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Microsoft Antitrust Update 290

You can't help but know that Microsoft and the Department of Justice (plus several of the states that joined in the suit) are attempting to settle their antitrust dispute. The rest of the states are holding out for a settlement with more teeth, or a continuation of the case. A few links from the past few days: The LA Times looks at the states still opposing Microsoft. Microsoft defended the settlement before a Senate committee, which was crippled by political maneuvering (see also the NYT story). The speech given by the CEO of Red Hat is online. Microsoft filed a brief with the court, unsurprisingly urging the court to accept the settlement. The Register has a story on the proposed settlement, which is available at the DOJ Antitrust website. Linuxplanet has some advice for people who want to comment on the settlement - you've got 60 days from November 28. Finally, Microsoft has named two people to help it comply with the proposed settlement.
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Microsoft Antitrust Update

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  • by srw ( 38421 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @12:36PM (#2704670) Homepage
    I don't understand. Microsoft is going to pay some people to tell them when they're not in compliance?
    Does this sound like it's really going to work?
    Shouldn't a "Compliance Officer" be appointed by the DOJ or some other agency?
    • My understanding of this proposed arrangement was that there would be three compliance officers.
      - One chosen by Microsoft
      - One chosen by the DOJ/US Government
      - One chosen by the above two people
      • I don't see why Microsoft should get to choose any of the officers. The officers should be three people who can work together with a common goal.

        Lets imagine for a second that the DOJ choose 2 and MS chooses 1 then you've basically got two people trying to do their job of watching to see if Microsoft are being compliant and 1 person who is doing their damn best to hinder the other two.

        None of the three people chosen should have Microsoft's best interests in mind.

        Lets have an analogy

        When a criminal gets sent to prison he doesn't get asked "Who do you want your prison officer to be?" If he did then he could choose someone who he could rely on to try and break him out when the other two prison officers weren't looking.

        Hey its not a brilliant analogy, but as far as analogies go its OK

      • - One chosen by Microsoft
        - One chosen by the DOJ/US Government

        Considering how on the side of MS the DOJ is, isn't that actually 2 chosen by Microsoft?

        - One chosen by the above two people

        Correction, make that three.
      • >- One chosen by Microsoft

        One officer to rule them all,

        >- One chosen by the DOJ/US Government

        One officer to bind them,

        >- One chosen by the above two people

        One officer found by them, and in the darknes blinded . . .



  • i am getting sick of all this anti-trust talk. i am as anti-microsoft as anyone else, but it has recently become clear to me that microsoft will inevitably lose it's market dominance in it's own due time(a matter of years not decades).

    all this trouble going into knocking down the giant could be avoided if people just waited until after it had cut it's ownlegs off.
    • I'm not so sure. This would be valid if MS was just sitting on its hands, but as the .NET initiative and the whole Passport fiasco show, they're doing anything but. The problem lies in the fact that they're no longer innovating so much as they're using their size and market share to do things unilaterally. There NEEDS to be some regulation of this...
    • all this trouble going into knocking down the giant could be avoided if people just waited until after it had cut it's ownlegs off.

      They don't have time for that kind of nonsense. They're too busy hacking the limbs off their competitors, as their falsified videotapes in court showed us all.

    • My predictions:

      - Microsoft gets its proposed settlement through as it stands. They donate millions of dollars worth of PC's and Microsoft software to schools, establishing a education market monopoly overnight and effectively snuffing out Apple's claim over that market.

      - Over the next five years, the three oversight committee members raise several examples of questionable business practices. Microsoft very strongly and staunchly insists that (a) it's perfectly in the right, (b) the committee is standing in the way of innovation, and (c) the committee has bias against Microsoft. Another court case starts up over this, and by the year 2009 it's about where the current court case is today.

      - Microsoft launches a campaign to make web browsing even easier for consumers! They add new technology to their web server software and market the server very cheaply to all the major e-commerce web sites. However, the new features are tightly integrated with Windows and can only be used with IE -- so if you want to buy something from eBay or Sears.com or Amazon.com, you'd better not be running Linux or Mac.

      - Microsoft also introduces new security technology, a new page layout standard, and new standards for online digital images. These new features are a snap to use with Microsoft's web server, especially if you use Microsoft's site design software, all available for cheap or free! Of course, all this is proprietary, so Linux and Mac users don't get to use sites built with this technology. Nothing's keeping you from still using Linux and Mac, of course, as long as you're okay with not having access to major web sites.

      - Want to chat with your friends? The MSN button's right there on your desktop! Want to buy movie tickets or make airline reservations? The button's right there on your desktop, and it leads to Microsoft partner services which work directly with your day planner and online checkbook in Windows! Want to use AIM or ICQ? Well, you'll have to download the software, install it, and hope it works with the current version of Windows. Want to use Moviefone or Travelocity? Well, sure, but they're slower and not integrated with Windows, and the integrated services do just as much or more -- why bother with anything else?

      Eventually, the question becomes: Why use anything other than Windows? Other companies try to compete, but Microsoft clones their technology before they have their first release, or else Microsoft buys them and integrates them into Windows. All of this is in the name of progress and innovation, and providing a better experience to consumers!
  • There's a great stress relief tool relating to the settlement now available from Nitrozac and Snaggy at The Joy of Tech! [geekculture.com]

  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @12:43PM (#2704716)
    Microsoft won this round. What you are hearing now is the death-rattle of the NOISE (Netscape, Oracle, IBM, Sun and Everyone but Microsoft) lobbying effort, the members of which have independently moved on even if their hot air continues to plod forward through the government.

    The government isn't turning off Microsoft. Microsoft isn't turning off linux, and AOL owns everything else. There is your new reality. Lets move on.

    • by Linux_ho ( 205887 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:23PM (#2704941) Homepage
      Is NOISE associated with the FMC? (F* Microsoft Consortium). I'm a card-carrying member of the FMC, but I haven't heard of NOISE before.
      • I can't tell how serious you are, but NOISE does not really exist, it's a term invented, probably by the media, for the imagined organization behind the vast concerted outpouring of anti-MS comments by the rest of the computer industry, seemingly led by Netscape, Oracle, and IBM.
        • What a relief! I was concerned that my brothers and sisters in the Fuck Microsoft Consortium had kept me in the dark about an important new affiliate of our organization.
      • by hawk ( 1151 )
        After the folks in the black helicoptors stopped coming and giving free rides, the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy fizzled out. Many of our members (who, indeed, came from all parts of the political spectrum, but shared the common bond of enjoying helicopter rides and those marvelous brownies Phyllis Shaffley always brought) went looking for other secret organizations to join.

        But we'll be back! just as soon as someone has fuel for the helicopters . . .

        hawk, who denies being a member

  • Senate Hearings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PoiBoy ( 525770 ) <(moc.sgnidlohiop) (ta) (nairb)> on Friday December 14, 2001 @12:50PM (#2704769) Homepage
    Based on the few excerpts of the Senate hearings I heard on TV yesterday, I would be surprised if in fact the proposed DoJ/MSFT settlement is allowed to go forth. It was rather clear to me that most Democrats as well as Republican Orrin Hatch (from Novell country) are outraged.

    IANAL, but I wonder to what extent the presiding judge pays attention to the media and how this will affect her decision. On the one hand, judges are not supposed to be swayed by media reporting, yet the judge is supposed to consider public comments about the proposed settlement. To the extent that Senators represent their constituents' beliefs and needs, the judge may give some weight to these types of Congressional hearings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2001 @12:55PM (#2704800)
    O.J. Simpson and former Lt. Col. Oliver North

  • by darkov ( 261309 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @12:58PM (#2704817)
    Dear Judge,
    I understand that you have found me guilty of this crime and I am willing to make a mends. I promise not to do the same crime again, or at least in the same way, and I'll also stop doing other bad things, well at least the ones you've caught me doing. I even agree to make sure that I don't do exactly the same crime by hiring a couple of people who will be very strict with me and spank me most serverly if I do it again.
    • PS: I like spankings.

      PPS: Your "Holiday Gift" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) is in the mail!
    • by Alsee ( 515537 )
      a couple of people who will be very strict with me and spank me most serverly if I do it again

      Read the proposed settlement more closely. They aren't allowed to spank Mircosoft. All they can do is snitch on them. But they can't even really do that - they are under a GAG ORDER. They can only snitch to the DOJ. Considering that the DOJ came up with this settlement, somehow I'm not thrilled with a GAG ORDER saying if Microsoft breaks the lawn one else can know.


      • They can only snitch to the DOJ.

        But you neglect to emphasize just how critically important this will be to an effective remedy.

        Consider a "Use Case" - I'm using an advanced internet/computer/software term here - to illustrate the effectiveness of this part of the remedy.

        Aggrieved small software supplier: "Hey! MS told me they would work with me so my exciting new application could be brought out in Windows SX, but they changed the API and released a competitive product that, while technically inferior to mine, will swallow the marketplace whole due to preinstalled base on new Windows SX computers!"

        DOJ:"API? What? Microsoft changing their Private Investigator? I didn't think they had one! At least, not the last few months that we've been working closely with them to help restore innovation in America."

        "Excuse me, are you of Middle Eastern descent?"

  • by Erich ( 151 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @12:59PM (#2704832) Homepage Journal
    Read part B:

    (from the settlement)

    B. Microsoft's provision of Windows Operating System Products to Covered OEMs shall be pursuant to uniform license agreements with uniform terms and conditions. Without limiting the foregoing, Microsoft shall charge each Covered OEM the applicable royalty for Windows Operating System Products as set forth on a schedule, to be established by Microsoft and published on a web site accessible to the Plaintiffs and all Covered OEMs, that provides for uniform royalties for Windows Operating System Products, except that:

    1.the schedule may specify different royalties for different language versions;

    2.the schedule may specify reasonable volume discounts based upon the actual volume of licenses of any Windows Operating System Product or any group of such products; and

    3.the schedule may include market development allowances, programs, or other discounts in connection with Windows Operating System Products, provided that:

    a.such discounts are offered and available uniformly to all Covered OEMs, except that Microsoft may establish one uniform discount schedule for the ten largest Covered OEMs and a second uniform discount schedule for the eleventh through twentieth largest Covered OEMs, where the size of the OEM is measured by volume of licenses;

    b.such discounts are based on objective, verifiable criteria that shall be applied and enforced on a uniform basis for all Covered OEMs; and

    c.such discounts or their award shall not be based on or impose any criterion or requirement that is otherwise inconsistent with any portion of this Final Judgment.

    This is the most important provision of the entire settlement.

    This eliminates Microsoft's ability to use strong-arm tactics in the ways it has been doing -- not giving special pricing to vendors who don't stay in line with what Microsoft and friends wants to do. It says that if you buy (OEM) licenses from Microsoft that (almost) no matter what you do as long as you buy the same number of licenses as someone else you'll get the same price.

    The only thing that I would like better is for the Microsoft License Schedule to be applied uniformly to all customers, regardless of OEM status. Without that, Microsoft may find loopholes to force companies out of OEM status and buy retail licenses (or whatever) but this is still a huge step.

    There is lots of talk about MS Word for Linux and such, but I think that would only further the monopoly, and I just don't think it's right for the government to mandate a product line. I think that fair pricing, however, is something totally reasonable and that will, in the end, hurt Microsoft more than most unfair measures we could add.

    Having uniform licensing to all (not just OEMs) would be the one change I would make if I got one choice, but if I got two changes I would make Microsoft release all the API specs in a public forum and make them freely available, instead of just on MSDN. Say, on their web site and with the clause that they must be freely distributable in an unmodified form.

    I think that those two things would make this settlement even better, but as it stands I think that the settlement is a fair solution.

    At least for the abuse of monopoly in the OS realm, which is what this is all about.

    • [...] two changes I would make Microsoft release all the API specs in a public forum and make them freely available, instead of just on MSDN.
      Microsoft already publishes all the API specs included in MSDN in a free public forum [microsoft.com]. They don't even make you logon to passport anymore to get at the stuff. The problem is that MSDN is no where near complete, and undocumented APIs, protocols and file formats abound in Windows.
    • Damn! Are you a microsoft settlement laywer or something?

      Yes, the settlement does address one of the things of which Microsoft has been found guilty. That does not mean the settlement is good. Using OEM pricing and rebates as a weapon is far from their only illegal tactic. I won't bother to list the rest here.

      At least for the abuse of monopoly in the OS realm...
      You seem to admit here that the proposed settlement is not complete.
      ...which is what this is all about.
      Here you are wrong. This is not just about one tactic for illegally maintaining their monopoly. It is also about illegally leveraging their monopoly to create new monopolies. It is also about protecting the public against harmful bussiness practices. Other related and undesirable, yet legal, activity falls within the scope of leagal action once found guilty of breaking the law.

      • Damn! Are you a microsoft settlement laywer or something?

        Ha! I do DSP architecture on primarily Solaris boxen at work, and at home I pretty much use x86 linux.

        But I think that having fair pricing for their products limits their ability to leverage their monopoly (as they have been doing).

        Actually, I'm suprised that MS didn't fight to get this provision out of their settlement. They would have done better to split themselves in two or three companies and still be able to use their monopolies of Office and Windows to bully vendors into doing their will than to have to sell licenses fairly.

        Imagine this: Dell can (for instance) start selling pre-installed dual-boot RedHat/Windows machines (or Windows-on-VMware machines) to home buyers and companies and there isn't anything MS can do to "punish" them. That's huge.

        At least for the abuse of monopoly in the OS realm... You seem to admit here that the proposed settlement is not complete.

        Uh, I was under the impression that this litigation was from MS using their power as an OS monopoly to have unfair business practicies. They might do the same with their Office products, but I think that would fall under different litigation.

        This is not just about one tactic for illegally maintaining their monopoly. It is also about illegally leveraging their monopoly to create new monopolies. It is also about protecting the public against harmful bussiness practices.

        Being forced to sell to everyone at a fair price severely inhibits MS's ability to continue to leverage their OS monopoly. That limits their ability to force OEMs to do things. The other part comes from MS making non-MS software not work. This will (theoretically) come from MS documenting their OS behaviour.

        And I know it's not popular around slashdot, but I'm just not in favor of having the government beat MS into a bloody pulp. Sure, they are about as wicked as a company can get (and, unlike Apple, are in a position to act out their evil ways). I don't like MS, I don't like their software, and I surely don't like their business practices. But, on the other hand, I think that the government should mess with companies as little as possible. I think it's necessary for the government to do something in this case, but I think it's wrong for the govt to determine MS's product roadmap.

        And I think that this settlement is a reasonable compromise. Not great, not horrible, but reasonable.

        • I think that having fair pricing for their products limits their ability to leverage their monopoly

          I was under the impression that this litigation was from MS using their power as an OS monopoly to have unfair business practicies.

          Yes, but my point was that pricing was not their only unfair business practice leveraging their OS monopoly.

          I'm just not in favor of having the government beat MS into a bloody pulp.

          While beating Microsoft to a bloody pulp has a certian appeal (LOL), the settlement is a joke. I've read the settlement. I'm not a laywer, yet I can see glaring loopholes. It does some good and important things, but parts of it are twisted to actually benefit Microsoft. And they are not penalized for breaking the law - Rob a bank, steal a car, and beat someone up - keep the money, just promise not to rob banks any more?

          I think that the government should mess with companies as little as possible.

          I agree, as long as the companies don't do anything illegal.

          I think it's wrong for the govt to determine MS's product roadmap.

          I assume you're reffering to proposals they they be forced to release certain products for other OS's. I agree that's pretty silly. My main objection is to all the exceptions Microsoft worked into the settlement. There are lots of places they attack free software, and if I read it right, they planted huge holes to abuse for their .NET program. It would also be nice if they were penalized for breaking the law.

    • > This eliminates Microsoft's ability to use strong-arm tactics in the ways it has been doing

      Except, of course, that it only lasts 5 years. Unless they ignore it. If they ignore it, they will have to ignore it for 7 years.
  • A Simple Plea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gergi ( 220700 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:01PM (#2704838)
    Does anyone else remember how wonderful it felt that the DoJ was doing something about Microsoft's bullying tactics several years ago? We all hoped it would finally be the end of the abuse.

    Then, the ruling came down... They are a monopoly and they will be stricken down. People-in-the-know were amazed... The DoJ proved it could compete with new-age, tech-savvy companies.

    Now, it seems the DoJ has proven just the opposite. They got the affirmation that it was a monopoly and then decided that was "good enough"... we don't need to punish them.

    Almost as if they just wanted to prove they were a monopoly but didn't really want to do anything about it.

    If the DoJ has there way now, Microsoft is virtually given a carte blanche to (attempt to) dominate our lives in the living room (XBox), on the internet (.NET), in the news (MSNBC), etc.

    Truly a sad moment in the history of the US (if not the world).
    • Maybe it's because the government now has a hook into Microsoft.

      "It would be a shame for us to do X to you, because you *have* broken these various laws. On the other hand, we could use a favor..."
    • > Now, it seems the DoJ has proven just the
      > opposite. They got the affirmation that it was a
      > monopoly and then decided that was "good
      > enough"... we don't need to punish them.

      You're forgetting something happened in between. The DOJ was doing fine until Microsoft's check [opensecrets.org] to Bush and the other Republicans cleared. Then the following conversation happened:

      GWB: Now Ashy, don'cha think you're bein a little hard on Microsoft. Maybe you're misunderstating their position.

      JA: But they broke the law! And since we're Republicans, we can't be seen as soft on crime! [salon.com]

      GWB: Tell you what, John, if you go easy on the B. Gates and Co, I'll let you tromp on some civil rights [cbsnews.com]. Will that make it better?

      JA: Well...

      GWB: I'll even give you some new police powers [cnn.com] ...

      JA: You got a deal! That'll show all those people in Missoura who would rather vote for a dead guy than me [salon.com]!

      • You're forgetting something happened in between. The DOJ was doing fine until Microsoft's check to Bush and the other Republicans cleared.
        If you think that it's a payoff, do you really think that a Gore administration would have a different position on the issue, since the Democrats received nearly as much? Bush was at least honest enough to question the justification for the case during the campaign, while Gore dodged the question every time it was raised.
        • > Bush was at least honest enough to question the
          > justification for the case during the campaign,
          > while Gore dodged the question every time it was
          > raised.

          So you're actually crediting GWB with being paid off by Microsoft and staying bought? I guess that is "honest" is a weird sort of way.

          And, yes I do think Gore would have had a different position on this issue. Despite what you say, Gore did not "dodge the issue" every time it was raised. On the contrary, Gore told Microsoft employees during direct questioning that he believed anti-trust laws were applicable to the software industry. From a USA Today article [usatoday.com]:

          Gore told the employees that "I respect your feelings." But he also said antitrust laws must be enforced when competition is unfairly stifled.
  • Preach on Brotha! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:10PM (#2704881) Homepage
    The Red Hat speech is awesome. Szulik on the OSS Development Model:

    This open communication strikes me as so perfectly American. I envision the early leaders of this country drawing up the tenets of our constitution in much the same way--in the open, in pursuit of a solution that is fair and of benefit to all.

    This is the best counterstatement to MSs 'Linux is anti-American' garbage I've read so far.
    • Would've been more awesome if he had a chance to deliver it in session though eh?
    • While I agree with the sentiment that Open Source often seems All-American, and generally jives with the ideals of a young Thomas Jefferson - the Constitution was written by a group of elite individuals (perhaps unique in the world at the time because their elite status was not solely based on their parentage), in a closed and sealed up building [google.com], where no one was allowed to report the proceedings to the populous at large. After they had created their new document for government they set about to use the tools of mass media (The Federalist Papers, and other forums) to convince everyone else that their Constitution was The Best Thing for America. (Even though most of them thought of themselves as Virginians, or New Yorkers rather than as Americans - Hamilton being the only obvious exception that springs to mind) And it worked, they convinced us to adopt their method of governing. Sure they had to add a patch that some of the end users demanded (Bill of Rights), but their creation was otherwise untouched.... wait a second, this isn't alt.history.colonial, is it? In brief, Szulik's speech was a nice sentiment, but his vision of how the Constitution was drawn up is imaginary.
    • Szulik said:

      > "Open source is an intellectual property
      > destroyer. I can't imagine something that
      > could be worse than this for the software
      > business."

      He is technically right. Open Source in itself is not against the intellectual property... ask Apple [apple.com]. But the bulk of the software which RedHat is associated with a license [gnu.org] whose originator has made no secret of his distaste [nature.com] for copyrights and patents... intellectual property [gnu.org] in general.

      Now, if you (like many academics and thinkers) think IP is bad, then great, you'll love the GNU idea. If, on the other hand, you are in a business protected only by IP rights (think software, videos, music, books, newspapers), then you just *may* believe otherwise.
  • by Queuetue ( 156269 ) <queuetue AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:12PM (#2704888) Homepage
    CA's attourney statement that "It's a little like Big Tobacco being found guilty of selling cigarettes to minors, and the remedy is for them to agree to give them free cigarettes."
  • what the...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blank_coil ( 543644 )
    How can anyone keep up with Micro$oft? Seriously, while we're all focusing on this antitrust suit, they've got like 50 other projects in the works, from M$ TV, the XBox, .NET, Passport, Windows XP, Explorer, and a whole lot more. By the time we hear about an M$ development, it's already too late, 'cause they've got something else in the works. You can't even stop and say, "Hey, Windows XP has some seriously troubled activation issues" because they've got some other product out before you can finish your sentence. They're pushing stuff out so fast that it's not even possible to discuss your misgivings because it's old news in a day. Kind of like a new tendrils poping up that reach into everything we do. M$ encompasses almost everything in the average person's life, from computers to news to the military. And with the xbox, they're trying to get their products into our living rooms. M$ wants to have your entire house running on their software.

    Now, I realise that there is always the option of simply not using M$ products, but what about all those other people out there who aren't as "enlightened"? To them, Windows is the computer, not simply an OS. While some might not care what John Q Public is running on his home computer, I do, because with more market dominance, M$ gets more power. And with more power, they can start affecting the lives of everyone, even those people who don't touch M$ products. What if Micro$oft really did manage to pass litigation through that banned OSs without DRM?

    Something needs to be done about M$, and not using WinXP isn't going to cut it. If the antitrust suit fails, perhaps we, the people, need to put something into action.
  • by Darth RadaR ( 221648 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:24PM (#2704950) Journal
    One thing that would (IMHO) *highly* cut back on M$'s monopoly would be for the DOJ to make M$ open up their formats on the Office products. I can't count the times that I've told people to send me a document in text-only format because I'm not using MS Office and Star Office might or might not convert it properly.

    If M$ is going to get any fair competition, they need to open their formats on Word and Excel so people are not forced to use MS Office if they have to work with those formats. That would be a big boost for the developers of Abiword, WordPerfect for *nix, Gnumeric, Star Office, etc. They wouldn't have to spend so much time on converters. They could spend their time making great office programs that work with anything someone sends you, and make the office application software battle a fair fight.

    • > If M$ is going to get any fair competition, they need to open their formats on Word and Excel so people are not forced to use MS Office if they have to work with those formats.

      The 9 states could bypass the DoJ sellout entirely, simply by passing their own legislation specifying that state institutions would not be allowed to create, store, or distribute documents in any format that is not an ANSI standard.
  • by Cy Guy ( 56083 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:24PM (#2704951) Homepage Journal
    You can read the proposed Civil Settlement [uscourts.gov] (pdf) and the responses [uscourts.gov] as well. They also are pdf files being just scanned images of the letters recieved.

    The responses are interesting, most of the ones I have read from School Districts indicate that they are afraid that they get very little value out of the settlement, since the software will be donated, and the hardware will be largely used requiring more maintenance than the benefit it provides. In efffect the schools are saying that they will be saddled with a much greater percentage of the total cost of ownership than Microsoft. So if the intention is to punish Microsoft and reward the schools this is the wrong way to go about it.
  • ... Under the terms of the settlement plan, Microsoft agreed to provide cash, computers and software it values at more than $1 billion to public schools that poor children attend. ... [washtech.com]

    Filling our kids' classrooms with visible reminders of a company is no way to correct a monopoly any more than it's a way to keep kids from smoking.

    Imagine if the tobacco companies had been allowed to settle by saying "we'll put a bunch of stuff we know you can't afford and desperately need into your schools, with our logos highly visible to impressionable young children who will grow up highly inclined to become our next generation of customers ... in exchange for being let off."
  • by dcgaber ( 473400 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:30PM (#2704981)
    Senator Leahy had invited Jim Barksdale (co-founder of Netscape) to testify on the effects the RPFJ would have had if it was in place when Netscape was starting up. Microsoft balked at having him testify and said they would have refused to appear if Barksdale was there. So Barksdale was dis-invited, but sent a letter giving his answer. That letter was partially read by Sen. Hatch and said that Netscape would have never received VC funding. Pretty damning stuff.

    Leahy asked Charles James (head of Antitrust for DoJ) to respond. He dodged saying that he had not read the letter yet and it seemed like typical hyperbole that was being spouted off (but also said he could not characterize it as such given he has not read the letter). Leahy asked him to formally respond for the record, which will be done in writing (I assume).

    It was a little suprising to see such a little used procedural movement to kill the hearing. Leahy was visablly upset, but admitted its a Senator's perogative. Ironically, it was Sen Byrd (who knows every minutia of procedure) who was upset over TPA (fast track trade negotiation authorization for the President on trade treaties) and called that mark-up to a halt--however, it had already been succesfully reported out of committee at that point.

    So what was left was 4 Senators upbraiding MS and calling the settlement for the sham it is. The only one defending the settlement was Sen. McConnell who clearly wanted to get his 1 minute in before the first recess (for votes, asked to be heard when Leahy tried to do a 20 minute break so he would not have to come back). All McConnell said was that 70% of the public favor a settlement, so any settlement is good. Leahy responded by saying that he too favored a settlement, but not a meaningless one riddled with loopholes.

    FYI, the 4 senators attacking MS were Leahy (D-VT), Kohl (D-WI), Hatch (R-UT), and DeWine (R-OH), a bi-partisan group to say the least.
  • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:44PM (#2705051) Journal
    Bitching about how letting MS put it's products into our children's classrooms will only increase their foothold isn't going to help when you only do it on slashdot! Here's the contact info for making your argument known! For those extra lazy people (myself included), they are also accepting emails!

    US Postal Services:

    Renata Hesse,Trial Attorney
    Suite 1200, Antitrust Division, Department of Justice
    601 D Street NW
    Washington, DC 20530


    202-616-9937 or 202-307-1545

    Try not to be too rude. Remember, someone has to actually read these, and you'll only make them ignore your arguments if you are snide. Also, try to get records of reciept where possible. (Send by certified mail, use email reciepts, get fax reciepts) Supposedly ALL recieved comments will be published in the Federal Register. So if you don't see your comment in it with all the others, then you will have your reciept to back up your claim that not all comments were considered and included!
    • Actually, this is a private antitrust suit. You should let your views be known here:
      The Honorable J. Frederick Motz
      Chief Judge
      United States District Court for the
      District of Maryland
      101 West Lombard Street
      Baltimore, Maryland 21201

      and you can email here:

      The DoJ is not involved with this as it is a private suit. Two letters that we wrote can be found here [ccianet.org] and here [ccianet.org].

      If you have a problem with the DoJ proposed settlement, there are places you can file your comments too. They have been listed repeatedly here.
  • Orrin Hatch - not notable for intelligent remarks - actually spoke up against Microsoft! This is probably comparable only to Hugh Heffner converting to Puritanism.

    On a slightly-related note, the UK Government has just discovered that Microsoft is raising its licencing fees by about a hundred million or so dollars, as of next year. Apparently, they're not happy about this and have told Microsoft to either think again, or take a long walk off a short plank. The UK Government is also starting to take a serious look at alternatives.

    This is just a thought, but this COULD spell the end of Microsoft as a mega-corp, =IF= the Linux distros can get their acts together. Think about it for a moment. Let's say only a few EU Governments switch to Linux. Well, the Governments are amongst the big spenders for Universities, so Universities will likely follow suit. This'll trickle down into the earlier schools, and from there into the homes.

    If Microsoft lose enough European Governments, they lose the European educational (and by extension the home) markets. In consequence, since people generally stick to what they know, there's a decent chance they'll lose the European technical markets, too.

    BUT this requires that Linux distributions exploit this potential opening. To do that, they need to include more ease-of-use software. Linuxconf and/or Webmin are getting to the point of being useful to Joe Average, but they generally aren't included. Ximian is nice, but again, it's usually missing. Since home users'll likely be using multimedia stuff, the kernels used need (at least) the low latency patches. For games, where's FlightGear? The Doom-alikes? Speech goes over well, so where's Festival? Office users are likely to need to connect to Windows systems, but Samba rarely gets a mention (never mind configuration) at install time, and Samba-tng seems to have vanished, as far as distros are concerned.

    My point? My point is that Linux has everything it needs to take over, and an opportunity is presenting itself over one of the most important continents on the Earth today... ...and that we're all too busy modding each other up or down over stupid things to do anything about it!!!!!

  • by RNG ( 35225 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @02:14PM (#2705217)
    The contrast of how the US judicial system can work is interesting: Dimitri circumvents the protection on some minor piece of software and gets thrown into jail. MSFT leaves behind a trail of dead competitors and obvious monopolistic abuses, their executives basically deceive the court with false or doctored testimonies and they're looking at another slap on the wrist.

    Isn't it great what (lots of) money can buy you??
  • Bitch and Moan... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dygytyz ( 540345 )
    ...all you want, but the ONLY way that things are going to change is through:

    1. Voicing your displeasure in Microsoft by:

    a) Boycotting Microsoft Products
    b) Sending Microsoft and your elected representatives messages about your personal boycott.
    c) Encourage others to do the same.

    2. Alternative Advocacy:

    a) Put Linux on every computer you can.
    b) Educate, amuse, and entertain the people you come into contact with about the alternatives. Make it fun, not a chore.

    3. Quit talking out of your ass and spewing anti-MS propaganda. It's hard to make friends when you're vilifying someone else out of the other side of your mouth.

    The power of the American citizen lies within his and her wallet. When we buy a product, we are sending a message to the producer that we accept *everything* they do with respect to how that product is made, marketed, and consumed. If you want to hurt Microsoft - do it with your power as a consumer. Hit them where it hurts the most - in the P&L statement. Sell your MSFT and invest the funds in a company you admire.

    If you _have_ to use Microsoft products, that's fine, but I've found I can convince my employers to switch not by voicing my hatred of Microsoft, but simply comparing Microsoft products side by side with similarly capable open source alternatives.

    Three words: Return on Investment.

    That is all.
  • by frank249 ( 100528 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @05:29PM (#2705763)
    In Canada, the law that is supposed to protect Canadian consumers and businesses is the Competition Act [parl.gc.ca]. The Government agency in charge of upholding this law is the Competition Bureau [ic.gc.ca].

    It is funny how the Microsoft has been convicted in the US and EU of illegal monopolistic business practices yet the Canadian Competition Bureau has done nothing. You can email them to ask why here [mailto].

    If you are Canadian and want to ask the same question of your member of parliment, their email addresses are here [parl.gc.ca].
  • by Mansing ( 42708 )
    Microsoft has criticized the alternative remedy offered by the hold-out states as ``radical and punitive'' measures [yahoo.com] that ''seem calculated to inflict maximum commercial harm on Microsoft.''

    Uhmmmm ... isn't that the point when someone is found guilty?
  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @05:46PM (#2705862) Homepage Journal
    Available for viewing - roughly an hour long.

    Here 'tis [c-span.org]
  • My letter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mitchner ( 524884 )
    Per the LinuxWorld column, below is my letter commenting on the settlement. Don't just complain about MS. Copy it, change it to your liking, and fax it to the number in the address!

    Renata Hesse, Trial Attorney
    Suite 1200, Antitrust Division
    Department of Justice
    601 D Street NW
    Washington, DC 20530;
    (facsimile) 202-616-9937

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    I am a computer programmer and consider myself knowledgeable of the computer industry. I am writing concerning the proposed Microsoft settlement with the Department of Justice. Since Microsoft has already been found guilty, I consider the existing settlement to be severely lacking in several areas. As it is currently written, the settlement will not prevent Microsoft from continuing their anti-competitive behavior. Also, it provides no penalty for Microsoft's past behavior. A meaningful settlement needs, at a minimum, the following:
    • Both the Windows API and Microsoft document formats (MS Word, MS Excel, etc) must be made freely available to anyone who wants them.
    • Microsoft networking protocols must be standardized by a standards body. This will prevent Microsoft from using their private, proprietary protocols to seize control of new applications used on the Internet.
    • Microsoft products should be provided only as extra-cost options on personal computers. The software should also be available for the same price as the difference between a computer loaded with Microsoft products, and one without any Microsoft products. This will prevent Microsoft from "bunding" an entire kitchen sink of applications with Windows, increasing the price of Windows (either directly or indirectly), and preventing competition.


    Michael J. Green
    concerned, informed Citizen
    • Re:My letter (Score:2, Interesting)

      Here is my letter - this should give you a little more filler prose to mix-and-match to make your letter unique :)

      To Whom It May Concern:

      I would like to express my concern over the latest settlement proposed by the Department of Justice in the Microsoft Antitrust case. As introduction, I am a software developer who builds applications primarily for the Windows platform.

      One of my primary concerns with the proposed settlement is that it ignores the damages done by Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior to rival technologies. While I am pleased that Microsoft's future actions are to be regulated by the settlement, I feel that much of the damage has already been done. Simply enforcing certain prohibitions on Microsoft's business practices will not repair many of the companies that have suffered because of Microsoft's predatory activities. Granted, it would be a difficult task to quantify all the damages done by Microsoft to every company, but the fact that so many companies have been affected suggests that the current settlement is not appropriate. While I will not propose specific alternative settlements, I do suggest measures that will impose damages on Microsoft tantamount to those it imposed on its competitors.

      I take greatest exception to the idea that a quick settlement will be in the interest of the people. Its monopoly in the Operating System market has allowed Microsoft to expand to new areas such as Internet retailing, broadcasting, and entertainment. Given that the current settlement amounts to a slap on the wrist, Microsoft will have no impediment to extending its stranglehold to these new domains.

      Thank you for your attention.
  • This Reuters story [yahoo.com] on Yahoo! could cast an interesting light on the case, as these are companies who are not (currently) directly competing with Microsoft.
  • * Microsoft's punishment devolves to giving away software that costs them little or nothing to produce... and is likely to build it's market share (not to mention killing any recourse the complaintants may have coming to them.)

    * Microsoft essentially gets to pick the people who watchdog them. -- Ain't this a crock of...

    * A public forum gathering information about and likely to have a strongly worded and televised position on the antitrust decision - has been effectively shutdown because one senator wanted to be somewhere else at the time?!

    Jeezus Kkkkrist! What the heck is going on!? I'll tell you what *I* think... we're getting screwed royally!

    Reminds me of the political cartoons I saw while studying U.S. History. The big trusts having powerful connections in government... closing out the voice of the people. I believe the solution was the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison