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Government Gives Microsoft Offer Thumbs Down 312

Robotech_Master writes: "This Wired News article has the details: the government thinks very little of Microsoft's own planned remedy, and in fact claims all its proposed meaures amount to 'nothing.' Hardly a surprise, but interesting all the same. " Today was the day that Judge Jackson, the DOJ, and MS were having a hearing to discuss "remedies." Not suprisingly, the government and Microsoft see things differently. Amazing. Hey, who's looking forward to several more years of incessant appeals and hearings? I thought so.
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Government Gives Microsoft Offer Thumbs Down

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  • 1. When you open e-mails, Outlook automatically executes scripts in them whether you want it to or not.
    2. OS/2 doesn't.
  • "A Breakup Is Too Harsh And will keep us from doing what we do best--innovating." If Steve Balmer says this one more time I'm just going to start screaming.
  • Again, there is a difference...

    Mac *developed* MacOS and the hardware *together*. Its a *single* package. No doubt they could supply Macs with another OS, however I don't think there'd be much call for it.

    MS *don't* supply the hardware. Again, they *strongarm* other companies to supply their OS. Yes, you can get a machine with no Windows (I've done it, however I'm sure someone still paid the MS tax). However, there are *plenty* of companies who will *not* supply a machine without windows, and they just happen to be the bigger companies. Intel compat hardware is a commodity, and the fact that at *most* places you cannot avoid paying Microsoft is awful.

    There are no Mac clone makers. That is Apple's choice, and I think they suffer for it. However, comparing the Apple/MacOS situation to Variety of Intel Compat Suppliers/MS Windows situation is just plain stupidity!

    So, come clean, do you work for or are you affiliated in any way with Microsoft?

    BTW, the dickhead remark was not meant as an insult, I'm sorry, think of it as Australian for 'I disagree!' :)

  • Actually, the big difference between this case and the OJ saga is Judge vs Jury. I would hate to imagine what a M$FT vs DOJ jury case would look like. Imagine the jury selection process:

    M$ Lawyer: Have you ever used a computer
    Potential Juror: yes
    M$ Lawyer: I move to reject this juror due to pre-bias...

    And then you have a bunch of uneducated jurors easily swayer by layer charm and video footage of harmless paperclips being hunted by dinosaurs.

    hmmmmmm, if anything is broken in the US justice system its jury selection...and mandatory sentencing...and politician selection as they write the laws.....oops got a little offtopic there.

  • If it was open source then......
  • hmmm notepad?
    uh win-vim would beat it out of the market...

    #include "standard_disclaimer.h"
  • Try accessing something with write enabled and read not sometime on a novell server with notepad... the results will suprise you. Well.. maybe.. this is MS afterall.
  • > IMHO winver.exe is very well written and I challenge anyone here to do a better job.

    Well, I know it's going to be tough, but I'll give it a try:
    There. How did I do?

  • A specific mention in the breakup agreement that prevents coventures/cooperation of any kind. I would like to see it enforced with criminal punishments for the individual violators but more likely they'll put a hefty price tag on any cooperation.
  • notepad doesn't support keyboard shortcuts like ctrl-s and ctrl-a. argh!

    Sure it does!

    Try Ctrl-Alt-Del sometime, it supports that wonderfully!
  • by |deity| ( 102693 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @07:13PM (#1065007) Homepage
    With out the breakup of bell linux might never have come about. Part of the popularity of Unix was it's cheap price and the fact that one could get the source code for only a small fee. "Unix was cheap. AT&T had been forced to practically give it away for free by government order.", a quote from a recent Salon story. AT&T was not allowed to make money off of technology that did not relate directly to communications. Without that breakup BSD would not have been developed and neither would linux at least not as easily or in this short of time.

    Long distance prices are cheaper now. That's easy to see even with only a little research.

    While I do believe that Ma Bell was a more benevolent monopoly then Microsoft I think their breakup has benifitted society.

    Part of the trouble with getting work done on phone systems today is the shear number of phone and data systems in use. Would Bell have done any better? Maybe, maybe not.

    I'm not a linux/unix/bsd zealot but I do think Microsoft has given pcs a bad name. Far from making it easier for new users they baby new users and then when that pretty new windows box crashes, as they all do. The user is left with no knowledge and support people that know less about computers then many highschool students. These new users are completely lost. Microsoft gives them a false sence of security by making some simple tasks very easy then not encouraging users to learn about that expensive and complex machine they are using.

    Just my opinion I could be wrong.

  • Legolas-Greenleaf said:
    I hate to interject, but I'm not sure if this analogy is exactly fair. Unlike the "spoiled kid", Microsoft wasn't handed their large empire... don't forget that they had to fight to get where they are. In a country that is so passionate about Capitalism and has a history of being against Communism... it's interesting how quickly people want the Government to step in and stop this overwelming Capitalistic success.
    I'd have to disagree with you on a number of points. First of all, MS *was* handed their large empire. You may recall that MS originally landed their cushy partnership with IBM because Bill Gates's mother was a friend of one of the head honchos at IBM (they served together on the board of directors of a charitable organization). Also, you must recall that, at the time, IBM was undergoing an antitrust trial of their own. In order to avoid looking like they were trying to push their way into the personal computer business, IBM made the infamous deal with Microsoft in which they let MS keep the rights to DOS (which MS had bought, not written). The success of the IBM PC made quite a bit of money for Microsoft, but it was the eventual reverse-engineering of IBM's BIOS (I can't remember off the top of my head who did this), allowing the production of IBM clones, that was the big break for Microsoft. The PC-compatible market exploded, and MS rode the wave to monopoly status.

    I don't mean to imply that Microsoft doesn't deserve some credit for being clever and hard-working, but here are plenty of clever and hard-working companies out there that haven't had nearly the luck that MS has.

    I'd also like to address your point about government intervention in the software industry being anti-capitalistic. I think that to a certain extent, you're right. But I'd also say that it is largely the government's intervention that let Microsoft achieve its current position. I am referring here to the IBM anti-trust case (which was eventually dismissed), as well as our badly broken intellectual property regulations and a legal system that favors those with lots of money rather than those who are right. The first helped put Microsoft on top, and the last two have helped Microsoft keep their dominant position. It seems to me that the government generally should keep their hands off the market, but since they've already screwed things up here, they need to help set them right again. The MS anti-trust suit is part of that.
    "The people. Could you patent the sun?"
  • I'm from Texas, and even we don't execute anyone in civil cases... yet. Since this is basically one big civil case, there should be no execution. Now, civil cases do often impose harsh financial penalties. I would like to see that happen here, but I'm pretty sure it won't since anti-trust law doesn't deal with punishments, only remedies to restore competition. If the company is broken up, the shareholders will make a bundle of cash and be quite happy and content. Maybe one of the companies will become big enough again and commit the same crimes as Microsoft. Then maybe they get split up again. The shareholders still walk away happy. That's the real problem with the remedies that have been proposed. Why aren't the owners of the company (i.e. the shareholders) being punished for the actions of the corporation that they own? Shouldn't they face some kind of financial sanctions? Something? Anything? No. They'll make a ton of money if the company is broken up. That's my main issue with the whole thing. I want to see the owners face some consequences for the actions of the company they are investing in. Maybe then this sort of thing won't be so readily tolerated by shareholders. Maybe they'll demand that their corporations obey the law rather than thumb their noses at it. If they actually faced consequences, I think they'd be far more likely to do so.

  • From fairly early in the case, MS must have abandoned all hope (perhaps after Gates miserable videotape, or all the emails) at the trial level, and is pinning it's hopes on Appeal.

    So naturally they are difficult about Settlement, because you generally cannot Appeal a settlement which is, after all, an agreement.

    This is a high stakes game, and MS is calling the DoJ and the Judge. The question becomes how far the Judge is prepared to go. Is anyone bluffing?
  • by gold23 ( 44621 ) <[org.slashdot.2] [at] [oolong.com]> on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @07:27PM (#1065019) Homepage
    Backgrounders on Judge Jackson:

    Newsmaker: Thomas Penfield Jackson
    http://w ww.internetworld.com/print/1998/10/12/news/1998101 2-newsmaker.html [internetworld.com]

    Jurist in Microsoft case opinionated, tardy in decisions
    http://www.mercurycent er.com/business/microsoft/trial/judge/ [mercurycenter.com]

    The second article has more about Judge Jackson's life before becoming a judge.

    -- Chris Goldman

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @05:30PM (#1065021)
    It's nice, for once, to see Microsoft walking into things with the mentality that they've always carried. Instead of helping them here, it makes the situation worse. It's like the little kid who's parents let him get away with practically anything. Parents go away for the weekend and hire an old-bitty of a babysitter and the little kid suddenly finds himself being scolded every time he turns around. He just isn't used to this and doesn't know how to react.

    Eventually, like the little spoiled kid, Microsoft will run off and pout in the corner -- maybe bully a few of the other little kids while they're at it, just to get their rocks off and feel a like they have a little manhood left.

    I'm really surprised by the way Judge Jackson and the rest of the government has handled this case. It is very impressive.

    I'd be interested to see a book by this Judge a few years after all of this is over. I'm not sure what his history is before practicing law, but he seems to be rather wise in the way he approaches these issues, even if they may not be within the average judge's grasp. I mean, for god's sake, how many other judges would have spent a night personally removing MSIE from Windows95 on their own just to see if it could be done?

    Now, granted, I wouldn't want a lawyer to try the same thing in a medical malpractice suit, but . . .

  • Which is why they should get rid of the death penalty in the first place. The system makes mistakes. People do sneaky things like witholding evidence and such. There are too many ways someone can be wrongly convicted. We shouldn't take away any possibility of at least doing the right thing at a later time by killing the person. Hell, it would even be cheaper in the long run if they would just stop sending all these people to jail for stupid minor drug convictions. We'd have a lot more room for people convicted of real crimes and would still be spending less than we are now to house them.

  • Since the breakup, the only people who have suffered was the common citizen with inflated local rates, long distance and interlata charges, and more frustration because of the budgetary constraints of the RBOC's.

    excuse me? are we talking about the same company? i seem to remember a time not too long ago when i was paying long distance in the order $0.65/minute where i now pay $0.10, (and $0.30 where i now get it for free) and renting a $30 phone for $10/month.

    i don't know what you're thinking, but the AT&T antitrust ruling was nothing but good for consumers (except for a small peroid of time in the transitional phases). and i firmly believe that breaking Microsoft into an operating systems company and an applications company would be excellent for consumers as well.

    - j

  • by radja ( 58949 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @11:05PM (#1065030) Homepage
    >G.W. Bush has publically said many times that he would throw the MS antitrust case out if he could. It is safe to say that MS will be spending millions to get him elected.

    This touches something that is a BIG difference between the US vs. the Netherlands (and probably europe): companies funding political parties, candidates etc.

    This simply isn't allowed. This means companies have slightly less influence on politicians in europe than in the US. slightly...

  • by Convergence ( 64135 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @07:30PM (#1065031) Homepage Journal
    You have a claim that there was a benefit in forcing OEM's to install the `free' IE 3.0 into Win95. Just because it has benefits isn't enough. There are lots of benefits in bundling (say) a free version of Visual Studio, or a free version of Office into every install of Win98/Win2k. Why didn't they (then) pay netscape and bundle a free copy with every install of 95, instead of spending billions on their own web browser?

    Why does Microsoft not do the first two bundlings? Because it would be anticompetetive and be the death-knell for every other office suite manufacturer, and applications development platform? Or do they not do it because they would make less money? Or do they not do it because they realize that this argument is a slippery slope. If they slide down too far within this 'bundling' idea, they'll be within range of the DoJ alligator and get bitten in half?

    Software is software and so unlike the physical world because it is infinitely malleable. It is obvious that it's a stupid idea for your power company to 'bundle' a TV with their service. or for the grocery store to 'bundle' automobiles.

    With malleable software and OS's, it's hard to divide between 'core system software' and applications. It doesn't sound nonsensical to 'tie' office into Win2k, or to 'tie' outlook or the web browser into it.

    There are several GOOD reason's for tying office into Win2k. Finer integration, If it would benefit consumers,
  • This is news, but hardly a surprise. Microsoft could hardly jeopardize their chances at appeal by recommending anything that made them appear to accept guilt.

    At least they weren't arrogant asses like Socrates, who recommended that his own punishment be free meals for life at state expense.

    Yes, there were some surprises early on, such as how careful judge PJ was and how careless MS was, but since the time of the FoF everything has pretty much been predictable. The only question lurking in my mind is, does the DoJ really want a breakup, or were they just offering the judge something he could turn down as "too harsh", in order to make him look like he's not out to get MS when the case comes up on appeal?

  • Don't you think that his case is just a wee bit overblown? The man is a petty thief, not some abused and beaten political prisoner. There are *real* political prisoners out there, quit reading 2600 for 10 mins, get your head out of the sand and you might see how lowly he ranks on the list of social injustices.

    Naww, don't bother, it just too *hip* to bitch about Mitnick.

  • You have a claim that there was a benefit in forcing OEM's to install the `free' IE 3.0 into Win95. Just because it has benefits isn't enough. There are lots of benefits in bundling (say) a free version of Visual Studio,

    This is the core of the matter. You would be correct if Microsoft were saying IE is a beneficial *bundle*. They aren't. They're saying that the union of IE and Windows form a third product that didn't exist before. In other words, they say they have been integrated.

    The whole lawsuit swirls around trying to decide whether 1) it really is integrated and 2) whether it matters why Microsoft did it. The appellate court has already said Yes and No respectively in a similar context.

    So to summarize, bundling != integration.

    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • by cjr ( 2590 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @11:49PM (#1065043)
    Perhaps you should read something other than your own corporate propaganda.
    Concerning the benefits of integrating Windows and MSIE, read Boies interrogation of Allchin where Allchin had to admit point by point that the claimed benefits would be available by separate distribution also. The trial brought up facts that countered Microsoft's claims about the benefits of integration where two of the three judges of the Appeals Court wrote their conclusion without doing as much as bothering with relevant facts.
    As for your silly analysis of the role of the Netscape browser, why not talk about the obvious: if a killer application is in principle available for multiple platforms it will lower the applications barrier to entry in the operating systems market. Note that contrary to Netscape, Microsoft does not port applications to operating systems cheaper than Windows.

    Furthermore, making exclusive deals on the basis of monopoly power is not ever "pro-competitive", just as not shooting people is not a philantropic act. At best a marketing act would be "competitive", although in this case it is merely not declared illegal.

    Now that we have arrived at your use of Newspeak, and given your "many slashdot readers" line, I think it is not out of line to attribute some claims of the Microsoft company line to you.

    1. a.) An operating system can be written by a single person in a short period of time, without this person having previously marketed anything, which shows that there is intensive competition. b.) Windows could only have been written by Microsoft's spending of many billions of dollars and only because Microsoft also produced a text processor, a spreadsheet, a flat database application - and whatever else is in MS Office nowadays.

    2. a.) Linux is a serious competitor on the desktop for Microsoft and there are advanced applications in all categories for the Linux desktop (testimony under oath of Paul Maritz). b.) Linux on the desktop is unrealistic.

    3. a.) In no industry there is so much competition as in the software markets Microsoft operates in. b.) There is no viable replacement for Microsoft's products now and there won't be in any short term, so any harm to Microsoft will bring significant harm to the global economy at large.

    I wish you and your fellows would at some time accept the logical rule of "not (A and not A)". Alas, you don't and won't. Not accepting rules of logic makes any form of discussion with you and your fellows a waste of time.
  • So, you honestly think MS is not maintaining it's monopoly through illegal means? Just curious.

    Illegal means? I don't think so, but only because I don't believe the laws, as they currently stand, forbid the sort of behavior I've been reading about.

    Now if you were to ask me about "unfair means" or "nasty means" or "less than admirable means" then my answers would differ. I'm too ignorant to try to understand the extent to which capitalism *should* be regulated. My post was only an attempt at revealing what I've learned about the way it *is* regulated.

    And P.S. I'm a nice guy, really!

    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • free market != perfectly competitive market

    (maybe i do have a chance on the AP test tomorrow)


  • You cannot integrate without bundling.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again: people don't know that there is stuff out there better then MS. They may sort of know MS is a jerk in terms of being a company, and buying out other companies and such, but all they hear about Linux is from Linux fanatics who immediately castrate them when they hear that they use Win95 or something. And if they use AOL, my GOD they're in for it.

    You see, the problem is that the large majority of computer users who could benefit from a *nix switch (which, IMHO, is almost everybody.... the large number of choices between distros makes it possible to find ones that run easy, or ones that are tech crazy, etc.... the only possible problem is getting somebody to install it for them, and that isn't always an issue) feel that they don't really need it. Windows does what they need, and they accept crashes as part of daily life. People are absolutely amazed when I tell them my Linux box has been going for two and a half years without a single system crash (SYSTEM crash, not Netscape crash... fortunately those are easy to fix though). Many people have heard about Linux, but don't really register that it's *FREE*, *OPEN-SOURCE*, and has a lot of free and open source programs with it too that do games, word processing, whatever. And people don't realize that the quality of MS products is truly unacceptably low. MS is great at marketing and business (i.e. beating the crap out of competitors), but not so strong in the software department.

    Well, just my two cents.

  • by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Thursday May 18, 2000 @02:11AM (#1065086)

    While I sympathize with your situation, I don't think you are right. Instead of trying to go point by point, enough to say that these arguments simply didn't convince Judge Jackson compared to the mountain of evidence provided by DoJ.

    While some of that may be MS related (MS's transparent tactics didn't endear them to anyone there, and their previous lack of good faith when it comes to the Consent Decree), most of the ruling was pretty clear-cut.

    But with that said, I am personally hoping the remedy is changed. First, I don't think it will accomplish anything lasting in terms of returning competition to the desktop. Second, I don't like the idea of the Government becoming involved on a lasting basis in the software industry-- once in, you'll get 'policy experts' whose only job is to tell us how to do our jobs, and we'll never be able to get rid of them.

    Instead, I think we ought to be discussing good remedies. For one thing, each company affected (netscape, corel, etc) can use the finding of fact in a civil suit. The government could follow Cringley's suggestion and fine MS; it has tens of billions in cash reserves sitting around. Third, it could open the source to windows in a non-restrictive license. Fourth, it could implement full disclosure of MS file formats and APIs, forcing MS to fully document all of these, and imposing a waiting period of not less than one year on changes to these formats. Finally, it could impose non-discriminatory, fully disclosed prices on products to OEMs.

    All IMHO, of course, and you can take or leave some or all of them. But I think it is pretty clear that MS has the monopoly. What we need to look at are remedies which will actually remedy something. Breaking up MS is both too extreme and won't solve anything.

    MS's big problem right now, of course, is that they've played so much dirty poker trying to get cheap, one time benefits that now that the stakes are high, noone wants to take any chances. If they had been ruthless but honorable during the trial and before, the proposals would probably be less radical.

    #include IANAL
  • they don't bundle office and studio because they don't need to. They already have those markets bound tight. There is NO real competition there.

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • I just HAVE to say this because it's been eating at me for weeks now.

    Why the hell are Microsoft allowed to suggest penalties or restrictions? While I'm not denying their right to appeal, regardless of my personal opinion, why in the world should they be allowed to suggest what should be done? They were in court for breaking the law. I can see it now. "You've been found guilty of the crime of grand theft. What would you like your sentence to be?"

    Microsoft should have as many rights as any individual in court. The right of appeal, nothing more.

  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @05:34PM (#1065107) Homepage

    Bug Free Software





    Broken Sofware to be open sourced

    everything else

  • by divec ( 48748 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @08:31PM (#1065109) Homepage
    I simply do not agree that Microsoft is a monopoly.

    Try and buy one PC notebook without paying for Windows. It's stunningly hard really - harder than buying a PC notebook without a hard drive. I reckon that's a pretty good indicator that Microsoft is capable of diminishing economic freedom of choice.
  • by fReNeTiK ( 31070 ) on Thursday May 18, 2000 @03:01AM (#1065111)
    Very interesting post, I'm happy to see it moderated up.

    (Usual disclaimer: IANAL, I'm no American, I'm biased towards breaking MS up, but not too well informed about the details of the case)

    However, I have two main objections to your argument.

    The first one is not exactly relevant to the subject, but here you go anyway: Your signature doesn't jive well with the body of your post. If you don't want to speak for Microsoft, the company you work for, don't use we when you talk about them. Ugh, caught myself nitpicking again.

    Second, you state that: When determining monopoly power, the law first defines an applicable market. For the purposes of antitrust, "the market" is the arena in which meaningful competition exists between interchangeable goods. The DoJ insists we have a monopoly in PC Operating Systems, and they further claim that we used that monopoly to defeat Netscape, which we felt might be a threat to that monopoly in the future. And you then propose to define the market in question as application platforms for which you admit Microsoft doen't have a monopoly.

    This however justifies the DOJs argument rather than invalidating it. What the DOJ is claiming is that MS leveraged their monopoly on one market (the OS market) to obtain a dominant position in another market (the browser market). In other words, Netscape has to be in a different market for the DOJ to be able to claim unfaire use of monopoly power. Remember, a monopoly in itself is not illegal, it is the attempted use of monopoly power to crush competitor in other markets which poses a problem.

    Or did I miss something obvious here?
  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @05:35PM (#1065112)

    While I am all for the harshest of penalties against Microsoft (why isn't their a corporate death penalty? or corporate imprisonment?) I doubt anything the US government can do will have any significant impact on MS or the way they do business.

    Microsoft will still bully, break or buy their competitors, because companies large and small fear them.

    Microsoft will still embrace and extend "standards" because developers will tolerate anything to be on MS's good side.

    Microsoft will still have tons of customers because customers prefer name-brand over quality.

    The government's moves are nothing more than making a loud noise, and saying "We thing this company is doing wrong." If they had any guts and/or really cared about customers getting shafted they would utterly destroy the company to allow fresh competition come to the scene.
  • I'd believe it's called due process. Last time I heard, the rule of law applied to EVERYONE, not just when it's convenient or popular. Of course, if you really wanted to nail M$... just find a way to get a stained blue dress into the executive board room and watch National Enquirer do its worst.
  • Yep.



    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Just the fact that you took the time to post this well-thought discussion gives me hope for /. People will probably flame you for saying the "M-word", but they should subscribe to the idea of "knowing their enemy" instead.

    Was it not Al Capone who avoided years of real legal trouble and was proverbial teflon despite his known involvement in the mob? Until he was reeled in for tax evasion. Microsoft is a similar situation.

    Whether they know the details or not, people are "aware" of Microsoft's business dealings and the way in which they ascended to the throne. Bill Gates who now champions himself a bastion of "innovation", is the same guy who privately beams with pride over destroying competition, wrangling shares of companies to influence their products, and creating distribution deals that are prohibitive to channel "sass".

    What you see in general nowadays I believe to be the backlash of all the arrogance we have seen from Microsoft over the last decade or so. There are companies that behave a whole lot more monopolistically (Intel anyone?), but do so more quietly, leaving only boring market evidence of the fact. Since there is no "evil overlord" to put a face on, they do not draw the negative attention.

    This is not to say that Microsoft is a scapegoat, but only the Al Capone of today. Certainly a legal argument can be assembled that makes the company seem utterly angelic, but the popular course is to penalize them for their hubris. If they do not get the screws put to them this time, it will eventually happen until they learn to duck the everyman's radar.

    Just my two cents.

  • Actually it's pretty easy, simply head over to pricewatch.com and take a look around. While searching for a laptop I easily found several vendors who offered laptops without any OS (or hard drives for that matter) Now try buying a new Apple machine without MacOS. That's a monopoly.
  • by Chris Siegler ( 3170 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @08:43PM (#1065125)

    With respect to the second charge, I feel Microsoft stands a good chance of being granted relief by the Appeals Court. In the Consent Decree ruling, the appellate judges essentially concluded that separate demand for two products, and even separate marketing, do not necessarily indicate that those two products cannot be integrated.

    I haven't been following the trial, and so I'm not at all swayed by this argument because your point is moot (IANAL but I like any word that makes you sound like a cow).

    You need to re-read Jackson's conclusions. Microsoft is a monopoly, but he states that in order to be found liable you need to show anticompetative practices that were used to maintain the monopoly.

    Netscape fit that bill. As middleware, the browser could offer an API to developers that could be used instead of Windows API. Unlike a competing OS, the chicken-and-egg problem is solved since it's already deployed on nearly every user's computer.

    Jackson states that Microsoft realized that developer's "realiance on Netscape's platform would depend largely on the size and trajectory of Netscape's share of browser usage". Thus Microsoft used exclusionary deals with OEMs and eventually integration with the OS as a means to tie up the easy means of distributions for Netscape and crush their market share.

    And realize that if this is to overturned, it will be on appeal, not a new trial. I don't know law, but I know that overturning a decision is a lot harder.

    Besides, I'd think you'd welcome the break-up. I think that it will eventually make Microsoft better. And I'll still run Linux ;-)

  • Tsk, don't read too much into that now! I said "IF THERE IS NO SUCH POINT". Do you honestly think this guy should accept ANY ACTIVITY from his superiors blindly and unquestioningly? I will accept if he has such a point, a "this has gone too far" point and simply has not been pushed to that point yet. However if he does NOT have such a point, if he would accept anything from MS, if his loyalty is that blind, then indeed he is not a nice person- I would hardly call that a person at all because I tend to assume that personhood involves having independent judgement.

    Do you, yourself, feel there is a point at which you would quit a job because your employers were too corrupt for you to tolerate? Or is your reaction so strong because you yourself would tolerate any activity no matter how criminal from those who sign your paycheck? At any rate, quit jumping to those conclusions on behalf of konstant: I never said he wasn't nice, I said "IF x, y and z then you are not a nice person at all". It's not for me, or you, to decide what he would or wouldn't tolerate. Would he tolerate MS killing other businesses? Obstructing justice? Owning the President outright through bribery? Surely there is some point at which a person will say 'no, that's gone far enough'. If not... well, you know my opinion on the matter.

  • I tend to disagree. A breakup as suggested WILL set things right.

    Sure, the OS company can extend standards all they want. So can the apps company. But they can't do it together. If the OS company wants new features in the OS, to tie in with applications, it *MUST* publish them publicly. If the APPS company wants to make a new version of office.. they are doing it solely because they think people will buy a new office suite.

    Remember, at the heart of all of MS's dominating power is the fact that they leverage their OS and their Apps against each other wherever convenient. ie: Subtle breaks in compatability to force poeple to upgrade. Keep office on one platform in order to keep people from moving to another platform.
    So.. people use windows because of office.. and office because everyone uses office.

    That will all change if they split up.
  • To me, it almost seems as if Microsoft is bluffing...they've got a very shaky case, but they can't possibly admit to that, so they have to act as if they are actually doing something cool for society.

    But really, we all know what a joke that is!

  • It seems that for every media circus trial *cough*OJ*cough* there is a trial like this where the case is handled methodically and intelligently by the court. Do you have a feeling that the judge is starting to lose patience with Microsoft's attempts at stalling? I know I am. I am just wondering how they are going to split Microsoft's overseas branches.
  • Just speaking a sentence doesn't make it valid.

    Not just once. But if lots of native speakers habitually use that sentence and don't consider it to be invalid, then it does become valid. For example, the following phrases were incorrect at one time but are now valid:

    • If I was you I'd stop. ["were" used to be compulsory]
    • It is him. ["he" used to be compulsory]
    • You and me can swim. ["I" used to be compulsory]

    Let me axe you a god damn question [is] wrong

    But that's different. If you said that sentence, then said "did I say something wrong", any native English speaker would say that you meant ask and not axe. Wheras if you say "shall we do it different? Hmm did I say something wrong?" many English speakers would find the sentence quite acceptable.

    What I'm saying is that there's a difference between verbal slip-ups and a genuine shift in the rules of English grammar. People adhere too closely to rules printed in books about English grammar, and criticise genuine colloquial usage. Linguists consider usage (minus slip-ups) to be the definitive guide.

  • Poor Microsoft is going to get a surprise when they realize they're not the only kid on the block!
  • by Sri Lumpa ( 147664 ) on Thursday May 18, 2000 @04:10AM (#1065154) Homepage
    In the Consent Decree ruling, the appellate judges essentially concluded that separate demand for two products, and even separate marketing, do not necessarily indicate that those two products cannot be integrated.

    But it doesn't indicate either that those two product shouldn't be integrated.

    Either I don't understand your sentence (possible, I'm not a native English speaker) or we could follow what you say in it to its extreme and integrate Windows and Office, Outlook, Visual Studio,... up to the point of having MS selling only one box with all their product in it sold under the name Windows.

    They remarked upon the DoJ's proposed remedy of "hiding" IE rather than removing it, and suggested that this indicated the DoJ was tacitly admitting IE is an integrated part of Windows

    Of course this is an integrated part of Windows. MS did everything in their power to tie Windows and IE together in a way that is next to impossible to undo. The question is whether doing so is an excuse not to punish them? Clearly no, this is not because you break the law in a way that it is impossible even for you to undo it that you should go as if nothing happened.

    Of course, if such a thing were true, then the DoJ would have no case. If the word justice really mean something in the USA then it should make their case stronger, not weaker. The Appeals Court further commented that it is not the place of the courts to judge the motives for technological tying in those cases where a reasonable person might determine consumer benefit from the tie, and they additionally suggested that they *did* see a benefit in requiring IE 3.0 to ship with Win95.

    I don't really have a problem with having IE coming with Windows 95/98, I have a problem with not being able to get rid of it.

    Last time I installed RedHat I had Netscape preinstalled. Did I scream bloody murder, Netscape is a monopolist? No. Am I an hypocrit because I thought and said this kind of things about MS? No. Why? Because Netscape didn't use their monopoly (well, they don't have any but you get the point) to forbid Redhat to ship with other browsers (like the one with KDE or Lynx) nor to forbid them to remove Netscape icon or to place another browser icon.

    I think Microsoft should have the right to propose IE with Windows but they should not have the right to force IE with Windows and threaten OEM's and Apple, using their monopoly, if they remove IE's icon to put Netscape one. Integrating IE inside Windows was only one more mean, technical this one, to force them to ship IE.

    You say:
    When determining monopoly power, the law first defines an applicable market.

    Then you say:
    This implies that Netscape was a potential competitor for Windows, because it could serve interchangeably as a platform for running applications, which would remove the "applications barrier to entry" upon which Jackson bases so much of his decision. But Netscape is not a PC Operating System. Therefore, the market cannot have been well defined, within the legal bounds above.

    The antitrust practice need NOT be in the same market and the market is well defined. Don't forget that it is illegal to use anti-competitive practices either to maintain a monopoly or to leverage a monopoly to gain market chares in another market.

    In this case MS tied IE to Windows, thus leveraging the Windows monopoly to gain market chare in the browser market in order to maintain its monopoly on the PC OS area.

    MS has a monopoly in the IBM compatible PC OS area. Netscape is a threat to Windows not directly because it indeed is not an OS but indirectly because by changing the playing field from the desktop to the Internet and by not being Windows-centric it made Windows irrelevant.

    The monopoly power confered to MS via Windows would be totally irrelevant if people did not use Windows-centric desktop applications but instead used Netscape-centric Internet/Web/Network applications and this is to prevent that before it was too late that MS did tie IE to Windows.

  • by Sonicboom ( 141577 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @05:41PM (#1065160) Journal
    I'm actually quite concerned over how the breakup of Micro$oft will affect the general computer user.

    My concern stems from the Bell System break up in the 1980's. My father worked for the Bell System for 34 years, and I worked for one of the RBOC's for 5. I remember how "great" the Bell System was, and I saw how much things had changed for the worse while working for one of the regional bells.
    The Bell System was a monopoly, and IMHO a necessity. Since the breakup, the only people who have suffered was the common citizen with inflated local rates, long distance and interlata charges, and more frustration because of the budgetary constraints of the RBOC's. Back in the days of the Bell System, if you ordered a telephone line, it was installed within a day or two. It takes up to three weeks or more nowadays to get a tech to come to the door because of budgetary cutbacks.

    Anyway - what I'm trying to say is that I am curious on how the MS breakup will affect the rest of us. As a Linux user, I'm even more concerned.

    I ponder on whether MS is a necessary evil, as was the Bell System. *hmm*

    I guess either way, the common folk will lose...

  • First off, there is a call for apple machines without MacOS. I for one would love a Powerbook running Windows 2000. The G3/4 processor while having horrible yields is quite good. Just because you don't see a purpose in having Macs without MacOS doesn't mean others don't. Obviously someone found the need for Linux, therefore LinuxPPC was created.

    Apple "develops" the hardware in the same way Compaq, Packard Bell, or Dell do, the procesors are made by mottorolla, the video cards by ATI, the hard drives are standard issue, etc. They add miniscule changes that serve only to add a "Personalized touch"

    And no, companies do not pay the "Microsoft Tax" if they don't carry Windows xxxx products. It's that simple. Once again, look at pricewatch.com Plenty of companies can be found who sell 1) just hardware 2) complete systems with no OS attached

    Of course the bigger PC makers pay a tax if they carry other OS/software competing with Microsoft. Find a large grocery store that carries both Coke and Pepsi, I sure can't. If you want a discount then you have to bend over backwards, otherwise you pay the same price as everyone else. You scratch my back, I scratch your's, it's that simple.

    "So, come clean, do you work for or are you affiliated in any way with Microsoft? "

    I work for SGI, that's about as far away from Microsoft as it gets.

  • The fact is, and Allchin admitted to this, that integrating IE with Windows does not provide any benefit to consumers that could not already be provided without integrating IE. Combine that tidbit with the other evidence that shows why they decided to integrate IE with Windows and you end up with an anti-competitive act committed by a monopolist. That's why they will lose. (unless the appeals court judges are as incompetent as the last group and don't even bother to look at any evidence)

  • Well if you're having that much trouble, ask yourself "Why don't Linux computer companies (such as VA) carry Linux laptops?"
  • The government is actually taking everything into consideration, which is kind of scary, because we won't know until it's over how much they understand the situation.

    I think, though, that despite the government's innate silliness, they're actually thinking this through enough that they'll come to a beneficial conclusion.

  • *Appends*
    I took a moment to go to pricewatch.com and typed lin "linux laptops" into the search box, checked out the first one

    http://www.imperialdirect.com/BuildorderMenu.cfm ?SystemID=84

    A nice laptop with no OS installed, Windows 98 costs in the neighborhood of an additional eighty dollars, Redhat 6.1 is free. Good luck with your laptop purchase.
  • Imagine there's no Microsoft
    It's easy if you try
    No DOS below us
    Above us only Linus
    Imagine all the people
    Using Linux today

    Imagine no OS companies
    It isn't hard to do
    No crashes to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Playing Quake in peace

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But Slashdot is full of them
    I hope someday you'll surf by
    And Unix will finally be as one

    Imagine no software possessions
    I wonder if RMS can
    No need for greed or hoarding
    A brotherhood of Webs
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing MP3s

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But Slashdot is full of them
    I'm hope someday BSD will join us
    And the Unix world shall live as one.

    Note: A humble effort, dedicated to the living memory of Trollmastah.


  • Did you forget that the appellate court didn't even look at any evidence when they made their decision? When this thing goes to appeal, the Findings of Fact will basically be taken as gospel. They are very difficult to overturn. Given that, the appellate court's decision will have little affect on the case from here on out. They made a decision without seeing any evidence. Judge Jackson has seen and considered all the evidence presented in this case and has decided what is fact and what is not. That will be the basis for any appeal as well. The earlire appellate court decision will carry little weight now.

    The whole lawsuit swirls around trying to decide whether 1) it really is integrated and 2) whether it matters why Microsoft did it.

    Since Allchin already admitted that integrating IE doesn't provide any benefit to consumers that could not be provided without integrating IE, and the DOJ showed many internal emails that explain to us why IE was integrated (they actually stated that they needed to "leverage Windows" more to get IE accepted by everyone), it becomes quite plain that Microsoft was committing an anti-competitive act. Being a monopoly, this is illegal. I don't think they'll be able to get this thing overturned. In fact, if this thing gets fasttracked to the Supreme Court (and I hope that's exactly what happens), I think they'll either settle or lose.

  • by 348 ( 124012 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @05:43PM (#1065179) Homepage
    This was allways a billion dollar game of chicken between the Clinton administration and M$. Clinton and Co. succumbed to the pressures of lobbyists shortly after the infomas Netscape letter which just happened to be in line with Gore and Ms. Clinton campaign supporters. Gates and M$ formally have NEVER backed either party. Gates was invited to the White House on several occcaisions and courted in hopes he and M$ would contribute. They did not.

    Shortly after the bulldog Reno was sicked on M$ and a modified special investigator statute was passed to look into the anti-trust issues Netscape brought up.

    I firmly beleive that this is a little payback to M$ for not being a Gore or H. Clinton supporter in the upcoming campains.

  • Let's keep this in perspective here. Microsoft is guilty of a lot of things, but taking a human life is not one of them. While corporations are given, as an entity, many rights that are usually reserved for people, they are not human beings. Killing a corporation is still just a non-violent act, much like extortion or some other financial crime. That doesn't mean it's not a serious crime, just that it shouldn't be equated with murder. Asking a court to view it as murder is just irrational and silly. We have laws against what they did and remedies for this kind of situation. As a corporation, they broke anti-trust laws. That is what they will have to face the consequences for. There's no "corporate murder" law for them to violate, therefore they could not be guilty of it.

  • According to the article, the public opposes the break up of Microsoft.

    Why? What's gone so wrong with the publicity - or gone so right for M$. For instance, the ILOVEYOU nonsense was never presented on the news as an MS-Outlook bug, but as a general computer bug. I had quite a few people ask if I'd been affected - we are a Solaris shop at work and I run Linux on my PC, and these people sort of knew that (at least, they ask me for linux advice now & then).

    Microsoft seems to be able to come out of the shit smelling like a rose to the public. I'm just amazed.

  • Companies should have the opportunity to get the electric chair just like people.

    Burn, baby, burn!

  • Judge Jackson and DOJ aren't going to be satisfied with much less than a breakup of MS. Competitors (Apple, etc.) would like to see total liquidation and confiscation of MS assets. MS wishes it could get off with a slap on the wrist.

  • by Legolas-Greenleaf ( 181449 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @05:45PM (#1065191)
    Eventually, like the little spoiled kid...
    Hmph... I hate to interject, but I'm not sure if this analogy is exactly fair. Unlike the "spoiled kid", Microsoft wasn't handed their large empire. Now, I do agree that Microsoft's business practices are questionable (remembering when IE first came out)... but don't forget that they had to fight to get where they are. In a country that is so passionate about Capitalism and has a history of being against Communism (read: government controlled economies), it's interesting how quickly people want the Government to step in and stop this overwelming Capitalistic success.

    (I choose to use Linux, myself - welcome to the free market economy - but that's another flamewar entirely ;^)
    Just my $0.02 CDN

    i've looked at love from both sides now. from win and lose, and still somehow...

  • True, they could be jailed if they were convicted of perjury, but as you say, the trick is proving it. You'd have to prove that, not only way their testimony false, but that they knew it was false and were deliberately lying. Personally, I think the emails that were presented by the DOJ were pretty powerfull evidence. I think they were lying. In fact, Boise actually got a couple of them to reverse some of their statements when he confronted them with some evidence. So, yeah, I think they perjured themselves. But I don't think anyone will take the time to call them on it.

  • The M$ commercial that gets me is the one where the guy is playing Solitare in his cube then gets the Notmeeting notice that the Big Cheese is comming. Suddenly he bounces up with his head above the rest of the cube farm raving ino his phone "I need copies...call Tokyo... After the suit leaves he says "Sucker"

    Would this add make you by sofware to make your employees productive.

    Buy our software and your employees will be non productive. Now there is TRUTH in advertising.

  • Which "government" are we referring to? The prosecution or the courts?

    Of course the prosecution is going to give MS a thumbs down. Let's not get carried away with sensationalist headlines.
  • I just can't see that as evil.

    Evil has absolutely nothing to do with this. It is about the law, which states not that it is morally wrong to leverage monopoly power, but that it is an unfair restraint on competition to leverage monopoly power. You're right there are other OS's, and an OEM could pre-load any of them that they want if they so feel; however, there is also the realities of the market to contend with. Whatever the benefits of an alternate OS, a company that cannot sell Windows on their machines does not survive. Saying that Dell or anyone else still has a choice is a technically true, but realistic simply does not play out. And there is nothing inherantly wrong with that. But it is incorrect to say that they still have a choice. You yourself say that it could lead to their certain demise, but it is still their choice. What sort of choice is that? "Hm, don't really like this licensing agreement. Guess I'll just go bankrupt." This is not how business operates. As such, Microsoft's actions amount to taking away Dell's right to chose what software they bundle on a sysytem.
    As for your point on two, I never say there that there is anything wrong with Microsoft seeking licensing fees from OEM's. That also is perfectly legit. But the crux of my argument, and the basis of the DOJ's beef with MS, is that collusion between these two legal elements creates an illegal restraint on competition. That is what the anti-monopoly laws are designed to fight. No one has a right to buy Windows at whatever price they want, but by the same token, according to the laws of the US that Microsoft has to abide by, MS has to act fairly and in good faith with companies that it deals with. It has been ampley demonstrated that MS used underhanded techniques that hinged on their dominance of the OS market to get their software onto the desktops of users across the world. This is not beneficial for consumers, because it artificially restrains consumer choice. The idea in this case is that dominance in one area of the market should not gaurantee dominance in other areas. Yeah, in a strictly hands-off capitalist society, MS would have the right to push every advantage they have for all that it is worth. But the US has made a conscious decision to value ensuring consumer choice and a more level playing field over pure free market. We place restraints on large companies to prevent any single group from controlling en toto all of any area of the economy. That's what the US system with respect to monopoly is built on. There is no moral judgement in there, that what MS has done is 'good' or 'evil'; rather, what the suit says, correctly is that there are regulations in this country concerning trade, and Microsoft has violated them. As such, the government is entitled to take what steps it sees fit to restore balance in this area of the market. This lawsuit is not about the rights of man; it is about the behaviour of a corporation in the context of US law.
  • Quoth the poster:

    ...it's interesting how quickly people want the Government to step in and stop this overwelming Capitalistic success.

    Ever see Soylent Green? Financially, and literally, those folks were making a killing. Their only problem was hiding the fact that "Solyent Green is people!" And they evidently did that pretty well.

    In abscence of laws regulating the market (and what isn't part of "the market?") there is nothing to stop a business from producing Soylent Green. And if they were managed half-way decently they'd be, in your words, an "overwelming Capitalistic success."

    The US brand of Capitalism is very government controlled, and it needs to stay that way. Large companies are responsible to no one but their shareholders, who by and large don't give a fsck how they get their money. A totally unregulated economy would turn into a cross between The Matrix and Soylent Green in about 5 years. The rich would literally eat the poor and all the shareholders would be happy. The US Government is the only thing stopping you and me from becoming food.

    Don't think it would happen? Then riddle me this, Batman: when was the last time you remember a Fortune 500 compny doing something only because it was the morally correct thing to do? When was the last time you remember a Fortune 500 company doing something in spite of the fact that it was morally repugnant?

  • >Look, we try to maintain a free market system in this country. Part of that entails fixing the problems that crop up sometimes when a corporation goes too far and jeopardizes the goals of the free market. Anti-trust laws themselves are "well-established doctrines." The system is based on rules and regulations, laws. Microsoft didn't abide by those laws. The DOJ tried to fix the problem last time. Microsoft was guilty and everyone knew it. So we ended up with a consent decree. Now, Microsoft could have taken that as a sign that they had gone too far and needed to step back inside the lines. Instead, they chose to thumb their noses (almost literally) at the DOJ and continue business as usual. Since they did not act in good faith last time, the DOJ has no reason to believe they will do so this time. Hence the severe and permanent remedy that is proposed.

    You may feel that anti-trust laws are not constitutional. Fine. A lot of people believe that many of the rights granted to corporations aren't constitutional either. Capitalism only works as long as it is controlled. Otherwise you end up with no choice and no competition. The markets will be divided and one corp will come out as the sole owner of each market. The rest of us will become serfs to the corporate lords. I realize that that sounds rather overly dramatic, but in the absence of anti-trust laws, I don't see anything that would prevent such a situation from occurring.

  • Of course, neither one should get away with it. Of course the impeachment issues were a lot more complex than Microsoft's antitrust issues. Mainly because there was so much going on behind the scenes. Not to mention all the hypocrisy in Congress. It was pretty disgusting to watch. But when you get down to it, I have to agree that I believe that he did lie under oath. I don't think we should get into all that stuff again though. Suffice it to say that I think that everyone should be held accountable for their actions. Now, there may be circumstances that would call for leniency, but I think Microsoft has already exhausted the DOJ's supply of leniency with the consent decree last time.

  • There is something to be said for the idea that the consumer operating system is something of a natural monopoly. After all, it is certainly easier for the consumer to know that any program they buy will run on their machine. It's certainly easier for developers to just be able to target a single platform.

    However, if we take it as a given that OS is a natural monopoly (or at least a desirable one), it is far from clear whether or not Microsoft is the answer. If we assume that M$ should be the OS, then it only makes sense that M$ must be heavily regulated (as Ma Bell was). That means fixed pricing controlled by goverment. Equal access to licenses for all companies, etc. etc.

    But, unlike in the case of the telephone companies, there is an interesting alternative in the OS space. That alternative is Linux. Since no one really owns it in the traditional sense, we could have dozens of companies selling the same OS. They could compete based on price, service, etc. They could distinguish themselves by tuning their distro's to different application spaces, such as novice users, servers, embedded applications, etc. As long as there is a certain amount of standardization with respect to included libraries, paths, etc. consumers and developers can have all the benefits of a "monopoly" OS without the downside of giving a single company some ridiculous amount of power and having the corresponding burdonsome government regulation.

    But I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here. It is a good argument to give to non-technical people about the advantages for everyone of Linux. We can all have the benefits of a standardized OS without the negative effects of a monopoly company owning a huge and vital portion of our infrastructure.
  • From the wired article

    "Microsoft's proposed remedy would leave it free to continue the very practices which the evidence at trial showed, and this court found, to be unlawful and would do nothing to restore competition."

    With this as a starting shot across the bow of M$, I don't see their appeal having a chance. I think they are just going to tie it up in the courts for years and try to force a stalemate.

  • The same thing that keeps them from locking you up without a trial, due process. Everyone deserves it, even MS.
  • Exactly. Nobody was murdered. Read farther down the thread of my post.

  • * Why do you assume that the people who are posting in one particular article represent the "majority"? The majority of Linux users don't read Slashdot. The majority of those who do read Slashdot don't post in any given article. What you're reading is the opinion of the subset who feels strongly enough about the issue to post about it. They're more likely to post if they disagree.
    So in response to something that says "Linux is not currently viable..." or something of the sort, people who think it is post. And in response to something that says Linux is already good enough to rival MS, those who think it isn't post.

    You read these and assume it's the same group of people posting both times, as if every single Slashdotter posts on every article, and decide to call them "hypocrates".

    * When were these elections? I don't remember them. BTW, the people who decide what articles go on the site are CmdrTaco, CowboyNeal, and hemos, and I'm fairly certain they weren't elected.

    * Regarding the misspelling: I honestly thought you were a troll deliberately misspelling it to sound like all the other "hypocrisy" posts.

    * Insinuating that Linux users are communists: the whole thing about "waving flags" and "chanting" and opposing the great American company, Microsoft, who stands for all that is capitalism. That may not be what you meant, but it's what you sounded like.

    * Being nicer than themselves in other situations: They charge up the wazzu for software, then when they lower their prices to something reasonable for educational use, you praise them. Microsoft is restricting the availability of software. RedHat doesn't need to donate software because the software is free in the first place.
    (You'll mention support. I know it. Do you honestly believe that Microsoft gives free support to the places it so "nicely" donates its software?)

    No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.
  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:00PM (#1065233) Journal
    Why the hell are Microsoft allowed to suggest penalties or restrictions?


    That's because breaking up Microsoft isn't being suggested as a punitive measure: it's being suggested as a remedy.

    Defendants that are found guilty of crimes in criminal proceedings are always expected to argue for leniency when they're being punished. But the situation here isn't even really punishment, which is why the government keeps using the terms "structural remedy," as opposed to "punitive measures."

    That's also why Microsoft could argue that breaking up the company wouldn't make sense in the face of things like the AOL/Time Warner deal. Essentially, they were saying that the IT industry obviously wasn't in need of any help, because there were plenty of superpowers already being formed which have a reach at least equal to MS'.

    Incidentally: while I believe that Microsoft was clearly as guilty as charged, and that remedies are clearly needed, I'm not entirely sure how comfortable I am with the idea of them being broken up. Further, I'm seriously worried that the AOL/TW merger is going to make MS' transgressions look like a bully in a schoolyard sandbox. Klein has already warned to expect many more of these suits in the future [wired.com], and even Orrin Hatch is saying that he has misgivings about the merger [cnnfn.com]. Especially now that the FCC is saying that Time Warner acted illegally [cnnfn.com] during its recent spat with ABC.

  • Glad you like Mac IE- because they have broken up the MacIE team and reassigned them to WebTV. There will be no new Mac IE, so it's a good thing you like what's there- that's all you get. :P (I don't use Mac IE- I expected something like that to happen eventually. There is no future in using any Microsoft product.)
  • Er. I have no problem with the notion that you personally are nice. The question is, what are you willing to be personally associated with? At what point would your personal morality obligate you to no longer be associated with Microsoft?

    If there is no such point- then I'm afraid I can't consider you a nice guy, regardless of how nice your personal actions are. Your inactions can speak louder than your actions.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:06PM (#1065242) Journal
    Corporations aren't individuals. They're creations of the State.

    The State grants the people who form corproations an immunity from claims against their own finances beyond what they invested in the corporation. To qualify for this privilege (and it IS a privilege) the corporation must operate under certain rules.

    One of the rules is that if the corporation manages to obtain monopoly power in a market (and this does NOT mean a total monopoly - just enough to do certain things that would otherwise not be possible), there are extra limits on what they are allowed to do.

    Much of the puropse of these limits is to keep them from using their monopoly power in one market segment to compete "unfairly" in another.

    Microsoft's executives broke this rule, which is part of their corporation's license to evade personal liability for their actions. They did it willfully and repeatedly. Their victims complained. They got caught and convicted.

    Now the corporation and its investors (who have the power to chose and depose the management and who invested or stayed invested knowing what they were joining and risking) must take the punishment.
  • does anyone have any idea how much $ Microsoft has donated to G. Dubya's campaign?

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:39PM (#1065251)
    I'm not a lawyer or anything, and I certainly can't know the minds of Microsoft management or the DoJ, but I have been reading the trial docs on my little Handspring - thousands of pages in all - and I sort of am getting the feeling that Microsoft is going to win this on appeal, and handily too.

    Naturally I'm biased. I work for MS and I want very much for this to "go away". I wasn't here when the "alleged anticompetitive acts" (they always call them that) took place and so it all seems too bizarre. But I would like to hear what all of you think of my quickie analysis.

    There were essentially four dangerous allegations leveled by the government against Microsoft. There were many legal issues involved, but these four seem like central pillars of the case to me.

    Firstly, they contended we were a legal monopoly, secondly that we forced purchases of an unrelated product (IE) by tying it to the monopoly product, thirdly that we engaged in illegal exclusive dealing, and finally they said we tried to engage in market division with Netscape.

    After deliberating, Judge Jackson threw out the third allegation, not because he didn't find we engaged in exclusive deals that hurt our competitors, but because he acknowledged that "competition for means of distribution" is a recognized pro-competitive act, and one that gets lots of leniency from higher courts. Both Microsoft's proposed CoL and the actual Conclusions explain this in greater legal detail. Basically, we didn't foreclose Netscape from shipping their product, and the law does not have sympathy for the argument that certain forms of distribution are "the best". To anti-trust law, this is a form of legal competition. Go figure.

    So, in effect, this leaves us with the monopoly charge, the claim that we illegally tied IE to the monopoly product, and the market collusion. Jackson ruled against us on all of these critical points.

    With respect to the second charge, I feel Microsoft stands a good chance of being granted relief by the Appeals Court. In the Consent Decree ruling, the appellate judges essentially concluded that separate demand for two products, and even separate marketing, do not necessarily indicate that those two products cannot be integrated. They remarked upon the DoJ's proposed remedy of "hiding" IE rather than removing it, and suggested that this indicated the DoJ was tacitly admitting IE is an integrated part of Windows - this is an approach the DoJ is taking once more. Of course, if such a thing were true, then the DoJ would have no case. The Appeals Court further commented that it is not the place of the courts to judge the motives for technological tying in those cases where a reasonable person might determine consumer benefit from the tie, and they additionally suggested that they *did* see a benefit in requiring IE 3.0 to ship with Win95. Now, if that is the case, I fail to see how they will rule differently on the issue of Win98, which is clearly more fully integrated with the IE binaries than 95 ever was. My guess is that this will be overturned.

    Many Slashdotters seem to feel that the monopoly charge is self-evident and cannot abide controversy, but having read the DoJ complaint and MS's response, I think there is a reasonable chance the Appellate court might decide that the monopoly argument contains internal inconsistencies and overturn it as well.

    When determining monopoly power, the law first defines an applicable market. For the purposes of antitrust, "the market" is the arena in which meaningful competition exists between interchangeable goods. The DoJ insists we have a monopoly in PC Operating Systems, and they further claim that we used that monopoly to defeat Netscape, which we felt might be a threat to that monopoly in the future.

    This implies that Netscape was a potential competitor for Windows, because it could serve interchangeably as a platform for running applications, which would remove the "applications barrier to entry" upon which Jackson bases so much of his decision. But Netscape is not a PC Operating System. Therefore, the market cannot have been well defined, within the legal bounds above. A better definition of the market would be "application platforms", and I don't think even Slashdot can argue we have a monopoly there. Unless I'm missing something (quite possible) I think the Appeals Court will overthrow this also.

    As to the Netscape market-division thing, I can't say I know how it will go. It sounds to be largely based upon the personal interpretation of the judges based upon how the two parties related the meeting. I'll be interested to see the results of this topic.

    So, I'm sure you're all bubbling over with objections. Flame away! :-)

    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • by craw ( 6958 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:46PM (#1065254) Homepage
    Some additional things to consider and please know that these things are unique to MS but are tactics used by other companies. However, MS's monopolistic position make these business practices relatively more extreme.

    Stock options. Most of us know that stock options are a normal ploy used to compensate employees instead of increasing their wages. Employee "pay" compensation for when stock options are exercised does not count against a company's net profit. Ballmer then tells the Microserfs that their stock options are now based on the value of MS stock value of a few weeks ago (around $67). If these stock options are exercise later (if the stock price goes up), then this payout is not factored into MS's revenue calculations.

    Cookie Jar Accounting. In this method, profits and losses in a particular yearly quarter are manipulated. Make lots of money this quarter? Great. Don't make a lot of money the next quarter as you anticipate? Great. Just bugger the numbers so that you always show an slight increase every quarter by counting profits in one quarter to another quarter. This is good as it reduces dips in the stock market whenever one does not meet the quarterly expectations. The SEC is looking into this.

    Kerberos, Netscape, DR-DOS, Real Network (work in progress), QuickTime, Java, Frontpage extensions, etc... But MS is now serious about computer security after ILoveYou. But as the Allman Brothers would say, Dear Mellissa.

    Nice story in the Washington Post today that showed how much money MS is pumping into various groups. These include soft-money interests, and dubious "independent" organizations that represent the interest of the tech field. This is also a common practice in the environmental field.

    OT: The FBI is now looking for the /. DDOS suspect. The prime suspect is a A. Coward that is either dressed as a Norwegian troll or a Californian Karma whore. Both are considered dangerous. Mr Coward was last seen in the statue section of the Metropolitan Art Museum. While not confirmed, it reported that steam was reported to be leaking from the front of his pants. An FBI spokesperson said that the source of the steam is not known, thank you.

  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:14PM (#1065257) Homepage
    Microsoft is not being punished for being a big company and trying to make as much money as possible. Antitrust laws were created to prevent large companies from using the fact that they're large companies to crush smaller competiters and prevent consumers from have options.
    The government did absolutely nothing in the 20 years that Microsoft spent racking up 90%+ of the desktop OS market. People had choices and for one reason or another a vast majority chose Microsoft products. When Microsoft used the fact that 90%+ of the world used their desktop OS to prevent other companies from competing against them in the browser market, the DOJ steped in. From what I understand, both the DOJ and Judge Penfield are playing this by the book. They know that MS has an army of lawyers warming up for the appeals process and they are not about to be overturned.

  • Yes, I've seen this kind of ad increasingly on Prime Time TV. Recall that IPO which mocked its senseless profligacy during the superbowl? I used to love that kind of self-mocking humor, but I feel it's passed a threshold.

    It's official. Technology marketing for the Big Companies has ceased to even remotely concern itself with the quality of the product. It's all pure name recognition from here to the Meltdown.

    Of course, that's not entirely unnecessary now. I can't keep track of who still exists, who was bought, sold, merged (and under what new name even with a scorecard. (*sigh* It took me years to get used to Enco/Humble becoming Exxon in the 70's, back when we only had a few major changes all decade. Then came the 80's, the MBAs, junk bonds, the LBO (leveraged buyout), the RBOCs (Baby Bells)... Suddenly I feel the need to change my sig.
  • by divec ( 48748 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:48PM (#1065260) Homepage
    IMHO winver.exe is very well written and I challenge anyone here to do a better job.
  • Here in the US, we pride ourselves on being the "land of the free",

    that's very nice, but whether Amerikkka is truly free is another matter entirely. As Bob Dylan put it in one of his worst songs: "You're gonna have to serve somebody".

    simply do not agree that Microsoft is a monopoly.

    What WOULD be a monopoly, in your estimation? 100% of the market and competitors with their limbs cut off and their eyes glued shut? I suppose you'd get a real thrill watching the Miami Dolphins play against P.S.77 middle school intramural.

    Install Linux on your PC.

    That is one of the main reasons why Microsoft has cemented its position as a monopoly -- they have ensured that I have to INSTALL Linux rather than buying a computer with Linux pre-installed.

    Microsoft won't prevent you from doing any of this.

    Now I understand your view of what constitutes a monopoly. A company that has "scrutineers" stationed in every Circuit City outlet to ensure that there is no "outside influence" on the customer's preference. Those who choose an "inferior" product are quietly escorted by the scrutineers to the "showers". Now THAT'S a monopoly for REAL MEN.

    When you live in a society which the outocomes of legal actions are determined by how expensive your lawyers are (cf. the OJ trial), I think that it's safe to say that the basis of all your freedom lies on economic factors.

    Is that what you mean by "the US prides itself on being a free country" ? Maybe you should have said "the US prides itself on being a FEE country".

    Money buys guns. Guns make power. Power makes government. No matter how you slice it, there's going to be assholes on this planet that want to rule other people's lives. What makes you think representation by remuneration would be better than what we have?

    What this means is that economic freedom is the basis for all other freedoms.

    No. What it means is economic "freedom" is a meaningless phrase. Here's the history of the US economy in one runon sentence: Discover a new continent with a whole bunch of unclaimed land; kill all the native inhabitants; manipulate the poor white folks to take up arms against the poor black folks to keep the poor from rising up against the rich landowners; then kill some confederate yahoos so that all the black slaves can come up and work in northern factories and so on and so forth. Where do you think the land that your house stands on came from? Who said it was yours? God? Get real, man. Government is just as much a necessity for an economy as an economy is for a government. The two are symbiotic. Co-dependent. Fraternally linked. Siamese Twins. Yin and Yang. Get the idea?

    Will the government come after me if I become too successful?

    Not if you become too successful, but if you ABUSE your market power. It is not an easy thing to determine if someone is abusing market power, and consequently there is probably a great deal of lattitude in what type of behaviour will be subject to regulation. Hence a great deal of freedom still exists even for the largest of businesses.

    There's nothing frightening about being fair, is there?

  • Reading your User Bio "My name is Matthew Priestley. I'm a cryptography tester at Microsoft Corporation. I have personally never crushed a competitor or illegally bundled an app. I *have* shipped several high-quality and standards-compliant releases of Microsoft Outlook. My ambition is to produce software that cracks open the High Holy Temple of the computer for the millions of people worldwide who are unfamiliar with technology and fear it. No other company in the world offers me that opportunity the way Microsoft does. " I'd think that with recent bad press on outlook you'd change that Bio of your before defending MS, this is a perfect example of why we want to see MS destroyed. Note: italics and to bold text were put in by me.
  • Oh, I'm sure there are. I'm just saying that the breakup isn't a "we're doing this because you've been bad" thing, but rather a "we're doing this to make sure it doesn't happen again." Remember that in 1994, Microsoft entered into a "consent decree" saying that... well, basically, that they wouldn't be monopolistic bastards. The DOJ is saying that since the consent decree didn't work, it's time to move on to harsher measures.
  • It takes three weeks because the RBOCs wasted no time in getting rid of skilled (AKA union) crafts people to cut their labor costs and increase their profits. They don't care if service quality declines, who else can provide local phone service? Besides Microsoft, the RBOCs are the most pernicious monopolies in the United States.
  • (why isn't their a corporate death penalty? or corporate imprisonment?)

    There is a corporate death penalty, and a breakup is it.

    One of the ways a corporation reproduces is by spinning off a chunk of itself as a separate corporation. Initially the parent corporation owns the spinoff child. But it can sell all or part of its interest in the child. Once it has abandoned controlling interest the child is on its own.

    A breakup is the splitting of the corporation into two or more children and destroying the parent. The original stockholders trade in their shares of the parent for shares of the children. (One of the children may keep the parent's name. Think "Microsoft, Jr!").

    Microsoft already suffered probation (rules agreed to in settlement of previous actions) and violated it. Corporations can also suffer imprisonment (rules imposed and administered by a court).
  • I am truly shocked at how short sighted people are being. Why not let people decide which OS they have on their system? There is a format command available to Microsoft users. Linux distros are easily bootable and install programs are easier then ever. In its place, we have the US government trying to decide what and where a software company can put its software. Bah, I don't buy it. If the home user does not have the proper info to make this decision, then educate them. Don't have the government get involved in this manner. Need I remind those old enough to remember the terrible confusion and high prices after the government divided up Ma Bell into the baby bells? Go back and do the research. Nothing good can come from what the justice department has recommended. Since Microsoft has the monopoly on home x86 systems, I guess the US Justice Department should go after Apple next, as they have the monopoly on home PowerPC systems. I say split them up between the OS group and the hardware group. Also, since we can't have the two working together to make another monopoly, AppleOS can't have their OS run on AppleHardware's systems. If it is good for the goose....

    Bryan R.
  • Wow, this has all of the standard elements of the hypocrisy troll.

    1) Taking a large group and assuming that everyone in that group has the same opinion
    2) Taking the most vocal members of a group to represent the entire group
    3) Misspelling "hypocrisy"

    Also, it works in the general troll element of insinuating that Linux users are communists.

    Plus, the part where you praise Microsoft because they're being nicer than... well, themselves in other situations... that's a completely new one. Caught me completely by surprise.

    Heck, you even brought "the children" into it.

    Excellent troll.
    No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.

  • I firmly beleive that this is a little payback to M$ for not being a Gore or H. Clinton supporter in the upcoming campains. (sic)

    Perhaps - it's always about money, isn't it? :)

    But - the motives for launching the investigation don't necessarily mean that the allegations of monopoly are false. Would it have been better if the Clinton administration had chosen to look the other way if Microsoft had made some donations?

    You can firmly believe what you like, but check this out:

    1) no donation, no investigation -> status quo (==good?)
    2) big donation, no investigation -> cries of MS buying the govt
    3) no donation, big investigation -> your cry (above) of payback
    4) big donation, big investigation -> cries of (unsucsessfully) trying to buy the govt :0)

  • by WasterDave ( 20047 ) <(moc.pekdez) (ta) (pevad)> on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:57PM (#1065284)
    What I don't understand about this is: What's to stop a broken in two microsoft colluding in a duopolistic fashion? In other words, what's there to stop Microsoft-OS from sharing API's with Microsoft-Apps and no-one else?

    Dave :)

  • by divec ( 48748 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @06:57PM (#1065285) Homepage
    I don't understand how this country of our rampantly embraces capitalism and then scowls at the outcome of it's behavior.

    If you love democracy, you don't cheer when The People vote a dictator into office. Similarly if you love free market capitalism, you don't cheer when it allows a company to grow big enough to squash the free market. Governments need to apply the minimum force neccessary to prevent the free market from being squashed.

  • This is a civil case, not a criminal one; it just so happens that the plaintiff (not called the prosecution in civil cases) consists of a bunch of governments; in criminal cases the prosecution will be "The People" or "The Crown" (in Britain, Australia, etc).

    In complicated civil cases where there's harm on both sides (e.g., two neighbours who have been making life difficult for each other), it's only fair for both parties to recommend to the judge what they want done. The judge can ignore them both, which is what Jackson may well do in this case.

  • by m0nkyman ( 7101 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @07:02PM (#1065292) Homepage Journal
    (why isn't their a corporate death penalty? or corporate imprisonment?)

    There is. It's called a revocation of corporate charter. What that means is that the government (That's us the people) revokes the protections and privileges that being incorporated gives a company. It is EXTREMELY rare, as it exposes the shareholders to personal liability for any transgessions on the part of the business.

    This may make us feel good, but little old grandma's with their pension funds invested in 'safe' stocks like Microsoft probably would not like this idea.

    The much less drastic measure of splitting the company in two would probably do much less harm to the economy as a whole, and give many of the same benefits... imagine you're GM or some other large company, and being able to walk into a conference with the OS company and saying "Lower your prices or we'll switch to (that other MS)Office running on Linux", and then crossing the hallway and saying to the App company, "Hey, lower your prices or I'll switch to StarOffice, cause it's free, and the MS OS company has helped them optimize it for their OS, so we don't need you anymore." Now picture The big retail chains and manufacturers having the same conversation. Price will become elastic so they'll have to compete on quality! My Deity wouldn't that be a treat!!

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @07:03PM (#1065294)

    I firmly beleive that this is a little payback to M$ for not being a Gore or H. Clinton supporter in the upcoming campains.

    So the mountain of evidence has nothing to do with it then? While selective enforcement does happen, and should not be tolerated, it doesn't mean we shouldn't prosecute those who break the law. It means we should make sure that everyone who breaks the law is prosecuted fairly.

    Think about it. Remember last time this happened? They had Microsoft nailed and then let them off with a consent decree which Judge Sporkin knew wouldn't work. So, MS and the DOJ end up on the same team defending the consent decree. They win. Then Bill goes out and starts bragging to the press about how the decree won't change Microsoft's business practices one bit. He was right. He won that round.

    Then MS pushed things too far again and they're back in the ring with the DOJ. The DOJ isn't going to let them off without an iron-clad solution this time. They learned what it's like to deal with Microsoft the last time around. They don't plan to make the same mistake this time. Hell, damn near every one of Microsoft's witnesses helped the DOJ's case more than any of the DOJ's witnesses. The evidence was there. Their own testimony confirmed their guilt. There's nothing left to do but decide how best to fix the situation. Microsoft wants a flimsy, unenforceable consent decree like last time. The DOJ damn sure won't give them that this time. So Microsoft will complain that they're being overly harsh and that the proposed remedy is too extreme. Well, I say they brought this on themselves. They had the chance to shape up and stop doing the things that the courts had decided were illegal. They chose not to. If you or I do that, we end up in jail for a long time. I don't see why Microsoft's punishment should be any less severe. We can't put the corporate heads in jail, but we can sure take away their power to commit the same crime yet again.

  • by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2000 @09:01PM (#1065295) Homepage
    I think you're mistaking the issue here. The problem before the cort is not that Microsoft is using its power to keep Little Johnny from changing OS's; as you say, anyone with the skills to do so can blank their HD and load any Linux distro of their choice, or write their own OS for that matter. What the Justice Department gets interested in is the use of monopoly power to restrict competition at the top level- it isn't that the end user can't switch OS's, its that large companies that need Microsoft's favor in order to survive can't. From what I recall from the initial finding of fact, the issue was along the lines of this: 1)PC's need to ship with Windows in order to be competitive. Period. If the average consumer is shopping at dell.com and can't find a PC that comes pre-loaded with the worlds most widely used OS, they shop elsewhere. Dell sinks. 2)Miscrosoft has an interest in selling its non-OS software- Office, Internet Explorer, Encarta, etc. Interested not so much in selling to individuals, but in raking in big liscensing fees from OEM's like Gateway, Compaq, and Dell. 3)Microsoft is the only source for Windows. So what happens is this: Microsoft says to OEM's "Sell PC's with Office pre-installed, rather than Lotus or WordPerfect. If you don't, we give you a crappy deal on licensing Windows, or don't let you license it at all." So the OEM's have to capitulate, and Microsoft gaurantees itself income from its non-OS software, in addition to the money it makes by owning the dominant OS. Netscape is the canonical example; MS makes IE, which is getting the tar knocked out of it by Navigator. Result: MS forces OEM's to pre-load IE by making it difficult to remove from the system, thereby getting it in front of a huge audience, and cutting of Netscape at the source. They also keep companies from pre-loading Navigator, using the licensing terms for the OS as a nice, big stick to keep the OEM's in line.

    This is the real issue of monopoly. It is not that Microsoft is supressing other operating systems; they already have dominance in the OS market, and despite their paranoid moves to the countrary (i.e the Kerberos tweak), could maintain that position, legally, based solely on the installed base, the amount of existing software written for Windows, and the number of legacy systems using Windows/DOS compatible software and data. What ammounts to monopoly is using that OS dominance to unfairly gain an advantage in the non-OS software area. So the issue has nothing to do with stopping people from installing Linux(they can't), or even really wether they used illegal means to obtain their current position as the dominant OS (which is definately arguable). It's about non-OS software, and the tactics used to keep it on the desktops of PC's being shipped from OEM's.

  • I'm a dickhead? Great, you've definately proved your maturity in my eyes.

    The original poster claimed it's hard to purchase a notebook computer without windows. I clearly stated where that can be easily done. End of story.

    Any Joe can start his own computer manufacturing company, look at VA linux. Look at Penguin computing, look at the thousands of online stores which sell systems without Windows. You have plenty of OS choices on the x86 platform. The MacOS is an integral part of an Apple computer because they _make it so_ It would be quite easy for Apple to ship systems with Linux or BeOS, they however choose not to. That's a monopoly, your choice is only MacOS, nothing else.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think MSFT is three times stupid to "call" Judge Jackson. He may have been hoping to avoid a messy dismemberment of Microsoft, but looking at how he's handled this case so far and the remarks he's made, I don't think there's any doubt that his penalty will closely resemble the DOJ's proposal in its "harshness". We're now in the last chapter of Part I of a two part novel: early in story, the DOJ brought overwhelming evidence of monopolistic abuse out in discovery, and going into the trial, the Judge did nothing to block the prosecution from entering any part of the evidence. During the trial, MS did nothing to discredit any of the evidence--excepting their own of course--and the Judge, mitigating nothing, found the facts very strongly in favor of the prosecution. This took a lot of casual observers by surprise. Probably most of America believed that the Judge would be in Let's-make-a-deal-mode. He then gave them ample time to settle and appointed a sympathetic jurist ( Judge Posner) to oversee negotiations. MS refused to negotiate in the light of their defeat on the facts, and then after his deadline had passed, Judge Jackson's law finding came out and was just as damning his factual conclusion. Again people were surprised but a lot less surprised than before. All the while, MSFT has been as contemptuous and intransigent as a Nuremburg defendant and with breathtaking stupidity and arrogance have taken to the airwaves to attempt a political nullification of the legal process. Doing so they have risked pissing off not just Jackson but every Judge in the country from the smallest podunk magistrate to the Supreme Court. No substantial concessions have been heard from Redmond. Oh yeah, you can rest assured: this Judge is going to throw the book at them. Regardless of his party affiliation, ideology, or his expectation of a disposition on appeal. Before the trial began, I was was one of those who fully expected Jackson to be compromising for the sake of arriving at quick conclusion; now it would shocking to me if he did not treat MSFT as a serial offender who has to be incapacitated and monitored closely to protect society.
    Supposedly, at one point in a conference with the counsel teams, Jackson chuckled at a claim from the defence that their client was a natural monopolist whose reign was benign and in fact lowering prices for consumers. His reported reply was that in his view Microsoft was instead a classic bully in the style of Standard Oil, with the same chokehold on its market--consumers, competitors, and partners alike--and with the same ability to charge a "fee simple" for its product, that is a fixed price arrived at without fear of any possible competitive threat. Does that sound like a guy who's about to capitulate and bend the law for a high profile defendant?

    I'd infer from that remark that the Judge actually deeply appreciates the importance of antitrust law and will probably not have many heart pangs ordering the breakup of Microsoft. He has given them every reasonable opportunity to negotiate their best deal. Bluffing? Hardly. MSFT has been the one with the weak hand trying to bluff their way through--it must be a strange and horrifying feeling for Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and crew to wake up each day and realize that their power is bleeding away, just a moment back they were swinging a BFG-10k, liquefying their enemies, now they're bolt upright in bed, wide awake and see that they're clutching a bedroom slipper. The only people they've been fooling for the last 18 months are themselves.

  • I think they're hoping to tie it up until the end of next year and are hoping that G. Dubya gets elected and fixes the DOJ and Supreme Court so that they'll understand it's not nice to mess with Microsoft.

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.