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Dell No Longer Selling Systems w/o Microsoft OS 1159

Some Sys Admin sent in an email that he got from Dell which basically says Microsoft will no longer allow Dell to sell PCs without an operating system. Please note that Microsoft is not a monopoly, and does not use their monopoly power to squish competition in the market place. The message itself is attached below, and is worth a read, especially the last bit.


1. Effective 8/26 - New Microsoft contract rules stipulate that we can no longer offer the "NO OS" option to our customers beyond September 1st. As such all customers currently purchasing a "NO OS" option on either OptiPlex, Precison or Latitude for the express purpose of loading a non-MS OS will have the following options:

1. Purchase a Microsoft OS with each OptiPlex, Precision or Latitude system.

2. For OptiPlex and Precision - purchase one of the new "nSeries" products (offered for GX260, WS340 & WS530 - details in the attached FAQ) that are being created to address a different OS support requirement other than a current standard Microsoft OS.

We must have all "No OS" orders shipped out of the factory by September 1st. The "No OS" legend code and SKUs will be I-coded on 8/19 and D-coded on August 26th to ensure shipment of orders prior to September 1st. FYI - this effects all of our competitors as well.

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Dell No Longer Selling Systems w/o Microsoft OS

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  • Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rosonowski ( 250492 ) <> on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:21PM (#4046137)
    Interestingly enough, I was trying to explain this same concept to my father no longer then an hour ago. I'll have to show him this note.

    He seems to beleive that "they just make the better product, so people buy it. That's why they are so big. Not because they're an evil company"
  • What do they mean? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by boa13 ( 548222 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:24PM (#4046161) Homepage Journal
    purchase one of the new "nSeries" products that are being created to address a different OS support requirement other than a current standard Microsoft OS. Are they talking Linux here, or what? Does anybody have a link to the mentioned FAQ?
  • by Ian_Bailey ( 469273 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:24PM (#4046162) Homepage Journal
    The way I see it, this message could (and probably will below) be read two different ways:

    Either Microsoft is acting all monopolisitc again, requiring all these fancy regulations, and just being plain evil, or,

    Microsoft is just not comfortable with no OS installed, which means that the user will have to 'find' an OS, that might just be Windows. Although they seem to be very vague, it's not like they're saying you can't get the OS you want.

    To add my own personal view, if it weren't for the "because of Microsoft Licensing" bit, it would seem to be a reasonable and sensible strategy. These 'Alternative OS' systems might be customized to used parts that have better driver support, etc.

    Anyways, let's watch the flame war begin....

  • by egg troll ( 515396 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:25PM (#4046182) Homepage Journal
    While I agree this probably because MS has a monopoly, I doubt that 99% of Dell buyers would want anything besides Windows on their PC. So really the net effect is moot.

    Then again, maybe Dell was looking for a way to stop selling OS-less PCs without incurring the wrath of Linux-zealots, and chose to blame MS. I would not be suprised....
  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:26PM (#4046184)
    Remember BeOS? The new OS on x86 that got killed by MS. They couldn't get vendors to ship their systems dual boot with Windows and BeOS due to MS policy. I don't understand why Be (who still are in opreration with one employee :) uses this fact and goes to trial.

    Scott Hacker has a great column on this called He Who Controls the Bootloader []
  • Here we go again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:29PM (#4046218) Homepage
    Well, this might mean any of several things:

    a) There has been some legal development in what's left of the legal arguement that we don't know about, but is distinctly in Microsoft's favor, and has made them more bold

    b) Dell might have decided that the "No OS" clause doesn't restrict them from selling Linux boxes, and along with other vendors allowed Microsoft to set these terms to get cheaper licenses. What Microsoft defines as "No OS" isn't clear, but Linux certainly isn't "No OS", at least here in the real world.

    c) Microsoft is becoming increasingly worried that the legal proceedings are not going well, and wants to get this new contract into effect before the judge forbids such moves

    d) Or the most likely of all - Microsoft is ignoring all legal and consumer issues and is being openly anticompetitive in order to milk the cash cow some more. Maybe they believe that if they act like the consumer doesn't and shouldn't give a rip about it, it will be true.
  • Opt out (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nornbasher ( 266750 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:31PM (#4046235)

    But surely I must be able to legally opt out of the EULA by returning the sealed agreement.

    If there is a license agreement then there MUST be an opt-out mechanism of some sort.

    Or would you have to return the whole computer !

    I imagine if 1% of slashdot readers bought a Dell (or other brand) read and refused the terms in the EULA and asked to return the machine/software Dell and others would get the point and force the issue with MS
  • Re:It's a shame... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:41PM (#4046331) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that even if they did for an olipoly to combat microsoft's monopoly, they would lose. The fact is that 99% of the PC customers will want a microsoft OS. If Dell, HPaq, etc all say "we are going to sell these OSless systems whether you like it or not", Microsoft can still say "ok, you have to pay full price for windows" and then the customers of the PC makers will wonder why all the prices jumped $190 (I'm figuring $200 for XP-$10 for the OEM) for the same system they were going to buy a week ago.

    Going this way will cause strong pain for the PC makers, although would actually be better for the customers (they get to transfer their windows license to newer computers and can avoid the $200 next time) in the longish run.

    Personally, what I think the PC makers should do is invest in Wine development, either via codeweavers or more directly. When wine can reliably do 99%[*] of the programs out there, they'll have more of a barganing position. I'm not saying they should dump windows for linux (although if the compatibility is that high I don't see why not), but they need the real ability to threaten

    *: 99% actually probably being better than windows itself does, IME.
  • by sbuckhopper ( 12316 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:53PM (#4046423) Homepage Journal
    While today your comment is true, its not true in the grand scheme of things.

    Yes today, the general consumer mob is sold on Windows, however the intent of this contract is not for today, it is for the future, and it is designed to help a monopoly stay a monopoly.

    Essentially what this is doing is squashing out any future innovator that may want to create a different operating system to run on a system that would run on the same system that Windows runs on. This takes away all competition in the future because it is never given the chance to have a foothold.

    A lot of people think that this is not practical (I am not one of those), no one is going to innovate something like that, but then again, look at Apple. Here is an everyday example of a company that's already got a superior OS ready to go. Other than Apple itself, there is really not a whole lot stopping them from releaseing OS X on other platforms.

    With strong arming like this going on, Apple has nowhere to go in the OEM Intel hardware business because Microsoft has already stomped out their chances of getting a contract with one of these companies. What it comes down to is an operating system doesn't just have to be superior to windows in order to take a market hold, it all ready has to have the overwhelming support of the people that are already using the hardware that the vendor is selling or the vendor logically will never accept this new contract.

    As it was sarchastically stated in the story, this, hands down, is one of the most basic definitions of a monopoly, or of how a monopoly stays a monopoly. It is sad and a perversion of the legal system that this company hasn't been brought down hard yet.
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:54PM (#4046425)
    We wanted linux to run the enterprise, so we just bought a certified linux cluster from HP. This thing costs us a boat load of money, a boat load of money DELL will never see. Dell is going to do to themselves what Gateway did, they are not enterprise players.
  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @01:58PM (#4046459) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:

    As far as I know, the only desktop workstations designed and priced for home use which do not come with an operating system under Microsoft Corporation's copyright are Macintosh computers

    Hmmm. I guess that Microtel OS-less box I bought from WalMart really had a super-secret invisible Windows XP partition... There are alternatives and they do not all come from Apple.
  • by cpuenvy ( 544708 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @02:09PM (#4046537) Homepage
    Dell looks at the bottom line, as does Gateway, Toshiba, etc. If Microsoft tells them to stop shipping PC's without an OS, they ask "when".

    Let's face it, most of the people who go out and purchase computers utilize Microsoft products do so because they feel that is the only way to go.

    I fail to see why people are getting nervous and acting like this is shocking or something. What exactly did we expect from Microsoft? From Dell? Did we expect Microsoft to sit back while manufacturers started toying with an alternative which they feel threatens them?

    It is our job, as Open Source, and *IX users, to educate our customers, family, and friends. Tell them that there are alternatives, and support them where they may roam.

    I expect another "0" for my rambling, moderators.
  • Re:Monopoly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@bcgr e e n . com> on Saturday August 10, 2002 @02:20PM (#4046606) Homepage Journal
    About the only one of those three that MS-Windos has over linux would be the ability to switch display modes quickly.

    At this point, I'd say that Linux is easier to install than MS-Windows (and you don't need to go begging to someone everytime you change your hardware). I've seen a Windows user gawk at the ease with which I was able to video boards and have the new drivers automagically loaded by kudzu.

    Have you ever tried swapping motherboards on Windows? How much hair did you lose? Try doing it with Linux.. It's almost painless.

  • Dell From Hell! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kindhornman ( 512755 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @02:59PM (#4046793)
    I couldn't believe it when I read what M#@*$#Soft had done...AGAIN!! So I called up a Dell rep and brought up the /. article. I spoke with a rep in charge of small business sales. Apparently any business with less than 400 employees is SMALL to Dell! I reckon that's about 90% of ALL businesses...Instead of politely and professionaly giving some sound, logical reason why they had made this policy decision he simply, arrogantly stated "Well, we don't have any problem selling computers with Microsoft OS's installed".......

    Then I calmly stated that "you're going to have a lot of backlash from this decision. People wont like this. You're going to lose a lot of POENTIAL future customers because of this!"

    To which he again reiterated his previous stance "Well we just wont know what we missed, will we? We don't have any trouble selling systems with Microsoft software installed"....

    I suppose that this is truly a match made in HELL!

    Arrogant, greedy, self righteous fucking bastards! As the owner of a small business that's about to become quite large I say "FUCK YOU DELL AND MICROSOFT!!!" My corporate policy is NEVER USE MICROSOFT OR DELL PRODUCTS! These are truly evil enterprises!

    P.S. Have a lovely Open Source Day...Share your FREE as in FREEDOM Open Source Love Today :)
  • Re:Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by melee ( 95039 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @03:02PM (#4046805)
    Windows device drivers are easy to manage? Holy crap, why didn't anyone tell me when this happened?

    If I added up all the long head-banging-against-the-wall-tedious hours I've spent screwing with Windows trying to make it "just work" for somebody else (I gave it up long ago) I think that managing device drivers would account for at least 90% of them.

    Nothing else in computing -- not transitioning my Linux system to XFS without backups, nor trying to make the nVidia OpenGL drivers work with X, nor Windows viruses, nor even mysterious non-deterministic segfaults in C have caused me more brain damage.

    Sorry. Can you tell I hold a grudge?
  • Actually, the libertarian and conservative factions are based less upon anti-trust ideology than just "anti-government anything". This is particularly true with the Cato Institute. They do not defend Microsoft as against AOL but rather just think the government should stay out of it.

    As for fraud, you do need the deception or lie (and it only needs to deceive) but you also need the transaction where they get your money.

    Lying to consumers about the price of IE is one example. You can lie and claim the billion dollar development project has no affect upon the price of the product, but the law says otherwise. Economics say otherwise. Corporations simply do not spend billions in R&D for a product they do not think they will get a return on. They just do not do that. Looking at the price of the OS before and after IE is bundled is not the test. As a matter of law, each item in the box is attributed to have received some of that money. And, even Microsoft claimed to stockholders that some money they get is allocated to IE. Of course, they tell stockholders one thing (the returns) but lie to the public (free product). But, when as a matter of law it is not free (as was in fact decided by Judge Jackson and not overturned by the appellate court) then saying it is free is fraudulent. And, perhaps actionable fraud.

    The consumer class action suits against Microsoft are not over yet either. It will be interesting to see if some of that action is based upon fraud. Most likely it is but I have not read the complaints. There is about 100 of them. So, I am sure more than one made a claim for fraud in addition to the antitrust violations.

    The problem with the API claim is with the money aspect. When Microsoft claims that no APIs are hiddle and developers are duped, technically they are not buying the product. Rather they are developing and helping to support it. They have been conned just the same. But, for actionable fraud some money or property has to flow from the mark to the deceiving liar. And, I do not think the mark has to actually believe the lie and in fact rely upon it. I think in many jurisdictions it is enough that the claim is false and the false claim was made for the purpose of getting the money or property. Some "marks" may very well not believe a statement but go along anyway suffering as the result (out of their money).

    The FTC could be more instrumental here. Just as with PassPort, if claims are false, they should be held accountable. But, then as with PassPort, sometimes the "criminal" just agrees to stop while keeping tbe benefit of the false statements to date.

    That is why it is very important that the illegal gains made by Microsoft in the browser market be turned back. Antitrust law is supposed to be capable of undoing illegal gains. But, if IE is not placed into open source by the remedy or IE's share of the market is not restricted or returned to 20% or so, the antitrust laws failed. And, anyone looking at that will just assume they are of no value. That is what Gates said and thinks. And, that is why that idiot violates federal law so much.

    In the end, Gates may decide it was not worth it. But, if the AOL judgement is less that 10 billion or so, Gates will be conviced that illegal means are good business.

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @04:09PM (#4047184)
    Umm... all versions of Office allow you to save files so that they may be read in older versions of Office, as well as some competitors' programs.

    Yup, and in a typical office environment, that's about as useful as having everyone save docments as ASCII only. Ever try to train several dozen people out of clicking on the (obvious) 'save' icon?

    Hell, ever look into the Save As drop down? There must be 50 entries there now. Scrolling through that list is NOT efficient, let alone in a typical workplace where someone might have to do it 100 times a day. Never mind the fact that you could potentially have several versions running in one office.

    Having the foresight to know you're going to slightly modify file formats in the future doesn't take a genius to figure out. It would be child's play for Microsoft to just build their file formats to run at a 'default' level, and any extras they add on just be ignored if whatever app you're using doesn't recognize it. We're not talking about executable code here, it's just text with fancy markup features!

    Hell, people make webpages today that run just fine under the latest moz build, and under lynx - which is a LOT older and a LOT less functional than say, Word 6.0. But there's no incentive for Microsoft to do this, because it would completely kill their revenue stream.
  • Railroading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Burning*Cent ( 579896 ) <baker@921.osu@edu> on Saturday August 10, 2002 @04:16PM (#4047228)

    I can't help but think about how MicroSoft is a monopoly-in-restraint-of-trade as bad as the American railroad ones of the 19th century.

    In the 19th century, railroad monopolies charged people fees for shipping on competing lines. The goal was that you only do business with one rail line. Microsoft's response to BeOS is much like this one. Microsoft, like the monopolistic rail lines, coerced its customers, the OEMs, not do business with a competitor. However, instead of charging imaginary fees as punishment, MS uses sealed OEM licenses to forbid them from installing dual boot OSes.

    However, I see why MicroSoft uses such tactics. If people got computers with Windows and BeOS dual boot or Windows and Mandrake Linux, people would actually realize that there's no reason to use only Windows.

    BTW, although not monopolistic or evil, MS's frequent changes to the Word format is like the railroad lines' stubbornness against choosing a standard gauge.

    On a personal not, this seems like it could have almost affected my situation. I recently bought a computer online from a NE Ohio computer company [] without an OS. I was planning on running GNU/Linux until I began studying at OSU, where I could get a legal copy of WinXP from a Microsoft club for $5. Of course, recent /. stories on EULA changes made me decide to use Win2k instead, and I bought a Like New copy through Unfortunately, Windows refuses to run because I have an "INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE". I feel like using an illegal copy Windows if I can't get it to work.

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stripes ( 3681 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @04:27PM (#4047276) Homepage Journal
    So, software writen today must anticipate changes to all future versions? How much sense does that make? You can still save Office XP docs in other formats, including Office 97 (or ASCII, if that floats your boat). You might lose features that are specific to the current version, but I don't see a way aroyund that other than to stop adding new features to new versions.

    Sure, but what they should do is save in the oldest format that covers all the features you actually used in the document. So when you save "nothing special" you get Office 95, and when you save something supper spiffy you get the newest. You also automagically get all the backwards compatability that can be given for what you used.

  • 10 Ways To Revolt. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @05:03PM (#4047452) Homepage

    It's simple, really. If you want to undermine Microsoft, pirate the hell out of their products, and direct people to the alternatives.

    It's the American way to express your dissatisfaction with a company. When it's clear who's pocket your elected officials are in, you have a God-given right to revolt.

    1) A bootable Linux CD and a few drops of krazy-glue on the spindle hub makes any PC a permanent Linux box.
    2) Alt-S, Up Arrow, Enter, CMD, Enter, del c:\winnt\explorer.exe, Enter. bye-bye Windows.
    3) Find a list of elected officials' email addresses. Send them an email describing "a new game I hope you enjoy it."

    4) Linux-on-a-floppy, and a tap of the reset button.

    5) Point people to OpenOffice, not MS Office.

    6) Microsoft has a nice "automatic update" feature. It would be nice if we could back-engineer this to introduce an update to Linux.

    7) Burn, And Share.

    8) The going rate for Microsoft exploits is about 2:1 .. For every new product, there are an average of 2 ways to castrate it. Pick a nut.
    9) The Trojans knew what they were doing when they climbed inside the horse. Do you?

    10) Charity overpowers Greed, and Generosity is a virtue.

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Grax ( 529699 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @05:19PM (#4047505) Homepage
    In other words, each new version of Office breaks compatibility by reinventing the file formats.

    There is a path from many word processing programs and versions to the latest Microsoft version so people are encouraged to upgrade.

    These people that upgrade then send out files they saved using the default settings and find that no one can read them. Now everyone else has to upgrade also to read these formats.

    Come on. There is absolutely no need to break compatibility with each advancing version of a word processor. There is no grand new feature that requires a new file format. 99%* of all word processor users could still use Word 4.3 or some other product if not for incompatible file formats.

    * 98% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
  • Site License (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DustMagnet ( 453493 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @05:47PM (#4047644) Journal
    What bothers me most is that my work has a site license for many Microsoft products. They payed millions for this license. When I buy a Dell, we have to pay for Windows again.

    Yes, I don't have to buy Dell, but there are good reasons. For one, they are just down the street.

  • MS Ease of Use??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ericman31 ( 596268 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @06:26PM (#4047807) Journal

    I had an interesting experience just this morning. I have been a firm believer in a few things:

    • Proprietary UNIX operating environments like Solaris and AIX are, in all aspects, the best platform for back office services ... i.e. data warehousing, CRM, etc.
    • Linux based operating environments are the best platform for front tier platforms like web servers, app servers, file & print, etc. (especially using SAMBA, RH puts Win2K to shame!)
    • Windows, especially Win2K (XP isn't worth the $$$ to upgrade) is the best choice for the typical office user and home user.
    But, I've been wanting to try out Linux on a PC and see how much it's improved at the consumer level. So, I installed RedHat 7.3 on my IBM T20 laptop. I've had this laptop for nearly 2 years. I have a CD I built with all necessary Windows 2000 drivers on it. The machine came with Win98 and I didn't feel like getting IBM's Win2K, so I just used a generic Win2K installation that I own. I had to download about 20 IBM specific drivers and install them before the laptop worked "right". It functioned, but not well.

    So, I downloaded RH 7.3 iso's from NASA [] (blazing download speeds, over 1.7 Mbps) and burned the install CD's. I then popped CD #1 in my laptop and rebooted. In less than 1 hour my laptop was a functional dual-boot machine. I let RedHat make all the install decisions, rather than customizing like I would do on a server. I allowed GRUB to be my boot loader. It boots both Win2K and RH beautifully, no issues. RH runs great AND I didn't have to download one single driver to get my system to work with Linux. Win2K doesn't include support for my 2 year old network card, so I have to have that driver downloaded before attempting a Win2K install on this laptop, no such problem with RH.

    I'm a believer now. RH 7.3 is definitely ready for the average end user's PC. The installation is no more difficult than Windows, if you set it to boot to graphical logon mode life is easy. And once in Gnome (or KDE) all the tools that a typical end user might want are there. With about the same amount of effort that it takes to install Office XP that same user can download, install and use Open Office (that took me about 30 minutes).

    Best of all, I didn't have to use knowledge gained in 10 years of implementing and administering UNIX servers. It was pretty damn easy. To get the same easy installation with Win2K on a laptop I need to get the OEM version of Win2K appropriate to my laptop OR I can just get the generic RH distro. No issues, no worries, no compatibility problems.

    Bottom line, MS OS is no longer superior in the consumer market based on what I just saw, and the Linux price is hard to beat. For the user who doesn't want to deal with creating their own CD's they can pick up the boxed set of RH for a low price down at Best Buy. Within an hour they can have a functioning system that is equal to Windows. The only thing keeping it from going mainstream is games. Come on game developers. Get those games running on Linux and MS is in big trouble.

  • by moncyb ( 456490 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @06:35PM (#4047845) Journal

    The fact that the OEMs may have a choice to put on a different operating system is not the point. The consumer should have the choice to buy a computer and any operating system they want--without paying any M$ tax.

    Back around 1996 or so, I wanted to buy a fully assembled computer, and I wanted to put OS/2 on it. I searched everywhere. Not only did all the stores not want to sell computers with OS/2, they also said they wouldn't sell me a system unless I bought one with either Win95 or DOS/Win3.11. There was no free market, because I did not have any choice but to buy a M$ system! This type of situation is the reason anti-trust laws were made.

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by randmairs ( 587360 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:07PM (#4047962)

    Four years back when trying to buy systems without OFFICE, I went to the "big three" (Dell, Gateway, and Micron) asking each one if they would drop Office and add WordPerfect because we were a WordPerfect shop. None of them would do it. Gateway offered to purchase WP for us on the "open market". The other two refused. I asked each sales rep why and each one of them reponded: "Because of agreements with Microsoft".

    There was a parody of Richard Nixon awhile back in which "Nixon" said: "Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and mind will surely follow". MS is no different and very Machiavellian.

    Machiavellian money talks. I pay my taxes but get a lame DOJ. Just ask me if I'm feeling alienated by this government. Tux is making his way into our organization and the sooner the better.
  • Hey (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:14PM (#4047989) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft only has about 35 billion dollars, and I believe their GDP is greater than that of Bolivia, or Uruaguay or something.

    Looking at this logically, they have all this money and favorable public support so there is no Political solution to the problem. People like Microsoft.

    So, a small number of us hate them, because we choose to not run windows. Welp, sorry to say, this IS a democracy (ok, *cough*) and the majority has spoken. Until the majority gives a fuck, nothing will change. You can lobby congress about the blah blah blah and this and that, but the bottom line is that M$ makes money for America, so it is a Good Thing. It puts money into the pockets of the shrinkwrapper at the factory and the needy Senator alike.

    But yes, it goes beyond frustration. Having to pay for something you don't use. Like, dammit, I had to pay for the spare tire in my car, but I've never had to use it. That's bullshit, I should never have to pay for it unless I use it.

    Guess what, you still have a choice. DON'T BUY DELL! You can get PC's without OS's on them from other manufacturers. Yes, the manufacturers will probably be hurt by MS's licensing requirements. SO WHAT! Buy from a open source only builder. Or build yourself. Or hire some college student to build for you for 10/hr!

    Or if it really has you that worked up, buy a gun, and shoot yourself, because MS isn't going away, the bastards.
  • by Liquor ( 189040 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @08:12PM (#4048194) Homepage
    It's pretty easy to explain what this entails and why this is happening - I'll make a bet that the XP installs that Dell ships after the cutoff date won't need to be 'activated' through Microsoft, but will recognize the machine and bios as a 'licensed platform'. This effectively means that the OS license is built into the machine - so so Microsoft won't let them ship them without paying Microsoft.

    Ok, so maybe Dell will make a few machines ('n-series') that don't run Windows - but they're now a completely different machine. The previous court order stating that Microsoft cannot charge for every machine sold (regardless of OS) has now been circumvented.

    That's enough of a step backwards to behaviour already found to be illegal on it's own, but this seems to be the first step towards making manufacturers have to distinguish "Microsoft ready' machines from OS agnostic machines.

    A few more steps like this, differentiating Microsoft machines from the others, and it's a sure bet that the commodity hardware - 'Microsoft OS ready' machines - are going to be the much vaunted 'Trusted platform' - complete with a bios that will REFUSE to boot anything except a Microsoft OS.

    Yes, I'm paranoid about Microsoft's intentions. but I suspect that I'm not being paranoid enough.
  • by TeddyR ( 4176 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @09:28PM (#4048441) Homepage Journal
    Interesting thought...

    A bios extenstion that the OS can check to see if the machine is "MS approved/licenced"...

    Something that the OS can check for to allow the use of the OS on that machine and thus not require activation.

    Apple was able to do it with their ROM; this makes me wonder if MS is leaning towards the same path.... [they can patent the bios code that the OS checks for]... This is also interedting considering that other MB manufacturers have also been selling boards that contain a CF reader built in...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 10, 2002 @09:47PM (#4048526)
    you were going really good there for awhile, however you derailed with your last bit.

    Of course they only care about making as much money as possible. The problem is, that people do not admit this and use the system like it should. They try to 'bring knives to a gun fight' and end up only cutting themselves. Instead of running to the government, hurt them where it will matter. As you said, they are often above the law and until that changes you must focus on real results. People that stand around and bitch, but then support things are pathetic and not worthy of calling themselves Americans. (if you are not an American, this is no matter anyway :)

    As far as paying taxes "to support the public that gave said entity the right to exist?" Well, you are right that many companies enjoy a Corporate Welfare that hard working people do not get (tax breaks, yet federally funded projects and then reaping all the profits themselves) That is another example of a knife in a gun fight. Our economy is not built for that, just look at loans banks, capital investors and stock. It is ok (if it is in the deal) if someone voluntarily gives money to support some company or organization. They expect something in return. In the case of philanthropy, that is not an economic return (not directly). In a regular company you expect your money back, and normally with interest (term loosely applied since it depends on the type of transaction like loan or stock (dividends or not)).

    The point of this is that even though the companies are often exempt from what you or I have to suffer, that does not then mean that what you and I are suffering is the lowest common denominator required for a working civilization. Perhaps by removing the tax funded support of companies (i.e. involuntary (read: theft) money exchange) this will help a bit.

    Everyone needs to stop being like little wasps and buzzing all around in chaos, only to bite/sting anything that gets in their way. Put your vote where it counts... NOT in politicians but in your choice granted in this economy. Or... you can choose to give up that right and let some grayhairs make it for you and have even more problems but now with _NO_ option for recourse or choice in the matter.

    However, don't let this make you think I am in any way a fan of the leeway that corporations have now. Small business (or just any company that has scrupples and doesn't steal, cheat and lie) can really get the shaft from the way the lawyers have made things. Example: A large grocery chain goes bankrupt, but this of course takes time to be completed (don't remember which chapter exactly). This news comes as no surprise to many who knew that the main issue with this company, like so many others who put bureaucracy and blind policy in front of results, is innefficiency and waste in a 'breaking from its own weight' method. Said company owes many people money obviously, and attempts to liquidate its assets.

    Now comes the fun part! Because of the way laws are written and applied, the grocery chain decides it is in its best interest to not accept certain offers to sell parts of itself to either non-bankruptcy parties or as a liquidation and settling method with concerned parties. Why? Well lets just put it this way, you know how government agencies will often have a problem where due to their uncharacteristically efficient and thus ethical and American (as in concerned about being responsible stewards of tax payers' money) practices, they end up way under budget (includes done early). Well, their reward is less funding next year where it might actually be needed. So, with full knowledge by all parties, they basically blow the remaining money and are then rewarded with the same amount, and perhaps more if spent just right. Or another example: lets take a person who has 3 kids that supply her with some valuable foodstamps that are translated into beer, cigarettes and the like (don't comment if you don't know... I happen to have detailed knowledge of this first hand and it is NOT an urban legend). Now if she takes a job down at the local Sears, she will loose her welfare. So what that some hard working mother of 3 has taken the job and does her best to make ends meet... she is 'just a chump'.

    Well, these situations are like the corporate welfare system discussed above. Back to my original story now! The grocery chain now is in a very lucrative deal in which they do not have to pay off their debt, the stores and other assets just rot, and many people are now out of work. Did I mention that their lenders don't get their money back? More on that later.

    Next, we find that the higher executives are taking advantage of this great time to buy up things like cars, real estate and such either from scratch, or are merely transfering ownership into their names from previous company assets. Where does this money come from to pay for this stuff, you ask? Well it can get complicated a bit and confusing a LOT, but suffice it to say that magically even MORE people are screwed out of money they expect (like local car dealerships, banks, investors, stores, etc).

    Now the final blow... as it stands, the company known as 'the grocery chain' is as mentioned by others before held accountable as an individual. This means that after the judgement is rendered, it will be rather difficult for them to gather assets from others in loans and such. However! The individuals who where the brain of this (the decision makers) are not generally held accountable. Their personal assets are theirs, not to be liquidated in the name of the company problem. Yes SIR! that does indeed include the cars, houses, land, livestock etc that was basically purchased in so much a fashion that makes dot com stock buyouts seem a good thing.

    This means that the people and organizations that in a contractual agreement to exchange goods or services for other goods or services (money in this case) are screwed as much as if someone directly stole from their lot. Yet this is PERFECTLY LEGAL!

    Now that part about paying debt? Well that was a two-part'er. First part is covered, being that of the ability to legally steal from others that you morally, ethically and legally agreed. (somewhere there are rather honorable people who founded this country spinning in their graves) The second part is this question: Would this same situation even be remotely possible if the borrower was in fact an individual or small organization? Meaning, would the individual get the same legal protection not only from debt, but all legal responsibility, record marring and even make out like a (dare I say) bandit that GAINS money or goods from this?

  • by Strudelkugel ( 594414 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @10:00PM (#4048582)
    If you want to buy a server from Dell, you have the choice of Win2K or Red Hat, so it's not entirely true that Linux isn't available. It's amazing how many people flame Softee over the "monopoly" they acquired by selling good enough OSes for much, much less than the idiots at Sun and IBM. I remember telling friends in the early 90s that Soft would be sued on anti-trust grounds by the end of the decade. Not because of anything monopolistic they were doing, but due to the fact that their competitors were busy trying to overcharge customers for compiler and OS licenses, let alone 'nix hardware. I thought NT would be popular for all of the right reasons; popular enough to clock Sun and the rest.

    Look at it this way: If Soft didn't encourage the volume demand for PC's, the Internet would still be an academic curiosity and Linux wouldn't exist. Can Soft stop me from running Linux on any of my machines? Obviously not, it takes me about a minute to switch disks, so how exactly does that make Soft a monopoly? "But what about IE?" Never stopped me from downloading the free version of Netscape.

    FWIW, my guess is that eBay gets a call from the DOJ people in a few years. If eBay is smart, the attys are working on a response today.

    What's that flaming thing heading this way?!?

  • Re:Monopoly (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 10, 2002 @10:36PM (#4048716)
    Tell that to WordPerfect, who had to sue to to get Microsoft to reveal secret APIs in Windows which made Microsoft Word run faster than WordPerfect. Though WordPerfect prevailed, the damage was done -- for a good period of time MS Word was faster due to this API chicanery, which obviously hurt WordPerfect's market share.

    Spoken like someone quoting from slash meme instead of having lived through using these packages during the times you write.

    I used Wordperfect 5.1 for work back then, and I remember when Wordperfect was ported to Windows. It lost out NOT because it was slower than Word, but because it was a miserable port with a lousy user-interface and all the baggage of the DOS versions, like a user interface that didn't match Windows, and they kept their custom printer drivers and fonts instead of using the Windows systems.

    Wordperfect lost because they didn't understand the paradigm changes going on and tried to fake it; not because Microsoft leveraged their hidden faster API's.

  • by GrEp ( 89884 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `200brc'> on Sunday August 11, 2002 @01:00AM (#4049167) Homepage Journal
    Too late... Here is the BS Dell sent me when I asked why Linux wouldn't run properly on my new Inspiron 2600 laptop. They locked the video ram settings to low, and made a M$ specific hack so only XP could run properly.

    Dear Ralph,

    Thank you for contacting Dell eSupport & Services. We appreciate the opportunity to assist you. It?s our hope that you have a positive experience with our company. Ralph, In our commitment to ensure a faster response to you, I will be handling this issue in the absence of the previous technician.

    Ralph, I understand your issue and would like to inform you that the configuration and allocation of video memory to particular applications is controlled by the operating system and cannot be set manually by the user, this feature is by design and even the newer BIOS has no option of manually setting the amount of video memory. I hope you understand.

    To ask another query or get assistance with a technical issue, mail us at Once again, thank you for choosing Dell.




    Monday - Friday, 6am - 2:30pm

    Dell e-Support and Services

    --Original Message--

    From: "Ralph"

    The problem is with that the BIOS software does not allow one to allocate more than 1mb of video ram. The display cannot be used to its full resolution without more video memory. According to Intel the problem is with the BIOS software
    and not their 830m chipset:

    "Intel is not responsible for the BIOS on any production Intel 830M/MG
    Please contact your system manufacturer for instructions on increasing the
    amount of legacy video memory set aside, if available, or for a BIOS update to

    change this setting."

    Dell is the manufacuer/vendor of the defective BIOS. Whom should I contact on fixing the BIOS video memory allocation error?

  • by toolz ( 2119 ) on Sunday August 11, 2002 @03:02AM (#4049484) Homepage Journal
    Fact - you can't sue a company for refusing to sell you something (or providing you service). If they refuse to deal with you, you can only go to the competition.

    Fact - The competition is also doing the same thing.

    Fact - You are locked out. You cannot buy a machine without paying financial tribute to Microsoft.

    In any other field/industry (telecom anyone?), this would instantly lead to class action suits.

    So how would you go about "generating" a class action suit?

    Here's the how-to:


    First, get yourself a class-action compatible lawyer. Don't worry about costs - you will incur none. Any law firm worth its salt will recognise the publicity value of this action.

    Coordinate with people across the country, and make sure that they have a legal representative with them when you do the following:


    1. On a pre-decided day (post Sep 1 - if that date applies to Dell, it will probably apply to all others aswell), have many individuals attempt to buy a PC without an OS from Dell, IBM, HP/Compaq, etc. Make sure that these are *individuals*, not *groups* - groups make bad class-action initiators, groups of individuals have the under-dog advantage, and besides, groups may put the "target" on alert (witness the anti-Microsoft tax day that effectively achieved *nothing*).

    2. Make sure *everything* is documented (in writing whereever possible, witnessed by a legal rep if on the phone or in a shop).

    3. Collate the unsuccessful experiences of *all* these inidividuals, cataloging experience with each computer company to show:

    a. Policy within the company in question

    b. The big picture - that this is an industry-wide phenomenon.

    At all times, keep in mind that the computer companies are as much victims as you are - keep that in mind.

    That's it. Let the lawyers take it from there. This is the stuff their wet dreams are made up of. Just make sure that thelaw firm gets plenty of publicity to:

    a. Encourage them to keep going

    b. Discourage them from backing out (either because they turn chicken or because the seniorpartners mysteriously start driving fancy cars).

    Remember this - like the cases against the tobacco industry, there is valid evidence there that what is happening is not good for citizens of your country. It will be a long battle, but with enough evidence out there, vote-dependant Government officials will begin to see the light, especially when they start losing elections. With that danger, they will clamour to bring this matter to justice, i.e. into court.

    And once in court facing the *people* (instead of purchasable commodities like senators), there is very little chance of victory for Microsoft (or anyone else who tries stunts like this).
  • Re:Monopoly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by samj74 ( 600150 ) on Sunday August 11, 2002 @08:14AM (#4049967)
    First, Microsoft is no more a monopoly than Sun Microsystems. I wonder, where was all the complaining over Sun's dominance and some would say monopolistic control over the university and government mainframe market? I see a double standard being played here.

    Second, what exactly defines an "evil" company? One that dares to challenge the established world of the computer science elites? Or simply one that happens to be innovative and successful? Using this standard of measure, then, most well-known products would come from an "evil" company.

    Third, examine the alternatives to a Microsoft OS or MS based system. For the causal home user, one finds that the dominance of Windows has nothing to do with Microsoft distribution practices. Here's the home PC alternatives to Windows:
    Macintosh - good machine, stable OS - however, not a good deal of software choices, and those that do exist are maddeningly expensive.
    Linux - If you're a computer scientist, no problem. However, your average user does not want to deal with that much hassle everyday.
    BeOS/OS2/etc. - Incompatible with majority of other systems; lack of software for platforms; no longer exists, etc.

    If MS's dominance in the home PC market is to be diminshed, someone has to develop a product that can actually compete with Windows - instead of running to the Justic Department everytime someone else makes a better product.

    Now, for business-, and especially government-based systems, any argument that MS has a monopolistic dominance there has no solid foundation in fact. Yet, even here MS software has an advantage over its counterparts. Many businesses and government agencies employ UNIX (usually some version of Sun's Solaris breed) as a standard as opposed to MS's Windows NT/2000. Now, granted that WinNT required a maturation period (as did UNIX in the 1970s/early 1980s), from a performance and functionality perspective, one can get just about the same results from Windows 2000 or a Solaris system. The difference to a business, however, is productivity and cost. To build a mainframe system, Sun can charge tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Microsoft's Win2K? Just a few thousand with all the bells and whistles. As far as development goes, It is clearly more cost-effective to develop software on a Windows platform than a UNIX system for 4 reasons: 1) The process is faster under windows - researching, development, coding, and testing are done far faster with MS tools than in a UNIX environment. 2) There are more resources available - Many more people can develop in, and/or administrate Windows systems than UNIX systems. 3) The cost of development tools is far lower for MS systems, even with MSDN support, than for UNIX systems. 4) There is a greater base of third-party development in existence for MS tools and systems than for any UNIX brand.

    Therefore it stands to reason that it is the product, that has generated Microsoft's success. The only "evil" out there is born of envy - either from other, less successful (but sneakier) corporations, or from socialist politicians who see nothing but deep pockets.

  • by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday August 11, 2002 @04:44PM (#4051432) Journal
    You are kidding, right? WHICH OEM claims a cost
    savings of 5 to 20 dollars?

    And, we were NOT talking about Linux vs. Windows,
    it was NO OS vs. Microsoft. If OEM price for Windows is LESS than $20, I will sue Microsoft. I pay $200 CDN for Windows. If the same product is
    being offered at a 90% discount, I WILL GET VERY

    As to compatibility testing, and ensuring everything will work -- well, test it with Microsoft Windows; I don't care. I am buying HARDWARE here.

    And, Dell has apparently been given the marching
    orders by Microsoft.


Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous