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Microsoft

Microsoft Settlement Compliance Criticized 582

Jeremy Allison - Samba Team writes "A report on the Microsoft "release" of communication protocols, as required by the proposed settlement. Article from the Washington Post. Speaking for the Samba Team, we can't look at these documents as they require signing an NDA before even getting the terms of release. Jeremy Allison, Samba Team."
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Microsoft Settlement Compliance Criticized

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  • Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1lus10n ( 586635 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @06:59PM (#4465633) Journal
    microsoft finds a way to keep closed even when told to open up

    is it just me or does this remind anyone else of the whole "we are going to release our source ..... only to certain [*wink* *wink*] customers" RIGHT .... SURE ......
    • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Funny)

      by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:44PM (#4465941)
      I say let the weapons^H^H^H^H^H^H^H software inspectors have unrestricted access.
    • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by meatpopcicle ( 460770 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:18PM (#4466091) Homepage
      What is wrong with the system?

      The government has no balls! Or should I say the justice department doesn't. Microsoft has been declared a monopoly. They have been convicted of crimes and bad business practices.

      What has been the outcome: absolutely nothing!

      The american government is quick to drop bombs on other countries and people but when dealing with their own they can't do a damn thing.

      The convicted party has more rights than the victims (in this case everyone). This is wholly unfair!

      How many years has this been in the courts and microsoft isn't doing a damn thing to fix it. They fight and lie, and tie up the court system, and nothing comes of it. The justice department really needs to do something about this case.

      If they have been convicted, punish them. Don't let the accused decide their fate. Would the justice department let a killer decide their sentence? I dont think so.

      This article just goes to show that nothing will come of this court case. It will have all been a big waste of everyones time and effort, everyone except microsofts that is.

      -the opinions expressed above are my own. As this is still a free country(I think) I am entitled to express my rights to free speech. If you don't agree with my comments, then don't; that is your right also.

      • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 1lus10n ( 586635 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:31PM (#4466143) Journal
        " The american government is quick to drop bombs on other countries and people but when dealing with their own they can't do a damn thing. "

        actually what bothers me most is that they can but WONT do anything. which is what i think bothers alot of 'informed' americans. the US gov't is backing mega corps or conglamorates over "average joe". and thats not how this gov't was SUPPOSED TO BE. it was supposed to be "for the people by the people and of the people".

        take a poll. how many americans wanna be raped by the mega-corps ?
        and belive me this goes past micro$haft. as much as i hate them this is a much much bigger issue than just micro$haft.

        i mean think about it, how many people are employeed by the RIAA and MPAA combined ? how about in the US alone ? and Microsoft ? a good amount right ? how many americans are having their rights stripped away ? alot more than would profit from letting micro$haft continue thier prctices. or too continue ignoring the current practices of the **aa's.

        to put it simple - the american gov't is letting americans down. weather they know it or not. this is just a case in point.

        /rant>
        • Re:Typical. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe ( 36238 )
          actually what bothers me most is that they can but WONT do anything. which is what i think bothers alot of 'informed' americans. the US gov't is backing mega corps or conglamorates over "average joe". and thats not how this gov't was SUPPOSED TO BE. it was supposed to be "for the people by the people and of the people".

          The US policy of "regime change" is a part of policy of backing megacorps. (The only real change is that the US government has recently made some of this policy overt, rather than covert.)

          i mean think about it, how many people are employeed by the RIAA and MPAA combined ? how about in the US alone ? and Microsoft ? a good amount right ?


          If you measure the number as a proportion of the population (even just considering real people and not all the "non mega" corporate entities) you'd be talking a tiny proportion. Best measured on a per million scale, since a percentage would defintly round down to zero.
      • Re:Typical. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EelBait ( 529173 )
        So stop buy their products, already! Buy a Mac. Buy a white-box PC with Linux. Convert your neighbors, friends, co-workers. Hell, buy above items for your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Work your way into positions of management within your company where you can make decisions that eliminate MS presence. Above all, stop looking to the Government for solutions to economic problems. We are a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy! Learn to work within the system -- not just bitch about it.
      • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @11:28PM (#4466853) Journal
        What is wrong with the system?

        The government has no balls.


        Not true. Clinton/Reno was beating up on Microsoft quite a bit.

        The Republicans dropped most of the case the moment they got Bush in, and it's unlikely that they're going to start up anything again soon.

        The Demms certainly have their drawbacks, but they're a lot better than the Republicans in going after companies abusing power.
        • Re:Typical. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SN74S181 ( 581549 )
          The Demms certainly have their drawbacks, but they're a lot better than the Republicans in going after companies abusing power.

          Or, conversely, it could be said the Democrats are a lot better than the Republicans at using the abusive powers of government.

          Somebody had to say it. Might as well be me.
        • Re:Typical. (Score:4, Funny)

          by Zigg ( 64962 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @04:29AM (#4467718)

          The Demms certainly have their drawbacks, but they're a lot better than the Republicans in going after companies abusing power.

          Yeah, the Dems really kicking Disney's ass over in Congress right now, aren't they?

  • interesting factoid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:00PM (#4465644)
    Interesting factoid:

    Mark Webbink, Red Hat's general counsel quoted in the article, went to law school with a co-worker of mine in Seattle. He interned at Micro$oft during his summers there. I wonder if there were any legal hijinks going on there.

    As you probably know, it's illegal for any corporate lawyer to make disparaging remarks about competition, as he'll usually get slapped with a charge of contempt immediately.
    • by belroth ( 103586 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:10PM (#4465726)
      He doesn't need to make disparaging remarks, he can just quote from Judge Jacksons Findings of Fact :-)
    • by timothy_m_smith ( 222047 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:37PM (#4465902)
      The thing is, whether you like Microsoft or not, if you are there competitor you know that this settlement and court case makes them weak so you batter them every chance you get. The settlement says that Microsoft can charge royalties for the protocols and they are doing that. The settlement did not say that Microsoft had to GPL the protocols.
      • by Feanturi ( 99866 )
        The thing is, whether you like Microsoft or not, if you are there competitor you know that this settlement and court case makes them weak so you batter them every chance you get. The settlement says that Microsoft can charge royalties for the protocols and they are doing that. The settlement did not say that Microsoft had to GPL the protocols.

        I agree, though I don't understand why I must swear secrecy to read the LICENSE. The rest is all perfectly valid as far as I'm concerned.

        But what bothers me the most is that this even has to happen. The fact that this information was not previously made available to developers on purpose should call for some big fines or something, shouldn't it? It's been going on for years.. I always had the theory that it would make sense for MS to have certain "special" ways to hook a program into Windoze that only they knew about. Now that it's proven, I think that just making them give up the goods is not enough punishment.
    • by OddWeapon ( 217817 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:48PM (#4466213)
      I know Webbink personally and he went to school in North Carolina (where RedHat is BTW). And I am pretty sure he never interned at MS either.
  • NDA be damned! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:00PM (#4465645)

    Just one person, company, etc. to go through the process then illegally release it to the world. NDA be damned!
    • Re:NDA be damned! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:56PM (#4465998)
      Wrong. What will happen is that Microsoft will claim that those Linux pirates stole the designs, and that all Open Source code is now tainted because the documents were made public illegally, and Samba will be shut down, ... It's better to continue reverse engineering things the legal way until the documents are made public.
      • Re:NDA be damned! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mbogosian ( 537034 )
        It's better to continue reverse engineering things the legal way until the documents are made public.

        So why not fight fire with fire? Microsoft has been perjuring itself under oath and illegally maintaining its illegal monopoly (yes both the act and the monopoly are illegal) for quite some time. Hell, who wouldn't be willing read and memorize their protocol specifications and swear under oath that they were reverse engineered, even if it was against Microsoft's (IMO illegal) license agreement.
      • If they want IP protection, then they must disclose. Disclosure is the price of admission for IP protection.

        If they claim that the information was stolen, then disclosed to third parties, *it doesn't matter* if the original disclosure was illegal: the information loses trade secret status, and the damages they are able to recover are *only* against the original discloser.

        Only patents and copyrights provide IP protection for disclosed information.

        -- Terry
  • Oh, come ON... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <spam@NOSPAM.pbp.net> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:00PM (#4465646) Homepage
    " But even with the settlement, software firms say Microsoft still isn't making it easy to see the protocols. In order to gain access, a company would have to use Microsoft's "Passport" identity authentication system, then request and sign two forms - one of them promising secrecy - just to see the license terms and find how much Microsoft is charging for the information. "

    Someone needs to take them back to court for this.. or try to get the cort to neatly spell out every little detail of what M$ is required to do. This interpretation of the "settlement" is just absurd. And what a slap in the face of the rest of the world.. making you use friggin MICROSOFT PASSPORT to gain access.
    And "request" forms? Have they denied anybody the forms? Are they allowed to deny forms? Great. They're going to be nice and slow..and selective..

    Un friggin believable. I can't believe they're just getting away with all of this.
    • Re:Oh, come ON... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jherico ( 39763 ) <bdavis@s a i n t a n d r e a s.org> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:11PM (#4465731) Homepage
      "Someone needs to take them back to court for this.."

      Microsoft and Iraq remind me of each other in this respect. They steadfastly adhere to bullshit stories while the opposition builds up a big head of steam, and they only budge from their bullshit stories for as long as it takes for the danger to avert, then they close the source/kick out the inspectors again. Playing fair with organizations that don't sucks.

      • Re: Oh, come ON... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:35PM (#4465891)


        > Microsoft and Iraq remind me of each other in this respect. They steadfastly adhere to bullshit stories while the opposition builds up a big head of steam, and they only budge from their bullshit stories for as long as it takes for the danger to avert, then they close the source/kick out the inspectors again. Playing fair with organizations that don't sucks.

        So how come we're not bombing Microsoft?

        • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:57PM (#4466243) Homepage
          Because they use Windows, and it'd be silly to bomb something that already crashes incessantly. Seems like a waste of explosives to me.

        • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:54AM (#4467333) Homepage
          So how come we're not bombing Microsoft?
          But Bill knows that it might come to that to enforce the court's decisions. So he's dug himself in with a windowless, underground bunker [usnews.com] and started arming himself [theregister.co.uk]. ;)

          Seriously, aerial bombing campaign or not, the court's decisions do need to be enforced. Interoperability is essential [nist.gov] for economic growth and since Microsoft has been the largest single obstacle to interoperability, you could say that it looks like Microsoft has been a factor in holding back eonomic growth.

      • Re:Oh, come ON... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dirtside ( 91468 )
        Speaking of Iraq, one of the top news stories today (you do get your news from Google News [google.com], right?) was about Iraq's "democratic" presidential referendum (deciding who will be the next president). Saddam Hussein was apparently the *only* candidate, and every single one of the registered 11 million-plus voters voted for him.

        Reminds me of Microsoft hiring one of their own PR people to write an "I switched to Windows XP from the Mac." Ah, those were the days (i.e. yesterday).
    • Re:Oh, come ON... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mtthws ( 572660 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:33PM (#4465881) Homepage
      As much as I think what MS is doins is wrong, I dont think that "get the cort to neatly spell out every little detail of what M$ is required to do" will do you any good. One of the major problems with this country is too much leagelise, IMHO. People want everything enumerated out, to extream lengths. I understand why to a certain extent you would want things listed out(you need this to do this, you need that to do that...), but there is a certain point where this becomes counterproductive. Your listing everything out the way you want is just going to add to this problem. Also, once you start listing things out when are you goign to stop? And does that mean anything that is not listed does not matter? Finaly, that is not a game that I think you can win against MS. They have the money and the lawyers. If you want to get nit picky they will probably come out on top.
      • Re:Oh, come ON... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cornice ( 9801 )
        No. It's much simpler than that: Whenever MS pulls something like this, obviously circumventing the agreements, you simply require MS to openly publish the specs. Then you hold them accountable for that spec. Any changes and deviation must be published. Unpublished deviations, intentional or not, result in liability and law suits. Even MS will find a reasonable solution when faced with such a penalty.
    • The REAL question is how your comment is ranked as Score:5,Troll
    • Re:Oh, come ON... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kittywampus ( 558987 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:27PM (#4466124)
      I've finally decided that I believe the courts cannot resolve this. So, now I'll just what what little I can - I've purchased an iMac. Of course, my purchase makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. But maybe if someone else does it too...
  • by Chromonkey ( 466956 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:00PM (#4465647)
    ...?
    So they are requiring an NDA and charging for the right to use the 'communications protocols'. There is no where in the proposed settlement that states they have to make their code "Open Source" is there?

    Just because something isn't GNU doesn't make it illegal.

    • by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:05PM (#4465684)
      Your absolutely right. It also doesn't say they can't wipe there ass with the papers before they hand them over. Maybe they should do that too.
    • by Geekboy(Wizard) ( 87906 ) <spambox@th e a p t .org> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:06PM (#4465692) Homepage Journal
      It's a problem because you need to sign an NDA just to look at the licensing fees. That's the problem

      • > It's a problem because you need to sign an NDA just to look at the licensing fees. That's the problem

        So, what do you have to do to look at the NDA?

    • by belroth ( 103586 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:08PM (#4465708)
      So they are requiring an NDA and charging for the right to use the 'communications protocols'. There is no where in the proposed settlement that states they have to make their code "Open Source" is there?
      They aren't making the code available, we're talking about protocols, you know a specification like an RFC.
      • by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:16PM (#4465768) Homepage
        From the article...

        . In order to gain access, a company would have to use Microsoft's "Passport" identity authentication system, then request and sign two forms - one of them promising secrecy - just to see the license terms and find how much Microsoft is charging for the information.

        No, you are not signing an NDA to see information about the protocols or any source code or anything.

        You are being forced to use a proprietory authentication system controlled by the guilty party and have to sign a legal agreement just to find out how you can GET the information.!!!

        And what do you think you will have to sign+pay to access the protocol information itself?

        This is very, very wrong.
    • by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:14PM (#4465748) Homepage
      No, and that's the problem with the settlement. Not that they should be required to make their code Open Source, but they should be required to publish the protocols in an open manner so that other companies/software projects (ie. NetApp, EMC, Samba) can interoperate.

      That was one of the whole points of the legal action remember, to prevent them leveraging their desktop monopoly into the server space.

      Repeat after me... competition is *good* :-).

      Jeremy Allison,
      Samba Team.
      • Speaking for myself (Score:5, Interesting)

        by anomaly ( 15035 ) <tom.cooper3@gBOYSENmail.com minus berry> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:41PM (#4466188)
        I have to say thanks to the SAMBA team!

        I'm working on an implementation of a closed-source proprietary application. This app is installable on unix and Windows boxes.

        The code repository is on an AIX box here, and I needed to make that available to a Windows box. I don't have root on the AIX box, but I do have root on a linux box. I nfs-mounted the code repository to my Linux box, and was able to export _that_ filesystem using Samba in a matter of minutes.

        Rather than fighting political battles, I'm getting my work done. That would be much more difficult if the Samba team wasn't doing a great job.

        I've read some comments dinging Samba for not being a perfect clone of SMB/CIFS. I can understand frustration when you need a feature that's not available yet, but we should all be thankful that any interoperability is possible.

        Keep up the good work!

        Regards,
        Anomaly
    • by oh ( 68589 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:22PM (#4465801) Journal
      From the article

      then request and sign two forms - one of them promising secrecy - just to see the license terms and find how much Microsoft is charging for the information.


      Open Source Developer:

      Ok, Mr. Gates, you will sell me the protocol specs. How much?

      Microsoft Rep:

      I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. Sign this NDA instead.

      I'm not trying to be a rabid anti-Microsoft here. They are in business, and they are entitled to make money from their work. From a legal standpoint, they have acted illegally, and were told to behave better. Are they really behaving better?

      Another point


      Since Microsoft is charging a royalty fee to use the communications protocols, any open-source developer - those who contend that sharing software blueprints is the best way to build products - would not be able to use them.


      If they acted illegally, and to make up for that illegal behaviour, they had to level the playing field up a bit. Linux (along with apple) is one of two main competitors. So they release the protocol specs under a license that effectively prohibits its use in Linux. Hmmm.

      Just another viewpoint. I'm not here to karma whore, but it does make you think.
  • NDA? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qortra ( 591818 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:00PM (#4465655)
    I'm not sure Microsoft understands the whole point of releasing specs to the public is so that the information will become undisclosed....
    • Re:NDA? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <Rick,The,Red&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:10PM (#4465724) Journal
      Of course Microsoft understands that -- they're not idiots. The problem is the Justice Department didn't understand that (they are idiots), which is why they went along with Microsoft's absurd agreement. The question is whether the Court understands that -- let's hope the Judge groks this and at least tightens up the terms of the agreement.
      • Re:NDA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:23PM (#4466109) Homepage Journal
        I fear you misunderstand.

        To call the Justice Department idiots presumes that they actually *want* any remedies for Microsoft and their purpose is being thwarted. Remember we had a regime change through this, and the new regime change seems to wish the whole thing would just go away. This little twist is not misaligned with the new goals.
  • by ehiris ( 214677 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:02PM (#4465661) Homepage
    Does this mean that Microsoft might have to release their kernel architecture to the public?

    It's probably so ugly that they are ashemed to show it.
  • Extensive criticism of Microsoft and their policies can be found here [slashdot.org].

    It's mostly a lot of mindless crap, though.
  • by Lshmael ( 603746 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:02PM (#4465664) Homepage
    What I think is more important is the fact that M$ is allowed to charge "reasonable" rates for this protocol information. That simply changes the monarchial Microsoft domination to a oligarchic domination by the companies that are able to pay those rates. Meanwhile, po' lil' developers will be left out in the cold.
  • Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jhouserizer ( 616566 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:04PM (#4465676) Homepage

    Is it really in M$'s interest to keep this stuff proprietary?

    Obviously they think it is, unless the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing... But would they really lose marketshare by letting other OSs 'hookup' to windows boxs and vice-versa? -It seems it only serves to make shops that are unix-based be more accepting of windows boxes ... not the other way around.

    Anyone have insight on this?

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cuthalion ( 65550 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:19PM (#4465777) Homepage
      It also serves to make networks that are windows oriented able to become heterogenous, (that is, adding unix file servers, and also workstations which use the file servers) thus enabling a slow transition away from Windows. Given their entrenched dominance, they stand mroe to lose than to gain - if 5% of the windows boxes migrated and 5% of the non-windows boxes migrated, they'd lose big.

      I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of good arguments for keeping things open, but there do exist some fairly plausible business reasons against it.
    • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interiot ( 50685 )
      There are certainly arguments for and against, but nobody knows for certain. The real issue for them is one of control. If they write the application to bridge the OS's, then they can yank it off the market if it turns out to be bad for them, or restrict it in specific ways if need be. If they let others write those applications, then there's nothing they can do to react to bad things.

      Same for the RIAA and P2P... even if they agreed that P2P isn't devastating for their business (and they secretly might), it's still a huge issue of control. They want to control the distribution channels, and channel as much of the profits towards them as possible.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spencerogden ( 49254 ) <spencer@spencerogden.com> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:22PM (#4465797) Homepage
      It would seem that since they are in the position that they have most of the market share you want to make integration as hard as possible. Linux wouldn't have gotten its foot in the door ( in offices) if it didn't have the ability to act as a print server to windows machines. That was and is the first use many offices have, take an old box, put linux/samba on it and voila... Instant print file server.

      If Microsoft could make there systems not play with any others, they would. THis would make it so that you have to go 100% MS. If you wanted to switched you couldn't do it peicemeal, because the new stuff would be totally isolated. It would be an all or none proposistion. Much harder than: Switch a few print servers, eventually switch all servers(except those neccessary for Windows network), switch a few desktops, etc. Linux has a foothold in servers because servers generally deal with much more standardized protocols. Having File and Print Sharing in Linux makes it much easier for shops to try linux.

      This is not what MS wants, they want it to be impossible to try or switch to anything else. What do you think the point of proprietary binary file types are?
  • by littlerubberfeet ( 453565 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:04PM (#4465679)
    I am going to sign up, use the passport ID, sign the NDA, and eat the cost of obtaining the information. BUT, here is my way out. I am gonna do all this with a stock out-of-the-box windows machine. I will pasword protect everything the way the average windows user does. I will keep the protocal info on my hard drive in a password protected folder a-la M$ regulations. I will of course connect the computer to a DSL modem, so I can use IE and passport, at which point my IP will become availible for all to see. It is a shame that I couldn't keep those malicous hackers out, as the operating system failed. But I used it just the way MS gave it to me.....
  • An NDA just to find out what you will need to pay to get information which should be free???!!

    Every day I use Samba I feel better and better.

  • Since when? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Luke-Jr ( 574047 )
    Since when does the GPL prevent monetary costs for obtaining information used? Last time I checked, the GPL even allowed programs licensed under it to have a cost associated. Of course, once someone has obtained the program they must also have [access to] the source code and the other various rights protected by the GPL, but that's only once they obtain the program in the first place.
  • Pecunia non olet. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vonWoland ( 615992 ) <.ten.sumom. .ta. .irtimd.> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:10PM (#4465725)
    Of course, this should surprise no-one. Nothing short of a radical break-up will cause this company to be one whit less arrogant---indeed, one can argue that since its primary duty is towards its shareholders, there is no incentive for Microsoft to change.
    But in this political climate, such government action is highly unlikely. In fact, the opposite has been happening: Standard oil was broken up a nearly a century ago, and now its old pieces are reassembling themselves. There does not seem a merger that the F.T.C. does not love.
    The biggest mistake that Microsoft has made was ignoring politics for such a long time. Before this case, its net political contribution to either party were nearly nil. As soon as the first writs started to come in, so did money start to pour from Redmond to Washington, now contributions to both parties are in the millions, and Federal prosecutors have become far less eager.
    Perhaps I am a pessimist, but here is my prediction as to the outcome of all these legal actions: appeals, followed by more appeals, followed by earnest wrist slapping.
    But there is a bright side: Microsoft vision of the P.C. as a direct conduit between it and its customers' wallets will do more to break up its stranglehold than all the judges on the bench.
  • One way around... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jouster ( 144775 ) <[moc.qaflegna] [ta] [todhsals]> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:15PM (#4465759) Homepage Journal
    is to get an organization that many people belong to, say OSDN, to buy the data. Anyone with an OSDN login can view the data (same "person", legally speaking--everyone's a rights-designate of OSDN if the principals sign a few forms [and we click an "I agree" button or two]).

    Of course, we couldn't do anything with the data, since:
    [] Microsoft is charging a royalty fee to use the communications protocols, any open-source developer - those who contend that sharing software blueprints is the best way to build products - would not be able to use them. Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment.
    Damn.

    Jouster
  • Workarounds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:16PM (#4465762)
    Although software libre developers can't get access to Microsoft's specs or API source, it's quite possible to work around the problem.

    Basically, a commercial entity or entities (e.g. Sun, IBM) with an interest in promoting free software competition to Microsoft could finance an operation which would use the Microsoft specs to put together a compliance suite. Since a great deal of the effort in reverse-engineering protocols lies in making sure that your tests are complete, a black-box compliance suite -- even though not itself free -- would dramatically ease the process of reverse-engineering the specs themselves.

    As a dandy side-effect, the suite would also show up where Microsoft doesn't comply with their own specs, which detail might be of interest to the public and the Court.

    • Re:Workarounds (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SurfsUp ( 11523 )
      Although software libre developers can't get access to Microsoft's specs or API source, it's quite possible to work around the problem...

      That's not the point. The question is whether Microsoft is living up to their so-called voluntary compliance with the proposed DOS settlement.

      Anyway, the Samba team know this protocol better than Microsoft does at this point, so there's no possible argument for making use of information Microsoft has not placed unambiguously in the public domain. That would just create an opportunity for Microsoft to attack the Samba project legally, which they would no doubt love to do.

      This turn of events is worth far more in terms of demonstrating to Judge Kollar-Kotelly that Microsoft is not now abiding by the terms of the DOJ settlement, and cannot be expected to in the future.
  • by isolation ( 15058 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:19PM (#4465779) Homepage
    I know myself as a WINE and ReactOS developer I dont even look at anything besides http://msdn.microsoft.com and am just waiting on the day for them to try and attach a EULA to that. The next thing they will try and do is go after WINE and Mingw for cloning the Win32 headers even though that information is covered under Fair Use.

    More then EVER the FreeSoftware/Linux Nutz need to start supporting WINE/Mingw/ReactOS and Samba so we can compeate with M$ before they gain more control with DRM/Palladium.

    I guess we should just be happy .NETs Windows.Forms is still for the most part a portable Win32. Mabey the Mono project will have luck with Mono+WINE to reimplement Windows.Forms and we can really start moving people off of Windows once .NET apps are common.

  • No! Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:25PM (#4465819) Journal
    Journalists, I grow tired of this. Wouldn't it save a lot of time, electrons and trees if you only published articles when Microsoft wasn't up to its old tricks?

    This Just In: Dropped My Shoe - It Fell to Floor - Gravity Still Works! Update at Eleven.

  • by turtlendogrmusd.net ( 577887 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:26PM (#4465828)

    To summarize...

    In order to gain access, a company would have to use Microsoft's "Passport" identity authentication system, then request and sign two forms - one of them promising secrecy - just to see the license terms and find how much Microsoft is charging for the information.

    We're going to prevent this information from becoming usefull...

    Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler called the protocol process straightforward. He said nondisclosure agreements are common in the industry...

    Everybody does this...

    The protocols are vital for competitors since Windows runs on about 90 percent of desktop computers..

    Of course... We are everybody!

  • by k2r ( 255754 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:36PM (#4465897)
    Maybe instead of figuring out how MS-Products provide specific services (Login, File-Sharing, etc.) to implement a server that uses these protocols to do the same we should do the opposite?

    Maybe it would be a good thing to concentrate on developing software that educates MS-Products to use standard-protocols to communicate with servers?

    E.g. where is the advantage in making a server talk MS-Speak instead of making a MS-Client talking lingua franca instead?

    I'm just wondering.

    k2r
    • A nice suggestion, in the case of samba there is a ready replacement. NFS. Network File System supported by every unix out there(so mac as well know I presume). It is open and out there. Only problem, windows does NOT support it. Well not completly anyway as when I look at samba shared files from windows, NFS based info does show up.

      There are commercially client/server programms available from third parties. Considering this it should be a no brainer to create a opensource client program. That way you can still use that linux fileserver without getting linux to understand windows protocol just like you suggest.

      So what is the catch? Having to install client software on every freaking windows client in the network and having to maintain it. With samba it is easy to introduce a linux/unix in a windows shops since they will notice no change, apart from uptime, maintenance costs, performace etc etc etc.

      Of course you might ask youreselve why it is not possible to simply mount NFS shares from windows standard given that it is such a common standard. I am sure the answer will come to you. :P

  • by deblau ( 68023 ) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @07:45PM (#4465947) Journal
    Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment.

    This statement is flat wrong. There is nothing in the GPL which prohibits charging for GPL'ed software. The point of the GPL is that source must be made available for at-cost prices (postage, etc), and that source for any derivative product must be made similarly available. It only says that source must be made available at cost if the buyer asks for it. A lot of times, they don't ask. And a lot of times, they're willing to pay big $$ for a nice, installable binary distribution on CD. The GPL also says explicitly that "you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee". This is exactly what Red Hat does.

    In summary, GPL is hardly the same as 'gratis'. It is, OTOH, a good try for 'libre'. Someone please beat these media guys with a cluestick.

    • No, but it does state that anyone down the line is free to redistribute it without royaltys, does it not? So, SAMBA team might pay Microsoft for incorporating full access protocols into their software. But if RedHat, for instance, then takes Samba, maybe modifies it a bit, and incorporates it into their OS, they can't be forced to pay Microsoft again. And Dell, which sells PCs running RedHat, can't be forced to pay MS a royalty for each of these machines. This not what the article was saying, but the requirement for a royalty payment does bar use of these protocols in GPL'd software, from what I understand. To follow Microsoft's rules, SAMBA team would have to pay MS for every copy of SAMBA that was shipped, whether or not they actually distributed it. SAMBA team can force everyone who downloads software from them to pay, but can't force everyone who downloads it (legally) from somewhere else to pay as well.
  • by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug&opengeek,org> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:33PM (#4466159) Homepage Journal
    After all this is a proposed settlement. They are pushing the envelope to get things defined before they are actually defined. They can site common practice, or that it works for most of the interested parties or some other such lame thing in an attempt to get the court to believe that the non-settlement is, in fact, working.

    The holy grail for them is compliance that allows to keep the playing field closed while appearing open. Sounds crazy and circular, but that really is what this entire thing is about.

    Any combination of rules that stops short of a direct order can and will be exploited to their advantage. They have size and smarts enough to know that. For them this whole thing is just an annoying process that they must work through so they can get back to real business.

    I propose that this works in a similar fashion to how the whole copy protection thing works today. If you can legislate it, they can exploit it. Hah!

    Nothing will change unless clear and direct action with accountability is taken...

    It's all a shell game, nothing to see, move on. (Sorry Jeremy, you are right, but have no real backing.)

  • by glenebob ( 414078 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:55PM (#4466239)
    What a joke! How do you define 'reasonable'? I find it very very hard to believe a settlement would be proposed with wording that allows what MS is trying to do here. What good are open protocol specs when a 'reasonable' fee and (*choke*) a NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT stand between us and them? Who in their right mind can't see this coming from MS? How does this stuff happen?

    For the settlement to have any teeth with respect to protocols, MS will have to be forced to release at least a few protocols to public standards bodies, and any protocol they release will have to be released without fee, without NDA, without any way for MS to know who is looking at the specs. There needs to be very specific wording that disallows ANY restriction. If the agreement allows MS to tell me I can't use a MS protocol to connect a Mac to a Palm through a proxy running on a Sun box using Python and Java, then the wording IMHO is off.

    That said, I just couldn't leave the following nonsense alone...
    From the article:

    "Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment."

    This is just FUD. When are people going to realize that the GPL states specifically that GPL'd software CAN BE SOLD? The artical, in one breath, says Red Hat sells a version of Linux, and in another spews the above. Sheesh.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @08:56PM (#4466240) Homepage
    If the judge says "release it" he didn't say "release it under special and restrictive conditions" and in my opinion they are breaking the spirit of the judgement and should be hauled into court for contempt.

    However, if the judge's orders are so vague that it allows for this crap, then perhaps it should be clarified. A request to the judge should be made citing this specific instance. I can't imagine a judge having his orders screwed with will take it all lightly and will probably render corrective orders more harshly.
  • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @10:02PM (#4466506) Homepage
    Since Microsoft is charging a royalty fee to use the communications protocols, any open-source developer - those who contend that sharing software blueprints is the best way to build products - would not be able to use them. Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, the mainstream press gets salient details wrong. The last sentence of the above paragraph is simply untrue. Even Microsoft understands they can sell GPL-covered software [microsoft.com] (as they have been doing for quite some time now). The GNU GPL (erroneously referred to as "the General Public License" above) does not "[bar] any payment"; it can be okay to sell Free Software [gnu.org] including GNU GPL-covered software. In fact, in the essay I just linked to it is encouraged that one get as much money as one can for distributing Free Software.

    One element that makes payment impossible for Free Software developers are licenses that require per-seat payments. When you have the freedom to share the software freely you can't keep track of who gets a copy. When you have the freedom to modify the software tracking systems built into the software can (and probably will) be removed. Free Software licenses grant you the freedoms to share and modify the software under that license.

    • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @03:21AM (#4467517)
      Since Microsoft is charging a royalty fee to use the communications protocols, any open-source developer - those who contend that sharing software blueprints is the best way to build products - would not be able to use them. Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment.

      Perhaps not surprisingly, the mainstream press gets salient details wrong. The last sentence of the above paragraph is simply untrue.

      In this context it is true. The GPL prevents an open source developer charging Microsoft's royalty to their users as that would be a restriction on the distribution.

      In other words, the GPL bars payments to third parties in these sort of cases.

      TWW

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @10:07PM (#4466530) Homepage Journal
    Since Microsoft is charging a royalty fee to use the communications protocols, any open-source developer - those who contend that sharing software blueprints is the best way to build products - would not be able to use them. Those companies, which include Linux firms, use a special "free software" license called the General Public License that bars any payment.


    This is not FUD. I've read a few posts that say it is, and I must admit it looked like it to me at first. This is really a good idea on Microsoft's part. If they want to keep any proprietory information away from free software developers all they need do is demand a royalty be paid on every distribution of a product that uses that information. Think about it. You want to download Xine with support for the new Windows Media Player format? Ok, Microsoft is more than willing to supply the Xine folks with the specification for the new format, but they demand a royalty on each distribution of Xine. So, you, the user, are required to pay a royalty, to Microsoft, for your copy of Xine. This is pretty standard for non-free-software right? Well the GPL will not permit the Xine folks to make this requirement of you!

    Good show Microsoft, very evil.

  • by Paul Johnson ( 33553 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @03:12AM (#4467494) Homepage
    I was one of the people who sent in comments under the Tunny act. You can find them in the list of 47 [usdoj.gov] selected comments. In it I wrote [usdoj.gov]:
    Microsoft must not be allowed to pretend that these interface descriptions are trade secrets, as it tried to do with its extension to Kerberos. Because OSS packages include the full source code they inevitabley reveal the full details of their operation to any programmer who downloads them. If Microsoft can claim trade secret status on an interface it can effectively block any OSS package from using that interface, since to do so would reveal the "secret" of its operation. This appears to have been the objective of the click-through license on the Kerberos extensions (see above). The "Samba" project (www.samba.org) has reverse-engineered the Microsoft file and printer sharing protocols, allowing non-Microsoft systems to gain access to resources on Microsoft systems. An updated version of Samba for Windows 2000 is being prepared which will need to inter-operate with the Windows 2000 Kerberos extensions. If these extensions are considered trade secrets then it would be impossible for the Samba project to work with these extensions, and a key component in any mix of Microsoft and non-Microsoft computers would be crippled.

    I also tackled the issues of cost (e.g. subscription fees) and protocol patents.

    Hmmm. It seems that I was right to be worried.

    Paul.

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @06:23AM (#4467972) Journal
    Microsoft has managed to survive many tough legal blows to date and, despite a criminal conviction, seemed like they would survive with a slap on the wrist. Part of it was some tough negotiations with a timid (or well-lobbied, perhaps) Justice Department and a few states, and part of it was a well-oiled "P.R." campaign to good cop the new judge. Part of that campaign was a supposed, "voluntary," implementation of the settlement.

    Microsoft, ever incorrigible, can't seem to help itself, and this is A REAL GOOD THING. I would rather the insufficiency of the settlement be realized in a practical and tangible manner before, and not after, the judge reaches her decision -- when there is still time for her to change her mind.

    It is stuff like this that turned Judge Jackson into a Microsoft-hater, and indeed, it will have a similar impact on the present judge. However unlikely it was that she might reject the positions of both parties and ask for briefings on structural relief -- conduct such as this makes that one step more likely to happen.

    For those hoping that she will throw the book at Microsoft, however she does it, this kind of news is the best thing that could happen. The Judge has the power now -- and Microsoft's bad acting is amazingly short-sighted.

    I love when my opponents overreach visibly. It always helps me in the end.

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