Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Microsoft Would Settle For The Children 780

The news from MSNBC is that Microsoft wants to, er, settle for the children. Take that whichever way you want. They propose to settle civil anti-trust cases (not the DoJ suit) with a $1.1 billion (retail value) spanking (they have $36 billion in the bank), consisting of free computer goodies to our nation's poorest schools (the first hit's free, kids). I'm sure Microsoft will upgrade those old computers to keep them current, in perpetuity, for free, out of the kindness of their hearts, but in an apparent oversight that was left out of the news report. Of that $1.1 billion, $0.9 billion will be software presumably valued at whatever Microsoft wants to charge (see "monopoly"). For hardware and (laughable) training/support costs, Microsoft will be docked three weeks' worth of interest on their cashpile; they will seek matching funds for the remainder, I am not making this up. Some lawyers opposed this but "concluded that Microsoft's monopoly already is so pervasive that students would have to learn to use these products anyway in the workplace." Update: 11/20 21:22 GMT by M : Heh. Red Hat offers an alternative to Microsoft's settlement proposal - you provide hardware, we'll provide software.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Would Settle For The Children

Comments Filter:
  • Nice title. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:31PM (#2591377)
    "You are a monopoly. As punishment, you must provide free software to the public schools, so that you can spread even further. Bad Microsoft! Now get back to replacing those foreign operating systems."

    You're very right, Jamie. The double-meaning in the title *is* hilarious.
    • Re:Nice title. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:05PM (#2591691)
      "You are a monopoly. As punishment, you must provide free software to the public schools, so that you can spread even further. Bad Microsoft! Now get back to replacing those foreign operating systems."

      The government(s) should actually settle on this case, and let MSFT donate $1.1 billion to the school systems of software. But demand that it be their competitor's software (preferrably linux and other commercially-available Open-Source software). For example, let MSFT donate approx 10,000-20,000 boxed sets of either RedHat, Mandrake, Suse, etc, to the existing PC's in the schools. This will put significant cash flow in the high-tech industry, help further their competitors, and actually punish MSFT.

      10,000 copies of linux could be divided as one official copy to each school or school district. they can then make legal copies within the schools. This can actually be more useful and efficient than you'd realize. If each school had one computer running linux, teachers and school computer folks can begin to assess how to run windows software under WINE, and other educational linux software. eventuallly this would save the school a bundle as they realize how to migrate their systems.

      Of course there would be lots of details as to how the $1.1 billion would be distributed amongst MSFT's competitors. But there is NO WAY MSFT should be "punished" by allowing them to extend their monopoly further.

      • I find Microsoft's suggestion very amusing... spreading the monolopy further by "getting 'em hooked while they're young", as the anti-cigarettecompany groups would say.

        Alternatives to MS stuff would be good, though... and not just linux! How about Sun servers, Cisco routers, Macintosh and SGI graphics stations?

        There's plenty of "tools of the trade" equipment that isn't Microsoft that is still widely used in certain fields. Why not give kids the advantage of growing up with this other equipment? If any of this is going to high schools, this kind of equipment would be *far* more useful than, for example, a word processor; anyone can write essays on paper, but can you do raytraced pictures on paper if you're thinking about pursuing a career in computer graphics?

        Besides, tethering schools to Microsoft might bring about a lot more of those "incidents" we've been seeing lately where MS charges some governmental organization large sums because they have lost track of a couple of site licenses.
  • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew@ t h e kerrs.ca> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:31PM (#2591378) Homepage
    Their punishment is to help ensure that the monopoly they have continues to the next generation?
    • At what point does this top being Microsofts fault and start being the fault of the millions of users? If people didn't buy the software or use the software, a monopoly would not exist!
      • Typical biography of X, born in a computer illiterate family:

        - X goes to primary school, sees computer (Windows, thanks to Microsoft's generosity)

        - X goes to high school, learns a bit more (Windows, thanks to court settlement)

        - X goes to college, only sees one operating system around (Windows, thanks to some astute bulk licensing policy and a not very bright college administrator)

        Now, a question:

        Assuming that X has not become a geek (quite probable, given the cruel environment he has been subject to :^), what O.S. will X regard as the Only One in the Galaxy?

      • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew@ t h e kerrs.ca> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:51PM (#2591564) Homepage
        Its an interesting suggestion. Our favourite average person out there "Joe/Jane Sixpack" doesn't do a lot of research before buying a computer. If he/she does any, its to compare prices and features. I've never seen anyone actually investigate other OS options. Not that I deal with the average computer shopper, but I doubt that many do, beyond, "I saw an add for Windows XP, does this computer have that?".

        So our average computer shopper doesn't research that end of it. Should they... of course. But, if they don't understand that they should be researching HW/SW/OS, then they won't. I imagine some investigate SW to some degree (Antivirus, maybe an office suite), but I highly doubt any would even think of the OS.

        So who is going to educate (en masse) the public. We certainly can't expect MS to do it. Who would expect any business to educate its customers into researching alternatives? Us, the Free SW crowd? Sure, we would, but how? That's the real question. How do we show the general public that there are other options out there. That they don't have to just accept whatever the big retailer installs on their machine.

        • And tell me, how many of them go complaining back to the shop saying how they hate the goddam computer because the operating system sucks ass?

          Oh that's interesting, basically none..

          Thus, Windows is doing everything that the majority of users need, and thus is doing a good job. Just because use tech savvy people (who, BY THE WAY have different needs/wants from our software, and we are also in the vast minority) want more out of our operating systems and don't necessarily like what Microsoft gives us, doesn't mean that for the vast majority of the people it doesn't work perfectly fine for them...

          Just food for thought.
          • Oh that's interesting, basically none..

            Thus, Windows is doing everything that the majority of users need...

            Except that it could be argued that Microsoft (and the software industry in general) have changed the average user's mindset to believe that this is as good as computers get, and getting any better stability, inherent virus resistance and security and so forth isn't really possible.

        • Microsoft Windows never refers to itself for bad things, only good things. Ex: Windows has detected new hardware, and must restart your computer [not windows]. You have installed new software; you must restart your computer [not windows]. Your computer [not windows] has crashed. People then associate all the annoying things with the whole computer and not the operating system itself.
      • by Pierre ( 6251 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:59PM (#2591647)
        What do you mean "at what point does this stop being MS's fault"?

        They broke the law. In a court of law they were found guilty. It never stops being their fault - they did it.

        Can you really not understand why people are upset by the proposal that punishes a company that has been found guilty of breaking the laws of the United States with behavior reminiscent of the crime?

        I'm not opposed to the idea of helping these schools, but these are separate issues. Fine let's decide to give the schools the settlement. Give them 1.7 billion in cash and let them maintain their buildings, pay teachers more (i.e. let them decide what they need).

        What else are they going to throw in free downloads of windows media player?
      • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:07PM (#2591707) Homepage
        1. It is legal for MS to be a monopoly.
        2. It is illegal for MS to abuse their monopoly power.

        #1 is the result of consumer decisions; that's why it's legal. #2 is the result of MS decisions. So, to answer your question, it stops at the point when Microsoft stops illegally abusing their perfectly legal monopoly status.
      • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:12PM (#2591761) Homepage Journal
        At what point does this top being Microsofts fault and start being the fault of the millions of users? If people didn't buy the software or use the software, a monopoly would not exist!

        Have you not been reading the case? at least one of the points at issue is that M$ has been forcing hardware vewndors who sell its product to not carry competing products (ie. if you want to make a PC with Windows on it you can't sell PCs with Linux or Be, or etc on it).

        The result - I couldn't buy a laptop with Linux, or even a blank one to put Linux on myself - now because of the DoJ suit things have changed (a little). That's called "leveraging a monopoly" it's illegal

        So long as a customer goes to buy a PC at a brand leader like Dell, or Compaq, or Gateway and they don't have a choice of a non-M$ OS, or of one without an OS (at a lower price of course) then we don't have a choice.

        PS: you want to buy all the old copies of Windows I was forced to buy with my last few computers? oh wait I'm not allowed to sell them - I was forced to pay for them, declined to accept the license but seemingly am still bound by conditions in the license I didn't accept that bar me from selling it

        • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @06:30PM (#2592752) Journal
          Good point. The OEMs must sell windows period! It was only untill recently that the doj forced Microsoft to change this. The loophole is that each oem must sell a different computer model for each OS distributed with it. For example a specific dell model which comes with Windows must not come with linux. Dell would have to design a different desktop to distribute linux with it.

          Basically the original comment stated that "At what point does this top being Microsoft's fault and start being the fault of the millions of users? If people didn't buy the software or use the software, a monopoly would not exist! ". This evidence proves that consumers had no choice before 1998.

          Actually users do not buy the Operating System. YOUR OEM DOES. Infact the EULA is not written for consumers but for oems. This is why the BSA only goes after businesses and oem's and not individuals. Individuals never agree to the EULA unless they are doing a manual install. Mainly coroporate clients. Infact it is a monopoly if you strangle competitors by controlling the distribution. This is precisely what MS did. Rockafeller started his whole monopoly by buying out train companies. With distribution under control he took over the whole market by charging sky high rates for competitors oil so his was always cheaper and standard oil would get a profit wether a consumer bought oil from him or someone else. This is really not that different then Microsoft's deals with the OEM's.

  • While I really don't have a problem with microsofts products, their anti-competitive business stance is very disturbing. .9 billion given back to them. How sad.
  • DOJ sues them for giving their products away and crushing competition all the while increasing their monopolistic presence.....so as a remedy MS is forced to give away their products to school kids thus crushing competition and increasing their monopolistic presence. Sounds fair.
  • Joe Chemo [adbusters.org] would be proud. This is exactly what antitrust laws are supposed to prevent.
  • Microsoft has a way of making "viable court-imposed punishments" out of shrewd business moves.

    If they really wanted to show us how sorry they are, they would put Macs in the schools.
  • perhaps i'm an idealist but i find it totally disheartening that my beloved US of A is punishing its citizens by supporting microsoft's practices.
    • Re:if only (Score:3, Interesting)

      by matty ( 3385 )
      Unfortunately, our beloved country is ever more controlled by corporate interests. Even Al "I hate Big Oil" Gore receives a ridiculous amount of money from corporate sponsors. No comment needs to be made about GWB and his administration.

      Here's my take on why most people in government support Microsoft. First, whatever the morality of their practices, they are arguably the most successful business in history. They pay lots of salaries and benefits and have created much wealth.

      Also, many people remember how scary it was in the 80's when the Japanese were kicking our asses in every way (with the Koreans and other Asian nations not far behind). MS, along with Intel, Oracle, Sun, etc. have brought the world technology leadership solidly back to the US. Many politicians want to keep it that way.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm badly disappointed with this proposed settlement and the one for the still-pending DOJ case. That's why I only use Linux on my computers (except for a lingering Win98 partition at home to play a couple of Windows only games).

      You know what? Thank God for all MS's security holes. If Windows/IE/IIS/Passport were all actually secure, then they would completely take over everything, no question about it. Then we'd all truly have our entire computing experience controlled by Redmond.

      I'm getting depressed, I'm going to shut up now.....
  • How about Microsoft has to spend the money to buy the computers, but must put free (as in speech, not beer) software on the computers. Microsoft then helps out the schools without having to spend all that money on expensive software. That is what it's all about, right? Helping out the schools?
  • At my most cynical, I don't think I could have come up with a more worthless settlement...
  • ...And furthermore, we here at Microsoft will allow this group of thirty-one geishas to massage us as we skip a week's worth of board meetings! Harsh, you say? We haven't even told you about the part with the spankings and the oral sex!!!
  • Over 14,000 schools are about to get a bunch of brand new computers. Any chance you could provide them with some software?

  • Can we concentrate on either loving or hating Microsoft? All this wavering back and forth is making me dizzy!

    - A.P.
  • Taxes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stinkydog ( 191778 ) <sd@strangedo[ ]et ['g.n' in gap]> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:40PM (#2591459) Homepage
    I bet they write off the whole 1.1b as a bussines expense and save on taxes this year.

    A real penalty would be 1.1 Billion in hardware. If you let them include the software, credit it for it's actual value (7 cents per CD).

  • Everyone who believes this giveaway actually "costs" them anything please raise your hand. So the penalty for overcharging millions of consumers is to allow them to "upgrade" all the schools (start them young!) with software that has an explicit forced march built into the license.

    And this was a plaintiff's attorney who came up with this? Oh yeah, the lawyer was only looking at dollar signs. And who wants to bet the attorney's fees will be based on a percentage of the $1.1 billion MS is claiming this will "cost" them?
  • Holy crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:41PM (#2591463) Homepage
    <obvious>Why not hook the kids up to CocaCola and BigMac's, IV'd.</obvious>

    This is kind of backwards if you want your next generation to be tech-saavy. Windows ABSTRACTS computers, removing the need (for most people) to actually know how a computer (and software) operates. In this respect, the world will be FORCED to at least have a small understanding of the technology .. don't let your kids get left behind by forcing them to think "My Documents" is where their files are, no matter which computer/OS/etc they are on.

    At any rate, it's insane. Would we let Coke donate lots of Coke to kids as a settlement (knowing that they'll /surely/ be stuck in places when they grow up when only Coke is available).

    What strikes me the most is the acceptance that Windows will be the dominant platform for the next 80 years. Fortunately, this will not be true. Very few companies even stay in business that long.
  • by fishebulb ( 257214 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:41PM (#2591466)
    That reminds me of an old forward, the difference between drug dealers and programmers:

    Drug Dealers:
    -Refer to their clients as "users"
    -"The first one's free!"
    -Have important South-East Asian connections (to help move the stuff)
    -Strange jargon: "Stick," "Rock,", "Dime bag,"
    -Realize that there's tons of cash in the 14- to 25-year-old market.
    -Job is assisted by the industry's producing
    newer, more potent mixes.
    -Often seen in the company of pushers,pimps and hustlers.
    -Their product causes unhealthy addictions.
    -Do your job well, and you can sleep with sexy movie stars who depend on you.

    -Refer to their clients as "users"
    -"Download a free trial version!"
    -Have important South-East Asian connections (to help debug code)
    -Strange jargon:"SCSI," "RTFM", "Java," "ISDN".
    -Realize that there's tons of cash in the 14- to 25-year-old market.
    -Job is assisted by the industry's producing newer, faster, more potent machines.
    -Often seen in the company of salesman,
    marketing people and venture capitalists.
    -DOOM. Marathon. SimCity. Command&Conquor. 'Nuff said
    -Damn! Damn! DAMN!!!
  • by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:41PM (#2591470) Journal
    Either hell has frozen over or I missed something. Microsoft has not triumphed over the government, as MSNBC claims. AFAIK, the 18 states involved are still in discussion about the goverment settlement. Just like MS, portrarying themselves as the victim. "We won the case against the government, now we just have to work out these little suits. The big, cuddly teddy bear you as Microsoft will not give in... we will fight to stay strong". Yeah, bite me. Microsoft is not good for the consumer, yet they're parading themselves around like the consumer is on THEIR side.
    • The consumer IS on their side, by default. The average joe that I talk to doesn't want their computer to be harder to use, and they think that, for better or worse, microsoft makes their computer useful.

      The fact is that Real People aren't idealistic about software. The computer is analogous to a car in almost every way. Car enthusiasts have the edge in knowledge, but everybody has to use one (unless you live in a large urban area with good public transportation, but I digress) and most people just want to get in and turn the key and start moving.

      Windows does that. Nothing else on a PC does that for the average Real Person. So stop it with this idealistic shit and fight MS on its own terms.
  • by 0xA ( 71424 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:42PM (#2591476)
    Seriously this isn't the first time a tech company has done this. Apple carved out part of their market by first donating Apple computers to schools and then offering schools and teachers pretty substantial discounts there after. If all the kids are familiar with Apple hardware they will become loyal consumers in the future. Don't laugh, I still get fond memories of hacking away on the Macs (Plus and SEs) at school when I consider getting an iBook.

    I imagine MS is looking to do the same thing here. It will be a good thing for MS, a good thing for the schools, what the hell right? Wrong. I am really disapointed that they would try and do this a means to reach settlement, makes the whole thing rather hollow. If they had done this just because they felt like it I'd probably support them in it, now they just look slimy.

    Errr, more slimy.

    • What's driving everyone up the wall is the fact that M$ would "donate" all that stuff to the school as a part of the punishment for having a monopoly. If they did it in any other circumstances, fine, I'm not going to argue that fact righ now. What is absurd here, is that they are using the punishment for having a monopoly to extend their monopoly. See the irony?
  • by skroz ( 7870 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:43PM (#2591485) Homepage
    Are they kidding? This doesn't solve anything; it makes it worse! By providing software _for free_ to such a large number of people, the software now becomes the defacto standard for yet another group of people. These students will grow up in Microsoft(TM) America and like so many people before them be hooked into software that they'll be reluctant to leave in the future.

    And using poorer schools... that's good. These schools would have previously been a good "target market" for OSS... can't beat the price. Now MS gets three victories for the price of none... they get the plaintiffs off of their backs, they get the PR boost that always comes with helping poor children, and they get a win against OSS. And what does it cost them? A "virtual" $1.1 billion. They're giving software to people that probably wouldn't have bought it in the first place, and they're giving away a product based on its RETAIL value; it costs MS very little to give this software away. The realized cost to MS will probably be less than $100 million. Much less.

    Another Seattlement, if you ask me. I think I'm going to give up and be a rice farmer now... until Microsoft (TM) Wheat pushes me out of the staple foods market.
  • Hi! I am sending you this CD-ROM as part of an antitrust settlement...

    But seriously--if Microsoft is to be punished, shouldn't Microsoft be forced to give all the poor children a PC with Linux on it? If Bill Gates was forced to do 100,000 RHL 6.x installs w/o kickstart, I bet he would never ever ever ever again stifle competition or build a vertical monopoly.

    The proposed settlement is equivalent to giving a burglar keys to every house in the neighborhood, or giving a gun and rubber gloves to a murderer. The principle of punishment is to deter the perpetrator should the desire to commit crime arise again.

  • Uhh...no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:44PM (#2591493)
    Jamie's ignores the inconvenient fact it is not clear that any harm to consumers could be proved at all. The unanimous Appellate Court decision in US v. Miscrosoft was pretty clear that any plaitiff representing consumers would need to prove net harm according to a stiff set of tests. I'd bet on Microsoft's odds to win that test in a court of law. (In fact, I continue to do so, since I'm not only an employee of the company, but continue to hold on to the bulk of the shares I've ever bought or been granted. My money is where my mouth is.)

    However, even ignoring that, the key computation lay in asking how much each consumer would collect even if the most generous award were handed down. It turns out that the total payout would be less than $10/consumer before legal costs, and negative afterwards. The court isn't willing to go forward with a class-action lawsuit that will harm the plaitiffs even if they win.

    This is a solution that makes everybody with a legitimate stake in the outcome win. Consumers benefit by getting something, the lawyers benefit by getting their costs covered, and Microsoft benefits by not having to go through another trial. The only losers are the third parties that make money off the continued controversy. I don't have a lot of sympathy for Larry Ellison or Scott McNealy, though -- do you?
    • Re:Uhh...no (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wlperry ( 136245 )
      Microsoft wants to emphasize the consumer role in this suit. Please understand that the Antitrust laws were NOT written to protect consumers. The law is about competitors. The first major Anti-trust suit broke up Standard Oil. The problem with SO was that they kept gas prices so low that competitors could not get into the market. Consumers were happy. Basically, the SO and MS cases are similar in this respect. MS has been giving away product in order to keep competitors from taking control of "the desktop" or even having a presence there. I don't think that consumers have a legitmate stake in the lawsuit, only the competitors. As long as Microsoft can deceive people (Judge, DOJ, citizens) into focusing on the consumers, I think that MS will win. The only chance that the states have to win their cases is to get the Judge to focus on the anti-competitive nature of MS's acts.
    • Re:Uhh...no (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rocketboy ( 32971 )
      Consumers benefit by getting something

      As a consumer who has presumably been harmed, what exactly does this settlement do for me? How has MS been 'punished' for its actions, or alternatively how is it deterred from doing it again?
    • Re:Uhh...no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:36PM (#2591963) Homepage Journal

      Jamie's ignores the inconvenient fact it is not clear that any harm to consumers could be proved at all.

      You're joking, right?

      How about Outlook's Virus of the Week? How about IIS's Vulnerability of the Week? How about ten years of blue screens? How about twenty years of a crappy filesystem that corrupts itself at the first opportunity? (And don't give me any bullshit about FAT being robust. If it were robust, why is SystemAgent set by default to paper over its fragility?) How about a fundamentally b0rk3d system design that the merest child could tell you was a disaster from the start? How about twenty five years of lying to the public (you would call it "marketing" and "PR") about how "innovative" Microsoft is, when in fact they've been strip-mining the industry for other people's ideas, filing off the serial numbers, and presenting them as their own? Good gravy, not even Bill's BASIC was original, being a port from a BASIC interpreter at Harvard (such activity would be considered criminal today by Bill's own set of "ethics").

      You're right, but only in a sense that a dissembling lawyer would agree with. It is difficult to measure the harm to consumers, but that does not mean it didn't happen or merit correction.

      This is a solution that makes everybody with a legitimate stake in the outcome win.

      Except that Microsoft was found guilty of criminal anti-trust violations. They do not get to win. Not by a longshot.


  • by epukinsk ( 120536 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:44PM (#2591494) Homepage Journal
    This is brilliant! It's too bad that the cigarette companies doled out all that cash to various parties in their settlements. What a waste. They could've just sent a years worth of cigarettes to the nations poorest schools.

    Where was this Michael Hausfeld fellow when we needed him?

  • by Kerg ( 71582 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:46PM (#2591512)
    The poorest schools are the most likely candidates to look for alternatives for Microsoft monopoly. The new licensing schemes MS has come up with their latest suite of software have caused several schools, communities and in general, non-business users to look for alternatives for Windows and MS Office. Many of them have looked at Linux and OpenOffice (or other OSS office suites) as a replacement.

    Maybe I'm being cynical, but Microsoft providing the software for these institutions for free would be a very good move on their part to slow down the adoption of alternative operating systems and office suites. It's here, in schools that cannot afford the MS pricing anymore, that the erosion of MS monopoly will begin, and Microsoft has proposed a very effective counter measure to it. They slow down Linux and OSS adoption, and get DOJ off their backs. Both with one strike.

    Then again, maybe they're just doing it for the goodness of their hearts...

  • Will, for a long time it has been common practice here at /. to bash M$ -- and doing so for good reasons after all I strongly believe that that this community is responsible, directly or indirectly to have M$ face justice. But now it seems to me that the love to hate M$ is getting everywhere and out of control.

    The article reported by MSNBC is focusing on small part of the whole settlement and just like any bad report taken out of context, if the report is focused on one element, it tend to paint a picture that this *is* all what the subject is all about where it isn't.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:50PM (#2591550) Homepage Journal
    The thing that most bothers me about this settlement proposal is not that Microsoft is engaging in yet another huge marketing effort. It's that Microsoft still doesn't *get it*.

    The only way any kind of settlement with Microsoft will accomplish anything is if the people who make up Microsoft's leadership actually alter their behavior.

    This latest proposal shows that Microsoft is fundamentally incapable of changing its core DNA to suit a new paradigm. While all public businesses are driven by valuation, Microsoft doesn't realize that when a corporation reaches a certain size and power in the marketplace, it carries additional responsibilities.

    Microsoft prides itself on providing boundless upward value to stockholders, but it seems to have a huge mental block when it comes to assessing its role in the larger culture.

    • The only way any kind of settlement with Microsoft will accomplish anything is if the people who make up Microsoft's leadership actually alter their behavior.

      The goal of a settlement is generally NOT to alter behavior. That's why it's called a SETTLEment. You settle for something of agreed-upon value (cash or other terms) and then get on with life. Think of insurance settlements, divorce settlements, etc. If you don't think any settlement for cash and equivalents is fair in this case, then you probably wanted to see senior management at Microsoft thrown in prison. Jailing the richest people in the country simply isn't The American Way(tm).
  • Get A Life (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nochops ( 522181 )
    In this day and age, I think most of us have more important things to worry about than wheather the disadvantaged poor kids will be using Microsoft or non-Microsoft products.

    Really, who gives a shit! I mean, why not just say:

    "Wow, that's really a nice thing to do for kids who would otherwise probably not get a chance to use a computer."

    and go on about your business? I have really come full circle in this whole anti-Microsoft thing. I liked and used MS products, then abandoned them in favor of their *nix counterparts. Lately, though, I've come to realize what a load of crap most of the *nix software is.

    The fact is, the Internet, and computer software in general are not some magical thing that doesn't have to follow the rules like the rest of the world. Companies like Microsoft are in this business to make money, and frankly Bill Gates does an extremely good job at making money. His company makes a product that people want, and he has every right to promote it and try to get people to buy it. Just like any other product.

    People, you need to realize that just because a company actually wants you to *pay* for something, that doesnt' automatically make it illegal. I mean, why should they be a company if they can't make any money?

    Getting back on topic, I think it's great that Microsoft is doing this, as it will give a chance to kids who wouldn't otherwise have one.
  • by SIGFPE ( 97527 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:53PM (#2591579) Homepage
    That way you can have a settlement with the DOJ in which you give away free copies of Linux.
  • by DragonPup ( 302885 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:53PM (#2591583)
    According to this idea....

    -MS gets to increase it's market share(by displacing Macs in schools)
    -Does not need to change it's monopolistic practices
    -Gets a $1.1 billion tax writeoff(They will try to write that off)

    Wow, sounds like a great deal....for Microsoft and states idiotic enough to sign this(Kickbacks anyone?)

  • If I was in charge of IT at the school, I would certainly push to take the computers and immediately reformat the drive and install Linux. I wonder if Microsoft would allow that?
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:53PM (#2591589)
    About twenty bucks.

    Ain't the software business grand?

    Can I pay MY legal fines by donating Red Hat .iso's "valued" at fourty bucks a pop?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:53PM (#2591590)

    Today, Phillip Morris, manufacturer of cigarette products, agreed to settle all pending lawsuits that allege that they (PM) sold cigarettes to underage smokers.

    The generous $1.9B settlement provides for Phillip Morris to provide, free of charge, a lifetime of tobacco products to every Junior and Middle school in America. The settlement would consist of $1.1B worth of prepared tobacco products, and $800M worth of reconditioned ashtrays and smoke detectors.

    Phillip Morris attorney Hugh Smokem commented that "This is an equitable settlement which answers our critics charges that we sell tobacco products to minors. Clearly, no tobacco will be sold here."


  • not a punishment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @03:55PM (#2591601) Journal

    $1.1 billion worth of software does not cost Microsoft anything. It's essentially free for Microsoft to crank out more software since the R&D has already been paid for. That reduces this so-called "settlement" to just a Microsoft marketing campaign.

    Best solution: they must contribute $billion or so of cold, hard, cash to a fund for school technology improvement. Then independent technical experts and educators can suggest uses for the money that don't necessarily benefit Microsoft. This settlement is a total victory for Microsoft - I'd hate to see what happens when they actually win a case...

  • I can get a very basic PC setup with no software for about $600 and if I purchase XP for $100 and XP Office for another $500 then I have a potential free system for the needy that cost a total of $1,200. So about 50% of the cost is for MS software and the other 50% is for some lame hardware. By the MS calcualtions the software will cost just over 80% of the total. Which leads me to wonder what kind of hardware they are purchasing to give to the needy for free?
  • *checks calendar*

    *notes it is not April 1*

    You gotta be shitting me.

  • Someone at MS marketing is a genious. How can you say no to giving free software and computers to the poorest children in the country?

    I'm so disgusted by this prospect I can hardly hold back the bial.

    How can Americans take this abuse? It's rediculous. This isn't a remedy to Microsoft's monopoly, it's a ploy to give the remain state's lawyers a way to exit this case while leaving MS with almost no pain. What's it really costing MS to print up some more software and give it away? Nothing. In fact it grows their business.

    This whole case has stunk badly since the new administration took over and there's little hope that it will start smelling like a rose now.

  • Redmond, Washington's Microsoft corporation today signed a deal as a part of their antitrust suit settlement for a record $1.5 billion worth of Macintosh hardware and software from Apple Computer. This purchase is supposed to go to schools, where the majority of WORKING systems are already Macintosh computers anyway. When asked about the deal, Microsoft's iconic despot Willy Gates replied "I go way back with Apple, so I figured I would throw them a bone. This is just a slap on the wrist anyway, so why not give some of this to charity?" No word on whether or not Gates was referring to the schools, or Microsoft's sometime partner Apple computer as the charity. Apple Computer's iCEO, Steve Jobs, was unavailable for comment, but is rumored to be in satisfactory condition and recovering from the shock of seeing the Purchase Order in a Bay Area hospital.

    - Freed
  • This is as if Exxon had offered to sink another tanker to settle the Valdez case...
  • Let's face it: Being familiar with MS Windows is a much more useful skill for most school-leavers than being familiar with Linux is. This software and these computers are going to the schools with kids who are the least likely to have access to a computer at home, so learning this stuff at school is very important to them. If they want to dual-boot these computers with Linux, there's nothing stopping them from doing that, but the idea that these poor kids would end up being forced to learn something that for most intents and purposes is useless to them in the job marketplace simply because a load of computer programmers with lofty ideals would rather that they learn a free operating system instead of one by 'Old Bill' is abhorrent to me.
    • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:29PM (#2591906)

      Hmm, when I was in high school they made a big deal about beingup to date with the latest software used in industry. I remember clearly writing all my reports in WordPerfect 5.1 for Dos, just like industry. Didn't help me any though, by the time I got out of college MsWord was the standard (word95 I think). Not that it matters, the company I work for uses FrameMaker when we need formated text, and otherwise emacs, or vi depending on your religion.

      I also remember watching the transisition from Word*Star, but I was a kid so that was on the sidelines.

      With that history it seems to me that computers change too quick for it to matter what you learn on in high school, it will be obsolete before long anyway.

  • concluded that each member of the plaintiff class -- at least 65 million computer buyers -- would receive as little as $10 in a settlement or court victory. That would be less than the cost of identifying class members and sending payment, meaning most of the money from Microsoft would be swallowed by administrative costs -- and attorney fees. IANAL, but how can this be considered a reasonable settlement?!! How about punitive damages of three or four times the actual damages plus MS pays the administrative costs. But given what's been decided, can someone come up with a Scarlet "M", as in MONOPOLY, to use as the Window's splash screen and an explanatory note to the effect that Microsoft provided the computer as punishment for criminal behavior.
  • It doesn't matter how many schools microsoft "gives" software to. These kids aren't going to learn marketable skills. What matters are the quality of teachers and the student's willingness to learn. My kids attend a private school and have a computer class. What are they learning? Typing. Because the teacher doesn't know anything else. What do you think happens in poor schools? We'll be lucky if they're even turned on. And from that point on, it's math blaster and mavis beacon. This won't add one bit to the user base of microsoft tools. The lucky kids learn word, which is knowledge transferrable to another product anyway.
  • First off, I should say that I *am* a lawyer..though I no longer practice (tech is far more entertaining):

    This is an archetypical pro-business civil settlement. MS appears to be minorly rebuked, yet comes away with a PR and marketing triumph. On one hand, you have *seriously* needy public schools getting new and arguably functional hardware and software. That is, overall, a really good thing (N.B. I see nothing addressing issues of integration, support or training and am thus inclined to think that much of this, if it comes to pass, will be largely un-under-utilized..but that is another matter). Any settlement that touches addressing these shortcomings is at least worth considering...

    However, as was pointed out elsewhere, MS is sitting on about $36BB cash and what is largely being "offered" here is in the form of software and hardware ($900MMish based on MS valuations) and here is the rub. That $900MM has an actual cost of somewhere in the neighborhood of $50MM (I have nothing to base this number on and I wager it will be lower than than...), that is to say that the actual cost to MS is de minimus.

    In exchange for this minor offering to the legal gods (or demons), MS will *gain* a really substantial marketing coup...market penetration in a very young, eager and hungry market group..school children. (aside: I am sorry, I have this great image of RJ Reynolds handing out cigarettes at schools to settle one of the marketing class actions they have faced...) This is truly a win-win for MS...very little actual cost and a huge marketing upside.

    The entire idea behind class actions and/or punitive damages is the idea of *punishing* a corporation for wrongdoing at the corporate level. It is always a matter of ratios. As a percentage of income/wealth, a $100 speeding ticket *hurts* the recipient to a certain extent...as it should. Here, we are faced with a situation where MS will receive the equivalent of a $1 fine *and* win Man of the Year.

    If they are to be "punished" for corporate wrongdoing (rather well documented, at this point), then do so...make it meaningful and make it *hurt*. Otherwise, it is simply a cost of doing business and a cost that they have long demonstrated that they will willingly bear.


    Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, most do.
    - Bertrand Russell
  • by Telek ( 410366 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:16PM (#2591793) Homepage
    It's getting rediculous when you don't even bother to read the articles properly before posting the headlines, thus biasing people. You are far from an unbiased news source...

    $900m in software + 200,000 reconditioned computers + $90m in teacher training + $38m in technical support + $250m for the foundation + $160 to teach kids how to work with computers, guys, basic math.

    900 + 90 + 38 + 250 + (est $40m for the computers) + 160 = $1478m ... this is NOT EQUAL TO $1.1B.

    I watch all of the people here who complain without even reading the articles, and believing word-for-word what the editors post in the headlines and it makes me sick. You are a jouralist outlet that serves half a million pages a day, and you should be a lot more responsible than that.

    Let me also call this fact into light:

    The settlement proposal came from one of the lead plaintiffs' lawyers in the case

    Oh interesting, so it was the prosecution's idea to do this...

    and also:

    Estimates of the value of the settlement ranged from $1.1 billion to as much as $1.7 billion, one source said. "It's going to get money to the people that need it the most," this source said.

    And as I counted, the $1.7B is a lot closer to the value than the $1.1B, and this is also not counting the costs of actually figuring all of this stuff out for MS. And don't think that for each copy of windows handed out they don't have any costs either, they're not free once you consider everything into account (you add up all costs of developing and divide by the number of products made)... It's not going to cost them $900mil, but it will cost $400mil or so...

    I just get tired of people who hate Microsoft and blindly believe everything that they're told (partially because they want to believe), and yet are being completely hypocritical. We're in a capitialistic society ladies and gentlemen... In this society man exploits man... If you were in their shoes, can you honestly say that you wouldn't do things any differently?


    Having said all of that, yeah, they're being overly monopolistic, and yes, this is a rediculously small punishment for what they've been caught doing. I mean, not that $1.5B is a small chunk of change, that is a large chunk of money for any corporation, but they're not really being restricted hardcore from repeating the same "mistakes"/"crimes" in the future. And as anyone knows, the companies that survive don't do so because they're magnanimous, they just learn how to hide their mistakes better the next time.

    But then again, with the court's track record lately, could you honestly have expected anything different? (sigh)... Justice will have to be postponed for yet another day.
    • I read the article, and youre right about the math adding part. If its 1.1 or 1.7 or somewhere in between thats not the important part. read very closely. they are giving away windows XP and, get this, refurbished laptops. not new laptops, refurbished ones. Estimated dollar value of each $5-600. I dont know about you, but i dont know a used laptop in that price range that will run windows XP. Your point about the development costs of XP is valid, but only to a point. MS needs to sell y units of XP to break even, every unit sold after then is just the cost of duping and packaging. Out of the $100-300 MS gets from an XP sale, maybe $1-2 goes to actually producing it. Im sure they recouped the full cost of development already. Plus its an even sweeter deal for MS if windows is preinstalled. They dont have to make duplicate copies, the box makers do that, and some of them even throw in their own manuals. So everything is profit. Im quite certain that they have already recouped their initial development costs and are just rolling in dough now. This is a win-win scenario for MS. They look good, they dont have to pay any money, and the prosecuters get to say: See, we punished the big bad monopoly. I was unaware that punishments could be win-win. Usually they are win-lose or lose-lose. It would be like making Osama Bin Ladens punishement to be comunity service as a flight school instructor.
  • Better idea.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ogerman ( 136333 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:17PM (#2591806)
    Force Microsoft to donate $1.1 billion among the Free Software Foundation, the OpenOffice project, KDE and GNOME projects, the Linux kernel team, and various others. That'll pay all the significant Open Source developers out there for hmm.. at least the next 10 years.
  • by erat ( 2665 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:45PM (#2592033)
    Short version:

    Most of the people posting against the settlement know not what they say.

    Long version:

    Most of you seem to have this knee jerk reaction to anything with M-I-C-R-O-S-O-F-T printed anywhere within. I think MS has a monopoly. Wow, what a revelation. Whooda thunk MS would ever be accused of such a thing?

    Here's some info that I'd like some of you to consider before you flame me mercilessly and kill my karma:

    1) MS didn't sprinkle pixie dust on PC users and magically become a monopoly. You and I MADE them a monopoly. And don't give me bunk about "the OS that people saw growing up was Windows, so that was the only OS in the universe". Whatever. When I was in school, we had teletype terminals and IBM DOS machines. There was no MS monopoly back then. I'm in my mid 30's so it's not like I'm talking about the dark ages of computing.

    2) If you put Windows machines in schools, Apple will piss and moan about it. If you put Apple machines in schools, MS and everyone else will piss and moan about it. If you put Linux in schools, BSD folks will piss and moan about it. Face it, there is no OS on the planet that can go into schools that will get a 100% endorsement even within the free/open-source software world. Period.

    3) Let's see what's more benefitial: average PC users receive a check for the $20 determined to be the "damage" we sustained as a result of MS's monopolistic actions, or kids in poor neighborhoods/schools get access to training, hardware, and computer related education that they would not be given access to otherwise. Hmmm... Let's see... (If you have to honestly think about it, you need to work on being more human and less greedy.)

    4) I don't give half of a rat's ass if students learn to do word processing on Word instead of Abiword. I started off with DOS, then I moved to Windows, then I moved to Linux, and now I'm working with BSD and UNIX. I started off the same way these kids will start off, and despite all of that I'm not a Windows user. Gee, could it be possible that I had -- *GASP* -- freedom of choice? Reading comments posted here, you'd think that if MS puts Windows in classrooms that the people in those classes will nevereverEVER touch anything other than Windows. Get real, folks.

    5) Windows is -- on the whole -- easier to use than Linux, *BSD, or UNIX. I say that as someone using these latter OSes daily and the former OS almost never. I don't let my preferences cloud the issue or induce prejudice against Windows, though. I don't care if you're more familiar with the latter OSes. Windows is easier to deal with for newbies than any of them. And until developers start putting the end-user experience in front of developer coolness (take a hint, free/open-source developers), this will continue to be a true statement.

    5) Windows experience is more marketable right now than Linux/BSD/UNIX experience, and will continue to be that way for quite some time as far as I can tell. Unless companies completely ditch Windows and start over with a new OS (which will not happen, no matter how many op-ed pieces you read saying the opposite), it's going to be a long, long, LONG time before Linux/BSD/UNIX experience makes you more marketable on a global scale than Windows experience. And with the web services wave just about ready to rise, the OS people use will become less important than the browser it's running, so people will have less incentive to go through the IS/deployment/training nightmare associated with a company-wide OS switch.

    Flame away...
  • by lpp ( 115405 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @04:53PM (#2592082) Homepage Journal
    ...after being legally found a monopoly, accused of strongarming their way into markets and gaining marketshare by squeezing out competitors, as part of the proposed solution, Microsoft wishes to give away over a billion dollars worth of their software to the nation's poorest schools.

    And Apple (or other software vendors) can compete with this how? And this avoids further penetration of the educational software market exactly how? This prevents them from pushing other software vendors out of markets how? This avoids cyclical dependencies on their software precisely how?

    I want some of what the state AG's are smoking.

    Now, putting on my reality cap, I understand that to have to tell your voting public that you turned down the opportunity to have a one billion dollar infusion of software and computers into the poorest schools simply because you thought it would be wrong to let a company get away with something, and that overall, the people who are making money with the company will still make a lot of money with it after you "win", is something akin to political suicide. But it is still laughable.

    But then it could be just me.
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @05:03PM (#2592144) Journal
    That MS Put all the money into hardware and RedHat will provide endless updates of free software

    http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/011120/202744_1.html [yahoo.com]

  • by FreeMars ( 20478 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @05:28PM (#2592294) Homepage
    Microsoft is offering 200,000 used (a.k.a. "reconditioned") computers over the next 5 years. We know the software will cost them next to nothing; how much is the hardware worth?

    This Microsoft page [microsoft.com] suggests there are at least 40,000 computers on the main Microsoft campus (search for the first "40,000" on the page). Since they want employees to use their latest and greatest version of Windows, Microsoft needs to replace computers frequently. Old boxes are just too slow. Replace each of 40K computers once a year for 5 years -- how many old boxes do you need to dispose of?


    What a coincidence.

  • by Marvin_OScribbley ( 50553 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @06:28PM (#2592731) Homepage Journal
    Bill Gates' reaction to the settlement [yimg.com]

    Notice the poor innocent youth to his right...

  • Article on CNN (Score:3, Informative)

    by burtonator ( 70115 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @07:05PM (#2593068)
    Here is CNNs take of the whole thing.

    http://money.cnn.com/2001/11/20/technology/micro so ft/index.htm
  • My letter to NPR (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClarkEvans ( 102211 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @07:09PM (#2593096) Homepage
    NPR just had coverage of this on all things considered today. There they stated that it would cost Microsoft 1.1 billion. Here is my letter to them...

    Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 18:12:38 -0500
    From: "Clark C . Evans"
    To: atc@npr.org
    Subject: Incorrect Statement about Microsoft Settlement

    You mentioned the Microsoft settlement on your
    program this afternoon. And I'm afraid I heared
    two mis-representations:

    1. This program will cost Microsoft 1.1 Billion.

    FACT: This program will cost Microsoft $300 Million.

    The CD-ROMs and paper that the licenses
    for their "$800 million" of Microsoft
    software won't cost Microsoft more than
    a few thousand dollars.

    Further, since these schools are too
    poor to buy the software, you can't
    argue that it is a loss in revenue.

    FACT: Having Children learn to use Microsoft
    software, instead of open soruce
    alternatives (such as open office
    and linux) increases the value of their
    software; since more people are familar
    with it (the value of software is
    proportional to the user base). It's
    hard to buy new recruits.... costly

    Having thousands of children learn how
    to use Microsoft software "for free" is
    hugely valueable to Microsoft. This is
    worth more than $300 million alone...

    2. This money may be used to buy non-Microsoft software.

    FACT: The software licenses "retail value
    $800 million" are for Microsoft

    Perhaps some of the $300 million can
    be used to buy non-Microsoft software,
    but I doubt it.

    I'd like to mention that RedHat has an alternative [1]
    if Microsoft *really* wants to spend 1.1 Billion.

    1. Microsoft just buys the hardware instead.
    2. Open Source software is used (for free).

    I'm afraid that Microsoft's play is just a mechanism
    to extend their monopoly. It doesn't help anyone
    but Microsoft.

    Could you please air a correction?


    Clark Evans

    [1] http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/011120/202744_1.html
  • by szcx ( 81006 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2001 @07:21PM (#2593163)
    Red Hat should have been doing this since day one. The problem with Red Hat (as with most things related to Linux) is that they're purely reactive. Microsoft will remain number one until companies start doing things on their own initiative. How can you expect to lead if you're always one step behind of your competition.

    Red Hat's whole deal is free software, so why didn't they help out poor school districts a couple of years ago? Does anyone really think stunts like this are going to be enough to stop RHAT's downward spiral into dotcom obscurity?

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus