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Microsoft

Justice Department Decides To Break Up Microsoft 784

Well, it's official. The United States Department of Justice has called for the breakup of Microsoft into two separate companies: an applications company which will manage software like Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, and an operating systems company that will manage products such as Windows NT. CNN coverage here.
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Justice Department Decides To Break Up Microsoft

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  • Or they could discuss their requirements publicly so that everyone has the same access to the information.

    That would be simple, and arguably OK. But that won't happen. To avoid the slightest hint of collusion, there will have to be

    • Lawyers reviewing everything
    • Notarizations, attestations, signatures, and endless paperwork
    • Two separate, nominally independent organizations for handling the paperwork. One will handle OS-to-Office communication, and the other will handle Office-to-OS communication.
    • No personal contact. Designers who formerly worked across the hall from each other won't be able to go out to lunch together without a lawyer present.
    • All work with external business partners will be impacted similarly.

    Helpful Usenet postings might even be banned, unless they can guarantee full propagation. (Good luck there!) Employees will be fired, fined, or imprisoned for accidentally talking to the wrong person. It is absurd to make professionals work in that environment.

    The DoJ and the court are simply ignorant of the practical ramifications their decisions will have. In fact, they think they know so much about engineering organizations that they don't even need to listen to Microsoft's outside witnesses. Imagine trying to break Linux development up into the Kernel-Mode Division and the Userland Division, with an insulation layer of attorneys and judges in between, and without allowing Linus Torvalds or Bill Joy to speak. Thirty-seven hackers would be found dead the next day from laughter. But that's what the DoJ/court proposed for Microsoft, with a straight face. And they truly, sincerely think it is OK. They're so far off in their own imaginary world that Jesus Christ himself couldn't find them with a telescope.

    Office/OS "collusion" didn't even break the law. What broke the law was the discriminatory, anti-competitive contracts. Simply making Microsoft offer the same terms to all customers (e.g., $300/MS-Office for quantity 1, $270/MS-Office for quantity 100, etc.) would have eliminated the bulk of their anticompetitive behavior. Making them publish APIs for advertised features would have eliminated most of the rest.

    I think it's a bad precedent, and people are happy just because Microsoft is being shit on. But free speech includes the right *not* to speak, to keep trade secrets and confidences. When the attorney for the United States decides that you've been "anti-competitive" by not publishing something, you'll change your tune.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @01:00PM (#1017707) Homepage
    And now, the 90-day clock starts on disclosing the APIs. Note that this includes the internal APIs within Office, as well as undocumented Windows APIs.

    This will be a big boost for the WINE effort, as I mentioned previously. More than that, we'll probably see every x86 OS that has a POSIX-compliant API module offer a Win32-compliant API module. In time, they'll all run Office just fine. Some of them will probably work better than Microsoft's OS offerings, too.

    Microsoft can't arbitrarily change the APIs to break compatible software, either; the decision prohibits that. And of course none of this waits on appeal; only the breakup is delayed.

    In the end, this might be good even for Microsoft. They've dumped much junk in their OS to maintain their monopoly. That strategy now stops working. So they may let the engineers determine what goes in the OS again, as they did when Dave Cutler designed NT, instead of the marketing people, as they did with Win98/98/NT4/NT2000. We'll see.

    Microsoft will probably drag their feet on API disclosure. But it won't work. The only question is whether they give in before, or after, the judge sends some Microsoft executives to jail for contempt. That's a very real possibility. Federal judges have more than enough power to enforce their orders.

    Microsoft probably won't win on appeal, either. Unlike Judge Sporkin, who made some mistakes in the first Microsoft antitrust case back in 1994 [usdoj.gov] (yes, this is try #2), Judge Jackson has done a good job. Nobody has pointed out any serious errors on his part. The trial has been watched by so many people that any major reversable errors would have been widely publicized.

    Read the actual final judgement [usdoj.gov]; it's better than most of the commentary on it.

  • [**] MS-OS and MS-AP are ugly names. Im look forward to seeing (and maybe composing) alternatives. The best I can do at the moment

    I suspect that MS-AP will wind up keeping the Microsoft name, and MS-OS will wind up being called "The Windows Operating System Company" or some similar name. This would make sense because MS-OS is going to remain a much more tightly focused company with a single, well known trademark. Thus it makes sense to leverage that trademark as a new company name and let the more diverse MS-AP keep the (also very well known) Microsoft moniker.

  • I think the Justice Department may have avoided major antitrust cases because the IBM and AT&T cases went on for so long and consumed huge amounts of resources.

    I'm not sure what Judge Jackson did differently from previous judges, but it prevented the case from turning into a decade long battle of legal armies.

  • Wall Street has expected this for a long time. I'm no stock guru, but I'd say that the ~35 point drop we saw in the last few months has a lot to do with people basically reacting to what happened today (if that makes sense). If MS wins an appeal, I would expect to see the stock price bounce right back to where it was.

    Microsoft won't win an appeal. This isn't going to be another rigged game like the last three trips to the circuit court - it's going straight to the supreme court and Judge Jackson's work is as airtight as it gets. Even during the period before the Supreme Court rules on it, Microsoft will be hobbled by restrictions we'd never have imagined just a year or so ago. This isn't speculation, it's for sure. When the thickheaded market finally realizes this, guess which way Microsoft's stock is headed.

    Don't forget also that there are a hundred or so private suits in progress (more to come no doubt) and all those guys have their greedy eyes on Microsoft's $50 billion cash horde.
    --
  • by Logi ( 2799 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @01:10PM (#1017721) Homepage
    Microsoft is already going to lose. All of us are making sure of that. Why let the government set the rules of this game? Whenever they do, the folks who line their pockets get the rules they want. It's just insanity to let government infringe on the industry that has made this country richer than it ever imagined it could be.
    The folks who line their pocket are the large corporations who then get the rules they want. You would rather leave it to the corporations directly? Isn't this logic flawed somewhere?

    Isn't the point of democracy to first elect responsible leaders and then have them lead? Possibly, though, the democratic process doesn't quite work wherever you live?

    The idea that government should not be allowed to interfere with business in any way is absolutely absurd. Business has only its own interests at heart. The government theoretically has the interests of the population at heart. If this is not true, there is somthing wrong with the process by which people come to power and this needs to be fixed, rather than bowing down before the almighty corporations.

  • That isn't what I see the text saying:
    (apologies for HTML illiteracy)
    > 2. Provisions Implementing Divestiture
    > a. After Implementation of the Plan, and throughout the term of this Final Judgment, neither the Operating Systems Business
    > nor the Applications Business, nor any member of their respective Boards of Directors, shall acquire any securities or assets[...]

    This, and other parts, say the remedies last only for the term of the Final Judgment (obviously, I suppose.) But look here:

    > 6. Effective Date, Term, Retention of Jurisdiction, Modification.
    > a. This Final Judgment shall take effect 90 days after the date on which it is entered; provided, however that sections 1.b and
    > 2 (except 2.d) shall be stayed pending completion of any appeals from this Final Judgment.

    and a couple lines further:

    >c. This Final Judgment shall expire at the end of ten years from the date on which it takes effect.

    So, if we understand "the date on which [the Final Judgment] is entered" to mean today, then ten years from today (plus 90 days) the ballgame is over. That portions of it may be stayed pending appeal will not (as I read it) extend the time the companies must be separate. If I've missed the part that says otherwise, please enlighten me.
  • I loathe MS but I disagree with you.

    They can still keep their patents. But they can't take action (etc) if a 3rd party develops something that competes with their software.

    So if you develop a player for FOO multimedia files and are thus competing with MS they can't attack you. But you can't just use their patents - that's not the same as competition, b/c it's illegal on it's own.

    You answered this yourself: But they can't take action. Please tell me how a patent that they can't legally enforce is going to stop anyone from doing anything. We will have three years to figure out how to get the stupid patent itself overturned.
    --
  • ... doesn't mean that your OEM won't purchase them seperately and install them on your system, or that you yourself can't do that.

    Remember, this is just to keep MS from screwing off in the future. So what if your OEM has to go to N+1 companies instead of N. Most big OEM's install a half-doxen commercial packages and a dozen or more demo's. One more or one fewer won't make much of a difference.
  • Fines don't go to victims; they go to the gov't.

    If a company wants a remedy, they need to sue Microsoft.

    -Billy
  • As Jackson says in his ruling, Microsoft still doesn't admit a damn thing. It's is just so maddening that they are still practicing business as usual with PDAs and what not. I imagine the judge finds it contemptuous.

    But MS has made it very clear that anything short of a breakup will be useless, because they'll never change their behavior. They're the repeat offender who finally keeps getting in trouble, because no matter what the punishment, he just won't change. This time the key gets thrown away. Bye, bye MS, I hardly knew ye.
  • by jon_c ( 100593 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:38AM (#1017744) Homepage
    here [akamaitech.net]

    -Jon

  • They can do this all they want, they cannot touch open source software :)

    Finkployd

  • And the peasants rejoice!

    This leads one to wonder about things like DirectX - is it part of the operating system, or is it actually an application all on it's own?

    -------
    CAIMLAS

  • The MS APIs are probably the best-documented in the industry.

    You had me until that line. Now I know you must have been joking :)

    Finkployd
  • "Restriction on Binding Middleware Products to Operating System Products. Microsoft shall not, in any Operating System Product distributed six or more months after the effective date of this Final Judgment, Bind any Middleware Product to a Windows Operating System... "

    This is the one that really gets me. This whole trial started over the "illegal" tying of IE into Windows, and according to this, they don't have to take it out. Since it's already in, it gets to stay in.


    You got it exactly backwards. This says that IE can't be tied to Windows in any future distribution.

    I can't see where anyone can claim they weren't out to get get MS from the begining

    Who's claiming that? Everbody knows we're out to "get" Microsoft, because they cheat and break the law, while consistently carrying on business without any detectable shred of ethics or morality.
    --
  • For crying out loud, if Pablo Picasso had gone around stealing old ladies's purses or if James Jopyce had run around the streets of Dublin throwing rocks through shop windows, they'd have gone to jail like any of the rest of us.

    Nobody's "persecuting" "innovation." (Let's leave to one side the word-grinding debate as to whether Microsoft was or wasn't really innovative, whatever that means, for right now.) Microsoft is being whacked because they broke the law - to be precise, after already having been warned once about their dubious tactics in 1994, they proceeded to stamp up and down on the law and feed the shreds through a tree chipper.

    Keep in mind, though, that the DOJ isn't beating up Microsoft because Microsoft took unfair advantage of the general public. We mere citizens don't count shit to the government. Microsoft is being punished for screwing over a number of other multi-billion dollar corporations.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @01:20PM (#1017758)
    Following up my own post...

    Can we find the terms of their file format patent license to be a contractual tie? (bet you we can)

    Well, actually, no, not the way this restriction is written. But another provision of the remedy does offer a lot of promise:

    Developer Relations. Microsoft shall not take or threaten any action affecting any ISV or IHV (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; developer tools or developer support; hardware certification; and permission to display trademarks or logos) based directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, on any actual or contemplated action by that ISV or IHV to -

    i. use, distribute, promote or support any Microsoft product or service, or

    ii. develop, use, distribute, promote or support software that runs on non-Microsoft Middleware or a non-Microsoft Operating System or that competes with any Microsoft product or service...


    Bingo! We just have to have an ISV (Red hat? Suse? Mandrake?) bring out a media player that incorporates ASF, Microsoft sues, and gets slammed by this provision. Any of you lawyers out there care to comment?
    --
  • You mean like this [gex64.com]?

    :)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • by Bradley ( 2330 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @01:24PM (#1017768)
    But it doesn't matter how many APIs Microsoft discloses, if they have a patent on them. See here [kuro5hin.org]for a story on how Microsoft claims to have a patent on ASF files, and caused a GPL program [geocities.com] to have to remove its support for those files, which is what you were referring to at the end.

    Telling someone "here, this is what we do, oh, and BTW, you can't do that without paying us licensing fees" doesn't seem much use to me. I don't think the jugement affects this. Nothing that I could see (IANAL) seemed to stop them from owning and using patents - in fact, the final judgement states that IP rights used by both companies (presumably including patents) "shall be assigned to the Applications Business, and the Operating Systems Business shall be granted a perpetual, royalty-free license to license and distribute such Intellectual Property in its products".

  • Microsoft can have you arrested, and can have your property taken away.

    There's a very big difference, IMOHO, between having you arrested and arresting you; likewise between having your property taken away and simply taking your property away. Sure, either one sucks. :-) But if it's wrongly done, the blame must ultimately lie with the government.

    The government meddled from day one by awarding software patents and making it difficult to reverse engineer legally. While I disagree with the ruling, I do not have a problem in theory, at least, with the government, which enabled Microsoft's profits through intellectual property laws (which are monopolies according to the Constitution), testing to see if Microsoft is abusing the privilege

    It seems a very bad thing to me. If government-awarded privileges show themselves destructive of the common good, the privileges themselves need to be curtailed. The goverment has certainly created and then punished monopolies in the past. Ma Bell, for instance. Legislation to fix legislation to fix legislation is all too common, and too dangerous.

    To use law to control a nation weakens the nation.

    But to use nature to control a nation strengthens the nation. - Tao Te Ching [ufl.edu]

    (IP is only a right if you assume that government grants rights rather than protects them, IMHO.)

    There's a distinction traditionally made between natural rights (life, liberty, property, for instance), and created rights (though I'm not sure "created" is the right term). I certainly view IP as the latter sort.

  • You like Microsoft and you love freedom?

    No. I detest Microsoft, and I love freedom. My feelings for Microsoft, however, are irrelevant.

    Did you actually follow this case AT ALL?

    Anti-trust laws protect the common interest, not freedom. This is an inherent compromise. I cannot make better reply to such a vague question.

    PS M$ HAS performed criminal acts; that's the whole point.....

    No. That is an important point; there are other points. The punishment must fit the crime, and the laws themselves must be just. Such points are important in any legal action.

    or are you just part of the Microsoft "grassroots" letter-writing strategy

    Let me state my feelings more strongly. Microsoft sucks. Bill Gates sucks. If they go under and he spontaneously combusts tomorrow, Free Beer on me.

    There. Happy? I still disagree with you.

  • How about "Microsoft" for the application software and "MicrOS" for the OS company? Hey BG, I invented that my own self, but I'll let you use it without even suing you.

    Yours WD "Generous" K - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • Nonsense: I'm talking about the HTML active content enabled preview pane Microsoft came up with. Even if they have entirely disabled this, the fact that they did it and shipped it makes the email virus a reality. It's absurd even to have the HTML preview pane- to have that enabled for active content is ludicrous- and combined with the inevitable problems in keeping Microsoft web software vaguely secure, it was a dead loss.

    I suppose if you want to be really pedantic it's "Get sent evil content in such a way that it happens to be the first thing in your inbox, while you have the preview pane fully enabled, and if the evil content happens to be making use of the ActiveX controls that keep being improperly marked as safe for web use, your computer is toast- otherwise maybe it's just welcome to Melissa-land and here's hoping your friends like getting sent email viruses". But that takes so long to type ;)

  • Fishbowl--

    Here, lemme rephase into a sound bite:

    "Linux people say Microsoft can't code. Microsoft agrees--that's why their business practices are so desperate. Believing their code could not survive the rigors of a fair marketplace--even with the unprecedented technical coup that was Internet Explorer 3--Microsoft went so far as to <i>revoke the right of Compaq to sell Windows</i> under the (mistaken) impression that, unless users had the Microsoft browser crammed down their throat, they'd never switch. The supreme irony is that Internet Explorer genuinely is the better product, and never required such vicious tactics to achieve dominance."

    People really forget how amazing IE3 was. It was truly incredible.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • I was reading the story on C|Net News and all of the sudden, the Windows Critical Update notice came up on my desktop. It's kind of freaky if you ask me.
  • So if having a monopoly in both the OS and App spheres is not illegal (and I agree that it's not) then why break up the company? Why not slap a punitive fine on them, and other remedies that will prevent further abuse, but leave them intact?

    ---
  • Microsoft is not a monopoly.

    No, sorry, you're wrong - that's not in question. Does the word "fact" mean anything to you?

    Microsoft meets the legal definition of a monopoly... you're not the first to point this out. I stand corrected. I was thinking more of monopoly in the dictionary [m-w.com] sense:

    1. exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action
    2. exclusive possession or control

    The legal definition of a monopoly, apparently, concerns percentage of sales, which is an awkward metric, since strictly speaking Linux itself is not offered for sale. But like I said, I stand corrected.

    This does not, however, change my opinion on the whole; I assume my reasoning is obvious.

  • After the split, MS shareholders [1] will find themselves owning both MS-OS (Micro-S.O.S) and MS-AP (MicroSaps) [2] stock. These two stocks will find themselves competing to keep their places in the portfolios of the same investors. Since there is no reason to expect both companies to perform equally in the next year, they will have to adopt a competitive stance. Otherwise, they will be cutting their own throats to benefit their siblings

    In today's tech market market, the importance of stock value cannot be overlooked

    [1] except Covered Shareholders = past/present employees and directors with 5% or more
    of MS (not many people in *that* group!) who cannot own shares in both companies
    [2] My guess is that they'll be Windows Corp. and Microsoft Applications Inc.

    If it had been up to me, I'd have set the 'covered shareholder threshold' at 0.5-1% (or even lower) to assure that more of the top management had a personal stake in the competition. However, I suppose that there are SEC reasons for the 5% mark, and most top level executives probably want to see their babies perform.

    MS-AP is actually the more profitable of the two, with a broad range of apps and services, and a large market penetration in the layman desktop (a sector that is not eager to retrain in new apps). Both companies fear 'user freeze', where FUD keeps the users on their existing systems (which 'work just fine'). No more lockstepped upgrades of interlocking OS/Apps!

    MSAP will find that it has a major asset that is rapidly aging: its expertise in the hidden Windows APIs. They'll be eager for partners to make use of this resource while it is still valid and valued. MSOS, on the other hand, will benefit from releasing as much API info as possible, so MSAP doesn't outperform them on Wall Street and to allow better apps to keep users buying MSOS through Win 2000/Milennium and beyond.

    MSOS needs a revenue stream -- which means more paid OS upgrades or license fees, while MSAP would prefer that WinNT/9x/2000/Millenium stayed on the market for a long time. They will have no edge in Win2002 (etc.) Another revenuestream for MSOS would be to buy applications companies and to rebuild its App division (permitted under Section 1(c)(ii) of the decree)

    MSAP will be more open to widely porting their apps, and will seek unifying technologies (seeking crossplatform compatibility like any app developer) Their familiar UI is a potent market edge to overcome initial weaknesses in raw performance, but they'll be scrambling for development partners who 'know the terrain' of other OS's.

    The bad news is that the 1000 lb gorilla is now two 500 lb gorillas. MS-AP isn't likely to offer very beneficial terms at first! Expect tight NDAs and restrictions, since it knows it has a sure winner (MS-Office, etc.) . The good news is that this will enable Linux/BeOS/etc. to take a place on a lot more machines, which benefits these communities as a whole.
  • Restriction on Binding Middleware Products to Operating System Products. Microsoft shall not, in any Operating System Product distributed six or more months after the effective date of this Final Judgment, Bind any Middleware Product to a Windows Operating System...


    This is the one that really gets me. This whole trial started over the "illegal" tying of IE into Windows, and according to this, they don't have to take it out. Since it's already in, it gets to stay in.


    I can't see where anyone can claim they weren't out to get get MS from the begining, when the very thing that the whole trial was about isn't fixed in the end.

  • Since when does the executive branch have any power of judicial? Bill Clinton isn't a great supportter of it either. I think slashdot should have a poll, a.) can't wait for the breakup, b.) a breakup doesn't work, c.) a breakup but differently d.) lets just break bill gates head e.) who cares its all going to be years from now and by that time everything will have changed
  • Actually, I believe that as soon as a company's sales represent a certain fixed percentage (over 75?) of a given market, they are a monopoly, in the legal sense. Nobody, not even Microsoft themselves, tried to argue that they didn't have a monopoly. What they argued was whether they had used that monopoly to alter other business transactions in their favor.

    And picking and choosing who is a criminal isn't the government's job, it's the court's job. And that's what has happened here.

    You're right, you surely don't understand the nuances of the case very well. You don't even understand the roles of the major players.

    But ya know what? That's okay. That doesn't make you a bad person, or ignorant, or a fool. It just means you are underinformed. Join the club--there are lots of us.

    In this case, I disagree with you that this is troubling, for two reasons. First, Microsoft got what they deserved. No, I take that back--they got a tiny fraction of what they really deserved. But at least what they did get was justified. Second, it won't have much appreciable effect one way or the other. So take heart--nobody got hurt.

    Justice is only fun until somebody puts an eye out. -- Mom

  • mac-heads have been talking to their computers for about ten years running.
    Right, and it's a feature of the OS. That's exactly my point.
  • <i>I had completely forgotten that. Did they "try" to do this, or was Compaq unable to sell Windows
    for a time? Are we talking "3.1" ? </i>

    Did it. The "smoking gun" letter made it on Cnet. I used to have a link to it; I was going to reference it in a public rebuttal to an anti-linux screed from Ed Muth. Better rebuttals came out before I finished, and I pretty much decided the horse was dead enough ;-)

    This was Windows 98, incidentally. No IE icon in Win 3.1.

    No, you have to f*ck with some <i>big</i> companies before you get to have the Supreme Court agree to break you up...

    Anyway, Compaq capitulated. IBM was the company that had to buy Windows 95 off the street(10x the cost of OEM!) because they had the gall to sell OS/2.

    Computer industry pricing structures are oddly similar to the prices that HMO's and other insurance companies get on medical care. I'll have to investigate this more...

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Resaerch
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • First, a nitpick: it wasn't the DoJ that decided to break up Microsoft, it was the Court. :)

    Thank you for picking that nit. Why doesn't someone correct the article?

    And though I believe the judge is upholding the laws, I don't believe these laws should exist. I'm not pro-MS, I'm anti-this.DoJ; and this trial is just one of the many reasons.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @04:16PM (#1017829) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I'm sorry, you are wrong :)

    If Valve and Interplay owned effectively _all_ of the game market, Sherman Act would apply to their working together so closely too. The fact is, it's so unnatural for something like that (Valve and Interplay owning 95% of games or so, nobody much even considering buying games from other vendors, 'nobody ever got fired for buying ValveAndInterplay') to happen, that it's hard to see how unnatural the Microsoft situation is. Does one car maker sell 95% of all cars? Does one soft drink vendor have 95% of the supermarket shelves and twist the arms of supermarkets to have veto power over anything in the supermarket, by threatening to withdraw their product?

    When Valve and Interplay can work together so well that they can _break_ a computer software store simply by pulling all their products and leaving the store with empty shelves and nothing to put on them, _then_ I'll consider forbidding them to share information except in public.

    Microsoft's been in that position for _years_ and the restriction is deeply justified. I personally would have been happy with just a *SLICE* "OK, now go about your business", but as we know, Microsoft lies, so the ruling _assumes_ that if you just went 'chop' and walked away, Microsoft would go 'florp' and join together again immediately, either clandestinely or right out in the open, and would _be_ still one company, with nothing changed.

    It's a pity the ruling had to get into this stuff and make picky little regulations, but really- as if you could tell Microsoft "Okay, break up now! And be good and allow real competition to happen!" As if! So, since they are so deeply criminal, you have to oversee every little thing, because they are totally unrepentant.

    *sigh* Hell, nuke 'em. Simplest solution :)

  • Stock ticker symbols GPF and BSOD?
  • They do get into a load of marketing trouble if they were to hike their license fees on their IP since this customer unfriendly action would be reflected in revised TCO numbers and whadda ya know Windows becomes much more expensive than Unix.

    The fact that they were less expensive than the commercial Unix variants was one of their strong points on the volume low/medium segments of the market.

    Quietly, without much fanfare, I've been prepping to move our IT out from under MS's thumb into a standards based, platform neutral infrastructure. I doubt I'm the only Network Admin to be doing this.

    DB
  • Microsoft became more, larger than the government... The government did not like that... Microsoft is broken up...
  • *the* fundamental of western democracy is the division of the government and the judiciary. the government writes laws, the courts strike them down or uphold them.

    Our difference here is semantic. At least here in the US, we say the Legislature writes laws, and the Judiciary interprets them. These are deemed branches of the Government, along with the Executive branch. Lawmaking and judging are, of course, kept separate (or they're supposed to be... but that's a different rant). Perhaps you put things differently up north... but to my ear, it seems odd to say that the courts aren't part of the Goverment. They're certainly not private.

    in canada the prime minister (who has incredible powers compared to the u.s. president) appoints supreme court members himself, albeit from a list provided by the provincial law associations with regional restrictions-- ie. three must be from quebec, etc.

    In the US the president picks all federal judges, subject to the approval of congress. He generally picks the Supreme Court justices firsthand, and takes the advice of Governors and legislators from his own party on the lower positions. Congressional approval is usually a rubber-stamping, with a few notable exceptions.

    such a narrow selective process and yet canadian citizens have complete faith in their supreme court and judiciary. how do they do it?

    From your description of the gun control situation, I'm tempted to say, "low expectations". ;-)

    Seriously, though, we've had major problems, IMHO, with the whole scheme. Checks and balances only work when the branches of government remain in opposition to one another... if they begin to cooperate, things get messy. In the 20th century the US Executive branch began loading the Judiciary with people biased in favor of increasing the scope of Legislative power. Long, sordid story, and it's nowhere near over.

    they recently named the first woman supreme court chief justice in the world.

    We appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the US Supreme Court in 1981. Either your justice isn't the first, or you're very casual in your use of "recent". :-)

    may i also comment that this has been one of the more civil threads that i have ever seen on slashdot.

    Oh... wait a second, I forgot...

    YOU FOOL! YOU DISAGREE WITH ME? DIE!!!

    Ahh... much better. Forgot I was on Slashdot for a minute there!

    your signature doesn't sit well either. you're certainly right about the trade off between individual liberty and the greater good.

    I think I'd prefer to say, "the common good". I'm not sure I'd like to say there's a greater good than individual liberty.

    while on the subject of canada, somehow the banning of handguns and other firearms north of the border has impinged on the personal freedom to shoot each other and yielded the greater good of fewer broken families and lost friends.

    I'm pleased for you. My impression is that your country has indeed often chosen to limit individual liberty in the interests of what it believed was for the common good. It's well that such a place exists; if I wished to live in such a society, I could move there.

    I want to be free. I want to be left alone to order my own affairs as I see fit, so long as I don't prevent my neighbors from doing the same. And I want to own guns.

    As it happens, I don't at all believe that banning handguns in the US would stem violence (corroborating data available upon request). Frankly, even if it would, I would oppose it. I have no wish to trade liberty for security, and there ought to be a place for such people as I. People who shared this attitude founded the United States, and quite a few still live in it. We'll fight to keep it free.

    the idea of needing a gun to defend yourself from the government-- having that *enshrined* in our constitution-- to me is ludicrous. what happened to government of the people for the people?

    It has a nasty habit of turning into government upon the people and against the people. Privately held guns are at least something to help prevent that eventuallity. And actually, I see the fact that the goverment might try to take our guns as sure proof that we need guns to protect ourselves from the government.

    They are useful for defense against unlawful individuals as well. I don't wish to live in a place where I am not allowed the most practical means of self-defense.

    to me that would be like microsoft giving you are hammer to smash the monitor with so you would get less blue screens.

    Our government doesn't give us guns; we make and buy them ourselves. Your solution is a little more like Microsoft coming around to collect your hammers, so you don't damage your monitors.

    why not fix the problem of disconnection between the government and its people rather than coming up with an ultimately destructive escape hatch?

    First of all, I'd prefer the Government wasn't too closely connected to the people. I don't approve of mob rule... the masses are not much more benevolent dictators than individuals. I expect a government limited by constitutional principles.

    Secondly, the US government has the potential to run amok. Now granted you guys made us look bad in the 1812 War, but these days the Canadian Government seems an unlikely candidate for Global Despot... they'll just have to stick to overtaxing the Canadians.

    Our Goverment is proven dangerous, powerful, and getting more powerful. It's all very well to say, "well, change it, then!" but doing so's another matter. It's not in the nature of government to give away power.

    Anyway, there's a long rant for you. Pleasure hearing from you... though I'm not sure why you chose to make a thoughtful post as a Coward.

  • How can you just leave them alone when they are breaking laws? Nobody is _making_ them break laws. They know the rules, they are just ignoring them. Do they get to be above the law? If they get to be above those laws, where do you draw the line? Do they get to steal? Do they get to hire goons to break the fingers of competing programmers? Laws are there for a reason and the Sherman Act isn't stupid. It only starts to apply when things are already waaaaay out of line...

    How can you expect them not to pay the consequences from a court case in which they fscking FAKED EVIDENCE (thank you, David Boies, for spotting that!) Are they special somehow for being allowed to make up whatever evidence they like in the courts of the United States of America, or does anybody get to lie in court with no consequences whatsoever? Or do you have to be able to buy presidential elections in order to be able to outrank the judicial system and make a fscking mockery of our laws?

    Sorry, this is more important than techies at this point. They seriously went too far for my taste with some of those courtroom stunts. In some ways I am deeply unsatisfied with even the breakup and regulation because I seriously think some PEOPLE should be doing jail time- I'd like to see some of the people responsible for this arrogance jailed as felons. I don't think they deserve to be allowed to vote, I think they should spend the rest of their lives as convicted felons, with some of the privileges of citizenship DENIED them. I know several people who _are_ convicted felons who are more worthy citizens than the Microsoft brain trust.

  • Another revenuestream for MSOS would be to buy applications companies and to rebuild its App division (permitted under Section 1(c)(ii) of the decree)

    I'm confused, where are you seeing this? I guess if you read that it denies the Operating System buisness the right to develop an Internet Browser, you could assume that it by default gives them the right to produce anything else.???

  • by RISCy Business ( 27981 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @02:40PM (#1017850) Homepage
    I've been an opponent of the two way breakup since day one, and not because I don't like Microsoft. I really do hope this gets moderated up so that people will perhaps see this.

    Quite frankly, two companies is doing nothing. The 'applications group' definition is so blatantly ambiguous and vague that it's trivial for the applications group to say 'okay, we claim WebTV, all our cable company holdings, MSN, etcetera' and embed these kind of things within their applications, continuing to illegally support the applications side of the monopoly.

    The OS group will likely compensate by raising prices - there is absolutely no clause whatsoever in the ruling against unfair pricing for consumers and OEMs. Microsoft is not forced to justify costs in any way, shape, or form.

    The ruling also has a very severe loophole, which the OS group will be very quick to abuse. They know that in 10 years, if they don't win in appeals, they can get back together again. And they will. Now, what's this loophole? If you read over the ruling, Microsoft is not allowed to cause any "Middleware" to run at decreased performance levels or have difficulties with the OS, *EXCEPT* in the instance where they provide in writing a reason for this, and possible workarounds.

    There are NO requirements for what the reasoning must be whatsoever, or restrictions on workarounds. So, in other words, they will DELIBERATELY collaborate WITHOUT collaborating. Microsoft will claim that Office was DESIGNED for Windows and the competitors did NOT so they are trying to 'catch up' or some such nonsense. Or they may just say 'because we feel like it' and list 'only write for OUR OS' as a workaround. There are nowhere NEAR enough preclusions and restrictions against abusing existing market share.

    This ruling has more potential to cause HARM to consumers than anything else. It is VERY easy for the applications group to claim WebTV and abuse market share and marketing. There are so many ways for Microsoft's two groups to abuse this ruling *within the ruling's context* and get away with it.

    I have ALWAYS advocated a three-way split. Operating Systems, Applications, and Other and Internet Holdings. In case you didn't know, Microsoft owns *MANY* Internet properties, which are tailored EXCLUSIVELY to Internet Explorer. With the applications group in control of these properties and Internet Explorer, they can continue to do this. They also own a cable company that operates near/in DC as well as WebTV. Allowing the applications group to maintain/retain control of these properties and refusing to force them to divest themselves of these properties and/or splitting these properties into a seperate group will give the applications group a painful advantage.

    Assuming that the OS group does poorly, once the 10 years are up, the Applications group could merge with them again, or they could just build their own OS based on the OS group's code. There are no restrictions that will prevent Microsoft from regaining a monopoly within a month after the 10 year period has expired, much less a year. Once the 10 years are up, Microsoft will be back to their old ways.

    Do you really think this is teaching Microsoft a lesson? They've probably been hiring managers and high level people like mad for weeks leading up to this. All they have done in court is posture and lie. They have known for weeks they would lose and are counting on appeal. They're ready for a split if it comes down to it, and if not, they can simply fire the extras. They won't move, either. To move would cost them all credibility.

    Reguarding their stock, as a couple people have asked me, I am not an analyst, but I don't forsee their stock actually plummeting till they lose on appeal. Microsoft's cockiness, attitude, and general "we will get our way because we're the biggest thing America has going for it" (think about the tax revenue) seems to be contagious. Especially to investors. Combined with the sheer amount of shares within the company, this would tend to indicate low volume, maybe a sharp drop, but not a true freefall. Perhaps another point or two. However, Ballmer has damaged confidence and trust *SEVERELY* by filing to sell several million shares *BEFORE* the ruling was issued, as if knowing that the stock was going to plummet. This was released by the SEC today - they seem to be going out of their way, AND the DOJ (note how the ruling wasn't issued till AFTER close of the market?) to prevent a collapse in consumer confidence. Were consumer confidence in Microsoft to collapse, very VERY bad things could happen to the market, and with Microsoft's market cap and valuation, could trigger severe repercussions, in my opinion.

    I don't forsee this being out of the courts for at least two years - Jackson had the option to expedite the case to the Supreme Court on appeal (IANAL, that's just how I understood it) and chose not to, indicating another force towards not destroying consumer confidence. Maybe they're counting on everyone forgetting while Microsoft waits on their appeals to be heard. I'm not sure - I don't work for the gov't, and IANAL.

    Disclaimer: These are my views, not yours, not my employer's, etcetera, ad infinitum. Reproduction of this comment in whole or part is expressly prohibited without written or emailed consent. Emailed consent may be obtained by sending email to prj@nls.net [mailto]. Absolutely no commercial reproduction is permitted without written consent, so much as is allowed by Slashdot and VA Linux, formerly Andover.Net's "comments are owned by the poster" policy. No, I'm not anal - I'm just sick of my quotes being stolen. ;)

    =RISCy Business
  • and MS-OS will wind up being called "The Windows Operating System Company" or some similar name

    Doesn't exactly roll off your tongue, does it?

    Actually, I thought that, since they used to be called Microsoft, and now they are smaller, they should be called Nanosoft. :)

    But I capitulated when someone here suggested MICROS~1 and MICROS~2. Now that's funny!

    --

  • Windows can suceed now because of competetion forcing it to improve faster than it would without competition.

    I must say, I think you're missing the point. It is assuredly not the business of the US Government to look out for Microsoft's good, helping it to improve its products.

    Besides which, to say they'll improve their products isn't to say they'll succeed. Improving their products isn't their goal; making money is their goal. If the best product made the most money, several today's underdogs would be on top, along with numerous companies which died along the way.

    Q: Did AT&T's parts die after their breakup?

    Did AT&T make a living by marketing products with a shorter lifespan than a hamster?

  • Yes, but intellectual Property that is used both in a product developed, distributed, or sold by the Applications Business and in a product developed, distributed, or sold by the Operating Systems Business as of April 27, 2000, shall be assigned to the Applications Business, and the Operating Systems Business shall be granted a perpetual, royalty-free license to license and distribute such Intellectual Property in its products...

    This means that OS can continue to use COM without restrictions, they just don't own it :) I don't see what the problem is?
  • I don't think they have the monopoly on Internet content- or anything even remotely near it. My understanding was that MSNBC was basically about as strong as NBC was, and that while MSN and their content always got a boost from the heavy tie-ins, they just sucked at content, badly enough that people wouldn't settle for it. Without the ability to command obedience through wielding their market power (I'm talking "Obey us or... we won't run your banner ads on MSN") they don't have a monopoly.

    So they might as well keep the media stuff- they can go play with AOL/Time Warner *g* get used to the idea that they are allowed to still be slime, because the ruling _must_ restrict itself to the areas where MS is literally choking off all the air, and the venture capitalists are obliged to run every potential project by MS to see if it gets thumbs up and 'yawn, we will allow this to thrive- for a time' or thumbs down and 'I wouldn't- we're going to kill those people, don't invest in that'.

    MS media is _far_ from that powerful. Hence, it can go wherever they think it should go, and best of luck to it. Very likely it will continue to struggle for some time- and it's no longer so feasible to dump money into that stuff financed by OS/Office revenues. Some of these things will have to start paying their own way- that is the point.

  • Betcha Gates ends up on the apps side of things. Maybe leaving Ballmer hanging to rot over on the OS side. Maybe he'll even decide to be the CEO again...

    Who's going to compete against them? Lotus? Lotus software has been a joke ever since excel unseated 123. The free software programmers? They have a lot of potential, but not even a decent mail app at the moment. Betcha they also squat and shit their own platform independent GUI library within 2 weeks of getting split off from the Mother Company, too.

    The OS? Who cares once you have an easily portable GUI library. So what if you need to port it to Plan 9 or BeOS or CPM/2000. 93 million people are going to need SOME OS. Maybe you even make money selling that. Of course people will buy. It's MS2 after all...

  • I see a lot of people here being a bit exhuberant about this ruling. I tend to take everything with a grain of salt..

    I'm very far from being any kind of M$ advocate, but splitting up any company is just wrong. It is one thing to punish a company, it is wholly another matter to forceably split it in two. It is like capital punishment:

    the government decrees that this entity shall no longer exist, and poof! it longer exists. I hate microsoft, but this concept is scary to me.

    While I agree that they are not really that innovative, and that they have done some very illegal things, and that they might even be a monopoly, but a split-up is not the right way to go. There are a myriad of other remedies (opening the windows source code, fines, forcing them to port office to other platforms) that would benefit the marketplace much more than a breakup.

    Also, tell me what good does being required to publish interfaces do if they can still keep putting in secret hooks for their apps. Yes, their apps company will know about these hooks, and other apps companies won't... this will never change and it's futile to try to change it... If you force them to open up their IMPLEMENTATION, their SOURCE CODE, then you have actually transferred some power to the end user.


    Well, don't flame me just because I'm not all "yeah yeah let's dance in the streets" about this... I'd be curious to hear what rational people have to say...

    - jonathan.


    The Moral Majority was disbanded in 1989
  • I've done extensive work with extranets, SSL, and web applications here. Here is why the judge has separated the two:

    IE does things to the underlying OS that Netscape and any other browser does not. When you install it, it replaces the SSL libraries already on the system. It also replaces a large amount of system files.

    As a matter of fact, IE 5.01 will install half the SSL files and security permissions needed to access the supposed secure features of W2K, such as driver signing, encrypted file system, and the Certificate Authorities that w2k uses to authenticate.

    Netscape does not do this on any version. As a matter of fact, you can mix and match Netscape versions on your machine, which you CANNOT do under IE. Merrill Lynch, when they first released Merrill Lynch Online for Windows, shipped NS 3.04 because it did the least damage under 128-bit SSL to the system, and it worked.

    It is this level of integration that caused this issue in the first place. This is why they want to separate the two between two companies. This level of integration is a NIGHTMARE to all of us who have to deal with SSL. I would prefer to have it so the following happens:

    1. I can install multiple versions of IE on a machine, which this will guarantee if this goes through. I now have to have multiple machines to do this, because VMware is slow, especially when emulating IE 5.5 or W2K.

    2. The underlying OS will not dictate certain brower functionality and vice versa. IE is notorious for changing the functionality of a system depending on the version.

    3. SSL will not screw up a system anymore, and will not install things you do not need or will not use (hopefully!).

    AOL & Netscape are APPLICATIONS, no matter how you say it. IE does things to the OS. Netscape does not. AOL does what it has to to the dial-up networking stack because MS's is incredibly flaky and will not work on all computers. AOL is the only application I know of that will work on all computers installed with Windows without the usual major issues of the MS TCP/IP stack. They did an awesome job with it.

    I am glad some people see the light and know what MS has done here, which causes all sorts of issues that developers and integrators have to work around because they call it "innovation". This work with IE smacks of typical strong-arm tactics that turned developers away from them.
  • The Sherman Act defines in great detail what is and is not a monopoly, and how a monopoly may and may not be used legally.

    It does? I just read it and reread it, and I can find nowhere a definition of a monopoly. Please point this out.

  • His reaction to the decision, read the transcript here [cnn.com].
  • Actually, I believe that as soon as a company's sales represent a certain fixed percentage (over 75?) of a given market, they are a monopoly, in the legal sense.

    I stand corrected... it would appear that they are, from a legal standpoint, a monopoly. Let me put it another way.

    I submit that a legal definition, such as this, is a formalization of a common definition. We commonly use the word, "murder", in a certain imprecise but meaningful fashion. Legally OTOH, murder has necessary and sufficient conditions.

    Microsoft has viable competition. The people have choices... mine, for instance, is Debian. Calling such a situation a monopoly is like accusing someone of murdering a still-living person. If it's legally true, the law's wacky.

    What they argued was whether they had used that monopoly to alter other business transactions in their favor.

    And this is clearly nebulous. :-) What kind of a law is that? You can have a monopoly, but you can't use it... and you, the company, are responsible for figuring out what that means.

    But putting aside the (to me, real) issue of whether it's a bad law, I'm far from convinced that splitting up Microsoft is an appropriate "remedy". As Reality Master 101 points out, Antitrust laws ARE NOT PUNATIVE. They are remedial.

    And picking and choosing who is a criminal isn't the government's job, it's the court's job.

    The court is part of the government. But I think I should be more clear than to say, "pick and choose". When I speak of picking and choosing, I mean when:

    1. Laws are passed which do not apply categorically
    2. People are selectively prosecuted, or
    3. The courts do not apply the laws uniformly to the accused.

    When laws are vaguely written, people can easily be selectively prosecuted for violating them. You can write laws so that everyone is a criminal... if you can then pick and choose who to prosecute, you've got tyrrany.

    You're right, you surely don't understand the nuances of the case very well. You don't even understand the roles of the major players.

    But ya know what? That's okay. That doesn't make you a bad person, or ignorant, or a fool. It just means you are underinformed. Join the club--there are lots of us.

    You argue couthly... I appreciate the courtesy.

    In my own reductive view, there are only two major players. The People of the US (moreso those of certain states than others), and Microsoft. Laws are in place which limit the freedom of economic activity, in the economic interests of the people.

    That doesn't qualify me to decide the case, but I can certainly evaluate, in a general way, the justice and efficacy of the laws, and the way in which they're being enforced.

    I disagree with you that this is troubling, for two reasons. First, Microsoft got what they deserved.

    By this argument, you can throw out due process entirely, so long as someone gets what they deserve. You could justify lynchings that way.

    Second, it won't have much appreciable effect one way or the other.

    Again, the end directly justifying the means. You're probably right... I don't see how MS can beat the Free Software movement. But there's a big difference between losing a fight and being forced to forfeit.

  • its not about whether microsoft are a monopoly, or whether they have competition.

    its about what they did to stifle competition using powers that only a monopoly has, and how they tried to use their monopoly in one market to create a monopoly in another.

    I'm sorry, that makes no sense whatsoever. Any questions as to how they used their monopoly powers is predicated upon the assumption that they had a monopoly. And whether they had a monopoly is a question of whether they have competition.

    being a monopoly isnt illegal, what microsoft did was and they must be stopped from doing it further

    Of course, whether it should be illegal is at issue here. And yeah, wouldn't all hell break loose if Microsoft were to give away yet more software. Sheesh.

    and punished for their crimes as well.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there's no question of punishing Microsoft here. Antitrust laws are not punitive. They are remedial.

    simple as that

    Your opinion is simple indeed.

  • Well its generally precident that in anti-trust cases, the verdict is not supposed to be punishment, but remedial in nature. In other words Microsoft isn't being punished (and if they were the punishment would have been harsh,) but simply the desisions by the courts are indented to fix the problem and help everyone, even possibly Bill Gates if he handles the split right, could continue to make even more money.
  • "Ex post facto" law, as interpreted in the Constitution, is a retroactive criminal law that increases the penalty.

    I appreciate the interesting point. I looked the matter up. The US Constitution forbids both Congress and the States to make ex post facto laws, without distinguishing between criminal and civil laws. (Aritcle I, Section IX, Clause III, and Article I, Section X, Clause I).

    Disturbingly enough, however, you're right... the interpretation that these clauses apply only to criminal laws goes back to 1789, Calder vs. Bull.

    I am appalled. The more I learn about the constitution, and the way it's been (mis)interpreted, the spookier it all gets. Thank you for pointing this out.

    Obviously, MS is not in criminal court, and so your argument of sacrificing an important principle is, in this case, invalid.

    Actually, I maintain that an important principle is being violated. It cannot be just to punish people (or companies) for violating either secret or yet-unwritten laws. I didn't realize, however, that such a state of affairs was the status quo.

    As far as "picks and chooses who is a criminal", that's called legal judgement. It's the foundation upon which our entire system is based :).

    I guess I'm not sure what you mean. Selective enforcement of laws is certainly illegal, however.

  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @04:59PM (#1017901) Homepage
    <i>IE is based on MOSAIC....</i>

    IE actually grew from Spyglass's version of Mosiac, but it's so ridiculously unfair to deny the order of magnitude improvement that IE3 was. For crying out loud, it had the first good JVM *anywhere*.

    IE would have destroyed Netscape without the dirty tricks. Problem was, they got greedy and tried to both co-opt HTML(thus dooming IE4) and enforce compliance By Any Means Necessary.

    They just didn't need to.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • Of course, a big reason that Linux (and BeOS, and possibly the revival of Macintosh) got so successful is that they were given their chance to come out and not be strangled to death when M$ got hauled into court. Otherwise, those OEM deals would have been very stifling.

    --
    grappler
  • Wrong, Microsoft may not be a monopoly in the server space, where Linux is competing most, but nobody claimed that.

    I'm not so sure there's a valid distinction to be made between the two, for the purposes of this argument, but let's pass on that...

    OTOH MS is still a monopoly in the desktop space, where the only real competition now could be Apple and maybe BeOS, Linux is only entering this and is far from being mature (but its coming).

    I daresay, Linux is running quite a few more desktops than BeOS, mature or not. In any case, Windows is certainly not the only choice a person has for their desktop, so they're not a monopoly in that sense, at least. And as far as I can tell, that's the only sense in which the consumer needs any protection here.

    Don't worry, any suit seems nebulous when you are not a lawyer,

    And often, I'm told, if you are. Let me rephrase that... this one seems more nebulous than most. :-)

    this is because the law got out of our reach, whic is bad IMHO.

    Amen, Brother!

    I don't like the Government meddling with technology either but I still think that the anti-trust laws are still up to date.

    The more I think and read about it, the more I think they're not. The Sherman Act... we're talking about a document intended to keep a company from limiting the supply of a physical good in order to raise prices. It's being applied in a situation where the company in question is only too happy to produce as many copies of their software as anyone will buy... and their great anti-competitive act was to drop their prices to zero! Something's amiss here.

    perhaps I'm wrong and MS does deserve what's tantamount to a death penalty.

    They have. It is not as if they weren't told it was wrong.

    Yeah, they surely were guilty of all the antics you list. The real question, to me, is more about the power of the US Government than Microsoft's scruple shortage. Saying that MS flaunted the laws doesn't answer whether the laws are just.

    Oh, BTW, have you kids? Pretend yes for one minute.
    Let's say that you caught your kid doing very bad things.
    Let's say that he ask for forgiveness and you grant it.
    Let's say you catch him again doing the same thing.
    Let's say he deny everything despite ample proofs of the contrary.

    Would you let him go away easily?

    With this characterization I totally disagree. The US Government is not our parent, and we are not its children. We are adults, governed, supposedly, by our own consent.

    Had I children, they would not be secure in their effects against search and seizure on my part. I would not hesitate to ask them self-incriminating questions, and demand answers. They would not be permitted to speak in any fashion they pleased. They are children, and are ruled by their elders, not governed by their elected peers.

    There is a growing paternalism in the US Government, which I find most offensive. They're not supposed to be protecting us from ourselves, or deciding who's naughty and scolding them back into the fold. They're supposed to be protecting our rights, and enforcing our contracts and clearly defined, categorically applied laws.

    Seriously, they cannot arrest you directly but with the current trend in copyright/patent/trademark/intellectual property laws in general companies (MS included) will have enough powers to put you in jail at a whim because it would be next to impossible not to break these law and to still have a spark of liberty left.

    This, however, is really the fault of the government. They're the ones who put you in jail, and who make and enforce unjust laws. So no, it's still not MS I have cause to fear, IMHO.

    A government which picks and chooses who is a criminal is another story. Isn't that the role of a governmnet?

    This has come up elsewhere, so I believe I should have been clearer in my diction. No, they don't pick and choose, in the sense that they should never have discretionary power over enforcing laws. The role of the Legislature is to make clear, generally applicable laws. The role of the Executive is to bring charges, uniformly, without favor, against anyone who seems to violate those laws. The role of the Judiciary is to decide whether those laws have indeed been broken.

    It should never be the case that the Legislature makes laws which are vague, aimed against individuals, or which make the whole population criminal. The Executive must not choose to prosecute one fellow but not another, according to their desires. Nor should the courts play favorites, or interpret law to suit their purpose. These things I mean by picking and choosing.

  • I do like microsoft.

    Yes... I notice your post was number 666 as well! ;-)

    I didn't want to post this myself for fear of mindless flaming and ridiculous moderation (as I've already seen).

    Yeah... that's a sad state of affairs. I half expected it myself.

  • by Freshman ( 9729 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:50AM (#1017993) Homepage
    Brief: jozz.com [jozz.com]

    Detailed: jozz.com [jozz.com]

  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:03AM (#1018019) Homepage
    Let's take a closer look and do some analysis:

    1) Split up into two companies is based on what the two portions of the company were doing as of Apr 27, 2000. No saying "Hey, Office is part of the OS"

    Interpreted literally, this would mean a "Microsoft employees counting the days until they vest their stock and retire" company, and a "Microsoft employees biding their time to pad their resume" company. Those are the two biggest functional splits at MS.

    2) The 2 NewCo. may not recombine, enter into Joint Ventures, provide APIs to each other that are not available to other ISVs.. or basically collude.

    Big deal, the developers on the never-gonna-ship netdocs project don't even share API's with their PM.

    3) The OS company cannot know OEMs for supporting other OS's, OEM's can change the boot up sequence.
    Cannot know? Do you mean know in the biblical sense? That would explain why Michael Dell is so submissive and obedient.

    4) 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
    In a timely manner is the sticking point. Microsoft's arguement is that they've never delivered anything in a timely manner before, and this would constitute undue hardship.

    --Shoeboy
    I don't work for microsoft anymore.

    (former microserf)
  • by Seanasy ( 21730 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:53AM (#1018023)
    6) MS has to create an internal position to monitor antitrust compliance within the company (boy, there's a sucky job...)

    Are you kidding? Get paid to be a constant pain in the ass to corporate executives! Where's my resume....

  • by chrisd ( 1457 ) <chrisd@dibona.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:55AM (#1018043) Homepage
    So if the company is broken up, which one served Slashdot with a cease and desist?
    --
    Grant Chair, Linux Int.
    Pres, SVLUG
  • by kaphka ( 50736 ) <1nv7b001@sneakemail.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:06AM (#1018044)
    They tuck this little bit in at the end, even though it seems to me that it's the core of the ruling: (excuse the long quote)
    "Applications Business" means all businesses carried on by Microsoft Corporation on the effective date of this Final Judgment except the Operating Systems Business. Applications Business includes but is not limited to the development, licensing, promotion, and support of client and server applications and Middleware (e.g., Office, BackOffice, Internet Information Server, SQL Server, etc.), Internet Explorer, Mobile Explorer and other web browsers, Streaming Audio and Video client and server software, transaction server software, SNA server software, indexing server software, XML servers and parsers, Microsoft Management Server, Java virtual machines, Frontpage Express (and other web authoring tools), Outlook Express (and other e-mail clients), Media player, voice recognition software, Net Meeting (and other collaboration software), developer tools, hardware, MSN, MSNBC, Slate, Expedia, and all investments owned by Microsoft in partners or joint venturers, or in ISVs, IHVs, OEMs or other distributors, developers, and promoters of Microsoft products, or in other information technology or communications businesses.
    Most of these are uncontroversial, but quite a few aren't.

    Internet Explorer was a done deal, I suppose. No point in even discussing it.

    Java virtual machines? Every major OS has now successfully integrated Java, but now Windows can't? Does that mean I have to run my Java apps within IE, or application providers have to include a VM with their package?

    Server software? I'm ambivalent about this. From an engineering standpoint, most server software probably can't be considered part of the OS. But for practical purposes, I think it makes sense to allow that. Especially since putting the server software in the same company as the client software defeats much of the purpose of the ruling.

    Developer tools? I'm also ambivalent about this, for the opposite reason: I think compilers should be considered part of the OS, but I can see the danger in that arrangement.

    Indexing server software? Does that mean ActiveDirectory, or whatever it's called? I don't know much about server systems, but isn't that basically NT's security system? It would be very dangerous to have security separated from the OS.

    Voice recognition software? Oh well, I guess it'll be another few decades before we can talk to our computers. (SR won't become universal if it's not supported by the OS.)

    "Client Applications"? No more command-line ftp? How about ping? More seriously, what about Windows file sharing? A server OS isn't worth much if it's not allowed to serve files.

    Well, that's enough for now. As I've said before, I think splitting up Microsoft is a good thing in and of itself. (I'm not sure that the government should have that power, though.) But they need to do some more work on the line between the two companies.
  • by remande ( 31154 ) <remande@bigf o o t.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:06AM (#1018046) Homepage
    All true, but there is one problem. While the DoJ can request that the US Supreme Court take the case and jump past the appeals courts, the US Supreme Court is under no obligation to take the case.

    That is, the Supreme Court can tell the DoJ to shove it through appeals like everybody else.

    I don't know the Justices well enough to determine whether they are likely to, but I just know that they can.

  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:57AM (#1018073) Homepage
    Microsoft has consistenly leveraged its size and its popularity in both its OS and its various document management tools("document" including MPEG-4 video streams, mind you.)

    Lets say a breakup is completed. Exactly what prevents this leverage from being executed?

    So Microsoft Office gets ported to new platforms...this is new? Microsoft has been willing to port its code to popular alternatives to their Windows OS for quite some time--they're even starting to do a semi-decent job of it on the Mac. After all, why let any other Office vendor take over a market?

    Splitting Microsoft will probably have the effect of making somewhat riskier steps(i.e. Media Player for an Operating System that MS/OS is seeking to prevent from gaining market acceptance) more feasable. But overall, I can't imagine either corporate culture changing significantly merely because of a simple division.

    The split does not solve problems. At best, the split helps enforce whatever primary remedies Jackson can put into place--and considering the culture of MS is at least partially, "We know what's right, and we're smart enough to get around any loosely worded agreement that prevents us from doing that right", compliance is going to be damn near impossible without some truly intrusive measures.

    Splitting the company isn't intrusive. It's just a bureaucratic structure.

    My first thought would have to be, no matter how the split occurs, an outside board needs to be able to demand with force of law that any programmatically interesting function that's been left undocumented be remedied. The NT authentication functions, required for remote management, come to mind. This is a good example of Microsoft's technical acumen obscured by their business distrust.

    It's funny, some Linux people say Microsoft can't code, can't innovate, can't do anything right. And Microsoft agrees. It must be so depressing to work in an office where your code is presumed to be so bad by your own coworkers that they'd go so far as to revoke Compaq's write to sell Windows just because they couldn't imagine that the product was good enough to eventually dominate a market on its own merits.

    We shouldn't be directing our regulatory furor against the coders--honestly, they've done some damn good work over there at Microsoft, and about all they've got for it was ten instances of "innovation" per paragraph, followed by chants of "by any means necessary". Microsoft's business side needs to be muzzled--and the bottom line is, splitting one ravenous horde into two still leaves you with two ravenous hordes.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:10AM (#1018090) Homepage
    C|Net [cnet.com]'s hack got a market analyst to ballpark the prices of the two MSFT companies.



    The OS group would be at about $17/share, with earnings in the three-quarters of a dollar range.



    The Applications group would be about $40/share, with earnings above a dollar per share.



    What will be most interesting is to witness the impact this has on other stocks. If the WIndowsOS is only worth $17, then what's BeOS worth? Bugger all... (and this is, perhaps, accurately reflected in its current pricing).

    --

  • by / ( 33804 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:58AM (#1018096)
    The ultimate irony would be for someone to write a new outlook virus that distributes a copy of the court order to each computer before propagating itself. Any script kiddies working on it yet?
  • by CacheMonkey ( 196990 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:59AM (#1018099) Homepage
    No, I think many may agree with me, the IE does not have as much value as you say...especially over the 2 portions. Remember:AOL is out of the CONTRACT or whatever they had with Microsoft (i dont know what it was, doesnt matter anyway), and now the world's largest ISP's browser (as well as the worst) will be Netscape...this brings usage of IE down dramatically. Damn, I imagine we all expected the overwhelming user response to this, this will EASILY surpass the previous records, and it goes to Emmett, very smooth...
  • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:29AM (#1018101) Homepage
    You need to read the original decision where he found for the DOJ. Basically most of the behaviour of Microsoft for the last 10-15 years has been aimed at preserving the OS monopoly.

    e.g. directX - this is an obscure interface to ensure that games HAVE to be written for Windows. That's why they give it away for free- its not out of the goodness of their heart- its because it locks games into Windows. hint: what OS do most of your friends have on their PCs? Bet it isn't Linux... "I only use Windows to play games."

    'Regardless, the Court of Appeals has historically been more favorable toward Microsoft than Judge Jackson, so I have no doubts Microsoft will WIN their appeal'

    Lets just say that if they do it will be the biggest legal upset since OJ Simpson. The case is overwhelming. It would taking a simply amazing screw up on behalf of Judge Jackson for them to get away with it.

    "You think Microsoft-Apps will port Office to Linux? Why would they?"

    If they think they can make money that way then of course they will- that arm of the company couldn't before because the company overall would have lost money.

    There are companies out there installing Linux right now. If the market gets big enough- they will have to. It's the only way they can ensure their continued monopoly for one thing...

  • by Battra ( 65036 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:59AM (#1018111)
    This has the potential to really change things. The one really brilliant piece of the ruling that I have not seen publicized enough is that one company will get Windows, and the other will get all the development tools.

    This means that Windows, Inc will finally have to fully document their APIs. The tools to code for Windows will be in the hands of someone else. This means that anyone wanting to port gcc, yacc, or whatever will have the same level of access to the internals that the applications company will have.

    It doesn't go as far as forcing them to open up the Office file formats, but this will make tricks like the Kerberos nonsense much harder to pull off.
  • by aphrael ( 20058 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:11AM (#1018114) Homepage
    2) The 2 NewCo. may not recombine, enter into Joint Ventures, provide APIs to each other that are not available to other ISVs.. or basically collude.

    Which brings up an interesting question: what happens to further development on COM/COM+? The technology is *integral* to the functioning of the office products; it's also, in recent years, been repositioned to be essential to the operating system as well.

    Under the literal terms of the judgement, the shared IP goes to the office division --- which may make sense legally, but is absurd technologically.

    I wonder if this is part of why Visual Studio 7 has been so delayed?
  • by SwellJoe ( 100612 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:12AM (#1018117) Homepage
    Yeah, we all hate Microsoft. I haven't seen a BSOD in two years and haven't missed it one bit. But really, do we want the government (the folks who brought us $900 hammers and $15,000 battle fax machines...not to mention Social Insecurity, national forests that get eaten by timber companies while we pay for the roads they drive on) deciding how businesses--especially technology companies--will be structured and organized?

    Microsoft is already going to lose. All of us are making sure of that. Why let the government set the rules of this game? Whenever they do, the folks who line their pockets get the rules they want. It's just insanity to let government infringe on the industry that has made this country richer than it ever imagined it could be.

    I don't like it. And I'm not convinced that this isn't going to open the door to even more regulation of the computer industry. Government people are never satiated. They start a feeding frenzy and don't stop until they've killed an industry (i.e. railroads in the US) or regulated it to a place where they hold all the cards (i.e. power, airlines, door to door letter mail, etc.).

    Is that really where we want our industry to end up? Under the thumb of power hungry bureaucrats with no skill or knowledge except how to claw their way to the top of the Washington dung heap...

    It's not where I want us to be.

  • by Rombuu ( 22914 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:01AM (#1018120)
    According to the ruling, they all go with the "applications" company.

    The Operating Systems co, is just operating systems. Everything else goes the other way.
  • by Anomalous Canard ( 137695 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:01AM (#1018121)
    Both Gore and Bush have publicly stated that they are against these proceedings. Once they put in their own AG it's all over.

    We've heard this before and it is total BS. There are also 19 state attorney generals who are co-plaintiffs in the case. Even if a new USAG is named, the 19 state AGs would have to agree to any modification. Not that anyone can at this point. The judge has entered a final order. Barring him being overturned on appeal, the proverbial fat lady has sung.

    But, even more importantly, this will all be settled before a new AG is named. The SCotUS will hear the appeal in the fall and rubber stamp the decision. Microsoft is going down.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • by Anomalous Canard ( 137695 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:14AM (#1018152)
    It will be years and years before this gets enforced.

    Not a chance. The breakup is scheduled for 1 year from today. It will happen on time. I predict that this will be appealed directly to the Supreme Court which will rubber stamp the decision this fall. The finding of fact is hugely damaging. The SCotUS will review the finding, but not challange it. The finding of law is equally strong. It will stand on appeal. This case was prepared to be appealed. It will stand because it is all true.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • by bridgette ( 35800 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:49AM (#1018169)
    M$ isn't getting split simply because they are big. They are getting split because they used their position as a monoploy in illegal ways. They could have remained a big powerful monopoly forever if they simply refrained from illegal tactics. They had plenty of chances to become compliant with the law, yet thumbed their noses at all of them. The basic princples of anti-trust law aren't all that complex. Their team of pedigreed lawyers are perfectly capable of compehending whether a given action is probably in violation. I imagine that the orders from the top were to either 1) ignore the sherman act since it can't possibly apply to a software company (what-ever!) and/or 2) figure out how to get away with as much as possible while still being able to have some sort of technicality based defence (kinda like the kids who fill in random numbers on their math homework and claim that they "did" their homework)

    There are other huge monoploies that are not AFAIK not participating in illegal activity. The justice dept. may check up on them once in a awhile but doesn't go after them. Although, I think that threatened monopolies are very tempted to violate anti-trust law, rather than loose market share (*cough* intel *cough*)

    I believe that we have the Regan administration to thank for all the media mergers (might be Bush though). FCC regulations were severly weakened in the 1980's allowing for the media merger madness of the last few decades. Unfotunately, these mergers allow for conlicts of interest and fiscal streamlining that seriously degrade the quality of journalism, without violating anti-trust law. The print and TV news has gone from crappy to downright embarrassing in my (short) lifetime and I shudder to think of what it will look like when I'm elderly.

    btw, the court can decide to fast-track any apeals directly to the supreme court. whether this will happen hasn't been announced yet. some speculate that it will fast track since M$ will appeal for-e-ver if need be and a speedy resolution would benefit customers, competitors and the economy.

    for names i vote for "crap" and "more crap"
  • by / ( 33804 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:41AM (#1018188)
    For those who can't do PDF, here's the HTML version [gpo.gov]. Grab it before it gets slashdotted by the entire world.
  • by dogbyte12 ( 137317 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:41AM (#1018193)
    It will be years and years before this gets enforced. The estimates I have heard are around 2 years for this to go through the appeals process. I just skimmed the ruling now, and it appears that Microsoft has a year after the final ruling to comply. I wonder if any lawyers here know if Microsoft still gets that year after the appeals are through, or is it 12 months or whenever the appeals are done, which ever comes last. Either way, expect 2 to 3 years for this break up to occur, if and only if Microsoft loses its appeals.
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:41AM (#1018214) Homepage Journal
    I dont like Microsoft. Go Government. Wait a sec, I don't like the the government either. Go...ahh, just go.

    --
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:37AM (#1018229) Homepage Journal
    I think Gates realized that it was only a matter of time before Windows was going fall and wanted a graceful way to get rid of the OS and all the Windows programmers without taking heat from the share holders or the Open Source Community, who would surely have taunted him most brutally given his previous stance on Linux and Windows. I could see the OS division dying off shortly after this judgement takes effect. Whatcha wanna bet the defense team screws up the appeal (or they decide not to appeal) as badly as they screwed up this case?

    Some other thoughts:

    2.b.iii of the judgement looks like it'll kill off embrace and extend. No more MS-Kerberos type games.

    3.b.iii An OEM can look at the Source (In a restricted enviornment) for the sole purpose of interoperability. Cool.

    4.b I'd like to Volunteer for the job of Compliance Coordinator. We can work out a suitably exhorbitant salary later. I'm perfectly suited for the job and would coordinate compliance with the ferocity of a rabid pit bull.

  • by Freshman ( 9729 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:42AM (#1018231) Homepage
    They have a year from today if they don't appeal. But, they will. If they still lose their appeals, they will have exactly 1 year to do the splitup.

    This has got to be a bad day for Bill Gates :P
  • by kevin805 ( 84623 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:18AM (#1018232) Homepage
    Why? Because you would prefer it that way?

    Sorry, in this country, you have to prove that a corporation has broken the law before you can do something like that (well, in theory). Microsoft has been convicted of a very specific action: using dominance in the OS market to put the smackdown on competing applications. This justifies separating the operating system business out from the rest of the company.

    Saying, "microsoft broke anti-trust law, so it's a free for all" is the same thing as saying "he got busted for smoking a joint, let's seize his house." Or almost the same, because the second actually happens. If you don't like big companies, don't do business with them.

    It's not intended to be a breakup into two equal parts. Microsoft is being ordered to divest itself of the OS division. Presumably, certification would go with this (the certs are more closely tied to the OS than the Apps). Read the decision, it's short.

    Of course, I would definitely prefer to see the DOJ broken up, maybe into a "harrassing business" division, and a "shooting members of undesirable religions" division. But the decision is entirely reasonable. *IF* Microsoft is going to be broken up (i.e. dump operating systems), the decision is a well designed way to do that.

    --Kevin
  • by mikpos ( 2397 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:58AM (#1018249) Homepage
    For those of you who use Freenet [sourceforge.net], I have inserted the HTML version of the ruling with the key text/microsoft/ms-final.html. If there's one thing the Slashdot effect won't affect, it's Freenet. Hopefully :).
  • by Skald ( 140034 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:38AM (#1018252)
    Well, since I appear to be a lone soul with a dissenting opinion, I'd might as well blurt it out. I think this is dreadful.

    Which is not to say I like Microsoft... I certainly don't. But if you love freedom, you have to be prepared to speak out for your enemies.

    Microsoft is not a monopoly. It might have been closer to a monopoly when it assaulted Netscape, but it's obviously not so now. Linux (okay, okay, GNU/Linux), is prospering happily alongside Windows, and the movement has spawned its own little industry. And it's free, for crying out loud, in every sense. I, for one, don't doubt for a moment that Linux would trounce Windows on its own merits, given more time. Besides, there are other fine, though less popular, alternatives.

    Instead, we're to see the US Government step in. Now I'm no lawyer, but these antitrust laws seem to me pretty darned nebulous... and if a law is vague enough, it's as good as allowing ex post facto prosecution. Sure Microsoft is scuzzy. That's what makes this action so popular... but are we sacrificing an important principle which would protect us later? I'm surprised to find so many Slashdotters hailing government for meddling with technology, using all those oft-maligned outdated laws, simply because this time it suits their purposes.

    I don't know. I surely don't understand the nuances of this case very well, so perhaps I'm wrong and MS does deserve what's tantamount to a death penalty.

    But what fear have I of Microsoft? They cannot arrest me or take my property. A government which picks and chooses who is a criminal is another story.

  • by chandler ( 98984 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:42AM (#1018256) Homepage
    This does not bode well for the future of large corporations. The last few decades, business wise, have been about companies merging into redicuously large entities, and not just Microsoft, but AOL/Time Warner, ABC/Disney, and others. It seems that the Justice Department has taken it upon itself to split up these companies into smaller bits. Given recent mergers [slashdot.org] of other giants that shouldn't have been allowed to merge, do you think that perhaps we should prevent these mergers that lead to monopolistic bullies before the DoJ has to deal with it?

    Secondly, is it true or not true that the appeal will or can be pushed directly to the Supreme Court?

    On a lighter note, any news on the planned names for the two companies?

  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:20AM (#1018271)
    Perhaps more troubling, there is nothing to prevent MS-OS from releasing new versions of the applications it 'divested' to MS-AP (i.e. creating or buying a new 'Office' and integrating it to the OS, as before) MS-OS will have a full permanent unlimited license on all current source, tools and other intellectual property related to integrating the divested Apps to the OS, but it won't have to share any *new* info/APIs/etc. with MS-AP.

    The clause that explicitly prohibits MS-OS from releasing new versions of IE clearly grants MS-OS the right to release new versions of any other MS-App by default (see below). They may even be able to call it MS-Word (or whatever) depending on whether trademark is considered a business element of MS-AP (as I would argue) or an intellectual property (under the full unlimited license)

    I would have expected the Judge to ban the 'Privileged App syndrome' more broadly (i.e. to lock MS-OS out of more than just the browser) The wording would be a little tricky, but that's a lawyer's stock-in-trade.

    I'm not saying we'll see a wholesale regeneration of MS-Office, MS-BackOffice, etc. but I wouldn't be surprised if MS-OS tries to cherry pick, to its advantage. Buying new programs to replace the lost apps is easy for MS-OS. Buying privileged access back is explicitly banned for MS-AP.

    In theory, all the 'talent/experience' behind MS apps will be reassigned to MS-AP, but we'll have to see how personnel are actually divided, won't we? The programming talent that produced the newly purchased programs will largely come along with the buyout.


    1(c)(ii). Intellectual Property that is used both in a product developed, distributed, or sold by the Applications Business and in a product developed, distributed, or sold by the Operating Systems Business as of April 27, 2000, shall be assigned to the Applications Business, and the Operating Systems Business shall be granted a perpetual, royalty-free license to license and distribute such Intellectual Property in its products, and, except with respect to such Intellectual Property related to the Internet browser, to develop, license and distribute modified or derivative versions of such Intellectual Property, provided that the Operating Systems Business does not grant rights to such versions to the Applications Business. In the case of such Intellectual Property that is related to the Internet browser, the license shall not grant the Operating Systems Business any right to develop, license, or distribute modified or derivative versions of the Internet browser.
  • by srcosmo ( 73503 ) <.ultramegatron. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @12:02PM (#1018295) Journal
    How about MICROS~1 and MICROS~2 :)
    Catchy, no?
  • by Salamander ( 33735 ) <jeff AT pl DOT atyp DOT us> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @12:02PM (#1018300) Homepage Journal
    >do you think that perhaps we should prevent these mergers that lead to monopolistic bullies before the DoJ has to deal with it

    Nice thought. Been done.

    Mergers and acquisitions are already reviewed with an eye toward the danger of the new entity controlling a large enough share of one or more interlocked markets that it can unfairly block out competition. In many cases approval is in fact withheld, or the merged entity is required to divest itself of certain elements, as is currently the case with AT&T buying MediaOne. This process seems to work rather well, its only major flaw being that it does not apply to a company - such as Microsoft - that achieves its size/influence through plain old growth rather than mergers and acquisitions.

    One objection to the current situation is that requiring approval for a merger or acquisition is a form of prior restraint, disallowing actions not because they are illegal but because they create conditions in which something illegal _might_ happen. Being big is not illegal. Even being a monopoly is not illegal. _Using_ your size or monopoly position to stifle competition is what's illegal, which is why Microsoft keeps trying to claim that they achieved their position via innovation. That's not just PR; it's a very specific legal argument. Unfortunately, as we can see from the Microsoft case, addressing antitrust behavior after the fact is extremely time-consuming and potentially costly to everyone, so this may (arguably) be a case where nipping things in the bud is justified even though it violates a cherished "no prior restraint" principle.
  • by SomeGuyFromCA ( 197979 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:41AM (#1018303) Journal
    Yech. Damn HTML.

    That should have read:

    On a lighter note, any news on the planned names for the two companies?

    I was thinking Micros~1 and Micros~2.

    --

    The success of Win 9x does not surprise me. Many people wouldn't know a decent OS if it bit them on the -- OW! HEY! Where'd that fscking *penguin* come from?

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @12:02PM (#1018324) Homepage
    The hardware group is the only group that's not a threat to anyone. In fact, it's a group that really is innovative and does not have a monopoly. Ironically, it's the most innovative part of the company, and it has the least integration.

    A reasonable and educated person might very well claim that this is not at all ironic- it's the expected result. Monopolies in general tend not to be innovative- they focus on protecting their monopoly and sucking up buyers' cash rather than developing better products. Microsoft's hardware division actually has to compete with other companies for business, so it has to provide products that are good enough to convince people to buy them instead of the competetion.

  • by superape23 ( 56097 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:43AM (#1018338)
    Bill Gates said today of his estranged operating systems unit, " I never liked the bitch and I was only in it for the sex. All my friends told me to dump the tramp years ago, I look forward to playing the field again."
  • by Rombuu ( 22914 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:43AM (#1018341)
    Some highlights:

    From the Final Judgement [uscourts.gov]

    1) Split up into two companies is based on what the two portions of the company were doing as of Apr 27, 2000. No saying "Hey, Office is part of the OS"

    2) The 2 NewCo. may not recombine, enter into Joint Ventures, provide APIs to each other that are not available to other ISVs.. or basically collude.

    3) The OS company cannot know OEMs for supporting other OS's, OEM's can change the boot up sequence.

    4) 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

    5) Microsoft shall not take any action that it knows will interfere with or degrade the performance of any non-Microsoft Middleware when interoperating with any Windows Operating System Product

    6) MS has to create an internal position to monitor antitrust compliance within the company (boy, there's a sucky job...)

    Very interesting stuff.... nothing too surprising though...
  • hmm, we're on the trolling borderline, here, aren't we?

    I do not like the precendent that the judge is setting.

    precisely what precendent would that be? trustbusting is a time-honored tradition, with plenty of precendent and law to support it. why should the software industry be exempt from a good chunk of corporate law?

    Involuntarily splitting up a software company certainly limits freedom to innovate or create products

    it certainly limits their ability to perform activities that were illegal under anti-monopoly statues, and they have clearly shown that they're not going to reform their actions short of that. thus "regulated marketplace" steps in. they've lost some freedoms, yes. punishment for breaking the law generally involves some loss of freedom, for some odd reason -- the reasoning has something to do with preventing future occurances of illegal behavior.

    this is irrelevent to the law side of the issue, but I think that, propaganda notwithstanding, it's pretty well established that the amount* of innovation acquired in a hostile manner or downright destroyed by Microsoft is far, far less than what it has itself produced.

    Hopefully this will make Kerberos play ball too!

    well, I didn't know that protocols could play sports, or indeed "do" anything...

    all kidding aside, I think what you might mean is that you'd like for Microsoft to play ball on the issue of their not very interoperable "implementation" of the Kerberos protocol. even though there is a vanishingly small line between protocols and API's, I don't think this will be revealed by this court decision. perhaps another court will find that posting your "trade secret" on the web does not constitute "proper protection" and since trade secrets are not subject to copyright, that document will be free to distribute (well, that is my impression, at least).

    who knows what will happen. it's an interesting time.

    Lea

    * -- by amount, I mean that you could count by either quality or sheer volume
  • by Phexro ( 9814 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:44AM (#1018350)
    msft should not have been split in two.

    it should have been split into at least three companies. msft has their fingers in _many_ pies here:

    1. apps (office, ie, money, blah)
    2. operating systems
    3. media/service (msn et al)
    4. hardware
    5. certification

    ...and so on. two companies is not enough to get a fair division of all their arms. where will hardware go? operating systems or apps? won't that allow that company to tie their software to the hardware?

    anyone have a quick rundown of what goes where with the split?

    --

  • So that means that MS cannot update the kernel in such a way as make any API obsolete or perform worse if any Windows apps still use it? How many times has a Linux kernel API been removed or "downgraded" because of a change in the way the kernel works? In these cases, a new API is created, and everyone is told to use the new API instead of the old (I think cli() vs. spin_lock_irqsave() is a good example). It looks like MS can't do this, which means the Win32 API is going to stagnate.

    Actually no. The details of the judgment are a bit more sane than this. Microsoft may degrade the performance of middleware provided that it tells vendors in advance and lets them know what they can do to minimize the damage. IOW, if they come up with a replacment API that improves things, they can comply with the judgment by publicizing it and giving ISVs a chance to change their products before pulling the old one.

  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @12:41PM (#1018398)
    It will be years and years before this gets enforced.

    No, you're wrong. Significant parts of the remedy take effect exactly 90 days from now. Make no mistake about it: In 90 days they're putting the handcuffs on Microsoft and marching them off to jail. From the remedies:

    This Final Judgment shall take effect 90 days after the date on which it is entered;

    3. Provisions In Effect Until Full Implementation of the Plan of Divestiture. The provisions in this section 3 shall remain in effect until the earlier of three years after the Implementation of the Plan or the expiration of the term of this Final Judgment...

    Ban on Adverse Actions for Supporting Competing Products. Microsoft shall not take or threaten any action adversely affecting any OEM Uniform Terms for Windows Operating System

    Products Licensed to Covered OEM. Microsoft shall license Windows Operating System Products to Covered OEMs pursuant to uniform license agreements with uniform terms and conditions and shall not employ market development allowances or discounts...

    OEM Flexibility in Product Configuration. Microsoft shall not restrict (by contract or otherwise, including but not limited to granting or withholding consideration) an OEM from modifying the boot sequence...

    Disclosure of APIs, Communications Interfaces and Technical Information. 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 that Microsoft employs...

    Knowing Interference with Performance. Microsoft shall not take any action that it knows will interfere with or degrade the performance of any non-Microsoft Middleware...

    Developer Relations. Microsoft shall not take or threaten any action affecting any ISV or IHV Ban on Exclusive Dealing. Microsoft shall not enter into or enforce any Agreement in which a third party agrees, or is offered or granted consideration...

    Ban on Contractual Tying. Microsoft shall not condition the granting of a Windows Operating System Product license...

    Restriction on Binding Middleware Products to Operating System Products. Microsoft shall not, in any Operating System Product distributed six or more months after the effective date of this Final Judgment, Bind any Middleware Product to a Windows Operating System...

    Agreements Limiting Competition. Microsoft shall not offer, agree to provide, or provide any consideration to any actual or potential Platform Software competitor in exchange for such competitor's agreeing to refrain...

    Continued Licensing of Predecessor Version. Microsoft shall, when it makes a major Windows Operating System Product release...

    So, what I'm saying is: go ahead and pop the cork... Microsoft is going into the slammer, it's for real. We're got 90 days to figure out the best ways to exploit the new leverage the good judge is giving us. What's on the top of my mind is how the ban on contractual tying could be used to counter Microsoft's slimy dealings on ASF. Can we find the terms of their file format patent license to be a contractual tie? (bet you we can) And get it thrown back in their face immediately. Boy, wouldn't that be sweet? And at the same time give the DCMA and UCITA, with their oppressive new restrictions on reverse engineering etc., a swift kick in the nuts. Same goes for their attempt to pollute Kerberos, though I truly that one is being handled well through other means. But Microsoft really has some strong attacks going on the legal, intellectual property and patent fronts (just as Halloween II recommended) and up to now things haven't been going all that well for the rebel alliance.

    This ruling gives us lots of groovy new ways to hit Microsoft where it hurts, starting right now. The next chapter in this sorry saga is going to be mostly fun for the barbarians :-)
    --

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:48AM (#1018445) Homepage

    First, a nitpick: it wasn't the DoJ that decided to break up Microsoft, it was the Court. :)

    Quoting from Judge Jackson's opinion:

    First, despite the Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Microsoft does not yet concede that any of its business practices violated the Sherman Act. Microsoft officials have recently been quoted publicly to the effect that the company has "done nothing wrong" and that it will be vindicated on appeal. The Court is well aware that there is a substantial body of public opinion, some of it rational, that holds to a similar view. It is time to put that assertion to the test. If true, then an appellate tribunal should be given early opportunity to confirm it as promptly as possible, and to abort any remedial measures before they have become irreversible as a practical matter.

    Second, there is credible evidence in the record to suggest that Microsoft, convinced of its innocence, continues to do business as it has in the past, and may yet do to other markets what it has already done in the PC operating system and browser markets. Microsoft has shown no disposition to voluntarily alter its business protocol in any significant respect. Indeed, it has announced its intention to appeal even the imposition of the modest conduct remedies it has itself proposed as an alternative to the non-structural remedies sought by the plaintiffs.

    Third, Microsoft has proved untrustworthy in the past. In earlier proceedings in which a preliminary injunction was entered, Microsoft's purported compliance with that injunction while it was on appeal was illusory and its explanation disingenuous. If it responds in similar fashion to an injunctive remedy in this case, the earlier the need for enforcement measures becomes apparent the more effective they are likely to be.

    Basically the Court is saying, "You guys are lying, cheating, and acting like nothing has changed, and saying that you can get away with it on appeal. You know what? Go ahead and appeal. I'm getting the knives out."

    It gets better: Microsoft offered a bunch of witnesses to testify to the 'detrimental effects' of a possible breakup. To which the Court replied:

    Finally, the Court believes that extended proceedings on the form a remedy should take are unlikely to give any significantly greater assurance that it will be able to identify what might be generally regarded as an optimum remedy. As has been the case with regard to Microsoft's culpability, opinion as to an appropriate remedy is sharply divided. There is little chance that those divergent opinions will be reconciled by anything short of actual experience. The declarations (and the "offers of proof") from numerous potential witnesses now before the Court provide some insight as to how its various provisions might operate, but for the most part they are merely the predictions of purportedly knowledgeable people as to effects which may or may not ensue if the proposed final judgment is entered. In its experience the Court has found testimonial predictions of future events generally less reliable even than testimony as to historical fact, and cross-examination to be of little use in enhancing or detracting from their accuracy.

    Basically saying, "your witnesses are BS and you're just delaying the inevitable."

    I love this judge.

    You can find the text of the ruling here [gpo.gov], btw.
    The Second Amendment Sisters [sas-aim.org]

  • by v6stang ( 96144 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @12:19PM (#1018469)
    Is Solitare considered a seperate application? I think M$ has a strong argument for Solitare being a crucial part of the OS... Definitely the most popular "utility" in the history of Windows :0)

"Be there. Aloha." -- Steve McGarret, _Hawaii Five-Oh_

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