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Microsoft's Watered-down Version Of DOJ Remedy 334

reuel writes: "Here are Microsoft's comments on the DOJ's proposed break-up plan. Looks like they want to preserve the chance to play the same old tricks -- special and secret OEM deals, required but unpublished interfaces, extend and extinguish, and an interesting new one: rights to inspect the source code of competitors' products!"
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Microsoft's Watered-down Version of DOJ Remedy

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  • Ok, it's mostly whiny rubbish, but Microsoft makes some excellent points. Their motive for doing this is to provide loopholes by pointing them out from the word go (slime). The clarifications they ask for are very necessary however.

    It's obvious to us where a Browser stops and an O/S begins because we have a well designed O/S.

    Windows is an organizational catastrophie. If every file found in /usr were copied into /etc, with only a handful of directories to seperate thousands of unrelated files, the problem would be obvious.

    Microsoft's position that the DOJ should define browser with precision is essential to the victory at hand. It's current definition:

    "that software which allows the user to browse the Web."

    Is far to vague. Some competent Windoze programmer should be hired to go through the mess file by file. Library by library.

    The rest of the doc. however is pretty comical, save yourself the ugly read, here are my two favorites:

    Since Microsoft's software products are all comprised of software "technology" and nothing else, the semantic distinction the government seeks to draw is not sustainable.

    When are they going to learn that refering to software as "technology" doesn't scare us or make a point. We can, in very clear terms, define where an O/S stops and an application begins, they just won't like our definition.

    "Microsoft should be permitted to continue providing incentives to OEMs to do things that increase demand..."

    Blatant phrases of contempt for the court's finding may create the atmosphere of "brutal justice" that the perpetrator obviously need to experience.
  • Dude where have you been in the past few years?
    MSFTs competitors have been making better products for years... Netscape, Borland, Novell, Sun to name a few.

    Maybe you need to read the findings of the fact [] and see how MSFT punished OEMs who tried to include competitor products in their installation packages, or how MSFT has deliberately reneged on contracts, agreements and deals they have made with both the government and other corporations when they thought they could get away with it. Frankly I am as much against the government becoming involved in the world of software as the next guy but this is a case where it is needed. For instance, do you think Linux would be such a mainstream success if not for the DOJ investigation? Hell, no. Do you think the Dells and Compaqs would be selling Linux servers today if not for the fact that they are sure there will be no reprisal from MSFT? Heck, they didn't even have the balls to defy MSFT and preinstall Netscape Navigator on their machines when Netscape was still clearly better than MSIE. And remember that these sell more linux servers than pure linux companies [].

    Dammit, I have to go, the girlfriend's getting mad but a quick wrap up. No matter how good Linux, Mac OS or BeOS etc are MSFT would still control the desktop server market by any means necessary and is now using all sorts of bundling and machinations (Kerberos, MS Java, etc) to leverage that into forcing a server monopoly. They need to be stopped and it looks like the market would never have done it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am no microsoft lover by any means, but in this case the government did a sloppy job of writing up the document. When a company Reorganizes they are shifting things around internally for some reason, like taking the best people in your company to make a new Open Source division. Divestiture on the other hand is when a company takes some portion of itself and spins it off. I believe that HP just had a divestiture when they spun off Agelent Technology. I have seen a lot of flame microsoft posts (big surprize). If you actually look at their mark-ups their are a typos and parts that make little sense. The thing that M$ brought up that was really important is that they not only have to split the OS and Apps apart, they have to split the IT, marketing, sales, HR, and support divisions into two seperate entities, in like 75 different countries. There is no way that they could do that if they were motivated, let alone when being proded by the DOJ :) --Jason
  • by TygerFish ( 176957 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @07:29PM (#1031301)
    I think that indignation is not in order. I mean, we all assume that Gates and Co, are the masterminds at the center of a mailstrom of controversial brilliant strategies designed to rock the business world to it's foundations every time they use toilet paper.

    "Gates and Balmer are brilliant!" "Microsoft plays hardball!" Yeah, right. How about a different theory: they're nucking futs!

    Look at one end of the paper tube and you see a company with true moxie, with genuine chutzpah, that with a conviction on Sullivan Act violations still in the public's memory buffer is willing to keep up the tempo of scumbag activities because they've got it all worked out in advance how they're going to win hands down and nothing that anyone does or knows matters.

    Look at it the other way, though and what you see is a bunch of supremely arrogant squirrels who couldn't get laid with a gun, doing the only things they can do because the voices in their heads tell them to. Corporate culture goes a long way.

    It's an interesting way of looking at things, and only time will tell whether or not it will really work for them.


  • Can i see their code too then?
  • I have heard time and time again that Microsoft's integration of IE was of benefit to consumers and that they should not have been found a monopoly for that.

    However, the fact remains that Microsoft is a monopoly and this monopoly is causing harm to consumers. In order to intervene in this situation, the government first has prove that Microsoft is a monopoly. They chose to pursue the IE integration angle because it was relatively easy to prove that IE integration harmed competitors and leveraged Microsoft's monopoly power.

    Similarly, when the government sent Al Capone to jail, they did it with tax evasion laws, because it was much easier to get him on tax evasion than on his other crimes. The end result is the same, Al Capone was a criminal and Al Capone went to jail.

    The end result for Microsoft will be the same: Microsoft is a monopoly, and there will be remedies applied to address this problem.
  • by norton_I ( 64015 ) <> on Thursday June 01, 2000 @07:31PM (#1031305)
    >Microsoft has definately abused it's power as a
    > market leader (maybe even a monopoly)

    MS was found guilty of illegal business practices. In the real world of corporate life, when a company repeatedly and illegally abuses monopoly power (and I do belive they have monopoly power), they are punished. They way monopolies are punished is by breaking them up.

    The reason the DOJ is pursuing this admitedly extreme remedy is that MS has repeatedly ignored or circumvented other less drastic injunctions. If they had not shown that prior disregard for government imposed remedies, I would not support a breakup. However, while it pains me to see the government interfering in the private sector so much, it would be worse if when the next Big Thing(tm) came along, MS could use it's dominence in the OS and productivity applications market to stifle honest competition for market share.

    Nothing in this breakup plan is likely to weaken the stranglehold MS holds on certain current technologies -- if Linux (or anything else) is to unseat MS as the OS of the masses it will have to be soley on vastly superior technology and lower cost. However, hopefully we can protect as yet undiscovered markets from unfair and predatory business practices.

    No matter how this plays out it is going to be a pain in the ass for a lot of people for some time. However, I think this is the price we have to pay if we want better competition in the long run.

    Both for AT&T and NSI, the breakup of a monopoly (though obviously very different) caused concerns of incompatability and consumer harm. Yet when all was said and done, people figured out way of making things work together and the benefit to consumers has been great. I don't know how MS will do it, but I am sure it is possible.

    And who is to say that the Apps division will only develop for Windows? They might, but on the other hand assuming the OS division doesn't backstab them early, they might see it as an opportunity to turn the OS into a commodity market. Consider that if every major application ran on Windows, Linux, BeOS, and *BSD, the choice of OS would be kind of like choosing between Dell and Micron... you get slightly different bells and whistles but you can do your work on any of them basically the same. This is probably going to happen sooner or later anyway, so if I were a major application vendor I would want to be in on it early.
  • What if I'm configuring a telecommunications server that will run in a rack for its entire lifetime and the users will never even know they're using it? I don't want it slowed down by unnecessary "enhancements" to the OS.

    It really depends on how you define "OS". IE is not part of the Kernel, but it is part of the shell. IE is an object in the same way that KDE has a browser object integrated into their shell (their file browser, for example).

    Unfortunately, most people just hear "IE is part of the OS" and start screaming, rather than realize that both KDE and Gnome are doing exactly the same thing.

    Also, it's not going to slow down the OS having an IE object that's not used sitting around. Anymore than KDE is slowed down by the ability to display web pages.


  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @07:36PM (#1031313)
    Why is no one addressing the other major elements of the Microsoft proposal?

    1. the insistance on having this classified as a divestiture, instead of a reorganization (and the attendant legal benefits) (see below)

    2. The fact that Microsoft is an international entity -- and could easily remain monolithic abroad, with only the US units being separate (and unified control manifesting to an overseas unit!)
    3. That under such an arrangement, American law would be of limited effect. (If you thought MS had clout with the US govt etc., imagine the consideration it might get from a small 'unfriendly' nation.

    4) That its overseas units can only participate in the divestiture *in accordance with local laws* -- which can prevent the final overall divestiture indefinitely, certainly for many years (I think CitiGroup tried this trick a few years ago)

    In fact, as I go down this document, I see more pitfalls and minefields than tha Maginot line and the former BDR/DDR (E/W German) border combined. And IANAL

    Surely others are interested in the substantitive issues that will affect the Real World break-up far more than our (largely unheard) M$ bashing
  • by SteveM ( 11242 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:47PM (#1031317)
    The reason Microsoft has their monopoly, is because they control both the applications and the OS. They control the entire desktop.

    This allows them to lock the user in. By splitting the company into an apps co and an OS co, the reasoning (hope?) is that the applications company will now be free to write apps for other OS's. And that the OS company will be more willing to work with other application vendors.

    So the point is to foster innovation (!) and competion with companies other than Microsoft. If Microsoft was split in three companies that do the same things all you have is Microsoft competing against 'itself'. Other companies would still face the same barriers to entry they have today, only more so, since they have three 'Microsofts to contend with.

    You are correct in observing that both companies will have a dominant position in their market. But neither would control the entire desktop. And that's the point.

    Steve M
  • by NatePWIII ( 126267 ) <> on Thursday June 01, 2000 @05:47PM (#1031319) Homepage
    I know we all hate to see Microsoft go but the breaking of a monopoly is actually good for us since it rejuvenates competition. Take a look at what has happened in the domain name business with the breakup of the Network Solution monopoly, prices have dropped dramatically and companies are now offering more and more services with registrations all at a better price. I say nothing but good can come of breaking up Microsoft.

    It won't hurt Microsoft that bad, I mean do you really think the breakup of Microsoft is going to make Windows go away? Of course not. There is still too much money to be made.

    If I was the DOJ I would be severe as I possible could since Gates and Microsoft are known to be hard hitters and even with a breakup they will still fight their hardest to maintain the monopoly they have now. They'll go down kicking and screaming, you can count on it...

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC []
  • I'm sorry, I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't see how breaking up Microsoft is going to do anything but give a lot of people headaches.

    Also, there is not really any comparison between Network Solutions and Microsoft. The Domain Name registry is simply the ability to add a domain to a couple name servers, anyone can do that. Breaking up Microsoft isn't going to create dozens of companies that can do the same simple task.

    Microsoft has definately abused it's power as a market leader (maybe even a monopoly), but let's face it, it's only had this power for a few years (around the time Win95 came out and they cemented their grasp on the Office market). Now, the market is completely different than when the case started.

    Linux is becoming popular, Intel has a major compeditor, and those NC's that everyone used to laugh at are becoming bigger every day. Even the Mac is coming back from death (although, personally, I wouldn't have minded if Microsoft would have finished Apple off).

    So now, we are about to create a few Microsoft companies, an OS company and an Application company. Great, two monopolies. Does anyone think that a smaller Microsoft applications division will produce software for other OS's. They would have no reason to. They'd have less money to waste, and just concentrate on the most popular OS, which will still be Windows.

    Now, before everyone and their brother flames me, I would like to state that I am an avid Linux user. I just think that Microsoft is going to loose market share on it's own as the operating system becomes less important and applications become more important. All the breakup will do is demonstrate the government's complete lack of understanding of the software industry.

  • Which part deals with them bundling Internet Explorer with their operating system, the entire reason the trial was started?
  • And yet you prove my point without my trying. You owned and maintained multiple machines. Does the average consumer do that? No. You owned and maintained multiple Operating Systems. Does the average consumer do that? No.

    Are you some sort of pathetic idiot? I've read most of the posts here without feeling the need to reply, but you just take the cake. I mean, what the hell are you talking about?

    Alright. Before this post gets hit as flamebait, let me make my point. A corporation, even if it has 100% of the target audiance buying from it, is not a monopoly until there aren't competitors. By owning a non-Microsoft operating system (what was it he had, five or six of them?) that were all competing with Microsoft's OS, Microsoft wasn't a monopoly. Microsoft doesn't send somebody over to your house with a shotgun and force you to use Windows. If you want to download Linux, or BSD, or buy BeOS or SCO Unix, or even run a port of AmigaOS or MacOS, or use FreeDOS or DrDOS or PCDos, or use any of a number of other operating systems, many of them free, then you have your choice. If you could use only Windows or only MSDOS and Windows, then Microsoft would be a monopoly. But there are plenty of alternatives. Just because the average consumer doesn't use these alternatives doesn't mean that they aren't there.

    The knowledgeable people can always circumvent these problems, but we have trouble educating the masses, that's what the courts are there for.

    WTF?! The courts are there to enforce the laws, not to educate the consumers. If Microsoft prevents Win3.1 from running over DrDos, then the courts apply the punishment. If Microsoft runs over your cat, then the courts apply the punishment. If Microsoft launches a sucessful marketing campaign and picks up a large percentage of the consumer market, then the courts aren't there to tell everybody the Microsoft is crap. The courts are there to enforce the law, not to counter sucessful marketing campaigns.
  • Will this benefit the Linux community? Probably not as much as all the diode-heads on here think. Linux and open source is still run by a bunch of techies. There is too much for your average MBA/CEO/CFO to grok now that they are used to doing it the MS way.

    I remember first using the Internet in 1989. I had been vaguely aware it existed before then, but didn't have access. People on Usenet were still arguing about the "Great Renaming." There was a huge prono ftp site at (The site still exists at [] but I think without prono.) talk.bizarre [talk.bizarre] was raiding rec.arts.startrek [rec.arts.startrek]. You get the idea. (Interestingly I didn't even notice the WWW until 1995 and even then continued to ignore it for another couple years because I thought it was just a huge waste of bandwidth and it pissed me off and gopher was faster anyway.)

    I'd tell non-geeks about this Internet thing and as soon as I'd mention downloading things from Finland and Japan and other countries the immediate assumption was that I had to be doing something illegal or that I was just making the whole thing up. Nobody would buy the idea, or see that it was useful, and some would even outright deny that it was possible. I'd tell them in twenty years they'd have it in their house and they'd look at me like I was a nut.

    Now my mom sends me email.

    I think Linux and other such software is going this way, too. Mandrake and other simplified installations are a step in this direction. Right now the cluebies and other pointy-hairs can't even imagine using such a thing, but in ten years they won't be able to imagine not having it.

    Proprietary software will also continue to exist where it is advantageous to have it, but like BBSes and other top-down hierarchical distribution networks, will have its dominance destroyed.

  • 2:Microsoft has open API's. Ever read Didn't think so.

    It's a well known fact that Microsoft's applications call undocumented functions in Windows. And were you asleep during the whole Kerberos fiasco?

    BTW, since is so useful, tell me where I can find the spec for the CAB file format. And I don't mean source code that can only ever compile on Windows because it calls special CAB-generating Win32 functions, unless you can tell me where the exact operation of said functions is documented precisely enough that one could reimplement them on a non-Windows platform.
  • No one is forcing the consumer to use IE, they're just making it slightly more convenient, and everpresent.

    But don't you see that "forcing" and "slightly more convenient" are almost the same we're dealing with Joe Q Public who just bought is Compaq? He doesn't know there are other browsers out there, let alone how to download/install them, and so he is content to click on the blue E.

    If a contractor who made houses also made refrigerators, and he gave me a fridge with every house I bought, why the hell would I even bother looking at the other fridge makers? Microsoft cut out the competition (Netscape) in the exact same way. They stole the consumers right to choose.

    "And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?"
  • OK, advance warning - I saw this on TV, and have done no research whatsoever, but apparently Bill Gates (again, unsure whther he has gone through a "real" company eg. Microsoft to do this) has purchased the broadcasting rights for English Premier League soccer. They used to be owned by Murdoch's Sky B (if I remember correctly).

    I seem to recall he also has part-ownership of Aston Villa as well.

    Now, this could either be cause:
    a) it's cool
    b) content for broadcasting (set-top boxes anyone)
    c) so TimeWarner/AOL can't have it
    d) so Murdoch can't have it
    e) wants to target new product "Microsoft Hooligan" to English soccer lager louts
    f) to pick up chicks

    So maybe your comment is valid - maybe Gates has had enough......though I _do_ find it hard to believe...

  • by / ( 33804 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:56PM (#1031342)
    Also, it's not going to slow down the OS having an IE object that's not used sitting around. Anymore than KDE is slowed down by the ability to display web pages.

    The difference is that parts of IE are always running in the background whether it's being used or not; they're loaded at startup and whir away and consume resources until something inevitably crashes. If it were merely trying to be a shell, then it would be designed differently. As it is, it's not designed to be a shell or perhaps even a well functioning web browser. What it's designed to be is a monopoly extender/preserver (remember how ubiquitous browsers were supposed to make the underlying operating system irrelevant until MS killed that plan?), inseparable from the rest of the operating system, with the potential for client-side features that exclusively tie in with whatever proprietary server stuff MS throws at consumers next.

    And your reference to KDE is inappropriate. Unlike IE, KDE can be completely removed from any linux system, and what's left is perfectly functional. IE is like a car radio that's had the ignition system wired through it; there's no reason why it should be required for the system to work, except that that's the way MS has specifically designed it. It's just so brutally dishonest.
  • It really depends on how you define "OS". IE is not part of the Kernel, but it is part of the shell. IE is an object in the same way that KDE has a browser object integrated into their shell (their file browser, for example).

    I agree that IE is a part of the windoze shell, and the file browser is part of KDE. But KDE is not part of Linux. KDE is a desktop environment. Linux seperates the GUI and the Kernel so that they can work together but they are also completely modular. This is the difference. Windows merges the browser, GUI, kernel, and everything else into one monolithic lump. Users have no ability to interchange components.

    Also, it's not going to slow down the OS having an IE object that's not used sitting around. Anymore than KDE is slowed down by the ability to display web pages.

    It may not use up CPU, but it will use up memory. IE is a bit like a non-modular kernel driver, it sits around in memory (or swap?) any time the computer is running. Netscape may load a bit slower, but that's because it actually loads instead of just making itself visible.

  • The interim remedies in the Justice Department proposal are enough to break the technological and contractual locks Microsoft has on the industry, by opening up the Win32 and Office interfaces to the point that clones of anything in the Microsoft product line are possible. Microsoft clearly realizes this, and they're terrified. Hence this latest "counterproposal".

    But it's too late for this trial. Microsoft officially lost when the judge's Conclusions of Law [] came out. We're now in the remedy (i.e. sentencing) phase now. Microsoft is trying to confuse the issue enough that the Court of Appeals will stay the interim remedies pending appeal. That's the only way they can win. Whether the Court of Appeals will fall for it remains to be seen.

    Judge Jackson did a good job on this case. For two years, he let Microsoft have their say, including showing their faked video (remember?), and making their bogus claims. He saw through it all and wrote those Findings of Fact. [] If you read those, and you're familiar with the industry, you'll see that he got it right.

    In the previous Microsoft antitrust case (1995), the judge took a more activist role during the trial itself, for which he was reversed [] by the Court of Appeals. That was a wierd case; the judge refused to accept a consent decree agreed to by both parties because he thought it wasn't strong enough. He was probably right, but exceeded his authority. That's not the situation this time. The current case is a straight loss at trial by Microsoft.

    As for the remedy being overkill, in previous antitrust cases, the courts have broken up AT&T, Standard Oil, and a number of lesser companies. Courts have imposed tougher interface disclosure requirements on IBM and AT&T than are proposed for Microsoft. There's precedent for everything in this judgement. Microsoft gripes in their brief that there's no one previous decision that contains everything that's in this one, but that doesn't mean anything.

  • by fluxrad ( 125130 )
    sounds like some moderators read your post. heheh

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • It's really funny if you take a look at what Micro$oft is whining about.

    1. The government's proposed final judgment is defective in numerous respects, making the document vague and ambiguous.
    Just like our software.

    2. The government contends that "Microsoft Has Not Engaged Responsibly on the Issue of Process." ...Finally, Microsoft "secreted" nothing.
    We were always completely open about everything. You were just friggin blind

    3. Microsoft's comments on the government's revised proposed final judgment are, of course, without prejudice to its positions on the merits and as to the relief that should be awarded to remedy the antitrust violations found by the Court.
    Any finding to the contrary would be in direct violation of our extended EULA agreement, which we just revised, and states that defamation of our company symbol with, or without proof, is grounds for being sued by us.

    [1] Under the government's revised proposed final judgment, Microsoft is not being "reorganized" in any meaningful sense of that term.
    And we at Microsoft HATE meaningless stuff. Like Easter Eggs, and dancing paper clips.

    [2] The timetable proposed by the government for the divestiture is unrealistic. As Microsoft has previously explained (see Mem. in Support of Mot. for Summ. Rejection at 16-24), the forced breakup of a unitary company like Microsoft is unprecedented, and dividing the company in half would be an enormously difficult task.
    You see, it's just too difficult evenly dividing the number of twits we have, given the obscene number. If we are forced to do it, we may have to switch to either a Slackware, or Mac OS so we don't get a BSOD



  • You're not as much in the minority as you probably think you are.

    I suspect that there are a lot of longtime lurkers here who just shake their heads in disbelief as the rhetoric gets thicker and thicker with each new followup story posting and the guaranteed (predictable) comments attached.

    I'm sort of wondering when the "stereotypical" slashdot crowd will tire of bashing Microsoft. ?

  • You said that microsoft hasn't done anything illegal. I disagree.

    BUT EVEN IF THEY HAVEN'T: Under the antitrust laws of the United States, entirely legal actionwhen performed by a monopoly, become illegal if they are done to unfairly maintain the monopoly.

    But its been a while since I've had econ...

  • In our next installment, a convicted bank robber asks the judge to give him the keys to all the vaults in the country instead of sending him to jail.
  • The "Kerberos Fiasco" has nothing to do with open APIs. You must be a complete moron.

    There's a vanishingly thin line between APIs, protocols and file formats. Any non-moron would know this.
  • A while ago I heard the DOJ was considering making Micros~1 open up completely their Office file formats. I really wanted this to come about, even if it was a side note to a much stiffer punishment. Office sales are about 70% of Micros~1's sales, IIRC. Making them open these formats, and keep their future versions open would seriously hurt their control over the market, especially since no one, even me, is willing to use any office suite that has less than 100% compatibilty.

    "And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?"
  • To address the points in order:

    1. As a domain name holder, I am willing to take on the risk of having the name hijacked, sexually abused, and whatever else you might be suggesting in order to have the option to work with a company that does not have a contractual provision that they may revoke my possession of that name for whatever reason they deem appropriate, at any time they see fit. I give them money, and I damn well have paid more in the past than is necessary to provide for someone to enter one DNS record and update my address (every two or three years) even at the most exorbitant rates. Now, to act as they have (and still do) is their right, and it is also my right to ensure my ability to do business with their competitor. The 'chaos', as you call it, is more than worth it to me.

    2. I hate to break it to you... All software 'fricking' sucks. The reason I prefer free (or very cheap) software is that I'm paying less money for the same agreement, not for any idelogical reason...'You can use our product, but we neither guarantee it works nor agree to provide you any reparations if it does not do what you need it to do. We''ll do what we can to keep you up-to-date, but hey...If you don't like it, don't buy it'. Add on to that, I actually prefer many such packages (such as StarOffice) based on their own merits. More than a few of my users (especially my 'technologically illiterate' users, such as marketing and sales people, admins, etc.) do not like IE. At all.

    3. I certainly hope so. I really, really hope that the company I work for faces such a crisis. I am not an OS bigot. These things are tools, and every tool has its optimum place. I no more believe in putting UNIX on every desktop than I do in putting Windows on every server. To make this approach work, however, they have to be INTEROPERABLE. If linux and the free software community were to begin cutting off the integration of other OS'es and applications, I would gun for them with every ounce of strength that I presently spend fighting the dissemination of Windows into aspects of the business it is not suited to fill. Also, your belief that businesses with 'Strong Windows Integration' have disposed of the paper trail leads me to believe that you live on Mars, or perhaps in Oz. "Ooh, we'll get filing cabinets? Good, we'll put them in next to the filing cabinets we already have, as we keep a paper copy of everything important anyway, since we don't trust our software not to suck". (See beginning of this point).

    4. Still won't be able to find companies that will install Linux-served LANs, or be able to find competent Sys Admins? They must live on Mars or Oz, as well. I can. I still can. It's a pain in the butt to find _any_ competent technical people; their specializations notwithstanding, but it can be done. I've dealt with more clueless MCSEs than I care to count. Yes, that's anecdotal, but I can judge the truth of it, and let's be honest: When it comes down to the wire, enlightened self-interest rules the day. Will it benefit the Linux community? Let's be honest... Will it benefit me? You bet your ass it will.

    What it all boils down to, is that I am tasked on a regular basis with implemeting business solutions. When it comes down to it, the manager who decides we'll do it the Microsoft way will not be penalized for choosing the improper solution for the task at hand, I will be... So I damn well better be able to make a fair case for the tools that I think are appropriate. Let's be honest, if the MBAs/CEOs/CFOs really had a grasp of any way (much less the Microsoft way), there would not be such a shortage of talented technical people... I would be working in a different field, and probably could not care less. I may not go with Linux, but I sure as hell won't have to be forced into using Windows, if this goes down right.

    I'm all for it, and will be puhsing for the maximum sentence, chaos and all.

  • FWIW, You can't buy a Mac without Microsoft software!!

    Microsoft Internet Explorer is the default browser in Mac OS 8/9, even if it can be changed or Netscape Communicator by using the Internet Control Panel.

    MSIE ships pre-installed with every new Macintosh sold (since 1997), and comes with every recent version of the Mac 0S -- which in most cases don't make MSIE an option -- you have to install it if you are going to install the Internet Applications suite in Mac OS 8/9 installer. You can however remove parts of it easily by hand -- drag it's folder to the trash by hand -- but it still tends to litter the System Folder (it might have a uninstaller, I don't remeber).

    So, you might think you can get away from Microsoft by getting a Mac -- but you are only kidding yourself -- all Macs come with MSIE, and many have Microsoft Office or even some Microsoft games (like the iMac).
  • ...that deciding what to do about one of the largest companies on the planet that has been found guilty of monopolistic practices is as cut and dried as sentencing a murderer or rapist? Or are you asinine enough to think that depriving the average clueless newbie of choices is as bad as taking that person's life?

    Ignore for the moment the types of actions here. With violent felons, the decision typically is a) do we just kill them (for murders and occasionally for those convicted of treason), or b) how long do we lock them away?

    With a large multinational like M$, you have to take into account a great many more issues... stock splits, business reorganization, splitting the work staff, how to handle satellite offices in foreign countries, etc.

    This is much more like divorce proceedings than sentencing. With a divorce, one party submits a list of items they believe they should get, then the other party responds with corrections, etc. This goes on and on until both sides have reached an agreement. The only real difference is that, in this case, a 'third party' is forcing the 'divorce' of a large entity into separate entities.

    Now, I detest M$ practices/policies as much as the next Linux Zealot (TM :) but let's be reasonable. AFAWK, M$ has never actually killed anyone.

  • by dmontauk ( 65030 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @05:49PM (#1031384)
    Crossing out lines and inserting (usually in italics or bold) new text is the traditional legal way to show the changes within a document. Often used for laws and whatnot (so you can see how the law has been amended, etc). Microsoft is using this to emphasize how its plan is different from the government's...

  • IMHO they should split them into two or three companies that can do the same things.

    I never understood how this would work. Would there be MicrosoftA MicrosoftB and MicrosoftC? Would they all produce the same products? What's stopping them from forming alliances with each other, as even competing companies do? "OK, A, you produce so-and-so libraries, and in return, B will give you so-and-so libraries." In other words, how would you enforce their competition instead of cooperation? This plan seems to be very vague and a lot of work.

    And if they would compete honestly, wouldn't the market shift toward one of them, sooner or later? And when that happened, wouldnt the other two go out of business? And then we're right back where we started, except now its MicrosftC running things and bullying people.

    "And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?"
  • Does MSFT think they can get away with this??? Do they honestly think they can buy or con the DOJ? (I hope not)... Personally I don't think MSFT should have any say in this - do murders, rapists, theives, etc. get to say what they want their sentance to be? I think not! Why is it any diffrent with MSFT???
    -Mr. Macx

  • They have balls, I'll give them that. Balls but no brains. It takes some serious testicular fortitude to drop a dingleberry like this:

    providing to the other any APIs, Technical Information, or Communications Interfaces, or technical information that is not simultaneously published, disclosed, or made readily available to ISVs, IHVs, and OEMs; provided that this provision shall not apply when (a) representatives of the Operating Systems Business and the Applications Business are engaged in technical discussions to ensure (1) that their products work well together or (2) that developers in one Business take into account input from developers in the other Business; (b) the two Businesses are working together cooperatively to develop new software technologies;

    and expect anybody to let it slide. It defeats the entire purpose of the breakup, and the DOJ certainly understands that. Do they expect that the DOJ of all groups would get bored by the legalese and overlook it?

    Zardoz has spoken!
  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @05:55PM (#1031395) Homepage Journal
    The DOJ seems to think their counter proposal has enough merit that they asked for Judge Jackson for an extension [] in the case to review the merits of MSFT's proposal and will issue a response.
    Of course, they may simply be doing this to cover themselves when (not if) the case is appealed and thus will be able to say they gave MSFT every chance and considered every option.

  • by osm ( 179439 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @05:55PM (#1031398)

    bill gates sat at his computer. the worry over the antitrust case had weighed heavily on his shoulders for so long. bill loaded up internet explorer. he admired the sleek, user-friendly interface. he smiled at the accomplishments of his grand company as the microsoft attorneys and upper-level management bickered about the details of microsoft's remedy proposal.

    bill clicked his way through the internet, sailing from one site to the next. he decided to do a search on "microsoft." 3.141 million matches. he clicked the first link and waited. slowly, the slashdot home page rendered onto his screen. he browsed the list of articles on the page.

    something caught his attention. bill looked fondly upon his aibo. he clicked "read more" under a story labelled, "SONY ANNOUNCES NEW AIBO: SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN MAGIC PETRIFICATION RAY A REALITY!" bill was intrigued by the multitude of insightful, informative, interesting and funny comments. he reached the very bottom of the page. his attention was taken by a fascinatingly titled post, "OPEN SOURCE NATALIE PORTMAN"

    bill read the post. he became aroused. he thought a moment... "hmmmm. open-source natalie portman..."

    bill jumped from his chair, his genitalia stimulated, his face red. he rushed down the hall and burst into the conference room. shocked, everyone looked up.

    "we must be allowed to see the source of our competitors!" he screamed.

  • If you read the document, you'll see that they're not charging for access to the API's, they're requesting the right to charge for access to the SOURCE CODE of the API's, and demanding reciprocity. You-can-see-my-source-if-I-can-see-yours. Elsewhere in the document stringent conditions were laid down regarding how source code access would be handled.

    No, they are saying "You can see my source if I can see your source and an as yet undisclosed amount of money for the privelage."
    Then entire industry would be benefitted by MSFT playing nice with everyone and opening their APIs, just as it would be benefitted by every other company that has closed APIs opening them up. Maybe the next version of Windows would actually be stable of some of the people programming the Apps for them knew WTF they were programming for a little better....
    Of course, even MSFTs own programmers couldn't make that happen... so I dunno...

  • A working implementation of the CAB inflater and details of its format can be gotten from the freeware DUMPCAB [] program. It was quite trivial to convert the decompression routine to cross platform code. I did this for my ivt2html [] utility to convert those pesky proprietry Microsoft InfoViewer .ivt files to html. .ivt uses the exact same MSZIP compression mechanism as CAB.

    MSDN is not really a realistic resource for useful data for interoperability with windows. There are a few nuggets spread thinly about the site but it is awesomely hard work to track them down, links are forever moving around and the search engine sucks. Formats are usually described in terms of their windows api interfaces and MS always invents new terms for existing standards and mechanisms. Concise and complete descriptions are hard to find

    On the other hand people are very quick to assume that a format is secret or not documented, this is not always true so it is a very good idea to check msdn before simply lying back and saying "ack its proprietry, we can never support it". There are a lot of MS formats which could be supported right now from working with the available documentation. Simple examples which I did some fiddling with include the wmf [] format, emf format, pe and ne executable formats []. In addition windows and dos programmers have often made source available to parse some of the undocumented formats already and just need some massaging to make that source crossplatform. And note that theres ole2 [] stream support for linux as well, so thats no barrier.

    Wander over to [] and take an unsupported windows format and write a linux converter today.


  • by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @09:55PM (#1031407)
    NOTE: I can't use the strike tag here, so stuff in square brackets was struck out by Microsoft:

    "Technical Information" means all information regarding the identification and means of using APIs and Communications Interfaces that competent software developers require to make their products running on any computer interoperate [effectively] with Microsoft Platform Software running on a Personal Computer. [Technical information includes but is not limited to reference implementations, communications protocols, file formats, data formats, syntaxes and grammers, data structure definitions and layouts, error codes, memory allocation and deallocation conventions, threading and synchronization conventions, functional specifications and descriptions, algorithms for data translation or reformatting (including compression/decompression algorithms and encryption/decryption algorithms), registry settings, and field contents.]

    I guess Microsoft didn't think they could avoid interoperating, they left it in. They just change the wording so they don't have to effectively interoperate. So: they tell people that word files end in .doc so that a linux filemanager can recognize them and add the appropriate icon. Aha! Interoperability! And if they make available a windows bitmap of an icon that can be used (subject to the appropriate licensing terms, of course)...that's just plain generous!

    Unpublished APIs? What unpublished APIs? We don't officially use those anymore. You don't need them to interoperate. Ignore the fact that everyone uses them because that's what they were written for.

    Now that you can read Word files (remember: they end in .doc), you want to write files a windows box can read? Save them as text-only. More interoperability. Look how well Microsoft shares toys in the sandbox!

    Yech! Look at their revisions sometime. The stuff they took out, added, and re-worded is just sick. They claim the government's definitions of just about everything are too broad, so they narrow them, making them apply to just about nothing.

    And just look at the big section of nixed stuff at the bottom. Despite complaining throughout the document of imprecisely defined terms, Microsoft objects to the precise definition of this term, and wants to scratch it all out. This is almost starting to sound familiar familiar familiar familiar...
  • It won't hurt Microsoft that bad, I mean do you really think the breakup of Microsoft is going to make Windows go away? Of course not. There is still too much money to be made.

    Who wants to see Windows go away?

    I want to see Windows, the Elephant on Roller Skates, go away. I want to see Windows, the Thing that Doesn't Work, go away. The reason that Windows is so bad is that the monopoly means that Microsoft has better ways to make a profit than by improving the quality of Windows. Frankly, (and here, I seperate "quality" from "feature set"). Microsoft knows how to make serious quality software when they want to (amazingly, MS Press has some really good books on making quality software). Windows doesn't stink because MS can't make good software, but because they get a bigger profit by playing their marketroid embrace-and-extend games than by making Windows a quality product.

    Cutting down some of Microsoft's monopoly can open up the field to competing OSs, including Linux and Un*x. Such an environment may cause Windows, in any or all its flavors, to choke and die. It may also cause Gates to focus the Windows developers towards improving the quality of the product. If he wants to, he can turn Windows, The Elephant on Roller Skates, into Windows, the Gazelle on Steroids.

    I hate Windows, the Elephant on Roller Skates. I'll pay big money for Windows, the Gazelle on Steroids. The trick is to put Windows into a true "evolve or die" situation. Either way, the average joe wins.

  • Microsoft's demand that companies using its source code pay royalties - and that Microsoft be allowed to inspect the code afterward - ensures that a Microsoft-Slashdot friendship remains as unlikely as a Beatles reunion.

    No commentary, this speaks for itself :)

  • Microsoft , by putting proposals on the table and offering new witnesses/evidence is simply building evidence for the Appeal, in which such actions can bear consideration.
    Personally, I believe the decision is being held til Friday at 4 to avert the stock market actions that will transpire.
    Always good to give a couple days to calm things down rather thatn upset the market in the way this will!

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Friday June 02, 2000 @04:21AM (#1031415)
    One way to look at File Formats is that they are essentially APIs for non-volitile data storage.

    In any event, in addition to open APIs we need open file and data storage formats. No more forcing people to standardize on sub-standard software (such as Word, for example) simply because other programs have a perceived difficulty reading or writing to the same file format.

    In the free software community, a library of file format filters to which all programs which store text or data to disk link would be fantastic - then people could truly run the Word Processor, spread sheet, image editor, and presentation manager of their choice with complete confidence that others will be able to read and share their documents.

    While the free software community can do much, at some point someone needs to step in and require, be it through customer pressure or outright legislation, that APIs and File Formats be both published and adhered to. I favor the former, but would take the latter over the current state of affairs.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @10:14PM (#1031417) Homepage
    I'm sorry but you're way off base. I'm a Mac and Linux user, and I've followed non-Wintel stuff for years. If you think that MS is not a monopoly you're clearly not looking around.

    What OS do ~90% of all microcomputers come with? Who's applications are bundled with it? Who's browser?

    It ain't Linux, buddy.

    Being a monopoly does NOT mean you have no competitors. Even at it's height, there were US phone companies other than Bell (which was as clear an example of a monopoly as you get). What it means is that you have no competitors who can have enough of an impact on your monopoly that you need to give a rat's ass.

    MS could burn hundred dollar bills to heat their offices and still not worry about Linux, the Mac, BeOS, etc. It's actually worse because they do. (they don't need to, they do anyway)

    The government understands the industry better than many insiders do. Half of them just want to usurp MS and take over themselves. Many others have a naive faith in the market, despite this attitude having lent a hand in the creation of MS.

    Capitalism isn't perfect - monopolies are both a frequent end product and yet not at all capitalistic themselves; economies serve people, not the other way around. We don't have to put up with it. Not that there are better systems yet, just that raw capitalism isn't good enough for human consumption.

    Remember, IBM was nearly broken up. When it was under the government's eye, it inadvertantly permitted the entire microcomputer revolution to occur. MS owes it's power to govt. antitrust action against IBM. Just think about all the cool stuff we're missing out on because MS is hindering innovation, as all monopolies do.
  • The point i'm trying to make is that, rather than bitch about how windows is a monopoly and begging the government to do something about it. Let's follow the examples of people like Linus, or organizations like GNOME. Time to stop complaining and just make something undeniably better. MS gets to stay intact, albeit smaller. The product that's the best wins...then we all win.

    Well, everyone else has already pointed out where they think you?re wrong, but I'm going to say that I think that you?re point (at least the above paragraph) is something that I agree with. I'm fairly indifferent about what the government does to Microsoft. In fact, I prefer to leave the government out of the picture. I think your points other than what I quoted are inaccurate, but I think the best OS will win. I was already a Linux fan when Win95 beat out OS/2 Warp despite the fact that OS/2 was a stable true 32-bit OS. And I was certainly disappointed that MS was so good at marketing their OS and even more disappointed that IBM dropped the ball when they had something better. But now MS is dropping the ball. They haven?t had the ball technology-wise since we moved to 32-bit CPU?S, but now they're dropping ball in PR too.

    They?re not hiding their true colors and no one wants to rely on them. Even though there are a bunch of corps buying W2k licenses, no one is using it. They stick by it, toe the MS line, swear that they?re going to dump their Novell servers for Windows, but is there anyone actually running W2k? Slashdot is news for nerds--there have to be some nerds that are using Win2k...

    I'm curious:

    How many of you would say that you'd recommend W2k Server for your networks?

    How many of you work for a company that is using W2k for servers or end-users?

    How many of you work for a company that claims to be a W2k shop, owns thousands of licenses, but are still afraid to move past NT 4.0 SP4?

    I hope the best OS will win, but it already seems to me the worst OS is losing on it's own. Evolution is taking care of this one. That?s why I think you are making a good point despite the fact that I disagree with most of the rest of what you've said.


    PS: sorry bout the ?? stuff, just kind of struck me as funny reading MS's dispute and seeing a direct result of their unwillingness to maintain compatability with non-MS products.

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <> on Thursday June 01, 2000 @05:59PM (#1031420) Homepage

    After yet again witnessing Microsoft's open and notorious giving of the finger to the DOJ, I've figured out Bill's strategy.

    He wants out of the spotlight.

    See, it's like this. Ever since Bill put Steve Ballmer in charge, he's been trying to loosen his ties to Microsoft more and more, so that he can pursue other ventures...biotech, aerospace, etc. But he's stuck running this damn Microsoft. He looks over to his friend and fellow billionaire Paul Allen, wishing that he too could own such cool things as the Portland Trailblazers. But alas, Gates is too conspicuous. Too famous. Too rich.

    So the plan is, to REALLY piss off the Judge and make Microsoft stock drop like a bloody rock; and also to break Microsoft up into a bajillion little companies, each one stuck with one particular product (like Bob or Golf). And then Bill will own bits and pieces of all of these companies, but still be a minority shareholder in all of them. Most will die; some will live; and he'll be able to use the proceeds to start going into other ventures.

    Gates Pharmacuticals? Gates competing with Boeing? The mind boggles and the Washington state government salivates at the thought of all those jobs, all that taxable money...

    And Gates himself? He returns to a life of relative un-noticability. Much like his less affluent friend Paul.

    The Second Amendment Sisters []

  • They can view the source code of their competitor here! []

    I suppose you can't blame MS for trying. Like a condemed man shouting "But I'm innocent!!" on his way to the gallows.

  • Reacting to my distinction between Micros~1 and (say) murderers, the poster notes that even mass murderers never topped 500 or so, while Mircos~1 has affected billions. Then the poster asks:
    are you *sure* you don't wish to re-consider your statement?
    To which I reply: No, I don't wish to reconsider it. Equating the (admittedly egregious and predatory) damages done by Micros~1 to actual murder or rape is simply over the top. There is a difference in kind that can never be erased by a difference in scale. Saying the two are truly comparable is to demean the dignity of human life. It is, in fact, to buy into the current madness, to believe that economic value is the only value.

    Let me say again: I agree that Micros~1 is predatory, nasty, and maybe even evil. They have done a lot of damage. But that doesn't equate them to murderers, rapists, and such.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You would think that Microsoft would have become aware of it sitution by now. The court is no longer clueless on the technical/business issues, nor is it amicable to Microsoft's behaviour.

    I must wonder seriously, however.... Is this midless struggle a delay tactic? Does microsoft hope to be bailed out if the republicans get the white house in the next election? Nothing against the republicans, but they have a decidely pro-business track record.

    By changing the time necessary to submit a plan of separation from 4 months to 12 months, they place the window just barely on the other side of the 2001 pres inauguration.

    Call me crazy, it seemed like an interesting theory at the time....
  • I read it. A number of points have merit (like excempting from the source code review requirements software MS licenses from 3rd parties and has no legal right to expose). Some of them are merely political posturing, and some are downright silly. But overall, a document worth reviewing.
  • Hey buddy, guess what? The world is not run on capitalism. Now I'm not advocating communism (naive at best - Russia was more of a fascist dictatorship, not communist at all) or socialism.

    But economic systems are here to serve people. Capitalism is the best of the lot because it pretty accurately follows how human beings actually behave and how our freedoms are used. But it's not perfect. Monopolies are the giant failure of capitalism.

    And capitalism is just how we happen to do things. Lord knows the law takes precedence over capitalism as long as it doesn't impact on human rights (which are a seperate matter; it's unlikely that property is a human right if you actually think about it seriously)

    Please tell me how a single entity with no incentive to compete against anyone (they can squish them instead; this is not competition) and no incentive to do anything for their customers, only to protect their monopoly is capitalist. It is not. Monopolies hinder competition, and competition is at the heart of capitalism.

    This is why we have laws which regulate the economy. Because when the economy begins to harm people the people must necessarily win. There's no other tolerable solution.

    Futhermore you should turn in your Nobel Prize for Economics, because you'd realize that a monopoly doesn't have to be 100% in order to be a monopoly. It need only have such a commanding presence that it is unassailable. Think of a guy with a stick trying to invade a castle. It's not going to happen.

    Linux is getting better all the time. But it's not a big player yet in most of the fields that MS is a big player in. MS's monopoly has not been successfully challenged yet in the market, because the market is broken as long as MS is around. (or any other monopoly; IBM was about the same many years ago. MS wouldn't be here if not for IBM being forced to tone things down)

    Besides... you're apparently fond of the idea that if you don't like the rules you don't have to play at all. Well the rules have been on the books for a century and MS agreed when it decided to do business in the US. No one made them.

    The govt is (suprisingly) acting in a way that is pro-freedom (protecting ours from MS), pro-competition (making MS get off their fat asses and compete for a change) and actually quite moral. MS is amoral anyway, by definition.

    I don't want them to suffer. I just want MS to stop befouling the industry. MS has harmed innovation a hell of a lot more than the government ever has.
  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:07PM (#1031455) Homepage
    I am by no means defending microsoft here (much), but i have to say that much of this appears to be off-the-hook.

    • As far as microsoft's "integration" of a web browser into their operating system. I don't believe this is a valid excuse to break up the empire. In many respects, integration is a benefit to the consumer. (While IE may not be the best implementation) I don't believe that you can honestly say that this is a valid monopolistic practice. No one is forcing the consumer to use IE, they're just making it slightly more convenient, and everpresent. If i don't want to use IE (assuming i would use windows for anything other than a few games), then I can just opt not to click on that little blue E.
    • As far as monopolistic business practices otherwise. Would you step to the front of the room please if you would have done any different (open source developers, you don't count because you're not entirely greedy :P ) The point is that M$ followed valid business practices. While some of these may have been a little shady (such as altering some industry standards to make them proprietary), none of these practices are illegal.

    The point i'm trying to make is that, rather than bitch about how windows is a monopoly and begging the government to do something about it. Let's follow the examples of people like Linus, or organizations like GNOME. Time to stop complaining and just make something undeniably better. MS gets to stay intact, albeit smaller. The product that's the best wins...then we all win.

    "Your post sucks! Microsoft doesn't play fair! Fuck you" you say. Sorry, but now you're talking about morality (i.e. - what responsability does a company have to the consumer, morally). Unfortunately, if you pull that card, you've already lost the argument. Microsoft didn't become the company it is today because it played "fair" and it certainly didn't become the most popular OS in the world because it sucked. Make something better! (retrospectively - thank you linus)

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • We do not live in a free market by any means. If we did then you'd have to buy your life from the people who would threaten to take it away on the streets.

    The economy is bound by laws. This is a good thing, because people are more frickin' important than the economy. Free markets have slaves. Free markets have unsafe, polluting factories operated by children and produce unhealthy, defective goods.

    MS knew the rules - antitrust is not new. They chose to break the rules. They could afford lawyers since day one. (Bill has been loaded as all get-out since he was born) Well... they went ahead and broke the law anyway. Why should they be allowed to get away with it?

    With AT&T, by the way, there was choice. Not much at all, but there were other phone companies in scattered pockets around the country. The existance of choice does not mean a monopoly cannot exist. A monopoly simply has so much power that any choices you have, added together still don't amount to a hill of beans.

    All non-MS OSes together don't have nearly it's marketshare. MS exerts too much control to be healthy for consumers AND the marketplace. Monopolies do not foster capitalism, they impair it because it threatens them. We prune them for overall health, just like we do plants. Or excise cancers.
  • An Anon. Coward was ranting and raving...of which the following seem to deserve some clarification and response.

    3:SOAP is an open standard created by Microsoft, and supported by IBM and countless other companies (aside from Sun)

    Yes it is supposed to be an open standard - have you heard of extend and exterminate? Here's a very interesting article about MS lawyers hindering a presentation on SOAP:
    MS sends in lawyers to stop 'open' SOAP info getting out []

    4:I like the fact that you expect Microsoft to give away their API's and source code, and don't expect the same from others.

    Actually, i don't really want to see MS source code other than device drivers, file formats, and API's. Since, MS holds a monopoly power and abused it, this is perhaps one of the BEST remedies. (Forcing MS to OPEN their APIs) It will allow for greater competition and innovation. (M$ should be able to remain a strong company even with Open APIs.)
    It's is NOT a question about killing M$, just one of allowing better competition and choice for the consumer. (Isn't this what M$ says it wants?)

    In fact, I would like to see OPEN API's from all vendors.

  • You are in fact, wrong. The existance of a monopoly does not depend on having no competitors. It depends on having no competitors able to significantly effect the monopoly.

    There were other phone companies besides ATT when it was broken up. There were other oil companies when Standard Oil was broken up. There were other movie theaters and studios when they were broken up (yes, they all used to be parts of the same companies - it would be 'bad' for the economy if any movie theater could play any movie, they said)

    Linux, BeOS, BSD, MacOS, etc. all added up together are not capable of budging MS off the top of the hill. THAT's why MS is a monopoly.

    It doesn't even matter why MS was able to become a monopoly. It could be entirely legal w/o changing the current situation. For a hundred years, MS has known full well that the government makes monopolies play by DIFFERENT rules because they're too dangerous to the economy. MS broke those rules. Even if Red Hat or Be or Apple did the same things, they're allowed to because it doesn't harm as many people.

    This is how the world works. Your naivete doesn't really change things, I'm afraid.
  • "Am I missing anything here?"

    yes, perhaps the first amendment. . .

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • Does anyone remember what happened to Standard Oil's overall value when it was broken up?

    That's right: it went up.

    More than likely, just like Rockefeller did, Gates is likely to make an extraordinary amount of money (even for him) if the company is broken up.

    So, no, the power hypothesis makes more sense to me.

  • On the other hand if the company is split to two different ones, then they could colaborate (which IS legal, btw) so that they retain control over the market...

    Nope, sorry, actually it is illegal. The legal term for that behavior is "collusion".

  • Several times in this thread, /.ers state emphatically that it's "a well-known fact" that MS uses Undocumented APIs to give their software an edge over the competitors software. I am beginning to think that should be "a well-known anecdote." Has anyone ever uncovered conclusive proof of this, that I could be directed to? I find it a difficult claim to swallow without concrete supporting evidence. Is there any to offer?
  • by ahg ( 134088 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @08:44PM (#1031476)
    I know this has been said here within the context of other posts but as it keeps coming up again and again it seems to warrant emphasis. People don't seem to understand the foundation of Antitrust law.

    Typical Defense of MS:

    But MS didn't do anything illegal, they didn't do anything anything that isn't common business stategies applied frequently by other companies"

    The Bottom Line:

    What they have done is NOT illegal for most companies, but IS illegal for a monopoly. When you are a monopoly you must play by a different set of rules than everyone else in the industry. The Double Standard (tm) is NOT some anti M$ crusade. It IS the LAW. - A law that's been around a lot longer than Monsieur Gates has walked this planet.

    Please, if you want to defend M$, whether you genuinally beleive their innocent or just enjoy playing devil's advocate, please, please come up with something more creative than "they did nothing wrong".

  • I'm not arguing against capitalism. I've said so all over /. for quite a while. I'm arguing against capitalism being considered more important than a society that functions well, preserves as many human rights as possible and is good to live in.

    I generally find that monopolies (particularly those which are only as regulated as much as any other business) turn that upside down. Capitalism is not more important than the preservation of human freedoms or a working society or that society not harming those within it, but MS and it's bretheren act as though they believe just the opposite.

    Capitalism is good when it matches the 'shape' of a good society. It's bad when it gets out of line, and that's when we restrain it. If something better comes along (hasn't yet) I'll take a close look. I'm not married to capitalism for God's sake, if there's an alternative that REALLY is better. This has just never come up.

    Still, if you're looking for an extreme statement from me (it won't be in support of Sun. I'm generally neutral towards them, though they've been mishandling Java for some time now because they're also greedy) it would be that I don't like corporations at all. I think that people should be able to have their own businesses. I think that partnerships are just fine. But a business that exists independently of any person at all? Bad idea. It gets worse when you assign a _thing_ the rights that God has granted to us human beings. No sir, I don't like it. I don't see the advantage, but I do see a lot of problems.
  • From the most recent filing:

    Microsoft's "management, sales, products, and operations" are all tightly integrated, reflecting the fact that Microsoft is--and always has been--a unitary company.

    From testimony in the trial:

    "I will be honest with you," answered Schmalensee, an important witness for the company. "The state of Microsoft's internal accounting systems do not always rise to the level of sophistication one might expect from a firm as successful as it is."

    When Boies pressed him, Schmalensee added: "They record operating system sales by hand on sheets of paper."

    (source: zdnet [])

  • .
    ianal, and all that, so here are a few things that I couldn't figure out just by using google or yahoo:

    What is the (legal) difference between the (legal) terms "Reorganization" and "Divestiture". How does that rewording change the document.

    MS has the following item: "[1] April 27, 2000 is an arbitrary date. For simplicity and internal consistency (see, e.g., Section 4.a, infra), the operative date should be the Effective Date of the Final Judgment established in Section 6.a, infra."
    Is that common legalese? It strikes me as more of a techie way of thought than legal (which has a different flavor of logic to it). I also like how they corrected the "typo".

    Seems that they have extended every deadline by about a third again the court length (60 changed to 90 days, 90 to 150 days, etc.) is this legal 'haggling' over the figures common, or uncommon.

    As for how I read it, they seem to be extending the dates, covering their asses (adding "Knowingly and willingly" so that they can wriggle out via "It wasn't company policy!" later), and making a few valid points, especially:

    Microsoft shall not take or threaten any action adversely affecting any OEM (including but not limited to giving or withholding any consideration such as licensing terms; discounts; technical, marketing, and sales support; enabling programs; product information; technical information; --information-about-future-plans--; [1] developer tools or developer support; (Where "info about future plans is crossed out").

    That makes sense. You want to cut the company down to managability and so they have to compete again, not gut them. At first I thought that disclosure to a arbatraitor or government agent might work, but then - what would they look for, and what would they do if they saw it.

    I also agree with MS that it's a bit vague. Possibly intentionally so? Maybe so it can be reworked through appeals and survive rather than being thrown out because of one stickler point?


  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday June 02, 2000 @09:29PM (#1031509) Homepage
    This is weird. First you claim that MS developed a product that was at least perceived as good in order to gain their monopoly. Then you say that because they did that in order to _get_ a monopoly, they must not be sitting pretty now that they have one.

    MS is one of the most paranoid companies around. This would be good in virtually any other company - it keeps them healthy and active. Companies that get complacent do tend to stop innovating. The much famed Xerox PARC invented all kinds of amazing things that Xerox never capitalized on because they didn't see the point in a copier company selling an unrelated niche product like laser printers.

    However, MS has carried this to an extreme. They've earned quite a reputation for attacking other companies with FUD; copying other people's developments rather than do original work and leapfrog them; in a few cases outright illegal activity (Stacker, anyone?) and anticompetitive practices. (threatening to raise prices if OEMs attempt to support MS competitors)

    If MS were smaller, Dell could safely preinstall Linux on their machines no matter what MS thinks. But MS is a 500 pound gorilla, and can't be ignored. You'd have to be blind to think otherwise. This means that competition all throughout the industry is harmed. And competition is good for everyone, even if it may be bad for some people.

    It's better to have that than to have many monopolies. (the only way to even attempt competiting with a big company, all else being equal, is to be just as big - which leads towards even more harmful monopolies, collusion, etc.) Not regulating them will result in just such a dismal future. We've come perilously close before back in the days when antitrust laws were first enacted. And there are always companies that try anyway.

    But why should MS have to behave like any other business to sustain their monopoly? If two similar companies are competing in the marketplace their behavior is predictable; they'll try to out-do each other. MS can buy them out. Or order their customers not to do business with the upstart. Or spread enough FUD and imitations to harm their competitor's business.

    None of this is because MS cares about the new business. They may indeed expand into it. But first and foremost they have to protect their existing monopolies. Then their goal will be to acquire new monopolies. A monopoly in operating systems was leveraged into a monopoly in office suites. OSes were leveraged in getting a monopoly in browsers (remember, Netscape claimed that applications that ran within the browser would be platform agnostic - as plain a threat to Windows as can be; all you would need is a machine that ran Netscape)

    Sometimes (not always) MS acquires their new monopoly by introducing a product that really is better. But the law does not deal solely in actions, it also deals with intent. Any action that a monopoly takes is going to have to be carefully scrutinized because anti-competitve intent is impermissible as long as we want the economy to work for us. Supporting monopolies because they may have better products when they aggressively expand is being penny wise and pound foolish.

    As for the morality issue, you're misinterpreting an analogy. I didn't say that monopolies or businesses were immoral. I will say that they're ammoral: they are non-human organizations. PEOPLE have morals. Companies are incapable of having morals.

    Of course, _many_ religions and philosophies from around the world and different times find many business practices immoral. I personally think that the goals of businesses must be made subservient to the goals of moral people. It is unacceptable morally for a business to engage in behavior which is immoral. Is it okay for Nike to make shoes in sweatshops? Only if money is more important than human beings. I have real problems accepting that idea. But these are the kinds of paths that averice leads to.

    At any rate what I was actually attempting to illustrate, though you didn't realize it, was that the poison can sometimes be found in the dose.

    Algae that takes advantage of ultra-favorable conditions causes red tides that kill off huge amounts of other life. Cancer is the uncontrolled reproduction of cells to the point where it is deadly to the organism afflicted with it. Total freedom in human beings leads to an anarchy that is terrible to experience.

    Why would a business with too much power be any different? Particularly when the germane goal of society is not successful businesses but the opportunity for successful businesses. Monopolies eradicate such opportunities, as has been shown again and again and again. While the MS case is breaking new ground in some places, it's generally the same old tune.
  • On cause 2, its easy to obsficate source code, and I believe that they already have a automated system for doing it. Have you ever read the source code for the Micrsoft implementation of the STL? That wasn't created by a human being, and is no help at all for anyone.


  • I'm not passing judgement; It's a wonder I stay employed with the variety of goofing off I do! ;)
  • by in8 ( 99858 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:12PM (#1031518)
    Well, it looks like MS is again attempting to get away from what the industry really needs, OPEN APIs. This should be REQUIRED.

    In connection with any disclosure of APIs, Communications Interfaces or Technical Information required under this provision, Microsoft may require the persons to whom such disclosures are made to:

    i. pay a reasonable royalty to Microsoft for use of its intellectual property; [7]


    ii. disclose to Microsoft any APIs or Communication Interfaces that such persons have implemented in their products to permit them to Interoperate with Microsoft Platform Software; [8] and

    How about everyone disclosing their APIs?

    iii. allow qualified representatives of Microsoft to inspect the source code for such persons' products in a secure facility for the sole purpose of ensuring their compliance with the requirement that Microsoft's source code be used only to enable third-party products to Interoperate with Microsoft Platform Software. [9]

    I don't think so.

    BS - we really should encourage OpenAPIs - what MS has done with Kerberos and doing with SOAP is BAD for ALL.

  • by gunner800 ( 142959 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:12PM (#1031520) Homepage
    I didn't read the whole thing (which explains my lingering remnants of sanity) but it seems like the MS lawyers are complaining how harsh the terms are. What they are ignoring is that MS is being punished for doing something illegal. This document makes MS look like a whining child, chanting "It's not fair, it's not fair" when being punished.

    If MS wants to make suggestions that will be taken seriously, may the lawyers should base suggestions on negative effects to people outside MS. Arguing that losing the right to make pricing deals with OEMs will result in higher prices for consumers is more effective that just saying how unfair it is.

    Dammit, my mom is not a Karma whore!

  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:14PM (#1031524) Homepage Journal
    Redmond, WA (AP): Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) surprised observers with its latest proposal to the Department of Justice: its own version of the Gnu Public License, called the MGPL (Microsoft GPL).

    "We can admit that we've been wrong," a spokesman for Microsoft said. "And it's time we corrected our mistakes. So, beginning today, we will release all of our software under the MGPL."

    "Of course, there have been some changes," the spokesman continued. For one, the "click-wrap" license says that, by agreeing to it, the user agrees that all source code written by the user, upon any computer, using any operating system, shall be immediately emailed to Microsoft.

    The license goes on to say that its terms "shall be utterly binding, without recourse, upon all entities, whether living or dead, everywhere, forever", and that the user "shall enforce the terms of this license, as a member of Microsoft's unholy Army of Terror."

    The spokesman said Microsoft anticipated a positive response from the government. "And I think the public will be quite happy to help Microsoft defend its right to innovate -- after all, they will have the most important role."

    Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and writer of the original GPL, could not be reached for comment. An anonymous source at the FSF said that Stallman was "running for the hills."

  • Please... GET IT THRU YOUR THICK SKULL! 90% of windows APIs are freely avalible on the source that implements those APIs is not freely avalible. Contrary to what most penguin dicks lead you to believe, you don't need the source code to the implementation of those APIs to write windows apps. Sheesh!

    What does being able to write the app have to do with being able to write a STABLE app? How do we know that the API's are fully documented? Are there things in them that MSFT uses that they haven't told the rest of us about? How would opening the APIs hurt MSFT? All it would do is benefit everyone else. How can that possibly be bad?

  • Which part deals with them bundling Internet Explorer with their operating system

    Banning differentiated pricing helps. Forcing all their APIs to be open would make it useless to them to waste vast amounts of money trying to snuff out Netscape's layer of middleware [i.e. browser].

    Also, the trial wasn't just about them bundling IE. It was also (amongst other things) about them punishing vendors for preinstalling Netscape. So banning differentiated pricing does help.

  • "... and an interesting new one: rights to inspect the source code of competitors' products!"

    Gee, it's nice to see that they've finally embraced the concept of Open Source. Too bad they also "extended" it.

    They can have all the source they want, if they're willing to disassemble the binaries and read the opcodes in asm!

    Other than that, they'll only get my source <heston>"when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.</heston>

    Or if I place it under the GPL. (O Ye Double-Edged Sword of GNU!)

  • They are not stupid- they are _crazy_. I think you could safely call them psychotic, because their idea of how the world works is wildly at variance with reality. They not only think it would be capitalism's finest moment if they sold _all_ computer software (100% of the market), they also believe implicitly that they are morally entitled to override the government anytime they want. It's not stupidity that's caused their astonishing actions- it's hubris on a mind boggling scale. That is the reality. We're talking about people who respond to threats with "Okay, next let's buy a President and get the Supreme Court replaced" kind of thinking, without a _thought_ to how outrageous this seems to a normal person.
  • The government's proposal contains language to create a mechanism to ensure that Microsoft has to answer for any technical tricks that break compatibility with other products. Microsoft modestly proposes to change the language from "effectively interoperate" to just "interoperate".

    Does anyone besides me smell a rat?
  • Well if you read the document, that was their point. They offered to open up their source code, but if they did that they claim they have to be able to review the otehr guys source code to make sure that they didn't copy anything from it.
  • Standard was building its monopoly. You don't let a mass murderer finish killing everyone in the room before arresting him.

    Standard was undercutting prices by accepting a loss in non-consolidated areas and offsetting that loss with unfairly high prices in areas that were entirely under SO control. MS does the same thing with software (IE was supported by OS and Office sales -- and do you remember the huge competetive upgrade discounts for Office?)

    What's unfair about this is that SO didn't have anything the other companies had except (initially) capital and (subsequently) a chance to squeeze consumers. SO did try to raise prices too high, and people did turn to other sources. But no-one could build an effective electric car in that era, and if they had SO would have used their capital to interfere (buy and divest, start a competing line at a loss until the upstarts run out of capital, etc). MS has done this too. Who heard of IE before there was a browser market? Anyone remember Stac? There's a classic illegal act -- MS settles a suit for stealing Stac's code, then buys the company and fires everyone.

    In the case of AT&T, it was necessary to permit a monopoly in the beginning, because you had to have a wire from every phone to the central office. Streets were literally being closed due to telephone and electric wiring. Later on someone figured out a way to multiplex and switch signals, so that the same wire could server a bunch of signals bound for different destinations. This made competition possible, but the existance of the monopoly stifled competition, innovation and customer service until it was clear that competition could exist, and the monopoly was broken up. You had to pay the phone company around $300 for an answering machine in 1970, because you weren't allowed to hook up just any machine to your phone line. The cost for technology was almost exactly the same in 1980, when they were $30. Why didn't Ma Bell offer $30 answering machines? They were the phone company. They didn't have to. Why doesn't Office conform to the RTF standard? They're Microsoft. They don't have to.

    If companies compete on the merits of their products and one loses, that's OK. But the anti-trust laws are there so that one company can't just run over competitors that have better products and ideas.

  • John H. Patterson, and Thomas Watson, President & Chief Salesman of NCR in 1912, were each sentenced to one year in jail for anti-trust violations on Feburary 13, 1913.

    The sentences were eventually overturned on appeal, but these are definatly punative sentences.

    Watson was fired by Patterson, and joined, and was made president of a small company, "The Computer-Tabulator-Recording Company", which he changed the name to "International Business Machines" in 1923.

  • Asketh the poster:
    do murders, rapists, theives, etc. get to say what they want their sentance to be? I think not!
    First, though I am far from a Micros~1 zealot, I think it's a bit far to lump them in with murderers and rapists.

    Second, even people convicted of felonies get to attend the sentencing hearing -- in fact, it isn't valid without them -- and of course their attorneys can most definitely speak to the harshness of the sought penalty. I believe it happens all the time.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure I believe the poster who claimed that anti-trust decisions are always remedial, not punitive. I'm not saying he/she is wrong, exactly, but I'm not saying I think he/she is right, either.

  • Look for something called the 'demoronizer'. Find that and you will find your answers.
  • It seems to me like MS intends to baffle the court with bullshit, in this case it is financial bullshit.

    They play a lot of semantic games in their filing, replacing DOJ words with economically loaded terms. To me this indicates that their plan is to either win in the court of public opinion: "The DOJ wants to DIVEST them!! They have to REISSUE shares!" or their plan is to turn the plan into something that sounds far more harsh so it is more easily defeated on appeal, while at the same time softening the meaningful remedies. This way, if they can't get it overturned because it is a "radical" remedy, the actual remedies will be ineffectual.

    For instance, the difference between reorganization and divestiture is unimportant external to the final remedy, because no matter what word is used its meaning will be defined explicitly in the actual ruling.

  • The clueless moron wrote:

    "What M$ has done is worse than killing people."

    I'll give you a choice: I could kill you now, or force you to use Windows for the next 10 years... which would you choose?

    You are entirely full of shit if you believe M$s actions are worse than murder and rape.
    Go back and hide under your bridge, you clueless troll.
  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <> on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:22PM (#1031577)
    As far as microsoft's "integration" of a web browser into their operating system. I don't believe this is a valid excuse to break up the empire. In many respects, integration is a benefit to the consumer. (While IE may not be the best implementation) I don't believe that you can honestly say that this is a valid monopolistic practice. No one is forcing the consumer to use IE, they're just making it slightly more convenient, and everpresent. If i don't want to use IE (assuming i would use windows for anything other than a few games), then I can just opt not to click on that little blue E.

    If IE could be uninstalled, I'd agree with you, but it can't be, and thats the problem. Windows loads IE on startup, the damn thing is always there running whether you want it or not, so contrary to your "you're not forced to use it" the simple truth is, YES YOU ARE. If you use Win95 OSR2 or any windows after that, you are forced to use IE, you are forced to let it suck up your RAM and CPU cycles, and you are forced to reboot when the fucking thing crashes and bluescreens you. Integration a benifit, my ass.

    As far as monopolistic business practices otherwise. Would you step to the front of the room please if you would have done any different (open source developers, you don't count because you're not entirely greedy :P ) The point is that M$ followed valid business practices. While some of these may have been a little shady (such as altering some industry standards to make them proprietary), none of these practices are illegal.

    Not illegal? You think the judge is pretty much ordering the breakup just because he wants to? No. Anti-trust law is quite a valid law, and MS broke that law. No, I wouldn't have done most of what MS has. I wouldn't have made DrDos "incompatible" with Win3.x, I wouldn't have bought Stac and fired everyone, I wouldn't have integrated IE with the damn OS (put it on the installation CD if the user wants to install it yes, integrated it with the OS no.), I wouldn't have forced OEM's to buy Windows, to put the IE icon on the desktop stock, I wouldn't have persued the development of MS-Bob, I wouldn't have broke off ties with IBM over OS/2.

    Microsoft didn't become the company it is today because it played "fair" and it certainly didn't become the most popular OS in the world because it sucked.

    They didn't become the most popular OS in the world because it was any good either.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • by Forge ( 2456 ) <kevinforge&gmail,com> on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:24PM (#1031582) Homepage Journal
    They also wouldn't pleas Microsoft and wouldn't satisfy the "hang them high" crowd. Here they are. Very simple and with details that can be worked out latter.

    1. Volume Pricing. Simply put they can't sell to the goy buying 1,000,000 units for less than they sell to the goy buying 2,000,000 units.

    2. For each program they produce which generates document files or communicates across the network they must produce a simple file viewer or packet catcher ( where appropriate ) that is 100% compatible. No bells or whistles at all required. The catch is that this viewer must be under a BSD license and come with the full source code.

    3. At Microsoft's own discretion they can use an IETF owned format instead of following #2 above. When they do it this way the I*ETF must approve the compatibility of each release.

    Note that MS may interchange 2 and 3 at it's own discretion but not ignore them both. #1 is not optional however. They would of course need a whole new set of arguments to combat these remedies. After all they have no impact on what MS claims it wants aside from posibly increasing development costs a little.

    For the user it would solve all the choice issues in one fell swoop.

    PS: Too bad the Judge in this case won't ever here or care about this sort of thing.
  • Since when does an organization found guilty have ot right to make demands? I know personal rights are protected in this country, but the constitution sure as hell doesn't start "We the coorporations of America, in order to form a more perfect market, do ordain and establish this contract for the United Software Companies of North America."

    I know it was a lame post, its late, get over it.


    Here's what Microsoft wants to do. []

  • [I hate to beat this hamburgerized-horse some more, but...]

    Actually, I think a very good case can be made that a browser is an important part of an operating system.

    What is a browser, fundamentally? It's a mechanism for displaying formatted text, which is in a well-specified format. That is incredibly useful! Just like "man" or "info" displays man pages, a browser can display help information is a very general way. You'll note that both KDE and Gnome use their browser for their help systems.

    Just like you need a program like "notepad" to display regular text, a browser is a great tool for displaying formatted text.


  • by SteveM ( 11242 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:33PM (#1031591)
    The point isn't that Microsoft integrated IE into the OS. Nor is it that Microsoft is a monopoly.

    Both of these are ok.

    The problem is what Microsoft did with its monopoly power, of which integrating IE is just one example.

    Microsoft didn't integrate IE because they thought it would benefit users. They did it to lock Netscape and any other browser out of the market, Why, because Microsoft saw the browser as a new platform that could make the OS superfluous.

    As I said this is just one example of Microsofts behavior, aka extend and embrace. And that (along with an incompetent legal team) is why the DOJ is looking to break them up.

    Steve M
  • what exactly defines an operating system? Is it the software? is it the applications? something more abstract?

    You argue that IE is not a part of Windows. My argument is that it doesn't necessarily *have* to not be. With the immensely increasing popularity of the internet, one could successfully argue that one distinct feature of their os is the inherent ability to allow you browse the internet. You can't really say that this is *not* a part of an OS.

    just my .02 - that make .04. If we keep this thread up for a while we'll have a dollar.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • by Deadbolt ( 102078 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:26PM (#1031600)

    No one is forcing the consumer to use IE, they're just making it slightly more convenient, and everpresent. If i don't want to use IE (assuming i would use windows for anything other than a few games), then I can just opt not to click on that little blue E.

    Yes, but in addition to that convenience, you pay the price of source code combination into the core Windows API. HTML/HTTP rendering code right next to memory swap drivers (and in some cases, even in the same files -- see the DOJ report for a full breakdown from their experts). What this means is that the OS's bugs are now the browser's bugs AND VICE VERSA. Think about it -- how many of us have had Windows crash simply because IE choked on some Java applet? Any benefit to the customer is offset, and some might say trivial in comparison, to the lowered stability (and therefore usability) of the whole OS. Plus, it cuts down consumer choice of OS. I might not want a browser on my 98 box. Maybe I'm making dedicated game machines. Not that this is a necessarily "evil" (tm) thing, but reducing customer choice isn't usually construed as being for their benefit.

    The point is that M$ followed valid business practices.

    A small sample of a VERY long list:

    • offering Netscape to divide browser market -- illegal
    • threatening OEMs to keep them from getting bright ideas about non-Microsoft ways of doing things (Compaq, Gateway, etc.) -- anticompetitive
    • hijacking Java and simply *raping* their agreement with Sun (pardon my French)

    My point is the judge found that Microsoft has a documented history of breaking the spirit and the letter of the law when it suited its purposes.

    Time to stop complaining and just make something undeniably better. MS gets to stay intact, albeit smaller. The product that's the best wins...then we all win.

    This is a pleasant fiction that is inscribed on the gravestones of hundreds of computer companies. How many great ideas in computing, and in almost any field, have never really caught on or exploited by savvy investors years down the line? People do not judge on merit alone, unfortuantely. (of course, having no universal standard of merit hurts too.)

    Ah well, life sucks sometimes. Microsoft will no doubt experience this fact firsthand before long.

  • I can see several reasons why making 3 identical Baby Bills would not be quite as effective as breaking them up by departments:

    1) If you broke it up into three companies with the same product, a winner would emerge within a year or two, and we would be back where we started.

    2) The point of the break-up is not to get rid of the OS monopoly. It is to enforce anti-trust law that ensures that the monopoly is not abused or leveraged in a way that hurts consumers. Having a 90% share of a market does not, in and of itself, stifle competition. Making sure that nobody else can make money by competing with you by leveraging your dominance is another matter. MICROS~1 "broke" DR DOS by making sure their products would spit out unwarrented error messages when not running on MS DOS. They "enhanced" Java with windows-only tools to break the cross-platform advantage that Java offered. When it looked like the browser window was likely to replace the OS destop environment in some future systems, they chopped off the only profitable browser company at the knees, by making sure that all Windows customers would already have a free, pre-installed browser that was about as good; then they built web-design tools that would build content that failed on competing browsers, and took steps to make sure that they got used. They tried to strong-arm Apple and other companies into staying out of some of their newer markets (like streaming video and media).... All of these actions are reprehensible, but common in the industry, but the other industry players do not have the strength of a monopoly to back them up. If your kid brother punches you in the nose its annoying - if an 800 gorilla does it, you are down for the count.

    3) We already have too many versions of Windows as it is. 95, 95, NT4, 2k, and CE don't play very well together, considering they all come from the same vendor. Can you imagine is we had two other baby-bill, each with their own "product line" of operating systems?

    4) Even die-hard microsofties agree that DOS-based technologies are inferior to most modern OS's, which is why Bill has been trying for almost seven years to migrate the DOS world to NT, and even NT admins are sometimes forced to rely on a DOS shell for some stuff. If we had a multi-vendor DOS-based standard out there, would the world ever rid itself of DOS batch files?

    5) I think a very sensible solution for a consumer OS would be to port the Windows API's and GUI to a *n?x environment. (If you got an honest answer out of Balmer or Gates, they would probably tell you that they would love to do something like that, but current anti-trust restrictions forced them to sell of Xenix and stay out of the UNIX arena for now). A mini-MS that does OS tech only would have the flexibility to advance such a project, and could do so without violating any federal restrictions.

    6) If MS-Office is no longer part of the company, the practice of witholding pre-beta OS tools from the rest of the world to give the Office team a head start would end. For the first time in almost a decade, there would be real competition in the office suite business again, which could eventually lead to a lot of Good Things (i.e., non-proprietary document standards, XML-compliant web integration, etc.)

  • by Tarnar ( 20289 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:35PM (#1031607) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but are you listening to your own words? They most certainly did things that were illegal. They used strongarm tactics, backed up by their monopoly, to stop OEM's from doing what they had every right to do (bundle Netscape in this case).

    I don't know what that means where you come from, but last I checked, that was covered under antitrust law. MS most certainly did not follow 'valid' business tactics. Defeating the competition is valid. Defeating the competition simply because you can push around sales outlets (OEMs in this case) and stop them from doing things you dislike isn't so valid. I'm not arguing on grounds of morality, this is the law.

    Now, I do agree with your point on people needing to shut up and do something about it. Just like all the YRO stories in the world will prevent laws like UCITA because we're all too lazy to write our congressmen. People tend to get what they deserve.
  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:28PM (#1031608) Journal

    In fact, the original recommendation by the government does, indeed, demand that Microsoft open the source. Not as in open source writ large, but certainly to a large number of developers.

    Microsoft shall disclose to ISVs, IHVs, and OEMs in a Timely Manner, in whatever media Microsoft disseminates such information to its own personnel, all APIs, Technical Information and Communications Interfaces... Microsoft shall create a secure facility where qualified representatives of OEMs, ISVs, and IHVs shall be permitted to study, interrogate and interact with relevant and necessary portions of the source code and any related documentation of Microsoft Platform Software.

    In other words, give all developers the same level of access to documentation of the system API as you give Microsoft employees. The document goes on to add that developers must be using the code strictly for the purpose of developing programs to run on that platform, rather than to use it in a product which would compete with the OS.

    Microsoft, as you might have guessed, wasn't real pleased with this, and they added their own language, including the right to charge a royalty to see that code, plus the right to inspect whatever the developer produces, "for the sole purpose of ensuring their compliance with the requirement that Microsoft's source code be used only to enable third-party products to Interoperate with Microsoft Platform Software.".

    Shady. On the one hand, the language of the document essentially demands that they set up a "secure facility" for the purpose of showing people this code. That's mucho bucks, which might justify them charging a royalty fee. And, since the opening of the code is supposed to be for the purpose of developing software on the platform, I can see why they'd want some kind of enforcement policy (the "we get to see the code" part). But in all other respects, very very shady.

  • He wants out of the spotlight.

    I think he wants to still control all the companies. As "Software Direction Advisor", is isn't the president anymore, so he can freely associate with all the "baby bills". Thus he can do the very thing the DOJ wants to prevent; coordinate development of all M$ products.

    Hell, with over sixty billion in the bank he should sit back and enjoy his family and the things that money can buy. Maybe do a bit of good with it if he wants. Space? Health?

    Like AT&T, Microsoft pushed technology in a direction. Like AT&T, baby has grown up now, and doesn't need parent to mess with anymore.

    Now turn off flame mode guys, but we do owe Bill some thanks for coordinating technology to this point. We can argue if that coordination was good or bad, but it was sorly needed at the time. If you are too young to know CPM, then you are too young to know the confusion and terror of management at the time to buy anything that didn't say IBM on it. BG and M$ allowed business to be fairly sure that they knew what they were getting. Be it bad or good.

    The fact is that now we don't need our hands held; it is time and past to let us decide what we need and what we don't need.

    Good bye Bill, and thanks for all the GPFs.

  • With the immensely increasing popularity of the internet, one could successfully argue that one distinct feature of their os is the inherent ability to allow you browse the internet. You can't really say that this is *not* a part of an OS.

    Wrong. Browsing the internet is (nearly) a required function of any properly maintained system, but that is not the same as the operating system itself. The operating system consists of anything that's required to have other applications running, like APIs, drivers, a kernel, etc. The browser isn't necessary to accomplish anything other than the act of running a browser. It might make sense to bundle a browser with the rest of the operating system, but it remains bundling, which monopolists are restricted from doing.
  • Maybe they needed some time to stop laughing and compose themselves.
  • Nope. Do you really think that IBM would have permitted microcomputers to evolve beyond hobbyist kits like the Altair or Apple I if they'd had a free reign? Their only significant competitor was DEC, and DEC was not nearly as strong as IBM.

    IBM would have eventually put out microcomputers anyway (there sure are a lot of non IBM-compatable platforms out there now; imagine if they'd been more aggressive)

    MS would have never gotten a contract for the DOS, and in the unlikely event that they had, it's certain that they'd never be allowed to keep it. (and resell it to cloners)

    Lord only knows what would have happened to Phoenix and Compaq. Their supply lines probably would have been cut out from under them, besides being hit with trade secret lawsuits. (intended to drain their cash reserves) I expect that Intel would have been bought out.

    IBM used to be incredibly nasty. The current thriving computing industry is what you get when you prevent a monopoly from harming innovation and competition because it's only interested in self-preservation.

    Why is it so far a stretch to come to the realization that the industry would be doing BETTER than it is now, if we eliminated MS's ability to harm it out of self-preservation?
  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <> on Thursday June 01, 2000 @07:19PM (#1031625) Homepage
    As far as monopolistic business practices otherwise. Would you step to the front of the room please if you would have done any different (open source developers, you don't count because you're not entirely greedy :P ) The point is that M$ followed valid business practices.

    That is besides the point of antitrust law.

    In antitrust law, a fundamental tenet is that you cannot take actions that hurt consumers in order to hurt your competition more. M$ dumped billions on IE for no profit and no benefit for consumers - in order to hurt netscape. M$ made consumers pay more for Windows on IBM machines to hurt IBM, who at the time maintained the right to sell OS/2. M$ threatened to withdraw M$ Office for Macintosh unless Apple got on board and preloaded IE - expediting the killing of netscape. M$ strongarmed all the OEM outlets for netscape in order to cut off netscape's air supply - and remove choice from the consumer who was less likely to download and install netscape.

    The list of violations goes on and on. M$ made consumers pay so that it could eradicate the competition in browser space. That is what antitrust is about.

    Standard Oil used to put up gas stations across the street from existing gas stations and sell gas at a loss until the competition went out of business - then the maximal possible prices were extracted. That is the sort of violation antitrust law seeks to stop. M$ was horribly in violation - and separating the monopoly with leverage (Windows) from the products with competition (all apps and the internet business) is appropriate and fair.
  • Not only should they be broken up (OS/Software/Media&Hardware?) the pieces should also be restrained from pre-announcing any products for the foreseeable future. Until the day it's released, they should not talk about it at all, or face extremely heavy fines. Collusion should be punished with extremely heavy fines. All file formats and protocols should be completely documented. Am I missing anything here?

    Billy boy, you'd best be glad I'm not the judge, 'cause I'd be a-reamin' you.

    On a side note, myself and a friend find it very hard to believe Microsoft fucked this case up so badly. At worst, they could have tied it up in court for ever. We're wondering if they didn't plan for this to happen. The alternative is mind boggling -- that the executives of a company that managed to capture the majority of the software marketpace could be so blind, stupid and/or niave as to think they could actually win the case with the strategy they used.

  • by muldrake ( 171275 ) on Thursday June 01, 2000 @06:39PM (#1031628) Homepage Journal

    I say nothing but good can come of breaking up Microsoft.

    I'd disagree somewhat with this. I think in the long run the result of breaking up Microsoft will be good, but in the short run it is bound to be a pain in the ass, much as was the breakup of AT & T.

    Microsoft has made clear that they are going to fight this tooth-and-nail and keep fighting. Even after a breakup is ordered they will no doubt keep trying to find sneaky ways to slow down the breakup, sneakily make IP licensing deals between companies, and probably even outright break the law and ignore the order whenever they feel like it.

    Microsoft previously signed a consent decree agreeing not to do precisely what they went and did. Their contempt for the law and their arrogance is unbridled, and we can expect more of the same.

    What's silly is that it isn't even money that's being fought over at this point, because the two companies will still have staggering revenues once everything stabilizes. What they are fighting for is POWER. They want to be the sole arbiter of what occurs on a computer desktop, and this is a reflection of Bill Gates' megalomania.

  • You know, I was almost getting to the point when I was remembering the M$ era with a little bit of wistfulness..."sure, they cut a few corners, but were they really that bad?"

    I was figuring that poor M$ didn't do much but be too succesful. I was remembering that they really did do a lot to standardize the industry and introduce people to the internet...and really, even as big as they were, they were the underdog that came from behind, building a company from nothing through hardwork.

    Well, thank you for showing your true colors M$. Thank you for reminding me to put off my nostalgia until you are succesfully 6 feet deep.

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H.L. Mencken