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Microsoft

More Details of MS/DOJ Deal 494

There are various news articles out at most major news sites, but they're all based on this press release from the Department of Justice. The actual terms of the settlement will probably become public shortly, so I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time trying to dissect this press release. Just read it for generalities. In sum: for this whole multi-year case, which you will recall started when Microsoft refused to obey its earlier behavior restrictions, we have more behavior restrictions, lasting only five years. And if MS doesn't obey those, they'll ... be in effect longer. Update: 11/02 15:07 GMT by M : Here are the promised terms of the settlement. Now you can dissect them. :) Update: 11/02 15:53 GMT by M : The states are refusing to sign on.
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More Details of MS/DOJ Deal

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  • by briggsb ( 217215 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:16AM (#2511744)
    Here is another [bbspot.com] look at the settlement. I think this view is closer to the truth.
    • When asked what they thought of the Microsoft settlement half of Americans didn't care and the other half were worried about anthrax.

      Until americans begin receiving bills from Microsoft or their partners for services they can't get anywhere else and at rates they find outrageous, most won't care. There was once a time where all the TV that was available was broadcast for free, now millions are perfectly content to fork over $30+ a month for basic service. With scares over anthrax, threats against suspension bridges in the west, the world series and the ongoing bombing in Afghanistan, not too many people where I work are even aware there are issues with Microsoft, most seem to think the government is going after them because their Big.

  • Stunning... (Score:2, Funny)

    by arnwald ( 468380 )
    I mean, well you know what I mean.

    Duh, I bet those 'Corporatism is good for you' guys will
    -a- ignore the post
    -b- minimize the post
    -c- call the poster a liar
    -d- say it's actually a good thing
  • Unstoppable MS... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Coplan ( 13643 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:20AM (#2511762) Homepage Journal
    I have no interest in promoting a company with the shady backhanded things that MS does, so long as they offer something of value. I have long said that MS's only division that's any bit quality oriented is its hardware division. It's true. What makes the hardware division even better is the fact that they don't (to the best of my knowledge) do this shady stuff that the MS software division does. At least you don't find websites on MSN, Zone, Hotmail, etc that require a Microsoft Keyboard or Mouse.

    The thing is, however, MS is huge. They're so powerful that the DOJ won't be able to enforce their decision very long. MS will do whatever it wants, maybe end up in another law suit, and throw more lawyers at it. But they wouldn't do it if they weren't makeing money...so they'll do it so long as they do. The only thing that will stop MS is a consumer level loss of interest. Office XP, .NET and the new licensing system could do just that.

    • Re:Unstoppable MS... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:29AM (#2512109)
      What makes the hardware division even better is the fact that they don't (to the best of my knowledge) do this shady stuff that the MS software division does.

      I heard (from the VP of sales at Logitech at the time) that MS went to Logitech and said they were interested at branding Logitech mice with MS's logo. Of course, the Logitech guys got dollar-signs in their eyes and put their best sales people on the job.

      Six months later, after much negotiation, Logitech had widdled away their price estimates, and it came time for MS to sign the paperwork. The MS rep never showed.

      A couple of months later, MS released their first mouse, undercutting Logitech because they knew every detail about Logitech's production costs.

      I dunno'. That sounds shadey to me.

      PS - I will admit that the MS optical mouse is the best mouse I've ever used.

    • A 'consumer level loss of interest?' As in, people migrating off Microsoft software? Yeah. Sure.

      Mark my words: within five years, Microsoft will already have ignored and broken the terms of today's settlement. They'll already be hard at work tying products together and locking customers into Microsoft-only solutions, leveraging Windows and IE and the MSN messager off each other to make sure no customers leave the fold.

      Yes, the government will quickly get wise to this new illegal activity -- and it'll result in a new court case, which will take another four years to reach a settlement, which will give Microsoft a completely new set of restrictions to ignore.

      I wonder if Bill Gates's hand is red from being slapped by the government so often.

      There's a long history of companies crushed by Microsoft's outrageously illegal practices, from Digital Research (the FUD campaign against DR-DOS in the early 1980's) to Stack (outright stealing of their compression code in the early 1990's) to Netscape ('cutting off their air supply' by cloning every Netscape product and giving them away for free). In the courtroom, they've falsified evidence (the famous videotape with the disappearing icons) and even destroyed evidence (deleted incriminating email in a case against Caldera) and they've always gotten away with it. With today's settlement, I wonder who Microsoft's next victim will be.

      What's the use of trying to bring an innovative new product to market any more, knowing that Microsoft will just steal it from you after you R&D it and create its user base?

    • Re:Unstoppable MS... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jsproul ( 4589 )
      You make a good point about enforceability: any settlement that depends upon executive branch agencies like the DOJ is a "walk" for Microsoft. No executive branch agency in the Bush pro-business-at-any-cost administration will actually enforce the terms of this agreement beyond the bare minimum necessary to avoid gross misconduct.

      Any such settlement agreement must be enforced by a non-executive-branch body. (Perhaps the ITAA would like to help. :-)

      Moreover, Microsoft have demonstrated a total disregard for the law, and offering them the benefit of "good faith" is irresponsible. The fact that Microsoft is "powerful" should not prevent the DOJ from imposing proper sanctions and relief on their behaviour - in fact, it argues for a stronger and more enforceable penalty.

      There are some major gifts in this agreement. For example, see III(A)(2). Microsoft may not retaliate against OEMs that sell Linux, or that ship PCs with multiple OSes or multi-boot capability, but the language allows Microsoft to retaliate against vendors of OS-less PCs or PCs that do not have Windows on them (e.g., PCs with only Linux installed).

      Microsoft can also continue to roll functionality into its OS and kernel, or use proprietary APIs, as long as it does not put the entirety of the "middleware" into the OS. Only "Internet Explorer, Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger, Outlook Express and their successors" are covered by the middleware restrictions anyway. IIS, SQL Server, and other enterprise products can continue to use secret kernel-mode APIs to enhance their performance and maintain an unfair advantage for Microsoft middleware over non-Microsoft middleware.

      There's a beautiful escape clause in III(H) which allows Microsoft to bypass third-party software (browser, JVM, media player, etc.) if it "fails to implement a reasonable technical requirement... that is necessary for valid technical reasons to supply the end user with functionality consistent with a Windows Operating System Product."

      And there's the spectacular III(J), which allows Microsoft to hide APIs, documentation or "layers of Communications Protocols" if it "would compromise the security of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems." That's rather broad.

      As others have no doubt noted, there is no mention of the "embrace and extend" techniques Microsoft uses to take over open protocols under the guise of improved functionality. There's also no mention of tying Microsoft content to Microsoft products distributed with the OS and thereby creating a substantial barrier to entry for third parties (as they are doing now with MSN).

      I would love to see a coordinated campaign to fight this settlement agreement. Congress gets very grumpy if executive branch agencies ignore public comments, and many state attorneys-general will have to sign off on the agreement (many of them do not like it, and even a small amount of public disapproval will help them). This means there is something that people everywhere within the US, or who do business in the US, can do to fight this agreement. Please write me at the email address given if you are interested in this effort.
    • I did a stock lookup on MSFT and found this chronology [yahoo.com] antitrust activities. Seems a long time, eh?
  • by blogan ( 84463 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:21AM (#2511767)
    The settlement says they need to have open server protocols. This is great for SAMBA, and it seems like it would have to include exchange. Maybe Microsoft will go away from everything runs from the network.
    • the only thing is that it requires MS to LICENCE that information. the terms of that licence are not defined so MS could easily make the licence cost prohibitive for small ISVs....I would assume that MS had this placed in the agreement.
    • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:09AM (#2512018) Homepage Journal
      The claim with regard to closing the SMB protocol was that the new password-exchange system (implemented in XP I think) was covered by a method patent. This raises two questions. First, will Microsoft be required to either relinquish this patent or agree not to pursue claims based on this patent (since it's not strictly a patent on a protocol)? Second, What does this mean for Microsoft's other Intellectual Property?

      --CTH
  • Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mik!tAAt ( 217976 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:21AM (#2511768) Homepage
    At least these two points caught my attention:

    Disclosure of Middleware Interfaces- Microsoft will be required to provide software developers with the interfaces used by Microsoft's middleware to interoperate with the operating system. This will allow developers to create competing products that will emulate Microsoft's integrated functions.

    Disclosure of Server Protocols- The Final Judgment also ensures that other non-Microsoft server software can interoperate with Windows on a PC the same way that Microsoft servers do. This is important because it ensures that Microsoft cannot use its PC operating system monopoly to restrict competition among servers. Server support applications, like middleware, could threaten Microsoft's monopoly.

    If I understood correctly, they are forcing MS to open the interface specifications and protocols to others. This would be a Very Good Thing for several open source projects, for example Samba. Although I have some doubts about how effectively will this deal project into reality, this is definitely a step into a good direction.
    • I think the following point is also important
      Ban on Exclusive Agreements- Microsoft will be prohibited from entering into agreements requiring the exclusive support or development of certain Microsoft software. This will allow software developers and computer manufacturers to contract with Microsoft and still support and develop rival middleware products.
      If I understand this correctly, this means that computer makers can sell Linux or *BSD boxes (or OSless) without retaliation. Does this mean no Microsoft tax?
      • Re:Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:37AM (#2511852)
        If I understand this correctly, this means that computer makers can sell Linux or *BSD boxes (or OSless) without retaliation. Does this mean no Microsoft tax?
        The problem being that such such arrangments are almost never written down on paper, never discussed except among "family", and never enforced in public.

        So XYZ Computer Company decided to take this anti-trust thing seriously and offer Netscape on the desktop, eh? No problem - we will just "forget" to renew their Windows license at the end of the year. Nothing deliberate; just an oversight. Of course, since they are no longer a licensee, when they do renew, they will be in a 200% higher price bracket. Sorry about that, but we enforce those rules on everyone. And by the way, the BSA will be around to audit you and your customers next week.

        Anyone who has worked for a major corporation knows how these things are done. As did Judge Jackson, which is why he recommneded breakup. Oh well.

        sPh

        • however, MS is required to have all licenced OEMs be under uniform pricing. so they can't increese it 200%.
          • Re:Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sphealey ( 2855 )
            however, MS is required to have all licenced OEMs be under uniform pricing. so they can't increese it 200%
            The problem being that there are about 87,000 different ways to evade such a restriction. Simplest one is to create 5 versions of XP for different "markets". "Oops - sorry, now that we check your license renewal application, you were in the wrong market. You were a Class D vendor and we have to move you to Class C. That'll be 200%, please. in soft, non-recordable voice And next time, don't preload Netscape, wise guy."

            Without strong oversight, these kind of games will commence, oh, next January. And DOJ's behaviour doesn't point toward strong oversight.

            sPh

    • I quite agree that these are Very Good Things.... the problem is, what will happen to them if they fail to do either?


      NOTHING.


      So they have some more restrictions... that they can ignore. You'll pardon me if I don't hold my breath waiting for the MS_secret_01.dll to be emailed to me. Oh, unless I pay $1,000 / year [slashdot.org] to get them, since only .Net developers will be counted as "software developers (hey, it's what I'd do if I were an evil corporation).


      I'm going to go somewhere and cry now.

    • Re:Good news (Score:2, Insightful)

      by subsolar2 ( 147428 )
      One thing that they still need to require Microsoft to licence Royalty Free any patented technology in the protocols. If they don't do this then it's pretty much useless to SAMBA an other open source groups.

      The Royalty Free license is the most important thing that could come out ... I guess I'll have to pressure my state AJ to get this added.

      - subsolar

      • Microsoft will be required to provide software developers with the interfaces

      I'm a software developer. How do I get access to this information?

      Sorry, what's that? I have to fly to Redmond, get body searched, sign an NDA in blood, wrap my first born son in $50 million of bearer bonds and place them both in escrow?

    • by em.a18 ( 31142 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:02PM (#2512287) Homepage
      As I read the agreement, it doesn't force MS to publish their protocols. Instead it says that MS must only disclose the middleware and communications protocols to entities with business models that they (MS!!!) determines are viable. I am pretty sure that MS does not consider OpenSource a viable business model.

      In their favor, when you do an agreement like this, you don't want to have to cater to every 2-bit business. Open source is not 2-bit but yet is not a viable business in MS' eyes.

      The parts of the agreement that I read doesn't say anything about publishing the specs. I assume that the secure facility that MS provides is so they can keep their secrets secret. I assume you have to sign an iron-clad NDA to see the protocols.
    • Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonabbey ( 2498 ) <jonabbey@ganymeta.org> on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:03PM (#2512293) Homepage

      Take a look at section III.J, which shields Microsoft from having to disclose any authorization or authentication wire protocols. This loophole would allow Microsoft to maintain the secrecy of their BDC and PDC protocols, thereby locking out Samba. Ditto the III.J terms which require the company to have a 'verifiable business plan', on Microsoft's terms, in order to get release of this information. Likewise, Microsoft is able to force vendors who get access to the API's and protocols not to release them to the public.

      All of these terms put together will shield Microsoft from revealing any interoperability information if the protocol in question includes authorization or authentication (which all protocols of significance will do), and will shield Microsoft in any case from having to let the grubby open sourcers get their hands on the info.

      Yuck. Microsoft has very good lawyers, indeed.

    • Re:Good news (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:20PM (#2512379) Homepage

      Hauled up from a post below, I shall now show you why this judgement means exactly squat:

      • In III.A: Nothing in this provision shall prohibit Microsoft from enforcing any provision of any license with any OEM or any intellectual property right that is not inconsistent with this Final Judgment.

        III.J: J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall... Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties: (a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria

      Gee, Sun, Apple and GNU/Linux guys, we'd love to give you access to all of our specs, but you see, we're so security conscious that we have security protocols at all levels. Yes we do. Or software licensing. Or digital rights management, or encryption or authentication protocols. In fact, we can't find a single source file that's free of at least one of these. So you can look, but then we'll have to kill you.

      And we'd like nothing more than to let you OEM guys unininstall components, but, you see, it turns out that anything you want to unbundle will be, I mean, is central to our security and content protection system. Yes, that's right. Instant messenging, browsers, media players, you name it, it's vital.

      You don't think so? OK, back to court. Is a three year case OK with you? That should give us time to get another OS out, make your case irrelevant, and insure that the penalty is another (snigger) conduct (giggle) remedy.

  • Enforcement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rayban ( 13436 )
    Since MSFT is no longer one of the more important stocks in the NASDAQ index (I think the index has finally shaken loose :)), is it more likely that they would try to enforce the restrictions?
  • In an industry where things can change dramatically mere months, five years seems like one of the first realistic settlements related to a technology case. Microsoft is already making broad changes to how they intend to obtain revenue with their Hailstorm services, and five years from now, the company is likely to look very little like the entity they are today.
    • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:50AM (#2511899)

      Paying for software on a subscription system will be about as pleasant as standing outside in a hailstorm. So I guess MS picked a good name.

      • "as pleasant as standing outside in a hailstorm"

        I guess this would be the same thing as my cell phone bill. And my magazines. And my electricity. And my cup of coffee every morning, etc.

        Wake up: everything is becoming subscriptions. MS is just slotting itself with every other "service provider".

    • it is sort of interesting that Blackcomb is slated for 2005......I bet that it will be pushed back ever so slightly so it will be outside the restriction zone.....

      today....
      MS: hey developers!!! here are alll the interface protocols to our software!!!!

      2006 roles around.....
      MS: heh fools....blackcomb will change all the rules..... heh, the countdown to end of restrictions is starting...10...9...8.......
  • by AgTiger ( 458268 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:22AM (#2511780) Homepage
    The current posture of the USDOJ with respect to Microsoft reminds me of Robin Williams skit involving British Bobbies (police), and making an arrest? "Stop, or I shall say stop again!"

  • by archen ( 447353 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:23AM (#2511782)
    At first I missed the slash in there, and I thought that Microsoft had bought out the DOJ and changed it's name to MS DOJ. Well at least I can breathe a sigh of relief... for now.
  • by ajuda ( 124386 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:23AM (#2511786)
    The deal is for five years, but it takes Microsoft around 2 or 3 years to come out with a new version of Winows and other software. So... the deal doesn't seem like it will have much of a lasting effect.

    Also, there is a section about disclosure of server protocols, they left out what is the most important part: Document Formats. If Microsoft didn't have a monopoly on .doc and .xls, don't think for a minute that offices wouldn't switch to something else.

    • Hey now! None of that! They can extend this by another whole 2, count 'em, 2 years.

      How fun. Who wants to lay odds the USA Act gets extended until the sun no longer rises and the mountains are now more but this extension never gets used?

      Oh and I totally agree with you about the document formats.

    • by mckwant ( 65143 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:11PM (#2512337)
      I'm less sure about this. I know this'll reach a less than receptive audience here, but I've got users that still complain about moving to Word from WordPerfect four YEARS ago.

      I think the problem might be similar to a situation described by Pendergrast in his excellent book on Coca-cola. The exact formula for Coke is a deeply guarded secret, which makes it interesting to others. Pendergrast asked for a copy, and the Coke exec he was talking to claimed it didn't matter, and said something along the lines of:

      "Let's say I give you the formula," handing over a blank sheet of paper. "Now, what do you do with it? You can't possibly compete with our economies of scale, distribution channels, marketing, or name recognition. In effect, you'll be offering a product that allegedly tastes the same as Coke, only at a higher price."

      Similar situation here. Let's say MS hands over the .doc format. They've still got 90% of the office suite market, so they change over to another format the next day. Freeware suites can't keep up, and Microsoft still wins.

      Unless the free suites can both a) keep up with the changes, and b) deliver a better value proposition than Office (remember that support and selling the idea to PHBs is also involved here), delivering those formats won't make any difference.

      I hope I'm wrong, but....
    • by Sara Chan ( 138144 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:21PM (#2512386)
      Microsoft has a monopoly on word processors and spreadsheets. And Microsoft keeps changing the internal file formats for these (.doc and .xls files).


      Since Microsoft has a monopoly, competitors (e.g. StarOffice) can only realistically compete if they can read and write Microsoft file formats. Competitors, however, cannot do this reliably if the formats keep changing.


      In other words, the DoJ settlement does not do what is necessary to introduce competition into the software-applications market. So, it seems to be a failure.

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:24AM (#2511790) Homepage
    from the press release :


    Disclosure of Middleware Interfaces- Microsoft will be required to provide software developers with the interfaces used by Microsoft's middleware to interoperate with the operating system. This will allow developers to create competing products that will emulate Microsoft's integrated functions.

    Disclosure of Server Protocols- The Final Judgment also ensures that other non-Microsoft server software can interoperate with Windows on a PC the same way that Microsoft servers do. This is important because it ensures that Microsoft cannot use its PC operating system monopoly to restrict competition among servers. Server support applications, like middleware, could threaten Microsoft's monopoly.

    Freedom to Install Middleware Software--Computer manufacturers and consumers will be free to substitute competing middleware software on Microsoft's operating system.

    Ban on Retaliation--Microsoft will be prohibited from retaliating against computer manufacturers or software developers for supporting or developing certain competing software. This provision will ensure that computer manufacturers and software developers are able to take full advantage of the options granted to them under the proposed Final Judgment without fear of reprisal.


    I must say this looks VERY promising ...

    I can't wait to see the microsoft docs for their protocols ...
    • I must say this looks VERY promising ...

      All along it's history, Microsoft has shown us that they are *very* creative in killing the competition. No doubt they will find a way to do whatever they please. (They could always have a go in the book publishing business - a suggested title could be: Creative assassination in the corperate world')
      • they will release the information is a .SDOC format....in order to read .SDOC you must buy a special extention filter only available to Word XP and installable only on win XP and will cost you about $10,000 and only after you sign up for a passport account.
    • I can't wait to see the microsoft docs for their protocols ...

      Take a look at MSDN [microsoft.com], most of them are there already. Microsoft has a million documented hooks in the OS for customizing and adding things, and very few people ever use them.

      Windows Media Player's ability to burn CD's, for example, is provided through the Image Mastering API [microsoft.com], which other apps can use, and which is documented well enough that a competitor could replace it.

      Also, the bundled ability is so lame that it's going to be replaced by most people - you can't burn an ISO with it, for example, only CD audio discs or discs with files on them (and then, you have very little control).

      Apple has CD burning in the Mac OS (look at their ads - they're making a big deal out of it) yet Microsoft adding it to Windows is evil. *shrug*
  • by BillyGoatThree ( 324006 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:24AM (#2511793)
    Ow, my wrist. [nasdaq.com]
  • by HiQ ( 159108 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:24AM (#2511795)

    Ban on Exclusive Agreements


    According to the text, this should stop the very restrictive OEM-contracts that PC-manufacturers have with MS. Now they are not allowed to deliver a dual-boot system, their contracts specifically forbids them to install anything but MS Operating Systems.
    • Actually, what it says is that this is on "certain middleware." That certainly doesn't sound like Operating Systems to me.
      • You're right! But this quote: 'Ban on Retaliation--Microsoft will be prohibited from retaliating against computer manufacturers or software developers for supporting or developing certain competing software'
        says that manufacturers will be free
    • Now they are not allowed to deliver a dual-boot system, their contracts specifically forbids them to install anything but MS Operating Systems.

      Actually it's even lamer than that... the OEM's can deliver a dual boot system, with the second OS already installed, but they can't add the OS to the boot menu! I found this out in one of JLG's columns regarding BeOS.
  • Reminds me of a joke about unarmed cops in England: "Stop or I'll yell STOP again!"

    That will accomplish a lot.
    • by maroberts ( 15852 )
      This is becoming more and more of a myth.

      Whilst UK cops are generally unarmed, armed police are only a radio call away. In airports and other high security locations police are routinely armed.

      Actually it's "stop or we'll beat you over the head with a truncheon and if that doesn't work our armed response unit will come round and shoot you". Nowadays you average UK copper is likely to be wearing Kevlar body armour and truncheons exactly the same in style to US cops.

      • You forgot, "and if you get away, we can track you anywhere in the city with CCTV".

        That said, the UK cops are a hell of a lot better than the US cops. In fact, the general attitude of the people towards the cops is a lot better than in the States. Most people here in the UK don't have 3+ run-ins with the cops as a result of speeding (one beneficial side effects of speed cameras is that the police don't create fear among the masses as a result of more trivial crimes such as speeding).

        But every cop I've seen walking the beat here in Scotland has a bullet-proof vest. And those nightsticks look like they hurt. But, luckily for me, Aberdeen is a whole lot safer than London--it is quite rare for cops to carry weapons on their person.
  • It doesn't matter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flanker ( 12275 )
    Microsoft is in the process of slowly imploding. Its .NET stuff is a disaster. Managers are wondering why all the infrastructure developed around COM/MTS have to be thrown out (or kept on life support with interop) and why all the training money spent on VB/COM is now wasted. Corporate America is also questioning more than ever the ever-increasing licensing burden being imposed. Microsoft is so laden with fat there is no way they will be able to survive the economic downturn in its current state.
    • by tshak ( 173364 )
      Its .NET stuff is a disaster.

      I love how unsubstantiated comments like this get's +4 Insightful. How is .NET a disaster? .NET has built in interop capabilities for COM. And quite frankly, a lot of us windows guys DISLIKE COM, and are very willing to rewrite on a way more elegant platform. But no one has to throw anything out. .NET hasn't even been officially released yet (Beta 2 Framework, RC1 IDE), and there are already TONS of early adopters. Even Gartner (bucket of salt taken) predicts that it will give J2EE a run for it's money. Especially when considering all of the rational developers who - even if they aren't MS's best friend - see the elegance in the .NET framework and C#.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Reading the press release, the gub'ment is all happy about the restrictions on middleware.

    Alrighty.

    Microsoft rolled them.

    Reading this, I can now put as many functions into the OS as I wish (it is not middleware), and I do not need to expose all of them (as they are not middleware). Moreover, I can insert driver layers above that which require "registration" of middleware, so that a new middleware piece has to register with the OS. I can put a function call into the OS, or some intelligence into the driver that recognizes the difference between Microsoft middleware and non-Microsoft middleware.

    Moreover, this gives incentive to Microsoft to push lots of stuff into the "kernel" layers.

    Microsoft is still in control, and now, they have the backing of the gub'ment.

    It wasn't bad enough that NT was a big stinking pile, and W2k was the pile with a chocolate covering... Microsoft now can integrate passport like stuff into the kernel, expose a minimum of functions via "middleware" and say it has complied.

    Great freakin work gub'ment. Great freakin work.

    You should have broken up the beast when you had the chance. Make 2 companies, an OS company, and an applications company.

    But, you blew it.

    Thanks a whole helluva lot. My tax dollars at work. Helping Bill and crew .
  • by peteshaw ( 99766 ) <slashdot@peteshaw.fastmail.fm> on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:35AM (#2511846) Homepage
    ...achieving prompt,
    effective and certain relief for consumers and businesses.

    (from the press release)

    Prompt? After five years? Is that really prompt?

    Effective? about the only thing the justice department has proven itself to be effective at is in lawyering. Short of actually whimpering and running out of the courtroom they have all but thrown in the towel.

    Certain? Oh please, the certainty of this settlement can be easily seen reflected in the stock market. If the market had faith that microsoft was being forced to behave fairly, then the competitors to and middleware providers of software to microsoft would be jumping up. Borland, Symantec, Roxio, Corel. But it is not happening, because nodoby is buying the bull. I feel, as the market does, that microsoft will pay no attention to this directive, as it has not paid attention to any other court orders in the past.
  • This "deal" is the result of Bush getting into office (I won't go so far as to say he was "elected"). The message went out to Redmond loud and clear that this was a much more monopoly-friendly administration.

    Please don't be so naive as to claim that Bush had nothing to do with this. The appointment of Ashcroft, the slashing of the budget to pursue the Microsoft case, and the removal of high-powered, experienced DOJ staff assigned to the case were all done under the Bush administration. They might as well have hung up a "Welcome Microsoft!" banner on the front of the White House.
    • Jeff Raikes, Microsoft's group vice president for worldwide sales and support, was a member of Gore's national finance committee.

      Tweedle-dum or Tweedle-dee, the fix was in.

    • Can we PLEASE get over the election fiasco. Neither side had clean hands in that entire affair. "Every vote should count!" - Yeah, like the 5000 military votes that got thrown out. They were both bad there.

      Either way, did MS act in a monopolistic fashion? Is it a debate - of course they did? But do you want gov't regulation of the sw industry? I shudder at that. Once they get a foot in the door...

      So they let MS off, big deal. Rep or Dem, they weren't going to accomplish much anyway. Let them compete (probably unfairly) against OSS anyway. I've replaced 3 MS "solutions" in as many years. J2EE on UNIX and now Linux

      Look, if the product is sh!tty, the product is sh!tty, great marketing only serves as dressing up a pig. In the end, it's still a pig. But let the market decide.

      If you go with MS, you get everything they offer - a nice pretty easy-to-use interface which crashes except when being used by the script kiddie across the street. Or go with and OSS solution. Yeah you need a little more knowledge than point-and-click but it just MAY be worth the effort
    • The days of Democrats being for the people and Republicans being for the rich are over.. Both have completely sold out to corp interests.

      Furthermore, the grassroots parties that are still somewhat democratic like the Libertarians and Green are so far out there that there's no chance of them ever growing beyond their core whacko contingent.

      Who wants to start a new party?
    • So what?

      This MS-DOJ battle started because of political considerations.

      Yes, 4 years ago Microsoft gave hardly any money to political campaigns, choosing instead to be neutral in such things. Their competitors, however, did not remain neutral and had been giving money for years. So Microsoft changed heart, and started giving money in hope of consideration.

      You're an extreme fool if you think this case was ever motivated by concern for the consumers.
  • by BroadbandBradley ( 237267 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:43AM (#2511867) Homepage
    I don't see this working because MS will not be OPENfree, it'll charge lots for developers to get this information. Furthermore, if you are a developer and you do pay, Likely you'll not be allowed to share this info with others, as MS will make themselves the only source for this information.
    I think the other thing that's missing is document format disclosure, to allow others to read and use MS office files. IMHO, MS Office has more to do with companies not leaving the windows platform than any other issue.
  • another angle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:44AM (#2511876) Journal
    In an earlier post that I can not find, I had the thought that you could have a large commission to approve everyting MS does.

    It would be the death of a thousand cuts if it was sufficiently large (reps from each state) and if MS have to clear all plans with the commission in advance.

    Micromanagement from the DOJ, with the IRS as a model, lots of random audits, etc.

    One can only hope

    • Christ, that's mean. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, even Microsoft.

      Man, you are vicious!

      That's like the bin Laden "Death of a thousand telemarketing phone calls" mp3 that's been going around.
  • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:50AM (#2511902)
    When I originally heard about this, I thought that five years was a short amount of time. Even more so now that I read the press release.

    Okay. Assuming in year 1, Microsoft publishes all of its proprietary protocols. Your company makes a program that goes head-on with something of Microsoft's. (Say, an Exchange server on Solaris, or something.)

    You've got a few years to make improvements and get a really reliable and feature-filled product. Microsoft will probably throw a few kinks your way, but that's fine.

    What I am wondering is... the start of year 5. I would bet money that Microsoft would go back to something new and proprietary, and my company would be locked out again. So what real incentive do I have to create a competing product that I know won't be around five years from now?

    The terms against Microsoft are pretty good, but the five year window really lessens the blow. (Even more so when you know they'll wiggle against those terms all during the five years.) But I don't see it as being a big win for competition. Maybe a small window that a few can get some short-term punches in.
    • I'm hoping that this'll extend to them. Wouldn't it be delicious to get the inner workings of those boxes? That'd be a big win for everyone.
  • by Mykul ( 41817 )
    I am reminded of a line by Robin Williams...

    Stop, or I'll say stop again....
  • by wunderhorn1 ( 114559 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:52AM (#2511908)

    This provision will ensure that computer manufacturers and software developers are able to take full advantage of the options granted to them under the proposed Final Judgment without fear of reprisal.

    I'm pretty sure my pastor said in church last week that when the Final Judgement comes Bill Gates will be going to Hell. Something about avarice, gluttony, sloth, etc. Let's hear it for the DoJ recognising who's really in charge here.

  • standards.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jeffy124 ( 453342 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @10:55AM (#2511938) Homepage Journal
    I read somewhere (i think NYTimes) that one area the DoJ was pushing for was to force MS to publish their specs for things like file formats and their other propritary "standards." MS was very resistant to that, as they would about publishing anything prorietary.

    Thiking about this, I actually think it would be in MS's better interest to publish those specs. Some of their products are already de facto standards in the business world. Publishing those specs would allow competitors to write competing software (ie- StarOffice) that's compatible more easily, but that would be MS's consequence for abusing a monopoly. But by publishing the spec, that would make MS the "setter of the standard," something that they have always wanted to be.
  • Does it matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:01AM (#2511964) Homepage Journal
    Netscape's been dead for 3 years. Every time the DOJ finally gets around to hauling Microsoft into court over some transgression, by the time they finally win the case and decide upon a remedy, the wake's over, the funeral's finished, and the body of their competitor has already been buried and left to rot.

    It isn't all Microsoft's fault, though. Netscape rolled over and obediently died after the first shot was fired. Does anyone even *use* Netscape anymore? What about WordPerfect? Lotus 1-2-3? Yeah, they all *exist*, but who the hell cares? The thing is, people would probably still use these products if Microsoft hadn't spent years improving their own force-fed offerings whilst litigation was pending. What's the last "innovative", or even the last remotely interesting thing Netscape's done though? Hell, 4.7 is 3 years old, doesn't support half of HTML 3.x, and is just as buggy and unstable as ever. And don't get me started on 6!

    Sure, Microsoft's done plenty of bad shit, but, with the exception of the tiny companies, they've had an awful lot of help from their competitors. I don't see this changing any time soon.

    - A.P.
  • Microsoft also will be required to license any intellectual property to computer manufacturers and software developers necessary for them to exercise their rights under the proposed Final Judgment, including for example, using the middleware protocols disclosed by Microsoft to interoperate with the operating system. This enforcement measure will ensure that intellectual property rights do not interfere with the rights and obligations under the proposed Final Judgment.


    Does that mean OSS projects like Mozilla and OpenOffice would get access? What constitutes a "software developer?" Are we talking a corporation or does that term carry a broader interpretation? If I make a GPL'd product and the only way I could license the IP was under the GPL or a compatable license would MS be forced to comply? As a developer, what are my "rights?"
  • by KenRH ( 265139 )
    In sum: for this whole multi-year case, which you will recall started when Microsoft refused to obey its earlier behavior restrictions, we have more behavior restrictions, lasting only five years. And if MS doesn't obey those, they'll ... be in effect longer.

    A corproration lives to maximise the the profit for it's shareholders, as long as breaking the law and ignoring the court's desisions is making more money that it costs it will continue to do so.

    There shud be an ultimate penalty if a corporation continues to ignore the law after multiple jugdmends agains it!

    The goverment shoud simply impound the company, thus it woud not be to the benefit of the shareholders that a corporation breaks the law.

    Afterward the goverment can deside either to likvidate the corporation or to replace the board and top managment and then resell the stocks, both with the income going to the state treasury.

    • I have to agree, even if the poster is a bad speller. If we can execute human beings (something Dubya loves to do anyway) why not execute corporations? After Microsoft, the next candidates IMHO would be tobacco companies. After, their products have caused the death of millions, so they could be classified as mass murderers. Hell, they've killed 500 times as many people as Osama bin Laden. We should just bomb the fuck out of them. (Anyone got numbers on how many people Microsoft has killed?)
      • I say we bomb the auto industry for highway deaths, the alcohol industry for cirrhosis deaths, the dairy and meat industries for all of those clogged-artery deaths, and the computer and snack industries for all of those "I sat on my ass in front of a computer for 20 years eating cheetos" deaths.
  • middleware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:08AM (#2512009) Homepage
    From the press release:

    > Broad Scope of Middleware Products- The proposed Final Judgment applies a broad definition of middleware products which is wide ranging and will cover all the technologies that have the potential to be middleware threats to Microsoft's operating system monopoly. It includes browser, e-mail clients, media players, instant messaging software, and future new middleware developments.

    Since when is a media player middleware? Or an IM client? Arn't these just pieces of .. well, urm, software? Where along the line did those types of componants somehow become referred to as 'middleware' .. is that just a euphamism for 'applications that get shipped with an os'?

    Being a developer, I'm used to middleware being your glue code between back (business logic) and front (view logic) ends.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This agreement seems like total hogwash to me. If M$ has to open up their protocols, who decides to whom they are opened?

    If someone wants to write a program that lets server admins make a donkey jump up and down on a client's screen, will M$ let them into their labs to study protocols? I dont think so ...

    So M$ is free to make the "applications barrier to entry" a "developers barrier to entry" instead. No change there. They'll just put up a big sign outside the Redmond Lab: "No Open Source Allowed". Redmond will decide who are "real" developers and who arent, and make pretty damn sure they only let their friends in...

    Im not a techie, but: How can they protect their intellectual properties if their code gets included in open source projects?

    The only way to ensure full access for every developer, including open source, is to *publish the source code*.

    /penhead
  • I must say, I'm pretty pleased with these terms. These provisions address almost all of the means by which Microsoft has maintained their monopoly. If properly enforced, Microsofy will no longer be able to do the following:
    1. Extend and embrace existing protocols and interfaces in order to prevent competitors from entering the market. The Halloween document strategy would be eliminated.
    2. Threaten OEM's with anticompetitive liscenses. OEM's should now have a lot more control of the desktops of the systems they sell.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the "Ban on Retaliation" and the "Freedom to Install Middleware Software" provisions give OEM's control of the bootloader as well. This means that we may start seeing some dual boot systems for sale from the likes of HP/Compaq, Gateway, Dell, etc.
  • by gdbear ( 49878 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:24AM (#2512084) Homepage
    Taken from the website [microsoft.com] [microsoft.com], at the top
    5. The United States will publish a notice informing the public of the proposed Final Judgment and public comment period in the Washington Post and the San Jose Mercury News, for seven days over a period of two weeks commencing no later than November 15, 2001.
    6. Members of the public may submit written comments about the proposed Final Judgment to a designated official of the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice for a period of 60 days after publication of the proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact Statement in the Federal Register.
    7. Within 30 days after the close of the 60-day public comment period, the United States will file with the Court and publish in the Federal Register any comments it receives and its response to those comments.

    So, if we don't like it, we should file a comment. if enough people file comments maybe they will get it that this is unsatisfactory to the populus.
  • Section J: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GrEp ( 89884 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [200brc]> on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:30AM (#2512112) Homepage Journal
    I think this about sums it up. Micosoft can still screw over developers that are trying to compete with them.

    "J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall:

    1. Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties: (a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria; or (b) any API, interface or other information related to any Microsoft product if lawfully directed not to do so by a governmental agency of competent jurisdiction.

    2. Prevent Microsoft from conditioning any license of any API, Documentation or Communications Protocol related to anti-piracy systems, anti-virus technologies, license enforcement mechanisms, authentication/authorization security, or third party intellectual property protection mechanisms of any Microsoft product to any person or entity on the requirement that the licensee: (a) has no history of software counterfeiting or piracy or willful violation of intellectual property rights, (b) has a reasonable business need for the API, Documentation or Communications Protocol for a planned or shipping product, (c) meets reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business, (d) agrees to submit, at its own expense, any computer program using such APIs, Documentation or Communication Protocols to third-party verification, approved by Microsoft, to test for and ensure verification and compliance with Microsoft specifications for use of the API or interface, which specifications shall be related to proper operation and integrity of the systems and mechanisms identified in this paragraph."
  • Terms (Score:2, Funny)

    If they don't comply, the restrictions will be in effect longer? What if they still don't comply?
  • by David Jao ( 2759 ) <djao@dominia.org> on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:34AM (#2512131) Homepage
    The settlement terms stipulate that Microsoft may not retaliate against an OEM for distributing a dual-boot system. It does not prevent Microsoft from retaliating against OEMs for distributing Linux-only systems.

    From my admittedly non-expert reading of the settlement, OEMs may develop, use, distribute, sell, and promote alternative operating systems like Linux without fear, but when it comes to shipping said operating systems with a personal computer, the document has this to say:

    Microsoft shall not retaliate against an OEM [for] ... shipping a Personal Computer that (a) includes both a Windows Operating System Product and a non-Microsoft Operating System, or (b) will boot with more than one Operating System
    These terms are terrible for Linux, because it means that the big OEMs will still have to include Windows on every system. It's no better than the bad old days where OEMs were charged a license for every machine shipped, Windows or not.
  • And only fixes conduct from now on. It does nothing to fix what has already happened. It would have been much more useful had it happened a few years ago.

    The basic message I guess is that it's okay to be a monopoly as long as you agree to play nice after it's established.

    Of course, any measure strong enough to fix the past misconduct would have to be quite draconian in measure.
  • It's a total cave-in to Microsoft. Read the proposed terms.

    It gives some insight on Microsoft strategies, though. Notice the part about Microsoft not having to disclose protocols intended only for communication with servers operated by Microsoft. So Microsoft is now free to compel users to use Hailstorm and MSN by using proprietary protocol "enhancements".

  • by throx ( 42621 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:40AM (#2512170) Homepage
    ...they are in comtempt of court and get hauled back over the coals. The agreement is extended for another two year BUT they also have to face a new trial on contempt charges.

    Please get your facts a little straight, michael.
  • It's good in parts. I do like the bit about not retaliating against OEMs who offer multiple OSs...but the part about the revealing of interfaces has the drawback of "RAND", i.e. it can be used against Open Source. ("You're going to give the program away, how can you make a 'business case' for us disclosing the MS Mumble interface to you?" Then there are the "reasonable fees"...)

    Perhaps this is one place where Bill Clinton could provide an actual service to humanity--take documents like this proposed settlement to him and ask how he'd try to weasel out of them. :-)

  • Definition of a PC? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 )
    Perhaps this is one of the more important details buried in the fine print. Note that this doesnt seem to include servers, pocket pcs, and set top boxes. Something tells me that this is seriously flawed.

    Q. "Personal Computer" means any computer configured so that its primary purpose is for use by one person at a time, that uses a video display and keyboard (whether or not that video display and keyboard is included) and that contains an Intel x86 compatible (or successor) microprocessor. Servers, television set top boxes, handheld computers, game consoles, telephones, pagers, and personal digital assistants are examples of products that are not Personal Computers within the meaning of this definition.

  • Whatever... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:48AM (#2512216)
    Remember all of this resulted origionally from the DOJ talking MS to court when they violated their last consent decree with Win98/IE integration. That was 3 years ago. There are some points to keep in mind.
    1. MS fought over the language in one sentence that the DOJ, or noone else noticed, that made the entire concent decree totally unenforceable. (something about the vague term "consumer benefit")
    2. When the DOJ tried to stop IE/Win98 using the Consent Decree, they were eventually over turned when CLEARLY the Consent Decree was meant to stop MS from bundling, even if the a few words allowed them to wiggle out of it.
    3. It took YEARS after this mess to get any form of judgement against MS, when any moron can clearly see they have a 90+% control over the computer market and use that control to run other companies out of business.


    So...People should scour the judgement for ANYTHING that could remotely let them wiggle out of any part of the judgement. It's there, I guarantee you. Not only that, NOTHING stops MS from totally ignoring the consent decree because by time the DOJ or anyone else gets around to actually getting a legal judgement, whatever MS did would be irrelevent and irreversible. Any complicated consent decree is crap and is most likely unenforceable (due to the possibility of making "complicated" legal aguements that can tie of the system).
    Which is why I would propose the following SIMPLE easy to enforce rules...
    1. MS charges all OEMs the SAME price for Windows regardless of who they are.
    2. MS should not be allowed to buy any companies, patents, or technologies for at least 5 years.
    3. MS should not be allowed to license any additional technologies, patents, source code or ideas for at least 5 years.
    4. OEM's should have the right to make any changes to Windows they think their customers want, including but not limited to removing any feature, or technology from Windows and replacing it with their own.

  • Woohoo! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:50AM (#2512221)
    A. Microsoft shall not retaliate against an OEM by altering Microsoft's commercial relations with that OEM, or by withholding newly introduced forms of non-monetary Consideration (including but not limited to new versions of existing forms of non-monetary Consideration) from that OEM, because it is known to Microsoft that the OEM is or is contemplating:

    ...
    2. shipping a Personal Computer that (a) includes both a Windows Operating System Product and a non-Microsoft Operating System, or (b) will boot with more than one Operating System;


    Woohoo! I hope that means what I think it means!
    • Re:Woohoo! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Salsaman ( 141471 )
      Woohoo! I hope that means what I think it means!

      Unfortunately, they forgot:

      (c) shipping a computer without a Microsoft OS at all.

      Yes, that's right, Microsoft can still retaliate if they find an OEM is shipping even a single computer with a non-M$ OS, and it is apparently allowed to do so, even under the terms of this agreement.

      Nice work, DOJ.

  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @11:54AM (#2512238) Homepage

    That's no moon.

    In III.A: Nothing in this provision shall prohibit Microsoft from enforcing any provision of any license with any OEM or any intellectual property right that is not inconsistent with this Final Judgment.

    Put that together with III.J: J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall... Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties: (a) portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria

    We've all seen the proposed text of the SSSCA. That says that everything which processes digital information must have security protocols for enforcing digital "rights", i.e. copyrights. Even though signs are promising that the SSSCA per se will go down in flames, it's not too much of a stretch to suppose that some legislation, at some point, will get passed which does define anything capable of processing digital data as capable of illegally copying intellectual property-- since it, of course, is. So, put that together with this loophole up here, and suddenly Microsoft can argue that they don't have to tell anybody absolutely anything about any of their protocols because it would "compromise anti-piracy systems".

    Never mind the whole Microsoft "security through obscurity" argument: they're always saying that Windows is more secure because nobody sees its source code, so therefore it's harder to hack into those systems. We know it's bull$#!+, but they argue it a lot. It doesn't take much of a stretch for them to argue that their protocols are more secure if they are hidden... and then they can rest nicely in this loophole right again. They can continue "embrace and extend" monopolistic policies, making their own protocols and keeping them hidden, while claiming to maintain full compliance with this judgement, since after all they're only keeping the stuff hidden for "security reasons."

    Microsoft has been slapped with a wet noodle. This is ridiculous.

    Foo.

    -Rob

    • Are there any plausible arguments that disclosure of any API can ever harm security?

      The only kinds of security where API secrecy is critical (at least that I can think of) are the digital equivalents of leaving the key under the door mat and hoping nobody looks there. Given the lengths people go to crack systems just out of curiosity (e.g. monitoring power fluctations in smart cards to recover keys), it seems rather ridiculous to think that failing to document an entry point into a DLL is going to stop even relatively unsophisticated crackers.

      There is absolutely no reason for this provision other than rank technical ignorance or skullduggery.
  • by sethg ( 15187 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:05PM (#2512305) Homepage
    Part V, section B: "In any enforcement proceeding in which the Court has found that Microsoft has engaged in a pattern of knowing, willful and systematic violations, the United States may apply to the Court for a one-time extension of this Final Judgment of up to two years, together with such other relief as the Court may deem appropriate."

    Also, remember that if a private company (e.g., what's left of Be) decides to sue Microsoft over its tactics, Microsoft can no longer use that "aw, shucks, we're not a monopoly, no sir" defense.

    And at the end of the five-year period, if Microsoft reverts to its old tactics ... well, they'll be just as illegal in the future as they are now.

  • The deal would require Microsoft to give independent monitors full access to its books and plans for five years to ensure compliance and to provide information to help rivals make products compatible with its dominant Windows operating software.

    Like the title says. I'm sure the second the independant inspectors look at things, Microsoft will be as unwelcome to them as Bagdad was to the UN Inspectors.

    Inspector: "Look, we have this document that proves your violating the agreement!"

    MS: "No, I'm sorry, that document is copyrighted and protected by patent law. You can't show that to anybody."

  • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:42PM (#2512492) Homepage

    Can someone explain to me how you can win the trial, win the appeal, have the Supremes deny cert to the defendant, and then let the perps walk?

    Classic case of winning all the battles and losing the war through bad generalship.
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:31PM (#2512762)
    Tacked on to the end of this:

    J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall:

    1. Require Microsoft to document, disclose or license to third parties: (a)portions of APIs or Documentation or portions or layers of Communications Protocols the disclosure of which would compromise the security of anti-piracy, anti-virus, software licensing, digital rights management, encryption or authentication systems, including without limitation, keys, authorization tokens or enforcement criteria; or (b)any API, interface or other information related to any Microsoft product if lawfully directed not to do so by a governmental agency of competent jurisdiction.

    2. Prevent Microsoft from conditioning any license of any API, Documentation or Communications Protocol related to anti-piracy systems, anti-virus technologies, license enforcement mechanisms, authentication/authorization security, or third party intellectual property protection mechanisms of any Microsoft product to any person or entity on the requirement that the licensee: (a)has no history of software counterfeiting or piracy or willful violation of intellectual property rights, (b)has a reasonable business need for the API, Documentation or Communications Protocol for a planned or shipping product, (c)meets reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business, (d)agrees to submit, at its own expense, any computer program using such APIs, Documentation or Communication Protocols to third-party verification, approved by Microsoft, to test for and ensure verification and compliance with Microsoft specifications for use of the API or interface, which specifications shall be related to proper operation and integrity of the systems and mechanisms identified in this paragraph.


    So right off, this means that Microsoft can continue to do whatever they want with MS-Kerberos and don't have to give out the source code or license the patented parts, because it's an "authentication system". Same goes for Passport. And this is just the beginning, because Microsoft can embed whatever they want into the security, authentication, etc., subsystems, there is no language to prevent this. And they will, they've got a history of doing exactly that, look at how parts of the IE code got mingled with unrelated library files to support Microsoft's IE bundling strategem.

    This settlement is worth exactly as much as the 1995 consent decree.
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:44PM (#2512834)

    J. No provision of this Final Judgment shall:

    [...]

    2. Prevent Microsoft from conditioning any license of any API, Documentation or Communications Protocol related to anti-piracy systems, anti-virus technologies, license enforcement mechanisms, authentication/authorization security, or third party intellectual property protection mechanisms of any Microsoft product to any person or entity on the requirement that the licensee: (a)has no history of software counterfeiting or piracy or willful violation of intellectual property rights, (b)has a reasonable business need for the API, Documentation or Communications Protocol for a planned or shipping product, (c)meets reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business, (d)agrees to submit, at its own expense, any computer program using such APIs, Documentation or Communication Protocols to third-party verification, approved by Microsoft, to test for and ensure verification and compliance with Microsoft specifications for use of the API or interface, which specifications shall be related to proper operation and integrity of the systems and mechanisms identified in this paragraph.


    A free software project can't show a business need, and anyway, would have to "submit, at its own expense" to whatever "verification and compliance" Microsoft's anti-oss division felt like inventing that day. This is an effective lock-out for free software for all of the subsystems mentioned. Those cover more than enough for Microsoft to continue extending its monopoly into new areas such as online media, and of course, maintain its existing monopolies.

    Need to get around the middleware API disclosure rule? Just tie the new file format to some intellectual property protection mechanism, no problem.

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