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Microsoft Settlement Comments 343

GreyPoopon writes: "I'm sure somebody has already sent this in, but what the heck. According to Excite, it looks like a summary of the comments on the Microsoft settlement only show 5 of the 47 released by the Justice Department in support of the settlement. Does this mean that Judge Kollar-Kotelly will rely on only these 47 to make her decision?" The comments that the DOJ describes as "major" are now published; the procedure the DOJ wants to follow for publishing all of the 30,000 comments received is contained in a court filing. (The Federal Register, if you don't know, is a dead-tree, daily publication of the doings of the U.S. Federal Government. The Department of Justice is arguing that there are simply too many comments to publish on paper, despite the legal requirement to do so.)
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Microsoft Settlement Comments

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  • by Artifice_Eternity ( 306661 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:24PM (#3014955) Homepage
    Read all about it at the link below...
  • by Dino ( 9081 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `naed.semloh.nhoj'> on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:27PM (#3014970) Homepage
    The sheer amount of comments, interest in the case and outdated dead-tree publishing philosophy of the Federal Registar has got me thinking.

    Perhaps it is time for the Government to create, adopt or otherwise standadize a system to allow registered voters to discuss and debate on current issues and policies.

    Something like Slashdot, but the people who run the show would be our elected politicans instead of our current dictatorship :-)
    • by d-e-w ( 173678 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:33PM (#3015001)
      Unfortunately, something like that would result in the same types of problems that arise from special interest groups and lobbyists--a vocal minority "seeming" like a majority. The loudmouths would strongly encourage the direction of government. In real life, right-wing conservatives already have this type of influence down cold.

      Also a major problem in all online communities I've participated in ... (vocal minorities, not right-wing conservatives ;)
      • In the Polotical-lobyist forum, it takes money and time to encourage the direction of government.

        On a discussion forum, the cost in money moves to zero and the people with the most time & people resources will be the "vocal minority."

        That is until someone creates the ultimate discussion-bot that analyzes and attacks every oppossing message methodically and quickly. Kind of like P.R. flaks but smarter and you don't have to pay them.
      • a vocal minority "seeming" like a majority
        isn't the already the case??
    • Wait, hold up, dude. Today's Friday. On Fridays, we support the government, intellectual property, copyright laws, licensure of software, the MPAA for the great DVD releases they have, and the music industry for the great music they put out.

      Tuesday and Thursday, however, we are anti-establishment, we support the opening of all software, the bypass of all copyrights, we're anti- .NET software licencing, we hate the MPAA for Johansen/DeCSS, and screw the "copy protected CD's".

      read the slashdot bylaws before you post next time =)

    • I can see it now...

      "Frist Ps0t! I 0wNz j0o Ge0Rg3 \/\/!"
    • Which is what I said earlier [], in a way.

      You actually had a decent chance of being included in the comment base if you took the time to actually write an intelligent thoughtful comment. Form letters were tossed as obvious attempts to flood the channel. It probably winds up being similar to the number of comments in any number of Slash articles, and reading everything above 0. 15,000 submittals that were not trolls, flamebait, etc, and which actually had some content is probably not that bad."

      probably better than here at slash. 47 comments that rated a 5+ - too bad their weren't any threads. "

    • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @05:11PM (#3015203) Homepage
      Perhaps it is time for the Government to create, adopt or otherwise standadize a system to allow registered voters to discuss and debate on current issues and policies.

      Something like Slashdot, but the people who run the show would be our elected politicans instead of our current dictatorship :-)

      And on the floor of the US Senate:

      "Mr. President Pro Tem, I would like to point out that many of my constituents are 1337 h4xx0r5 and want the president to post his rear end in a "" manner!
    • I suppose this would mean that each session of congress would thenceforth begin with a bunch of backbenchers yelling

      F1R5T P05T!!!!!
  • Does this mean that Judge Kollar-Kotelly will rely on only these 47 to make her decision?

    It might help sway her against the settlement, but a two-thirds majority overall is a fairly strong case for vacating the settlement.

    Any way you crack it, the public has shown that the settlement was inappropriate given the charges.
    • by Gaijin42 ( 317411 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:33PM (#3015002)
      Your logic would be true, if the comments were a random sampling of all the people involved (in this case, all computer professionals, or consumers - in other words, almost every educated adult in the country).

      However, since comments were voluntary, and there is a considerable amount of emotion in the arena, the sample is guaranteed not to be random.

      It could be that MS tried to form a grassroots campaign (In fact, this did happen)

      It could be that Sun and Oracle and Netscape tried to form a grassroots campaign, along with slashdot and the OSS movement (In fact, this did happen)

      One side having more people who could write a convincing argument doesnn't have a big effect. You have no idea in what proportions the original 30000 messages were. It could be 30000-46 messages that said "Microsoft should be let off the hook" and 46 messages that went into detail as to other methods.

      Further, the popular opinion doesn't (or shouldn't) rule, the actual facts in the case should.

      Note, I am not saying that MS is in the right, or that they are in the wrong, just that your argument doesn't work out the way you want it to.
      • by Sj0 ( 472011 )
        uh...the orignal results were posted to slashdot as well. something like 15000 to 7000.

        Here's the post on Slashdot. []
      • The actual facts resulted in a criminal conviction of Microsoft. Popular opinion won't rule, a single judge will - the precise opposite of democratic mob justice. The opinions are meant only as a sample of public thought on the matter, with no requirement for statistical accuracy.

        • You are quite correct. I was responding to my parent's comment about if the judge should follow the opinions presented in the comments. And the answer is no.

          However, if the opinions are meant to be a sample, should they not be somewhat representative of the population they are drawn from?
          • I think we went through all of this on the last time, but I agree that if the opinions were meant to be a sample, they should be made statistically sound. I remember raising the question of qualitative verses quantitative analysis. My guess is that the 47 selected responses are probably the most strong arguments from either side. It is most likely true that the judge will perform a quantitative analysis to see if there are compelling reasons for either vacating or upholding the settlement. We have to trust her to make a decision based not on the opinions themselves or the statistics, but rather on facts or ideas gleaned from those opinions. You'll know whether or not she did her job when she summarizes her decision. Most judges include their line of reasoning with a summary for use in appeals and precendent.
      • the odds were like 2-1 when you filtered out the ones that actually mentioned stuff about the case. although i'd be intrested in seeing the one rumoured porn post...
        the simple fact that the judge wanted any letters that didn't have good detail and arguments about the case or appeared to be form letters should eliminate alot of the astroturfing... of course this just leaves "expert opinion" type letters left (which have their own biases)
      • You have no idea in what proportions the original 30000 messages were.

        The article says that the proportion was about 2:1 against the settlement. I.E., a two-thirds majority against. Didn't you read it?

    • To the extent that the comments are persuasive because of their content they matter. Remember that Judge Jackson was motivated, despite the parties, to look into a three-way breakup.

      Judges are trained to decide based on right/wrong arguments, not what is popular. The Judges are their precisely to make sure that the political branches, that operate off popularity, stay between the lines. They are supposed to be independent, and counting the comments as votes is not independence.
  • Common Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:27PM (#3014973)
    All the DoJ is saying is that 90%+ of the comments were via email, if they can recieve comments via an electronic medium, why can they not re-publish them via the same electronic medium?
    • Re:Common Sense (Score:2, Interesting)

      by caferace ( 442 )
      Well, This is just a guess... I speculate that there may be a requirement that electronic-only publishing may be illegal, or at the least would set an "unhealthy precedent". Sure, you and I have computers. So does over half of the population of the U.S. That leaves a lot of people however who don't have access to the medium, thereby depriving them of important governmental information. So, I imagine that anything they "publish" also has to be in dead-tree print.

      Of course, this is all just conjecture. I could be dead wrong.

      • Re:Common Sense (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Amarok.Org ( 514102 )
        Sure, you and I have computers. So does over half of the population of the U.S. That leaves a lot of people however who don't have access to the medium, thereby depriving them of important governmental information. So, I imagine that anything they "publish" also has to be in dead-tree print.

        But is the government going to send these huge paper copies out to these computerless individuals? No, of course not. These documents will be available for review in public places - courthouses, public libraries, etc. Since these facilities already have computers (mostly, anyway) persons unable to view the CDROMs would only have to pop down to their local public library and browse the ones provided to them there. It's the same trip they'd have made for the paper copies, too.

        • But is the government going to send these huge paper copies out to these computerless individuals? No, of course not. These documents will be available for review in public places - courthouses, public libraries, etc.
          Very true, but federal documents pretty much back to the Jamestown settlement are available at the library. What are the odds that whatever CD-ROM format you pick to use today will be readable in 2302? We can be pretty sure that paper will still be readable then, since it has already been proved [1].


          [1] Yes, I know the Federal Register is printed on high-acid toilet paper. I am assuming they print one good copy on rag bond. I could be wrong about that.

    • Re:Common Sense (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Amarok.Org ( 514102 )
      Because that's not what the the law says to do. The issue needs not to be "We don't want to follow the law because it costs too much and we shouldn't have to", but "We think this law in it's present form is not in the best interest of the American people, so let's start the ball rolling to change it."

      IANAL, but it shouldn't take much more than a federal judge issuing an order allowing the DELAY of publication while the legal issues of the method is resolved.

      • Of course, though I am unfamiliar with the exact wording of the law. They might be able to say that they cannot accept any comments which are not in dead tree form/sent via USPS as they are not within the scope of the law.

        I expect that the courts will respond in kind: "You must publish the results, as the law requires you to; but We recommend the law be changed."
    • Re:Common Sense (Score:2, Informative)

      by MindStalker ( 22827 )
      The law states clearly that all comments are supposed to be printed in the federal register this would cost millions, and would take multiple volumes, and would be very difficult to scan through. Instead they simply are going to print the major comments, and they will at a later date, publish on the internet, all comments. While the law states otherwise the judge can rule that they can follow this plan, and doing such does have presidence. In the AT&T case, because of the cost of publishing all comments in the fed register they just published the main onces, and published all the comments in just enough volumes so that each court house could have one, that was publically accessable to read. They could do that, but with the internet, why should they.
  • Saving public money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marnanel ( 98063 ) <slashdot&marnanel,org> on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:28PM (#3014977) Homepage Journal
    So it'll save $4m [] not to publish these in the Federal Register? It's good to see officials looking to save public money like that. But I wonder, if it's seen to be sufficient in this case to publish only the index in dead-tree form and to supply the full texts online and on CD-ROMs, whether a precedent will be set for the comments on all such cases to be published in this way. The consequent savings would presumably be non-trivial.
  • Nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EisPick ( 29965 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:31PM (#3014989)
    It appears that one of the five representative comments in favor of the settlement is from Ayn Rand whackos [].
    • One of the comments [] against the settlement is from the KDE League []. It's nice to see that the KDE League is actually doing something.
    • Actually, they appear to be opposed to the settlement... they would prefer to see the case dropped entirely:

      Accordingly, we reject the notion that this settlement serves the public interest, or that any punishment of Microsoft for its business practices will be of benefit to any consumer. Eroding Microsoft's property rights serves no one. We hold that no antitrust case, including the Microsoft case can withstand rational scrutiny, and we ask that no sanction be placed on Microsoft as a result of its antitrust conviction.
      • Yeah, but they also oppose *any* settlement. They feel (not think - their claims of ultra-rationality have grown from ideas based on feelings, not derived rationally) that Microsoft should be allowed to continue unpunished, because the ideal way to live is in a free, unregulated market. Their ideas are no more rational than the revolutionary socialist/communinist thinkers. They are whackos like the original poster stated, I don't know who modded him down - has has a point.
    • No kidding, it's hard to believe whoever wrote that has a PhD in anything. For instance:

      Fiction #1: Microsoft is a "monopoly." There is no such thing as a private monopoly. Only the government can forcibly prevent competitors from entering a market.

      I guess the Government-enforced copyright monopoly doesn't count? And in my economics classes, I learned that a monopoly is a company with concentrated market power, which may or may not be harmful to society. Any RATIONAL thinker would agree: of course Microsoft is a monopoly in the PC operating systems market, their product is used on a vast majority of PCs. A is A., and Microsoft is a Monopoly.

      This economic power, the power of voluntary trade, is fundamentally different from political power, the power of the gun.

      To quote George Will (was it George Will?) Capitalism is a government program. Let's say hardware Company X decides they don't like to pay microsoft for machines that don't have Windows installed. IE, they break their contract and sell their own machines without Windows, but don't pay Microsoft. Guess what types of weapons will be carried when their headquarters are raided after Microsoft sues them for breach of contract? That's right! Guns! Or maybe the company should just blow up their unsold PCs, Howard Roark style.

      Ayn Rand took the valid and noble concept of rational self-interest and turned it into a sophomoric caricature, an unrealistic and simplified viewpoint that applies to everything yet is completely irrelevant here in the "real world".

      Kindof like how this post has nothing to do with Microsoft, oops..whatever..

      • I guess the Government-enforced copyright monopoly doesn't count?

        The only monopoly granted to Microsoft by means of copyright law is the monopoly on Windows. It's not much different from the monpoly that the trademark office has granted to Kraft for Philadelphia Cream Cheese. But neither is a monopoly, because you can get other operating systems, or other cream cheeses.
  • by mystery_bowler ( 472698 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:31PM (#3014991) Homepage
    The fact that a majority of the opinions are against the settlement is really a testament to common sense.

    I don't want to make myself out to be a MS-basher. That would be hypocritical, since I use MS products in my job as a programmer and at home (mostly for gaming). But even someone who is adamantly pro-MS would have to acknowledge MS's unfair use of it's size and power to not just compete with others in MS's markets, but to crush them.

    I used to argue that MS hasn't done anything any other company hasn't done or wanted to do. With the exception that no other company has been in quite a parallel set of circumstances, I still more or less believe that. But MS has become so large and powerful that the decisions those in power make do indeed hinder competition. When MS decides to "embrace and extend" something (like, say, a communication protocol), sure, it protects their business - which is a basic drive of all businesses. But that kind of manuveur by MS just hurts the industry as a whole as manufacturers scramble to make MS-compliant hardware and software developers scramble to implement MS-compatible solutions. And we all do the same dance again when MS Protocol X is revised with (typically buggy) version N.0

    It's good to see that the people who aren't agreeing with the settlement are excersizing basic business logic.
    • by RazzleFrog ( 537054 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @05:02PM (#3015164)
      The fact that a majority of the opinions are against the settlement is really a testament to common sense.

      Actually it is not. It is a testament to the fact that people are much more likely to complain than they are to compliment. Ask the manager at your local grocery store or a restaurant owner which they get more of.

      The fact is that a lot (not all mind you) of the respondents are either companies that have a vested interest in the destruction of Microsoft (AOL, Oracle, Sun, etc.) or anti-Microsoft zealots. I think that if you polled the whole country you would find a lot more Microsoft sympathizers than these comments would indicate.

      I am not saying I am one of those so please don't flame me.
      • Actually, that's not entirely accurate. 30,000 comments were submitted, and reportedly went 2:1 against Microsoft. They've only published
        • substantive
        comments (non-form letters, legal filings, etc). The rest (with the probable exception of the porn) will be published on CD or available for download.
      • i partially agree with you, but i would say that most people who did not respond, either are ignorant of the case in general or don't care enough about it to make a post (apathy runs strong in this day)
        on the overall whole, i think, the judge should look at the arguments involved as to WHY, rather than just the stastitical value of the numbers when she forms her opinions time to pull out the BS-Meter
      • Quoth the poster:
        I think that if you polled the whole country you would find a lot more Microsoft sympathizers than these comments would indicate.
        Indubitably. You'd also find that most of these people can't tell you the difference between a CPU and a case, or an operating system and a PC. The fact that they're Microsoft sympathizers (boy, that's got an evil ring, doesn't it?) is a testament to Microsoft's PR firm and nothing else.

        Not to sound elitist, but the vast majority of people in this country aren't qualified to have an opinion on the settlement. Anyone with a 'net connection could change that for themselves with a couple hours research, but we know how unlikely that is.

        The fact is that a lot (not all mind you) of the respondents are either companies that have a vested interest in the destruction of Microsoft (AOL, Oracle, Sun, etc.) or anti-Microsoft zealots.
        First, this is wanton speculation on your part, since the comments haven't even been published; I bet you haven't even read the ones in the link (neither have I).

        Second, these companies and "zealots" do not have a vested interest in the destruction of Microsoft. Could you even imagine the utter chaos that would insue if Microsoft were to cease to exist? AOL would tank, for one. What these folks do have a vested interest in is a market economy free from the ravaging predation of Microsoft.

        What they (and I) are asking for is simple: (a) enforce the laws on the books and (b) try to restore competition. If they'd done it 5 years ago it would have been easier; 5 years from now it'll be harder still.
        • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Friday February 15, 2002 @06:26PM (#3015520) Homepage
          Not to sound elitist, but the vast majority of people in this country aren't qualified to have an opinion on the settlement.

          Not to sound elitist, but the vast majority of posters on slashdot aren't qualified to have an opinion on the settlement. Are you a lawyer? Are you qualified to comment on the law in this case? Just because Microsoft wasn't shattered into a million tiny pieces does not mean the law as not followed. Your rhetoric indicates your position, but don't confuse your opinion with law.
      • The fact is that a lot (not all mind you) of the respondents are either companies that have a vested interest in the destruction of Microsoft

        Let's reword that a little: most everyone in the software and IT industry has a vested interest in the destruction of Microsoft. A fair number of consumers do too. We have a lot to gain from a market where one player is powerful enough to consistently tip things to their own advantage, whether their solutions are superior or not.

        But I'm still not sure my rewording is precise enough, so I'll try again: most everyone in the software and IT industry has a vested interest in a Microsoft that obeys the laws they've been convicted of violating, and seeing true restorative measures come about, rather than the perhaps-well-meaning-but-leaks-like-a-legal-sieve proposed "settlement". This doesn't have to include the destruction of Microsoft -- just some precise measures with real teeth. That's what most of us want.

  • by Alan Cox ( 27532 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:34PM (#3015005) Homepage
    Surely its not beyond the wit of the government to ship said CD with the Federal Register, in a standards compliant format with a standards compliant (eg ascii) content.

  • by hey ( 83763 )
    "Given that Microsoft's .Net Passport is the heart of Windows XP, Microsoft's new Operating System that was officially launched on October 25, 2001, Catavault, a software company addressing online identification and authentication, unfortunately finds itself in the cross-hairs of the most powerful software company in the world."

    from: -00033650.htm []

    Too bad guys, you're gonna die. Not the first and not the last.

  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <ememalb@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:39PM (#3015032) Homepage Journal
    "The Department of Justice is arguing that there are simply too many comments to publish on paper, despite the legal requirement to do so.)"

    Naah, the real reason is who wants to see a printed version of the goat sex dude 600 times?

    Although, what ever floats your boat :)
  • being a kde fan... (Score:4, Informative)

    by 7-Vodka ( 195504 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:40PM (#3015043) Journal
    wow, I enjoyed reading the response from the KDE league Inc. It seemed more relevant to me than the other responses, was brief and has a nifty introduction to KDE. -00028788.htm []

  • Too much paper? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ehiris ( 214677 )
    I'll be offering them free space on my server so that they can publish it there.

    There more data going over the internet in an hour then there's data contained in the library of congress.

    What's 30000 comments? My PDA can probably hold that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Granted this is a couple orders of magnitude smaller in scale, but the Canadian government published all the more than 700 "Canadian DMCA" [] comments it got, even the one from The Edifying Fellowship of Ook [].
  • Frontpage (Score:3, Funny)

    by ehiris ( 214677 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:50PM (#3015093) Homepage
    You can't post anti MS comments by using MS FrontPage to publish.

    Hopefully the DOJ doesn't use FrontPage to publish.
  • Interesting. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lurking ( 51269 )
    They did take into account comments from non-US citizens. Paul Johnson is from Britain.
  • Is there anyone out there who doesn't think that the settlement has already been decided? The only thing that is going on now is that it is being packaged to minimize outcry and the possibility of a challenge. But the deed is done...


    • There are several comments on the Microsoft settlement to the effect that there's been undisclosed ex-parte communications going on between MS and DOJ, in violation of the Tunney act. So maybe your paranoia isn't so outlandish, after all.
  • Sony's reply (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:55PM (#3015125)
    I found it slightly amusing that Sony's reply descented due to the "common licensing" provision. Basically they wanted to make sure their preferential licensing, and their ability to extend *their* monopolistic tendancies was not affected by the ruling...
  • I assume what they wrote did not make the final cut, but judging from what I read, most of the comments from people were of an equal caliber of what these gentlemen write.

    I was happy to see all those compelling arguments.
    the Judge is going to have a very hard time.

    I was unhappy however to see certain groups coming out for MS.....I know the ACT is an MS group so I was not suprised, but I did not know that compTIA was pro MS.

    I also was not excited to see a comment about how the turrney act is for the good of the consumer and not the good of the competitor, especialy since so many MS competitors wrote in.

    well, we shall see I guess
  • Ha! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clark625 ( 308380 ) <> on Friday February 15, 2002 @04:57PM (#3015139) Homepage

    Anyone else find it rather odd that supporting opinions from the Associate for Competative Technology [] and the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism []? Maybe not. But then they also were both formed in 1998. Call that a coincidence. Also, the Computing Technology Industry Association [] was formed in 2000 (as far as I can tell).

    I didn't bother searching for the other two opinions for the settlement. Here's hoping that the judge can read between the lines here. Lord knows I can't figure out just who is the main contributer to these organizations.

  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @05:04PM (#3015169) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean that Judge Kollar-Kotelly will rely on only these 47 to make her decision?
    No, it means that posting the first 47 "major" (their word) comments is a significant step, and that they've taken it already. There are 15,000 "serious" (my word) anti-Microsoft comments (including mine []), and 7,500 "serious" pro-Microsoft comments.

    "Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ... said she planned to read the comments before deciding." I think that means all the comments; though she may "read" them by passing many to her clerks.

    If I understand this [] correctly, the DOJ still intends to post all 47 + 15,000 + 7,500 comments on the Web, and publish them on CD, and index them in the dead tree Federal Register. (They're clever enough not to publish e-mail addresses, to the disappointment of spammers everywhere.)
    • ... it seems to me that every point that Lumpish Scholar makes is also made, at least as effectively, either by Dan Kegel's comment or Eben Moglen's comment, both of which are in the 47.

  • Why does everything have to be so damned complicated? The lawyer speak is definitely tremendous in these proceedings. I actually tried to read a few of them...mainly Novell's and Redhat's, but I couldn't because it was so watered down that I couldn't see into the underlying message of Bill is devil, Microsoft is hell, and we are tired of burning!

    Man, could you imagine what it would have been like if these responses were written using common everyday english?

    I can dream I guess....
  • Gee, all this $$$ for lawyers goes on forever while they decide whether to slap them or the wrist with a wet noodle or sentence them 20 hail mary's.

  • I just read most of the letters that are on the webaise... Granted I only read the first few paragraphs or skimmed them to get the jist.. either yay or nay. It's interesting on what they selected as the most important or convincing. You can obviously see who is in microsoft's back pocket, who would boring as hell at a party (I.E a lawyer anyways) and who is actually insightful.

    Every letter that is in normal english, isn't trying to be superior or twist the english language into a mess of convolution is an excellent insight into what the public pulse is on this issue. Every letter that looks like a legal draft or you need a 4th year degree in law or political science should be thrown out and burned.

    Kudos to those that chose to be honest and framk with the court and didnt try to tell the court what they already knew... (Cripes one letter went over the entire trial and findings and probably included what the judges and lawyers ate for lunch.)

  • One of the proposed MS settlements was that Microsoft would have "uniform terms and conditions" for licensing.

    Sony argues that in the past, they have added language which would strengthen their claim to it's intellectual property.

    Now that Microsoft is renegotiating with Sony, MS claims that in order to be compliant with the settlement, they cannot accept Sony's modifications of the license. -which only strengthens Microsoft's ability to extend it's monopoly.

    and here I thought that was one of the safest proposals of the settlement!!

  • An interesting assertion in the KDE League comment: US Antitrust law protects international parties from local business if it harms the American Consumer. If this is the case, shouldn't international parties have been given the right to comment?

    "In addition, many Open Source developers live in other countries, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain any redress through the courts. (Here it is important to bear in mind that while these developers live in other countries, their software is freely available to American consumers, and hence any harm visited upon these international developers results in direct harm to the American consumers which the Antitrust Laws are designed to protect.)"
  • by Sj0 ( 472011 )
    I've read some of the letters, and it's sort of sad to be reminded of all the companies which Microsoft has unfairly crushed OS/2, BeOS, DR-Dos and others, have all fallen, regardless of user support or quality, and the festering, rotting corpses of these products and in many cases, the companies which created them, are a macabre reminder of why Microsoft must be stopped.


    ...Like I said. Sad.
    • Re:Sad... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Osty ( 16825 )

      I've read some of the letters, and it's sort of sad to be reminded of all the companies which Microsoft has unfairly crushed OS/2, BeOS, DR-Dos and others, have all fallen, regardless of user support or quality, and the festering, rotting corpses of these products and in many cases, the companies which created them, are a macabre reminder of why Microsoft must be stopped.

      Hrm, let's see.

      • OS/2. IBM had absolutely no clue what to do with this operating system. It "died" (even though it's still in use today) because IBM was incompetent.
      • BeOS. No apps, poor hardware support, and a confused vision killed this OS. It's commonly accepted that one of the main reasons Be started up was to eventually provide Apple the next OS for the Macintosh. This didn't happen, since Apple opted to go with Jobs' NeXT instead. Shortly afterwards, Be was more or less forced into the x86 market, where they had no real vision. Spend millions of dollars researching and developing an OS for a very small niche market (media editing and development, basically) that had no compelling reason(*cough*Adobe products*cough*) to switch operating systems? Not a very viable business plan. Be really should've taken a page out of Microsoft's book, if they wanted to survive. Their whole philosophy was that they would only provide simple or trivial applications with the OS to encourage third-party developers, yet third-party developers won't really flock to an OS unless there are users, and the users won't come without applications. That means that Be needed to write some better applications. At the very least, they should've focused on making a much better browser than Net+.
      • DR-DOS. It's DOS. DOS is dead. Next. Oh, you're referring to the whole win3.x thing not liking to run on top of DR-DOS. Well, that's been covered by many other comments besides mine, so there's little point in discussing it again. Suffice it to say, the problem was only in a beta of win3.x, and not in the final version. But I guess beta Microsoft software can kill competitors, right? Right?

      You paint a pretty picture, but try stepping back into the real world for a moment. Be is gone because it was a one-horse company. They bet it all on their OS, then later on their Internet Appliance stuff. Neither panned out, they're gone. DEC had much more than DR-DOS, and the death of DOS isn't what killed DEC in the end anyway. And Caldera (the current owner of DR-DOS) picked it up too late to make a difference. If anything, the only thing that hurt them in the whole situation was buying DR-DOS in the first place. But IBM is still around. They're huge. OS/2 is still in use, but overall I think IBM is happier being out of the desktop OS market.

      Microsoft didn't "crush" any of these. They all lost on their own merits, or because the companies behind the products screwed up on their own. Conspiracy theories can be fun, but sometimes you have to come up for air and live in the real world for a while.

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 15, 2002 @05:23PM (#3015242) Homepage
    Most of the comments either state that the settlement won't promote competition (click here [] or here [], or are based on the allegation that some sort of deal was cut (illegally) between MS and the DOJ []. The following is a list of for PRO-settlement comments:
    1. The Association for Competitive Technology []
    2. Professor Nicholas S. Economides, Stern School of Business, NYU []
    3. Computing Technology Industry Association []
    4. Joseph L. Bast on behalf of the Heartland Institute []

    There is also one comment against the settlement, rejects the settlement as a violation of Microsoft's property rights. []

    Are there any more that I'm missing?

  • by mactari ( 220786 ) <> on Friday February 15, 2002 @05:30PM (#3015275) Homepage
    After the initial shock of not seeing my comments appear in the final 47 (all listed in entirety:, I noticed some of what the individuals (as opposed to companies) that wrote in really do have great comments.

    Here's an example from Mark Alexander, pseudo-randomly chosen b/c he's the first individual listed ( c-00002572.htm):

    Mark: 4) The primary beneficiary of the settlement, other than Microsoft, is the OEM rather than the consumer.

    Me: Great point. I spent much of my comment saying OEMs should have the right to bundle Java VMs or dual booting machines without penalty. How does giving OEMs the *right* to do this ultimately ensure something positive for the consumer? I don't know that it does. This wasn't just a good comment for the settlement, but even for other comment writers like myself.

    Mark: IV - D: Coverage for OEM should not be limited to just the largest volume 20, but should include all the smaller OEM who by nature of their size have less of a bargaining position with Microsoft to begin with and as a group represent a large portion of licenses sold.

    Me: Another great point. I'd allowed the presentation of the settlement in the media to greatly influence what I wrote and never bothered to break the whole thing down line by line. Talk about your misinformed and underinformed public (aka "me"). Let's face it, Mark did his homework. I didn't realize smaller OEMs didn't receive similar/the same protections.

    Anyhow, I find the individual responses to be quite interesting, moreso than, say, RealNetwork's response which was obviously put together by "real" lawyers (Can't imagine being able to say "IAAL!"). Take a look. Whoever sifted through did very well.

  • Senate Comments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Random Feature ( 84958 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @05:34PM (#3015289) Homepage
    " We stand today on the threshold of writing the rules of competition in the digital age. We have two options. One option involves one dominant company controlling the computer desktop facing minor restraints that expire in five years, but acting as a gatekeeper to 95 percent of all personal computer users. The other model is the flowering of innovation and new products that resulted from the breakup of the AT&T telephone monopoly nearly 20 years ago. From cell phones to faxes, from long-distance price wars to the development of the Internet itself, the end of the telephone monopoly brought an explosion of new technologies and services that benefit millions of consumers everyday. We should insist on nothing less in this case."

    Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI

    I didn't vote for this guy as one of my senators, but I'm thinking seriously about voting for him the next time he comes up for re-election. I like the way he thinks. He hit the nail right on the head.

    I'm disappointed that the only "major" responses are mostly from corporations or lawyers. Perhaps this case will introduce a new section in high school English -

    "How to respond to a proposed settlement against Microsoft".

    I'm sure this isn't the last one we'll need to protest...
  • Am I the only one who get tired of the MS case already? Is there a way to fast track this, get settled (whatever the outcome) and get over this as soon as possible?

    Sure, there are parties who would like to drag on, like lawyers, MS, politicians in the MS camp, MS lobbyists.

    But as the case drags on, the big loosers are: American citizens whose tax money is used to prosecute the case, Europeans (for the same reasons, as they are also in the same situation), citizens of the whole world who end up paying more for PC softwares as MS continues its bullying tactics with its monopoly, other software companies that get crushed by MS bullying tactics, employees of those crashed companies, potential companies/project that are afraid to get in MS's way... and the list goes on.

    There's not even an injunction that itemizes what MS _can't_ do while the case is in prosecution. So, MS keeps doing the same thing.

    By the time the case is over (in 10 years? 20? 30?), the economic (and probably competitive, hopefully) landscape will be very different, and the whole argument of the case probably won't make sense anymore. People would probably have forgotten the purpose of the prosecution already.

    And during all these times, almost everyone is loosing big, except those who benefit from the drag.

  • WordPerfect (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XgregX ( 220481 )
    While reading some of the comments, it was interesting to notice that the Computing Technology Industry Association made it obvious that they formatted their document using WordPerfect9 and that if there were any problems "downloading or formatting this file" they would be happy to provide it in another format.
  • This case was supposed to be about how MS has damaged public interest. So now that the public has been given a chance to speak, who is it but corporation that are brought out into the spotlight....

    What's wrong with this picture?
  • I just scanned through the documents on the site and, though I may have missed something in the legalese, this is what I saw.

    The responses by Joseph Bast and the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism support the settlement but seemingly on the grounds that antitrust is a bad or obselete thing. Therefore, these seem to assert that the settlement is good because it is an ineffective remedy.

    The responses by CompTIA and Nicholas S. Economides seem to support the settlement but still allow for some form of antitrust.

    The response by John V. Tunney appears to be a clarification of the procedure that bears his name and has little to say about the settlement.

    So, I see only two that support the settlement as a remedy. Have I missed something?

    • In fact, Tunney slams Microsoft, if indirectly.

      Part of the Tunney act, besides the public commentary, is that the defendant has to disclose any lobbying associated with the case. Microsoft argued that this didn't include lobbying of the Executive branch. Former senator Tunney's letter mostly explains that it (obviously) covers that as well as legislative or judicial lobbying.
  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @06:12PM (#3015454) Homepage
    Personally, I have a very long memory. I bet you do too. It's important to realize who is on what side.

    Since the bad-guy list is short, here's a complete(?) list of those who submitted one of the 'major' papers saying the settlement was appropriate;

    1. CompTIA: "The goal of the settlement in this case should not be to penalize Microsoft for past behavior, nor should it be to benefit Microsoft's competitors by forcing Microsoft to license its source code against its will. The settlement should insure that Microsoft does not engage in the actions found unlawful by the Court of Appeals. This consent judgment does just that and therefore it should be approved." []

    2. The Heartland Institute: "I hope the court resists suggestions that the settlement "doesn't go far enough" in restricting Microsoft's freedom to compete or punishing it for competing too aggressively in the past. Justice in this case requires neither. The proposed Final Judgment protects the interests of consumers and producers by allowing Microsoft and its competitors to compete by producing the high-quality goods and services that consumers want." []

    3. Association for Competitive Technology: CONCLUSION For all these reasons, the RPFJ should be adopted, and the Litigating States' proposals should be rejected." []

    4. The Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism "The basis for Judge Jackson's ruling is not any "monopoly" allegedly controlled by Microsoft; it is the monopoly commanded by the morality of altruism over our culture. That monopoly can be seen, unfortunately, in Bill Gates's sanction of his own destruction in a comment immediately after the ruling, in which he declares that "because of our success, we understand that Microsoft is held to a higher standard, and we accept that responsibility."[vii] As long as this moral monopoly remains unchallenged, legal doctrines such as antitrust will continue to punish successful businesses." []

    5. Nicholas S. Economides, Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business of New York University: "In my opinion, the RPFJ is a good and fair settlement that achieves the objectives of remedial relief without damaging the software industry. I would urge caution against a deeper intervention in the software industry, where fast technological change and very significant network effects make it very difficult to predict the medium and long run effects of such intervention." []

      Washington Legal Foundation: "The United States has said it best: "[T]he [Proposed Judgment], once implemented by the Court, will achieve the purposes of stopping Microsoft's unlawful conduct, preventing its reoccurrence, and restoring competitive conditions in the personal computer operating system market, while avoiding the time, expense and uncertainty of a litigated remedy."(19) We support the Proposed Judgment. The matter is long overdue for resolution, and the States that have declined to join the settlement should, in our judgment, be urged by the Department and the Court to reconsider and adopt it." []

  • I don't know about the rest of /. (I have a feeling, though), but I have a couple of serious problems with the way the comments have been handled (mount soap box).

    First: Only the major comments are receiving any attention. Only corporations and funded organizations are able to devote the time and resources required to prepare a reply worty of attention. I haven't seen any numbers but I wonder how many individuals are considered in the 47 major comments. Could they take into account a random selection of other opinions? This would allow for minimal goat sex, but a chance for the average Joe with two lines to say get heard.

    Second: The DOJ is the one doing the sorting. Isn't this their proposal being commented on? Isn't it in their best interest to limit the number of responses? Why bother sending in comments if the DOJ gets to remove them? Again a random selection of other comments would help. You'ld get a better idea of the true number of people for and against the proposal.

    That said, (step down from soap box) I'm glad to hear that the opposition to the agreement seems to have been able to have their say. I'm also very glad that this is a system that allows for public comments on a hot topic. It could have been settled behind closed doors without any knowledge of the proceedings much less any influence on the outcome.

  • by mikemulvaney ( 24879 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @06:42PM (#3015579)
    I thought Nader's comments [] on how the settlement could affect Free Software were really interesting:

    Note for example that under J.1 and J.2 of the proposed final order, Microsoft can withhold technical information from third parties on the grounds that Microsoft does not certify the "authenticity and viability of its business," while at the same time it is describing the licensing system for Linux as a "cancer" that threatens the demise of both the intellectual property rights system and the future of research and development.

    It seems odd that Microsoft would be allowed to choose to withold secrets based on how viable they thought the other business would be. In other words, they could say (and they have said) "Linux is not a viable/authentic business", and then they would no longer be required to share information with them.

    It shouldn't be up to Microsoft to decide who their competitors are, anyway.

  • by schwanerhill ( 135840 ) on Friday February 15, 2002 @07:24PM (#3015815)
    In general, I'm no Nader fan, but Ralph Nader and James Love's comment [] is right on the money.

    Their first complaint about the settlement is "there is a need to have broader disclosure of file formats for popular office productivity and multimedia applications. Moreover, where Microsoft appears be given broad discretion to deploy intellectual property claims to avoid opening up its monopoly operating system where it will be needed the most, in terms of new interfaces and technologies. Moreover, the agreement appears to give Microsoft too many opportunities to undermine the free software movement."

    Exactly. Most of the other comments that oppose the settlement, including the nine litigating states, think that Microsoft should be forced to continue to develop Office for Mac, and some want to force Microsoft to develop Office for Linux and other unices. What they don't seem to understand is that that will simply move Microsoft's most important monopoly from operating systems to office suites (i.e. applications). In fact, this would do Microsoft a huge favor. It is becoming more and more clear that consumers will not be so dependent upon using the same operating system as everyone else. Instead, what most people care about is the ability to share Word files. If the centerpiece of the remedy is to force Microsoft to develop Office for all competing operating systems, no one will be freed from essentially forced use of Microsoft products; we will simply be freed from forced use of Microsoft operating systems.

    What Microsoft needs to do is exactly what Nader proposes: open up their file formats so that competitors can produce software that can read and write Office files as well as Office itself.

    Nader is also the only commenter that I saw (I've only looked at four or five of the comments, and haven't read all of any of them, given the length) who recognized the strength that the PFJ gives to Microsoft by allowing them to exclude developers whose "business viability" is not certified by Microsoft, i.e. open source and other not-for-profit developers.

    May Nader continue to watch out for consumers' interests (but may he try to effect change in the Democratic party through the primaries and other methods rather than by throwing the presidential election).

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam