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MS Settlement: Six States (And Samba) Say "Stop!" 514

Masem writes "The BBC is reporting that because 6 states have refused to agree to the settlement between Microsoft and the DOJ, Microsoft is conceeding that a settlement adjustment will not be possible, opening the door for Judge Kollar-Kotelly to begin rapid remedy hearings. There is a slim chance that negotiations might happen before the end of business today (Tuesday) that will allow the settlement to go after several refinements over the last few nights, but few expect any success. While Judge Kollar-Kotelly is promising to resolve the issue as fast as possible, legal experts are projecting a drawn out battle, with the additional time no longer on Microsoft's side. No word on which states were on which side, beyond MA being very much against the settlement and IL being for it." Besides the states, the Samba team has its own objections, below.

Jeremy Allison and Andrew Tridgell of the Samba team have posted a brief analysis of what the current settlement proposal would mean to that project. (Thanks, jdfox.) Considering that Samba is one of the most important links between open and closed software, it's worth mulling over.

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MS Settlement: Six States (And Samba) Say "Stop!"

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  • More Links.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Fox News []
    CNN []
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:12PM (#2528891)
    The Samba team should get this statement transformed into legal-brief-ese and submit it to the judge in the case. This (plus the DMCA/SSSCA gotcha's hidden elsewhere in the proposed settlement) hits the core of the weakness of the proposed settlement.

  • I agree with the judge in "her belief that a quick resolution to the case is in the best interest of the nation," however...

    The hearings would not even start until March of 2002. Given that the legal process is slow (and much for good reason) will Internet time and monopolistic practices render such legal remedies a moot point?

  • Protests (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xonker ( 29382 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:14PM (#2528904) Homepage Journal
    The geek community has been quick to organize protests in favor of Dmitry Skylarov -- why not protest the DoJ caving to Microsoft. Even people who *like* Microsoft products have been saying that they don't like the corporate behavior of MS.

    Ashcroft and Bush are far too eager to let them off easy. I think that Microsoft should get much more severe punishment for the damage they've inflicted on the computing industry. I don't think breaking them up is the answer, but neither is letting them go about business as usual.

    Most of the items that Microsoft and the DoJ negotiated in the end were little more than a list of things that Microsoft should be doing anyway. It's not punishment, merely requiring Microsoft to follow the law...

    Some penalties I'd like to see:
    1. Require open standards. No more proprietary protocols or file formats. All have to be published by the time Microsoft releases a product to the public.
    2. Divest MSN, and X-Box divisions.
    3. A fine of no less than 25% of Microsoft's yearly income. Not profit, income.

    Why aren't people gathered around the country to protest this obvious miscarriage of justice?
    • Re:Protests (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:22PM (#2528961)
      Guess what?! Even some of the people who *dislike* Microsoft products have been saying they don't like the behaviour of the US Government in this case.

      disclaimer: I run FreeBSD on all of my machines and push it whenever it's the best tool for the job

      Don't blame Microsoft, the fact that they know how to play the game better than everyone else should not be frowned upon. Most of their products are terrible, but they know how to appeal to the masses. They are the businessmen and salesmen that are the ones to look up to. Blame Joe User for not looking for another product, because gawd knows there are plenty of better products out there.

      In case you forgot, or weren't born yet, IBM hed much more of a monopoly than MS ever will. You just never hear about it these days because computing was not in the spotlight of the general public back then.

      The market righted itself in the past, and it will this time too.
      • Re:Protests (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Reid ( 629 ) <reidr.pobox@com> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:12PM (#2529288)
        In case you forgot, or weren't born yet, IBM hed much more of a monopoly than MS ever will. You just never hear about it these days because computing was not in the spotlight of the general public back then. The market righted itself in the past, and it will this time too.

        Wasn't IBM under the antitrust gun themselves for many years? Kind of disingenuous to say "the market righted itself" when the government played a large part in fixing that problem.

      • Re:Protests (Score:3, Informative)

        by benedict ( 9959 )
        I hear about it all the time.

        One of the things I hear about is that IBM was investigated for antitrust, and that this put a damper on their anticompetitive behavior, and *that's* how the market was righted.

        Silly libertarians, always rewriting history.
      • >Don't blame Microsoft, the fact that they know how to play the game better than everyone else should not be frowned upon.

        Only as long as they stick to the rules. Like a footballplayer who ALWAYS goes down in the penalty area. Just hoping to get a penalty. Now they've been caught for faking injuries.. They don't play the game better.. they bend the rules of the game.

    • Re:Protests (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Green Light ( 32766 )
      Exactly what "obvious miscarriage of justice" are you talking about? The proposed settlement is apparently not going to go through. The case will go back to the judge for her to determine the remedies.

      And exactly what does the XBOX have to do with this? Microsoft violated anti-trust laws relating to their bundling of the browser (which is a debatable crime), forcing PC manufacturers to ship with Windows, practically speaking, and other similar acts. The XBOX is a new, unproven gaming platform, and MSFT should be allowed to lose as much money as possible on it 8^)
      • Re:Protests (Score:4, Informative)

        by loosifer ( 314643 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:16PM (#2529312) Homepage
        What Xbox has to do with this is Microsoft using money, mindshare, and connections from their monopoly to attempt to illegally extend their monopoly into the gaming console area, which is exactly what the whole case is about.

        Everyone seems to overlook, again and again, that monopolies aren't illegal, it's only when monopolies are leveraged to create new monopolies that they become illegal.

        Thus, tying IE to Windows wasn't illegal per se, except that it leveraged one monopoly to create another, which is illegal.

        I'm a heckuva lot more worried about .Net, the Xbox, and copy protection right now, though; those are all cases of Microsoft using their monopoly in Office and Windows to leverage into new spaces.

        Not to mention using those monopolies to leverage each other...
    • Re:Protests (Score:3, Informative)

      by BWJones ( 18351 )
      Some penalties I'd like to see:
      1. Require open standards. No more proprietary protocols or file formats. All have to be published by the time Microsoft releases a product to the public.
      2. Divest MSN, and X-Box divisions.
      3. A fine of no less than 25% of Microsoft's yearly income. Not profit, income.

      The fine you quote will not happen. Besides the litigation of who gets that money would be disgusting.

      That said, I like penalty your 1 alot. Like it or not, M$ has shown that standards are important to communication. In addition to your penalty 2, I would like to see M$ create separate application divisions for OS's including Linux, MacOS, Windows and any others that are financially doable. The Mac division is already somewhat separate, and they create some nice stuff even if some features are crippled by M$ corporate. The version for OSX is looking quite nice and should do well. Microsoft knows that their Mac division is quite profitable and this is one of the reasons they have been given quite a bit of room. (so I've been told)
    • wel, that is all moot right now since the deal is being thrown out.....happy day!!!
    • The first two seem fair and reasonable.

      The third one is a bit over the edge.

      How's this for a remedy/penalty:

      Fine Microsoft for every undocumented API that should be disclosed under the agreement.

      And finally a bit of regulation that's very much needed:

      Full disclosure of contracts concerning sale and bundling Operating Systems. Operating Systems should be considered public infrastructure. There could be a right-to-know involved. More importantly, had the contract disclosure been in place, then Microsofts business practices would have been thoroughly documented at a much earlier stage and the damage could have been lessened.

      It is wiser to avoid repeating the damage of the past rather than seeking justice for the wrongs of the past.
    • Some penalties I'd like to see:

      These type of posts bother me because they are completely irrelevant to what is going on. Maybe a year or two ago when Microsoft was losing badly and the sky was the limit, but now it's just a crack pipe dream.

      It's 11th hour right now, and the anti-MS forces have been backed in the corner by the DOJ*. The final outcome will be along the lines of what's currently on the table, maybe with less trickly loopholes. There will be no open DOC format (never on the table to begin with), no breakup or divestment, and no fine.

      And, yes, that sucks, but pretending that a fair settlement is possible now is a community delusion. It's just not going to happen.

      * Note that the Clinton DOJ would have settled this, but Microsoft absolutely refused. We got this point because they are stubbern bastards, not because the government was shooting for the fair deal.
      • Note that the Clinton DOJ would have settled this, but Microsoft absolutely refused. We got this point because they are stubbern bastards, not because the government was shooting for the fair deal.

        Posner indicated that the problem with settlement earlier was neither with Microsoft, nor the DOJ, but with the State AG's. He made it very plain in previous statements.

        But hey, they all want their big fat big tobacco check, so who can blame them?


        well, me for a start.
    • Darn straight and we should all email/fax letters to our state A.G., State Resprentatives, and Senators.

      Get email to the DOJ too:




      Microsoft doesn't allow consumers to vote with their wallets so we need to get the word out using other means. Pro/Con, get the word out.

    • Re:Protests (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Arandir ( 19206 )
      Require open standards. No more proprietary protocols or file formats. All have to be published by the time Microsoft releases a product to the public.

      The computer industry is still a new industry, and the market is still evolving its standards. It takes time to come up with a meaningful standard, and it doesn't help any that the technology is improving faster than the defacto standards can keep up.

      A government solution in this area is the wrong way to go about. The government is not smart enough to insitute meaningful technological standards, and is not fast enough to keep up with the improving technology. I would love open standards for everything. But I am unwilling to make closed standards illegal. There are other solutions however.

      First off, we need to stop singling out Microsoft as the only problem. They are only a small part of it. When you hit a website that doesn't support HTML 4.0 (Konqueror or Mozilla), don't blame Microsoft, blame the webmaster. When you receive a Word document as an email, don't blame Microsoft blame the poster. These are both symptoms of a young industry. The webmaster doesn't know any better than to target specific platforms. The poster doesn't know that word processors are inappropriate for text messaging. No amount of legislation against Microsoft is going to educate these people.

      Second, don't use any closed standards yourself. If you're running a website then create it according to the standards. We did a wonderful job of cleaning our own websites of gifs without any government help, so it shouldn't be that hard to get our own homes in order. Dump Visual Basic. Dump FrontPage. Dump Outlook server. Learn HTML/XML, C/C++, PHP, Perl/Python.

      Finally, there is indeed something the government can do without mucking up the works. It can require all products it uses to comply with published open standards. It doesn't need to tell anyone else what to do, only itself. As the single largest customer of Microsoft products, it can through its weight around quite a bit without having to arrest anyone.
    • Re:Protests (Score:3, Funny)

      by rkent ( 73434 )
      2. Divest MSN, and X-Box divisions.

      Ahh! No! Don't make them get rid of X-Box! It sucks so bad, it's sure to lead to their eventual downfall if you let 'em keep it!
  • by MarkX ( 716 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:15PM (#2528911) Homepage

    This an interesting quote from []

    "Under the 1974 Tunney Act, designed to make sure settlements with the government are in the public interest, a proposed settlement must be published in the Federal Register and undergo a 60-day public comment period before gaining approval. At the end of that period, the government has 30 days to respond to those comments. The court then determines whether the settlement is indeed in the public interest."

    So the community needs to get organized and be prepared to speak to the settlement and why it is or isn't in the public interest.


    • Another nice article [] on the public comment period.

      A more official reference to the tunney act [] itself.

      Paragraph d says: At the close of the period during which such comments may be received, the United States shall file with the district court and cause to be published in the Federal Register a response to such comments.
  • Tom Reilly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slash Privacy Watch ( 532708 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:15PM (#2528913) Homepage Journal
    Quoth Tom Reilly, my new hero:

    "In an earlier interview with the Wall Street Journal, Massachusetts attorney-general Tom Reilly said the deal was "full of loopholes and does little more than license Microsoft to crush its competition".

    Thank you for the sound bite, Mr Reilly: the DoJ has handed Microsoft a "license to kill".

    My question is this: 6 states oppose the settlement, 6 states are undecided (want more money), and 6 states are for it (we're already paid off). Of these three groups, are any of them actually interested in protecting their businesses from this predatory monopoly? Is anyone truly acting on principle?

    In an era where it's easy to be cynical, it would be a wonderful thing to be able to believe in people like Tom Reilly.
    • Re:Tom Reilly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Osty ( 16825 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:26PM (#2529005)

      Of these three groups, are any of them actually interested in protecting their businesses from this predatory monopoly? Is anyone truly acting on principle?

      If this is the principle they're supposed to be acting upon, I'd really hope none of them are acting to principle. Anti-trust legislation is about protecting consumers, not competitors. In the process of protecting consumers, it may be necessary to protect competitors of the monopolist to some degree, but that should not be their first and foremost goal.

  • Why Quickly? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grubby ( 121481 ) <rmessner AT neo DOT rr DOT com> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:16PM (#2528914) Homepage
    Why does the department of justice keep insisting that things are dealt with quickly? This is the first time in history where an antitrust trial has been mostly upheld by some of the most respected courts in the nation and suddenly being settled. The doj had this thing pretty much in the bag and all of a sudden we don't want to deal with it anymore? Come on this is getting rediculous. At this point maybe the judge will stand up and do what is right. If one of us was found guilty of a crime they wouldn't suddenly be persuaded to settle the case!
    • Re:Why Quickly? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by remande ( 31154 )
      The DOJ is part of the executive branch, so its character changes with the president.

      The DOJ didn't investigate Microsoft during Bush I. It started with Clinton. Now that Bush II is in office, he's not persuing antitrust action against Microsoft, so the DOJ is easing off.

      The Republican party claims to be pro-big-business. Microsoft is as big business as it gets. Most Republicans aren't big on antitrust legislation at all, because it interferes with a big corporation's right to run unmolested.

      The Democrat party claims to be pro-little-guy. Since Microsoft is perceived as trampling over the little guy (forget the users, the Little Guy is Netscape and Sun), Clinton had a vested interest in canning Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:17PM (#2528927)
    We would hope that a more reasonable interpretation would allow Microsoft to ensure the security of its products, whilst still being forced to fully disclose the fundamental protocols that are needed to create interoperable products.

    MS can't even keep security sorted out in a closed source fashion, just imagine the 'sploits if they did disclose some source. :)
  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:20PM (#2528938)

    Maybe it's just me, but reading through the Samba project's analysis I didn't get the same sense of urgency that the Slashdot article gave. As I understand it, the Samba project would be no worse off if the settlement went through. They would simply not benefit from the settlement. IANAL, but it seems to me that a non-related third party to the legal action has no "right", if you will, to profit from the settlement. That's between the DoJ, the States Attorneys, and Microsoft (and potentially AOL/Netscape, Sun, and Oracle, as they were the ones that greased the pockets that got this started in the first place).

    If the settlement doesn't hinder Samba any more than they currently are, I don't see where they have grounds to object to it simply because it doesn't help them either. (hint: anti-trust legislation is supposed to be designed to protect the consumer, not a monopoly's competitors. Samba's the latter, not the former. We've bastardized those laws to the point where they're just legal protection for companies that can no longer compete in a market. There's nothing illegal with going out of business.)

    • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:22PM (#2528969)
      Maybe it's just me, but reading through the Samba project's analysis I didn't get the same sense of urgency that the Slashdot article gave. As I understand it, the Samba project would be no worse off if the settlement went through. They would simply not benefit from the settlement.
      You need to factor the DMCA, the SSSCA, and language elsewhere in the settlement agreement concerning security, encryption, and "digital rights management". Those factors could easily be combined to allow Microsoft to use the settlement to sue Samba, rather than the other way around.


    • I can't get to the Samba statement (appears Slashdotted), but I can see one big way in which the Samba project is hurt.

      The current settlement basically allows Microsoft to hide implementation details in the name of security, copyrighted material restricted use enforcement, and virus protection. This truck sized loophole will allow Microsoft to throw an encryption layer over all of their protocols and refuse to share the details. This is exactly the sort of anti-competitive behavior Microsoft has engaged in before. Such an encryption layer would significantly harm Samba's ability to work with Windows. The only thing that could practically stop or slow down the Samba team from providing the public, for free, with a replacement for Windows servers is this sort for dirty trick of Microsoft. Allowing Microsoft the loophole to attack Samba with would remove an option the public already has. That sounds like harm to me.

      • by EisPick ( 29965 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:53PM (#2529165)
        I can't get to the Samba statement (appears Slashdotted)

        Here it is:

        Jeremy Allison & Andrew Tridgell: Analysis of the MS Settlement and What It Means for Samba. Nov 6, 2001, 08 :28 UTC (21 Talkback[s]) (10223 reads)
        (Other stories by Jeremy Allison & Andrew Tridgell)

        The Samba Team would welcome Microsoft documenting its proprietary server protocols. Unfortunately this isn't what the settlement stipulates. The settlement states :
        "E. Starting nine months after the submission of this proposed Final Judgment to the Court, Microsoft shall make available for use by third parties, for the sole purpose of interoperating with a Windows Operating System Product, on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (consistent with Section III.I), any Communications Protocol that is, on or after the date this Final Judgment is submitted to the Court, (i) implemented in a Windows Operating System Product installed on a client computer, and (ii) used to interoperate natively (i.e., without the addition of software code to the client or server operating system products) with Windows 2000 Server or products marketed as its successors installed on a server computer. "
        Sounds good for Samba, doesn't it. However, in the "Definition of terms" section it states :
        "Communications Protocol" means the set of rules for information exchange to accomplish predefined tasks between a Windows Operating System Product on a client computer and Windows 2000 Server or products marketed as its successors running on a server computer and connected via a local area network or a wide area network. These rules govern the format, semantics, timing, sequencing, and error control of messages exchanged over a network. Communications Protocol shall not include protocols used to remotely administer Windows 2000 Server and products marketed as its successors. "
        If Microsoft is allowed to be the interpreter of this document, then it could be interpreted in a very broad sense to explicitly exclude the SMB/CIFS protocol and all of the Microsoft RPC calls needed by any SMB/CIFS server to adequately interoperate with Windows 2000. They would claim that these protocols are used by Windows 2000 server for remote administration and as such would not be required to be disclosed. In that case, this settlement would not help interoperability with Microsoft file serving one bit, as it would be explicitly excluded.

        We would hope that a more reasonable interpretation would allow Microsoft to ensure the security of its products, whilst still being forced to fully disclose the fundamental protocols that are needed to create interoperable products.

        The holes in this document are large enough for any competent lawyer to drive several large trucks through. I assume the DoJ lawyers didn't get any technical advice on this settlement as the exceptions are cleverly worded to allow Microsoft to attempt to evade any restrictions in previous parts of the document.

        Microsoft has very competent lawyers, as this weakly worded settlement by the DoJ shows. It is to be hoped the the European Union investigators are not so easily fooled as the USA.

        A secondary problem is the definition of "Reasonable and non-Discriminatory" (RAND) licensing terms. We have already seen how such a term could damage the open implementation of the protocols of the Internet. If applied in the same way here, Open Source/Free Software products would be explicitly excluded.


        Jeremy Allison,
        Andrew Tridgell,
        Samba Team.
      • Well what did you expect?

        Microsoft has implemented a variety of security services that basically rely upon hiding some piece of information. They aren't important security things, but they don't want to make it easy for you to subvert.

        Not so much the authentication services, but some of the anti-piracy measures, or some of the services which deal with a computer rather than a person.

        The reality is this phrasing wasn't put there as a loophole to attack competition, but rather as wording for MS to protect some core pieces. They are not about to give up on that, and even if the court mandated a complete reversal on that phrasing, they would most likely succeed in another appeal.

        What needs to happen is to make sure the wording is such that interoperability is not impacted. I thought that was the case from my reading of the other parts, but maybe it needs to be more specific.

        Cnet is running a nice piece on Microsoft titled something like Conspiracy versus Reality. You've unfortunately consumed yourself with the conspiracy that you can't see the reality.
    • If the settlement doesn't hinder Samba any more than they currently are, I don't see where they have grounds to object to it simply because it doesn't help them either. (hint: anti-trust legislation is supposed to be designed to protect the consumer, not a monopoly's competitors. Samba's the latter, not the former. We've bastardized those laws to the point where they're just legal protection for companies that can no longer compete in a market. There's nothing illegal with going out of business.)

      Huch? Samba company? going out of business? what are you smoking?

      Samba is not a company but a project that let Microsoft customers use their computers in a way they want - and not in the way Microsoft wants. U.S. legislation is "supposed to be designed to protect the customer?" OK. Then protection is needed to be able to write something like Samba in the US.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The point here is that Samba is one (of many) party that has been affected by Microsoft's illegal activities to maintain their monopoly. Microsoft has made numerous changes to extensions to the SMB protocol that are (arguably) intended to thwart interoperability.

      The proposed settlement appears to prevent this behaviour, but when the fine print is read, there is nothing to stop Microsoft from using the authentication issue to contiue this behaviour.

      Another interesting clause in the settlement is the appearance of allowing dul-booting OSes. Under the same authentication and security clause that will allow MS to continue to make life for the Samba team more difficult, MS can remove dual-booting systems as a viable option.

      All MS has to do is write into their OEM agreements that no non-MS OS shall have access to data on MS partitions. They could claim that accessing the NTFS filesystem through Linux, for example, constitutes a security threat as files can be read without going through the MS security procedures. There is no easy way to prevent this kind of access, and MS can blame the OEMs for not being able to supply a secure dual-boot system.

      This settlement is really useless. The exclusions can be streched an warped by Microsoft in any way they see fit. The commitee overseeing compliance is prevented from going public with anything and the DoJ has been castrated by the current administration. This settlement could only be seen as a victory for Microsoft and it is a good thing (TM) that it will not be approved in it's current form.

      Daniel Tarbuck
    • hint: anti-trust legislation is supposed to be designed to protect the consumer, not a monopoly's competitors. Samba's the latter, not the former.


      For Samba to be a competitor it would have to be a company, which it isn't. Even if Samba was a company, or the product of a company, it wouldn't be a competitor.

      Samba is a tool created by consumers, for consumers, for the purposes of sharing files and printers in a heterogeneous network using Microsoft's communication protocols and standards (namely SMB and CIFS), which currently have to be reverse-engineered by contributors to the Samba project.

      Samba is entirely free, free as in speech, free as in beer. Samba protects the consumer by promoting interoperability in heterogeneous networks.

      The Samba team has grounds to object because they are consumers who would like to be able to keep their important files on a single powerful and RELIABLE *nix server rather than clusters of redundant and UNRELIABLE NT servers.

      Had you bothered to find out what Samba was before declaring judgement upon them, you would already have known all that.

  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:20PM (#2528943)
    I find it hard to believe the Feds are willing to give Microsoft a slap on the wrist and then (more or less) let them run roughshod over the rest of the computer industry.

    The courts have found that Microsoft is a monopolist, and that its abused it's monopoly. The current case doesn't even address any of the numerous issues with Windows XP!

    No court has yet done a good job of truly understanding the software industry and it's relationship to OS providers. Microsoft is making a massive attempt to lock the entire software world into it's infrastructure - this is a bad thing from almost any perspective you choose.

    So, let's hope the states have the courage and resources to stick with this case and insure real change at Microsoft.

    299,792,458 m/s...not just a good idea, its the law!

    • A problem with the US justice system: you have to examine only the case at hand for the time at hand. IOW, if I kill somebody while on bail, that can't be used as evidence at the first trial. Similarly, MS shafting people now has no bearing on the events of ca. 5 years ago.

      It gets really weird when you consider that the 'penalty' can take later actions into account. Or at least it seems that way. Not sure about the law.

      But, if what a poster said yesterday is correct, it doesn't matter. The EU can take XP into account, Win2002, or whatever. (And contrary to the belief of some, especially in Redmond, the European market DOES matter. As does the Chinese market. And the Indian market, etc, etc, etc. The US is still the biggest fish in the pond. But if all those middle sized fish pulled in the same direction, the big fish would have no choice but to follow. And here's another hint: the US ain't gettin' smaller, but China (and others) are getting bigger.)
  • With the "opening up" of APIs and protocols, how long before what's left is controled by patents?

    Samba won't be able to operate because of "security concerns." The embrace and extend done to kerberos won't have to be explained to us. The new protocols will use M$ patents. Do you really think anyone else in the free software world will be able to get by the patent issues? Do you think M$ will *ever* license them to us?

    This really sucks. I sure hope the hold-out states can make a difference.
    • the thing about patents is that it does not stop a person from operating with them. If the Samba team can come up with a way to be compatable with the protocol that MS patents then there is no recorse. also, the Protocol would be public record if it was patented, so all samba would have to do is go and look at the specs and come up with an inovative and new way to communicate with the system. MS won't be able to touch em.
  • by reuel ( 166318 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:22PM (#2528960)
    The San Jose Mercury reported [] this morning that California has indicated that it would reject the proposed settlement as well.
  • Does anyone else feel that possibly the one of the reasons that there are only six states is because state legislators are just not knowledgable enough of the software to see exactly what Microsoft(tm) is doing? Do people feel that there is a possibly of those six states convincing other states - ala "12 Angry Men"?
  • Microsoft's biggest selling point in the past has been that it was the de facto standard on the desktop. As a sysadmin, I'm glad that Windows has a standard look and feel, because many of my older users didn't grow up with computers and have a hard time working with them anyway. However, as a geek, I see that there is definately a place for Linux, both at home and in the workplace. Despite what Microsoft says, Linux is becoming a player in the desktop and server game, albeit slowly (for now). As Linux gains "market share," interoperability, and open standards will be more important than ever. Many people will have several different platforms. If MS refuses to "play well with others," they may lose some customers. MS boxes will be with us for a while, but working with the guys from Samba may prolong their lifespan.
  • Effective remedies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shanek ( 153868 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:24PM (#2528983) Homepage
    I think that any effective remedy that will stem Microsoft's behavior would include, at a minimum, the following two conditions:

    1) Microsoft must fully open the APIs and protocols to all interested parties, including rival software manufacturers and those who would set up emulation or compatibility layers (this would include WINE and Samba). It would seem to me that this should be considered the responsibility of anyone who makes an OS for general consumption. (Note that this would not require them to open up their source code.)

    2) Microsoft should be prohibited from restricting equipment manufacturers from altering the software or reconfiguring the computer, such as installing rival software running on Windows or setting up a dual-boot with Linux.

    Anything that doesn't do at least this much, in my view, will not make any difference whatsoever.

  • by Embedded Geek ( 532893 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:24PM (#2528988) Homepage
    (For US consumption)

    Remember in high school, when they explained the concept of States Rights and how the states were reserved certain rights and the Feds others? It always got me how many dull things these addressed - water rights, highway funding, etc. The only thing I could recall where it intersected in really relevant issues was Civil Rights back in the '60s (and then, several of the states were wearing the Black Hats).

    So, it's kind of neat to see Federalism jump back, with individual states acting as a check on the authority of the Federal govt (at least in areas where their rights and responsibilities overlap). Regardless of which way you think the rulings should go, it's kind of cool to see this somewhat bizarre feature of our government in action.

    Man, it kind of makes me wish I had an EMAIL of my old Civics teacher...

    • Dull Things (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kels ( 9845 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:07PM (#2529245)

      It always got me how many dull things these addressed - water rights, highway funding, etc.

      I hate to tell you, but I suspect most people find software litigation at least as dull as water rights or highway funding.
    • This is merely a fluke.

      While I think the south ca. 1860 was a bunch of rotten bastards, they were well within their rights to secede. The federal government was overstepping their bounds (and not just WRT slavery). So, the first Republican president was as dead set against states' rights as any other president (with the possible exception of FDR).

      Since that time (and before. Look up the Whiskey Rebellion) there have been numerous cases of the Fed riding roughshod over the states.

      FWIW, while DMCA, SSSCA, etc. get all of the press, water rights, highway appropriations, etc. are the bread and butter of governments (federal, state, and local).

      All in all, you are right. Like you, I'm very glad to see that some states have remembered that they are sovereign over the federal government. Not only that, but they are doing it for the right reasons (not just to keep 'funny looking people' out of schools). But it won't last. If it weren't for our current state of national unity, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Ashcroft threaten to make it harder for the states to use the resources of the DOJ if they didn't knuckle under to this decision.
  • by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:26PM (#2528998) Homepage Journal
    Disallow MS from buying any tech companies or any technology product for the next 7 years.

    This would foster competition. When MS buys a company or product such as Visio, Powerpoint, IE, SQL server, etc. they remove the competition and get ahead start against anyone else that might be in that market. They use their huge pile of cash that they have acquired by being a monopoly to squelch any upstart and recover from any bad decision (such as initially ignoring the rise of the internet) . The best an upstart can hope for is being bought out.

    I can't see how MS would find this too disagreeable as they often like to think of themselves as Innovators, so innovate and compete.

    My bet is that if MS had to develop IE from scratch Netscape would still be in the game. Look at the products they develop from scratch such as IIS! A buggy insecure product that will take another 4 years to mature. If Apache was a commercial product they would have bought it long ago and we would all be using MS Apache.
    • by rela ( 531062 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:09PM (#2529262) Journal
      If Apache was a commercial product they would have bought it long ago and we would all be using MS Apache.

      And -that- is exactly why microsoft dislikes open-sourcing.

      MS is in the game of finding the next big moneymaking niche and buying it out ahead of time. That's always been a moneymaker for them before, and it will continue to be... as long as there are companies developing those potential future killer-apps for them to buy out.

      I think a real big fear for them is that the next one will come out of an open source project, leaving them no way to take over.

      Or I could be just spouting, like everyone else. =) Time will tell, as always.

  • by snarfer ( 168723 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:26PM (#2529000) Homepage
    This settlement undermines respect for the law.

    It is obvious that Microsoft paid off politicians. The Bush administration has proven over and over again to be little more than a clearinghouse for corporate criminals - give Bush enough cash and out pops a (huge) tax break, or a pesky environmental regulation is disposed of...

    It's like the government is about who has the money. It isn't about US anymore. Like this war - we say ,"How can we help?" They respond, "Shut up and buy stuff, this country isn't about YOU anymore."
    • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:09PM (#2529266)
      This settlement undermines respect for the law.

      Interesting, and probably true.

      It is obvious that Microsoft paid off politicians.

      It clearly seems that way. And its more likely that its more about the future than the past. Something like: "well you are up for re-election, we could give you several million or your opponent several million.. what will it be?".

      It is obvious that Microsoft paid off politicians

      Seems that way, but lets take a walk down memory lane, shall we? Lets go back to pre-trial 1994. Look through the records. MS was apolitical. No donations, no support, no lobbying. The party line was that "we are a software company, not a political company". Sure, they made some bug riddled crappy software, but still, it was an admirable trait.

      Fast forward to the next election cycle - many many many politicans directly soliticted MS for money - ie - "can you give us some money?". MS rejected it, off hand. No money.

      Fast forward to heavy lobbying by MS's competitors. Sun, IBM, Apple, Netscape, et all. All with powerful connections. All with strong lobbyists based in Washington. MS with no protection from either Republicans or Democrats. No lobbyists. No connections.

      I am not saying that the trial is without cause, or that its without merit. But clearly, the timing and ferocity of this trial was clearly politically motivated - MS had no friends in a town where what you really need are some friends.

      Fast forward to the next two election cycle. MS handed out money to anyone who support them. They supported senators, presidential campaigns, pretty much anything and everything. They have lobbyists, a PR campaign, the public support, and now, some politicans. Yes, there are some holdouts. But I suspect they will come around.

      They respond, "Shut up and buy stuff, this country isn't about YOU anymore."

      Finally, if you are that feeble minded, if you are that stupified, if you really believe this is all some new Bush policy to help the big bad corporations kill little babies and bomb little brown people, you are only partially correct. This is nothing knew. I'd recommend that you read A People's History of the United States. This is nothing new. It started 225 years ago, and will continue. Get used to it.
  • Other states... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:31PM (#2529036) Journal
    According to this article [], Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and New York. have all indicated their approval and West Virginia has joined up with MA in holding off. Doesn't mention the other 4 states though.
  • by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:32PM (#2529045) Homepage
    Now would be a good time for the attorney generals to hear from the technologically literate. Do you have an opinion on the Microsoft case? Let them know! Here are their names and numbers:

    California: Bill Lockyer, 800-952-5225
    Connecticut: Richard Blumenthal, 860-808-5318
    District of Columbia: Robert Rigsby, 202-727-6248
    Florida: Bob Butterworth, 850-487-1963
    Illinois: Jim Ryan, 217-782-1090
    Iowa: Tom Miller, 515-281-5164
    Kansas: Carla J. Stovall, 785-296-2215
    Kentucky: A. B. Chandler III, 502-696-5300
    Louisiana: Richard Ieyoub, 225-342-7876
    Maryland: J. Joseph Curran, Jr., 410-576-6300
    Massachusetts: Tom Reilly, 617-727-2200
    Michigan: Jennifer M. Granholm, 517-373-1110
    Minnesota: Mike Hatch, 651-296-3353
    New York: Eliot Spitzer, 518-474-7330 or 716-853-8400 or 212-416-8000
    North Carolina: Roy Cooper, 919-716-6400
    Ohio: Betty D. Montgomery, 614-466-4320
    Utah: Mark Shurtleff, 801-538-1326
    West Virginia: Darrell V. McGraw, Jr., 304-558-2021
    Wisconsin: James E. Dyle, 608-266-1221
  • by baptiste ( 256004 ) <> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:33PM (#2529047) Homepage Journal
    With the deal off, who knows what will happen. But I found Dave Winre's thoughts [] startling. He put all the pieces in place and basically says 'Its possible' Possible that Microsoft really can control the Internet at will and nobody can stop them. Doesn't mean they will or even that it is likely - but the potential is looming more and more each day.
  • by Anonymous DWord ( 466154 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:34PM (#2529058) Homepage
    ...Please consider these and other criticisms of the settlement proposal, and avoid if possible yet another weak ending to a Microsoft antitrust case. Better to send this unchastened monopoly juggernaut a sterner message. 01.html []
  • by shibut ( 208631 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:37PM (#2529083)
    Yahoo just announced that 3 more states have surrendered (see here []). The list of suspected early surrenderers was on Yahoo earlier as: New York (confirmed), Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina and Kentucky. Since then 3 added ones have joined... :-(...
  • Free to Inundate! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twisty ( 179219 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:41PM (#2529106) Homepage Journal
    As an IT professional, I struggle with the daily problem solving of getting software to work in a Microsoft dominated environment. It amazes me the level of disservice this giant provides to its customers. Yet this settlement takes the cake.

    I'm sick of designing databases to see an application crash because Microsoft didn't anticipate an empty result. I'm sick of hearing they're aware of their bugs, but do not fix their application, and would rather you upgrade to their next version at your expense. I'm sick of them misrepresenting their proprietary formats or protocols as "standards."

    I'm amazed how they get away with treating their own customers and partners as adversaries. I hope Ralph Nader follows the "content discrimination" scent to this perpetrator. While competitors like Sun and IBM have embraced "pluralism," in a world where many platforms harmoniously cohabit the planet, Microsoft still serves no one but themselves.

    The new television campaign brings to mind customers placed on catapults... Sure they can feel the rush of flying when using Microsoft's XP to mix sound, take pictures, and edit video, just like we do on Macs and Linux, but when they find themselves locked in to Bill's software with the support's freshness dating expiring in three years, forced to upgrade or perish... that landing's going to be brutal!

    Yet the settlement is another example of lethal idiocy... The double-talk makes very few concessions to ending Microsoft's disservice to the customer, and totally omits the original issue of antitrust. If our federal government is "of like mind" to this lobotomized shell game, may God help us all!

    It's ironic how Microsoft got its beginning by writing BASIC for every personal computer in the late 70's. But once Windows got going, they must have asked themselves, "Empower the USER?!? -- What were we thinking!?!" Now their operating system no longer gives you a way to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and write your own applications. BASIC, the debugger, even the DOS-prompt is eliminated. Here's where we want you to go today.

    It's been decades since I've seen Bill's name on a piece of software, and the only innovation I've seen from Microsoft is new ways to write licenses. There was even a paper on Microsoft's own web site how some of its programmers discovered new ways that programming languages compared to the legalese of conditional clauses in writing license agreements! Call it 'freedom to inundate.'
    • Re:Free to Inundate! (Score:3, Informative)

      by greygent ( 523713 )
      Nice comment, but there are a few points I feel I must correct.

      1.) The only reason Sun is into "pluralism" is out of necessity. They would go under if they didn't. Granted, Solaris is a stellar OS, but Sun the corporation is easily as evil, or even moreso, than Microsoft. Right now, they're just the underdog, so it's an "an enemy of my enemy is my friend" situation.

      Ask anyone administering a large solaris infrastructure what they think of Sun's openness. Sun also has some bone to pick with Microsoft, so they'll take cheap shots any chance they can get.

      2.) I think Microsoft does believe in empowering the user. They may be a bit off-course, though. I still believe Microsoft's development tools are second-to-none, and their API documentation, for the most part is excellent.
      • Re:Free to Inundate! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bartle ( 447377 )

        I think Microsoft does believe in empowering the user. They may be a bit off-course, though. I still believe Microsoft's development tools are second-to-none, and their API documentation, for the most part is excellent.

        Credit where credit is due, Visual Studio is one of the best development environments around. Their online documentation for MFC and the API is also very good. If only this were enough.

        The main area I have a problem with is the Windows registry. It's become a source of misery in general, but it also contains thousands of critical keys that Microsoft hasn't documented and has no intention of ever documenting. If you want to write a program that intergrates itself into the OS, you're going to have to spend a lot of time exploring the registry.

        Sure, Microsoft makes it easy enough to develop applications for their operating systems. But Microsoft also keeps enough stuff undocumented so that you'll never be able to integrate applications into the OS as closely as they do. This creates an environment where you're free to write all the cool software you want, but Microsoft can at any point write the a similiar app and latch it into their OS. This is why I would love Microsoft to document ALL of their operating system, it would help to level this area of the playing field.

  • Most of the web pages I visit are designed using microsoft software. I can tell because of all the question marks (netscape) and little boxes (konqueror and opera) that appear where apostophes, comments, etc. should appear. This is because microsoft software uses their proprietary font system to generate certain html characters which cannot be rendered by web-standard browsers using ISO or Unicode compliant systems (see

    There is no technical reason for microsoft to use non-standard characters in ms-generated webpages. The real reason I suspect is that it forces people to use ms browsers if they want to see web pages without errors.

    Its a little thing, but it shows one of microsoft's strategies in their blatantly obvious and shameful quest to control the internet.
  • The BIG SELLOUT (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:50PM (#2529152) Homepage Journal
    ``The settlement is fair and reasonable and, most important, is in the best interests of consumers and the economy,'' Gates said in a statement.

    ``A competitive software industry is vital to our economy, and effective antitrust enforcement is crucial to preserving competition in the constantly changing hi-tech arena,'' Ashcroft said.

    ``Eliminating uncertainty is going to be good for the economy,'' said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

    Now the economy is certainly a good thing to keep healthy. But I'm pissed that I see sidestepping the lack of punishment (i.e. fines) for their habitual unlawful and unethical behavior, all done for the good of the economy. What a great thing that employees and shareholders of Microsoft should not have to feel the burden which has been shouldered by so many others.

    Maybe misters Gates, Ashcroft and Spitzer would like to bring back indentured servitude, since that would reduce unemployment.

    Here's hoping the Finding of Guilt, in regard to monopolistic behavior, gives Microsoft's foes enough ammo to slap them around in court for a few years and for significant monetary damages, since clearly some politicals are dropping the ball for the good of the economy.

  • I'd declare certain Windows XP "publicly modifiable". What this means is that resellers should be allowed to repackage it any way they feel like. They could rip out MS add-ons, MS logo, add their own apps without restrictions.

    The hope would be that MS would not be able to bundle crap into its OS because it would just get ripped out by resellers. For example, all marketing functionality could be taken out of IE, or substituted with the marketing material by some other high bidder, such as AOL.
  • by gnetwerker ( 526997 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:55PM (#2529176) Journal
    The comment that "time is no longer on [Microsoft's] side" is a good one. In some ways, this might be the best of a bad set of possible outcomes: some restrictions are placed on Microsoft's behavior immediately, the various states continue to pursue the matter, keeping it alive in a US jurisdiction and keeping open the possibility of more meaningful constraints, and Europe is waiting in the wings, watching all of this with the chance for further action if the overall US response is insufficient. One of the problems this whole process faced is the lack of really good possible remedies: breaking up Microsoft (Judge Jackson's remedy) was likely to result in not one but two ruthless monopolists; creating a "US Department of Microsoft" sets a bad precedent for government meddling in the affairs of tech in general; Open Source Windows would simply expose a million-line rat's nest of bad code to hacking; and MS has a long history of ignoring behavioral remedies. So what's the answer? I'm sure I don't know. My favorite was insisting on the granting of free licenses to make derivative works -- i.e., you could wrap anything under, around, or on top of Windows that you pleased. This isn't popular with died-in-the-wool techies, but it would allow Win to morph into something more useful to society. As it is, we are stuck with a 30-year old user interface paradigm, and my biggest fear is that the innovation needed to move us past WIMP just isn't there. But that's another story. S. McGeady (caveat: I testified against Microsoft for the government)
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:03PM (#2529226)
    Oh good, I was afraid only some measly states' attorneys general were against it. But to know that we have Samba on our side...
  • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:04PM (#2529230) Homepage Journal
    The main thing, I think, that would break MicroSoft's monopoly would be if it looked plausible that using MicroSoft products might soon become impossible. If people thought that, for example, Passport might get shut down in such a way that, suddenly, XP systems would just stop working, centralized services and buying from a monopoly would, by itself, become a significant deterent.

    I think that the most effective settlement would be something like the existing one, with an extra clause that, if MicroSoft violates the terms at any point, all of their assets will be divided among their competitors.

    Really, the terms of the settlement don't matter much. Nobody seriously expects MicroSoft to abide by them, and nothing seems likely to happen when they violate them. If there was a specified, negotiated, and fatal penalty for violating the agreement, the customers and investors would have to bet that MicroSoft would actually obey the law. Suddenly, going with MicroSoft would be a major risk, rather than a pretty safe bet, which would greatly change the business prospects.
  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:19PM (#2529338)
    The U.S. government is the world's largest consumer of software. If they require government agencies to buy something other than microsoft software, they can more than adequately punish microsoft and attack their monopoly status without having to further drag this through the court system.
  • by raresilk ( 100418 ) <> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:34PM (#2529421)
    Yes, the politicians listen to their contributors far too much. That's clearly why the feds and six state attorney generals have signed on - there's nothing whatsoever in the settlement with a realistic hope of benefiting competition or consumers. But that's our collective fault, because the citizens of the USA consistently don't bother to VOTE!!! Election turnouts below 50%, and even below 20% have become the norm, and this is particularly true in local elections where people like state attorney generals get chosen.

    Yes, I'm going to contact the attorney general of my state immediately and let him know how I feel. But even though I vote in every election, my own voice is cheapened and weakened by the huge numbers of people who don't. Why should an elected official listen to me, rather than a contributor, when the overwhelming statistical odds are that I am among the huge pool of incorrigible non-voters who have surrendered all power over their government's actions? Even if I announce that he/she's "got" or "lost" my vote next time, odds are that's not true.

    I know, I know, this is another one of my "granny knows what's good for you kids" rants. But think about it, please. What if next election there were an 80% or 90% turnout? You could actually fire your state's attorney general for sucking up to MS and taking this ridiculous settlement! Imagine that. Are you so absolutely sure that voting would have no impact? Are you so positive that you won't even bother to try it, thereby guaranteeing business as usual? Probably (sigh).

    I have a new idea, which I'm going to practice starting with the next local election. Our state's ballots have little square tear-off tabs. They don't show who you voted for, just the fact that you cast a ballot. I'm going to save mine and scan them, so that I have a permanent record of every election I've voted in, which can be printed out and mailed, or sent as an email attachment. Thus, when I contact an elected representative to express my opinion, it will be accompanied by a concrete "voting record" -- evidence that I care enough to back my opinion up with my vote.

    If this practice became widespread, it might be quite effective, not only in empowering communications between technologically-informed citizens and the government, but in exerting some peer pressure against the huge non-voting majority. Like, if voters carried their voting records around all the time, then if someone was really whining about how the government never listens to us, we could all whip out our voting records and say "let's see yours." It could become shameful to protest government action without a voting record to throw down when one's bluff is called; shameful enough that Americans actually start exercising the democratic rights we purport to stand up for. Ok, I'm a dreamer, but I'll keep trying. I believe in a democratically elected government, for Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and . . . what the heck, maybe even the USA for a change.

  • by Ear Phantom ( 250084 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:55PM (#2529573)
    CNN is reporting [] that "Iowa, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Kansas, Utah, Minnesota, and West Virginia - as well as Washington, D.C." are pursuing further litigation.
  • by bobdehnhardt ( 18286 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @05:45PM (#2529904)
    As I was reading this article, the following showed up in my email, from the MCP mailing list:

    In this issue of MCP Magazine News:

    ** Microsoft, DOJ Reach Settlement

    One of the biggest and highest-profile antitrust cases in U.S. history was brought nearly to a close Friday when Microsoft Corp. and the federal government reached a settlement in the four-year old lawsuit. The settlement was praised by Microsoft and the government, but a number of industry analysts said the feds were too lenient on Microsoft.

    Far from the breakup of Microsoft into two separate companies that the government initially sought, the settlement places some safeguards on several Microsoft practices judged to be anti-competitive. The final resolution hasn't come yet, however. There are still 18 states that have yet to sign on to the settlement, and one has said it won't.

    Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, at a press conference announcing the settlement, said it "represents a fair compromise on all sides. We hope the state attorneys general will also agree it's a good settlement."

    Regarding some of the restrictions placed on Microsoft, Gates said his company fully intends to comply. "The agreement contains significant rules and regulations on how we develop and license our software, but it allows Microsoft to keep innovating on behalf of consumers."
    Changes in Redmond's behavior required by the proposal include:

    The company has to disclose server protocols to make sure that Windows desktops don't work better with Microsoft OSs like Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows .NET than they do with competing OSs like Linux or Unix.

    For at least five years (with an option to extend the time frame two more years), Microsoft must offer uniform licensing to OEMs. No more special deals for some computer makers over others.

    Microsoft is forbidden from entering into exclusive contracts that keep software developers or computer manufacturers from using competing products.

    Those and other terms of the settlement didn't satisfy many.

    "The reported settlement agreement, stunningly, will not change either Microsoft's business practices nor its software implementations one iota," Ken Wasch, president of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association for the software and digital content industry, said in a statement.

    "Remarkably, the purported settlement appears to be less than the interim remedies ordered by Judge Jackson prior to the unanimous Court of Appeals ruling. And it appears to be weaker than the last offer in the previous round of mediation led by Judge Posner," Wasch said.

    Some states are making noises that the settlement doesn't go far enough, and will press ahead with separate litigation. Massachusetts on Monday became the first to confirm that it isn't satisfied, and is moving forward in the courts. So while Redmond is done, at least for now, with Uncle Sam, some of his cousins still want to mix it up with Bill & Co.

    Keith Ward

    Either they're just not up on the times (very likely), or they're trying to spin this (also very likely)....
  • Death Penalty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by remande ( 31154 ) <<moc.toofgib> <ta> <ednamer>> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @06:05PM (#2529991) Homepage
    I am pro-life...for people. For corporations, however, perhaps there should be a death penalty.

    I'm not saying that somebody should strap Bill Gates to an electric chair, not at all.

    I'm saying that Microsoft, legally and morally, should be dismantled.

    Microsoft is a corporation, which means that they have articles of incorporation. That is, the government has given them a license above and beyond that of a normal person, to be publicly traded and to produce limited liabilities (you can't sue a corporation for more money than it has, but you can sue a person that way and garnish their wages).

    Incorporation is not a right, it is a privelege. And when a privelege granted by the government is abused, it can and should be rescinded. It's just like taking a driver's license away from a drunk driver.

    A court of law has ruled, and has been backed up by the US Supreme Court, that Microsoft is an illegal monopoly. The same courts have also ruled that Microsoft has wilfully ignored court orders--is in fact in contempt of federal courts. IMHO, Microsoft has shown that they believe themselves to be Above the Law.

    When a person is given a court order (such as to stay 200 feet away from another person) and intentionally disobeys that order, they show that mere laws cannot stop them. As such, stronger forces are used--they are incarcerated, sentenced to jail.

    Microsoft has shown that mere laws and court orders cannot stop them from doing whatever they please. As such, teeth are necessary.

    Their articles of inrporation should be rescinded. The corporation has exceeded its lawful charter, and must not have the benefits of that charter.

    Think about it. This freezes their stock--you can't trade stock on the open market anymore, how useful are those stock options in pulling in new employees?

    Does this trample the rights of the shareholders? No. Their property (the stock, a percentage of Microsoft) cannot be taken away without due process of law. I see tremendous due process here, backed by the supreme court.

    • Re:Death Penalty (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tdye ( 308813 )
      I wonder how this would work. MSFT is incorporated inthe state of Washington, but their legal problems stem from federal antitrust violations. It would seem to me that the State of Washington would have to revoke their corporate charter as a seperate action heard in state court, and that all other states (and the fed) have to rely on remedies described in antitrust law.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @09:41PM (#2530850) Journal
    "Bill Gates is just a white persian cat and a monocle away from being the villain in a James Bond flick."


"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."