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Microsoft Break-Up To Be Proposed? 362

lowLark writes: "The Seattle PI is reporting that the feds and most of the states have agreed to pursue breaking Microsoft into two companies." One company will be in charge of 'Bob' and the Mouse, the other will be everything else :)
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Microsoft Break-Up To Be Proposed?

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  • There's a very good article in the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] with lots of details. It also talks about the restrictions that will be placed on the Baby Bills - limits on bundling, uniform licensing, etc.

    -David Ziegler
  • I agree that Microsoft needs to be broken up, but will two seperate companies be enough to ensure competion?
  • by Grimwiz ( 28623 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @03:57AM (#1104786) Homepage
    - Barney
    - cream-coloured optical wheelmouse
    - Age of Empires
    - most other microsoft hardware
    - Word 2

    - "Nike" mouse
    - anything that stops working unexpectedly

    I think that covers it all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28, 2000 @03:57AM (#1104787)

    Despite the /. anti-Microsoft propaganda machine, the forced break up of Microsoft would be a bad thing for the computing industry as a whole, and harm consumers more than anyone else. Persoanlly I think this whole mess has gotten well out of hand, and it's now being used as an excuse for blaming Microsoft for everything from the Fall of Man onwards, which is blatently untrue.

    The fact of the matter is, Microsoft practically single-handedly turned the PC from the haven of 31337 tech-savvy "gurus" to a domain where anyone could use a computer to browse the internet, write letters and play games. Whilst I know that /.ers seem to think that only they should be allowed to use PCs, Microsoft pushed the idea that everyone could benefit from a PC, and it worked, because people wanted that.

    Face it, the only people who have anything against Microsoft are the very people that disdain to use it since it isn't based around a CLI. Breaking the company up will harm the average user, since a high level of integration means a greater ease of use. And for once, /. should stop and think about the average user rather than blindly following some dogmatic principle.

  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:06AM (#1104795) Homepage
    Are you sure Microsoft wasn't just in the right place at the right time? That seems like a much more accurate (and, excuse me for saying so, less "spun") version of history.

    As for "higher integeration = greater ease of use": that may be true, but look at the cost. If you haven't read Judge Jackson's findings of fact, I suggest you do so. There's a lot of reasons there to have something against Microsoft that have nothing to do with their moving to a GUI. (I don't think anyone is saying that MS's CLI was any good, anyway!)


  • by CaseyB ( 1105 )
    I don't see how it can be done with only two companies. The rumored proposal is 'office' vs. 'OS' divisions. What about all the other Microsoft components?

    • Services (MSN, Hotmail, MSNBC)
    • Internet Explorer (Surely this can't be part of the OS! :) )
    • Hardware
    • Development software (VC++, VB)
    • MSDN (Developer services, training)
    • BackOffice (Server apps)
    • Non 'Office' Software (Games, educational software)
    All of those are key players in Microsoft's unified Juggernaught. Any two of them in combination provide all kinds of competitive advantages to MS.

    I don't see any simple way to divide the company in two to remove the monopoly power.

  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@a s t r a dyne.co.uk> on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:10AM (#1104798) Homepage Journal
    will two seperate companies be enough to ensure competion?

    No. I've been concerned about this for some time. It's certainly a step in the right direction, but the OS company will still have a desktop OS monopoly, and the apps company will still have a monopoly in terms of office suite market share (and hence will be able to block competition by repeatedly changing file formats, etc.).

  • by ballestra ( 118297 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:12AM (#1104799) Homepage
    Has anyone noticed that Microsoft seems to be deliberately trying to piss of the DOJ and state's attorneys general? I'm no fan of MS, but I've always been pretty impressed with their strategy, especially in legal matters. So are they trying to get the worst possible punishment on purpose? Are they betting on reversing the findings of law on appeal by claiming the DOJ was too harsh? I don't get it.

    If I were MS, I'd be very quiet right now, with perhaps an occasional mention of how much competition MS faces from Linux, Apache, Oracle, AOL, Sun, etc.

    "What I cannot create, I do not understand."

  • by Iron_Slinger ( 126682 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:13AM (#1104802)
    Sorry, I just think it's kinda funny that so many slashdotters claim to be libertarian and then turn around and expect the govt. to break up MS. Personally, I would rather see the market punish MS. Move from MS products to quality products. MS will either be forced to change to what the market wants (instead of what MS wants), or they will die out. Iron_Slinger -- Pain is just weakness leaving the body.
  • See the latest I, Cringely [pbs.org] article at PBS online for why this is all irrelevant at this point (see towards the last half of the article). If you don't have your I, Cringely slashbox turned on, I'd say turn it on. The guy always has some interesting points, a better pundit than Dvorak.

  • Breaking up Microsoft will not work.

    Let me repeat again, it will not work.

    The only thing that will come out of the breakup is streamlined business processes. They will still have the same communications link. Even though this worked for AT&T a while ago, this will hurt consumers.

    Some people like CLI's, and others like their hands held by Artifical Intelligence. We should not force our beliefs onto others. Once we tell them the facts (truthfully, like the lack of applications for Linux; this is changing though) we should not interfere with their decision.

    If they want Windows, let them. If they want Linux, don't torture them because they chose RedHat or something not as "elite as Debian."
    This will be the only way we can attract more people away from Windows.
  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:19AM (#1104811)
    I have plenty against Microsoft.

    I don't use CLIs that often.

    They _didn't_ turn the PC into something usable by all. Apple and Commodore both did better jobs with the Mac and Amiga respectively, but lost as Microsoft had already been given the market by IBM, amongst other reasons.

    Just because they've been dominant while this happened doesn't mean they initiated it.

    I'd support their breakup as it's a clean way of getting them to abide by the law. They've consistently shown contempt for antitrust laws for some time now, but a conduct verdict would require huge, expensive oversight. Whereas breaking them up would require rather less and arguably be more effective. No more cross subsidising products. No more secret APIs. And no more feeling that you need to by Microsoft because they did Windows so their stuff must automatically be best, right? Don't laugh, that's a surprisingly common view amongst the less tech savvy. And one that forcing one or more of the various companies created by a breakup to rename would kill.

    Breaking up Microsoft is good for everyone, and should happen soon.

    Though perhaps my tagline is a trifle ironic in this post ;-)
  • Blanket statements like this are basically worthless. Your position doesn't help unless you can say WHY.

  • This may be true in the short run, and that is unfortunate, but in the long (and even medium) term it'll do a world of good. Competition is a good thing.

    Microsoft exerts a strong negative influence over the computing industry. As Doonesbury so nicely put it, the American Dream for tech companies has turned into hoping to be bought-out by Microsoft.

    Despite their claims, Microsoft is a company of borrowing and integrating, not of innovation. There's a place for that, but that place isn't a company that is large enough to swallow everything else whole. Once Microsoft has total control, who is going to do the actual innovating?


  • I've been reading articles that talk about how "great" Microsoft is for consumers but I can not dismiss my own experienece with their software. I have used all the major version of Windows (Except for Win2K). I've used MS Office on Windows and MacOS. I still can not get over the impression that MS produces software that is "just good enough"- not excellent. That's the mentality of much of the US today, don't strive for excellence just do something that meets the bare minimum of expectations and put some flashy graphics up to make it look interesting, but do not go out of your way to do something that is outstanding.

    I am beginning to think that breaking up the company would actually be a good thing. It might bring a breath of fresh air into a world and an industry that desperately needs it. That's one of the major reasons that I am a big fan of Apple.. they are willing to take risks and try to introduce change in th their industry- and are willing to deal with the flack (ie. all the complaints about the iMac, G3, G4, MacOS X, etc).

    And before you dismiss me as an overzealous MacMarine, I do acknowledge the things that I believe Microsoft has done correctly- one of the most recent things being the Optical Intellimouse Explorer (I bought one for my G3 at home and also for my PeeCee at work)- it's a fantastic piece of hardware. I wish that all MS products were as well engineered as that mouse.

    I also get kind of frustrated at reading the comments made by people that are saying the DOJ is wrecking their retirement portfolio. Folks, investing is a gamble - there are no guarantees. If you invest heavily into a single stock, then you should be smart enough to realize what will happen if the stock drops in value. If you are not, then you should probably not be investing in the stock market at all- until you educate yourself a little more. The same goes for the businesses that build their livelyhood soley around a single customer base- like well-to-do Microsoft employees.... you should be aware that there may come a time when your customer base dwindles or changes significantly. You need to be able to deal with it... and not complain to the newspaper and act shocked when it does happen to you.

    Ok, enough of my rambling.
  • According to a CNN stroy this morning, it will be one OS comapny and one APPLICATIONS company.

    "Applications" certainly covers everything that's not in the OS. I'd expect within the applications company there to be an office division, a development tools division, a games division etc.

    But the story also says that they are going to ask MS for a plan to implement the break up...I find that odd.

    Anyway, I agree that IE should belong to the Applications Co. not the OS Co. since that's what started this whole thing.

    Maybe the applications company will release non-windows ports of some of their better programs now that they are not joined at the hip to Win 9x, 2000 or whatever.

  • ...
    The fact of the matter is, Microsoft practically single-handedly turned the PC from the haven of 31337 tech-savvy "gurus"
    to a domain where anyone could use a computer to browse the internet, write letters and play games.

    Excuse me, but I think you misspelled *Apple*.

    What's annoying to me is folks who believe the computer revolution could not have happened without Microsoft.

    Imo, Microsoft has set the industry back by a good decade or more, and it's time to right the ship.

  • by Zagato-sama ( 79044 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:24AM (#1104828) Homepage
    Hasn't Slashdot milked this enough? How many "Microsoft-will-die" stories must be posted to satisfy the drooly/giggling anti Microsoft fanatics?

    It's been stated already, this will go on to appeals and will probably not come to a conclusion in our lifetimes, get over it and report some real news already instead of playing the old podium game.

    Realize also that any breakup of Microsoft will have very little impact on Linux. If a hardware vendor doesn't give a rat's ass about Linux, it certainly won't change it's mind like magic after any ruling.
  • by Squid ( 3420 )
    Marketing in one company, engineering in another.
  • by um... Lucas ( 13147 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:24AM (#1104830) Journal
    How can allowing customers to buy PC's for lower prices (through a published price list for Windows, insuring that all vendors can offer systems for the same cost, rather than having to pay artifically inflated prices for Windows because the vendor doesn't want to do exactly as Microsoft states), allowing consumers more software to choose from (rather than watching them buy brand X's software until Microsoft decides to bundle that function with Windows and destroy the market for that type of software as happened with browsers and disk compression and now is happening with streaming media), letting companies choose the best tools for running their networks (rather than the ones whose standards were hijacked by Microsoft ei kerberos), and letting customers choose which OS they want to run without being worried whether their favorite software will be available for it (Most companies are standardized on Microsoft Office. Yes, Office is available for the MacOS, but the newest version that has all the features of the Windows version always appears at least a year later than the windows version) possibly hurt customers?

    I apologize for the long run on sentence!

    Breaking Microsoft into an OS company and an Application company and adding a few ground rules that Microsoft would HAVE to follow would go a long way to restoring and insuring competition to the computer market.

    If the OS company had to publish it's prices for Windows, we'd all benefit.

    If the Application company could develop for any platform rather than just Windows, how would that harm us?

    And talk about doubletalk... For years, whenever people complained that Microsofts applications seemed to work better than anyone elses on Windows, and that they therefore must have an in with the OS teams and have access to "secret" API's, Microsoft always proclaimed that there was an invisible wall between divisions, and that it's application department only got the same information as outside vendors. These days, Microsofts' line is that the two departments actually work very closely together and therefore being broken up would be very very bad for the company. So basically, they've been lying to everyone for years about how they operate...

    Yes, Microsoft did do a good job at marketing the PC to consumers... Apple could have had that market years ago, but they were arrogant and for some time their machines were priced twice as much as equivalent Wintel machines... But a few years ago Microsoft turned from the semi-benevolent dictator to being obsessed with owning every possible revenue stream it saw. At that point, the benefits of having a Microsoft in the world evaporated. When they can walk into apple and seriously state that they won't develope Office unless Apple drops Quicktime, that's consumer harm. They're no longer trying to advance the computing world rather than trying to just dominate it.

    I'll stop now.
  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <icebalm&icebalm,com> on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:25AM (#1104831)
    So instead of having just one dirty handed, predatory, monopolizing business, we're going to have two! What a great solution!

    The feds are going about this entirely the wrong way, they're thinking that software is somehow like oil, when infact it isn't anything like it.

    The product has different properties which make breaking up the company ineffective.

    1. It costs virtually nothing to copy data
    2. Source between these two companies can be shared in such a way that they can basically keep operating as one company
    3. The two companies would have different products (OS / Everything Else) and therefore don't have to compete against eachother unlike the oil and phone company breakups!

    It's just a bad decision, I've said it from the start, and I'll say it 'till the end.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • by locust ( 6639 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:26AM (#1104833)
    The fact of the matter is, Microsoft practically single-handedly turned the PC from the haven of 31337 tech-savvy "gurus" to a domain where anyone could use a computer to browse the internet, write letters and play games

    Are you sure about that? I would say that honor goes to applications like Lotus 1 2 3. A killer apps of old. How many of those came out of MS? Those applications as used by business, are what moved the PC from hobby to ubiquity. The consumer market is peanuts compared to the business market. The fact is that companies have been using computers (sometimes with really brutal interfaces) for years before they were common to massmarket consumers. Usually they crunched numbers (think banks/insurance/whatever), but they also wrote letters, printed payroll and so on.

    Breaking the company up will harm the average user, since a high level of integration means a greater ease of use.

    Greater ease of use means buying a mac :) Actually higher level of integration only means greater ease of use if the system is consistent (orthogonal). As the number of features integrated goes up the ability to maintain consistency goes down. This is because you end up with an attempt to meet contradictory design goals. This is also because as the system gets larger (and more people work on it) the need to comunicate a simple common interface (user and software) strategy goes up, but your ability to communicate it and enforce it goes down.

    And for once, /. should stop and think about the average user rather than blindly following some dogmatic principle.

    I don't know if everyone here advocates the destruction MS, but I do know this: those that do have good reasons that they are able to articulate , rather than pontificate from on high (and do quite vocally). You must have mistaken them for a bunch of kids going "Ah dude, MS sucks."


  • The fact of the matter is, Microsoft practically single-handedly turned the PC from the haven of 31337 tech-savvy "gurus" to a domain where anyone could use a computer to browse the internet, write letters and play games. Whilst I know that /.ers seem to think that only they should be allowed to use PCs, Microsoft pushed the idea that everyone could benefit from a PC, and it worked, because people wanted that.

    I forget what the perl syntax is for replacing a string with another string, but I believe you meant to say Apple in place of Microsoft, right?

  • by LevenValera ( 149778 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:27AM (#1104835)
    You realize, of course, that Microsoft 2.0 will have all the features of Microsoft 1.0, plus added functionality: MsEmailSafe (tm) will no longer allow damaging emails to leave Microsoft Exchange Server, and wind up on Open Source web pages. Exchange will lock up and spit blood instead, and the users will never notice, having become accustomed to this. MsPropaganda will be upgraded to 3.2.1, incorporating the latest kernal upgrades from the MPAA and the Public Confusion Algorithm (MSPCA), in particular. And Bill Gates will finally get a decent haircut.
  • Eh... The phone companies didn't have any competition even after they were broken up. The break up, then, was done regionally, and each Baby Bell p'rty much kept a stranglehold on it's region. They certainly didn't have to compete against eachother.

    The premise of a breakup would be pointless if there were no conditions on how the sibling companies could interact. If this is indeed the final remedy, I would assume that the ruling would include language that precludes the Baby Bills from cooperating too heavily.
  • Break up as proposed is good, but I think the initial rumours of 3 separate companies (OS, Applications, Internet) would be better. After all, what if they start integrating IE into Office? We don't want to go through another DoJ...
    The behaviour of Gates and Ballmer are not surprising. Gates has been defiant from start and very arrogant indeed. In fact, should he have accepted the initial measures before the trial, he could have avoided the whole anti-trust embarassment and gotten away with a minor hand slapping. Instead, he chose the path of defiance and he now reaps the consequences (I think he lost over 40b in the past few weeks and the #1 position on rich list, not to mention the bad PR M$ is getting).

    He should have learned from Slobodan Milosevic not to fuck with Uncle Sam :)

    My £0.02 ($0.035 approx).
  • Sorry, I just think it's kinda funny that so many slashdotters claim to be libertarian and then turn around and expect the govt. to break up MS.

    Is that how you read it? I see a lot of slashdotters who claim to be Libertarian and a lot of other slashdotters who expect the govt. to break up MS. Or do you see any specific examples of individuals holding both views? I'm amazed time and again by the tendency to lump all relatively popular views (held by say more than 20% of the posters) into one collective and then turn around and call that collective 'hypocrite'. I know you didn't use that word but that's the implication here.

    Also, note that there are a number of individuals here who might hold views which are typically Libertarian but who neither are nor claim to be Libertarians as such.


  • Gates' and Ballmer's continuing assertion that Microsoft has done nothing wrong is absolutely incredible, in my opinion, and I don't think it bodes well for a speedy resolution of this case. Perhaps they believe that if they keep telling everyone that Microsoft is right, everyone will believe them. Similar to how they keep telling everyone that Windows is a stable, efficient operating environment, really...

    I suspect that Microsoft intend to take advantage of the legal system in order to draw out this entire issue for as long as they can, by lodging appeals, raising minor issues and basically throwing as many lawyers at it as they can.

    It makes me wonder if there isn't, perhaps, some form of punitive action the US Government can take immediately, to preempt MS's legal maneuvers and stop their predatory practices immediately. The "conduct remedies" being mooted are obviously a step in the right direction, but I can't help feeling that the very existence of a company which refuses point blank to acknowledge a judgement against it in such a case of this, and which is effectively refusing to recognise the authority of the Legislature and Government, is a problem in and of itself, and that they will continue to use underhand methods to circumvent the conduct remedies. In any case, these remedies can only really be applied to bad stuff that we already know about (e.g. Windows' pricing, the browser issues, etc.) and not to future issues which are sure to develop if Microsoft remains in one piece.

    In effect, MS is big enough to take on the US Government and fight it to a stalemate. Now, I know that you Americans generally take a very dim view of your Government, but if I were in your shoes, I would ask myself whether it's really beneficial to the computer industry, your country and society as a whole to have a company which is this big and can exert that kind of power?

    If it were up to me, I'd probably nationalise the damned corporation. ;-)

    ...is for Dangerous!

  • by Skruffy ( 170067 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:34AM (#1104847) Journal
    No one seems to have pointed out that one of main things that gives Microsoft an edge over all of their competitors is that they have full and exclusive access to the Windows API. Breaking the company into two would mean that any information being tranferred between them is "on the market" and therefore available to anyone that's willing to pay for it. So next time they change the whole of the Windows OS in order to make Word work correctly (you'll notice that almost every system dll is replaced when you install Office) they have to tell everyone what they changed. No more undocumented API calls (in theory ;-)). Woohoo.
  • by ballestra ( 118297 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:35AM (#1104851) Homepage
    Whatever beneficial societal changes may or may not be attributable to the MS marketing machine, they have no bearing on this case. Without Bell, we'd still be using telegrams, but it was still better for the public to break up Bell.

    Breaking up MS into OS and apps doesn't destroy or even affect Windows, Office, or IE as products. It prevents the MS marketing dept from misusing their monopoly position. You may think differently, but there is very little benefit gained by the integration of apps with the OS. In fact, I see very little integration at all, aside from default file associations, and the fact that MS Office just uses the Windows OS better than competitors, who don't have the same information. IE has been used to enhance the desktop and file manager, but those enhancements could be done independently of the browser.

    Remember that Bill Gates didn't write DOS, he bought it. He didn't invent the interface, he copied it. He didn't invent any applications, he just copied and improved competing applications. If MS never existed, we'd be still have PC's, good apps, good OS's. We will never know what things would be like if MS hadn't been around. I won't say things would be better or worse, because I don't know. What I do know is that things would definitely be better if MS had never broken the law.

    "What I cannot create, I do not understand."

  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:38AM (#1104862)
    I'm sorry, but I really don't believe that a "high level of integration" necessarily requires the sort of anti-competitive business practices that seem to be the mainstay of Microsoft's business plan.

    The fact of the matter is that it is incredibly difficult for any company to compete against Microsoft in its key areas of business, namely operating systems and office suites. Ask yourself how many people you know use an office suite other than MS Office? In fact, ask yourself how many ("non-techy") people you know who can name an office suite other than MS Office.

    Is this really because MS Office is so much better than anything the competition can put out? Or is it because 75% or more of new PCs come with it pre-installed "for free"? (I say "for free" because I do not believe that the cost is not passed on to the customer in the price of the hardware)
    That's all fine and dandy, until a few people you know get the version of Office up from yours, and suddenly their documents are incompatible with yours in annoying little ways...

    Next, let's look at operating systems. If ease of use was really the reason that Windows is so popular, then everyone would be using Macintoshes. In my (admittedly limited) experience, MacOS is much more user-friendly than Windows. Linux zealotry asside, better operating systems than Windows do exist.

    Breaking up Microsoft will not "harm the average user". In fact, it is more likely to benefit the average user, by finally allowing some real competition for a change. People will no longer be tied into a specific set of tools from a single vendor; they will be able to shop around for the software that most suits their needs at a better price. No longer will they be forced to buy the latest version of Office just because a couple of their business partners/customers/colleagues have and they can no longer read their documents properly.

    No, Microsoft is not the root of all evil, and their software is not all buggy and bloated, and only half-way secure because it crashes too often to present anyone enough opportunity to crack it. But neither are they the maligned saints that you seem to think they are.


  • ...Microsoft practically single-handedly turned the PC from the haven of 31337 tech-savvy "gurus" to a domain where anyone could use a computer to browse the internet, write letters and play games...

    Uh, that was Apple, not Microsoft. Microsoft merely 'appropriated' the idea of the GUI (which, I know, was originally a XPARC project), and had more success with their marketing campaign, and chosen hardware platform.

    As for the 'blindly following some dogmatic principle.' matter: Most of the slashdot users who dislike Microsoft did so before it became the 'in' thing to do, and with good reason.

    Even though it has become pop culture to bash Microsoft, and point and laugh at their falling stock price, thanks to CNN coverage of the DoJ vs. Microsoft trial, this is not a fad for /.'ers who have disliked MS all along.

    It's not a 'dogmatic principle'. It's thinking for ourselves, and seeing through their fierce marketing campaign that plagues potential users who see the flashy adds that get overplayed during primetime. Blindly following would be giving in to these ads without knowing about the alternatives. "Yes, that's where I want to go today!"

    There are valid reasons to dislike Microsoft, and their products, but being '31337', as you put it, is not one of them.

  • One company for OS, one comapny for applications.
    > Perhaps a third for services (MSN etc), but I don't think that is neccesary, since that leg is standalone anyhow. Same goes for hardware.

    There is no need to cripple MS, just to take away the "unfair" advantage. Once you have a real choice about what applications to put on a preinstalled PC it is no longer possible to pull an "internet explorer"

  • Very simple: Deny, deny, deny.
    They are not going to weaken their stand in any way, because any sign of hesitation or capitulation will be translated as admitting guilt. If you were Microsoft, you are NOT going to admit you're guilty, even if you know you are. Basically, they are taking the "never surrender/go down fighting" mentality, and they should.

    Let me put it this way, if they allow for a hint that they might have done "a little wrong", then people will jump up and down and say "see? you even admit it yourself that you did the wrong thing". If Microsoft show any sign of weakness, it will be devoured quickly into oblivion.

  • by Zoltar ( 24850 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:43AM (#1104870)
    ***The fact of the matter is, Microsoft practically single-handedly turned the PC from the haven of 31337 tech-savvy "gurus" to a domain where anyone could use a computer to browse the internet, write letters and play games***

    I repspectfully dissagree.

    Apple was the first company to make an attempt to produce an OS that was aimed at the average user. MS has done much to mimic that OS. In fact it took MS years to even come close to the early Macs. No I really don't think they have been leaders in that area at all.

    If you want to look at why the PC revolution happened and why your mom has one then look no farther than the web browser my friend. And if you give it some thought you'll see that MS's whole "make the browser part of the OS" sure doesn't happen without Tim Berners Lee or any of the leaders who pioneered the browser technologies. Then you can look at cheap hardware prices and heck... even AOL if you want to be brutally honost.

    I'm not bashing MS or saying that they haven't done anything good, but the revolution was happening and they were just part of it, not leading it
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:45AM (#1104871) Homepage

    1) Microsoft did not turn the PC from its haven of the techy into the realm of the user. That title went to the Mac, good _marketing_ gave the PC its edge as well as the massive failure of IBM to spot its power.

    2) The rise of the PC and of Microsoft is of the same sort of community that is contained in /. it was technically capable people who created the software. While some wish for things to be complex, most people here on /. appear to like things being more popular.

    Now onto the rest. Microsoft _has_ done a good job in promoting and extending the PC. The problem is that it has done this _at the expense_ of the consumer on many occasions. Few would argue that MS-DOS was better than DR-DOS, yet strangely DR-DOS died. This was a result of MS pushing out the opposition by using their dominante position.

    Microsoft have succeeded by realising two things
    1) Quality doesn't matter, being first matters
    2) Marketing can over come most evils.

    Using these two commandments they have created the PC market place. However when competition loomed they used their command of the market to crush the competition, not in the interests of the consumer or because their product was "better", soley because they have the first hook that every user sees. This is bad.

    The internet, windows, the web, the mouse and all the other things that make the world a better place for the average user were not invented or even best implemented by MS. They were best marketed by them and opposition removed by other means.
  • The joint state-federal plan calls for breaking Microsoft roughly in half. One-half would be the operating-system company; the other would hold everything else, including Microsoft's applications software, such as the word-processing program Word and the spreadsheet program Excel, and the Internet properties.

    I have a feeling that Gates has known for a while that Windows was doomed--this is not a troll--I honestly believe Windows is beyond saving. Rather than completely dropping support for Windows he gets to have it artificially amputated instead.

    So Microsoft can appeal the decision as long as Windows is still profitable, then "give up" when it turns into dead weight. The dying operating system that they no longer want to support becomes someone elses problem automatically. Gates can just shrug and say "Hey, it's not our fault the DOJ broke us up. It's a shame to see the operating system I created die at their hands."

    As for now, his "go ahead and break us up, I dare you" attitude doesn't suprise me one bit.

  • Over the years, Microsoft has produced a lot of great software and given us many innovations such as windows, mice and trashcans on our desktops. I maintain that they are a great company and that Bill Gates is one of the greatest and most innovative talents of out time. I firmly believe that Microsoft will continue to create great products for many years to come.

    Guide to M$ English:
    great: mediocre / terrible
    innovate: buy/steal from other companies


    Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
  • by alanp ( 179536 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:49AM (#1104878) Homepage
    Were, apple, lotus, wordperfect and all the forgotten giants of the industry before MS launched windows.
    But then ms came from nowhere and inialated them. No one had to use windows. It was the best and most available at the time.
    Nothing came up to challenge it sufficently. Okay OS2, MAC OS, but MS always came back ?

    All the kiddies on this site seem to forget this. Remember the apple2 ? Remember the BBC micro, hell even the ZX spectrum where a lot of computing gurus grew up.

    But if apple had dominated, we would be in a much worse position now, what with it's proprietary hardware and software etc...

    No linux then my friends !

    Equally if IBM had pursued the copyig of it's BIOS by other companies (notably compaq who reverse engineered it) then again we would have another unfriendly giant to content with.

    Never forget what microsoft has done for the industry, but the fact remains they got WELL out of control.

    They should be broken up, into different division and FORCED to release their APIs to the OS, and also make sure that the other baby bills did not get early access to them.

    Consider this also, if everyone was using different apps, operating systems etc. how would they all transfer files without being messy ? Yes HTML, PDFs etc...
    Another law should be passed to provide a common file format for all applications (one for word apps, another for spreadsheets...etc..). This would solve a lot of compatability issues.

    I really don't like MS, and use linux a lot at home because it I can do more easily, but it has to be said, MS did certainy help make PCs avaiable to the masses.

    Just think for a minute what would have happened if the corporate giants at the time would have had there way.
    Aso think Bill was once a geek, but he really MADE it and fair play to him.

  • "Microsoft has delivered tremendous benefit to consumers as an integrated company," Murray said. "And there is virtually no information in this case to support these radical steps."

    "Even though you found me with the bloody knife standing over the dead body, with me covered in blood" Says the defendant. "I still don't see why I'm on trial here."
  • by Squid ( 3420 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @04:56AM (#1104888) Homepage
    I don't think there's a meaningful way to simply "divide" the company. I think if they want to do it right, they have to DISMANTLE the company. Like so:

    - Marketing in one company, engineering in another. Each half must independently regrow the other half and thus cannot simply repackage the same old crap with brand new FUD and claim it as 'innovative', MS Engineering will have to EARN its respect and I can't imagine many engineers wanting to work for MS Marketing.
    - Hold a public auction to sell off each and every one of Microsoft's products. The only stipulation is that no company gets more than one product. I can see logistical problems trying to make sure there's no collusion or secretly connected "subsidiaries" involved trying to accumulate a whole other Microsoft, but this WOULD END THE MONOPOLY. The two Microsoft companies described above would be allowed to bid, but each gets only one product. (Plus it would flush out the back catalog of stuff MS just sits on; anything not purchased goes GPL, which means freeware ROMs for lots of emulators and fully commented source code for old goodies like EDTASM.)

    This won't happen, because I can't imagine the DOJ having the cojones to attempt such a radical solution. I figure they'd be afraid MS would win the appeal. But even THAT might not be so bad. Ponder this sentence:

    The Microsoft of 1995 would never have allowed Linux to get where it is today.

    In other words, Microsoft behaves itself when it's under the spotlight. Simply keeping the light in the giant's eyes for a few years has been enough to allow alternative OSes to capture the MAINSTREAM's eye for probably the first time since the late 1980s. If Microsoft appeals, it's likely that the spotlight could remain on them for years to come - hopefully long enough that their 90% market share in multiple markets will erode to something more surmountable, that well-equipped competitors can climb.
  • I have always been more concerned with a mentality that it far too prevalent: Since lots of people use a particular OS/Application, it is a standard. I don't care whether my Mom or my employer choose Windows, if the overall package is the best fit for their needs. Whether that is the case is a separate issue that I am not trying to debate right now. I want the freedom to choose the tools that best fit my needs. GNU/Linux provides a set of tools that is close to ideal for me. But then I run into problems with people who send me Word documents and PowerPoint presentations.

    Now, what does this have to do with government action. One of the things that has come out over the past couple of years is that several of the hardware suppliers were not getting the quality of deals from MS that they were led to believe they were. As the sole supplier of an OS that conforms to the Windows "standard", MS priced deals differently to different companies. There's nothing wrong with that when the other terms differ as well. Volume discounts are a common feature in business. They represent the very real fact that selling 100,000 units in one contract costs less per transaction than selling one. But if MS's big customers aren't getting honest deals, that is an issue for them to sue over, not the DoJ and state attorneys general.

    But MS has created a de facto "standard" that is only standard in the sense of being widely used. It is not documented in a way that makes it feasible for there to be a number of conformant products that interoperate with the "standard". If I can read the Word and PowerPoint files I get, I don't care whether MS sells hundreds or millions of copies. Windows doesn't meet my needs. It is not an environment for people who script every routine task out of existance. It is not an OS that just stays running for weeks at a time. It's strength is in being easier for new and casual users. Fine, let's have it interoperate with GNU/Linux and the tools I use there.
  • Actually, a breakup of this type is likely to have a huge impact on Linux. If the company isn't tied to the OS, it'll make sense for them to start making Linux versions of their apps -- and for good or for ill, MS Office for Linux is going to change our landscape.


  • You might want to vote in the relevant poll [cnnfn.com] that CNNfn [cnnfn.com] has set up.

    As of this writing, there are 2419 responses, and the results are:

    • Should Microsoft be split?
      Yes: 28.48%
      No: 67.96%
    • Is Microsoft stock a "buy"?
      Yes: 68.06%
      No: 18.12%
    • Given advancements in the software industry over the last two years, is the government's case against Microsoft still relevant?
      Yes: 29.94%
      No: 63.67%

    I think though that the poll is a little bit pre-fabricated (incidentally or intentionally) for a certain outcome. If you look at the answer buttons on the poll page, you'll see that the answers (Yes, No and Not Sure) are ordered differently on the different questions. It just happens that if you always choose the first answer, it will be "No", "Yes" and "No", indeed a very Microsoft-supportive poll answer.

  • And no more feeling that you need to by Microsoft because they did Windows so their stuff must automatically be best, right? Don't laugh, that's a surprisingly common view amongst the less tech savvy.

    I worked at a small scientific s/w development company for four years and when I started working there the company was evaluating a "standard" software development environment. The final decision came down to this reason. The final result of the "Microsoft made it, it must be better on Microsoft Windows" mentality was that we dropped Netscape for IE, Meeting Maker for Outlook, and MKS Source Integrity for Visual Source Safe (we already were using Office). The only non-MS product that we kept was Rational Rose since there were no comparable MS product.

  • I agree with you that a company which makes computers understandable, accessable, and friendly to the average person is a good thing.

    But what would you say about a company that also forced the average person to spend beyond her means to keep up with the technology, or to use a computer that's dodgy and unstable because its processor and RAM are overburdened?

    This is what Microsoft's policy of frequent version changes and no backwards compatability has done. Now, if 10% of the population (among whom are, naturally, many employers and other bigwigs) owns Word 2000, lots of other people are going to have to buy it (and the associated OS) just to read others' messages. And that means a lot of old, perfectly servicable computers are going to have to be scrapped.

    And that means that people who want a computer not to be hackers-in-training, but simply to communicate with the rest of the world, are getting hurt.

    - Michael Cohn
  • I dissagree. Breaking up MS would be a Good Thing(tm) if done properly. I am very afraid that too few people know this and that it will not be implemented. If not implemented then you are completely right, we will have two big bad Microsofts.

    The key lies in the restrictions placed upon the baby Bills. They want to tightly integrate applications into the OS. Fine let them. But this means that the OS company has to make the OS specs avalible to the Applications company. What must be prohibited is the OS company making an exclusive aggreement with the Applications company for the OS specs. The OS company must be forced to release the OS specs to anyone that wants them. This is what will foster compition! Imagine wine that actually works..... :-)

    Jack Neely

  • If anything this may be one of the biggest reasons almost all of the DOJ's case was found to be true.

    That is incorrect. The only reason almost all of the DOJ case was found to be true was because there was overwhelming evidence proving beyond even an unreasonable (much less reasonable) doubt that Microsoft was guilty of the crimes they were accused of. The judge's anger at Microsoft's blatent dishonesty, arrogance, and lack of respect for the legal system probably didn't even significantly effect his choice of verbiage. It certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with the verdict and findings of fact themselves.
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @05:19AM (#1104915) Homepage
    Sounds a bit reactionary, let's give the idea a minute to sink in.

    1. It costs virtually nothing to copy data

    Yeah, so what? It also costs nothing to copy data between Lotus and Microsoft. They don't exactly have a Cartel going.

    2. Source between these two companies can be shared in such a way that they can basically keep operating as one company

    This is why they need to be two companies. The Fed can dictate the terms of the break-up, and include a clause about conspiratorial practices. I expect that the terms of break-up will REQUIRE that communication between these two SEPARATE companies be conducted on open channels, via published APIs and public company press releases. Again, M$ and Lotus style. The Fed can not exert this kind of control on separate departments of one company, but they can on separate companies.

    3. The two companies would have different products (OS / Everything Else) and therefore don't have to compete against eachother unlike the oil and phone company breakups!

    The purpose of a company is to make money. The more money the better - since a company must show profit to it's stake-holders.

    An applications company will necessarily develop for all platforms, since it will not care about the success of a particular one. Office for Mac and Linux is right around the corner. An applications company will seek to maximize profits by making it's product available on all possible platforms.

    An operating systems company will seek to support as many different applications as it possibly can, to make its product OS(es) as desirable to customers as possible. It will be in the best interest of such a company to make the OS easy to code for, and to make the API available to all application developers.

    If an applications company and an OS company share information 'under the table', they will be guilty of conspiracy to form a monopoly - this problem has been solved before - they are just like oil afterall.

    In the case of Standard Oil, SO consipired with rail shipping companies to give preferential treatment to SO's business, and to squeeze other competitors out of the market.

    If MS-Apps were to play footsie with MS-OS, they would get slapped with Sherman Act faster than you can say MONOPOLY. Besides this, they would be more PROFITABLE without conspiring. That is what business is all about, profits, not control of the market. The two often go hand in hand, but with the Fed's fingers in your pie, it's just not doable.

    The point of the break-up is not to force MS-OS and MS-Apps to compete against each other. The point is to make it un-profitable for the two product lines to bolster each other's success in the market place. The point is to make all apps compete for all platforms, with no one specific combination of the two (MS-OS and MS-Apps, for example) profitting a single company.
  • Your average home users probably would have had ubiquitous, user-friendly, and cheap computing throughout their homes by now if Microsoft hadn't been restricting competition for so long. You don't need a software monopoly to provide convenient interopterability (sp?) and ease-of-use between machines for home users; open standards, real innovation, and competition would have solved those problems for us years ago. Your average home user doesn't know what they've missed, and sadly most never will.

    I know, I know, if other software companies had such great ideas, why didn't they just wow a bunch of consumers and leave Microsoft in the dust? Because the Microsoft monopoly wouldn't let them. Through a series of arm-twisting deals with OEMs, malicious vaporware announcements, deliberate interopterability (there's that word again) sabotage, the sheer threat of being in the same market as Microsoft (would you go up against them?) and (when all else fails) buy-outs, competition in the PC software market has been substantially reduced and consumers robbed of choice in the process. Why do you think that the only software systems able to gain ground on Microsoft's market share in the last year have been given away for free?

  • Erm...

    IBM were sued over their alleged monopoly in the mainframe market, not PCs.

    Broadly, though, I agree. Microsoft could well be looking at IBM and feel reluctant as they see a Computing giant that came ratehr close to going under after losing focus due to anti-trust proceedings. A long time after, but arguably still due to the trial.

    Personally, I can't see what Microsoft are so afraid of. Splitting them would probably result in a higher total valuation, while resulting in a series of companies more able to react to changes in the market. It could be the best thing to happen to them in years.

    Which, if I'm honest, is why I'd prefer to see them simply obliterated totally. All their IP assets placed in the public domain, all their patents revoked, all their physical assets sold off. Not very realistic, but there are days when it seems a nice idea :)
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @05:40AM (#1104927) Homepage
    Well let's see...

    It would be VERY BAD for customer confidence if the Monolithic Microsoft decided to port it's applications (MSO is a cash-cow after all) to another, competing OS - especially a free one.

    What sort of message would that send to customers? "Microsoft has no confidence in it's OS".

    But if the Big Bad Fed huffs and puffs and blows Microsoft apart, then the MS-Apps can happily port to Linux, and be justified in doing so, in the name of competition ( or Innovation(tm) ). Subsequently MS-OS can 'partner' with other applications companies, (under NDA of course) and glean what it is that they do better than MS-Apps; after all, MS-OS is just trying to do what's best for the customer ( Innovation2k(tm) ).

    This 'break-up' might be good for Microsoft. On the App side they would 'embrace and extend' Linux. Yes, it's open source, but if you NEED some key daemon (closed source of course) to run that hot new version of Office... Well, all but the purists and the zealots would oppose, and they don't run MS-Products(tm) as it is.

    On the OS side, poor, battered MS-OS could 'take a peek' into how MS-Apps competitors do things (in an effort to help them compete, of course). And while communicaton between MS-OS and MS-Apps would be Federally monitored, the board members of these companies would regularly play golf together. What's more, developers at either company (OS or Apps) could easily 'job-hop' across the street, with their lap-top PCs, every couple of months. I wonder how well this developer migration would coincide with each companies release cycles.. Hmmm.

    Back, and to the left. Back!... And to the left!
  • I read (in real paper) this front page story in the Post. Here are a few of my thoughts:

    Interestingly, the attorney representing Florida wanted to break MS into three competetive companies instead of two (preferred by almost all other states) or leaving MS as one (preferred by only Ohio). I thought his point was very strong: What will happen to MSN, MSNBC, etc...? Are they operating systems or office suites?

    There was no mention of interim conditions, but I imagine there must be some. Otherwise, MS could tie things up in appeal for half a decade making the whole point moot. This is, after all, what happened with DR DOS.

    A couple other thoughts: Apparently some of the state attorneys feel "slapped" by the microsoft response. MS reports to employees and shareholders that a breakup will never occur.

    The proposal to split the company would require Gates and other top execs to choose either the OS or the app company to put their stock in. That I hadn't heard before. Common shareholders get stock in both.

    But as far as I could tell, all this must be regarded with a grain of salt. The article was littered with journalistic reservation. "Sources close to the matter say..." and "people who have seen the proposal indicate..." The whole thing was written as if the journalist from the post really had no first hand information. Pretty queer for a front page story in a supposedly first rate rag.

  • Gates and Ballmer are probably just baffled - considering that for the best part of 20 years, they haven't had to talk to anyone who they can't buy, fire or shut down at the drop of a hat. That can't have done wonders for their social skills.

    Actually, come to think of it, Bill did meet someone like that once, and he got a custard pie in the face...

    - Andy R.

  • If you'll notice, the first answer for each question is positive towards Microsoft. Example:

    Should Microsoft be split?
    o) No
    o) Yes
    o) Not sure

    Is Microsoft stock a "buy"?
    o) Yes
    o) No
    o) Not sure

    This is pretty much leading the respondant into the anwers, a nice way of screwing up the results (read: Getting the answers you really want).
  • "just good enough"- not excellent.

    My sentiments almost exactely - I really wouldn't mind a monopoly IF it was a really good product like a Mercedes or the local power company (which is 'up' really reliably) but this land mine filled, quality disclaimered garbage?

    I'm particularly primed for Msft bashing this week after having mistakenly installed PPTP on our production server w/o doing a lab run first to weed out the tricky spots - now our main Internet dialout is F****d, I had to whip up a 'band aid' box for access untill I can spend a Saturday in here cleaning up Msft's puke (What's this adapter [5] and why is there a registry error when trying to delete it?? Arrrggg!!! This wasn't in the white paper!!! REboot-boot-boot-boot-boot-boot... repeat ad-nauseum). Yet business people who don't know any better love this crap. I swear, we've got to break this iron triangle where clueless business decision lords pick Msft products for little other reason than "but they're a multi billion dollar outfit! It must be great, quality products, and therefore any problems that arise are the admin's faulty work". Utter B.S.

    Chuck the defrocked McSE
  • Has anyone noticed that Microsoft seems to be deliberately trying to piss of the DOJ and state's attorneys general? I'm no fan of MS, but I've always been pretty impressed with their strategy, especially in legal matters. So are they trying to get the worst possible punishment on purpose? Are they betting on reversing the findings of law on appeal by claiming the DOJ was too harsh? I don't get it.

    This is exactly what they did in 96(?) when they were being sued for attempting to kill Netscape via predatory practices. They acted like total asses during the original trial to the point where they had ired the judge so much so that he refused to consider Microsoft's request to disqualify an outside consultant who had been brought in by the judge and who supposedly had an anti-Microsoft bias Their arguement concerning his bias was very weak, but the appeals court decided that the original judge shouldn't have been so hasty in dismissing their request that he be removed, so they over-turned the original decision. Now Microsoft continually points to this earlier overturn on appeal and "spins" it to make it look like the government gave them a seal of approval to do what they did with IE.

    I wondered the same thing back when this trial was going on - why on earth would Microsoft being acting like such enormous asses? I saw no way that they could possibly gain from being so hostile, but amazingly enough it turned out to be a brilliant plan. Not only did they get the original decision overturned because the appeals court saw them as being treated unfairly (even though they were really, really asking for it), they now go on and on about how this previous case gave them the green light for their bundling and aggressive "marketing".

  • Let's pretend for just a minute that MicroSoft really did invent the GUI and internet (or, as they would say, they "innovated" them).

    What does yesterday have to do with today? There are certainly a large number of Linux folx working on making it even easier to use. In many ways, MicroSoft stands in the way. Their restrictive OEM requirements have made it difficult to get Linux pre-installed when users want it. Even now that Dell offers to install Linux, they don't give you a price discount for *not* ordering Windows.

    Linux is not easy for a new user to install, and I don't think it ever will be. I don't think MicroSoft is especially easy to install either. Debates about which is easier are irrelevant to a newbie because he will never install it himself. MicroSoft has not been helping the newbie through the OEM channel lately.

    MicroSoft also does not embrace open standards without extending them. This makes it *harder* for newbies (and even old pros) to use both MicroSoft and anything else. Once again, MicroSoft is no friend of the newbie unless the newbie is committed 100% to MicroSoft. Linux, on the other hand, has been committed to Open Standards and groups like the SAMBA team have even stood against MicroSoft to make MS's protocols available everyone. Who's more user-friendly? The company that doesn't want you using competing software, or the group of volunteers who work to make MicroSoft interoperable?

    MicroSoft apps also take advantage of the inside-knowledge of the OS. While this helps MS write apps that are allegedly more user-friendly, it is also intended to prevent anyone else from writing better apps that compete with this MS apps. If the OS were a separate company, they'd have to let *anyone* write a good, integrated Office app.

    The point is that even you believe that MS did wonderous things in the past, that doesn't give them the sole right to control all future "innovations". Just as AT&T had single-handedly wired telephones for the entire nation, they became stale and a vast leap forward was made after they were split up.
  • The project manager for the Bob project was nobody other than Melinda Gates herself. It was the only project she ever headed at M$. Oh, and she was billg's SO at the time, too.
  • The point is to make it un-profitable for the two product lines to bolster each other's success in the market place. The point is to make all apps compete for all platforms, with no one specific combination of the two (MS-OS and MS-Apps, for example) profitting a single company.

    I thought the point of the break was Microsoft's "bundling" of IE with Windows. What does IE have to do with Microsoft Office? I don't understand how the DOJ's proposal for "Windows Inc" and "Office Inc" is related to the case. Wasn't this case originally about Netscape/AOL versus Microsoft??

  • Break up as proposed is good, but I think the initial rumours of 3 separate companies (OS, Applications,
    Internet) would be better. After all, what if they start integrating IE into Office? We don't want to go through
    another DoJ...

    Not really an issue, imho. IE/windows combo happened because ms passed the IE devel costs onto the customer, not by charging directly, but by hiding it in the price of 98/Office/Whatever, and calling it free. If they're two seperate companies, there're gonna want to milk every buck possible... and that means free bundles to lure the customer in, not whole office suites or similiar aborsbed in the cost of other things. Make any sense? If not, then I've been up too long.

    bash: ispell: command not found
  • > This is a terrible idea and would definitely stifle innovation.

    I agree. I'm not the anti-gub'ment type, but I don't think the US Congress is competent to design media formats. Plus, it's absurd to fix a format in stone, considering the rate of evolution of IT.

    However, I would modify one item on your list of suggestions:
    • Public agencies cannot use media formats with IP restrictions, period. (I.e., no licensing restrictions at all, neither on the media nor on the players.)

  • > It's just a bad decision, I've said it from the start, and I'll say it 'till the end.

    I was singing the same tune until a week or two ago, when someone posted his experience with working at the Baby Bells after the split.

    To paraphrase him, "The threat of 18 months in prison was enough to deter any temptation toward under-the-table collusion."

    It's unfortunate that such draconian measures are required, but it does at least show that someone understood that an "on paper" split would not be enough.

  • Corpus callosotomy [msn.com] involves the severing of connections between the right and left sides of the brain

    with the left brain being allowed to chair the OS division, and the right brain the App division.

    While primarily used to control intractable epileptic seizures, this procedure may have impact on his obvious megalomania and delusions of producing world class quality software.
  • by re-geeked ( 113937 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @07:08AM (#1104983)
    I'll just "me too" the other posters on how a breakup would work and be a good thing.

    But wouldn't it be fun if MS Office were itself broken up? By building this monolith, and entangling it so tightly with the OS, MS has ensured that individual best-of-breed packages can't thrive. There used to be a time when you bought your word processing, spreadsheet, database, publishing, email, and presentation software separately, and could pick and choose the best in each category. And if it weren't for this trial, we'd see Visio piled into Office shortly, too.

    Remember, folks, the MS monopoly has been created by, done its damage (to both consumers and competitors) with, and made its profits from, OS-specific APPLICATIONS, not the OS itself. And those applications have become more entrenched by merging together.

    Now, take the same argument and apply it to IE, and MSN, and Visual Studio, and Windows extras, etc. and you can see that the more finely MS is chopped :-), the more we can get back to having some competition in desktop software again.

  • The correct URL is http://cnnfn.com/poll/micropoll.html The results are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping microsoft whole. I'm not sure I disagree - there might be other non-split-up alternatives that I haven't seen yet. Just open-sourcing the code won't do it, imho.
  • I doubt there's much profitability in creating Office for Linux, simply look at the market they will have to entice:

    1. "Open source or die" fascists who will refuse to use Office for ethical reasons
    2. "We want everything free" crowd who will refused to use Office in favor of "free" products such as Wordperfect or Star Office
    3. "M$ is evil and we are 31337" crowd who'll refuse to use anything mildly associated with Microsoft
    4. "Let's warez" crowd who'll simply pirate the software.

    How many commercial software products make a sizable profit on the Linux platform? It makes no buisiness sense at all.

    As for your other point, I'm sorry, but if you think companies aren't supporting Linux because of a veiled axe weilded by Microsoft behind the scenes, you've got to be kidding me. If supporting Linux was a profitable venture then many companies would embark on that path, alas, it's not, and with the "Free" attitude so prevailent among penguinistas, it probably never will be.
  • ...they'd probably shatter it so it wouldn't do any harm.

    Honestly, could they have picked a worse way to end this trial? Even giving them nothing more than another slap on the wrist and another "no more anticompetitive practices for you" order would have been better, as Microsoft would have then been more likely to continue futilely bashing it's head against Sun and IBM on the high end while getting eaten away by free software on the low end.

    I'm sure there are anti-Microsoft fanatics out here who are happy to see Bill get his comeuppance, but think about it. The last thing people who hate Microsoft should want to see is more Microsofts. Sure, they'll only have a few billion dollars in cash a piece, and they'll only have part of the Microsoft software line... so what? Does anyone really expect the corporate culture to change instantly because they're under different names? Will we see Office for Linux now? No.

    What we will see is Microsoft forceably saved from it's biggest danger - corporate bloat and sluggishness. I heard someone use the analogy of cutting up a starfish; it doesn't kill the starfish, it just makes more of them. Basically this just drastically reduces the chances that we'll get to see Win32 fade away and see POSIX/X standards develop as a permanent way of ensuring that consumers are never locked into one company's monopoly.

    It also sets a hell of a precedent. The original reason for going after Microsoft was bundling IE with Windows, remember? WTF? Should Red Hat be prosecuted for bundling Netscape (and Apache, and a whole lot of other things that are even less "a part of the operating system" than a web browser) with their Linux distribution? Look for the
    "Federal Software Guidelines and Regulations" series of 1000 page books to start appearing in university libraries everywhere, on the same floor that's filled with all the other selectively-enforced laws and executive orders of similar titles. Hope you included a nice hefty legal budget in your startup's business plan.

    I use Linux, not because I think Microsoft is a horrible monopoly, because I don't want to pay for Windows, or even because Windows crashed on me every week and needed to be reinstalled every year when I did use it. Well, actually that last one was a biggie. I use Linux because it has greater capabilities, cleaner code and APIs, and because it gives me more choices of kernel (I could move to a BSD or even a recent commercial Unix without much upset), user interface (some of which I like better than Windows, although Explorer is good), and applications. I don't have to worry that the programs and documents I produce today will be obsolete tomorrow like thousands of Win16 programs and Win* file formats are today. I don't have to worry that Linux is going to get worse or stagnant (when do we get a non-DOS based, stable consumer OS from Microsoft, exactly? Even Win2K doesn't seem any more stable than NT), because there are so many Linux options to choose from, so when Slackware or SuSE falters moving to Mandrake or Debian isn't the end of the world.

    But that's not why everyone uses Linux. A lot of people avoid Microsoft because of their outrageous pricing (have you looked at buying a non-OEM license on anything from Microsoft lately?) and instability. Some people switch from Windows because Linux is better on a relative scale; I think most switch because Windows isn't good enough in the absolute sense.

    With a Microsoft breakup, that won't be the case. Windows may get cheaper and more stable... not enough to satisfy anyone who has used free software, but enough to slow the expansion of Linux on the desktop, enough to give it a new shot at taking over the embedded and server markets. It may still not be a quality product... but that never stopped McDonalds. People like familiarity too.

    Hm. Well, that's my rant for today. I got one hour of sleep last night, and it looks like it shows. I hope there was some coherent logic up there; but basically I'm trying to get across the concept "Microsoft breakup == bad".
  • The hell with breaking up Microsoft, lets just break up Bill Gates! Dip him in some liquid nitrogen, apply a 14 pound sledgehammer liberally, and sell the parts as religious icons to the devout Microsoft zealots!

  • Interesting theory, except how do you explain Microsoft Office for the Macintosh? Everyone seems to forget about that one. I'll say it again for those who haven't been paying attention: "The two most popular MS-Office applications, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, STARTED OFF as MACINTOSH applications." (MS-Word for DOS came LATER. Excel for the PC wasn't introduced until Windows. Multiplan doesn't count for anything :).

    And Microsoft still continues to do Macintosh-based Microsoft Office. This has never hurt customer confidence in the past.

  • If the story is right, I'll go out on a limb and say that Gates will choose to abandon the OS company (calling it Windows), and go with the apps company, which would retain the Microsoft name.

    Why? All of MS's current profitability is currently in apps, Linux is making it so that OS's can't get too high-priced, and MS apps would still hold a virtual monopoly on both Windows AND Mac desktops. Think of all the software categories that will still have little or no competition on these platforms: office apps (several categories right there), development tools, internet tools, and more.

    Given the familiarity barrier to entry for other tools, and the ability to leap into new platforms with money and customers in hand, Gates should be able to profitably milk that cow for some time.

    Too bad, really, that they didn't go for breaking them into more parts.

  • by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Friday April 28, 2000 @08:18AM (#1105005) Homepage
    > What evidence do you have that any secret API's > were given out by the Windows team?

    Back when I worked at Vantive, I was doing a port of their UNIX product to Windows NT (now I spend my time helping people port from NT to Linux, so it goes :-).

    We were using MS-SQLserver for the port. Now this was back in the NT3.1 timeframe. MS-SQLserver could do a very neat thing. It could take an authenticated Windows users who had logged onto the domain, and allow that user to access a SQL database *without needing to log on again* - ie., the Windows domain password was being used to control access to the SQLserver database.

    Wow, what a neat trick, I thought. I'd really like to be able to do that to control access to the Vantive product (as then a username/password would only be created once, in the Domain, and the SQLserver and Vantive products would both use the same logon/password pair).

    So I started to look to see how it was done.....

    Can you guess ? It was not possible given *any* published API's at the time.

    Now (5+ years later), the SSPI is revealed as the way they probably did this.

    But no one outside MS had access to that API. Oracle on NT couldn't do this (no single sign on). Sybase & Informix on NT couldn't either....

    Don't tell me the OS team don't leak private API information to the app development team without explaining the story above please.


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • You give an enormous amount of credit to the Federal government's abilities to effectively regulate business. The power of governments in general is on the wane, and this trend will only continue.

    And what better way to re-assert the government's control over business than to go after the BIGGEST player, and win!?

    Whenever the authority of the government has been challenged by business, the government responded by taking down the biggest player. Standard Oil, Bell Telecom, Microsoft. First it was about an energy resource, then about the communication infrastructure, now about the software that runs the world (let's not kid ourselves, MS owns computing)...

    Each of these things is now effectively controlled (regulated) by the government - speaking from a post-breakup point of view. Any new industry that grows past a particular size MUST be regulated, else the government falls. Ronald Reagan summed it up well by saying "If it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; if it stops moving, subsidize it."
  • I am a lawyer; this isn't legal advice. See an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction if you need legal advice.

    >Interesting theory, except how do you explain Microsoft Office for the

    He wrote, "Oliver Stone voice." That means there's no need to be consistent, or pay any attention to the facts :) Remember, Stone is the one who claimed to be entitled to "artistic license" *in a documentary* when he was called on his fabrications . . . (specifically, _Born on the Fourth of July)_)

    >Everyone seems to forget about that one.

    Noone has forgotten that, not even Judge Jackson. The Findings of Fact were quite clear about the use of the mac version to maintain windows dominance. Microsoft threatened not to ship the *completed* next version of Office as a means of leveraging Apple to make IE the "default" browser for Mac. This was to undercut Netscape, thereby lessening the general threat of Netscape applications.

    hawk, esq.
  • > So instead of having just one dirty handed, predatory, monopolizing
    > business, we're going to have two! What a great solution!

    That's (at least) three companies too few. I'm in the minority here, but I also have a lot more backround on both the legal and economic end of it than most of those getting paid to talk about it (so someone hire me :).

    Splitting into two companies is only a start. It is part of the solution, because the os and office monopolies are both taking losses to benefit each other--to the detriment of the consumer. Better information on API's than the competitors, for example. The windows monopoly would have *no* incentive to give this information to the office folks and not to competitors of office after a breakup.

    Putting office by itself, separated from windows, solves part of the problem (particularly, the preferential treatment and the leveraging of the OS monopoly to create the office monopoly).

    However, it *doesn't* solve the windows monopoly. It takes away some of the things ms has abused to create the monopoly, but not all of them. Windows should be split into at least three pieces, either formed from microsoft, or by auction of source code rights to other parties. This creates three different entities that can sell windows.

    That's four companies, and I'd put the miscellaneous (hardware, msn, etc.)
    into another company.

    > The feds are going about this entirely the wrong way, they're thinking
    >that software is somehow like oil, when infact it isn't anything like it.
    >The product has different properties which make breaking up the company

    >1. It costs virtually nothing to copy data

    This makes some changes in the economics, but doesn't change the
    fundamental result. Monopolies overcharge whether they have a
    marginal cost or not. Consumers are harmed by this monopoly either
    way. No marginal cost is just the extreme form of the situation which
    creates monopolies in the first place.

    > 2. Source between these two companies can be shared in such a way that
    >they can basically keep operating as one company

    No, your economics is *completely* off base here. Aside from the fact
    that that would be illegal, they would be sued by the *shareholders*
    of each of the companies. As a single company, it makes sense for
    the os division to give up $20 to make $50 in the office division.
    As separate companies, it would not.

    > 3. The two companies would have different products (OS / Everything
    >Else) and therefore don't have to compete against eachother unlike the
    >oil and phone company breakups!

    Competing against each other has nothing to do with this. The problem
    is that the monopolies are used to prevent *other* companies from
    competing, which increases price and decreases quality. There is *no*
    need for the units to compete against each other (unless we make multiple
    versions of windows).

    > It's just a bad decision, I've said it from the start, and I'll say it

    You can say it as often as you want, but it would require a fundamental
    change in antitrust law to reach another decision. Argue for the
    change if you want, but arging that this decision is wrong is to
    simply ignore the facts and law. ANd for the record, consumers
    would be worse off under the change, while monopolists would be
    better off.

    hawk, esq.
  • by hawk ( 1151 )
    Guess again. We had multiple phones which we owned long before that.

    The fiber optics networks were well on their way, too. The breakup certainly leveled the playing field for the long distance competitors, but it was neither necessary to their existence, nor did it precede them.

    And unless you get your internet history from Al Gore, the internet preceded the breakup by a very long time.
  • And then be forced to fix all their bugs!
  • I'll go out on a limb and say that Gates will choose to abandon the OS company (calling it Windows), and go with the apps company, which would retain the Microsoft name.

    I'll go even further out on a limb and predict that Gates won't be given the chance to choose one or the other - he'll be summarily dumped by the shareholders (who now out-own him 7 to 1) because of his mismanagement of the court case.
  • There's been a lot of speculation about whether being broken up would make the sum of Microsoft's parts more or less valuable than the whole. Personally I think: Not.

    Microsoft's market machine so far has acted like a nutcracker - squeezing customers and competitors alike between it's two jaws: control of application api's through the os on the one hand and control of competitive os's through the apps on the other. Breaking Microsoft into two parts will be much like removing the nutcracker's fulcrum. You may still be able to poke people with iether half, but can no longer break their nuts^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^crack nuts with it.

    Without their made-in-heaven monopoly machine to fuel their unbelievable profitability there's only one direction for their earnings to go: down.

    Microsoft's market cap is based on expectation of unending growth at a rate serveral times that of the computer industry as a whole. To date that fairytale has come true, year after year for more than 20 years. No longer. First, their earnings aren't going to grow any more, their going to shrink. Second, Ballmer is right - the rats^H^H^H^H^Hbrains are getting out. So are the execs. For the simple reason that Microsoft's options aren't worth a whole lot any more.

    On that subject, absolutely the worst thing that could happen to Microsoft is a long slow decline in their stock price. This would be much more harmful that, for example, a sudden drop by a factor of 10. The reason? The long slow decline means that Microsoft options will never be worth a cent. Whereas if their stock would just fall into the basement and get it over with they could possibly once again use options as a useful tool.

    There are other factors that will stress Microsoft's share price. Not the least of which is the availabilty of at least one superior alternative that costs nothing (or something, it's your choice). There is only one possible result. Microsoft will have to do major surgery on it's OEM prices and that means "goodbye 95% gross profit margin". In turn meaning more decline in the stock price.

    And don't forget the upcoming class action suits, and the still-to-be-filed damage suits from competitors that suffered from their illegal practices.

    All these troubles would be multiplied if any evidence of financial misrepresentation turns up.

    OK, enough, enough. Time for my prediction. I predict that Microsoft's market cap will fall to less than that of General Motor's, which is somewhere in the $50 billion range. That means a further factor of 5 fall from where they are now. I predict that it will take a year to fall that low as shareholders really begin the understand the implications of losing at trial and being beaten by a free OS at the same time.

    In the long run I don't see a lot of value in the Baby Bill's. I see the office monopoly eroding quickly, and I don't see the underlying problems of the software being fixed. I don't see Microsoft's good name ever being restored, nor Gate's. In short, I see Microsoft's total value falling to less than, for example, CA's, in other words, it's going to be decimated.

    Well, Bill, it's going to be tough for you to swallow but sincerely believe you went out of your way to earn this.
  • > Why couldn't you use ImpersonateXxx/OpenThreadToken/RevertToSelf functions

    Ah, the peanut gallery :-).

    Yes I was waiting for this comment :-).

    So, tell me how you made those functions work *OVER A TCP CONNECTION*, NOT A NAMED PIPE, in NT 3.1 ?

    No answer, well SHUT UP THEN !


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.

    (Who is feeling in a pissy mood today :-).
  • What I find interesting about this filing that all this is going to have a limited impact on the status quo. I can take an educated guess on the following that will happen.

    1. Microsoft will provide uniform pricing for their OEM products, and of course, we'll have both "loaded" and "plain vanilla" versions of Windows 98/ME/2000 for OEM's to load. Microsoft may deeply cut the price of Windows 98/ME/2000, so about a year from now, Windows ME will cost $29.95 for "plain vanilla" version and $39.95 for "loaded version"; Windows 2000 Professional (or its successor) will cost $79.95 for the "plain vanilla" version and $89.95 for the "loaded" version. And will be sold as a separate cost item for all system sales.

    2. The applications company may be particularly bad news for Sun and Corel. Given that the vast majority of the world's business data files outside of very large databases are stored in Microsoft Office format, you can tell what kind of impact a Linux version of MS Office will do to the Linux market. Sun and Corel will be wondering why their office suite sales have gone down the proverbial toilet....

    In short, we may have more "choice," but most computer users are so used to Microsoft products anyway that I expect its dominance--even when the company is split in two--to continue for quite a while. In fact, I won't be surprised that about three years from now the two split companies will have a combined market capitalization of US$1 trillion or more, mostly because BOTH companies will continue to be profitable, which is sadly not true of most Linux companies right now.
  • I expect that the terms of break-up will REQUIRE that communication between these two SEPARATE companies be conducted on open channels, via published APIs and public company press releases.

    I just listened to Joel Klein from the government side on CNN, and one provision in the proposal requires the OS division to disclose the API to all software developers in as much detail as it would to the Office division. This is good, this finally makes it illegal to cripple competing developers by building in secret API's (and there are lots of them in Windows).

    Second, the proposal explicitly makes it illegal to threaten hardware vendors with less favorable conditions if they wish to ship hardware with competing software.

    As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft need not be split up if these (and a few other) stipulations can be enforced. Find a hidden API in Windows used by Office? Sue them. Internet Explorer using a better API to DNS than the documented one? Sue them.

    Sigh. If the provisions of the proposal that are just sidelines to the case now were more easily enforced in the industry generally, the world would look a lot cleaner, and the entire trial circus that is going on now would be moot. I am as tired of the government case as I am of Microsofts, I do not think a breakup per se will do anyone any good, but I'm glad to see some rather common-sense ideas about fair competition in the software market gain a foothold in law.

  • How about all the pension funds and the massive investment in Microsoft? The public has lost far more in the stock price debacle than they will ever gain from court proceedings designed to promote MS's non-existent competition.

    What about them? Public policy should not be subservient to the interests of Wall Street and those investors who speculate in the stock market. Contrary to popular belief, the stock market is not your friend. It may go up, it may go down, whether or not that is "fair" is irrelevant.

  • > In fact, there are about a dozen PUBLISHED API's
    > on NT that allow you to authenticate users in various ways.

    There are *NOW*. Didn't you read my post ?
    This was on NT3.1, before even the LogonUser API
    was public.

    Although the MS SQLserver group obviously knew about it (along with the SSPI APIs).

    That's the point. MS App developers get inside knowledge that other developers don't get until later.

    Don't you think Oracle would have *liked* to have done single sign on in thir NT product, just like SQLServer did ? They couldn't because the OS division doesn't give advanced knowledge of APIs like that to MS-Application competitors. This is one of the reasons MS is in the "illegal monopoly, let's break 'em up" position it is in today.


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • >There used to be a time when you bought your word processing, spreadsheet, database, publishing, email, and presentation software separately, and could pick and choose the best in each category

    Yeah, then _Lotus_ came along with 1-2-3 and started the whole integrated-office-suite thing. You can't pin the blame for this particular idea on MS; they - along with about a dozen others - were just following Lotus's lead.
  • Umm, I think I can speak for a large chunk of the Mac using population when I say most of us hate Microsoft as well - and we're hardly the CLI-using people you allude to (well, I am, but most of us aren't).

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • I'm not sure if you're trolling or not, but:

    1. Not all Apple systems are multi-colored. If you feel the need for monochromatic goodness, then get yourself a graphite colored machine. It's a color, I suppose, but it's not pastel.

    2. Buy a 2/3+ button mouse. Yeah, it sucks. But mice are cheap.

    3. Don't like the GUI? I guess I can't really help you there. That's a preference. The other stuff can be changed.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Yes, as I said, there's a place for that. There's also a point where it gets out of hand.


  • Any action taken by the gov't on Microsoft would have enormous ramifications for the entire computing community (and the world, for that matter). These effects would take place regardless of your personal view on the matter.

    Thus, this is important and relevant information.

    Realize also that any breakup of Microsoft will have very little impact on Linux.

    This is NOT just a Linux site. This ruling would definitely affect all computer users.

    P.S.: If I had any moderation points, I would be moderating this post down as "overrated" instead of posting. It seems that any post saying "Slashdot sucks now" gets moderated up these days. *sigh*

  • the point I was tring to make is that you must put something inbetween thouse parts of Microsoft products taht give it the advantage. Force them to make publick all teh little extras Word knows about Excel so that a user could use Word Perfect with Excel or even Word Perfect with MS Word.

    Please keep in mind that a bunch of thouse DLL's that MS office uses redoes major chunks of the windows API. Ever notice that Word can scroll the same speed forwards and backwards? What other program can do that? I haven't seen one (of course with todays computers, I'm not sure I would notice)
  • "This is NOT just a Linux site"
    You must be joking. Count the number of pro-linux and anti-Microsoft stories posted on slashdot, create a ratio of those two against the sum of misc stories that appear here.

    My point was that this has been horribly blown out of proportion, there have been no less then a dozen stories posted on the matter of this trial. Why not simply wait until the end of the trial instead of speculating and drooling every other day over some new tidbit? How long will this go on? Years? Until the appeal process is over?

    Why not post some Pro-microsoft stories on Slashdot instead? How about mentioning the money Bill Gates donates to minority kids for scholarships? Or how about the financial results for Microsoft for the last year? Maybe some more information on the X-box? Or how well Windows 2000 is selling?

    Of course those stories don't belong here, Slashdot _is_ a site for Linux, and Linux these days is associated with Microsoft bashing.

    P.S. Good luck on those moderation points, nice to know that anyone who mildly likes Microsoft's products has no opinion in your eyes. For a group supposedly dedicated to free speech, you sure are fascist in your approach to such liberties. Free the code, shut up Microsoft supporters eh?
  • P.S. Good luck on those moderation points, nice to know that anyone who mildly likes Microsoft's products has no opinion in your eyes. For a group supposedly dedicated to free speech, you sure are fascist in your approach to such liberties. Free the code, shut up Microsoft supporters eh?

    I never stated my position about the Microsoft case in my post. Please don't assume you know what it is.

    As a matter of fact, I'm typing this post up on IE as we speak, because I find it a superior product (though not without its flaws) to Netscape. I'm also personally against any Microsoft breakup.

    However, precisely because I use Microsoft product, and because of Microsoft's general importance in the world, I find these stories very relevant.

    Why not simply wait until the end of the trial instead of speculating and drooling every other day over some new tidbit?

    Have you ever watched a game of sports? Do you just always wait till the end and check the score? The process is often just as interesting as the result. Perhaps you're not interested, but it would be arrogant of you to claim that others shouldn't be interested either. It would be even more arrogant to claim that anyone who is interested must be a Microsoft hater.

    I've never denied that Slashdot is a Linux-oriented site with a general anti-MS bias. However, I said it was not a Linux-ONLY site. Btw, note that in every story about MS, there are many anti-breakup posts, such as this [slashdot.org], this [slashdot.org], and this [slashdot.org], all from this story.

    In short, this is relevant news that a lot of people, both pro- and anti-MS, care about, and just because you don't care about it doesn't mean no one else does, or should, or that anyone who does is anti-MS.

  • Markar wrote:

    "But I think M$ would more likely ship an OEM version with many features disabled, to activate features visit M$ site, choose features you want activated (pay-per-feature), then pay with a credit card, or upgrade to the full version (enable all features) for a substantial additional fee, say $50 consumer and $100 or more for commercial."

    I really doubt that's a good idea. Mostly because most computer users would be confused by all the installation and payment options.

    I think a "plain vanilla" and "loaded version" makes a lot more sense from both a marketing and technical standpoint.

  • Yes, it is a big difference. It was a "very loosely based-on-true-story" movie, but Stone tried (at first) to pass it off as a documentary.
  • > Do you think you can break up Windows into three distinct pieces,
    >mutually exclusive from each other? I'd be interested to hear how, if
    >you think so.

    No, but I'd be interested in any such proposal, too :) kernel & shell,

    >If, on the other hand, you mean breaking it up into three companies
    >with identical products, you are making a big mistake. There is one
    >crucial difference between MS's assets and those of Standard Oil and
    >AT&T. When you break Standard Oil and AT&T into pieces, each of the
    >individual pieces is worth something. The sum of the value of the
    >individual assets was roughly the same as the value of the assets of
    >the original company. Those oil wells could pump oil and make money.

    No, that's not a difference. The value of the three variants of windows
    would (at least initially) be smaller than the value of single version,
    but that difference only reflects lost monopoly products. Each of
    the three variants is still quite valuable.

    >Having Multiple companies own the Windows code means that each company
    >has the same product which it has zero or no marginal cost to sell.
    >When the marginal cost is zero, so is the price.

    No, absolutely not. This requires both
    a) free entry
    b) that entry be plausible.

    There would still be a multi-billion dollar barrier to entry, and the
    industry would remain a small monopoly. In fact, it might not
    be *possible* for a fourth company to enter without access to the
    original code.

    >The three companies
    >will drive each others prices down until you achieve a point where
    >none of them can sustain themselves and they will collapse.

    Only with an unlimited nubmer of entrants. With an oligopoly (small
    number of firms), price remains above marginal cost. For that matter,
    even with monopolistic competition (large number of sellers,
    slightly differentiated cost, free entry, no long term economic profit),
    price remains above marginal cost. Bend *any* of the assumptions of
    perfect competition even slightly, and price remains above marginal
    cost. Perfect competition is pretta much limited to agricultural
    and other commodities.

    Anyway, with a two or three firms without marginal cost, the price
    is below the monopoly price, but above zero. A monopolist stops at
    the monopoly point because to increase quantity decreases price
    for all of its units--it bears the *entire* lost revenue (MR=MC).

    However, with three firms, the lost revenue is divided among the three
    firms--the firm gets all of the extra revenue, but only bears a third
    of the lost revenue. Cournot originaly solved this problem without
    calculus (*shudder*). Look up "cournot duopoly"; I'm pretty sure I've
    seen a decent website along the way. Or look it up in any calculus-based
    microeconomics or industrial organization text.

    >you're a rabid Windows-hater, you can't believe this will be good for
    >society at large.

    No, it wouldn't. But since that's not what would happen, I'm
    not worried :)

  • > Worried that your little reverse-engineering
    > projects won't be possible for much longer

    That's funny :-). Samba may be many things, but "little" it isn't any more :-).

    We now have *permanant*, *full time* contributors from HP, SGI, Veritas and IBM, that's not counting the full time people at VA Linux Systems and Linuxcare.

    What's the matter, not *worried* about a little reverse engineering project, are you... ?

    What, like a little UNIX reverse engineering project called "Linux" :-).


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • > It's explicitly stated that you can only do
    > standard (i.e. supply uname/pwd at SQL Server
    > logon time) logon off a TCP/IP

    Do you remember your NT API history ? I do (you aparently do not).

    In NT3.1, there was *no way* to authenticate a user given just a username and password.

    The LogonUser API was only released in the NT3.5 timeframe.

    The SQLServer Team used the *undocumented* LSALogonUser API I believe (not having access to their source code I cannot be sure of course).

    As I stated - a use of an *undocumented* API to give advantage to a Microsoft application product on a Microsoft OS. An API *not* available to other application vendors.

    I don't think this is much in question from people who were working on this at the time.


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • > The SQL developers apparently went to the NT
    > developers, asked how to do this, and were told.
    > When other significant customers (not
    > reverse-engineering cloners), who happened to be
    > outside Microsoft, wanted the same feature,
    > Microsoft published it.
    > What's your complaint

    Nice story. Ok, would you call Oracle, Informix or Sybase "reverse engineering cloners" ?

    No ?

    Then why couldn't they do single sign on under NT ? Why only SQLServer ? Maybe a hidden API ?

    Microsoft have been caught doing this, again and again and again. Red handed. Why do you thing the DOJ wants an MS Apps and MS OS companies. To stop *exactly* this kind of thing happening.

    BTW: The "reverse engineering cloners" comment is especially funny, as MS Lanman was originally developed by 3COM, MS-SQLServer was based on the Sybase code (and still uses the same over the wire transport TDS format)... Should I go on ?

    Who are the reverse engineering cloners here :-).


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • > has repeatedly stated that SQL Server has never > used unpublished APIs to acheive its performance

    Well good for him. I wasn't talking about performance. I was talking about single sign on integration with the OS. Which can be a significant driving sales factor. Why do you think we try so hard to do the same thing for Samba ?

    > I really think that makes the whole "MS uses
    > unpublished APIS to its advantage" argument moot
    > don't you think?

    No I don't, for reasons stated above. Performance is not the only way to gain an advantage over the competition.


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • If you want a three button mice, go out and buy one from someone who makes just that. Or buy fricking Sun hardware and shut up.

    Actually, I've done both. I have Logitech pilot 3 button mice on my PCs, and I also have Sun hardware :-) That doesn't alter the fact that a wheel on a mouse has its uses. I just want it in addition to my existing 3 full size buttons.

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.