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Microsoft

Microsoft Offers A Modified Settlement 366

inepom01 writes: "Just read a story here about Microsoft offering a different settlement proposal- this one would have two other companies join in on the foundation MS is establishing- Connectix and Key Curriculum Press. Since Connectix makes software that lets Windows programs work on Macs, seems like same old Microsoft tricks." gnovos points to another story at MSNBC on the shifting terms of this proposal.
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Microsoft Offers A Modified Settlement

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  • by bourne ( 539955 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:38PM (#2684394)

    And I thought their offer to provide the software was such a nice idea, too...

    Here's the big question: How much does this matter with half the states contesting the settlement issue?


    • The Redhat idea was too fitting to be accepted by the Gubment. Poetic Justice is unfortunately not the US DoJ weapon of choice.

      Damn shame.

      I think that the counter recommended proposal for a completely independent trust set up with real dollars is a nice solution that would allow for the purchase of machines running Redhat or other distributions in addition to Apples, and M$ Machines. The key, I think, is that M$ must actually hand over real dollars from the coffer, not just pseudo bucks where each CD is theoretically $300, even though we all know they aren't worth much more than a dime.

      Also, the solution must address the monopoly. If it does not, the states can simply sue again next year. The criminal concept of double jeopardy does not apply here. If at any point in the future M$ is again considered a monopoly, they will again be in violation of anti-trust laws and can be punished accordingly. If the so called solution increases the monopoly (as the first-hit-free-save-the-children scenario clearly would) or even maintains the monopoly, it will not prevent further action by the states, or class action suits on behalf of the users.

      -Rothfuss
  • well, duh! (Score:3, Informative)

    by sl0ppy ( 454532 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:42PM (#2684411)
    it's simply about microsoft looking out for their own interests. love them or hate them, they're a corporation, and it's in their best interest to be able to give out licenses for as much of the settlement as possible. why is this news?

    personally, i think that microsoft shouldn't be the ones offering the settlement proposal, but that's another post altogether ...
  • for some reason... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:43PM (#2684421)
    ...i don't think that less than 90% of slashdot.org readers can say that they haven't supported microsoft's monopoly either at home or work.
    • if (number_of_negatives > 1)
      fprintf(stderr, "I don't think that less than 90%% of this sentence can't be parsed\n");
    • I haven't used a microsoft product since 1993, when I started using OS/2. I stopped using OS/2 a few years ago when I discovered linux (But OS/2 is still stronger at many tasks...I wish that bozo had never stolen my install cd!) I also have sought out jobs where I would not be forced to use microsoft crap as well. Difficult, but possible. Today I just got a new job. Guess what. I don't have to use microsoft there either.

      I do admit to booting to windows for awhile last year just so I could play through half life (and that's not even necessary nowadays with the ability to run it under wine, from what I understand)

      It's possible. But you have to try. Being so disgusted with the stuff that you can't stand using it at all helps too :)

      Why would anybody willingly actually *PAY* to use that crap at HOME when there are better alternatives for much less money?

    • Hmm... wouldn't that be the very definition of a restrictive monopoly? A company the products of which it is difficult to avoid, even if you'd like to? One that, despite your dislike, you end up supporting through monetary expenditure? That's broken capitalism.

      And while I would certainly point out that Linux is that alternative you can go to, I'm also sympathetic to the feeling of having to use Microsoft.
  • Enough with the court-mandated solutions already. Even if Windows wasn't installed by default on basically every computer in the world, people would still request it, simply because no one has given them a better option. As was pointed out a few articles ago, Linux is still too hard to use, and doesn't have enough non-geek functionality. For all the Libertarian posturing on Slashdot, we should be the ones discouraging this court action and letting the free market decide.
    • Well I'm not a libertarian (well, a civil libertarian maybe, which is not the same thing) and I think the government should step in and put their foot on MS's neck. And they should feel free to use my tax dollars to do so.
    • Even if Windows wasn't installed by default on basically every computer in the world, people would still request it, simply because no one has given them a better option.

      How will we know until someone gives them a choice? Is windows installed by default because that's what everyone uses? Or does everyone use windows because that's what comes installed by default?

      As was pointed out a few articles ago, Linux is still too hard to use, and doesn't have enough non-geek functionality.

      Oh, please! Have you used any of the recent distro releases? SuSE 7.3 is incredibly simple to install and configure (IMHO much easier than winme or win2k), and comes with excellent documentation for the OS and the major apps.

      For all the Libertarian posturing on Slashdot, we should be the ones discouraging this court action and letting the free market decide.

      MS has gone beyond the reach of the forces of the free market, that's what anti-trust action is all about! MSIE, while certainly not being the most horrendous example of MS's abuse of their monopoly, is the most visible example. If IE were an independent product (meaning not made by MS) it would have been stillborn long ago, and everyone would be using Netscape or Opera. But, because of MS's obscene amount of money, they were able to keep it going, and because MS also makes Windows, they were able to bundle it with the OS, and because MS owns the desktop, they were able to force an OEM license that made IE the first browser the user saw, if not the only one installed. And people used it! Can you imagine that?!? OMG, people use the software installed by default!!! I don't believe it!!!

      And for all the Libertarians who are thinking about mod'ing me down, here's another reason to:

      Capitalism is the enemy of the Free Market! The goal of any true capitalist is to create a monopoly. A monopoly means they have no competition, and without competition there is no free market! The Free Market is a good and wonderful thing, it is the foundation of our way of life and the root of just about everything that is good about the USA. It needs to be protected from the predations of the powerful corporations who would crush it in the pursuit of their vision of Capitalist Brand Utopia. That's why we need anti-trust law.

      BTW, if you're thinking I'm a Socialist because of my sig, read it again.

      • If IE were an independent product (meaning not made by MS) it would have been stillborn long ago, and everyone would be using Netscape or Opera

        That is arguable. The first few iterations of IE were pretty bad, but they were not included as part of W95; the leveraging of the browser did not really start until the advent of Win98 (late W95 versions did include it as an install option, but it was an "extra."). IE 4 was a great improvement over the past, non-OS versions, though arguably not a "finished" product -- prone to lots of hardware, driver and bios conflicts on its introduction, particularly on the systems of ceratin proprietary OEMs (Compaq, HP). On more than a few W95 systems, the only "fix" for IE 4 errors was to upgrade to W98. (So the IE 4 "preview" release was actually "leverage" for the new OS, rather than the other way around.)

        But my point is, it was not MS's monopoly that allowed them to continue development prior to IE's inclusion in the operating system. IE was a give-away and a loser, and they turned it to a winner with their deep pockets (last time I looked, it's not illegal to have money).

        By the time of OS integration, when IE took control of the browser market, it had improved sufficiently to be a real competitor to Netscape. The integration into the OS helped speed their take-over of the browser, but that wouldn't have happened without a product that could compete.

        If the browser in W98 was as bad as the earlier versions, then consumers would still be using Opera and Netscape. Just as I will continue using Nero, unless Windows XP provides more versatile cd-burning options than are now built-in.

        • The first few iterations of IE were pretty bad, but they were not included as part of W95; the leveraging of the browser did not really start until the advent of Win98

          That was key to my point. IE was so bad that it would have survived if not for MS's deep pockets.

          But my point is, it was not MS's monopoly that allowed them to continue development prior to IE's inclusion in the operating system. IE was a give-away and a loser, and they turned it to a winner with their deep pockets

          That's exactly what I said. IE is an excellent example of how MS has become immune to the forces of the free market. Whether it's because they have a monopoly or because they have deep pockets is largely irrelevant, as the two feed off each other in a symbiotic relationship.

          (last time I looked, it's not illegal to have money).

          Read the reply from the AC to your post. I don't have anything else to add here.

          The integration into the OS helped speed their take-over of the browser, but that wouldn't have happened without a product that could compete.

          Arguable, but probably a reasonable assumption. At the time of integration the only advantage IE had over Netscape was integration (IMHO). Otherwise they were roughly equivalent. What actually got me to switch to IE was Communicator. I wanted a browser, not a communications suite with all the overhead that entails.

      • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @09:58PM (#2685226)

        Capitalism is the enemy of the Free Market! The goal of any true capitalist is to create a monopoly. A monopoly means they have no competition, and without competition there is no free market! The Free Market is a good and wonderful thing, it is the foundation of our way of life and the root of just about everything that is good about the USA. It needs to be protected from the predations of the powerful corporations who would crush it in the pursuit of their vision of Capitalist Brand Utopia. That's why we need anti-trust law.

        Welcome to monopoly economics 101, wherein we will detail why you are wrong and I am right. Err, I mean why you're misguided about capitalism/monopolies vs the Free Market.


        See, there's this interesting thing called competition. It's the drive to succeed. In a free market, it is competition that drives prices down, all the way to the point where one of two outcomes happen:

        1. In a perfect competition market, all players have exactly the same product, and they have exactly the same operating costs. This means that at a certain point, companies can no longer undercut each other on price, and so all companies run at a subsistence level (enough to pay the bills, but no profit). This is the "ideal" state of a free market, but it's a very bad state to get in. Luckily, it's also near impossible to reach, as before that point the various players will beging differentiating their product, building customer loyalties that allow them to charge a bit more than their competitors without losing too much business.
        2. A monopoly arises when all but one company is no longer able to compete in a market. That can come about in several ways:
          • A natural monopoly exists when there is some "natural" barrier to entry. In a natural monopoly, the monopolist can easily charge what's called the "monopoly price" (a price point above the "competitive" subsistence level that the firm would be able to charge if there were others in the market)
          • The more-likely case is when a monopoly springs into existance through competition -- a single company has lower operating costs than the other firms in a market, and thus drives them out by lowering prices to just below the operating costs of everybody else. This will eventually drive those companies out of business if they cannot reduce their own overhead. Once the other firms are gone, however, the monopolist firm can not re-price at the monopoly price because they'd simply be inviting new firms into their market.
          • There's also the red-headed step-child of monopolies -- the government sponsored and endorsed monopoly. This would include things like air traffic control and cable companies (the first being a nationalized industry, thus a de facto monopoly, and the second being a case of government-enforced "natural" monopoly, where the only "natural" thing about it is that it's apparently "natural" for a single entity to own what could be considered public infrastructure. I'm not saying cable companies should be nationalized, because they shouldn't. Just that this is an example of a government-enforced monopoly).


        Now, I know I just said that those are the only two outcomes, and if I were talking about theoretical economics, I'd be correct. So let's revise that to allow for product differentiation and brand loyalty. Now, goods are no longer interchangeable, and so competing firms are no longer forced to subsistence-level earning. Now, differentiation can also lead to introduction of competition back into a monopolized market (differentiation is brought about by R&D, which often has a side-effect of reducing operating costs by researching newer and more efficient production methods. lower overhead means the ability to charge a lower price, and thus slip into that monopoly market where the price was previously below your costs). In other words, the free market fixes these situations. The old policy of Laissez Faire was the best policy, in regards to government involvement in the marketplace. A free market works best when it's not shackled by government (because government *never* works efficiently, which puts it totally at odds with the goals of a free market). Yes, I know the event that changed the US's policy was the Great Depression, but what most people conveniently forget is that our current welfare state was only meant to last for a duration of 5-10 years or so, just long enough to get the economy back on its feet after the depression. FDR never intended things like welfare and social security to extend past a generation at the most, and realistically no more than needed to get out of the Depression. But here we are, with a socialist mindset where we expect the government to take care of us and protect us from the big mean capitalists. And we're going into another recession, so it's not even like these social welfare plans stopped that (which, btw, is the natural ebb and flow of a free market. it goes up, and it comes down. and it goes up again, and so on. we can help "flatten" the wave by having lower highs and higher lows, mainly by doing things like manipulating interest levels to encourage spending or saving as appropriate, but we can't make the cycle go away).

        Anyway, I would argue that the free market was the foundation of our way of life, but no longer is. We're well on our way to becoming a socialist nation like many European nations (the day I pay 50% of my salary in taxes is the day I move to Mexico), and too many consumers have forgotten the fundamentals of a free market, instead preferring to have the warm safety blanket of Big Brother Government to keep them safe and warm at night, and scare the Evil Capitalists out from under their beds.

        • Cable companies aren't a government-enforced monopoly. The cable companies own the physical cables, and thus get to decide who gets to use them. Cable TV is not a "necessity" like the telephone has become, and so the government has not seen fit to force them to allow competition like they have with the local Telcos.

          Once the other firms are gone, however, the monopolist firm can not re-price at the monopoly price because they'd simply be inviting new firms into their market.

          I have to disagree here. Once a monopoly is established it becomes fairly simple to leverage that monopoly to prevent new competition, through licensing and distribution contracts (for example, the MS OEM license).

          what most people conveniently forget is that our current welfare state was only meant to last for a duration of 5-10 years or so

          I'm not sure what relevance this has to a discussion of anti-trust and why we need it. If you're able to find a sunset clause in any anti-trust law [usdoj.gov], please point it out to me, as I couldn't find any. Since the Sherman Act was passed in 1890, your attempt to connect it with FDR's New Deal is dubious at best.

          The old policy of Laissez Faire was the best policy, in regards to government involvement in the marketplace.If this were true, there would be no anti-trust law. The idea of a self-regulating free market is nothing more than naive fantasy, as is the notion that the socialist programs of the New Deal have outlived their necessity (I agree that they need some heavy reform, but the reasons for their existance are just as valid today as they were in the Great Depression).

          Welcome to monopoly economics 101, wherein we will detail why you are wrong and I am right. Err, I mean why you're misguided about capitalism/monopolies vs the Free Market.

          So aside from some purely theoretical economics, which I think we can agree are just as valid as the simplified models used in introductory Physics classes, how exactly have you proven me wrong? I restate my points:

          1. The goal of the true Capitalist is the destruction of the Free Market.

          2. A regulated Free Market is more beneficial to the general populace than unregulated Capitalism.

    • Who's a libertarian? Once you discount the ones who just like the no-taxes screw-everyone-but-me aspect, there aren't many left around here.

      Anyway, the free market has already decided, and it decided to collapse upon itself under the pressure of an abusive monopoly. Capitalism has built-in failure modes, and unchecked monopolies are one of them. The system _might_ recover eventually, but it's idiotic to allow the damage to continue while you wait.

      You know, this is kinda silly. I had this exact same conversation on /. four years ago when the DOJ action started. In that time, the only innovation I've seen from MS is the magical transformation of the "Good Times" virus from a hoax into a reality. Meanwhile, Linux is a thousand times more suitable for the desktop as it was then. Your argument for it being to hard to use was valid then, but is no longer. Yet the MS monopoly is a strong as ever, as demonstrated by the fact that their WPA crap is actually flying.

      Or in short, take your free market and shove it. Time is telling, and it's saying "you're wrong."
    • what if I'm specifically buying a machine to run linux? The MS monopoly is screwing me over in this case.. because I *can't* avoid giving them my money, even if I don't want it.

      THAT is the problem.
  • A Organization (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pyrrho ( 167252 )
    I think MS should have to fund an organization that would itself decide what to do with the funds. They could distribute linux to schools, they could distribute Office. They could decide the best thing is to enhance linux for education and make an Edu.distro.

    Just ensure that MS doesn't decide where the money goes or they will just put it back in their own pocket. History.
  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:44PM (#2684429) Homepage Journal
    What ever happened to the way our legal system used to work... where the guilty party didn't get to choose their own punishment? If all crime worked this way...:

    Pedophile: I hereby sentence myself as a sears child photographer!

    Vandalism: I hereby sentence myself to work painting wall murals!

    Rapist: Damn you all! I sentence myself to be a pornographic film star!

    Serial Killer: Ah ha! A punishment! I sentence myself to 10 years in service of the islamic jihad!

    It just seems like a ridiculous attempt at law, you know, to let microsoft pick how it's going to be punished. Or, wait, they can bribe the judges :)
    • parent is flamebait (Score:3, Informative)

      by buzzini ( 177741 )
      Ieshan, this is a *settlement* in a *civil case*. Your rhetoric is way overblown and highly irrelevant to the MS situation.
    • by cnkeller ( 181482 ) <cnkeller&gmail,com> on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:08PM (#2684582) Homepage
      What ever happened to the way our legal system used to work... where the guilty party didn't get to choose their own punishment?

      I know you were being funny, but remember a while back when ,mayor Marion Barry was caught on video tape buying/using crack, convicted, served his sentence, and then got re-elected mayor of DC? He didn't exactly sentence himself back to being mayor, but you would have thought the legal system might have prevented him from obtaining a position in which he previously abused the power....

    • It's been going downhill ever since the lake caught fire.

      </obscure simpsons quote>

  • Isn't this like letting a child molester choose their punishment after getting caught?

    "Uh, I would like to be sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service supervising fatherless pre-teen boys after school under the supervision of Michael Jackson?"

    Shouldn't the injured parties in this monopoly case decide what the punishment should be with judicial review. So far, all the remedies placed in front of the public seem to be a win-win for Microsoft. No punishment what-so-ever.

    As a Mac User, I think Connectix might need to rethink their future if they are going to be a tool of Microsoft. How are they going to sell Mac software if they enable Microsoft to bulldoze its way through this monopoly case and the future of computing. Once Microsoft has gotten what they need, Connectix will be toast. Look at all those "Drive Doubler" companies from early 90s that were in Microsoft's court.

    • by buzzini ( 177741 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:04PM (#2684556)
      No, it's not like that at all.

      1. This is a *settlement* in a *civil case*.
      2. It was architected primarily by the lawyers who brought this suit in the first place.
      3. A $1 billion charge is not necessarily a "win-win" for Microsoft. I'd challenge you to rethink your biases on that.
      4. In what way would Connectix be a "tool of Microsoft"? By sitting on an independent committee that doles out software? Again, I'd challenge you to rethink your biases on that.
      5. How would "Connectix...be toast"? How does Microsoft "need" Connectix? If Microsoft wanted to "toast" them, they could now. And there are plenty of other companies MS could suggest for this committee. Nothing special about Connectix.
      • The $1 billion charge is a win for Microsoft.

        When presenting their tax return to the IRS, they will claim the retail value of the donated software/hardware. This will provide them with a $1 billion write-off, either as a loss or as a donation. It will go a long way toward earning them a tax refund.

        When presenting their annual report, though, they will claim the manufacturing/raw cost of the donated software/hardware. This will show up as a piddling $100 thousand loss, not at all noticeable. The investors will be mollified.

        In short, they get a win-win: they win against the IRS, and they win against their shareholders. It's just a matter of fiddling the numbers... standard accounting practice, seemingly specially designed to let companies get away with all sorts of shenanigans.
        • When presenting their tax return to the IRS, they will claim the retail value of the donated software/hardware. This will provide them with a $1 billion write-off, either as a loss or as a donation. It will go a long way toward earning them a tax refund.

          Bzzt. They can only claim actual expenses. If they claim the $1 billion in software as an expense, they would have to claim $1 billion in revenues as well. You can't write off the value of services.

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreenCrackBaby ( 203293 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:45PM (#2684440) Homepage
    How would you feel upon learning that the local mobster, after being caught for extortion proposes, offers, as his punishment, to donate some money to a charity.

    What people seem to forget is that Microsoft has destroyed companies, hurt consumers, and generally played the all-around bad guy, and yet no only do they get to propose a "penalty" (I use that term lightly), but they get to propose a penalty that actually tightens their stranglehold!

    Apple always did well in the school market, and now they have to stand aside as Microsoft "punishes" their way massively into that market.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by buzzini ( 177741 )
      This is yet another variation on the "convicted felon choosing their punishment" argument. For the last time:
      1. This is a *settlement* in a *civil case*.
      2. It was architected primarily by the lawyers who brought this suit in the first place.
      3. It's not illegal to "destroy companies" or be a "bad guy." I'd challenge you to separate what is illegal from what is "not nice."
      4. You assert both that Microsoft has a "stranglehold" and that Apple is doing well in the school market. Which is it? What facts are you relying on?
      5. Microsoft already dominates the education market, and has been gaining share since 1996. Apple's share is currently 23% according to this story.
      6. Is pouring money into low-income areas really the best way for Microsoft to "tighten their stranglehold"? If they wanted to make an investment in the education market to increase their share, they would probably target "high-value" segments with students who are likely to be tech savvy or affluent in the future. That is clearly not the case here.
      • 1. This is a *settlement* in a *civil case*.

        So what? Does the notion of the guilty choosing their punishment/settlement not bother you?

        3. It's not illegal to "destroy companies" or be a "bad guy." I'd challenge you to separate what is illegal from what is "not nice."

        I don't have to do the separation. That's the thing you Microsoft apologists keep forgetting -- they were found guilty of using their monopoly illegally. Their actions have already been reviewed and pronounced illegal.

        6. Is pouring money into low-income areas really the best way for Microsoft to "tighten their stranglehold

        Oh, good one. "They're poor so they don't count." So are you trying to argue that if it were the richer schools that M$ was doing this for it would be tightening their stranglehold, but since it's the poorer schools who cares?



    • While others will debunk your mobster analogy by saying, "This is a CIVIL case, not a criminal case," I would like to say you've nailed this. The analogy finds its strength in that the money being used to pay the 'punishment' tax is money that was ill-gotten.


      In US criminal drug cases, the accused is not allowed to use money from drug sales to pay a fine. It must be proven that the money came from legal sources.

      Obviously, it would be impossible to determine how much money microsoft has made through 'legal' competition, so this won't work here (and again, this is a civil case). But this is similar to the mobster scenario. If a mobster swindles someone out of a bunch of money, and thr victim files a lawsuit (as the states have against microsoft), how just is it for the perpetrator to be punished by returning some of the money earned through swindling? Isn't the goal here to undo the value that has been added to the swindler's life and prevent the swindler from perpetrating fraud against other people? I don't see any of that happening with the proposed settlements.
      • You explicitly dismiss the fact that this is a civil case without explaining why it is valid to do so.

        Nor do you reconcile your statements with the fact that this is a settlement and that the civil trial never proceeded to a point where "guilt" was assessed. So your implications of "swindling", "money that was ill-gotten", etc. are unfounded.

        Again, you're muddling the DOJ case and the civil case, and I think that's the source of your confusion.
  • Why emulate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattkime ( 8466 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:46PM (#2684444)
    Why would Microsoft need Connectix to provide copies of Virtual PC? Seems like it could only be an attempt to put Windows on Macs. After all, MS Office is avaliable for Mac. I'm sure suitable Mac alternatives could be found for other windows products.

    Or perhaps Microsoft would like to point out that Macs make for very slow windows machines.
  • Force MS to contribute $2 billion dollars to the FSF. Now THAT would make Bill loose some sleep at night.

  • Your Honor, the guilty party would like to be able to set the terms of his punishment."

    Like that would ever happen any place else.

    Let Microsft donate the money top school, with no strings attached.

    If the school by stuff, fine. If not, tough luck.

    I wouldn't mind if they had to dish out a bit more money as well.

    • IT'S A SETTLEMENT! (Score:2, Informative)

      by buzzini ( 177741 )
      For the last time: THIS IS A SETTLEMENT. Microsoft did not "set the terms" of this. Like any settlement, both parties sat down and negotiated. Oy.
  • How come every other industry has to give money to compensate for the wrong doing ( tabaco companies for example ), but the biggest player in the computer industry is allowed to give away software. Money has a fixed value, whereas software's value is ambiguos and can be decided by the developer. The only real settlement would be to force MS to either give money to charities and let them spend it in a way they ( the charities ) see fit. Another would be for the anti-competive contracts that MS is producing to be declared null and void in addition to the money.
  • by althalus ( 520424 ) <slashdot@[ ]-nut.com ['lug' in gap]> on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:48PM (#2684462) Homepage
    For all the ideas that get tossed about, why dont' we create a slashdot settlement? Everybody chips in and tells the DOJ in plain words what's wrong with the microsoft ideas, and then proposes a fair settlement(s), and discusses why it's a better idea.
  • by mshomphe ( 106567 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:51PM (#2684476) Homepage Journal
    "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it further."

    *coo-ahh* *coo-ahh*
  • Please Help (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lysander Luddite ( 64349 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:54PM (#2684493)
    Somebody please explain to me how anything MS offers will punish it for overcharging consumers for Windows.

    1. A $1billion pay out in software, hardware, and support is nothing, especially extended over a few years. MS grosses $1billion a *month* on its products. So they would pay fines equivalent to one month of income at most.
    2. Making the schools choose their tech needs is cool, but if MS charges less directly than on the open market (see article quote from MS Spokeman) then why would schools select anything else?
    3. What refurb'ed computers will be used? And wouldn't that mean running older versions of Windows? I'm guessing most schools aren't likely to buy older Macs.
    4. What made Steve Jobs speak out so loudly about this? He's been very quiet on bashing MS, even after MS got rid of their non-voting investment some time back. He sent Avie to testify about MS wanting to "knife the baby" of QuickTime. Does he really feel secure to bash MS now, or is it that Apple really, really threatened by cheap MS software being given to schools? I'm guessing the latter since mercurial Steve was relatively restrained in his response and the legal brief Apple provided.
    5. What happens when the support money (a paltry amount IMHO) runs out? Do the schools get stuck paying for support on old equipment running old software that isn't supported by their makers anymore?

    I don't have a great solution. I'd prefer to see the schools be given a lump sum of money to invest in whatever they want (like textbooks or infrastructure improvements) rather than allow MS to get even further entrenched in one market they don't completely push around today.
  • by myc ( 105406 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:54PM (#2684496)
    kids in school don't need more computer hardware/software. They need more teachers and better teachers. Computer software is becoming easier and easier to use (even Linux), it doesn't take a whole lot of time to learn how to use a word processor and spreadsheet or do a google search these days. It's much more important to teach kids to read, write, and do math. If Microsoft, or anyone else for that matter, is really concerned about education in this country they should divert their efforts towards hiring top notch teachers, attracting them and keeping them with competitive salaries and benefits. Current teacher salaries are a joke, no wonder public education sucks. Offer starting salaries of 50-60k/year with full health and retirement, and hire M.S. degree level people.
    • Computer software is becoming easier and easier to use (even Linux), it doesn't take a whole lot of time to learn how to use a word processor and spreadsheet or do a google search these days. It's much more important to teach kids to read, write, and do math

      When i took AP computer science in high school, we sure weren't learnin how to use google. I got some (admittedly) basic instruction in Pascal, Cobol, and Fortran in a 2 semester class (ya this dates me, it was a while back).

      Im sure there are equally usefull skills being taught in some of the higher end computer classes now.

      Sure schools need more teachers (and you are right on with it needing to be a more attractive profession), all the best books, and to teach the basics well. But its not such a bad thing to offer more than just that if they can do it.
    • You've hit it... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JMZero ( 449047 )
      MS should have to give up cash, as that's what schools need.

      However, I think they should also be forced to lower their prices for educational customers. Dramatically. This way schools have a choice - and a little bit more in the piggy bank either way.
      • Yes, schools do need cash, computers etc, but shouldn't MS have to pay the people it's been screwing over all these years? The OEMs, the stores, the consumers? Don't get me wrong, it's honorable to try to pay reprimands for their monopoly by ehrmm.... extending their monopoly through schools... Hmm... that doesn't work.

        Money for schools is always good, but normally when you are punished for doing ill to someone, it's to that person or people you have to at least appologize to. Course, that's assuming that the legal system in my neighbors to the south didn't suck, eh? :)
        • Re:You've hit it... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JMZero ( 449047 )
          I'm Canadian as well...

          You're right, there's no real reason the money should be given to schools and not someone else - though I think it would be hard to divvy up exactly who's been damaged. Those with specific grievances should be filing suit themselves.

          Schools seems like a good plan because:

          A: schools need money
          B: MS will agree to a larger dollar amount if it's going to schools (as it gives them PR instead of highlighting criminality). While this makes the settlement less punitive, money for schools is undeniably a good thing. And it's certainly a better plan than software donation.

          That said, I think whatever number comes up should be large enough to have punitive effect - and the real meat of the settlement should be efforts to prevent abusive behavior on the part of MS in the future.
        • How many OEMs have gone out of business because MS charged too much for their software? Now compare that to the number of OEMs that are doing just fine today.

          That's what I thought.

          The money should goto the schools, it should go into a big pot and schools should then have to write proposals to get at it. With preference going to schools that have less money or are disadvantaged in some way. Hopefully, this will cause schools in areas that have less money to get better teachers and equipment. MS should not be allowed to give 800 million dollars of software that it will not support in 2-4 years from now. Schools should be allowed to use that 800 million dollars (or however much) to build classrooms that will last 50 years or more. Where I went to school, half of the classrooms were the temporary kind that will fall down in the next 5 years if they are not replaced. Schools need more money, I wish that people in the US would be willing to pay more taxes for such things, but as such we are idiots for not doing so.
    • On the contrary, it takes a LOT of time to learn anything of consequence or any software you could make a living off of using.

      Like Photoshop. Or professional-grade 3d software, or even Office (when all the glitzy goofball features are factored-in, like power point).

      On the other hand, I agree that a lot more effort needs to be put into academic basics like science and math. And pursuant to that goal - more teachers, better paid teachers, and FUCK THE UNIONS, mandatory competency testing of teachers!
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @06:58PM (#2684519) Homepage
    Check it out. [lostbrain.com]

    tcd004
  • "But Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Tom Burt said the software giant could help more schools under the proposed settlement, distributing more software at a lower cost than if the same schools went out and bought their programs on the open market."

    The "their" in bold was added by me. Nuff said.
  • by Xibby ( 232218 ) <zibby+slashdot@ringworld.org> on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:00PM (#2684533) Homepage Journal
    Instead of the normal round of complaints, sometimes insightful comments, and mostly junivile comments, why not get involved and subimt something. [usdoj.gov]
    Information on the United States v. Microsoft Setlement

    The Tunney Act sets forth procedures that must be followed whenever the United States proposes to settle a civil antitrust suit through entry of a consent decree. Pursuant to the Tunney Act, members of the public have an opportunity to comment on the proposed settlement before it is accepted by the court.

    There, all the linkage you need.
  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:00PM (#2684537) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Tom Burt said the software giant could help more schools under the proposed settlement, distributing more software at a lower cost than if the same schools went out and bought programs on the open market.
    Save us from such "help"!

    Notice he said the "open" market, and not the "Open Source" (or Free) market.-)

    (Though Microsoft genuinely thinks the world would be a better place if more people used their software -- blame it on confidence, blame it on ego, blame it on a reality distortion field, I don't know -- so they really think kids would be "helped" more if they were exposed to "good" Microsoft software rather than "bad" Mac/GNU/BSD software.)

    Note that Microsoft controls the prices of software on the open market (pretty closely), on the educational market, and under the terms of this plan. Whether Mr. Burt's statement is true or false is pretty much completely under Microsoft's control.

    "If in the solution there are structural biases, however good the intention, then that's something that's got to be of concern," Motz said.... In later remarks, Motz expressed some sympathy for Microsoft's explanation, saying that the potential harm to competition had to be weighed against the settlement providing "more bang for the buck" than just handing out cash.
    Motz is going to need the wisdom of Solomon to split this baby!
  • Linux Anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jstockdale ( 258118 )
    The artical states that the states objecting to the current settlement want m$ to offer office for other operating systems, but then go on further only to specify macintosh. Now although linux/fbsd have a relatively small userbase, it can't be that much smaller than apple's 10%(?). Why has this been left out?

    I guess one possibility is that linux/fbsd don't have a powerful central representative company thats constantly lobbing for them with regard to laws making them more appealing, or to increase their particapation in settlements such as this one.

    Kinda annoying that the very thing that makes linux so useful from the development point makes it so useless from the political point.
  • by Chris Parrinello ( 1505 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:16PM (#2684633)
    I find it amusing that all of this new hardware/software/whatever is decided in the end is going to end up at all of these really poor schools that need money for capital repairs such as leaky roofs and peeling paint but Micoroft's settlement of the private suits is going to give these schools bright shiny new computers. I hope the leaky roof and the peeling paint don't screw up those new computers.
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:20PM (#2684651)
    As you know, Microsoft's first version leaves a lot to be desired, but they successively improve each subsequent version. They same goes for their legal arguments:

    Version 1.0: We are shocked, truly shocked that you'd think monopolistic practices are going on here!

    Version 2.0: Oooooh!! Judge Jackson is sooooo mean to us.

    Version 3.0: The country's at war, the economies in the toilet. If you DOJ staff / State AG's / Judges will just roll over and play dead, we can get on with world domina ... errrr ... business.
  • by RembrandtX ( 240864 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:21PM (#2684656) Homepage Journal
    My wife's school has 25 new (as of 2 years ago) Dell computers with m$ installed on them.

    they have all kinds of scanners, and networking equipment.

    This was all donated via M$ as part of their Digital Divite plan. [My Wife works in a low income targed school]

    Do you know how effective these machines are in this environment ?

    they are still in their original packaging. There is no one on the school staff that has the ability to set up a network , let alone install software and keep it running. There is no internet access to the school .. nor do they have the funds to obtain it. And to top it all off .. they school system is *NOT* allowed to take volenteer help. [I already offered to set them up for them] They belong to the school union, and I dont.

    Great donation. some 50k of machines and software (har har) at the time. Yet my wife's teaching budget of $900.00 isn't enough for her to get enough of even the most basic of art supplies for her 350+ students.

    Since it was a donation, the school board is not allowed to sell it. And use the $$.

    So these things do *NO* good to anyone [exept microsoft and i suppose dell] because of the tax breaks.

    If microsoft REALLY wants to help education, they should turn part of their marketing machine on the prospect of paying teachers a salery WORTH what they deserve. If my wife got $1 for each child a day that she teaches [WAY cheap for a babysitter] she would double her salery now.

    that means she gets less than five CENTS an hour to teach a child. [per child of course]

    if the average american parent we're to guess how much their student's teachers were paid to care for them a day .. how many think they would be anywhere CLOSE to guessing right ?

    donate computers to schools indeed. Why not just put the money into their research department, and *SAY* they are developing a plan to improve schools ? Same effect.
    • This reminds me of stories about how humaniarian efforts have sent a bunch of rice to starving people. Yet, there is only a little bit of dirty, contaminated water to cook it in, and doesn't provide the nutrients needed.

      Sounds to me like Microsoft might as well send these computers to starving people as well :-(
    • That's a news story. (That the union won't let volunteers make good happen there.) Presumably the neighborhood this school is in has media, if the larger papers and radio stations don't grab the idea and run with it start calling the smaller weekly papers. What you have is an over the transom news story. Go tell people.
    • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnrNO@SPAMticam.utexas.edu> on Monday December 10, 2001 @09:24PM (#2685145) Homepage
      that means she gets less than five CENTS an hour to teach a child. [per child of course]

      Even with overcrowded classrooms, that would work out to at most $2 an hour, which can't be accurate. Your earlier $1 per child per day figure would work out to (using the most unrealistic timesheets) no more than $6 an hour, again not accurate. I worry that people will pay too much attention to your clearly invalid numbers and ignore your (quite correct) points.

      My father teaches high school in one of the most underfunded states in the union... with years of experience, he makes over $30K a year before taxes, or around $15 an hour. It's not babysitter wages, but it's still quite a small amount if you expect to be able to hire people more competent than babysitters. It's less than he made in either of his two previous careers (not even considering inflation), and it's half of what many of my friends make straight out of college. Every teacher working in America's public schools is doing so either because they gave up much more lucrative job opportunities out of some sense of altruism or because they really can't find a better job. I'm cynical enough to be surprised that the first group isn't extremely rare, but the second group is still adequately represented.

      I agree that teachers are underpaid, but it's important to understand why: the reason isn't some abstract ideal of fairness.

      Ideally, we'd be paying teachers enough to make it a financially competitive job, and using the influx of new applicants to actually fire the least competent current teachers regularly. Isn't that what you do when hiring for any other job, make sure you're paying enough to have a full applicant pool to choose from? The current methods for avoiding incompetent teachers generally involve making them jump through years of easy "how to teach" classes and certification hoops, and I suspect for every illiterate they weed out there's at least one scientist they scare off.
  • by Dr. Awktagon ( 233360 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:23PM (#2684664) Homepage

    Inspired by the terms of the Microsoft settlement, where Microsoft settles by mostly donating CD-ROMs of its software, at a cost of 1/3 of a cent per disc (market value $799), the US Government has declared it will immediately discontinue its practice of paying tax refunds from treasury funds, and instead print new money for any further refunds.

    Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill said, "I have learned that it only costs us 6 cents to print a dollar bill. In fact it only costs 6 cents to print any denomination, so I'll be printing a bunch of hundreds for every American."

    President Bush praised the plan by saying "We can immediately gave every Americans a tax rebate of $100,000 dollars, at a minimalum cost to the governement. That will really kick-start our economy. That will show the terrorists we won't back down." President Bush added that anyone who disagrees with his plan will suffer the same fate as terrorists.

    In appreciation for his excellent idea, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will be presented a half-million dollar award from the US Government, at a lavish banquet, paid for with the newly-printed dollars.

    Interestingly, Mr. Gates requested his award be given to him in the form of gold bars rather than printed currency.

  • The attorneys for both sides came up with this stupid settlement because they figured that once they split up their enormous legal fees and court costs, the victims (us) would only get about ten dollars apiece, and they assumed that none of us would want that small an amount of money. They also made a second braindead assumption that the states would be able to reduce my school taxes because of this windfall. Yeah, right. When pigs can fly.

    Well, nobody asked me. I want the ten bucks, damnit.
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:26PM (#2684677) Journal
    Okay, moderators, please mod everyone to -1 Offtopic who thinks it is, because everyone in this category did not even read the headline on the linked article. Emphasis added:

    Microsoft proposes changes
    December 10, 2001: 12:51 p.m. ET
    Software maker seeks to modify private settlement to deflect criticism.

    Microsoft Corp. is offering to modify the proposed settlement of private antitrust lawsuits to deflect criticism it would simply extend its software monopoly by donating reduced-priced software, computers and training to schools.

    This concerns a private class-action suit which may or may not have merit, NOT the DOJ sellout. Pay attention people!

  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:27PM (#2684687) Homepage Journal
    1 thing i havent seen on this thread is what the teachers responses were to the MS settlement deal. Listening to Rush Limberger this morning, he said that the teachers said screw the computers, just give us the money. After watching the track record of these teachers over the last 30 years, my only answer to them is, Do you realy think we're going to trust you with all that money after the way you left our public schools systems in such shambles?

    Where america used to be first in acedemia we are now 4th behind asian countries. I've watched PBS specials on how asian schools conduct themselves, it is allmost a throwback to american schools in the 30's and 40's. Teachers use corporal punishment, shame and guild trip techniques, get involved with parents and generally do all the things we americans tossed out of our schools years ago, mainly discepline.

    I think computers are going to do more to hurt than help honestly. I remember working for the pleasonton union school district, it was a constant challenge to fend off the waves of would be script kiddies and hackers that habitate the k-12 system. The company I worked for was not cheap either, I was whored out at $150@hr to clean up these little "messes" that the kids made on the network.

    Another thing scary about computers in schools is it will justify even less spending on academic supplies such as textbooks, pencils, papers. The teachers will spend less time teaching the children how to work through problems and school is going to become a very cold place with little to no interaction between student, teacher and parent.

    MS should be forced to pay, but are k-12 really the right answer? How about donating a computer to every high school graduate? Instead of using them as a "learning tool" why not use them as an incentive to get kids to hit the books harder. Of course we could use china's techniques of public humiliation (read dunce cap) and caning to make kids focus. Being that we are america, we spend too much time worrying about these kids rights, fuck em I say, my tax dollars are paying for their education, not a good time.

    There is a third option of course, this was really popular in the 80's and 90's. We could make MS buy massive quantities of ritilin for our kids and dispense it in their milk. Like bart simpson says, "No itchin or twitchin cause I take my ritlin". Being one of "those" kids who was called down to the nurses office to take that crap, nah too publicaly humiliating (other kids said we took crazy pills)

    All jokes aside I think the best thing for MS to do is to buy up property and erect schools. Even if the Oakland school district got new computers, there is no data wiring, and I doubt the electrical is any good either. It's still going to be the same old drab emotionless schools that they are now. Space is what schools need more than anything. How many times have you driven past a school only to see 3 or 4 of those "temporary" trailers parked on the blacktop. Our school buildings have become the equivelent of trailer parks, our kids are the equivelent of trailer park trash. This is what needs to change, not @%#%@ more computers to take up %@#^%@ more space. Am I the only one that see's this or am I a crack smoking lemur?

    --toq
    • You strike me as a man with a lot of deep seated issues, but I'll respond anyway.

      First of all, did you ever think that all the overcrowding is due to the fact that the schools don't have the money they need? I know you think that it's the teachers that screwed everything up, but did you ever stop to consider that with more resources they could have built more classrooms, gotten better textbooks, hired more people, and generally done a better job?

      Perhaps this is difficult to understand if you're the type who is actually complaining about working for $150 an hour (which I'm sure you got paid very well for), but these are people who are insanely underpaid and overstressed and simply do not have the resources to deal with the shit they go through each day. I can guarantee you, none of these teachers is doing it for the money.

      As for your trailer park comment, I totally disagree. Having had many classes in such trailers, I can honestly tell you that it makes no difference. I know you think very little of teachers, but it is the teachers that make the difference, not whether the room you're in is labeled temporary or not. All that blacktop space you want back so much will just be used to give kids a good time, which you don't care about anyway. What we actually need are smaller class sizes, which requires hiring more teachers (even if they have to work in "temporary" classrooms), and that requires money. Money which you don't want to give them. Funny thing that. If you want to know what really makes schools "cold" it's the fact that classes are so big that students don't even get a chance to interact with the teacher, let alone parents. You want more parent interaction? Hire more teachers. You want more teachers? Give the schools money.

      And as for your proposal of reintroducing corporal punishment and humiliation, I totally agree with you that it would be effective in dealing with the problem at hand. However, humiliation may not come in the form of a dunce cap any more, but kids always get in trouble in public, and it's always a scene. The humiliation factor hasn't gone away at all, in fact I'd say it's used as often now as ever, if not more so. At my schools, we had to do things like pick up trash at lunch (you actually would resort to asking your friends for their trash) and standing in corners for a time. Not a dunce cap, but still publicly humiliating.

      And corporal punishment... well, I always think of violence as the resort of the desperate and the incompetent. Which are you?
  • But Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Tom Burt said the software giant could help more schools under the proposed settlement, distributing more software at a lower cost than if the same schools went out and bought programs on the open market.

    However, the last article on the M$ counter offer said that they would provide $1.2 billion of which $900 million of that would be Microsoft software products. That leaves $300 million for hardware which means that apparently Microsoft thinks it can best help the schools by charging 3 times what the hardware cost for their software (and coincidentally putting that $900 Million back into their own pockets)

    If the average computer runs roughly $1200 for a hot shot system then it seems to me that the schools can buy a copy of Windows 98 or 2k and MS Office at the local software store for a LOT less than $3600.

    The real reason for that counter offer is that it puts 3/4 of the settlement cash right back in Microsoft's pockets.

    Give the money directly to the schools and let them decide. Apple, Linux, Even PC's with Windows is OK, but the schools should be making the decision, not Microsoft.

  • From the MSNBC story: Microsoft and most of the class action attorneys in the case are in favor of a deal that would require the company to spend more than $1 billion to put software and computers into some of the poorest U.S. schools.

    Don't the lawyers get paid a percentage of the value of the settlement? The bigger the paper value of the settlement, the bigger their new boat... or am I just a cynic?
  • Everytime MS goes away to re-engineer the deal, they make the noose a little bit tighter. Am I the only person who finds the idea that a company being punished for anti-competative business practices and 'proposing' settlement alternatives somewhat ironic, idiotic, and likely suicide for those seeking a settlement in the long run? We're just giving them more and more time to turn this ship more and more in their direction.

    I'm sure MS dollars exchanges very favourably for top notch negotiators who's sole jobs are to make sure MS comes out of this ahead of where they were before this all started.
  • by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:41PM (#2684766) Journal
    (I know this message will probably be marked troll, but here goes)

    ...seems like same old Microsoft tricks.

    Would you guys just grow up? Did it ever occure to you that it is the responsibility of every employee, executive, and board member of a company to do everything in their power (including 'old tricks') to try and beat out the competition? If they don't, they are committing a crime against their own company (and against the principles of capitalism for that matter).
    • Which is perhaps why it is time that we moved on from such a model. If the only way I can succeed is by making someone else fail isn't it just a grown-up version of school-yard teasing, make someone else feel bad so I feel better.
    • Business Ethics (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnovos ( 447128 )
      Despite the justifications that your CEO gives you for using dangerous levels of petrochemicals in thier baby-food to "save costs", there is a such thing as business ethics. A company that breaks the law ("Hey, let's just burn down the warehouses of our competition and poison thier employees; We'll be the only game in town!" "Great strategizing Bob, get on that! Top priority!") is NOt helping thier company OR capatalism.
  • Drawing the line (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cHALiTO ( 101461 )
    Seems like MS is trying to (after proposing an insulting 'punishment') look good by proposing 'better' alternatives to the settlement, but in fact they started with a ridiculous proposition, so when they finally agree, it'd still be good for them. I don't think there should be any settlement that could benefit MS in -any- way. to put it in Cpt. Picard's immortal words: "The line must be drawn here! this far! no further!"
  • by Trillian_Angel ( 542729 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @07:50PM (#2684806) Homepage
    I know its been said once, twice, 100 + times, but in all due respect for Education, its not the computers that make education good, and it is mostly teachers... but I think the MAIN factor is the kids. (and those who boss the poor teacherws around... but I'd consider them loud mouthed kids half of the time.)

    Teachers aren't paid crap, and they teach because they really love to teach, but even the greatest teacher in the world won't do a grain of good if the students aren't movtivated enough to learn. Double edged sword. Good techer go to waste because of the bad students that waste their time. (I've been there and I've done that, i've been a good student AND a bad one)

    So schools get win 95, on pI 166 machines. The outcome: Machines that are semi reliable for several years, cheap. If the schools anything like the one I went to, when it breaks they call in their better students and they fix it, everyones happy. And when the old 166 breaks, its broken. No *real* huge deal, 300 bucks to replace.

    Now, all the computer companies want a piece of the education system. Why? Because the heads of education want to show off their buildings to the blue ribbon givers out there. So what do they do? They buy cheap equipment so they can say they have a lot of comptuers to use for education.

    Maybe we should shoot those who lead the educators and let the teachers pick what the school system really needs, we may get somewhere then.

    Don't get me wrong, I respect teachers dearly. They have had a big hand in making me who I am today... but I have a strong dislike for those who ruin those teachers I so admire... and it isn't what kind of computers the teachers and the students use. Microsoft is just using their brain to make more money in a greedy world. Congratulations, you found a weak point in the education system. Enjoy reaping your benefits, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
  • Just wondering, does anyone know where /. denizens can go (web or email) to give input into why these "settlement" terms are so badly flawed?

    It's one thing to complain about it and another thing to do something about it.

    -
  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @08:17PM (#2684925)
    Bill Gates has chosen a punishment that satisfies the DOJ. We don't know what it is yet, but it might have something to do with those rumors of John Ashcroft shopping for soft cushions and comfortable chairs.
  • by passion ( 84900 ) on Monday December 10, 2001 @09:21PM (#2685133)
    (thanks go to Bill C. from the lugwash list)

    Send this to Judge Motz - Wired reports that he's only got 200 complaint letters so far [wired.com].

    U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz
    Garmatz Federal Courthouse, Suite 4415
    101 West Lombard St.
    Baltimore, MD 21201

    It is my belief that the proposed antitrust settlement with Microsoft
    Corporation is not in the best interests of the American people. It
    does not protect against future abuses and in fact encourages the
    spread of the Microsoft software monopoly by training a vast army of
    young people to use their operating system and attendant application
    programs to the exclusion of very viable software alternatives.
    America is based on freedom of choice; but students in Americas'
    public schools can only learn to use computers, an essential skill
    for the coming generation of employees, on the products provided to
    them. Today, the Dept. of Justice has an opportunity to broaden the
    scope of that choice and thus empower generations yet unborn. It also
    has the opportunity to cave in to Bill Gates and thus must choose
    between greatness and ignominy.

    The Northern Territories school district in Australia, with a
    population of just over 200,000, finds that it saved $1,000,000 in
    the first year alone by using Linux alongside Microsoft products to
    provide computer education at all grade levels. This was enough to
    allow the school district to purchase an additional 1,000 computers
    for distribution in the schools and as loaner units for students (and
    their parents) to use at home. In a few short years their children
    will be competing, very effectively, on the worldwide intellectual
    marketplace against American children whose access to hardware was
    hampered by the prohibitive cost imposed by the practice of using
    Microsoft products all but exclusively in the public schools. The
    Australian experience could have been dramatically more productive
    had they used Linux as the operating system on all their computers
    but it was a good initial step. The present savings represent its use
    in their servers only.

    [opensourceschools.org]
    http://opensourceschools.org/article.php?story=2 00 11207001012102

    I support the notion that Microsoft should pay its fine in hardware
    donations only. It has been brought to my attention that Red Hat
    Software of Research Triangle Park, NC, (near Durham, NC) has offered
    to provide pro-bono copies of the Linux operating system
    corresponding to a Microsoft donation of hardware. It is my desire
    that any donation of software that Microsoft might choose to make
    would not be included in the proposed settlement but must also be a
    pro-bono gesture corresponding to the Red Hat Software offer.
    Moreover, any copies of software Microsoft might donate should
    require no payment of any sort by the schools at any forward point in
    time. It must be a true donation of indefinite duration, just as the
    Red Hat offer is. Otherwise, if required to pay, the schools would
    eventually have to abandon their training programs for lack of funds
    to re-license / upgrade their software.

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

    While Microsoft Corporation should not be excluded from expressing
    generosity, such generosity, expressed as software gifts, only
    furthers their ability to monopolize the marketplace and should not
    be permitted as a part of the penalty for having followed illegal
    practices in the establishment of their dominance in the software
    market.

    Microsoft has painted itself the champion of choice and freewill
    while villifying open-source software as being un-American. I think
    it is time for their actions, public and private, to match their very
    public words.

    Software donations should be no part of the proposed settlement.
  • If Apple holds half the market for school computers wouldn't it only make sense to put Apple in a key role? Say, on the committy, with as much voting power as MS... I bet that would help ensure the money got spent in a fair way. I'd bet Apple would be willing offer their computers and software at a greatly discounnted rate if MS was floating the bill.

    OR... does Microsoft simply want to put Connetix virtual PC on the Apple computers the schools do have... you know "upgrading" them to act as a PC, because we all know OS X is UNIX based & bad for the childeren.

    Is it just me? Does it seem like every time Microsoft makes an attempt to satisfy complaints... it only makes things bend more in their favor?
  • SIck of it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgleba ( 521624 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2001 @01:01AM (#2685634)
    I'm sick of the stuff I hear about this settlement. I've come to the conclusion that neither the civil nor federal cases are going to really do anyhting to curtail MS in any way. I say ditch any settlements and go the long road in the court case.

    The best thing to come out of the DOJ case thus far is a showing to the general public of MS's "evil" business practices which has really fueled the demonizing of Microsoft. It was the demonizing of IBM in their 13 year anti-trust case that led to the growth of IBM and Microsoft as people thwarted IBM's "control".

    The IBM anti-trust case really didn't do anything either, but indirectly it was very effective.

    Run the cases all the way through -- I don't care how long it takes. As long as MS continues to get demonized it will suffer the same fate as IBM which seems to be the only effective solution when tecnology is involved because the lawers and judges are so damned technically illiterate.

    To quote Steve Wozniak:

    "Part of Gates' personality is to never, ever give up an inch of ground. But I think what they're scared of now is that they've now been categorized as evil. Everybody knew that in the industry anyway. Where it's going to hurt them is recruiting. The key to all these companies is what kind of talent they can recruit for the next generation of products. Do you really want to go work for the Evil Empire?"

    That's what made apple and MS. No one wanted to work for nor buy IBM any more. OS/2 was a far superior product for a much more reliable company then MS with Windows, but companies did not want any more of IBM's control because IBM marketed it as a "whole solution" integrated with thier mainframes much like MS now markets WIndows as a "whole" solution integrated with their servers, office, ie, and soon web services.

    Good Night.

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson

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