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Microsoft

Cringely On Microsoft Settlement 234

sandalwood writes: "Robert X Cringley has a new article about the proposed settlement in the Microsoft antitrust case. He includes information on where to write to make your views known (the 'proposed Final Judgement' accepts comments from the public for a period of 60 days after it's been published)."
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Cringely On Microsoft Settlement

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  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday December 09, 2001 @04:50PM (#2679316)
    Hey, I'd think that being an editor on slashdot would require that you, well, you know - read the site.

    Since we already got this link two days ago, do you really think we need it again? [slashdot.org]

    • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <[gro.daetsriek] [ta] [todhsals]> on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:04PM (#2679369) Homepage

      The parent to this is NOT a troll, but his comments, though valid, are useless. I am thoughouly convinced that not only do none of the slashdot editors read any of the comments posted to the stories (otherwise they woluld have to take notice to the many duplicate story postings we point out), but they don't even frequent their own site. The story duplication is getting insanely ridiculous. For every duplicate story, a good one gets rejected. How can we get THROUGH to these guys? PAY ATTENTION TO THE SITE YOU WORK FOR! God, and people want me to pay for a subscription for this???

      • by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:26PM (#2679434) Homepage Journal
        A red flag should go off when a Slashdot poster, or comment acceptor chooses a text with a link identical to one in an earlier story within a certain time period. Sort of a "Warning: Are you sure this hasn't been posted before? Check the story below to be sure this isn't a duplicate." message.

        Yes, even the kings of slashdot could benefit from idiot-proof software.
        • A red flag should go off when a Slashdot poster, or comment acceptor chooses a text with a link identical to one in an earlier story within a certain time period. Sort of a "Warning: Are you sure this hasn't been posted before? Check the story below to be sure this isn't a duplicate." message

          I think a week or two would be adequate. Although to implement it would possibly be a pain because you would need a seperate table for both for Stories and links. I could see it in a three point zero release, however.

          Translation: Not this week, anyhow.

      • No doubt. Every other day there is a story that was duplicated. Its really too bad. I am sure that running Slashdot as long as Taco and Hemos have, they have become bored. I am bet they feel very let down that they sold their baby to VA Research->VA Linux->VA Software (VA Slashdot next?). Victims of the dot bomb.

        Oh well, I now have taken to reading the Trolls. They are getting more creative everyday.

      • The exasperating thing is that each editor might post what, a story or two a day? What's so hard about clicking on older stuff [slashdot.org], and doing a quick search for a keyword? It'll what, add 30 seconds to your workday?
      • You want them to read this site?!?

        You got to be kidding

        What idiot would want to read this crap?
    • by krmt ( 91422 ) <(therefrmhere) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:36PM (#2679461) Homepage
      I bet that they do read the site, but they have some hidden agenda against PBS.

      PBS IT Guy 1: Oh no! Slashdot linked to us again!

      PBS IT Guy 2: Those bastards! The last Slashdot effect nearly killed us! What'll we do boss?

      PBS IT Guy 1: We pray they realize it's a duplicate story son. We pray...

      CmdrTaco: Good Evening Gentlemen etc etc etc
  • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @04:56PM (#2679333) Homepage Journal

    A darned good idea (imho) would be to force Microsoft to publish their APIs, and restrict them from anti-competitive practices. IBM was doing this 20 years ago in the mainframe world and the European Union slapped them down hard for it.

    It's mentioned in this article on gnu.org [gnu.org], but one of the links to the settlement details (the most important part) is broken, the new location for ibm1984ec.html is here [cptech.org].

    • by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:57PM (#2679527) Journal
      You don't really want to know Microsoft API's, unless you are writing code to interoperate with Microsoft software. This is detrimental to Microsoft in the same way compelling Microsoft to install their software at thousands of elementary schools is detrimental to Microsoft. It just encourages people to use more Microsoft products.

      Better to demand they publish their file formats and networking protocols.
      • I wasn't comprehensive enough in my statement there, I agree that all three (APIs, file formats, networking protocols) should be published.

      • demand they publish their file formats and networking protocols.

        The file formats and networking protocols need to not only be published but also be free for anyone to use. Remember the kerfuffle about the "undocumented" portion of Microsoft's Kerobos token authentication. They did indeed "publish" that (evenutally) but hung a license on it such that any use of the information was not possible.

        Be careful what you wish for, as the saying goes. "Here is the protocol specification, but if you actually use it for anythng we'll sue you" isn't of much value and could actually be detrimental to someone who's trying to write a compatible interface. "Prove you didn't use our published spec, or we'll sue you."
        • Well, if their litigation were to be successful, they'd have to (a) prove that you used the specification and (b) prove that you accetped the terms of the "license". Remember, folks, you don't need a license to read published works. You only need the license if you want to copy and distribute said works.

          Anyway, FWIW, here [anti-dmca.org] is my reply to their request for comments (Cced to the dmca_discuss mailing list). Not that they'll take any notice of me, because I'm not a US citizen - but what the hell.

      • I find it just increadable that MS is found guilty of anti-competative practices for among other things giving away software at no cost, and the punishment includes giving away software at no cost!

        Realy smart, because you gave away your software, placing your stuff on almost every desktop in the world We'll punish you by letting you teach hundreds of thousands of school kids to use your software. Hell let's take it farther, we'll make a law that if a drug dealer is caught giving free drugs to school kids to get them hooked, the punishment is to take a way the drugs and give them to the school kids for free!

        I guess that this is the difference between an air-head and a vacuume-packed head! They just don't get it do they.
    • A darned good idea (imho) would be to force Microsoft to publish their APIs, and restrict them from anti-competitive practices.

      No, that is precisely the sort of thing MS wants. Publishing the APIs merely keeps people tied into the MS operating system world. It does nothing to address the Barrier To Entry issue on other platforms.

      I am considering what sort of Public Comment form to submit to the court. The only thing I can think of that will address the Barrier To Entry issue is to prohibit MS from releasing any middleware product that competes with a product that has previously been subjected to illegal anticompetitive pressure by MS. As far as I can tell, the only solution is to force MS to completely withdraw Microsoft Media Player, Internet Explorer, and Passport. Completely prohibit them from the market. Let Quicktime/Real, Netscape/etc, and Kerberos continue without any MS competition. MS must not be allowed to use the power and the cash hoard it accumulated in its OS monopoly to move into new areas. Deny them the fruits of their illegal efforts.
      • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @07:25PM (#2679769) Homepage Journal

        I mentioned in my previous reply [slashdot.org] that I wasn't comprehensive enough in what I said there. I agree with you that they should have to publish formats / etc to keep out the unfair barrier to entry on other platforms.

        However I must disagree that MS Media Player, IE, and Passport are illegal efforts. I am wholly in favor of monetarily penalizing the living daylights out of the bastards to account for unfair business practices. But a lot of Microsoft's software is where it is because it really is better than the competition.

        What CODEC did the pirates, who could choose any one they want to swap pirate video, choose to use? Quicktime Sorenson? RealMedia? No, Media Player.

        Taken to the ludicrous extreme, you could construe Microsoft's "illegal product tying" of WordPad / Calc / Paint / CHKDSK as unfair competition against Wordperfect / Mathematica / Photoshop / Norton Disk Doctor.

        Hate Microsoft for the right reasons. The decent software they write isn't one of them. (wooo, will I ever be modded down for this one.)

        • I totally agree with you're saying except


          What CODEC did the pirates, who could choose any one they want to swap pirate video, choose to use? Quicktime Sorenson? RealMedia? No, Media Player.


          media player isnt a codec, divx is, although media player is one of the few players that doesnt have a problem with using 3rd party codecs to play stuff.

        • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @02:16AM (#2680711)
          Now you're treating the issue like Microsoft defines it, which is the same blindness that lost them the Antitrust lawsuit in the first place. It's not a matter "freedom to innovate" or of whether bundling apps like IE or WMP is illegal, it is a matter of those products benefitting from previous illegal anticompetitive actions. For example, MS clearly took illegal action against Apple on media players (the "knife the baby" incident). It is only fair that they get their baby knifed in return.
      • This is rediculous. How would it be good for the consumer to remove the best web browser from the market? ( I think it it is fair claim that IE is the best, even though it is not cross platform) Let's not forget that the whole point of anti-trust laws are to protect consumers from big bad companies selling inferior prodeucts for high proces, not giving out good products for free. I find the whole notion that we should punish MS for 20 of success in the software world rediculous. Yes we should curb some of their business practices, BUT I think it is undeniable that they have put out good products such as IE, Office and their hardware.


        Of course it would be stupid to deny that MS software has flaws, but in most cases I believe the better product won, the MS product.


        So much for karma...

        • Let's not forget that the whole point of anti-trust laws are to protect consumers from big bad companies selling inferior prodeucts for high proces, not giving out good products for free.

          Not quite accurate. The point is to prevent companies with a monopoly from using it to quash competition and innovation -- especially in new markets. It's actually a very common practice to use cross-subsidization to quash the competition.. Use the profits from the monopoly side of things to sell a product at a price below what the incomming competition can sell their product for.

          Giving a product away for free -- actually forcing it down the throats of consumers whether they want it or not -- is pretty much the ultimate in price undercutting.

          Once you've run the competition out of town by undercutting them, then you can jack the prices and milk consumers. The price gouging is also a secondary to the fact that consumers then have no effective choice.

          For people who try and claim that Netscape was giving away their browser -- they weren't. They were only giving it away to home users and non-commercial interests. Companies were asked to pay for it. Microsoft then came in and:

          • Put their product on every windows box sold
          • pretty much made it illegal for VARs to remove the IE icon from the desktop on sold machines.
          • (did they make it illegal to ship boxes with the Netscape Icon on the desktop?)
          • then they used their marketing and financial clout to get exclusionary distribution deals with the major distribution sources for Netscape.
          The end result is that Netscape got trashed, and most consumers are now barely aware that they have a choice beyond IE.
          • Once you've run the competition out of town by undercutting them, then you can jack the prices and milk consumers. The price gouging is also a secondary to the fact that consumers then have no effective choice.

            They consumers do have a choice, they can choose to not purchase the product. I myself have often chosen not to purchase Microsoft products based on price.

            No consumer will pay a price for a good greater than its value to the consumer. It may mean there is a shift in profit margins from the software consumer to the software producer, but there will still be profits made by the consumer. "Price Gouging" is IMPOSSIBLE - it is just that the true value of items change. A snow shovel is much more valuable in a snow storm than in summer.

            Moreover, the price will always remain "fair enough" to keep consumers coming back to purchase the product. If Microsoft started charging $1 million for Windows, their market share would pretty much dry up. It wasn't all that long ago in human history that operating systems cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

            Obviously, the current price of Microsoft products is "fair," given the incredible demand for them. Microsoft products provide a significant amount of value add for businesses.

            Due to competitive pressures in the marketplace (despite Microsoft's "monopoly"), Microsoft products have become much more stable in recent years. If there were no significant competitive pressure, why would Microsoft have turned to NT micro-kernel technology? They could still have Win 3.1, if it wasn't for MacOS and Unixes.

            Now anyone who TRUSTS Microsoft or believes in their NICENESS is a nut. But that doesn't mean we need to have government regulation of them beyond REAL crimes like fraud, environmental damage, etc.

            Producing popular software that provides for a dominant platform is obviously good, or else everyone on the planet would be running their own flavor of Unix, right?

            I remember back in the days of 8-bit PCs, the incredible balkanization of Atari/Apple/Commodore products made it nearly impossible to produce one program to run in every business and home.

            BTW, if we want to talk about DUMPING, what about the companies making Linux available FOR FREE? Talk about your PREDITORY PRICING examples. We all know that the real cost to Red Hat of creating a distribution and running an ftp server is greater $0.00, yet they make Red Hat Linux available for $0.00. Those who believe in monopoly theory would clearly label this a preditory attempt to restrain the trade of Microsoft...
      • by DABANSHEE ( 154661 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @07:29PM (#2679783)
        As part of the enforcement/settlement a trust, funded by MS, should be created that's overseen by an independent board.

        MS must then release all its OS source to this board. Then the board should finance Win32 API (including Active X & Direct X) ports to the other X86 OSes, such as BeOS, Linux, Sco/Caldera Unix, BSD, OS/2, Solaris, QNX, etc. So those OSes could be compatible with W32 apps without emulation (a la WINE 'n Odin)

        Also MS must not be allowed to release any of its application software (Office, Works, Encarta, 'Empires', etc) untill they bring out native BeOS, OS/2, Mac & Linux ports of those apps (the Linux port must be designed for transparent recompiling to other nixes, such as Caldera Unix, Solaris 'n QNX). They must be tested by the previously mentioned trustee before release.

        To avoid claims that this would make thing too complicated for stockists & retailers, make MS retail all ports of each application together in the same box - like BeOS 'retail' has both the X86 & PPC ports bundled together, or like the way Claris works had both the Mac Classic & W16 ports bundled together (with 'Mac & Windows compatible' printed on the box) or like the way the new Gobe office suite has both the BeOS, W32 & Linux ports bundled together complete with a cross port license. MS could then have 'compatible with Windows, Macintosh, OS/2, BeOS & Linux' stickers on their boxed applications, so its spelled out to the customers that they can be used with all 4 of those OSes.

        I bet within a year MS would have developed a development API for itself for developing applications that transparently port them across to X86 W32, X86 OS/2, X86 BeOS, X86 Linux & the PPC Mac.

        God can you imagine how Gates 'n co would react if the court came out with a judgement like this.....LOL
    • Competition isn't so much from large corporations, but rather from 2 guys in a garage. Look Linux and other open source projects, they come from individual efforts.

      The most dangerous guy in the world is one with computer access, and an ability to write a killer app, like the original MS basic. That is what Bill Gates is worried about.

      The API's need to be available to anyone with USD $50 at a bookstore.
  • Not a chance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 09, 2001 @04:59PM (#2679343)
    Posting AC due to paranoia 8S

    MSFT is lobbying HARD on this to get this settlement through cause they know they will come out smelling like roses in the end, but with the growing awareness of the language of the settlement, it seems highly unlikely that it will breeze through. If enough people like /.'ers comment to the DoJ (read, take action and not just wish you could) about this it will crash and burn like a corrupt copy of Windows 95. Read the Article, it does have some instructions at on where to go from here for the commonfolk. Also, a non-partisan board is a Good Thing(tm) in this whole mess.

    Then again, I am just preaching to the choir on this, right?
  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:04PM (#2679367) Homepage
    That Microsoft says in the trial that open source packages such as Linux, BSD, Apache, Sendmail and Perl are proof that it has no monopoly in the software industry. However if there is injury to the industry found by the Justice Dept. and the courts in the Microsoft case, that these open source products are not considered injured by that monopoly.

    Is this legal FUD practiced by both sides of this case?

    My solution? Require Microsoft to develop its own technology without outside help for 5 years. They can't acquire technology, buy companies or lease patents. See how long they last...

    • My solution? Require Microsoft to develop its own technology without outside help for 5 years. They can't acquire technology, buy companies or lease patents. See how long they last...

      But to be effective, wouldn't it also require a hiring freeze?

  • by Sarcasmooo! ( 267601 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:06PM (#2679374)
    Thought some people might wanna see one of the many related links I have scattered around from rejected stories and junk:

    Rep. Ed Markey's letter to John Ashcroft [house.gov] (pdf) in opposition to the settlement.
  • steve satchell? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by fred ugly ( 125371 )
    why not rms? he would be "tough but fair" in enforcing msft's deal, right?
  • by J.C.B. ( 141141 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:35PM (#2679459) Homepage
    read about it here. [macworld.com]

    I saw this today and it had a very interesting tidbit of information. In the settlement, Microsoft is valuing the software part at $840 million. Apple contends that actual cost of that software would be more like $1 million and only 5%-6% of the value of the settlement would be able to be used to buy non-Microsoft technology.
  • What I wrote: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) <ianb&colorstudy,com> on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:37PM (#2679464) Homepage
    Please, write in with your own thoughts and concerns on the settlement: microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov [mailto] -- this settlement is supposed to be in support of the American People, not business interests. Microsoft was found guilty of harming American consumers, don't let the government forget that it's consumers that need redress, not businesses. I don't really know how the process works, but simply writing in a very short, well-reasoned comment is probably quite beneficial if you don't want to write something longer. Here's what I wrote:

    ------------
    To: microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov
    Subject: Micosoft Settlement

    The manner in which APIs would be revealed are limiting to Microsoft's main competitor: Free and Open Source Software ("Free" defined as "without restriction" not "free of cost").

    This software is created largely by individuals in informal and generally noncommercial cooperation. This is a very significant movement, and provides great potential benefits for American consumers. I think that makes such Free and Open Source Software *the* essential beneficiary of the ruling against Microsoft. This case was not a question of whether businesses were harmed by the monopoly, but rather consumers. It is essential that this pro-consumer movement be helped by the settlement. Instead they speficially discriminated against by the settlement.

    Under provisions to release the API of Microsoft products, Microsoft is given discretion as to who they will release information: namely, "viable businesses", with Microsoft being able to interpret that as they wish.

    I am personally involved in many projects that have the potential to benefit consumers, but are not businesses of any sort, rather a conglomeration of individual developers. I would expect that these groups will be excluded under this settlement.

    Instead of this model, APIs should be made fully public. Individuals, in some manner, should be able to ask questions of Microsoft regarding these APIs, and have them answered publically. If it seems too difficult to allow any individual to ask such a question, an electronic petition process could be used instead, as long as a group of individuals can have the same weight as a commercial organization.

    It is essential that the API information be made public. If it is hindered by any sort of NDA it will be *absolutely useless* to Free/Open Source software projects. We have formed a legal and social structure where we do not have the ability to keep pieces of our code private. This process must be respected by the settlement, as it forms the most serious competition for Microsoft, and is of large benefit to consumers.

    It is also essential that non-commercial groups of individuals be able to access API documentation, and have questions resolved by Microsoft. In general, it is dangerous to allow Microsoft to have discretion on any aspect of this manner, as they can use that to further punish their most stringent competitors as they have done so many times in the past.

    It is also dangerous to allow them discretion on security issues. While it is acceptable that they be allowed a short, private period to resolve security issues before making them public, all aspects of their systems must be made public. It is all too easy to add security aspects to nearly any portion of a system. It is even potentially a good thing that they add security at many parts of their system. However, they should not need to be private about their security measures to ensure the effectiveness of that security. The Free/Open Source communities have created large amounts of software that is secure while being open. Microsoft should do the same. This process is completely possible, and has been demonstrated over and over for as long as computer security has existed.

  • by hbo ( 62590 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @05:50PM (#2679504) Homepage


    Section III(J)(2) reads:

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

    So, that does indeed seem to give MS the right to stonewall Free Software projects like Samba, but only on security APIs. However, section III (D) reads:

    D. Starting at the earlier of the release of Service Pack 1 for Windows XP or 12 months after the submission of this Final Judgment to the Court, Microsoft shall disclose to ISVs, IHVs, IAPs, ICPs, and OEMs, for the sole purpose of interoperating with a Windows Operating System Product, via the Microsoft Developer Network ("MSDN") or similar mechanisms, the APIs and related Documentation that are used by Microsoft Middleware to interoperate with a Windows Operating System Product. In the case of a new major version of Microsoft Middleware, the disclosures required by this Section III.D shall occur no later than the last major beta test release of that Microsoft Middleware. In the case of a new version of a Windows Operating System Product, the obligations imposed by this Section III.D shall occur in a Timely Manner.

    And "ISV" is defined in VI (I) as:

    "ISV" means an entity other than Microsoft that is engaged in the development or marketing of software products.


    The 'or' doesn't seem to leave much room for MS to define who the section applies to.
  • by kawaichan ( 527006 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @06:06PM (#2679556) Homepage
    MS had already got off with the damn anti-trust case, now those greedy bastards want to even push further.

    What they are basically are doing is to kill off Apple and pay fine using their own software. it's like printing money to pay for your stuff.

    This time, MS had gone way too far, they shall pay dearly for this.
  • by ChicagoFan ( 125489 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @07:08PM (#2679720)
    The thing is that if the DOJ just came out and admitted, "We're letting Microsoft off the hook completely in exchange for them giving us the ability to spy on terrorists for national security reasons.", most Americans would be all for it. The DOJ shouldn't be hiding this fact; they should be advertising it as a feature. That will win them all the public support they could want.

    Perhaps the DOJ needs to borrow Microsoft's PR spin doctor folks.

    &lt /cynic >

    ChicagoFan

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

    by Colz Grigor ( 126123 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @07:17PM (#2679752) Homepage
    Cringely's new article comes out every Thursday at the I, Cringely [pbs.org] website.

    You can add an automatic link to the newest article from your Slashdot Homepage Preferences [slashdot.org]. Scroll down to the Customize Slashboxes tab and add I, Cringely.

    My proposal is this: rather than having to submit a story about Cringely's latest article (as is done every week) in order for the article to receive acceptance by a Slashdot editor in order for it to become a story and receive a Slashdot forum, why not just have an automatic forum placed at the bottom of the I, Cringely slashbox? Every Thursday, a new forum is created for the new article, and there's no need to submit the story to the editors and wait until Sunday to post our comments. Kind of like the way the Slashdot Poll is handled.

    ::Colz Grigor

    --
  • My Letter (Score:4, Informative)

    by hbo ( 62590 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @08:19PM (#2679895) Homepage



    I am a Computer Systems Administrator with 16 years professional
    experience. I write with concern over the revised proposed Final
    Judgment of United States v. Microsoft. In particular, I am concerned
    with the language of section III(J)(2) of the revised proposed final
    Judgment which reads:

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

    Some background regarding my experience with Microsoft software will help
    to clarify my concerns with this language.

    For the first five years of my career, I used first the VMS, then the
    Unix operating systems exclusively. Microsoft's DOS and Windows
    operating systems were not considered by most of my customers
    (Scientists and graduate students at the Physics Department of UCSB)
    to be suitable for their purposes. In 1991, I got a new job at a
    commercial company, Octel Communications in Milpitas California,
    supporting their engineers. At Octel, Microsoft's dominance of the
    market for PC operating systems was well under way. The engineers
    mostly used Unix (Sun's version) but the rest of the company used DOS
    and Windows 3.11. For me, as a Unix Systems Administrator, this posed
    an immediate problem. The Windows systems were networked together
    using a Microsoft protocol called SMB. The details of this protocol
    were partly available, and partly kept secret (or at least not
    published) by Microsoft. This meant that resources on the Windows
    network, such as disks and printers, were unavailable to users on the
    Unix network, and vice-versa. This was sub-optimal in a number of
    ways. It led to situations in which workgroups would have two
    printers, on each for Windows and Unix. Files would be shared using
    floppy disks. Searching for a solution, I found a wonderful software
    package on the Internet called Samba. This software, written by clever
    programmer in Australia, named Andrew Tridgell, implemented
    communications between the incompatible Unix and Windows worlds. Using
    Samba, I could make my Unix computers and disks available to Windows
    users. I could also make Windows printers available to Unix
    users. Getting at Windows files from Unix was less well supported, but
    it was possible. This was OK because at that time the Windows boxes
    tended to be desktop machines, whereas the Unix computers were
    generally larger server boxes. This meant most of the disk space we
    wanted to share was on Unix, and Samba let us do that very well.

    Two points about Samba are relevant in my concern over the language cited
    in my first paragraph. First, since the SMB protocol in use on Windows 3.11
    differed in important details from the various published specifications,
    Andrew Tridgell had to "reverse engineer" the protocol. (When he started
    he didn't even know there were any published specs. By the time he got
    his hands on them, he had implemented enough on his own to know that certain
    details were wrong or missing.) This may have been due to a desire by
    Microsoft to keep the details of their implementation secret or commercial
    advantage. Most Finance departments in industry look askance at duplicating
    resources like printers across an entire organization. At Octel, there
    was pressure from Finance to consolidate the computing platforms in use
    due to the added expense. Since Finance used Windows, that was the platform
    they wanted to standardize on. The second point about Samba is it was developed
    by volunteers, and given away for free on the Internet. This model of software
    distribution is now more familiar, (It goes by various labels, depending on
    who is describing it and on what software license is in use. "Free Software"
    and "Open Source Software" are two popular labels. Based on its license, the
    former is the proper label for Samba.) but it was novel in the commercial
    world in 1991.

    Which brings me finally back to the language of Section III(J)(2) of
    the revised proposed final Judgment reproduced above. One of the
    several criteria for which "No provision of this Final judgment
    shall ... Prevent Microsoft from conditioning any license ..." for its
    security related APIs to a "person or entity" is that the entity " meets
    reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for
    certifying the authenticity and viability of its business..." (d).
    The problem with this clause as it relates to the current discussion is that
    Samba, as related above, does not have a "viable business." Samba is
    given away for free by volunteers. It is nonetheless a critical piece of
    software in ensuring that computers running Microsoft's OS "play nice" with
    rival Operating Systems. If Microsoft is allowed, at its sole discretion,
    to withhold APIs from entities it deems to not have a "viable business,"
    there is a real danger Microsoft will do so for projects, like Samba,
    that tend to soften the power of Microsoft's monopoly in the market for
    PC operating systems. The quoted section limits this clause to APIs
    ".. related to anti-piracy systems, anti-virus technologies, license
    enforcement mechanisms, authentication/authorization security, or third party
    intellectual property protection mechanisms." However this limitation doesn't
    rescue Samba, which must use "authentication/authorization security" mechanisms
    to access resources on networks running Microsoft's software.

    Based on this concern, I strongly urge you to amend the language in the
    Final Judgment to place the decision in the hands of the Technical Committee
    set up under section IV (B) of the Final Judgment, rather than Microsoft's

    Thank you for your attention,
  • How does this settlement help Be's stockholders? Microsoft was FOUND GUILTY of ILLEGALLY controlling the market - resulting in Be going out of business and Microsoft having, is it $26 or $36, BILLION in the bank.

    And the BIGGEST COST of some computers now is the cost of Windows. What about some penalty to be used to compensate all of us who have paid so much money to Microsoft because of this ILLEGAL monopoly?

    And they used this ILLEGAL monopoly to force us all into using their desktop applications, which now cost about FOUR TIMES what the would cost if there was competition.

    What about compensating everyone who has had to fork over extra cash to pay for their products?

    And what about the companies that had competing products? What about compensating them?
    • Oh, goody, another anti-MS rant.

      How does this settlement help Be's stockholders? Microsoft was FOUND GUILTY of ILLEGALLY controlling the market - resulting in Be going out of business and Microsoft having, is it $26 or $36, BILLION in the bank.

      Correlation != causation. If I weren't using Windows, I certainly wouldn't be using Be - nor would many others. How dare MS actually allow a competing company to go out of business? They should have floated Be a loan, to keep them around, because as we all know businesses like to have competition!

      And the BIGGEST COST of some computers now is the cost of Windows. What about some penalty to be used to compensate all of us who have paid so much money to Microsoft because of this ILLEGAL monopoly?

      I'm sorry to say this, but if you can't figure out how to acquire a computer without Windows on it, all it takes is a trip to your local library or to your local geek teenager's house to learn how to build a computer. Most people who buy computers with Windows preinstalled - WANT a computer with Windows preinstalled. They don't want to have to fuss with "what operating system should I use?" or "how is Debian different from Redhat?" They want to turn the computer on, type their letters to their families in Word, get on AOL, or play Half-life.

      Not to mention that Microsoft, like any other company in the world, should be free to sell their product for whatever they want. This "Microsoft is a monopoly" stuff - despite the judgment of the court - is crap. They didn't count Macs, didn't count servers, and this was a few years ago, before the rise of linux. Basically, all they said was "Microsoft has a monopoly on the operating systems of all computers with Microsoft operating systems on them." If Microsoft's product is priced too high, people won't buy it. Really, they won't. (They'll probably just pirate it - even XP isn't pirate-proof.)

      And they used this ILLEGAL monopoly to force us all into using their desktop applications, which now cost about FOUR TIMES what the would cost if there was competition.

      Do you have any documentation here, any proof that we'd be paying 1/4 of the current costs for their applications? Was this a proven fact in court proceedings? How do we know that all applications of similar quality would not be priced just as high? Do you have some kind of "market clairvoyance" we're not aware of? And if so, can you give me stock tips?

      What about compensating everyone who has had to fork over extra cash to pay for their products?

      Define "had to." Did MS put a gun to your head and say "You have to buy Windows"? Were there not options - albeit a bit more difficult - to buy an OS-less machine? You have not been forced into anything - even the fact that you own a computer is YOUR CHOICE. Choosing to use MS products may have been the wiser thing for you to do, but you can't blame them for being the smarter choice.

      And what about the companies that had competing products? What about compensating them?

      Compensating them for what? Going out of business? Not being good at competing? Why does MS owe it to every competitor they have now to make sure they stay in business? Does MS owe their employees jobs? And who can honestly say that the competitors' products wouldn't have failed in the long run? If a company other than MS had come out with the IE browser - it would still be better than Netscape. Tell me, how was it bad for consumers to get a free web browser rather than having to pay for it? Tell me, how is it bad for consumers to be able to view movies in a single program that is built into the OS, flashy, and not have to worry about "I need this program for avi movies, and this program for mpg, et cetera."

      The only people Microsoft owes anything to is their stockholders, and that is to create the most profit possible while staying within the law. If they break the law, they should be punished - but only for the damage their lawbreaking can be proven to have done. None of this "Microsoft is really big so they deserve to go down" crap.

      InigoMontoya(tm)
    • If I weren't using win2k, I'd be using Linux; certainly not BeOS...
  • Cringely sez APIs are available only to viable companies, but not government or non profits, under the proposed settlement.

    So what if a viable business such as RedHat or IBM reads the APIs, then modifies Apache, Samba, Linux, etc. to work well with Windoze. Of course, the GNU license would require that the source code for those changes be made available. But RedHat/IBM/whoever never published the MS API.

    No problem, right?

    -jimbo

  • Microsoft's biggest advantage over the open source community is that they have a plan. What the open source community needs is a meta-project to plan how Linux, Apache, PHP, PostgreSQL, and Mozilla (to name some representative products) can combine to form a complete end-to-end platform.

    Microsoft can and does improve the interdependent functionality of it's corresponding products (XP, IIS, C#, SQL Server, and IE) to more closely tie users into a complete platform. As soon as a developer decides that one component (e.g., IE) is superior to its competition there is an overwhelming seductive pressure to adopt the other components.

    • The pressure isnt entirely seductive. They usually wait until the developer is built into and dependent on the MS product, then they start hitching prices until the developer agrees to use MS software for the other components too. Then they get a year or two decent pricing, and then the price starts to go up again, except now the only thing MS wants is money so there's nothing the developer can do to placate MS. The price hikes will eventually make it difficult to compete in the market place, at which point MS offers to buy the company for pocket change.
  • Typcial MS BS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SnapperHead ( 178050 ) on Sunday December 09, 2001 @10:05PM (#2680153) Homepage Journal
    Recently, I was told to seek out and find a decent computer for my cousin for a Christmas present. After searching around, I found that Dell had the best systems.

    To make a long story short, I was told by the person taking my order that I am required to purchase a copy of Windows XP with the new system. I told him that I wasn't going to put Windows on that machine, it would be a Linux only system. The guy didn't really care. If I wanted them to pre-install a copy of Red Hat, they would charge me quite a bit. Mainly, becuase I would need to buy a higher up machine. Either way, I already own (Haven't used in years) a copy of Windows 98. Why should I buy required to buy another copy when I already own a copy (older yes, but it would work if I had to) of Windows. I am being charged $200 for a OEM version of XP. If I removed Windows XP, and install another OS, then decied to go back to XP. (Not like I would) I would have to call Dell for an authorization number. I am not sure how true it is, but it pisses me off to say the least.

    I think this should be apart of the settlement as well. If I don't want an OS installed, or there custom software. I shouldn't have to pay for it. The computer comes with a few other applications that I have no choice but to pay for. Most of which, is MS products. Why do I have to pay for a copy of MS Office, when I would use Star Office if anything at all.

    Thats like buying a TV (just a normal TV) and having the salesmen tell me I am required to purchase a cable hookup on the spot. I have no choice, other then not buying the TV.

    Once I got the computer, its littered with stickers giving disclamiers and license numbers for all the MS products I didn't even want. On the side of the computer is a lable with the XP license number AND a warenty number. Which, I can't remove or I loose the warenty. Which, IMO, is complete BS. Don't mind me, I am just sick and tired of dealing with MS these days. I want to run something else, and keep getting backed into the wall. Yes, I could have build the computer for her. But, my family just wanted to buy it right off the bat, and not worry about fixing it them selfs. (More like me fixing it :) When it comes to laptops, your SOL. Windows or no computer.

    Something seriously needs to be done.
    • Re:Typcial MS BS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by volpe ( 58112 )

      Thats like buying a TV (just a normal TV) and having the salesmen tell me I am required to purchase a cable hookup on the spot. I have no choice, other then not buying the TV.


      No, it's not like that. Rather, Dell sells a product in a standard configuration that they are willing to support because they have tested it in this configuration and are equipped with trained personnel to support this configuration. What you want is akin to walking into a Ford dealership and telling them you want a Camaro with the normal chassis and transmission and leather interior, but without the engine because you have a Toyota Supra engine at home that you intend to transplant into the Camaro, and insisting that they deduct the engine cost from the cost of the car.

  • I suggest a new user option:

    "Do not display duplicate story postings."

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed -- it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. -- A.J. Perlis

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