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Microsoft Open To Class Action Suits, Judge Rules 304

Tron2 wrote to us with the word from C|Net regarding a Minnesota judge's decision that Microsoft is open to class action lawsuits. The Feds had thrown out 38 other class action suits a while back, but under MN law (as well as CA, DC, WI, NM, SD, ND and ME) indirect sellers (like MS) can be sued. Basically - if you bought a computer with MS-DOS/Windows preintalled since 1994, you can join the suit. IMHO, this is how MS will die - not the Fed suit, but piles of private suits.
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Microsoft Open To Class Action Suits, Judge Rules

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    man, washed up lisp hackers aren't a pretty site...

    my other car is a cdr.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you kill Microsoft, there will be nobody Miguel can admire for their innovations! If Miguel is not stimulated by Microsoft, he will not be able to innovate GNOME!

    *PLEASE* be careful what you wish for. Without Microsoft we would not today have Bonobo, Gnumeric, GNOME Basic,...
  • I've often thought it would be interesting to organize a bit of civil disobedience around this. Basically, deliberately buy software with hidden EULA, and demand refunds. Buy the software with a credit card, so you could stop payment when they fail to deliver the service (licensed software) that you payed for. I haven't tried doing this, but I'd be very curious about someone who has. Stopping payment I believe costs them $100 ontop of lost income, and decreases their credit rating (which they deserve). But, if you go into this deliberately you could be accused of buying the software in bad faith... again, I'd be very curious if anyone here has tried this.

    I'd also be interested in the legal implications for software that has certain heavy restrictions in the EULA. For instance, software that keeps you from publishing benchmarks. Benchmarks are simply fair use, so it would be allowed in the absence of a EULA. If they (retail store and software producer) aren't willing to live up to the terms of the contract (which means refunding the money), it should be void, and you should be able to use it as though there were no contract.

    I assume Oracle would actually give you the license agreement before it took your money (or would give your money back), but more retail-oriented products may not do this (SQL Server? Others?) Might be an interesting way to muck up their systems.

  • OK, so I can only come up with one exception . . .

    when Iomega didn't pay the rebates a few years ago, the settlement provided the full rebate, the "stuff", and an extra zip disk to each member. The attorney fees were on top of that. We came out ok :)


  • Actually, this is one case where Microsoft will quite likely have the inferior lawyers. Microsoft is the biggest fattest prize on the face of the earth, and class actions suits are literal gold mines. Especially class actions suits in which there are 40 million plaintiffs.

    The big money lawyers are going to want to be on the plaintiff's side on this case. After all, 33% of umpteen billion dollars is one heck of an incentive. This ruling is like giving Microsoft a big cut and throwing them into piranha infested waters. They are fair game now, and the lawyers will clean their bones.

    The worst part is that this signifies all that is wrong with the American legal system. This has about as much to do with justice as a lynching. It's not often that I wish Microsoft the best of luck, but they deserve a break (good luck).

  • Maybe they will simply threaten to take over the world by exploiting a secret backdoor in the OS software.

    Just imagine Bill Gates delivering this ultimatum to the US President, "Give us a 'Get out of Jail Free' card or all your base are belong to us."

    Sorry, couldn't help it.

  • I received a notice not to long ago that a class action lawsuit had been filed against a Mortgage Insurance company on my behalf. The claim was they misrepresented something and overcharged me.

    I have been paying this company $60/month for for the past 30 months.

    But as a result of the class action lawsuit, I am now entitled to a check for $20.

    Just think of all the things I can do with $20!? Why I could buy an entire case of beer!


    I'm not saying that the company might not have done something wrong. But was it really worth it?

    Class action lawsuits are only a benefit for the lawyers. They will receive about $40 million in legal fees, and everybody else gets $1.98. Then the company has to raise their current product cost by $3 to cover the expenses.

  • So does this mean that every Gateway customer can take part in these lawsuits? Their computers are (or at least used to be) made in SD.

  • if (glassHouse) { stone.throw = -1}

    Your cute little wisecrack has nothing to do with my logic -- you just twist the meaning for your own purposes so you can use the (really, really old) Ray Charles joke, and thus do a little logic-chopping of your own.

    I merely point out the hipocrasy of shouting "ENFORCE the LAW", then wailing about the enforcement of another law. (I'll grant you that I'm assuming the original poster doesn't like the DMCA, but that's a fairly safe assumption, due to the general attitude of the average Slashdot poster).

    You cannot cherry-pick which laws you want enforced -- you have to take the good with the bad. If you love laws (and enforcement thereof) that beat up Microsoft which further your own personal ends, you have to take those laws (and enforcement thereof) that further another's ends.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Ahh, Word 5.1... I have many, many good memories of it as well. Nimble enough to run pretty well on my antique Powerbook 180c...

    I'm of two minds about a MS breakup. On one hand, what do you get? Something similar to AT&T and the RBOCs? Eww, no thank you. On the other hand, it seems a reasonable solution, and one that might have benefits (to MS as well as to the market).

    But, to remain truthful to my beliefs, I hold that MS should be left alone. In time, MS will be fighting for its life because of some upstart, like Netscape could have been. (Remember Netscape? They made mighty MS tremble, and but for a few corporate blunders, Netscape might have knocked 'em over, too. But MS dropped a bunch of money to buy & develop IE, Netscape spent too much time contemplating its navel, and the dream was over...)
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Wow, you're all over the board, here...

    First, I'm not for corporate welfare, but neither am I for drumming up charges against a competitor (which is what the original lawsuit against MS was all about), using the heavy hand of Government to gain an advantage.

    Did I lobby to protect Apple? Yes, by encouraging people to buy Apple products (when there were good ones -- that was tough to do until about 1996 or so).

    I'll even speak up in defense of an 800-pound gorilla. Withouth IBM as the 800-pound gorilla, there would not have been the tremendous growth in the PC market. IBM (by chance, it turned out, but still) used OTS components, with only the BIOS as a proprietary piece, and due to that, you can now buy a $500 computer.

    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Afraid not -- I know you want it to be that way, but that's not reality. I applaud your enthusiasm, if not your common sense.

    There is absolutely no way to please all of the population -- will you agree with that? You can only please a majority of the people at one point. The majority will change on different points. Thus, on a tax cut issue, you'll please all the people who pay a lot of taxes, but not the Marxists. On an environmental issue, you'll please the environmentalists, but not the polluters.

    So, if you're a high tax-paying polluter, you'll have to take the environmental bill with the tax cut -- and consider it a fair trade off.

    To "civily disobey" is an option, but not a realistic one. Look at all the peace marches during Vietnam -- it only took us some 7 years to get out of that one.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Thanks for agreeing with me! (Even tho you say you don't, you prove my point)

    The main source of pain was that there was no common standard for disk drives which made the most common method of interoperating (sneakerware) impossible. Things like this were an obvious enough problem at the time, when IBM came in, there was just a mass agreement to just do things their way because it was easy. But if IBM wasn't in the picture, I think there would have been some sort of industry colalition that would have resolved most of the incompatibilies.

    "Mass agreement to do things their way", i.e. "IBM's an 800-lb gorilla, let's just follow what they do". You're filled with confidence that the industry would form a coalition to resolve the incompatabilities -- is this like how the industry solved the problem of incompatable HTML DOMs with an industry coalition?
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Of course. What I object to is the portrayal of their motives - I think she is hardly motivated by a noble desire to help her fellow man. Well, maybe she once was, but that kind of money has a way of perverting people.

    Consider also that many of those same plaintiffs sued Brockovich and her lawyer buddy BECAUSE they received jack-squat to cover their medical bills...

    From the article I referred to before:

    One man who required a foot of colon to be removed collected $100,000 while a woman who endured the same operation got about $2 million. A plaintiff offered's Kathy Sharp an explanation for the disbursement pattern: "If you were buddies with Ed and Erin, you got a lot of money. Otherwise, forget it."


    Ultimately, several plaintiffs hired new lawyers to sue their original ones, only to find their new attorneys instantly countersued. One of the newly retained attorneys said of the film, "I read the script; the only true part was Erin Brockovich's name."
  • Doesn't that shit just make you wanna puke? $2 mil for her as part of a 3-way split (split between the plaintiffs law firms) of over $140 million []. (yes, I know the link is to the National Review, but I can't find the original WSJ article).

    Yeah, Erin's a regular fucking working-class hero, alright. That's Hollywood history for you.
  • these are two totally separate issues - nobody's out to destroy an industry, just one domineering a$$hole who's doing everything to make life difficult for those don't want their idiotic pablum.

    Now, if RJR Tobacco had secretely placed incompatibility chemicals in the cigs that make you violently ill if you smoked another companies cigs, that would be an apt comparison. As a market, tobacco is in much healthier shape than the PC biz - if Phillip Morris screws up, you can switch to another brand, but when Msft screws up, you (actually, their field support bozo's) have to eat $hit and say it tastes good or seek employment elsewhere.

    One of these day's I'm going to sue Msft for liver damage.
  • Sorry people but I couldn't avoid it... It maybe due to last night's film (in Russia there is a wave of old cowboy films on TV).
    While reading the article it came a vision. The judge sets the sentence, all good citizens rise with hopes to see the following trials, BG stays on his chair looking down... Suddenly an old bearded man comes up, rises a rope in his hands, and cries:

    "And why the Hell we have to wait for another trial? Let's finish this business now!"
  • No you weren't. There are lots of companies that offer computers without MS's operating system on it. The fact that the particular system you wanted didn't come without Windows doesn't mean you were "forced" to purchase it. It just meant that you got a component you didn't want in with the components you did. If you didn't like the whole package, go elsewhere.

    By this logic you should be able to demand any component of the computer removed-- you don't want any memory or a sound card-- and get a discount for it. Computers are package-deals. There are dozens of components, and different companies put different parts in. You are free to pick those you want.

    If a lot of people wanted computers without Windows, more companies would offer that option. They don't because there isn't the demand. If they're wrong, smaller companies will gain market share by offering what their competitors can't.

    So can you get a Dell or Compaq computer without Windows? Probably not. But who says you have a right to a Dell or Compaq computer in the first place. If you don't like the package, don't buy it.

    Next time I go shopping I'm going to demand my cereal without the prize at the bottom. After all, all of the cereals I like "force" me to pay for little plastic toys I'll never play with. I'm being oppressed!
  • This is complete and utter bullshit. This would imply that computer companies have an obligation to install your system exactly the way you want it, and if it takes you any time at all to set things up yourself, that's grounds for a lawsuit.

    What if a computer comes with IE and I want Netscape instead? Can I sue about that? What if it has both and I want to delete them to save space. Can I sue for that? How about if I don't use the web and don't want any browser. Is that justification for a lawsuit as well?

    By that logic computer companies would have to spend hours on each computer installing and removing software as the user demanded. That's absurd. Dell has a right to put any software they like on its machines. If you don't like that, you are free to buy another machine that comes with a clean hard drive. That's your choice. But you have no right to dictate to Dell what OS's it puts on its machines.
  • Why do you think this is? Perhaps because the overwhelming majority of users prefer to have Windows on their machines? If there were really a huge outcry to offer alternative OS's, why wouldn't companies do so?

    I would like a Ford car with a Chevy engine in it. I can't get it. Does that mean I'm paying a "Ford engine tax" if I go and swap out the engine myself. Am I paying a "prize tax" if I don't like the prize at the bottom of my box of cracker jacks?

    Companies offer products that include things not everyone likes. That's life. They only offer what they think a large number of customers will buy. The fact that a few /.ers want a different OS on their machine doesn't give you the right to shove that decision down everyones' throat. If you think there's such a bid demand for this, I suggest you design your own laptop and offer whatever OS you want on it. But don't expect Dell and IBM to leap into action because you happen to dislike their offerings.
  • I bet there were speakers, a modem, an ethernet jack, and dozens of other components in that laptop as well, to say nothing of all the bundled software. If you didn't want those, should you be able to demand refunds for those as well? Companies bundle products all the time. It's ludicrous to claim that you have a right to unbundle any product and demand a separate price for it.
  • No, but selling very dangerous *addictive* products that provide no benefit to the consumer is immoral. The "pleasure" people receive from smoking is an easing of the withdrawal symptoms.

    This is how you see it. Many smokers would disagree with you. They would claim that indeed smoking is a pleasurable experience that enriches their lives. What right do you have to force your values on them?

    It doesn't help that tobacco companies shamelesly target their maketing at these young people.

    No, it doesn't. But this doesn't justify taking away the freedom of adults. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it's possible. We should certainly try to prevent kids from smoking, but once someone is an adult, it's his choice whether to smoke or not. What business do you have telling him otherwise?

    Cars provide a real benefit, fatty food is not addictive and probably not as lethal, and alcohol is nearly as bad as tobacco

    "Benefit" is in the eye of the beholder. Many smokers think cigarettes provide a benefit as well. Fatty food is not as addictive, but so what? It definitely tastes good, and lots of people eat it when they know they shouldn't. Perhaps it's not *as* evil as cigarettes, but the issue is the same. Fatty food kills, and therefore McDonalds must be a company of murderers.

    Furthermore, tobacco can be consumed in moderate quantities as well. Lots of people smoke an occasional cigar, and I have friends who will puff on a cigarette if offered but don't smoke the rest of the time.

    Sure they are, but an addiction is a physical dependency, not a choice.

    Bullshit. It's not a physical dependency like with heroin. It's a habit, and like any habit, it's difficult but not impossible to break. So it's still a choice. It's a difficult choice, but so what? There are lots of other bad habits that we have no trouble identifying as personal choices. Cigarettes are a harder habit to break than most, but it's still a habit and people do quit all of the time.

    But if those were the tobacco comanpies only customers, they would be very small operations, I assure you.

    So you're claiming that an adult who started smoking as a kid is not responsible for his actions once he reaches adulthood? I don't buy that. Tobacco isn't such a powerful substance that anyone who uses it is powerless to stop. Whether they started as a kid or not, adults have the ability and the right to choose to smoke or not smoke. With that right comes responsibility. If you choose to smoke, you suffer the consequences.

    So we should look at ways to reduce teen smoking, but in the meantime we should stop funneling money to lawyers and politicians and stop driving up the prices of cigarettes for adults.
  • And what do all of these OS's have in common? All of them require a high level of geekiness to install and use, and most of them have crappy GUI's and a very small installed software base. My grandmother is not going to run Lunix (whatever that is) to say nothing of Q-nix or Darwin. If you campare it to consumer-grade OS's (i.e. Mac OS) it holds up pretty well. By this standard, it would be illegal to charge anything for any software, since there are free alternatives (albeit lousy ones in some cases) for any application.

    Programmers have to eat, you know.
  • What I love about arguments like this on Slashdot is that one side usually takes a tone of moral superiority while simultaneously stooping to the crudest ad homs. Microsoft is so obviously evil that there's no point in having anything like rational argument on the subject. It's much more fun to use loaded words and denounce anyone who disagrees with you as a "stupid fuck" and an "idiot." Never mind the fact that I made a couple of (IMHO) valid points that need a response. If I'm so obviously wrong, you might want to at least *try* to respond to them, instead of just launching immediately into a tirade about how evil Microsoft is and how stupid I am.

    My point was twofold. First, you do have options, just not with the big OEMs. Second, the reason for this is that 90%+ of consumers prefer Windows to the alternatives, and so that's what most companies offer. You didn't even try to respond to either of these points.

    I hope that everyone on the anti-Microsoft is a stupid fuck like this idiot I'm responding to, as that will make it easier for Microsoft to get a fair outcome. Alas, I fear that some of Microsoft's critics are a bit more intelligent and are capable of coming up with some semblance of a rational argument.
  • Well, yeah, but how does that apply to the bundling issue. Are you saying that it's legal to bundle physical items, but software is different? What if your Windows liscence allowed to be transferred? Would that be legal? Do you honestly believe that would make a shred of difference in the court of law?
  • Next pc I get, it will be coming from Penguin Computing, VA Linux, or I'll just build it myself.

    I think this is really the point-- the market is working. People don't like Windows, and so other companies are offering alternatives. The big manufacturers don't offer it, but that's because the big manufacturers mostly serve average comsumers. Not many average customers want Windows, and so they don't offer them.

    I suspect I could find a car part that the Big Three car makers all use. In that case it would be exactly analogous-- I want a "big brand" car without component X, and I can't get it. I think it would be a disaster if the government sued every time this happened.

    My point is that these laws and lawsuits are not necessary. Linux and Mac OS both would have done just fine without the DOJ or class action lawsuits. And companies like VA Linux and Penguin Computing have been able to offer machines with competing offerings without suffering for it. The market is working, leave it alone. I just don't see what everyone is getting so worked up about. Most consumers want Windows, and therefore that's what most companies offer. A few of us want alternatives, and there are competing companies to offer that. Perhaps there was a period of a couple of years when a lot of people wanted name-brand PC's without Windows and couldn't get them, but that period is over now. What is served by looting Microsoft over it?
  • So selling a dangerous product is immoral? Keep in mind that every smoker has known he was killing himself for 30 years, yet he chose to do it anyway. Why? Because he decided the pleasure he got from smoking a cigarette was worth it. My question is: who are the tobacco companies to say otherwise? Why should they attempt to impose a different set of values on their customers?

    There are lots of other dangerous products that kill people-- cars, fatty food, alchohol, etc. Are all of those companies guilty as well? After all, McDonalds would probably save lives if it offered only vegetarian food. The auto industry would save lives if it made cars that only went 30 MPH. Does that make them morally culpable when someone dies of a heart attack or in a car crash?

    This is an issue of individual liberty-- are individuals responsible for their own choices, or is it the job of corporations (or government) to decide that some risks are too great to allow you to take?

    Let me put it this way: what do you think the tobacco companies should have done? Just close up shop? They didn't profit by killing people. They profited by selling customers a product they like and enjoy. It would be arrogant and paternalistic for them to decide to stop offering that product because they didn't believe their customers were bright enough to make the decision for themselves.

    If this were just about children smoking, I might be more sympathetic, but it's not. Tobacco lawsuits are a massive wealth transfer from smokers (who are generally poor) to lawyers (who are generally rich.) It's terrible policy, by any standard. It is doing nothing to prevent children from smoking, and nothing to help those who are "addicted" to cigarettes. All it does is raise the price of cigarettes and use the money to line lawyers' pockets and produce assinine anti-smoking ads that don't fool anyone.
  • You have to wonder just how many of these will Microsoft have to defend. Even if they win all of them, how can their management seriously think that the general public perceives that they're the best thing going in the field of computers? (Like MS management thinks they do now.) Eventually someone's gotta wise up and begin thinking that this can't all be about deep pockets. It may not be the guys at the top who begin seeing this first. But they'll realize that their charmed position in the minds of the consumers is fading (fast) when it starts filtering up that they can't attract good programmers anymore and that many of the employees are leaving.

    Or maybe not. But one can dream, eh?

  • Ok, this is late in the thread, so I doubt anyone will even read this....

    It's not even about getting linux, it's about having to pay for a Windows. As a University of Pittsburgh student I get just about every consumer Microsoft product for free legally, thanks to the school. If I want to buy a professionally built system, I'm still forced to buy Windows.

    The problem is, I already have a legal license to run it. Why should I be forced to buy something I can get legally for free?

    I shouldn't have to build my own system, or get a system from Joe Slapnuts at a local computer place to avoid paying for something I can legally get for free. I should be able to go to Dell, Gateway, Compaq, or whomever and get a professonally built computer system, and not have to pay for a Windows license.

    That's just my two cents...if anyone actually read this post, reply. I'm courious to see how many people actually read posts this late in the thread.
  • what other OS are the clueless AOL newbies going to use?

    One that doesn't (as the cliche' goes) "give them enough rope to hang themselves". A large proportion of windows support seems to be along the lines of "I was playing around and I clicked on this thing and now windows won't start any more"...

    The point being simply that stable OS with a well-designed narrow configuration should stand up to 'clueless AOL newbies' (and their ilk) even better.

    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • last time I checked, nobody was addicted to Windows ME.

    By the same token, nobody's really addicted to "cigarettes"...just to the act of smoking them to get the chemicals. (Semantics, I know, but that's the point - it's not specifically "Windows ME", it's "MS Products". You can't be addicted to "A cigarette"...just cigarettes in general.)

    Similarly, I've seen the desperate dependence on MS products and inability to get off of the "upgrade treadmill" likened to addiction many times...

    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • get good old Johnny Cochran to represent me

    Hmm. Let's see:
    "If you see the blue screen, then my client should win. Uh.. 'Ween'." about
    "If the OS Crashes then kick Microsoft's...uh...ashes?"


    "If MS gets too rich, then we should slap that...uh, no, nevermind."

    This might be a difficult case for Cochran :-)

    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • I take it you favor legalization

    The core of the anti-smoking movement is completely hypocritical precisely because they favor legalization of tobacco.

    They demonize the tobacco corporations (in California as part of a government-funded propaganda campaign even!) for doing something that even they accept should be a legal activity -- marketing and selling cigarettes as a consumer product.

    The continual incremental hikes in the tobacco tax ("for the children!"), and the fact is the state is getting more profit out of a pack of smoke than the tobacco industry is, is just cyncial acceptance of this, with convienent Bad People political cover. I assume that you are in agreement with this.

    My own feeling is that if this is a moral issue as it's made out to be, then the government should do the moral thing and make the shit illegal. This is a serious suggestion from a smoker that few anti-smoking types have the balls to break their addition to tobacco tax money and accept.
  • Don't forget that IBM co-owned all of Windows 3.0 and was getting Windows 3.1 for a very attractive price.

    This all came out in the MS anti-trust trial. The cost per copy of Windows 3.1 to IBM was $11. At a time when their computers cost several hundred dollars more than their competitiors, this certainly wasn't a make-or-break amount.

    (Not to say that per-CPU Windows licences and the high cost of OS/2 to other PC makers didn't significantly hurt it.)
  • I disagree. The business PC industry pre-IBM was mainly 8080/Z-80 machines with 98% hardware compatibile S-100 bus slots and 98% software compatibile CP/M software.

    The main source of pain was that there was no common standard for disk drives which made the most common method of interoperating (sneakerware) impossible.

    Things like this were an obvious enough problem at the time, when IBM came in, there was just a mass agreement to just do things their way because it was easy. But if IBM wasn't in the picture, I think there would have been some sort of industry colalition that would have resolved most of the incompatibilies.

    It's been at least 14 years since IBM stopped dictating standards. And somehow in that time, despite the fact there's even more players, the things are still basically compatible with each other.
  • The usefulness may be questionable. The outrageousness? How is it any more outrageous than an auto recall? I don't expect any positive results, but one shouldn't be forced to buy a new OS because the old one was defective when built.

    At the very least one could hope that MS would be required to provide bug fixes for a decade on any OS that it sells, and if the fix requires installing a new version, then that version should also be provided for free. And if the time required to download the fix was too long, or if you don't have internet access, then mailed CD's of the fix should be required for substantially less than the actual handling costs.

    Defects should be required to be repaired. They for *** sure shouldn't be grounds to sell a new version!

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • In the sense that one could buy an Apple instead, you are correct. However even most small dealers require that a version of MS be sold with any WinTel capable machine. I was quite chagrined the other day when I specifically purchased a computer with Linux pre-installed to discover that it came with a copy of Win98. I didn't discover that until AFTER I had opened the box. It wasn't installed, but it was there, and I doubt that it was a free gift, even though the cellophane is still around the CD. (If I wanted to use Win98 I already have a copy that isn't installed anywhere!)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I'd prefer that they were split into about 20 pieces, so nobody would loose anything, but if they can't be rendered harmless then destruction is probably the safest choice. Mind you, I don't think that there's much chance. But just splitting it into 3 or 4 pieces ... that won't do anything useful.

    P.S.: I used to be a MS supporter, back when I used Apple equipment. And I still maintain that Word 5.1a for the Macintosh is the best word processor that I've ever used. But the recent garbage is something else! If they weren't a monopoly they'd have to be willing to sell it for Monopoly(tm) money.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • As corporations earn more and more rights which have traditionally been attributed to people, I submit that they should also be subject to harsher penalties.

    If a person (in Texas, at least) murdered as many people as even the smallest tobacco company, there would be no hesitation in executing that person. The same standard should apply to corporations as to people. In the case of Microsoft, that might include some harsh fines (high enough to have an impact on their bottom line).

    Only thing I can't figure out, is if the Death Penalty = Shutting down a business, and fines = (really big fines), then what is the corporate equivalent to prison?

  • I smoke because I like to smoke, and I am tired of people trying to take something away from me that I like.

    I've never met a real corporate tool before; I'm fascinated. What's like when they program you to actually like SOMETHING THAT'S KILLING YOU AND THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?

    mmmmmm...mentholicious....gasp....wheeze...cough.. .

    I take it that you also think that Britney Aguleria or whomever is a musical genius. After all, a large corporation said she's great!


  • Yeah, it must really blow to have $27 billion in USD on hand, and a 90% strangle-hold on the consumer OS market.

    Not that I like Microsoft, but this is an extremely minor hiccup to them. The amount of $$$ and market-share they made by pre-installing the OS will more than compensate for this.


  • Microsoft consciously and premeditatedly destroyed the market, and denied competition. Market forces BREAK when a monopoly is involved. The market (that is, the people who are tired of being forced to buy the same crap) woke up, and decided Microsoft needed to be taken down a peg.

    The DMCA is a law, that should be enforced unless and until it is found to be unconstitutional (which it will). Just because I don't agree with it doesn't mean I'm free from the consequences of breaking it.
  • You mean, they're not bad enough that we ought to actually ENFORCE the LAW on them? Come on. They've been manipulating the market to their advantage for 20 years. Now the market's mad. Time to pay the piper.
  • I'm a Minnesota resident, and my last PC came with Win98 preinstalled. How do I let Bill know where to send the check?

  • So why is it okay to take toys from individuals who play with them in an antisocial manner, but when it's a corporation, suddenly property rights are absolute? A corporation is nothing more than a shield against liability for an individual's or group's actions. Isn't it curious that conservatives jump up and down screaming like a four-year old about personal responsibility, yet ignore or suppress the role of corporations in cultivating irresponsible behavior and the many examples of such?

    That said, character is a valid factor in sentencing, as illustrated by several countries' legal systems. The repentant, apologetic offender receives a lighter charge and/or sentence than the willful, cold, repeat offender. They have been involved in the premeditated, unethical murder of many companies and good ideas that just happen to not put them at the top of the heap, and in any society with a serviceable ethical compass, the officers and board would have been jailed, the assets sold off, and the proceeds turned back to the purchasers of their clearly defective software.


  • I have one question: Why do the fanatic few of the /. community want MS to die? Think about it. What drives technology? Contrary to what many of you will no doubt say, it is the consumer. Why do you think that Intel and AMD put so much investment to make faster and faster chips? Not so that people can crack RC5 faster, no, it is to make business and consumers want Word to run faster. MS has done one thing, and we all benefit from it, it has taken the rather cryptic computer and has given it to our grandmothers.
    If MS would "die," then who will take over? Linux? Perhaps, when 30,000 of the best software people in the industry form another company that because of good decisions dominates the market. I honestly and truely don't think the Bazzaar method will fly for the joe-bob consumer who wants to know for a fact that the new version of Deer Hunter will work on his new Gateway and who doesn't even know that there is a video card in his box.
    Think about it. The majority of cosumers do not know ANYTHING about computers, much less the depth of knowledge that it takes to maintain a *nix box.
    OS X is a start, but I don't think anyone will buy it, because then people couldn't use the DVDs that they already have.
    The reason that you can buy a 7-800Mhz computer now for $800 is because of Microsoft. Sure you may have to pay for the OS, sure it crashes, but you have a 99% chance that it will install and run, for the most part, smoothy on any x86 computer.
    If MS would die, I would venture to say that it would pretty much cripple the economy. Think of all of the money that companies would have to pay to retrain all of their personnell. Think of all of the investments in the schools. Think of the stock market.
    If you look back, the "economic slowdown," started about the same time that the decision againist MS happened. That was when people realized that technology wasn't invincible, and now LOTS of "true geeks" are now worse off because all of their stock options in "true geek" companies are worthless (look at Akamai). Plus the "college geeks" will now find it VERY hard to find good internships.
    Ok. .enough of my ranting. . .till will probably be moderated down to troll anyway.
  • I hope that everyone on the anti-Microsoft is a stupid fuck like this idiot I'm responding to, as that will make it easier for Microsoft to get a fair outcome. Alas, I fear that some of Microsoft's critics are a bit more intelligent and are capable of coming up with some semblance of a rational argument.

    I would hardly call a situation where someone wins because the people picked to represent the opposition were "idiots" fair.

    A fair outcome happens when both parties are on equal footing. Unfortunately, Microsoft will likely be treated more than fairly no matter what, even if they lose.
  • How about this one? Mental anguish because you were forced to become a software pirate since you had to "borrow" your copy of Windows (and Word, and Excel, and whatever else) from work just to be compatible with the rest of the world? If only they haden't bullied everyone into being "MS-compatible".
  • If they were hit by a lot of classactions suits and they're pocket book is actually starting to suffer, they'll just find another way to fsck the consumer. Maybe they'll go tp all subscription based software. Hell maybe they'll do the same to their hardware. "Your optical mouse driver expires will expire on 6/6/6." Maybe they'll back their installation support down to 30 days, free tech support down to 30 from the purchase date, and charge for everything after that. As much as I'd like to see M$ take one up the ass for a change, I have doubts as to this being the Kodak moment we've all dreamed of.


  • I don't claim to be an expert or anything but I think it would be blatently obvious if Microsoft pulled something like that. Besides, their crimes have already been committed in this country and before any potential move to a foreign country. They are still responsible for their actions in this country. Whether or not they are here to defend themselves or not, they can still be tried and damages can be asessed. If they manage to make accusations against anyone person, couldn't they extradite those parties? Doesn't the US have an extrasition thingy with Canada? If they really wanted to hurt M$ and they moved to Canada, apply heavy tariffs to imported commercial operationg systems. Drive Canada so mad that M$ will either have to move back or get the hell out of Canada. Anyhow, this was something I thought.


  • No, but selling very dangerous *addictive* products that provide no benefit to the consumer is immoral. The "pleasure" people receive from smoking is an easing of the withdrawal symptoms.

    This is how you see it. Many smokers would disagree with you. They would claim that indeed smoking is a pleasurable experience that enriches their lives. What right do you have to force your values on them?

    It's not a matter of opinion where the pleasure comes from. It's well understood scientifically. It comes from a deep cellular addiction to nicotene.
    Bullshit. It's not a physical dependency like with heroin.
    Double bullshit. Nicotine is more addictive than heroin. Aside from numerous studies to that effect, spend a little time around AA meetings, meet ex-junkies, etc. What's the one "habit" they can't kick? Nicotene. Most of them smoke.

    Nicotene CAN be consumed in moderate quantities, but the people who can't control their addiction outnumber those who can. The same is true for heroin, although the percentage of people who can consume it in moderation may be higher. I take it you favor legalization?

    I agree with you that people need to take more responsibility for their own actions, but you don't help matters by repeating untruths out of a tobacco company PR guide.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • how about those of us who would have loved to have a computing experience that didn't suck, and have been prevented by microsoft illegally extending their dominance to all corners of the computer market?
    don't we have compensation for the nextstep-amiga-death machine running NetscapeOS 6.7 (actually, hmm, thank them for saving us from that....)
  • So true! And the defendant is hardly affected financially, but they are protected from any* future lawsuits from class members. Class action lawsuits are bunk! []

    *Any lawsuits on the same topic.
    No .sig here.
  • Microsoft started running print ads where they show a BSOD and have a caption which says something like "This won't happen with Windows 2000." So you might have a case against them since they've publicly acknowledged that it was a flaw with the OS (as opposed to previously being able to claim it was your video driver or some other program that was causing it) and have not issued a recall of their flawed operating systems.
  • Surprise!

    It's a coupon good for $25 off your next Windows upgrade...

    Other companies have settled class-action lawsuits this way before, why not Microsoft?
  • The real difference is that Microsoft has a larger market share, and hence lawyers can get more money out of them. But as a matter of law and economics, what's the difference? Judge Jackson ruled that the "relevant market" for Microsoft was PC consumer OS's, so it would seem that there is a similar market for antitrust purposes for Mac hardware. If that's the case, Apple's far more of a monopolist than Microsoft is.

    IIRC, Judge Jackson's definition of PC included Mac's. If that's true, then Apple can't be considered to be in a monopoly position because their OS is in competition with Winders.

    If Apple isn't a monopolist, then the rules that govern monopolists don't apply to Apple. In other words the rules that Microsoft has to follow, becuase of their monopoly position, are very much different than the rules that everyone else has to follow.

    Remember, being a monopoly isn't illegal. It's the attempt to maintain and extend the monopoly that's illegal. Thus, deals that preclude consumer choice in operating systems, done by a monopoly, are acts that maintain the monopoly power and are thus illegal. Those same deals, done by someone who is not a monopolist may or may not be good business practice, but they aren't illegal.

    IANAL, so maybe I got this wrong. Someone who knows the law better care to comment?

  • They're now in CA. CA was listed as one of the states.
  • by mwalker ( 66677 )
    IMHO, this is how MS will die

    Hemos, how are you going to kill what's already dead? []

  • Whoo hoo! Apparently there are suits pending in MI and AZ... I bought windows pre-installed in each of these states. So, how do I join one suit or the other? Didn't see any links in the c|net story; does anyone know?
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but what exactly are people going to sue MS for? When you buy a computer with Windows pre-installed, it's not like they tell you "This system will work perfectly, and will never crash."
  • I don't think you understand the concept of class action suits. Instead of having loads of little suits, all the lawyers get together and file a huge suit. That way the company getting sued does not go broke paying legal fees, the lawyers all collect millions of dollars each, and the consumers get checks for the ten cents left.

    If there are class action suits, it will be a few, at most. The legal bills will be miniscule in the microsoft scheme of things. The payouts will be small, far less than the profits Microsoft made off of windows.

    All this, of course, assumes that Microsoft is found guilty, which is probably not going to happen, given that many Americans still see Microsoft as just a bunch of enterprising guys who worked their butts off to enjoy the American dream.

    Beyond that, people can bitch as much as they want, they will have a hard time proving that Microsoft hurt consumers. At best they can sue Microsoft for charging too much for the OS, which is unlikely, given how much software out there costs many more times than an OEM Windows license, and you need the OS just to run the software.

    Nothing will ever get rid of Microsoft. They might lost their monopoly on the OS market. Their dominance in the office app market will liekly die out as they move to XML based file formats, which will be nigh-impossible to keep proprietary. .net will never be as huge as Bill would like, because the ASP companies already have a ton of ground and people won't need MS to make that business work.

  • You use words like illegal and fraudulent without basis. None of the practices you described are illegal. There's a whiny section of the population that would like to think that they are on account of Microsoft being the mythical monopoly.

    Yes, certain manufacturers only sold PCs with Windows pre-installed. This was a business decision they made in order to be able to provide the best product at the lowest price. However, there always were other manufacturers that didn't sell with Windows pre-installed.
  • by GrEp ( 89884 )
    Just think of the state software, and hardware would be in for that matter if there were no monopolies. Microsoft has squashed more software and hardware companies than the number of security holes in Outlook. Monopolies are BAD. Competition is good. I wouldn't feel the least bit of loss if I had to use their competitors products.

  • I think you've got it the other way around. Sun's market cap is 50billion.

    MS has 28billion in _cash_

    MS could buy Sun today, if they wanted to (and there wasn't a DOJ :)

    MS could buy _yahoo_ with cash and not even notice (yahoo: 8billion)

    Lets say every single man, woman, and child in america sues MS for 100 dollars. Whats the US population, 300 million ? 300 * 100 = 30000 million = 30 billion. MS could cover everything with 1 cash payment. Granted, they wouldn't do it this way, and it would suck for them, but there probably wont be a $100 award given to every man, woman, and child in the US either.
  • Apparently Hemos is trying to divert the fact that VA Linux (the parent of Slashdot) has its OWN pile of class action suits, alleging securities fraud. Of course, the difference is that Microsoft has billions of dollars of cash on hand, and makes a couple of billion dollars in _profit_ every year. VA Linux, on the other hand, is in debt hundreds of millions of dollars, and loses tens of millions of dollars per quarter. So who do you think will be sued out of existence first? How will be out on the streets first begging for a REAL job - Gates or Bates? My money is on VA Linux going bankrupt far sooner than Microsoft.
  • >This poster pretty much embodies everything that is wrong with the U.S. justice system and the American mentality of "Sue, Sue, Sue! I don't care what it's about, just let me Sue!"

    You're wrong (about me anyway). I agree class action suits suck, the lawyers are the only winners, etc...

    I've recieved 6 letters in the past two years saying I was part of the class that was suing... I didn't join any of the suits, and on two occasions offered to help the companies being sued.

    But, this case is different. This is Microsoft. Before giving up Windows entirely, Bill made my life miserable. I'd like to pay him back!

  • You cannot cherry-pick which laws you want enforced -- you have to take the good with the bad.

    Yes you can and no you don't. Part of being in a democracy means that the people effect the laws an policy in place. So you can cherry pick the good laws and get rid of or civily disobey the dumb ones []. In fact, it's a patriotic duty.

  • remember the other time when we sent back those cd-roms..
    claiming to send us back our $100 for the MSwindows they installed.
    hell .. its better this year
    we can have a "file a class action suit day" ..

    now wouldn't that be great ?
    i bet the lawyers are drooling right now

  • IMHO, this is how MS will die - not the Fed suit, but piles of private suits oh, c'mon Hemos. I would like that just as much as you, but we both know that it isn't going to happen

    I hate to be the one to point this out, but if MS dies what other OS are the clueless AOL newbies going to use? They won't stop using computer of course.. they will be forced to migrate to another OS, perhaps Linux. Can you immagine the tech support nightmare that would cause?
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\=\
  • ... you lost revenue!

    No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.
  • Never make the mistake of confusing sticker price with total cost.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @11:31AM (#310833) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, sure. What makes them special? It's not like they are a _person_. They are a legal fiction and a very entrenched corporate culture and a bunch of developers, suits, lawyers, etc. They should be disbanded and all the people should go off and get other jobs, which wouldn't be too hard (especially for the marketroids- yiiii). This would produce a wild flurry of venture capital and startups, and IT would get interesting again, and it would begin to make sense for small companies to innovate (in the traditional sense of the word) again.

    Sure, not all of the activity would be useful, but I don't mind saying I _miss_ the days when it seemed like there was some new Netscape plugin or image format popping up every five minutes. It took a great deal of 800-pound-gorillaing to stultify the industry to the point where basically nothing happens and the big noise is a concept as essentially hollow and meaningless as dotNET... I think it'd be great to break up the logjam and get things moving again.

    So yes, absolutely, I want Microsoft out of business. Come on, there are lots of other companies out there that you might like. If you're so dead-set on corporate welfare and protecting Microsoft from darwinism, did you also lobby to protect Apple through all the past and present times it's done really stupid things? Can't have it both ways now.

  • by jCaT ( 1320 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @12:42PM (#310834)
    DMCA == law
    DMCA == bad
    law == bad
    antitrust laws == law
    antitrust laws == bad

    yeah, ok... how bout this one:

    god == love
    love == blind
    ray charles == blind
    ray charles == god

    Your logic is just great! Almost as good as your overall knowledge of business practices and monopolies.
  • by ksheff ( 2406 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @11:27AM (#310835) Homepage

    Forced? Really? That's bulshit. You could have paid someone to go buy the various parts and construct a PC from scratch, no? But that would have likely been more expensive and inconvenient.

    If you can show me a site where I can buy generic laptop parts and build one all from scratch like I can a desktop, I'd appreciate it. The major complaint about not being able to buy a machine w/o Windows has usually be by laptop buyers. Fortunately, there are some manufacturers who now sell linux pre-installed on their laptops. However, if push comes to shove, and Billy tells Dell to drop linux preinstalls or have their next set of license agreements given the same treatment that IBM got in 1995, what do you think they will do?

  • This is bullshit. First of all, IBM fought cloners in court and lost. Most of them never lisenced IBM technology, and IBM never "opened up" their platform. It was forced open by black-box reverse engineering of their chipsets and extensive legal battles.

    Secondly, Microsoft negotiates a separate contract with each of the major OEMs. Any one of them could tell MS to go to hell, and chances are all MS could do is raise the price of Windows. It's not Microsofts' fault that none of the OEMs have any balls.

    Thirdly, you don't pay "full price" for pre-installed copies of Windows. Microsoft gives OEMs deep discounts, which presumably get passed on to the consumer.

    Finally, at least MS liscences their OS. Apple doesn't even do that. If you want a Mac, you pay a "Mac OS tax" for the privilege. It's precisely the same issue. Can I sue Apple for not selling Macs without OS's? If not, then how is MS different?
  • The point of these class action suits isn't whether or not they get a license, it's whether or not you have a choice. And up until recently, the average consumer that lacked the know-how to build their own machine was without choice if they wanted to buy from a reliable OEM.

    Sure, but I still think my analogy to Apple holds. If I have a right to PC hardware without a copy of Windows, don't I have a right to PPC hardware without a copy of Mac OS? My question is: how is this different?

    The real difference is that Microsoft has a larger market share, and hence lawyers can get more money out of them. But as a matter of law and economics, what's the difference? Judge Jackson ruled that the "relevant market" for Microsoft was PC consumer OS's, so it would seem that there is a similar market for antitrust purposes for Mac hardware. If that's the case, Apple's far more of a monopolist than Microsoft is.

    The logic of your position seems to me to lead to the conclusion that no company can ever enter into exclusive bundling arrangements. Does that mean that nVidia got too much market share, OEMs wouldn't be allowed to sign exclusive deals with them to bundle in all of their computers? Or if I don't like the hard drive in one of Compaq's computers, do I have a right to demand they put in a different one of those?

    Law has to be objective and clear to everyone who applies it. I hope I'm not coming accross as just asking assinine questions to be annoying. It's crucial that antitrust law like all law be specific, clear, and universal. You can't have one set of rules for companies you like and another for those you don't, and you can't change the rules in the middle of the game. I believe that's what a lawsuit would mean-- Microsoft isn't being punished for breaking any identifiable law. They are being punished for making a product that some people don't like. I think that's bad law no matter how you slice it.
  • by binarybits ( 11068 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @01:59PM (#310838) Homepage
    This is a very valid point. If this is what the lawsuit would be over (and the facts are sa you relate them), I would wholeheartedly support it. The key issue here, then, is fraud-- you were sold a product that had hidden conditions.

    But this is very different from the more general claim that you're "forced" to purchase Windows. Here you knew you were going to get Windows, you just weren't told what the conditions of that purchase would be. It's a different issue.

    But I agree with you-- if a company is going to stick a draconian EULA inside the box where the user can't read it until after he opens it, he has every right to return it for a refund. If they want to make it binding, they should force the sales clerk to show you a copy of the EULA before you walk out of the store with your copy. Otherwise, you have every right to get your money back when you find the EULA.
  • by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @11:54AM (#310839)
    I'd say that it's not likely at all that a flurry of lawsuits will kill Microsoft. Inconvenience them, maybe. Cost them a little cash, maybe. But Microsoft isn't going to go away because of lawsuits.

    Look, Dow Chemical got socked with a staggering judgement...they simply declared bankruptcy and continued on. The tobacco industry got hammered, but they're still around. This will do nothing to Microsoft.

    In fact, it seems to me that the very basis of the class action suit in Minnesota is a loser from the start. The claim is that people were overcharged for their operating system. When I worked for a major PC manufacturer, I know that they bought their licenses of Windows 95 and 98 for about $45 per computer. NT licenses were about $10 more. Nobody can convince me that that's overcharging.

    I don't always like the business tactics that Microsoft employs, and they use corporate doublespeak terribly well, but in the end, the software generally works, is integrated well and is pretty much easier to use than other alternatives.

    Microsoft won't last forever...even Bill Gates admits that. But they aren't going to be sued out of existence.


  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @12:03PM (#310840)
    > If Linux/BSD/MacOSX/Whatever is a better OS than Microsofts, then let them compete in the marketplace, not in the courts.

    That's exactly the problem with monopolies: the market doesn't work correctly in the presence of a monopoly, and alternative solutions can't win on their merits.

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:41AM (#310841)
    I keep hearing you M$ apologist repeat over and over that if other companies were any good, they would be able to compete in the marketplace.

    Problem is, the fair playing field of the marketplace has been warped by M$ market dominance. They have been able to bend standards to make other products incompatible, and since they are the dominant players everyone bends to their standard. If another company starts gaining ground by winning a major contract, they buy out the other party. That is, competitors never have a chance to gain market momentum(sp?) no matter how good their products are!!

    That's the point. That is always, has always been, the point. M$ gained market dominance early in the race, and through careful manipulation of the 'network effect', has worked to insure that no competitor can get a foothold in the market.

    Futhermore, regardless of who is selling the product, there are laws that say a product must work as advertised or the purchaser is due a refund. Advertising that something is easy and cures cancer, then denying it in legalese on a tiny slip of paper hinden deep in the packaging is not considered kosher.

    I regret that I don't live in one of the listed states so that I could add my name to the list. I'd like to receive a refund for DOS 6.0 and Win3.1 (last version I bought), 'cause it never did work right and there was no way in hell for me to get a refund until now. I had to replace that combo with OS/2 to get real work done.

    Maybe this won't kill M$, but it will weaken them enough that they don't have the cash on hand to immediately kill every competitor that pops up. At some point, people will start to realize that M$ product aren't really all that great after all, and THEN the market will start working. And that is what WILL kill M$.

  • by aufait ( 45237 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @11:42AM (#310842) Homepage
    The fact that the particular system you wanted didn't come without Windows doesn't mean you were "forced" to purchase it. It just meant that you got a component you didn't want in with the components you did. If you didn't like the whole package, go elsewhere.

    By this logic you should be able to demand any component of the computer removed-- you don't want any memory or a sound card-- and get a discount for it. Computers are package-deals. There are dozens of components, and different companies put different parts in. You are free to pick those you want.

    Only one problem with this logic: My "rights" with the sound card are not the same as with the software. If the "package deal" includes a sound card, I am legally allowed to remove the sound card and resell it to recoup some of the money. According to Microsoft's EULA, this is not allowed with their software since it was licensed to that particular machine. You can not resell your copy of Windows to recoup some of the money you spent on it.

  • by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:20AM (#310843)
    Are we also to assume that one must be a resident of MN to join the suit?

    What if we bought the computer in MN?

    What if the dealer was in MN?

  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:33AM (#310844) Homepage
    Well, by that logic, Windows doesn't crash .. you crash because you chose to run Windows.

    The tabacco industry lied for many years about the dangers of smoking (and I smoke, so I'm not some bleeding heart liberal here). It may be black and white today, but many believed the tabacco industry earlier in the century.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if Microsoft makes certain claims, than their products should backup those claims. Whether they do or not, I'm not here to discuss ... but ... hheeeey waitaminute ... TROLL ALERT?! damn, back to the main thread ..
  • by Wintermancer ( 134128 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:32AM (#310845)
    Really now, does anyone think that industry-friendly George W. Bush is going to let this come to fruition?

    It'll grind its way through the court system for years, as Microsoft brings out its legal "rhino chasers" (really big guns). That and the Tolkein-esque "one shrink wrap to bind them, own them, and prevent them from doing anything" legal writ on every peice of MS software. That alone will help put any class action software lawsuit into a death spiral faster than a Chinese fighter jet playing chicken with US spy planes.

    If it ever became a serious threat, expect the Republicans to draft legislation preventing class action lawsuits aimed specifically against software companies. With all that buggy code floating around, why, the legal system would be nothing more than one class action after another (who says law doesn't have built -in recursion subroutines?)

    The only way Microsoft is ever going to be brough to their knees is through massive consumer dissatisfaction. People start buying their competitors products in lieu of Microsofts. That's the only way to deal with them. In their earnings reports.
  • For i86 desktop systems, I agree that it's possible to not pay the MS tax. All of my personal desktop machines have been built from parts...and as such, I've personally avoided the tax.

    These concerns vaporize as soon as you have to maintain and buy systems for a company;

    In-house labor is usually quite expensive per-machine.

    Machines ordered in bulk are usually cheaper and usually have identical hardware.

    More limited warranty (if any).

    Warranty covers indivual parts, not whole systems.

    I'm busy!

    There are other reasons, but these alone make the tax something that is a given expense that simply can't be avoided regaurdless of the OS that ends up on the machine.

    Notebooks, though, are damn difficult to buy without a pre-installed OS. Those that are available usually have some flavor of Windows installed first, and then wiped the tax isn't really avoided.

  • by Slashdolt ( 166321 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:41AM (#310847)
    41:And the angel opened the 31337th seal, and there was a calm in heaven. And when the angel had opened the 31337th seal, there came a sound of which had not been heard before. From the depths of Hell came forth lawyers, holding speech devices near their ears, into which they did speak for a time. Then a great cry came forth "Babylon is falling! How will we control our devices?" Then I beheld the spirit of the Lord bringing with him many boxes. Unto Man did he give distributions for the boxes, and all of those found using the distributions did survive plague of the Lawyers.
  • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:20AM (#310848)
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Death is but a mere obstacle to lawyers.
  • by canadian_right ( 410687 ) <> on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:47AM (#310849) Homepage
    That article was useless. Doesn't mention any of the arguments explaining how consumers have been 'harmed'. All this mindless MS bashing coming from all you so called capitalist yanks seems very wierd to me.

    I don't recall MS ever forcing me to buy their products, there are many alternatives around, so what's the problem? Sure, lots of things suck about MS software, but they haven't 'harmed' the average home user.

  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:41AM (#310850) Homepage Journal

    Does the Slashdot Jihad hate Microsoft so much that they want them OUT OF BUSINESS? Jeezum crow, MS isn't the greatest software company in the world, nor are they cute and snuggly, but worthy of being DESTROYED?

    How come I don't hear the same things about Cisco, or Oracle, or even Sun for that matter? Shit, Bill Gates isn't even the richest man in the world anymore, and is mostly concerned with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation anyway.

    Sure they make a crappy OS (tho, I understand Win 2K ain't all that bad) but is that so bad that they deserve to be visited by a plague of lawyers? (Which, BTW, I'm pretty sure St. John the Devine listed as a Sign of the End Times in Revelations)

    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • by Benjamin Shniper ( 24107 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:48AM (#310851) Homepage
    If Linux/BSD/MacOSX/Whatever is a better OS than Microsofts, then let them compete in the marketplace, not in the courts.

    Red Hat, Macintosh, and some other OSes are for purchase at your local staples.

    Please be advised not everyone wants to see a company destroyed just because they are a (sometimes mean and unfair) competitor. Maybe just hurt a little.

  • by sirinek ( 41507 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:42AM (#310852) Homepage Journal
    When a car is defective they issue a recall and they pay for it. When M$ products are defective, its called an upgrade and *you* pay for it.


  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:24AM (#310853)
    The only folks who win in class-action lawsuits are lawyers and the defendant. The suits take a large proportion of the award. The defendant is usally punished by requiring them to send out dollar-off coupons to the plaintiffs, like what happened with GM []. This decision most certainly isn't a coup for the common man. It's just an opportunity to get a discount on your next purchase of Windows.
  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:21AM (#310854) Homepage Journal
    you forgot NT and XP
  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:29AM (#310855) Homepage
    one of the most outrageous things I have ever heard. What do people honestly think they're going to get?

    I can see it now.........
    40 million people that bought computers with MS-DOS/Windows preintalled since 1994, left a Minnesota court room today jubulant. They will be entitled to a percentage of the record setting settlement of 53 trillion dollars. It is expected that Microsoft will challenge the desision and thus tie this matter up in court for many decades.

  • by Magumbo ( 414471 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:40AM (#310856)
    but under MN law (as well as CA, DC, WI, NM, SD, ND and ME) indirect sellers (like MS) can be sued.

    Ok. I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but we shouldn't band together to attack Mississippi. It's a fine state with a colorful history. Perhaps their support would be beneficial to the cause too.


  • by rho ( 6063 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @10:02AM (#310857) Homepage Journal
    You mean, they're not bad enough that we ought to actually ENFORCE the LAW on them? Come on. They've been manipulating the market to their advantage for 20 years. Now the market's mad. Time to pay the piper

    Hrumph. The DMCA is the law, too. Are you as gung-ho about enforcing it?

    Double hrumph. The "law" and the "market" are not one and the same. If the market's mad, they produce something better -- such as *cough* OpenBSD *cough* -- but a pure market doesn't use the hammer of Government to exact revenge, it COMPETES.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • by aufait ( 45237 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @01:40PM (#310858) Homepage
    1) A consumer buys a computer from a catalogue that only has a notation "Windows included". No mention that the user will have to sign a contract in order to use the software. Nor, is he given an oppurtunity to read the contract before paying for the compuer.

    2) Consumer reads the contract and does not want to sign it.

    3) He contacts the seller to receive a refund for returning the product (as instructed to by the contract).

    4) Seller says that their contract with Microsoft prohibits them from reinbursing them.

    5) Consumer can not legally sell the unwanted software to recoup some of his lost money.

    6) The consumer now has something he paid for that he can't use; but, can't resell.

    That is a big difference from buying a bundled sound card.

    Will it make a difference in court? I don't know. I am not a laywer. But, it sounds like their was some misrepresentation since the computer was sold without any mention of a contract.

  • by cheezus ( 95036 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:21AM (#310859) Homepage
    IMHO, this is how MS will die - not the Fed suit, but piles of private suits

    oh, c'mon Hemos. I would like that just as much as you, but we both know that it isn't going to happen. Sure, they'll end up taking a hit financially, and will probably have to make some changes in their pricing, but they will be far from dead. Heck, all those lawsuits couldn't destroy the tobacco industry, and they kill people.


  • by mech9t8 ( 310197 ) on Friday April 06, 2001 @09:25AM (#310860)
    There's never been a time that you couldn't buy a computer without Windows... Sure, if you wanted a Dell, you had to get Windows, but you probably also had to get Brand X hard drive and Brand Y motherboard. Bundling is a common practice in most businesses. But big name brands aren't the only companies out there, and you could always buy machines made with quality components to put whatever OS you wanted on them.

    IMHO, the cases will fail. Doesn't mean they won't drag out and give the lawyers on both sides lots of money, though...
    Assume that there are valid arguments against your position.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...