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Microsoft

Microsoft Trial Resumes Today 78

paitre wrote in to remind us that the little trial thing between Microsoft and the DOJ is back in session today after a lengthy recess. News.com has a summary of whats going on over there. Fun stuff coming up includes economics wiz's claiming that MS is a monopoly, and MS will try to prove that IE can be seperated from Win98. I'm sure we're all wetting ourselves.
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Microsoft Trial Resumes Today

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Look at all of MS' "partners" that have gone against MS' wishes while
    the trial has been going on: Dell & Intel are two biggies, but there
    are many others."



    You abviously haven't seen Dell's Windows NT commercials. Have you tried to buy a Dell with Linux ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    First of all, low prices are NOT a "barrier to entry" by any sensible definition. If that were the case then Red Hat along with every other Linux distributor would be guilty of violating the antitrust laws. Even "integration" is questionable as a barrier to entry, since it affects consumer demand but not competitors' production costs. That distinction may not comfort people who have to pay more to cater to their customers' preference for integrated products, but in economic and legal terms it matters quite a bit.

    Second, barriers to entry are a necessary but only in rare cases sufficient condition for monopoly power. It doesn't follow from their existence that anyone is a monopoly.

    Third, you are wrong to say that monopolies are "inherently illegal." Quite the contrary -- the U.S. case law states that ABUSING a monopoly, not having one, is illegal. That's why the DoJ is concerned with the consumer harm in the first place... it is trying to argue that MS's practices constitute abuse of an existing monopoly.

    You are right to say that sticker prices do not convey actual value, but if a product's quality declines at a slower rate than its price does, the value is still going up. Additionally, it is very hard to argue that ALL of MS's products have depreciated in quality. Certainly Internet Explorer, the product which (one might argue) started all of this mess, has gotten much better with each successive version. And even if MS's products are giving lower overall value despite lower sticker prices, that doesn't explain why sticker prices remain high in markets where MS does not offer a competing product.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are some interesting debates going on at a very technical level that may have a large impact not only on the trial, but also on the way the public (i.e. newsmedia) think about the software.

    Microsoft and the DOJ are having a debate over what defines a browser. Is it a set of code or a set of functions? If it's a set of code, then Microsoft can say that IE is not removable from Win98 because the code is mixed together. Furthermore, they will forever be able to mix together code from whatever they want and claim integration. On the other hand, if the browser is a set of functions/APIs/interfaces, then just hiding the interfaces (i.e. removing the icon) is equivalent to removing the browser. Thus Microsoft's claims of integration are a sham. In that case, Microsoft will have to legally justify what it does at the API level, where API is defined in its broadest sense. Microsoft loses big time in this scenario.

    As far as I'm concerned, remove the access to a piece of code, and it becomes a bunch of random bits on a hard drive. You can write "Hello, World" in a few lines of code or you can write it in a hundred megabytes of code with no interface to 99.99% of those megabytes. So I think that the government's definition is by far the more natural one.

    Ed Felten is the point-man for the DOJ on this one.
  • I don't think that is right...

    Although it doesn't help microsoft that they couldn't prove that it can't be remove,I belive that under US law the prosecutor or plantiff bears the burden of proof. I think that the government in this case must show that it can be separtated. I belive this is the whole "innocent until proven guilty." ("Unless your name is Louis 'Louis the Squid' Calimari." -Dave Barry)

  • Isn't this like arguing that the CPU is not integrated with the computer because you can take it out? So what if they are shipped seperately, if you HAVE to install it to get the rest of the software to install, that sounds like the first half of integration to me. If in the process of removing it you render the system unusable, then you qualify for the second half of the definition. Isn't this what the DOJ proved?
  • Posted by d106ene5:

    None of this is going to stop people from buying Windows. This whole case is a day late and a dollar short.

    Microsoft employees are voting, tax paying Americans. Hence some effort will be made to appease them in any ruling. The company will not be broken up, so you can forget that right now.

    As for any ruling making Windows "open source" - big deal. Unless you have ten years to spare, the source isn't going to help you much.

  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    Ma Bell employees are voting, tax paying Americans. Hence some effort will be made to appease them in any ruling. The company will not be broken up, so you can forget that right now.


    --
    "Please remember that how you say something is often more important than what you say." - Rob Malda
  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    There are two pieces:

    1) MS may have raised barriers to entry (low prices, integration, etc) into various fields (OS and browsers in particular) for the express puposes of causing rival companies (particularly startups like Netscape) would have a disproportionately hard time, so that

    2) MS could exploit consumers by raising their prices. And note that "raising prices" doesn't necessarily mean "charging more money". It can also mean "getting less value". I think we can all agree that $1.98 spent on Linux has more value than $100 spent on Win98.

    All Justice has to prove is that #1 has already taken place to show that MS is a monopoly. It doesn't matter if #2 has or ever will, because monopolies are inherently illegal.

    Now, many of you are going to respond that there are monopolies in many other fields that aren't be prosecuted. True. There are also speeders who don't get caught or do get caught but not ticketed. Usually the judge likes to see that some harm has been done beyond just plain "you broke the letter of the law".

    In the case of MS, though, their past behavior shows pretty clearly that they will do some harm when they get the chance. (DR-DOS anyone?)
    --
    "Please remember that how you say something is often more important than what you say." - Rob Malda
  • Posted by Lothario:

    Judge Pennfield Jackson doesn't have to understand that open standards are the key. He would only have to understand that due to the penetration of MS technology it could be declared an essential facility. Microsoft's marketing lit should provide enough detail to get this to happen. If this is done, the opening of standards and source code is the logical remedy. This is how the DOJ got Ma Bell years ago.

    Of course, this actually presents what MS has been searching for which is a new revenue source of not inconsiderable size. You see, they would probably get to charge for access.

    Believe me, MS will win no matter what the outcome. AT&T is stronger than ever today.
  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by ^Pip:

    Did anyone catch this?

    "Richard Schmalensee, dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management"

    Looks like Microsoft lined MIT's pockets to get an expert to testify on their behalf. (The new building.)
  • by Boomhauer ( 1436 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @04:56AM (#1872867) Homepage Journal
    >>Microsoft has lost, folks.
    >>The rest of this trial will consist of posturing on the part of Microsoft to get the best deal.


    Remember, M$ lost the last one too. (1995?) The posturing they do is very important. If they lose but get another slap on the wrist, who has really won?


    Cal

  • As for interversion combatibility being a problem, the "latest and greatest" Office versions have always been able to read files from previous versions, going back at least 8 years. (Word 97 is happy reading Word 4.0 for Mac files, and Word 4.0 dates to 1989...)

    Not always, at my current jobsite, we have Word 6.0 documents that open just fine in Word 6.0, but cause Word 8.0 to crash. We are unable to completely upgrade to Office 97 because of this.

    Also I attempted to load a Word 4.0 for Mac file into Word 6.0 for Windows to no avail.

    As always, if you need supreme portability, there's always ASCII formats like *TeX or HTML, and don't forget PDF.

    Yes, but I get tired of continually having to upgrade my Apps (Until February I was still using Word 1.1 on a 386, now I am using Word 6.0 on a Pentium 133) or telling my clients that I am unable to read their document (usually in Word 8.0 format) and that they need to re-send it. This is the upgrade cycle I am complaining about.

    Hal Duston

    Boring is good.

  • by hald ( 1811 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @06:50AM (#1872869)
    This entire case misses the _real_ Microsoft monopoly. The Office applications are the real monopoly. If I want to send email, use IRC, send files, non-MS OS's interoperate well enough with MS OS's. It is the _content_ of the files, i.e. Word/Excel that is where the real problem is. Not only do you have to have the same application, but you also need the same version. If someone sends me a document chances are that I cannot read/view it unless I match application/version. This forces me to upgrade the application, which in turn forces me to upgrade the OS, which in turn forces me to upgrade the HW.

    Hal Duston
    Boring is good
  • None of this is going to stop people from buying Windows

    I know several people who have been converted to Linux and BSD since they first heard of the MS/DoJ trial. This will (and has) stop(ped) people from buying Windows.

    Microsoft employees are voting, tax paying Americans. Hence some effort will be made to appease them in any ruling.

    I'm not sure what they tought you in elementary school, but the employees of the DoJ are not elected officials, and neither is the judge trying the case. Voters be damned, this is about breaking the law.

    The company will not be broken up, so you can forget that right now.

    I don't want to jump to any conclusions myself, but they said the same thing about AT&T.

    As for any ruling making Windows "open source" - big deal. Unless you have ten years to spare, the source isn't going to help you much.

    Ever done any open-source development? You don't need to understand the entire source code to be able to contribute.

    Log

  • To further strengthen that argument, that the browser is the unctionality, not the code, look at Windows NT 4.0. NT4 Workstation and Server consist of the same code. The only thing that's different is the functionality, which is set by some registry entries. Remember to O'Reilly hack to turn NT Workstation into NT Server?
  • Didn't MS prove that IE can be separated from Win98 by failing to prove that it couldn't?

    Wasn't this what the whole forged ("simulated" according to the MS lexicon) video was about?
  • As has been argued quite effectively in a number of places, the key is requiring open standards (API/Networking/etc). But will the Judge appreciate this fact?

    What do you mean by "require open standards" ? I don't see why MS shouldn't be allowed to invent their own networking protocols, etc. On the other hand, asking them to document their networking protocols is more reasonable. Forcing them to let other people see their source code is essential. I don't think others should develop "windows clones", but what is more important is that they don't hide their APIs.

    Another important issue raised has been discriminatory licensing practices ( such as with IBM ) . The government needs to crack down on this, because it gives MS too much control over the industry.

    Requiring open standards would effectively de-claw what, so far as I can tell, is the only weapon Microsoft can use against the open source community: closing or "decomoditizing" (sp?) standards.

    Sure, and forcing them to release all their products under the GPL will also make it easier for the open source community to compete. I think a lot of slashdot readers aren't really interested in a fair outcome- they are more interested in propping up open source. Personally, I'd rather see open source win on its merits.

  • America has been through this before: the robber-baron era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries when maniacs crushed hard working middle class folks. People like Rockefeller, Pew, Duke, Hearst used their money to stifle competition and extract monopoly rents.

    I don't think this is in fact correct. Rockefeller got his market share by continually imporving his production methods and lowering his prices. This sucked for his competitors, but only because they simply could not keep up. The consumers benefitted enourmously from this. Remember also that the oil industry in the late 19th century was still young, and it was both much smaller and much more rapidly changing than today. So Rockefeller's "monopoly" (he never quite achieved a monopoly) likely would not have lasted once the industry matured and people started figuring out how things worked.

    In any event, the important point is that Rockefeller became wealthy by producing oil more efficiently than his competitors. He was punished not because he was evil, but because he was productive. And yes, this is an "Ayn Rand" vision of the world. :)
  • While the trial goes on, MS cannot try their usual arm-twisting. Even after the trial, even if MS wins, they won't be able to go back to the way things were a year ago without triggering major outrage and probable legal problems.

    As much as this might please most /.ers, I don't think that this situation is a good thing. Law should be objective and clearly defined. If Microsoft has done something immoral, it should be prosecuted. If there is no law under which to prosecute them, then we should consider writing one. But "public outrage" and "possible legal action" should have no bearing in a court. Doing things that are legal but look bad should not trigger another trial.

    Doing so gives the DOJ nearly unlimited power. When Microsoft is prosecuted not for specific actions that are considered illegal, but for patterns of behavior and general meanness, that is a bad thing. And as far as I'm concerned, antitrust law is so vague as to be meaningless. What Microsoft is alleged to have done under the Sherman Act is engaged in "combinations in restraint of trade" and "monopolistic practices." The DOJ can (and does) reinterpret that standard based upon their current target, and can harass pretty much anyone with a majority market share in pretty much any industry.

    If a company's prices are "too high" that's gouging. If they are "too low" that is predatory pricing. If they are the same as everyone else, then that's collusion. If they sell to many products together, then that is "bundling." They are not allowed to set certain types of conditions in their OEM liscences. Some of these practices perhaps should be illegal. But if so, they should be made illegal explicitly and directly. Companies should not have to wait until after the fact to discover which practices are illegal under antitrust law.

    As I have said before, if Microsoft is guilty of specific crimes--fraud, breach of contract, theft of intellectual property, or whatever--they should be prosecuted for those crimes. But they should not be prosecuted for competing too successfully by means that would otherwise be legal. They should not be forced to play by a whole new set of rules simply because their market share is above 80%.

    If in fact the outcome of the trial of is irrelevant, I would argue that proves that Microsoft is being unjustly prosecuted. They should have just as much right to prove their innocence as anyone else. And if they are forced to change their behavior even if they win the case then that tells me that they are being prosecuted not for specific lawbreaking, but simply because their actions are unpopular.
  • While the trial goes on, MS cannot try their usual arm-twisting. Even after the trial, even if MS wins, they won't be able to go back to the way things were a year ago without triggering major outrage and probable legal problems.

    As much as this might please most /.ers, I don't think that this situation is a good thing. Law should be objective and clearly defined. If Microsoft has done something immoral, it should be prosecuted. If there is no law under which to prosecute them, then we should consider writing one. But "public outrage" and "possible legal action" should have no bearing in a court. Doing things that are legal but look bad should not trigger another trial.

    Doing so gives the DOJ nearly unlimited power. When Microsoft is prosecuted not for specific actions that are considered illegal, but for patterns of behavior and general meanness, that is a bad thing. And as far as I'm concerned, antitrust law is so vague as to be meaningless. What Microsoft is alleged to have done under the Sherman Act is engaged in "combinations in restraint of trade" and "monopolistic practices." The DOJ can (and does) reinterpret that standard based upon their current target, and can harass pretty much anyone with a majority market share in pretty much any industry.

    If a company's prices are "too high" that's gouging. If they are "too low" that is predatory pricing. If they are the same as everyone else, then that's collusion. If they sell to many products together, then that is "bundling." They are not allowed to set certain types of conditions in their OEM liscences. Some of these practices perhaps should be illegal. But if so, they should be made illegal explicitly and directly. Companies should not have to wait until after the fact to discover which practices are illegal under antitrust law.

    As I have said before, if Microsoft is guilty of specific crimes--fraud, breach of contract, theft of intellectual property, or whatever--they should be prosecuted for those crimes. But they should not be prosecuted for competing too successfully by means that would otherwise be legal. They should not be forced to play by a whole new set of rules simply because their market share is above 80%.
  • by Shemp ( 11349 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @03:54AM (#1872877) Homepage Journal
    I love this quote:
    "The government is going forward in its rebuttal case with an eye toward the relief that it is going to seek,...As a consequence, it is focusing on the consumer harm that they believe has flowed from Microsoft's business practices."

    For all the people out there who try to defend MS, saying that their actions are just good business practice, look at this quote. Microsoft has actually caused consumer harm (in lost productivity, unfair business practices, etc). I get the feeling that not a lot of people fully understand that.
  • If the legal system weren't filled with lawyers and instead had a little room for common sense, the whole issue of 'integrating' IE would've died on the first day. The DOJ representative puts a box containing IE on a table, then puts a Win98 cd beside it, and passes his hand between the two. Well what do you know, they are separate.

    I got a bunch of software bundled with my modem, it doesn't make it 'integrated' with the modem drivers. All MS did was take the check box out of the custom install that let's you choose not to install IE.


    There are times when it is necessary to speak.

  • You're getting caught up in the legal arguments. The point is not whether or not MS was able to intermingle some DLLs and cripple thier own product, the point is that they did this to crush Netscape and to deal with the original DOJ complaint. Namely, they were forcing OEMs to bundle IE3 with Win95. So they made IE4 an 'integral' part of Win98.

    Just because I can't uninstall it without going through a million lines of machine code doesn't mean it can't be uninstalled. And just because the code has been spread out into various system DLLs doesn't make it less of a standalone product. You can run IE4 on several OS's. You can't do the same with RegEdit. Note also that it still has it's own versioning information. They released IE5, they didn't call it 'Win98 SP2 with better internet support'.


    There are times when it is necessary to speak.


  • Actually NT Workstation has an artifical limit of 256 network connections, which makes it pretty useless as an application server (by design).
    --
  • I believe that Bob-K and d106ene5 are correct. By the time the judgement against Microsoft is enforced Linux will be an even stronger competitor holding more of it's share of the market. Will it be on more computers that Microsoft's Windows 9x(200x)? Will Microsoft have ported it's office suite to Linux?

    What I'd like to see come of this is (if a judgement is ever enforced against Microsoft) complete documentation of File formats and Network Protocols and anything else that would at least allow other OSs and Office suites to play nice with those who insist on keeping Microsoft products.

    It's a free country and there are lots of MS stock holders who think it's the greatest thing running on silicon. A dear friend of mine holds several shares of MS and is blinded by his own financial well being. He can't understand why I run Linux (at home at least, I'm currently stuck on NT here at work) when everybody on the planet, or in the universe/cosmos runs MS products.

    In summary, MS will survive the trial, but I'll continue the crusade against Bill Gates and MS. "The best revenge is living well." No, the best revenge is suffering zero down time.

  • Several points:

    • It is not inherently illegal to become a monopoly. For example, the electric company is almost always a monopoly - how many companies can you buy power from? Utilities and so forth are monopolies for a good reason - the capital costs of building a generating facility and a distribution network are too high for more than one company to be in a particular market. However, such monopolies are generally regulated by the government until there is enough competition in their field that the monopoly is no longer a threat to consumers.
    • It isn't necessarily illegal to become a monopoly, as long as you do it legally. If you can create such an improvement in your product that your competition can't keep up, then you may end up a monopoly. It's only illegal to become a monopoly this way if you followed illegal procedures to do this.
    • It is illegal to use monopoly power to act in restraint of trade in another market. Thus, you can't use a monopoly in the OS market to try to create a monopoly in the browser market - this is an illegal use of monopoly power. This is really what Micros~1 is in court over.
  • There are several people I've spoken to who work or recently worked for Micros~1. The most common reason for working there? Who else is left to pay them to program? (And many of them hadn't heard of Linux at the time - circa early 1998.)

    I think my favorite phrase I saw on a Micros~1 site... "Many people with the company have never written a line of code." My thoughts... And it shows!

    I don't think the DOJ needs to worry about appeasing the employees. The ones who'll truly earn a living would look forward to the end of M$ domination.

    Digital Wokan, Tribal mage of the electronics age
  • Star Office running under Linux does a perfectly fine job of reading MS Office documents for me.
  • "Linux wasn't even on the general public's radar when this started. It might be on everybody's desktop by the time it's done."

    Your words to my boss's ears!

  • Actually, even if they define the browser as a set of code, that doesn't help MS. If I take a handful of black marbles and mix them into a bin of white marbles, that doesn't make the black marbles inseperable from the white ones.

    Real-world situation: I can take the BIND resolver libraries and drop them into libc. That doesn't make the BIND resolver routines part of libc, and the fact that they're both part of the same physical shared library doesn't change the fact that it's solely for convenience and I can seperate them again if I want to.

  • Actually this analogy fails both parts. A CPU is required, certainly, but not a specific brand and speed of CPU. Removing the CPU renders the computer unusable, but only until you install another CPU. That's the whole point of having the CPU in a socket instead of soldered onto the motherboard. Saying that some CPU is required isn't equivalent to saying that a specific CPU is integrated into the MB.

  • The "public outrage" has nothing to do with the trial itself. They have to do with the consequences if MS, even having won, tries to go back to it's bad old ways.

    As for price gouging and predatory pricing, two points there. In the case of price gouging, a company can really only be guilty of it if they either control the market to the point where there is no alternative to paying their price or have colluded with everyone else in the market to bring about the same result. In the case of predatory pricing, an almost iron-clad defense is that the company is making a profit at that price. Predatory pricing charges aren't brought for just selling at a lower price than the competition, but at selling at a loss to drive competition out of the market.

    As for bundling, again those charges are brought not just for offering products together, but for offering only a combination of products that are relatively independent and could be offered seperately. It's the difference between including IE on the Windows CD-ROM, and requiring that the user install IE when the OS doesn't need IE installed to run ( and don't give me the "part of the system DLLs" line, I can seperate routines out of shared libraries easily enough and MS themselves created the IBrowser COM interface that would let the OS use any browser that supported the relevant standards by merely complying with MS's own recommendations on interfacing with the browser ).

    MS is charged with specific crimes. However, being guilty of those charges doesn't guarantee a conviction. MS in particular is very good at muddying the waters until the original points get lost. MS maintained their position by keeping everyone else out of the market by any means neccesary, but at this point even if they manage to avoid being found guilty of the charges brought against them they won't be able to go back to keeping everyone else out without making it unmistakeably clear that they were in fact guilty of exactly what the DOJ alleged.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @05:33AM (#1872889) Homepage

    The ruling may wind up being irrelevant to the outcome. The big problem with MS has been that they have used their market share to bully everyone else, threatening to pull the Windows rug completely out from under anyone who even thinks about offering an alternative. The trial has changed that. While the trial goes on, MS cannot try their usual arm-twisting. Even after the trial, even if MS wins, they won't be able to go back to the way things were a year ago without triggering major outrage and probable legal problems. Whether the DOJ wins or loses, MS lost this one when the trial started.

  • I can't speak for win98, but I am running win95 osr2 (basically the same thing w/out the color-shifting title bars and the defrag/scandisk wizard), and there is no way that a "normal" consumer can completely remove IE from their machine. It is possible to uninstall IE4, (which unfortunately removes all of the desktop update, but guess what it replaces it with?? IE3. That is, if you haven't deleted a bunch of previously non-enssential files. The same goes for IE5. you can uninstall it if you leave certain files there, otherwise you're SOL. --And it restores IE4. As far as I can figure out, the only way to remove IE3 after an IE4 uninstall is to manually delete all found traces of it from the file system and from the registry.
    ...
    Anyone know why Micro$oft removed the Spanish language pack for IE5 from Windows Update a day or two after release??
  • A while ago I installed win95 with the use
    of a win3.x to win95 upgrade CD.
    To my great surprise after the installation
    was finished there was _no_ IE.
    ...and everything still works fine....

    So it used to be possible..
    ..

  • Kinda ironic that Notepad is mostly a wrapper around the standard OS edit control such that if you did remove that code the machine (probably) wouldn't boot :-)
  • As has been argued quite effectively in a number of places, the key is requiring open standards (API/Networking/etc).

    Alas, the problem with that is how to enforce it. Suppose Microsoft violates the ruling, and adds some new private behavior in for their own good? What then? First you have to figure out that something's going on, and what it is. Then you need to drag MS back into court, which'll take another year or two, and by the time it gets resolved, it's already going to be a moot point.

    If there is a good way to adjudicate this so that it is a feasible solution, please let me know. I have yet to see an explanation that really covers this in any detail...

    -Snibor Eoj

  • Since when did process matter to Microsoft?

    I seem to recall an incident earlier in the trial in which a videotape - purported by Microsoft to be a genuine demonstration of something - turned out to be staged and spliced together out of several different tapes.

    If Microsoft is going to submit false evidence to the court and then lie about it, I don't really see much hope that they're going to follow standard evidenciary channels (even granting that 'evidenciary' probably isn't a real word).

  • I believe the circumvention that Microsoft used there was that IE "technology" (pardon me while I stifle the overpowering urge to laugh) was still used in the operating system, but simply that the Internet Explorer browser application that utilized that technology was simply not included.



  • I recall getting into this argument with somebody once. I oppose government intervention, they argued that the market will take too long to correct Microsoft's undue dominance, and that we need the government to speed things up.

    I oppose government intervention in most things as well, but let us not forget, copyrights and patents really can't exist without governments. They aren't like a gadget that you can hire security to keep someone from stealing. You need a government to say "You have exclusive rights to use these ideas." If you invite government protection, you authorize government control.

  • by sean.k ( 20273 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @05:29AM (#1872897)
    no one has ever complained that MS bundled notepad with their OS -- the only reason IE became an issue was because bundling IE killed Netscape -- an up and coming company relying on their browser as pretty much their only product.

    MS should never have said that IE was an integral part of their OS -- it's not, any more than notepad is. Heck, all a web-browser is is a fancy text-viewer. You can't argue that an OS won't boot or run without one, unless you include "read HTML" in the definition of "run."
  • People generally don't purchase NT Server to run apps; if they wanted that, they'd save money by buying NT Workstation instead.

    Take NT Server and boil away all the OS stuff, leaving the features that people buy NT Server for. *THAT* is what Samba is a clone of. Remove these features from NT Server, and you're left with NT Workstation. Samba is a slimmed-down, versatile, modular (daemonic), open-source clone of NT Server.
  • by for(;;); ( 21766 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @06:29AM (#1872899)
    elflord> What do you mean by "require open
    elflord> standards" ? I don't see why MS shouldn't
    elflord> be allowed to invent their own
    elflord> networking protocols, etc. On the other
    elflord> hand, asking them to document their
    elflord> networking protocols is more reasonable.

    I interpret it as the latter.

    What is needed is not the crippling of Microsoft, either by breaking them up or by forcing them to comply with some arbitrary protocols. What is needed is the opening-up of Microsoft's code *just enough* to allow competition.

    elflord> Sure, and forcing them to release all
    elflord> their products under the GPL will also
    elflord> make it easier for the open source
    elflord> community to compete. I think a lot of
    elflord> slashdot readers aren't really interested
    elflord> in a fair outcome- they are more
    elflord> interested in propping up open source.
    elflord> Personally, I'd rather see open source
    elflord> win on its merits.

    I think most of them are interested in allowing competition, open-sourced or otherwise. Also, keep in mind that there already is an open-source clone of NT Server. It's called "Samba". The Samba developers have had to reverse-engineer a lot of the more well-guarded NT Server APIs. Opening up NT's APIs would level the playing field between NT Server and Samba (and also the million closed-source SMB server programs out there). It would force NT Server to win or lose "on its merits", not the obscurity of its protocols.
  • you can't jail a company.

    Sure you can, take away their buisness license. While such an action is VERY extreme, it certainly would in effect jail the company.
  • I wouldn't quite jump to that conclusion. In fact, I'd be inclined to say that the Judge's comment of "Use your time wisely" prior to the recess was actually directed at the DOJ.

    The DOJ demonstrated a number of issues, such as Microsoft's rather aggresive business tactics. All of which, should it be determined that Microsoft is a monopoly, weigh heavily against it.

    But that's the true key issue. *HAS* the DOJ proven that no one can succeed against Microsoft? Netscape's final sales valuation of 10 Billion dollars is a major point showing that one CAN take a small business and make it worth billions -- something that's not supposed to be able to occur in a monopolistic environment.

    The judge also has to view certain convienent manuvers (such as the timing of the AOL/Netscape deal and when testimony occurred) with just as much skepticism as the Microsoft claims.

    I suspect the Ju8dge would certainly like a settlement, rather than a ruling that's bound to be unpopular or potentially overturned.
  • The big problem I have with IE killing Netscape relates to the monopoly position allowing M$ to undercut the competitors product via dumping. As I understand the anti-trust laws, one of the big things is when someone dumps the product below production cost in order to snag market share, typically with the intent to raise the price once the competition is dead.

    At one point in time, M$ bragged that it had more people working on IE than Netscape had employees. The fact that they were giving it away for free seems to be a pretty good indication of dumping. Imagine Toyota was sitting on an enormous crapload of cash, and decided to sell all of their vehicles for $2,000.00 in the U.S. - how long do you think the government would stand for that? Obviously not very long...if they allowed it, the other automakers would be out of business fairly soon, allowing Toyota to go back to their regular over-inflated prices (and then some), with no competition to worry about anymore.

    And - M$ *HAD* to say it was integral to the OS - they were under a consent decree about bundling already...without that ploy, they would have already been slapped on the wrist...but they managed to use the integration thing to drag it all out to the moot-point stage.
  • by Bob-K ( 29692 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @04:31AM (#1872903)
    I recall getting into this argument with somebody once. I oppose government intervention, they argued that the market will take too long to correct Microsoft's undue dominance, and that we need the government to speed things up.

    So, what are we, a year and a half into this? The judge is expected to issue his decision NEXT YEAR? And then appeals? Then maybe a delay for settlement talks?

    If you want something to cost less or get done faster, how often do you turn to a lawyer? Linux wasn't even on the general public's radar when this started. It might be on everybody's desktop by the time it's done.
  • I agree. I also think a big fine (in the billions) is in order with the threat of more fines if Microsoft balks at compliance. The judge also needs to appoint somebody neutral who is technical enough to check compliance.
  • The prosecution needs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt within a criminal proceeding. This is a lawsuit, a civil proceeding. In this case, the prosecution only needs a preponderance of evidence.
  • > That quote is funny, because of course it flies
    > in the face of what the government's lead
    > economic witness openly admitted on the witness
    > stand... that any consumer harm caused
    > by Microsoft is in the future (and thus purely
    > hypothetical).

    so the fact that i lose on average a few productive hours each day because windows keeps crashing or excel is too bloated to function effectively in 32Mb are just hypothetical?

    i don't think so.
  • Note that NT Server is purchased just as frequently as an application server (e.g. Exchange, IIS [yes, I know most people don't like it, but hey], SQL Server) as it is for file and print services.

    Cheers
    Alastair
  • by Aiantes ( 35663 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @03:55AM (#1872908)
    Microsoft has lost, folks.

    The rest of this trial will consist of posturing on the part of Microsoft to get the best deal.

    To that extent, the story is dead. What remains to be seen is just how intelligently the Judge will curtail the monopoly that we know and love to hate as "microsoft".

    Hopefully, the Judge will see that breaking Microsoft up is no solution.

    As has been argued quite effectively in a number of places, the key is requiring open standards (API/Networking/etc). But will the Judge appreciate this fact?

    Let's hope so. Requiring open standards would effectively de-claw what, so far as I can tell, is the only weapon Microsoft can use against the open source community: closing or "decomoditizing" (sp?) standards.


  • Suppose Microsoft violates the ruling.

    This kind of problem has been brought up
    before. It appears that whilst companies are
    "people" in civil law, when it comes to criminal
    law you can't jail a company.
  • Hang on! Didn't Micro$oft say that IE was an integral part of Win9x and couldn't be separated from the OS without severely affecting the OS? Is this another one of Bor^H^H^HBill Gates backsteps?
  • The Office applications are the real monopoly. If I want to send email, use IRC, send files, non-MS OS's interoperate well enough with MS OS's. It is the _content_ of the files, i.e. Word/Excel that is where the real problem is.

    *COUGH* StarOffice x.x can read/write/print MS Office documents rather handily, and that sucker works under Linux.... The price for StarOffice is much less than that for MS Office, as well.

    As for the Word/Excel/Powerpoint file formats being nasty, M$ is trying. Not trying very hard, but trying, as at the moment, the .xls/.doc/.ppt files are interchangable among Mac/IBM platforms AFAIK. This didn't used to be the case.

    As for interversion combatibility being a problem, the "latest and greatest" Office versions have always been able to read files from previous versions, going back at least 8 years. (Word 97 is happy reading Word 4.0 for Mac files, and Word 4.0 dates to 1989...)

    It doesn't work the other way, of course, because of all the new crap^H^H^H^H features that get put into every new release. (This is one of the Big Problems in software design, and I don't think it's going away anytime soon.) As always, if you need supreme portability, there's always ASCII formats like *TeX or HTML, and don't forget PDF.

    Maybe what we really need is a document standard for word-processing documents kind of like the [C,C++,Java] source code standards. Of course, that'd open a whole NEW can 'o worms...

  • ...they argued that the market will take too long to correct Microsoft's undue dominance, and that we need the government to speed things up. So, what are we, a year and a half into this? The judge is expected to issue his decision NEXT YEAR? And then appeals? Then maybe a delay for settlement talks?

    Amen. The wheels of justice grind pretty slowly in the simplest of cases--it takes several months to get prosecuted/sentenced for drunk driving, so it's only natural that this (much more complicated) thing will take much longer.

    That also raises the question: Does Microsoft have something to gain from the delay? Are they trying to muster public support by saying, "Look, the nasty government is doing evil things to us"?

    Linux wasn't even on the general public's radar when this started. It might be on everybody's desktop by the time it's done.

    File that one under "Pipe Dreams." :-] But seriously, I thought the best line in the original article was "IBM got its copies of Win95 much later than most other companies, which made them lose productivity..." I'd think missing out on the (many) bugs present in the first release would've been a productivity gain.

  • "Exactly. Why didn't anyone bitch and moan when MS decided to inegrate TCP/IP into their OS's? They handily killed off Trumpet Winsock and the like with that maneuver. And yet, no one seems to mind THAT........"

    Well, yeah, but you can actually uninstall TCP/IP. :-\
  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Tuesday June 01, 1999 @03:37AM (#1872914) Homepage
    The government will try to prove that IE can be separated from 98, and M$ will try to prove it can't. If IE is a separate product that M$ merely bundled - as it appears is the case - then the government's case gets a lot stronger.

    Personally, I've always thought it at least disingenuous for M$ to claim that IE is an integral part of 98, while still providing it as an independent product for the few other platforms it supports.
    --
  • Let us all hope that MS gets what is coming to it!
  • Go back in time - to World War 2. There was a German dictator who wanted to take over the world. He was quickly stopped. But now there is a new dictator - Bill Gates! The dictator of the computer software industry! Let us hope that the DoJ can stop them!

    Note: Microsoft does not kills jews - it does worse - it kills other software companies!
  • Actually you missed the point on lost productivity. Those programmers that IBM was paying to write apps for Win95 were sitting around twiddling thier thumbs while they waited for thier copies of Win95. That is a very real loss of productivity and profits. M$'s actions have hurt consumers and businesses alike.
  • Exactly. Why didn't anyone bitch and moan when MS decided to inegrate TCP/IP into their OS's? They handily killed off Trumpet Winsock and the like with that maneuver. And yet, no one seems to mind THAT........

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