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Microsoft

Respond To The Tunney Act 352

Jeremy White writes "Two nights ago, I was discussing the Microsoft Antitrust trial, and the comment period required by the Tunney Act, with someone who cares as deeply about this case as I do. The person I was talking to had an inside connection that knew the tally and basic shape of the comments actually being sent in about this case. I learned that it's time to stop procrastinating, or Microsoft buys this one."
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Respond To The Tunney Act

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  • Real link (Score:3, Informative)

    by heliocentric ( 74613 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:38AM (#2887117) Homepage Journal
    This is the real link http://www.codeweavers.com/~jwhite/tunney.html [codeweavers.com]. I'm sure the editors will fix this and I'll just labeled as a troll - oh boy...
  • Link... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Niggle ( 68950 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:39AM (#2887118) Homepage
    Or for a link [codeweavers.com] that works...
  • by Dog and Pony ( 521538 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:45AM (#2887136)
    It is funny to see, when 4 out of 5 posts so far comments on the broken link in the story, and 3 of them posts the real one (a toughy to figure out).

    Now I am gonna sit around waiting for someone to actually have an opinion about the matter too. :)

    • by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @07:04AM (#2887179) Homepage
      I have an opinion. I have lots of them. Let's see if I can explain a good opinion of mine:

      First and foremost, I can only see the similarity between any 'justice' done to Microsoft in the same light as affirmative action; someone always gets unreasonably favored. That's just the nature of it. One of the most pronounced problems with Microsoft software is the lack of documentation. Many of their products use portions of the Windows and extra commodity-library API's that aren't documented. This is a biggie in the(AOL and the DOJ's, that is) antitrust case as it relates to their preventative measures to keep the competition in their stranglehold.

      If Mozilla, or more precisely, Netscape had the same level of integration into the Windows operating system, it'd be much more widespread. In recent news, many Qwest DSL customers are being pushed into MSN because they aren't aware they have a choice in the matter. This is a similar situation: Most computer buyers use what works. Since Internet Explorer is integrated into Windows OS, this provides MS a clear window for them to keep a high percentage of installed computers always using IE. If Windows came with Netscape, it'd be a much more widely used browser. From many of the non-technical people I've talked to, most prefer using Netscape over Internet Explorer. However, when you look at studies done by Netcraft, IE always stays on top.

      How about making it easier for 3rd parties to develop software that integrates with Office with the same seamless integration as their own software. Much of this is difficult without a little knowledge. I know one serious flaw with the aspirations for success in Wine: they can't accurately duplicate the API's that they do not know.

      I am a proponent of letting the best product win. With one constraint: all products are given a fair opportunity for success. That's it.
      {RHETORICAL}Is that too much to ask?{/RHETORICAL}
      I already know the answer.
  • by Arimus ( 198136 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:48AM (#2887142)
    Looking at Dan Kegel's letter [kegel.com] the one thing that's striking me about this issue is...
    Microsoft is global company causing global problems not just to the development process inside the US but outside it as well - especially as alot of open source projects have a wide range of international contributors, but as things stand only US points of view can be submitted to the courts.

    While I agree that as this case is being brought in the US weighting ought to be given to US residents as this affects everyone people outside the US ought to have some scope to feed comments into the process. I know the EU is looking at (or are they still?) bringing its own case against MS but again this only will take account of EU concerns.
    For matters of this nature which are truely global a global perspective needs to be presented.
    • by Algorithm wrangler ( 455855 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @07:56AM (#2887246) Homepage
      Actually the EU is still investigating MS for anti-competitive behavir. The EU commission has a history of presenting companies with substantial fines in these cases (They recently fined two danish airlines $36 mill. and $12 mill for fixing prices on the Copenhagen-Stockholm route which "only" has one million passengers per year). The EU law states that companies can be fined as much as 10% of their annual turnover when acting anti-competitive - not a small amount in the case of Microsoft.
    • While I agree that as this case is being brought in the US weighting ought to be given to US residents as this affects everyone people outside the US ought to have some scope to feed comments into the process.

      Generally speaking (e.g., grossly over-simplifying), US legal rulings only apply to domestic business practices. Our courts have very little say over what goes on in your country, something for which you should probably be thankfull; engaging in law-enforcement in other people's countries is generally considered rude, I understand. So, strictly speaking, it wouldn't really be fair to admit evidence in the anti-trust case pertaining to how M$ behaves overseas. Sorry.

      As I recall, though, the EU's stance on this is comparable to the US's and some similar ruling may be in the works even now. (Anybody know more about this than me?)
      • people outside the US ought to have some scope to feed comments into the process

      What's the big deal? I've been pretending to be a US citizen ever since the heady days of the RSA export embargo. Ticking the "Yes, I am a loyal US peon, and not some godless foreign evil super genius with an indeterminate accent, a fluffy white cat, and access to a might BBC 'B' Microcomputer" is no harder now than it was then - and is still about as effective in determining intention and eligibility.

      If you truly believe (as I do, and as Jon Johansson and Dmiti Sklyrov might agree) that US tech law has de facto jurisdiction in most of Europe, and that Microsoft clearly dictates the market (except perhaps in Germany), then it shouldn't bother you even on moral grounds to contribute in this case. What happens to Microsoft in the US has a great deal of relevance to me, serving as I do on "USS Great Britain".

      In case anyone is in any doubt about this, consider one of the causes of the American Revolution (Mel Gibson's Patriot shennanigans aside): taxation without representation*. And consider that in my life as a computer professional, private citizen, and taxpayer (to a government that gets out its chequebook and spreads its ass cheeks every time Bill drops his arrestor hook and stops over while the MicroJet is refuelled), the illegal Microsoft monopoly in the US amounts to taxation for me in Britain. Is that putting it too strongly?

      * Despite saying "one of the causes", I'm sure someone will start on about how it was all about "Love the Kingdom, Hate the King" (which is was), or about "all equal, inalienable rights" or such (which it wasn't, white male slave owning landowners only club, government by lawyers for lawyers, hereditary political class, last legal slavery transaction in 1995, yadda yadda yadda).

  • Other links (Score:5, Informative)

    by Metrollica ( 552191 ) <m etrollica AT hotmail D0T com> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:56AM (#2887162) Homepage Journal
    Article here. [osopinion.com]

    Microsoft says that it does not have lobbyists pushing its interests in the pending antitrust case, but that stance probably glosses over the indirect influence its lobbyists have had on the current administration.

    Link to US DOJ. [usdoj.gov]

    Article by Cringely [pbs.org]

    Dont forget to send in comments to the US DOJ [usdoj.gov]
  • The Email I sent: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mESSDan ( 302670 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @06:59AM (#2887166) Homepage

    I sent this email from my Hotmail.com account ;)

    I would just like to say that I have read about the proposed settlement, and I am not in favor of it in its current state. Please consider this a vote against the current settlement, as well as a vote to seek a settlement that is more favorable to Microsoft's competitors, yet unfavorable to Microsoft.

    I hope the irony of using MS Hotmail to send this does not elude you.

    Thank you,

    My Real Name
    My Real Address

    How hard was that? It does specifically what Mr. White asks, which is to submit a vote against the current settlement. It took 5 minutes. Heck, it took longer to write this comment than that.

    • I sent this email from my Hotmail.com account

      I wouldn't trust it to get there.

    • Re:The Email I sent: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grylnsmn ( 460178 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @09:27AM (#2887399)
      Here's my email that I sent:

      To Whom It May Concern:

      I am opposed to the proposed settlement in the Microsoft antitrust trial. I feel that the current proposed settlement does not fully redress the actions committed by Microsoft in the past, nor inhibit their ability to commit similar actions in the future.

      The vast majority of the provisions within the settlement only formalize the status quo. Of the remaining provisions, none will effectively prohibit Microsoft from abusing its current monopoly position in the operating system market. This is especially important in view of the seriousness of Microsoft's past transgressions.

      Most important, the proposed settlement does nothing to correct Microsoft's previous actions. There are no provisions that correct or redress their previous abuses. They only prohibit the future repetition of those abuses. This, in my opinion, goes against the very foundation of law. If a person or organization is able to commit illegal acts, benefit from those acts and then receive as a "punishment" instructions that they cannot commit those acts again, they have still benefited from their illegal acts. That is not justice, not for the victims of their abuses and not for the American people in general.

      While the Court's desire that a settlement be reached is well-intentioned, it is wrong to reach an unjust settlement just for settlement's sake. A wrong that is not corrected is compounded.

      Sincerely,

      My Name

      It took me about 15 minutes to compose my thoughts and send the email, and I feel that it was well worth it.

      • Re:The Email I sent: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tmarzolf ( 107617 )
        Here's mine too for what it's worth,

        To: microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov
        Subject: Microsoft Settlement

        To Whom it may Concern,

        I would like to add my voice to those in adamant opposition to the proposed Microsoft Settlement.
        As a student with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and about to complete a Master's Degree in Information Systems it is painfully clear to me the extent to which Microsoft has abused the public trust with its monopoly power. Please, for the sake of us all, reject this proposal in favor of a much stronger remedy.

        Today's information based society is particularly hard hit by Microsoft's crimes. The most cursory review of my day finds several obvious examples of the price that we all must pay for Microsoft's monopoly. For example; websites often display properly only under Microsoft Internet Explorer because they were created with Microsoft tools. My email accounts are regularly bombarded with spam from the latest Microsoft Outlook virus because there is no program which compete on the Microsoft platform despite Outlook's many security vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Cross platform collaboration with my peers at school is nearly impossible because Microsoft Office continues to incomparable file formats in order to lock in its customer base. When I recommend to my friends and family that they buy a prebuilt computer from a major hardware vendor I must explain that it can only be bought bundled with Microsoft Windows. These problems exist, not because of a lack of consumer demand for a solution, or lack of a willingness to pay, but because Microsoft does not allow it.

        The proposed settlement does not come close to recouping the illegal gains which Microsoft has made off American consumers much less come close to penalizing Microsoft for the illegal abuses. While it is doubtful that the true losses can ever be recovered from Microsoft any settlement The beginnings of a fair settlement should include the preeminent opening of all Windows and Office API's and file formats as well as a large cash payment to open source programming efforts which compete with Microsoft products. In this way Microsoft's ill gotten gains can be used for the public good.

        Sincerely,
        tmarzolf

    • My comments on the matter (which was long than the average one, I noticed), sent to the DoJ addy:

      The current proposed settlement (PS) is flawed. Because of many different legal loopholes in the PS, Microsoft will be able to find ways to easily exploit their customers and OEMs to their advantage.

      Microsoft has already extended, or tried to extend, their monopoly since the start of the trial, such as:

      * Microsoft .NET and MS's plans to force everybody to sign for a MS Passport (which has already been proven to be a very insecure system)
      * The failed attempt to turn an educational lawsuit into a way to inject their software into yet another market
      * Imposing highly-restrictive EULAs and license agreements in XP to try to milk as much money as possible from the end user and businesses, which has already forced other governments (such as the UK and China) to consider other options besides MS software
      * Using PR stunts to hide the fact that security was never a major concern of any of their products, and never will be (even though recent developments in Windows XP and Internet Explorer have proven this)
      * Starting petty lawsuits to snuff out competition, in the hopes of running them out of money (such as the recent Lindows lawsuit)
      * Rigging web polls and writing fake letters (from people already long dead and buried) to influence business and DoJ decisions

      The government's intentions in the PS are in good faith, but the language puts too much faith in MS's interpretation of it. Dan Kegel has a great analysis of the flaws found in the PS here:

      http://www.kegel.com/remedy/remedy2.html

      In short, I feel that it's the DoJ's duty to revamped the PS and/or return to the drawing board, as its current revision is not enough to stop Microsoft's anti-competitive practices.

      --
      Brendan Byrd/SineSwiper <SineSwiper@ResonatorSoft.org>
      Web Programmer @ Resonator Software (www.ResonatorSoft.org)
  • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @07:01AM (#2887170) Homepage
    Do it like this.

    Open a new topic: Send Your Comments On The M$ Antitrust Trial

    Allow the normal Slashdot moderation process to weed out the bullshit.

    Deliver all the 3 to 5 comments to the judge "in personam" printed out on paper.

    Use the power of this constituency, its literacy, eloquence and intelligence to make a difference.
    • "Send Your Comments On The M$ Antitrust Trial"..."Use the power of this constituency, its literacy, eloquence and intelligence to make a difference."

      I can just see the judge scratching his head. "M$? With a dollar sign? You're joking, right?"

    • Anyone who votes in favor of MS would probably be moderated as -1, Troll.
  • Mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by gibson_81 ( 135261 )
    A mirror (please, Swedes only ... I don't have a fast link) can be found at http://mupp.malfunction.org/~zaleth/tunney.html
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @07:47AM (#2887233) Homepage
    I just recieved one.....

    I send you this file to seek your advice.....

    settlement.doc

    No wonder they are getting a large number of favorable responses.

    O,ok this is getting to be an old bit, but it's funny!
  • Respond! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tantris ( 553205 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @07:51AM (#2887240)
    I have been talking about sending in email for a long time. I kept thinking about it, but I didn't send it till Monday night.

    Microsoft is probably paying people to send email in support of them. We need to stand up and fight back. When Lawrence Lessig was interviewed he said that the people on slashdot are politically apathetic. This has to change. This is not that hard to do, now is the time to tell your feelings to the judge or whoever reads those comments. It is just one email. We can't just stay on the side making comments about how much Microsoft sucks. If we do that, and don't participate then we are helping M$. Even if it doesn't change the ruling, it will change what is in the public record. If there are 10,000 times the number of bad as good in that record, then no matter what ruling is made, M$ has had a loss. You have to compete against hundreds of dead emailers, but lets at least try to compete.

    If you roll your eyes at this and say, whatever, then you have just decided not to stand up to M$. M$ will be proud of you for taking their side, by opting out.

    Tantris
  • Just do it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s390 ( 33540 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @07:57AM (#2887248) Homepage
    and send an anti-Microsoft/DoJ settlement email to the DoJ. You don't have to be articulate or even polite. Numbers count here, sending just "NO to Microsoft" is enough.

    And register it will. By law, all public comments submitted must be published in the Federal Register. And the judge in the case will read them, each and every one. Come on, get off your ass! What's two minutes cost for inscribing your opinion in governmental granite for all posterity? Send all those bastardos up in Redmond a real message!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @08:42AM (#2887317)
      By law, all public comments submitted must be published in the Federal Register.

      Does this actually mean that, if someone submits, say, the ASCII goatse.cx man, that goes into the Federal Register? (Not that I'm actually advocating this, I'm just curious...)

      • By law, all public comments submitted must be published in the Federal Register

      Should we expect to see some !!!MAKE $$$ FAST!!! in the register then? Quite seriously. It's either all comments, or it's edited.

      • Should we expect to see some !!!MAKE $$$ FAST!!! in the register then? Quite seriously. It's either all comments, or it's edited.

        AFAIK, all public comments are published, by law (i.e., the Tunney Act), including stupid ones, ascii art (like goats.cx). But one might expect that only topical comments will be actually read. Especially by the DoJ and the Judge in this case. Important - she needs to see real opposition to Microsoft to counter their astroturf slaves. Wakeup!
        • Important - she needs to see real opposition to Microsoft to counter their astroturf slaves. Wakeup!

          Would that be the Slashdot Astroturf slaves then?

          Oh heck y'all. Have a ball. Go on -- stuff the ballot box and deliberately try to destroy the company. I've had it with them anyway.

          But you want to know how you can really hurt them?

          Write better stuff than them, and make sure you spend at least *some* money on marketing. Most software companies don't spend ANYTHING.

          Simon
    • Re:Just do it... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BigBadPete ( 241096 )
      You don't have to be articulate or even polite.

      Erm, not that it isn't obvious, but people do tend to take you more seriously when you ARE polite and articulate. A million emails saying, "M$ su><0rs" probably wouldn't help. Just take a moment to say something coherent and calm, and you'll do a lot more to help the cause.
    • Unfortunately, I think the way that the law goes, the comments will be published, but they will largely be summarized for the judge in the case. The judge doesn't even have to read the summary (from what I've heard, only Thomas Penfield Jackson has read the summary and comments in the past), but you're right about the comments being published.

      If it turns out that the comments were not read by the judge, yet they were really good (as determined by people who read them in the Federal Register), I'm sure the case will take another interesting turn...
  • Help or hurt? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jvj24601 ( 178471 )
    Given the relatively large number of registered users to this site, I'm sure that this story could conceivably affect the net number of comments. I wonder, however, if the effect will actually be in the intended direction of the story's submitter...
  • My letter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @08:03AM (#2887257) Homepage
    Feel free to copy/paste/send:

    ---

    Regarding the Microsoft settlement, I don't believe that the current proposal provides adequate reparations to those injured by Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior. Hundred, even thousands, of small companies have ceased to exist over the decades because of Microsoft's business practices.

    Similar to the settlement against AT&T, Microsoft should become a government regulated Monopoly, until its market share drops to an acceptable level (40%, for example, assuming one of it's competitors is now also at 40%). This must be true for all Microsoft product lines, before regulation is lifted.

    Even after being found guilty of being an illegal monopoly, Microsoft's behavior has not changed. Regulation of their behavior, with the threat of severe criminal penalties for failure to comply, is the only remedy that I can see will curtail them. The market must be able to return to a state of competition.

    Imagine the damage to the United States if Microsoft were to fail, as Enron failed. The risks of a monopoly are greater than merely the loss of competition.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Re:My letter (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hundred, even thousands, of small companies have ceased to exist over the decades because of Microsoft's business practices.

      Hundreds? Thousands? Do you have a source for these wacky statistics?

      And decades? I realize Microsoft has been around for a couple decades, but how many companies was Microsoft putting out of business in, say, 1985?

    • Re:My letter (Score:3, Informative)

      by gspeare ( 470147 )
      Here's what I sent on Jan. 16th, copy/paste/scavenge at will:

      This will be a short letter, as I'm sure you have many to go through. Let me say up front that as a computer user, programmer, and IT professional, I feel very strongly that the proposed Microsoft Settlement will do nothing to punish past monopolistic practices, or to prevent future violations of anti-trust law.

      Most importantly, what the settlement fails to address is that Microsoft is /already/ entrenched in a dominant, monopolistic position, achieved in large part through unfair business practices. Creating a Technical Committee may (or may not) help with future problems, but does nothing to fix what has already transpired.

      Lastly (for this letter; I do not pretend that I am addressing a majority of the problems with the settlement), I would point out that much of Microsoft's monopoly is maintained through mechanisms not mentioned in the settlement. For example, Microsoft Word is the dominant word processing software mainly because it's file format is proprietary and controlled by Microsoft -- and changed frequently, so that no other program can reliably use it. If a standard file format were enforced, competing products would have a chance to co-exist and interoperate with Word; something that just cannot happen today.

      I urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this settlement and seek stronger action against Microsoft.
    • Even after being found guilty of being an illegal monopoly, Microsoft's behavior has not changed. Regulation of their behavior, with the threat of severe criminal penalties for failure to comply, is the only remedy that I can see will curtail them. The market must be able to return to a state of competition.
      Threat? Threat

      Microsoft has been caught red-handed for this before. I won't comment on how they managed to settle rather than getting bitchslapped. But fool me one, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on the DOJ. The gloves should come off.

      Microsoft should no longer be allowed to do business with the Federal Government.

      When we the taxpayers are no longer paying Microsoft to maintain their monopoly, and everybody else that does business with FedGov (that's anybody who's not a teenie weenie business) has to use things that are compatible with what FedGov uses, Microsoft's monopoly will be broken.

      Yes, I've already sent this to DOJ and to my Senator. Several weeks ago.

      I rather agree with the idea of using this forum to collect ideas.... fast, effective when printed out... and shows the true power of Open Source, both from the point of view of Slash itself, and of the community.

  • I have read over the proposed Microsoft Settlement, and am NOT in favor of
    it, in its current state. The settlement does not, in any way, penalize
    Microsoft for its past infringements of the law. For many years, OEMs have been under control of this corporation, and simply "formalizing" this law in a document is not enough. Microsoft has been declared guilty of past wrongs, and must now be held accountable in some measure. The current proposed settlement is unacceptable. Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    My name
    My addr.
  • by Paul Johnson ( 33553 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @08:29AM (#2887291) Homepage
    I've already sent in my comments (a lightly edited version of what I posted here [kuro5hin.org]).

    Does anyone know if comments from non-US citizens are accepted?

    Paul.

    • You must know some US Citizens.


      Get a friend who might not normally respond to submit your comments for you in his/her name.


      And even more important - pay attention to actions in your own country and the EU and make sure you give your support to any actions in that arena. Be sure to save that letter - trust me, it will come up again and won't be wasted!

  • by drb1001 ( 197669 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @08:35AM (#2887300)
    I noticed, in reviewing the reference materials, that under the proposed settlement, Microsoft gets to keep secret (no obligation to publish or document) anything having to do with security. As soon as I saw that, the recent Gates memo "redirecting" corporate efforts made more sense -- Bill's just herding the troops into a safe harbor sanctioned by the settlement, so they will not need to change their basic practices.
    • If I had modpoints, you'd get them today. Good observation.

    • Bingo - of all the nasty things wrong with the settlement, I chose to focus on that one in my comment. Specifically, how it would relate to Open Source software. For fun, here's what I wrote:

      Comments about US v. Microsoft proposed settlement

      I feel the remedies suggested by the proposed settlement do little to deter or punish Microsoft for actions and behaviors proven to be anticompetitive and illegal. Most egregious in my mind, however, is the position Microsoft will be in to stifle and lock out the Open Source movement.

      As a developer of Internet solutions, I am quite familiar with the long and brutal conflict between Open Source tools and Microsoft tools and the gulf created between the two camps. Microsoft has been making steady inroads to the server and Internet markets simply by the virtue of their monopolistic position. By breeding ubiquity in the desktop market, they have orchestrated lock-in to the server market using closed and inoperable APIs, proprietary protocols and (even worse) embracing open protocols and modifying them with non-open extensions. All of these tactics are designed to put third party, and specifically, Open Source tools at a disadvantage when used with their desktop systems.

      The settlement stipulates that Microsoft open "the APIs and related Documentation that are used by Microsoft Middleware to interoperate with a Windows Operating System Product" (section D) as well as "any Communications Protocol that is, ... (i) implemented in a Windows Operating System Product installed on a client computer, and (ii) used to interoperate natively ... with a Microsoft server operating system product" (section E). Both sections are a step in the right direction and force Microsoft to allow independent developers the ability interoperate with Microsoft systems freely.

      However, section J.2 limits this condition by requiring that for anything related to "anti-piracy systems, anti-virus technologies, license enforcement mechanisms, authentication/authorization security, or third party intellectual property protection mechanisms", a third party developer must meet these requirements in order to gain access to said information:

      • (a) has no history of software counterfeiting or piracy or willful violation of intellectual property rights,
      • (b) has a reasonable business need for the API, Documentation or Communications Protocol for a planned or shipping product,
      • (c) meets reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business,
      • (d) agrees to submit, at its own expense, any computer program using such APIs, Documentation or Communication Protocols to third-party verification

      These conditions are applicable to businesses and for-profit entities, but specifically lock out any Open Source projects or anyone who does not have 'reasonable business needs'. Additionally, with Microsoft focusing on its new '.NET' strategy of distributed application programming, almost EVERY aspect of development will fall under 'authentication/authorization security' since almost EVERY aspect of the protocol, API or documentation will run across public, untrusted networks.

      Given Microsoft's record of finding miniscule loopholes in past judgements and exploiting them to further their control and flout the law, this one strikes me as particularly onerous (not to mention ironic). It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Microsoft's complicity with this proposed settlement is based quite largely on the fact that .NET will make the entire thing moot on this point, and at the same time provide an absolutely crushing blow to the Open Source movement which they deem such a threat.

      I sincerely hope that this settlement is rejected or at least amended to address these concerns. Thank you for your time.

  • by Syre ( 234917 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @08:43AM (#2887319)
    (it was intended to strike a conservative note)

    Dear Sirs:

    I am writing to give my comments on the Microsoft antitrust settlement.

    I believe this settlement is counter to the interests of the American public, deleterious to the American economy, and not adequate given the findings of fact in the trial.

    Microsoft's anti-competitive practices are counter to the law and spirit of our free-enterprise system. These practices inhibit competition, reduce innovation, and thereby decrease employment and productivity in our nation.

    Microsoft's monopolistic practices cause the public to bear increased costs and deny them the products of the innovation which would otherwise be stimulated through competition.

    The finding of fact which confirmed that Microsoft is a monopoly requires strict measures which address not only the practices they have engaged in in the past, but which also prevent them from engaging in other monopolistic practices in the future.

    It is my belief that a very strong set of strictures must be placed on convicted monopolists to insure that they are unable to continue their illegal activities. I do not think that the proposed settlement is strong enough to serve this function.
  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @09:00AM (#2887344) Homepage
    This happened last time when the government requested comments on patents. Slashdot posted it and how many responses were there? Something like 5. I think there are more than 5 slashdot readers. Here is what I sent them below, at least cut and paste it or someone elses to show you have a vote against Microsoft:

    ----

    The current proposal for the Microsoft settlement will not prevent Microsoft from staying a monopoly in the computer industry. Microsoft employees are spreading this around as "..a victory over the government." If the government shows they are incapable or unwilling to stop Microsofts monopoly over the software industry, who else is there to stand in Microsofts way?

    Since the trial has started Microsofts grip on ISP's and hardware vendors has slowly loosend up for fear of how it would be represented in the case against them. Once Microsoft accepts the current settlement they will go back to their previous methods of forcing the industry to accept their software and force out competitors, but it is not their previous methods the software industry is only worried about. By recieving the current settlement this will show the industry that even the government and it's laws cannot stop Microsoft's monopoly. Microsoft will be able to expand their practices beyond strict EULA's, enforcing proprietary "standards" and harrassing/buying out small companies. They will be able to stretch more laws, find more loopholes and choose more "un-ethical" business means knowing that the most powerful system that could have stopped them was not powerful enough.

    Once again I say that the DOJ and US government should be putting a stop to Microsofts monopoly. By forcing them to release their file formats, source code, protocols or something similar that will allow other companies to compete with them. But the current settlement simply shows that the government no longer has the power to enforce the laws that control our capitalist country.
  • YAL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gripdamage ( 529664 )
    Yet another letter...

    I am against the proposed final judgment in US vs. Microsoft. I feel the damage Microsoft has done to the software and OS marketplace is incalculable, and the proposed settlement does little to correct it. I don't feel the settlement levels the playing field for competing operating systems or office software, and would like to see a much stronger penalty imposed. The proposed settlement does not sufficiently relieve Microsoft of the ability to leverage hardware and computer manufacturers unfairly against competing products, nor does it adequately open the Windows API to programmers.

    <name>
    <location>
  • You rail on about the injustices of Microsoft, yet when you have an opportunity to do something about it, the majority of you sit around with your collective finger up your ass and don't do a damn thing.

    You either have the strength of your convictions, or you don't. And the majority of you don't. It's just fun to join in the anti-Microsoft mob.
  • Whoa, okay hear me out. I'm one of the evil little underground /.ers, the ones you don't hear about much, the ones who like Windows.

    Okay now that I'm gauranteed -2343 Flamebait, the two of you that will see this can hear me out. Windows works pretty good, I work with it daily and would actually prefer OSX but I'm mostly happy. A lot of the junk (stability, strange cruft) that was part of the 9x days was delt with in 2000, XP looks good so far. I can do everything I need to do with 2000 and it NEVER crashes on me. Office fills every need I have and also chuggs along just fine.

    The so called predatory business pratices are also crap, I think about expanding my own business along the ideas in the "Halloween Document" all the time. The only reason MS got shafted for it was their market position.

    Two things need to change about MS, file formats that are ubiquitous (sp?) need to be opened. I don't like Star Office now, but I see potential, they should be given a chance. Secondly, embrace and extend must die, if they are going to try use standards they should stick with them. With these two changes I think life would be a lot more cheery for all of us. As long as Microsoft's software can be engineered to interoperate I'm happy.

    Here's the thing though, how do you do this through the court system? How can a judge say that a format or standard has a big enough share that this needs to be done? Word would qualify but does .wma? Will .wma next year?

    I aplaud the effort of the DOJ in this mess, they have done a pretty good job considering the wall of crap that was in their way but I don't think it will amount to much. The last time they tried it was a total failure and I doubt this will ammount to much. There is just no way for a court to affect positive change here that I can see.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @09:32AM (#2887414)
      The so called predatory business pratices are also crap, I think about expanding my own business along the ideas in the "Halloween Document" all the time. The only reason MS got shafted for it was their market position.

      That is correct. There are things you can do when you're a small business that you can not do when you are a monopoly.

      Why?

      Because the monopoly already has a substantial advantage and if they were allowed to use that substantial advantage as they saw fit, competitors wouldn't stand a chance.

      Remember: It's not illegal to have a monopoly. Getting there is a good sign that you're doing something right. It's illegal to maintain a monopoly through things like predatory pricing ("dumping") and other means. You can not exploit your already enormous advantage to keep other companies out of the running.
    • The so called predatory business pratices are also crap, I think about expanding my own business along the ideas in the "Halloween Document" all the time. The only reason MS got shafted for it was their market position.
      You're right. But according to the Sherman Act, once you have a monopoly position, you are held to a higher standard of conduct. There are certain things you just can't do to hold on to or expand your monopoly, things like the ones discussed in the Halloween documents. You have to be a predator before you can have predatory business practices.
  • Someone called me. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IRNI ( 5906 ) <irni@@@irni...net> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @09:18AM (#2887380) Homepage
    Some guy who worked for a company hired by Microsoft called my office and asked to speak to the head of IT. He then said that I would be getting something in the mail if I hadn't already detailing the settlement for Microsoft. He then said this trial is costing taxpayers every day that it continues and it should be stopped. He told me about the public comment period and to go to their site which would submit a comment for me to the DOJ. I told him I would be much happier if Microsoft just crumbled and told him where he could put his propaganda. He said, "But taxpayers are the ones suffering here." and I said "Well Microsoft could just close their doors now and save us all the pain." He hung up. I forgot the name of the website but if I get that info in the mail I will put the info up somewhere. Jerk.
  • Click Here and Copy + Paste the Text Below [mailto]

    I have read about the proposed settlement, and I am not in favor of it in its current state. Please consider this a vote against the current settlement, as well as a vote to seek a settlement that is more favorable to Microsoft's competitors.

    You Name

    Your Address
  • by Stephen VanDahm ( 88206 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @10:11AM (#2887559) Homepage
    Since I can still get 7 more Karma points, I decided to post my letter. Anyone who likes it is free to use parts of it in theirs.

    =====

    To whomever this concerns,

    I understand that I have the ability to comment on the proposed settlement between the Justice Department and Microsoft.

    I have been using computers daily since the mid-eighties, when my father brought home an early portable IBM computer. I hope to earn my livelihood by working in the computing industry. Consequently, this issue is centrally relevant to my life.

    It is widely believed by those familiar with the case that the proposed settlement is completely inadequate. It will do little to punish Microsoft for it's plainly illegal conduct in the past, and virtually nothing whatsoever to prevent future violations of antitrust law. As a consumer, it infuriates me to be forced to pay for increasingly expensive software that diminishes in quality with each release. I applauded the Clinton administration's investigation of Microsoft. Their case was an effort to protect consumers and promote economic growth by restoring fairness and competition to the computer industry. Now that the DOJ is under new management, it has essentially abandoned it's pursuit of Microsoft, suggesting that the DOJ no longer has any concern for either economic growth or the public good.

    The United States is a successful nation because its free markets encourage firms to compete for customers by producing high-quality, low-cost goods. This system needs to be protected from monopolists who gain so much power that they can destroy the competitive nature of the markets in which they participate.

    I urge all parties involved to reconsider the proposed settlement. Microsoft deserves more than a slap on the wrist for it's destructive abuse of it's monopoly power. More importantly, American consumers need to be protected against future abuses.

    Thank you for your time,

    Stephen C. VanDahm
    Spartanburg, SC.
    • Not to quibble excessively, but you persist in using "it's" (the contraction of "it is") instead of "its" (the third person singular possessive pronoun) throughout. This will be read by people whose business is clarity of writing. Like it or not, they will think less of your opinion because it comes from someone who obviously does not consider it important enough to express in proper English.

      Yes, I've sent my own comment off already, stressing the national security aspects of the failure to stop Microsoft's lock-in tactics leading to overwhelming market dominance of insecure software. I am considering whether I should write and submit a revision.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hi,

    I am a US Citizen and I feel that the proposed settlement of the Microsoft anti-trust
    case will do nothing to change the monopolistic practices of Microsoft.

    Any settlement which does not severly restrict Microsoft from simultanious operation
    in the OS and Internet, and Applications market will do little to create a fair open
    computer software arena in which competitors have a chance.

    I recently upgraded a computer from Windows 95 to Windows XP. Windows XP is an
    advertising platform for additional generally unrelated Microsoft products and services.

    As a specific example the "Passport" advertizement is a carefully worded almost lie.
    When you attempt to connect to the internet the XP system prompts you popping up a
    window saying that you MUST have a passport to browse the internet. This is untrue and
    the average user will be unable to distinguish between the actual wording that says
    you MUST have a passport for the use of MICROSOFT services the the wording I used above.

    There are numerious other advertising features embeded in XP which present Microsoft
    products and services as the necessary for use of the OS or Internet. These presentations are unfair and continue to bolster Microsofts monopolistic position in the software market.

    John Roll
    Computer Software Engineer
    Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

    john@cfa.harvard.edu
  • Remember M$ "artificial turf" campaigns of a few months ago? MS had thousands of supposedly unbiased folks writing in to persuade lawmakers. They continue this same tactic to the point that letters in favor of the judgment far outnumber those against.

    The time is now. Just do it. Carpe diem. Bite the bullet. Get it over with.
  • by cworley ( 96911 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @10:34AM (#2887685)
    I've been recieving weekly urges to comment from MS's FIN lobby...


    Update: Settlement News; Public can Comment in Antitrust Matter; Class-Actions Suit Returns to Litigation; Deadline Nears for Public Comment on Antitrust Settlement
    The Tunney Act review period, during which the Department of Justice seeks public comment on its proposed antitrust settlement with 9 states and Microsoft, closes Monday, January 28. The settlement is not guaranteed until after the review ends and the District Court determines whether the settlement is indeed in the public interest.
    The provisions of the agreement are tough, reasonable, fair to all parties involved, and go beyond the findings of Court of Appeals ruling. Still, while consumers overwhelmingly agree that settlement is good for them and the American economy, and overwhelmingly want to move beyond this litigation, nine states have refused to join the settlement. Some, including Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, are urging citizens via email or Web site to submit their comments to the DoJ during the Tunney review period. While Microsoft commends these public officials for involving citizens in a decision that will affect them so profoundly, your voice is more important now than ever before to ensure that the DoJ hears the full spectrum of opinion on this matter. Concerned citizens already have begun submitting their comments about whether the Microsoft case should be settled or further litigated. The Department of Justice will take all public comments and viewpoints and include them in a report for the District Court to consider. Please send your comments directly to the Department of Justice via email or fax no later than January 28th. Whatever your view of the settlement, it is critical that the government hears directly from consumers. Please take action today to ensure your voice is heard. Email: mailto:microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov [msn.com] . In the Subject line of the e-mail, type Microsoft Settlement.
    Fax: 1-202-307-1454 or 1-202-616-9937
    To find out more about the settlement and the Tunney Act review period, go to the Department of Justice Website at: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms-settle.htm [216.33.236.250] .
    Thanks for taking the time to make a difference.
    Class-action Lawsuit Returns to Litigation
    Friday, January 11, U.S. District Judge J. Fredrick Motz rejected a settlement that would have resolved more than 100 private class-action lawsuits filed against Microsoft in the wake of the 1999 decision issued by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson during the trial court phase of the federal antitrust lawsuit. Under the proposal?s terms, Microsoft would have given disadvantaged public schools more than $1 billion in funding, software, services and training, and around 1 million Windows licenses for renovated PCs.
    Microsoft, who sought input from educators on specific terms of the agreement, will review the court?s opinion and at the same time move forward with the next steps in the litigation while we continue to look for reasonable ways to resolve the matter.
    For more information on the class-action lawsuits, go to the Freedom to Innovate Web site at www.microsoft.com/freedomtoinnovate [216.33.236.250] .
    • Have you sent email to the DOJ about this? I think they should have it formally bought to their attention that MS is engaged in astroturfing on this issue.

      Of course there is nothing illegal, and probably not even unethical about such activity: this /. story is an attempt at exactly the same thing. But the MS effort is considerably better funded and organised, and this should be mentioned when the results are summarised.

      Paul.

      • >Have you sent email to the DOJ about this?

        I make sure my state's AG gets a copy of most everything they send.

        Given that they mention his efforts specifically, it looks like everybody has a mole in each other's camp ;)

        ---
  • I kept meaning to send an e-mail about the Microsoft judgment, but this article was the reminder I needed. I wrote and sent off my e-mail just a few seconds ago. I thought it'd be interesting to see how many people did the same. If you did end your procrastination and send off that e-mail, why not reply to this post ("me too" is fine) so that we can see how many people this really affected?
  • May as well post the comments I wrote back in December.. I never put them up anywhere -- I figured others would have much better comments than me. I'm sure there are, but the style I wrote mine in is different from what I've seen other post. Maybe some folks will get some new ideas..

    Anyway, here it is [umn.edu]
  • by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <<sweatyboatman> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @10:52AM (#2887772) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm, wonder what would happen if I used Word to type my letter.

    "It looks like you are writing a letter to the DOJ.

    Would you like help?"

    Talk about a conflict of interest... How do I make this thing dissapear?
  • This better work, heh...

    Title: "Please Break Them Up"

    To Whom It May Concern,

    As a concerned citizen and computer user, I found the verdict in the Microsoft
    anti-trust trial reprehensibly one-sided and a disservice to the Cause of Justice in
    America.

    I urge you to reconsider the verdict. MS having control of the operating system
    already gives them a monopoly on the desktop. Allowing them to leverage that
    monopoly to give them unfair advantage in each and every (previously) competitive
    market on the desktop really stifles innovation, no matter what Bill Gates and Steve
    Ballmer say.

    I actually believe that, in your zeal to protect and preserve entrenched businesses in
    America you are killing the pioneer spirit of entrepreneureal endeavor, and so the
    decision to kowtow and cave completely to Judge Penfield's decision, no matter
    how emotional he became (I believe he was sorely tested) can only be construed as
    political and Machievellian, in these jaded times.

    A breakup of the company is the only viable solution. C'mon, Justice Department,
    you had the courage to do it in the early 1900's, why can you not see the light now?
    Please reconsider your terrible and biased decision in the interests of your true
    consitiuency, the American people.

    Thank You,

    Michael Patrick Kenny and family
  • by alispguru ( 72689 ) <{moc.tsg} {ta} {enab}> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:18AM (#2887906) Journal
    I would like to register my objection to the proposed settlement in the United States vs. Microsoft case.

    The biggest problem I see is that the settlement is not a structural remedy. Oversight remedies have been tried against Microsoft in the past, and they have coded arounded them, lobbied over them, and legally maneuvered past them every time. The only thing that hasn't been tried yet, and that has a hope of working, is to break them up.

    Breaking Microsoft up into OS/Applications/Other divisions wouldn't break their monopoly, but it would make it more difficult for them to use their OS monopoly to create new monopolies in other areas, which they are doing with Windows XP even as I type this.
  • Dear Judge,

    The proposed settlement is a bad one; please reject it and have the DoJ and the states go back and draft something that will address the facts found in the District court case.

    A unanimous US Court of Appeals agreed that Microsoft had illegally kept its monopoly position by preying on other software developers and computer manufacturers. The bottom line is that Microsoft operated illegally, and any settlement or resolution of this case should make sure the company cannot continue its anticompetitive behavior. Unfortunately the proposed solution does not do this. In many ways, it actually reinforces Microsoft's monopoly, and does nothing to restrain Microsoft from acting illegally again in future markets.

    Indeed, Microsoft has already shown they intend to continue to piggyback off their illegally obtained operating system monopoly to crush more markets. As an example, look at the "give away" of millions of dollars of development effort in their Media Player, which is unnecessarily "integrated" into WindowsXP - and is targeted at the RealPlayer product line, in order to crush it, in the same way they did the Netscape Browser. Microsoft, unlike its competitors, simply rolls the development cost into their illegally obtained monopoly operating system, and undercuts the competition unfairly. Yet the proposed settlement does not address preventing this sort of monopolistic behavior at all. Remember, developing a media player, a browser and other software costs money, and Microsoft leverages their monopoly to mask these costs while smashing competition unfairly. The Circuit court in it s 7-0 decision, and lower courts found this "bundling" illegal and monopolistic, yet the settlement does not address this in any sort of meaningful fashion: it allows Microsoft to tightly integrate and bundle its media player, its web browser, and myriad other applications into the Windows Operating System, instead of competing freely against external applications.

    Also, the proposed settlement contains no provisions to remedy the unlawful monopolization of the operating system; nothing that will produce competition. Remember that the Circuit court ordered that a remedy must "unfetter the market from anticompetitive conduct... [and] .. terminate the illegal monopoly". the proposed settlement does nothing of the sort. Its attempt to open the "API" (programming interface) of the Windows operating system will merely reinforce the monopoly, not terminate it as the court called for. Also opening the API is not enough: Microsoft plans only to open a mere a subset. Complete and full disclosure of ALL the source-code is the only "opening" that would suffice to terminate the Microsoft monopoly.

    Finally, the proposed settlement does nothing at all to address the issue of effective remedy along side enforcement. the proposed penalties are ludicrous - an extension of terms that they have already violated is hardly a punishment. Fiduciary penalties must be applied, as well as structural ones. Also, the solutions proposed for "competition" are heavily dependent upon Original Equipment Manufacturers for implementation - the same OEMs who are partners and part of Microsoft's business plans (Such as Dell and Compaq).

    In sum, this settlement is wholly inadequate, and should be rejected and the DoJ and the States should be directed to follow the rulings of the Circuit Court and lower courts when crafting a settlement, instead of ignoring the findings of fact and law, and currying favor with an unrepentant lawbreaking monopolist.

    Regards,

    MyReal Name

    1234 Mystreet
    Mytown, CO Myzip
    (My) Phone-Number
    my@email

    ---
    Change is the essential process of all existence.
  • My Letter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by y137 ( 227389 )
    I am writing in regards to the Tunney Act public comment period on the proposed Microsoft antitrust settlement.

    The proposed settlement will not prevent Microsoft from maintaining its monopoly in the computer industry. The findings of fact clearly described a pattern of corporate behavior that evidenced little respect for antitrust law or public sentiment. Though the proposed remedies themselves may be adequate, the enforcement measures will not provide enough incentive for Microsoft to fundamentally alter its behavior. History demonstrates that Microsoft will not alter its behavior unless it is clearly in its competitive interests to do so. The proposed remedies attempt to force Microsoft to change its behavior in order to reduce its power in the market place. This will not succeed.

    The only measures that can be effective are those that immediately change the competitive landscape, and then free Microsoft to struggle for power in this new, more level playing field. I agree with the court that a structual remedy is cumbersome and not likely to be effective. A technilogical remedy, with objective, quantifiable measures, is the only remedy that can be both effective and in the public's interest.

    The competitive advantages of an operating system monopoly are twofold. First, Microsoft negotiates from a very powerful position with OEMs and ISPs. Second, their application software can be developed with special knowledge of the operating system and (optionally) devivered with the operating system to gain better market penetration. Any remedy must address both of these monopolistic advantages.

    While I do not claim to be able to construct a better remedy myself, I think it is clear that any remedy must involve forcing Microsoft to open all of its APIs and file formats. Any time two pieces of MS software communicate out-of-process, the protocol for their communication must be public. Enforcement could come in the form of a court-appointed authority that had the right to demand to see the source code of any MS-published software and compare the documented APIs to the source code. If they were not the same or if the source code is not delivered within a few days, MS should be fined 1/356th of it's profit (this can be calculated after the fact at the end of each quarter) per-day until it satisfies the requirements. This would ensure that the applications of Microsoft's competitors have the same opportunity to succeed on the Windows platform as those of Microsoft itself. Microsoft may maintain its operating systems monopoly, but it will not be able to use to establish new monopolies in other market segments.

    Thank you very much for reading and considering my comments.

    Regards,

    Personal information and summary of industry qualifications

  • You've read enough examples of other people's letters, so you have no excuse for not writing the DOJ. I'm not telling you to write in favour or in oposition to the settlement. There simply need to be more infomed opinions submitted.

    There's a 95 % chance you're going to read through all of these comments and then never get around to writing anything. You know this and I know this. Have more respect for yourself than just sitting there and preaching to the choir.

    Oh, and if you're sitting there modding people's posts up and down without having submitted your own opinion, what gives yourlazy ass the right to judge the opinions of someone who actually has an opinion and the motivation to say something meaningful about their opinions to someone who can do something about it?

    Yes, I'm going to piss off 95% of the slashdot crowd, including 95% of the moderators, but I've got karma to burn, especially for a good cause. (Say what you will about burning karma on a loosing battle.)

  • Dear Judge Kollar-Kotelly,

    I write to express my dissatisfaction with the Proposed Final Judgment (PFJ) for USA vs. Microsoft. While time limitations prevent me from conducting an exhaustive review of all the aspects of the provisions of the Final Judgment that I find to fail the public interest, allow me to focus on two particular issues that are of crucial importance:

    1) The exclusion of Microsoft's handheld version of Windows (i.e. Windows CE and variants, Windows for Automotive, Windows NT Embedded, and Windows XP Embedded from the definition of "Windows Operating System Product" delineated in Section VI, Item U of the PFJ;
    2) Provisions of Section III, Item J which give Microsoft broad discretion on determining which parties are eligible to receive API, Documentation or Communications Protocol information.

    1) Handheld and embedded operating systems

    I have been working as a user of handheld devices for almost ten years and have been an applications developer for three of those ten. It has been very clear to me that portable devices will be a fundamental domain of computing technology, perhaps even replacing the desktop computer as a central unit of processing, in the near term. While there are various players in the handheld and mobile marketplace, Microsoft is a competitor that has historically used its weight to stifle innovation in this marketplace until it was ready to embrace it.

    In terms of its APIs, the embedded versions of Microsoft's operating systems are modeled closely--sometimes even ported directly--on its Win32 API for desktop operating system development. These versions of the operating system, designed to be stored in quickly-accessible RAM or ROM rather than on disk, and with an apparently closer connection to the hardware in which they're operating, are not significantly technically different from the existing desktop Windows technology, save for their portability. Microsoft itself, when advocating for the Embedded version of its operating system, argues that this close tie provides one of the main reasons why developers should adopt its solution:

    "Windows XP Embedded is the componentized version of the leading desktop operating system, enabling rapid development of the most reliable and full-featured connected devices. Based on the same binaries as Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Embedded enables embedded developers to individually select only the rich features they need for customized, reduced-footprint embedded devices." [

    The versions of the Microsoft OS for handheld and mobile devices, (Windows CE and derivatives including Windows CE for Handheld PC, Windows CE for Palm-size PC, Windows CE for Desktop PC) are tied equally closely in Microsoft's eyes:

    " The Windows CE operating system is based on the Microsoft Win32® application programming interface. Therefore, you can enhance your applications by using exposed APIs from bundled applications."

    [http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/developer/downl oa ds/ppcsdk2002.asp [microsoft.com] -- accessed January 23, 2002]

    Microsoft's own behavior in the handheld and mobile marketplace reflects similar actions to those presented in the Court's Findings of Fact, including concerted action to protect applications barrier to entry by performing ongoing modifications to its handheld data storage methodologies, by modifying established connectivity protocols (including the infrared communications protocols between competitors' handheld devices), and by maintaining its own data transfer protocols closed, thus thwarting the efforts of middleware vendors and non-Windows handheld device manufacturers to provide connectivity solutions that make full use of the capabilities of users' desktop computer hardware to connect with mobile devices.

    Because of the rising capabilities and reduction in size of microprocessors, along with the quickly falling cost of flashable (rewritable) ROM and high-capacity RAM, it is very likely indeed that what we call embedded or mobile systems today will come to replace wholly desktop-based solutions for everyday users in the near and mid-range future. Embedded systems will (and do) reside in automobiles, household appliances, communications devices, and just about every other type of device that uses electronics to perform complex functions.

    Allowing Microsoft to extend its monopoly into the embedded and mobile marketplace while remaining unfettered by the consequences of its previous anti-competitive behavior in the desktop operating systems marketplace is detrimental to the public interest.

    2) Viable Business requirement

    This point is much more brief, but equally important. In giving Microsoft the power to determine that a company "meets reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business" before receiving API and Documentation, or Communication Protocol information, it effectively gives Microsoft the power to exclude open source and free software developers from building systems that are fully interoperable with existing solutions provided by Microsoft, mostly because these developers are not engaging in "viable business". Indeed, many of these companies are not engaged in business at all, but are working through the concepts of sharing and widely disseminating usable code and applications. Powerful and open public goods such as the Internet and Linux grew through this kind of non-business activity. This item effectively shuts out the public interest in interoperability and standards compliance by giving Microsoft the power to define what is authentic and viable. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's rhetoric regarding Linux as a cancer demonstrates their predisposition to exclude open source systems from any and all consideration for interoperability and access:

    "The only thing we have a problem with is when the government funds open-source work. Government funding should be for work that is available to everybody. Open source is not available to commercial companies. The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source. If the government wants to put something in the public domain, it should. Linux is not in the public domain." [
    http://www.linuxmax.net/maxnews.php?ArticleID=26 [linuxmax.net] -- Accessed January 23,2002]

    Aside from Mr. Ballmer's odd reasoning that an operating system for which the source is open and available to anyone is not in the public domain, his reasoning that open source licenses are not commercially viable makes a statement of predisposition that I have no doubt would be used as legally acceptable parameters, under the PFJ, to thwart public efforts at building an interoperable, free operating system.

    I sincerely hope that Microsoft will have to atone for its extensive history of anticompetitive behavior. However, it is clear to me, and to those of us in the technology industry who have seen Microsoft as a company uninterested in cooperating, that this PFJ would do little to force that atonement and would do much to provide Microsoft a legal platform from which to continue its anticompetitive behavior.

    Sincerely,
  • Don't forget that the RPFJ allows MS to selectively release info, based on whether MS believes somebody's "business model" is worthwhile. Since MS has made its feelings about Open Source business models well known (through Mr. Mundie and Mr. Allchin), what are the odds that MS will use this loophole to deny information to OSS developers?
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:25PM (#2888774) Homepage

    I've sent in my comments regarding the antitrust too, but I thought I'd share a little info on what the federales are likely to pay attention to. I've got a relative at Sequoia / King's Canyon Nat'l Park, and they recently had a comment period on prohibiting snowmobiles in the park. This relative was one of the people sifting through the comments, and we talked then about how it was done. While the federal courts may do things differently, the following was the experience I heard about.

    My relative said that form letters / chain letters / spam / one sentence responses were all completely set aside and virtually ignored. Despite the link in the story here where the guy says it's the number of complaints that count, it's complete BS. It's content that counts. What the park superintendent and NPS officials were interested in were the original responses of people who'd thought about the situation and expressed their opinion, no matter what that opinion was. They cared not a bit what the content of the response was, only that it seemed to be something someone thought about. Copies of responses, like the cut & paste jobs people are advocating here, were tossed except for one copy because they really represented the writing of only one person.

    Then, these functionary-types sift through all these filtered responses, and place them in about a dozen separate stacks, from vehemently against to completely for, and everything in-between. The numbers of responses in each stack was counted, and a "summary report" of what the people in each stack thought was made, and responses the functionaries agreed should be seen copied and forwarded to the big-wigs. The Superintendent and NPS officials then read the summary reports, the selected reports, and the superintendent, since he's actually at the park, came & read a number of the nonselected responses in the stacks & prepared his short report on the people's response to the proposed rule.

    I guess the point is that the comments definitely count, but they shouldn't be forms or cut & pastes, and should represent your own feelings on the matter. Think about it -- if all you're willing to do is cut & paste or pass on someone else's words, what credence should you be given?

    • Not Entirely True (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JLucien ( 525298 )
      I work for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and when the public is invited to send comments they are merely counted.

      In fact, at the Fed, no-one even cares, because the comments won't make a lick of difference.

      But hey, it might be different with the DOJ. FWIW, I sent my own comments and I hope like hell it can help to make a difference.

      JLucien.
  • Reviewing the proposed final judgment against Microsoft I find a glaring problem regarding the current state of the software industry. There are a variety of proscribed actions against OEM's, ISV's, and IHV's, yet what exactly constitutes a member of any of those groups, and what information they may have access to, is apparently left to Microsoft's discretion.

    Due to Microsoft's prolonged maintenance of their monopoly power, most corporations that would reasonably be classified in those groups have been severely weakened. The strongest realistic competitor to Microsoft's products today come from the world of "open source" software.

    The open source software community functions on a completely different economic model than Microsoft's traditional competitors. They develop and distribute software at no cost, operating instead on a model of service and support. Absolutely key to this model is inter-operability with Microsoft's line of operating systems. While open source based software organizations have produced products with strong feature sets and security, due to the open nature of their product they simply cannot benefit from any judgment that allows Microsoft to not disclose inter-operability information for any reason.

    In particular, Section III, paragraph J. item 1, allows Microsoft to restrict access to compatibility information that "would compromise the security" of certain information. Microsoft would have the public believe that security information must be secret in order to be secure. This is patently false and has been proven in the security community. As an example, Microsoft's IIS web server software has had a long history of regular security breaches, despite the complete in-availability of it's security information outside of Microsoft. In contrast, the Apache web server, the full source code of which is publicly available, has not had a major security breach in 4 years. Open inspection of Microsoft's security information is key not only for inter-operability, but for consumer protection as well.

    Of greater concern is section 2(c) in the following section, precluding those who do not "meet(s) reasonable, objective standards established by Microsoft for certifying the authenticity and viability of its business". Microsoft has stated clearly that it does not believe open source software development has a role in the software industry. On the contrary, several companies have been established on open source software. Further, said software was in development several years before these companies even attempted to become "viable" businesses. Microsoft would not have acknowledged software such as sendmail, apache, or Linux as authentic and viable business at the time of their development. Today, Sendmail, Inc., The Apache Group, and Linux companies such as Red Hat, Caldera, Suse, and Mandrake are in business based on that software. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard are testaments to the fact that two people in a garage is a "viable business" in this industry. I doubt if Microsoft would certify the authenticity and viability of today's origins of tomorrow's corporations.

    I have more concerns about the other specifics of this judgment, but the final summary is this: It provides for to much control of interpretation and application to the convicted perpetrator itself, Microsoft. This judgment provides little realistic relief for traditional competitors, no relief for open source competitors, and no hope for either home or corporate consumers wishing to extricate themselves from Microsoft's history of oppression.

    The entire software industry is poised for a drastic change in market economics. Open source software is proving to be a disruptive technology that offers an enormous opportunity for independent software developers to thrive if, and only if, Microsoft is not allowed to hold them at bay with continued anti-competitive practices.

    • > In particular, Section III, paragraph J. item 1,
      > allows Microsoft to restrict access to
      > compatibility information that "would compromise
      > the security" of certain information.

      EXACTLY! Let's look at this shall we?

      What has Microsoft so recently decided to designate as the #1 priority? Security. Now, if they put their MS Security(tm) technology into all the relevant API's of their software then... wouldn't you think that all those relevant API's would be excluded from release and exposure to scrutiny?

      > Of greater concern is section 2(c) in the
      > following section, precluding those who do not
      > "meet(s) reasonable, objective standards
      > established by Microsoft for certifying the
      > authenticity and viability of its business".

      BINGO AGAIN! Microsoft decides what software businesses are viable? This PFJ sounds more like a Microsoft Bill of Rights than a judgment against them.

      It has also been pointed out that the PFJ excludes Operating Systems other than Microsoft's from benefitting from the majority of the provisions of the settlement. The mis-definitions of Operating System, Middleware and API in the PFJ are especially interesting.

      I like Mr. Kegel's one breath summary of the PFJ:
      Microsoft agrees to compete somewhat less vigorously, and to let competitors interoperate with Windows in exchange for royalty payments.

      I will put my support behind Mr. Kegel's essay when it is finished.
  • Here ya go, straight from my sent items folder:

    The Proposed Final Judgement in the Microsoft Antitrust case is flawed in several ways. I will address one flaw that affects me personally.

    Sections III D and III E are good sections in that force Microsoft to allow competing software developers equal access to information reguarding system API's and communication protocols. However, I feel that these sections should go farther than they do in two ways.

    First, file formats should be included. Microsoft has a history of using incompatible file formats for coerse users of Microsoft software to upgrade to newer versions. This same tactic same tactic can be used against competing software packages that attempt to interoperate with Microsoft products.

    Second, the only entities entitled to access the information made available by sections III D and III E are "ISV's, IHV's, IAP's, ICP's and OEM's". Granted that the definition provide for ISV is fairly broad (anyone involved in software development), the Final Judgement should make this information availble to the general public. As it stands, PFJ excludes private citizens who do not get paid to work in the software development field. As an owner of a Microsoft Operating System, I would like to be able to create software for my own personal use that will interact with my system correctly.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my comments, and for your consideration is this matter.

    My Real Name
  • Wether you think MS is satan or god this arguement should make some sense. What do you think: (btw this was my letter. Flame on if you must)

    Under the Tunney Act, I wish to comment on the proposed Microsoft settlement.

    This settlement is widely perceived as a non-punishment for Microsoft. By
    allowing this settlement to go forward, the government sends the message that it
    is ok to break corporate law because you will not truely be punished for it.
    Many computer enthusiasts and business people are watching the outcome of
    this trial and will base future behaviour around the outcome. If Microsoft is
    given a non-punishing settlement, people wil reason that it is ok to commit a
    crime so long as you have the the clout to avoid punishment. The courts must
    enforce a real punishment on what has been proven to be a real crime.

    If the courts do not enforce a truely behaviour changing penalty on Microsoft
    the rule of law over corporate america will be drastically weakened. A
    capitolist system depends on the rule of law to ensure a level playing field and
    promote competition. The people of the United States have charged the justice
    system with ensuring that level playing field. Please do not let us down.
  • In case anybody needs inspiration for their own letters, here is the mail I sent to the DOJ. There are several other thoughtful comments by others here as well...

    I respectfully submit my comments on the proposed settlement in the case of United States v. Microsoft Corp. Unfortunately, I feel that the proposed settlement does little to put an end to Microsoft's monopoly, and has no provisions for enforcement.

    I would strongly recommend that Microsoft be forced to publicly document the API's for it's various Windows operating systems, and that it be required to make publicly available any changes to those API's at least six months before releasing software based on those changes.

    Publicly documenting the Windows API's does not mean that anybody could easily replicate Windows or reverse-engineer it, but it would mean that other Independent Software Vendors (ISV's) would be able to compete on equal ground with Microsoft's own software running on Windows. This is an effective solution because while it still allows Microsoft to innovate and create new products, it also means that Microsoft cannot further leverage its monopoly by giving it's other projects unfair access to secret software code.

    Thank you for your time, and thank you for considering my opinion.

    Real Name
    Real Address

  • Is there a finished version of this document?
    http://www.kegel.com/remedy/remedy2.html [kegel.com]

    I like the work done by Mr. Kegel and wish to contribute my affirmation of his analysis... I just need a completed document to agree to.
  • Here's my contribution:
    ---

    I am writing to register my disappointment at the proposed Final Judgement settlement in the U.S. v. Microsoft anti-trust case.

    The most glaring deficiency of the proposed settlement, of course, is that it is utterly ineffectual at even elaborating on the existing legal restrictions that antitrust law places on Microsoft. Doubtless the DoJ has been flooded with explanations of these problems, but I refer you to Dan Kegel's excellent essay on the subject (already submitted as a Tunney act comment, and archived at http://www.kegel.com/remedy/remedy2.html) as the most intelligent elaboration of the settlement's loopholes and problems which I have seen. Because Microsoft has a record of finding such technical loopholes to legal restrictions (or, failing that, ignoring the restrictions outright), it is my belief that the proposed settlement will do nothing to prevent Microsoft from continuing it's current use of the Windows monopoly to maintain and extend that monopoly market share through illegal licensing and exclusionary agreements.

    In order to prevent Microsoft from abusing it's control over monopoly software products in the future, nothing short of uniform licensing for all it's products will suffice. Microsoft must not be allowed to license it's products differently to different customers, because even in the most benign cases of such special licensing it has and will continue to hold special pricing and special allowances as a bully's stick with which to control the behavior of other software and hardware companies. When I can get a Windows license via Dell computer more cheaply than I can get it from a retail store, I am coerced into buying from Dell (and other major PC assemblers), and they in turn must agree to whatever illegal restrictions Microsoft imposes or risk their very survival. Microsoft is aware of this power they have, and they use it. It must be removed. Microsoft must be required to release it's software at a constant price for any customer, OEM or individual, and they must be prevented from allowing any restrictions on the use or resale of that software beyond what is allowed by copyright law. Nothing less will suffice to prevent the continued illegal exploitation of their market position. Even this restriction is necessary but not sufficient; it should be added to the proposed settlement and should not replace it.

    There is one thing that I feel must be added to Mr. Kegel's comments, hich in his essay was completely absent: even if the proposed settlement were completely free from loopholes, it would be insufficient. Microsoft repeatedly broke both U.S. law and court orders, and has profited to the extent of tens of billions of dollars and dozens of destroyed and crippled competitors in the process. If the only punishment they face is a set of restrictions designed to make the continuation of these acts harder, then they really have not been punished at all. The settlement against Microsoft must "deny to the defendant the fruits of its statutory violation", or it does not act as a disincentive to further violations at all.

    The most direct way of enacting such a punishment is simply to fine Microsoft at a level commensurate with their criminal gains. Fortunately, Microsoft holds a cash (and cash equivalents) reserve of over thirty billion dollars, and so such a fine could be levied without requiring any business-disrupting liquidation on their part. Microsoft has repeatedly demonstrated that they are motivated by money and not by the law; they will cease illegal behavior once it becomes financially unwise, and not a moment sooner.
    ---
    Roy Stogner
  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:35PM (#2889267) Homepage Journal
    To Judge Kollar-Kotelly and whom it may concern,

    I fear the Microsoft antitrust trial is deeply misunderstood, by the prosecution and the public at large. The consequences could be dire if a settlement is reached too early and in Microsoft's favor.

    This case has a lot in common with the trials of the railroad monopolies. By their end, public infrastructure in the form of superhighways and was at hand. People no longer depended on the railroads as the only means of transportation cross country, and federally funded interstate roads provided an alternative to moving people and goods only by tracks. The introduction and assistance of cross country roads from the government helped resist the price fixing from the railroads and gave people a choice. Ultimately that choice resulted in heightened interstatecommerce and heavy population of the west coast of the United States.

    Like the railroad companies, closed source operating system companies will always gravitate towards monopolistic unified control. This is in part because of the difficulty of building a new operating system infrastructure (building a new set of cross country tracks) and partially because it lowers the parent companies costs. Any remedy must be ongoing until the United States congress sees fit to address the cost of building, obtaining, or securing a open source software infrastructure.

    Any assistance from the government helps drive back the very real market force of fear of obsolescence, which helps repair the psychological damage caused by previous competition being wholly futile. Compare the argument, "why should I buy a car when there are plenty of trains and there are no roads" to the modern application obsolescence quandary, "Why should I buy an operating system when there are no applications, and Windows is free?" (Windows is not free, but that is the public perception).

    Like moving goods, only when people can choose to manipulate information in the fashion which proves most efficient for them will the free market flourish. At the least, Microsoft license terms and prices must be predictable and uniform for however long it takes for a federal infrastructure to be made readily available for use by Americans. Then the market can choose once again.

    Thank you for your time.

    Matthew Newhall
    President of LILUG
    Long Island Linux Users Group
    president@slashdotified.lilug.org
    http://lilug.org

    My physical address



  • To whom it may concern:

    The settlement offer is awful.

    Microsoft has built a massive Great Wall of Control around the software industry, and they guard the portcullis. To all who would pass through, these bandits put forth the following edict: No Innovation Shall Pass That Is Not Microsoft's. And all who pass through must pay a fee to the gang who runs it.

    The settlement offer maintains this Great Wall of Control. The settlement offer ensures that Microsoft alone decides what technology the people will be allowed to use. The settlement offer ensures that the software industry in America is not free.

    The leader of the people of the land made a stand against the bandits, and defeated it -- yet rather than destroy the Great Wall of Control, assuring freedom and prosperity for his citizens, will he now offer a truce to these bandits? These thieves? These self-appointed censors of ideas?

    More is at stake here than the jobs of American citizens. America's ability to compete with the rest of the world in software is at stake; because if we do not allow our own citizens to innovate, some other country will. And such steps are clearly beginning in Europe and Japan.

    This settlement harms industry. This settlement harms individuals. This settlement harms America. We have already lost so many good ideas due to the Microsoft Bandits; how many more can we afford to lose?

  • Heres a copy of my letter:

    Preface:

    The US Constitution makes it very clear that copyrights are not an inherent right, but merely a short term incentive designed to bring information into the public domain after a limited monopoly on copying is granted to the makers of a creative work.

    Suggested Punishment:

    It should be self evident that Microsoft has violated this trust, and as punishment the government should no longer be required to enforce their copyright holdings on the Windows NT/95,98 operating systems, Internet Explorer, and possibly MS Word.

    This would be a very simple, but fair and effective punishment that would be self enforcing, require no oversight, and would provide intense motivation for this to never happen again.

  • by Carter Butts ( 245607 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @04:17PM (#2890032)
    [Not any better than the others here, but it's yet another example for those who are seeking one....]

    I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed settlement in the Microsoft antitrust trial. As a scientist, I spend much of my time developing data analysis software for multiple platforms, including both UNIX and Microsoft Windows Operating Systems. My work is thus directly affected by the current proceedings, and I am concerned that a judgment be reached which is in the best interests of myself and other science and technology professionals.

    I am particularly concerned that the Proposed Final Judgment does not adequately address the problem of Independent Software Vendors who ship Open Source applications. The Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.1 SDK EULA, for instance, states in part that

    "...you shall not distribute the REDISTRIBUTABLE COMPONENT in conjunction with any Publicly Available Software. "Publicly Available Software" means each of (i) any software that contains, or is derived in any manner (in whole or in part) from, any software that is distributed as free software, open source software (e.g. Linux) or similar licensing or distribution models ... Publicly Available Software includes, without limitation, software licensed or distributed under any of the following licenses or distribution models, or licenses or distribution models similar to any of the following: GNU's General Public License (GPL) or Lesser/Library GPL (LGPL); The Artistic License (e.g., PERL); the Mozilla Public License; the Netscape Public License; the Sun Community Source License (SCSL); ..."

    This and other similar EULAs severely limit the potential for software makers to build Open Source software which is compatible with, or which makes legitimate use of, Microsoft tools. Since scientific software is often "Publicly Available" as per the above definition -- in keeping with the duty of scientists (especially those with public funding) to make their work available to American government, business, and academic institutions -- it follows that such behaviors on the part of Microsoft serve to impair the ability of the scientific community to meet its public responsibilities. Given the finding of fact that Microsoft holds a monopoly on Intel-compatible PC operating systems, it is espectially important to guarantee that Microsoft will not be able to use its monopoly power to control Independent Software Vendors. The Proposed Final Judgment does not succeed in accomplishing this.

    The United States Department of Justice was in the right to take action against Microsoft initially, and -- as a taxpayer -- I certainly hope they will see that justice is served. The Proposed Final Judgment, however, is insufficiently strong to prevent the abuses which resulted in the initial action, much less the potentially actionable practices already proposed by Microsoft in the coming years. A strong judgment, possibly including the breakup of Microsoft, is the only viable means of restoring the benefits of free competition to the American software industry.
  • by Fencepost ( 107992 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @10:25PM (#2891964) Journal
    22 January, 2002

    Renata B. Hesse
    Antitrust Division
    U.S. Department of Justice
    Suite 1200
    601 D Street NW
    Washington, DC 20530-0001

    Ms. Hesse,

    I am writing to add my name to the list of people opposed to the Proposed Final Judgement in the United States v. Microsoft antitrust case.

    As a software developer with 11 years of business experience, I have watched Microsoft's rise to dominance in several markets and been dismayed by many of the techniques it has used to attain and maintain dominance at the expense of other companies, competing software platforms and consumers such as myself. Still, while I have often found Microsoft's techniques distasteful and unethical, I am far less concerned about remedies for its past behavior than I am about ensuring that the same types of behavior are prevented in the future.

    From my reading of the Proposed Judgement those remedies that actually work against Microsoft would be ineffective against a company determined to bypass them and would not even constitute significant obstacles in that bypassing process, further in many cases the remedies and definitions seem to have been specifically crafted to make them effectively nonexistent or to actually strengthen Microsoft's position in current or potential future markets. That Microsoft will work to bypass the original intent of the Judgement is clear for both technical and business practices - even during the course of the trial and settlement negotiations it continued to use tactics that should be blocked by a solid agreement.

    As an example, the future direction of Microsoft's focus has just this month been declared to be security, while under the Proposed Judgement anything related to security need not be disclosed even if such would otherwise be mandatory. Under a strict reading, if Microsoft adds even rudimentary security interfaces to its APIs then none of those APIs need be disclosed and there is no penalty for not disclosing them -a requirement for receiving documentation for those APIs is that any business needing it must meet Microsoft-developed standards of business viability; non-businesses need not apply at all because access will simply not be available.

    Overall, I feel that the Proposed Final Judgement is deeply flawed and should be substantially revised to remove these flaws before being accepted. A software and content monoculture such as Microsoft clearly wishes to have in place harms all of us in the long term, including Microsoft and its investors.

    Sincerely,
    Alan J. Miller
    Des Plaines, IL

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