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Microsoft Du Jour - Talks, Upgrades, Salaries 654

Jeff writes: "CNN is reporting 'In a dramatic move, the new judge in the Microsoft case Friday ordered the government and the software maker into five weeks of intensive settlement talks, until Nov. 2.'" Other MS submissions coming in today: USAToday discovers the new upgrade scheme, designed to milk every last cent out of those who've locked themselves into Windows; goes a bit more in depth on the same subject; ZDNet hoists the black flag; MS discusses its plans to control how you compute (by the way, the license agreement for Windows Media Player now allows Microsoft to disable any software on your computer - you do read those license agreements, don't you?); Gates got $666,000 last year but won't have to apply for welfare just yet.
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Microsoft Du Jour - Talks, Upgrades, Salaries

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  • by JeremyYoung ( 226040 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:38PM (#2365075) Homepage
    "This will open a Pandora's box," he said, promoting the idea of "elaborate rights." These, he said, could move the concept of buy-once rights to time-based rights -- "you can make it so the user can, say, only read this book on Tuesday" -- or location-based rights.

    This, plus Microsoft's .Net plans, would add up to "persistent rights management," Ramos said; in other words, he said, the file security will live within the file while management of personal identity and keys will reside in a centralized database. "The real enabler," he said, "will be the persistence of the infrastructure."

    (*shakes from fear realizing that probably a large number of people out there are eating this garbage up as if it were as natural as poop.*)
    • ^rights^restrictions (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BeBoxer ( 14448 )
      The whole phrase "digital rights management" is a BS term if I ever heard one. It's all about use restrictions. They only call them "rights" because it's a nice feel-good term, even though it doesn't describe the technology at all. Just replace "rights" with "restrictions" and the quotes read much more easily and honestly:

      This will open a Pandora's box," he said, promoting the idea of "elaborate restrictions." These, he said, could move the concept of buy-once restrictions to time-based restrictions -- "you can make it so the user can, say, only read this book on Tuesday" -- or location-based restrictions.
    • by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:08PM (#2365316)
      "This will open a Pandora's box," he said

      And wasn't opening the "real" Pandora's box a bad idea? It appears that Microsoft was accidentally more truthful than they intended.

  • by ruebarb ( 114845 ) <`colorache' `at' `'> on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:40PM (#2365089)
    Here's our opportunity....guys...if Linux is ever to be a viable operating system (at least to Corporate America) - it needs to take advantage of this....

    CFO's do listen with their wallets...make Linux EASY to use, even at the expense of some of the more configurable options...and secure, and you'll see it become a viable file/web server in the market...I laugh when I hear people griping about MS service packs and a kernel has to be recompiled every week.

    Follow the cue of Linux embedded devices...easy for users and admins.
    • Yeah, yeah, Apple is as much a business and corporate entity as Microsoft, and as such cannot be trusted any more than Microsoft...

      Yet if you evaluate the Mac platform, here's what it offers:

      Good (not great) compatibility with the Windows universe, without succumbing to Microsoft
      Great UI, Install, and useability
      Great hardware, if a bit expensive for said hardware
      Good (not great) with the GNU universe. It's BSD, first and foremost, so some allowances have to be made

      About the only market it isn't able to compete strongly in is games, which Linux has issues with, if for different reasons. Macs + OS X can work with the server space, desktop workstations, development, scientific computing, graphics, office work, and web work.

      Caveat, though, is that there is still a very strong reliance on the Classic environment, hopefully to go away very soon as more apps are developed and ported into the Carbon and Cocoa environments.

      Still, all the Linux people can probably drop right into a Mac and OS X fairly easily :)
      • Afaik, the only compatibility for windows formats (ie: MS Office formats, since Everyone Uses Word) on MacOS is MS Office for Mac. please correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't consider that an option.

        There's something ironic about the fact that i boot into linux to view .doc's...
        • Afaik, the only compatibility for windows formats (ie: MS Office formats, since Everyone Uses Word) on MacOS is MS Office for Mac. please correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't consider that an option.

          That is wrong. I use Appleworks 6.2 to edit Word & Excel files without any problems, plus on OS X I can safe files as PDFs, ensuring almost universal readability.

    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:49PM (#2365175) Homepage
      I agree. How about we start small, first?

      Habitat for Humanity is considering the free Linux operating system. But because Microsoft is so dominant, it will be difficult for firms to switch. Windows runs 92% of PCs. Its Office software has better than a 90% market share, Gartner says.

      Habitat For Humanity [] is a fairly high profile organisation. If we help them to convert, they can help the devlopers to make Linux useable by the general populace. We also help a charity - big karma points in the public eye, big negative karma for Microsoft since they're stomping on a respected and established charity in the name of big $.

      How about "" - and pry any charity addicted to the MS Office crack out of Redmond's heavy hands? I bet RedHat, Mandrake, IBM and a few other of the better corporate citizens would love to help, too.

      • "Habitat For Humanity [] is a fairly high profile organisation."

        Um, and IBM isn't? If you already have one of Earth's largest companies spending over $1 billion to promote Linux, what will Habitat for Humanity help?

        • IBM is a systems provider. Habitat for Humanity is an end-user. They could be a showcase of how Free Software benefits any orgainsation.

          It's a win/win/win - Linux get real desktop users, any corporate partners get excellent PR and H4H gets great software for free in perpituity.

          The only loser in thei scenario is Microsoft - and it's of thier own making.

    • "Linux must be this..." "Linux must be that..."

      The reason most of us are drawn to this particular OS is because of all the different flavors to choose from. Let Corel or Red Hat make their "standard" Corporate Distro, and the rest of us will use Slackware to learn and play, and Debian for our personal projects. The PPC geek will run yellowdog, &c, &c.

      Standardizing Linux will make it the new Windows. This is the most frustrating thing about Linux zealotry: Linux should NOT replace Windows! It should compete with it -- be different from it.

      Screwdrivers and wrenches are separate tools for a reason.

      "No fingers. Just thumbs."
      • not doesn't have to be...

        Let me put it this way...if those in the vocal minority (Slashdot) want to

        a) help the Corporate Business World ween from the dirty nipple of M$
        b) Make Linux widespread enough to help those 5-6 companies making distros stay in business

        Then it will WANT to make it easier and better to use.

        Prime example...I installed a firewall that was a Unix/BSD variant...I was kinda freaked cause I know nothing about core Unix or BSD....however, by the time the firewall was done installing...I had a compact, ready to use configurable firewall without having to go thru all the recompile, remove components, etc, etc.

        Customing Linux installs for servers, firewalls, etc, etc...getting rid of all that crap people really don't want (like 17 text editors ) - will help this gain they don't HAVE to do it...but if Linux continues to be a jack of all trades, it will be masters of none.

        And if that's all the /. community wants, fine...but then why bitch about how it never takes over in the mainstream? To some degree, I think M$ actually WANTS more distros and complexity in dilutes the impact.
      • These multiple flavors are exactly what push corpotate buyers away. Some standardization really would be helpful. Herding cats it may be, but it needs to happen.

        Most everything else in the IT world is standardized: ethernet, for example. Usually the format wars settle down and one clear winner emerges. This need not happen completely with linux, but significant economies of scale would emerge if it did somewhat, because it would be one hell of a lot easier to support. Easy techsupport == corporate adoption.

    • Just document (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kraft ( 253059 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:52PM (#2365195) Homepage
      Please... for the love of God. Document your OS programs as if you were speaking to retards. Make little pretty diagrams. Make installation instructions for the layman. If GUI, then have tooltips. Make a tutorial. Even a flash demo with instructions....

      Just document. Any documentation is better than none, but unfortunatly, in OSS none is often what is to be found.
    • I completely agree. I've been a Microsft user for some time, and over time have become more and more agitated with them. The reason I haven't made the transition yet is simply because I'm not sure how. I would be a total newbie to the scene, and after checking around, the most frequent answer I get is RTFM. OK, where do I get TFM? Linux should be a viable option, but it needs documentation backing, and some type of support that is not IRC/Web/Book based, like being able to talk to a human every now and again. Not everybody here has a CS degree and knows 15 different coding languages.
    • It's easy to standardize what a corporate PC looks like--just install the same distro on all of them. The only thing then remaining is standardized communication between them and any non-Linux machines. If only we had some kind of RFC process to standardize network communications and if only Linux software followed those standards....
    • I don't see security updates on the kernel every week. Unless I have had the urge I have never had to recompile the kernel on my linux box. Even to get things like XFS onto the box.

      I have had to reapply service packs numerous times because some program was reinstalled on the box which wiped out the updated dlls. Your gripe is outright false.

      As for making linux easy to use, that is happening. Just don't expect it tomorrow and don't expect people to suddenly jump off the MS train when it does. There is some serious inertia when it comes to migrating to a totally new platform. Macs are easy to use too, BeOS is easy to use. I didn't see either really competing against Windows.

      Widespread use of linux will be an evelutionary process. There will be no revolution.

  • Let's help! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:41PM (#2365097)
    Analysts expect non-profits and small firms to be hardest hit. Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for poor people, could have its technology budget wiped out by the increases, says Teresa Pudi, vice president of information services. [...] Habitat for Humanity is considering the free Linux operating system. But because Microsoft is so dominant, it will be difficult for firms to switch. Windows runs 92% of PCs. Its Office software has better than a 90% market share, Gartner says.

    Anybody want to post contact info for those of us who whould like to help H4H migrate? (You know, it could count for my community service hours...)

  • by Johnny5000 ( 451029 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:42PM (#2365107) Homepage Journal
    "the license agreement for Windows Media Player now allows Microsoft to disable any software on your computer "

    Make sure you're not running Windows Media Player on the same computer that handles granny's life support.

    Though if that computer is running windows, she's in trouble anyway.


  • Is It Too Late? (Score:2, Informative)

    by robbyjo ( 315601 )

    Meanwhile the WinXP is already released in late Aug (from the announcement, at least) and go into the market by the end of October. Is it to late to settle at Nov 2? By the time, M$ has gotten a fresh new cash from the sales. Correct me if I'm wrong. I hope DoJ is aware of this...

    Meanwhile, there is another article here [].

  • Upgrade a lot? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fastball ( 91927 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:45PM (#2365126) Journal
    Microsoft says the changes will make upgrading more simple and that they were made at the request of customers. It claims only 20% of customers will see price increases, 50% will pay the same and 30% will save money. Companies who upgrade a lot will save the most, it says.

    Did anybody else get this? This is like that shopaholic girlfriend/significant other/wife that explains how she saved money by spending hundreds of dollars at a sale. Sheesh!

  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:46PM (#2365141) Homepage Journal
    now is an "optimal time" to settle the case out of court and that they could strike a deal "if everybody is reasonable and acting in good faith."

    Good faith? Microsoft? US Government? I wonder what colour the Blue Screen of Death is in her world?
  • This may be off-topic, but....

    I keep seeing references to MS license agreements, but I can't figure out how to see them online. Do I have to buy the product before I can see the licenses???

    One might think that an online version would be an easy way to let people read them before slitting the shrinkwrap.

    Oh, but then they might not buy it?? I think I begin to see... .
  • Rant warning...

    People, this is no longer news. This just proves that everybody trusts Big Brother because Big Brother is always Watching Us and Caring For Us. To prove my point: How many people use the phrase Big Brother who have never read 1984 by George Orwell?

    How many people know that George Orwell was just his pen name?

    Democracy sounds like a good idea: the will of the majority has to be the right thing. Even though the majority is wrong it's still right.

    Microsoft is right. Open Source is unamerican. The American Way is to make as much money as possible by screwing as many people as possible. Ignorance is now a virtue.

    C'mon America! Microsoft is tarnishing your reputation! Stand up, show us that you care about something other than yourselves.

    Heck, I should talk, I come from South Africa. At least we only pretend to be leaders in stupidity.

  • by Geoff ( 968 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:48PM (#2365162) Homepage

    When the action against Microsoft first started, my thought was that it was typical -- the government was taking action after the time when it was most needed.

    It was my opinion then, and is still my opinion, that the market would take care of Microsoft, just like it had with IBM (the previous 800-lb gorilla of the computing world). The government could try to stop Microsoft, but the market would ultimately do a better job.

    Now we see statements like:

    "There are a lot of (angry) chief information officers out there," says Steven Steinbrecher, CIO for California's Contra Costa County. His 3-year costs will jump to $651 per desktop from $335.


    In time (no, I have no idea how long), Microsoft will be just a player in a new computing world. I don't know what the new world will be, or who its biggest player will be. If I did, I'd be buying stock like crazy.

    • by ebbv ( 34786 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:05PM (#2365299) Homepage

      it's nice to think the market will do to MS what it did to IBM, but you must remember that with IBM viable alternatives which functioned *identically* to IBM's product were available.

      with MS there is no 'windows clone' to switch to, the only way that the market could take care of MS is by switching to another product, and right now there is nothing. linux is not what most people need. i doubt it ever will be.
      • I don't necessarily think the the "replacement" for Microsoft will look anything like Microsoft. I think that ultimately, the market will change somehow, and Microsoft will not be able to dominate the new market. They'll still be around, but will be merely a player, rather than the dominant force.

        We don't need a "Windows clone," we need "the Next Big Thing." And with the linux world merely attempting to clone Windows (after having successfully cloned Unix), I don't see Linux ever becoming the Next Big Thing, either.
    • "There are a lot of (angry) chief information officers out there," says Steven Steinbrecher, CIO for California's Contra Costa County. His 3-year costs will jump to $651 per desktop from $335.


      Okay, but look at it from Microsoft's perspective: price almost doubles, by the clients' own calculations. Even if HALF the Windows users jump ship (not likely!), they'll still have broken even. Of course, break even isn't what they're going for, but do you really think HALF of the market will abandon windows in the next 2 years?

      • Let's say that's correct -- so what? The issue (as far as antitrust is concerned) isn't how much money MSFT makes, it's their monopoly. If they lose a significant chunk of users, their monopoly is gone regardless of whether or not profits are down.
    • the market would take care of Microsoft, just like it had with IBM (the previous 800-lb gorilla of the computing world)

      The market may or may not take care of MS, but it didn't take care of IBM without the governments help... ...sort of.

      IBM was so wary of antitrust suits they hamstrung themselves. They would have acted very differently if there was no antitrust threat. MS seems to be doing the exact reverse, they seem to be ignoring the whole antitrust thing, and hoping it will go away.

    • "There are a lot of (angry) chief information officers out there," says Steven Steinbrecher, CIO for California's Contra Costa County. His 3-year costs will jump to $651 per desktop from $335.

      Aren't these costs fairly insignifcant with respect to the costs of actually having the employees? $600 over the course of 3 years isn't much at all, when compared to a minimum wage salary.

      Also, I suspect in their outrage, these CIOs are intentionally choosing their worst case scenario to make the situation look worse than it is.

      I'm not supporting microsoft here, but it would be nice if you didn't have to consider what OS version / Browser / Linux Distro / Toaster Specification the user had when developing software.

  • but um.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by xtermz ( 234073 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:52PM (#2365191) Homepage Journal
    why 666k? shouldn't 640k be enough for anybody?

  • The proof is in the pudding: eventually, a giant becomes its own worst enemy, disconnected from the customers it wishes to profit from. My predictions on MS losing its dominance in the next 10 years seems to get more and more likely, because as MS gets richer, others get poorer, until they can't afford /anything/ but a free solution, or cracking what they can't afford.

    How do you keep customers if you seem inclined to keep them poor, disempowered, and bitter?
  • Habitat for Humanity is considering the free Linux operating system. But because Microsoft is so dominant, it will be difficult for firms to switch. Windows runs 92% of PCs. Its Office software has better than a 90% market share, Gartner says.

    What do you all think about that? I'm not extremely familiar with Linux, I haven't had the time to get really deep into it like I would prefer because here at work we're forced into using MS2000 and I hardly use my computer at home. From what I've heard, it shouldn't be difficult to switch, and once they do, life will be much easier, not to mention less expensive. With the economy the way it is, I wouldn't be surprised if MS did itself in on this one, we may see a fundamental switch in the way OS is viewed if some big time executives get the hint that by using LInux instead of MS, you can save 1.5 million per year and maybe hire back some of the people you layed off...
  • by target ( 97212 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:55PM (#2365214) Homepage
    I just downloaded the media player to take a look at the license agreement. Here are a couple of interesting bits:

    * Digital Rights Management (Security). You agree that in order to protect the integrity of content and software protected by digital rights management ("Secure Content"), Microsoft may provide security related updates to the OS Components that will be automatically downloaded onto your computer. These security related updates may disable your ability to copy and/or play Secure Content and use other software on your computer. If we provide such a security update, we will use reasonable efforts to post notices on a web site explaining the update.

    Wow. So they can automatically put stuff on your computer that will disable software they don't like, and potentially take away your ability to play "Secure Content."

    This is pretty intrusive, as things go. I, for one, would prefer in general that nothing gets installed on my computer that I don't specifically authorize.

    Note that there seems to be a corrolary effect here. If they are sending stuff to your computer, your computer is really reaching out to their systems, and potentially is providing identifying or other information to them. Scary.

    But of course the scariest bit is the "use other software" clause. It's not even qualified! By this reading, they can disable any other piece of software on your computer! Fear.

    Of course, it is in the digital rights section of the agreement, but I'm not sure if that forces the "any other software" clause to be software relating in some way to digital rights.

    - target
    • No Media Player for me!
    • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:15PM (#2365372) Homepage
      You're missing one critical aspect: Digital Rights Management specifically refers to protected WMA files. They don't reference unprotected WMA files, and they certainly don't mention any other format like MP3 or OGG.

      That said, Microsoft seems to be simply protecting its file format. They can only affect software that can read protected WMA files (which, at this point, only includes Media Player). It would be silly to assume, especially in a lawsuit-driven atmosphere like copyright infringement, that Microsoft would allow other software to visibly change/take over rights management from the OS. Just think if record companies started getting into a lawsuit war with Microsoft!

      Bottom line: it's their file format, not an open one, people. They are free to control it however they wish. If you don't like it, don't use it.

  • by javabandit ( 464204 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:56PM (#2365220)
    I have to say, I have never seen anything like this, ever.

    I honestly think that over the next 20 years, we will see Microsoft's control rise to such a level that not even the US government can oppose them on any level. I mean, they are able to manipulate entire markets. With the flick of a switch, they alone can bring things to a complete halt. With the deprecation or removal of an API, they can put people out of business, or send companies into bankruptcy.

    The introduction of .NET makes it even more evident.

    Microsoft... this company... in 20 years will control everything important. They already control 95% of the desktops. They will control almost all messaging. They will control almost all authentication. They will control almost all digital rights management.

    Taking down Microsoft after they have such a level of control and we have such a level of dependence would be like us dropping our cars and going back to horses and wagons -- not going to happen.

    Honestly, its time for people to wake up before its too late. Do not support this behemoth anymore. Its not about a simple anti-trust case.

    This is about one company controlling the most fundamental mechanisms upon which the entire world depends.

    And THAT is extremely dangerous.

    • we will see Microsoft's control rise to such a level that not even the US government can oppose them on any level

      Personally, I'm hoping that the US government grows so small that they won't be able to regulate ANYTHING regarding the "free" market...

      Think about it, if you removed all of the regualtions on industry today, it would be FAR easier to start a competing business... If it didn't cost millions in taxes (in addition to the "normal" corporate taxes, I have to match all of my employee's payments to the feds and social [in]security), [gov't] licenses etc., it would be easier to compete with those who are already established...

      The way I see it, it's not anti-control / anti-trust, rather, the government is more often than not PROTECTING those with established large market-share, more like anti-competition... Have YOU tried to start a business lately?

      • Barriers to market entry are created by both corporations and governments. You're an ideological fool if you think only regulations and taxes are significant, and Microsoft's dominance in the OS, Office, and online arenas are not at all significant. In fact monopoly dominance can be far more crushing than government regulation. Let's not forget that to interact with Microsoft in any meaningful way you have to agree to licenses and/or contracts, and they are usually the 500lb gorilla in the relationship. That makes it almost like government regulation (think leave the country == stop producing products for the Windows platform).

    • With the deprecation or removal of an API, they can put people out of business, or send companies into bankruptcy.

      MSFT has already done that sort of thing already, at least with 3D rendering APIs [], and of course, to Netscape [].

      Industry analysts acknowledge this sort of thing. Go here [], and look for the Dan Kuznetsky quote:

      But Microsoft's support of Mono is simply the same old same old for the software giant, IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky said. Microsoft has historically achieved market dominance by controlling APIs, and forcing competitors to write software to its APIs, only to turn around and change those same APIs. "Instead of satisfying their own customers' demand, competitors are busy catching up with Microsoft," Kusnetzky said. "It looks like they've gotten someone in the open source community to play the game of following Microsoft around and trying to do what they do."

      The old Software Publishers Association knew about it. They issued a white paper on the topic []. Read pages 12 to 15 of that document for an older view of the problem.

  • by ClarkEvans ( 102211 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:57PM (#2365232) Homepage
    While open source is laudable, the problem is that it confuses "free beer" with "freedom", i.e., "gratis" with "free". This is unfortunate. IMHO, we need to think hard about a system that provides "freedom", but does not restrict a programmer from earning a fair wage.

    One possible solution, which I've encountered resistance talking to Congress people on the hill is to add an "optional" expiration date on a copyright, and allow the source code to be submitted via electronic media.. Thus, when you submit your copyright you can optionally choose to limit your copyright to N years. Further, the copyright office could "hold" the source code and make it public on the date that the copyright expires.

    Americans *love* stats. What would happen if "copyright term" ended up as one of those columns? And "open source at end of copyright term" was another column? In this way we could compete not only on features and price, but also *when* our software becomes public domain. This is a simple solution, backward compatible, and can be implemented by the copyright office without legislation. It just requires the media to notice that copyright doesn't have to last forever and that making one's code open source can be part of the license agreement.

    Maybe we can turn the tables on the "capitalists" by creating a new form of competition... competition for the change in software, competition for when software becomes public property.

    Best Wishes! Clark

    P.S. For an alternative idea, which is much larger in scale (but may not work as well), you may want to read Distributed Copyright [] and my letter [] to Judge Jackson on May 23, 2000. It may not be perfect, but it has some ideas that you and others may want to build upon.
  • by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <fahrv&hotmail,com> on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:58PM (#2365241) Homepage
    I work for a software company. Now, my employer (and many other companies such as Veritas, 3COM, and others) has two different revenue streams. The first is from license sales. The second (bigger, dependable, easily forecasted) chunk of our revenue comes from yearly renewable support contracts, which happen to include access to the latest version of our software. This is fairly common practice.

    Microsoft has found itself in a position enviable to most software companies. The biggest competition it faces is from older versions of its own software. So they're doing the obvious thing and removing themselves from the competition.

    The advantages to Microsoft are obvious. Immediate cash gain, better sustainable revenue, faster phase-out of old product.

    Do I like it? In the short term, no. It's expensive as hell and my budget as a partially microsoft shop has taken a huge hit. But in the long term, it removes one of my great annoyances.

    It's a complete pain in the ass to have to check the license trail on a typical windows system. Say a computer shipped with Windows '95. I took that '95 license, applied it against another computer when I replaced the windows '95 box (assume non-OEM license), then appied an NT4 upgrade license, followed by a Win2k upgrade license.

    That leaves me with 3 different pieces of paper to be accountable for on a moment's notice. Under the new system, I simply need to have the original operating system license, and a software assurance certificate. The advantage to me from a clerical standpoint is obvious.

    This doesn't make it all better in the short term, but as a shop that frequently upgrades to the latest and greatest, it will save me lots of time in the long haul.
    • by pmc ( 40532 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @04:15PM (#2365552) Homepage
      So, what you are saying that Microsoft have made your life so difficult with their licensing policies that you are willing to give them even more money if they will stop hassling you?


      Does nothing strike you as just a little bit odd about this? If not, I can send some goons round your house to vaguely menace you until you give them some money to go away. For a while.
  • by Squirrel Killer ( 23450 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:58PM (#2365244)
    "This will open a Pandora's box," he said, promoting the idea of "elaborate rights." These, he said, could move the concept of buy-once rights to time-based rights -- "you can make it so the user can, say, only read this book on Tuesday" -- or location-based rights.
    Is it just me or:
    1. Isn't opening a Pandora's Box supposed to be a bad thing?
    2. Who the hell would buy a book that they could only read on Tuesdays?
    It seems they're thinking too much about what they can do, and not enough about what they should do.


    • Pandora's box (Score:3, Interesting)

      by paynter ( 8696 )
      From Webster's dictionary (

      "Main Entry: Pandora's box
      Function: noun
      Etymology: from the box, sent by the gods to Pandora, which she was forbidden to open and which loosed a swarm of evils upon mankind when she opened it out of curiosity
      Date: 1579
      : a prolific source of troubles"

      And this is how their own "Director of worldwide marketing" describes it.
    • I can actually answer the 'on Tuesday' question.

      A publisher might allow you to download a copy of a book that would only work for the two day period after the download. This would allow you to sample the book before buying a 'full rights' version.

      A keynote speaker or lecturer might give out copies of his latest article that he's sold to someone else or will be putting into a book in a format only readable during the morning he's speaking.

    • Isn't opening a Pandora's Box supposed to be a bad thing?

      Considering, according to the fable, opening Pandora's Box let all the troubles into the world, I'd say the analogy was apt - though probably not intended.

      I'm sure I'm not the only one that found that whole "digital rights management" section decidedly creepy. Somehow, I don't think my "digital rights" to enjoy content in a non-Microsoft environment is high on their priority list.

  • Can someone please explain how regulating an abusive monopoloy like Microsoft hurts the economy?

    Can someone please explain the linkage that this Judge sees between the WTC attack and allowing Microsoft to continue its crime spree?

    Microsoft and the Microsoft Tax is, in fact, a drag on the economy. Microsoft was fairly successful at making millions of dollars for a few of their share holders and employees. Other than that, they pay no taxes and only leach money from the economy and corporations that they have enslaved on the upgrade treadmill.

    What products does Microsoft make that aren't commoditized and couldn't easily be replaced? None.

    The only hope that we have now, once this Judge and the DOJ have capitulated is that the States will seek redress of this case. Perhaps companies like AOL will take it upon themselves to file legal action following this settlement debacle. Also, the US legal system will be looking rather pathetic after the EU and places like Korea crack down while Microsoft skates in the States.
  • The ZDNet black flag article had a particularly interesting piece of rhetoric:

    "But there is another option. Companies, like individuals, have the power to disobey. An embargo of Microsoft products, of buying them, licensing them, paying fees due or any other action that puts money in Microsoft's bank account, would do the trick."

    Which I do. I use Linux. The problem is, I also use Windows on an equal basis, and there is simply no reason in my mind why I shouldn't. If I want to run the plethora of programs coded into binaries for Win32, I use Windows. If I'm just browsing the internet, or listening to music, I use Linux. It's just the way things stand.

    This all or nothing attitude is what kills the Open Source movement. I for one want a "get my cake and eat it too" mandate. I will use Linux, but the zealots are ignored at this point.

  • by mr ( 88570 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:02PM (#2365283)
    How many of you remember when Scully left Apple and Micheal Spindler was large and in charge?

    He stood in front of the assembled masses and said "We are committed to maintaining high shareholder value."

    Microsoft is now doing exactly what Apple did. Microsoft is working to maximize its cash flow, and that means taking as much as they can from the pockets of its customers. Doing anything BUT this might subject them to shareholder lawsuits.

    Just like IBM once did. And Apple once did. Both companies had a crash and burn phase, and have had a rebuilding phase. Microsoft is now heading to the crash and burn phase. They will eventually rebuild, as they are a cash rich company.

  • where did the author see the note about the Win Media Player being able to shutoff other software? Looked through the eWeek article, didnt see it.

    Even still, such a thing as arbitary software shutoff would of course be illegal.

    Analogy: I own a Ford F1 pickup and a Saturn. Let's say I use the Ford to go to the furniture store to pickup my new couch. GM can't shutoff my Ford because I didnt use the Saturn. Such an act would be anti-competitive. Doesnt matter to GM that the couch wont fit in the Saturn.

    Translation: I have a RealVideo clip I wish to view. If MS were to have WMP arbitrarily shutoff RealPlayer, it would be anticompetitive because people wont be able to use RP over WMP. Doesnt matter to MS that WMP doesnt support RealVideo.

    Of course, this is MS, who's already been found an illegal monopoly etc etc (twice!). Lastly, IANAL.

    (ot: I am reading a book right now on the whole antitrust case. I'm planning on a /. Book Review when I get done. The last chapter is titled 'MS Loses Even If It Wins' Book is about 400 pages, and I'm about 250 through it. Should be interesting...)
  • by kryzx ( 178628 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:07PM (#2365314) Homepage Journal
    ZDNet sure is being tough here. They sure are making a *bold* stand here. When I followed the link the Microsoft Ad for Office XP in the *middle* of the page took up more space than the damn article.
  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:07PM (#2365315) Homepage
    ... are a bit of a misnomer. No one is knocking down your IT department's door, demanding money and thrusting a CD in your hand. They don't break your kneecaps if you don't upgrade to Windows XP Super Hyper Edition in 5 years.

    The truth is, the new upgrading scheme might become a boon for other "movements", including Open Source. IT directors will see the new scheme and make one of two choices:

    1.) Follow it, and receive the "discounts" incurred with every 2-year upgrade.

    2.) Not purchase anything.

    This is different than previous licenses, where "not purchase anything" meant skipping an upgrade cycle. If Microsoft penalizes IT directors for skipping a cycle by charging more for the next cycle, IT directors will simply skip that one too. They aren't stupid. They will wait until they have enough money to purchase the latest and greatest upgrade, and move everyone at that point (at a much longer base than every 2-3 years).

    "Locked in" means absolutely nothing. In fact, if this plays out logicially, the opposite will come true.

  • please please (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:11PM (#2365340)
    My boss used to say that the best way to fight silly rules is to follow them to the letter.

    I hope Microsoft continues to piss people off. The more absurd and draconian the licenses are, the better. It will convince people to look elsewhere.

    The reason people stick with Microsoft is because its easy. The more difficult Microsoft makes things for their customers, the better it is for the alternatives. This is the downfall of monopolies.

    This trial crap is just a rear-guard action. I say let Microsoft go completely. Given all the shit they try to pull, they'll hang themselves. The court system is just drawing all this out. If the public gets smacked, they'll smack back hard.

    The only thing I wish the government would do is force Microsoft to reveal all its agreements with venders. The public hates the perception of a conspiracy against them.

    They need to suffer blowback!

  • A setup program (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:12PM (#2365349)
    (Adding to the discussion of how to make Linux better)

    RPM is great (unless you're trying to compile version 4), but Linux really really really needs (in addition to Office compatibility, a great browser and a great desktop) a standard setup program that will work on most, if not all, versions.

    I'm aware of Debian and apt-get, etc. (and those are great) But there should also be a "double-click setup.exe" process of installing programs on Linux, and a similarly easy way of uninstalling them, with NO ERROR MESSAGES ABOUT MISSING VERSIONS OF SOME OBSCURE 9k LIBRARY FILE OR HAVING VERSION 1.07 OF A PROGRAM WHEN THE NEW PROGRAM WANTS VERSION 1.08!!

    ALL required libraries should be included with every setup archive. Period. Sending people (even developers) out on the Internet in search of some library is the fastest way to make using Linux very irritating.

    Then, perhaps we could have Installshield for Linux, which would be awesome, especially if it worked with apt and apt-get. ^^

    Just another $0.02
  • You see, in the universe I am from, we too have organizations called ZDNET and Microsoft. However, in my universe, ZDNET has always been anxious to please Microsoft any way they could, to the point of fawning over any MS release.

    Reading the link from the article, I see things are different in this universe - I cannot imagine stronger commentary against Microsoft. If anybody can give me pointers on how to get back home....

    On second thought, my credit cards work, my Slashdot account works, and this universe seems to be just a bit better. Maybe I'll stay.

  • Look.. I'm not exactly a big supporter of Microsoft, but this brand a blatantly inflammatory rhetoric is just childish.

    USAToday discovers the new upgrade scheme, designed to milk every last cent out of those who've locked themselves into Windows.

    Translation: Microsoft will be charging for significant upgrades.

    And why shouldn't they? They spend time and money creating the upgrades...aren't they justified in trying to recoup some or all of that cost, so they can continue to offer product upgrades in the future? Micosoft is a business, same as any other. They stay in business by making money. That doesn't make them evil. If you happen not to like how they go about doing things, then you use Linux, which many of us do..myself included. Its as simple as that. Theres no point in demonizing a company for doing the exact same thing YOU would be doing in their shoes.

    MS discusses its plans to control how you compute (by the way, the license agreement for Windows Media Player now allows Microsoft to disable any software on your computer - you do read those license agreements, don't you?)

    Translation: Microsoft wants users to have a solid, consistant computing platform, rather than a disorganized assembly of argumentative standards that disrupt, aggrevate and annoy most users.

    Ugh..More fear-mongering. You'll notice it says "disable" and not "uninstall", by the way. Disabling other products is a common practice. RealPlayer, Netscape, IE, all engadge in this. So, of course they're trying to "control how you compute".. So are we. Thats the whole purpose of an operating system. Again, don't demonize another party for something you engadge in as well. Now, the next topic -- Windows Media Player. Windows Media Player is a Microsoft product, designed to work with other Microsoft products. That includes the underlying OS. If something gets in the way of its task, it has a right to remove that "thing" so it can perform correctly. After all, by choosing installing WMP, you're basically inferring that you want to use it, are you not? Why else would you want to install it, unless you wanted it to run? This is the whole point of an 'upgrade' in the first place. You are replacing something that either does not work (or doesnt work well enough) with something that does work. So what are you really complaining about here? Sensical, consistant design? Admittedly, its a heavy handed approach, but XP is an OS for beginners that dont want to worry about how things are internally. They just want them to work. Period. And is that so wrong? Isn't that what we all want for Linux, ultimately, as well?

    Like I said.. I dont like Microsoft all that much either. But I know an unfair criticism when I see it. Laying that sort of fearmongering onto a captive audience several hundred thousand wide is not only childish but terribly irresponsible, IMHO.

    • USAToday discovers the new upgrade scheme, designed to milk every last cent out of those who've locked themselves into Windows.
      You might have wanted to consider reading the article first before criticizing it. The article made it quite clear that what Microsoft is doing is saying that if you don't upgrade Windows, Office, etc. within a certain amount of time after a new version is released, you don't qualify for the upgrade. Your company wants to hold off upgrading to Office XP for a few months to see if Microsoft shakes the bugs out? Too bad. If they wait too long, they can't buy an upgrade, and have to pay the license fee as if they never owned a previous version of Office. Anybody who deals with bulk Microsoft licensing can tell you the upgrades are a hell of a lot cheaper than the standard editions.

      This is really infuriating IT people -- a lot of large companies wait months, or even a couple of years, before doing an OS upgrade, mainly because they need to see if the new version will break anything. As it is, a lot of companies are still using NT4 over Win2K, because they haven't gotten around to upgrading, or because they're waiting for XP. If Microsoft had already instituted their proposed license changes, they would have to pay full price for XP, not just the price for an upgrade.

      MS discusses its plans to control how you compute (by the way, the license agreement for Windows Media Player now allows Microsoft to disable any software on your computer - you do read those license agreements, don't you?)
      Ooh, there's a good idea, let's trust Microsoft to decide what "disable" means. The examples you're giving don't actually disable the software -- they just change file associations. While you may be right -- maybe they just mean changing the file associations -- I don't want any software to come bundled with an OS with that kind of clause in the license, because it gives them a blank check to use in the future. And given the legislation they've pushed for, like the UCITA, I wouldn't put it past them.
  • new slogan? (Score:5, Funny)

    by smack_attack ( 171144 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:20PM (#2365400) Homepage
    Where do you want to go today?

    Better make up your mind quick, your license expires in 10 days.
  • What's to stop Microsoft from performing random audits of home users for pirated software? And then making an example of them to scare other people into not pirating MS products? They keep doing this to smaller and smaller companies, what's to stop them from going to home users?
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:23PM (#2365410) Journal
    ...But just when are people going to realize they DO NOT have to put up with this BS? (Skip to the end for something that's not redundant.)

    I love how the ZD Net article [] is titled: "Time to stand up to Microsoft" (and right plop in the middle of the article is an advirtisement for "Windows Solutions"). It's utterly absurd.

    Linux and other free OS solutions are WITHOUT A DOUBT usable in a business setting. They are proven to be largley inexpensive, relatively easy to deploy, don't have seat/use restrictions, and show better performance records.


    I'm preaching to the choir here, but I think it's important to proliferate this message to as many people through as many channels as possible. CLEARLY, corporations who feed Microsoft are still uneducated that free software solutions aren't "low quality" just because they don't cost money.

    (Original thoughts follow.)

    What causes people and businesses to constantly whine about how much Windows sucks? Meanwhile, they constantly shell out the bucks to pay for new/more copies of it, all the while completely ignoring the free software alternatives. Do they think the situation is ever going to improve?

    I know it sounds rash, but it is not possible for any largely used, proprietary solution to "improve". Proprietary solutions involve one controlling body. It's a tyrrany, not a democracy (as people are complaining that Microsoft "does not listen"). ONLY free software will get better because it is not driven by greed and profit alone. Greed snowballs and gets bigger and poses more influence on the product. That's the Microsoft case.

    The longer they last, the more greedy they will become, the more money they will want to suck up. Unless there's no money there to consume, the beast will only get stronger and bolder.
  • by Caraig ( 186934 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @03:28PM (#2365439)

    Microsoft will remain the invincible bully for just as long as we continue to let ourselves believe it. But time is running out.

    Wow. Was this a ZDNet article... or a /. post? =)

  • I like this quote:

    But David Roberts, CEO of the British trade group Infrastructure Forum, expects average increases of 94%. The Forum, which represents 98 firms, has asked the British government to investigate the increases.

    We all have let them get away with this for too long. Say what you will about IBM 20 years ago, but they actually supported their software products *gasp*! There was no "It's fixed in the next version" or "We don't support that anymore (even tho it's only 3 years old)" garbage.

    The gubmint investigating is not going to do anything but waste more money. We have allowed MS to get away with this monopolistic abuse for far too long. We need to rediscover the customer mindset that insists on getting what we pay for, and that includes support. We need to re-think the reasons for making software purchases and no longer accept being treated like second-hand citizens.

    The only real solution - outside of a breakup which seems more and more unlikely - is to vote with our feet. Individual and business customers who buy Microshaft products need to make a statement that the old MS way of doing business is no longer acceptable. We need a big company or two to REFUSE to upgrade and INSIST on getting support for products we've already bought. Either that or switch platforms :-)

    The last hope may be the continuing states' lawsuits against the evil empire. And other nations' efforts as well. A nice big lawsuit or two by some major players wouldn't hurt. As long as the Fed's findings of fact stand we may yet get some satisfaction.

    On a side note, the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans came out yesterday. Billy Boy still ranks #1, although last year he was listed as having $63 billion and this year he's down to $54 billion. That means Emperor Gates lost $9 billion in the last year. Oh, how my heart bleeds for him.
  • I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.

    (Nov. 21, 1864 letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

  • Companies have made huge investments in technology, and if they have standardized on one platform it is difficult to get them to change. But this may be the push that is needed. What Linux and Apple people must do is calculate and show how an initial investment in another system now will ultimately be far cheaper then sticking it out. If they can show that the one-time cost will be negated in a matter of months or years, their market share may increase quickly, as now is a rare time when management is actually considering alternatives. If you think about it, a few months ago many would have laughed at warnings that Microsoft was planning such a money scheme. They aren't laughing now.

    One interesting thing mentioned in the USA Today article was at the end.
    Its Office software has better than a 90% market share, Gartner says.
    One of the biggest things MS has over the corporate market is its productivity software, Office. Over and over again, that is cited as one of the things that has little competition in the minds of CTOs. However, they forget that there is a fully functional, very polished and current version available for Mac OS and soon Mac OSX. Unless they have a specific program they must run on Windows, a switch may be cheaper in the long run. And now is the big chance for StarOffice and other Linux suites. If they can move fast enough, and create a viable alternative that is polished and compatable with MS Office, they may be able to convince companies to make the switch.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 )
    If I was going to look for an alternative to Windows for home use (gaming & surfing), what are my options? Please make some recommendations both for an OS/distribution (will any Win emulators allow stuff like EA Sports titles to run, for example) and a partitioning tool to set up a dual boot.

    I've thought about tinkering w/Linux before, but this latest iteration of MS bullying just might get me going...

  • Gartner Symposium (Score:2, Informative)

    by hoegg ( 132716 ) t/

    If any of you are going to the Gartner thing in Florida next week, this seminar will give you way too much info on MS's new licensing.

  • by L-Train8 ( 70991 ) <> on Friday September 28, 2001 @04:36PM (#2365658) Homepage Journal
    In addtion to the Windows, Office, and Exchange upgrades that Microsoft is trying to make mandatory, they have instituted a similar scheme covering a product over which they have much more control. By "expiring" MCSE certification for hundreds of thousands of users, they are trying to force people to upgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows XP certification. This provides instant revenue from people paying to take tests and buy test prep books, but it also dovetails nicely with the software upgrade scheme.

    Forcing MCSE upgrades creates a pool of people qualified to support the new software that companies are forced to purchase. They actually have the leverage to force IT people to learn new software so companies will have people qualified to install and manage the new stuff, thereby removing one of the biggest roadblocks to constant upgrading.
  • MS Ad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by curunir ( 98273 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @05:16PM (#2365738) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone else get a M$ ad in the "hoists the black flag" article? Here I was reading about how Microsoft's monopolistic practices were making the world a horrible place and right in the center of the page is an ad touting Office XP's "Features you need, when you need them"

    I find it rather humorous that you can't use microsoft software to create a webpage that disparages the company, but you can use their copyrighted promotional material (I am assuming M$ has copyrighted it's advertisments) on a site that does just that.
  • by DavidBrown ( 177261 ) on Friday September 28, 2001 @09:37PM (#2366738) Journal
    Let Microsoft price itself out of business if they want to.

    Frankly, as a personal user of Windows, I can care less whether or not corporate users get sweetheart deals by buying in bulk. Hell, maybe if they paid the same price for Windows XX that I did each upgrade, then maybe the price for everyone else would be less. (then again, maybe not)

    Sure Habitat for Humanity could take it in the shorts, but under the new pricing scheme (yeah, it's a scheme) they STILL will pay less than I do.

    Here's an idea: Maybe I should incorporate in order to get a better deal out of M$...

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"