Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

DOJ Wary Of Breaking Up Microsoft 269

Tava passed along a Washington Post article in which unnamed "people familiar with the discussions" in the Justice Department suggest the government is worried about overplaying its hand. If these rumors are correct, we won't be seeing any bold strokes taken against Microsoft - and apparently, breaking up the company would be considered very bold, whether into identical "BabyBills" or distinct companies for OS and apps. The DoJ's recommendations to JudgeJackson are due by the end of the month.

(Oh, and a point of English for the folks at the Post: the opposite of "leaningtoward" is not "leaningagainst.")

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DOJ Wary Of Breaking Up Microsoft

Comments Filter:
  • Twenty years ago, AT&T was broken up into Baby Bells, now we're back to "medium sized" AT&T's
    (Bell South, Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell.. etc..)

    Some sort of controls placed on Microsoft would be better, such as not forcing OEM's to bundle only Windows, giving refunds back to customers who don't want Windows, and a revamp of their outrageous licensing policies.

    Either way, Opensource will triumph over closed source because we're faster and better.
    It's like the small, fast mammal (Open Source) running around the huge lumbering dinosaur (Microsoft).

    .. and that dinosaur has just looked up into the sky and realized it's beginning to snow.

  • I think I can hear those Governmental coffers swelling with MicroSlop's cash already... There was a story in yesterday's /. about it... Ralph []

    Americans!!! Wake up - I think your justice system is for sale!!!

    Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What the hell is that thing to the right of his head???.. I just have to know.. benn nuggin me a long time... :)
  • Thats the .GOV for ya'. Spend millions to do nothing in the end. Why don't they make Bill just release all source code for Windows and that crappy Exchange mail server. Just having everyone review his poorly written/documented code would embarass M$ enough for me.
  • Interesting. Is the government backing away from splitting the company based on the prescedent it would set? Or are they hoping that by not angling for a split up M$'s might be willing to take its lumps and not appeal.

  • A /. author correcting someone's grammar!
  • Yes :)
  • by linuxdoctor ( 126962 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:30AM (#1138041) Homepage
    You'd think that the US government would have more courage here. They had no problems breaking up AT&T, and I don't think that there was ever a question of illegal activities there.

    Here, in Microsoft, we have a convicted "criminal organization" that is a monopoly in the world, let alone in the US, and the government seems all of a sudden loosing it's nerve.

    I've heard some rumours that the US government is actively studying the impact of completely abandoning Microsoft and going elsewhere, and Linux was definetly being considered.

    Here in Canada, the same thing is happening. The governemnt has several pilot projects running Linux and there are currently several configurations being considered running the Federal Parlamentary networks as well as in the Bank of Canada and the Department of Defence.

    Furthermore, we have no vested interest in keeping foreign companies that don't benefit our economy as viable entities in Canada.

  • Opensource might be faster and better, but at least
    M$ is giving the user the experience what they want (make it easier to get the job done).

    How many times have you heard RTFM (as if it actually exists in most projects) or 'we don\'t need no stinking GUI', 'CLI RULES!!', 'fire up vi and edit those [none documented] config. files', 'I don\'t feel 3L33T enough because so many LUSERS are using my OS'

    Would HOWTOs be necessary if people documented their projects?

  • I suppose that's why we call you anonymous posters Cowards....
  • I think I smell the Bill-fucking-Gates, his money, and the odor of political manipulation.

    Don't mind me, but I'm very suspicious of this. It seems a bit quick for the DOJ, which was gung-ho to draw-and-quarter the Gates-man to switch sides and say, "He's not that bad...just slap his wrist."

    But what can I say, it's only Washington D.C., it's nice to visit but you don't want to live there.

  • HOWTO's are better than any software or hardware documentation I've ever seen.... especially Microsoft's!

  • It's Bill Gates of borg...
    It looks like the Lacutus of Borg with Bill Gates head on it.
    The thing to the side of Bill Gates head is a pointer (one presumes an optic implant is "on the way"). It's what Cptn Pacard had when he was a borg.
    Other borg don't need that as they have the optic implant..
    Think of it as the laser dot on a gun.. Where ever the dot is that is what your pointing at.

    I guess it's harder and harder for people to figure it out sence we havn't seen a borg with such a device for many years now.
  • It's mostly the higher ups that are the ones who directed the monopolistic policies, so get rid of them, and get some new ones from outside MS - prevent the lower-downs from getting promoted too.

    There's some other things they should do too of course...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now I know that MS hatred is rampant on /. , but what people forget is what MS has done for computing as a whole. Many of you out there owe a lot to MS, even if you aren't willing to admit to it because it would mean that you aren't quite such an 31337 h4X0r as you'd like everyone to think.

    Without MS making the PC available to use for the average person, the PC industry would still be a languishing backwater populated by a few well-off enthusiasts rather than the huge user base it has today. Without MS, many of you would never have been able to get into computing in the first place, and you would never have found Linux, if it even existed, and would never have found the joys of open source.

    MS have done a lot of good for computing, and despite their somewhat bad behaviour, breaking them up will be a huge blow to the PC industry. The fact that MS have been able to introduce standards has made the job of developers much easier and given rise to a vast number of applications which people use in their daily lives, such as Office and DevStudio. Without the control that a unified MS presents this stability will be shattered, and the PC platform as a whole will suffer for it.

  • Either way, Opensource will triumph over closed source because we're faster and better. It's like the small, fast mammal (Open Source) running around the huge lumbering dinosaur (Microsoft).

    .. and that dinosaur has just looked up into the sky and realized it's beginning to snow.

    Your analogy is accurate, but not for the reasons you think. Dinosaurs did not die out because of any intrinsic inferiority, and not all of them were "slow and lumbering". The mammals which were scampering round at that time had no very obvious advantage in terms of intelligence over some of the smarter dinosaurs. Dinosaurs, never forget, lasted on the earth for several times longer than mammals have; it is distinctly too early to tell which was the better design.

    What happened was that a catastrophe happened for which the mammals happened to be suited, through blind chance, and for which the dinosaurs were not suited, again through blind chance. If the asteroid had taken a slightly different path, it is extremely probable that to this day, mammals would still be scampering around, trying to evolve better strategies for not getting stamped on, while dinosaurs continued to rule the earth.

    Open source can be analogous to mammals, and Microsoft to dinosaurs. But the DoJ is analogous to that asteroid, and it has not struck yet.

  • Yeah, all these judicial system employees will be getting Rolexes if this goes MS's way. Brilliant insight.

  • Pretty rarely, actually.

    Even on USENET, most RTFMs are due to people asking questions that often were asked and answered just 24 hours before, happen to appear MANY times in Deja, are answered in howtos with obvious names, and are featured prominently in user manuals as well.

    'coz many new users don't bother to read a single document, it seems, before rushing off to CNET and using their Web interface to ask the same question 4+ groups.

    In upper case...
    With lots of exclamation points in the subject...
    Which happens to be ">>> HELP ME PLZ!!! "...
  • It shows Bill trying out a new MS SideWinder input device. The similarity with Locutus of Borg (from Star Trek - Best of Both Worlds) is completely coincidental (honest).
  • that is a monopoly in the world, let alone in the US

    I think that you bring up a very good point here. Intentionally or otherwise.

    Now, let it here be known that I have little or no knowledge of international business law. Any assumptions that I may make are just that! (Ass, you, mumption.. duh!)

    Ok, on with the show: Microsoft is an INTERNATIONAL organization. A really big company with multiple headquarters and many offices in many, many countries. Now, if the US government decides to break apart Microsoft, how does this affect the offices outside of the US? How does the government decide? This is not like AT&T where they, for the most part (i'm assuming this part) were only in the US.

    What gives?

    Rami James
    Pixel Pusher
    ALST R&D Center, Israel
  • by DGregory ( 74435 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:39AM (#1138055) Homepage
    I think that there's gonna be problems no matter what they decide to do. Had they figured this out back in 96 there wouldn't be as many problems as there is going on today.

    MS obviously thinks that they're immune to whatever the DOJ has planned for them. They've tightly integrated even more stuff into Windows than before, even in the midst of the legal battle.

    They've also hired a political guy to rally to the other political guys and get them to do what MS wants. They think that they have money and are more powerful than the government.

    Breaking up MS will cause some problems, namely because unlike AT&T, there isn't any real obvious way of doing the breakup. The different parts of MS compete against each other even today (from what I heard... which is why WebTV isn't obligated to use Windows as their platform) and even being part of the same company.

    I think MS should go the way of IBM. IBM has to publish specs for whatever they do, if people could make their own platforms & file formats TRULY compatible with the Microsoft ones, the world would be a much better place.

    As it is, what MS publishes now, only are sorta kinda like the real deal, and anything compatible that people want to create, they have to do a lot of guesswork, and even then there still are problems.

    Another thing that the DOJ could do would be to make MS sell a version of their OS without all the little wingdings and dingdongs. No IE, no media player, etc. No links to service providers, and especially no hard-to-get-rid-of link to MSN. Sell it for $30, and then sell your everything-plus-the-kitchen sink version for the $99 "upgrade" cost.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:40AM (#1138056) Homepage Journal
    If a "Micrsoft Standard" dominates some sector, the it should be FORCED to be opened, with complete documentation. This includes file formats as well as protocols.

    2. No exclusionary contracts.
    We should also study why the 1995 consent decree failed, because it was supposed to stop this, and didn't.

    3. No gag orders in the license.
    If a product is #$%^, the knowledge needs to flow in order to allow the market to correct.

    The foundation of capitalism is the free market.
    The foundation of the free market is the informed consumer who can choose. Restraining either the information or the choice is bad for the free market, and turns the economic system into something other than capitalism. It both proves and disproves Karl Marx, because it leads to the fate he describes, but I assert that it's no longer capitalism.

    My suggested remedies apply to Microsoft at the moment, but they are equally applicable to any business. Consider the market dominance AOL is achieving, yet at the same time their wire protocols are closed. They are now big enough that this may need to change.

    But then again, there'd be other changes, as well, if I were IN CHARGE.
  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:40AM (#1138057)
    Something a little off-topic. I recall that everyone was saying that now Microsoft will be targeted by states for new lawsuits/class-action suits.

    I have a question about these so-called state lawsuits and/or class-action lawsuits. Are any of these lawsuits for the benefit of anybody besides the lawyers and/or possibly the state's coffers?

    I mean, ok, there are smoe very anti-MS sentiments here at Slashdot, and then there are some who are not zealously anti-MS. And many people would like to see MS being eaten alive by the sharks. But seriously, how may we be served by these lawsuits except to be treated to a spectacle and (possibly) see a (again possibly) former glorious company limping into the future?

    This is just like the big tobacco suits. While I applaud the original intent, I fear that all the sharks circling out there readying to pounce and to fatten their own wallet will do the public disservice.

    Or am I completely wrong?

  • This is indicative of a general trend of governments bowing to corporations--good ol' neo-liberalism []. Corporations have more and more control over governments these days, so it's only natural that the government would be afraid of punishing such a large company.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:42AM (#1138059) Homepage Journal
    I'd add to your controls one that the DOJ dinged IBM with back when they did THEIR anti-trust suit; IBM can not pre-annouce any product. That means that when they release OS/2 5.0 with its spiffy new open source CORBA based workplace shell and Linux kernel, they can announce it only on the day it's released!

    One of Microsoft's favorite tactics is to annouce vaporware 5 years before they have a product with half the features they said would be in it. And the companies just love that, put it in their strategic plans and wait for it.

  • If the Justice department screws this up due to lack of backbone, the European Union could get involved. Until now they have been holding back, as is par for the course, as they generally have a much poorer opinion of unilateral action.

    The EU is still completely within their rights to go after MS, but the question remains if the justice dept. doesn't have enough backbone to go after MS, does the EU?

  • It's an election year. See the poll? If a remedy is taken that many voters disagree with, I wouldn't be surprised if they blam Mr. Gore, despite his lack of direct involvement (AFAIK).

    Then, if MS takes another hit (one that lasts at least until November), and the MANY people that hold it continue to suffer, those folks as well will probably blame Bill -- of Bill, Al and Janet; not Bill, Paul and Steve. Folks suddenly blaming the Gov't for their economic issues have been known to vote in numbers...
  • IMHO the only way to deal with this situation is a break up. In that M$ constitutes about 95% of the os's on pc's and that figure only drops to about 85% when you include Mac's, a regulatory solution would ammount to government regulation of practically the entire software industry. And I don't think anybody wishes that. Too intrusive and too expensive. A break up would be much more cost effective for taxpayers and would be the only way to really ensure M$ was held to the proposed remediation. The feds have put too much into this to let it slip away. The Washington Post is a M$ bootlick anyway, and we should expect this type of unsupported rhetoric from it. I have no doubt that Joel Klein want's a break up and is pushing very hard for it. Those who live in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area have been awash in television ads for M$, showing Bill Gates in his golf sweater doing his best easy going Arnold Palmer impersonations he can muster. This is just part of the M$ campain to win the hearts and minds of influental people in the DC area. It is clear that the Washington Post is a minion of the dark side and we should disregard anything it decides to publish on the subject. If you remember the article about the negotionations, there was no truth there either, just unsupported rhetoric and unfounded conjecture. This is obviously not journalism, but simply a bit of the current ad campain discuised to look like journalism.
  • I've heard some rumours that the US government is actively studying the impact of completely abandoning Microsoft and going elsewhere

    Massive reality check failure detected...

  • Sence most of us know what good code runs like and what what bad code runs like most of us can identify bad code just by the results.

    It's like knowing whats wrong with a car by the way an engen sounds. The person who wants you to believe the car is ok will clame it can not be done the person who wants to do the job right won't rely on the way the car sounds in the first place.

    You can not fix the code or even come close by running it but having run the code one knows for certen something is wrong and just how much wrong of it is wrong. But you havn't a chance in hack of pinpointing what is wrong with out the code.
  • by superkorn ( 101469 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:46AM (#1138065)

    Whatever the government ends up doing in this case, they should not force the removal of Internet Explorer from Windows. This would be a bad thing for a couple of reasons:

    • It is not the government's place to tell companies exactly what they can or cannot put in their software. Forcing MS to remove IE would set a rather dangerous precedent. Consider this analogy: Say ford makes cars that don't have radios. Pioneer is making radios for ford (and other) cars and lots of people are using them and like them. Ford sees this, and decides to include a radio as a standard feature on all its new cars. Gov't would not tell ford they were not allowed to do this, so why are they telling MS they can't? It's essentially the same situation. A third party company was making a useful addition to a product which the product's maker decided to include as standard.
    • Furthermore, there is currently nothing in windows which prevents you from using a browser other than IE. Yes, IE is on every windows system and is nearly impossible to get off, but that doesn't mean you have to use it. I personally have IE, Netscape, and this other thing called Neoplanet [] on my computer and they all work great. So don't whine that everyone HAS to use IE just because MS integrated it into their OS.

    I am all for reigning in MS, but the government needs to be very careful about how they do it. If they mess it up it could be totally ineffective, or worse, set a bad precendent for the whole technology industry.

  • by jellicle ( 29746 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:47AM (#1138066) Homepage
    Eliminate Microsoft's copyright on operating systems they've brought to market. All of them, from DOS to Win 3.1 to Win 98 to NT to Win2K. Require them to publish the source code on an FTP server for a minimum of one year. Future operating systems would retain a MS copyright as usual.

    With the code available, no doubt one or more companies would take the opportunity to run with it and develop new OS's compatible with legacy Windows products. Microsoft remains free to "innovate", whatever that means, and everyone else remains free to do so also. Maybe someone starts a GPL fork of the code. Maybe someone else starts a BSD-type fork of the code. Maybe someone wants to make a closed-source version.

    The only thing they lose is their government-granted monopoly on the Windows source code which is what they abused in the first place. If you abuse it, you lose it. Simple and direct.
    Michael Sims-michael at
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:48AM (#1138067) Homepage Journal
    Look -- why does Microsoft NOT want to be broken up?

    One word: synergy.

    However, synergy is the one thing they can't legally use when it comes to maintaining monopolies, however fairly they came by them.

    So, without a breakup, we will be asking the company to fight an irresistable urge to use synergy a hammer to crack open new markets and as a bulwark to prevent entry of competition. They will skate as close to the edge as they think they can get away with, if not brazenly step over it, unless draconic and intrusive regulation is employed. That's a loss all around -- the taxpayers will pay for ongoing oversight and future lawsuits, the company will be hobbled by interfering and hostile lawyers poking their noses into every decision they make. And taking them to court.

    There are two kinds of breakup scenarios, both of which are preferable from the stockholder's point of view to hyper-regulation.

    The first is the breakup of the company into directly competing, homogeneous units. This is bad because most of the value in these competing units will quickly be destoryed, and one victor will eventually emerge, using synergy to crush all of its competitors -- probably the one who gets the most credibility, the one headed by Mr. Bill. This is obviously bad for competitors because maybe 2/3 of the value of their stock will just evaporate, but over the long term they will end up with a company just as powerful as the one they enjoy today, enjoying monopoly profits. A few years of compound interest growth and they're back on track.

    I obviously don't support this scenario, since in the end it accomplishes nothing. A humungous fine would be faster, simpler, and Uncle Sam walks away with change in his pocket instead of pouring money into lawyers and beareaucrats to accomplish essentially the same thing.

    The second breakup scenario is to break Microsoft into different companies based on product line. In this scenario, the stockholders continue to enjoy their OS and office suite monopolies, plus a very strong back office product line. No shareholder value goes away, except that which comes from the forbidden synergy. The companies are free to maintain their monopolies by dint of superior features and simple market share, but cannot erect extraneous barriers to entry such as secret APIS.

    As far as this affecting open source, the status quo with a few provisos on opening and documenting APIs would be ideal. Right now, companies like IBM support open source becasue the barriers to entry into the software market posed by Microsoft power is too high -- better to destroy the market in software and remain unbeholden to Redmond. A defanged Microsoft would probably dampen their enthusiasm. This is another reason that MS stockholders should probably prefer the functional breakup, since it strengthens the existence of license based markets in software on which their profits depend.
  • How is breaking Microsoft into a bunch of small companies supposed to change anything? Forgive my simplistic view, but for the last few months, I've been trying to figure out how that's any different than telling your average Joe Blow that he has too much money. So you tell him that he must divide it up into 10 savings accounts.

    Doesn't he still have the same amount of money as before?

    Doesn't cutting Microsoft into several smaller companies give them even more room for growth and maneuverability? And are we supposed to believe that the companies are not going to communicate with each other throughout operations?

  • Now while I realize I am not an economics professor at a large Ivy League school, nor do I possess a degree in advanced macro-economics, I am about to grab hold of a degree in political science and music, so take my comment for what you will. Our government is preparing to stand by and do nothing in the face of the biggest trust since standard oil. While I realize breaking the company into pieces could be potentially hazardous to certain investors in the company, it's not hazardous to the industry. But as Neal said in the Cryptonomicon, some little old lady in Kentucky might not get her investment back if the dry goods store goes belly up, and the government gets their panties in a twist. (forgive my paraphrase, please). We shouldn't be afraid of whose money is in our coffers when we have to actually do something that is valuable.

    So we're not going to do anything?! Wrong answer. We need to break them up. Open Source their dominant industries, that means Windows, that means Exchange. Break up the company into four areas: Media (MSNBC, MSN Gaming Zone, etc) Software (Office and the Like) Internet (explorer, exchange, outlook etc) and Operating Systems (windoze). While it would be naive to assume that they not partner internally and secretly, at least try and prevent it through due diligence requirements. From there, let them grow and fight over bandwidth, processors, and development architectures. But please god, don't let them stand simply because they have a few well placed bought-out politicians.

  • What I'd like to see is about a decade of intense government oversight of every aspect of Microsoft's operation. I want every move of theirs to be required to pass muster with a huge team of bureaucrats. That would put a stop to Microsoft managements' willful disregard for the law.
    'But the government can't possibly run a high-tech business!' That's not the point. The point is that these people have broken the law repeatedly, have shown very clearly and repeatedly that they feel no remorse for having done so, and have also shown that they will do so again as soon as they are given a chance. Therefore, they must be stopped from behaving illegally.

    Actually, if it was up to me, I'd throw the entire senior management team in prison forever. White collar crime should be treated just like any other form of crime. Lock 'em up, and take their ill-gotten gains from them!

    And while we're at it, we should amend the laws so that the owners of publicly traded corporations can be held liable for the actions of the corporations they own. After all, we all believe that each person should take responsibility for his or her own actions, don't we? If the owner of a company fails to ensure that his or her company is abiding by the laws, then that person is clearly at fault. They have the control, yet didn't stop the wrong from being done. They should therefore have to pay the price as well.

    But oh, that's right. Microsoft has made this country great. What's good for Microsoft is good for America. Rah-rah-rah!

    GM used to say that, and we believed them. Then they closed down most of their US plants and moved them to other countries, destroying the towns they left behind.

    It's time we face the facts: the people who own and run major corporations have interests that are opposed to those of the rest of the population. They are not our buddies. They're not looking out for our best interests. They're looking out for their own interests, and are therefore working against us.

    We have to stop rolling over for them. We have to take the world back from them. We have to stop yielding to them in the false hope that they will deal fairly with us. We can only bring justice and fairness to the world by looking out for our own interests without any regard for theirs, just as they're doing to us. Then we'll be on a more equal footing: their economic power vs. our numbers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My biggest fear is that the loons in the DOJ would think that breaking up MS would be a silver bullet that would magically end MS's abuses of power. I would much prefer to see the DOJ impose behavioral restrictions on MS, such as forcing them to use one prices schedule for everyone, and not to able to refuse to license Windows (or any othe software product) to anyone unless that person or company had been convicted of bootlegging MS software or otherwise breaking the law in a relevant way. That would end 95% of MS's ability to strongarm anyone in the business, and would level the OS playing field.

    Forcing them to fully open API's would be nice, but I think it would quickly be seen to be irrelevant once anyone can use or sell Linux as they wish with no threat of retribution from MS.

  • I am not sure about most of the people on /. , but I care about my financial security. Due to the fact that Microsoft's connection with the entire economy is very vague and precarious, I would be willing to cut MS some slack in the final stage of the proceedings in order to prevent my portfolio from losing ~50% of its value. Anyway, what MS did wrong happened long, long time ago. Now everyone needs to get over it, and let them compete against the likes of Linux. And we all know that they will need alot of help.

  • Heh, the stock is already off 2 points today... ~7 points this week...

  • I think the puppet on the left shares my beliefs

    No, I think the puppet on the right shares mine

    Hey its the same guy holding both puppets


    This post is dedicated in loving memory of Bill Hicks

  • Without M$, someone else would have picked up the ball and ran with it. If they would have placed a strangle lock on competators, or had gone an open source route is anyones guess. We can play the woulda/coulda/shoulda game all we want and speculate on how the PC industry would be different without M$.

    My first car may have been a Ford, that doesn't mean that I have to/should always get a Ford car. Maybe I really want a new Porche.

  • I thing the gvmnt is afraid of pissed of share holders. If the "mess up" Mr Gates company and the shares go down a lot of people holding MS shares will get pissed and blame "the damn democrats".. As someone stated pissed off people are more likely to vote.

    Also I think the gvmnt is unwilling to kill one of their biggest "cows" that still can be "milked" for a long time in the forms of taxes (company taxes/wage taxes/selling taxes)...

    It's a shame how being a big company lets you get away with stuff eventhoug a judge has conclude that you've been acting like a criminal...

    Thank you

    "At the end of the journey, all men think that their youth was Arcadia..." -Goethe

    "Pick an A.C. sailor!.. We're cheaper than Karma Wh*res!" - A.C.

  • by DGregory ( 74435 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @04:53AM (#1138077) Homepage
    That's what Microsoft would like you to believe. There really is no telling what would have happened had there been no Microsoft. Apple, Commodore, Atari, were really the PCs that made computing viable for the average consumer. Granted they weren't "open" platforms, but Microsoft wasn't the company that created the idea of open hardware, it was IBM that (pretty much accidently) started it. Microsoft didn't "innovate" or "invent" anything, most everything they have they either bought the rights to, or outright copied from other sources. What does this mean? This means that everything you have today you would still be able to get, without a Microsoft! Maybe it would've been OS/2 that would've proliferated, or maybe Apple would've seized the opportunity to make a Mac-like OS for the IBM compatibles. Who knows.

    They also didn't introduce any real standards, the standards you're thinking of are "a world with only Microsoft" standards. ASP, J++, COM, .DOC, yadda yadda yadda. If there wasn't Office, there would be Corel or Lotus and they probably would've eventually made their file formats compatible had the market asked for it at the time. You act like Office and DevStudio are the be-all, end-all to applications when there are OTHER vendors that sell programs that are just as good! You've been drinking the Microsoft Kool-aid for too long.

    The fact remains that MS didn't innovate squat, and you need to read up on your computer history, and read the findings of fact, and then maybe you wouldn't be prone to believe every little bit o' garbage that MS feeds the consumers via the full page ads in USA today and the commercials with Bill Gates.
  • Looks like once again the DOJ is going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
  • If Bill Gates had a dime for every time a Windows box crashed ... oh, wait a minute -- he already does.

    Heh. Windows 9x costs around $90, that's 900 crashes -- hey, I'm getting my crashes for free now! Woo hoo!

  • Hmmm. In the '97-'98, the Trial Lawyers Association gave $2,424,300 to federal candidates (86% to Dem., 13% to GOP); this election cycle, the number appears to be $812,000 (81% / 18%). Small amount to pay when the federal tobaccy case results in one law firm getting $1 billion in fees -- and that's a reduction from the original agreement.

    Looks like allowing the lawsuits benefits candidates, as well. Like Richard A. Gephardt, $10k this cycle. Ditto for Martin Frost of TX., Patrick J. Kennedy of RI -- all this cycle.
    Last cycle, soem contributions apparently reached $20k (Lois Capps, CA), and there were numerous $10k contributions.

    Al Gore, as of 4/27/99 (i.e. OLD numbers) raised $1.4 million from lawyers; Bush, $747,000; Bradley, $646,000.

    It's off-topic, but may be of interest to Slashdotters; as of that date, Gore had raised $63,875 from Time Warner (either PAC or directly from employees; this doesn't say). Donors giving $200+ must list their employer. TW also was the source of $46,400 for Bradley.
  • Amazing how money continues to oil the world in favor of the big companies. ABC prints a poll that says most people don't support a Microsoft breakup, when most people don't even know what the issues are; the Washington Post echoes the poll, we'll be seeing it on the news pretty quickly, and I can just about guarantee that the pundits will quickly fall in line with the parent company's cash cow, AKA Microsoft marketing $. [off topic personal peave alert: the same way that magazines reliably rate HP scanners, printers, etc. as Editor's choices using really screwey logic to lower the competition's ratings -- in order to keep the HP advertising $ flowing in.]

    The Congressional representatives from Washington (who reap alot of financial campaign benefit from Microsoft support, BTW) will use their political power to try to minimize damage to the "home team", so to say. So I'm not surprised that Of course attorneys are going to try NOT to hit Microsoft too hard -- there's way too much money and power on the table.

    A structural breakup works because securities law forces each of the so called baby bills to maximize profit individually -- even at the expense of other M$ operations. While the gov't attorneys wonder if "breakup plans, such as dividing Microsoft into an operating-system company and a software applications company, might be ineffective in breaking the company's lock on the market for personal-computer operating systems.", I personally don't see any other way.

    Anyway, I hope that Judge Jackson understands things well enough to see that unless a breakup is the remedy, M$ will attempt to go on with business as usual, like was mentioned in a C/NET Article [] on Monday -- bundling as usual in Windows ME (Millenium Edition's new name).

    My hope is that the judge chooses the remedy, then implements it in a way that will minimize the risk of it being overturned.

    IMHO This doesn't have to be a win-lose for anyone -- the M$ stockholders could benefit, each M$ division would be free to innovate, and yet the playing field for the rest of the world would still be more level than it is now.

  • Are any of these lawsuits for the benefit of anybody besides the lawyers and/or possibly the state's coffers?


    They can benefit the stockholders of the companies filing the lawsuits, whose investments were damaged by a company that broke the law.

    They benefit everyone else too, by serving as a deterrent: don't break the law, or invest your money in a company that breaks the law. Maybe the next time someone (Apple? AOL?) considers whether or not to defraud their customers, or lock out competitors with exclusive licensing, they will see that they are risking millions of dollars.

    Saying that these lawsuits shouldn't exist is like saying that convicted bank robbers shouldn't have to give their stolen money back.

  • A /. author correcting someone's grammar!

    Funny. I was thinking similarly, except the /.'er didn't correct the grammar, just criticize. Perhaps the /.'er would like to suggest an alternative?


    • leaning away from
    • distancing themselves from
    • shying away from
    • ....
  • The problem with trying to regulate Microsoft out of being a monopoly as opposed to the slice and dice method is twofold: 1) Writing regulations that Microsoft can't weasel out of 2) Writing regulations that won't get overturned by a higher court Let's take the notion of forcing them to release a $30 bundled with nothing version and a $99 deluxe version. I think it is safe to say that Microsoft will do everything in its power to cripple and make useless that $30 O/S. They'll make a point of not bundling useful things like TCP/IP stacks, etc. So, how do you keep them from doing that? Can you regulate a minimum fitness for the operating system? How do you measure that? How do you insure the measure keeps pace with the technology? Good theory but a big pain to implement properly. This is Microsoft we are dealing with and they will do everything in their power to find every little loop hole. Whatever they can't find a loop hole through they'll appeal endlessly to keep it in court and out of enforcement until it all becomes a moot point in the long run. I say dice them up. It's the only way that will work in the long run.


  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:01AM (#1138085) Homepage

    First of all, I have the distinct feeling that this was leaked out by Microsoft in order to help out their plummeting stock price. But let's assume it's true, and the government is being a wuss about this whole debacle.

    Now, I'm no fan of governments, far from it. However, I'm also no fan of huge corporations. A couple centuries ago, some of the insanely rich people who ran our country realized that sometimes it's good to restrain other insanely rich people from becoming increasingly insanely rich. The reason, is that if those ambitious businessmen (read: greedy assholes) who were already insanely rich started proceeding in an unsporting way, they may keep the others from being as insanely rich as they are. Thus, we have the antitrust acts.

    But here's the deal: The rich created the government, including the whole *concept* of government in the first place. No poor farmer in the middle of revolutionary America thought "Yes, let's overthrow the British aristocracy, and replace it with something a little more close to home." Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, etc., were the bourgoisie of the time, and thus imposed their ideas of a government on people who had just helped them revolt from the last one.

    And so, Microsoft benefits greatly from the advantages of having a government around to do it's bidding. How? Well, there's the obvious IP laws. Who does MS go to when they find somebody who is pirating their software, en masse? The government. They also have other advantages that they get from the government, including the use of prison labor to package their software, and I'm quite sure that the cities of Redmond and Seattle, as well as the state of Washington, have gone to great lengths to accomodate them in any way they could (corporate welfare, repealing of land development laws, etc).

    But now, the government feels squeamish about angering Microsoft? Why? Microsoft only exists because of the government, why are they scared?

    Well, here's my little conspiracy theory:

    The insanely rich of our time (C. Wright Mills called them the Power Elite, but I prefer Marx and Bakunin's term, the Ruling Class) have two conflicting problems in Microsoft: First, Bill Gates is not a part of the ruling class, despite his wealth. The reasons are that he did not go to (and graduate from) the right schools, his parents are merely upper-upper-middle class, and his wealth is mostly stock value, not hard, concrete, built-off-the-labor-of-slaves-and-immigrants wealth like that of the DuPonts or the Vanderbilts. Because of this, and because Bill Gates has tried to enter into the ruling class, the DOJ case is a matter of showing Mr. Gates where his place is in the social darwinist jungle.

    On the other hand, what we've found amongst the ruling class/power elite is an interesting progression of capitalism. It's nothing really new, globalisation, it's basically a mixture of laissez faire theory, colonialism, and a little bit of fascism mixed in for good measure. The basic idea is, however, that government intervention and interference is not a good thing. So what you have is a generation of the ruling class who hasn't read their history properly. They don't remember the causes of the great depression, or any of the various recessions. They simply read their Friedman or Rothbard and insist that those theories are implemented.

    Remember, capitalism is highly unstable. Think what would happen if Microsoft were to continue growth unchecked, without fear of government intervention. They could grow to huge proportions, encompassing massive industries and markets. Then, when they're valued at about 3 trillion dollers, their stock value plummets. How would that affect the economy? Exactly. So, we have governments and certain restrictions to make sure that that doesn't happen (unstable economy == popular revolution, usually).

    But now, like I said, we have a generation of the ruling class that hasn't learned from history. They're doing things like repealing the glass-steagall act. They're allowing the CBS/Viacom and AOL/Time-warner mergers to go through without so much as a peep. They may talk about "getting government off our backs", but in reality, they keep increasing our military, increasing the police force, and increasing corporate welfare. Why? Because when the second great depression hits from all this unchecked capitalism, they'll need a strong military and police force in order to preserve "peace".

    Republican rhetoric about small government sounds well and good when you're listening to Rush Limbaugh, but the reality is that although personal welfare has been reduced and limited, schools are underfunded, and health care is expensively privatized, the government will still be doing it's best to break union strikes, beat down inner city rebellions, pepper spray peaceful protestors, as well as spreading this form of American "democracy" across the globe. And at the same time, they'll be cutting a check to GM in order to keep them from moving yet *another* plant down to Mexico so they can exploit cheap labor. And then GM will move down anyways.

    So, what am I getting at? Well, basically, my point is that we should be worried. Worried, and angry, because the government would dare be scared at the prospect of breaking up Microsoft, when almost all of Microsoft's wealth has been acquired with the help of the government and government intervention.

    What have we gotten ourselves into?

    Michael Chisari
  • by L0rdJedi ( 65690 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:01AM (#1138086)
    That's a bad analogy because you can take the radio you got with your ford out and replace it with something better. By having IE so deeply integrated with the OS, it is impossible to remove without breaking a few things. Would your ford break if you took the radio out and replaced it? I didn't think so. Sure you can use a different browser, but IE is still there. Would you like to have to drive around with two radios just because you couldn't take one out because the car company decided to tightly integrate it with the rest of the car? I didn't think so. If I don't want to use IE, I shouldn't have to have it taking up space on MY hard drive on MY computer.

  • They did, after all, publish this editorial [] by Charles Ferguson, who supports breaking Microsoft up the right way (OS/apps/etc.). Finally, someone who understands that being a monopoly isn't illegal, but using a monopoly to create other monopolies is.

    Then again, they also published this editorial [] by Robert Samuelson, who trots out all the "Microsoft hasn't hurt anyone" nonsense typically spouted by people who believe that the words "Microsoft", "innovative", and "software" can truthfully be used in the same sentence.

  • Ahh, the EU could impose restrictions and regulations as to how MS deals in Europe, but the could not do anything to the company itself. They have no legal power over an Americian company.


    1. Require Microsoft to publish complete documentation of all interfaces between software components, all communications protocols, and all file formats. This would block one of Microsoft's favorite tactics: secret and incompatible interfaces.

    2. Require Microsoft to use its patents for defense only, in the field of software. (If they happen to own patents that apply to other fields, those other fields could be included in this requirement, or they could be exempt.) This would block the other tactic Microsoft mentioned in the Halloween documents: using patents to block development of free software.

    3. Require Microsoft not to certify any hardware as working with Microsoft software, unless the hardware's complete specifications have been published, so that any programmer can implement software to support the same hardware.

  • by Fishstick ( 150821 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:04AM (#1138094) Journal
    >Twenty years ago, AT&T was broken up into Baby Bells, now we're back to "medium sized" AT&T's
    (Bell South, Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell.. etc..)

    Not sure I agree with your analogy or your conclusion.

    Yes, the "Bell System" was broken into seven regional "Bell Operating Companies" by Judge Greene's MFJ, but more importantly, the judgement delineated the services that could legally be provided by the BOC's (local service only) and by the Interexchange Carriers (Longdistance by AT&T, Sprint, MCI and anyone else who wanted to play).

    So the analogy of breaking Microsoft up into identical Baby Bills and how it compared to the breakup of AT&T might be a little off.

    The telecom act of 1996 set the stage for Local Exchange Carriers to offer in-state long distance (the exclusive business of the IXC) and for IXC's to get into local service.

    So far we have seen Southwest Bell gobble up PacBell and Ameritech, and Bell Atlantic has merged with NyNex. The original 7 are now down to 4. So far, the FCC hasn't let them into the LD business and the IXC's aren't exactly pouring into the residential local service business.

    So the "Baby Bells" are indeed merging and becoming larger, but they are not becoming "Medium-sized AT&T's".

    (er, what was my point? I had a point when I started this ramble.. oh yeah.)

    So saying we have a re-assembly of AT&T's isn't entirely accurate. They (the Baby Bell's) are getting bigger than they were, but the "compettitive landscape" is far different than it was 20 years ago and the companies that have merged look very little like AT&T did 20 years ago.

    I think it would be even more different for Microsoft. Breaking Microsoft up into smaller companies that all look the same is not as attractive to me as splitting them up along functions. Consumer OS, Business OS and Server, Handheld OS, Business office apps and e-commerce apps, consumer applications, etc would make more sense to me. Make the OS companies fully document the API's and force them to offer shrink-wrapped SDK packages at a reasonable price to all comers with no strings attached. Forbid these spin-off companies from forming bundled license agreements where OEMs have to include certain software with th OS in order to get a price-per-unit discount. Restrict Microsoft's licensing altogether. Give them very little lattitude to make deals on anything other than volume discounts.

    Seems like something along these lines attacks the root of the problem, which I think is that Microsoft holds all the keys to making a product work on their 95% monopoly OS, and they abuse this position by withholding information needed to make products work on windows when it suits their goals. They hold the treat of raising their price on OS licenses unless an OEM bundles other software. Take these two weapons away from Microsoft, and I think you've fixed a lot of what they we able to use as unfair tactics.
  • Will Open Source triumph? Maybe, but don't get cocky.

    Open source is more bug free because of extensive peer review. It runs faster and more stably mostly because of this. It however can take much more time in terms of development. Linux has been around for a long time and even some older parts of the kernel are still kinda rough (IANA kernel coder, but I believe SCSI still needs work etc.). Also "unpopular" jobs in OS tend to go undone, like writing good user documentation. OS groups tend to develop for other programmers rather than the much more important user community as a whole.

    However at some point the Open Source marketplace will become oversaturated with projects. It will become more difficult to attract large amounts of attention to less popular projects. OS development will get sloooow in many areas because there aren'y enough OS coders. But, due to its nature it will probably still turn out good products, just not in good time.

    So closed source development may be able to be more efficient in terms of development time. Also think about how much "good" closed-source development goes into gaming. Game engines are almost by definition fast and stable and closed-source.

    Also, CS can have better security due to obscurity. More security holes were found in Linux than NT in the same period. I'm willing to bet than NT has more holes total though. That means obscurity drastically reduced the numbers of holes that were found in NT. Obscurity is not the end all of security but it is a very useful extra layer that solves many simply problems.

    The big issue is whether OS will force CS to become better. Hopefully it will make the public less fault-tolerant and require better CS bug-detection, etc. In short, OS will never wholly defeat CS, but it may force CS to improve. It will hopefully destroy the messy MS-style bigger-is-better coding that occurs so often in the CS world and force CS to be more elegant even if no one sees it.

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:05AM (#1138097) Homepage
    With the code available, no doubt one or more companies would take the opportunity to run with it and develop new OS's compatible with legacy Windows products. Microsoft remains free to "innovate", whatever that means, and everyone else remains free to do so also. Maybe someone starts a GPL fork of the code. Maybe someone else starts a BSD-type fork of the code. Maybe someone wants to make a closed-source version.

    I see. So you want application developers to deal with a multitude of similar operatins systems all of which are subtly incompatible and slightly to not-so-slightly buggy?

    "Yes, our application works with WindowsA, WindowsK and WindowsN. It also works with WindowsD if patch 2.876 has been applied, and with WindowsJ versions 1.17 to 1.19. If you download a patch from our website, you can make it work with WindowsC, but we do not support it..."

  • You're not seriously trying to suggest that microsoft's documentation is better, or more likely to exist, are you?

    Once upon a time that was true. But it's been *several* years.

    As just a single anecdote among many, a friend actually paid the one-problem support fee from ms while doing a school project. They just couldn't get one of the examples from the excel manual to work. The answer (that they paid for) turned out to be that microsoft had never implemented that feature, and that the example couldn't really be made to work.

    I've found this to be roughly typical of attempts to use ms support and/or documentation.

    The real tragedy is that 15-20 years ago microsoft's documentation was among the best available for microcomputers, if not the very best. (then again, they wrote good software then, too :)
  • They also didn't introduce any real standards, the standards you're thinking of are "a world with only Microsoft" standards. ASP, J++, COM, .DOC,

    You don't know what the hell you are talking about... ASP is open, can use even PERL as its scripting language, and is available on multiple platforms. J++ was fully compatable with Java, just with added functionality (which you could turn off if you wanted). COM is fully documented and available on multiple platforms. The .DOC file format is fully documented on MS's Techweb site (and is in XML for Office 2000).

    Maybe you have a different idea of what standards are... but these all seem pretty standard and open to me.
  • Right now the republicans would like to cast the current situation in the stockmarket as the results of a democrat witch hunt of Microsoft.
    There is political worrys that a Microsoft breakup COULD sereously hurt the United States economy.
    That fear is not unfounded.

    What is missing here is exactly HOW one company became such a central figure in the United States economy.
    Clearly if you crush any given company it would hurt that company but not send shockwaves accrost the stock market effecting all others in the same market. If anything the market should RISE not DIP with the loss of a major compeditor.
    But companys are so tied into Microsoft now (as they must be to survive) that if Microsoft falls they are injured.

    Normally companys can (and often do) switch computers and operating systems every few years. Some upgrade once a year and some even once every 6 months.
    (This whole upgrade madness is what spawned Unix in the first place)

    So this should signal a buyup of Macs, Linux based systems and Sun Sparcs.
    Easyer said than done.
    Microsoft has put an effort into making sure the only upgrade path a given company has is to the next version of Microsofts product line.

    This is why the market is in such a panic. EVERYONE is tied into Microsoft becouse of tricks and traps. They can not easly back out. Many of them now see this and don't know what to do.

    Harsh action against Microsoft at this time is warented however. Even if it means companys will be hurt when they must take drastic mesures to get databanks ported from Microsofts product line to a standard format that can then be used on a *nix or Mac system.

    However in the short term this is an election year and the Democrats don't want to go to battle with "The vice presedent who crashed the economy" while the republicans would love to make Microsoft into an innocent victom.

    It may also mean for political reasons a soft landing is needed. Otherwise we may see a republican presedent doing what he thinks is best for the economy and that would be "Restore Microsoft".... a bad bad situation...
  • >In an about-face, Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), >chairman of the House Republican Conference and >the No. 4 person in House GOP leadership, moved >from criticizing the Justice Department's >victory as a crushing blow to the "new economy" >to commending the Justice Department's win in >federal court.

    As most folks from around here know, J.C. is no stranger to about faces. This is, after all, the man who pledged to only serve two terms and now says "I don't recall if I ever said that or not."
  • The rich created the government, including the whole *concept* of government in the first place.

    I'm sure those old Babalonians will be surprised to find out they were rich.

    Republican rhetoric about small government sounds well and good when you're listening to Rush Limbaugh, but the reality is that although personal welfare has been reduced and limited, schools are underfunded

    School funding is almost entirely a local issue, not a federal one.

    and health care is expensively privatized,

    If you think socialized health care is so great, move to Canada... I hear if you need heart surgery they actually get you in within the year now a days.

    the government will still be doing it's best to break union strikes, beat down inner city rebellions, pepper spray peaceful protestors, as well as spreading this form of American "democracy" across the globe.


    And at the same time, they'll be cutting a check to GM in order to keep them from moving yet *another* plant down to Mexico so they can exploit cheap labor

    Doesn't that make you happy that the mean nasty corporation is partially leaving so as no to Oppress the poor workers...
  • by chromatic ( 9471 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:22AM (#1138116) Homepage

    Now maybe I've dealt with some very bad programmers here at work (and looking at some of the drivers and software they've released, that's a good possibility), but I've run into that very thing right now!

    Some applications work only with certain versions of Internet Explorer (various patch levels and such). There are half a dozen numbers you have to check in the Help, About menu before you can be sure the program won't die a flaming death.

    I won't even mention the number of hotfixes and upgrades and patches and enhancements and "Oh, you installed another Office Suite application that replaced this or that DLL" that introduced incompatibilities and requires me to keep a list of the software I've installed in the order I installed it.

    And I'm only talking about Windows NT, Service Pack three. Don't get me started on the thre or four versions of 95 and at least two versions of 98.

    Application developers are already pulling out their hair. They won't notice anything different.


  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:23AM (#1138117)

    I think the DoJ may NOT recommend a breakup for these reasons:

    1. The horrid AT&T breakup experience. That breakup caused years and years of confusion by customers who needed integrated voice and data communications services (because they had to go to multiple vendors), and didn't really settle down until only a few years ago.

    2. Lawrence Lessig--the legal advisor for the DoJ side--has said that he's not in favor of a breakup.

    3. One Albert Gore, Jr. may NOT want to provide easy ammunition for one George W. Bush, especially during the Presidential debates.

    4. The ultimate solution--namely separating system sales from operating system sales--may be the easiest and best solution for everyone involved.

    Gawd, the DoJ spends over US$40 million dollars for a solution (separating OS and system sales) I suggested two years ago! They could have saved themselves a ton of money if the DoJ had pursued this course.
  • Very interesting point. For the most part, I agree, but...

    You say that Franklin, Jefferson, et al were the local Ruling Class, and led the revolt of otherwise ignorant peasants.

    By that same token, the likes of Torvalds, Cox, Barlow, Perens, Stallman... are the current local Ruling Class, leading us, the ignorant hackers, against the oppressive tyrant of Redmond.

    Hmmm... But we follow the GNU/Linux dogma because it offers a choice. We are pretty well aware of the issues, and we CHOOSE to fight the good fight. It's not a matter of following him who shouts loudest. We follow grass-roots leaders, elected on merit not only of their words but of their works. They, the roots of out little revolution here, have done a lot with their own hands already. We simply believe in their work, and contribute - by informed choice.

    This is not to say that we are not immune to the mob mentality or the forming of cults of personality. Any article on /., even this one (surprise) is populated with zealots, trolls, troglodytes... Tempers flair, we're just people after all. :)

    The government is right to bide it's time, and step cautiously around the punishment for Microsoft. The Conclusions of Law have had a significant effect on the technology stocks. The economy has reacted violently to government muscle flexing. The consequences of the punishment must be considered with even more care than making sure that the punishment fits the crime.

    Many of us would like to see M$ broken up into technology sectors: OS, Apps, Services, maybe Dev Tools.. What would be the effect? Is it not a good thing to have some stability of leadership?

    I agree with the highly moderated poster who suggests forcing M$ to open it's standards (and APIs). Further I think there would need to be constraints on the changing of these - since M$ has often changed file formats to force mass upgrades to the new version of MS-Whatever.

    It's (M$) not an easy problem to solve, and saying it's hard doesn't make it easier. Relating it to Mills or Smith or Charlemagne won't make a lick of difference. I, for one, am glad to finally see tax dollars at work, rather than fueling studies on wether blue marshmallows cause cancer.
  • I think that while everyone goes out there and does their fashionable Microsoft bashing, they conveniently forget that it was Microsoft with Windows 95 that made it easy for computer users to log onto the Internet. The Dial-Up Networking feature of Windows 95 not only gave you IPX/SPX (through NWLink) and NetBEUI through modem lines, but the all-important TCP/IP connection using the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). That made it real easy to run email, FTP, Telnet and web browser programs, and it didn't take long for Netscape to ship a version of Navigator that worked under Windows 95.

    It should be noted that the use of the Internet exponentially took off after Windows 95 was released. Yes, I know about the Trumpet WinSock program that allowed Windows 3.1x users to log onto the Internet, but Trumpet WinSock was a somewhat tricky program to configure. And Apple back in 1995 was undergoing through its throes of heavy money losses and losing customers. And Linux back in those days was more a curiosity than today's well-rounded OS.
  • Bill Gates not part of the ruling class? Come on. His father is a prominent corporate lawyer, he attended the best prep school in Seattle, he was a congressional page, he attended the leading ruling class university in America, and his company got the IBM contract because his mother was on the United Way board of directors with the IBM president at the time. ("Bill Gates? Oh, yes, he's Mary's boy. He's all right." )
  • by thud ( 11963 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @05:50AM (#1138137)
    MS is found guilty of bundling. Government says, "Stop that!" Hardware makes say, "Uh, yeah, stop that!" MS says "Okay. ;-)"

    Everyone says, "Hey, didn't we tell you to stop?" MS responds, "Yes, and we did." "Then why are you bundling IE?" asks the government. With a sly smile, MS responds, "Its not bundled, its integrated."

    In unison, the entire industry shouts, "What's the difference?!" Unfazed, MS responds, "I don't know, you tell me." "Uh, well, um... we'll get back to you."

    The government sues, "wins", then asks "Now what?" In the face of immanent breakup, MS responds by proclaiming, "The best is yet to come."

    Meanwhile, in Redmond, the following conversation was taking place... "Have the marketing guys got it together yet?" "Yes, we're ready regardless of what happens. If they break us up, we release the source to everything but Win2k. It will only be a matter of days before the hackers exploit all the security holes and thousands of companies, and the government itself, will be faced with either replacing all their software, retraining their staff, and hiring competent admins, or upgrading to win2k. We estimate that 50% will upgrade in the first 2 months, another 20% in the next 6. We estimate a 25-30% loss." "And if the don't break us up?" "The slpashscreens have been removed from all our MS Office apps and the all references to Office have been replaced with Win2k Office. Our marketing guys should be ready to roll with the new campaign within a couple of hours after the announcement."

    There have also been rumors of what sounds like laughing emanating from the MS's Redmond compound.
  • In an about-face, Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Republican Conference and the No. 4 person in House GOP leadership, moved from criticizing the Justice Department's victory as a crushing blow to the "new economy" to commending the Justice Department's win in federal court.

    Sounds like a guy that doesn't need to be re-elected.

    As far as what the unwashed masses think about the case, it's obvious that most of the non-techies think IE is a great program, and that Windows 2000 is a fine os. They wouldn't know a fine os if it didn't crash on them.8)

  • Amazing how money continues to oil the world in favor of the big companies. ABC prints a poll that says most people don't support a Microsoft breakup, when most people don't even know what the issues are; the Washington Post echoes the poll, we'll be seeing it on the news pretty quickly, and I can just about guarantee that the pundits will quickly fall in line with the parent company's cash cow, AKA Microsoft marketing $. [off topic personal peave alert: the same way that magazines reliably rate HP scanners, printers, etc. as Editor's choices using really screwey logic to lower the competition's ratings -- in order to keep the HP advertising $ flowing in.]

    actually, there tend to be very big scandals (I'm reminded of one in LA a few years ago) in 'traditional' media at least (I'm thinking newspapers, I don't know about other ones) if the reporting crosses over into caring about the advertising. in theory, reporters don't know/care about advertising $$, and try to preserve their objectivity -- after all, that's what we're paying em for. no need to visit a site which is all empty MS (or linux) advocacy. I need information, and TRUE information. I need to be able to weigh it for myself -- but it's helpful to have a (supposedly somewhat) trusted other give their opinion...

    obligatory vaguely on-topic part: free to innovate? they've always been free to innovate, but their business model doesn't seem to support it very well. I'm also not sure that a breakup is supportable, though it might benefit everyone in the long run.


  • I think MS should go the way of IBM. IBM has to publish specs for whatever they do, if people could make their own platforms & file formats TRULY compatible with the Microsoft ones, the world would be a much better place.

    This would be good, but I wonder how you force a bad guy to do something he doesn't want to do. Oke, you give them a nice penalty, make them pay a loads of money each day they don't follow your rules. The problem is, MS makes soooo much money, the fines will not easily make up for the profits MS gets by keeping the secrets secret.

    I'm pretty pessimistic about this, so I'll continue: If MS decides to play 'nice' and documents the specs, who says the docs will contain the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? They can delay the docs as long as possible so that they'll be obsolete before you get them. I mean, there are so many things MS can do to work against this, how much will you gain by forcing MS to open the specs?

    As far as I'm concerned, opening the specs is no end to the iron grip MS has on the market. For that, the market/code changes too fast for the DoJ to stay up to par.

    What I think we need to do is educate people on why we think MS is bad news. Just did it to my girlfriend and she understood. It really isn't hard. Use simple language and examples, tell 'm about the Windows crashes and see them stare in disbelieve when you tell them computers weren't made to crash, that stable OS's do exist and that they can work with another OS, that it can be easy. Most importantly, if you convert someone, hold their hands for a little while and make them enthousiastic. We can beat MS ourselves, we don't need the DoJ for that.

    PS: By 'beating' I mean 'creating a world in which Joe has a choice which OS to have installed on his new computer'.

    End of rant...

  • The crux of the case against Microsoft is: Netscape and Java threatened Microsoft's monopoly by presenting OS-independent "middleware" APIs that other developers could code against. Microsoft, by trying to crush Netscape and Java, illegally protected (and, in the case of the browser market, extended) its monopoly.

    So a "punishment that fits the crime" is: When Microsoft offers technical information to developers, it must offer them to all developers in a non-discriminatory fashion. For example: Netscape should get information about the Internet Explorer APIs that are "integrated with" Windows, on the same terms as any other software company. A company that develops word-processing software should get information about the Microsoft Office APIs and file formats, on the same terms as a company that develops a bibliography plug-in.

    A possible refinement of the above: For every case in which Microsoft both sells program X to the general public and sells technical information on program X to developers, it must offer an unrestricted license, under some non-negotiable terms, for all publishable technical information on program X, and not sell this information in any other fashion. For example, Microsoft might license a complete package of Windows 2000 API and file format information for $1 million per year. Several competing companies could buy this information and resell portions of it to third-party developers; they would offer partial information about the APIs and file formats based on the market value of the information, not based on how the third-party developers might threaten Microsoft's monopoly.
    "But, Mulder, the new millennium doesn't begin until January 2001."

  • There would have to be some regulatory remedies as well. A published price list for OEMs would be a real good start.

  • Keep their hands tied down until the market moves past them. Do you think that Linux would today be such big news had the OEM control not been loosened? I don't!

    How long will it take? Not very. Just today there is an earnings warning, and their stock [] fell below 80. I also cannot wait for this tidbit [] about IBM not allowing Windows 2000 on the production network to get into wide circulation. (It is not the only, and won't be the last such memo circulated.)

    Well it was their decision to "bet the farm" on a bloated OS, let us just hold them to it for a bit... :-)

  • Ok - I'm trying to figure out what the Gore vs. Bush race has got to do with it. I thought we all agreed that this was going straight to the Supreme Court, whom as we all know aren't influenced by politics (blatant satire, not flamebait). But where does the race come into this?

    Apply slashdot principles to the Supreme Court: have you moderated a decision today?

    "The romance of Silicon Valley was about money - excuse me, about changing the world, one million dollars at a time."

  • 2. No exclusionary contracts. We should also study why the 1995 consent decree failed, because it was supposed to stop this, and didn't.

    I'd like to see some sort of uniform law against exclusionary contracts for *all* corporations, not just MS.

    This is really a big problem with the cola wars, which have, IMHO, been worse for the consumer than anything MS has ever done. How many of you live on a campus that is dominated by Coke or dominated by Pepsi?

    The only reason this is being ignored is that Coke-Pepsi is not a monopoly; but a *Duopoly* can be just as bad for competition, and in this case, exclusive contracts are the primary instrument used to destroy competition.

    I'd like to see the govt force both companies to use well defined price schedules for their products that do not depend on whether or not their customers deal with the competitor. I'd like both companies to be forced to divest of their restaurant holdings. And, what I'd really like is to have a Coke with my Pizza Hut pizza, while my dinner guest has a Pepsi.

    I realize this post will make no sense to those who "can't taste the difference". For those of us who can, the Coke-Pepsi duopoly is a far greater daily nuisance than MS.

  • How is breaking Microsoft into a bunch of small companies supposed to change anything? Forgive my simplistic view, but for the last few months, I've been trying to figure out how that's any different than telling your average Joe Blow that he has too much money. So you tell him that he must divide it up into 10 savings accounts.

    Well you're right it is a bit simplistic, because Joe Blow doesn't own all of the money. Rather, he's got 'investors' who have a stake in his money. so let's say Joe has to split up his money based on currency. Up until now he was investing his Rubles in the Russian Mafia and letting all the profits show up in Dollars in his Swiss account. That was cool with his investors (including the Italian Mafia) since they had a stake in all of his money.

    But now the Italian Mafia is left with partial shares in (in addition to Joe's other accounts) the Rubles, which are getting no return of their own (and have some pretty hefty inflation to boot) and the Dollars, which not only are earning some decent interest, but are receiving a steady influx of cash from Russia.

    Now the Mafia has two choices:
    1. Either they will pull all their money from the Rubles and: convert it to Dollars, take it elsewhere, etc.... or
    2. If they for some reason wish to keep some money invested in a business they're familiar with -- they'll break Joe's legs ;-)

    This is of course still over-simplified, since Joe wouldn't even retain control of every account, rather one of his clones would.

  • I think what you actually mean to say is that with the introduction of Windows95, Microsoft made it easy for Microsoft users to "log onto the Internet." The fact that you convienently forget to mention is that Microsoft was the LAST major OS manufacturer to include TCP/IP support. The Unix vendors had all been including it for a very long time when Win95 came out. Apple had also been shipping TCP/IP functionality with the MacOS for quite some time. Poor Win3.1 users were stuck searching around for a copy of Trumpet and trying to get it to work if they wanted to do anything Internet related.

    It never ceases to amaze me how people will point to what a great job Microsoft did implementing this or that feature, and how they are making everyone's life better, when the truth of the matter was that they are the last ones to get onto a boat that everyone else had been on for years.
  • The Justice System isn't for sale. Jackson is definately not on the take, if he were he would be dismissed PDQ (and if he were on the's definately not Microsoft lining his pockets).

    However, the governemnt IS for sale, and always has been. Why do you think this lawsuit was started in the first place? And all of America gets surprised when Microsoft hires a lobbyist, or an anti-lobbyist. Microsoft has, historically, had no lobbyists, only recently (last few years) have they had to resort to using lobbyists.

    Lobbyists are nothing new, you know that, I know that. If Netscape, Sun, et al have their henchmen in DC greasing the palms of who knows who, it's only fair that Microsoft be doing it as well. As a shareholder I would be apalled if they didn't.

    NOT that I'm in support of lobbying. It unfairly weighs representation into a minority. Just look at Tobacco.

    But don't get on the Slashdot horn and start raising a ruckus over something like this.

    And maybe you should start reading other articles, like /2000/microsoft/newsid_638000/63 8300.stm [].

    Like the other guy said: Don't be so naive.

  • Confucius say, man who links two things together as though they are the same is confusing!!!

    You say,

    "But here's the deal: The rich created the government, including the whole *concept* of government in the first place. No poor farmer in the middle of revolutionary America thought "Yes, let's overthrow the British aristocracy, and replace it with something a little more close to home." Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, etc., were the bourgoisie of the time, and thus imposed their ideas of a government on people who had just helped them revolt from the last one."

    I am of the opinion that the bourgeoisie (correct spelling) are the middle class, not the rich. In Marxist theory, it was the bourgeoisie that were opposed to the 'masses', not the rich. You, somehow have linked them together.
  • FYI, Neoplanet will not work without IE. Neoplanet is little more than a skin for IE.

  • I used to work for Microsoft. True, there is no unified Windows 2000 source tree, but the source trees for the major components are available on public shares. Anyone in the NT development group (NTDEV domain) can access these shares. They even have a web interface to grep the entire(??) source tree!

    Of course, there is "too much" code to leak. You couldn't fit the code on a CD! It's not easy to secretly share, leak, or store that much code without being noticed. Consider that (according to a Scientific American I read last night), there are 4000 programmers working on Windows 2000. I am surprised that more people don't leak some code..

  • > J++ was fully compatable with Java, just with added functionality (which you could turn off if you wanted

    J++ does not include RMI or JNI. Granted, I don't think JNI is terribly useful when you have wildly differing calling conventions (some kind of macro abstraction would have been better) but the lack of RMI was clearly to hobble the development of client/server systems that were not 100% Windows-based. On the plus side, it allowed companies like Objectspace to push cooll stuff like Voyager [] to fill the gap.

    I never drank the Java koolaid, but there was something fishy about MS's selective implementation of the product they licensed...
  • I agree 100%. I thought I said that in my post. You bring up a good point, that Coke/Pepsi may well be about the worst abuser out there.

    Arguments against Monopoly are easy, and it's fairly easy to construct legal litmus tests to 'find' them. (legally find, that is) I'm not sure how you legally 'find' a Duopoly. How about a Trioploy.

    Aren't there Conspiracy and Racketeering laws, and shouldn't they apply to N>1_Opolies?
  • I'm sorry, I just have to throw my $0.02 in.

    Breakup of MS would be bad. Bad for the consumer, bad for the US economy, and bad for the world economy. Sometimes, dealing with the open source movement is like dealing with people who can't see the forest for the trees.

    I used to loath MS. DOS and Win3.1 simply stank. They were terrible. As an "old Skool" Amiga user, I distained the MS OS, and hardware as inferior junk. Heck I even considered the Mac superior.

    However, I will say this. It is undeniable that Microsoft has had a positive effect on Computing. It is thru almost their exclusive effort that every serious business puts a PC on almost every desk. Having used their development tools (Visual Studio, etc) I can say that that portion of their business and platform - ROCKS.

    If you still want to use VI and GCC, feel free. And for all the people who say that their (MSs) docs suck. Have a look at MSDN. When I'm coding in Visual (C++, Basic, etc) good documentation for almost the entire OSes API is just clicks away.

    I'm sorry if I sound like a MS booster - but quite frankly - qualitatively for out of the box experience, and end-user consistency, MS is wayyy ahead of Linux. Linux is great, I've got it at home running a mail server, web server, PHP, and MySQL. All of that software is FREE - which is why I use it. OTOH - installing IIS, and SQL Server on NT or W2K is easier than building, configuring, and installing apache, php, mysql, etc. Just my opinion, mind you.

    I think the most important thing that needs to come out of this whole ruling is the following:

    Full disclosure of APIs. No more hiding stuff, and playing dirty to keep it so Mircrosoft stuff works fine with Microsoft stuff, but has mysterious problems with everything else.

    That's it. That's all. No huge government agency to oversee anything. The gov. should mandate the creation of a "peer council" - a non-govenment body, that is somewhat self organized. The council would consist of verious players throughout the software industry - RedHat, Sun, AOL, Oracle, Corel, and Microsoft. They would be responsible for peer review of the API specifications that are released. While these specs might not be public domain, and may even be reviewed under NDA by the council members - it would give everyone a chance to say - hey, you "forgot" to document this "feature".

    Or something similar. I just think it's important that we keep government out of this, and let the APIs be reviewed by the people who are capable of doing it, and who can make a difference - and make sure that MS (and others) aren't introducing artificial barriers to making various products interwork.
  • Ayn Rand called this the "Economy of Pull". There is no political solution. Break-up Microsoft or don't. It won't make any difference when the next giant company wants to use it's monopoly of widgets to create a monopoly of other widgets. What we need is a revolution... -Michael
  • In yesterday's article on RReed someone posted a link to cnet which had at the bottom a link to this [] cnet item which states:

    The story cited people close to the Microsoft case as saying the government is considering a proposal that would force Microsoft to grant royalty-free licenses to Internet Explorer, opening the programming code to customers and computer makers.

  • In addition to the above, MS's biggest innovation (along with Intel) is making the computer industry horizontally integrated. This is, by leaps and bounds, the single biggest computer-related innovation of the last 20 years.

    Before MS and Intel marketed their products to OEM's who were able to establish a standard PC platform, the industry was vertically integrated. You either went to DEC, bought a VAX with a DEC-made processor, a DEC-made OS, DEC-made applications, DEC-made terminals, and even DEC-made printers. Or you went to IBM, or any of the other vertical players, and you got the same thing. MS changed that.

    MS's innovation was to establish a standard platform, so you could use interchangeable parts. All vendors ahere to the same standard, and have a tremendous amount of choice about what kind of system you want to buy, what OS you want it, how makes the processor, etc.

    This is the main reason why computing is so cheap to buy. In 1981, an IBM PC cost $5,000 (in 1980 dollars, which is about $9,000 in 2000 dollars). Now a machine substantially more powerful costs $400. All vendors sell the same thing creating so much competition that the price was driven down that much. This is undeniably a great thing for the industry, and for all consumers. If it wasn't for MS, Compaq would be selling PC's with their own OS, Dell would be also, and Gateway would, and they would also have their own value-added features and they would be incompatible. This is how the Unix (outside of Linux) and mainframe industries still are (and for that type of thing, it's fine, but for the mass-market consumers, it is not fine, because it is more expensive).
  • Fialar dun said:

    Either way, Opensource will triumph over closed source because we're faster and better. It's like the small, fast mammal (Open Source) running around the huge lumbering dinosaur (Microsoft). .. and that dinosaur has just looked up into the sky and realized it's beginning to snow.

    Now, now, now...please don't insult dinosaurs by comparing them to Microsoft. :)

    Dinosaurs by and large didn't lumber (about the only ones that DID are the really huge ones, like apatosaurs and diplodocus and titanosaurs--those were the dinosaurian equivalent of elephants and mammoths, though); most of them actually went along at a good trot, and more than a few were speedy. :) There is evidence that dinosaurs lived in areas where it DID snow (not as much as now, certainly, but ancient Alaska DID get a couple of inches of snow a year in Cretaceous times). There is a considerable body of evidence that theropods at least, and probably all dinosaurs, had some degree of warm-bloodedness.

    Incidentially, just to note--dinosaurs aren't entirely extinct, either. Most of the dinosaurs died off, yes. The dinosaur equivalent of insectivorous bats (which started off as a little branch from maniraptorian theropods--the same group that includes oviraptors, T. rex, and damn near ALL of the feathered dinosaurs found so far) was lucky enough and (just as importantly) tiny enough to survive, and happily that branch survives as the critters we now know as birds. (Some even LIKE snowy areas. Most notably, Linux itself has a snow-loving little dinosaur known as Tux the Penguin--Tux is closer to what dinosaurs were REALLY like. ;)

    The reason I mention tiny--well, in big extinctions it's been found it helps to be small if you want to survive them. The smallest non-avian dinosaurs around at the time the Big Rock hit were around the size of ducks or larger--modern birds, which were starting to come around at the end of the Cretaceous, were more sparrow-sized.

    We also know (mostly from some really incredible fossil remains over the past ten to twenty years) that most of what birdies have--brooding behaviour, feathers, the reason birds use feathers instead of skin-flaps, even their metabolism (which was probably around mammal-level by the Jurassic, and which is the highest known in the animal kingdom now--sparrows have normal body temperatures of around 43 degrees Celsius (or 110 degrees for us Yanks)...)--are all from non-flying ancestors. Some think even T. rex had feathers now (at least T. rex hatchies, and possibly even adults---boy, THAT shatters a lot of illusions, doesn't it? ;). It would also surprise a lot of folks to know that the closest dinosaurian relative to the "bird" line happens to be none other than dromaeosaurs like Deinonychus, and there is some evidence dromaeosaurs could be secondarily flightless (it doesn't take a lot to turn Archaeopteryx into a deinonych--there's a wonderful pic of what a feathered deinonych probably looked like here [].)

    The same could happen to mammals, really--in fact, some could argue it IS happening--but in a big extinction event, the major survivors would probably be mice and insectivorous bats. (Dinosaurs just had the crap luck not to have evolved mouse-equivalents before the rock fell.) If it weren't for mousies, mammals could well end up in the same boat dinosaurs ended up in--all but one branch of bats being wiped out, and the "bats" (or birds, in the case of dinosaurs) having to carry on evolution from there. For that matter, archosaurs including dinosaurs could become dominant again (they've taken the limelight from us at least once--first came "mammal-like reptiles" (which aren't reptiles at all, it turns out) and therapsids (the big group that includes protomammals and mammals, like archosaurs are the big group that includes crocs, thecodonts, pterosaurs, and dinos) then the thecodonts and dinosaurs took over after a major extinction event around the time of the Triassic...then after the major extinction event that hit dinosaurs (who started out little, by the way) mammals took over again (except in South America and parts of North America, where phorusracids promptly re-evolved mobile fingers and took up old-style dinosaurian predation till around 100,000 years ago).

    Now that I've said that (steps off soapbox)...

    Basically, what the DoJ is trying to do is like a "correction"--basically, make it MUCH harder for Microsoft to be anti-competitive. (Think comets-- this is like a rock hitting getting all the big animals out of the way so the little guys can compete and evolve--that's the purpose of antitrust law, anyways.)

    I'm sort of worried that people will be so afraid that smacking Microsoft will cause damage to our oh-so-precious money-racket we call the stock market that they will not apply enough force to the clue-by-four that is desperately needed, nor will they apply said clue-by-four in the right area. The rumblings about the DOJ being wary of a breakup might be a sign they're too chicken to take real action...I hope not, though.

    (Then again, my idea of real action would consist of all Microsoft products being GPLd retroactively and all new products being GPLd to perpetuity or the heat death of the universe (whichever comes first), the various folks who testified in behalf of Microsoft (including Gates) being thrown in Bubba's Correctional Institution House of Luurv (and deciding whether they want to be the "husband" or the "wife"--and if they choose the former being told to come over and fsck their wife :), and Gates and Ballmer being forced to PERSONALLY debug each and every one of the 65 million lines of code in Win2K as "community reparations". That's just me, though. :) It is probably fortunate that I am not a judge. :)

  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @11:35AM (#1138235) Homepage

    I don't follow, can you explain?

    Their whole market position is based on intellectual property. Intellectual property only exists because the government uses laws, courts, and ultimately police and military to protect it.

    If governments refused to protect IP, then Microsoft wouldn't have been able to stop people from copying and distributing their software. Now, true, they still could have made money, by doing the same thing Red Hat and the like do, but there's *no* way they could have gotten the position in the market that they have without government protection.

    Also a big point is that Microsoft Corporation exists because corporations are allowed to exist. A corporation is a holding of various companies by a single entity via a government-granted charter. Without the government to enforce charters (via the laws and courts, etc), there would be no monolithic group which ties all the various ownings of Microsoft together. You would have much more of a "free market" this way, but for some reason laissez-faire proponents never consider this option (eliminating corporations).

    Also, to a lesser extent, there's the large amounts of corporate welfare and the ability to exploit cheap prison (ie, slave) labor for packaging. All of these things come from the government and allow Microsoft to have an even greater foothold in the market.

    Michael Chisari
  • by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2000 @11:45AM (#1138237) Homepage Journal
    Creating Baby Bills--one for OS, one for business and Internet apps, one for games, and one for content--won't make a damned bit of difference. Even if the consent decrees state that the companies must behave towards each other exactly like they behave towards each other, it won't change a thing.

    All the OS company and the Web apps company have to do is buy full-disclosure source access license agreements from each other. They can let any company in the world buy one too, on the open market--for one hundred and fifty billion dollars. It's a high price, to be sure, but if you can raise it, you have full access. Remember that Microsoft is presently worth over half a trillion dollars. The only other company with nearly that much market cap is Cisco.

    If we cut MS into two quarter-trillion dollar companies, then Company A licenses something to Company B for price X, and B licenses something back to A for the same price, and both companies' books are in balance. Price X is in both companies' accounts payable and accounts receiveable, and the money goes around in a circle, payable over X/min(annual_revenue_of_A, annual_revenue_of_B) years. Hell, they can even charge each other interest on the outstanding balance.

    And with a good enough set of lawyers, you fend off another company seeking equally favorable terms for years.


  • I understood about the gubmint allowing corporations to exists, but the way you stated it it implied that it was solely because of them that Microsoft existed.

    I'd have to say that a big steaming pile.
    If there were no IP laws there would still be corporations unless there were laws explicitly forbidding it, and even _then_ there would still be organizations filling these roles. If the world was an anarchy, corporations would still exist, but as governments unto themselves. Let's not get hung up on the nomenclature. Somebodies always gonna be top dog.

  • The washington post ran the article, Berkshire Hathaway owns a controlling share in the post. Warren Buffett owns a controlling share in Berkshire Hataway, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are good friends. Warreb Buffet was the richest man in America until he was eclipsed by his bill-ness, and from what I know of Warren Buffett he is hardly the sort of person who would want to 'put someone in their place' like you suggest (since he's not exactly Ivy League himself). Of course this whole theory of mine (that warren would tell the post to print a pro-microsoft article) falls down when you find out that (AFAIK) Buffett plays no role in the day to day running of the post, and has given his voting rights to the current managers of the paper. Still, it shows that viewing everything through marx-coloured conspiracy theory glasses can give you a slightly warped perspective.
  • The Register made it clear that what is at stake is IBM's status as an early adopter. One would assume that Microsoft will pretty much have to resolve the issues that IBM has, and then the rollout will go on.

    But for now it is banned from their production network.

  • It slices!
    It dices!
    It splits!

    It can break up a major oil monopoly in just decades. It can break up TPC (the phone company) in just years. It's almost immune to bribes, corruption and interference from congresscritters!

    How much would you pay for this wonderful device?
    The government has paid billions.
    Other have bought it for hundreds of millions.
    It can now be your for the low, low price of $70,000,000. Yes, that's less than you lost on your last M$FT stock drop.
    Buy yours today!

    Call 1-800-gvt-bribes to gets yours today (please have your credit card handy)

    <small print>Licenses terms: This product may not be compatible with your problem. It is not guaranteed to function at all. This product requires you to have current licenses of W2K</small print>
  • It is undeniable that Microsoft has had a positive effect on Computing. It is thru almost their exclusive effort that every serious business puts a PC on almost every desk.
    Ummm... no?

    I am perfectly willing (and, IMNSHO, able) to deny it.

    MS got into business right around the beginning of the PC revolution, you had the Apple II, the TI 99, the Timex Sinclair, the various CP/M machines that predated them. Obviously, the time of the personal computer had come. What's been driving it since then? Moore's law... Computers (since before MS) have been doubling in speed every 18 months (or faster). As the power of the computer you can buy for a fixed price increases, the more people it's useful to at that price, and the more that will buy one. If Microsoft had flagged when the Mac came out, would we still have easy-to-use PC's on everyone's desk? What evidence do you have to the contrary?

    What "innovations" (to steal a word) did Microsoft come up with that made "every serious business puts a PC on almost every desk"? Specifically, what did Microsoft do to bring this about, that was not independently developed elsewhere?

    I will admit they've done a number of good things, but I can't think of anything so revolutionary that nobody else could have done it.

    Certainly, the whole "ease of use" thing wasn't theirs, it's an Apple (Xerox) thing. Selling the OS separately from the hardware was a good idea, but IBM's (with some err... helpful suggestions from the.... wait for it... government). Some of their apps were pretty nice, but I can't see how this could have brought about the PC revolution exclusively...

    Sorry, but this argument simply does not hold water.

  • (again)

    Well, I don't think Access "won" the desktop database wars because it cost $99. They won because they were able to push "MS Office Professional" site licences on to business, which included Access. If you were to divide out the cost of Office Professional, business were getting Access for about $60, plus the installation was "free".

    Sybase screwed themselves by jumping out of the PC RDBMS market during the dark days of OS/2. Microsoft carried the product as a money loser, and when NT started getting big they had a mature product.

    I've never heard the accusation that Microsoft stole Novell source code (I assume this is for IPX/SPX). Anyway, back in the old days, Novell cost about $1000 per seat, making it veerrry easy for Microsoft to undercut them. Even today, a NetWare/NDS seat costs about 2x as much as a Windows 2000 seat costs. Anyway, Novell f-ed up in so many ways (No TCP/IP, no app server, etc, etc.) that it's hard to pin their current state on Microsoft.

    Microsoft's marketing practices are nasty and if not blatently illegal, certainly borderline. Their employees will not hesitate to throw the nastiest FUD and lies imaginable, whispered in corporate hallways and freindly technical conferences. They lie like bastards about release dates (ActiveDirectory was first promised for 1997!) The pre-announce things like crazy, often before any design work has even been done.

    But there's one thing they've always done well that isn't illegal -- their solution is almost always the cheapest, most easy to use (superficially), and has the longest feature list. They've nevered wavered in investing in *their* platform, and since IBM in the 1990s, have never let themselves be reliant on any other corporation or technology.

    In short, they are #1 because they have produced OK, very cheap products. The big problem for them is that you really can't beat the price of free software, so for the first time they are resorting to TCO and other more ephemeral arguments.
  • The NASDAQ Index took an extended dive when it started to appear Microsoft was going to be hit hard by a judgement. [] If the NASDAQ rebounds now that it appears the DOJ is going to put on the kid gloves, people had best consider carefully why it is stock in "The New Economy" is so sensitive to Bill Gate's portfolio:
    • Are all those day traders Gates groupies?
    • Is Gates manipulating the NASDAQ?
    • Is, horror of horrors, NASDAQ responding rationally to a government attack on an industry leader?
    • Are people afraid that Gates has purchased a Russian Sub and has it parked off the east coast ready to push the button if the DOJ does anything really nasty to his baby?
    I don't know... you figure it out...

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!