Microsoft.

    Programming, like all engineering, is about tradeoffs. Some OS's have been built with stability first, while others have concentrated on features, speed, backwards compatibility, etc. In some cases, Microsoft opted for less stability and more of the other things. That's an engineering decision. The fact that it crashes more does not automatically make it inferior.

    I suspect MS could make a completely stable version of Windows if they just took out a lot of the features and concentrated on debugging the remaining ones. Do you think that consumers would prefer this version? Some might, but I suspect most wouldn't. A well configured Windows box running standard apps doesn't crash all that often.

    Besides, Linux might never crash, but X certainly does. And if you're working on a GUI-based document, the machine might as well have crashed for all the good it does you. Perhaps Linux zealots should concentrate on bringing Linux up to par with Windows as a desktop OS, and then we'll see if consumers start switching.
  • I am pretty sure that I am being baited into this, but here goes anyway.

    What makes you say that? Is defending Microsoft's freedom to innovate so out there that it's automatically flamebait?

    The big one here is that the organization has recently converted mail to Exchange, and the complaints are loud and constant.

    Of course there are examples of people who have complaints about specific MS products, as is true with any product. But my point is that the vast majority of MS users are not up in arms about being "forced" to use their products.

    Your example actually proves my point. They *converted* to Exchange, presumably from a non-Microsoft alternative. Why did they do this? And what's to stop them from switching back if they don't like it?

    As for NT being a joke, I disagree. No, it's not a particularly good server machine for a lot of purposes, but it makes a fine workstation, and if properly configured it can be quite stable. And its GUI and setup are vastly superior to the Unix alternatives for a novice user. I don't particularly like NT, but that doesn't mean that others don't find it useful.

    I think NT is another example of Microsoft's non-monopoly. They have been trying to use the dominance of Win32 to take over the server market for years now. And yet apache has cleaned their clocks. People *certainly* have choices in the server arena.

    Microsoft leveraged it's Windows monopoly by forcing vendors to install ONLY IE at the cost of a higher price tag on Windows.

    As I recall, Microsoft in most case simply required that IE be featured on the desktop. OEM's were always free to make Netscape an option. And even if they didn't, so what? The "obvious option" is called a modem. And it's laughable to say that IE was "crammed down users' throats." This is similar to saying cereal companies cram the little toy at the bottom of the package down kids' throats. Microsoft gave away IE *for free.* How can that do anything but help consumers?

    Netscape is still being actively developed, so if the goal was to drive them out of business it obviously didn't happen. What's the problem?

    There are two other things to keep in mind. First, Netscape certainly doesn't look like it was hurt all that much by Microsoft's tactics. Its stockholders are now proud owners of AOL and Sun stock, and certainly better off than they were when they started. And the supposed purpose of antitrust law is to protect consumers, not competitors.

    The government needs to reign in MS to allow the market to give a better alternative, be it Linux, BeOS, whatever, a chance in the first place.

    Frankly, however good it is as a server platform, Linux isn't ready for use by average users. And since it is not a commercial product, Microsoft tactics aren't going to stop it in any event.

    As for Be, they seem to still be there, and the market seems to still be funding them. Would this be happening if they didn't have a chance? A change in the de facto operating system would be a big deal, so it's not surprising that it's difficult to convince users to do this. But having Be there at the very least guaruntees that Microsoft will continue to keep Windows development moving forward, because if they stumble, Be might very well move in and take a big chunk of their marketshare.
  • The final sentence was not related to the others. I should have put it in a separate paragraph.
  • There's that phrase again: "Freedom to Innovate." I've gotten positively sick of Microsoft parroting that phrase.

    I use it because that's the issue. Microsoft is being sued for (among other things) adding a web browser to Windows. If MS is not allowed to add features if it might hurt a competing product, then that impacts their choices as to where they can take their software.

    So? I admit it--I was practically in love with Microsoft, too. At least, until I was exposed to alternatives. Now that I have a broader experience with operating systems, I can safely say I am so much happier on Linux that there will never be a reason to go back.

    Um... yeah. This is what we call an ad hom: "you must support Microsoft because you don't know any better." For the record, I don't use Windows, and don't particularly like it. I have a Mac at home, and use Solaris and Linux boxen at work. In fact I avoid Microsoft products for the most part. (although IE for the Mac is pretty good)

    If you had watched it's grow in just the past six months, and I'm gonna take a wild stab here and guess that you haven't, it's growth is simply mind-boggling.

    If you look at my slashdot userid, you'll see I've been reding /. since summer '98, so yes I'm familiar with Linux's growth. And when it's ready for use by average consumers, then consumers will start using it. I fail to see how antitrust law is going to make a difference one way or another there.
  • Do you consider it fair competition in a footrace for me to trip my opponent? Is that going to result in a better outcome for human achievement?

    No, but it's also a really bad idea for the government to be telling companies how to design software. Laws based on motives (rather than overt actions) are a really bad idea.

    Even granting that companies shouldn't be changing features to deliberately break competitors products (and it's debatable in any given case whether that's what MS did) I still don't think the government should make that illegal. Doing so hurts Microsoft as well as the company they're hurting, and if they do it too much, customers *will* get pissed an switch to a different product. And in the long run, such tactics aren't going to work too well, as some customers will choose to not upgrade Windows rather than break their favorite app.

    You are just painfully naive, I think.

    And you are engaging in an ad hominum attack, I think.
  • the features that crash M$oftware are the ones we do not need anyway. Why should my WORDprocessor do GRAPHics?

    This is the kind of narrow-minded thinking that seems to characterize slashdotters too often. The fact that *you* don't use a feature doesn't make it unneeded. A lot of people like to be able to embed graphics or spreadsheets into their WP docs.

    Why would Microsoft put in a feature that no one wanted and that crashed their machiens more? They wouldn't. They obviously believed that *someone* wanted that feature. That someone obviously wasn't you. The fact that you consider a feature useless doesn't mean that it should be taken out of the OS.
  • Ok, so what youre saying is that when I go down to my local Best Buy and attemtp to buy a computer, I have the right to install an Operating System other than MS Windows right?

    Best buy has chosen to carry only computers that install Windows. You don't have a right to dictate what inventory they carry, or what liscences OEM's sign or don't sign. If you want a computer without Windows, you can get one. It's just a little harder, but that's because hardly anyone wants anything other than Windows.

    If there were really a huge clamoring for a better alternative, then some of those non-Windows vendors would have a large enough market share that Best Buy would have to carry them. There's simply not that much demand for alternative OS's, so they don't carry them.

    Oh yea, lets not forget the support that I am going to get when I install Linux. Not a single OEM company will provide you with the same level of support that you would get from using a Microsoft product.

    So now Microsoft is responsible for the support policies of OEM's? OEM's support Windows because that's what most of their customers are using. There are Linux vendors who will give you support there.

    Im sorry, how much is Windows 2000 now?

    Windows 2000 is not a desktop operating system, and is priced similarly to Mac OS X server, Solaris, and other commercial server OS's. If you don't like the extra cost of NT, then buy Win 98.

  • I agree, but punishing the bad monopolist (as opposed to just plain-old monopolist) does not entail telling companies how to design software.

    Except that "the rules" are so vague and overreaching that companies will end up looking over their shoulder to make sure anything they do won't be looked at as monopolistic. Antitrust law gets reinterpreted practically every time it is used, and things that are considered perfectly legal in one decade will become illegal in the next.

    If antitrust law were written in a clear and unambiguous way, then I'd agree, but it's not. It prohibits "combinations in restraint of trade," "unfair competition," and other similarly vague phrases. The only way a company with a large market share can ensure it not run afoul of the law is to not enter new markets and not do anything that might hurt a competitor. But in a market like this one doing so would be suicide.

    You can't be serious. Do you mean the punishment for negligence causing death ought to be the same as for capital murder? It'll be a cold day in hell before I agree to something like that.

    There's a big difference between writing laws based on whether you meant to do something, and writing laws based on *why* you meant to do something. For example, differing punishments for intentionally and accidentally killing someone are reasonable, but laws that punish you differently if you did it out of "hate" is a terrible idea.

    Besides, it's always illegal to kill an innocent person, it's only the sentencing that's different. But under antitrust law, an action might be illegal if you are a large company and you did it to hurt a competitor, but might be ok if you were simply doing it to improving your product. The difference is strictly in the mind of the person doing it. And it should be obvious that the line between the two is very fuzzy, since any improvement to your product is going to hurt your competition.
  • Considering all other elements of the computer market have dropped in prices you are proving they have a monopoly.

    That's not really true. Most *hardware* has dropped in price, but software in many cases hasn't. The price for Win98 is on par with that of the Mac OS, which clearly doesn't have a monopoly.

    It's also not unusual for people trying to survie a monopolist to have prices in the same range. If they drop thier prices lower to gain market share the monopolists just drives them out of business with lower prices. If they raise prices they get killed.

    OK, now you're just making things up. You're saying that Apple doesn't cut its prices out of fear of Microsoft doing likewise? Or that Red Hat would raise its prices if Microsoft did? That makes no sense at all.

    Not to mention the fact no smart monopolist ever charges the max they can. All that does is allow competion into the market place.

    Exactly, which is what's so ridiculous about antitrust law. No monopolist keeps his monopoly unless he continues to provide what customers want. There are always up-and-coming challenges. Look at AMD, for example.

    Max price does not equal max profit.

    This is true but irrelevant. If it were really true that no one had any choice of OS and never would, then the revenue-maximizing price for Windows would be a lot more than $100. MS keeps the price down to $100 in part because if they set it too high, that's an opportunity for a competitor to come in and take market share away from them. In any event, $100 is not an unreasonable price to pay for an operating system, and I doubt it would go down all that much if Microsoft got serious competition.
  • I suppose you're doing it to show the MS flag or something. Fine. If I were you, I'd do it in a more neutral forum, but it takes all types, I guess.

    Actually, I don't particularly like Microsoft or its products, and I have no interest in promoting them. What I *do* care about is economic freedom, the rule of law, and justice. I think all of these are being trampled by this case. (And by antitrust law in general, but that's another issue.)

    Thay have broken the law with no regard for the consequences.

    Which law? Antitrust? Antitrust law is so vague that almost every large company breaks it repeatedly. And the standards of antitrust law change with every new administration and every new judge. Other than that, I can't think of any laws they have broken. If they have committed any real crimes (like fraud, for example) I'm all for pubishing them for that. But adding features to your OS shouldn't be a crime under any circumstances.

    You claim that MS's politically connected competitors are driving this lawsuit.

    Um... Netscape, Sun, and Oracle? Do you think it's a coincidence that one of the DOJ's biggest cheerleaders is Orrin Hatch? Netscape couldn't keep up with Microsoft in the marketplace, so instead they are turning to the courtroom. I don't think that's something that deserves our admiration.
  • ...they buried it into Windows so that you couldn't get rid of IE in order to take over the web browser market.

    OK, I basically just don't think that should be a crime, although I'll admit that a plausible case can be made that it is under current law. Netscape is free to find partners for its browser in the same manner. In fact, that's essentially what it did with the AOL merger. And even with the tying, many users stuck with Netscape.

    And why, pray tell, do you avoid MS products?

    Because I don't like them. UI-wise they're inferior to Mac OS, and for development and as a server they're generally inferior to *nix alternatives.

    But stamping out all alternatives so as to force you into using their products just isn't right.

    I understand the sentiment, but I don't think it's right. There are still alternatives, and really good products *do* have a chance in the marketplace. And I don't see how the antitrust case is going to do any good. Consumers are going to continue to buy what they're used to, and so even if a breakup occurs, Be and Linux are going to be in about the same position as always. I think this is more due to consumer choices than anything Microsoft has done.

    Switching platforms is a lot of work, and even if Microsoft hadn't done any of the nasty things it's accused of doing, it would likely still be the de facto standard. And even though Be's a nice OS, it doesn't have anywhere near the applications support it would need to be a useful desktop OS. So yes, they deserve a chance, but I don't see that Microsoft has done anything to them.

    Surely you must concede that Linux is a kick-ass server platform.


    But you seem to regard it as if it were intended for desktop use

    A lot of people on Slashdot think it is, and if the folks at KDE and Gnome intend to make that happen. Whether it will is an open question. Right now, Linux is a mediocre desktop platform for geeks, and an unusable one for novices, but I can see that changing rapidly if companies keep pouring money into it. I recently started playing with KDE, and it's a hell of a lot closer to a real GUI than fvwm.

    So I guess my point is that right now, Windows is the only reasonable desktop OS for x86, but that if Microsoft abuses their customers too much, there is a real chance that either of them could become a serious competitor. Microsoft therefore can't afford to act like a monopolist.
  • Ok, I hate to start Yet Another Flame War, but I'm annoyed at the overwhelming anti-Microsoft sentiment that seems to exist here. IMHO, Microsoft has done nothing particularly evil, and should not have been sued in the first place. I hope that the appeals courts reduces whatever penalties Jackson makes to spare Microsoft from unjust punishment.

    Microsoft is in essence being punished for being too effective a competitor, and for not lining the pockets of enough lawmakers. You will notice that with the exception of a few Linux fanatics, most Microsoft customers are quite happy with their products. The ones that are driving this lawsuit are Microsoft's politically-connected competitors. Yes, Microsoft has done things that caused harm to its competitors, but that's what competition is all about. It's absurd to expect a company to compete, but not compete "too much" or "unfairly."

    Microsoft wrote Windows and has every right to set whatever terms it likes for its use. That includes requirements such as those that OEM's pay per processor to pre-load it. Computer manufacturers are free to decline to use Microsoft's product, and can then install whatever they want at whatever price they want. The fact that OEM's choose to purchase Windows says something about the value of Windows to consumers.

    Microsoft has done nothing that many others in the computer industry has done. Microsoft just did a better job of it. This antitrust case is a travesty of justice, and I hope it gets thrown out on appeal. Microsoft makes mediocre products, and I hope a better alternative comes along and takes over the market. But the government should butt out and let the market do its work.
  • Microsoft can't run companies out of business unless they offer something that consumers prefer. In the case of DR-DOS, that something was Windows.

    Besides, if you look at the specifics of the DR-DOS case, you'll find that the alleged abuses are comically trivial. They had a warning, in a *beta* copy, that said that some components *might* not work right. The end user never saw this message, because it was removed before the final version came out. If that's enough to drag them into court, then every company in the country is going to spend all their resources on lawyers.

    I don't know the details of the Stacker case, but I suspect the issues are similar. In specific cases, Microsoft may have committed some actual crimes (like fraud, for example) and if so, they should be punished like anyone else. But if their crime was simply out-competing a smaller company, then I see nothing wrong with that. That's the risk you take when you go into business--that a more effective competitor will beat you.

  • Have you ever TRIED downloading Netscape through a modem? Thanks to AOL bloat, it takes about two hours... my ISP has a tendancy to lose the connection after 30mins (grr), so this means I'm stuck with IE. Also, most companies (and people) think "I've already GOT a web browser, why try another?"

    Yes I have. I suggest you get a new ISP or a better modem. I downloaded the Linux kernel source over the weekend, which is more than 10 megs worth of download. I also downloaded IE 5 recently, and I've downloaded several versions of both Netscape and IE in the past, as well as iCab and many other products. Yes, it's a pain, but it's not that big of a deal.

    As for people thinking they don't need another browser, whose problem is that? If they're happy with IE (which isn't that bad of a product. I've used IE, Netscape, and iCab, and I prefer IE, although perhaps my Mac version is better than the Windows one)

    It's ONLY being actively developed because they were bought by AOL for whatever reason - Netscape as a single company no longer exists.

    Nonsense. Netscape had been developing Navigator 5 for months before the buyout. And frankly, they lost the browser wars through their own incompetence. Netscape has hardly improved at all since Navigator 3, and at that point they still had the dominant market position. They simply weren't capable of getting a new product out the door.

    And Navigator was a loss-leader for their server products anyway, so its not like it's the end of the world from them if they lose market share there. And who is to say that being bought out by AOL is a bad thing? AOL saved them by giving them the kind of capital that MS had available. So now they can compete on an equal footing. I don't see what's wrong with that.

    Also, if MS "wins" in the end, there is no longer any reason for them to innovate any more - there would be no compotetion left, and that would hurt consumers in the end.

    First, there are other browsers--opera, iCab, Mozilla--so Microsoft isn't going to be able to just rest on its laurels. Second, even if they did, they still would have contributed enourmously to improving both Netscape and IE. Web browsers have seen vast improvements in the last 2 years. Without the competition from Microsoft, we'd probably all be using Netscape 2 right now.

    IE 1 was a joke. The market only started swing toward it at about version 3, which was the first version to be competitive with the Netscape alternative. Since then, Netscape has hardly improved at all, while IE has continued to improve. At least on the Mac side, IE5 is stabler, faster, and has as many features as Navigator 4. Microsoft has earned a dominant market share by producing a better product. If you want proof, look at the Mac. There they have no OS advantage, and both IE and Netscape are installed by default. (Yes IE is the default browser, but that's hardly an overwhelming advantage.) I haven't seen the numbers recently, but IE has a clear advantage there. How is that the result of anything but a better product?

  • Microsoft brought the computer to the masses, enhancing productivity and the usability of PCs
    by copying the Macintosh user interface?
    They actualy made it so EASY to use that even my 6 year old sister figured out how to use Win95 in a few hours. I doubt anyone can say that they prefer any pre-MS computers to a PC with Windows on it..
    Like the macintosh? Not to say that I think the Mac is the be-all and end-all of UI design, but basically, win 3.1 was an attempt to be as mac-like as possible. surely if there were no MS, someone else would have stepped in to make a non-mac easy-to-use computer. It wasn't any terrific insight on microsoft's part, computing hardware had advanced to the point it was cheap enough you could run a nice GUI on a computer cheap enough sell to mass-market consumers.
    About this browser thing.. imagine you were totally clueless about computers, and just booted to your OS. The first thing many in this age would want to do is hop on the Web.. but oh no! theres no browser! How many of your parents know enough about computers to configure a dialup and then FTP to get a working browser? Integrating IE to Windows is FAR from "abuse of their monopoly powers," just a way to help people out: TO HELP THE CONSUMER.
    Now explain:
    1. how the exclusionary contracts that prevented OEM's from shipping a MS OS with a netscape browser were to help the consumer
    2. how you can surf the web without configuring a dialup. This is separate from the browser, if it's easy to do for the web, is easy to do for ftp :)
    3. why, mysteriously, right after MS was told in court that it couldn't contractually tie the products to the OS, but could incorporate them into the OS for technical reasons, right then, they found technical reasons to incorporate IE into the OS.
    4. why having the browser integrated into the OS rather than provided with the OS makes this easier. (the difference between the two being, of course, that if a browser is provided with the OS then OEM's can substitute another better, or possibly cheaper, or whatever browser).
  • Was a news-site version of 'first p0st, suckahz!,' but with less useful information.

    What tripe. Anyone got an article with, I dunno, newsworthy details, in it?

  • Switching operating systems is such a pain in the butt that nothing will change unless something catastrophic happens. That is why I think the only real solution is to revoke Microsoft's corporate charter and send the whole bloody works of their employees packing. This will create thousands of competing Microsoft consultants who can help people maintain their systems. Then and only then would the playing field be levelled.
  • > Nowhere does it mention that they made Windows incompatible with another piece of software, or that they used hidden APIs in any of their products, which would be the biggest argument toward opening part or all of the Windows source code. Since neither of those is mentioned at all, or even alluded to, I believe that opening their APIs/source code isn't a likely penalty.

    It does seem to mention windows 98 / MSIE 5, where the browser used OS hooks to override the normal UI.. if that isn't "hidden APIs" i don't know what is.
    Although that's probably not an example relivant to your point, because opening the windows source code would probably not be as effective in terms of allowing other web browser makers to override the windows interface as a breakup.. seeing as with open code the browser maker would have to sift through and reverse-engineer a huge amount of code, whereas with a breakup the OS MS would be forced to create an open API for browser embedding in order for the App MS to integrate (hey, i'll bet apple would be willing to liscence the code for Opendoc/cyberdog.. **laughs evilly**) which seems like it would make, say, Netscape's job a lot easier than having to read the windows source.

    i _don't_ think there's any good reason for the windows source code to be opened, or any reason they will. That's not my point here; i'm just making the admittedly not very large point that "secret APIs" are not a complete non-issue.
    Here's to hoping the gov's solution will be better than nothing.. and maybe even a breakup! woohoo!

    --- i know nothing and you shouldn't be listening to me. ---
  • Aha. i apologize.
    i was not aware of what you mention, possibly because i have not looked at any windows SDKs or APIs, do not have an MSDN account, have no windows programming experience beyond stdlib console, do not use or own windows, etc. I know nothing beyond what others have told me, which had lead me to believe that internet explorer 5 is almost impossible to uninstall or detatch from win98.
    From the fact i had never seen anyone other than microsoft in ie5 attempt to replace the windows GUI, i assumed there was no microsoft-provided way of doing so.
    Apparently i was wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:09PM (#1154360)
    Usually I'm a troll who writes stories about Perl Necklaces Vs. Python, and Jon Katz having gay sex with Cmdr. Taco, but today I'm a bit vexed and think I ought to point some rather important things out.

    I'm a Linux developer and proponent and am not the world's greatest Microsoft fan. Then again, I'm not the world's greatest Microsoft critic either.

    Microsoft did nothing to monopolize the browser market. They did what was the natural evolution of browsing, and information management/retrieval. They did exactly what the folks at KDE did. They merged the concept of file, shell, and web browser. It's quite admirable, actually, and hardly something worth making a major fuss over.

    Netscape would have died a slow and ugly death anyway, with or without Microsoft's help. Let's face it, their browser sucks. It crashes way too much for an application that's supposed to be in the 4.X versions no matter what platform you use it on. I actually use IE for Solaris because it's more stable even though you basically have to install the entire damned Windows API with it. Netscape has also done nothing to help the web forge ahead in the technology front. And though Microsoft hasn't done much more, at least they're a major contributor to XML technologies which are absolutely the future of the web.

    Regarding Java. Sun Microsystems has done more on its own in the past 2 years to destroy Java and its original promise than Microsoft could have ever accomplished, even if they had gone on unchecked. Sun's pulling out of ECMA, their constantly changing "Standards", and their forced-branding after the fact for J2EE to put a choke-hold on Application Server vendors is just as dirty a tactic as Microsoft has ever attempted.

    To accuse Microsoft of monopolizing the browser market is like accusing the guys who wrote bash of monopolizing the shell market. It's everywhere, it's the default, and it's the best, BUT if you don't want to use it, you sure as hell don't have to. Microsoft didn't put hooks into the operating system to keep Netscape from operating properly. Netscape does a great job of crashing and misbehaving on its own.

    Alright, to wrap up. Microsoft wants the freedom to innovate and we're seriously hurting their and everyone's freedom to innovate by supporting the judge's ruling. So stop the biased "Hoo-rahs" and take a look at the bigger picture here. People will be afraid to try new and exciting things because it may crush or obsolete the current standards or de-facto favorites, but then again people used to think taking a sharpened stick and rubbing it in between your teeth was a good way to clean them before the toothbrush was invented.

    Microsoft's business practices aside, this is a VERY SAD DAY for software developers, whether they target Linux, Windows, Mac, or BeOS. We're opening ourselves up to having our competitors file lawsuits for putting them out of business just by doing what we think is the most natural thing to do... Do it better.

    thank you.
  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:19PM (#1154362) Journal
    They won't get appealled successfully, if that's what you're asking.

    And since these new CofL were pretty much pre-ordained by the FofF, folks haven't been waiting--I think I've seen a figure of over 100 already filed.

    However, these conclusions are what they'll use; they're the actual finding that MS is a monopolist.
  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @05:44PM (#1154363) Homepage
    MANY people lost money, a lot MORE people will lose money VERY soon. When people start receiving their first and second quarter mutual fund reports, fund managers are going to have to say due to a sell off in technology i.e. Microsoft and every other tech company, we lost 10% of your money this quarter. This translates to anger against the government. Why is the DOJ ripping Microsoft and my stock. Call representatives in Congress and ask what the hell they are doing about this situation. Not a pretty picture.

    You forget one thing: this was one day. A quarter is MUCH longer than one day. The 300-point drop can be expected to be temporary. Microsoft's stock is going to get hammered probably for the rest of this week, but then we will see it start to recover as the market hysteria dies down. In the meantime, I don't think it's at all unprobable that the stock from Microsoft's competitors is going to get a sizable boost. Still sucks if you've only invested in Microsoft, but frankly if you've pinned your entire portfolio into a simgle company, no matter what that company may be, you deserve a hammering. Even the most idiotic of investors knows better than to do that.

    Also, you seem to get the idea that because Microsoft's stock nose-dived, all the other tech companies followed suit. Not true. Many stocks took a slight hit, but that may or may not be related to the case. The 300-point drop in the NASDAQ was due, mostly, to Microsoft alone.

    Bad stock markets days like this make things VERY rough for Mr. Gore. Bush will be putting this on Gore for the rest of the campaign. You want an out of control DOJ that sues EVERY company (Smith & Wesson, the Tobacco industry, Microsoft, Glock) and puts your stocks in the toilet: Vote Al Gore. Not a very pleasant thought considering the majority of those who buy stock also vote.

    So Gore has something to worry about. I wasn't planning on voting for him anyway.

    Now, that we have thought about this rationally. Think about what would happen if Bill Gates said "Fine, if you don't want us to innovate then were going to shutdown Microsoft and return all value to the shareholders." Think about how many industries, businesses, individuals are affected by Microsoft financially both directly and indirectly. I would venture a guess that you would see a depression unlike any other since the 1930's. Believe it or not, a great deal of the expansion of the U.S. economy over the past 15 years can be attributed to Microsoft. Whether they did something bad or not doesn't change the fact that you, me, the businesses we work for, the schools we go to, and just about everything around us is effected by Microsoft.

    One: That's just something M$ might say. Of course, it's a lie; they've never innovated anything at all. There is absolutely nothing they've ever done that someone else wasn't already doing. And usually better, at that.
    Two: Your depression bit is little more than an alarmist scare tactic.
    Three: Even if that bit is true, it only works against you. Should the entire U.S. economy really be so closely tied to one company? Think about that. A company which holds that much of a monopoly needs to be put into check. A DoJ ruling isn't the only thing that can cause a company to go sour, you know. It would be like the President dying with no system of succession in place (Vice President/Speaker of the House/Senate President pro tempore /Secretary of State/etc...)

    And one final point. One which I'm sure people would find interesting. Look over the trial. You'll see a lot of things said. You'll see Microsoft claim that its software is innovative, competitive, and so forth. But you'll never once hear Microsoft claim that its software is the best. They knew exactly what they were doing: cramming mediocre software down people's throats, using dirty tricks to trip up competition, and so forth. At least, though, they didn't commit perjury by claiming superiority.
  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:57PM (#1154365)
    The Findings of Fact were very clear, and we have heard a lot about the potential lawsuits that would depend on quoting them. OTOH since a final ruling had not come down, those lawsuits couldn't yet be filed.

    Will those lawsuits start to be filed with this decision? Or does that have to wait for final punishment?

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @02:08PM (#1154366) Homepage
    According to WashP ost [] Msft is still going to build a web browser into the 'os' - (so thpppppt!! Take that you mean ol' judge) - whoppee. Clinton was impeached and still probably gets all the 'comfort girls' he wants in the office. You can't 'punish' a popular person, no matter what 'crimes' they committed, why that'd be a public outrage! Obviously the judge is at fault here, and Msft stock will eventually recover and soar on to new heights. Indeed, it may be a good time soon to buy msft stock!
  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:11PM (#1154367) Homepage

    I'm not particularly concerned whether Microsoft gets slapped on the wrist with a drinking straw or gets obliterated from the face of Corporate America. Either way, if I had my druthers, I'd make sure they honored refunds on their damn products.

    Sometimes I *like* Microsoft products. I do! Windows is easier to use than Linux for a lot of things, even if I enjoy using Linux more. And I can't beat Excel yet. But I want to have the *choice* to use a Microsoft product, or an alternative, and not have to pay for the products I *don't* choose. If I buy a PC and it comes with Windows, and I want to use Linux on it, then Microsoft should have to send me a refund when I send them the product back, as their licensing agreement states they will. If only ONE thing comes out of the ruling, it should be this.

  • by binarybits ( 11068 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @04:12PM (#1154368) Homepage
    Are you saying that Apple doesn't sell easy to use computers?

    I own one, so I certainly wouldn't say that. But Apple's computers are expensive, and they were a hell of a lot more expensive 5 years ago when microsoft was busy cementing their lead in the OS market. Apple also was grossly incompetent when it came to marketing and selling their product pure technical superiority or a better interface aren't the only things that matter.

    What about OS/2?

    I don't know that much about GEOS, but I know IBM screwed up OS/2 big time. In 1990 when the Windows-OS/2 wars were at their peak, IBM was a much bigger company than Microsoft, and a lot of people thought IBM was going to win. Microsoft beat IBM at their own game by producing a decent product at a good price.

    One good example of this is that IBM charged ridiculous prices for OS/2 development software, while MS practically gave Windows development tools away. Microsoft was also the first company to truly understand that an OS requires useful apps, and when they ported Word and Excel to Windows it was more so they could help Windows market viability and not vice versa.

    Computers would be JUST as popular today without Microsoft, and in fact probably even MORE SO considering that PC Os's should cost $0 (or close to it)

    You get what you pay for. Mac OS is priced about the same as Windows, and the per-computer cost of Windows is a lot lower than $150 for OEM's. As for requiring $2000 computers to run, that's laughable. The average computer today costs about $900, and you can get a usable one for under $500. And you are free to buy a no-name PC without Windows and install Linux or anything else you want on it. Most people don't because Linux is a lousy desktop OS for most users.

    Keep in mind also that most sodtware packages cost at least $50, and a lot of them are $100. Considering the large number of functions performed by the OS, $100 is not an unreasonable price.

    Microsoft was (ironically) the also the only OS maker that truly recognized the value of open systems. They have always sold Windoze liscences to anyone who wanted them. Apple, Next, IBM, and most others on the other hand tried to run their stuff largely on proprietary systems, and I'd argue this is a large part of why they lost. Yes, their OS is closed and proprietary, but it runs on commodity hardware, largely because of Microsoft's liscencing policies.

    The simple fact is that Mac OS and Windows are the only viable desktop OS's at the moment, and Windows is the only one that'll run on commodity x86 hardware. Be might be a contender in a couple of years, and if so Microsoft might have some competition on its hand, but the original posters point was that Microsoft has done some good by producing a decent OS at a decent price. I think that's clearly the case.
  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:30PM (#1154369) Homepage
    Alright everyone take a deep breath......that's good. Now lets all think about this rationally for a moment.

    1. Microsoft will appeal the decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals, aCourt that has already overturned a Jackson decision (see the 1997 anti-trust suit by the DOJ). Chances are this will happen again and even if the DOJ decides to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, the Court has the right to put it back into the lower courts.

    2. MANY people lost money, a lot MORE people will lose money VERY soon. When people start receiving their first and second quarter mutual fund reports, fund managers are going to have to say due to a sell off in technology i.e. Microsoft and every other tech company, we lost 10% of your money this quarter. This translates to anger against the government. Why is the DOJ ripping Microsoft and my stock. Call representatives in Congress and ask what the hell they are doing about this situation. Not a pretty picture.

    3. Bad stock markets days like this make things VERY rough for Mr. Gore. Bush will be putting this on Gore for the rest of the campaign. You want an out of control DOJ that sues EVERY company (Smith & Wesson, the Tobacco industry, Microsoft, Glock) and puts your stocks in the toilet: Vote Al Gore. Not a very pleasant thought considering the majority of those who buy stock also vote.

    Now, that we have thought about this rationally. Think about what would happen if Bill Gates said "Fine, if you don't want us to innovate then were going to shutdown Microsoft and return all value to the shareholders." Think about how many industries, businesses, individuals are affected by Microsoft financially both directly and indirectly. I would venture a guess that you would see a depression unlike any other since the 1930's. Believe it or not, a great deal of the expansion of the U.S. economy over the past 15 years can be attributed to Microsoft. Whether they did something bad or not doesn't change the fact that you, me, the businesses we work for, the schools we go to, and just about everything around us is effected by Microsoft. You want to run Linux, that's fine. I like running Windows 2000. You wanna use Netscape fine. I like running IE 5 - it has a tendency not to crash my system like Netscape. We both have a choice.

    Let the market slug it out, its already making Windows obsolete anyway (anybody heard of Palm and little OSs running on cell phones).
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:20PM (#1154370)
    CNN just came out with a "This just in" announcement, about 5:10 EDT.

    In their report, they described the Sherman Anti-Trust Act as "a vestige of the 19th Century".

    Earlier today, well before the announcement, they mentioned that MS stocks had dropped like a rock (clue enough, IMO, that everyone knows they are guilty as sin), but they still unashamedly reported that MS could still string out the appeals for years, and therefore "might still be able to dominate the internet software market". [Sorry, quoting from memory - probably not the exact words.]

    You'd think these people were actively rooting for MS in the case, and get a stranglehold on the software world's air supply on the rebound.

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:10PM (#1154371) Homepage
    Yawn. Everything is as expected.

    The most interesting thing will come in several months when the Judge will issue his ruling on the remedies (as in, shall we break Microsoft up?). That, of course, will be followed by years of appeals, etc.

    So all people who are waiting for Microsoft to implode can exhale now and continue breathing for quite a while.

  • by The Silicon Sorceror ( 40289 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:43PM (#1154372)
    'Twas 2000, and the FSF
    Did hack and wibble in the wabe,
    All caffeinated were the borogoves,
    And the l33t hax0rs 0u7gr4b3.

    "Beware the Microsoft, my son!
    The bugs that glare, the clauses that grab!
    Beware the browser integration, and shun
    The frumious!"

    He took his vorpal source in hand,
    Long time the bogus foe he sought.
    So rested he by the CVS tree
    And stood a while in swap.

    And as in grinding swap he stood,
    The Microsoft, with bugs unnamed
    Came crashing through the tulgey wood,
    And GPF'd as it came!

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    His vorpal source went snicker-hack.
    He left it blue-screened, and with its windows cleaned
    He went gallumphing back.

    "And hast thou slain the Microsoft?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    Callooh, callay! O frabjous day!"
    He chortled in his joy.

    'Twas 2000, and the FSF
    Did wire and wibble in the wabe,
    All caffeinated were the borogoves,
    And the l33t hax0rs 0u7gr4b3.

    I wrote this just now. I deserve a pat on the back. Thank you.
  • by WillAffleck ( 42386 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:58PM (#1154373)
    If Microsoft closed it's doors, I don't think we'd have another "great" depression. Just because they go away doesn't mean their software and all of their support people do. Companies would still run Windows for a while, and they'd still have support for it. (There are 250,000 MCSE's after all)

    Very true. The world would not have a recession, but more likely it would be a minor correction, allowing third world countries to start using Open Source software and cheaper alternatives, given lesser barriers to entry.

    The US might have a minor setback, but even MSFT is only a bit player in the total tech sector valuation based in US corporations.

    Now, here's the ouch painful part:

    Washington State might have a recession. Boeing is in a downturn, apple sales are off, and it's only MSFT and SBUX that keep us going.

    Redmond would have a recession. This would be wonderful, as all the Californians would move back home and we could finally get rid of all those SUVs that clog our roads.

    Seattle might have a recession, even though most Seattle businesses are more webcentric, and have little to do with MSFT. For example, Adobe (three blocks from my house, in the Center of the Universe (aka Fremont)) might lose a small fraction of its business.

    Over all, this would be a good thing for the world.

  • Actuallly, IE is 'free' in the sense that, so long as you don't mind paying for a $99 upgrade that 'integrates' IE more effectively with the OS. Sure, otherwise, it's totally free (as in beer).

    Otherwise, you might see the cost of the free product has been reflected elsewhere -- you get to pay for the upgrade but also for training staff on the new software, training MS is more that happy to charge for.

    This comes precisely to the issue at hand, did Microsoft exercise monopoly power to slaughter the market? Let's review. 1) Offer new browser software for free, as a "loss-leader." 2) offer same software to OEMs with some better licensing terms for Windows in lots of several thousands. 3) Wait a few months. 4) Make slightly better version of said browser software. 5) threaten OEMs with substantially higher costs, or worse, if IE is either not given preferential placement on the desktop, or the only browser shipped with OEM products. 6) Say the browser is now a part of the OS.

    You may not have seen any direct costs in the above scenario, but I am sure several vendors did or thought MS could seriously screw them for not playing ball the Redmond way. This prevents the market from acting as it otherwise would, suggesting that a significant amount of money and effort went into to forcing the market one way or preventing any correcting forces. Monopoly action.

    So, you the consumer are left with a less competitive market, with lesser products than otherwise would have been available. Does this cost you? Maybe, maybe not. But consider if MS had failed. Java might be more important than the OS. Middleware (I think of WebTurboTax as one example) would be more widespread. MS might be smaller as a result, but good companies take what the market dishes out and fight back in the ring. They don't try to buy the audience, the ref, point to the opponent and say, "You use our gloves and our trunks and our shoes and you'll like it. By the way, you'll go down in the fourth, if you know what's good for you."

    That is what has cost you and me money. Not necessairily physical dollars, but potential. All because MS felt threatened that they might not be able to compete as well as they had in the past.

  • I'm not so sure myself. This scares me. The whole tech industry has flourished (in the US) partly because no one government paid attention to us at all and pretty much let all problems be solved by technical means and by market forces. Now a great many people who don't understand the technology involved think they understand this industry well enough to meddle, this may bring increased regulation to all parts of the tech industry. Now I personally dislike Windows, alot, and prefer Linux so much more that my home machine spends less than 5 hours a month running windows, and then only for games. And I certianly won't defend some of their business practices that came to light during the trial, but I'll take a MS monopoly with all it's power, bad software and underhaned practices any day over bad laws written by myopic legislators, designed to fix a problem that will have corrected itself by the time the bill is signed into law. I prefer the monopoly because I can openly defy a monopoly by using or writing (if i ever become a talented enough programmer) free software and they can do nothing to me. If I openly defy a bad government I'll be arrested.

    To make matters worse, once an industry becomes regulated someone has to do the regulating. Human beings are called upon, often underpaid, overworked civil servants are called upon to enforce laws written by legislators who need lots of money to get re-elected, who are subject to a little push or suggestion from those with money, and an agenda. You can bet that large companies in regulated industries have an agenda, and the money to help fund campaigns. So what happens? The regulations intended to protect the people from the big evil corporations end up being twisted into a tool used to maintain monopoly power. Now all of the sudden it is illegal to openly defy a powerful monopoly by using or writing free software (can you say DeCSS?)

    Now I think we can all agree that MS should breakup, not be forcably broken apart by the justice dept, but completly on their own. If their applications and developement tools divisions wern't forced to not only limit themselves to windows, but to also tightly integrate with windows I think MS would be able to produce some very high quality software. The problems is they know that Windows (all flavors) cannot stand on their own as they are if it wern't for the massive application and tools support they enjoy. People put up with windows because they want/need to use Office, or play AOE. If MS spun off it's major divisions into say:

    Then I think the computing world would be a much better place. However this has to happen voluntarily or it won't work old loyalties will die hard and bitterness will be pervasive. No this is a change MS has to go through on it's own, before they fall down too far. Just remember folks once upon a time IBM was the Big Evil Corporation (tm) that was choking the life out of the computer industry, today we sing their praises as cool and hip for understanding and embracing our beloved Linux better and faster than any other established company. Remember things change, and usually for the better if those involved are left to sort them out on their own.
  • by jjo ( 62046 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @02:00PM (#1154376) Homepage
    Oh, come now. Judge Jackson goes on to say:

    "Nevertheless, both prudence and the deference this Court owes to pronouncements of its own Circuit oblige that it follow in the direction it is pointed until the trail falters."

    The Judge then goes on to base his argument largely on Supreme Court precedents, leading me to suspect that Judge Jackson is anticipating a direct Supreme Court appeal under the Expediting Act. The ultimate disposition of case may well turn on whether the Supreme Court accepts the direct appeal.

  • by psydid ( 73199 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:57PM (#1154377)
    While it's not good for any company to have so much power that it's very survival is essential, the question is *who* should be remedying this situation?

    As many have pointed out, Slashdot's posters are vehemently against almost any form of government intrusion - and for good reason. The government remains many steps behind the fast-moving industry, and is never in tune with the real world. But now they slam Microsoft, and all of a sudden the judicial system knows what's best?

    So something should be done. Is it likely that the government's actions will help very much, if at all? By the time the remedies take effect, will the browser market (the heart of the whole case) look even remotely the same?

    No, we shouldn't look the other way, but any sudden disruption to Microsoft is going to cause major, major collateral damage. A gradual erosion, courtesy of net appliances, the free software movement, or anything else, was the best hope for change.
  • Now that the mergers of Time-Warner, AOL and Netscape have been completed under the smoke screen of the Microsoft antitrust, Gates-MS are no longer needed in their outstanding roles as The Great Satan of The Evil Empire.

    There's no business like show business.

  • by Pfhreakaz0id ( 82141 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:03PM (#1154379)
    Well, this is hardly unexpected. I mean, Microsoft couldn't settle, because they would have had to admit guilt and they would be liable for hundreds of suits from other companies.

    What does everyone think the long-term effects of this will be?
    Will they be IBM, where so much of what they do becomes legal driven during the years of appeals we all know is coming? Will they lose all focus? Will they emerge later? (like IBM is now).
  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @05:40PM (#1154380)
    Here's a gem:
    The fact that Microsoft ostensibly priced Internet Explorer at zero does not detract from the conclusion that consumers were forced to pay, one way or another, for the browser along with Windows.
    And boy did they! Here's another:
    No other distribution channels for browsing software approach the efficiency of OEM pre-installation and IAP bundling. Findings 144-47. Nevertheless, protecting the applications barrier to entry was so critical to Microsoft that the firm was willing to invest substantial resources to enlist ICPs, ISVs, and Apple in its campaign against the browser threat. By extracting from Apple terms that significantly diminished the usage of Navigator on the Mac OS, Microsoft helped to ensure that developers would not view Navigator as truly cross-platform middleware. Id. 356.
    Here's a case where the alarmists were right. M$ was buying Apple's cooperation. Not that I ever doubted it myself, but now it's been proven in court.
    Furthermore, neither Microsoft's efforts at technical innovation nor its pricing behavior is inconsistent with the possession of monopoly power. Id. 61-66.
    But... but... isn't this the most innovative company in the world??!?!??
    In fact, Microsoft has expended wealth and foresworn opportunities to realize more in a manner and to an extent that can only represent a rational investment if its purpose was to perpetuate the applications barrier to entry. Id. 136, 139-42. Because Microsoft's business practices "would not be considered profit maximizing except for the expectation that . . . the entry of potential rivals" into the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems will be "blocked or delayed," Neumann v. Reinforced Earth Co., 786 F.2d 424, 427 (D.C. Cir. 1986), Microsoft's campaign must be termed predatory.
    Hmm... I suppose all their rational people are in the accounting department.
  • I mean, I know most of the ./ community thinks so, but just look at what happened to stock today. MSFT dropped 15 points. That caused the NASDAQ to drop 300 some points. At that trend, the stock market is really going to suck.

    I'm all for Microsoft being broken up and getting other OSes out there, but I think the adverse effects of the non-technical stockholders selling what they have could be a major problem.

    Well, that ought to spark enough flame mail for the day. I'll have to be sure to check it regularly.
  • by sorpht ( 104137 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @02:45PM (#1154382)
    Assuming that MS loses all the appeals it makes, which would take quite a while to begin with, and Judge Jackson decides to go with the most extreme remediation -- breaking up the company -- will Microsoft really suffer?

    If MS were to be split up into 3-5 different entities, each company would have more room for expansion and capital growth as its management would be less of a hassle. Breaking up MS might actually help each one of their major software products (BackOffice, IE, Office, etc.) and hardware to be more properly developed and marketed. As it is, MS has begun to operate like the mother of several smaller companies with separate marketing, development, and research departments. Even though Gates may not appear to be the official "king" of his empire anymore, the leaders of the new companies will most certainly have either the same aspirations, or they may simply be "pawns" as some of the readers suggested.

    The MS empire will most likely not degrade under these circumstances, but be permitted to take over the other industries in the IT sector. The decentralization of Bell, for instance, never seemed to harm the actual company, but rather create more localized monopolies.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @07:26PM (#1154383) Homepage
    Well, the decision is in. What does it mean?
    • Of course they're guilty. If you think Microsoft hasn't deliberately exploited their monopoly to injure competitors, you haven't been reading the evidence. It's all online; [] do your homework before posting. Start with the findings of fact. []
    • Microsoft has missed its chance to settle. Any settlement after this point will be on less favorable terms than Microsoft was offered last week. Justice offered rather good terms: some strong restrictions on tying products together, an end to pricing gimmicks, but no breakup. Microsoft rejected that offer.
    • Look at what happened to IBM in a similar situation. Thomas J. Watson Sr., the president of IBM, wanted to fight the Justice Department to the bitter end in the first IBM antitrust case. He was finally overruled by his board of directors, pushed aside, and replaced as CEO. The new CEO (Watson Jr.) settled the case. Something like that may be going on within Microsoft. Notice that Gates has changed job titles recently. Microsoft has six directors; Gates, Allen, three old guys you've never heard of, (from Tandy/Radio Shack, HP, and Simpson Timber), and the venture capitalist who got Microsoft started. They have some hard choices to make.
    • Stonewalling won't work. Usually, companies in serious antitrust trouble try to act very nice until the case is finished. Not Microsoft. Not only have they not modified their behavior much, they've tried pressuring the Justice Department via Congress, creating pueudo-grass-roots organizations to lobby for them (this is called "astroturf lobbying" in Washington), faking evidence (remember the faked video?), and issuing vast amounts of misleading PR. It didn't work. Microsoft's stonewalling makes a breakup more likely. Microsoft has been so uncooperative that only drastic remedies will have any effect. We'll hear that argued during the remedy phase.
    • Any effective remedy will reduce Microsoft's profit margin. Microsoft has an incredible profit margin, around 30% of sales. Only because they have such monopoly power can they maintain margins like that.

    Microsoft will survive this, but the big hammer they use on competitors will be taken away. Probably a good thing.

  • by raul duke ( 145852 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @06:46PM (#1154384)
    I go to school at the University of Texas and down here you can see one of the most corrupt software deals M$ ever made. Our school has signed on with M$ to sell all "major" M$ products ( I am talking about Office Frontpage NT etc....) for $5.00 a cd. To most people this looks like M$ is giving away all its major products to our students. This is not so, I found out that we pay for M$ products as part of our tuition!!! This is a corrupt deal if I have ever heard it. We were never told of or even asked if we wanted their products. Ladies and Gentlemen this is bullshit.

    This is the kind of corrupt deal that makes me want to see M$ disapear. Yeah our school officials were definitely part of the deal but so was M$ for taking the money from the school for this licensing deal.

    These kind of tactics are definitely against most legal principles I have ever heard of. This is a state instituion! run with public money!!

    This is a very crafty scheme indeed. Not only does take the money without even truly selling the software but it hooks the students into this school into their software.

    If M$ gave away the software I wouldn't be against it. Other companies do this and I believe its a fair practice, and so is giving very steep student discounts. I understand that getting students hooked into brands of software is importent. But this deal is rediculous and corrupt.

    This is just what I personally have seen of M$, from what I have heard these deals get much worse.

    I will be happy on the day that such business practices are punished. Even software developers need to be a little fearfull of trying unfairly to eliminate the competition and pulling people unwittingly into tricky deals.

    We punish this practice on other businesses, why do people think that technology is seperate.

    Personally I think that the people oppose the punishment of M$ sound like people who are trying to defend themselves because they fell for the tricks of this corrupt scheme. They went along and now have to justify why they were a sheep in Bill Gates' flock of morons.
    Personally I hope they will wake up and think for themselves. This is much harder than going along with everybody else.

  • by OOG_THE_CAVEMAN ( 165540 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:15PM (#1154385)
  • Now enter the obligatory 5 years of appeals...

    Seriously, does any legal-type know what happens now? If so, please share with us before we have to endure 400 "They're dead now!" posts from people who (like me) have little understanding of the next step.

    I mean, how many appeals avenues are left? What exactly can they appeal, and what is set in stone? Is this ruling likely to have teeth, or is it only the first move in an endless and boring dance?

  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:55PM (#1154387) Homepage
    MS has been nice enough to provide a simple form for you to email your lawmakers with. If you agree with, and support, the DOJ action, feel free to talk to your lawmakers and let them know that. The link is on the "Freedom to Innovate Network" - which is here []. Oh yeah... it's a Perl script that runs the submissions. :-)

    ( is hosting the freedom to innovate network? huh?!)


  • Microsoft complained that "this case was rushed to trial in four months" and that the findings of fact released last year did not support the Department of Justice's claim that Microsoft had misused a monopoly.

    I don't remember this case being "rushed to trial" in fact it seemed to take forever for this case to get moving, let alone all of the delays M$ threw at the DOJ/State Attorny Generals.

    In fact I read half of the Findings of Fact, I've still got to finish that 200 page document...damn good reading. I can't see given the findings of fact, how M$ can claim that the document didn't show they were a monopoly. I'm going to curl up with Judge Jacksons's Conclusions, and sit back and watch the appeals and the other lawsuits that are opened up due to this ruling. All I can say is "Burn Micro$oft, Burn!" You get what you deserved. Let's hope that the punishment is as stiff as Judge Jackson's Finding of Facts document was worded.

    Heck even if Judge Jackson only slaps them on the wrist with something as minor as not being allowed to preannounce hardware/software, they'd be royally screwed. Think of it, who would want to buy something called an X-Box when they could have a Playstation 3? I'll take the Playstation, at least all of the games I've currently got for the Playstation 1 will work on the 3, but much better... :-)

  • by jab ( 9153 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:53PM (#1154389) Homepage
    How's this for a suitable pnuishment? Microsoft should be required, by law, to ship only bug free products. Think about it -- fixing all those bugs will require an enormous amount of work, and be very expensive; it's a suitably tough penalty. Further, this action will benefit Microsoft customers (who have been shafted for years by being forced by monopoly considerations to buy defective products). Plus, can you imagine Microsoft's appeal? What is Gates & company really going to say, "We demand the right to continue shipping defective products?" The specific details can be worked out (how much of a per bug fine will Microsoft have to pay, whether Microsoft can "sell" their current stock of existing products under a 100% revenue fine, etc). I sure wish I was a friend of the court right now. (Anyone from the Justice Department reading this?)
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:10PM (#1154390)
    > just look at what happened to stock today.

    So, should laws go unenforced when they interfere with someone's bottom line?

    Investors should have seen this coming for months, if not years, and could have gotten out at any time while it was riding high.

    I'm having a little trouble working up any sympathy for anyone who lost their ass today. Those who did should take it as a message that they shouldn't be in stocks.

  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:10PM (#1154391) Homepage

    So here I was, at home with a cold, watching and cheering as I watched the CNN coverage of the findings of Law. Pretty good coverage I thought, I was happy they hadn't broken for a commercial yet.

    So finally they broke to commercial. First ad:
    NASDAQ -- you know, their series of ads saying "where do you find companies like this? Nasdaq, the stock market for the next hundred years" Their featured company: Microsoft

    I'm not sure if my throat hurts more from the cold, from the cheering or from the laughter.

  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @02:39PM (#1154392)
    What's important is not what caused this plumment, but that people will think that the MS ruling caused a stock plummet. On the longer run though I think you're right- people are finally waking up to the fact that what is basically a bet that EVERY company now existant will survive and thrive is a very very stupid bet. Especially when so much of the tech industry relies upon things of dubious and efemeral nature- especially the software market (which, among other things, can be made worthless by open source efforts that release equatable programs for "free") and things like .com DNS names, which look like they'll be ubiquitos and rule in the future, but probably wont. What people are really betting on when they bet tech (to the extent that they bet rationally) isn't the company's products or brand itself but the company's ability to retain some of the limited pool of skilled tech employees- the guys and gals producing great ideas that give their companies temporary monopolies.
  • by scruffy ( 29773 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:50PM (#1154393)
    As long as this case is open, Microsoft has to behave, at least behave better than they would otherwise. Free software has been helped a lot by the fact that Microsoft couldn't squash it using all possible means because that would have hurt their case in the courts. The appeals mean that Microsoft has to be careful about their bullying. Whatever the final result is, Microsoft will not be the same. The IBM antitrust case is a good example here; IBM eventually won the court battle, but they lost a lot in the market.
  • That's just it. A settlement is not a legal admission of guilt, but a way for plaintiff and defendent to come to an agreement without the court's intervention. Often, settlement means "It's easier for me to pay you than to go through the legal stuff". It may imply guilt, but that's another story.

    Actually, MS is in more hot water with the court decision. Private outfits can sue MS for illegal tactics. Before, they would have to prove to the court that MS was an illegal monopoly (and consider how hard the DOJ worked to do exactly that). Now, private entiies need only refer to DOJ vs. Microsoft and the onus is on MS to prove that they aren't a monopoly.

  • by kevin805 ( 84623 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @03:28PM (#1154395) Homepage
    I've skimmed the conclusions of law, and it's interesting to me that Judge Jackson's reasons for concluding that Microsoft violated the Sherman anti-trust act read like a list of what everyone thinks is wrong with the UCITA and the DeCSS case. For example:

    "...Microsoft bound Internet Explorer to Windows with contractual and, later, technological shackles in order to ensure..."

    Replace Microsoft's tying with the DVDCCA's attempts to control players, and you get the same situation. And for the same reason -- attempting to abuse monopoly power.


    "...extent that Microsoft still asserts a copyright defense, relying upon federal copyright law as a justification for its various restrictions on OEMs..."

    Of course, attempting to justify anything and everything by being protected under copyright is exactly what the UCITA is about.

    Personally, I think Jackson's finding of fact shows a poor understanding of the situation -- yes, microsoft had a monopoly, but they faced a highly elastic long term demand, and couldn't reap outrageous profits. But, I think his conclusions of law will supply a lot of material for anyone who wants something to quote against UCITA or the DMCA.

  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:29PM (#1154396) Journal
    We wait again for the remedies to issue.

    We knew that microsoft had lost as soon as we read the findings of fact,
    which were a determination of what happened.. This just draws the only
    possible conclusion that could be reached from the facts: illegal

    The FofF can be appealed, but the grounds are essentiall "no reasonable
    person could come to this conclusion from the evidence presented." This
    is close to impossible, and can be disregarded. The CofL can be
    appealed on the grounds that they're incorrect given the facts, but
    there's only one possible conclusion, monopoly. Analogy: he laid
    in wait, then tortured and killed the victim. The only possible
    conclusion is murder with special circumstances.

    Next come the remedies, which can be appealed; MS would merely need
    to convince the appellate court that another remedy would be better.
    However, the court will usually defer to the trial court's judgment
    on such matters unless it's clearly on a limb, as the trial court
    heard the evidence and has spent much more time on the matter than
    the appellate court possibly can.

    In short: very little room on appeal for MS, unless the judge
    does something *really* wierd for remedies. Breakup will be
    examined closely, but would likely stand. It is highly unlikely
    that anything short of breakup would be overturned.

  • The "Bill Parish" discussion needs to be taken with a few grains of salt; his treatment of options as debt is not a fair assessment; the fact that options are part of equity is quite critical to the analysis, and it seems to me that Parish isn't fair enough in that.

    The other problem that I see as critical is that, as Parish acknowledges, "everyone else is doing the same." The notion that Microsoft is the leader in the matter seems to me as nonsensical as the notion that they are a technical leader in the computer industry.

    It is nonetheless quite fair to say that the big problem for Microsoft is not the "death of a thousand paper-cuts" that may come out of secondary lawsuits based on the evidence of this big one, but rather the long term effects of employee benefits being strongly dependant on the value of the option plan.

    If the value of Microsoft stock does not continue to rise, then those option plans, and the resulting long term financial security of MSFT employees, is injured. And it is that injury is what is liable to ultimately cause crucial injury to the corporation.

    As for outsiders that are injured, I have less qualms than you. People have chosen to invest in what is necessarily a risky investnment, just like Dutch Tulip Bulbs, the South Sea Investment Company, the Nifty Fifty, and Tokyo real estate. If they were foolish in underestimating the risk, that's a loss that they foolishly underestimated.

    Throw in "ethical considerations" and it may turn it from "well-deserved" to "richly-deserved..."

  • I have no sympathy for M$ investors who lost some cash today. As stock-holders, they are part-owners in a company that has routinely run rough-shod over everyone, competitors and partners alike. They were willing to keep their collective head in the sand as long as Redmond was pulling in the profits. For that, I say, they're getting what they deserve.

    I do empathize with the investors who lose money from any downward panic affecting related (i.e., software, Internet) companies.

  • by SteveM ( 11242 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:48PM (#1154399)

    Lastly, I see you didn't dispute my assertion that much of the economic growth we have enjoyed can be attributed to Microsoft. Just in case you do decide to come back and dispute that claim. Examine the economic impact that Microsoft has on each phase of our economy before you answer including but not restricted to games, server software, internet related technologies, and application development.

    I seen the MS drove the economic boom argument used over and over, and I just don't get it.

    Are the people making these arguments really that naive to believe that without MS the PC and/or internet would not have happened?

    Or is the argument more along the lines of that sure MS abused their monopoly position but lots of folks got rich because of it so it's ok?

    And who did the analysis to show that having MS dominate led to greater economic grow than if we had had real competition? (As part of the background research for that analysis one might want to consider what happened when AT&T was broken up. There was a bit of economic growth and wealth creation that wasn't because of MS.)

    All in all I think the MS made us rich so leave them alone argument is both flimsy and beside the point. MS is a Monopoly. MS abused its monopoly position. (This is fact - pending appeal.) MS should pay the price.

    Steve M

  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:40PM (#1154400) Homepage

    I'd like to make this comment a place for people to put their favourite comments from the ruling, so reply to it with your faves. Mine so far are:

    Microsoft's actions to counter the Java threat went far beyond the development of an attractive alternative to Sun's implementation of the technology. Specifically, Microsoft successfully pressured Intel, which was dependent in many ways on Microsoft's good graces, to abstain from aiding in Sun's and Netscape's Java development work.


    Microsoft's tactics induced many Java developers to write their applications using Microsoft's developer tools and to refrain from distributing Sun-compliant JVMs to Windows users. This stratagem has effectively resulted in fewer applications that are easily portable.

    and especially...

    Viewing Microsoft's conduct as a whole also reinforces the conviction that it was predacious. Microsoft paid vast sums of money, and renounced many millions more in lost revenue every year, in order to induce firms to take actions that would help enhance Internet Explorer's share of browser usage at Navigator's expense.
  • by victim ( 30647 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:43PM (#1154401)
    The last two paragraphs of the ruling contain a great parting shot, for a legal brief.

    Microsoft counterclaims that the DOJ is using a federal court to enforce state laws in conflict with Microsoft's federally guaranteed rights.

    Judge Jackson responds...

    It is inconceivable that their resort to this Court could represent an effort on the part of the attorneys general to deprive Microsoft of rights guaranteed it under federal law, because this Court does not possess the power to act in contravention of federal law.
    Yeah! Accuse your presiding judge of being an instrument in the subversion of federal law. That will make him like you. :-)
  • Side note: there is a law on the books that says that plaintiffs can push appeals on antitrust decisions straight to the Supreme Court, precisely to prevent a monopolist to go into appeal limbo.

    I don't believe that anything says the Supremes have to hear the case, and they might not want to touch such a live wire. However, if they do, the buck stops there.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:19PM (#1154403)

    Personally, I hope not. A bunch of smaller companies all sharing the same product lines but having less developers to maintain them doesn't seem like a good idea for the marketplace or for consumers.

    The remedy I prefer is one where they are divided along product lines. Some of the most important divisions to be made are:

    • Seperate Office from all Windows.
    • Seperate Explorer from all Windows.
    • Seperate BackOffice from NT.

    Personally, I think seperating the DOS-derived Win98 codebase from from the NT codebase is a bad idea since we all know that Win98 and its future derivatives are technology the company is trying to phase out. It would be equivalent to seperating out Word 6.0 from Office 2000. The company with the older product wouldn't be a competitor and would be saddled with bad technology. Seperating out WinCE might not be a bad idea, though, since it's fundamentally a different code base and target market.

    Some other ideas might be seperating out their developer tools or their multimedia tools into another company. I'd also like to see if they do split the companies up who gets what subsidy and tangetal business that Microsoft has absorbed and bought out over the years. Maybe a seperate holding company for their subsidies would be a good idea.

    Microsoft is the world's largest Mac software company. With some of their products given to seperate companies from the OS company, we might see more platform independent products from those companies. Without an interest in keeping loyal to Windows, we might see such products ported to Linux and other OSes in the future. The lack of loyalty for one another combined with the inability to bundle might mean an end to Windows as a platform and the dawn of a better age for consumers.

  • by chazR ( 41002 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:07PM (#1154404) Homepage
    I haven't read the findings yet (no-one has), but this is only the beginning.

    First, the remedies will be announced. Then, the appeals start. Realistically, these will take years.

    However, I understand that the findings can be used by the *many* class action suits. This will hurt MS badly. The real damage will be to their share price. Historically, a significant part of the remuneration to MS staff has been in stock options. In the past, this was a great deal. But if the share price starts to fall, they will find it very hard to hire and retain the best people. Unless this is very carefully managed, it could easily lead to a vicious circle.

    It will be very interesting to see what MS does over the next few months to shore the share price up. I hope they don't do anything illegal in the process. That would be tragic.
  • by paRcat ( 50146 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @01:02PM (#1154405)
    Whether they did something bad or not doesn't change the fact that you, me, the businesses we work for, the schools we go to, and just about everything around us is effected by Microsoft.

    So you're saying we should all just roll over and accept this kind of behavior?

    If Microsoft closed it's doors, I don't think we'd have another "great" depression. Just because they go away doesn't mean their software and all of their support people do. Companies would still run Windows for a while, and they'd still have support for it. (There are 250,000 MCSE's after all)

    The thing is, if they in fact could cause a depression, there's something wrong. What does that say about our world? We rely THAT much on ONE company? That's a reason why there are now "baby-bells". To give one company that much power over the economy is just stupid. Hopefully, within a couple years, it'll be taken care of.

    But I'm not even close to just closing my eyes and pretending they aren't doing anything wrong. And, well, maybe you shouldn't be either.

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:36PM (#1154406) Homepage Journal
    I remember when the Findings of Fact came out, and Slashdot had a bunch of legal experts analyze it. Will they do the same for the Findings of Law?
  • by jesser ( 77961 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:11PM (#1154407) Homepage Journal
    US DOJ Conclusions of Law [] in HTML and PDF formats.

    (Older info is also available at the US v. Microsoft [] page at the the U.S. Department of Justice [] website)


  • by Chester K ( 145560 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:49PM (#1154408) Homepage
    (disclaimer, IANAL)

    After skimming over the decision, I have some ideas as to where the eventual penalty in this case might go.

    There are a few major issues that the decision seems to rest upon: Microsoft's exclusive contracts with OEMs to which it used to muscle Netscape out of the market, its corruption of Java, the fact that it tied IE in with Windows, and its high prices.

    Nowhere does it mention that they made Windows incompatible with another piece of software, or that they used hidden APIs in any of their products, which would be the biggest argument toward opening part or all of the Windows source code. Since neither of those is mentioned at all, or even alluded to, I believe that opening their APIs/source code isn't a likely penalty.

    A large portion of the decision is dedicated to Microsoft tying products into Windows, so I'd expect strict rules as to what can and cannot be built into Windows in the future (watch, WindowsME will ship without Notepad ... after all, that's muscling vi and emacs out of the market). This one is very scary since it tends to suggest that the government might try to take a role in OS design.

    I don't know if anything in the decision really seems to point to Microsoft potentially being fined. I'd think that there probably will be a fine levied regardless, since it's such an easy thing to do. It looks like if anything is done regarding money, however, it might be that rebates will be offered to consumers, and future pricing on Microsoft products will be regulated. The "fines" will likely come in decisions in other lawsuits that will spring up now that Microsoft is officially an "evil monopoly".

    The sections of the decision about Microsoft's business practices... it's exclusive contracts, and that it used its monopoly power to try to build a monopoly in a second market are very interesting indeed. There are definite shades in the decision that suggest the judge might be open to ruling that Microsoft be split in some form.

    Up until today, I thought splitting Microsoft up was such a remote possibility based on what I've heard about the case so far, but after reading the decision, it seems like it might be a distinct possibility. Based on some of the wordings in the decision, a split would likely break Microsoft into seperate but equal, competiting companies, rather than along product lines. A break along product lines wouldn't solve most of the problems outlined in the decision.

    Regardless, after the appeals are all through, what finally gets decided will be interesting to see.
  • by yourpusher ( 161612 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:33PM (#1154409) Homepage Journal
    >I mean, how many appeals avenues are left?
    The (presumed) appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. There will be a three judge panel that hears this appeal (in contrast to the single judge- Jackson- sitting in District court). Theoretically, if one side or the other is unhappy with the decision that this three judge panel makes, it can ask for an "en banc" hearing- meaning all the judges of the Court of Appeals (9?) sit and rehear the appeal. After that en banc request is rejected (they usually are), the final stop (just a few blocks up the street, really) would be the Supreme Court.

    But in all likelihood, it'll be settled before that. Why? I seriously doubt the Supreme Court will take this case.

    >What exactly can they appeal, and what is set in stone?

    What comes out today- the "legal conclusions"- are appealable. Basically, Judge Jackson is explaining how he thinks MS has violated the law. As it's a "question of law", he can be reversed by the Court of Appeals. As a higher court, it can rule more authoratatively on what "the law" is.

    In contrast, his "findings of fact" are pretty much set in stone. This is due to the presumption that since he sat and listened to all the evidence, he's in a better position than any appeals court to have determined what occured.

    >Is this ruling likely to have teeth, or is it only the first move in an endless and boring dance?
    Can I say "both"? I think that he won't be shy in imposing a remedy, as his findings of fact seem to indicate he's taken a pretty dim view of MS's conduct (and I could be more helpful if someone would mirror the )$#$*# conclusions and I could read it . . . ). I also go with "endless and boring" because both sides have shown that they're willing to sit this out as long as it takes to win- DOJ because it's likely "right", and MS cause . . .well . . .

    While the Court of Appeals is likely to be a bit more sympathetic than Judge Jackson, that ain't saying much.

    The best MS can hope for is a settlement they get at least *some* input into. I'm very surprised Posner was unable to bring the sides together. He's a brilliant fellow who's quite well respected for his understanding of law and economics- that he couldn't get it done speaks to the chasm between the two sides.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader