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Microsoft

Microsoft, DoJ Reach Tentative Settlement 595

JeffMagnus writes: "MSNBC is reporting that the tentative settlement between Microsoft and the DoJ calls for a five-year consent decree between the government and Microsoft governing the company's conduct. A three person panel of independent experts will be created to review the companys' future activity." The New York Times appears to be the original source for the settlement stories; there's also an AP article.
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Microsoft, DoJ Reach Tentative Settlement

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  • A decent punishment, perhaps not quite harsh enough but as a whole quite decent. Having a panel and some experts running Microsoft will probably do more than breaking them up and creating two monopolistic companies. I wish they had done something about XP though...

    Notice that the agreement came just a little bit after XP's launch.

    • The market would be far more fair if there were two monopolies Microsoft instead of one. Right now, there is no business model that can make money and beat Microsoft at the OS market share or displace Office. So Microsoft can go along and develop applications at loss leaders, integrate them into windows for market share, and continue to draw money by making Office upgrades

      For instance, Microsoft didn't have a monopoly with Exchange, IE, NT or Office 5 years ago. But it did have a lock on the home user market. all of sudden, new applications appear in Windows, integration only really works when you use windows, so before you know it, all of these markets fall apart and become absorbed in the Microsoft monolith. If they had been an Internet -applications company, a business-productivity applications company and an OS company, I doubt that Microsoft would be the single ruler of all of those markets.

      • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tteksehnad.> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:42AM (#2505895)
        The market would be far more fair if there were two monopolies Microsoft instead of one.

        Markets arent fair. If markets were fair, then I could always afford the basics I need to live. "The Fair Market" or "fair market value" is a different concept, but lets get to that in a bit.

        The market would be far more fair if there were two monopolies Microsoft instead of one.

        Who says that it requires a business model? Linux is free. GNU is free. Free as in no money and free as in code. If Linux can displace Windows, which I believe it clearly *could*, why does it have to be commerical? Competition isn't only commerical. Thats the great thing about competition. You face it not only from other businesses but from other forces. This time that other foce is a free movement called Linux.

        The market would be far more fair if there were two monopolies Microsoft instead of one.

        There is no evidence to support that. Office is MS's number #1 revenue source. That clearly isnt a loss-leader. What other apps do they sell at a loss? Well, lets see. IE - but if you like me and MS agree that web connectivity is integral to modern computing than it is clear that IE isnt an application but in fact part of the operating system (if not technically then theoretically). What other apps? Most other apps are pay apps OR tied to services (ala Media Player). Clearly no loss-leaders there. Besides which, taking a loss-leader, even when a monopoly, isnt illegal.

        But it did have a lock on the home user market. all of sudden, new applications appear in Windows, integration only really works when you use windows, so before you know it, all of these markets fall apart and become absorbed in the Microsoft monolith.

        There is no such monolith. What is the most dominant mail client? Not Outlook or Outlook Express. Sendmail alone has a larger installed base than Exchange does. Same with Apache v. IIS. That monopoly does not exisit - MS does not control e-mail or colloboration.

        If they had been an Internet -applications company, a business-productivity applications company and an OS company, I doubt that Microsoft would be the single ruler of all of those markets.

        What is an OS? Should an OS stagnate? You havent touched on these issues. Should an OS be able to connect using TCP/IP natively? Yes, you say? It is integral to the computer? Well thats monopolistic - Trumpet Winsock no has no market! Should an OS be able to provide basic math functions ala a Calculator? Yes? Well thats not fair. Now VisiCalc's main product is useless. Should an OS be able to view a publically available webpage instrinsically? Yes, and there goes Netscape.

        The issues are complex. What is an OS and what is an application? Is Java an OS, a language or an application? Define the "web" in terms of an application, and OS, or a platform?

        Microsoft is the ruler of no markets. They have a strong grasp on many, but they control none.
        • VisiCalc was not a calculator.

          Outlook [Express] is indeed the dominant mail client.

          Java an OS?

          Microsoft the ruler of no markets? Hel-lo? Being a Microsoft Apologist is easier when one doesn't talk nonsensically.

  • The attorneys generals from the states that sued Microsoft for antitrust violations were weighing whether to sign onto the deal

    This is the critical point. The feds have backed off because they received instructions from the White House (read Bush) to do so. However, the states may decide to persue this on their own.

    It's not over yet.
    • Only if, as the article says, the states find the US Govt's solution unacceptable.

      Since we don't know what the US Govt and MS have settled on, we don't know how equitable it is. Since MS, in the past, has rejected anything that prevents them from bundling anything they want, well... We'll just have to wait and see.

      The three person compliance panel concept is interesting. Of course, it depends on who is on it.
  • Three people? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by narfbot ( 515956 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @11:43PM (#2505731)
    Do you think three people could really keep track of all of microsoft's activity for the next five years?

    They better get some help. It's the little things people miss that gets me. Who's gonna help them?

    I think it is the consumer's responsibility to take action--why else do you think it's taken so long to get this far? Because they're so big, and so few people are acting!
    • by matty ( 3385 )
      Ask any one nerd (myself included) what transgressions Microsoft is guilty of and they could go on for hours. And that's just from surfing the web in their spare time.

      If you have 3 full-time paid professionals reading articles, interviewing competitors and reviewing Microsoft's business plans, that's more than enough resources to keep track of them.
      • Re:Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Twanfox ( 185252 )
        Keep track of them, sure. But what do they do with them once they find them? What other little perversions of their monopoly have they instituted beneath prying eyes and away from public view? It wasn't til the trial that it came to light that Microsoft used it's licensing deals with OEM's to basically punish those that didn't play nice with their wants, and to institute the 'Windows Tax' we're so familiar with now.

        This is basically a sham deal. As people point out, they are Guilty of using a monopoly position and leveraging their competition out. That stands firm. Probation is the equivilent of a light slap on the wrist, and a warning not to blatently abuse people anymore (though subtly doing so is ok)
  • Let's not forget (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by vanguard ( 102038 )
    An industry trade group that has been critical of Microsoft's business practices accused the Bush administration of "selling out" by seeking weak penalties.

    Americans let's remember this when it's time to vote again in a few years. Bush, more so than any administration I can remember, is for sale. He's too close to the business and too far from the people. Finally, he doesn't understand the issues.

    This isn't meant to be flamebait. Heck, I voted for him (sorry about that). I'm just saying it would be foolish to fail to consider that he instructed to courts to back down when it's time to vote again.
    • Re:Let's not forget (Score:4, Informative)

      by danheskett ( 178529 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tteksehnad.> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:27AM (#2505853)
      How about this Bush's settlement with MS isnt politically motivated, the original suit was.

      Way back in 1994-5, and you can easily verify this, MS was a non-player in politics. None. No money, no donations, no endorsements, nothing. Lobbying was minimal, and things were good. MS of course changed many many things about its business pratices. But at the same time, both parties solicitied heavily for money from MS. The Democrats and Republicans both wanted a piece of that big bankroll to finance the next big election cycle.

      MS's line up to then had always been something like "we are a software company, not a political organization". So they didnt give anything wholly significant (err, perhaps it was $1M to each party).

      After Clinton beat Dole, he persisted, trying to get some money from MS for the party. Didn't happen. MS was absent from conspicious $500/plate dinners and $1000/ticket charity events. They were simply apolitical.

      Then the shit hit the fan. I am not claiming that the government sued them because of their refusual to give money. However, they did pursue it more vigoursly and worked the system hard. MS had no political allies to lean on - no one to lobby the otherside for them - which sadly is a major part of the whole general process in Washington these days.

      Fast forward - MS is bigger than ever, and now, politically saavy. They work it from both sides of the aisle, they have connections and money and lobbyists and influence. They paid out millions in soft-money to both parties- just to hedge their bets. In less than 7 years they went from apolitical to uber-political.

      And it paid off.

      I've always been luke-warm towards MS. But I truly admired their stance on politics before the trial. Back then IBM, Sun, Apple, Netscape and several other competitors had powerful lobbies which by their own admissions had strong influence over the DOJ's decision to take the case.

      I am not saying the case is without merit, but if you live by the corrupt system you die by it. The case originated with strong political motives - and so shall it end.

      Finally, nit pick, he didnt tell the courts anything. He told the DOJ. I think he was right for several reasons besides the aforementioned ones. The DOJ's case for breakup was laughable. The finding of facts didnt even pass the laugh test for breakup. This is purely a case for behavioural rememedies. Futhermore most people at large and most legal types would probably tell that if held today, those hearings that led the finding of fact would fall strongly in the corner of MS. The market isnt the same today as in 1995, mostly because of Linux and other Free Software projects.

      • by Malcontent ( 40834 )
        Wow how ridiculus is this argument. To suggest that the clinton white house went after MS because they didn't pay is just silly. Did they go after any other businesses that didn't pay them? You have absolutely zero evidence that this was the reason they "pursued them vigorously". Guess what it's their job to pursue them vigorously. Just like it was the Bush justice depts job to pursue the case vigorously. It's the job of every prosecutor to do every thing in their power to get a conviction and to send the offender to jail. Prosecutors work for us (the public) and not the defendent (the criminal). Too bad Ashcroft decided that donations were more important then the rule of law and that the interest of the public didn't amount to hill of beans.

        Please point to one piece of paper (and not some republicans opinion) or one shred of evidence that this suit was started because MS did not fork over the money.

        "This is purely a case for behavioural rememedies. Futhermore most people at large and most legal types would probably tell that if held today, those hearings that led the finding of fact would fall strongly in the corner of MS. The market isnt the same today as in 1995, mostly because of Linux and other Free Software projects."

        More nonsense.
        First of all it does not matter what the market is like today. they are on trial and have been found guilty of breaking the law. You can't argue that the circumstances are different now and that the law should let you go (unless you are the riches man in the world of course).

        Besides circumstances are not really different. MS still has a monopoly, it still abuses that monopoly, it still bundles, it still uses monopoly products to gain monopolies in other markets. XP is a prime example of this. The entire purpose of XP is to get people signed up on passport, using MSN, using MS media formats etc. It has nothing to do with being an OS and everything to do with delivering advertising to windows users.

        And even if we were to buy your ridiculus arguments how does a consent degree enforce behavioural rememedies. Bill Gates has already shit on the last remedy and Ballmer is getting ready to piss on this one as we speak. This punishment is a joke and everybody knows that. The justice system in this country is corrupt beyond belief.

        The end result of this case will be formal acknowledgement that Bill Gates is officially above the law.
        • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tteksehnad.> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @07:14AM (#2506374)
          Please point to one piece of paper (and not some republicans opinion) or one shred of evidence that this suit was started because MS did not fork over the money.

          I thought I made it clear. Its circumstantial. I didnt claim they got sued because of non-payment, but that they didnt have any political protection - which companies like AOL, Sun, IBM, and others had then and have now. You should re-read my post.

          Just like it was the Bush justice depts job to pursue the case vigorously.

          The courts agree that MS is a monopoly, but more than anything, the courts almost literally laughed the "needs to be broken up" findings out the door. They basically are forcing the DOJ to settle because they have no real case for breakup. Do you dispute that? Go read the most recent appeals ruling. They stated pure and simple that they were skeptical that in any form that MS should be broken up. It was pretty clear.

          First of all it does not matter what the market is like today. they are on trial and have been found guilty of breaking the law. You can't argue that the circumstances are different now and that the law should let you go (unless you are the riches man in the world of course).

          Anyone can in civil court. It does in fact matter what the circumstances are at the time of sentencing. For example, even in criminal court - if I kill someone and get caught and am completely insane, and then go to trial - well if by sentencing I have been treated, medicated, and put into intensive therapy the judge considers those and adjusts the sentence as necessary. In 1995 there wasnt a credible threat to MS's monopoly if you believe it exisited, today, there is. Circumstances are different now than then.

          Besides circumstances are not really different. MS still has a monopoly, it still abuses that monopoly, it still bundles, it still uses monopoly products to gain monopolies in other markets. XP is a prime example of this. The entire purpose of XP is to get people signed up on passport, using MSN, using MS media formats etc. It has nothing to do with being an OS and everything to do with delivering advertising to windows users.

          MS doesnt have a monopoly, and certainly not with XP. Ask RMS what OS he uses on his desktop PC. Or Malda, or Roblimo. Ask them how they can get the news, the weather, or listen to music. There is no MS Desktop OS monopoly any more. Its gone. Vanished. Quick as it came. Futhermore, "bundling" isn't necessarily illegal even for monopolies. MS has the full right to extend the product to add new features. Elsewise, WinXP would be DOSXP.

          And even if we were to buy your ridiculus arguments how does a consent degree enforce behavioural rememedies. Bill Gates has already shit on the last remedy and Ballmer is getting ready to piss on this one as we speak. This punishment is a joke and everybody knows that. The justice system in this country is corrupt beyond belief.

          Yeap, this is a joke. Its a joke because MS has all the leverage. They can walk all over the DOJ because circumstances have changed. The high-courts have repeadetly handed MS either partial or complete appeals victory. The White House is on MS's side. The public is on MS's side (82% favorable rating!). The last court decisions basically said that a break-up will never happen and basically instructed the DOJ to settle. The DOJ has no leverage - MS can stretch this out till 2010 if they want. No leverage at all for the DOJ.

          The end result of this case will be formal acknowledgement that Bill Gates is officially above the law.

          Yeah, whatever, or that politics and the judicial system are not seperate, which is something that the rest of accepted years ago.
        • by mpe ( 36238 )
          First of all it does not matter what the market is like today. they are on trial and have been found guilty of breaking the law.

          Also was not at least part of the reason for this trial that they broke their "probation" from previously being found guilty. If a regular person did this they probably wouldn't even get a second trial.
          But here is where the idea of corporations as "people" breaks down fundermentaly.
    • Both Al Gore and George Bush stated during the campaign that they were opposed to the suit. Is that really so hard for you people to accept?

      "Bush, more so than any administration I can remember, is for sale."

      So you can't remeber all the way back to '96 and the Buddhist Monks? Or the White House coffees? Or renting out the Lincoln Bedroom? Or the donations from the Chinese military, Or the money from the Lippo group? Or the money from Loral Aerospace or the ....

      "he instructed to courts to back down"

      The president can't instruct the courts to do anything. You obviously han't mastered basic civics. Given that I'll take your up for sale comment as drivel.

    • by compugeek007 ( 464717 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:51AM (#2505920)
      the ideals of youth give way to stark realities.

      Bush didn't sell out to MS - he just saw a bigger picture. IF MS got blugened, broken apart, fined, etc. that would mean problems with every software developer in the nation who writes apps for MS. If MS can't keep upgrading OS's - software companies can't keep upgrading applications. Everyone loses money and jobs. End of story

      Political arguments on slashdot are usually stilted to liberal Neuromancer cum Utopian technologists (at least, mine are!) Bush doesn't care about .net, Gates grand scheme to own the internet, he doesn't know what a passport is and he probably dosen't care about software licenses. All Bush cares about his the economy, and all the other crap going on. Lets face it - this is a BAD time to try and break up the largest software company in the world.
  • fool me once... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rodentia ( 102779 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @11:48PM (#2505748)
    This is ridiculous. This is precisely the remedy formulated after the last DOJ action. Billmer and Co. are going to make a mockery of this in its implementation. You can be sure only ISVs already fully onboard the MS train will get a glimpse of the code, after signing bulletproof NDAs.
  • My first reaction to the remedies in the story: The least that could have happened was some sort of prohibition against any future leveraging with Windows. Way too light. These remedies don't even qualify as a slap on the wrist.

    Microsoft's comments that they "wouldn't accept any prohibitions against bundling new features into windows" seem to indicate that they will continue their predatory business practices in the future.

    The feds are really bending over and mooing on this one, cash whores that they are. Look on the bright side, though: They could've offerred to pay MS' lawyers fees too.
  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @11:51PM (#2505758)
    THE TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT calls for a five-year consent decree between the government and Microsoft governing the company's conduct, The New York Times reported on its Web site Wednesday evening, citing anonymous sources. The Times reported that the deal included the possibility of a two-year extension if the company violates the terms of the agreement.

    Huh? So let me get this straight: if Microsoft violates the terms of the agreement, the deal will be extended so that Microsoft can violate them for two more years. ??? Tough on crime we are today, ain't we?

    • Re:huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Merk ( 25521 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:10AM (#2505806) Homepage

      Seriously. As far as I know the "findings of law" from Judge Jackson's part of this affair still hold up. That basically means that the defendant has been found guilty of criminal actions, and put on some kind of probation, but if he/she violates that probation, the probation will continue longer.

      OJ may have the title for "most obvious perversion of justice by a single man", but I think MS just got it for perversion by a corporation.

      If I ever get found guilty of a crime I'll have to suggest this one to the judge. "Your Honour, I'll agree to do 5 years of community service, but if I decide not to do that community service, I agree you can pretend I'm doing it for 2 years longer. Sound good?"

      • Re:huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        >the defendant has been found guilty of criminal
        >actions, and put on some kind of probation, but
        >if he/she violates that probation, the probation
        >will continue longer.

        Hmm... I don't know about you but... where I come from - if you violate probation... they put yer ^&(^*! in jail.

        So, if Microsoft violates probation then they should be stiffly fined and or have their requirements expanded in scope.
        • Re:huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kerg ( 71582 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @03:05AM (#2506122)
          So, if Microsoft violates probation then they should be stiffly fined and or have their requirements expanded in scope.

          Microsoft has signed consent degrees before and broken them. They were not fined for it.

          Microsoft will break this consent degree, and they will not be fined for it.

          In 2007, Microsoft will sign yet another consent degree. They will break it, and will not be fined.

        • Re:huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe ( 36238 )
          Hmm... I don't know about you but... where I come from - if you violate probation... they put yer ^&(^*! in jail.

          You certainly don't get a secont trial and more probation

          So, if Microsoft violates probation then they should be stiffly fined and or have their requirements expanded in scope.


          Except that a fine isn't analagous to jail. You'd want something more like freezing of all assets and suspension of corporate charter.
    • So, if I break the law, and am found guilty, I'm free to negotiate a sentence that doesn't punish me at all?
  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2001 @11:56PM (#2505769)
    Bill wiped his ass with the last one.
  • I can't really tell if this will make it easier for people to get information about the S Office file formats.

    In my mind, when the various open source office suites can read and write MS Office fluently, then there will be a real choice on the business desktop. Open Office can hold a conversation, but it isn't fluent.

    It also doesn't say anything about Java. One of the specific findings was that MS was anticompetitive by deceiving developers with its embraced and extended Java. I think they should be forced to include a Java VM in their browser.
    • It also doesn't say anything about Java. One of the specific findings was that MS was anticompetitive by deceiving developers with its embraced and extended Java. I think they should be forced to include a Java VM in their browser.

      Sun sued MS because of the Java VM from MS. MS settled with Sun - Sun asked for and was given the concession that MS would not bundle any Java VM with Windows or IE.

      I have no idea why Sun would do that, except maybe that when people try to run a java applet or application they will now have the motivation to download the Sun Java VM instead of the MS one.
    • Re:Office formats? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Osty ( 16825 )

      I can't really tell if this will make it easier for people to get information about the S Office file formats.

      In my mind, when the various open source office suites can read and write MS Office fluently, then there will be a real choice on the business desktop. Open Office can hold a conversation, but it isn't fluent.



      See, the anti-trust trial was not dealing with Microsoft Office, or their perceived monopoly in the office suite application space. Therefore, any remedy addressing Office would have been extraneous to the suit, and would not have been accepted by Microsoft. Furthermore, ther DOJ and Attorneys General know this, and thus would not have suggested such a remedy in the first place. The compromise addresses Windows (via OEM licensing practices and bundling of things like Media Player) and IE (opening of some of the source code, supposedly) because those were the two things the suit was concerned with (Microsoft leveraging its Windows monopoly via OEMs to push their internet browser to kill Netscape).


      Having a monopoly IS NOT WRONG. It's not bad, and it's NOT illegal. Abusing it is. And when such an abuse occurs, you address that abuse, and that abuse only. It doesn't matter whether Microsoft happens to have a monopoly in the office suite space, because that had no bearing on the browser market. Period. Case closed.

  • Trick or Treat (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dracos ( 107777 )
    How telling is it that this happens on Halloween, under a full moon?
  • ...all the "sign out" buttons on Hotmail have just transformed into XP-looking ".net sign out" buttons.
  • Shameful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:10AM (#2505804)
    Disgusting, putrid filth. First we see that
    "Lawyers and executives for Microsoft have previously bristled over suggestions that any settlement would require them to disclose the "source code" blueprints for the company's monopoly Windows operating system, the underpinnings of its multibillion-dollar business."
    ... and ...
    "Microsoft officials also have warned they wouldn't accept any broad prohibitions against bundling new features into Windows."
    Well gee whiz. Why did the government go after them in the first place?
    "James, the antitrust chief, recently announced the government won't seek to break up Microsoft..."
    Microsoft didn't want this. Talk about caving in.
    "He also decided not to try to block Microsoft from releasing Windows XP, its newest version of its operating system."
    Well Microsoft wanted to do that anyway.
    "Letting Microsoft add new features into its flagship Windows software, but requiring the company also to offer a version that doesn't include those additions."
    Wasn't that the idea behind a previous government action against them?
    "Banning restrictive contracts that would force computer makers to buy versions of Windows with new features, but allowing financial incentives such as discounts to make those versions more enticing."
    This amounts to a big fat zero. Nada. Squat. Zilch. Zip. They will just have to adjust the wording of their OEM licenses and it's back to business as usual.
    "Forcing Microsoft to reveal parts of its Windows blueprints relating to its Internet browser software, but not the blueprints to Windows."
    They will no doubt continue to conceal the parts that separate the MS "standards" from the open industry standards (HTML). This is a fucking joke. And finally, the coup de gras:
    "A three-person advisory committee would oversee compliance with the agreement."
    Yeah, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen. This is a miscarriage of justice and I am totally disgusted. It means that MS will face virtually NO punishment or sanctions. Let's hope the individual states' legal actions aren't muzzled by Ashcroft. Watch concerns over "the economy" and vague "terrorist" tie-ins put the brakes on the states actions. Blech.
    • Cynicism (Score:3, Funny)

      by jbrians ( 135805 )
      Man you guys are cynical. Isn't it possible that the feds and states will make sure to put real, competent, neutral people on this advisory panel? If so, they will be able to see to it that the spirit of the sanctions are carried out, so that simply "changing the wording" won't be enough to get MS by anymore.
      -Brian
      • Man you guys are cynical. Isn't it possible that the feds and states will make sure to put real, competent, neutral people on this advisory panel? If so, they will be able to see to it that the spirit of the sanctions are carried out, so that simply "changing the wording" won't be enough to get MS by anymore.
        -Brian


        you know what, your right. they will put neutral people on that pannel. just like they did for the warren commision. nice and neutral...yep.
    • Re:Shameful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )

      > Watch concerns over "the economy" and vague "terrorist" tie-ins put the brakes on the states actions.

      Too late [yahoo.com]:
      U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the new trial judge, had set a deadline of Friday for any settlement, citing ``the recent tragic events affecting our nation.''
      Once more, the "national tragedy" is invoked as an excuse to give the powerful what they want.
    • Re:Shameful (Score:4, Funny)

      by jejones ( 115979 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @06:44AM (#2506334) Journal
      "Microsoft officials also have warned they wouldn't accept any broad prohibitions against bundling new features into Windows."

      Gee...if I'm ever found guilty of a crime, will I get to tell the court what penalties I find unacceptable?

      You're right. "Putrid" doesn't even begin to describe it.

  • Don't forget that this is just a settlement with the federal government. About half the states have been very unhappy with how the US DoJ handled its case and have split with it and the other states in order to continue pushing forward. This isn't done yet, although unfortunately the chances are very slim of it going anywhere else with just the states involved.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As long as computer manufacturers can't ship a dual boot system with Windows on it (with no "price incentive" to ship single boot), the DOJ has failed.

    "Microsoft officials also have warned they wouldn't accept any broad prohibitions against bundling new features into Windows."

    Since when does the party found guilty in a criminal case get to set terms on the sentence? This is crap!

    "Banning restrictive contracts that would force computer makers to buy versions of Windows with new features, but allowing financial incentives such as discounts to make those versions more enticing."

    Again, this is crap! Like every other product on the planet, more features should cost more or the same and the only discounts should be based on quantity.
    • No computer maker in their right mind would ship dual-booting computers. They already have to provide technical support for windows (as well as greatly customized software solutions).

      Can you see Dell et al. getting calls from Grandma and Grandpa asking where their windows was and what this penguin was??

      Scott
    • Did you expect the feds to shut off the supplier of software to 92% of the nations' consumers? Not to mention a huge supplier of software to the government. Not to mention a huge source of corporate tax revenue that employs top-margin taxpaying voters.

      Did you think they would rip all of this apart to save companies like VA Linux and Novell?

  • What Tentative Settlement, who is to be bribed and how big the bribe is will be.
  • Didn't we have one of those already? And wasn't a huge part of the case that Microsoft blatantly disregarded any of the terms of that consent decree?

    There's something rotten in Denmark.
  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:25AM (#2505843)
    Linus
    RMS
    Steve Jobs

    We'll take care of this monopoly business in no time.
    • More Likely, Michael Dell and other Microsoft cronies will be named.
    • by Paul Komarek ( 794 ) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @03:07AM (#2506127) Homepage
      I don't trust Jobs, and really wouldn't want Larry Ellison on this panel (or Michael Dell, or Mike Cappelas, or ...). However, I have an idea of my own for one member of the panel: Monte Davidoff.

      Monte was one of the three authors of the famous Altair Basic that Gates and Allen get credit for. Monte evidently wrote the math routines. He's now a software and systems consultant (Alluvial Software [alluvialsw.com]). It appears he does works on several platforms, including Multics. ;-) Furthermore, Monte actually finished his mathematics degree at Harvard, unlike Bill Gates.

      He knows the business, and more importantly, he knows Bill.

      -Paul Komarek
  • by CaptDeuce ( 84529 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:26AM (#2505847) Journal

    From the AP story (paraphrased):

    -Letting Microsoft add new features into its flagship Windows software, but requiring the company also to offer a version that doesn't include those additions.

    A very reasonable restriction but is this a penalty? No.

    -Banning restrictive contracts but allow financial incentives such as discounts to make those versions more enticing.

    Gee, that's what I thought they were doing before the trial. Bill said "you can do it our way or you can't do it at all". Instead he'll say "you can do it our way or pay more". As if anybody hasn't noticed, given the choice between paying one price for something or paying more for the same thing, which is the typical consumer going to pick? PC vendors have a choice of doing it Microsoft way or coming up with a great song and dance routine to make the exact same box running the exact same software appear to be worth more money. Is this a penalty? Hell no!

    -Forcing Microsoft to reveal parts of its Windows source for its Internet browser, but not Windows.

    Huh? Who the hell wants the source to IE? What good is it going to do since Microsoft already illegally monopolized the market? Is this a penalty?

    Found guilty by the trial court with that verdict upheld by the appeals court I ask for the last time, where's the penalty?

  • So far I see posters in glee over the hope that the states will break up MS, the XP will be Bill's ruin, and all sorts of other inane fantasies.

    Get real folks, Microsoft is more powerful than ever. This only solidifies their empire. They are the world's most powerful corporation by a long shot, and they have almost a complete stranglehold over the consumer computing experience.

    For consumers, its boiled down to two choices - AOL or Microsoft. Take your pick, everyone else is chump change at this point.

    • Actually, GM is probaly the worlds most powerful corporation. It employees the most people and has the most revenue. Heck, its revenue rivals the GDP of Sweden! Heck, I bet that Philip Morris has more 'power' than Microsoft.

      Now, if you're talking about power in the computer industry, yes I would agree it's the most powerful. However, AOL also has a lot of power, however they don't control the platform. It kind of reminds me of the TMBG poll on slashdot some time ago asking "Who is the most powerful?"

      Ian
      • Actually, GM is probaly the worlds most powerful corporation. It employees the most people and has the most revenue

        BZZT! Walmart employs three times as many people (1.2 million compared to 380k at GM).

        GM has huge revenues, (WMT is near but a little less), but WalMart and many others have vastly more income than GM. Walmart hd income of 3 billion, GM has 386 million in the last recorded quarter.

  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:45AM (#2505904) Homepage
    The DOJ thing did a very important thing - it showed that Microsoft is fallable, and made IT people all over the globe question why they were using Microsoft's products, and what it really meant for their customers and businesses. Now they are demanding Microsoft actually adhere to industry standards, so they can choose something else if it's a better fit. That is what a Free Market should be.

    It made companies brave enough to piss of Microsoft by trying out alternatives. The IT industry is once again interested in investigating other solutions, some of which Microsoft can't destroy or bury through anything else but providing value per $ spent on thier products.

    I'm happy - I'm Microsoft's customer again, not thier biatch-yesman-mouthpeice to my companys upper management. I have a choice again - and more choices coming with each passing day, when new code gets posted on myriad CVS servers across the Internet. More choices coming with companies that were heartened enough by the DOJ case to actually develop new, great products that don't require Windows and in some cases directly compete with Windows.

    Roll up your sleeves, people, and get back to work. We are the competition.

    Soko
  • From the way the NYTimes article is worded, sounds like only major corporations will have access to the technical documentation. Independant projects like Samba wouldn't be included.

    No deals with OEMs is great, but I'm SURE they'll still do it...all it takes is one guy with a suitcase full of $100s.

    What a worthless trial that was. Thanks Bush. Fucking asshole. Oh well, maybe the terrorists will get him. Or Gates.
  • How 'bout this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unitron ( 5733 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:02AM (#2505946) Homepage Journal
    A corporation is basically the sum of each shareholder's financial holding in that corporation. They joined their financial assets together in the first place to increase said assets. Ultimately they are responsible for the conduct of the corporation because they decide who runs and oversees it on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, the way to punish a corporation is financially, i.e., reduce each shareholder's financial holding proportional to the size fo that holding. You can either take some of the corporation's assests, or in the unlikely event of their misdeeds being such as to deserve a "death penalty", all of their assets.

    Microsoft should be punished for their misdeeds by being fined billions and billions of dollars. (I like to call it the Sagan treatment.) This will send a message to the shareholders to make sure that they don't break the law anymore and suffer further punishment, and have the delightful side effect of severely reducing Microsoft's ability to buy near-monopolys in related fields such as cable tv, etc., as well as putting a lot of money into the government coffers to allow the meeting of expenses such as part of the cost of fighting a war without having to increase taxes or federal debt quite as soon or as much.

  • Halloween Story (Score:2, Insightful)

    by calags ( 12705 )
    This has got to be the scariest story I've heard this Halloween.

    Evidently Microsoft manage to "Trick" us all by providing "Treats" to the right politicians.
  • Halloween Documents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamie ( 78724 ) <jamie@slashdot.org> on Thursday November 01, 2001 @01:39AM (#2506008) Journal
    Coincidentally, this was announced three years to the day [opensource.org] after the leaking of Microsoft's plans to "de-commoditize" the open protocols that make up the internet. Fate must be winking at Bill.
  • What's so interesting about the source of for IE? I can't think of much.

    The keyword for selecting the source codes to open is intercompatibility. IE follows open standards reasonably well, and any of it's own web standards are open (or otherwise no one could write html for IE), so it's not so much of a problem, not at least yet.

    The most important source code would be for Office, especially for its file format, and also for the data structures (i.e. headers). Office is the most important source of the infamous Application Barrier mentioned in the Fact of Findings.

    Other pieces would be other file formats, such as those handled by Media Player.

    Another yet more useful would be requirement that any hardware drivers must be opened. This might be somewhat more difficult to get as it would require that also other companies than Microsoft open their drivers. It could be formulated in a way that Microsoft must require that any hardware drivers be licensed with an open license (with "open" I don't mean Open Source but a minimal source license that allows reading the code to attain intercompatibility).

    And of course, .NET and Passport.
  • Folks,

    I personally thought long ago that the settlement of US v. Microsoft would involve Microsoft offering Plain Jane versions of Windows that allows an end user or OEM to install their own additional software.

    As such, my prediction has become reality. Don't be surprised that we may see an AOL Plus Pack for the Plain Jane Windows XP Home Edition that includes Netscape 6.x (using final Mozilla 1.0 code), Real Network's Real One media player, AOL IM or ICQ, and so on. And this add-on pack will include full support for RoadRunner cable modems, too. :-)
  • Please don't slap my hand! Outch! Ha ha! Back to being a monopoly!
  • M$ usually offers companies/universities 5-year contract of mandatory purchase of their products, after the victims received letters from BSA accusing of their license violation.
    My universities was replacing SUN workstations with NT workstations til we found out the hidden contract they've with M$. *SIGH*
  • You just gotta love the settlement terms!

    Letting Microsoft add new features into its flagship Windows software, but requiring the company also to offer a version that doesn't include those additions.

    Microsoft can do anything it wants, as long as it also offers a lobotimized version too...

    Banning restrictive contracts that would force computer makers to buy versions of Windows with new features...
    Microsoft can't force people to buy the version they want to push...
    but allowing financial incentives such as discounts to make those versions more enticing.
    but the lobotimized version can cost twice the price!

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot the part that actually does something:
    Forcing Microsoft to reveal parts of its Windows blueprints relating to its Internet browser software

    A yup... that'll fix 'em it will! No more worries about dirty tricks from Microsoft, yeehaw!
  • How about PRISON (Score:2, Insightful)

    by velco ( 521660 )
    So, Microsoft broke the law, fact established by two courts.

    When you break the law you go to PRISON. Period.

    Instead, the "punishment" is to vaguely ensure that they don't break the law anymore ?
  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @02:44AM (#2506088)
    From the NYT article:

    "Under the settlement proposal, Microsoft would be required to make that information available in a "secure facility," where representatives of software makers, computer manufacturers and others deemed qualified could study the Windows programming code and ask questions."

    "Carrying out the technology-sharing provision remains one of the sticking points in the settlement talks. The government wants to make sure it is effective, while Microsoft wants to make sure it can protect its intellectual property."

    This sounds a little dodgy in terms of open source programmers being allowed a peek for compatibility purposes. And if the code they write then reveals a Microsoft "secret" what happens?
  • by furry_wookie ( 8361 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @02:46AM (#2506093)
    If you don't think letting Microsoft get totally off for free, or the same thing they were let off with in 1995 which did zero good then,

    I suggest you call your own state attorney general and tell them not to give into this federal get-out-of-jail free card...

    CALL THEM THURSDAY MORNING FIRST THING AND TELL THEM!!

    Here is a site with the phone numbers for most all of the states aj offices..
    http://www.naag.org/about/aglist.cfm

    Here are the 18 states still involved as complantants in the case..

    Connecticut, Iowa and New York have generally been viewed as the three states championing the case. Also involved are California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

    Also call California and New York because they have the most power and have been the 2 most outspoken against the results of this case so far..and call IOWA because Tom Miller the IOWA AG is the spokesman for all the 18 states involved.

  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @02:57AM (#2506108)
    I know this is buried in other comments. (And I know I should have written a cron job which checks /. headlines once a minute so I get a page when something new comes in, but...) But I have to comment.

    The law doesn't mean a thing. Well, not really. The law means a lot, but only to little people. Those with expired tags ("And maybe perhaps could we check inside your vehicle, sir"). Those with less insurance than they need ("You should have opted for the 'Act of God -- but only under duress' clause, sir..."). Those who can't afford a lawyer ("One will be provided for you should you not be able to afford one"). Families with sudden tax burdens ("Actually, it's guilty until proven innocent in a non-jury trial, sir -- get out of your house immediately"). For large corporations and individuals, the law doesn't mean shit.

    The law is what you've paid for. It's not what is right, or true, or just... or even what's wrong. It's what's been paid for. It's been this way ever since we've had governments. PoliSci 101: Those with power wield it primarily in order to gain more. I know I'm not saying anything new here, but I had to say it. And in a capitalist society, power is money. Therfore, money is politics. Like I said, back to day one of class and nothing new. This is just the most astonishing example of money making government we've seen recently. It's a Morgan or Hearst-like thing.

    And since the I have the soapbox out, here's some advice: Fuck Microsoft. They're petty, awful people and I feel that one day soon other people will find it in their best interest not to bet their careers on them.

    I'm a card-carrying Libertarian, and stongly against any spurious government interdiction in the free market. But I'm also a realist and realize that there has to be some form of interaction. Shoddy products can be dangerous, after all. But the real power is held by the people: The people that buy stuff for IT departments. I beseech them to look at alternatives to MS prodcuts. They will likely save money (and their jobs) in the long term.

    Again, all this is so old it's cliched. But that makes it no less true. Although it's so late in the story du jour that nobody will every see this, so it's all one hand clapping....

    -B

    • Well I for one did see your comment ;) "The law doesn't mean shit." Taken with your other remarks, I would say this is an interesting perspective. Of course you are right in a cynical sense...

      It is the people who apply the law, the people who write the law, the people who vote for the people who write the law that "mean shit". I guess I am an optimist, I think that even if the states agree to this the Judge will throw it out.

      I mean she is not bought and paid for and it is clear that this preliminary remedy does not address the infringing issues. After all another federal court judge from her circuit found Microsoft guilty.

      I too am a libertarian, but I advocate a limited penalty not one where the government is actively monitoring the company with a panel of some sort. This is just ripe for endless headaches.
    • This is why I'm STILL a Libertarian :-)

      But I would clarify you post a bit. Our legal system is controlled 100% by the legal profession. How many congressmen are NOT lawyers? How many Supreme Court justices are NOT lawyers? Heck, how many judges of any level are NOT laywers? How many members of the executive branch below the cabinet level are NOT laywers?

      The problem is clear to me: conflict of interest. Normally it is not a problem, and quite efficient, for an industry or profession to be run by its practioneers. We want our medicine delivered by physicians. We want our children taught by educators. We want our software written by programmers. But the law is an exception. The law is raw naked power. And we have given the monopoly over that raw naked power to a single profession.

      Take the legal system out of the hands of the legal profession. Lawyers need to stick to representing their clients and judges need to stick to arbitrating disputes. Let congress be composed of the ordinary people. I want to see congress composed of farmers, educators, physicians, programmers and automotive engineers.
  • by dozing ( 111230 )
    This is great! It means Microsoft only has to buy off 3 people.
  • by imrdkl ( 302224 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @03:29AM (#2506167) Homepage Journal
    This article [usatoday.com] shows that the 17 States involved in the suit have been anticipating this from the DoJ.

    They've hired a power lawyer to get more for all their trouble. We can expect them to contest this settlement, in it's current form, I think.

    It ain't over 'til it's over.

  • MS monopoly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nabucco ( 24057 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @05:06AM (#2506264)
    I find it ironic that MSNBC was the news source submitted to get news about Microsoft's monopolistic practices. Corporate control of the means of production is consolidating and omni-present.
  • Sound and fury (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:02PM (#2507526)
    ...signifying nothing.

    * Letting Microsoft add new features into its flagship Windows software, but requiring the company also to offer a version that doesn't include those additions.

    Full OEM version: $30
    Stripped OEM version: $80
    Profit margin from each system $60

    If your losing money on each system, you'll never make it up on volume.

    * Banning restrictive contracts that would force computer makers to buy versions of Windows with new features, but allowing financial incentives such as discounts to make those versions more enticing.

    How does this differ one iota from how MS cornered the market? Put MS-DOS on on all of your systems and get a price break equal to your profit margin. Install even a single copy of DR-DOS, and you pay full price. The month after MS implemented the policy, DR-DOS sales tanked!

    * Forcing Microsoft to reveal parts of its Windows blueprints relating to its Internet browser software, but not the blueprints to Windows.

    So everything is now defined as being part of Windows, and IE is now just an interface to some system libraries. Hate it for all those out there who wanted to actually display pages written by FrontPage on an alternative OS.

    This has got to be one of the biggest paper tigers since Reagan's immigration bill in the 80's, the reason you now have to 'prove' you're American or have a VISA to work here. Illegal immigrants can produce a photocopy of a drivers liscense and the Human Resource drone at the cleaning company checks off on the form. These rememedies, whether you agree MS is guilty or not, are full of sound and fury, signifiying nothing.

  • Random Facts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Merk ( 25521 ) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @12:43PM (#2507760) Homepage

    Some random financial facts about Microsoft [smartmoney.com], compared against the biggest company in the world (by revenue) Exxon Mobil [smartmoney.com]. Scary Stuff:

    • Microsoft Market Value [smartmoney.com]: $313,182,000,000
    • Exxon Mobil Market Value: $271,064,000,000
    • Microsoft Yearly Revenues [smartmoney.com]: $25,622,000,000
    • Exxon Yearly Revenues: $229,769,000,000
    • Microsoft Yearly Earnings [smartmoney.com]: $6,423,000,000
    • Exxon Yearly Earnings: $17,330,000,000
    • Microsoft Long Term Debt [smartmoney.com]: $0
    • Exxon Long Term Debt: $7,289,000,000
    • Microsoft Net Margin [smartmoney.com]: 25.1%
    • Exxon Mobil Net Margin: 7.5%

    Basically, even though Microsoft has approx 1/10th the revenues of each of the top 3 corporations in the world (the others are Wal-Mart and GM) it has approx half the profits they do.

    In June 2000 Microsoft's pre tax profit margin was 60.2%. After taxes it was 41.0%. Seeing as Bill Gates owns 13.3% of Microsoft, every dollar spent on a Microsoft Product -- actually let's make it every $100 because $1 won't buy anything MS sells. For every $100 you spend on a MS product, Bill Gates gets on average $5.33.

    There are sites that try to try to put is wealth in perspective [google.com]. This is the google cached version (don't wanna melt the poor guy's server) but it's pretty much up to date.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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