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Microsoft Case Enters Crucial Penalty Phase 200

An Anonymous Coward points out an article from Joseph Menn's in the Los Angeles Times which begins: "Microsoft -- Nine states waging a landmark antitrust battle against Microsoft Corp. are preparing to venture into territory that has been barely visible during the past years of legal slogging: the future." This delves slightly into ways in which the states in legal conflict with Microsoft would like to see Microsoft constrained legally going forward.
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Microsoft Case Enters Crucial Penalty Phase

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  • More? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daveman692 ( 558544 )
    If I remember correctly more than just the nine states are gonna go after Micro$oft. A lot of others didn't like the decision that it was over so they were pressing to. How will this effect it or am I just totally off my rocker and need a good slap from Cowboy Neal?
    • Re:More? (Score:2, Informative)

      by NecroPuppy ( 222648 )
      There were 25 additional states that came in on the side of the Nine, in opposition to the MS contention that the Nine could not go forward on their own.

      They don't necessarily support the fact that the Nine are going forward on their own, but they do support that the Nine should be able to do so.

      That really boils down to a State's Rights issue.
  • About time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhoenxHwk ( 254106 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:01PM (#3178410) Homepage
    Honestly, it's about high time that we're getting around to the penalty. It has always bothered me how much money the government needs to spend to enforce simple laws like the Sherman Antitrust act. *sigh* Perhaps we would have just been better off if the government had just subsidized the ridiculous price of Windows and Office.

    And it's not like this is the end either. MS will appeal every last thing they can think of.
    • It has always bothered me how much money the government needs to spend to enforce simple laws like the Sherman Antitrust act.

      Anti-trust is simple?!?!?!
    • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett@nOspam.gmail.com> on Sunday March 17, 2002 @09:40PM (#3178740)
      Yeah, you know, fuck due process!

      We should just throw criminals in jail and skip all this shitty expensive "trial" business.

      Judges are wastes of money. Courtrooms? BAH!

      I tell you what - lets just get one guy, give him a special chair, and he can decide on the spot whether someone is guilty or not. And he can decide the penalty too! Yeah, that way its cheaper and we can just have justice real quick like!

      And you know, if you have to go in frnt of this person, well, lets hope he doesnt have indigestion from breakfast or anything.
      • We should just throw criminals in jail and skip all this shitty expensive "trial" business.

        No, they should throw criminals in jail after they have been convicted and while they are exercising their endless appeals. Oh wait, they do that... unless you're Microsoft.
      • We already have that, they're called military tribunals.
      • Yeah, you know, fuck due process!

        We should just throw criminals in jail and skip all this shitty expensive "trial" business.


        Two points:

        1) "Innocent until proven guilty" was a concept invented because the other way can very much ruin a humans life. Corporations do not have a life to ruin.
        That sounds trollish until you realize that we do throw people into jail before and while they have their trials. Maybe we should stop treating corporations like humans and start treating humans like humans.

        2) M$ has been found guilty. Everything going down now is just haggling over the penalty. The minimum I'd expect from a working legal system is that a convicted criminal is stopped from continuing whatever his crime was.

      • Yeah, you know, fuck due process!

        That's exactly what MS have been doing for several years now. They have been found guilty of a variety of breaches of the law, and they are continuing to abuse the system daily, apparently untouchable by the US legal system.

        Sure, you should have a chance to make your case. Sure, it's reasonable to allow for a right of appeal. But there has to be a limit. Your due process caring for Microsoft is currently doing irreparable damage to companies like AOL-TW and Sun, who have been found guilty of nothing more than competing with Microsoft and wanting a level playing field. Where's their due process?

      • Re:About time (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpe ( 36238 )
        We should just throw criminals in jail and skip all this shitty expensive "trial" business.

        People accused of a crime might well be held in a jail until their trial. The process is called "being remanded in custody". Alternativly they may be subject to want they can do, have to report to some official or other at certain times, surrender documents such as passports or give over some kind of deposit. Some or all of these processes are refered to as "bail". At this time the accused is considered by the law to not be guilty.
        The idea of a speedy trial is to ensure that innocent people are subjected to any of these for as short a time as possible.
        If someone is found guilty they can be held in a jail whilst the judge considers the most appropriate sentence.
      • Corporations aren't people and don't have the right to due process.

        Max
    • This is typical /. "This is so obviously simple why is it taking so long?" crap. The issues at hand are extremely complex and deserve the amount of energy invested. It is extremely arrogant to trivialize this entire process.

      MS will appeal every last thing they can think of.

      Just like we will until the DMCA is hopefully rewritten or overturned.
    • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @10:29PM (#3178984) Homepage
      If there's any question left in anyone's mind about whether or not Microsoft is guilty, and how far any ruling against them needs to go...

      Look at the Slashdot story preceding this one, 'The Sad Parable of OS/2 [slashdot.org]'. Specifically, read the article in Linux And Main it links to [linuxandmain.com].

      Scroll down to the section titled 'Courtly Hatred and Windows in Mud Huts,' and start reading.

      If Microsoft got away with a slap on the wrist last time, it can get away with a slap on the wrist again. It's going to take someone with a lot of backbone to make sure this doesn't happen.

    • I bet your opinion of the justice system would change... REAL QUICK.
  • hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:01PM (#3178413) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft -- Nine states waging a landmark antitrust battle against Microsoft Corp. are preparing to venture into territory that has been barely visible during the past years of legal slogging: the future."

    So this is kind of like Terminator, except the other way round ?

    They split up Microsoft- but it reformed!

    Bill Gates: "I'll be back"

    graspee

    • So this is kind of like Terminator, except the other way round ?

      They split up Microsoft- but it reformed!

      No, it's right, just like the T1000. On the topic of splitting up monopolies and them reforming, this is quite like what the baby-bells are doing right now.

      More stuff:

      MICROSOFT WARNS

      The states are proposing that Microsoft sell a ``modular'' version of Windows that would allow computer makers to strip out add-on features like the Internet Explorer browser or Windows media player.

      The states also would force Microsoft to disclose more about its software and license its browser to other companies royalty-free.

      Microsoft warned that the sanctions sought by the dissenting states would cause havoc in the computer industry and force the company to withdraw its Windows operating system from the market.

      ``It will have a devastating impact on Microsoft. It will have a devastating impact on the PC ecosystem and particularly consumers,'' Webb said.

      Well... That's pretty creepy, like Microsoft saying "We've got a deathgrip on the organism because of our monopoly, any attempt to separate the two will cause death for both!"

      I think appropriate film here is Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So do you go along with them and let them steal your world, or do you have the courage to fight them and take a few necessary lumps in the process?

      I'm certain John Ashcroft, if given the chance, would have Dick Cheney grab all the court records and squirrel them away under Executive Privilege and spare Microsoft, because it's good for America.

  • by bmw ( 115903 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:03PM (#3178422)
    I LOVE THIS COMPANY! YEAH!
  • by waytoomuchcoffee ( 263275 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:03PM (#3178423)
    Here [cartoonbank.com]
  • I can visualize the cross-examination in my head:

    Sullivan: DID YOU, OR DID YOU NOT BULLY NETSCAPE INTO BROWSER SUBMISSION?
    Gates: I don't recall.
    Sullivan: Unless you wish to purchase a license agreement, you can't use that copyrighted phrase. You can have a lifetime, single user license for 3 million. Mr. North is very pleased with his.
  • Perhaps we should, for the duration of the penalty phase, prevent MS from developing any more software, and since technology moves so fast, this would put them at a considerable disadvantage, and also force a settlements soon
    • is the clause that will prohibit MS to make any "Windows only PC" deals with manufacturers. Look, it's pretty simple:

      1. MS was found to have a monopoly in the desktop operating system market;

      2. MS was found to illegally use that monopoly to stifle competition.

      It has to be a no-brainer to make all agreements that MS has with PC manufacturers void and prohibit them from making any such deals in the future until further review of the court.
      • is the clause that will prohibit MS to make any "Windows only PC" deals with manufacturers. Look, it's pretty simple:

        Better yet, force Microsoft to sell retail and OEM versions of all its software at the same price and ban them from giving "Friend of Microsoft" discounts and rebates.

  • Gates is on Microsoft's witness list, as is Ballmer. The states expect to see Gates alone, and his testimony could be pivotal.

    Gates' evasive, videotaped deposition in the last trial was a disaster. If he testifies this time, he will face Sullivan's withering interrogation.

    "Brendan Sullivan is an absolute marvel. The issue is whether he will be able to crack Gates and show some of the less-believable aspects," Lande said.


    Anyone know if this will be available to the public? What I wouldn't give to see Gates or Ballmer crack while on the stand.
  • by chrisvdp74656 ( 448900 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:09PM (#3178442)
    This case will be a very important case for the IT industry. If Microsoft gets away with a slap on the wrist, they will continue their monopoly, Linux, BSD and other OSes that refuse to implement DRM in the kernel will be outlawed (in the US, at least) and other double-plus-ungood things. If, however, Microsoft are severely penalised, the IT industry is very likely to decline, as there is at the moment a large dependency on Microsoft in the IT industry. And there is no point denying it.

    I am not trying to spread FUD, and I would like to see 1 Microsoft Way at the center of a small nuclear explosion, but we must acknowledge the severe repercussions this may have on the IT industry.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:28PM (#3178520) Homepage Journal
      If, however, Microsoft are severely penalised, the IT industry is very likely to decline, as there is at the moment a large dependency on Microsoft in the IT industry. And there is no point denying it.

      The IT industry is dependent on people's needs for IT. If you need to move information around efficiently, you need IT to do it, and these days every business, from banking to agriculture, needs to do just that. (The dot-bomb showed us that just moving information around isn't enough to have a successful business, but I think hardly anyone would argue seriously against the proposition that it is a prerequisite for success.) Whether you do that information-moving with Microsoft products or with some other kind of software has no real effect on the demand for movement of information.

      Therefore, any penalties imposed on Microsoft will not harm the IT industry as a whole. If the demand for MCSE's and other Microsoft-dependent drones declines, it will be matched by a rising demand for people who know other OS's and applications. In the short run, I see no reason to weep over Microsoft lackeys getting fewer jobs while people with broader-based computer science education and experience get more jobs (which would be a welcome reversal of current trends.) In the long run, of course, Microsoft being nuked would increase innovation and quality in IT as a whole, and so be good for everybody. In short, whether you know it or not, all you're doing is repeating M$ FUD when you claim that a severe penalty in this case would have any major negative effect whatsoever.

    • 1. Microsoft has expressed to Congress in numerous letters that it prefers private market solutions rather than government enforced regulations to fix the "DRM" problems.

      2. Quoting scary books doesn't prove your point. It makes you look hyperbolic and hurts your statement.

      3. The IT industry will not decline long-term regardless of what MS does/does not do. The market is entirely capable of correcting virtually anthing (except in many cases government intervention). The second any MS product falls behind, a competitor will pickup the slack.

      4. I do not wish death to anyone, ever. I especially don't wish painful death by melting, mutation, burning, or other horrible methods.

      5. This case is largely irrelevant to the IT industry. If MS ceased to exisit magically tomorrow morning, even the most ardent MS shops would begin investigating alternatives.
    • If, however, Microsoft are severely penalised, the IT industry is very likely to decline, as there is at the moment a large dependency on Microsoft in the IT industry. And there is no point denying it.

      This is incorrect. What you should say is that the tech sector of the stock market might decline in the short term. The industry itself would most certainly not decline, especially since so many companies are looking for ways to make money. Kill the king and the peasants will plunder the riches.

      -Sean
    • Holy cow, you actually belive that?

      The absolute best thing to happen to Is and IT in general would to have microsoft and all it's products deemed illegal and must be destroyed by government order. You would have a giant uprising of companies writing software and systems that would create an instant economic recovery for the country and the world in general to levels that will make the late 1990's look like it was a joke. Plus create huge amounts of innovation and some really earth rattling changes.

      If Microsoft were destroyed by a giant firey metorite It would be one of the best things to happen ot the IT and IS industry cince the invention of the microprocessor.

  • The future? (Score:3, Funny)

    by secondsun ( 195377 ) <secondsun@gmail.com> on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:15PM (#3178463) Journal
    I didn't know that MS headquarters had a flux capacator, much less the ability to travel the necessary 88 mph. Go them.
  • "We're trying to protect nascent technologies--the next Netscape--whatever that might look like," said California Senior Assistant Atty. Gen. Tom Greene

    Do that. But please, God, don't destroy them by fining, like, a jillion dollars.

    You'll just make the products crappier. And a lot of great people will lose their jobs.

  • Amiga inc, has hired several former Microsoft Employees and now they are in a partnership with MS to provide content for MS products like CE.

    Many in the classic Amiga community do not like this and also don't like Amiga taking claim of ownwership of the community, in claims that the community is 110% supportive of what they are doing.

    A couple of Amiga news boards have dropped all news directly tied to Amiga inc. in a boycott.

    If you really want to do something about MS then let people know that you do not support MS and that there are alternatives.

    Simply Put: Boycott MS in any and all ways you can.
  • I hate to see the government get into software design. The spliting of Microsoft into 2 parts (OS and everything else) seemed to be a fairer plan to all and easier to maintain than what we will probably end up with. By the time the government remedies take effect it will be too late to address the original problem anyway. Private lawsuits will have to take up that slack.
    • It has always been my opinion that Jackson decided on splitting MS in two because it kept the government (DOJ and court) out of software design on an ongoing basis, except for enforcing a seperation between the underlying OS and everything else. Note that the appeals court's complaints about the split were not about whether it was an inappropriate remedy, only that Jackson had not laid an adequate groundwork to justify it.

      By the time the new judge makes her decision, which may in fact split MS, such a split may no longer be an effective remedy. MS appears to be moving towards having their major apps run on their middleware (C# and its runtime) rather than directly on the OS. Do we get a replay of this trial at some point in the future with the claims that MS has a middleware monopoly, secret APIs so their apps run better, arbitrarily moving code back and forth between apps and the middleware, etc?

  • by ThomasMis ( 316423 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:22PM (#3178494) Homepage
    The article states that the anti-trust case is currently in its "punishment" phase. And I know I'm arguing semantics here, but we shouldn't be seeking retribution for past behavior, rather, the focus of the states should be on how to restore competition in tomorrow's PC software market.
    • Good thing.

      Murderers should not be executed because it is a retribution. Bank robbers should not be taking away their robbed money because it is a retribution.

      Rather, the focus of the states should be on how to keep peace among people and make everyone rich in order to prevent future murders and robberies.
      • No... we're aren't talking felony crime. That's an entirely different arena. Here we're talking anti-trust law. Therefore the focus should always be on the future of the marketplace. You're trying to compare apples to oranges.
        • What is the difference between earning your money by practicing illegal antitrust behaviors from...well, murder is too extreme - how about - stealing?

          I see no difference between the $$$ MS earned illegally than $$$ obtained through back robbery - both involving an unfair transfer from some victims to some criminals.

          I agree that your dictionary definitions are correct. But I believe that unjust behaviors of similar kind should be treated in similar ways.

          In this case, I advocate a fine of the $$ they earned illegally. (Not that I mean it is easy to calculate, tho)
          • I see no difference between the $$$ MS earned illegally than $$$ obtained through back robbery - both involving an unfair transfer from some victims to some criminals.

            Microsoft probbaly have more in common with gangsters and terrorists than they do bank robbers when it comes to the way they do business.
    • Punishment == deterrence == protection against future crimes.

      If Microsoft stockholders lose 75% of their equity, they are going to police Microsoft management in the future, to assure they don't lose the other 25%.

  • Never ending cycle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:23PM (#3178500)
    What good is punishing Microsoft it they keep even some of their ill-gotton gains? If I steal $25,000.00 and get a $10,000.00 fine but get to keep my stolen booty is that a deterant?

    Microsoft is now using the gains it made illegally to expand into internet services and other areas. There will be new violations. There will be new victims. There will be new lawsuits.

    As long as the Justice Department is getting it's giant Federal dick lubed by Microsoft the cycle will continue.
    • As long as the Justice Department is getting it's giant Federal dick lubed by Microsoft the cycle will continue.

      Thats really intelligent.

      First, MS will forfeit much of their "ill-gotten" gains in civil court - its nearly assured.

      Second, for the Government to effectively recover a lot of that money they need to prove causation and tangible harm to consumers. This issue is largely overlooked. Proving that by any reasonable mesure is nearly impossible.

      Finally, MS can expand where ever it wants. They have no monopoly to leverage in Internet Services. Therefore, there can be no new violations. Therefore the "victims" are just "competitors". But, you are right: there will be lawsuits.
      • >>As long as the Justice Department is getting it's giant Federal dick lubed by Microsoft the cycle will continue.

        >Thats really intelligent.

        That statement was born out of my frustration with the entire situation.

        Re:Never ending cycle (Score:2)
        by danheskett on Sunday March 17, @08:29PM (#3178680)
        (User #178529 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        As long as the Justice Department is getting it's giant Federal dick lubed by Microsoft the cycle will continue.

        Thats really intelligent.

        First, MS will forfeit much of their "ill-gotten" gains in civil court - its nearly assured.

        Second, for the Government to effectively recover a lot of that money they need to prove causation and tangible harm to consumers. This issue is largely overlooked. Proving that by any reasonable mesure is nearly impossible.

        >Finally, MS can expand where ever it wants. They have no monopoly to leverage in Internet Services. Therefore, there can be no new violations.

        They have a monopoly in the PC OS area that they can illegally leverage to expand into the internet services area. That's the whole point.
        • They have a monopoly in the PC OS area that they can illegally leverage to expand into the internet services area. That's the whole point.
          You are missing the whole point. There is no seperate market for Internet services. It doesn't exisit. What MS wants to do with .NET, etc doesnt exisit. They are making it exisit.

          • I don't think I'm the one missing the point here.

            "Internet services" do exist already. Microsoft may want to create new services but they are also using their monopoly power to gain market shares in existing areas. Let's take an example. Look at the instant messaging area. XP bundles Microsoft's instant messenger into it's load. I don't believe that they bundle ICQ or AOL's instant messenger.

            Did you know that if you buy a computer with XP that a message box prompting you to sign up for Microsoft's Passport service will appear? If you ignore it, it will go away but come back again and again. And if you keep ignoring it that XP will eventually disable the MSN explorer and instant messenger?

            Look at the article that just appeared on slashdot that talks about the XP license which prohibits products other than from Microsoft's from being used to remotely control an XP workstation.

            You bet they use their monopoly power to extend in other areas. The fact that they may create a new service does not mean that the use of their monopoly power to kill competition isn't illegal.
            • Look, you and I have fundamental disagreements about what an OS is.

              But that aside, MS has agreed with DOJ to stop the bundling you mention - and in cases where they claim its not possible to allow it to be disable/hidden.

              Second, I've seen XP, and there is a clear option to "never prompt me again". I did that - never came back.

              Third, I recommend not using Windows. Got it? But just because MS's licenses suck, that they restrict what you can do, and are generally stupid doesnt mean they are breaking the law. MS isn't in the OS business. They've never been the OS business. THERE IS NO BUSINESS FOR OPERATING SYSTEMS. Since the day MS decided to kill DOS they have been selling application software. Thats what they do.

              Finally, a side note. Bundling their own software with the OS doesn't kill competition. Its a freaking myth of amazing levels. People claim bundling IE3/4 killed Netscape - WRONG WRONG WRONG. Netscape still maintained its amazing market share until well after IE 5 was released. Why? Why you ask? Because IE moved forward and Netscape floundered on getting NS5 out. Bundling software makes it conveinent yes, but it does not itself reduce competition. And that is borne out by the incredible popularity of AOL's AIM - despite MS's attempts to peddle MSN Messenger.
              • I think this conversation is pointless. You are in denial. MS isn't in the OS business???? The last time I checked 98% of PCs in the entire world were running Microsoft OS.

                Bundling software with their OS doesn't kill competition!? What's the point....

                Next time you see Alice tell her to come up out of the rabbit hole, will ya?
              • Bundling in this case is the same as dumping. The fact is that MS practices illegal dumping of software. They give away products (actually they hide the cost in the OS) that other people are charging for. That's what killed Netscape.

                Dumping is illegal for everybody else except MS that's because MS owns the govt. Who would have thought our grand experiment in democracy would have ended up being dismantled so easily. Fuck Osama, Bill gates is the biggest enemy of democracy.

          • "What MS wants to do with .NET, etc doesnt exisit. They are making it exisit. "

            Whoa there nelly. I know you are a MS troll and all but take a step back please. You are actually saying it was impossible to run bits of code on different machines before .NET arrived? .NET is a rip off of java and java existed before .NET.

            OK I know MS likes to stick the .NET lable on anything it wants to. There will be .NET shoes and .NET ham sandwiches and what not but at it's core it's just another RPC mechanism.

            Unless of course you mean .NET the acronym/hype of the day. That I grant you they are making exist.
      • Finally, MS can expand where ever it wants. They have no monopoly to leverage in Internet Services. Therefore, there can be no new violations.

        Get your facts straight. They have a monopoly in OS's, that they will use to wedge themselves into the internet services industry. This is CLEARLY illegal. And any company that goes under due to this, is a victim, by definition... they were harmed by a criminal act.

        I could also argue that M$ isn't likely to lose more than chump change to civil lawsuits. It would require a judgement in excess of $10 billion, to even faze them. That simply isn't going to happen.

        And as for the parent post... it was vulgar, but much more accurate than your own.
    • by Bodrius ( 191265 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @09:40PM (#3178741) Homepage
      If you steal 25K, and you are proven to have stolen 25K, the government will take the 25K back. But they will not take away your house, your car, your children's college funds or your 401K.

      Microsoft may have been declared to be an anticompetitive monopoly by the government, but it is not clear, in monetary terms, how much they owe to being a monopoly and how much to being just a successful software company.

      You have to remember, Microsoft wasn't always a monopoly, and I don't think the case was clear on when exactly did it become one.

      So, from all those billion dollars they have made since that old version of BASIC, how much would you say is directly linked to the crime? It's probably impossible to prove, and trying to figure it out would probably cost about as much in time, lawyers and accountants. That's why the federal government doesn't get into that mess and lets the respective parties deal with it in civil lawsuits, since civil lawsuits are more liberal with the definition of "facts".
      • If you're convicted of a major theft, you will not only need to repay, if possible, but also be fined and likely jailed; your employer will probably fire you; your spouse may divorce you, and a judge would probably agree there's just cause -- and transfer custody of the children as well; you may forfeit voting rights; you will be marked a convict for the rest of your life, and will find it difficult to rebuild it once you leave prison.

        Compared to that, slapping a few conduct restrictions on MSFT doesn't seem too harsh.
        • Microsoft will probably be fined and "jailed" (receive some restrictions on the liberty of their business). Just like in any court, the severity of those penalties will depend on a lot of things, and can even be quite lenient.

          All the other consequences have nothing to do with the government: getting fired, divorced, losing your kids, segregated, life sucks... all these are because of reactions of society (the market) to your actions.

          Microsoft will probably have to face creditors (although they do have cash), angry stockholders, fleeing customers, doubting partners and investors, etc. They will never be the "safe company" they were before. Maybe it will be bad, maybe it will not. But these will be market reactions, not government punishment.

          Asking for the government to enforce these things is exactly equivalent to asking to government to make sure that every convict's life is destroyed once they're convicted. That is NOT a good idea. The government has a job, don't give it aother one.

          Now, conduct restrictions (privations of liberty) will be in order. Whether they are harsh, or tame, will depend on the court, but I am inclined to think they will be tame at this moment.

          If you don't like what Microsoft did, by all means do what you may to get the appropiate legal punishment for the company. Just don't go around talking about revoking charters and dissolving companies, because it's silly at best, and at worst it has all the charm and intelligence of a lynch-mob.

          A dissolution of Microsoft would harm the stockholders the most, and these are not executives or Gates (who has enough cash anyway), but the retired elderly, middle-class families with college funds for their kids, etc. Not only that, but it would delegitimize the whole antitrust process as much as letting Microsoft go would (will?).
      • If you steal 25K, and you are proven to have stolen 25K, the government will take the 25K back. But they will not take away your house, your car, your children's college funds or your 401K.

        What if it could be proven that you used the stolen money in some way to gain these other assets? Typically you would face a putitive fine as well as having to return what you stole. If this house, car, etc was actually paid for using any kind of credit the credit issuers might have something to say about things too.

        So, from all those billion dollars they have made since that old version of BASIC, how much would you say is directly linked to the crime?

        If the accused was a mobster, drug dealer or terrorist the government probably wouldn't ask the question... Some of Microsoft's business tactics arn't that different from these entities.
        • Actually, I think they do ast the question. They freeze the assets while they find out, though.

          On the credit issue, it's not the government action, or business. If Microsoft is, say, broken up, I'm sure there will be a lot of creditors with something to say to the new two companies with falling stock. But none of these consequences are government enacted.

          Microsoft's business tactics are quite different from those entities. Can we really compare hardball business tactics with murder, terrorism and drug dealing in schools? I think we're losing perspective here.

          Microsoft should face a punitive damage. When you're convicted of grand theft you face a punitive damage (you can go to jail). This punitive damage can vary greatly and be very harsh, nor not. But it is different and independent from taking away whatever you have legitimately acquired.
          • Microsoft's business tactics are quite different from those entities. Can we really compare hardball business tactics with murder, terrorism and drug dealing in schools? I think we're losing perspective here.

            Actually there isn't a clear dividing line. Remember that you don't have to kill anyone to intimidate them into doing what you want. Often a threat is sufficent, IIRC Microsoft did use threats against OEMs. Also some of Microsoft's methods of setting their product, including to schools, are very good parallels for people selling addictive drugs.
            • A threat is not sufficient to be considered a crime, as many a harassed person knows ("Sorry ma'am, we can't do a thing, he has done nothing yet"). It may increase suspicion, but it is not a crime.

              Maybe you can prove it's blackmail, which is more systematic, and actually criminal. But still blackmail is not murder, terrorism, or drug dealing. Really, it's like comparing a drug misdemeanor (personal use of marihuana) with controlling a drug cartel.

              Selling products to schools is VERY FAR from selling adictive drugs. There is no physiological effect, no addiction (unless you derive an unnatural pleasure from using Word), no violation of regulations, no recruitment and training of gangs to deal the product, no violence, no theft to pay for the merchandise... really, what the hell are you talking about? Do you have any idea of the effects that illegal drug dealing have at schools?

              It isn't clear where the dividing line is between skipping lunch today and starving to death in poverty, but it's very clear that somewhere in the middle there is such a line separating them as two different kinds of problems.
  • by bmw ( 115903 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @08:25PM (#3178508)
    Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has said it's unrealistic to think that Microsoft could come up with multiple Windows versions that work equally well.

    Who says they have to work equally well? Especially considering the wide variety of needs that people have. What works well for one person, doesn't necessarily work well for another. This would just give people a much needed choice in what is installed on their system. If everyone used a stripped down version of their OS that does only the things they absolutely need (and can be added to at a later time if so desired) then the internet as a whole would be much healthier.
  • "Brendan Sullivan is an absolute marvel. The issue is whether he will be able to crack Gates and show some of the less-believable aspects," Lande said

    Wasn't one of the first American bare fists fighting champions named Sullivan? Any way this promises to be a contest of world calibre. Hopefully this will be televized. I'd pay to witness this while I'd never pay to see Tyson/Lewis.

  • So if they keep up the attacks on Microsoft, then the evil empire can just do what the Government and the states want: Close up shop, release all businesses from their contracts when they expire, and everybody can go get their own OS, one that is truly stable, user friendly, everyone already has experience with, bundled with the utilities they need, inexpensive, and guaranteed to be more compatible with all of the other computers that everyone has to deal with on a daily basis.

    And then everyone would be happy, right?

    I remember the wonderful days of the past when everyone had a different OS and everything worked on everyone else's computer.

    Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.
  • I just can't believe this quote: "Microsoft attorneys said that breaking Windows into pieces will just force PC makers to stitch the units back together or force software writers to make hundreds of versions of their programs--moves that will ultimately cost consumers. ".

    Sounds like they're trying to convince us that if they make Windows without IE, that somehow the OS will be so different that we may have to buy different versions of the same software in order for it to work on the IEWindows, and the NonIEWindows. Seriously, what does that say about Windows as an OS?

    Pretty sad. Hope Microsoft gets whipped. Lord knows they need it!

  • I think people need to think about microsoft's army of evil monkeys [bbspot.com] before they start trying to push them around.
  • OEM Contracts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eap ( 91469 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @09:13PM (#3178638) Journal
    As someone said in the OS/2 story, Microsoft gained its dominance through restrictive OEM licensing. Any penalty must forbid them from using this anticompetitive practice to be worthwhile.
    • Re:OEM Contracts (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SofaMan ( 454881 )
      As someone said in the OS/2 story, Microsoft gained its dominance through restrictive OEM licensing. Any penalty must forbid them from using this anticompetitive practice to be worthwhile.


      Well quite, but technically, the original consent decree already forbade this.

      Bill Gates ackowledged at the time that this 'penalty' would mean precisely nothing, since the policy had already done its work from his point of view.

      The problem is not simply preventing M$ from continuing to do all of the shitty things it's done until now, but to put in place some punitive measures to compensate everyone else for the undeserved monopoly position they gained through cheating.
  • Wait a sec, here. This article almost implies the settlement has already happened. Did Kollar-Kottely accept the PFJ and I missed it?
    Or does the term "penalty phase" mean something I'm not aware of.

    The paranoid part of me worries about articles like this. Implying the game is already over encourages resignation....
  • If you believe everything that all of the sides are saying, this is what a verdict with about Microsoft might do:

    Guilty - Microsoft applications get segmented, they can't/won't provide new services, they fold, the computer industry implodes, economy collapses.

    Innocent - Microsoft keeps up its anti-competitive practices, other corporations shrivel up, software becomes bloated on its own faulty coding without competition, and Microsoft controls everything.

    If you believe everything, no one's a winner. Sure, it's a hyperbole. Try explaining this trial to someone who think no Windows means no computers. (Sadly, I've seen my fair share of those people.)

  • There may be something positive in that. Maybe they'll succed to go trough this time.

    It really doesn't matter what outcome there will be. Long ago, when trial started, most of the people wouldn't even think there could be such thing as Microsoft monopoly.

    And now, well, at least people are informed (or some of them at least). Most of them probably don't realize how global this thing is. It is global, I'm not US citizen, but I feel a lot of pressure. They have grown too large and too agresive.

    I guess I'm taking the side of oposition, was pretty neutral, but current events have showed that Micorsoft can't play fair game. Somehow I even understand them, competition is getting stronger every day. But to be realistic, this competition isn't competition out of nothing. Microsoft has done great deal to gain former partners as competitors. And with new version of Windows they will be gaining even more of them (at least most of database makers, because of integrating their SQL client into their system). They are just to pushy to compete with all the market. Once they conquered Software (for which now they're loosing the battle, slowly but surely) they'll try to conquer Hardware (Xbox and probably their PCs)

    It looks like next year when they'll complete all of computer market, they'll probably try to compete with car companys, and Henry Ford will be suing them for illegal competition.

    My final judgement is firmly oposition. It has come to that moment, when I decided to move my bussines on Linux. I must admit, two or three things are a bit lacking (in bussines view of special software, but nothing what will wouldn't overcome) but the will for privacy is just too strong.
  • by jnana ( 519059 ) on Sunday March 17, 2002 @10:09PM (#3178874) Journal
    ... is the corporate death penalty [farces.com].
  • Take a big fine and then force MS to give every dime of it's retained earnings +10% to its stock holders. Watch how fast they shrivel! They are overextended like some many other large companies. They will then do themselves in by increasing restrictions, becoming more parinoid (like IBM did in the 80's) until noone cares. They will come back, the top brass will be forced out and they will be a good contributor again!
  • Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has said it's unrealistic to think that Microsoft could come up with multiple Windows versions that work equally well.

    For once I agree with Ballmer ... however I'm still not going to stand up, never will I give it up for him and I don't love this company.
  • I could have sworn the topic was

    Microsoft case enters CRUEL Penalty Phase

    But we wouldnt be so lucky now, would we??
  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Monday March 18, 2002 @12:20AM (#3179383) Homepage
    Judge: "Mr. Gates, as a spokesman and an influential leader of Microsoft Corporation, do you promise not to use Microsoft's current monopoly in an abusive manner?"

    Gates: "Well..." [Bill, staring at the floor, kicks a tile with the tip of his shoe. He glances at Balmer.]

    Judge: "Billll???" [Peering down to catch youthful William's eye.] "Come one now, you can do it. Steven's already promised."

    Gates: "OK, I -- I promise."

    Judge: "See, that wasn't so bad. Was it?" [Most in the court room look around, shaken by the emotion, almost to the point of crying. Some indeed do wipe back tears as they nod in approval.]

    Doj: "Oh, darn it! Everybody, group hug!" [And a cheer goes up as Justice has once agin been served. Golly, it sure as heck has.]

  • About time! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Monday March 18, 2002 @01:01AM (#3179540) Homepage Journal
    It's about time this trial finally got to the penalty stage. Let's see all of those consumers bend over and get what's coming to them! The court has slowed down Microsoft's conquest long enough, and the company is very eager to "settle" the score on this one.

    Don't give me that look. You know everyone else is thinking it.
  • But it may be unable to delay the remedies again while higher courts conduct their review. That means that as soon as this summer, the world may finally change.

    That's a crucial point. Some remedies may be applied while appeals are pending. This should have happened in the first round, but the Justice Department didn't ask for it.

    The concept is that if some conduct appears illegal, it can be prohibited during appeals. If Microsoft wins on appeal, they can start doing it again.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.

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