Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

EU To Take Legal Action Against Microsoft 205

beebware writes: "The BBC is running this story about the European Union opening an antitrust case against Microsoft. It seems legal action has already started (a warning has been issued) - place your bets now on the outcome...." You can also check out the ZDNN story. The warning comes from a complaint registered by Sun Microsystems.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU To Take Legal Action Against Microsoft

Comments Filter:
  • Mcnealy is so lame. He cannot improve his own code. He says he can't compete unless he sees Microsofts code because it is sooooo good. So he is trying to get it for free. He already quit supplying Microsoft with any JAVA updates years ago, in spite of having been told by Judge Whyte that he must follow the terms of the contract. But he thinks he can manipulate the courts, Like he did with the DOJ against Microsft. Of course that ruling will not stand...
  • Yes, fines, according to the BBC article:

    If Microsoft fails to satisfy the Commission that its concerns are unfounded, it could face a 10% fine on its revenues. However, in practice fines have never exceeded 1%.

  • First off, is this an actual statement from Microsoft, or are you just hypothesizing?

    Second, if that's true it's wonderful! Everyone will get a short, sharp clue-by-four jabbed into their eye about how totally screwed up software licenses are. The UCITA regulations being passed around the nation will be dropped like a hot potato.

    Worst case scenario, hundreds of EU LUGs will be holding a ticker-tape parade of Linux CDs...

    Jay (=
  • All the representatives from these great states are saying is Microsoft is wrong to give equal campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans.

    The Republicans deserve to be bought a lot more than the Democrats do, look at what services the GOP can provide! Heck, look at the free TV time MSFT is being given. Isn't that worth something?

  • Bill! Shuck off that "Anonymous Coward" handle and just come out and say what you want, OK? You just tell those Euro-Trash whiners to bend over, drop them Beltramis, and take it like men -- you know, like American Corporate Zipperheads have been doing for ten years.

    Don't be shy, now!

    They call me the Spark
  • by / ( 33804 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @06:58AM (#883140)
    Two responses to your point:

    The DOJ's antitrust division has been having a lot more success [] in prosecuting international cartels since 1994.

    De Beers (who handed the DOJ much of its humiliation in 1994 by refusing to show up at trial), perhaps the most notorious cartel (diamonds) pulled out of the US in 1945 under antitrust scrutiny. A month ago, however, De Beers decided it would start getting out of the cartel business [] and would position itself as a value-added brand-name, owing somewhat to increasing scrutiny by the EU but also a desire to reenter the US market. It can't be said that such regulatory pressure can be considered "normal free-market forces", but it does suggest that often full-blown trials needn't be necessary. Of course I have due-process concerns about plea-bargains and settlements in general, but that's a different consideration.

  • by AndrewD ( 202050 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @06:59AM (#883141) Homepage

    OK, while IAAL, I have no significant competition law practice either on the UK or the EU law (although I know enough to say that if M$ is guilty by EU standards, they're also guilty by UK standards if the acts complained of at an EU-wide level were committed in the UK as well), so this is going to be fairly sketchy.

    What's being alleged here is an offence or offences against Articles 85 and 85 of the Treaty of Rome, which binds everyone in the EU - it's a bit like the way Federal law in the US binds everyone in the individual States (and please, no pedantry from US conflict-of-laws experts, OK? This is a rough guide, not a detailed exposition).

    Articles 85 and 86 provide that it's unlawful, in a manner which pretty much amounts to making it a criminal offence, to trade in such a way as to be anticompetitive or to abuse a dominant position in a market. Whether on the facts M$ have actually done either of these things is not something I can tell from any of the articles cited, though I would personally bet a reasonable sum that their ordinary way of doing business as revealed on discovery in the US DoJ prosecution will get the Commission fairly well exercised.

    This is not the same as US antitrust legislation, even though it looks very similar indeed. The basic deal is that the European Commission (sort of the EU's Civil Service, only not quite - I told you this was going to be a rough guide) investigates and prosecutes offenders almost exactly the way a police force/prosecution service would for a national crime. The only remedies available are an order to terminate the infringement or, where it was committed "intentionally or negligently" a fine on turnover while the offending conduct continues - the EU can't do anything to M$ beyond that, whereas the US Courts can pretty much order Bill to commit HariKiri if they find him guilty.

    There is virtually no political element to this. The Commission is not elected, and apart from the Commissioners themselves (one for each directorate-general, which is the name for the departments of the Commission, and a couple of head honchos like the President), there are no political appointees in the Commission. They're all career civil servants, accountable as to their budget to the European Court of Auditors and as to their actions in prosecution of governments and large corporations, to the European Court of Justice (not the European Court of Human Rights, which is a completely different institution, in a different building in a different city with different personnel and a different jurisdiction: it is vitally important not to confuse the two, particularly when filing an appeal.)

    The amount of tax money that is going to be spent on this is, compared with the EU's budget as a whole, peanuts. (The EU's budget as a whole is peanuts compared with the national budgets of everywhere except Luxembourg and San Merino, but that's by the by).

    M$ won't be able to drag it out, either. Commission prosecutions are usually fairly swift and fairly brutal. The Appeal from the Commission is to the European Court of Justice, a body that grinds exceeding small but does grind rather slow. And an appeal does not usually stay execution.

    As to the fine, it's up to 10 per cent of turnover. M$ might be able to mitigate by immediately ceasing and desisting and generally playing nice from now on, but that's more or less it. While one per cent is the usual, this does mean fines of the order of £200-250 million get levied on a fairly regular basis, and appeals don't usually succeed (the Commission has a limited budget, and only acts when it is fairly sure it will win).

    Basically, though, that 10 per cent is the maximum penalty, reserved for the real baby-eating satanists of the European Single Market's competition landscape. M$ might be bad, but I doubt they'll be found to be that bad.

  • However, as much as I want MS to get a stern slap in the face for its actions, I hope whatever decision doesn't fuck up MS further than the DOJ suit did.

    Well, from what I read in the article, the actions that the EU will take against Microsoft will be tiddlywinks compared to what the DOJ is doing. There is a major difference between slapping someone with a fine (albiet, that fine could be rather large, I would not want to lose 10% of my earnings -- however, even they said that the largest fines in actuality have been approximately %1) and breaking a company into little pieces.

    True they're an 'evil, greedy corporation' but considering how entrenched they are in the PC market, it's still not safe to have a major software paradigm shift occur abruptly.

    Well in this case the paradigm shift won't be all that abrupt. Let us assume a worst case scenario in which Microsoft ceases to be tomorrow (and there was much rejoicing). This doesn't mean that suddently everyone is going to be forced to change their operating system or the platforms that they are on. Most of the systems that are in place will pretty much stay the same, and software will be created to help companies traverse over to other platforms when they are ready.

    The only way a really abrupt change would happen would be if it became illegal to use a Microsoft product (ok this would be the worst case scenario, but even more unlikely than the above example), in which case everyone would have to change tomorrow and there would be mass hysteria. I can see some serious problems happening in this situation, but the chances of that are so remote that you really don't have to worry about it.

  • What is it that you need to know? I have no trouble finding development documentation. Ever heard of MSDN?
  • Urgh... Why is it that Bill Gates always looks like a complete dork on pictures. Is the editor a rabid anti-microsoft zlotnik or something? Is Bill Gates' head so big that it can't fit on one picture? Hmm...

  • Eu poking their noses in? Presumably they should just leave American corporations alone because....uh, they`re american or something.

    Yes, the EU should bug out becuase MS is an American corporation. Period.

    If they go ahead with this outrage, the US should retaliate by banning the sale of their damn Airbus airplanes over here, since they are directly subsudized by their governments (since they are unable to compete on a level playing field).
  • I'm meant to be a moderator today but I just can't keep quiet about this one.

    Microsoft has not been tried for attempting to dominate the server market yet. This is way overdue. While they haven't got round to integrating IIS and Expolrer yet (just wait for .NET) they've been up to some fun tricks anyway:

    • NT Workstation/NT Server/Netscape server IP row. Microsoft limited scalability in the NT Workstation IP stack after customers bought NT Workstation to use with Netscape's web server. By forcing customers to buy NT Server with "free" IIS, cost of NT/Netscape server combo rose sharply. And why would anyone need another webserver if they had IIS anyway?

    • Samba Kerebos row. This one is in the past, but Jeremy Alison and the Samaba crew were very upset that Microsoft were denying them access to a formerly open protocol used by Windows 2000.

      Netware. Whatever happened to them? I lost track after Microsoft intoduced one way directory migration tools with Windows 2000.

      Java. Remember that?

      Pricing and licencing irregularities (see here []for example).
    The net belongs to everyone and it's good to see the EU stand up and say so.
  • MS, according to its EULA has the absolute and unquestionable right to revoke the license at any time. If the EU claims to adhere to the Berne convention regarding IP law, then they must immediately cease and desist all use of Microsoft software or face the losing end of lawsuits themselves by their own laws. After all, they agreed to the MS license when they accepted it.
  • Java competes with Windows 98 for the PC Platform market.

  • you're a liar. You've never lived in Europe, in my country, the amount of vacant jobs grows with a factor 4 faster than the employable population.
    Taking car of the unemployed is socialistic, yes, nobody dies of starvation, and some are unemployed because their lazy ofcourse, but the rules are very strict, not as strict as in the US. You know, people in Camden are dying from starvation, drugs, crime etc. They won't be saved by any conservative with compassion program. I'm not saying 'US is bad', I'm saying, that it can be the other way round. But I guess you're just another troll.
  • I wouldn't call Windows 2000 a good product.

    Why? It's stable. There are applications for it. Development for it is not difficult (with the right tools [])

  • To spare Microsoft because they contribute to the local economy is short sighted. But alas many voters are short sighted too.

    Assuming the anti-trust case is just, then Microsoft is found to be guilty of damaging competitors and thus the industry in general.

    Actions againt MSFT might cause massive layoffs, but no actions means many, many small layoffs from smaller companies that are destroyed by the predator. Just these are less visible.
  • Indeed. They (US corps) can bribe US politicians and judges, and corrupt that system. But luckily the world is larger than the US. They will find out that not every part of the world is so corrupt and loose.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @05:11PM (#883153) Homepage Journal
    If all the more suitable, appropriate potential complainers (like OEMS, distributors or what have you) are all too intimidated and cowed to complain, why not Sun? If Sun, too, was so frightened of Microsoft that they dared not open their mouth, would that make it OK?
  • Its not like Sun are competing in the market that MS Really dominates - The home PC OS market.

    Solaris is still a totally viable alternative to NT in the server market. If MS get too pushy, a company can change over wuite easily.
  • by Forge ( 2456 ) <kevinforge&gmail,com> on Thursday August 03, 2000 @04:13AM (#883155) Homepage Journal

    The EU has had MS under investigation since before the DOJ went to court. They stated back at the start of the trial that they would wait to see how the DOJ case went before finding there own.

    This is just the 2nd of a long string of anti trust actions. The downside of being an international company is that when you are accused of a crime you can be prosecuted in any or all of the countries in which you operate.
  • Punishing a monopolist: good idea. But as you point out in your Saab example, don't punish the consumers. Taxes (even if you call them fines) simply raise prices, and that punishes consumers. Raising prices is exactly what a monopolist is already doing. Forcing a monopolist to increase sales by 25% (by slashing prices or paying folks to take them if need be) is probably a better strategy.
  • Errr, a trade embargo? EU policy not to use MS software, punative fines for all MS in Europe offices, it goes on and on.

    "Why should Microsoft even have to listen to foreign laws that dont apply to the US?"

    If they want to come here and take our money then they have to play by our rules, simple as that. If they don't want to listen to those damn foreigners than stay at home.

    Good Quality software products? Ex-squeese me? Which ones? Alright, admittedly some stuff is good IE5 springs to mind, but that's not what made them. Can you remember what it was? That's right a BASIC interpreter and an operating system MSDOS(originally called Q-DOS, quick and dirty operating system) which was at best a CP/M clone. And even out of those the only one written by MS was the BASIC interpreter, (now that's innovation).

    Poor old Microsoft, my heart bleed's for them. Do yourself a favor, dig a bit deeper than Microsoft press releases when learning history and find out exactly how they got where they are. EEE.
  • > They'd pay the costs and not get the benefits. Do you really not understand why they wouldn't want that?

    I understand, but I do not agree that maximizing economic benefit is sufficient reason to overlook wrongdoing.

    You have pretty well illustrated that for the objecting politicians it's about money rather than about justice. Is that an appropriate basis for a [Rr]epublican government?

  • MS does have presence in the EU so that part of it anyway is bound to observe the laws of the land(s). If Microsoft were based purely in the US and everthing was handled in the EU by importers and distributors, things would likely be different.


  • I am learning things every day. It just I have to depend upon so many clueless people to get things done.<p>

    The latest problem is with a Solaris box with a lot of custom written daemons running on it. The machine is swapping away like mad, and new process can't be started. I've just looked at the code, and each daemon is statically linked against the same massive library, plus a few smaller ones as well. If they'd bothered to implement thisusing shared libraries, I could have got my work done this week.<p>

    I'm sick of working in an industry where possesion of a nice suit is worth more than technical competance.
  • You obviously miss the point. Using Linux to browsing web when IE is so much advanced and then use MS to produce scripting applications when Linux is so much ahead in this area basicly says very clearly that you have no clue what good is any OS for.

    You seem to miss the point even in other things, but it was said here so many times already.

  • I have been a keen reader of Slashdot for many years

    I for one, would not even consider using Linux at work

    It is difficult enough to set up a printer with Windows and I know what I am doing

    It would be a nightmare with RedHat

    Don't you lot recognize a troll when you see one? - Good one vapour ;P

  • dont make fun of "bilbo"... mr. baggins deserves not the association with billy boy.

    for those who dunno wot im talking about, read some tolekin, if you're a geek, you'd most likely like his works.

  • companies think "bigger is better", and in a way, desire to be a monopoly, even though that is not in society's best interests overall.

    that's correct, and very perceptive. Michael Porter (Harvard strategy professor) points out that there are only two ways for a company to be profitable in the long run: to be the lowest cost producer (i.e. the biggest), or to be differentiated, the only one offering particular variants of products, i.e. essentially to be a mini-monopolist to allow for higher prices. Companies pursuing a differentiated strategy generally sell high quality items with strong brandnames.

    does monopoly hurt itself

    the answer to that is essentially "no", but it does depend on the industry. Because monopolies are de facto the biggest producers, they generally have lower costs than any small or competitors. And, because monopolists charge higher prices, they have plenty of cash. So, monopolists are very well positioned to respond to competitive threats by dropping prices to drive competitors out of business (remember when Microsoft sold its Office suite for $99 as a competitive upgrade?), or by buying companies or technologies as they need to. And that's not to mention the strongarm tactics they can use based on customer dependence, bundling, tying, etc.

    Monopolists "hurt" themselves by sustaining high prices and profitability which becomes very attractive to potential new competitors. The high prices can make new technologies worth developing: could AMD have justified major investmnts in DRAM chips? Was pouring money into monopoly x86 chips a better idea? Another small way might be, everybody "hates" them and if economic circumstances change (they always do), coustomers collectively try to seek alternatives. But, this is a mild effect as lowered prices usually bring irritated customers back.

    some economists worry less about monopolies because in the long run they often become irrelevant, so the harm they do may not be worth fighting too hard. Western Union and Wells Fargo, for example, IBM for a more recent one? Hard to separate though, whether without the anti-trust laws IBM might have continued to dominate the computer industry.

    BTW, the benefit of being a monopolist and the harm they simultaneously do to customers and to "society" can be shown quite clearly on a graph of supply and demand. I don't have time at the moment to search, but there must be such a picture on the web, key word "dead weight loss"

    I realy gotta run, but the 10% management number... management overhead could be 10% or more overall for a spinoff, but unless operations can be completely consolidated in a merger (i.e. the products of the two companies are identical) then that management overhead does not go away. The "delta" is not 10% is what I meant. Think of it this way: OSes and Office sofware are different lines of business, and right up to the top of the corporation they require management attention. Bill Gates can only put half his attention into OSes because of the time he spends with Office. However, in this case it is worth it because by tying the two products together he can sustain two monopolies with extra high profitability.

    and to any moderator still reading, how can my original post at the top of this thread be called "redundant"? it was a very early post and raised important questions not covered by the article nor by anyone else here.

  • > Heheeh.

    Aha, gibbering idiot style kung-fu ;)

    > Why should I trust UN and their studies.

    As a scientist I would say because they produce the most respected, comprehensive and *global* poverty research.

    best wishes,
  • Expect the same outcome as in the US

    I haven't a lot of information about it but from what they said at the radio yesterday MS was issued a warning for using their monopoly to gain an unfair advantage in the server area, so it seems that it would be a different case from the US given that the US case was about desktop computers, not server computers.

    intersting times are coming ahead anyway.

  • That doesn't stop them from going after China's market.

  • Nope, they mean _all_ revenue. I've read this in an article about a similar case against DaimlerChrysler.
  • You answered your own question: "99% of all major companies USE Microsoft products" and that's sufficient reason to run MS stories. That MS is in legal trouble because they try to dominate the market in every way they can is MS's fault, i'm quite interested in this story, since i'm an european, and thus would like to see some sensible legislation in the way of MS marketing strategies preventing customers to be ripped of more than necessary. A good example of this is win98SE which costs four times as much if you buy it from the shelf than as an OEM version.

    Since at present the internet is one of the fastest extending markets i'd like to see MS prevented from dominating that market for the next twenty years, like it has dominated OSes and key applications for the last twenty. MS is definitley making a grab for it as can be seen from their bundling IE with Win strategy (they where late to get in the business, but simply used the leverage of their OS to kick out the marketleader netscape), their approach to the kerberos protocol (basically trying to change a widely used protocol into some MSproprietary one), their recent .net initiative and their efforts in embedded applications (now it's handhelds, next will be phones, but it'll all be connected in the future, even your toaster).

    Now i'd like a future where Microsoft has to make an effort that their applications correctly connect with everything else on the planet (basically by not screwing up when implementing a protocol) and not the other way around, like it's now with software: If some application doesn't work too well with Windows because some windows feature doesn't work as documented it's the applications (programmers) problem to get it fixed.
  • But when dealing with a foreign company that simply imports products, what will the EC do? Impose tariffs? Fines? It is difficult for them to remedy or ameliorate the situation without harming their consumers.

    There are other possibilities. For example I believe Germany has a law that invalidates some provisions of EULA's so that Germans are allowed to resell OEM software. This is not related to antitrust but something like that could be an effective antitrust measure. It would be harder to maintain an OS monopoly if all the people switching to other OS's could legally sell their OEM Windows.

  • can't believe how obsessively Slashdot and the over-zealous Linux bigots delight in legal issues and Microsoft.

    If you look at the title for Slashdot you will see that it says "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters." Considering that MS has control of >80% of the consumer market, when legal action, especially anti-competitive legal action, is used to threaten MSs hold the general nerd/geek population DOES care, it is the stuff that matters.

    I personally do care about what the EU/DOJ is considering when it comes to legal action against MS because the implications are huge. Although I have some petty hopes about MS getting a huge slap in the face, there is more to it than that. If the EU imposes a huge tariff, or if it is broken up by the DOJ, then I want to know. There is a lot a stake here and if something big goes down.

    It may have missed everyones attention here but 99% of all major companies USE Microsoft products.

    True, but 99% of all "major" companies use UNIX too, including MS. Why, because it is a tried and true system that is known to be the best for larger systems, whether it be a server, database or whatever. Last I checked MS HotMail ran a BSD firewall and a Solaris box in the background. This is because NT CANNOT handle the load nor is it secure enough. There is a good reason why MS doesn't have a presence in the Mid-Large scale servers, and it isn't because people haven't tried using them, its because they cannot do what is needed. Even the mindspring results showed that MS cannot compete in the larger server market, x86 Solaris served three times as many pages as NT.

    Although some companies are not planning a on deploying Linux right away, 90% of the undergraduate computer science majors that I know use Linux on their home machines. The UGrad computer lab for computer science majors at my college is 50% Linux and 50% Solaris 8. A good number of the physics, math, and engineering undergraduates that I know have switched, or are planning on switching, to Linux, and the trend is increasing at alarming rates. Most of these people will not switch back to Windows if they can avoid it because they just don't TRUST MS products.

    Sure the average user does not have Linux skills, but when the majority of the technical intellectuals are beginning to being raised on *NIX you can expect a swing to occur soon. People have the ability to adapt, if Linux or Mac or whatever takes over, they will learn how to use it.
  • I ... *sniff* ... smell ... *sniff* ... a ... *sniff* ... dirty ... *sniff* ... rotten ... *sniff* ... troll, troll, troll!!!

    Hehehe, looks like the standard US - Canada thing all over again!

  • Imposing tariffs, and demanding that governmental organisations use alternative software, will mean that other companies and OSses get a real and fair chance do develop, and become strong competition for MSFT.

  • That picture of Bilbo Gates at the top of the BBC article! Take it away! Take it away!
  • >the more your everyday person is going to start believing that their cosy little desktop system at home is not all it could be.

    That's actually the key point. I speak as a European - and, strictly speaking I have no right to lecture anyone in the USA on their Law or tactics.

    However seen from the outside by someone who has tried hard to see the big picture:

    Microsoft software is developed in a way which encourages appearance over solid content. The problems I see with Microsoft software can be related to the way Microsoft as a company operates . Things like the way the company generates income, the way development is organised and what/who/how the development process is driven.

    Microsoft's business practices follow on as a direct consequence of those same pressures and also as a consequence of the software they produce.

    The problem is that most consumers(=voters) do not see much or any of this. They only see flashy looking software and an American company apparently making healthy profits. An American company equipped with a PR machine able and willing to paint any professional who dares criticise Microsoft's products as noting more than a pissed-off competitor.

    Ultimately winning a battle at law (USA or EU) is not going to be enough. You need to persuade people/voters that there are problems with the Industry generally and especially Microsoft and these same, ordinary people are suffering as a consequence.

    Part of the solution is going to involve explaining about good and bad software practices, How quality code can be built, the importance of well controlled and maintained open standards etc.

    Once you have got the "movers and thinkers" in society to understand such issues - then it will become a lot easier to convince of them things like why it is wrong for a company to leverage its market to try and subvert an open standard API into a proprietry API.

  • If you cant beat them, Sue them. Lawsuits are a tool to help keep competitors off-balance anyway.
  • I wouldn't call Windows 2000 stable. At least not based on my experience with it. It crashed within 1 hour of being installed on my computer for the first time.

  • It is all an act by Sun. StarOffice was free anyway before they acquired it. So, what are you saying?!
  • "Corporatism" doesn't mean what you think it does, and it doesn't mean what Jon Katz thinks either. Get a poli sci textbook and look it up.

    Oh yeh, you spelled "fucking" wrong, too.

  • They are going to have more of this in the years to come. More of the customers will be coming after in the coming years. With everything from price gouging to bad products. Not fun a fun time for Microsoft

  • by Emerson Willowick ( 215198 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @03:48AM (#883182)
    to see how this case turns out. In one corner you have powerful American megacorp of Microsoft, already under DOJ fire. And then you have the large international governing body that is the EU.
    If this case goes through it will definitely be a nice precedent to see how American corporations comply to foreign laws and governing bodies. If MS loses, it would be good to see American companies forced to take responsiblity for their dishonest actions in regard to the international circuit. However, as much as I want MS to get a stern slap in the face for its actions, I hope whatever decision doesn't fuck up MS further than the DOJ suit did. True they're an 'evil, greedy corporation' but considering how entrenched they are in the PC market, it's still not safe to have a major software paradigm shift occur abruptly.

  • by sillysally ( 193936 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @03:49AM (#883184)
    a US company can be split up in a US courts, and it's relatively harmless to the economy because all the same assets continue to exist, and with the same shareholders. In fact, in many ways it is economically more efficient because then shareholders can decide which pieces to own instead of having to buy the lot. With AT&T and the baby bells we have seen the benefits of a breakup.

    But when dealing with a foreign company that simply imports products, what will the EC do? Impose tariffs? Fines? It is difficult for them to remedy or ameliorate the situation without harming their consumers.

  • stop and think about the above points, as this helps no one.

    you may have an tech certificate from Microsoft, but you don't know much about anti-trust: the charge against a monopolist is that they charge unfairly high prices to take advantage of the consumer's dependence. This sort of behavior eliminates the primary benefit of free markets: low prices. There is no point in having a free market if you allow monopolies. So, actions taken against monopolists are designed to get them to stop being monopolists and lower their prices.

    The actions taken agains monopolists do not stop their products from being made available. You should keep these points in mind :)

    And as to your gripe about unix lovers: why don't you Microsoft lovers start your own Slashdot and lick Bill Gates boots over there? People who love unix love it for very good and clear technical reasons. Microsoft products have almost none of the features that unix people love. Can't we just love unix in piece and not have to listen to the constant importunings of the provincial users of an arcane collection of proprietary APIs and lame programming languages? Now, before you accuse me of flaming or trolling, check the Computer Science laboratories at the top schools, MIT, Stanford, CMU, et al: there is very limited use of Microsoft development tools, and very broad use of unix. We know what we like, and we know what we dislike. Otherwise, let the market decide.

  • Several have been discussed in the press recently.

    First would be higher tarriffs on all M$ product, the problem being it is all produced locally inside the EU and that would make it difficult. M$ has plants in Ireland and local production in almost every country, and tarriffs are difficult to assess in such a case (which is why every american company does the same thing).

    Another solution would be to alter the tax structure on any company offering a pure M$ solution, and normal taxes on any company with a mix of products. This isn't all that popular, but exclusionary licensing is not allowed in Europe and many M$ shops are 100% M$ because up until now there has been no enforcement of M$ abuses of power.

    There is also talk of creating a European only M$, and not allowing any kind of investments or profit sharing between Euro-M$ and the US-M$. Effectively, the US-M$ would be banned from all markets, and would have to turn over a copy of all software and patents to the new Euro-M$. Then the Euro-M$ would be responsible to Euro courts, and the large revenue stream currently flowing to Redmond would stay within the EU. A lot of the far-right parties are quietly supporting this, and it may become an issue in elections if the court case goes against M$.

    Keep an eye on the Euro news outlets [] for their local commentary. Some make a lot of revenue from M$ advertising, but many do not, and thus tend to print reasonably unbiased accounts of the ongoing action.

    the AC
  • "...99% of all major companies USE Microsoft products."


    "They use then because we are safe in the knowledge that they have been strenuosly tested for deployment in large scale organisations."

    Unproven. Without asking each company why they MS products, you have no way of knowing why they do so. For instance the only reason my company uses MS is because so many companies use MS. We have to be able to read Word files. Etc.

    "I for one, would not even consider using Linux at work..."

    Can't argue with that. However, I can add an additional opinion: I not only consider running Linux, I DO run Linux (at home and at work). Furthermore, now that I've spent 9 months running Linux at work, I refuse to go back to Windows. There is a possibility that I will be asked to go to Windows development full-time at my current job. If that happens, I will quit. Not because I love Linux, but because I hate Windows.

    And don't think this is some irrational "I refuse to bow to The Man" thing. When I use Windows, I feel cramped and uncomfortable:

    --No virtual screens? But alt-tab-tab-tab-tab takes a lot longer than ctrl-arrow
    --No grep/diff/awk/sed/find? (yes, I know you can get these elsewhere--but why not just use Unix?)
    --No real shell-scripting? How am I supposed to automate my nightly builds?
    --A lot of rebooting?
    --DLL Hell?

    You can argue all you like, but the fact remains that people are MOVING to Linux. What people use NOW makes no difference--what people SWITCH TO is what's key.
  • Oxymorons abound, I'll point out where:

    I have Microsoft qualifications, and perceive myself as being technically literate.

    You didn't even get past the second sentence. Tut tut.

    And again here:

    I am an experienced VB programmer
    There's also some rank stupidity:
    How would I be able to determine the suitability of an applicant if they do not have something like an MCSE

    In conclusion, I find you guilty of a severe violation of the mutual exlusivity law with only rank stupidity as a mitigating circumstance.

    You are hereby sentenced to 10 years Windows NT administration.

  • Rated +4 yet also offtopic, nice paradox...

    But anyway, this is yet another example of why GB Jr. should NOT be allowed into the oval office. I'm no fan of Gore [moderately more intelligent than the trees he's so fond of] but at the very least he's not likely to undermine one of the most important trials in recent memory [recent being approx. 3-5 decades].

  • I'm not bashing you here, but pointing something out...

    Simply because one as a) MCSE and b) a fairly good technical knowledge of the underlying concepts, this does not make them an authority on why MS is better. It *DOES* mean that they have a good solid understanding of how MS likes to do things.

    Do I think you probably have a solid understanding of windows and VB, and of how MS likes to build a network? Absolutely. Probably much better than my own undersanding.
    Do I think you understand a lot of the core concepts? Sure.

    Do I think you have a more impartial outside view that contains a knowledge of unix, Windows, as well as other systems, and enough technical background to make a nice, impartial decision as to what is a better solution in the long run? I'm not so sure.

    MS may occupy a *lot* of desktops, the vast majority, but this does not mean they define computing science, enterprise computing, technology, or anything else. It simply means people currently are using it.

    They do not use it because it is 'safe and tested for huge installations'. They use it because everyoen else uses it. They use it because there is no viable alternative at the moment, due to MS monopolistic practices.

    The reason many /. readers (*ix users) bash MS so much is because...
    - in learning unix, you generally do not learn vendor-specific realities. You learn hard technical facts about systems. In learning linux, for instance, you learn a great many hard facts about how computers work, how software works, how networks function. Nothing is abstracted off to some dialog box with an 'ok' button.
    - in learning NT, for instance... you do not have this impartiality. You learn about how the OS works, not how the computer works. You are shielded from the underlying technology. Sure.. youlearn about newtworking and such in MCSE... but it's not the same thing!
    MCSE teaches you how to build solutions using MS products.
    Unix teaches you how to build large systems out of *anything*, even non-unix.

  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @05:50AM (#883204)
    The Washington voters are actually perfectly rational here. Although consumers in general would be benefited by Microsoft being forced out of being a monopoly, there would be a cost. The cost of harming Microsoft (or even Microsoft losing its monopoly... monopoly rents are very useful...) is born largely on the people of Washington.

    It is easy for us to criticize them. We'd get the benefits and not pay the costs. They'd pay the costs and not get the benefits. Do you really not understand why they wouldn't want that?

  • Companies exist so people can have jobs so people can make money. This is fine and dandy, and capitalism at it's best.

    There is also the LAW. The LAW exists so that society can function properly. The LAW dictates the rules we all live by.

    It is not permitted to violate the LAW in order to make money. A successful company must make it's money while still obeying the LAW.

    Microsoft crossed this line. THAT is why they are taking so much crap.

    The EU has even stronger antitrust laws than the US.

    MS doesn't have to listen to EU laws. They have the option of simply pulling out of europe and not doing business there, of course.

    And it's very strange to hear an (I assume) American talk about how 'foreign laws shouldn't apply', when the US tries to impose it's laws on every other country in the world.

  • So is it unfair for a mugging victim to file a complaint down at the precinct house against the neighborhood crack addict that robbed them at knifepoint? Or are they supposed to wait patiently for a witness to report it? In the large and tradition rich corpus of US Code / English Common Law it is almost always the eternal dance of plaintiffs and defendants that sets the wheels of Justice in motion. Sorry to mix metaphors, but i think you should get the point--if you are not too far gone in that Libnerbrarian hoohaw.
    There will be no suit unless certain aggrieved parties come forward to complain, signalling their willingness to participate as cooperative witnesses for the prosecution.

    File a complaint, or shut up: it's the law.

  • You probably want to look at a more suitable link [] that includes more of the chrome for those of you that like to see things in full technicolour.

    The game is sort of given away by the "low" in the original URL. The BBC site is meant to viewable in many forms from latest bells and whistles, embrace and extend HTML, through plain and simple HTML to *cough* WML.

  • Sun aren't exactly struggling... they've turned over record profits and doing a pretty good job of keeping microsoft at bay on the high end server market.
  • I saw another article similar to this one over at infoworld [].

    The thing about the infoworld article was a little bit of details about the US case at the end of the article. More specifically, the part about the API, communication interface, and technical info being available to third party vendors and the "secure facility".

    Does this mean, that the linux developers should be able to get all the gory details about the file systems and such? Although I would imagine some of that proprietary stuff would still have to sign those NDAs.

    This may have been addressed in one of the trial brief somewhere, but when the brief is some 100 page brief...there is only so much M$ B$ that I can stand.


  • Sun hasn't just bitched and moaned- they've filed legal action against MS in the states, and maybe elsewhere. There is a difference between complaining and taking legal action against a company that violates the terms of your agreement with them.

    "Sweet creeping zombie Jesus!"
  • The debates centre around whether the playing field should just be leveled, or should M$ be punished for their continuing lawlessness. Just leveling the playing field with an assortment of new laws will take years for any effects to be felt. A strong punishment is favored, because M$ is not the only company abusing its monopoly power, and many feel a message needs to be sent to the others.

    Things are complex in the EU right now, with everyone worried about the changes brought on by the Euro. This new common currency is showing up all kinds of illegal dealings by many companies, such as car makers offering the same car for +-75% price depending on the market. It is worth your time to go to Italy and buy a car if you live in northern europe. The price is typically half, or approximately $10,000 savings on a mid-sized sedan. I bought my new Saab in Portugal and drove it back, for a savings of about $17,000 over local prices.

    The commission is looking at R&D balances and many other factors. But everyone seems to agree something must be done, they just disagree on the degree of punishment.

    the AC
  • MCSE? I've seen MCSE's who barely know the first thing about networking. I would say an applicant's experience would be much better than Minesweeper Consultant and Solitaire Expert ;)
  • Stake through the heart and chop its head off, that's the only way...

  • Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
    by Neil Sedaka
    Lyrics rewritten by Justin Osborn

    down dooby doo down down, comma comma
    down dooby doo down down
    breaking up is hard to do

    You know I love my monopoly
    Please don't split us up into three
    But we'll appeal, it might fall through
    'Cause breaking up is hard to do

    Do you remember the Macintosh?
    And all the startups, that we squashed?
    Let's not talk about OS/2
    Still breaking up is hard to do

    They say we're breaking anti trust rules
    The DOJ is a bunch of fools
    We've got so much money to spend
    Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making DOS again

    We just can't beat
    the guys at Palm
    Our handhelds, were a bomb
    Pocket PC, one more debut
    While breaking up is hard to do

    They say were breaking anti trust rules
    The DOJ is a bunch of fools
    We've got lots of money to spend
    Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making DOS again

    Please DOJ
    Consider our request
    You could just fine us to avoid distress
    We'll even go open source too
    But breaking up is hard to do

  • I don't think your reasoning is correct.

    1) Conventional business wisdom clearly shows the belief that "bigger is better" - hence, the non-stop mergers: Daimler-Chrysler, AT&T-@Home (or whatever), RJ Renolds-Nabisco, etc. Clearly, CEOs and shareholders do not believe that breaking companies up is better, otherwise these mergers would not be approve, but rather, companies would be spinning parts off.

    2) The total valuation on two MS companies (assuming a split-up) is ballpark 10% less than it's current valuation. The decrease is because management infrastructure must be duplicated for the two companies. Redundant costs increase with more sub-corps, hence the lower valuation.

    3) You note AT&T as an example of a good breakup. While it may be good for the consumer in the long run, (1) shows that AT&T think that monopoly was better business. Moreover, everyone forgets the phone chaos that lasted upwards of close to 10 years after the breakup. Talking to my parents reminded me that long-distance phone issues were *more* difficult following the break-up than before. Now, it's nice having mucho cheaper rates and such, but that didn't happen overnight.

    I believe a breakup of MS is justified and would be a good thing in the long run. But I must admit that the computer industry might experience significant chaos, a major slump, and tech-life as a whole may be a pain for several years afterward.
  • by Shimbo ( 100005 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @04:34AM (#883235)
    The EU commission have been quite busy recently: taking on British Telecom, over the local loop monopoly, not to mention the entire automobile industry. They are even going after Nintendo [] over the cost of Pokemon.

    Monopolies - gotta catch 'em all.

  • by Reggyt ( 107999 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @04:36AM (#883237) Homepage
    IMO the fines are nearly irrelevent. What actually matters is that there is now even more momentum building up in the M$ windoze monolopy saga. The more times M$ get mentioned in bad light by the press and the legal profession regarding the alleged underhanded tactics, the more your everyday person is going to start believing that their cosy little desktop system at home is not all it could be.

    Maybe then the consumer will start asking serious questions about what else is available to run on their home pc. That will really open up the market and M$ will really start to feel the pinch.

    The law sets the boundaries in which we must live, but it is the people who hold the power to make change.

  • The EU and DOJ already have working relationships on anti-trust, as well as with Canada and Japan, among others. The EU decided to take a wait and see approach with the MS-DOJ action.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "mommy, billy won't let me have any of his ice cream cone!"

    "don't cry scotty, mommy will make it all better. billy, share your ice cream with scotty."

    "but mom, it's mine, I bought it with my own paper route money!"


    "aw shucks."

  • I'm not sure about the motives behind Iowa's postion, but it should be pretty obvious what Washington's are. Just how many jobs do you think are tied up in Washington (Seattle, come one people!) because MS has their HQ there?

    Not just people that are on salaries; temp workers, contracter, and then food and lodging for all of them.

    MS supports a large part of the economy and were MS to shut down or even have to lay off large parts of the workforce, you can damned well bet that there will be a (substantiated or otherwise) large bit of economic turmoil in Washington.

    This is not real and true support on WA states part, this is them watching their backs.

    (I wonder what is in Iowa...)

    Guy not fooled by little green men.
  • No civilized nation produces crap like the teletubbies and Pokemon.

    I don't know, the Japanese making money off of Pokemon and the Power Rangers and every other goofy-ass trend sort of reminds me of Manhattan being bought for a handful of beads. It's like other nations have realized that US consumers can't resist the lure of shiny things.

    Maybe it should be "no civilized nation consumes crap like Pokemon and the teletubbies"

    "Sweet creeping zombie Jesus!"

  • Why does Slashdot Run Every Microsoft Story?

    Why do you read Slashdot? Contributors and readers here aren't exactly Microsoft sympathizers... there are plenty of other sites for that.

    It may have missed everyones attention here but 99% of all major companies USE Microsoft products.

    Exclusively? For desktops or servers? Please qualify. The larger a company, the more likely it is to use Microsoft products, true, but it is also more likely to use alternatives.

    They use then because we are safe in the knowledge that they have been strenuosly tested for deployment in large scale organisations.

    Are you kidding? Do you make that statement based on your own comparitive testing, or do you really have that much faith in a software company?

    Commercial software quality has been deplorable, and I'm not just talking about MS. Vendors are motivated to increase shareholder value, not help their customers.

    We've tested MS products extensively in house. I've personally witnessed a staggering number of product failures, some reproducible, some not... many a complete mystery. The time I spend searching for workarounds would better be spent debugging an open source product, I am finding.

    I for one, would not even consider using Linux at work

    Then don't. That's your choice. It doesn't invalidate the reasons anybody else runs GNU/Linux at work.

    Users : Most office people are stupid with computers.

    Were you talking about using Linux yourself, or for your users? Or are you one of the "users"? I'm confused now...

    It is difficult enough to set up a printer with Windows and I know what I am doing. It would be a nightmare with RedHat.

    You can't figure out printtool? Really? Have you tried?

    Support : Most people do not have RedHat skills, it would be more difficult to find them.

    Hint 1: Most admins with BSD/Solaris/AIX/whatever experience (e.g. almost anything BUT Windows) are sufficiently qualified.

    Hint 2: Many CS grads these days are quite familiar with GNU/Linux or BSD.

    Qualifications : How would I be able to determine the suitability of an applicant if they do not have something like an MCSE ?

    Interview them, perhaps?

    I have never considered an MCSE sufficient or necessary for employment. Really, it doesn't carry much weight with me. (Nor would a Red Hat certification for that matter.)

    Before you dismiss my comments... I am a technical manager for a large public company, I interview and hire my own staff, I evaluate products including commercial and free software, and we do use GNU/Linux, among Windows and other systems. I'm not religious about it, I'm just pragmatic.

  • And how, pray tell, is Linux "so much ahead" in the area of producing 'scripting applications'?

  • It isn't the European Committee: the correct title in english is the European Commission. The body acting is the Directorate-General (the Commission is divided into a number (at least 20) of these Directorates-General, each with a specific brief) in charge of competition (I forget which number it is, or who the commissioner there is now).

    The Commission is not elected. It is, in effect, the European Civil Service. Commission staff are career civil servants, either directly employed by the Commission or seconded from the national civil services. The Commissioners are political appointees, put in place by a complicated system of international horsetrading by the Council of Ministers.

    The Commission is accountable to the European Parliament.

    As for the popularity or otherwise of the EC's action, it doesn't matter. They're none of them elected officials and, in this regard, they no more have to worry about popularity than the police would if they were investigating a more ordinary crime.

  • Wouldn't any company that wants to be successful? No, successful companies obey the law, including the anti-trust law. Dominant companies don't get to play the same games that non-dominant ones do.

  • I have always believe Microsoft [] are a very untrustworthy company. It has just taken Europeans too long to release they are being taken for a ride

    However I also think that the EU is always poking there noses into far too many things which they have little or no real understanding of. This is especially true of computers so I hope they know what they are doing.

  • Microsoft know fine well that they are big enough and have a high enough turnover that they are just as well to go ahead with their strategy of charging in and then apologising (if at all) later.

    This way they can trample over small companies, generate huge amounts of revenue and then promise it'll never happen again (like a 5 year old).

    I wish I knew what the answer was, but at the end of the day MS do make quite a few good products (windows 2000, ie5, ms mouse) and a host of crap ones. Unfortunately they've got enough critical mass to hold the market...
  • Not so in this case. Breach of Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome is a quasi-criminal matter anywhere in the European Union. The Commission can either root out the offenders on their own or act on information received - either way, it's a prosecution rather than an adversarial action.

    Yes, IAAL, but no, I don't have a significant EU Competition Law practice. Don't ask me detailed questions.

  • This one has been bubbling under the surface for some time now already. It's good to see they [the EU] have finally gotten round to actually doing something more than talking about it - I'd like to see this get through the system beforeI MS is broken up by the US courts.
  • Well look what they started. First we always complain about unfair competition and other nations keeping our goods and products out of thier markets and how we should be exporting more and whatnot. Well then they decide to get some money out of Microsoft and humiliate them abit, now they have oppened up a precident of other nations to scrap some cash out of microsoft since no other nations seem to be able to make anything as mainstream as Windows. Oh well.
  • >Or do you want to say that offices of European companies in US don't need to listen to US laws?

    Yes! Say yes! I could set up a company in the US and make a killing by flouting the law! I could sell military weapons to the public.. oh wait, that's legal... ok, I could make furnature and undercut the competition by forcing illegal migrants to work for quarter minimum wage! Oh, damn - that's already being done too. Er... I know! I know! I could sell T-shirts with DeCSS source on them!
    Oooh maybe not, that's just asking for trouble...

  • In the German anti trust division some people were also thinking about, a trial. But there is no trial yet. The Problem about German Anti Trust Laws is that they are not strict enough as compared to the U.S. A brakeup of a company is AFAIK impossible here(in Germany). There are 2 things the German anti trust division can do: 1. They can force a company to pay some money 2. They can restrict the power of a company i.e. by disalowing them to sell something too cheap. Another Problem with companies like Microsoft is their position. MS is located in USA and their development work is also done in USA. That's why a European/German trial would/must be completely different from an U.S. trial. In spite of this I hope us to have such a trial.
  • Did anyone else notice the poor quality of the BBC page? I'm not expecting a midi file to play as I browse, but just wedging images in with the text is kind of silly. Or are all /. links going through now?

    Replace lo with hi in the URL.

  • Yup, the US have a WAY better trackrecord in computerlaws. Anyone for a game of DMCA?

  • If 3-5 decades back is your recent memory, how many centuries back is your not-so-recent memory?
  • Micro~1.oft has been pulling the same games in Europe as in the US. This includes withholding Dos/Win/Nt from any PC manufacturer who doesn't exclusively sell only M$ products. This makes it impossible for any competitors such as SolarisX.86 from being offered or supported in the marketplace. That is just the start of the charges being brought against M$.

    There are also ongoing investigations into the "Embrace - Extend - Extinguish" methodology in the open protocols arena. Kerberos, M$-CHAP, SMB, and some others are being investigated. It is possible the prosecutors will not shy away from the technical attacks the way the US prosecutors did. The issue is complex, but there is hope the court will take the time to understand the criminal aspects of micro~1.oft's behaviour, and that it extends into every area of their business.

    The courts have also been asking companies for documented examples of FUD, vapor products which never made it to market, exclusionary licenses, and targeted advertising campaigns. There has apparently been an overwhelming response from companies fed up with M$ monopolistic behaviour.

    the AC
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft embraces the euro currancy.

    Extends it to other non-euro nations with proprietary extensions. Such as the .Net euro, and the MSN euro, and the Secure IE euro for secure online purchases. Each will be unusable to make purchases through the other methods.

    Microsoft will extinguish it when consumer frustration over the confusing currencies. Suddenly all of Europe is back to where they were to begin with! So Microsoft will introduce a new currency which only Microsoft has access to but is usable across all online methods. Microsoft apologists will praise this as genius and proof Microsoft only has the interests of consumers in mind and that everyone should stop using those buggy currencies which suffer from unstable fluctuations.

    *pulls tongue from cheek*
  • I don't know the details of this case, but I tend to side with the EU on most things, and I tend to side against MS on most things, so I think I can safely conclude that MS is quite clearly in the wrong here and deserves everything it gets, plus some.

    (Informed debate is something that happens to other people)
  • From the article: they can impose fines on their revenue of up to 10%, though the article goes on to say that fines rarely exceed 1%. I'm assuming they mean reevune from EU countries.
  • A fine on 10% of revenues is harsher than a fine on 10% of profits, because (profits.1*profits.1*revenues)&&(all fines must be paid out of what's left over after expenses, namely, profits). If they were only being fined as calculated from profits, then they mathematically could never go into debt (as long as the percentage never exceeded 100). The same isn't true about being fined by revenues.
  • Software as we know it now (for the most part) doesn't care what happens to it's parent company. But as we will see (and help create) software will become more and more network based. What we will find then is that if a company like Microsoft or Slashdotsoft suddenly went out of buisness and didn't take care to have some other company (or individual or community) to take over the maintinance etc. then you're software will quit working.

    Kind of reminds me of banks in the '30s. People lost their faith in the stability of the banks, withdrew all of their money. The sudden loss of funds meant the banks weren't stable. When it (almost inevitably) crashed the people who hadn't pulled out lost everything. Then more people felt that their bank wasn't safe (if that one could crash why can't mine?) and withdrew their money...

    Devil Ducky
  • Here are two reasons why:

    1. 99.9999% of the time, it is not applied to ensure 'fairness in the marketplace', but rather as a strategic weapon by less successful competitors. This is flat out immoral, and it's so obvious I'm surprised more Slashdotters can't see right through it.

    This is the same situation that occurred when Tonya Harding had Nancy Kerrigan roughed up with a pipe before the winter Olympics.

    Examples: *Netscape* started the action against MS in the US, *Sun* started the action against MS in Europe, *Tribal Voice* is pushing the FTC and FCC to act against AOL, *Discover* started the antitrust action against Visa/MC, and the list goes on and on, *ALL THE WAY BACK TO PRECIOUS STANDARD OIL*, which was brought down in the same way, at the behest of its competitors

    2. Antitrust law is vague and open-ended, revolving around nebulous concepts like 'unfair competition' and 'bundling' instead of more quantifiable, tangible criteria.

    If a company prices its products:

    Too low - it can be charged with 'predatory pricing'

    Too high - it can be charged with 'price gouging' or 'intent to monopolize'

    Similar to its competitors - it can be charged with 'price fixing' or 'collusion'

    Example 1: "The European Commission said it had sent a 'statement of objections' to the US software giant 'for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the market for personal computer operating systems software by leveraging this power into the market for server software" (from the BBC story) Buncha psychobabble.

    Example 2: Microsoft went into the DOJ trial simply being charged with integrating a browser into their OS, and very quickly the trial delved into a whole host of other unrelated issues.

    I understand that most people here hate Microsoft. I don't particularly care for them myself.

    The slate of recent competitor-brought antitrust action, however, is far more anti-competitive and destructive to the marketplace than any of Microsoft's real or alleged crimes. To encourage these dirty tactics to continue is to sink to a level lower than that of Microsoft.

    If Linux is going to win, it should happen because of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of people and companies who are contributing to it. It should not happen because we tilted the marketplace in our favor by using the force of government to get the main competitor out of the way.

  • by sillysally ( 193936 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @05:25AM (#883325)
    wow! very detailed post, thanks for taking the time.

    according to conventional business wisdom as taught in business schools today, here's where you've gone astray: monopolies are more profitable corporations, but a good chunk of their profits are considered bad for the economy because it comes from the monopolist decreasing its production in order to raise prices. Having few customers enjoying the benefits of a product, and paying more for it, is bad for the economy, antithetical to the point of a free market.

    So, while there are legitimate reasons why corporations want to merge and grow (and illegitimate ones like CEO compensation), you need to separate out the monopoly part to get a valid analysis. Microsoft is worth less if they are not a monopoly, and that is why the parts seem to be worth less than the whole, but that extra value was hijacked from the free market so virtually all economists agree they don't deserve it.

    The other main reason "bigger is better" for the owners is because of economies of scale and learning curve advantages. The largest producer is the lowest cost producer in most industries, and they can thus earn the highest profits in a competitive market, and that's the main reason to seek out mergers. But, regulators need to be wary that monopolies don't emerge from the consolidation.

    Other things you said have less validity. Management overhead at 10% is a pretty high estimate, and disacquisitions do take place, a lot. Buyers of Palm (from 3Com) don't think they are "losing money" on management, and virtually all of the giant conglomerates of the 70s were broken up in the 80s. The economy particularly benefits when investors get to choose narrow product lines to invest in, rather than baskets of unrelated things where some dogs can drag down the average and sap the company's strength.

    Finally, while we agree that the MS breakup is a good thing, I think you are filled with too much doom and gloom about the short run. I think you are underestimating the penalty that consumers are paying to Microsoft today. So, while there might be some economic slowdown immediately surrounding Microsoft, it will be more than made up for by the savings experienced by consumers of their products which money becomes available for other uses, and by the investment into competition for Microsoft now that investors feel they have a shot at success. Heck, there will even be a burst of activity from the MS pieces doing new deals with former foes. I would expect a huge boom. The telecommunications boom did emerge overnight, even if there are a small number of customers who experienced problems.

    this post is too long and took too long to go back and read in this little window ... mea culpa for any errors :) and any disagreements aside, thanks for the thoughtfulness and civility

  • by yankeehack ( 163849 ) on Thursday August 03, 2000 @04:07AM (#883327)
    but for those of you who haven't been following the Republican convention in Philadelphia, at least two state Republican parties have officially announced their opposition the DOJ action.

    Both Iowa [] and Washington state have been noted to include this in their party plank. As a FYI, Rep. Jennifer Dunn gave Washington's delegate count during last night's rolling roll call at the convention and it was she who pointedly referred to the Microsoft case.

  • Corporations are only able to manipulate popular government because of their position in our society. Capitalism, as a system of social policies, hold up the profitable business as the ultimate social good, and frowns on anything (no matter how humane, beautiful, or noble) that gets in the way of that ideal.

    If we are going to use money as a universal system of measurement, then governments formed of the people by the people need to have control of amounts of it at least equal to the largest corporations, or the (profit-seeking) interests of those corporations will always outweigh the interests of the people.

    And don't try to say that individuals can and should look out for themselves, and don't need a government for protection. A single laid-off employee, or ripped-off consumer, or any other victim or predatory corporate policy means nothing to a large business, and has no chance of standing up to and resisting them alone.

    So, if you trust Microsoft, Citibank, Mitsubishi, and the Shell Corporation to be your benevolent protectors, then by all means, strip the power of representational governments to resist them. I, for one, do not trust them, and while I may not agree with everything that my government does and is, I need its support to protect myself against entities far more powerful than myself.
  • Microsoft is an example of why anti-trust laws need international bite to back them up, if the global community is serious about using them to bring monopolies to heel. It was fortunate that Microsoft was located in a jurisdiction where US anti-trust law could get at them directly. However, what if they were based in Canada? How about Finland? Even better, what about Japan or South Korea, countries where what the English-speaking world would view as collusion, corruption, and anti-competitive business practices are routine parts of trade?

    Possibly as part of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations, the issue of a global monopoly-busting body is likely going to come up some day. Is such a thing possible? Could it work, or would it just become another political football that the US, EU, and Japan would kick back and forth?

  • something called "shell scripts" that kicks the "crap" out of "everything" else MS has to "offer." Loser.

    As I sit here massaging a perl script (which could be REXX, or even VBscript if I wanted), I have to disagree. Windows has them -- and you can control most applications with them too.

    Ever read up on "Windows Scripting Host"? I suggest you try.

  • Lots of things the commission does can be considered jokes. Problem is, nobody laughs at most of them. Occasionally they create a law so absurd everyone laughs along. I think this is what they strive for.

    They are looking at making it economically impossible for a company to try and force distributors to offer only a single brand. That way car dealerships could offer competing brands if they wanted. Computer makers could offer alternates to M$, like linux and BeOS.

    the AC

Enzymes are things invented by biologists that explain things which otherwise require harder thinking. -- Jerome Lettvin