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Microsoft America Online

Microsoft Eyeing AOL? 449

meriksen writes "This article on the CNN website suggests that Microsoft is looking to acquire AOL. What are the chances and do /. readers think this will ever happen?" The NY Post story is slightly more informative.
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Microsoft Eyeing AOL?

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:35PM (#8611646) Homepage Journal
    According to the report, Time Warner lawyers have also been analyzing possible antitrust issues from such a deal

    Besides having to sell over Netscape (I think I have $10 here...) wouldn't there be a problem with Microsoft's existing deals with Comcast [microsoft.com]?

    The Post quoted Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler as saying "such speculation is silly and pointless." Microsoft declined to comment on the matter, the report said.

    Well, when they deny like that, what additional proof does anyone need that this is pretty much a done deal?

  • AOL a Dog? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dolo666 ( 195584 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:35PM (#8611653) Journal
    Microsoft eyeing AOL? Sounds like they would make strange bedpartners for a few reasons I can think of; The Microsoft Butterfly seems to market directly to the AOL mentality, which many of you know to be among those who use "The Internet" to find out things, download music and chat ("The Internet" being the AOL homepage!)...

    While I may think AOL is too big for Microsoft to acquire and manage properly, that's just my opinion and it's likely incorrect, as Bill Gates is an iron leader of a huge corporate empire, with the Midas touch, and elite backing that gives anyone with that much money a guarantee of acquiring even more. What is more interesting than all the market'spaek, is that Time/Warner wants to dump AOL... and for this I am not surprised, while the article is more along the lines of Microsoft wanting to get their greedy hands on AOL, any objective observation would lead one to ponder if AOL is having trouble, or projected trouble? Whenever I have ever sold a car, it wasn't because I wanted some schmo from the public to get my super amazing car and benefit from it; it was because the car was old and I didn't want it anymore. :-)
    • Re:AOL a Dog? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EnderWiggnz ( 39214 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#8611688)
      AOL is an albatross... Steve Case has been managing an incredibly corrupt firm.

      In addition, I think that a merger of this type would have extreme trouble getting through the SEC. This has "monopoly suit" written all over it.
      • Even considering Microsoft's relationship with the current justice department, I seriously doubt this merger would be approved. What would happen when the new version of Windows would only set up an internet connection through an approved MS/AOL online service?
        • by mattkinabrewmindspri ( 538862 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:47PM (#8611861)
          What would happen when the new version of Windows would only set up an internet connection through an approved MS/AOL online service?

          Mass suicides?

        • Re:AOL a Dog? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cptgrudge ( 177113 ) <cptgrudgeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:23PM (#8612379) Journal
          What would happen when the new version of Windows would only set up an internet connection through an approved MS/AOL online service?

          A mass exodus to Apple or Linux. That's what I'd do for my organization, and I have the power to make it happen. I wonder if Microsoft knows how close some of us are to switching like that? Their credibility is hanging by a thread, and the only thing keeping us from dumping them is how many products of theirs we use and the costs associated with retraining. There are those of us that can make the case to managers that will listen. Once the dollars add up, people are quick to change.

          We keep hearing, almost daily, that such and such company is moving to Apple, or that some country's government across the big pond is moving to Linux. It almost seems like the house of cards is beginning to fall. Albeit, slowly, but here and there, it's starting.

    • Re:AOL a Dog? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:48PM (#8611865) Homepage Journal
      I think the real question is: Why would Microsoft, who has a failing ISP, want to buy AOL, who is a failing ISP? AOL are in competition with Microsoft. It seems like their business strategy could incorporate buying all the competition and dissolving them. While ignorant AOL users don't realize it, Microsoft is offering a better service (e.g. the REAL Internet). In short, I don't think Microsoft can learn anything from AOL.

      Despite the fact that AOL/Netscape has fired most (if not all?) of the Mozilla developers, I'm sure (assuming Netscape was part of the aquisition) Microsoft would jump and the slap-in-the-face it could give the OSS community at large.

      And AOL owns Nullsoft. Assuming that is part of the Aquisition, it would be another interesting sping.

      I'm sure the list could go on if I got bored. But it's all based on assumptions about what Microsoft would get with the purchase.
      • Re:AOL a Dog? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:58PM (#8612010)
        (1)Why would Microsoft, who has a failing ISP, want to buy AOL, who is a failing ISP? (2)AOL are in competition with Microsoft.

        1) for millions AOL is the internet. and with millions of new subscibers, they direct HUGE traffic towards their sites. remember the smart tags in office. think AOL keywords. bingo.

        2) and, you buy them. ain't like microsoft has never done this before.

        remember, they are no longer, if they ever were, an innovation company. they have a US market share at which the only direction is down. their foreign share is tenuous at best with the rise of linux and gov't's, etc., becoming increasingly wary of microsoft. the biggest part fo their angst regarding linux is they can't buy it. they can't stop it. and they're not happy. aol just solidifes their hold on US market.
      • Re:AOL a Dog? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cheeko ( 165493 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:23PM (#8612369) Homepage Journal
        Don't forget AIM and ICQ. With this deal MS would control all 3 client bases. The move to interoperability could be nice, but at the same time yahoo and whoever else are left out in the cold, and this provides a HUGE userbase for MS in the instant messageing arena.
        • Re:AOL a Dog? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by wetshoe ( 683261 )
          I think before this would ever happen, the US DOJ would have to get involved. Think about it, they would control the two most popular browsers, MSIE and Netscape/Mozilla; they would control the two most popular chat clients, MS Messenger and AOL IM; and they would control two popular music/video clients, Windows Media Player and Winamp.

          Regardless of what has happened in the past with the DOJ and anti-trust cases, there would be no way that these three aspects of any merger would be overlooked. IANAL, but I

      • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:27PM (#8612436) Journal
        Actually, I could see Microsoft buying out AOL and it being a sensible business move.

        The thing is, they wouldn't be running both AOL and MSN simultaneously. What they'd be paying for is the existing AOL customer base, which they'd then be able to migrate over to their service. (There are a number of ways this could be accomplished, but an "optimal" method might be creating a new "AOL 10" type CD that asks users if they'd prefer the "old AOL style" front-end, or just a direct connection to the Internet without it. This new CD could be modified to connect to MSN's existing phone numbers or gateways, allowing Microsoft to slowly phase out and sell off the hardware they obtained from the AOL purchase.)

        As it stands, MSN competes pretty directly with AOL. (The "rest of us" don't generally consider either one a viable option for our internet needs.) If they absorb AOL, they might have enough customers to make it profitable.
      • Why did HP buy Compaq? Computers are far less profitable than printers and other such accessories. Why did HP want to further dilute its company with marginally profitable computers?

        Perhaps the biggest reason was that it funnelled more customers to the more profitable accessories businesses (if I buy a computer from HP, I might as well buy the printer from there as well). Also, the economies of scale in their parts business (both HP and Compaq sell highly proprietary parts which are only available from
      • by BlueWonder ( 130989 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:53PM (#8612756)
        I think the real question is: Why would Microsoft, who has a failing ISP, want to buy AOL, who is a failing ISP?

        I think they want to extend their monopoly to the market of failing ISPs...

  • by Vexler ( 127353 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:36PM (#8611656) Journal
    'Nuff said.
  • That.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordNor ( 605816 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:36PM (#8611658)
    could be very very bad... Say goodbye to AIM!
    • Say goodbye to AIM!

      And say hello to Jabber.

    • More likely, the update to AIM you install will magically turn it into MSN messenger (or at least make it work with the same protocols as MSN). I wouldn't mind so much, so long as I get to keep my old screen names, which probably isn't going to be feasable with so many people using both services.
      • Re:That.. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Microsoft would probably keep the MSN and AOL seperate but equal. AOL would become a subsidiary of MSN and, if they're nice, they wouldn't change much, but all the money from AOL would go into Microsoft's pockets. They would have too many issues and would piss too many people off by merging them into one craptacular service.

        That's my guess.
      • Re:That.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by strictnein ( 318940 )
        More likely, the update to AIM you install will magically turn it into MSN messenger

        Yeah, just like how AOL did with ICQ when it acquired it.

        Did AOL just buy ICQ to kill it?
    • Re:That.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:50PM (#8611901)
      could be very very bad... Say goodbye to AIM!

      Microsoft's not that stupid. They'd likely shutter the MSN Messenger operation and transition its userbase over to AIM.

      AOL has always been a bigger name than MSN. I highly doubt Microsoft would aquire such a brand image then not use it.
    • Not just AIM... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cbv ( 221379 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:59PM (#8612031) Homepage
      America Online has the right to buy a $22m chunk of Google [zdnet.co.uk], according to a filing by parent Time Warner.
  • by Athas ( 763316 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#8611668) Homepage
    But then I thought of the combined cluelesness of AOL and Microsoft support combined. Be afraid.
  • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#8611670) Homepage
    AOL builds horrible, buggy software. So does Microsoft. They are a perfect fit!
  • by geirt ( 55254 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#8611675)
    America Online acquired Netscape Communications $4.2 billion dollars in 1998 ...
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:48PM (#8611864)
      America Online acquired Netscape Communications $4.2 billion dollars in 1998 ...

      And that $4.2 billion dollars has might as well be written off as entirely lost. Netscape Navigator is more or less a trivia entry in the browser wars, handing off the MS-fighting role to its child named Mozilla. Netscape's now mostly being used as a content portal...

      Netscape could fold from the browser business and it wouldn't give a monopoly to Microsoft anymore.
    • AOL also owns Nullsoft, and winamp. Losing the only decent media player for windows would suck for alot of people who are 'forced' to run windows.
    • America Online acquired Netscape Communications $4.2 billion dollars in 1998 ...

      That was an example of both a horrible purchase, and horrible brand management. The Netscape name is pretty worth nothing now, since there's really no live product, and just another stupid portal. Like other posters said, AOL is being run into the ground, and the Netscape acquisition is one stellar example of bad management.
    • Netscape the browser is dead. Mozilla was spun off into Mozilla foundation, seperate non for profit entity. Netscape is now just the budget ISP that AOL offers.
  • by jester42 ( 623276 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#8611684)
    Oh what a great couple that would make. I always knew there was something strange about this spring time...
    On the other hand, this might also have its advantages. We wouldn't have to be anti MS AND anti AOL anymore because it would be just one thing or one enemy less.
  • It's like the Borg assimilating the forces of darkness from the Lord of the Rings.
    • It's like the Borg assimilating the forces of darkness from the Lord of the Rings.

      One OS to rule them all
      One ISP to find them
      One suite to bring them all
      And add their distinctiveness to our own... we wants it, we do!
      We are Sauron of the Borg.
      Resssissstence isss irrelevant.

  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by The Tithe ( 516691 )
    You mean they don't own them already?
  • by michael path ( 94586 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#8611696) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, this makes excellent sense for Microsoft. When they put together MSN around 1994, it was obvious that they were trying to get in on this action. MSN never succeeded in terms of its weak user base.

    Microsoft already has the cash on hand, and AOL Time Warner stock has dropped about 75% since the merger was completed.

    This suggests that they're only trying to acquire AOL, not AOL Time Warner - so this wouldn't be the complete media content delivery yadda yadda that they want. However, AOL has a large subscriber base and serves as an awesome potential outlet for Microsoft's content.

    But is it a scary thought? Oh hell yes.

    -m.
  • by Marxist Commentary ( 461279 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#8611699) Homepage
    Megacorporation TimeWarner (formerly AOL Timewarner) is eager to divest itself of the lagging AOL brand. This megamerger was a disaster for consumers (as all mergers are) as well as the interested parties, e.g., the capitalist shareholders.

    Microsoft would make an equally odius partner to combine with AOL. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas...
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#8611700)
    This is typical Microsoft behavior. MSN has always been meant to be an AOL-killer, but despite having the Microsoft promotions machine behind it, they've never come close to defeating AOL. If you can't beat 'em, try to buy 'em.
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by lordmoose ( 696738 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#8611703) Journal
    Now I'll get viruses on a disc through the mail.
  • Surely this wouldn't even get past first base with regulators in the US or EU??

    This'd be tied up in courts for years. I mean, I know they're in different markets (excluding MSN), but given that Microsoft ARE convicted monopolists, this just wouldn't get approval.

    Microsoft surely can't be that stupid........can they??
  • At least if MS acquires AOL it will pretty much be vulnerable to monopoly claims on a whole new basis.
  • I think this is a great idea! Microsoft's reputation with AOL's reputation.

    Who knew the jokes would be this easy.

    On a more serious note: The sad thing about this really is how bad AOL has managed the last 4 or 5 years. At least Microsoft will be able to recognize the value of AOL more tha T-W did.

    Ted
  • Well. thats one more instant messaging protocol off the list.

    Not to sure about the netscape stuff being affected... its just a useless portal now, and iirc AOL let the mozilla coders go a while back, hence the mozilla foundation.
  • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:40PM (#8611736)

    A-IMSOL.





    (read each letter individually)
  • Where's the content? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:41PM (#8611747)
    One of AOL's greatest strengths at the moment is the fact that it has easy access to the TV, movie, music, and magazine content empire that is Time Warner. Microsoft just doesn't have as large of a content machine.

    This is important because AOL's not really just an ISP anymore. Many people who have a fully functional ISP connection are still paying AOL just for it's boatload of exclusive content. AOL without the Time Warner content base would look something like MSN, and just not have as many members as it has now.

    Any MS-AOL would need to license more content than it would have in house. AOL's worth more inside a media company than it is inside Microsoft, I can't see how this deal makes sense.
  • Bling... (Score:5, Funny)

    by warpSpeed ( 67927 ) <slashdot@fredcom.com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:41PM (#8611750) Homepage Journal
    "You've got screwed"

  • If this goes through they should substitute Earth for America for the very apt EOL moniker
  • While AOL could make a good acquisition (and one wonders how a IE and Mozilla merge would end up) it's a lot to chew. Microsoft already functions like a group of individual companies, with each faction at best peripherally aware of the others, but the concept of adding AOL to their empire is a bit staggering not only from the consumer perspective but from the logistical as well.

    I don't know what the profitability forecast is like for AOL, but surely Microsoft would do better to play up MSN than to sink t

  • by nyc_paladin ( 534862 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:44PM (#8611802)
    I've done business with AOL for the past few years. Everytime I visit the AOL campus there is always talks of micro$oft buying them out. There were even talking about it when they merged with Time Warner. Stating that TW would spin off AOL for auction. Nothing really has changed much over the past few months to really push this deal through anytime soon.
  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) * <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {yburxyno}> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#8611812)
    Why not? They've already proven themselves immune to anti-trust concerns and netscape got the official ax a little bit back. AOL customers are already used to prorietary software and versions of their search and browse capabilities. They're used to prepackaged experiences and very high amounts of ISP marketing.

    AOL is a black mark on Time Warner, and they would love to get rid of it. This would vastly increase MS penenatration in the broadband markets and they can expand their strict policies on what can get on the Internet. MS has the cash, AOL has the customers of the type they so desperately want. It's a marraige made in hell. I predict this goes through.
  • From the NY Post story:
    ... Warner Music, which was recently sold off amid a steep decline in its performance due to digital piracy.

    performance decline due to digital piracy? What's next? Newspaper readership declining due to ignorant reporting?

  • At this point Microsoft is only ever going to die the way the fat-man in the restaurant sketch in the Python's Meaning of Life, i.e. gluttony. I believe that the best thing that could of ever of happened to Microsoft, and every computer using consumer on the planet, would have been for them to split their OS division. But the way they are set-up now, one poison pill can make the entire organism sick. Knowing how AOL is run, the only reasonable course of action would be to shut it all down and switch them o
  • When we think of a rival for AOL, who do we think of mostly? MSN, of course. When AOL launched their prized High-Speed DSL service, who was next to follow and stayed right behind them? MSN. Now wouldn't you see some little "defeating competition" problem in there somewhere?

    Just wait until we hear from the DOJ. If they wouldn't let Oracle purchase PeopleSoft, they sure as hell had not better let this happen.

    In the better case, if they somehow do purchase it, it's pretty hard to say what would happen to
  • by bfg9000 ( 726447 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:48PM (#8611869) Homepage Journal
    Let's just consolidate evil in one spot.

    Bill G pretty much already owns SCO -- if MS and AOL merge, Slashdot will just need one "It's Evil. Laugh" icon for all three.

    Hmm.... then we can put Apple, Java, and BSD under one "Yup, It's STILL dying" icon.
  • This kinda thing always reminds me of this quote:

    "When deep space exploration ramps up, it will be corporations that name everything: The IBM Stellar Sphere. The Microsoft Galaxy. Planet Starbucks."

  • by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1@t[ ].rr.com ['wmi' in gap]> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:49PM (#8611885)

    This would solve all the problems for spam in the world today.

    :0
    * ^From.+(aol|msn).com
    /dev/null

    beautiful!

  • As Time Warner mulls what to do with its America Online division, the potential buyer on the minds of the company's executives is tech giant Microsoft, The Post has learned.

    Time Warner executives have held discussions in recent months with Microsoft about a potential sale of AOL, The Post has learned.

    In addition, Time Warner lawyers have begun analyzing any potential antitrust issues from such a deal, and to date their conclusion is that there would be few roadblocks to a Microsoft acquisition of AOL, acc
  • by JohnnyComeLately ( 725958 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:52PM (#8611926) Homepage Journal
    Even if they bought...err I mean negotiated their way through the SEC, and other federal government hurdles, they would still run into the EU.

    When I formerly worked with Sprint, and MCI was trying to buy them, it was a God-send that it got blocked. It may prove to be the case here as well. We've already read stories on here about the EU not being Microsoft friendly.

    In the end, would it benefit the consumer? I'd be inclined to say, "Maybe, but probably not". The only benefit to M$ shareholders is rolling in the monthly subscriber fees. However, they are from a fickle market: consumers. M$ gets their monthly royalties from a reliable, steady source: businesses. This is part of the reason Nextel kicks everyone's ass in terms of revenue per user (because they identified this marketing trend early and targeted it).

    John

  • by ccnull ( 607939 ) <<null> <at> <filmcritic.com>> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:54PM (#8611952) Homepage
    If it happens, we'll be able to find out once and for all if two wrongs really do make a right.
  • Google connection (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueEar ( 550461 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:55PM (#8611970) Homepage

    A while ago Microsoft was considering purchasing Google. On the other hand AOL has right to buy nearly 2 million Google shares [com.com]. If MS buys AOL then, by implication, MS has the same right ...

  • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:55PM (#8611977) Homepage
    Miscrosoft may as well buy TW and have their massive content delivery system, which is one of the reasons MSN isn't doing well. After this can a merger with the Disney/McDonalds/Coca-Cola empire be close behind? McDonalds McWi-Fi or whatever is already "powered by centrino" whatever the hell that means, so they're already in bed with Wintel. This looks like the start of the sci-fi predicted super-corps that eventually replace the government. Blue Sun anyone? Where do i signup for the libertarian party...
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:56PM (#8611994)
    Please people, stop speculating on what would happen if MS bought AOL-TW. The article is about TimeWarner selling its AOL portion to Microsoft. It does say that they are discussing MS possibly investing in TimeWarner as part of the deal though. But that is not quite the same a MS taking over the whole kit and kaboodle.
  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:57PM (#8611998) Homepage Journal
    ...because of anti-trust reasons. It would be a monopoly on "sucks".

  • by shankariyer ( 586055 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:00PM (#8612039)
    Hmm...

    This could be an interesting buy, I guess. See this
    article in C|Net on AOL's rights in buying Google's
    shares...

    http://news.com.com/2100-1032_3-5175783.html?tag =n efd_top

    May god help net
  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:01PM (#8612054) Journal
    A lot of people have been bashing AOL, and it's true that it's probably not a good choice for most /. readers. But they have a lot of features that are good for some pretty big niche markets (people with small kids, for example).

    I have a Time-Warner cable modem. Time-Warner has to let other ISPs use its cable lines, so when you sign up, you can take Time-Warner's Road-Runner, Earthlink, a local company, or AOL as your ISP.

    If you walk into the cable company office, you see tons of promotional material for Road Runner. They have cartoon road runners on posters all over the place, terminals in the office so you can see how fast it is, and all the rest.

    But there is no sign whatsoever that AOL is available. You have to know about it. I'm not even sure you can sign up for AOL at the office -- you might have to call AOL and get it set up.

    Whether or not you like AOL, it's a big brand, and a lot of people do like it. I think that if they had posters for AOL at the office, along side of the Road Runner stuff, they'd sell as many AOL accounts as Road Runner accounts.

    They don't, though. Why? Corporate infighting? Not wanting the other guys to look good? I don't know.

    The point is that AOL is an asset that Time-Warner, for whatever reasons, doesn't want to maximize. Someone else would do a better job.

  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by RGautier ( 749908 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:03PM (#8612086) Homepage
    Why would the Borg want to buy The Teletubbies?
  • by eltoyoboyo ( 750015 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:08PM (#8612151) Journal
    According to: ISP Planet [isp-planet.com]

    As of Sept 2003:
    -America Online had 24.7 million subscribers and a 25.6% share
    -MSN had 8.7 million subscribers and a 9.0% share.

    So MSFT could buy the dialup business and hold a significantly larger share of the ISP business. 34.6% does not a monopoly make.

    Take the content and Roadrunner and Cable. Combine it with Paul Allen's Comcast and you now have 45% of the ISP market and a significant portion of the cable TV market

    Time Warner Roadrunner broadband never offered AOL as an ISP option. So I suspect that they do not think highly of AOL even within the walls. You can even get Earhlink or Max.Inter.Net as an alternative!

  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:08PM (#8612163)

    In other news, Microsoft today announced plans to acquire the government of the United States. By leveraging innovative technologies, content providers streamline compelling enterprise solutions.

    A Microsoft spokenperson commented, "By controlling what is arguably the most powerful government in the world, Microsoft will be able to better control the rights of consumers in regards to the company's valuable intellectual property." The first change to be made, according to Chairman and now Chief World Domination Officer Bill Gates, is to rename the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to MRS (Microsoft Revenue Service). From now on, all tax dollars will go directly into Bill Gates' checking account.

    Microsoft's acquisitions last week of the RIAA, MPAA, SCO, and the Equifax credit reporting bureau have empowered the company to supply the best operating system since Windows XP, enabling the multinational corporations next on Microsoft's acquisition list to gain a higher return on lawsuits against their own customers.

    Microsoft stock climbed 90 points after the announcement.

  • by CautionESPN ( 746677 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:09PM (#8612168)
    That's a first.
  • The horsemen... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoeMoe ( 659154 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:09PM (#8612170)
    I could be wrong, but wasn't this one of the signs of the Apocolypse?

    Seriously though, if Microsoft were to aquire AOL, what would stop them from ISP and OS domination? They could make a big mess for non-windows users to be online in that case... I could see it now:


    **Joe user opens www.--------.com**

    "We're sorry, this Microsoft Enhanced webpage cannot be viewed on this computer. Do you want to upgrade to Windows OS?"

  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:16PM (#8612272)
    in the millions of man-hours needed to retool all known scales of, measures of, and references to 'corporate suckage'

    admit it - the majority of /.ers reading the story headline had their face in the hands and were making some sort of noise that would make your dog cower, it's the synergy of the basic groans most make at the mere mention of either of these companies

    the new grownup ms ads make me want to watch 'office space' to see more realistic cubicle behavior, and the kids ones make me imagine that kid never gets to astronaut school because he's doing his application in office...

    on the other hand, the prospect of apple / pixar / disney being aligned could make people skip down the street...
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:23PM (#8612373)
    Oh wait...
  • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxproNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:24PM (#8612382)
    This is idle speculation and it is completely unrealistic for all of the antitrust reasons.

    1. AOL has the option to buy a large chunk on Google and Google is AOL's preferred search option. AOL promotes Google in their commercials.

    It is no secret Microsoft wishes to bury Google with Longhorn.

    2. AOL owns WinAmp.

    Microsoft getting its grubby hands on WinAmp and other Nullsoft properties wouldn't be allowed. See the European Union's (non Mad Cow) beef with Microsoft and Windows Media Player.

    3. AOL owns AIM and ICQ.

    Microsoft acquiring either or both of these Instant Messenger platforms would not be permitted. AIM is essentially the standard IM client on mobile phones in America. AIM is also the basis for Apple's iChat software. There are too many parties involved that would object to this.

    4. AOL has options to buy Amazon.com stock and owns shares.

    'Nuff said.

    5. AOL owns shares in TiVo and is a partner.

    'Nuff said. See UltimateTV. Also see "WindowsXP Media Center."

    6. AOL is an active partner in Sony's plans of offering IM services to the Playstation platform. While this has not happened on the PS2, it is most likely scheduled for the PS3.

    Microsoft and the Xbox, not to mention the Xbox Next. 'Nuff said.

    7. AOL is a preferred partner with Apple's iTunes.

    Microsoft acquiring AOL will again be seen as a move to squeeze Apple out of the market just like over the AIM situation. This will only aide the antitrust lawsuit Real Networks has leveraged against Microsoft.

    8. AOL was an institutional shareholder in Palm since the spin-off from 3Com.

    Again, Microsoft acquiring AOL would be a headache because this would be yet another example of Microsoft hitting at its various competitors.

    The Bush Justice Dept., already burned over the Antitrust Settlement, will in no way allow this to go through.

  • by Nexum ( 516661 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:24PM (#8612395)
    I read something like this and I think to myself

    Does America have NO anti-competition laws???

    In Europe it is highly doubtful a huge predatory company, with a track record such as Microsoft's, would get the EU go ahead to acquire/merge with a company like AOL.
    • The current administration (neoconservetive/market fundamentalist/ultranationalist) attitude on monopolies and competition is; if they can find ANY relationship that can be twisted to sound like "competition", they'll use that. The ends justify the means, and if that means allowing US corporations to grow into monopolistic behemoths, then so be it. The end goal, of course, is to maintain economic dominance over European corporations, at all costs.

      When the Microsoft/EU case develops a bit further, watch t
  • New MSN/AOL (Score:3, Funny)

    by evilnissan ( 727313 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:27PM (#8612428)
    New MSN/AOL Verson 6.66 With the new MSN/AOL you now recive the dumbed down internet from the biggest computer software companys that is above the law. You will be informed of updates though our Blue screen of udates. When you see the blue screen you need to update, no pop ups just a friendly blue screen to let you know that we care about you and there is a new patch ready. Don't worry about spam because no one wants email you anyway. Your new buddy list will have all of you AOL/MSN friends and one spot and file shareing has never been easyer with our new "back door" file server.
  • NY Post (Score:4, Funny)

    by ILL Clinton ( 734169 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:27PM (#8612445) Homepage Journal
    The NY Post story is slightly more informative.

    That's a first!

    Open source sig, feel free to modify and distribute.

  • by ratfynk ( 456467 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:40PM (#8612595) Journal
    Internet Explorer defaults out of the box to MSN. This makes Ma and Pa America think that MSN is the internet. There is no real competition for Inet services. I have a friend who thinks that Hotmail is internet mail, he refuses to believe me when I tell him his DSL account includes mail. He does not even understand that you can have mail with your own ISP, in his case telus.net! As long as Microsoft is allowed to abuse and confuse the consumer this rediculous situation will be the case.

  • by qtp ( 461286 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:49PM (#8612698) Journal
    If Microsoft acquires AOL/Time-Warner [cjr.org] and Comcast [cjr.org] acquires Disney [cjr.org], then Microsoft will effectively control the cable broadcasting and communications market.

    The key to this deal is Microsoft's position as the largest single shareholder in Comcast owning 15% of the companies stock. Compare this to the Roberts family (Ralph Roberts, founder of Comcast, and Brian Roberts, CEO) holdings of slightly over 1% of the company.

    If Comcast acquires Disney, then a voting policy dictating that the Roberts family shares are weighted in voting to = 7.5 votes per share while other shares are = to only around .85 votes per share will likely be determined to be unfair, as all shareholders that are brought along in the merger will have not been given opportunity for fair consideration of those terms.

    Just think about the future that these two deals could bring us, Microsoft being in control of the vast majority of news, music and recording, movie, and print media in the United States while being capable of dictating the protocols that are used to connect to, and to filter the trafic to and from, the internet.

    It's not a tin foil hat theory. It's simply the logical extension of such consolidation of communication and media marketplace under the control of one company that has a rather nasty history of not respecting the wishes of the community that they chose to do business in.

    Oh yeah, Paul Allen's vompany Vulcan Northwest Inc. [cjr.org] owns a 5% share in Microsoft, so we can probably count Charter Cable and a number of other media and telecom companies as being involved in this as well.

  • by mdupont ( 219735 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:37PM (#8613306) Homepage Journal
    This news does fits right into the picture of AOL, that I have been building up.

    After worldcom imploded, everyone looked to put the blame on them, but forget to ask about the partners in crime.

    Simlar to the illegal practice of swapping bandwidth [internetnews.com] at the end of the quarter to inflate the value of the company that worldcom, quest and colt were involved in was also practiced by AOL [techdirt.com].

    But AOL has been deeply involved in Worldcom, as well as Microsoft with both of them.

    Worldcom was also hugly overvalued, and way buying up company left and right, until the bubble burst when the MCI merger blew up.

    The real question at hand is, when will the AOL bubble burst?

    Or is there more to the Microsoft Worldcom AOL Triangle that will we find out when more people lose thier pension funds?

    It is also a question, what is the real value of Microsoft? How much of it is hyperinflated, and what if it turns into another worldcom with cooked books full of accounting tricks. If it is anything like its partners, I would not be suprised if they were involved in such practices with them.

    Also, Why is it that microsoft was interested in buying corrupt companies like Worldcom? [crn.com]

  • Suck consolidation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <paperfrog AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:12PM (#8613665) Homepage Journal
    At least an AOL/Microsoft merger would consolidate a lot of lameness in one place. ;-)

    In all seriousness, I'm sure that if these rumors are true, M$ is shopping for content. Can't imagine they've taken renewed interest in dial-up.

  • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:17PM (#8613733) Homepage
    That would just mean that MS acquires another incredibly stupid userbase to add to its millions - of course, they overlap, so there's _some_ cancellation. Not much, though.
  • I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:41PM (#8614086) Homepage
    I wonder if the federal government is simply holding off on slapping MS with some serious anti-trust stuff (such as, say, federalizing them) until they've amassed enough of the wealth to turn the US into a much less free country.

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