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Continuing Twists In Microsoft, Intel Cases 315

An Anonymous Coward writes: "New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer have threatened to pursue their own sanctions against Microsoft if they conclude that the Justice department isn't being tough enough. Amongst other things, they demand that Windows XP "receive close scrutiny in arriving at a judicially ordered remedy. Go NY!"" NaughtyusMaximus points us to this message at Anandtech about Via reacting to Intel's patent-infringement suit by turning around and suing Intel -- for patent infringement -- in Taiwan and the U.S.. Via is also countersuing Intel in England.
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Continuing Twists In Microsoft, Intel Cases

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  • WHy doesnt the government just stick with their original ideas and go with the original punishment instead of having to brainstorm new ones that are just plain too cheap.. their new ideas for punishment seems like a slap on the wrist compared to what the original idea would have cost microsoft.. SUre they would have lost money but at least there'd be more of a basis of competition after the conclusion of a splitup..

    Now seems to me that the government is getting its foot in the mouth because they're trying to impose more stupid laws, DCMA isnt doing much, MPAA is being a lecherous bulldog, and now they're trying to figure out how to make a law thats fair? shouldnt they just work on repealing their laws that arent working.. they should have enough experience in repealing their dumb laws like Prohibition back in the 40's.. ( it was the 40's right? )
    • I still like my alternate idea, which is to deny Microsoft the benefit of their illegal actions.

      How would this be done?

      First have all OS related software rollouts under the supervision and approval by a special committee of supervisors, at least three from named each suing state, and three from the federal government. A nice unwieldy body to slow things down.

      Second, prohibit them from rolling out any new versions or revsions or updates to any OS or Platfrom for a significant period of time, proportional to, and at least as long as the length of time that they have had their illegal advantadge in the market. I recommend 8 years

      Third, - All licensing for the operating systems shall be permanent licensing, no rental licenses of any sort allowed, ever.

      If this screws up .NET, tough. Penalties are supposed to hurt. And they deserve enough pain to get their attention, and focus it on the idea that they messed up.

      • Actually MS is moving the other way totally, not give you any software at all :) Thats the goal of .NET, the software itself all resided on servers owned by the various service providers. No longer do there have to be software lincences but instead user agreements.

        "I won't use the services!" you say? Well why use the MS software under licence either? The govt doesn't need to step in, people just need to excercise thier economic right NOT to buy something.

        Oh, you can't play your games without an MS product? Tough, thats call free market, to get the benifit you want you pay the cost that the person offering that benifit charges. If its too much don't pay.

        I agree that MS shouldn't be allowed to make illegal contracts with OEM's (that will be stopped in the remedy) and they shouldn't be allowed to do any of the illegal stuff with pricing (which is stopped by the lawsuit as well). I don't think that the contents of the OS should be limited in any way. Maybe its sucks that you have to buy Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer as part of the OS but that should be MS's right to decide. Its your right to decide if you want to pay the price to get those things.

  • Interesting (Score:3, Troll)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:07PM (#2276199)
    I am always amazed that people would cheer the government into stopping the release of ANY code, especially something as MUNDANE as an operating system? Can you imagine them forcing Linux from shipping, this place would be in an uproar over how oppressive it is. Just seems ridiculous that you'd support this, no matter how "evil" MS is.
    • Good point. If the gov't stopped XP from shipping, it could set a dangerous precedent. With the SSSCA in place, they could put the kibosh on Linux for failing to "protect digital rights"...

      -Chris
    • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lgraba ( 34653 )
      If WinXP was JUST an OS, I would agree with you. However, MS has been found to be guilty of using their monopoly position in operating systems to protect themselves from competition, and to force their products on consumers in place of competitors' products. The instrument they use is the OS, and WinXP is a continuation of the things they have been found guilty of. In order to force MS to play nice, it may be necessary to make MS change WinXP before they ship it. If the govt. cannot do this, then anti-trust law has absolutely no teeth in this area.
  • When are attorney generals going to start going after the Baby Bells (Verizon, SBC - I guess any day now all the Bell companies will recombine again) who have been preventing DSL companies from their legal access to central offices? There is a glut of backbone bandwidth out there, high demand for high-speed home access for it, yet the Bells spend more time trying to drive Covad out of business than providing service to their customer's.

    If this was a free market, that would be one thing - but the government grants a monopoly to the Bell companies. That's the real problem.
  • by alewando ( 854 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:11PM (#2276211)
    By which I mean the federalism issues raised on all sides. The current administration supposedly believes very strongly in principles of federalism. The current supreme court has come down recently in favor of federalism. So the Federal government will just do its thing and let the states go ahead and do their thing, right?

    Unfortunately, no. If there's one thing the current administration believes even more strongly in than federalism is political power to override such matters of principle when a pet interest is implicated. If the feds aren't going to break Microsoft up, you can bet they're going to do everything in their power to make sure that their will isn't obviated by some ragtag liberal states like New York or California (both of which voted for Gore).

    It's going to be one hell of a political grudge match ahead. The trenches have already been dug; we'll have to see who's the first to start lobbing chlorine gas.
    • The current administration supposedly believes very strongly in principles of federalism.

      I think what you meant to say is how the Republican Party in general are stalwart anti-federalists. Consider when Jesse Helms announced he would not seek re-election (good riddance), he listed among his party's acheivements during his tenure the large amount of power that was devolved from the federal to the state governments. It's all that states' rights crap that southerners bring up as their "real" reason why the Civil War was fought.

      Having this in mind, it was very interesting how the Republicans about faced when the Presidential Election was decided at the federal level by the Supreme Court. It again proves your point that they will cave in when real money is on the table.

      /END LIBERAL RANT

      Don't Blame Me, I Voted Green.

  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:13PM (#2276217) Homepage
    Enforced openness. Require MS to publish details of all windows APIs, network protocols, and file formats. Have strict limits placed on replacing, or breaking compatibility with, any existing instance of the above categories.
    • Simpler Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Auckerman ( 223266 )
      Let OEMs have the same rights of resale that consumers have. That is, let them modify Windows in any way they see fit, while at the same time forcing MS to license Windows at the same cost to all OEM's under the same license. Add to that, not allowing them to help supplement shelving and advertising or any other costs that OEM's occur if they stick to MS's version of Windows.

      Then you will IMMEDIATELY see competition in the market as companies dump WMP for Real, Quicktime or home brewed solution.
    • Hell yes, I've been saying that for ages. In fact, don't just let it apply to Microsoft, there should be a general "it's my data" law something along the lines of:

      A third party performing a service in data storage, transmission or processing must, on demand, reveal details of exactly how that data is stored or transmitted.

      This would be a good move because while it gives MS their right to, ahhh, innovate it also stops the other wankers in the industry (that's you, Sun) from trying to pull the same thing.

      I'm also not sure that the API's are the crown jewels here either. As we have seen, it's the transmission and storage of data that make the difference - the Exchange wire protocol, butchered Kerberos protocol and Word file formats being the cases that come most immediately to mind. Strict limits on breaking compatibility are probably not necessary since MS got where they are today by ensuring backwards compatibility to an almost anally retentive degree.

      Anyway, work beckons.
      Dave
    • Require MS to publish details of all windows APIs, network protocols, and file formats.

      That would make good sense to do, except that you probably won't find any lawyers who even know what API stands for, let alone see the affectiveness of opening it up. The solutions the DoJ seek are less technical.

      Secondly, as we've seen from recent legislation, the gubment has markedly sided with non-openness. It would be a bit two-faced of them to ask for openning up of microsoft's "intellectual property" while in the same breath, pursuing the punishment of Skylarov, etc.

    • No way... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dispensa ( 57441 )
      I'm all for letting the punishment fit the crime, but this is not the solution. That's reminiscent of the government telling us that all operating systems have to support digital copy protection mechanisms. I'm not thrilled by the microsoft's behavior, but I don't think it's logically consistent to have the government tell MS what to do with its API when it suits me and bitch about the very same thing when it doesn't...

      Plus, do you really want the government handing down technology decisions like this? Just look at some of the other idiotic technology-related government mandates... DMCA, anybody? Awarding a patent for one-click shopping? etc etc....

      Oh yeah, go donate to the EFF...

      -sd
      • "Plus, do you really want the government handing down technology decisions like this?"

        Why not? Doesn't the govt regulate Airplanes, automobiles, telvisions, cigarette lighters, wood products, baby stollers, steaks, vegetables and just about every other product made in the US. Why should the software industry be the only industry to escape from govt standards and regulations?
    • IBM and AT&T were both required by antitrust suits to open up interfaces. Before adverse antitrust decisions, only IBM peripherals could be used with IBM computers. (This was back in the mainframe era; in fact, the first IBM antitrust case involved IBM requiring the use of IBM punchcards in IBM tabulators. IBM lost.) And there was a time when you couldn't hook anything to a phone line that didn't come from the phone company.


      In both cases, the companies were required to publish specifications. They did, and whole industries developed around them.

    • Uhhh, wouldn't MS just stop selling "Windows" and start selling a derived product with a new name? Isn't that what any smart businessman would do under the punishment you describe?

      Think C# after the courts said they could no longer enhance their J++ offering.
    • Require MS to publish details of all windows APIs, network protocols, and file formats
      I didn't know these weren't published. How are 3rd party software companies expected to write applications for windwos then?
    • Being closed source does not mean microsoft is a monopoly.

      I'd much rather see the sourcecode something else. Most people PAY for microsoft's OS because they don't want to worry about anything accept getting there job done and going home.

      They could care less if linux is free or the merits of either OS.
  • Leave XP Alone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pbryan ( 83482 )
    Rejection of Windows XP by IT departments and consumers worldwide for its odious licensing, configuration tracking and content protection will be punishment enough!
  • by DeafDumbBlind ( 264205 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:15PM (#2276222)
    GW in the white house and the economy going into the crapper. I think that they'll go easy on Microsoft in part hoping that their stock rebounding might revive Nasdaq.

    just my 2c
    • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:42PM (#2276295) Homepage
      On the other hand, the $309 BILLION dollars that are currently tied up in MSFT stock might be well-applied to investing in other companies, providing them with much-needed capital to innovate and grow.

      Unfortunately, there is no way to make that money available to others. For every seller, a buyer: while the market cap can expand and shrink by the whim of the investor, the money is pretty much permanently unavailable to other companies.

      Which is a shame. Spreading the investments around might have been helpful. Might fund some competition, f'rinstance.

      Although, come to think of it, most of the MS shares are actually employee stock options, created out of thin air and used by MS as a means of (a) avoiding paying cash to employees and (b) dodging taxation [indeed, paying employees with stock creates tax *refunds* (as if MS needs a refund!)].

      I think it's arguable that employee stock options are valueless, until such time as the employee gets lucky enough to find someone willing to fork over some coin. Until that point, the stocks don't actually represent money unavailable to other companies...

      Disclaimer: These are idle late-night speculations, and are subject to correction by folk with far more investing knowledge than I!
      • > Although, come to think of it, most of the MS
        > shares are actually employee stock options, created
        > out of thin air and used by MS as a means of (a)
        > avoiding paying cash to employees and (b) dodging
        > taxation

        As was posted on Slashdot a while ago, Microsoft didn't pay taxes in 2000. If you don't remember, the San Francisco Gate reported [sfgate.com] that Microsoft paid no taxes in 2000 because of laws that let them take deductions for employees exercising their options. It's estimated that this action reduced Microsoft's tax burden by $3.6 billion dollars.

        Luckily, Microsoft was able to divert some of that tax savings to certain campaigns of GWB and other Republicans, and now they're getting a better ROI than they ever would have gotten if they had actually paid any taxes.

  • by (H)elix1 ( 231155 ) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:17PM (#2276227) Homepage Journal
    News.com said...
    "Although many legal experts were not surprised to see the Bush administration relenting on a position strongly advocated by Clinton trustbusters, the apparent support of the state attorneys general for that move did catch them off guard. "

    While popping over the pond to www.theregister.co.uk [theregister.co.uk] gives you a bit different view.
    "Although the DoJ's statement last week was seen in some areas as the Bush administration letting Microsoft off, as yet there's no justification for such an intepretation. Unless the powers that be in the DoJ are lying (which is of course is possible), then they are simply trying to speed up the imposition of adequate and achievable remedies, while abandoning the tricky, dubious and legally lengthy ones. A Microsoft break-up always seemed a dubious and probably unworkable solution, and there was a fair bit of justification to Microsoft's claims that it would have destroyed the company. You and we might think that'd be richly deserved and a good thing for the industry anyway, but the US legal process is only supposed to be stopping Microsoft abusing its monopoly position."

    While GWB may be an easy target these days, I'll take Wall Street's reaction to what the DoJ did as better insight - stock prices dropped rather than jumped when they said they were going to do some behavior modification rather than just break them into two baby bills. You really think the DoJ is going to call off the dogs and let them off easy? Buy stock. I for one think they are going to get it in the ass and am grateful to have jumped out when it hit the 70's....

    • You really think the DoJ is going to call off the dogs and let them off easy?


      Yup.


      The DoJ started investigating Microsoft when Clinton put Reno in the seat. Bush I didn't do any antitrust work.


      Remember, the DoJ is controlled by the White House, and the Republicans think that antitrust is bad for business.


      And no, I won't buy stock. That would imply my support beyond the bare minimum M$ tax I pay.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:26PM (#2276249) Journal
    What are they going to do? Spank them?

    Only the federal government has the power to enforce actions like breaking them up. NY state may slap a fine but ms does not have to pay it. The constitution clearly states that only the state of Washington, or the federal government can slap a fine on MS because state powers can only regulate their own states. It will be a cold day in hell before the state of Washington investigates them. The federal government is paid off by Microsoft so they can only slap them on the wrist if anything. In other words ms won. Only a true breakup will end their dominance. They have shown in the past to not follow or respect the law. Just look at the bundling case with Windows95. Basically the DOJ investigated Microsoft's pricing with various OEM's. Ms promised to clear the situation out. Instead Microsoft wrote a more repressive one and labeled it a "trade secret" to prevent the DOj from reading it. The new one is rumored to have a clause that states that if the DOJ requests information about Microsoft, and then they must contact Microsoft's headquarters. In other words Ms has a heads up from OEM's to destroy and obstruct justice so the doj wont find anything. Actions like these and the dragging on with the windows98/Ie case show that ms will never give in and only a breakup can free the industry.

    In other words were fucked. Not meaning to be a pessimist here but the UE and the states are quite powerless. The only thing they can do is ban sales of ms products in their states or in Europe. They wont and can't do this. If businesses and individuals couldn't buy a computer at all (remember that windows is required), then they will be so much public outcry will reverse the case.
    • RMS: That was my identical twin, Bill!
      DOJ: But... I saw a monopoly!
      RMS: Oh dear... Bad evil naughty naughty Bill!
      DOJ: What?
      RMS: He started a monopoly. And we all know there can be only ONE punishment for starting a monopoly! We must have... a SPANKING!
      MS Engineers: A spanking! A spanking!
      RMS: Yes! You must spank him well and good and after you are done... spank me!
      MS Engineers: And us!
      RMS: Yes! You must give us all a good spanking! And after the spanking, the oral sex!
      DOJ: Well, I guess I could prosecute a BIT longer...
    • Not meaning to be a pessimist here but the UE and the states are quite powerless. The only thing they can do is ban sales of ms products in their states or in Europe. They wont and can't do this.

      You're a pessimist. They don't need to do anything as draconian as that.

      Nothing stops either the states of California and New York, or the European Union, mandating that all computers in use in the public sector run only software to which the full source code is freely available. If they do this, then they constitute a market force sufficiently large to guarantee that all the software needs of a very large organisation can be met from open source. In which case,

      • every other large organisation has the choice between paying large sums to Microsoft for no benefit, or adopting the open source alternatives.
      • every OEM has the choice of selling his products with Microsoft OS and pay the Microsoft tax, or selling them with a well-proven, publicly recognised, free alternative.

      Microsoft would not even have to be mentioned by name in this legislation. The legislation could be justified simply on grounds of security, as France has been suggesting, or on grounds of cost, as Brazil has been suggesting. But it would destroy Microsoft's dominant position utterly and permanently. Interesting times lie ahead.

  • Legal mumbo jumbo... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slackergod ( 37906 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:30PM (#2276262) Homepage Journal
    Interesting strategy Via's pursuing...
    while I'm sure it will just end in Intel and Via
    coming to a mutal licensing agreement, if it does
    actually go to court(s), Via's pursuing it in
    three separate avenues, and if they win in just
    one of them, they've hurt intel severely.
    I'm sure Intel is quite reliant on sales and
    resources those three (US, England, Thailand).

    On the other hand, if Intel wins, it's of relatively
    less inconvience for VIA, they
    just have to retool some things in their chipset
    (where Intel's patents are laying claim),
    but if Via wins in just one place, Intel
    would have to retool the P4 itself, thanks
    to the S3 patents. A much bigger job.

    <begin semiunrelated rant>

    Sigh. Why don't they just merge,
    then get bought up by AOL/TW,
    and then have complete vertical integration.
    Next up: company script!

    </the rant shall never end>

    -Slackergod
  • the MSFT case is not a big deal. whatever happens will happen. However, the Via/Intel case is a HUGE deal. If there is validity to Via's claims, Intel is in serious trouble. HardOCP [hardforum.com]
    has a thread going down in their forums commenting on what the ramifications of this are. This could be huge-keep an eye on it. Via has the potential to really smack Intel where it will hurt the most-in the courts.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:36PM (#2276276) Homepage Journal
    Everyone is coming down on the feds for not pursuing a breakup. Why?

    What possible good would it do anyone out there if Microsoft were broken up onto two Baby Bill's?

    Do you really think MicrosoftOne will stop offering deals for exclusive contracts just because they can't through Office into the package?

    Do you really think MicrosoftTwo will open up the Office File formats just because they don't work down the hall from the OS guys anymore?
    • Which is why you break it into FIVE companies:

      1. MSN
      2. MS Applications
      3. MS Operating System 1
      4. MS Operating System 2
      5. MS Operating System 3

      From then on, the three OS groups, which get identical snapshots of the code base, have to compete with each other, and deal with the software world, including the MS Apps group, as foreign entities. First one to go open-source and get compatible with Linux wins a lot of interesting markets (not to mention undercutting the closed-sourcedness of the other two).

      The Apps group has to treat the browser as a software product, rather than an integral part of the revenue generator for its networking and OS divisions.

      And MSN has to compete with the rest of the internet for the Apps and OS groups' support.

      This of course would never happen, especially not under a Bush DoJ, but not even under Clinton's DoJ, because it makes perfect sense, and there's no way that something that makes perfect sense can be allowed to happen so long as Bill and Ballmer have money to spend.

      --Blair
    • A lot of potential good can come out of separating apps and OS.

      • Office can finally be separated out from the OS. This would not only allow for it's port to other platforms like Linux (minor gain if even possible) but it would simply take away a major chunk of Office's monopoly power. OEM's could choose, since they wouldn't get the discount for including Office with Windows, based on price. This would allow something like Star Office or Corel to make some headway. This could, in turn, drive MS to actually innovate a little in Office, rather than give us more crap that we don't need like in the last two "upgrades".
      • Other apps can gain some headway in other platforms. Exchange and Outlook servers (same thing?) can be ported to other OS's. As could IIS. People who wanted these apps could have them on other platforms, like Mac OSX Server for instance, allowing for more choice in the enterprise market.
      • Linux and other OS's could make some headway in OEM's inventory because Office wouldn't be tied to Windows, providing the double lock-in punch. Factor in other apps and alternate OS's have more of a chance. Hell, Be could have possibly pulled off something in that climate.


      Those are the few that I can think of right off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others, but Office and Windows complement each other in such important ways... how many times do we hear about how the Linux Office suites aren't good enough, and if it weren't for Office people would move over? Well, because Office and Windows are pretty much bundled together, they represent a massive power block. Splitting the company would cleave this block in half.
    • If they're broken into two companies, we'd immediately see Office for Linux and Internet Explorer for Linux and Linux Media Player and Outlook for Linux. So companies would say, "Gee, why pay $350 a seat for NT when Linux runs all our apps?"

      Then Windows loses its monopoly and they can no longer hold OEMs hostage or cram their technology down people's throats (IE, Hotmail, MSN, MSN Messenger, WMP, etc)
      • There's thousands of Windows-only software titles down at the local CompUSA, Fry's and Micro Centers. If they aren't ported to Linux, then what makes you think MS2 Office would be?

        How come, despite the supposed love affair with Linux that IBM has, Lotus SmartSuite has not been ported to Linux yet?
  • Features (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mold ( 136317 )
    Yes yes, MS did dirty deeds and need to be punished, but why do new features (and I'm not talking about the driver blocking [slashdot.org] sort) get them in trouble? I mean, look at Mac OS X. It has so many features I'm almost ready to convert! Why do normal features even come up as an issue?
    • Because MS has been ruled a monopoly. It's not illegal to have a monopoly, but once you have it, you need to obey more stringent rules.
  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:40PM (#2276291)
    Now, IANAL, but...

    I recall having seen a documentary (really, it was a documentary) on the evolution of the pornography business in the 70's and 80's. One of the laws that this documentary said saved the industry was the ruling that actors couldn't be tried in different states simultaneously for breaking decency laws. Essentially, the court ruled that doing so would make the ruling of the courts in the decency cases a moot point, since it would bankrupt the stars and studios being sued.

    I wonder if this ruling would apply to to MS. Obviously, they'd have no problem defending themselves simultaneously in all 50 states, but I think it might set a dangerous precedent if every single state is allowed to impose different "sanctions" on a company.

    Everyone knows about "California Emissions" vehicles, but can you imagine what would happen if every single state had a different emissions standard for vehicles sold in their state? Now picture that with a software vendor. MS can't bundle explorer in Texas, Michigan, New York, and Florida. They can't allow VB scripting by default in Wyoming, Delaware, or Oregon. Washington would, of course, make no sanctions ;-). But can you imagine the implications a separate vendor (like, say, Adobe) would have if they had to concern themselves with 30 or 50 different versions of their software based on the different "sanctions" adopted by each state?

    I'm certainly not saying that I condone MS' practice, or that the world is better off with their dominance. I just think that it opens the floodgates for problems when individual states can make different claims.

    Hopefully the Europeans will have some sense and pull a GE/Honeywell on MS.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @11:01PM (#2276346) Homepage Journal
      It's not an issue. MS is being sued in a single Federal court case by the DOJ AND several States. The multiple jurisdiction rule does not apply. As parties to the suit, the various States do have a say in what any settlement is.
    • But can you imagine the implications a separate vendor (like, say, Adobe) would have if they had to concern themselves with 30 or 50 different versions of their software based on the different "sanctions" adopted by each state?
      Maybe they'd create a set of standards. Maybe call it the Windows Standards Base (WSB). ;-)
    • "I just think that it opens the floodgates for problems when individual states can make different claims. "

      What country do you live in? Do you live in the United States? If so you must be aware of what happened with the tobbacco industry. Like it or not we have state laws and the states can and do impose thier own regulations on just about everything. Why should MS be exempty when R.J Reynolds was not?
    • Not every state has different emissions standards, but several states have varying emissions standards.

      What ends up happening is that the automaker just builds cars that complies to the toughest ones and sells those cars with the same emissions hardware across the rest of the country.

      My new car has two precats on it in addition to the main cat in order to meet california emissions standards. My '84 ranger that emitts blue smoke out the tailpipe passes emissions where I live. Slight contrast. ;)
    • I'm sure you meant "tried" instead of "tired" in that title, and far be it from me to simply nitpick spelling.

      But perhaps "tired" is more appropriate than "tried" for this case in this administration. I no longer anticipate any good out of the antitrust suit, no matter how much I would like to see file formats, protocols, and contracts opened, and compulsary license terms for patented "standards". That is, unless it drags on for 4 more years, and then we'll see what the next administration does with it.
  • by idonotexist ( 450877 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:44PM (#2276303)
    What is the status of the European Union's inquiry into antitrust or other concerns regarding Microsoft and its products?

    A ruling by the EU against Microsoft could be significant, and affect Microsoft's products within the US. For instance, while the US did not oppose the merger, the EU ruled against the merger between GE and Honeywell. And, as a result, GE and Honeywell did not merge.
    • It's still in its early stages, actually they're still building up the case.
      They're accepting input on the M$ case, by the way.

      The address for the EU competition office is (obfuscated - sending them spam won't do us any good)

      Infocomp [at] [put "cec" here] dot eu dot int

      Or, if you prefer snailmail

      Linda Jones
      Information officer, DG Competition
      European Commission
      200 Rue de la Loi; J-70 0/123
      1049 Bruxelles
      Belgium

      The worst thing the EU can order, though, is a financial penalty, AFAIK.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:51PM (#2276325)
    I wouldn't have thought that MS would be broken up in millions of years. It makes good sense for speeding up the trial in terms of determining penalties (Remember, they *are* guilty of abusing their monopoly position).

    What annoys me, and probably our friends in NY and CA, and is being heavily downplayed by the press, is that the DOJ is also dropping persuing the tying of IE into WinXX. IMO, this is the most important information here, and it drastically would affect XP as well given that an IM and media player is also built into the system. While I know the appeals court said that the case as given wasn't strong enough for this particular charge to carry through, it certainly didn't say that it wasn't false either. Fortunately, it looks like NY and CA see it this was as well, as well as the EU commission.

  • by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:56PM (#2276331) Homepage
    California and New York appear to be responding to a surprising turnabout by the Justice Department, which last week said it would not seek a breakup of Microsoft or retry the claim that the software giant illegally tied together Internet Explorer and Windows 95 and 98...

    In other news, federal and state prosecutors have decided to suepend antitrust proceedings against auto manufacturer Ford, Ford has been accused of violating antitrust laws by bundling engines, seats, and wheels with their automobiles. The DOJ originally sought to force the auto manufacturer to sell a stripped-down model minus these key items to allow competitors the opportunity to sell their products to Ford consumers...
    • by Enry ( 630 ) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Monday September 10, 2001 @11:27PM (#2276410) Journal
      If I don't like Ford, I can buy a Chevy, or GM. Even the models within each line varies based on my requirements. The tools and parts are relatively standard and easily allow aftermarket/consumer changes.

      Microsoft allows none of this. When you get a MS OS, there are no standard tools for changing the way Windows works. Your choice of OS is whatever MS decides to dictate today. Right now it's ME and 2000. In two months it'll be ME and XP. There are no other choices.

      A better analogy for your car would be this:

      Ford is the only car manufacturer. If you want to repair your car, you can only do so at the dealer. If you want to fix it yourself, you have to buy the tools and parts from the dealer. Want a radio? If you buy one from Circuit City, every time you start your engine, your radio has a chance of blowing up. If it doesn't blow up, you'll get a prerecorded message from your car saying the radio is not authorized and may cause damage to your car. I'll leave the fuel type, gas mileage, and safety factors to your imagination.

      Ford has no monopoly on cars. If they did, we'd be complaining. We're not. There is actual choice in the automotive industry. Want to buy a Dell without paying for MS? Try it. You can't. Want to follow the terms of the Microsoft EULA and try to get your money back? Good luck. Sure you can build your own PC. You can also build your own car.
      • Microsoft allows none of this. When you get a MS OS, there are no standard tools for changing the way Windows works. Your choice of OS is whatever MS decides to dictate today. Right now it's ME and 2000. In two months it'll be ME and XP. There are no other choices.

        So what? When you buy a Ford, you get a Ford engine. Don't like Ford engines? Don't buy Ford. Don't like MS tools (or lack thereof)? Don't buy MS. Besides, it's their O/S...they can do whatever the hell they want with it.

        Want to buy a Dell without paying for MS? Try it. You can't.

        Then I don't buy Dell...
        I do however buy O/S-free PC's from other reputable vendors, both for myself and for other clients. There are more vendors than Dell, just like there are more desktop O/S's than Windows, just like there are more ISP's than AOL...

        There is actual choice in the computer industry as well. It's not Microsoft's fault people don't exercise their right to choose (or they do and their choice is Microsoft)...
    • Remember, what MS is guilty of is not *having* a monopoly, which is not illegal in the states. They are guilty of using power gained from their monopoly to entend and maintain that monopoly.

      The fact that you can buy a car from someone other then Ford, and Ford doesn't say to petrolum manufactures, "If you want your gas to work in Ford cars, it'd better not work in Cevy cars!". This is what MS is guilty of (as decided by a judge.)
  • by mickeyreznor ( 320351 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @11:01PM (#2276347) Homepage Journal
    Pay royalties to spyglass for every single copy of windows 98 sold(and possibly 2000). There was one clear fact made by this whole damn trial: IE was essentially *part* of the O.S., which microsoft insisted. Now, the agreement between MS and Spyglass was that spyglass would get royalties for every copy of IE they sold, something that MS thought they would get away with if they went ahead and gave it away for free. Of course, since they have now insisted that IE is a *piece* of the Operating System, Spyglass *is* entitled to a *piece* of the earnings from Win98 as well. Of course, if spyglass is dead, this point is moot. Does anyone know how spyglass is doing?
  • BIG SPENDERS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2001 @11:22PM (#2276398)
    "Microsoft, before their anti-trust case, had almost no presence in Washington," Arizona Sen. John McCain told The Chronicle editorial board earlier this year. "Now, I almost don't know a lobbyist who's not on their payroll."

    During the last election campaign, Microsoft employees gave more than $50, 000 to the Bush campaign, while the company and its workers gave $500,000 in unlimited, soft money donations to the Republican National Committee for use in Bush's battle against Democrat Al Gore. Gore did not receive any money from Microsoft, according to election commission records.

    According to data supplied by the Center for Responsive Politics, Microsoft employees also donated $22,500 to Bush's recount effort, and a Microsoft executive gave $100,000 to the Bush-Cheney Inauguration Committee.

    Quoted from the SF Chronicle [commondreams.org]
  • Microsoft has been around for quite a while, developing operating system after operating system, and now here they are, resident, in a majority of society's mind, as the only way to go. Of course, it hasn't always been in such a prestine position...

    You see, it all started with Windows Version 1, just an attempt at an operating system for the newly spreading PC ideal, alas, Version 1 was far from a hit. Version 2 followed right in the footsteps of Version 1. Despite the initial failures, however, Version 3.0 was developed for another attempt to win the PC populus, which wasn't even much at the time, but its popularity was borderline. Then came Windows 3.1, which turned out to be a great deal more popular than its predecessors. Next, as an addition to Windows 3.1, Windows 3.11 was developed, a Windows environment for Work Groups! As soon as 3.11 was developed, it was not soon after that Windows 95 was in the making, and when 95 reared its head, the idea of such a simple-to-use GUI in a more flexible environment than what Macintosh offered had spread through the minds of the spreading PC user society. By the time Windows 95 emerged, Windows had pried the minds of hundreds of PC users, and from there, Windows became the only way to go for the average computer user. Its simple point and click environment offered such amazing flexibility to the user it was astounding, thus urging the development of Windows 98, the upgrade to 95, and 2000, the upgrade to Windows NT 4.0.

    Windows had to work its way up just like anything else, but it was more successful because it offered a simple user-environment to the average user without that user having to learn a great deal about computers. Dah... move dah mouse, George... There wasn't a multitude of commands or macros one had to learn to get around the OS--I mean come on, the average user even has trouble locating files they just downloaded or installed. Microsoft's popularity is simple to see, and its degradation over time is actually expected: think about the first time you meet a beautiful girl or guy, what's on your mind? Giving it your all and attempting to be the dearest angel, just to make a good impression, right? Well, this lasts for about four weeks or so, the so-called Honeymoon phase, but after those first few weeks elapse, you start becoming more slack and comfortable, doing things you could never see yourself doing in the beginning. And when you move in together, oh! That's when shit really starts to fly! But this is beside the point. So, now here Microsoft is, owning 75% [just a guestimation] of the PC world, producing far-from-optimized code, and bundling neat, miscellaneous things into their distros for the users that made Microsoft so big to begin with! It was the average PC user who brought MS to such levels of grandeur, so why shouldn't MS bundle the programs it does? It's not just an operating system, it's a source of usability for millions of average PC users.

    Don't get me wrong, I use as little MS products as I can [Litestep], but we have to keep in mind how MS got to where they are, and do what they do. Now, this is just my opinion, as far as it may be from accepted, but I'm just allowing for some passiveness in the case of Microsoft, even though I don't advocate it as being a great operating system.
  • <RANT>

    When I see the way things are going I have to conclude that it is unlikely that MS will be punished in any way meaningful. They will probably get slapped with a fine or two that equal to the amount they spend on softdrinks in any given day, and will have a pile of restrictions on their business dealings set in place by the court - but its not going to change a damn thing. They will continue to bundle software free with their latest OS that is solely intended to put some perceived competitor out of business - even if the courts limit their freedom to "innovate" like this - and continue to expand into new markets and dominate them. Nothing the courts can do or say is going to have any effect worth mentioning. Its probably cheaper for them to pay lawyers to sit in court and fight any accusations that they have broken the law than it is for them to stop these practices.

    Now that Bush has been placed in the Whitehouse by the Supreme Court, he is free to help his business friends who got him put there via their contributions. The change in the DOJ's approach to the MS case is obviously just a matter of Bush paying back his masters, in this case Microsoft.

    I hope to hell I am wrong, but I don't think that the DOJ or the courts are going to have any noticeable effect on MS or its business practices.

    OTOH, I think that its licensing scheme for XP is going to kill it dead in the water once IT departments get a chance to explain to management why its a bad idea to have your OS operate under a subscription system. I think MS has shot itself in both feet with this plan. </RANT>

    Yes this probably is a troll, but I am just too frustrated to care about my karma...

  • by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair@NOwcmif[ ]omSPAM ['m.c' in gap]> on Tuesday September 11, 2001 @06:06AM (#2276872) Homepage
    Via's argument against Intel is based on a license agreement between Intel and S3 (which Via now owns) to cross-license certain technology.

    Intel used certain S3 technology in the design of the P4 and chipsets (what I don't know), and in exchange, S3 got rights to make P4 chipsets.

    Intel is trying to have it BOTH WAYS in claiming that Via, thru it's purchase of S3, does not have the right to make P4 chipsets, while still claiming to have a license for the S3 tech they are using.

    I honestly don't see how that argument will fly, Intel clearly filed their lawsuit purely for harassment purposes, to harm Via's product release and name, and to delay it reaching the market (at a time Intel is apparently unprepared to release a DDR chipset of their own).

    And the stupid thing is, having a DDR chipset for the P4 out now can only HELP Intel. Looks like the people who have been in charge over there in Santa Clara thru the Caminogate and RAMBUS fiasco are still in charge.

    Intel's action can only help AMD further erode their marketshare.
  • Real Legal Issues (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JRaines ( 165491 )
    Mostly what I've seen so far is a complete lack of any real understanding of the legal realities facing the DOJ at this time. Try reading the decisions of the courts and you will see that the DOJ's options are limited. Thus the state Attorney Generals agree with the DOJ approach (if not all the details).

    First of all, someone needs to explain what breaking up Microsoft would accomplish. If the OS is isolated in a separate company I can't think of any of the current bad behavior of Microsoft that is restricted unless you also have conduct restrictions. Second and more important for the DOJ, the Appeals Court clearly signalled that a break-up is a punishment of last resort and would take a very high level of proof. In other words, a Microsoft break-up will take extensive court hears to pursue, will guarantee another tedious, time consuming appeal and the Appeals Court would be very likely to overturn the break-up order again.

    As for bundling other products with the OS, the Appeals Court also clearly stated that this issue needs more proof before it could be allowed as a claim. The DOJ was looking at extensive hearings and a difficult issue to prove. (Anyone who is interested in actually knowing why, there are about 15 pages in the Appeals Court decision explaining the tying issue.) So again, the DOJ was looking at a great deal of time and money to try to prove something that would very likely not stand up on appeal since the Appeals Court has already indicated scepticism on this issue.

    On the other hand, conduct restrictions are going to be relatively quick to formulate and get through court proceedings because there is very little additional to prove. Microsoft has already been proven to be a monopoly. And certain anti-competitive behavior has already been proven. The DOJ needs only to fashion conduct restrictions that fit the proven bad behavior. Since license issues were involved in the already proven illegal activity of Microsoft, the license would seem like the natural place to restrict Microsoft's behavior.

    And the key to controlling Microsoft is to go after the license. The license is the tool that Microsoft uses to punish and reward the hardware companies. Consider fot instance that Jean-Louis Gassee said that one of the primary reasons for the failure of the BeOS (from a marketing point of view) was that he could not get OEM's to install it on new PC's even if he gave the OS to them at no cost. The only reason: Microsoft license restrictions. It is also worth noting that Steve Ballmer said that the temporary conduct restrictions in Judge Jacksons original order were, from Microsoft's point of view, almost as draconian as a break-up order. Quite a lot of these conduct restrictions involved the license.

    An additional benefit to pursuing license restriction is this. Licenses are contracts. Contracts are something that courts understand quite well. Courts generally don't like most conduct restrictions because then they have to monitor them and it takes their time. But of all the conduct restrictions, license restrictions would be most appealing because its in writing and its something the court understands.

    So, to summarize, here is the implied DOJ thinking based on the Appeals Court decision and the DOJ's written statement:

    1. A break-up will require extensive proceedings, will be difficult to prove and will probably not be approved by the court or would be reversed on appeal.

    2. This may not be the best case in which to prove product bundling that is detrimental to the consumer and the Appeals court has indicated scepticism on this issue.

    3. Since the appeals court has already reviewed and agreed that Microsoft is a monopoly and that certain licensing practices were anti-competitive, the DOJ can seek remedies on this subject with almost no additional evidentiary hearings. Licenses will be in writing and therefore, the most appealing to the courts that will have to administer the restrictions.

    So what is it people would want really? A symbolic break-up of Microsoft that would take years to get done after all appeals, etc. and would probably accomplish nothing. Or a real solution that is a positive for all consumers and can be accomplished in a few months. Plus, nothing is really given up. Because of the obvious issues in XP, DOJ can pursue bundling and other issues any time they chose (that is, any time they don't like Microsoft's behavior!)

    Consider this, if the original restrictions of Judge Jackson were imposed we could now be purchasing machines that have a desktop free of Microsoft software and links and whatever software the hardware vendor chooses. Oh yeah, you could probably buy a machine that dual boots Windows and Linux. Sound like a good plan to me!!

  • Generally, I find that people who complain about a particular Microsoft abuse don't know all the facts. If they did know all the facts, they would realize that the situation is worse than it first appeared.

    However, coverage of Microsoft is beginning to be more complete. See Brian Livingston's column, Microsoft Passport Cracked [infoworld.com] for a few of the shortcomings of Microsoft's Passport authentication scheme, which, surprise, benefits mostly Microsoft, and puts the user at very serious risk.

    Knowledgeable people realize that Microsoft is abusive. But I don't think there is anyone who knows the full extent of the abuse. The first step in deciding judicial remedies should be to write down all the abuses in one place. The result would be a large book. Just the Court's Findings of Fact [usdoj.gov] in the Microsoft anti-trust case lists 207 pages of descriptions of abuses. There are some intense abuses listed, but what surprised me was that they were not the abuses I knew.

    In my opinion, one of the most important judicial remedies is that Microsoft should be required to publish FULL descriptions of its file formats. Then other office software would be able to compete, for example. A full description would include descriptions of all the ways Microsoft's software does not follow the intended design, that is, descriptions of the bugs.

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