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Microsoft America Online

Microsoft to Pay AOL $750M in Settlement 673

aoteoroa writes "Microsoft will pay $750 million to AOL Time Warner to settle an antitrust lawsuit filed by AOL on behalf of its subsidiary Netscape last year, the companies said Thursday. At first blush the deal looks good, but I can't help but wonder how a deal that ties AOL to IE again will negatively impact my favorite web browser." Here's a news.com story that also covers it. Is the browser war over? If so, it sure was anticlimactic.
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Microsoft to Pay AOL $750M in Settlement

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  • browser wars over?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cuijian ( 110696 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:07PM (#6071902)
    The browser wars are over? They are just starting to get interesting again. Safari for the Mac is one of the fastest and innovative browsers on the market. The Mozilla browsers continue to spawn lots of innovations and now seem focused on ease of use and performance. Things are just starting to get interesting again.

    The big news in this article is that MSFT might be successfully pushing windows media player into the AOL empire. *shudder*

    Also frightening, this deal gives AOL seven years to use IE royalty free - hopefully AOL continues to look towards a gecko based browser for their legions of users.
    • Are you nuts, expect AOL to use IE and get rid of any remaining Mozilla developers. It's a business not a charity.

      • It's a business not a charity.

        And MS is AOL's main competition.

        Mozilla's not going anywhere. Having a full fledged IE / Outlook replacement for everyone not tethered to an exchange server is a Very Good Thing. MS gains far more from AOL using IE than AOL does, and they always have.

        This deal just gives AOL seven years to decide if/when they want to switch over to IE.
        • by bheer ( 633842 ) <rbheer@g m a i l.com> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:48PM (#6072228)
          > Mozilla's not going anywhere.

          Yes, mozilla.org won't go away, but the commercial Netscape browser -- that could well die (and a good thing too, it was a pig, with AOL adding over 20MB of its own junk)

          The best that may happen is that AOL will keep a meaningful developer presence in mozilla.org as a sort of long term insurance against any "funny stuff" from MS, and to ensure that their interests are taken care of by the OSS community -- but don't bet on it happening.

          The commercial Netscape browser (Seamonkey) will almost certainly stop being pushed real soon now (which in a way is convenient because Moz fans should switch to Firebird anyway) I honestly can't see a cash-strapped AOL paying for Netscape engineers and QA to continue working on Seamonkey -- especially if MS plays nice (and MS has no reasons to *not* play nice, their antitrust battles are dying down one by one.)
          • Hopefully as they phase out Netscape, they'll at least nudge current Netscape users toward Mozilla, so those people that have been using Netscape since 2.0, but don't know about Mozilla will know that Netscape still lives on.

          • by Amiga Trombone ( 592952 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:30PM (#6072502)
            MS has no reasons to *not* play nice, their antitrust battles are dying down one by one.

            Well, I can think of one reason they may not play so nice with AOL.

            Can you say "MSN"?
          • by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3@phroUU ... inus threevowels> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @08:20PM (#6072813) Homepage
            The commercial Netscape browser (Seamonkey) will almost certainly stop being pushed real soon now (which in a way is convenient because Moz fans should switch to Firebird anyway)

            Almost certainly? Haven't been paying attention I see. Mozilla the all-in-one app is going away, and being replaced by Firebird (browser), Thunderbird (mail/news), and other apps, all of which will require the Gecko Engine to also be installed. I expect Netscape-branded versions to be released as well. Officially, Mozilla is for developers, not for end users.
        • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @09:35PM (#6073240) Homepage
          And MS is AOL's main competition

          Not realy. AOL isn't really AOL anymore, its back to being Time Warner. AOL is the division that the Time Warner folk are willing to give away for free to anyone who will take over the debt.

          This is about Time Warner getting back into its core business and looking to the strategic alliances it will need after the AOL division is jettisoned. At this point the Time Warner execs realize they were completely taken for a ride. They effectively gave away half their equity for a company with a zero, possibly even negative actual value.

          Going forward Time Warner wants to be able to sell their stuff over all the distribution networks. They have now worked out that AOL is a busted flush, it is a dialup play in a broadband world. AOL does not have content, never has, it is an aggregator, not a creator.

      • by vladkrupin ( 44145 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:15PM (#6072400) Homepage
        Are you nuts, expect AOL to use IE and get rid of any remaining Mozilla developers. It's a business not a charity.

        Actually, AOL's savings by getting rid of a developer or two are negligible. M$, on the other hand, wins big time by having an entire AOL base suddenly switch to IE (I wonder, if it the cash for the settlement was the only thing AOL was after in the first place... We'll never know...)

        For them it's a win-win situation. MS has excess cash and wants more domination; AOL doesn't care which browser its customers use, and wouldn't mind the cash.

        The problem is that they are a couple years too late. If this happened a couple years earlier, when mozilla was much weaker, it could've crippled it a lot. Now, when I hear people saying that AOL switching from mozilla to IE will kill mozilla, I can't help but laugh. I seriously doubt that it will even significantly impact the userbase - a lot of AOL people use IE right now simply because there is a cool blue icon on their desktop saying "Internet", and that's what they click on when they check their msn.com...
    • by cruppel ( 603595 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:18PM (#6071994) Homepage
      "There isn't anyone else in the browser market..."

      I was gonna say, over my ass! AOL now gets the "priviledge" to use IE for free? It sounds like a plan being laid out by MS...you sort of like when you're really nice to your parents to get something you want. That definitely doesn't seem like the end of the story. I do hope they stick with a gecko-based browser, though.

      • The browser wars are over the way that the Cold War is over. It is no longer the case of two contenders battling it out for dominance, with the consequence being that the consumer wins (since a split market means that developers would adhere to standards). Instead, one brower dominates the market, and the little browsers that "compete" with it do so by trying to keep up with its "functionality."

        Every other day, I still come up to sites that require me to launch IE (Mozilla is my default browser on my Windo
        • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @08:17PM (#6072794) Homepage
          The browser wars are over the way that the Cold War is over. It is no longer the case of two contenders battling it out for dominance, with the consequence being that the consumer wins (since a split market means that developers would adhere to standards). Instead, one brower dominates the market, and the little browsers that "compete" with it do so by trying to keep up with its "functionality."

          ...but I'm using Opera and I think there's been one site in my last month of surfing that choked on it. I'd say the _standards_ won. I remember trying to do a website for our University with Netscape 4 as the Uni client, and it was a fucking huge PITA. No wonder so many sites (and thus people) stopped caring about anything but IE. Now, I use both Opera, Mozilla and IE and all three work very well, and I don't find it a *problem* to design something that looks good on all platforms anymore. Granted, you *can* make stuff that is IE-only, but before it happened almost automagically...

          And yes, if I'm on the local variant of pricewatch, and the webshop was $2 cheaper but it doesn't work with my browser, I say screw it. Chalk up a lost sale. Same if I'm doing a google search and has opened ten windows. One refuses to load? Too bad, let's see if the other 9 have what I want. The only reason I'd fire up IE is because your site has something special(tm). And truth be told, most aren't that special.

          Kjella
        • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @08:18PM (#6072802)
          Maybe the 2% of the population that won't or can't open IE just closes those windows and goes elsewhere, but that's something I just won't do - I use browsers to see content, I don't select content based on the brand of browser I run.

          That's what I do--I close the window and look for another site. This is partially based on principle and partially based on my own convenience.

          First, there are so many sites out there--some that look downright awesome--that don't require QuickTime, Flash, Java applets, or IE-specific nuances. I use the latest version of Mozilla and view virtually every site I want with no problem. I don't have Flash installed and don't plan to. If I get to a site that looks downright ugly because of plugins it couldn't load or because it demands IE then I'm going to go to the other hundreds of sites that provide the same information and conform to standards. That's my decision on principle.

          Second, my decision is based on convenience. I am finally Windows-free. At least almost. I, too, sometimes need Windows: mostly when I do a consulting job that requires I develop in VB or VC++. For those cases I have Win4Lin [win4lin.com] which is awesome for running Windows applications under Linux. In fact, VB, VC++, and Word *ALL* run faster under Win4Lin than they did on the same laptop when it ran XP. Of course, IE is installed within that environment. The thing is, to get to IE I need to run Win4Lin which takes maybe 10-30 seconds to load initially. Unless I already have it running (which I usually don't), it's just faster for me to click "Back" and go to the next site on my Google search results page.

          • by CyberGarp ( 242942 ) <[Shawn] [at] [Garbett.org]> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @10:20PM (#6073470) Homepage

            That's what I do--I close the window and look for another site. This is partially based on principle and partially based on my own convenience.

            I have a form letter that I fire off to the webmaster of any IE specific site. Reason, I worked on several embedded set top browsers. I mention that in so restricting the users of the site, that the site loses market share. Using established standards, and not restricting the user, more market share. Second reason, code that checks for specific browser implementations requires constant updating creating more cost in IT. Sometimes I would even mention the fact that I used their web page just fine by setting the "user agent" to lie about what browswer I was using.

            One year ago, I was sending this form letter out daily. As time goes on, this has become a non-issue for me and my browsing habits. I actually saw a few web-sites change. Instead of closing the window, send 'em a notice that you don't like it.

    • by SkArcher ( 676201 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:32PM (#6072108) Journal
      Browser wars over? One word for you. Opera [opera.com]

      As for the "AOL have the priviledge to use IE royalty free for 7 years" well, that just stinks of typical M$hit - AOL use IE, cut out their development costs, M$ get a dependent user base (again) from the people in the position least knowledgable and least likely to realise what crud they are being palmed off with.

      What need to be done is concerted education of the legions of newcomers to the .net - yes, okay, I acknowledge that a lot of the masses are VERY annoying, but either they get welcomed to the net by those of us who know what we are doing, or they get assimilated by the GatesBorg collective.

      The mass population of the internet has to be won over to break the M$ stranglehold. The few 3l173 H4XX0Rz aren't a significant enough user base to challenge M$.

      Hmmm, I seem to have wandered violently off topic. Meh.
    • by J_DarkElf ( 602111 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:35PM (#6072126) Journal
      "Safari for the Mac is one of the fastest and innovative browsers on the market."

      I hear this a lot. Not intending to troll, but what is so innovative about Safari? The last time I saw something really new in browsers was Opera 7's 'Fast Forward' to match the likely next link (or work for image galleries), before that maybe Opera's 'Find in page' or Mozillas 'Type ahead find'.

      What is so innovative in Safari? From what I've seen so far, it doesn't add anything new that other browsers lack.
      • by Maserati ( 8679 )
        Okay, maybe Safari isn't exactly innovative. And it does cost you whatever an OS X capable Mac costs.

        On the plus side, it's a Really Slick browser. And it is fast. As a bonus, the html rendering engine is Open Source (KHTML as I recall).
      • It's got a lot of those small features that make Apple stuff so damned cool.

        Stop/Reload use the same button, depending on whether or not the page is loaded. Why didn't anyone else think of this?

        The bookmark manager is so sweet it's been known to make grown men cry. So cool that the Camino guys are working on copying it.

        Three meg or so download. Remember when Opera could claim this?

        SnapBack makes getting back to search results very easy.

        Spell-checking in textareas. No tpyos in this post!

        So, no, it's not going to revolutionize browsing or anything. Since browsing technology has likely reached it's apex, all that's left are the small things.

        • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:56PM (#6072274) Journal
          Stop/Reload use the same button, depending on whether or not the page is loaded. Why didn't anyone else think of this?

          Opera's had that for at least a couple of years.

          Three meg or so download. Remember when Opera could claim this?

          My Opera RPM is 3.7 MB, including mail-client (which I'd give up mutt for if only it supported local mailspools).

          SnapBack makes getting back to search results very easy.

          I'm presuming you're referring to some type of fast-rewind feature. Opera's got that (not sure if the button's on the toolbar by default though).

        • As others have pointed out, Opera has Stop and Reload in the same button. And I find it a pain! I always change them back to separate buttons. And Opera does Snapback better, only it is called Rewind.

          As for size, Opera 7 is 3 MB, and it includes a lot more innovative features than Safari, and not only that - it includes an e-mail client and newsreader in the package as well.

          Safari is fast and easy to use, but innovative it is not.


        • why is having Stop and Reload share the same button a good idea? UI controls that change can be very annoying. Let's say a web site is slashdotted and loading VERY slowly. I try to hit Stop, but at that very moment that page is doen and the Stop button becomes Reload. Now I have accidentally hit Reload.. and now I'm download the same page again very slooowly.
    • by zurab ( 188064 )
      The browser wars are over? They are just starting to get interesting again. Safari for the Mac is one of the fastest and innovative browsers on the market.

      I disagree. If it is true like those "analysts" are predicting that AOL will cut spending or cancel most work on Netscape/Mozilla it will have a great effect on browser wars. After all, in some respects, a full fledged browser released by AOL means something to many people - (a) they download and use it, (b) they test their sites/scripts/apps against it
    • Innovative? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gilesjuk ( 604902 )
      Safari is innovative? only because Apple had access to some very nice open source browsers.

      Repackaging an open source browser and fixing a few bugs isn't innovatation my friend. It's probably the Microsoft dictionary definition of innovation.
    • Yep, they're over (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:21PM (#6072449) Homepage Journal
      Safari for the Mac is one of the fastest and innovative browsers on the market. The Mozilla browsers continue to spawn lots of innovations and now seem focused on ease of use and performance. Things are just starting to get interesting again.
      You talk as if the browser wars were entirely about technology. That's not even close to true. It's about how many people use each browser. And IE, for all its faults, is what people use.

      Mind you, I consider this a Very Bad Thing. I don't like seeing any company, much less Microsoft, control such an important technology so thoroughly. And MS's sloppy attitude towards W3C standards (especially CSS) drives me up the wall. But simply creating superior browser technology is not going to win back all those desktops. It doesn't matter if kHTML or gecko are more innovative or standard-compliant. Nor does it matter who has the coolist features. And least of all does it matter that MS used dishonest and monopolistic tactics to gain 90% of the browser market.

      What matters is that IE has that browser dominance, that people are not going to switch back just because some geek tells them their browser is technically inferior. Nor do they crave standards compliance: that just means that other browsers don't render all their IE-specific web apps "correctly".

      Don't put your hope in AOL switching to Gecko, either. First of all they won't do it -- they can afford a few license fees in order to avoid making life even more difficult for their subscribers. Second of all, AOL doesn't have that much of a future -- web users are getting more sophisticated, and realizing they don't need that bloated and obsolete client to access the Internet.

      Flame on! I know you guys don't want to hear it. But yeah, MS has won the browser wars.

    • by Davorama ( 11731 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:58PM (#6072657) Journal
      Also frightening, this deal gives AOL seven years to use IE royalty free...

      I find this to be the most interesting and ironic thing about the settlement. Wasn't the big complaint that MS undercut NS by bundling IE into things for free? Now AOL get's that priveledge as part of the settlement...

  • fist pr0st! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3@phroUU ... inus threevowels> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:07PM (#6071905) Homepage
    AOL will also be licensing Windows Media 9, which could affect WinAmp.

    This deal could mean more AOL content will require MSIE and WMP9. Since AOL for Mac OS X uses Gecko and WMP9 isn't available yet, that would mean Mac AOL users wouldn't be able to access that content - exactly the way Microsoft likes it.

    It seems AOL either has no idea what they're doing, or has decided they're no longer interested in Netscape or NullSoft. Is it possible both might soon be for sale? Clearly they no longer fit into the rest of the company's plans.

    Of course, it would be ridiculously amusing if AOL suddenly announced that they were switching to Gecko anyway, even though they have a license to use MSIE for free. We can dream, can't we?
    • Re:fist pr0st! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoonBuggy ( 611105 )
      Of course, it would be ridiculously amusing if AOL suddenly announced that they were switching to Gecko anyway, even though they have a license to use MSIE for free. We can dream, can't we?

      I may be being extremely stupid here, but why would they use IE over Gecko. No compliance and the posibility of restrictions vs. W3C compliance and nice shiny open sourceness. The choice seems obvious to me, and however much this $750mill payoff is obviously in order to make them use IE, MS can't legally say that can t
      • by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3@phroUU ... inus threevowels> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:43PM (#6072193) Homepage
        I may be being extremely stupid here, but why would they use IE over Gecko.

        The topic in #mozilla right now says "...He was later seen walking out of Bill Gates' office pulling up his pants."
      • Re:fist pr0st! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bheer ( 633842 )
        I may be being extremely stupid here, but why would they use IE over Gecko. No compliance and the posibility of restrictions vs. W3C compliance and nice shiny open sourceness. The choice seems obvious to me

        Ah, the naïvete of the young. Imagine me, a old curmudgeon at AOLTW, sitting in my office and wondering how the stock has tanked.

        I get a $750M cash offer, which is very pleasant to have. Promises of cooperation. Whispers of "you won't have pay all those Netscape engineers and QA any more, our IE t
    • Re:fist pr0st! (Score:3, Informative)

      by mrklin ( 608689 )
      The licensing of WMA is non-exclusive. Notice they are also licensing AAC technology as well.
  • by dtolton ( 162216 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:09PM (#6071921) Homepage
    I have to agree with the poster on this. I'm really
    disappointed by this development. I would rather have seen an
    agreement that required Microsoft to bundle AOL and Netscape
    with their operating systems for the next 7 years. As much as I
    get bugged by AOL's marketing, I really detest the thought of
    these two combining forces.

    I hope some of the states stick it out, and take the Anti-Trust
    suit to the Supreme court. I think it would be incredibly
    beneficial for the industry as a whole if Microsoft got busted
    into chunks.

    Sadly this ruling is nothing to Microsoft. $750 million is
    something they can afford to pay using some interest from their
    massive cash reserves [cnn.com]
  • Over? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aeinome ( 672135 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:09PM (#6071922) Journal
    The browser wars aren't over until IE and Netscape are but smoldering craters, and Mozilla is the victor.
  • by dspyder ( 563303 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:10PM (#6071925)
    "The companies will explore ways for AOL and MSN Messenger to interoperate, which Microsoft has sought for years."

    Isn't that a major concession from AOL? Weren't they the ones claiming that was "impossible"/"too expensive"/"too difficult"???

    --Darren

    p.s. "Microsoft will help distribute AOL CD-ROMs to PC builders around the world." Yay! More coasters!! :)
  • by Joe Jordan ( 453607 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:10PM (#6071933) Journal
    With $40+ Billion sitting in the bank (not including assets) this appears to be another slap on the wrist for Microsoft. I was hoping AOL might stick this one out longer. I guess when your company is struggling, $750 mil doesn't sound so bad after all.
  • Hurts Microsoft? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twemperor ( 626154 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:11PM (#6071938) Homepage
    AOL receives a long-term, nonexclusive license to use Microsoft's Windows Media 9 software, which offers playback, delivery and rights management for digital media.

    AOL will receive a seven-year, royalty-free license to continue using Internet Explorer on its flagship online service. Microsoft will provide beta tests of future Windows versions and allow AOL to participate in tests of its upcoming "Longhorn" operating system at the same time and on the same terms as other software vendors.

    The companies will explore ways for AOL and MSN Messenger to interoperate, which Microsoft has sought for years.

    Sounds like Microsoft is getting everything they want...
  • death of Netscape (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:13PM (#6071954)
    Well, it's official Netscape is dead, I guess.

    And its sad, with so many other great alternatives out there based on their original source, Mozilla, Safari, etc.

    But I think what bugs me most of all is that despite having some passable alternatives to IE, none of them will ever overtake IE.

    Why? Because it takes the backing of a major corporation to build a browser that will appeal to non-slashdotters. Unfortunately, in terms of usability, the Mozilla and its derivatives fall WAY short. And if the history of open-source is any indication, they'll never catch up.

    . Sad day for those of us wanting to use something other than IE.
    • by Squidgee ( 565373 )
      Well, it's official Netscape is dead, I guess. And its sad, with so many other great alternatives out there based on their original source, Mozilla, Safari, etc.

      Actually, Safari isn't based on Netscape's source; it's based upon KHTML, which is, IMHO, much better then Gecko.

      One of the reasons Netscape most likely wil die quickly is due to the fact Gecko is bloated, and too slow. In fact, if I had to guess KHTML (thanks to Apple's support) will most likely pick up where Netscape left off, especially if A

      • Re:death of Netscape (Score:5, Informative)

        by dtolton ( 162216 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:27PM (#6072063) Homepage
        especially if Apple were to release Safari for Windows

        Now that would be awesome. Safari is by far the best looking and fastest browser I use. However the release of Safari for windows is probably just a huge pipe dream.

        Safari is one of the few browsers that uses native OS widgets for rendering pages. So safari is based around the Aqua interface and rendered in OpenGL. In essense it is 100% glued to OS X. Even if they did port it to windows, you wouldn't see the same type of speed or beauty in the browser simply because Windows widgets are clunky, ugly and slow.
    • Re:death of Netscape (Score:3, Informative)

      by cruppel ( 603595 ) *
      Well, it's official Netscape is dead, I guess. And its sad, with so many other great alternatives out there based on their original source, Mozilla, Safari, etc

      I'm pretty sure you didn't mean to make it sound like Safari is based on Netscape's code, but it's based on KHTML for anyone who's unsure.

  • by Znonymous Coward ( 615009 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:14PM (#6071961) Journal
    No. IE hasn't done anything innovatve in years. Mozilla, Firebird, Camino and Safari on the other hand keep pushing the envelope.

    Microsoft's browser is in the dark ages. I'm not sure they care anymore. When the internet (aka .com) bubble burst, M$ moved on.

  • by frankthechicken ( 607647 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:14PM (#6071962) Journal
    Okay, now I know I should be flaming Microsoft and everything, but wasn't this purely a case of better product? I seem to remember IE being the big pretender, only to constantly revise it's software into something that was actually better than Netscape's. Anyone who actually tried to design for 4.7 and its ilk was faced with probably one of the more buggy products. IE(before Mozilla) was one of the products I gave Microsoft credit for.
    • Not Quite my friend (Score:5, Informative)

      by pardasaniman ( 585320 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:24PM (#6072046) Journal
      Microsoft did not play quite fairly. When one installed the latest internet explorer, they were also changing windows DLLs that are preloaded on boot. This gives Internet Explorer a significant speed and stability boost. Netscape, on the other hand does not have that liberty.

      I believe there was a quote from the antitrust trial in which a memo was brought forth by the VP saying that Windows should be altered "so that running any other browser should be a jolting experience for the user"

      Microsoft may have made a better product in the end. But it came with cheating and sabotage.
  • is this bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macshune ( 628296 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:16PM (#6071969) Journal
    Well, let's see... The world's largest media company teaming up (formally or informally) voltron-style with the world's largest software company? I think not. They should be in competition with each other, not buddying up their buddy lists so there will be some sort of interoperability between MSN Messenger and AIM. Any level of collusion across markets, specifically AOL and Microsoft, sounds like a rainy day to me.
  • nervous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Petrox ( 525639 ) <[ude.uyn] [ta] [205pp]> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:17PM (#6071980) Homepage
    It should make us nervous whenever companies of this size adopt a cooperative, rather than a competitive, stance towards each other. Why was this case really settled? Probably because they both were able to agree to cooperate in the future on new DRM [nytimes.com]. Caveat Emptor!
  • by TrailerTrash ( 91309 ) * on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:21PM (#6072016)
    In other news, SCO today filed a lawsuit against Marc Andreesen, charging that the NCSA team used Unix source code in their browser code in Mosaic, and all subsequent versions of all browsers violate SCO's intellectual property.

    When asked for comment on whether Safari was at risk, Apple CEO Steve Jobs replied, "Nah, we offered them a free, unlimited iTunes account in exchange for a perpetual license. They snapped it up."

    All your code are belong to us.
    --- SCO Group

  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <[john3] [at] [cornells.com]> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:21PM (#6072021) Homepage Journal
    More info about the settlement deal on the MS site [microsoft.com]. The biggest coup for MS in this deal might be the collaboration with AOL on DRM. Where does that leave Apple and Real? And the Instant Messenger portion of the deal might also turn out to be a big win for MS.
    • AOL users never had digital rights, nor do Microsoft users, but both can be set free by free software. People are turning away from M$ on the server side for security, price and performance reasons. This will provide room for free clients to continue to thrive. As long as the net is free, M$ and AOL will die. The singerny (yeah, I spelled that way on purpose) between Time/Warner/McSoft was due to come along anyway.

      The real horror will be when they bully hardware makers into DRM so that there are no fre

  • by powerlinekid ( 442532 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:24PM (#6072043)
    For Microsoft, the $750 million payment is not exactly a significant dent in its cash hoard of more than $46 billion.

    Do you realize how much money that is? So how did this work? Microsoft use's its monopoly to establish another one in web browsers through unfair business practices (which they were because Microsoft is a monopoly) and years later just pays $750 million to make it go away.

    Essentially Microsoft just bought the browser wars . Thats a scary thought... and makes me wonder, has the US ever seen a company quite like Microsoft? Someone that expands and conquerors so easily. Someone who in a few years could hold a monopoly on 3 or more different industries. This is nuts. I doubt Standard Oil was ever this big. Maybe AT&T but even thats streching it. Hell, Microsoft even won its anti-trust case.

    This is getting kind of scary *crawls into hole*.
  • Not over... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saberworks ( 267163 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:25PM (#6072052) Homepage
    My girlfriends friend, who is also a girl, was having problems with her Windows computer. I went over to her house, fixed all her windows problems, and when I was making sure her cable modem worked, I opened up IE. The default home page was the cable company's home page with **5** popup windows. I asked her very politely if she liked popup windows. She of course said "hell no." I told her I could install a browser that was small, fast, and didn't accept popups. She was very, very surprised that there was such a thing. I installed MozillaFirebird and put a shortcut on her desktop called "Better Internet Browser." Her whole family now uses it.

    The browser wars will only be over when everyone agrees on what a "better browser" is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:26PM (#6072060)
    What this settlement reflects is that the Time Warner part of AOL-TW is now firmly in control, and America Online people are not.

    The Time Warner people are interested in selling media content for profit, not in technology battles like the AOL people. Hence the Windows Media 9 and DRM parts of the settlement.

    Why continue to fight technology battles like IM or browser technology? There's no money in that. Nor is there money in continuing to make enabling technology like browsers etc. to sell your content for profit. Thus, the TW people are happy to use Microsoft browser technology and that's why the 7 year technology agreement is in there.

    The AOL access business is slowly dying as people move to broadband, and the AOL-software-only subscription isn't going to replace that anytime soon. Sure, why not cooperate on IM formats? Not cooperating only opens AOL up to FTC complaints, and IM interoperability was at some point inevitable.

    Microsoft was going to have to cooperate with AOL on Longhorn compatibility anyway; they give up nothing with that part of the settlement. Handing out AOL discs to system builders isn't much of a hit, either.

    This is clearly the TW people saying "Take the $750 million, stop fighting battles that make no money, and go back to what made us huge long before AOL came along - selling content."
  • Not small change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stevejsmith ( 614145 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:27PM (#6072065) Homepage
    They say that $750 million is nothing for Microsoft as they have over $40 billion in the bank, but that's still almost 2% of their tresury, quite a significant amount for such a huge corporation. Am I the only one who thinks that 2% is a significant amount to be lost in a lawsuit?
  • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:33PM (#6072114) Homepage Journal
    I didn't get a chance to chime in on this in the Munich story, but my money's on Microsoft in that one too. MS doesn't like to lose. And just try to measure the egg-on-face value of that!

    The culture of fuck-over-at-all-costs comes from the top down, from Gates down. It's pervasive.
  • by Nice2Cats ( 557310 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:37PM (#6072145)
    Nobody gives a rat's ass about 750 million dollars -- pocket change to Gates and Co. -- or the IE as a browser. Read the article at Inforworld [infoworld.com] and be very, very afraid: Microsoft and AOL are going to combine forces to create a "digital media environment" that is free from piracy; AOL will become a Microsoft distribution channel; their Instant Messaging systems will be combinded, and if you know a superlative for "monopoly", well, get used to using it.

    This is finally it: The beginning of the endgame between Closed and Open Source, the last battle between Good and Evil, Armageddon in the software universe. AOL is doing so bad that "AOL Time Warner" has been considering dropping them out of the mother company's name; and Microsoft for all its resources can't help but feel the penguins and daemons breathing down its neck if even places like Munich will not heel when they call. Their backs are not quite against the wall, but their bums are touching brick, and they will not go away without one hell of a fight. I think it is safe to say that this is the worst threat that Open/Free Software has ever faced, given the sheer political and financial clout these two companies have combined.

    Oh, and think of the irony that it comes at a time when Neo is in a coma and has been revealed to be not the Saviour, but the Angel of Death; when Buffy has been discontinued; and when Nanny Ogg is feeling just a wee bit under the weather...were these not omens that we failed to heed? How could we be so childish to believe these signs were just random events in popular culture...

  • by AdamBa ( 64128 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:38PM (#6072154) Homepage
    There was always a question of how much Microsoft pushed Netscape and how much they fell. Whatever Microsoft tried to do to hurt Netscape, Netscape arguably did more to themselves with bad strategic decisions. So I was hoping that this lawsuit would lead to a trial that would hash all this out in public, determining once and for all if Andreessen, Barksdale et al were geniuses or just lucky.

    But now we'll never know...

    - adam

  • Opera (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CausticWindow ( 632215 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:38PM (#6072156)

    Many people have already commented on it, but if a company can make money from selling a browser, the browser war can't be over just yet.

  • by codeonezero ( 540302 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:39PM (#6072158)
    I hope the settlement is hard cash and not Windows XP licenses ;)
  • by mrklin ( 608689 ) <ken,lin&gmail,com> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:43PM (#6072194)
    as he takes a billion dollar bill from his wallet: "Got change?"
  • Mozilla (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erikdotla ( 609033 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:44PM (#6072201)
    If I worked in the Mozilla group, I'd feel pretty worthless right about now. I wouldn't be surprised if AOL/Netscape abandons Mozilla entirely after this. What's the point? Mozilla will never ship with AOL, and AOL doesn't seem to think it's bad that they'll be using IE forever. The sun is setting.
  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:48PM (#6072230)
    $oftware vouchers??
  • by fiddlesticks ( 457600 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:50PM (#6072240) Homepage
    some points:

    1) AOL cares nothing about the browser wars - they wanst customers - period
    2) AOL getting .75 bil USD from MSFT is a win for them. It's .75 bil USD more than they'll ever get from Moz users
    3) Since when did 'we' care two hoots about what AOL did or didn't do? Now, if they bought a gnu/linux vendor and started to ship knoppix-like CDs with everything locked down so their tech-support was even easier.....
    4) APPLE used KHTML cos they liked it. Next iteration, they might use a different renderer for safari. They're allowed to! It's not political for them.
    5) Isn't the desktop more important than the browser? Isn't the browser less important than the 'suite' of Net-scraping-tools these days? Isn't there space for a start up to run a bare bones distro w/ moz, OO, and some neat GNU audio/ video apps that the end-luser doesn't realise is a distro? Isn't that where the sweet spot is?
  • Winners and Losers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biostatman ( 105993 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:55PM (#6072270)
    Winners
    MS - they get off the hook by giving up $750m which others have pointed out they can easily afford given their cash reserves. More guaranteed market share for IE. This isn't a penalty, its an investment for them.
    AOLTW - Given how the AOL division is a primary cause of the massive amount of AOLTW's debt, getting the $750m looks great on their balance sheet. If I'm not mistaken, dealing w/ AOLTW's debt was one of Dick Parson's most important charges when he took the helm.

    Losers
    Mozilla et. al - Having a Gecko based AOL client would have given an instant boost to Mozilla's marketshare / mindshare which negatively effects...
    Web Standards - Anything that boosts IE and lessens Mozilla increases the likelihood of MS induced standards
    Consumers - Less competition (browsers, streaming media formats), more MS entrusted DRM

    Jeesh - what exactly does antitrust even mean in today's business climate?
  • Cheap marketing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pergamon ( 4359 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:01PM (#6072315) Homepage
    This isn't a settlement, this is MS paying US$750million so that they can have AOL users using MSIE. Probably a bargain.
  • by 0xDEADC0DE ( 130071 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:40PM (#6072557)
    How much would it cost some rich OSS supporter to burn millions of Mozilla CDs and distribute them in the mail or the malls? Highlighting the pop-up blocking would be enough for many non-geeks to switch.

    If Microsoft can pay $750M and get an advantage, maybe a player like IBM could help protect its investment in WebSphere, Java, Notes, and SameTime for 1/10 of that.
  • Apathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brettlbecker ( 596407 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @07:45PM (#6072590) Homepage
    This is slightly skewed from the topic at hand, but I just can't help it.

    I just realized tonight that I actually feel now that AOL and MS users actively *deserve* what they get from these companies. How many years now have people been trodden over and acted like they enjoy it? I think maybe they actually *do*, but I just don't care anymore, and at this point, if I'm sitting near someone who is trying to open a corrupted word document or wrangling with AOL tech support I just sort of laugh inwardly. I used to feel sorry and identify with those problems. Now it feels like justice.

    I know it's elitist and all, but I seriously wonder sometimes if many of the people out there using MS and AOL are the kinds of people the Free Software Movement should be wooing. I work in a menial tech support job (where I'm forced to actually help, and not just smirk) at the moment, and the amount of stupidity out there in the user population is staggering. These are people studying and teaching at a major university, some of whom are involved in incredibly complex subjects... and they don't "get" what a file is versus a folder, or what an email "address" is. And part of this stems from the watering down of the tech world by companies like this to the point now where everyone bases their idea of what a Killer App (tm) is on the abilities of either the mythical "Joe User" or someone's grandma. And I've got to say, if I ever run into either of those two people, the stupidity confronting me will probably be my end.

    How does this relate to the MS/AOL/IE/Netscape/$$$/Free Speech/Beer topic? Well, I'm not sure, except that I think maybe it's not such a bad thing that 90 % of people use Windows. After all the years of dumbing-down, it suits most of them.

    Flame away... it's just my mood tonight.

    B

    • Re:Apathy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @08:52PM (#6072982)
      I know it's elitist and all, but I seriously wonder sometimes if many of the people out there using MS and AOL are the kinds of people the Free Software Movement should be wooing.

      Because AOL and MSN, like it or not, is easy for people to use. The target market is your grandmother, and they have a big bold friendly "you've got mail".

      Friend of the family in this age group, I'm sure you know the one, the one who got your number dispite the fact that you said, "don't ever give this person your number"... was switched to MSN rather then the local telco based ISP. They got hooked into MSN 8, big bloated piece of filth they have been sporting. They loved it, big buttons, easy to under stand, can always check their e-mail. But they were wondering why their computer was crashing. Basicly I told 'em, "look, the software you are running, while you find it easier, is a bug ridden piece of filth. It's not your computer, it's MSN 8. Everything works fine when i'm here because I don't click on MSN 8. The program that crashed, the one I told you to write down the details is MSN 8. So you can either "choose" to use this product that you like but causes your whole system not to work, or you can stop using it, click on the more standarized "connect here" use This web browser and this mail client. It's 3 clicks for your typical session, but 3 clicks = reliable where msn = flacky".

      But in this case... MSN 8 was used cause it was put in front of 'em, basicly calling the MSN help desk on how to connect, they were *asked* to download MSN 8 because it would make them *able* to connect. MSN was their ISP after all, they know best. And if it wasn't for the fact that MSN 8 craps out, i'd say "use it, use it till you are blue in the face, use that gawdy oversided bloated interface interface to your hearts content". That was if it worked... if someone really wants to plop down a the cash for a 2000+mhz athlon system with a 1/4 gig of ram just to make this bloated application run just fast enough to use, i'd say terriffic.

      and they don't "get" what a file is versus a folder, or what an email "address" is. And part of this stems from the watering down of the tech world by companies like this to the point now where everyone bases their idea of what a Killer App (tm) is on the abilities of either the mythical "Joe User" or someone's grandma.

      Ding Ding Ding Ding

      You've got it. These applications target your grandmother's skill level. Either they come with the system, and target your grandmother, or they are told by someone to use this application. This is why they are successful, cause like it or not the vast majority of computer users on the planet are your grandmother.

      Hell this is one reason that Macs were successfully marketed, they understood that this is a new technology and people are not going to buy things they don't understand how to use.

      And, unfortunatly, these are the same people who actually decide for us what becames an accepted standard. This is one thing that gives me a warm *hopeful* feeling in side, the fact that Munich and India based on prior slashdot articals are going for OSS solutions. Perhaps with their influence perhaps they can actually make a contribution to this grandmother market and actually work on a good balance between ease of use and fucationaity so geeks like us can be happy and tweek under the hood, and they can be happy with "you've got mail".

You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish. You can tune a filesystem, but you can't tuna fish. -- from the tunefs(8) man page

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