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Microsoft

Microsoft faces Monopoly Lawsuit (again) 281

james_in_denver writes "Forbes magazine is reporting that Microsoft will be sued in California for predatory pricing. This lawsuit appears to differ from earlier challenges to MicroSoft's marketplace dominance by entertaining the possibility of a Class-Action lawsuit. This would allow individual users/licensee's to participate in the lawsuit. A notable quote from the full text states: "It's anticompetitive, it's predatory, and it denies consumers, and in this case taxpayers, the benefits of innovation that a free marketplace should provide,""
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Microsoft faces Monopoly Lawsuit (again)

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  • by scotay ( 195240 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @08:56AM (#10102062)
    Translation: Lawyers get rich, users/licensees get worthless vouchers.
    • Yeah. Its always good to have a couple of free, non-refundable, coupons for WinXP Home edition. :\
      • > non-refundable, coupons for WinXP Home edition. :\

        Ha! My old company* had a bunch of WinXp Home packages sitting round doing nothing because the way the purchased hardware before I arrived meant that every machine they ordered turned up with XP Home on it, which was then replaced with a volume-licenced copy of XP Pro.

        not a sensible use of their money, I felt, so I found a supplier which would give us naked PCs, and dropped volume XP Pro straight on.

        Anyway, I digressed but I was going to make a point
    • Ouch. Seems time for a reality byte in that vein:

      1. Microsoft gets sued, rather nastily, by a whole lot of disgruntled customers. Fear not, peons - Longhorn cometh, with so much added value that you'll be *begging* us to raise the price!

      Unless you want WinFS. Or a pre-2006 ship date. Or an OS sans virii.

      2. Microsoft's lawyers make a buck, so do everyone else's. Life goes on.

      3. Millions of 31337 h4xx0rs stab at Microsoft, PA-Style [penny-arcade.com]

      4. The YRO section grows ever larger...

    • That only happens if there's a court-approved settlement before the verdict. If the "California Class Members" masively refuse such a settlement and chose to press forward with the trial, it could be the kind of verdict that bankrupts or at least puts a large dent in a megacompany.
    • I got some spam a few months back claiming that Bill Gates would send me money in return for giving a lot of my personal information to the spammer, who claimed to be the lawyers administering the class action lawsuit settlement. While it may have been true, it's just about as rude as the other spam I've gotten claiming that Bill Gates would send me money in return for spamming everybody I know.

      But those vouchers you get aren't worthless. The lawsuit says that you paid too much money for your Microsoft s

      • If the vouchers were _worthless_ that would mean that Microsoft software wasn't something you really needed, so there'd be no more reason for an anti-trust suit against Microsoft than for an anti-trust suit against Britney Spears's record label which is the only source of _her_ products.

        The anti-competetive effects in a monopoly situation can harm those few of us who are able to use something different. Microsoft Office is a good example. Having MS Office is almost required in todays world, not because
      • "Bill Gates, the court hereby declares that you are guilty of predatory pricing and monopoly tactics. For your actions, you will be rewarded with an extension of your monopoly in the form of vouchers: it will cost you next to nothing to fulfill the vouchers and it will mean more people are stuck with your crap."
    • Its the way of the land, if there is a lawsuit involved the only people that really make out are the lawyers..

      Ironically both sides get rich, its one of the few careers that you can loose and still get paid...

      THEY are why this country ( and soon world ) is in a mess...
    • If the vouchers were for Apple products. I'd think that most of the people interested in suing Microsoft over price fixing wouldn't be particularly interested in Microsoft products, even if they were free. A voucher for (say) 100 dollars off an iBook, now THAT'd be interesting...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 29, 2004 @08:57AM (#10102067)
    Oh come on, really, can you really say that just because their OS costs more than most pieces of hardware predatory?
    • Oh come on, really, can you really say that just because their OS costs more than most pieces of hardware predatory?

      Actually, you can't... predatory pricing means that they are pricing so low that they are forcing other competitors out of the market. On the contrary, when it comes to their OS, they are pricing so high because there are no competitors.

  • Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Orgazmus ( 761208 )
    Microsoft is anti-competetive. But this raises the question:
    Is the market really free if the state of California tries to regulate it?
    I say this is a good thing, but im not that much of a free market lover ;)

    And to quote Nelson: "HAHA!"
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:06AM (#10102109)
      Is the market really free if the state of California tries to regulate it?

      If we're going to get into that topic it's worth noting that Microsoft only exists in its current form through governmental regulation.

      That horse left the barn the second they incorporated.

      Now they must render unto Caesar.

      KFG
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Free market doesn't mean free from government interference. It means free from anti-competetive influences, such as monopolies! Seriously.
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hype7 ( 239530 ) <u3295110NO@SPAManu.edu.au> on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:09AM (#10102125) Journal
      Is the market really free if the state of California tries to regulate it?


      True free markets exist in textbooks. Not in reality.

      Of all the states, I'm least surprised by Cal taking a (?another) shot at the Redmond giant. A number of Californian businesses (some of them quite big [apple.com]... most of them in Silicon Valley) have suffered at MS's hands.

      -- james
      • Conversely, a number of the companies in California (some of them quite big [apple.com]) have also had moments where they benefitted from interactions with Microsoft. For instance, Apple gained a lot of Apple ][ sales through the bundling of MS BASIC, which was more capable than Wozniak's Integer BASIC [the original in-ROM language]. The Macintosh did rather better than it might have otherwise, because of the existence of graphical versions of Microsoft's apps. The Apple /// only sold at all because of the availabil

    • Government's Place? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Famatra ( 669740 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:12AM (#10102132) Journal
      I dont recall anyone ever saying that government has no place in a free market economy. Without government there would be anarchy, and that seems to be bad for business ;).

      Government does many things including provide for enforcement of contracts (legal system), provide pure public goods, ontop of busting up monopolies.
      • by sdeath ( 199845 )
        Murray Rothbard. Ludwig von Mises. F.A. Hayek. And many others.

        Basic truth: Government cannot interfere in a free market - IN ANY WAY - without distorting it. What is the free market? A free market is a market where buyers and sellers are able to meet and make a trade without interference. This trade is mutually beneficial, otherwise it would not have been made. When government interferes in this arrangement, these trades are either not made, or they not as beneficial to both parties as they otherw
      • I dont recall anyone ever saying that government has no place in a free market economy. Without government there would be anarchy, and that seems to be bad for business

        As an anarcho-socialist, I completely agree, for completely different reasons. heh
      • I dont recall anyone ever saying that government has no place in a free market economy

        Government's place is in dealing with other governments. Government's place is not in picking winners on the stock market.

        Without government there would be anarchy, and that seems to be bad for business ;).

        Other than the typical FUD about how society would turn into a conglomerate of raving lunatics who would eventually kill each other off... what's bad about it?

        Government does many things including provide for en
    • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:22AM (#10102171) Journal
      This is a very interesting language issue because so many conservative interests like to use the terms interchangeably in defense of Capitalism while they're really quite distinct and even incompatible.
      In fact, free market ideas are dangerous to Capitalism. While the US is a good example of an economy that relies heavily on Capitalism, capitalist economies existed long before the US and are considered to have started in 15th Century Venice. Capitalism, as I'm referring to it, is a system where equity markets such as a stock, bond and commodities exchanges where inverstors use their capital to invest in shares play a central role in the economy. Clearly, such equities markets are very important to the US economy, so it is fair to say the US economy is heavily reliant on Capitalism.
      But examples of a free market include ideas like international outsourcing. While globalization is clearly a good thing from a free market perspective, it is not necessarily a good thing for shareholders of American corporations or even for those corporations themselves. Taken to its logical conclusion, outsourcing could quickly gut a capitalist economy. So, what's good for free markets in general is not necessarily good for any particular instances of Capitalism such as the Dow or the NASDAQ.
      Let's look at another example of a free market activity that hurts rather than helps Capitalist enterprises --second-hand sales. Again it is easy to see that second-hand sales are clearly free market activities, but if it becomes too popular, it begins to erode sales of new items. So, the general idea of free markets and the rather specific instances of Capitalism are often at odds rather than being interchangeable synonyms.
      • While globalization is clearly a good thing from a free market perspective, it is not necessarily a good thing for shareholders of American corporations or even for those corporations themselves.

        While I'm not formally educated in economics - why not? Isn't the whole idea of outsourcing that it saves money (ideally) for the business? If the business saves money isn't it more profitable and capitalistic?

        • I believe he means in relation to a captialistic system where investors are important as well to a nation. While outsourcing may help companies, not having employees (who use their money to reinvest in the system) will eventually hurt those same companies. Of course, this is as long as those outsourced employees don't feel like investing (which they may not be able to do, depending on how cheap the labor is).
      • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @11:30AM (#10102726)
        Some define capitalism as free markets period. Others as a system whereby capital means are primarily owned by non-state entities. And then there's Marx.
        Stock markets are just a by product, and don't actually contribute much to raising capital except for IPOs and additional offerings (in which a company sells its own stock, rather than day-to-day trades).
        Commodity markets aren't about capital at all, they trade commodities.

        Outsourcing in general should be good for the economy - wealth of nations, and all. However, that doesn't take into account the fact that there's no level playing field at the moment (e.g. agricultural subsidies, freedom of movement, etc.). Globalization is catching so much flack at the moment precisely because the "free trade" aspect is being implemented in such a way as to benefit multi-national corporations (and their shareholders), whilst giving the shaft to developing nations and out-sourced tech support people.

        Second hand sales don't hurt Capitalism at all! In fact, they promote the efficient allocation of capital means, which is surely a good thing. After all, that's what the "Invisible Hand" is supposed to do!

        You seem to have fallen for the the stock market myth of the need for ever-growing profits, an ever growing economy etc. There's really no need for all of that. Many small companies simply make a stable profit each year and don't feel the need to expand. In fact, a large chunk of the economy is chugging along happily, neither experiencing explosive growth or busts. That's because an ever-expanding economy is either unsustainable (both from an economic, as from an ecological perspective - yeah, I said ecological, very un-Capitalistic, but hey, oil will peak) or, more simply, a myth (i.e. you make more money, but you spend more too, and in the end you don't get any additional tangible thing in return.. That doesn't just include inflation, but cost-of-living/doing-business as well - lawyers will always have a rising income because there are always additional laws being made, rather than less - but they don't add value to your products.)

        I liked the "second hand sales hurt Capitalism" bit though. Very RIAA-esque. If we don't expand copyright to stamp out second hand and public domain sales, then the world will come to an end because anything that's free has no value. Indeed, freedom has no value! Only (monopoly-)"rights" do.
      • In fact, free market ideas are dangerous to Capitalism

        Why and how?

        But examples of a free market include ideas like international outsourcing

        International outsourcing is a symptom of capitalism gone awry with top heavy flow of capital. In a properly functioning capitalist system we wouldn't need to outsource because we would have an abundance of fairly priced services at home. The only reason why call centers are not profitable here has little to do directly with free market or capitalism and revolve
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday August 29, 2004 @08:59AM (#10102078)
    Some people like to say that the USA is the home of pure capitalism. However, that's an oversimplification of how our system really functions. I'd rather call it capitalism with gutters on either side of the bowling lane so that when something starts to go off course in a bad way, the law kicks in and makes sure that the bad shot both fails to score, and also cannot go further off course so that it impacts the scores on other lanes.

    Microsoft has been on the edge of falling into the gutter for quite awhile, and there's been a lot of people who so far have come close to pushing them in. This is yet another tale in a continuing series of stories about projects that have the potential to just do it this time.

    Microsoft has brought some amazing things into the world of computing, but they are far from perfect and in no way deserve to have all of the business power they have successfully amassed. We have to depend on our justice system to take some of that power back from Microsoft and return it into the available pool for everybody else to draw from in order to adjust the situation in a way that corrects for effects of misdeeds done in the past.

    I wish them luck... it's about the time market forces delivered us working and cool IT products again.
    • by hype7 ( 239530 ) <u3295110NO@SPAManu.edu.au> on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:14AM (#10102139) Journal
      Some people like to say that the USA is the home of pure capitalism. However, that's an oversimplification of how our system really functions. I'd rather call it capitalism with gutters on either side of the bowling lane so that when something starts to go off course in a bad way, the law kicks in and makes sure that the bad shot both fails to score, and also cannot go further off course so that it impacts the scores on other lanes.


      So that's how the RIAA and MPAA can bring all those lawsuits to bear on US citizens?

      The only reason there are gutters is for the businesses to dump the little guys when they're done with them. The politicians are standing shoulder to shoulder with the big corps over this, too - that's why US drug prices remain at the highest levels in the western world, and why laws like the DMCA and the INDUCE Act will continue to make their way onto the books.

      So long as politicians keep get big $$$ from big business, there's going to be a severe tilt towards serving business interests as opposed to human interests. I'm surprised there haven't been overtures to ban political donations from corporations - I think it would fix a lot of problems.

      -- james
      • I remind you that there is both a gutter on the left and a gutter on the right of the lane to keep things fair. Go off too far in either direction and there are no pins for you to hit, nor ability to come back and hit the pins.

        The RIAA is for the most part suing people who they really think have stolen from them something that the law says they're allowed to sell. If that's true, that's most definitely unfair play and worthy of a correction too.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The RIAA is for the most part suing people who they really think have stolen from them something that the law says they're allowed to sell.

          Therein lies your problem.

          What has Congress ever done to protect consumers rights in this regard? They're trying to legislate out Sony vs Betamax (thank heavens for the courts).

          What has Congress done for the Corps? Hmm, let's see. DMCA. Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Induce Act. And the list goes on.

          The law has been set up so that one side benefits. These Corps are ro

    • ARI: Microsoft is Fighting The Wrong Battle: [aynrand.org]

      Capitalism entails free competition, which means the freedom to better your rivals--even to the point of putting them out of business. Barring physical force or fraud, there is no such thing as "unfair" competition; there is only competition that your rivals may not be good enough to match. There is no such thing as "predatory pricing"; there are only prices that your competitors may not be efficient enough to meet.

      • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:58AM (#10102301) Homepage Journal
        Randroids are to economics as al-Qaeda followers are to religion. Meanwhile, those of us who live in the real world realize that things are rarely that cut and dried.
      • there is no such thing as "unfair" competition; there is only competition that your rivals may not be good enough to match.

        or OEM licensing agreements that stipulate you must pay M$ for selling a rivals' OS.

        Competition, litigation, it's all about process and persuasion isn't it? Competition is hardly so objective.
      • But then such things as patents and copyrights are also against free market capitalism.. Patents and copyrights artificially allow a weaker player to remain in the market when otherwise they would have been driven out..
        Do you think microsoft would last very long if there was nothing to stop people taking the already leaked windows source and producing their own version? or how about reverse engineering it and producing a compatible os for a fraction of the cost..
      • Perhaps, but in a true objectivist state, Microsoft could not have a monopoly, since it is not efficiency that protects their software, but a collection of laws.

        "Barring physical force or fraud, there is no such thing as "unfair" competition; there is only competition that your rivals may not be good enough to match."

        This means that if Microsoft's source code was leaked, and products were made based on that source code, it would be fair in Objectivism; Microsoft failed to keep the information secret, now
    • The City of San Francisco is apparently one of the plaintiffs in the suit. They've been having a budget crisis for the last couple of years, but what "crisis" really means is that they've raised their spending from about $4 billion to about $5 billion, and they're having trouble finding all that money, since the city only has 750,000 people to tax. If you want to live in the city of San Francisco, you have to pay them, and return you get things like new baseball stadiums for the baseball company without
      • I'm not saying you're wrong, but I do disagree...

        The City of San Francisco is apparently one of the plaintiffs in the suit. They've been having a budget crisis for the last couple of years, but what "crisis" really means is that they've raised their spending from about $4 billion to about $5 billion, and they're having trouble finding all that money, since the city only has 750,000 people to tax.

        Agreed

        If you want to live in the city of San Francisco, you have to pay them, and return you get things like

    • Yes, but no.

      MS, RIAA, MPAA, and others have long been stepping all over everyone else. If it were not for linux and the advent of digital audio and video being available for download on the internet, choice and competition would have long since been stomped out completely.

      Think about it: were it not for linux (and its associated softwares), there would be no significant software presence with ether Novell or IBM. A lot of software companies (mainly open-source based companies such as RedHat) would simply
  • by Janek Kozicki ( 722688 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:00AM (#10102084) Journal
    I'm european so I don't know much what's going on there in USA. The thing I noticed is that most interesting news about OSS, and anti-microsoft seem to originate from California.

    So I ask you: is that statement in my subject, true?
    • Too many lawyers. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 )
      California has courts that are friendlier to lawsuits. The lawyers know very well how to use public opinion to get what would otherwise be frivolous lawsuits to work.

      Essentially Ms was successfully portrayed as using their marketshare to "thwart" the will of the people. Since no one has taken Microsoft's place as number 1 in PC software Microsoft is automatically guilty AGAIN.

      In other words,

      Lawyers need new duds. The people get nothing more than a voucher if they are lucky, and everyone who buys a Mic
    • In addition to what other posters have replied, there are some state governments in the NE (New Hampshire, I think, but I could be wrong) that are trying to adopt open source software. Also, the whole concept of governments using open source software for the good of the people would probably be closer to the Democratic philosophy than the Republican. There are severaly -strongly- Democratic states in the northeast.

      California is definitely a haven for incredible lawsuits, from ruling that "master" and "sl

    • Don't worry, I live in California(South Orange County) and you views are no different than most of the people I bump into in the grocery store. I think the gripe is that Gov.Schwartzeneggar doesn't have a busty intern with no gag reflex. Or worse yet, his Dell laptop has Windows ME loaded on it.

      All joking aside. I agree, I am not sure why OSS hasn't taken off like a shot, considering that Open Office has 100%, of the 10% of the features that actually get used in Microsoft Office. Maybe it actually should b
    • You mean New Austria?

    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @10:05AM (#10102319) Journal
      The US Federal government and many state governments have had anti-trust suits against Microsoft in the last few years - this is just a couple of cities trying to get more money now that the difficult legal work has been done. They're not doing this because of any principles about supporting open source, they're doing it because they think they can get some money. The only thing special about California in this process is that the state government has had a budget crisis in the last year or two, and one of the things they've done about it has been to reduce the amount of money they give city governments, so the cities are looking for any source of money they can steal right now.

      The Silicon Valley area in Northern California does have a lot of Open Source interest - it's a very dynamic technical culture, and lots of people moved here because of the computer and Internet boom of the late 1990s. (The Internet means that you can do your work from anywhere in the world, so everybody moved to the same city....) Many of the projects people wanted to develop needed some kind of Unix platform, and Linux and BSD and other open-source projects gave them that platform, and open source was a good model for developing many of the tools they needed to develop their real applications.

      One particular timing issue is that in the Internet business crash of the last 3-4 years, lots of computer people were unemployed, and they wanted to keep their technical skills strong, have fun, do something that got their name well-known, keep in touch with their friends, and maybe create a new business or new job, so writing open-source software was a popular thing to do. Also, for many people, they learned a lot of interesting technology during the boom, but were too busy with their jobs to have fun experimenting with it, but once they were unemployed, they had time to work on the projects they'd been thinking about.

    • In my opinion, Californians just seem to be more litigious in general.
  • Different how? (Score:5, Informative)

    by subrosas ( 752277 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:00AM (#10102087)
    "This lawsuit appears to differ from earlier challenges to MicroSoft's marketplace dominance by entertaining the possibility of a Class-Action lawsuit." Um, RTFA? At least 16 other states have had similar lawsuits, including the recent settlement here in Minnesota [techworld.com].
  • by Chess_the_cat ( 653159 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:05AM (#10102106) Homepage
    Linux is free to anyone who wants it. All the apps are free. How can anyone claim Microsoft is a monopoly that unfairly prices its products? This argument doesn't work anymore. It's a free market. Don't like MS? There's a free alternative. Stop whining.
    • How can anyone claim Microsoft is a monopoly that unfairly prices its products?

      Hear, hear! I dispise McMicrosoft as much as a good Slashdot Trooper ought to, but how the heck can someone claim that Microsoft has "predatory pricing" when they're up against free software? I'm just a wannabe geek, but thanks to wisdom passed on by the good full-time geeks hereabouts, I'm using Firefox (free), OpenOffice (free), and wetting my toes in Linux (free) -- and what I've learned thus far is that Microsoft could *give

      • because.... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well, I'm running a nice free OS on my laptop (although in reality I did pay Mandrake), but I _also_ had to pay Microsoft for an OS I had no intention of using and have never booted.

        It's predatory because there is no way for me to buy a laptop within 100 miles of my house which does not include Windows. Either I pay MS and use their OS, or I pay MS and install another OS, but either way, I pay MS.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's NOT a free market, because the monopoly grants of patent and copyright law exist to distort the free market to microsoft's advantage.

      Want to break Microsoft's stranglehold tomorrow? Nullify patents and copyrights.

      Remember the old Free Software note: "Without copyright law the GPL would be unenforceable. It would also be unnecessary!".

      Linux would do just fine without copyright law. Yes, people could suddenly release closed-source forks. But the forkers would have no legal recourse anymore against ope
      • Why? Because they have a very large distribution channel. The minute you remove copyright protection, software, music and just about anything else ends up in the hands of the biggest distributor. If Wal-Mart can out-distribute Microsoft, then Wal-Mart wins.

        And by "wins" I don't just mean is successful. No, the winner in that game would end up with all the marbles. What we are finding out is that there really isn't room in the US for two massive retailers - Wal-Mart is pushing everybody else out. How?

    • Linux is free, and *BSD is free, and if you don't like Unixes, there's always Macintosh, and if you can't get Macintosh software on the cheap hardware you own, blame Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates. If I've bought Windows, it's because it came with something I wanted that made it worth putting up with Windows.

      I've used various kinds of Unix for 25+ years, and I confess that, yes, I'm writing this on a Windows machine (belongs to work) and my home machine is also running XP (supports TurboTax) most of the time

    • It's a free market

      No, it's not. To be pedantic we have entire libraries full of books which contain rules which regulate our supposedly "free market". Let us, however, zoom in on the point of Microsoft's monopoly.

      This is not a world in which the consumer influence carries any real weight. The majority influence is the corporate influence. Corporations, by and large, do not switch to Linux for several reasons:

      1) Top level execs favor MS because MS is a huge player in the stock market.
      2) Security fi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:07AM (#10102115)

    Same thing over and over again. State sues MS. MS challenges. MS Looses (the judges work for the state, right?)

    MS "pays" restitution in free liscences. MS is even more entretched.

    It's a dance called the:

    "The PR Microsoft Litigation CircleJerk shuffle".

    At the end of the dance the stains are a bit hard to get out, but the public gets it up the ass everytime.
  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nial-in-a-box ( 588883 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:07AM (#10102116) Homepage

    it denies consumers, and in this case taxpayers

    Since when are we not all taxpayers? A consumer is almost always inherently a taxpayer in the U.S. A notable exception would be certain untaxed items in some locales, big ones being food and clothing. You also need to get the money somehow so that you can "consume" and that is usually taxed. I hate how we allow ourselves to be called taxpayers because what that means is that we are seen by the politicians as nothing more than those people who give them money. Call me a citizen or constituent, but not just some dumb taxpayer. Shit, I'd rather be called a "voter" than a taxpayer, because if there was only one activity associated with me that one would be better.

    • The term taxpayer places emphasis on the fact that when the government screws up, it's our money going to waste.
    • Re:What? (Score:2, Insightful)

      I hate how we allow ourselves to be called taxpayers because what that means is that we are seen by the politicians as nothing more than those people who give them money.

      I hate how we allow ourselves to be called consumers on exactly the same grounds.

      At least with the word "taxpayer" there's some sort of pretense that that status gives us some rights (although, too often, that pretense doesn't stand up under scrutiny).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:08AM (#10102119)
    "Predatory pricing" is traditionally a term that refers to when a merchant tries to sell a product at a price that is vastly less than what the competitors are selling their product for.

    In this regard, if one wants to go after so-called predators (and I'm not one of them) then the government should go after Red Hat and Suse and Mandrake, as they sell far more product in a box and at a far less price than Microsoft.

    Once you go down the slope of the madness that is government interfence in the economy, all things are possible, mostly bad.
    • There are two parts to "predatory pricing" and both must exist for there to be "predatory pricing"; the first part involves selling a product below what competitors are able to charge for their products, with the intention of eliminating the competition , the second part is the intention to raise prices after the competitors are gone. I believe that it would be very difficult to prove the that Suse or Red Hat are doing the first part, it would be even more difficult to prove the second part. It likely wo
    • "Predatory pricing" is traditionally a term that refers to when a merchant tries to sell a product at a price that is vastly less than what the competitors are selling their product for.

      No, it isn't. What you describe is called "competition".

      "Predatory pricing" is when a merchant tries to sell a product for less than cost in an effort to destroy its competitors and establish a monopoly. In effect, the merchant would be *paying* customers to take the product.

      In order to do this effectively, th

  • Low prices? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Silvertre ( 472395 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:08AM (#10102120)
    Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said the company's lawyers hadn't fully reviewed the lawsuit, but she defended the company's prices.

    "In fact," she said, "we've built our business on delivering innovative software at low prices, and have been the market leader in reducing prices while increasing the value contained in software."

    Since when is $100-$200 for an OS a 'low price'?

    • Re:Low prices? (Score:3, Informative)

      by yeremein ( 678037 )
      Since when is $100-$200 for an OS a 'low price'?

      $295 for the full version of XP Professional.

      And don't even think about server versions... $thousands, easily, once you factor in "Client Access Licenses".

      Microsoft's spokeswoman is lying through her teeth though...


      "[W]e have been the market leader in reducing prices while increasing the value contained in software."

      Bull. When's the last time a Microsoft product's price has gone DOWN? Never. They've gone up with each iteration. Nobody was paying $3

      • "And don't even think about server versions... $thousands, easily, once you factor in "Client Access Licenses".

        And if you are thinking about servers (per seat or per server?), don't even think about more than 2 processors or you get dinged again.

    • Since when is $100-$200 for an OS a 'low price'?
      • XP Home costs $199 (retail.)
      • XP Pro costs $299 (retail.)
      • OS X costs costs $109.95 (retail.)
      • SCO OpenServer (which actually is a desktop OS) costs $699 (from SCO.)
      • Redhat WS Basic costs $179/275/375 (per year) depending on what bolt ons it has. (from RedHat.) This does include support though.
      • Redhat WS Std costs $299/395/491 (per year) depending on what bolt ons it has (from RedHat.) This does include support though.
      • Suse Desktop costs $598/5 licenses (pe
    • Ever try to buy the OS for oh I don't know, a Vax?
  • *dons tinfoil hat* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theluckyleper ( 758120 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:08AM (#10102123) Homepage
    I wonder if this [slashdot.org] will have any impact on the proceedings? "Independent auditors" recommend Open Source, suggesting that California could save $32 billion.

    Can't Microsoft point to reports like this and say, "Hey, look! There's competition!" These reports this might end up serving Microsoft, rather than OSS, in the end!
    • That'll be the day Microsoft points to OSS as a competitive option which saves consumers money. Quite the opposite, the FUD machine for the last couple of years has focused on the claim OSS has a higher TCO.
  • by Electrawn ( 321224 ) <<electrawn> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:18AM (#10102156) Homepage
    Microsoft strategy is just to drag out court proceedings until a regime change in whatever entity is suing them. Pump money into the opposing campaign and -poof!- suddenly lawsuits lose their teeth and disappear.

    -Electrawn
  • Oh, The Innovation! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:24AM (#10102175)
    (MS Product->Who they stole or bought it from)
    MS PowerPoint->Forethought Presenter
    MS FrontPage->VTI FrontPage
    MS Visio->Visio
    MS SQL Server->Sybase SQL Server
    MS Internet Explorer->Spyglass Mosaic
    MS DOS->SCS QDOS
    MS Visual Foxpro->Fox S/W FoxPro
    MS Windows NT->Digital Equipment Corporation
    MS DoubleSpace->STAC

    Any other examples of the "Great Innovator"?
    • You forgot MS Windows->IBM.

      MS does innovate...but they have to buy time and a base product to do it. MS identifies a space which it has no market and sizes it up. It will then buy a struggling competitor with marginal share in that space and release that product as MS product. MS marketing then goes into hyperdrive to push that product everywhere.
      MS adds something to these products, but it takes the third or fourth version for them to be better than or comparable to other products in the same space. By
    • (MS Product->Who they stole or bought it from)

      A vast majority of Open Source stuff is also copied
      from existing software.

  • by bob_avernus ( 799481 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:30AM (#10102202)
    http://asia.cnet.com/news/software/0,39037051,3918 9680,00.htm [cnet.com] Microsoft creates a special cut down version of Xp for developing countries, then sells it for $36 USD making it the cheapest windows version available. While selling copies here with a few more features for $200 to $300 USD kind of ironic.
  • Another angle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:30AM (#10102203) Homepage
    Sure, /. loves to hate MS. But isn't this at some level an inevitable problem? Network effects [wikipedia.org] make dominance of a particular OS inevitable at some level.
    • Econ 101 (again) (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
      Well economics 101 tells me that since they are number one, and enjoy predatory practices in technology they are a price maker, not a price taker.

      From "AmosWEB:Gloss*arama [amosweb.com]":

      price maker: A buyer or seller that possess sufficient market control to affect the price of the good. Price market should be compared with the alternative, price taker. From the selling side of the market, a monopoly is the best example of a price maker. As the only seller in the market, a monopoly firm has the ability to control th

    • As the article you linked points out
      However, network effects need not lead to market dominance by one firm, when there are standards which allow multiple firms to interoperate, thus allowing the network externalities to benefit the entire market.
      Part of the reason for MS's dominant position is their embrace-and-extend approach to standards.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:41AM (#10102245) Homepage
    It will result in the state settling for some relatively rediculously paltry sum, 50% of which will go to lawyers, and which will only reach consumers in the form of a $50 off coupon on any future Microsoft product they purchase.

    Seriously, is there any way whatsoever this case could end in anything resembling a victory for consumers?
    • So, what do you want instead? A Linux voucher? I can print you one...
    • >Seriously, is there any way whatsoever this case
      >could end in anything resembling a victory for
      >consumers?

      It is a victory for consumers every single time Microsoft appears in court, regardless of the outcome of the individual case. Why? Because it makes progress towards a number of goals the completion of which will be necessary to eventually destroy the company.

      1) It continues to expose Microsoft's business ethics (or complete lack thereof) which reinforces to everyone watching the level of dis
  • Hey Taco....

    The link to the investor website is slashdotted...why did'nt you use a coral link...
  • by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @09:50AM (#10102276) Homepage
    "It's anticompetitive, it's predatory, and it denies consumers, and in this case taxpayers, the benefits of innovation that a free marketplace should provide,"

    What exactly does the free market place have to do with taxpayers? Are people who cheat on their taxes not entiteled to a competitivly priced OS?

    And since when is innovation a "right"? If so when will iMacs be subsidized by the gov't?

    MS,as scuzzy as they are, have the right to charge anything they want. It is their product! I personaly don't want it written down in the great history books of geekdom that Linux won by default. It's one thing to press charges over threatening companies into unreasonable, exclusive contracts (through monopoly power). It's another matter entirely to sue for "the right to competative priceing". Go to a dollar store for criminie's sake!

  • It seems to me that anything to deal with anti-trust and Microsoft is just a calculated facade designed to maintain the status quo.

    Bob Cringely [cringely.com] wrote an interesting article (covered in Slashdot [slashdot.org])explaining the economics of these anti-trust suits [pbs.org] and how Micro$oft actually benefits.

    And since these companies don't pay taxes [sfgate.com] or get tax breaks [forbes.com] from Republicans, these suits are a sort of different way for the people in Washinton to get paid. Except this time, the trial lawyers get paid too!

    So, the lawyer$
    • The core of your statement is correct. Just don't blame Republicans only. The sad fact is that M$, just like all major corporations dontes to both sides so that whoever wins will owe them. They buy leverage with every election cycle.

      The fairest tax would be a flat tax with no loopholes. Everyone pays the same percentage, individuals & all businesses of any size. Then the expense of enforcing a bloated and unreadable code could be cut by 80%. The only people hurt would be the tax accountants and tax law
      • Although I wasn't clear, I certainly don't blame just Republicans. Trial lawyers have come out whole heartedly for Kerry/Edwards. And as we should all know by now, Edwards gained his notoriety by suing companies. (discussing the merits of which would simply be off-topic).

        It does seem to me, though, that the Justice department's policy toward M$ shifted from the Clinton to the Bush administration. The Bush administration settled with M$ on bozo terms. I'm not saying the Clinton administration wouldn't have
  • Just out of idle curiosity, since the primary competitor(s) to Microsoft these days are in the OSS world, how does selling your work for a given price compete unfairly with selling your product for 'free'?
  • Is Linux ever going to get sued for predatory pricing? How are you going to compete with free!
  • by SpamKu ( 809119 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @01:01PM (#10103314)
    And it's not just Microsoft doing it.

    How about a class action lawsuit on those grounds? I've never heard of one on EULAs, and most need to be taken down a notch or two.

    When I buy software, it's MINE and I'll do what I please with it, including reselling it for a profit, if I want to.

    And yeah, copying and selling is clearly wrong - I'm not talking about that.
  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@CURIEgmail.com minus physicist> on Sunday August 29, 2004 @08:19PM (#10105663) Homepage Journal
    Firstly, MS is a company, and as such is the private property of it's shareholders, who should be able to sell their products on any terms they want. They aren't coercively forcing anyone to buy their products. If you don't like their stuff, dont' buy it. End of discussion.

    Secondly, the argument that there's no alternative is also bullshit. There are numerous vendors that offer to install GNU/Linux, and there are individuals who'll do that for money. E.g., RayServers [rayservers.com]. Furthermore, contracts between OEMs and MS to only sell their computers with MS Windows installed are voluntary private contracts that violate the rights of no-one. OEMs have the right to sell their PC's however they like to. No-one has the right to prevent them from only putting MS software on their PC's, or force them to put anythign on there that they don't want to. Doing such -- first and foremost -- is a violation of their property rights, which is also a violation of freedom of association (which really boils down to property rights).

    Thirdly, anti-trust laws are nonsense. See The Case Against All Antitrust Legislation [mises.org] and The Truth About Sherman [mises.org] by Thomas DiLorenzo:

    • If you raise prices, you're accused of "price-gouging".

    • If you leave prices the same, you're accused of "price-collusion".

    • If you cut prices, you're accused of "undercutting".

    I would also suggest Monopoly and Competition [mises.org] from Murray Rothbard's treatise on economics, Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market [mises.org] .

    Regarding "predatory pricing" in particular, it is the most ridiculous and idiotic idea that anyone's ever come up with. To make a law protecting us from "predatory pricing" is really no different than making a law protecting us against "unicorns" or "witches" -- things that simply don't exist. Of course, that doesn't stop the witch-hunt.

    What price-cutting refers to is cutting prices below the level of any competitors to drive them out of business, and then afterwards raising prices to extremely high levels. This, of course, is total humbug. If any of you think this is a good idea, try suggesting it to an executive at your company. You'll be laughed out of the company. Any company that tried doing such a thing would go bankrupt, because companies cannot operate on a loss for a sustained period of time (and it would take a sustained period of time to drive competitors out of business). Furthermore, the second part -- that they can then just raise prices to be very high -- is flatly wrong, since that would encourage competitors to enter the field, thus forcing them to lower their prices or go out of business. In reality, such a scheme has never been implemented in the real world, and never will, because it is impossible. See Monopoly and Competition. [mises.org]

  • by farzadb82 ( 735100 ) on Sunday August 29, 2004 @08:54PM (#10105830)
    Going after OEMs and MS to allow users to purchase a computer with or without the operating system of their choice.

    I just recently bought a DELL laptop and had no option to buy the machine without Windows, and DELL isn't the only company. Gateway and HP (except for the nx5000) told me the same thing. I want to run Linux, my flavour of Linux, why do I need to pay for a Windows licence when all I'm going to do is re-build the machine with Fedora Core ? - Also what if I already had a Windows Licence from a previous computer that I'm trashing. Why can that not be transfered over to this new machine ?

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner

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