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Bush Administration Stops Microsoft Breakup 980

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had been instructed by the Bush Administration to cease its drive to break up Microsoft, which has already been found guilty of violating U.S. anti-trust law in a complaint filed by the Federal Government and 19 states. See the BBC or CNN for more. It isn't clear what wristslap, errr, remedy the Justice Department will seek instead. Update: 09/06 15:21 PM GMT by M : Declan McCullagh of Wired notes: "The text of the DOJ announcement is here. Wired News has an article. Also, the DOJ says a 'Senior Antitrust Division Official' will brief reporters at the department's DC headquarters at 11:30 am ET, so look for some followup stories from that."
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Bush Administration Stops Microsoft Breakup

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  • by bmongar ( 230600 )
    Gee, I guess this means the people who think Flash is going to replace everything are SOL now.

    Hi, Rob!
  • ... and in a related announcement, spokesmen unveiled an upgraded version of the United States government, to be named "Microsoft US/2010", scheduled for release first quarter '02.
  • Battle stations! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sphere ( 27305 )
    OK folks, time to come out swinging. As a tech writer, I hereby swear to do something worthwhile for the Linux Documentation Project by the end of the month.

    What are you doing?
  • Bush (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Claric ( 316725 )
    It seems that he is above the law.

    We could see Microsoft above the law if this goes on.


    • Re:Bush (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dgb2n ( 85206 )
      What garbage. You may disagree with the Bush administration's decision to push for the breakup of Micro$oft but to suggest that the decision exceeded the President's legal authority is just silly.

      When Janet Reno repeatedly refused to investigate corruption within the the Clinton administration I didn't like it but she was well within her legal authority.

      Its not that Bush is above the law but the President does has discretion pertaining to which cases to prosecute and to what extent.
  • Bastards (Score:2, Insightful)

    by waldoj ( 8229 )
    The worst part is that couldn't we all see this coming? Ashcroft was such a weenie during his appointment hearings, especially whenever the topic of Microsoft came up. Microsoft, of course, must have been getting the inside word on this, which explains their incredibly nervy behavior (many aspects of XP, Smart Tags, etc.) in the last few months. This was surely all arranged between Bill and Double-Yah many months ago.

    Those bastards!


    • The worst part is that couldn't we all see this coming

      During the campaign flame-wars here, I dont know how many times I saw people right here on slashdot predicting Bush would stop the breakup. Everyone knows he is deep in the pockets of big oil and industry, did you not think Microsoft would get a piece of that action?

      If anything the past couple years have shown, is that we now truely have a government by the corporation, of the corporation, and for the corporation.

    • Re:Bastards (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You know the BBC article says that the decision to pursue a breakup was dropped in order to get an effective punishment against MicroSoft more quickly. Furthermore there is no mention of Bush's personal invovlement at all. Doesn't it seem more likely that the DOJ wanted to punish MS for their violations of the law more quickly and realizing that a breakup would probably take decades in court decided to go with something else that would only take years in court?
      • From the BBC article:

        The US Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer push to have software giant Microsoft broken up.

        The decision by the Bush administration reverses the Clinton White House legal strategy against Microsoft.

        Bush is the head of the Bush administration, so one can presume that it was him that made the decision.
        • Bush is the head of the Bush administration, so one can presume that it was him that made the decision.

          There are several thousand (I forget the exact number) people in bush's administration and several million in the government as a whole. Bush probably did not make this decision.

          Now, bush probably hired people that hired other people that made the decision, but to portray him as making all decisions we don't like is innacurate :)

        • No, you cant presume it was his decision. You can presume that it is his responsibility though. The president does not make all the decisions of the administration, but he is responsible for all the decisions of the administration. There is a fine line between the two concepts. You can blame him for not correcting the error of the justice department, but you cannot assume that anyone in the justice department asked him for his opinion or if they ever did that he told them what to do.
    • by count0 ( 28810 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:59PM (#2259645)
      I'm no fan of MS, but given my current job search headaches I'd prefer not to see a recession get triggered by something that could be avoided. Selfish? Short-sighted? probably. But I'd like the economy to recover sooner than later, and a MS breakup would result in later.

    • Re:Bastards (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZeLonewolf ( 197271 )
      This appears to be sensationalist! Let's look at what's really happening here:

      The DoJ is no longer pursuing the breakup as Microsoft as a remedy. It's not dropping the case at! We all knew besides that it would probably take a decade for Microsoft to be broken up and through a long, winding appeals process. The breakup was a tempting but unrealistic result.

      Instead, the Justice department is focusing on remedies that will stop Microsoft from being the greedy corporate enemy #1 that it's been. From CNN:
      Instead of a breakup, the Justice Department said it will ask that Microsoft have certain restrictions placed on its conduct modeled on those the original trial judge imposed on the company in June 2000 but were postponed pending the appeal.

      [Paragraph Deleted]

      Among the conduct remedies Judge Jackson originally imposed were: prohibiting Microsoft from punishing hardware and software companies working on competing products; prohibiting it from favoring computer companies and software developers that helped Microsoft exclude competitors; requiring Microsoft to license Windows to PC makers under uniform prices and terms according to a publicly available schedule; and barring Microsoft from interfering with the way PC makers set up startup screens, the Windows desktop, preferences, and Internet connection wizards.
      So you see, the DoJ can now go and pursue remedies that Microsoft won't fight as hard, and would probably result is a shorter trial. Besides, did you really think TWO Microsofts would be any better than what we have now?
    • ...keep in mind two things.

      1. MS still has the Findings of Fact hanging around its neck -- read: civil suits from Sun, Netscape/AOL, just about anybody who wants to bring an antitrust case. Remember, AT&T was broken up after a civil suit by MCI way-back-when in the early 80s, not because of the Feds initiating the action.

      2. The conduct remedies are not yet set in stone, just based on Jackson's final judgement minus the breakup (which was pretty harsh already) and not necessarily limited to that. It would be interesting, for example, if one of the remedies were to force MS to take Windows XP from the market...and that is strongly implied in both the BBC and CNNfn articles.

      So MS has dodged the breakup bullet, but OTOH the breakup as specified -- AppsCo and SystemsCo (or whatever the heck the stupid names were) -- would have just created two monopolies where only one existed before, and with both still having the same kick-'em-when-they're-down culture of MS. If you ask me, that would have been worse than the current situation.

      And XP may yet be barred from the market (at least for a while) -- and later come to market sans Messenger, Hailstorm, Passport and so on. Maybe. *fingers crossed*

      Of course, IANAL and all that.

      So there is a silver lining...well, maybe a mercury lining. Oh, whatever.


  • Bush? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:17AM (#2259274) Homepage Journal
    The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had been instructed by President Bush...

    Funny, i don't see any claims that George W. Bush told anyone to do anything.

    Typical Slashdot bias.

    P.S. Write your state senators and tell them to press on -- the trial can go on without the DOJ.
    • You'll see this: "The US Department of Justice has announced that it will no longer push to have software giant Microsoft broken up.

      The decision by the Bush administration reverses the Clinton White House legal strategy against Microsoft. "
      Since Bush is (nominally) the head of the Bush administration, it's proper to presume that Bush gave the order. Whether someone advised him on it is another matter, but Bush is the president.
      • I REALLY doubt Bush walked into John Ashcroft's office and said "Y'know John, we've been giving Microsoft a really hard time.. d'ya think we could drop the 'split MS in two' idea and go for a more leniant punishment?". The BBC doesn't really say where they got their idea that Bush made the decision, and in fact, it doesn't even really say Bush specifically was involved. It says the BUSH ADMINISTRATION (which John Ashcroft could be considered part of).

        Slashdot wanted a biased article though and they got it. Suddenly Bush (even though he likely wasn't even involved with the decision, but likely heard of it) is yet another villain for the left-wing anti-corporate zealots to try to feed to the media at large. [shakes head]
    • Re:Bush? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Teancom ( 13486 )
      Where oh where are my mod points?? The only reference to Bush at all is in the BBC blurb (as opposed to an actual story) that says "the Bush administration has decided not to press for a breakup". And yes, the DoJ is part of the Bush administration. At no point does it say that Pres. Bush asked them to, or really anything else at all. Sheesh.....
    • exactly (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:56PM (#2259596)
      From the NY Times article:
      The antitrust official said the decision announced today was not connected to the introduction of the Windows XP system. He said Attorney General John D. Ashcroft had been notified of the decision but had not influenced the outcome. The official said there had been no White House involvement. "The decisions about this case are being made in the Department of Justice," he said.

      Now you might speculate that they're lying, and that Bush actually did order this action, but to report so as fact is clearly very poor journalism.
      • Re:exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Noer ( 85363 )
        Another possibility - those who made the decision may not have been TOLD by Ashcroft or Bush to make that decision, but may have been otherwise pressured (indirectly) by them to make that decision. Merely saying that "Bush is buddies with Bill" was probably enough to change the DoJ's strategy, without constituting a direct order.
      • NOT exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Brand X ( 162556 ) <{} {ta} {epsoyn}> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:45PM (#2260102) Homepage
        From the LA Times article:

        WASHINGTON -- Reversing a Clinton-era legal strategy, the Bush administration announced today it will no longer seek the breakup of Microsoft and wants to end the historic antitrust case against the software maker as quickly as possible.


        During a ceremony on the White House lawn, President Bush declined to comment directly on the case but told reporters: "During the course of the campaign and throughout my administration I have made it abundantly clear that on issues relating to lawsuits -- to ongoing lawsuits -- that I expect the Justice Department to handle that in a way that brings honor and thought to the process.

        "I respect and hold our attorney general in high esteem and I honor the work that he's done and I'm going to leave it at that," Bush said.

        Now you might speculate that they're taking the quote out of context, or that there might be another implication to what he said (or almost didn't say), but to only go from one source and ignore all others is clearly very poor investigation.
    • George Bush and his administration runs the justice department. The justice department didn't coincidentally change its position, they were instructed to.

      While I'm among the first to argue that slashdot is definately biased, this isn't an example of it.

    • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:58PM (#2259618) Journal
      Clearly your position is grounded more in a kneejerk bias to defend the President, regardless of the merits, than an informed understanding of what is going on, or a valid criticism of the original posting.

      Bottom line, the President is absolutely answerable for this (although it may well be the right thing to do from a legal perspective). Writing "state senators" can and will accomplish nothing.

      First, the Department of Justice is an agency of the Executive Branch of Government, that is to say, they work for the President of the United States. John Ashcroft was appointed by, and serves at the pleasure of, the President. While he is sometimes granted autonomy as a matter of course, Ashcroft would take no position contrary to the wishes of the President. You may recall not too long ago, when Richard Nixon sought to have "independent counsel" Archibald Cox sacked -- two officers resigned office (or were asked to resign) rather than follow their boss' instructions. Only Robert Bork, one of the few remaining executives in DOJ who hadn't resigned, agreed to follow those instructions.

      Now, just so you understand -- the Department of Justice are the lawyers for the United States Government. If they drop the case, the U.S. government will not proceed. Furthermore, and far more important, the House and the Senate have no constitutional authority to enforce any law against anyone (except a case for impeachment), presuming that, by "state senators," you meant the Senators representing your state in the Federal Senate. Your state senators wouldn't have much to say about anything -- except the cases brought by particular states -- and they would likewise be constrained under their respective state constitution separation of powers from acting against any company. You might write your governor, if you wanted to continue seeking structural relief, for all the good it will do you.
    • by abe ferlman ( 205607 ) <> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:26PM (#2259916) Homepage Journal
      The only way that this wasn't Bush's decision is if all the stories about Cheney really running the country are true. The decision may well have been issued and executed by Ashcroft and his cronies, but Bush is his boss, and can fire him if he makes decisions with which he disagrees.

      It's not like Ashcroft is some gunslinging maverick who doesn't toe the party line- he does what Bush wants, or he is replaced by someone who will.

    • Re:Bush? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:50PM (#2260154) Journal
      Exactly. Dubya didn't pick up the phone, call a receptionist at the DOJ, and say, "Don't break up Microsoft." (Well, not bloody likely. Oh, to be privvy to such things....)

      Of course, the DOJ is run by John Ashcroft, a Bush appointee. And Bush, like any President, appointed an Attorney General with views in alignment with his party's platform. In this case, conservative Republican, which prefers to let the market police itself. Which means Bush would have some influence on DOJ v Microsoft.

      But there's a world of difference between indirect influence and direct instruction, which Michael claims. By fabricating direct action by President Bush, Michael is, once again, discarding what little journalistic integrity Slashdot has, in favor of anti-Microsoft rhetoric so relentless, it has become irrational. Malda needs to bring the hammer down on Michael, and that right soon.

      Venting done. Back on topic.

      Would Bill Clinton or Janet Reno have enough patience to see the original break-up order this far? Or would they opt, as the Ashcroft DOJ has done, to forego the break-up and the now-moot browser commingling point in favor of a new remedy based on Microsoft's latest round of predatory behavior? Hard to say. At the very least, Microsoft still isn't off the hook.

      And I was never convinced an OS/Office split would have been an effective remedy. The two BabySofts would still have monopolies in their respective markets. This lets the DOJ go after a more meaningful remedy.
  • by Apotsy ( 84148 )
    Before everybody gets all worked up about it, I think it's safe to say that a Democratic president would have done the same thing eventually. In recent years, MS has started contributing heavily to both parties, thus they can get pretty much whatever they want, no matter who is in the White House.
  • by szomb ( 318129 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:18AM (#2259281)
    The CNN story does not mention Bush at all...
  • I remember when I was reading slashdot before the elections and the microsoft point was brought, everybody seemed to agree that if bush was elected, he would jump in and stop this... so this isn't a surprise...

    The sad part is now you can see how the American Gov is above plain basic justice...

  • by ferat ( 971 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:21AM (#2259330) Homepage
    Certainly took MS's checks long enough to clear...

  • Oooops !

    I am afraid the stock prices of Red Hat and Mandrake are going to hell in a handbasket...

    Gosh, this is just bad news.
    • The way the market is going, i'd hate to be any tech company.. redhat lost 50 cents, and thats like a big percentage when your only worth 3 bucks a share.

      Caldera is dying..

      Turbolinux is restructuring..

      NO way va linux will survive..

      Only option? Some people start paying for what they use and then someone can pay there bills and employees!
  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ASCIIMan ( 47627 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:21AM (#2259334)
    Where does this say Bush was the reason for stopping the MS breakup? I see a reference to the Bush administration, but I assume that means someone he appointed (ie John Ashcroft) is the person who "Stop[ped] the Microsoft Breakup".
  • I think the EU has been sitting on the sideline waiting to see what happens. I wonder if they will get more involved now that DOJ is dropping the ball.

  • Duh... (Score:2, Troll)

    by alexjohns ( 53323 )
    Who didn't figure this out the moment we learned Bush was gonna be prez. Duh... Pretty much everyone who voiced opinions on this said he was gonna do it. Republicans like big business. They prefer a hands-off attitude. It's nothing new.

    This isn't the company you want. Move along.

  • Bush isn't mentioned in either CNN or BBS article... The only explanation I could find is that The decision was made in order to obtain a "prompt, effective and certain relief for consumers", said the DoJ in a statement.

    I don't know about you, but this has had exactly the opposite effect on me. Relief? No. Disbelief? Yes.
  • Bush said so? (Score:3, Redundant)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:22AM (#2259350) Journal
    I'm no political analyst, but IIRC "Bush Administration" != "George W". And for those of you who are wondering, the BBC article names the Bush administration. There's no mention of it in CNN.
  • I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I fail to see how breaking Microsoft up helps consumers, or more / less importantly, how it will help our falling economy.

    If you split microsoft into Windows / Apps or something like this, then you have 2 monopolies. If you go with a top down split, then you get the same thing that exists with Linux user interfaces, or that still exists with web browsers. You have KDE, GNOME and countless others, making it a bitch for developers, and for users to get used to. In some situations, you really want everything to be the same way.

  • WHAT??? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Telek ( 410366 )
    Jeesus... Just after having a friend finally convince me that breaking them up would be a good idea, they come around and reverse their stance and pull this crap? On what grounds does the Bush administration have to unilaterally push a decision down like this, other than possibly a bucketload of cash?

    As much as a MS user I am, I even like Win2K and XP, and their office suite is good, but look at how much consumer benefit came out of having competition with the Intel vs AMD... I doubt we'd be past 1GHz by now if AMD didn't step in.

    There is no details as to why this happened, and after finding out about some of their more sleazy business practices, I think it would be a good idea for them to get a good smack upside the head.

    Oh well, there goes the market. Lets hope that linux keeps gaining ground like it has, maybe at least that'll force MS to get a bit more competitive. (Hmm, $0 for Linux, or $200 for XP... hmmmmmm)

  • I know of at least two organizations that have gone up against the U.S. Government, appeared to be clearly in the wrong, but still won.

    One is Microsoft, who has done it a couple of times now.

    The second is the Church of Scientology, who got the IRS to consider them as a tax-exempt religous organization [].

    All I can say is, look out Heber Jentzsch and David Miscavige, Microsoft is thinking of releasing MS Religion 1.0

  • If you ask me, George is just plannifying his strategery to get the economical situations back. Bush, like his father, has a keenly awarity of the severeness of the recent economical turning downward.

    Part of the economical restimularity proposed by Bush's administration includes a provision for strengtherizing the stock market. The best way to accomplish this, obviously, is to redistributerate the nations wealth resources. This means we don't want to go after Microsoft. Once the stock market begins to redisconfigure its direction and go itself from its turning down of the economy, the economy will be better!

    Leave George alone. He's the best thing to come along since Clinton.

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:24AM (#2259384) Journal
    How can Ashcroft defend his tough-as-nails posture regarding alleged computer crime by a small-time russian company who threatens nobody, while refusing to pursue an in-the-bag conviction already won in part, of a notorious bad actor whose conduct will affect virtually every computer user on the planet?

    Ashcroft's new motto: "We're tough on crime, except when they donated to our campaign fund."
    • He's not going easy. He's focusing his efforts on getting important restrictions in place now instead of spending years and years trying to get them split up (which probably wouldn't have happened anyway)

      See this guy's reply [].
    • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:58PM (#2259623) Homepage Journal

      The Democrats would have done the same thing. No sane President is going to push for the crucifiction of the one tech stock that isn't currently in the toilet with today's poor economy.

      Not that it matters. Monopolies topple themselves eventually, and Microsoft is well on its way. PC sales are slow (and will remain slow despite Windows XP), corporate budgets are tight, and Microsoft is stuck in the unenviable position of having to compete not only against the growing tide of Free Software, but also against a huge installed base of it's own software.

      If people don't start buying new computers or upgrading the software that they currently use then Microsoft is just as cooked as if we all switched over to Linux. And Microsoft isn't helping things either. For every nifty new feature that they have added (stability) they have added several anti-consumer features (the new registration procedure and other intellectual protection measures, higher price).

      It's going to be an interesting year next year.

  • by Skyshadow ( 508 )
    Who can say they're really surpised by this? Perhaps some of you would like to try to justify your Naderism now, eh?

    Let's face it: We're in for 3+ more years of Bush Jr. doing bad things because he can get away with it in our climate of general apathy and disillusionment. Now, I'm all for being disillusioned, but watching this idiot get away with things that should have us on the White House lawn with torches and pitchforks is getting old.

    Let's name a few: -Allowing religion to limit science.
    -Irresponsibly cutting taxes and using it to blatently curry favor with the Nascar sect of American society.
    - Environmental destruction in favor of short-term corporate gains (Alaska, Kyoto).
    - Doing his best to restart the good 'ol cold war (ABM treaty breaking, trying to isolate China).

    Let's face it: This guy's the worst example yet of how bad things are getting, and unless people start to notice they might as well just start allowing only Fortune 500 companies to vote in the general election (hey, you said you wanted to get rid of the electoral college, right?).

  • ray of hope (Score:5, Informative)

    by davey23sol ( 462701 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @11:25AM (#2259398) Journal
    The article that I first saw on CNet said that this announcement was *ONLY* the Justice Department and that this did *NOT* represent the wished of the individual states.

    The newest CNet article is unclear, saying that the Justice Department and the States and the Judge will all meet over the next two weeks.

    There might be a chance that the states won't go along with this. The Attorneys General of the states tend to be more progressive in consumer protection.
  • No MS breakup, what now? What to do with MS?

    Well, they have about 30 billion in cash and short-term investments. Maybe about 20 billion dollars in fines?

    Massive fines to top-executives of MS (Gates, Ballmer etc.). It really hurts when they touch YOUR money!

    Opening of some of their proprietary protocols. I'm thinking of Office file-formats (competing Office-suites could really compete) and maybe DirectX

    And, what could WE do to help comptetition gain on them? Well, think of ways to help. You Linux-application crashed? Write a bug-report! You notice something could be done better? Write to the developers (if you can't change it yourself)! Write documentation! Create artwork for the desktops! Evangelize!

    People, it's time we got off our arses and start doing something!

  • Where ?

    CNET and CNN both didn't make one single remark about Bush instructing anyone to drop the suit, so where is it?

    Are we that slanted we can't report anything correctly?

    burning karma because of bigots is my hobby
  • by The Slashdolt ( 518657 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:46PM (#2259479) Homepage
    "All your presidents are belong to us!"
  • I have long been of the opinion that it ould be good for Microsoft to be broken up. This would reduce the embodied liability of their future actions to some extent and give them a graceful exit from the OS market as hardware sales continue to slow...

    This notion of putting severe restrictions on Microsoft's conduct, and imposign additional liabilities if they violate those restrictions will certainly help Linux and other competing products. While I am annoyed with Bush for using political pressure to help decide this, I certainly think that this will have an effect far different than the one Microsoft is seeking.

    I also agree with the appelate court that breakups should be pursued only as a last resort in part because it is difficult to ensure long-term effectiveness. This is a real victory for Linux, FreeBSD, and everyone else.
  • The basis of this lawsuit is Microsoft "bundling" their browser. Let me ask a question from the opposite angle: What should Microsoft have done differently?

    It seems to me that, especially from the vantage point of today, it's pretty obvious that a browser is an integral tool in an OS's toolkit. KDE has a built-in browser. The Mac ships with a browser (if it wasn't IE, it would have been Netscape). Hell, even various Unix flavors ship with a browser.

    And yes -- the browser should NOT be able to be de-installed. If your going to use a browser as a tool of the OS (say, to display error messages), then you need to know that your going to have a consistent tool there to use. Nothing stops you from installing another browser and deleting the icon -- just like having KDE's browser doesn't stop you from using Netscape.

    Of course, we will also have all the Pro-linux people who never use a shred of Microsoft software tell us that they have a clear monopoly.

    • by TWR ( 16835 )
      A browser != HTML renderer.

      MS should have included an HTML renderer that could be used by many apps to display help, errors, whatever (Apple has just this as part of their OS, used for Apple Help). MS should even have written their own browser which takes advantage of the HTML renderer.

      However, you'd have to be daft to think that a browser is anything more than an application. It should be trivial to remove a browser, just as it is trivial to remove other "essentials", like a word processor, spreadsheet, or compiler.

      MS went out of its way, making its systems less stable and slower, just to make sure that removing the browser would be impossible. Furthermore, it then threatened anyone who wanted to include an alternate browser. This is anti-consumer behavior (shipping a worse product just to screw a competitor) and anti-competitive behavior.

      The first isn't a crime, just stupid if you aren't selling to a captive audience. The fact that MS can do these sorts of stupid things proves that it has a captive audience, which makes MS and also makes anti-competitive behavior illegal.

      With MS now including a media player as a "core" part of its operating system while "accidently" breaking QuickTime plugin support, I'm more and more convinced that separating MS into OS and applications (as well as a third company for languages and compilers) needs to be done. Not going to happen, though.


      • by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:26PM (#2259920) Journal
        Your on crack.

        Try removing konquerer from KDE, you can't. You would be ripping out Kparts and then your kmail would blow up and knews would barf and your KFM would be a pathetic filemanager instead of a powerfull object manager (for whichever type of objects kparts supports be it news, ftp, http whatnot).

        I'm sorry, but the internet has become a part of the PC revolution and a part of the Operating system. Rip TCPIP out of linux, make it an installable module and then rip httpd/ftp/nntp support out of KDE and make it a seperate module and then you can preach about the lesser of the evils.

        Until then, this is utter nonsense. Microsoft wasn't busted because of its browser, it was because of its OEM price locking and fixing of contracts, but ANYONE could have done that had they tried and marketed themselves to be able to do it.


        I don't even claim what microsoft did as far as BUSINESS PRACTICES are concerned was remotely right, but they sure as hell hit the nail on the head with Windows 2000 and Windows XP. You can't get much better then that.
  • I think we all know from the beginning that MS would probably escape this with nothing more than a meaningless slap on the wrist, and grow ten times more monopolistic and evil as before. And we all knew it didn't matter if it were under Dubya's administration or Algore's. Dubya's administration just works faster to deliver injustice, and probably gives MS a little more moving room to continue and expand their monopoly crimes.

    Too many decision makers in the government are easily swayed by the corporate dollar and charisma in both parties anyway. Very few politicians in DC aren't for sale nowadays, and the same goes for federal judges, I'm sure.

  • I told everyone on Slashdot that this would happen, in a reply to an article on Bush and the other guys running for president at the time. If you don't believe me, go dig up the slashdot articles on last years election.

    I told you guys, hoping that I would be proven wrong. Oh well :-(

    And wait a second... the Republicans always claim that they think the government should punish law breaking. I guess the laws only apply to the lower classes and not higher classes or large companies.
  • Part of the deal requires that Tetris be bundled with future versions of Windows.

  • IIRC, the original suit was brought by the DOJ and the attorneys general of 18 states. The DOJ has announced it will no longer seek a breakup, but that's no guarantee it will happen. For starters, the 18 attys general have a say in the matter. Next, the guilty verdict has already been handed down. IANAL, but I believe that only the penalty phase needs to be re-heard, along with any updates. It has happened before on several occasions that someone was sentenced to death even though the prosecutor didn't push it because the law of the land said it was a valid punishment for the crime.

    I seriously doubt a breakup will happen, but this case is far from over. Microsoft has already been found guilty of at least some of the charges. The question is what the penalty should be. There may be 1000 opinions, but the one that counts is the one belonging to the judge.
  • It isn't clear what wristslap, errr, remedy the Justice Department will seek instead.

    Here's a suggestion: require Microsoft to publish all their license agreements, including the ones that prohibit OEMs from shipping PCs that dual-boot Windows and another OS.

  • Perhaps you cannot read, but the article did not state that the Justice Department did this at the instruction of Bush. You might speculate that he was the source of the decision, but reporting it as fact is clearly extremely poor journalism. FWIW, the Justice Department specifically disclaims any administration involvement, saying that the decision was made internally so that the case could be concluded in a reasonable period of time.
  • Monopoly (Score:2, Funny)

    by fava ( 513118 )
    Thats funny.

    I thought that get out of jail free cards only happened in the game of monopoly.

  • ... the Golden Rule -- the person with the gold makes the rules. And Republican or Democrat, politicians pay close attention to who has the gold...

    Is anyone actually surprised by this outcome? I'm not.

  • by swordboy ( 472941 )
    This story seems to coincide with this thread [] posted earlier today.

    The Chandra X-Ray Observatory happened to be looking at the presumed site of the hole at the moment it absorbed a comet, blasting x-rays off into space as a byproduct.

    That hole in the center of the galaxy is Microsoft. It wasn't absorbing a comet, but rather our Department of Justice.


  • Consumers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lavaforge ( 245529 )
    I find it interesting that the document released by the DOJ continually remarked about how it's actions were intended to "benefit consumers," or "aid consumers," or "relieve consumers."

    Is allowing a known monopoly to charge grossly inflated prices for an operating system with both security and privacy flaws a benefit to consumers? I'll let y'all be the judge on that one.

    Side note: Bush is the same president who thinks that allowing 3rd world style arsenic-in-the-drinking-water-standards, drilling-the-ANWR, and well-nigh banning stem cell research will be good for the economy too...

  • by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:58PM (#2259622)
    Really. The point is not that Bush is letting Microsoft off the hook--he's not. The Bush administration (important to remember that) is saying, ``we don't think a breakup is called for, we want to see conduct remedies instead''.

    This is not necessarily a bad idea. In fact, Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general who has been one of the biggest movers in the states' suit against Microsoft, has agreed with the Bush administration's decision on this matter.

    When even the most aggressive of all the state AGs agrees that ``conduct remedies are enough, they'll do'', what in God's name are the rest of you mewling about?

    Let's also note that the Bush administration is no longer pushing for a breakup. That doesn't mean a breakup won't happen, because in the end, it is the judge hearing the case who gets to decide what action is necessary to restore competition to the marketplace. If the judge in question thinks a breakup is called for, well, it doesn't matter a damn what the Bush administration or the states want--Microsoft will be broken up.

    This is, realistically, not news.
    • The point is not that Bush is letting Microsoft off the hook
      And neither will the likes of McNeally [], Case [], et al. They've just been waiting for a clear indication of exactly who it is they need to sue. Remember, "Microsoft is a monopoly" is now a matter of case law; now that it is clear that there is only going to be one Microsoft instead of two or three or six, they can turn the legal beagles loose without fear of having to do it all over again, or being told "no, you can't do that."

      I figured this would happen; called it several months ago. But just like in the case of a certain football player [] some time ago, the damage has been done, and despite the lack of a serious criminal punishment, in both cases everybody knows what happened. In the one case, a certain induhvidual will never have a girlfriend with brains again, and in the other... well, we'll have to wait and see, but it should be an interesting ride.

      Sooner or later, in light of all this, you're going to need a Linux guru []

      • by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:24PM (#2259905)
        Remember: if you're a monopoly and you illegally use your monopoly power to stifle competition, you have to pay triple damages to the people you've harmed.

        Let's take a hypothetical example of a small start-up worth $50 million at its peak which was brutally hammered by Microsoft's unethical business practices. This start-up might not be worth anything anymore, but whoever's handling the start-up's business affairs (even though it's defunct and bankrupt) can sue Microsoft for a hundred fifty million in damages.

        Let's take a look at Be, which was worth (at its peak) $120 mil--or, at least, that's the highest price Apple ever offered for them. Be is currently worth less than a six-pack of Budweiser. Since Be was crushed in large part due to Microsoft's unethical business practices, that's $360 million dollars in damages right there--or a third of a billion.

        Now let's take Sun Microsystems, which is unarguably going to be hurt by Microsoft refusing to include Java in WinXP. How many billions of dollars can Sun claim in damages? Now triple that, and you get an idea of how large Microsoft's Sun-induced headache is going to be.

        The interesting thing is not going to be the breakup, or the conduct remedies, or anything else. It's when the dust finally settles and this is all over, the US government is going to wind up placing big-ass, gnarled, iron-studded clubs into the hands of the Mongol Hordes who hate Microsoft.

        That's gonna hurt.

        And let's not even get into the copyright issue. Under American law, any monopoly which leverages intellectual property to preserve their monopoly has their work turned over to the public domain. This isn't something the Feds or the state AGs are pursuing, because they probably think that would kill Microsoft outright, and they don't want to do that. But how long until Sun, or IBM, or someone else, discovers this--I'd be surprised if they didn't know it already--and files a suit in Federal court to get Windows turned over to the public domain, and thus slaughters Microsoft outright?

        For Microsoft, the pain isn't really going to begin until after the trial ends. That's why they're stalling as long as they can--because when the trial ends, that's when the Mongol Hordes arrayed against them start chanting, Bring the Pain, Bring the Pain.

        (And yes, the DOJ has used that nifty bit of copyright law as leverage to get RIAA to do things the DOJ's way. If the DOJ can use it against RIAA, then anyone can use it against Microsoft.)
    • by Winged Cat ( 101773 ) <atymes @ g m a> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:36PM (#2260020)
      It most definitely is news, at the least. Dropping the pursuit of the breakup after they'd already won it? (Granted, it got overturned on appeal, but they could have pressed for it again with the new judge.)

      As for the breakup...Microsoft has demonstrated that it can and will ignore (not flout, not workaround, but outright ignore) any conduct remedy imposed on it that inconveniences it. Let's take a look at the conduct remedies listed in the CNN article as examples:
      • prohibiting Microsoft from punishing companies working on competing products - a business deal is a business deal. If Microsoft starts giving away Office - one of its currently most profitable products - to try to eliminate competition, the government may eventually sue them (if they can be convinced to)...but merely filing the lawsuit and getting things to court will take long enough that any non-free competitors would be dead well before opening arguments were heard.
      • prohibiting it from favoring companies that helped Microsoft exclude competitors - same deal. If Microsoft were to hand the MPAA or RIAA, or even just Real, a billion dollars tomorrow, the money would be invested and gone before the government even noticed.
      • requiring Microsoft to license Windows to PC makers under uniform prices and terms according to a publicly available schedule - watch Microsoft simple ignore this, and go on as if this order never existed. Alternately, perhaps it will posting all kinds of different editions of Windows, 100% identical except for certain logos and title strings, but with prices varying by as much as 1000%. The higher-priced ones are readily available to anyone, while the lower-priced ones are by special order only...and only certain companies ever seem to have these special orders processed, or even seem able to find out how to place orders for them to begin with.
      • barring Microsoft from interfering with the way PC makers set up startup screens et al - and what happens when Microsoft's contracts continue to enforce this? Government sues to get enforcement...and the contracts persist. Government sues again...and the contracts persist.
      In short: laws only matter if they can be enforced. Conduct remedies can't effectively be enforced in this case, therefore they are equivalent to nothing.
  • According to this Washington Post article, Cheney's son-in-law is now running the MS case [].
  • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @03:59PM (#2259641) Homepage Journal

    Admittedly, I'd rather see the company dissolved, but at least they seem to have retained some teeth in what they (DoJ) are seeking. Namely, the prohibition of unfair licensing agreements and baring MS from preventing OEMs from having their own boot loaders seems like it might go a long way towards opening up the OEM market to alternatives.

    I'm not at all suprised that the Bush administration (dubya or his minions) is waffling on acting against a big corporation, as a Texan I have watched him bend over backwards ever since he got elected to lick the boots of 'big bidness'; his agility in that realm is notable even for a Texas politico.

  • How much campaign contribution money would it take to get you to change your mind?

  • american? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by p3t3 ( 217687 )
    Today marks the first time that I have ever been ashamed to say I am an American. I have lost what little faith I had in this administration and can only hope that something stops Bush before big business truly is the highest authority in the nation. As for me, cashing that refund and moving to Japan is sounding better by the minute.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had been instructed by the Bush Administration...

    OK, this is blatent flamebait, but I don't care. This is slightly better than the previous "instructed by Bush" (Michael apparently added the "administration" part).

    But it's still bad. Michael, why do you think people hate you and think your a total biased fool? For your information, the DOJ is part of the Bush Administration, so phrasing it this way is out and out biased bullshit. It's like saying, "The Bush Administration instructed the Bush Administration".

    The decision came from within the DOJ. If you have proof otherwise, then post it. Otherwise, get rid of that total biased bullshit and grow up.

    On a different note, this is why I voted for Bush. Finally, rational decisions in government.

  • Couple of thoughts.

    First, who says president Bush is behind this? I followed all the links but saw no-one point directly to the president. While I do not dount that the new atmosphere has something to do with this, direct involvement should be proved. Maybe I missed it though, quite possible.

    Second, I believe we need a regrouping. This is obviously a major disappointment for the OSS community. I can forget moving the company to MS Office for Linux now. So where do we go from here? MS will be here to stay, we better deal with it.

    That means learning marketing lessons from them. You conquer the world by conquering small markets at a time - the "crossing the chasm" idea. It seems to me we need to identify chasms we can cross. Maybe we can become the desktop system for government. Maybe we can emphasise cost svings and ride on the XP cost increase to conquer a market of small broke companies. Maybe the graphics market (remember Apple?) or some other market. The desktop as a whole is out until we do, I think.

    So, ideas anyone? I have sysadmins running Linux on the desktop - that's a statr I guess. :)

  • Who said that "breaking up is hard to do..."
  • by Mr T ( 21709 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:02PM (#2259676) Homepage
    Of beating a single Microsoft and not 2 or 3 little government broken up MickySofts... Linux and all that is good is still making headway, MS is strong and it won't be easy but we can't be stopped.

    Also in a sick way, I think that there are things that can be imposed that are far worse than breakup. The feds can come up with a concent decree that ties MS's hands pretty bad and then a single judge can oversee that it is imposed properly. I just don't see Balmer and Gates asking someone if they can do something or getting slapped on the hand if they do something they shouldn't. They are egomaniacs.

  • Heh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarcasmooo! ( 267601 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:05PM (#2259710)
    I have never seen a more perfect example of jerks with mod-points punishing opinions they disagree with than in this discussion.
  • by Deravyn ( 240772 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:08PM (#2259749)
    What most everyone seems to be missing is that the DOJ does not get to decide the sentence for MS. That is in the hands of the judge the case was handed to. She can still break the company into little mini-microsoft clones if she wants to. There is a degree of less likelyhood to that happening, but it does not change the fact that it is up to her not Ashcroft, Bush or the DOJ.
  • by jamie ( 78724 ) <> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:08PM (#2259753) Journal
    Slashdot's database was hosed from sometime around 7 AM EDT until a few minutes ago (roughly 3:40 PM EDT). We believe the problem is fixed so it won't happen again. Keep your fingers crossed for us :)

    There were 13 comments on this story ("Bush [Administration] Stops Microsoft Breakup") and 1 on another story that we suspect may have had their metadata mixed up somehow. I believe some of them were actually (intended to be?) posted to other stories and they wound up here instead. They were definitely replies to other comments and we had to make them at the "root level." But I believe the rest of their metadata was correct: user id, subject, points, etc.

    If anyone who posted one of these comments or otherwise knows for a fact that our metadata is wrong -- at worst we might show them posted by the wrong user, that would be bad -- please email me and I will correct things as best I can.

    Sorry about this, but our first reaction is to try to save comments when at all possible in the case of DB corruption, and we all figured it would be better to leave them up, possibly with wrong metadata, than to delete them.

    These are the 14 comments: 2259183 [] 2259165 [] 2259166 [] 2259170 [] 2259171 [] 2259174 [] 2259175 [] 2259178 [] 2259181 [] 2259182 [] 2259185 [] 2259186 [] 2259188 [] 2259191 []

    (Please note, discussion of Slashdot downtime is pretty clearly offtopic, so don't be surprised if you reply to this and get modded down as such. Feel free to mod me down. Hm, maybe we need a user-created discussion about our downtime so there's someplace it won't be offtopic...)

    • Hm, maybe we need a user-created discussion about our downtime so there's someplace it won't be offtopic...

      Excellent idea. I've created one here: 1212

      Mind posting some details there, Jamie, or in the journal of the first guy to make the move if I'm not the first one? That'd get the discussion started, hopefully...
  • A prediction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:11PM (#2259787) Homepage

    Here is what I know to be true.

    Microsoft will release Windows XP on time, with all of the features it alone intends to incorporate. There will be some slight cosmetic changes meant to give the misleading impression that the Bush Justice Dep't was able to reach some sort of deal with Gates It will be an almost bald-faced lie that nobody in the non-slashdot world will give a second thought to.

    In truth, XP will be within approximation exactly what Microsoft intended it to be, its crowbar to begin leveraging their control of the individual PC desktop into dominance of the internet's protocols themselves and thus the server market. Microsoft will attempt to become the IBM of the 21st century, with all of the attendant lethargy, intransigence, and dictatorial control of what may and may not be done with the equipment that old dinosaur used to have. This'll be explained as the best of all possible outcomes for the consumer because it introduces "consistent standards for the protection of intellectual property and the security of personal data."


    Their ploy, most likely, will work. You see, I really think that there's not enough appreciation on Slashdot for the crushing masses of people who never, ever think about free software, open standards, or whether or not there are whatever sorts of privacy or antitrust issues involved with XP. They just want to use their computers to do stuff, and if XP makes it easier for them to do things online, work with video, etc, then they will use it even if installing it's a pain in the ass. And it looks all neat and new, too. For them, Linux is geek stuff. They know that Windows is "the only real OS". They've been using Windows and are quite comfortable with it, warts and all. All their friends use it. They don't want to mess with their computers all the time or have to find out what free program is available to do X, Y, or Z. They're just not at all curious about it as we are.

    And MS, with a crack marketing dep't, knows all of this and more about their consumers. Linux can't even make a decent distro for idiots yet, nevermind that relatively prodigious learning curve. Linux has its market, sure, but so far it's not even on the same map as Windows & MS's efforts, and I speak as a complete advocate of open OSes. We MUST be honest with ourselves about the extent of permeation Windows enjoys and not fool ourselves with fantasies about how a government that only reflects the aforementioned popular disinterest is gigon to do anything real, anything solid, to stop the big bad company from making & selling its product.

    Excuse my rant.

  • Wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Balinares ( 316703 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:11PM (#2259789)
    It might be more complicated than it looks.

    I'm not sure I understand the DOJ announcement, but doesn't it say it wants to take action immediately? If I understand it right, it claims a break-up would take too long.

    In short, they want to punish Microsoft effectively before XP hits the shelves.

    Oh, geeze, I really hope I read that right... It might actually be a good thing, you know...
  • by Skip666Kent ( 4128 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:11PM (#2259791)
    For those who react to this news with righteous indignation over the Bush Administration's 'clear' act of 'selling out' to $$$ from Microsoft, please read the article. The Wired article in particular contains the following tidbits:

    That would include restrictions such as: Microsoft can't give discounts to hardware or software developers in exchange for promoting or distributing other company products, and state and federal government lawyers may come onto Microsoft's campus to "inspect and copy" any document or file they find relevant.

    Microsoft would also have to monitor all changes it makes to all versions of Windows and track any alterations that would slow down or "degrade the performance of" any third-party application such as Internet browsers, e-mail client software, multimedia viewing software, instant messaging software and voice recognition software.

    Hardly favoured treatment for someone supposedly 'in bed' with the B Administration. This sets a precident that will be a lot more useful in the long run than simply 'busting up' Microsoft for the Internet Explorer issue.

    This decision rocks!

  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <> on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:29PM (#2259946) Homepage Journal
    All along the arguement about tying the broser to the OS installation has bothered me. Sure, it's probably anti-competitive and done to ruin Netscape's market share.

    What's bothered me is that nearly every linux distribution includes one or more web browsers. Recently they also include spreadsheets, graphic manipulation (gimp), and soon they'll all include word processors similar to MS Word and email/calendar/contact magangement similar to MS Outlook.

    It seems quite dangerous to establish a legal precedent against including a popular application with the "operating system". At the rate things are going, in a few years a Linux distribution will probably come with work-a-like replacements for every major proprietary application.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday September 06, 2001 @04:30PM (#2259958) Homepage Journal
    the PC that can't boot anything but Windows? (How will they do this?)

    Regardless of the fine print on this decision, I expect MS to spin it as a victory. Most notably, when the Appeals Court overturned the penalty while upholding the verdict, MS went out with the trumpets. Furthermore, their ACTIONS went along with what their WORDS were saying. It appears that they really believed that they had won the appeal.

    So no matter what conduct remedies will be, what do you think their actions are going to be, now?

    My remedies:

    Open up file formats of monopoly-scale products.
    Open up protocols of monopoly-scale products.
    Open up contract details for monopoly-scale products.

    Actually, don't think anything is going to work in the US. It's up to the rest of the world to make up for our ethical laziness.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?