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Microsoft

Microsoft Settlement For Private Suits Rejected 382

Lumpish Scholar writes: "Reuters story here. The judge "could not endorse the settlement ... Microsoft will have to start from scratch in negotiating a new settlement or fight the scores of suits in court."" Reuters also has an article from yesterday that looks at the positions of the various parties prior to this news. You will recall that Microsoft was proposing to settle the civil suits brought against it by donating free Microsoft software and old computers to schools. And do remember - because this always seems to confuse people - that the case brought by the Department of Justice and state governments is distinct from these suits filed by individuals.
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Microsoft Settlement For Private Suits Rejected

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  • by Strudleman ( 147303 ) <strudleman@strDE ... om minus painter> on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:16PM (#2825357) Homepage Journal
    To tie this up in the courts for years. Or atleast long enough to push out a few more OS versions....
    • by Fly ( 18255 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:27PM (#2825444) Homepage
      Delay is better than letting Microsoft make their strategic investment, er, I mean penalty of installing their software a many new machines, likely displacing a lot of their competitors installations. The poor school districts could likely still have lots of old Macs in use.
    • Or to keep it going until everyone is tired of it and someone finally gives in and lets Microsoft have whatever they want. Personally, I'm getting tired of it and I'm not even an involved party (other than owning a copy of windows that came with my computer.)
    • Bitch bitch bitch.

      Phillips announces that they won't license copy-protected CDs and it's a marketing ploy. Microsoft's ridiculous settlement offer is rejected and it's a legal strategy. Now granted, corporations are out to make money, but is there really cause to be this cynical?

      You can't please everyone all of the time, but all I see here is an inability for anyone to please anyone any of the time. It's discouraging for me to see...imagine how these corporations will react.
      • No, what you are observing is the Pessimist Law of Communication: People are more likely to complain than to praise.

        This is especially true on online forums. For any given story, it will seem like most people are complaining. In reality you are just seeing the subset of the Slashdot readership which dislikes the person/act/item being discussed. This subset shifts from story to story, but you can bet that no matter what the story is, you can find some group of readers who are angry. These are the readers most likely to post.

        I just remind myself periodically that Slashdot is not a homogeneous community and therefore has no commonly held opinions.

  • by Dave21212 ( 256924 ) <dav@spamcop.net> on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:16PM (#2825360) Homepage Journal
    I have friends that know Judge Motz here in Baltimore. He was described to me as a person with "A strong sense of fairness" and a good judge. I had a feeling he would reject that BS settlement ! woohoo !
    • Seems Judge Motz isn't the only judge coming down on Microsoft lately. Recently Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly decided [nwsource.com] that the start of the case would not be delayed beyond its March date. (It's getting retried because Judge Jackson's ruling got thrown out and he was removed from the case and MS got a new trial.) It sounds like she was fair too; but sure as heck didn't help MS out any.

      • (It's getting retried because Judge Jackson's ruling got thrown out and he was removed from the case and MS got a new trial.)


        no, no, no.

        It is not getting retried. The judgement that Microsoft is a monopoly and abused it's position was upheld. The remedies were thrown out and the remedy phase of the trial is being redone.


        Microsoft did not get a new trial. They're guilty. It's all about the punishment now.

  • Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 )
    Gooooood!

    My faith-o-meter in this planet just rose a little. That would have busticated [pseudodictionary.com] me had MS been able to lock in the next generation of kids with their products as a 'punishment'.
  • w00t! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xonker ( 29382 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:18PM (#2825376) Homepage Journal
    This is awesome... the deal that was reached was so totally beneficial to Microsoft it would have made more sense if Microsoft had been suing the schools and the judgement was inflicted on them!

    A flat-out $1 billion cash sum should do it.
    • I think not. Microsoft makes a billion in cash every month. Plus they would probably figure out some way to take a big tax credit and it would end up costing them ZIP. The fine should be in proportion to the revenue they gouged from the consumers for all those years. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 billion.
  • by Y B MCSE ( 469234 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:20PM (#2825385) Homepage

    That the settlement and the Red Hat Modification (ie MS buys the computers and RH donates the free software) would be accepted ;-)
    • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThatTallGuy ( 520811 )
      Not enough. Consider: MS has 35+ billion-with-a-B dollars just in the bank, not counting personal funds of the richest man in the world and several of his executives, not counting long-term assets. Even one billion dollars -- big as it is to you and me (or at least me) -- is barely enough to get their attention. IMNSHO, the only way to stop their tactics for good is to divest the OS from the rest of the application world -- split the company, publicize the source, whatever it takes. The OS is where the power lies; remove the power.
      • Re:I was hoping (Score:3, Insightful)

        by opkool ( 231966 )
        Good point.

        Now, what about the $1 Billion penalty that some EU -leaked document proposed as a way to finish Microsoft trial in Europe?

        I know that $35 Billion is a lot, but 41 Billion is still a lot... and will claim for the attention from some judge that pretended not to enfuriate a big corporation while we are at war... or so I understand form the ... hilarious? sad? incredible? decision to do nothing to Microsoft after being found guilty.

        I mean, if I gt a ticket I must pay a fine. Why not Microsoft?

        Sincerely puzzled,
        O.
      • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Interesting)

        by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
        Interesting. According to their last 10Q (that's an SEC filing that is made every quarter) Microsoft has $3.1B in Cash. Microsoft has a suprisingly small amount of long term assets (just a few $billion). Most of their money is tied up in investments. All of this is available through Edgar Online [edgar-online.com] but that requires a registration (may even cost money - I seem to still have an account from my prior job).

        As for Bill Gates, it really doesn't matter. As much as you may hate him I don't see the courts "piercing the corporate veil" to get to him.

        By the way, I am not disputing your point in anyway but just clarifying your made up numbers.
        • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Informative)

          by ThatTallGuy ( 520811 )
          See Microsoft's Annual Report [microsoft.com] direct from their site. I quote: Cash and short-term investments: 31,600 (millions) including a charge-off of 3.92 billion for "impairments of certain investments." Total: 35.5 billion bucks. As of June 30, 2001 (i.e. almost a year ago.) And last I heard, they were not losing any money.
          • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Insightful)

            by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
            Short term investments is not cash in the bank. If it was, it would be included in cash and equivalents. There are two separate lines for a reason. Just because something is a short term investment it doesn't mean they can turn it into cash overnight or even within several months. Anything less than a year is short term.
          • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Interesting)

            by sh00z ( 206503 )
            I haven't read the report myself, but one analyst on "The Street" TV show was dumping on them for the fact that something like 16% of their income is from investments, not product sales. His thinking was that this "spare money" should be given as shareholder dividends (of which there have been none in a long time).
            • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Interesting)

              by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
              How recently was that? Looking at their 3rd Quarter 10Q they had a $1B Investment loss in the third quarter. Analysts always like to bitch and moan about dividends but if Microsoft were to cash out on a lot of their investments you would likely see a snowball effect throughout the market.

              That is one of the points I wanted to add to my other posts about Short Term investments and cash. You all want to see Microsoft pay $30B in penalties but you do realize that the effect on the market would be devastating. This is not just about Microsoft, that $30B in investments is in a lot of companies. While a lot of you kids out there might nor care, some of us have already seen enough of our 401(k) float away.
              • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Interesting)

                by ThatTallGuy ( 520811 )
                Who said anything about 30B in penalties? I said divest the OS. So you with your 401K suddenly have stock in two companies instead of one, just as with AT&T. I don't think anybody who held AT&T stock on the day of the split (and held it since) is complaining.

                The snowball effect you are worried about is because one company has too much economic power as well as OS power. Gee... OS monopoly... enough finances to tip world markets... richest guy in the world... anybody seeing a pattern here?

                Maybe "cash" was too specific a term. But "short term assets" is not a second line in the summary... it's a resource they can call upon on short notice. I call that "close enough."
                • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Interesting)

                  by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
                  Several points. I realize that you didn't say penalties. That was more of a "for everybody" sentiment. As for stock, my 401(k) does not contain stock, it contains funds. Microsoft splitting would probably create two stocks that have a combined value lower than the original. And there are lots of people with worthless Lucent stock who are complaining.

                  Don't even get me started on the AT&T breakup. How phone service now sucks. How we had to deal with slamming and constant telemarkers. how our phone bills are not much lower, they are just spread out over more bills.

                  And if you read my posts in another group, Microsoft hardly has too much economic power. They are 79 in the country and 201 in the world in revenue. If any of those companies, or any person, divested that much money it would destroy the economy.
            • Re:I was hoping (Score:2, Informative)

              by killmenow ( 184444 )

              shareholder dividends (of which there have been none in a long time).
              Of course not. Haven't you heard? [theregister.co.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The lawyers are the true victors. Corporate attorneys and trial lawyers alike; they will have to be doing stuff all over (and get paid again).
    • I wouldn't mind lawyers getting paid by the boatload for all this stuff, as long as Microsoft is the only one that has to foot the bill. MS should also pay hefty court fees for wasting so much of the court's time.
    • I don't know what the big problem with lawyers is and why everyone thinks that they are the "true victors" in legal battles.

      How much would you pay for someone to slurp up thousands of pages of legal procedures, associate your offensive and defensive tactics with the appropriate laws and precedents from a gigantic pool of possibilities, and then, on the fly, respond to the same from two other sides of the courtroom (the opposing legal team and the Judge).

      What could be a more damaging task for the human brain (besides perl programming)?

      I am not an attorney. I don't ever want to be an attorney. I'll stick with the perl programming for now.
  • Big win for Red Hat! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:22PM (#2825401)
    "Red Hat has offered its own Linux operating system to be used in the schools instead of Windows. ``We do not think that the remedy should be a mechanism by which Microsoft can further extend its monopoly,'' said Matthew Szulik, CEO of Red Hat, in a statement."

    :-)

    This is a quote from this Yahoo article [yahoo.com].

    I'm really happy to see that the judge didn't cave in!

    299,792,458 m/s...not just a good idea, its the law!

  • Glad to see this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Syre ( 234917 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:23PM (#2825414)
    Apple and others had objected on the grounds that by letting Microsoft give software and cheap hardware to schools, they were actually not out much money (since they just have to replicate their own software) and were reaping giant marketing benefits by pushing out Apple or other vendors.

    It's at least a small victory.
    • My thought exactly. Anyone have a reference for just how much money the settlement would have really cost M$? As in the cost of printing a box, burning a CD, not the retail, education, OEM, or any other for-sale price on the software.
      • Who ever said they were going to give the schools boxes, or even manuals for that matter? I never saw any of the details, but I bet MS could have gotten away with just CDs in envelopes. They'd probably make an "educational" distribution with all the software on one or two CDs and just send those CDs out with the hardware.
    • (since they just have to replicate their own software)

      Yeah, something tells me that they would show up with one CD and install software on all the machines.

      One nice thing, if this went through, is that we may actually have another piece of evidence that they are either a monopoly or trying to be one.
  • here's hoping... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caduguid ( 152224 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:23PM (#2825416)
    that Judge Motz didn't blab to any reporters in his chambers that the settlement was patently unjust or that the microsoft execs were behaving like spoiled children.

    (Don't mind me, but I've been burned before with false-relief that the truth will out.)
  • by nomadic ( 141991 )
    U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz said he could not endorse the settlement even though it would have committed Microsoft to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on software and computers for poor schools.

    Like the software costs them anything beyond the manufacturing cost (what is it, a small fraction of a penny for each CD pressed?)
  • Seriously. Their idea of a settlement was to donate computers with MS software to schools? I read about that before as their proposed settlement and didn't really pay much attention to it, but now that they actually took it to a judge I'm just speechless.

    Here's why I'm laughing inside: MS gets sued by individuals for unfair competition and illegal business practices, and then MS proposes a solution where they will appear to be doing a public good, but in fact they will be cementing their platform in the future computer world by brainwashing children. What a joke!

    Like many others on here, I would love to see them donate all this hardware only for RedHat to volunteer and install Linux on it all, but I seriously doubt MS would let that happen. Given their attitude and actions in this case so far, I'm sure they'd write up some wordy contracts about proper use of the equipment they donated. I wouldn't be surprised if they even claimed everything produced by the computers and software would then become IP of MS. Anyhow, I really think the judge should have fined them for wasting the court's time.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @04:03PM (#2825706)
      how about give up cash and let the schools decide what goes on it?

      Who the hell are we to say, "hey let's have them give hardware and have RH come in and put Linux on it" Talk about brainwashing.
    • Well, software + hardware = money, so it's not quite cut and dried unless you're a pundit. Obviously, it was an underhanded attempt, but the beauty of having a monopoly is having an excuse to push your product when you are asked to give back to the market in punitive damages.

      But be careful man .. you sound as fundamentalist about the issues (ie, you sound like they are black and white) as any devout MS marketer/salesperson would be about the value of their own products in the classroom.

      As someone else pointed out a while back, it does make sense to provide schools with the same OS their parents have at home. It's kind of a catch 22, if you ask me.

      On a side note: Apple! It's *nix with a simple to use GUI, so you get the both of best worlds for the next generation of users. Then, they can take their pick once they have the money for a computer. I don't mind propriatary software all /that/ much .. it's just the overzealous fundamentalist marketing and underhanded lock-in strategies that bother me most about MS. Apple isn't nearly so bad at this, for instance ....
    • Microsoft got a slap on the wrist from the Feds. They figure that the Bush administration will be firmly in their corner. Because of all the fallout and implications between Enron execs and the Bush administration. Bush may want to do something to show that he's not a pushover for business. Even if he doesn't pull strings to go after MSFT, I'm sure that he won't do anything to help them. Congressmen will probably think twice about helping out a huge corp in the near future as well.
    • To me, the concept of offering a settlement has to at a minimum compensate the plaintiffs in a meaningful way. My interpretation of the M$ settlement offer was that they would donate mostly software (costing them nothing) to schools (not the plaintiffs), and PAY THE PLAINTIFF'S LEGAL FEES. This is interesting because the lawyers are probably expecting to get a percentage of the settlement, which is being offered by M$ as nothing for the plaintiffs -- meaning 30% of $0 for the laywers.

      In my opinion, this is not much different than offering a bribe to the other side's lawyers to get their support in settling the case for peanuts. Would it be OK if the plaintiffs offered to pay M$ lawyers to persuade M$ to make a $5 billion cash settlement offer??? I think not.

      M$ is not the only company that is allegedly trying to settle class action suits with charitable contributions & paying the plaintiff's attorneys. To me, this is a dubious practice that should be squashed.

  • Don't dwell too much on this going on for years in the courts. The best thing that can come of this would be similar to what happened in the 80's with IBM -- that the government and anybody else possible shines as much attention on Microsoft for as long as possible, slowing their monopolisitic practices long enough for the competition to catch up. Unfortunately for IBM the one that caught up to them was Microsoft :-/.

    It's already happening, and will continue. Have patience.

    • by pdqlamb ( 10952 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:36PM (#2825511)
      Don't dwell too much on this going on for years in the courts. The best thing that can come of this would be similar to what happened in the 80's with IBM -- that the government and anybody else possible shines as much attention on Microsoft for as long as possible, slowing their monopolisitic practices long enough for the competition to catch up. Unfortunately for IBM the one that caught up to them was Microsoft :-/.

      It's already happening, and will continue. Have patience.


      I think the tobacco industry might be a better metaphor. They had tons of money and could throw cash at lawyers for thirty or forty years until they just got tired of it. I'd have preferred the Redhat-style penalty; hit them and make them pay cash.
      • The tobacco industry did not "just get tired of it."

        They had successfully defended every suit, basically arguing that either nobody knew smoking was dangerous, nobody had proved that smoking was dangerous to their satisfaction, or the "victim" was an idiot who ignored the warning labels on every package of cigarettes.

        Then they lost a case. Too much evidence that they targeted teens unable to make an informed decision, that they deliberately made the product addictive, it doesn't matter.

        Suddenly they were looking at hundreds of thousands of suits every year from people with lung disease. Their reputation as a "hard target" was in tatters. Many potential jurors were pissed off at their decades of foot dragging, at their use of cartoon characters - Joe Camel was recognized by something like 98% of 6th graders, comparable to Mickey Mouse and far more than any real figure. They were looking at potential liability in the billions of dollars.

        So they made an informed decision - something they denied their customers - to settle with the government. One massive payment, and immunity from further civil suits. It was nothing more than a decision intended to minimize their costs.

        MS knows that the judgement that they violated antitrust law makes them a far "softer" target than before. They tried to short-circuit the process with a similar settlement, but they got greedy.
    • Unfortunately for IBM the one that caught up to them was Microsoft :-/.

      Unfortunate for all of us.

  • Overcharged? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:32PM (#2825481)
    From the article: "Class-action attorneys from California have argued the money should be reimbursed directly to customers who were overcharged for Microsoft software."

    This is interesting. How does someone actually determine the worth or 'price' of software? Generally you want to take all your overhead, add some profit, and take a good estimate of what your sales will be. Then you'd determine a price. (I realize this is very OVER simplified) You would also compare your product against competitive products and see where you sit in comparison to them price/value wise.

    Since Microsoft essentially had a monopoly on the PC market for sales of Operating Systems, their competition was none. They could charge any price to the OEMs and Consumers for the retail packages they felt like, which at least appeared to be a reasonable price to most customers.

    But how would they determine if someone was overcharged by Microsoft? Is the very fact that when you buy a PC, you automatically have Windows installed on it and are also paying for the OEM version of Windows that was installed on that PC?

    This could easily be argued as a 'value-added' feature of that PC. Where the customer ultimately benefits because the cost of an OEM Windows license is less than the Retail Windows license.
    I personally loathe Windows, and don't use it. But I'm more curious on how they determined that Microsoft overcharged it's customers.
    • Re:Overcharged? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:55PM (#2825651) Homepage
      this is a good point.. and when you look at the few alternitives, both now and in the past.. MacOS, OS/2, Be, even boxed version of linux that come with support.. They're all around the same price.. So how is that overcharging..


      Also, as far as Windows being pre-installed.. Who let it be pre-installed? The person selling the computer. They didn't have to have an OEM deal with MS, but they decided to.. You don't like it, buy a computer from somebody that doesn't have an OEM deal with MS.

      • Re:Overcharged? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Phexro ( 9814 )
        what?

        let's see... red hat 7.2: $59.95
        mac os x.1: $129.99
        windows xp (home ed.): $199.99
        os/2 warp 4: $284.00

        ok, so admittedly, os/2 is more expensive than windows xp. but, every other os available is significantly less expensive.
    • Re:Overcharged? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:59PM (#2825676)
      Nobody is quite clear on that. The Retail price of Windows is substantially higher thant the OEM price. (i.e. compare $100 to $15) In a sense Microsoft keeps the retail high to actually encourage people to buy new PCs bundled with software. They do this to benefit their OEM partners.

      But the case is oddly about OEM sales for the most part. Since the lawyers(not consumers mind you) who have brought these cases wish to make them as all consuming as possible, the OEM market is a better client because it accounts for some 90% of Microsoft sales.

      It'll be interesting to see what evidence they bring in the trial. I think they'll have a tough time proving their case, however.

      This case has more to do with ambulance chasing lawyers, or in this case law firms with a "sue microsoft" business plan. :)
    • The case of people who had Windoes pre-installed on their computers was already thrown out by the court (ruling that Microsoft did not engage in a sale directly to the customer).

      These class-action lawsuits are on the behalf of people who went out and purchased a copy of Windows 98. They are on the basis of the findings of fact which stated that Microsoft could have charged $48, instead of $99 for Windows but was able to overcharge because it was a monopoly.
  • Answer (Score:2, Funny)

    by NiftyNews ( 537829 )
    The judge was unhappy with the "private suits?" Great. Now MS will just release "public suits" for us to buy. In a year from now all of our clothing will be covered by .NET!

    And if that's not bad enough, consider the goon squad that will repo your underwear when you neglect your license fees...
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:32PM (#2825486)
    This was a pre-trial settlement. Microsoft has not been found guilty of the allegations of over charging consumers.

    These cases will now go to court.

    But it's up to the claimants to prove that in a more competitive market the price would have actually declined. That was the allegation that Judge Jackson made in his court that spawned these lawsuits, but it was more of an assumption of the nature of monoply than really supported by facts.

    It's highly unlikely that Microsoft will lose these cases, they simply tried to get a pre-trial settlement because it would have been cheaper than the legal costs of fighting in court, as well as derailing the negative publicity a court case causes.

    That is why the proposed settlement cost seemed so low. It was a hedge, not a punishment.
    • But it's up to the claimants to prove that in a more competitive market the price would have actually declined. That was the allegation that Judge Jackson made in his court that spawned these lawsuits, but it was more of an assumption of the nature of monoply than really supported by facts.

      Well, you may not think they were supported by the facts, but as far as any court in the USA, it is a legal fact that MS has a monopoly and overcharged customers. Judge Jackson's legal findings were upheld at appeal, and at this point only the US Supreme court can overturn them.

      The suit really doesn't have to rpove much of anything, so long as the supreme court doesn't get involved. With the DOJ trial transcript and jackson's Finding of Facts, they've pretty much got everything they need, and MS has a pretty high hurdle if they want to disprove a fact that has already been upheld on appeal.
  • But not because it was Microsoft. I'm not sure I understand it all, but from what I gather this was Microsofts remedy to 100s of individual lawsuits, brought by individuals (not the DOJ or the States).

    So Microsoft is sued by individuals for overcharging them for Windows (AFAIK)(?). Microsoft then says - "Hey, psst Judge, why don't we get rid of all these pesky little suits tying up your courts. And in return I'll do, oh, say, a little community service. On my own terms of course. Whadda say?"
    I'm glad the Judge told them no - it would have been quite a travesty for the aggrieved to have gotten no compensation.
  • It's just one battle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by john82 ( 68332 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:37PM (#2825523)
    MS may have lost this one, but they are patient in seeking complete market domination. There are many palms to grease in DC. Eventually someone will rise up in Congress and ask that we brush aside this blight on the profits of such a fine company as Microsoft.

    I'd like to believe that won't happen. But too many legislators have the techincal comprehension of a sea slug. Nothing substantive will ever happen to Microsoft at the behest of any branch of the US Government. Eventually the dissenting states will be forced to give up the fight because they simply can't afford the up-front cost of litigation.
    • There are many palms to grease in DC. Eventually someone will rise up in Congress and ask that we brush aside this blight on the profits of such a fine company as Microsoft.

      You mean like all those palms greased by Oracle, Sun, AOL, etc. which caused the original DoJ case in the first place?
  • Analogy (Score:4, Funny)

    by doce ( 31638 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:39PM (#2825532) Homepage
    I saw this in someone's .signature on some random mailing list that I can't remember at the moment. I think they attributed it to a Mac website.

    ...someone is caught breaking into your house, offers to repair the
    damage instead of going to jail, if they can put up a massive billboard
    for their house maintainance business in your front yard for six
    months...
    • Re:Analogy (Score:2, Funny)

      by 2Bits ( 167227 )
      No, it's like

      ...someone is caught breaking into your house, offers to repair the
      damage instead of going to jail, and states that everything in your house now belongs to him, and if you want to add anything to your house, it will belong to him too.And you kids belong to him too.
  • donating? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Doppler00 ( 534739 )
    Wait. Donating old computers and software would cost almost nothing to Microsoft and would guarantee a new generation of people dependent on using only Microsoft software. This would be more of a benefit for Microsoft rather than a punishment. Perhaps a better punishment would be to offer rebates from Microsoft. This would immediately benefit people who have bought Microsoft software (those who are allegedly ffected by the monopoly.)
  • It's interesting to look at the various links to the right of the main story on that page. The one titled "Experts Question Microsoft Action," for example, has yet *another* example of Microsoft's dirty tricks: violating the Tunney Act by trying to make deals with legislators (totally aside from their attempts at deal-making with the DoJ) and not informing the court about it.

    Then there's the way MS wants to bar the public from the proceedings... while it's heartening to see that they can still lose (maybe -- the case isn't over yet!), it's also kind fo scary to see that they're actually starting to learn more about how to (try to) manipulate the process in Washington. Compared to their bumbling in the political arena a few years back, they've actually made giant strides. Which does not bode well.

    We may have just one won battle (though actually, I'd prefer to think that *justice* just won a round), but we need to keep our eyes on MS. They're not about to roll over and play dead, and I think they're getting wilier.
  • fair punishments (Score:4, Flamebait)

    by quarter ( 14910 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @03:54PM (#2825638) Homepage
    I was just talking with someone today about how something like a speeding ticket to Bill Gates is no punishment at all.
    But a public whipping would be pretty punishing no matter who you are (well maybe not to masochists)

    So rather than come up with some arbitrarily large sum of money to punish Microsoft, maybe all the execs on the board should be publicly flogged.
    • I was just talking with someone today about how something like a speeding ticket to Bill Gates is no punishment at all. But a public whipping would be pretty punishing no matter who you are (well maybe not to masochists)

      Isn't it one of the northern European countries that ties fines for things like speeding tickets to your total income for the year? I seem to recall something a year or two ago about someone who received a speeding ticket for tens of thousands of dollars, but whose stock holdings tanked before he could actually pay it. True or urban legend?

    • Ya, but between whippings Ballmer would shout

      "Developers! Developers! Developers!"

      Please, spare us the spectacle...
    • Now now ,I wouldn't want to inflict harm to these people... well maybe ballmer, how did that wacko get that job?.. anyways..

      The perfect punishment would be public-humiliation. They are to be locked into stockades in a public place for 48 hours. people can throw non-harmful items at their faces,body,etc... and can give spankings. (not too hard and must be with your hand.)

      hmmm, how about HIV and hepatitus testing so we can have a urinination line? maybe that is too far........ NAHHHHH!
  • I never have to read another MS settlement/court case on slashdot again.
  • I paid for software that I could not use. I still have not got my refund from Microsoft for the garbage they forced on my system.

    They should have to pay the people who lost money, not be allowed to give it to people not effected. If I run into your car and damage it, do I get to give my girlfriend a spare computer instead of paying to fix the harm I did to you?

    Of course Microsoft says that the settlement would cost them lots of money, but it would be retail including retail price of software...not actual cost to them.

    But, even so, it gets MS products infront of children -- advertising???
  • donation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by csbruce ( 39509 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @04:09PM (#2825743)
    How about a compulsory $37-billion donation to the Free Software Foundation as punishment?
  • by marcop ( 205587 ) <marcop AT slashdot DOT org> on Friday January 11, 2002 @04:10PM (#2825746) Homepage
    From cnnfn [cnn.com] there is a mention that the judges reasons are:

    Judge Motz said he was not satisfied that there was enough value to the settlement and that the charitable institution would have been insufficiently funded.

    Further, Judge Motz said the settlement "would raise antitrust concerns from the perspective of other software manufacturers" because the donation of free software could be construed as "court-approved predatory pricing."


    Both these issues have been raised by many people and posted here on slashdot in the past.
    • Both these issues have been raised by many people and posted here on slashdot in the past.

      [sarcastic reply involving Shakespeare and a very large quanitity of monkeys]
    • Yes, I am replying to my own article but I wanted to add The Register's take: [theregister.co.uk]

      he deemed there was "insufficient value" in Seattlement (Private Edition)Version 1.0.

      So who else thinks that by version 3 there will be an approved settlement?

      Most tech and mainstream news sites have some article about the denied proposal on their main page but they are all pretty much the same. The Register always shines in their own way though.
  • by nege ( 263655 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @04:26PM (#2825845) Journal
    Micorsoft-opoly...

    BillGates: [rolls dice] = 8
    BillGates: sweet, doubles!
    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.
    Chance: "Place token to nearest anti-trust judge. If he is unowned you may buy him from the bank, otherwise come up with new settlement plan."
    BillGates: damn!
    BillGates: [rolls dice] = 5...
  • actually cost Microsoft... about $.10 a CD....
  • ...a judge that didn't get snowed by Microsoft legal sharpies and PR flaks. I'm surprised that MS's laywers didn't drag out a ``we're doing this for the children'' argument. Heck, donating to schools was only a step away from that. And the judge didn't fall for it. There may yet be hope...

    I think I'm gonna have a few beers in celebration tonight.

  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @05:02PM (#2826107)
    The way class action suits normally are resolved in the U.S. are as follows:

    Company X illegally overcharges consumers, say one million consumers at $100 each. Class action lawyers file suit 'on behalf' of consumers. After many years, and many appeals, a settlement is reached and damages are awarded. Consumers are asked to fill out 20 pages of paperwork in order to receive a $25 off coupon the next time they make a purchase of $3000 or more from Company X. Offer good for next six months. And the class action attourneys split $25 million in fees.

    Having Microsoft donate money to poor schools is a great idea -- iff it can be done in a way that that doesn't reduce competition.
  • This article here [findlaw.com] discusses how Microsoft's decision to release only it's lobbying of law makers in the executive branch, and not Congress, probaby was detrimental to it's case.
  • by javacowboy ( 222023 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @05:34PM (#2826318)
    If the federal judge accepts the DOJ-M$ "settlement", then none of this will matter.

    The potential impact of Microsoft getting off virtually scot-free by the DOJ will overwhealm the positive impact of this settlement being struck down.

    Should Microsoft be allowed to continue these exclusive arrangements with OEM's, the leveraging of Windows into other margets, gauging for Office, leaving out Java support in XP as well as plguins for IE, forcing users to ask for permission to upgrade their PCs on XP home edition, rigging ZD Net polls on .NET vs Java, etc... then preventing that company from dominating a single segment of the economy: education, will be practically meaningless.

    How many entrepreneurs have been dissuaded or discouraged from writing software because of Microsoft stiffling innovation? (hardly any commerical companies make consumer operating systems anymore) How many once dynamic and cutting-edge products have stagnated once Microsoft gained a 90% share? If they dominate more of the industry, we're going to see even more inferior products. The only good software M$ ever came up with was when they had to compete with another company.

    Having the school settlement struck down is a small victory, one that pales in comparison to the potential losses that would occur if the colluded DOJ settlement is accepted.
    • Even if the DOJ settles with M$ the findings of fact still stand and makes the civil cases a slam dunk. Each of these cases could cost M$ billions of dollars. A few multi billion dollar judgements should give M$ a good reason to clean up their act or else the govt could start the process all over again.

      So in effect the civil cases have the potential for causing the greatest damage and the threat of further cases could be a better deterrent than anything the govt could come up with.
  • The Register's article [theregister.co.uk] adds a good quote from the judge:

    A district court judge has rejected Microsoft's proposed settlement in the private law suits brought against the company.

    Microsoft's $1.1 billion giveaway of computers software to US schools would constitute "court-approved predatory pricing," if approved, said Judge Motz. He didn't, and it's back to the drawing board for The Beast.

    The cynical proposal was criticised on the grounds that would extend Microsoft's monopoly into the education market, which has been a loyal Mac stronghold. Over 40 per cent of US schools use Macintosh computers.

    Motz gave a strong signal that Microsoft's revised proposal would have to be a lot more generous: he deemed there was "insufficient value" in Seattlement (Private Edition)Version 1.0.

    A year ago Motz dismissed 38 suits from customers who had acquired Windows as part of an OEM bundle, even though state law allows such an 'indirect' acquisition to be treated as a direct relationship.

    Bootnote:The term 'Seattlement' was contributed by a reader from the Lichtenstein.
    "
  • by ablair ( 318858 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @06:18PM (#2826534)
    Hoo-ray for small miracles, an actual judge with sense not to be bamboozled by 300 lawyers (and a complicit prosecution) in a case involving MS. I think Apple, Red Hat, et al. deserve credit where credit is due in this by effectively presenting to the court why this would've been a bad deal. C|net also has an updated story [cnet.com] on this, sugesting the possibility of a greater-than $1B penalty for MS now from Judge Motz' comments.

    But this case, like the antitrust case, is not yet over. While we can't do anything to influence the next flimsy settlement for price-gouging MS will probably try to come out with here, maybe we can make a difference in the antitrust case by writing the DoJ [usdoj.gov]. Public comment period ends January 28, 2002. Do write, but polite & reasoned letters only, please.

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