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Microsoft

A Post-Microsoft World 389

For those of you who've spent years battling and cursing the rapacious, insatiable Microsoft, there had to be a belated satisfaction in seeing a judge brand Bill Gates a monopolistic law-breaker. For everybody else, it's hard to see what, if anything, will change as a result of this surreal conflict between 18th-century laws and institutions and 21st-century economic realities. Truth is, we already live in a post-Microsoft World. (Read more.)

"Good morning, and welcome to the post-Microsoft world." Words many of you have been waiting to hear for years. Yesterday's court ruling didn't end the Microsoft Age, just focused attention on the fact that it's over.

The response to the ruling yesterday, in fact, defined hype. Almost all the significance was symbolic. The findings changed little in the short term, and probably even less in the long run. The most significant and blessed fallout from yesterday may be the loss not of Microsoft, but of a host of those annoying dot.coms flushed out by a NASDAQ mourning a world without Omnipotent Bill. Truth is, we are already living in a post-Microsoft world, and nobody really much cares.

Until the mid-90s, Microsoft was the technological Godhead. Everyone involved with computing or the network hated, used, exploited or feared it. That's no longer true.

The Microsoft Age began to unravel when programmers all over the earth connected and demonstrated that they could create a viable, ethical alternative operating system, sharing freely what was costing everybody else billions. It was accelerated by Bill Gates' profound and distinctly non-visionary arrogance. Anybody who has ever watched TV would have known to settle a long time ago, but Gates must have been reading his own press, thumbing his nose at the one mega-corporation on earth bigger than his.

Had the government intervened a decade ago, when it would really have mattered, yesterday's court ruling might have been as ground-breaking as the pundits and analysts were claiming last night. Who knows what kind of smothered, suppressed and acquired innovation might have been unleashed had Microsoft been reigned in at the height of its abuse and power?

As it was, the decision felt profoundly anti-climactic. It's hard to think of a single major thing on the Net that will change. Bill Gates, it was clear, had given up on this judge, first patronizing, then brazenly lying to him, finally going for the end run, perhaps in the hope that a Republican would shortly take up residence in the White House.

In a few years, after the platoons of lawyers have been as enriched as Microsoft's middle managers, it's possible that computer users will have three or four operating systems to choose from -- if there even are traditional operating systems, sold and downloaded in traditional ways, which seems less likely by the week. But even if there are, it isn't clear that any "remedies," once they are finally contested and sorted out in the courts, will have much meaning. Gates is still trying to come to grips with a political system that is slicker than he is. How odd to see him all over the evening newscasts, practicing his own annoying what-me-worry? spin, proclaiming his company the world's greatest, cheapest and most benevolent technological empowering force.

It seemed pooped and lame. Bill Gates' company hasn't dominated any of the significant technological movements and evolutions of the late 90s: open source, nano-technology, AI, genetic research, hand-held and wireless computing, supercomputers.

For those who've spent years battling and fussing over this rapacious, insatiable company, there was belated satisfaction in seeing a federal judge confirm what a lot of people already knew: Billl Gates is a monopolistic, predatory lawbreaker.

But apart from terrifying high-tech investors for a day or two, it's difficult to discern a single significant outcome from yesterday's decision, a single reality likely to change for people who use computers, the Net or the Web. The pundits couldn't even agree whether Microsoft would be more of a menace broken up or left alone. And the hysteria about lawsuits was laughable. Microsoft has a big enough legal budget to tie up class-action lawsuits for years, and its insurance company is already putting aside billions to start drawing interest for the inevitable day when the settlements must be paid.

Yesterday brought the odd spectacle of 21st-century economic problem confronted by a century-old law (the Sherman Anti-Trust Act) being deployed by a 225-year-old institution (the federal judiciary) and analyzed by an ancient information structure (the news media). All this was also being trumpeted endlessly by a federal bureaucracy eager to appear to curb the unchecked power of run-amok corporations, when it's far from clear it will ultimately even be able to curb one.

Perhaps the post-Microsoft world began between when Linus Torvald began his software experiment and Judge Jackson's eerily retro ruling yesterday. Why eerie? Because it pitted a string of l9th-century laws and institutions against a 21st-century economic system. And the antiquarians really thought they had won.

When all is said and done, many of the people reading, working on and joining this site had a hell of a lot more to do with this than those Justice Department pols falling all over one another yesterday to get their pusses in front of the TV cameras, trying to convince the world that they were out there fighting for the little guy.

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A Post-Microsoft World

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    who is Linus Torvald. You might want to correct that Mr. Kat
  • Criminals get put in prison right? Isn't that how it works?
  • While I may not be a big fan of MS, I have to realize that it is because of them that I have a job in the IT industry on this very day.

    This is why you are a problem if not M$, someone smarter, competent, and maybe even with a real degree, would work at your place doing something productive.

  • The repetition of your name on random pro-M$ out of the ass statements is getting annoying.
  • Then what "marketing genius" wrote Microsoft statements that were given to the press yestyerday?
  • You was waiting? At least 30% of posts before yours one look like they are written by microsofties.
  • You techies in the IT field out there, do you make money off support for Linux or Windows? I'm willing to bet you are supporting yourself or your family working on Windows98 and NT, not Linux or Mac.

    You lose -- I am a Unix programmer, so I do all my work with Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris. I don't even have Windows anywhere.

  • StarOffice does not keep my TOC and paragraph formatting correctly

    Sure it does -- but since you wrote your file in Windows you used Truetype Monotype "Times New Roman" font that you don't have in Linux. StarOffice tries to show you it using whatever closest is available, and it happens to be X11 Adobe "Times" font that has slightly different character sizes and can't be scaled. Since Word format depends on particular font sizes, resulted text layout is off.

    Solution: if you want to read Word files, install Windows fonts. I did, and I don't even have Windows -- I had to get fonts from Microsoft "typography" page and run their self-extracting archives under WINE.

  • To be honest, MySQL lacks some of the functionality that Sybase (that MS SQL server is based on) provides. Of course, the same Sybase and Oracle work just fine on non-MS systems, and PostgreSQL, while being slower than everything else I have mentioned, provides most of the same functionality, but this is a different story.
  • Take an average investment company... 10 to 20,000 people all with NT on their desktop advising clients on where to invest? Thats not entertainment

    It isn't?

    1. Everybody who cleans up their room still has basic knowledge how to do it. The same applies to cooking (even though a lot of people live on junk food and microwaveables, it's not considered normal). The same applies to gardening. The same applies to reading and writing. So at least some essential skills necessary for everyday life have preserved pretty well, and if the use of computer in some intelligent manner will become one of them, it should be expected that people will have it unless significant effort (such as ones, undertaken by Microsoft) will be spent on preventing that
    2. .
    3. Not everyone, not even most of programmers, know how paging works, yet programmers must have an idea that paging exists to allow them to use virtual memory, and users should understand that the noises they hear from hard drive when they switch between StarOffice and Netscape are caused by some process that allows them to run those programs, and slight delay in window redraw is caused by the need to pull some stuff from the disk and is normal in this situation. Also the knowledge that the preferred form of email body is a "text" format that contains nothing but a sequence of characters, and that it has nothing to do with fonts, italics, underscores or pictures of daisies, is extremely valuable for any computer user even though Outlook hides that as much as it can. OTOH, the working of poll(2) is a kind of knowledge that won't be of much help to the user until he will try to write software.
  • Why do I see so many exact quotations of yesterday's MS statements in this post?
  • IBM is still around and making MORE money than ever. To think that MS will go the way of the dodo is both stupid and shortsighted.

    IBM is a dead company. What we see as "IBM" now has very little to do with market-dominating giant of the mainframe and early PC eras. It's now a bunch of money being applied randomly into different areas, not bound with any goal other than to stick them somewhere because it's supposed to be a company, huge number of groups of engineers that have no slightest idea what other groups are doing, and some upper management that is the closest thing to what IBM was -- it's just as much incompetent as when IBM was a monopoly. IBM can be described as conglomerate, fund, even as a small country, even a successful one, but it definitely is not a "real" company that has some clear business plan and consistency in actions.

    Dying stars become red giants, dying companies become toothless giants like IBM, and I suspect that a lot of people will be very happy if pieces of dead Microsoft will turn out to be like dead IBM.

  • Actually this stock mini-crash is good for the economy -- overvalued stocks in NASDAQ were destabilizing economy for quite a while. Yes, I have "lost" a lot money on this and no, I don't consider stocks that I have to be "bubbles", so it's not really "fair". However when market will eventually recover and start going up again at some more reasonable rate, it will be nice to see some "dot coms" and stupid investors missing.

  • Multiply this company by the multitudes of companies in other industries, and you'll see we're a long way from breaking the shackles of Redmond.

    But how relevant that company is? Who cares about all the sheeps, they will use whatever someone is going to sell them. I will rather leave worrying about those things to Sun, Red Hat and SGI.

  • but way back in the Eighties (the 1980s, last century)

    Clue-by-four application required -- if someone didn't notice, we are still in the 20th century.

  • What application are you talking about? I never had Windows on any of my boxes, and I certainly don't feel the need to use it now, even though I have to run staroffice to read files that countless dumbasses recently started sending me in Word and Excel formats.
  • The normal authority on Internet Protocols is the IEEE, as they publish ?RFCs?

    1. IETF. 2. "smart quotes" suck.

  • Balls.

    You're assuming with very little justification that Microsoft's business is solid, and that their books are honest, not to mention that their basic business plan is viable.

    • Microsoft's business is in a severe drought- the biggest product is only W2K, and there's a howling void of other product ready to do major tonnage. Furthermore, W2K is evoking a very wait-and-see attitude from many unlikely sources, even the Gartner Group.
    • Based on Microsoft's approach to truth and veracity in fscking COURT, what gives anyone the idea that they are being truthful in their accounting?
    • Their business plan is _only_ viable as long as they can continue growing by 30% a quarter. That's a fscking insanely cancerous rate- and they ARE ALREADY FAILING to maintain it, and W2K doesn't look like it wil help. People say "The stock will always be a good buy because it will always grow at X% per quarter!" Reality check- what percentages do they have in their markets? 90%, 95%, 97%? Where is the room to grow there? They've hit the ceiling.
    I saw one guy, an analyst, talk sense about all this. His words? "Get out." In fact he said 'you should have gotten out _before_ Monday'. I find that hard to argue with. _Nothing_ lasts forever. This touching belief in Microsoft is cargo-cult thinking.
  • That's not a fair evaluation of this at all. In the 200+ finding of facts, the browser issue was only a small part.

    In the finding of facts, it was determined that:

    A: Microsoft is a monopoly

    B: Microsoft has, in the past, used it's monopoly position to destroy other products (eg, DR Dos, Word Perfect, GeoWorks, and most recently Netscape).

    C: It is illegal to use a monopoly in one market to force your way into another market.

    D: MS was a latecomer to the Internet game.

    E: There are *MS documents* that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that top MS executives knew they must destroy Netscape in order to shoulder in and take over the Internet market. They planned to destroy Netscape by replacing them with their own competing browser. MS understood that since it was the dominant platform, it would be trivial to use their monopoly to force Netscape out of busines.

    See the sorite here? Microsoft has a history of using their superior position in one market to strongarm their way into another market. In most of the earlier cases, they did not have a monopoly yet, or were simply maintaining their current monopoly; this was the first case where they used their monopoly power to force their way into a market they did not dominate.

    It's a very simple, and a very fair, law. *You cannot be a bully just because you are bigger than the other kids.* Pretty simple, huh?

    Microsoft was bigger than the other kids. It was a bully. Now it has to see the principle.

    Oh, and the "Multiple Document Interface" was not first implemented in MS Word. It's been around since the Altos days.
  • it's hard to see what, if anything, will change as a result of this surreal conflict between 18th-century laws and institutions and 21st-century economic realities. Truth is, we already live in a post-Microsoft World. (Read more.) it's hard to see what, if anything, will change as a result of this surreal conflict between 18th-century laws and institutions and 21st-century economic realities.

    Actually, antitrust laws were developed in the 19th century, and this is still the 20th century.

    New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

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

  • You should read the proposed remedies in the DOJ's last settlement proposal. Fines aren't on the list and are very unlikely in this case, simply because they wouldn't do anything to prevent future abuses of power.

  • Worse, at least one palm-top switched from Linux to Windows SE, because of driver problems. SE is pathetic, but because Microsoft can command the drivers, the manufacturers will buy their OS and not the alternatives.

    APIs need to be defined by a 100% independent organisation. Not like the SQL group, which is so dependent on the goodwishes of companies, it deliberately under-specifies to leave companies space to make proprietary extensions, thus defeating the whole point of open specs, whilst being able to wave the open spec flag at the same time.

    There need to be 100% vendor-independent file and disk formats, which are rich enough that data can be translated to and from such formats with zero (or near-zero, for really bizare extensions) loss of information. If there's no cost, in terms of what can be done, then inventing new formats becomes an expensive luxury. After all, the whole point of proprietary formats is to lock the customer into a vendor. But if your format can be translated with zero loss into anyone else's, spending money on that side of things becomes frivolous. (That's why many proprietary network protocols died in the face of TCP/IP.)

    The fact is, we =DO= live in a Microsoft-run world. Many "key" servers are NT, the space station will be NT (if it is ever finished), hardware and software manufacturers are forever trying to boost margins which means Windows, not choice.

    Microsoft isn't dead. Deflated a little, but definitely not dead.

  • Actualy I am hoping that the Microsoft as a wipping boy issue will go away.

    If it's not Microsoft It WILL be someone else, there is no such thing as a Benevolent Dictator, If it's not Microsoft who next? Why do we think that Microsoft will be replaced by somthing better, if it's closed source?

    The more I work in the IT industry the more I realize Closed source is the problem. Now I never thought about myself as a Stallman want-to-be but damn it he is right!

    Think about it this way, most of the time my job is to go around trying to find work arounds to closed source software, be it Windows or LINUX.
    I never thought of myself as a developer but because I needed to fix something one way or another I have become one. Open source makes this possible (To fix things), Closed source has made me write hacky code to fix bugs or workarounds.
    Or my least favorite thing to say "it's a bug, deal with it."
    I prefer to fix things, not add another layer of kludge.
    It's time to get off of the Microsoft crutch, and look at the real problem, the real enemy, closed source.

  • Let's see, Microsoft has billions and has been investing in all sorts of other businesses at an average of millions of dollars a day. But they're going to vanish from the face of the earth in a puff of smoke? Don't hold your breath waiting for that one. We'll be post-Microsoft when we're post-money, but probably not before. If Bill Gates personal wealth falls by half he'll still have more than the rest of us put together.
    On the other hand, the way the tech sector stocks are falling and the old line stuff is gaining, we may for the first time be hearing people bragging about *selling* Microsoft stock.
  • You know how sometimes you post (Yeah, you. We all do it.) just because you know what you're saying is going to be moderated way up? You know a post about how much you love Linux and hate Microsoft?

    Looks to me like Katz is karma-whoring. Ain't no point in preaching to the choir.

    -Waldo
  • This week happens to be right before the annual spring meeting [abanet.org] of the ABA Antitrust Section.

    Long story - I had to dig out my old 'Wired' feature on "Oh, no, Mr. Bill!", The Fed's plan to reboot Microsoft - and they mentioned that, "Historically, the Supreme Court has timed its rare antitrust opinions right before this early spring antitrust powwow ... so the bar can kind of chew on it at this spring meeting", which is, this weekend! (Apr. 5-7).
  • Actually, hardware is the one thing I think Microsoft gets right. The intellimouse and their joysticks seem pretty high quality.

    Finkployd

  • Many of us already live in a Post-Katz Slashdot because aside from the occasional snide comment, we just ignore his endless ranting, raving and pointless pontification.

    LK
  • When Microsoft and the government talk about "open source", they most likely don't mean that people can recompile it and redistribute modified versions.

    What they mean is that users and developers can obtain the code to discover hidden APIs. It could possibly also mean that competitors could license and re-sell modified versions of Windows under "fair" conditions, meaning with some revenue for Microsoft.

    No matter what it means, as a rememdy, I think any opening of the Windows source code would be bad. The problem with Windows is not that the source code is closed, it is that Windows is unreliable, poorly specified, and uses non-standard APIs that some hackers at Microsoft dreamed up one night. Opening its source code would simply entrench it further and cause software vendors to start relying on even more obscure behaviors inside it.

  • I don't see any benefit in breaking up Microsoft or opening up their source code. Both of those would only send the Microsoft stock price up further and lead to an even wider dissemination of their software.

    The problem with Microsoft is their predatory release and licensing practices. They seem to release software too early, with incomplete specifications, and keep a bunch of APIs for their own internal uses. This is what gives them an edge over their competitors in terms of time to market and apparent functionality, and it also accounts for the low quality of their software.

    This is no different from a manufacturer of physical devices cutting corners in product design and safety features. This allows them to cut costs and get to market faster, but at the expense of the consumer. Taken to its extreme, the savings accrued from such poor practices may well allow a manufacturer to dominate the market.

    The solution I see is fairly simple, and quite analogous in both cases: the government needs to require specifications of software and create liabilities if the software doesn't comply. This is simply realizing that an order transaction in any form requires contractual agreements and the possibility of enforcement when there are violations, and in the case of software, contractual agreements are "specifications".

    It's no coincidence that Microsoft has steadfastly resisted efforts to standardize or document their APIs. And their argument is correct: it would "slow down innovation" (i.e., their release cycle). But the point is that we don't want Microsoft (or any other company) to release software as fast as possible without any other considerations.

    This solution, of course, is wholly unpalatable to software companies. You mean that we ought to be required to specify in advance what our software does and be held liable if it doesn't comply? How dare the government get involved in innovation and software practice in that way?

    But this seems like a logical next step to me. The government (foremost, Republicans) has not at all been squeamish about imposing regulations on all sorts of formerly free-wheeling aspects of the computer industry and cyberspace: the enormous expansion of copyright law and fields of patentability, the criminalization of previously innocuous behavior on the Internet, content filtering, etc. Those kinds of regulations will have very uncertain consequences for innovation. In comparison, imposing some simple product safety and contractual requirements on the software industry seems like a small and logical step.

    I think requiring companies to provide specifications of their software and make them contractually enforceable is generally a good idea for the software industry as a whole. Sun should be held to similar standards for Java, IBM for their software, etc.

    But, right now, ideas along these lines would even be sufficient as remedies in the Microsoft case. For example, Microsoft could be required to create standards-quality specifications of the Win32, COM, and ActiveX APIs, as well as the VisualBasic programming language and the IE browser, and to be liable for compliance with their specifications. That, rather than opening the source code, would benefit the industry, level the playing field, and benefit Windows users. Yes, it would result in delays and lots of additional expenses to Microsoft, but that's, after all, the point: cutting corners in these areas is what has allowed Microsoft to dominate the market in the first place.

  • I intend to send the following letter to my MP and other members of the Canadian Government (I'm in the Great White North)ASAP, hopefully to implement a pre-emptive strike against Micro$oft's "rapacious and predatory" behaviour:

    The Right Honourable Jean Crétien
    Prime Minister of Canada

    Dear Mr. Crétien,

    I'm sure you are aware of the news that a District of Columbia Superiour Court Judge has found Microsoft Corporation guilty of anti-competative and predatory behaviour. Although this decision made in the United States has no legal binding in our great country, I feel it necessary to recommend that following legislation should be enacted in Canada in order to protect our burgeoning Information and Technology sector:

    1. Modification or extension of a currently published "open" network protocols is illegal.
    Any current, published standard Internet Protocols must remain unaltered in order to give all companies the ability to compete effectively on the Internet. The CRTC should be given a mandate to police and enforce any subversive use of a standard protocol modification.
    2. Any company or person using these protocols must fully disclose to the public how their product makes use of the protocol, or it is an illegal product
    Namely, any API (Application Programming Interface) that can potentially make use of basic connectivity on the Internet must be fully disclosed and published.
    3. Any company or person who intends to establish a new Internet communications protocol must disclose the entire technical details of this new usage before it is allowed.

    These steps will ensure that no one entity can "own" any part of the Internet, at least in Canada. Microsoft has shown in the past that they are not above using subversive tactics to head of competition (I know you are extremely busy, but please read "The Halloween Documents" at http://www.opensource.org/halloween/).

    The normal authority on Internet Protocols is the IEEE, as they publish "RFCs" that describe and explain the intricacies of these protocols. Companies like Microsoft are in positions where they can "pollute" these protocols and turn them into proprietary standards, with which they can stifle innovation and essentially co-opt sections of the Internet.

    I urge you to consider this pre-emptive measure in order to keep the Internet available to all as a resource to expand our economy, our vision and improve our world.

    Kindest regards,
    Ron Sokoloski, Network Analyst
    Southam Information Technology Group
    44 Frid Street, Hamilton, ON L8N 3G3
    e-mail: -----
    Desk: ------
    Cell: -----

  • There's a new sheriff in town, and this time it's got the law on its side and the courts in its pocket. And its name is... the Entertainment Industry. Yes, Microsoft dumbed down computing for the masses and in doing so they reduced the quality of the experience.

    Ouch, you were so close to the truth I could taste it. I think much of what you say is true, but you miss the important point that Microsoft IS in the Entertainment Industry. (I've got another post in this thread about this point, but it's a sharper point in response to your post.) You're completely correct that they don't own the Enterprise (or embedded controllers, or any of the really important computer applications these days). That's tough to do, and doesn't play to what Microsoft's strength has always been, namely keeping people entertained.

    People actually like to play with their fonts and "get creative" with their PowerPoint presentations. The actual productivity gain in all of this has been minimal (actually, people like Thomas K. Landauer [colorado.edu] have argued that the gain has been, uh, a loss). But, boy, has it ever kept a lot of office workers busy and entertained.

    Of course, Microsoft did really figure this out at some point, and their non-core investments reflect this fact: MSNBC, Hotmail, WebTV, MSN, etc. No hardware companies, no deep infrastructure, just stuff to keep people busy and happy. The future success of Microsoft will be in Keeping it Fun, and learning to completely let go of grungy stuff like webserver OSes that you can literally pick up for free these days.

  • No hardware companies, no deep infrastructure, just stuff to keep people busy and happy.
    Perhaps you remember the third member of the triad: Bill, Steve, and Paul. You DO remember what Paul Allen has been buying for the last 5 years or so, right? (hint: it's called cable)

    Oh yes, I do know this very well. However, Paul Allen != Microsoft. Paul Allen is a way more complicated and interesting guy than the MS juggernaut.

    Microsoft may have some inside traction on the Paul Allen investments, but MS and Paul Allen are distinct in a way that Ballmer or Gates and MS are clearly not. But, for that matter, cable TV is just the medium through which a lot of entertainment (including Microsoft's) will be delievered. So Paul Allen decides to leverage his Microsoft investment (and also his sports franchises) by buying cable companies; makes sense to me... :-)

  • What do you call the likes of SQL Server(apart from half-arsed that is), Exchange Server, the fact that here in the UK two High street Banks run the cash machines on NT??
    I'd call it two banks making poor choices...

    First, I didn't say that MS didn't try to offer enterprise class software, only that they certainly aren't running away with that market. There's nothing like Oracle or even Sybase or Informix as competition to MS in the word-processing market, for example. As far as email goes, I'm way too familiar with Microsoft Exchange (since it's MU's email "solution", at least for the moment...)

    I really think Babar has a point here. I'm not sure I totally agree with the whole neo-luddite "computer's haven't really gained anyone anything" (which isn't a particularly accurate paraphrase anyway) sentiment.

    Indeed, computers have gained most people an immense amount, more than most of them can imagine. And I'm not (seriously) suggesting that office software is completely useless. MS Word is a perfectly serviceable, if rather byzantine, text editor. But I am suggesting that much of its perceived value comes from the fact that people like to use it, not from the fact that people get much more done with it. Heck, I'm all in favor of entertainment, or else why would I be posting to slashdot?

    I think personal computers have made a number of things possible: desktop publishing and (more recently video). But these could also be shoehorned into "entertainment".

    Yes, but these are primarily means to produce entertainment, not obtain it. The reason why desktop publishing was such a huge success was that it really, really did replace an outmoded technology, and it lead to a better separation of concerns between mock-up/design and the raw, gritty details of printing and binding and such. Plus, you know desktop publishing software is there for more than entertainment value because real businesses whose main product is printed material rely on the software. I suspect (but I'm less sure) that desktop video will have a similar effect in the video production industry.

    Now, there's a funny thing going on here: the market for producing books and videos isn't nearly as large as the market for playing (with) them, so we can predict from the "Microsoft is primarily an entertainment company" thesis that MS won't worry too much about those niches. Sure enough, they really haven't. There's no "real" MS equivalent to PageMaker or Quark. [MS Publisher is basically the family/entertainment toy version.] Now, web browsers, on the other hand...

  • Some of us have been post-Microsoft for over five years!
  • There is no way that the courts would make MS open the source code to Windows to the public, then not restrict its use. That would be like punishing the old AT&T by forcing them to give free phone service to everyone in the country. The point is to punish MS and promote competition, not put them out of business. Anyway, let's say that Judge Jackson says that they have to GPL Windows 2000. First off, the ruling is appealed until 2006 when the code is completely outdated. Second, how many people are going to be able to read the millions of lines of code and understand enough to constructively change anything. Bottom line: MS still has the user base and the money to do whatever they want.

    -B
  • Where have you been? Microsoft has been trying to get into hardware for years. They just haven't done well (apart from the gaming things like the FF joysticks and intellimouse).
  • I know that it's the hip thing around here to slam on Katz no matter what he says

    I know it's getting hippier to defend JonKatz whenever someone slams on him.

    What I didn't get into was that Katz's whole idea was wrong. The so-called technological movements and evolutions aren't even technological movements and evolutions of the nineties.

    open source - huh what? Can you see Katz grin to the zealots' clapping of their hands? How does "dominating open source" create a extremely profitable model? AFAIK, open source hasn't even been proven as a viable model of commerce yet. The fastest companies adopting open-source are hardware companies that open-source their driver, because they don't sell software as their main source of business.

    nano-technology: your quote: nanotech, once it gets going, will need software in order to do anything worthwhile

    Err, yeah. Now can you elaborate on how Microsoft creating software for nanotech will be a profitable and lucrative business?

    AI is classically a matter of software + specialized hardware

    I agree with your statement. But how is not dominating AI bad for Microsoft? Sorry.

    SuperComps and handhelds are light-blinkers without an OS and proggies.

    Can you explain how selling OSes for super computers will generate a lot of revenue? Please?

    I'm not even going to touch genetic research with a 10 foot pole.

    Katz's only valid points was hand-held and wireless computing - even wireless computing is better left to the hardware companies.

    So, 1 out of 7 right isn't too bad?

    And Katz missed the most important 2 techlogical evolutions that Microsoft didn't ride - Internet and e-commerce. Which lead me to the conclusion that Katz doesn't know what he's talking about.

    As for you...

  • Apple.

    Then once we get them out of the way, we're sort of stuck....Be?
  • Perhaps Jon is right and this ruling is nothing more that a morale victory albeit a large one. Nonetheless one cannot discount the value nor the power of morale.

    You have to give MS their due. Windows did give the masses accessibility to computing, a factor which aided the growth of the Internet and the Internet did begat Linux.

    Now if MS is prevented from exploiting their market share the prospect of consumer benefit from competition and innovation are extremely bright.
  • Well written, Jon. You are right in that the irrelevance of the whole thing is the real story. What if the government dropped everything today? The only people who would care would be the anti-MS crowd, but they might not see clearly that it wouldn't make any difference. About the only thing that would change would be the price of MSFT. None of the remedies would seem to make much of a difference either. The marketplace, as it should, is already dealing with MS, and the case becomes sillier and sillier with every passing day and with every Linux install.

    Actually, I wish they would drop the whole thing just to save on the tax dollars. Unfortunately, this thing could drag on for years. The IBM case, which started in the 60's, was only settled in the past few years, and it still affects IBM today. But whatever happens, you are right, Bill Gates doesn't matter that much anymore.

    And it is fun to watch him whine about it. :-)

  • This is actually bad. Remember when there used to be different home computers, eg Amiga, Commadore 64, Apple IIgs? It was a pain to find an application you wanted but only to find that it wasn't available on your system. Imagine if every car company had its own special fuel. If a software company had to produce a product on 3 different OSs, don't you think that the cost would be passed on?

    And it is for this exact reason that Open Source is a Very Good Thing. M$ is the one spreading the special fuel problem and halting any attempts to standardize (via embrace, extend, and break-away). Why are the Office file formats not released as a standard?

    The Open Source world is working very hard with the various standards. The software written in the Open Source world works with the standards, not against them.

    Open sourced code is not a choice for the average user.

    Yet. GNU/Linux is not the right choice yet. The various distros are working hard to bridge the deficiencies for the average end-user. The work is underway, but right now the incentive is only there (really) for the distro makers.

    However if I could set up my mother's computer with all the settings and software, I would much rather support a Linux box for her than a Windows box. I would be able to easily upgrade things remotely, change system settings, and lock down those settings I don't want her changing. But, right now, the software applications she wants to use are stable and well documented on Windows. The Open Source software is still a ways back (for her purposes and technology level). I do spend many-an-hour on the phone with her trying to figure out why her Win98 box won't get on the 'Net, or why applications don't print, etc... with little support utilities to help me sort out the mess. I, myself, am very happy to have an all-Free system at home.

    Once the software packages are there, I can easily see a world where you buy a Linux box which "knows" how to upgrade itself. It will contact an authorized knowledge-base, figure out which libs/packages/sources/etc. it needs and Do The Right Thing. M$ would love to have this, but Open Source will be there long before they will (we learned this [the first time] during the MS-DOS years...)

    Many users just want to install and run, not to search for tar.gz files on the internet [...]

    Don't view .tar.gz files as being a barrier. For example, RPM resolves many issues and rpmfind resolves more. There will be improvements to these systems and/or new systems that make upgrades and installations easier or automatic.

  • OK, now that we've had our fun, let's see what this really means:

    1. Yes, the continuing drop in hardware prices means that the percentage cost of a system attributable to an OS provides downward pressure on OS pricing. With a DOJ victory, Linux should grab a larger share, as should other OS such as BeOS, at the expense of a transparently priced and watchguarded MSFT W2K. But only somewhat.

    2. Net appliances are where the growth is. Transmeta and other devices will cause us to embrace Web Pads, PDAs, and so on. The future will be wild and wooly here, with design and function king, and pricing queen. This is the real growth area for Linux. And MSFT will lose most of this chunk.

    3. The market corrections you are seeing are reasonable. Tech was overvalued, old growth stocks were undervalued. Deal with it. Me, I'm picking up MSFT and CSCO at fire sale prices ...

    4. IE will continue to have major market share until AOL [note - own shares] gets it's act in gear and pushes Netscape as the Browser of Net appliances and everything but Windows. Release the Windows version later, maybe three months later. Let IE rule it's dwindling universe, but provide Netscape free with AOL and don't support the extensions MSFT wants to pollute with their browser.

    5. It's all about the bandwidth. Who cares about the processor, except geeks? I mean, really, get a grip ... why do you need a 1GHz CPU? Just build [grin] Beowulf clusters ...

    6. The 40% of MSFT shares held in Seattle are mostly held by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and maybe 20 guys. The rest of us diversified. Don't worry about Seattle - we will use Redmond as a Museum of Unnatural History museum and a stockade for day traders ... besides, the future growth companies are all in Seattle proper, not the hinterlands.

  • So Kraft sold Post to Microsoft? What are the product?

    P-M Shredded Kerberos?

    P-M Frosted Blue-Screen-of-Deaths?

    P-M Toasted FUD-ios?

    P-M Golden Honey-bloat?

    Ummmmm,

    George
  • I might point out to you that the first Apple Macintosh that was released 1984 was equipped with a 3.5" floppy drive. IBM were no pioneers on that field, Apple was.
    HP 150s used them before the Mac was released in 1984. HP 150 was a MS/DOS based box.
  • Bill Gates' company hasn't dominated any of the significant technological movements and evolutions of the late 90s: open source, nano-technology, AI, genetic research, hand-held and wireless computing, supercomputers.

    It has, however, made more customers happy than all those "significant" things combined. Maybe not you, and maybe not even MS-aligned me... but more people accomplish every day with Microsoft than any other single software company. It may not be fashionable to say that here, but it's certainly true enough.

    This seems an absurdly weak prop for the assertion that we are now in some way "post-Microsoft". Seriously, the majority even of Slashdot readers can find a solid counterexample to this assertion just by walking around their building and counting MS products, in uses even a hardliner would have to admit were productive.

    Come on, was there any reason to drag nanotech into a software-related article other than Hemos-points?
  • I think it is very hard for people to see the truth about the Entertainment Trust, because people are far more emotionally influenced by the Entertainment Trust than they ever were by Micros~1. I mean, I know if I say anything negative about the Sony PS2 based on the fact that Sony is an evil company and the PS2 uses truly vile technology (like region coding) that it's going to be tougher than saying, "Hey that Bill Gates, he's really evil."

    This is because people associate things like their favorite characters, shows and games with the Entertainment Trust and they associate all the annoyances they have come to expect from computers with M$. I remember that a politician (or political columnist, I forget which) made a point about Jack Valenti and his influence on the Hill. Lobbyists for other industries can do a lot with money and the like, but only Valenti can arrange for Clint Eastwood or Julia Roberts to show up at your fundraiser. People get blinded by the glamor of the Entertainment Industry and it keeps them from despising it the same way they do Micros~1.

    In fact, if M$ was smart, they buy a film studio like AOL did and get some of the public relations magic that that can give them. Though they have been smart enough to co-opt popular culture (like my beloved Rolling Stones *sob*) to try to achieve the same result and manipulate people.

    Of course, good luck to the U.S. government if they ever want to break up Sony...

  • Until the mid-90s, Microsoft was the technological Godhead. Everyone involved with computing or the network hated, used, exploited or feared it. That's no longer true.

    Funny, I thought the real fear and loathing didn't start until Win95 hit the streets, mainly because Win3.x was acknowledged by all to be a lame-o DOS shell that failed to measure up to its primary competition at the time, the Mac OS. When 95 landed, there was lots of carping from the Mac crowd (anybody remember the Win95 = Mac89 and "Been there, done that" campaigns?) but the fact was that 95 was the first serious competition to the Mac.

    Personally, before that I had used Windows only briefly; now, I'm being forced to add it to the list of systems I support at work (i.e. Mac OS and the rare Linux call). My personal distaste started well into the 90s (actually with Word 6 for the Mac, but that's another story) and has only grown since....

  • A lot of people are post microsoft, but the world is not. Bill and his army of sweatshop workers will not just lie down and die.
    They will creatively work their way around any decision that is made to break up microsoft or another form of punishment that is handed out to him like any naughty school boy would.
    The world is not going to stop using windows yet. Linux or any of the other "alternative" OS's are not easy enough for the novice computer user to be able to grasp to accomplish the simple things that can be done with windows. Also when Linux does reach that point of userfreindlyness will the millions of dollars that are needed too advertise it be available so that people can find out and have the choice of a different Os.
    www.burgatronics.net [burgatronics.net]

    Burgatronics [burgatronics.net]

  • First, just to get it out of my system:

    <obKatzBash> Of course we all know, Katz, that this is simply a confirmation of what this community has known for years. Thanks for telling us. Now go get it posted on some site [swoon.com] where you aren't, as another poster said, "preaching to the choir."</obKatzBash>

    Now let's get on with some real discussions on some substantive topics around Jackson's ruling. I think it is likely that Jackson will, during the remedies phase, come to the conclusion that breaking up Microsoft is the best remedy. Fining Microsoft is only going to lead to trouble - any fine that would have any real meaning would be in the tens of billions (as Microsoft, last I checked, was sitting on some $15b in cash). If the Feds do that, business leaders world-wide will scream at the excesses of the Federal government, and the Feds should just get out of an industry they don't understand (said business leaders being rightfully disturbed by the precedent of multi-billion-dollar extortion).

    As for releasing the source to Windows, again, business leaders will scream (imagine if the Feds revoked all copyrights on everything produced by Time Warner - and I know some of you think that would be a good idea, but it ain't gonna happen). Furthermore, what would it really accomplish? Creation of Windows distribution companies a la Linux distro companies like Red Hat? Not likely - the Microsoft marketing machine is too good for that. Eventually, it might make Windows more secure and more stable, but in the meantime, virus writers would have the source at the same time as everyone else. Community security checks would be a long time in coming and many Windows users wouldn't upgrade (lots of them still use Windows 3.1 - this is not the Linux community.

    Personally, I think it should be three equal "Nanosofts" (to coin a name :-), each with complete rights to the source code for Windows and Office (at least). Making an operating system company perpetuates the monopoly, and leads back in to arguments about what constitutes an operating system. But while this kind of stuff is fun to talk about, appeals mean this won't happen for years, if at all.

    So instead, let's focus on what we should be doing to advance free softrware. Better products. Better usability. A real user-friendly Linux (or other open source OS). A product I can give to eveyone else here at the start-up I work at, all the people that are Hollywood content types and have enough trouble with a Macintosh.

    So cheer a bit - it took a long time, but thar's the nature of law - it is reactionary. But after that, remember, Microsoft isn't going away, and neither are bad products.

    Let's make more good ones.

  • I have three points for you:

    1. This "the masses cannot comprehend" litany is as untrue as it is uninteresting. Fact is, if Linux was preloaded on machines the way windows is, it would be used by a great many more people. OEM support is what keeps Linux from the masses. (Something M$ spends a lot of time and $$ on)

    2. Windows IS NOT EASY TO INTALL OR MAINTAIN, DAMMIT. I don't know where that line of crap came from. Granted, due to Point Number One, (above)more people know how to do it, but that does not constitute ease of use!

    3. It is you who is in his own little world, my friend. And If you don't read slashdot, how did you post this?

  • Microsoft hasn't impacted us? What planet are you living on?

    No, it hasn't - has the widespread use of Windows and financial domination of Microsoft impacted the way you live your life? It certainly hasn't impacted mine. Mobile phones and EPOC have - they allow me to keep in touch with people wherever I am, UN*X etc have, I learnt to program, got my first taste of the net etc on them from '94ish up till now, and I'm still learning, DVD has, digital quality movies in my home, Mmmm, nice., MP3 has, I can store my CD collection in a relatively small amount of disk space (anything's relatively small when you have as much as I do) and listen to them as much as I like, in whatever order I like without having to be constantly switching them, and without them getting scratched, damaged etc...

    The fact that a two-bit american company has, by the use of shady, even illegal business practices forced it's product onto 80-90% of the world's PCs has not impacted my life one iota, I pity those whose life it has impacted.

    --
  • It's not the stability of the OS that is the issue of the case.

    It's not the fight between "openness" and "closedness" of the source code.

    It's not the quality of the software that was offered by the competition.

    The judge has now ruled that Microsoft was acting outside the law when Microsoft added an Internet web browser component to their operating system.

    They were not deemed outside the law when Windows 2.1 included the "Multiple Document Interface" that was implemented first in Microsoft Word. They weren't scoffed by a judge when Windows implemented TrueType font technology after Adobe Type Manager kept crashing the graphics layer of Windows 3.0. Nobody questioned the ethics of bundling a thousand generic "uni" drivers for printers, video and modem cards onto the Windows 3.1 installation disks, which meant that hardware could run without millions of calls to hardware manufacturers for updated drivers. Not a soul whispered 'contempt' when Windows 95 included the Rich Edit control, that simple thing (again from Word) that allowed *any* app writer to develop a program that understood italics and boldface.

    But when Microsoft adds an HTML rendering control, and a URL underlining text style, to its operating system, it is deemed against the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.

    Nevermind that all the Windows app writers outside of Utah commend the addition to the standard libraries of code features.

    Let us, by extension, tell Ford that they must now de-package the Ford-made windshield component from their cars; we wish to bolster competition and let all the other mom and pop windshield manufacturers a chance at that market. After all, the windshield is hardly a requisite feature for an automobile? Tires, motor and seat, that's all you're allowed now, Ford.

  • Conclusions of Law:
    • JonKatz gained position as the lone commentary/content provider on /.
    • JonKatz "bundles" a followup commentary to every new subject he initiates within two Slashdot "days" (when it rolls into "Older Stuff").
    • JonKatz acts as a lout in the Slashdot market to maintain his high bandwidth utilization share.
    • JonKatz spent hundreds of hours writing tirades all in an attempt to drown out the voices of would-be competitors.
    • JonKatz fails to provide "best of breed" offerings.
    • JonKatz uses his monotony power to dominate Slashdot screen share.

    I have flamed JonKatz a million times before, but is it unrealistic to think that if Katz isn't going to leave, may we at least have some other person "preaching to the choir" to see whether people genuinely dislike him, or if they just don't like the subject matter?

    --

  • I know that it's the hip thing around here to slam on Katz no matter what he says, but to insert a little reason: Most of the tech Katz named (open source,nano-technology, AI, hand-held and wireless computing,supercomputers) are software things. Open Source is a software thing, SuperComps and handhelds are light-blinkers without an OS and proggies. AI is classically a matter of software + specialized hardware (at least all attempts so far) and nanotech, once it gets going, will need software in order to do anything worthwhile. Buy their very nature, all tech-things (these days, at least) are, in part or whole, software things, too.

    (Alert: I'm not, nor do I claim to be, lord-high science guy. My knwoledge of AI and nano-tech is entirely limited to what I've read in science mags and web sites. Caveat Emptor)

    I think Special K's big point is that MS sort of rested on their laurels-- especially considering that they had the stated aim of worldwide domination. (They did take a stab at the PDA thing, I guess, but it was a pretty pitiful stab, wasn't it?) If you want your OS on every desktop in the world, then you have to be ready to put your proggies onto whatever damn thing people decide they're going to work on.

  • Man, we specialize in these out here, don't we?

    What I think Katz was getting at with this comment (have we wasted enough time on this sentence, yet?) was that a whole lot of nifty tech developments have occured, and MS doesn't seem to have made an attempt to develop products for these burgeoning markets. What you seem to be saying is that SINCE SupComp OS and progs wouldn't be super-profitiable right now, THEN why should MS bother with R & D in that direction. How many people owned personal computers when MS started? And yet, that's the tack they took and where they made their killing.

    (Alert: I lost half my brain-mass in a car accident which left my skull a dented, bloody mess. Please forgive my being a blathering moron.Caveat Emptor)

  • Welcome to my two cents :)

    Microsoft has something which nobody else really has - top of mind within the majority of computer based decision makers. The products install easily, link easily, are instictivly usable, and tend to product the results that those decision makers will accept. Please notice, I am not saying MS products are better, because it's not about that. It's more a case of what Microsoft reinforces, an environment of BUSINESS security, BUSINESS support and BUSINESS aims. Example, MS doesn't accept the term BUG, but they ain't that stupid .. they know they're there. The difference? Marketing, marketing and marketing. If a mantra is said time after time after time after time, it will begin to be believed at *some* level, with a subset of those people having the opposite responce. Examples? Only McDonalds ... Always Coka-Cola ...

    Watch for these sort of terms in 6 weeks/months.

    • We needed to open ourselves to a new future.
    • Opening the APIs was the best thing that we have ever done.
    • When we refocused our corporate structure ...
    • ... smaller, more dedicated corporate environment ...

    MS is essentually (in this focus) a marketing company with a computing base .. a monopolostic technical company, spear-headed by product and spin doctors (and maybe not in that order). Do you think they'll be taking this lying down? Do you think all their current power (and there is a damn lot of it), money, resources and codeset won't see them through into a bright new redesigned future? The only thing I'm hoping for is the guy who thought up the "Think Inside The Box" slogan for Office2K is incharge of their post-court public image ... but somehow I doubt that.

    I'm not a stock analyist (don't even play with online stock), but if MS is split, doesn't that mean a rather large reward for the stockholders?

    (donning fireproof suit)

  • ... as MSCE's cowering under the prospects of having to learn about computers and (gasp) cross-platform application support, and (double gasp) choosing for themselves where they want to go today (and in doing so undertaking the responsibility that goes with it).

    One of the things that I've noticed over the last couple of years is that living under M$'s wing gives one a great way to avoid responsibility. If something wasn't working the way it was desired to (or was intended) you could blame Microsoft, and Maaaaaaaaybe it'd be addressed in a later patch^H^H^H^H^Hservice pack, but the eyes (and blame) weren't necessarily on you.

    In the "post-M$" world (and of course there is no such thing - M$ will continue on in some for, at least for the foreseeable future), the stakes may well be a little higher for admins or admin posers (the ones who don't actually have to keep things running or clean up the messes, but somehow get to make all the decisions and delegate responsibilities to others :-).

    It will be an interesting year. I wonder if some of the more vocal supporters of M$ throughout the litigation to date will turn on them as things are tarnished further, or if there will be this "grass roots" drive to prevent too much in the way of intervention of M$'s dealings.

  • Katz is off on a couple things. Microsoft is still waging it's powers. It's just more subvert. Before they'd go to IBM and say you take Netscape off your image or you won't get any Windows 95.

    Now, it's "Gee, the generic Java code you compiled under our development platform only works under windows? How did that happen?" or "Hmm, why don't you save your self the trouble and just use DCOM objects and ActiveX."

    The jist of Jacksons decision is that Microsoft was willing to shoot itself in the foot in the short term in order to maintain a windows centric delevopment enviroment. Java has become one of those commie pink-o Computer Science languages. Most Comp Sci programs teach it. In fact many are replacing (rolls eyes) ADA with Java in the course.

    So why start kicking sand at the other kids (Sun, Netscape, IBM) in the sandbox? Well, eventually someone is going to get a Network Computer working at a price consumers will gobble up.

    Exactly what is Microsoft asking for when it says "we want the freedom to inovate"? Are they asking for freedom to come up with inovative technology? Or are they asking for freedom to come up with inovative ideas to crush the compedition with monopoly powers?
  • It's sad, but it's true. What can the DoJ possibly do to M$?

    • Fine them, sure, but how much? To make it have an effect, it would have to be an astronomical amound, like $50 billion US, or something
    • Force them to open up the API? Good idea, but that won't affect M$ in a negative way for years still, and imagine the funds necessary to keep watchdogging them to be sure they KEEP it open
    • Fine Bill personally? Can't, Limited Liability of a company forbids this, I think, so Bill personally is free and clear (AFAIK, IANAL)

    Besides, as has been stated quite a few times, M$ has more than enough money to drag this through appeals for years, and by that time Bill will have reinvented M$ enough that it's not the same company. And also, the industry will not be the same, so nothing will matter.

    I hate to say it, it turns my stomach, but this looks to be too little, too late.


    This is my .sig. It isn't very big.
  • Agreed, to a point. Are you stating that is is ok to be a monopoly, you just can't leverage it? or are you stating that it is monopolistic to be successfull in many facets of a particular industry?
  • So now we have laws in the US against arrogance? We can penalize people and companies for being impolite, or do they need to be really big assholes? Does being egotistical count?

    Just kidding actually, I like the AMD Intel reference, but hey are branching out into areas that are grey also. Let's remember that aside from the true blue connentation that monopoly laws were created to keep competition alive and robust, and to make things better for the average joe, A huge part of the influence on anti-monopoly laws was aimed squarely at the railroad barons and their companies by the government because the government was afraid they had too much power over the economy. The laws were put in place to protect the governments interests as well, not just the little guy.

  • The American dream? Well, I guess we'd have to admit that if he hasn't acheived it, he's pretty close. As for "Doing it too well", I didn't realize that we had laws against being successfull at what we do. If there are laws against being successfull, and the American dream is generally (in your reference) about acheiving success, then it would be impossible to have the american dream. Mutually exclusive.

  • Thanks Rick, I agree, but only to a point. There is a very grey line on leveraging business and product strenghts against your competitors and partners weaknesses. In M$'s case, obviously the courts feel they have gone too far, however in the appeal they will be able to make a case that they were just using good marketing and sound business ethics to leverage their corporate strengths to gain the upper hand over their competition. Fairly simple approach, and quite logical. I make widget x with capital I receive from my shareholders, they in turn want me to do whatever I can to sell widget x to consumers and not have widget y purchesed by the other company. That is the reason they invest. In my view, I'm not defending M$, however they acted exactly as any other successfull company would have, including the ones that you and I work for. The name of the game is to increase marketshare and improve profits for your shareholders, they did just that, now they are being penalized for being successfull.
  • I agree with yoru analogy of Anti-Trust laws, however your example and how it relates to M$ are a little off. Fact is most car makers make parts exclusively for a single type of car, making you pay inflated costs for a fairly generic component. Look at taillights. GM has many,many different bulbs, all basically do the same thing, just with minor voltage and size differences. So, when you get a burned out bulb, you can't just get a new one from K-Mart, you must buy the uppriced one that fits the special socket for your make and model. Another example would be knobs for your heat and air controls. All do the same thing, all the backs are basically the same, 1/2 post. However all are cosmetically just a little different based on your make, model and year. To purchase a know for my Suburban it costs 22.50 US, just because the year is different that the others. Also it stifles competition because there is so much variety it isn't cost effective for aftermarket makers to make them, so GM gets to charge 22 bucks for a 20 cent part.

    Essentially this is the same track M$ took, with the one exception that they strong armed folks like Dell and Compaq to use their products exclusively, which BTW I really don't see a problem with. If Dell and Compaq and the like didn't want to sign, they didn't have to. They made a choice to do business with M$ and then they cried "Unfair". To me they are just pissed the agreement they signed was more in Microsofts favor than theirs. Sour Grapes, they shouldn't have signed the contracts if they were opposed to the contratual relationships therein.

  • Agreed, but the line is grey and IMO, the only reason the DOJ went full steam on targeting M$ is because Gates didn''t donate to the democratic presidential campain. He didn't donate to the republicans or any other party either. This pissed off the democrats and around the same time the Netscape letter was getting some press, I guess Reno and Co. figured it would be a good vehicle to spank Gates.

    (Yes, I am a high school student)

    He, He, on /. all opinions are valid. I'm a PHB and no one seems to hold that against me.*Grin*

  • One way that the judgement could go that would help lead us into a post-Microsoft world is for the judge to order Microsoft to endow $1B to an independent organization that would partially fund the development of competing products. The rational behind the decision is laid out in the parent article and the intention would be to smooth the startup phase for competitors in order to offset Microsoft's current illegal domination.
  • But we can all see some "new" behemoths emerging... AOL/Time Warner/EMI/Whatever sure is on its way to become another monopolistic giant. Even RedHat (no flame intended) is growing so steadily I begin to wonder...

    We have a proverb here in France : "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Once again this seems to be true.
  • I wonder if I'll get flamed for even breathing this, but didn't MS do a lot of good? I don't mean creating standards or making PCs more usable, but for the Linux/Open Source movement. Isn't Microsoft a major impetus for the work of many in the community? Weren't they the rebels fighting the Empire? How would this be affected by a crippled MS?
  • (theme song) "We all live... in a Microsoft world..."

    Cut to Team Rocket members Billy and Kid Ballmer...

    "Looks like Microsoft is blasting off again!"


    Personally, I think Microsoft will end up just like the Baby Bells. Break it up and it the pieces will just grow into monsters of their own. Bill Gates has already seen this coming, and that's why he resigned the top spot... he knew it was a game of musical chairs, and he picked his chair before the music stopped.

    Yesterday's stock price drop just means a bargain for long-term investors. A divided Microsoft is a Microsoft worth more than it was ever worth before!
  • First, buggy and incomplete support is worse than no support. The court can not make Microsoft make a quality Linux product if they don't want to.

    Second, surprise! Microsoft already publishes its file formats. The problem with the file formats is that they are expressed in terms of OLE containers. You need to fully implement OLE on Linux before you can make use of the file formats.

    Third, moving products around within MS will not accomplish anything if Ballmer and Gates are there to ensure that the entire team is pulling together to maintain the MS Monopoly.

    Fourth, judges have real work to do. Their job is not to babysit Microsoft and no one judge can effectively babysit such a huge company without a huge staff. Regulation is a non-starter.

    Breakup is the only viable solution.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • Exactly. We still live in a business world where Word Perfect files get improperly converted with formatting problems in Word (or whatever format). To ensure what I see on my screen is exactly what you see on your screen we employ all sorts of alternative formats (PDFs, etc.) and file conversions.

    For the portion of the world that shares documents, a common OS and common applications have been a Godsend, even if God himself turned out to be evil.

    The point is that users do not want to worry about sharing files between OS types and flavors of software. They want everything to be seamless and consistent. Until our programs work that way, there is value in having a dominant OS and dominant suite of software applications.

    Microsoft is so entrenched it will be years before its influence wanes. Hell, it will still be years before the hype around Internet-everywhere becomes a reality. Pundits still push the myth that everyone owns a cell phone. Sorry guys.

  • Does not make it wrong. There are many laws around the world far older than the Sherman Anti Trust act that I would not do without.

    If you read some of the laws in the Torah, esp some of the ones about things like debt that most people don't pay much attention to and really think about them you will realize that many issue of the question "How do we treat our fellow people" have not changed in 4000 years or more.

    The Cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:35AM (#1152701)
    Jon, I understand where you're going with this, but please don't comment on technical issues if you don't understand them.

    It is not a post-microsoft era. Reasons to follow:

    • Microsoft still has a monopoly on Operating Systems. If you want to release an app, you release it for MS platforms first unless it's a very specialized application (like CAD).
    • Microsoft has more capital than the GNP of many small countries.. combined.
    • Who the hell thinks MS won't just move to Canada when the ruling actually comes down? It's not like AT&T where their infrastructure is tied to location.. they can market and sell Windows just as well from across the border.
    • Microsoft still has lots of influence in, say, the IETF.. or a dozen other trade organizations. What Microsoft says is still influential, anti-trust or not.
    • If you want to play games, you use MS products. Yes, linux has a few games out there.. no, if you're serious you won't run them under linux. Netrek is one thing.. Red Alert is quite another.
    • Microsoft has features in it's OS which cannot interoperate with any other product. Duh. Try using server replication with linux.

    In short, Microsoft isn't dead.. and even if they were broken up, categorically every single major brokerage has stated such a move would have a direct benefit on the stock-holders and bill gates would get richer. One need look no farther than the "post-AT&T" era to see how much your rates have increased... DESPITE free internet telephony tech being available.

    I rest my case, your honor.

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:37AM (#1152702) Homepage
    Of course we're talking about the software behemouth, but here's my take: once upon a time computer processing was limited to a corp/scholastic priesthood, then microprocessors embodied a 60ish "power to the people" type mentality, down w/ corporate domination, and suddenly hw hackers could, with some effort, own their own computer. Then commercial companies jumped in and you could buy a 'personal computer' to do with as you wish for the price of a good used car. Then, I think a turning point was reached in the early 90's when win3x for some reason make 'GPF's common on too many business desktops, and suddenly people HAD TO BE WinTel COMPUTER LITERATE to succeed or be hired. I.e., when it turned from "gee, I can own my own computer!" to "You mean I have to learn how to operate this damn thing just to get an office job??".
  • by gentry ( 17384 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:30AM (#1152703)
    While Mr. Katz view is put very eloquently put, it is extremely blinkered. The Post-Microsoft Age came with Linux? No it didn't. The majority of companies and individuals still use and purchase Microsoft products everyday. A huge proportion of web servers are still running NT and IIS and new major site running this technology come along everyday. Though it embitters me to say so, Microsoft will be the major OS player for a long time yet to come.
  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @06:24AM (#1152704)
    Choice can be good, but again it depends on a lot of other factors:
    You mention the ol' days of the home computer explosion. A lot of games were ported to as many different platforms as possible, if the company was willing to do so. I think it was either Hard Hat Mack or Miner2049er that was available on everything from the Vic20 (mine!) to the Atari 400 + 800, and 2600 game console, not to mention Apple ][, Colecovision, etc.
    At which point the effort ($) put in by the developers returned a nice profit. Granted, not all those ports came out at the same time, but the first versions proved popular enough that they made more copies available.

    Many games in the past were ported to multiple platforms: these days, I'm lucky if ANY games make it over to the Mac.

    Pope
  • by King Babar ( 19862 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @06:05AM (#1152705) Homepage
    Even if Judge Jackson passes down the harshest ruling possible, Microsoft still has its software running on a huge percentage of the world's computers.

    I keep reading stuff like this, and Yet Do I Marvel. I guess it's human nature to assume that most of the (important) computers in the world are like the one on your desk. Also, that the computer on your desk is particularly important. I'll submit to you that this just isn't true.

    Most of the important computers in the world are either things like embedded controllers, or very, very large information systems that do important things, like run the phone system, send bills, or write checks. In other words, all the systems that people were getting freaked out about when Y2K rolled around.

    Microsoft's real market share of crucial computing is just not very big. I hate to break it to people out there, but the computing that most of us do on our desktop machines is just not very important in the big scheme of things. I mean, how could it be? Sending memos back and forth doesn't really accomplish much. A spreadsheet may seem important, but very few of them reach or endorse conclusions that were either unknown or unreachable by other means.

    What personal computers are really about, more than anything, is keeping people entertained. Microsoft is not a technology company, but an entertainment outfit. The Web was not a threat to Microsoft because somebody would write a java word processor or something that would eat into MS Office revenues per se. The Web was a threat because people found it more entertaining than existing MS product offerings.

    Look carefully at Microsoft's investments outside of operating systems and applications. You've got a TV network (MSNBC), an alleged content provider (MSN), freemail (hotmail), a bunch of stuff like Encarta, kid's toys, now a gaming box... In other words, entertainment. What you don't see is serious vertical market software, or infrastructure stuff.

    Interestingly, Microsoft has tried to enter one other non-entertainment area: money and financial software. That, of course, makes sense because the real money is, well, where the money is. But everybody knows that, so the competition there is both fierce and skilled; for PC-based entertainment (like MS Word), it just hasn't been.

    They may have to take a step back in their development, but they'll find ways around any injunctions, just as the baby bells have.

    Funny thing about that, however: the phone company break-up really did lead to huge improvements in the variety, cost, and even quality of service. And the resulting baby bells and their competitors have grown at a rate much faster than Ma Bell ever did. And investors have done incredibly well. Yes, there are some problems here and there, but the anti-trust ruling in this case clearly did us all a lot of good. If the MS case ends up half as well, we should all be thrilled.

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:44AM (#1152706) Journal
    First of all, the entire Katz "article" should be moderated down as a Troll.

    Before I begin my rant, look at my user history. I'm a big Linux supporter. I'm also a realist. With any change comes benefits and disadvantages.

    In the mid 80s, when it came to PC hardware, IBM was the world leader. What they did, the world followed. When they introduced the 3.5" floppy in 1987, other manufacturers scrambled over themselves to include one in their "clones." 3.5" floppies were not new. HP 150s had them for a few years. But no one could break the 5.25" "standard."

    Now that IBM is no longer dominant in the field, the hardware end has not progressed as smoothly. For example, we are still stuck with 3.5" floppies and plus we also now have a plethora of high-capacity "super disks, zips, clicks, etc..."

    A fragmented OS world will cause additional support headaches, make no mistake about it. It will not be an easy transition.

    Don't misinterpret what I am saying. Microsoft killed the browser market by leveraging their OS installed base to push it through. For those that remember, Microsoft was one of the last major players to discover the Internet and leaped to get into it (they even used Spyglass Mosaic to churn out IE in a hurry). They need to be bitch slapped, but if they dropped dead tomorrow, the industry would take a long time to settle.

    Now is the best time for open source and standards movements to make a move. If it doesn't happen now and another closed-proprietary OS takes over, we will have lost our best chance...

    Just don't go dancing in the streets yet. The loss of Microsoft dominance will hurt everyone in one way or another.

  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:16AM (#1152707)
    Let's suppose that all of a sudden Microsoft and all copies of Windows 95/98/2000/NT vanished. The result would be a complete mess. Likely, it would cause a run on Macintoshes, but I can't see it causing a run on Linux. The oft cited mantra of the Linux world is that the user should be able to make choices. The choice of which Window manager to run. The choice of which text editor to use. The choice of which distribution to get. These choices only matter to people who fixate on Linux as an operating system. Realistically, people think like this:

    I'm a writer. I want to use a comfortable word processor.

    My son is four. I want to get him some educational software that will help him learn to read.

    I want to be able to browse the web and send email with pictures to my friends.

    Obsession with particulars of hardware and software isn't part of this at all. These people aren't stupid; they have their lives and want a tool to help them get things done. Right now, Linux isn't a tool as much as it is a kit that you can spend weekends and evenings with until you've eventually built a ship in a bottle that you are happy with. Windows and Word and Outlook and Excel have gotten to the point where they *are* just tools. When I put on my geek hat, I dislike Bill Gates greatly. When I put on my other hats, I'm glad that I can fire up Word and be done with it.

  • by riggwelter ( 84180 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:27AM (#1152708) Homepage Journal
    JK's hit several nails full square on their heads with this piece, the plain fact of the matter is that to describe the [insert description of time here] before yesterday's ruling as the Microsoft Era is to give them kudos and credit they simply do not deserve.

    To suggest we are leaving The Microsoft Era is to suggest that Microsoft have in some way impacted our lives up until now. Frankly, apart from giving us something to fight against, they haven't.

    If I think back over the past decade or so, [technological] things that have impacted my life significantly have been mobile phones & mobile computing [of the Epoc variety], UN*X/GNU/Linux/Open Source, DVD, MP3.

    If we are leaving a technological era, it is probably the Closed Source Era. Not just Microsoft, but producers of CS across the board. We are not however entering the Open Source era, we've been there for a very long time (eras can overlap can't they?), merely coming to a stage where it is going to predominate in the software market. Nor are we going to see the end of closed source software, there is a place for it (surely not I hear you cry, and if you knew who I work for, you'd shout it even louder), but frankly, there are some systems that have to be kept closed, even secretive by their nature. Imagine is a government, any government, opened the source for their [insert intellgence system of your choice] software, they'd be screwed yeah? That's my point.

    If we're leaving a financial era, it's the one of having a single behemoth in the software market. If the decision is taken to break-up Microsoft, chances are that it will be broken into three companies: Operating Systems, Internet and Applications. Welcome to the wonderful world of having three Microsofts in the market place, who, by the very nature of the split, will not be competing with each other. Observe as their collective stock value outstrips anything any dotCom speculator considers feasible, but also be aware of the fact that the public now knows the truth, so notice how much less power they have than if Bill hd decided to split the company in such a way voluntarily, say, five years ago. Be thankful therefore that this case has happened, because if they had split the company down previously, you can bet this case would never have been brought, and the practices would have continued unchecked.

    Yes, the government has done it as a show and nothing more, but although the reason may not be 'pure', the result is most certainly a Good Thing [TM]

    --
  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:21AM (#1152709) Homepage

    While lots of us are cheering the results of yesterday's court ruling, it almost seems to me that it is like the case of a bunch of kids who finally realize they can beat up the school yard bully when they gang up on him.

    Microsoft is no longer a dominating factor in the new online community. Its still a factor, but it isn't the only one. There are going to be lots of other things that will concern me more. Things like the the DMCA [slashdot.org].


    Gonzo
  • by 348 ( 124012 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:29AM (#1152710) Homepage
    In the decision, Jackson said Thecompany "mounted a deliberate assault on entrepreneurial efforts" that could have introduced technologies that competed with Microsoft's own technologies, and "placed an oppressive thumb on the scale of competitive fortune, thereby effectively guaranteeing its continued dominance in the relevant market."

    Sounds like a profitable business plan to me. Isn't this what most businesses try to do in one form or another?

  • by WhiskeyJack ( 126722 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:50AM (#1152711)

    Once upon a time, a long time ago, when the stars were young and the world was new, dragons roamed the earth and men feared them. And it came to be that one dragon did come to dominate the land and roam freely upon it, pillaging and burning as it went, yet those that never saw the beast's depredations called it admirable and came to worship it.

    But there were those who saw the damage it wreaked, and the shear evil of the beast, and they banded together to try and destroy it. And slowly they were able to build strongholds against the monster, and on occasion inflict small cuts and scrapes and other indignities upon it, but they could only weaken it little and never slay it, and its depredations continued. And then a giant came down from the north and began battling the dragon, and the battle lasted long and was fought hard, and those banded against it gathered around to witness the terrible struggle.

    And then, at last, the giant pinned the dragon, lashing and gnashing its teeth, to the ground and a cheer resounded amongst the gathered throng.

    And that's when Jon Katz lept atop a nearby barrel and started to write the dragon's epitaph and loudly proclaim its death....

    "But...", said the crowd.

    "It's dead!" proclaimed Katz jubilantly.

    "Um..." the crowd answered, pointing toward the beast as it trashed in the giant's precarious grip.

    "Dead as a doornail! Dead as a tree stump! Dead!" crowed Katz.

    "Er..." the crowd attempted to interject.

    "It is _sooooooo_ dead....." Katz attempted to continue, interrupted by a loud *THWAP* as the lashing dragon's tail pulped the poor deluded man with an errant flick.

    The crowd shrugged. "We _tried_ to tell you!"

    The End

    In short, Katz, rumours of Microsoft's demise are greatly exagerated, and you are quite premature in writing the company's epitaph. It still holds a monopoly on the desktop market, and there still isn't a clear path to breaking that monopoly. It has been struck a heavy blow by Judge Jackson's ruling, and the class-action lawsuit hounds are gathering to take their respective chunks of flesh, but the fight is far from over and only time will tell if Microsoft's dominance of the market will be more than temporarily staggered by this ruling. I regrettably can't write them off just yet.

    -- WhiskeyJack

  • by Joe E Sunshine ( 161364 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:33AM (#1152712)
    when you say that we already live in a post-m$ world, are you referring to the /. community or to humanity as a whole?

    If the latter, I hate to disappoint you, but my grandma still don't know what Linux is, and she probably wouldn't care should someone explain to her either. And then, the same goes for about 10 zillion other grandmas, big stupid companies, tiny stupid companies and practically all other computer illiterates.

    Conclusion: what you're talking about is far far away, as always.

  • by LordOfTheHunt ( 166353 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:19AM (#1152713) Homepage
    Microsoft's point of view appeared to be one of incomprehension.

    They seemed incapable of believing in a reality where someone would not want one of their products. It was incomprehensible to them. Somewhere around 1990 they started believing their own hype and removed themselves from the reality of the marketplace the rest of the world operates in.

    It'll take 20 years to settle all of the appeals and other lawsuits this one will generate. By then, Microsoft will either be but a bit player in the overall game or they'll have begun to innovate and contribute the the overall improvement of the computing world.

    My bet is that they'll be a bit player, but hey, I"ve been wrong before.

  • by thenerd ( 3254 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:15AM (#1152714) Homepage
    I was discussing this with a friend last night. If they are forced to open their source, with a license that is not crippling, then that means the likes of us get to have a go. We can make Windows do what we want.

    So, like it or not, if MS open their source code, then Windows could become even more powerful. Think - their installed base, thousands working on their source code. The MCSE's could have to learn how to hack Windows itself. It could be that what is good for the goose is good for the gander, and Windows would become even more prevalent. Some would say this mattered, some would say it doesn't. There is the chance that it would actually get better. We can hope...

    Was this headline made by the Katzbot? It is priceless. All I want now is the columbine slant on the whole thing. Remember, kids - everything is an 'age'!

    thenerd.
  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @06:11AM (#1152715) Homepage Journal
    You know, I've heard this argument quite a bit and I think it is completely wrong.

    In the Microsoft world, you have thousands and thousands of barely-competent software vendors writing code for Windows. They test their code (in theory) on Microsoft Windows (and many of them _still_ ignore supporting NT).

    If Microsoft's code is opened (and I think you'll see Ice Capades in the Iron city of Dis before that ever happens), suddenly you've got lots of spin-off versions of Windows... and guess what... a lot of this marginal software (including most of Microsoft's own products) will stop working.

    Look at it from the 3rd party's point of view, it's already too much trouble to support Windows 98 and Windows NT for many of them... and their stuff barely works in many instances as it is.

    What happens when suddenly there's RedHat Windows and AOL Windows and GNUWindows and Corel Windows... and suddenly every software vendor starts getting hundred of calls because their software crashes under Fred's-Windows-and-Video-Strip-Poker.

    Don't support it? Fine. Then no one buys anything but Microsoft and then you're in the same places as you are now.

    It's a wonderful thought, but Windows is so big and bloated and depends on it's own maddening complexity to work that no one could ever duplicate it.

    Remember TASM's "quirks" mode to support the bugs in the MASM assembler for compatibility? Well, just think what you'd have to maintain compatibility with the _whole_ operating system.

  • by Frac ( 27516 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:17AM (#1152716)
    It seemed pooped and lame. Bill Gates' company hasn't dominated any of the significant technological movements and evolutions of the late 90s: open source, nano-technology, AI, genetic research, hand-held and wireless computing, supercomputers.

    Your fallacy seems to assume that Bill Gates is trying to build an empire of everything technological. However, Microsoft has remained to be a primarily software company ever since its inception, and I don't see why a software company needs to dominate nano-technology, supercomputers, or genetic research to be rake in cash from an operating system used in most personal computers in the world.

    Actually, why on earth would a software company want to dominate in any of those mentioned fields?

    Let me go sell my amazon stocks now, since I don't think they'll plan on doing anything nanotech with their books and DVDs anytime in the near future.

  • by Pengo ( 28814 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:09AM (#1152717) Journal

    Yeah I agree,
    What would be here without the threat of Microsoft? BUT.. I have heard many times that the greatest technological inventions come about because of war. I am not sure how true that is or not, but you go to RedHat and see the "Anti-Microsoft" die die die energy... Hasn't that fueled the community a bit? I would bet yes.

    I don't hate Microsoft, they remind me what I don't want and make me appreciate what I have. I hope that the megapower doesn't get broken down.. Maybe it will keep the commuity-a-burnin for a few more years! :)

    $.02

  • by nevets ( 39138 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:52AM (#1152718) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I agree that having a Giant Evil to wake up against every morning is motivational, and even Linus Torvalds said that he started on Linux because he didn't care for the operating systems he had available to him. But he said that about Minix too.

    What about good old competition. Yeah, it's great to team up and fight the "Bad Guy". But I like it better when we are all on the same playing field and are trying to take that "Bad Guy" spot. As long as there are strict standards to follow, I believe it is healthy. What I mean of strict standards is that you must publish and follow all of your APIs. If you write a file that becomes a standard (as is MS Word) it too must be under a standard and published format that other tools may use.

    I enjoyed it back when we had DOS and you can chose from Word, Word Perfect, Write, and Excel Lotus 1,2,3 and other applications. Let the apps fight for features, not file formats.

    What I'm trying to say, is that the motivation will still be there. It doesn't just go away. Its the same argument that I give when I push for Open Source and Free Software. The response back is "why should I write something if I can't 'monopolize' on it". The answer is easy. You need to eat. You still come out with features, and support. Free Software does not prevent you from charging for products. I still buy Red Hat and I have a mirror of it. May sound silly, but I like the support.

    Companies and people alike will still fight hard to be innovative(TM) and productive, with or without the "Bad Guy".

    Steven Rostedt
  • by 348 ( 124012 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:24AM (#1152719) Homepage
    Interesting piece. However frankly I don't agree that there will be a Post Microsoft period. As one sided as this site is with regards to Microsoft, I think it would be foolish to believe that "The wicked witch is dead". Microsoft does have a customer base, and will continue to diversify making the public at large more and more dependent on their products. From smart houses and game consoles to news television and insurance, Microsoft has it's paws in everything. As well they should. Microsoft, for all Slashdot readers flames and finger pointing on the evil empire continually forget one important thing. Microsoft is in business to make money for their shareholders, they have always been in business for this reason and will continue to keep profit margins and revenue stream well ahead of culture driven policy and for that matter the justice department.

    They will have the courts tied up for years with appeals and why Open Source advocates are rejoicing that the wicked witch is dead, Bill and Balmer and the gang are focusing on making more money with newer products and slick marketing. Unfortunately money is power and although the DOJ won this round but overall I don't believe it will really hurt Microsoft at all.

  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:09AM (#1152720) Homepage
    Not that I'm happy about it, but I think we're a long way from a post-microsoft world. Even if Judge Jackson passes down the harshest ruling possible, Microsft still has it's software running on a huge percentage of the world's computers. They may have to take a step back in their development, but they'll find ways around any injunctions, just as the baby bells have.

    tcd004
    LostBrain [lostbrain.com]

  • by maniack ( 146532 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:35AM (#1152721)
    This is stupid. Just because most people who read slashdot are in their own little linux world doesn't mean that the rest of the world doesn't use Windows. Linux has barely made a dent in Microsoft's power, and MS continues to grow in the handheld/non-PC world. Linux, or any other OS, will never overtake MS until it's as easy to use as Windows. The majority of computer users do not have the expertise to even install linux, much less maintain it.
  • by Phaid ( 938 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:20AM (#1152722) Homepage
    You're right, Jon, we already live in a post-microsoft world. But not in the way you seem to think.

    On the one hand, the breakup of Microsoft is largely irrelevant. Microsoft's success in the world of operating systems has peaked. Windows 2000 is the beginning of the end ; its mediocre performance and its failure to establish a strong presence in the server market means that MS will never own the enterprise. And its challengers on the desktop are winning as well ; Microsoft is in retreat on all fronts. And because Microsoft is now a well-established company with stable stock value, a successful career at Microsoft no longer means retiring as a millionaire at age 30. They can't attract the talent they need to keep going. The justice department may well accelerate their decline, but they aren't the cause of it.

    On the other hand, you talk of choices between operating systems, etc, etc, and how the world will be all wonderful and happy now that the great beast Microsoft has been slain. Guess again. There's a new sheriff in town, and this time it's got the law on its side and the courts in its pocket. And its name is... the Entertainment Industry. Yes, Microsoft dumbed down computing for the masses and in doing so they reduced the quality of the experience. But they didn't have the millions of dollars of lobbying power that the MPAA, RIAA, and other consortiums of faceless companies have to force their wares down our throats. While Microsoft may have bundled apps in order to kill their competition, the entertainment industry simply gets laws passed to kill theirs.

    So we can all jump for joy and celebrate the fact that we can run any operating system we want on our machines. But we're really just kicking the dying giant, while the real enemy creeps up on us from all sides.
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:31AM (#1152723) Homepage Journal
    I wrote this letter this morning, and submitted it to a couple of newspapers up here in Boston. I don't think that Microsoft needs to be broken up into bits, and if they don't see the benefits of opening their source, I don't think we should be forcing it on them - eventually the marketplace probably will. But they still are dominant, and they use that in an unfair fashion. The letter below is just me taking a whack at how to level the playing field enough to let everyone else back in the game - if we did this and companies still failed to get any traction against Microsoft it'd be their own danged fault. We're not in a post-Microsoft era yet, nor are we likely to be no matter what the outcome of the suit. There's just too much MS out there, and there's really no reason to get rid of it all for most people. Punishments I'd like to see would be on the order of a flogging for every BSOD-causing bug.

    Well, the hammer has fallen on Microsoft in an utter anticlimax. On the one hand, Microsoft has used their size, wealth, and clout to squeeze as much competition as possible out of their path, but on the other hand they have built genuinely useful products (flaws and all), and are a key part of the high-tech economy. How do we solve the issues at hand and reconcile these two divergent views of Microsoft? I'd like to put forth my proposal for a remedy here.


    First of all, Microsoft should not be broken up. That would simply create a host of smaller companies which would dominate in smaller market segments. Nor should they be fined - that would just enrich the government further and not even put a dent into Microsoft's cash flow.

    My solution, however, would deal with this in a more effective fashion.

    First, Microsoft would be required to provide full applications support for all competitive platforms (anything with approximately 3% of the total market or more). This would include Macintosh and Linux. Microsoft offers partial support for Macintosh today, with a version of Office that lacks web development or database support. They would be required to move the missing pieces of Office as well. Additionally, they would be required to port to Linux and any OS that met those criteria, with full feature parity and simultaneous releases for all platforms. This would ensure continued support for Microsoft's competition, and give users the freedom to use any platform they wanted. It also would probably increase Microsoft's overall application sales.

    Second, require Microsoft to open up all the core API's (programming interfaces) of Windows and Office, and to publicly publish all file formats to their applications. Microsoft would have to publish the information before they, themselves could take advantage of it. This will put developers of applications and add-ins on equal footing with Microsoft without favoring anyone.

    Third, allow Microsoft to embed Internet functionality in the operating system (but with the same openness requirement as above). Make Internet Explorer a separate program, though. Move it to the applications group at Microsoft. The same with Windows Media Player (which is trying today to kill off RealNetworks' Real Player and Apple's QuickTime).

    Fourth, appoint a judge to oversee this with the authority to intervene at any time, rather than making them wait until a suit is filed. During the three years this case has run, Microsoft succeeded in killing off Netscape, and that was a good deal of the reason the suit was brought in the first place. Don't let it happen again.

    If implemented, this would have the effect of giving Microsoft's competition a fair playing field with which they could then succeed or fail on even terms. It will also give Microsoft an opportunity to remain dominant - but force them to play fair in order to do so.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by johnalex ( 147270 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:34AM (#1152724) Homepage
    We may like to think this ruling comes "too little, too late," that the computing world has already outgrown M'soft. Perhaps we have. However, many of us tend to forget that a world exists outside the academic and geek realms: the world of business. In that world, Microsoft still matters.

    Go into almost any business nowadays and poll people on their OS's and applications. You'll find Microsoft still controls much of the business world. Macintosh and Linux are far behind. In fact, few businessmen even know about Linux.

    I may be returning to the financial industry in a few months; I find out today. I'll be entering a pure Microsoft shop. My first order of business will be turning my personal machine into a dual-boot Linux-WinNT setup. I can do that because I know the alternative exists, and I have the expertise to make the alternative work. I've already told the DP manager I plan to implement a firewall and mail server using Linux. He has no Linux experience. All his PC experience concerns Microsoft OS's and applications. In this industry, he's not alone. Even worse, the DP vendors themselves have adopted wholesale Microsoft back-office and front-office applications - running on Microsoft OS's, of course.

    Multiply this company by the multitudes of companies in other industries, and you'll see we're a long way from breaking the shackles of Redmond. And let's not even consider Aunt Minnie at home.

    We have a long way to go before Microsoft truly doesn't matter. Hopefully, we'll arrive before this mess finally finishes at the Supreme Court. Then, we'll relish the triumph of knowing the marketplace settled the issue - helped along by the Slashdotters, of course. :-)

  • by 3247 ( 161794 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:23AM (#1152725) Homepage

    No, we're not living in a post-Microsoft world yet:

    Microsoft products still dominate the personal computing and standard software market:

    • The vast majority of desktop computers still run Windows.
    • Most software written, especially games, is only available for Windows.
    • The most frequent data formats used to exchange documents are thos of MS Office.
    • Schools still teach the use of Microsoft products.
    • ...

    Even if Microsoft is split up in Baby Bills, this won't automatically change MS Office's market share.
    Even if the courts rule Microsoft's marketing methods illegal, this does not mean people will stop to buy Microsoft products.
    Even if there are other operating systems that you can buy your PC with, you still need software for it.

    At the moment, people buy Windows and Office because everyone else uses it too. And vendors write software and hardware drivers because everyone has it.
    This won't change that soon only because Microsoft is punished in any way.

    What we need are standardized APIs, data formats, etc. that are not tied to a certain software product. As long as eg Windows' API or Office's data formats remains proprietary, nothing will change from today's situation:

    • If someone sends you a Word document, it's your problem if FooOffice can't read it. Use MS Office.
    • If a game "designed for Windoze" does not run on Wine, that's your problem. Run Windows.
    • If there are no drivers for your operating systen, bad luck. Use Windows.

    Well, let's see what the punishment for Microsoft will be...

  • by Jerome2003 ( 168602 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @05:31AM (#1152726) Homepage
    I don't know about everyone else, but is becoming very frustrating to pick up the paper and see all of the doomsday articles about Microsoft. First of all, I am a long time Mac loyalist. I grew up throwing darts at pictures of Windows logos and Bill Gates. It made me upset that Microsoft had stomped out Apple from even competing in their level. It inspired me to use that frustration to learn how to program and one day create the tools and technologies that would level the playing field and make the power that Microsoft wields nevermore. This was true for people across the industry. Netscape, Sun, and even alternative OSes like BeOS and Linux fueled their drive on the fact that one day their technologies, their abstraction from the Windows world, would allow consumers to one day be free. This would not have been true if there was not an entity like Microsoft to fight against.

    Humans love a fight. It is proven that the most patriotic times in this country and the most productive are when we are at a state of war. Many outlets of the computer industry were fueled in energy and enthusiasm to fight against the software behemouth Microsoft. Would Apple have dumped their entire code base, replacing it with the multi-processing, protected memory, BSD pumping Mach Kernel if Microsoft didn't threaten to the world that NT would be the replacement for UNIX and all other Oses? Would Linus and the elite group of hackers that gravitated to Linux have come home every night after a long day of work to work on the Linux kernel and its surrounding technologies if they weren't fueled by the lack of choices for a decent PC based server and development environment? Would the programmers from Apple and SGI have gotten together to break the status quo and put the speed, media power, and 64-bit database file system into the BeOS if they didn't think the media enthusiasts of the world needed something other than the dominating Windows OS? Would Netscape have open sourced their browser and tried to redesign it from the ground up when they saw they were loosing their ground to the powerful Internet Explorer? I think not. I contend that the alternative operating systems, cross platform applications, and the power driving today's businesses online would not have been if we didn't have the company that everyone loves to hate, Microsoft.

    Programmers rallied around the little Microsoft of yesteryear because they were fighting against the giant IBM, breaking the status quo of the mainframe world into the PC world today. Because of this, we are living the benefits of a PC (or Mac) on every desktop. Now programmers are rallying around alternative OSes and Internet technologies that make cross-platform, networked applications a reality. They are trying to break the status quo of Windows everywhere. Think of what benefits this energetic generation of programmers will create! And thank Microsoft for fueling the flames in their hearts that help them to continue fighting towards freedom!

Just because he's dead is no reason to lay off work.

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