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States Filing Alternate Remedy Proposal for MS Anti-Trust Case 420

cbull writes: " reports that 9 states and the District of Columbia will be filing an alternate remedy proposal in the Microsoft case later today. This would close some of the loopholes, better define middleware, require Microsoft to continue Office development for Macintosh and to develop a version of Office for Linux, among other things." There's also a Cringely column about the case. Somehow the phrase "Microsoft Office for Linux" has gotten people all fired up. Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?
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States Filing Alternate Remedy Proposal for MS Anti-Trust Case

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  • by wo1verin3 ( 473094 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:28PM (#2673146) Homepage
    Why would we force them to make a product for Linux? We know it won't be open source, how will this help the community, a community built on ideals which Microsoft doesn't share.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:31PM (#2673174) Homepage Journal
    StarOffice and OpenOffice are simply not there at the moment. But I have at least one client who would switch *today* if there was a verstion of MS Office that just worked right. And several others who would follow them. So while I don't yes it would help the desktop market a lot. Of course the other thing I wish we had was a *good* terminal server client for Linux...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:34PM (#2673190)
    But if it persuades more of those in the corporate world to move to Linux, this might end up helping to destroy the MS hegemony, while we concentrate on developing an alternative to Office that is acceptable to them.
  • NO..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:34PM (#2673191) Journal
    but what would be nice was FILE TYPE standards for say 5 years. Give someone else a chance to break into the market. With 5 years lead time a big enough customer base would develop to make M$ think twice about arbitrarily changing it and forcing upgrade, there-by losing LOTS of customers.
  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bert Peers ( 120166 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:34PM (#2673193) Homepage
    So they have a monopoly on Windows, and for punishment, they should really be able to extend that monopoly to other OSes ?


    I suppose the judges' next call will be that DeCSS should really be available on Windows, and be able to decrypt the latest WMF too.

  • by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:39PM (#2673242) Homepage
    Here's an interesting article on Reason [] on antitrust workings through the ages. It gives me sort of a different perspective on MS's antitrust woes.

    I think the solution to the MS problem is to regulate their real problem behavior. Don't let them do illegal things. Don't let them sign crazy exclusive deals. Don't let them control (down to a single icon) exactly what's installed on a machine.

    Making MS release Office for Linux is a step down the wrong road. And what do you do when it's crappy? Force them to make it better?
  • by SirDrinksAlot ( 226001 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:41PM (#2673262) Journal
    Damn straight, they'll distribute their own version of linux to work with Linux MS Office.
    $700 for the package!
  • One Remedy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Euphonious Coward ( 189818 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:50PM (#2673320)
    There's only one remedy I'd like to see: take them at their word when they say they don't want any government interference in their business. More precisely: declare a five-year vacation on any enforcement of Microsoft's contracts and copyrights. That is, for five years any civil case brought by MS in a U.S. court bearing on copyright or contract performance is automatically dismissed. (Of course others would still be able to sue MS.)

    No administration, no loopholes.

    The real question is, when do we start trying MS executives for perjury?

  • MS Office for Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigBir3d ( 454486 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:06PM (#2673427) Journal
    There is only one really good/important reason to want it.

    Expand the number of potential desktop users of Linux.

    If MS Office is available, that is one less "hurdle" for Linux to overcome to become a widely accepted standard (in terms of the general uninformed public).

    The goal should be to have at least three choices without hindering anyones compatability:

    1. Linux
    2. Mac
    3. Windows
  • by bwalling ( 195998 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:08PM (#2673443) Homepage
    I think this is a key point, because MS would deliberately submarine the project. They would release a buggy, crippled product and blame the platform. MS carries a lot of weight with public opinion, so that would just end up being bad for whatever platform they did that to.
  • Noooooo... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pinkpineapple ( 173261 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:11PM (#2673476) Homepage
    That's not a good idea [having MS developing Linux software]. Let's open the file format fro MS office to help beneficiate other products like Star Office or better Open Office and forbid the beast to change and hide things under to break the competition.

    No flame here but... I heard from some people that when a top product marketing guy at Microsoft was asked to justify for the fact that IE didn't support Java in its browser under MacOS X very well (an understatement as it was buggy as hell. The support was turned on officially months after IE and OS X shipped and today, it's still broken for many applets), his reply was that Microsoft had assigned "CLASS C" engineers to do the task. Can you imagine what the level of the programmers assigned to developing Office on Linux would be and what the quality delivered would look like? And who do you think would benefit from the end result? It's like asking the German army during WWII to fight Nazism. Who's the moron who came up with this idea again?

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:30PM (#2673604) Homepage
    I don't think the comments to the DOJ necessarily needs to be internally consistent. Let me suggest that Slashdot on behalf of its readers submit the highest ranked proposals. Do it using the same format that is being done when questions to interesting people is being solicited. That way at least the major concerns of this community is on record.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:36PM (#2673643) Homepage Journal
    I for one would welcome MS Office for Linux. There's absolutely no way I'd use it myself, but think of the possibilities:
    • Serve up MS Office to X-based thin clients, without the need for Terminal Server licensing and/or Citrix licensing, both which consume huge amounts of money.
    • Users of MS Office for Linux are using Linux!!! Office on Linux is one step away from Microsoft.
    • Finally, and I think this is important ... people would use it, and as a result it would force Microsoft to realize that Linux has desktop potential. Even if they wanted to kill the product later on, they wouldn't be able to do it easily, because the bean counters would say "Hey, this product is selling very well, why stop it?"
    Remember, with no platform advantage, Microsoft has to play fair in the Linux world. Let them come. Let them play on the level playing field. The sooner this happens, the sooner the world can abandon Windows.
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Friday December 07, 2001 @08:07PM (#2673822) Homepage
    "How will this help the community"?!?

    Tell me how it will *hurt* the community!

    You end up with the one application that keeps everyone tied to Windows. Julee down in clerical doesn't give a rat's ass what OS she's using: she doesn't use an OS, she uses software applications -- namely, Word and Excel.

    This means the boss can swing to Linux without having to retrain her. His investment in her skills, which have taken years to develop, aren't going to get thrown out the window. By gosh, maybe he'll be a little amenable to switching to Linux now!

    Quit trying to be isolationist. That's the game Microsoft plays. Play bigger: encourage everyone to come to Linux.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2001 @08:57PM (#2674063) Homepage
    .. to continue developing Office for Macs ? I don't see how they could legally enforce this. "M$ is required by law to allocate $FOO person-hours of time for Mac development". I don't know the details, but it's easy to say that M$ would produce a mediocre product just to keep the DoJ off their back. "Look Uncle, we took Wordpad and made a prettier icon, renamed it MacWord.exe, and sold it for 199$. Now fuck off."
  • This is ridiculous. I am surprised that so many slashdot readers agree with the idea of a court FORCING a software company to develop a program.

    All software developers who read slashdot, how would you react if you were FORCED to make your program do something, even if you are guilty somewhere ?

    And even if it was to be done, why only linux ? Why not for AIX, Amoeba, AtheOS, BeOS, ... ok I stop here, you see the point.

    As much as I hate m$, I would never stand for that idea.

    The motivation is right anyway : if I have to use office, I have to use windows or mac. This situation is anti-competitive for the OSes that do not run office. But instead of FORCING m$ to MAKE office for linux, I think the solution is FORCING m$ to OPEN the windows APIs or I don't know what so that ANY m$ program can run on linux with a proper API translator or something.

    the same way you can run linux on an INTEL or AMD cpu with an IBM or QUANTUM hard-drive, you should be able to run a windows program on ANY os (provided of course that the os developers have coded an interface or something, which can be a terrible task).
  • by sholton ( 85051 ) on Saturday December 08, 2001 @12:25AM (#2674661)
    Office for Linux will never happen, here's a few of the reasons why:

    1. Why Linux? Why not also BSD, AUX, Be, etc?
    2. Which Linux? x86 obviously, but what about PPC? If I port Linux to the X-Box, does M$ have to support that platform as well?

    If you want to see what an "Office for Linux" would look like, just remember what Office for Mac looked like back when M$ considered Apple to be it's biggest competitor.

    As M$ is so fond of pointing out, you can't separate the application from the OS in the windows world. That's why most IT departments don't consider the Macintosh as a viable business platform: not because the apps aren't there, but because it's not Windows:
    If a spreadsheet includes VB macros, it won't be usable by Macintosh users.
    If a document uses Windows-only fonts, you know there'll be complaints from Mac users about an unreadable document.
    Do you really want to be in front of a client presenting someone else's Powerpoint package and just hoping that there weren't and incompatibilities hiding in there to make you look like a fool?
    And what rational business would choose to support an application on two (or more) different platforms when they could choose one instead; especially if one of them is directly profitable to them, and the other might just put them out of business?

    The only reason M$ would release something called "Office for " would be for strategic advantage of their Windows product by proving the other platform isn't viable, or to maintain the illusion that they haven't got an absolute monopoly.

    Network Effects: That's what Judge Jackson understood, that's why he was so pissed that he wanted to get the word out, and that's why he demanded that M$ be broken up. Until the network effects (including API's, File formats, application/os layering, and distribution channels) are all addressed, and a level playing field established, there cannot be an effective remedy.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.