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First Class Action Suit for Microsoft 299

mochaone writes "The NY Times has an article [free reg. req.] about some lawyers in California who plan on filing a suit Monday - that's today - on behalf of some victims of Microsoft's monopoly power. Can you say, 'Open the floodgates?'"
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First Class Action Suit for Microsoft

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  • Yeah, and if the I feel like modifying a bunch of GPL'd software, sell it for lots of money and keeping the source private, well, you all can just get over it because keeping source public is annoying...

    (Halt the flame throwers. I don't really think that.)

    The same thing that makes the posted NY Times article illegal makes the above illegal. You can hardly demand legal protection for your rights while trampling over the rights of others.
  • There is/was Win32 support in OS/2...which Microsoft made a point of repeatedly breaking with successive releases of Win32s. They finally got it "right" when they added a call specifically to allocate memory beyond the 512Mbyte limit that OS/2 (up until the recent "Aurora" version, which IBM isn't going to sell as a client the way they have previous ones) imposes on DOS sessions.
  • . (4) Your GUI has is too integrated into your kernel. A bad video driver crashed your machine.

    But that gives you performance. Let's look at linux and all these frame buffers drivers sitting in the kernel now - a bad one of those and your system crashes - just you wait until hardware vendors start shipping linux frame buffer drivers for there video cards!
  • Thanks for pointing out the facts [] here. You make a good point. Someone should moderate your comment to visibility.

    Regards, Ralph.

  • I believe when I looked into becoming an OEM distributor back when win95 was new, that to sell 1 OEM copy of windows on any PC, I had to ship WINDOZ on all the machines. I also had a QNX machine setup for some ISO9000 stuff where I used to work. The consultant said he would ship me a couple copies of windows unopened, because he couldnt get compaq's without an OS from MS. 3 boxes arrived with over 200 copies. No wonder why he charged a fortune for the system.

    I do agree the lawyers are just money sucking leaches on humanity in this case. But there are some very valid points to thier lawsuit, and if they dont do it, someone else will I guess.

    Didnt AOL have a lawsuit like this? About rounding up 5 second time estimates on usage, back when then charged hourly? I believe they lost that one for a multi million settlement.
  • No, the stupid people are those who flame, rather than logically explain their case. Last time I checked, calling people names or using vailed insults never did anything to further anyone's arguments. With that said...

    Open Source. Closed Minds. We are Slashdot.
  • Open Source. Closed Minds pretty much sums up the general attitude I've seen develop here over the past year.

    • Yes, it is a copyright violation
    • No, the NY Times doesn't have to "just get over it because the login/pass thing is annoying"
    • Yes, /. could conceivably get in legal hot water over it being reproduced here in toto
    • No, you don't have to read it if you don't want to play by NYT's rules.

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • Where and why did they cost more ?
  • Well, the jury is still out on the question of
    whether 70+ year old ladies should go around wearing tight spandex.
  • If given the choice of ridding the world of either microsoft or all attorneys, I would have a tough time deciding. This whole class action suit is pathetic. There's not a consumer out there that will benefit. The lawyers on the other hand will all be retiring wealthy in the Bahamas somewhere. This will be just like the tobacco suits, the lawyers will walk away with 90%, the rest divided among the 10 million people they "represent." Let's face a fact here, the consumer will suffer from the class action suit, not the company. Only the lawyers win. We'll all end up with some stupid $10 rebate on our next upgrade to windows 2005.

  • /. isn't liable because of common carrier status. But they were take down this post, then they would be liable for all simular future posts.

    How about a new moderation category "copyright violation"?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is why its bad to hurt M$, the only winners will be the bottom feeding scum sucking lawyers.
  • We all know that Microsoft has billions in the bank, but a refund for every sold copy of Windows 95/98 would bankrupt the company.

    I'm trying to feel pity....trying....failing...
  • Slashdot should just allow all users the ability to check who moderated any post. Essentially moderators get to act as anonymous cowards in regards to their moderation. There's no accountability, so anyone who wishes to try and surpress a viewpoint through moderation, does so with no worries.

    That's what Meta Moderation is all about. The system knows who moderated who to what. Meta Moderation, if in disagreement, costs the moderator a little karma, if I'm not mistaken.

    As far as filtering based on score, that's exactly what moderation is about. And for those who don't have the time nor the inclination to read 180 messages, setting their filter to 2 or 3 is great. Yes you will miss some good comments, but you will also miss most of the useless ones. Let's be honest -- in 180 comments, how many are truly "big" enough to warrant being read? Maybe a dozen. The information scourers like myself will stay at zero to see (almost) everything, but most busy people will sit at the higher levels to just skim.

  • They've got money! I want a piece of what they have with as little work as possible! GIVE ME WHAT YOU EARNED! I don't care how MS earned it, most end users handed cash over without argument...they were offered alternatives, and now want to get rich by being lazy and claiming something that isn't theirs? Not too shocking.

  • by emmons ( 94632 )
    I'm not sure which company(ies) is was, but I remember reading that Be Inc. offered a major computer maker lisences free to be preloaded on that companies machines. This was in the day when that particular company was scared shitless of M, and therefore declined the offer. A good lawyer could make a case that all the customers of that particular company could sue for the full OEM cost of Windows, because M used it's monopoly power to raise the price exactly that much.

    let b= cost of Be OS; w= cost of windows OEM; s= $ amout customers got screwed because of M' monopoly

    b = 0
    s = w - b
    therefore, w = s

    Of course, you need to take into account the cost difference of all of windows' nice little features.

  • MS reduced the cost of the OS (not upgrade) to the large OEMs in order to make sure that their OS was installed there.

    On the other hand, the consumer cost of the OS upgrade is too high, but since newer programs require the upgrade (that is, as Joe Public sees it), they can charge higher for it.

    MS is playing both sides of maintaining their monopoly while still raking in hugh profits.

  • Could one of those lawyers who previously answered to some Slashdotters' questions give a quick comment on this?
  • "A full version of MS-DOS 6.22 ran $30 in its time." You may have purchased it at that price, but I suspect that the official or "list" price was considerably higher.

  • Hmm.. don't you think Microsoft, by creating a buggy operating system in order to maintain their monopoly, did about as much damage to those who used Windows without paying as to those who paid for Windows? And what about the people who used other operating systems and weren't able to find software for them because of the dominance of Windows?
  • I have NEVER seen a complete copy of Windows 95, or 98 sold for $100. Those are UPGRADE copies, not complete OSes. Legally, installing them on a new machine, you break the licensing agreement before you even get the software installed.

    Last I check, Solaris for Intel was free (or damn close to it) for development use, and $100 for non-commercial use. If you own a Sun workstation, Solaris is automatically licensed to you.

    I >may be wrong, but I also believe that an unlimited user Solaris license is less then $1k, but windows9x sure as hell isn't a server. FreeBSD is what $40 for the CDs and book? There are umpteen bazillion linux distros ranging from a $1 for a CD to $100 for cd, manuals, and "support".

    I ask however, when exactly did microsoft ever support anyone... the only experience I had with microsoft technical support resulted in. "I'm sorry, we do not support your video card" Well, no $hit, thats why I'm calling. Microsofts support consists of holding you on the phone long enough that your free support is used up and then they can charge you.

    Unfortunatly the real problem here is... simply, what do you compare windows9x to? It is not a server, its a workstation, and most other OSes, although they can and do function as workstations, are designed to be servers. I can't think of many TRUE workstation ONLY OSes like win95 out there (Maybe MacOS). OS/2 was more akin to NT then 95, so thats not fair.

    My personal opinion is that selling Win9x at $100 for a COMPLETE (non-upgrade) copy is far to much. I don't care WHAT you say about R&D, testing, implementation, there is absolutely NO WAY you will EVER make me believe that microsoft had to sell Win9x for more then $20 a copy and STILL make a killing. After the product is released, its nothing but profit from there on out. How many millions of copies were sold? At a dollar a peice, they should have paid microsofts bills for R&D, and salaries of these people for a while, let alone all the other products that came from with the Win9x series (Office9x, Development software, server licenses) The question I have is, wouldn't it be nice to see them get hit with... a fine of about %50 of thier net worth? The only down side to it, it wouldn't do anything more then just really piss them off I think.

  • As an example, I had a Redhat 5.1 server which was working perfectly well. I kept up to date with all the security updates, installed programs both from source code and from RPMs. It all worked perfectly well, but I could tell that things were slowly getting messier - different versions of binaries sitting around, compiled for different versions of the libraries.

    You're right... but at least with a Linux-based system I can find out what libraries are used by what software or take a look at the last accessed/modified dates and trim to my heart's desire. I used to do that in Windows... I had a "/junk" directory and I'd move the full path of files I thought were useless into it and run for a while... if I didn't use it in a couple weeks, it vanished.

    In the end it became a choice between updating all the packages by hand, or installing from a later distribution and porting across all the config changes. I chose the latter because it is a fact that entropy increases in any system over time.

    Again correct. :-) You can't beat the system, but as mentioned, you can sure stretch the time between installs. Personally I like to update everything by hand, but to each his own. :-)

  • I doubt anyone is surprised by this. The timing fits with the finding of fact. I am curious if there are a load of such suits waiting to see if this first round is going to be successful and then get after M$. As is mentioned by another poster, M$ does not have the cash to pay everyone, so I expect the big boys to come out fast and hard if this sort of action seems successful. Hope Bill put some cash under his mattress.
  • Forced, no. But have they made it impractical to use anything else? Sure.

    I was a longterm Amiga user who loved those machines. Criticise me if you will, but I like Amigas. Now, I'm not trying to blame Microsoft for the death of the Amiga - contributory factor, perhaps, but it went thanks to massive incompetence at Commodore in the main. So, I looked at the market, wanting a new platform. I couldn't get another Amiga seriously. I couldn't get a BeOS machine. I could get a Mac (which I actually quite like...) but I'd then be in a very similar position to that which had made me dump Amigas - little or no software. So, much to my displeasure, I get a Windows 98 PC. The OS is horrible in most respects, the hardware is a triumph of engineering effort over basic design and it shows in some big ways. Do I like the machine? No, not really. Did I have a practical choice? No, not really. Do I think Microsoft have harmed the market? Of course.

  • You are right: The real evil here isn't Microsoft, but the lawyers (leeches!) that make a living (vultures!) off their 'cut' in such lawsuits (ambulance-chasers!). Aren't these the same lawyers (devils!) that took a large portion (greedy monsters!) of the multi-billion settlement between the tobacco companies (also evil!) and the states? If there was any justice (hah!), people who lost their jobs due to their employer being sued to oblivion over peanuts should sue these lawyers (bastards!) for compensation.

    No matter how evil you think Microsoft are, they pale in comparison to lawyers. Remember, they were hated even when Shakespeare wrote "Henry IV"... :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 21, 1999 @08:10PM (#1513679)
    November 22, 1999

    Microsoft Faces a Class Action on 'Monopoly'


    Lawyers say they will file a class-action suit against Microsoft on Monday on behalf of millions of Californians, in the first of what legal experts say could become a flood of private litigation springing from the Justice Department's antitrust action against the company.

    The suit, to be filed by three longtime class-action lawyers, will accuse Microsoft of using its monopoly in operating systems software to overcharge buyers of Windows 95 and Windows 98. The complaint does not estimate the financial impact to Windows users, but the lawyers are seeking triple damages if the suit leads to an eventual finding of financial harm.

    The big software maker's vulnerability to private suits increased sharply earlier this month when Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued his findings of fact in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft. Jackson concluded that Microsoft is a monopoly whose anticompetitive acts have stifled innovation and harmed consumers.

    Unlike conclusions of law, a judge's findings of fact in a federal antitrust case are not generally considered admissible as evidence in private suits. But Jackson's findings agreed so strongly with the case presented by the Justice Department and 19 states that antitrust experts say his final verdict, expected early next year, will almost surely find that Microsoft is a monopoly that violated the law.

    The biggest financial threat to Microsoft may come not from corporate suits, but from class actions on behalf of the millions of users of the company's industry-standard Windows operating system. Such consumer suits, legal experts say, have the potential to cost Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even billions, in damage claims. "This is the start of the race to get to the courthouse," observed Stephen Axinn, a partner in Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider who is an antitrust litigator. "It could be like the tobacco litigation, in the sense that you have lots of plaintiffs lawyers in different states sharing information."

    Reducing the financial risk from such litigation, according to legal experts, should be a powerful incentive for Microsoft to seek an out-of-court settlement in the government case. The chances of a settlement appeared to increase last Friday when Jackson appointed Richard A. Posner, a federal appeals court judge and leading antitrust scholar, as mediator in settlement talks between Microsoft and the Justice Department and the states.

    "The prospect of a flood of private follow-on cases -- with their triple damages in private antitrust cases -- are lawsuits with potentials that Microsoft simply cannot ignore," said Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Iowa law school.

    Yet, publicly at least, Microsoft insists that its risk from private antitrust suits is exaggerated. "That litigation is something we're prepared to defend and defend aggressively, if necessary," said Tom Burt, a Microsoft lawyer.

    In consumer class actions, legal experts say, Microsoft has defenses that will lessen its potential liability and present formidable obstacles for plaintiffs. For example, most computer users do not purchase Windows directly from retail software stores in shrink-wrapped boxes. Generally, the operating system is already loaded on personal computers when they are purchased. An estimated 90 percent of Windows 98 users got it preloaded on new machines.

    The legal significance is that a 1977 Supreme Court ruling -- the Illinois Brick Company vs. the State of Illinois -- declared that indirect purchasers of goods could not recover damages in class-action antitrust cases.

    Since 1977, however, 18 states including California and New York have passed laws allowing indirect purchasers to qualify for triple damages in antitrust class actions.

    And while Jackson's findings do provide a road map for plaintiffs' lawyers, there remains a lot to prove in court. Jackson, for example, found that Microsoft has a monopoly, but he did not say precisely when it achieved monopoly status. He found consumers were harmed by Microsoft, but the class-action lawyers must put a figure on how much users were overcharged.

    "The econometrics on damages will be very complex," Axinn said. "There's no question that Microsoft has some good cards to play on defense."

    Still, Jackson provided class-action lawyers with some tantalizing details. In asserting that consumers may have paid more for Windows than they would have in a competitive market, he cited a Microsoft study suggesting possible prices of $49 and $89 for the retail upgrade to Windows 98. Microsoft chose to charge $89, which the study identified as the "revenue maximizing" price.

    "That portion of the judge's findings was an invitation to a class-action lawsuit," said Robert Litan, a former senior official in the Justice Department's antitrust division who is now at the Brookings Institution.

    Microsoft replies that the November 1997 study was garden-variety pricing analysis. Trying to estimate an optimal, or revenue maximizing, price is something that every consumer product company routinely does for each of its offerings.

    The judge's discussion of the Microsoft pricing study, according to Terry Gross of Gross & Belsky in San Francisco, is "a clear marker." But, he said, it is mainly the overall drift of Jackson findings that provides a solid starting point for the class-action suit that he and his colleagues are filing.

    "Throughout the judge's findings," Gross said, "he makes it clear that all Windows users were harmed by paying too high a price for Windows."

    The class action, which the lawyers plan to file in California Superior Court in San Francisco, does not specify the number of members in the class of both individual and corporate users of Windows. But Gross estimated that the number in California was "at least 10 million," and he said the suit covers Windows users since the introduction of Windows 95. The complaint does not estimate the financial damage to Windows users in California.

    Earlier this month, a small New York advertising company that purchased Windows, Seastrom Associates Ltd., sued Microsoft and sought class-action status to represent thousands of similar corporate customers in New York state.

    But to take on Microsoft in a class action, legal experts say, will require experience, skill and resources. They note that the three lawyers behind the California suit -- Gross, Daniel J. Mogin of San Diego, and Francis O. Scarpulla of San Francisco -- are experienced state class-action lawyers who have worked for two decades on antitrust cases involving products ranging from snack foods to tires.

    The lawyers say they will continue their litigation even if the federal case is settled out of court. Jackson's findings of fact alone, they insist, ease the way for suits like theirs.

    "A settlement in the government's case wouldn't make our case go away," Gross said. "We still have these findings that Microsoft is a monopoly that abused its power by overcharging consumers."

    Typically, only a final ruling -- not the findings of fact -- can be used as evidence in other cases. But a judge's fact findings and final ruling are ordinarily issued at the same time. Jackson took the unusual step of separating his findings of fact from his findings of law, which gave his fact findings greater importance.

    Still, legal experts say Microsoft will surely challenge any attempt by class-action lawyers to build a case on the findings of fact alone.

    Reposted without permission. Feel free to moderate down or delete if you need to CYOA, slashdot owner types.

  • Hm. Well, as far as the floodgates are concerned, a broad class action suit or two would in theory limit the number of claims that would reach the courts to those few. At least, I would think.
  • my dell-box recently had the hardware warranty (!) voided by the fact that I removed Bills junkware and installed Linux.
    To be perfectly honest I somehow feel that they are trying to limit my choices...
  • Woo Hoo!!
  • Okay, she was wearing *tight* sweatpants.
    I still believe that the pants contributed as much
    to the woman's injuries as the coffee. Some people like their BATH WATER hotter than what comes out of your mr. coffee. I'll need to get
    a thermometer to test the temperature of the coffee made by my (vintage) percolator, but I do
    know that the water comes within a degree or two of boiling. Many a morning I have splashed a bit from the cup onto my hand without 3rd degree burns, but then I've touched an alloy exhaust manifold on a vw bus that's been going uphill for a few hours without third degree burns either. I don't expect everybody's skin is the same, and I'm sure that a 79-80 year old woman would have far more sensitive skin. I also know that even in the "old days", the coffee served by mcdonalds could be drunk from the cup.

    Regardless of any of this stuff, the main point of the coffee lawsuit is that McDonalds rudely refused to pay the woman's medical expenses, and dismissed her complaint out-of-hand. That's what the suit was about, and why the arbitrary "amount of money mcdonalds makes on one day's coffee sales" in damages were considered reasonable.

    Anyway, in response to your comment, I'll mouth off whenever I feel like it. If you can flame me hotter than a vw exhaust manifold, maybe I'll chill ;-)

    Regards, James "never had that problem with a slurpee" McGill

  • I have not _once_ wanted to buy windows. Yet I have at least 4 copies that I have paid for. Plus Word and various other wastes of diskspace that company has managed to excrete. Simply because the alternative, to go to the trouble to get a computer without windows, would cost me more. This is due to corporate licenses, bulk contracts, etc. I have been forced, due to Microsofts illegal actions, to pay, and pay more than necessary, for something I do not want.

    Just go away. Your argument has been voiced and disproved so many times its not even worth arguing anymore. You are simply wrong. If someone should take responsibility for their actions it is Microsoft, and if you want a fine example of how not to do that just read their licenses. Just imagine if they 'took responsibility for their actions' and paid back what their substandard dung has cost in lost work and buisness to those suffering from the bugs. The total value of Microsoft wouldnt even begin to cover that.
  • Not even then. In the main, tyres are mounted on wheels in a very standard way which anyone can use. There's a few odd ways Michelin use, but they're still open standards IIRC. And oil? One may be better at the job than another, but there's nothing fundamental that stops interoperation. It's pretty well known how to make automotive lubricants :)

    The problem here is the barrier to entry. It's huge, which isn't the case with the car parts analogy.

    • And in addition (aand I've said this here before), lawyer's and plaintiffs should NOT be allowed to profit from punitive damages (they are PUNISHMENTS, not rewards). The punitive fees should be distributed to the community (somehow).

    The plaintiff benefits from punitive damages in order to encourage the pursuit of punitive damages.

    These punishments are determined by a court and are, in theory, justly applied against a defenendent. What does it matter who receives the benefit from the award?

    There is a conflict of interest in giving these awards to the community in that it is the people, through their courts and juries, who would determine the damage AND benefit.

    If you feel that the punitive damages are excessive, then consider support for tort reform. Fix the right problem.

  • I was the *non-lawyer*, but I'll offer some comments as the others are staying away from this flame-ridden topic ;^)

    First, Hawk and many others had already warned that many such lawsuits were to be expected given the damning evidence in the FoF.

    Second, the FoF have little standing outside of their own case until/unless they become part of a final court decision. But they provide an excellent roadmap for anyone else to follow, including what conclusions to pursue, what witnesses to call, and how Microsoft will attempt to respond. The $49 vs. $89 snippet alone could be fantastically helpful if it can be backed up.

    The class action suit(s) and the Caldera private suit could constrain some of the proposed remedies, because it may be quite complicated to apportion major monetary damages across multiple new companies if Microsoft is split up. If Microsoft's cash hoard and its Win9x monopoly business go together, that would be the one to take the money from, but that risks all the real Microsoft talent fleeing to a new company that has all the real forward-looking assets. At any rate the private liability accumulated by Microsoft will have to be consciously planned for during the remedies phase and also in any possible settlement.
  • Now this has interesting consequences...

    #savage snipping#
    Well, it's a monopoly, so they'll make as many copies as they need to to get the lowest possible price. And they set the selling price based on that. So the consumer ends up paying more for the good than the market indicates the good is worth. Which, pardon the pun, isn't good.

    So - if I understand right - the fact that they're able to make more profit than they would in a competitive environment is evidence that they're abusing their monopoly. In other words, companies with monopolies who want to stay legal should keep to the competitive position on the curve, reducing their profits.

    _But_. As I understand it, companies (specifically, their directors) have a legal obligation to maximise profits for the shareholders. Does this mean that they're stuck in a legal tragedy situation, where whatever they do they break the law? I seem to recall that you can't be punished for that.

    Obdisclaimer: I know nuffin' about Law, so I may well have caught the wrong end of the stick and misunderstood. And I'd imagine someone's already sorted this one ought before. But I'd be interested to know what the solution is.

  • A refund on every copy of Windows 95/98 wouldn't bankrupt the company. Lets say that there are 100 million copies of windows 95/98 out there, at 100$ each lets say. Thats only 10 billion dollars. Bill can give that up and still have 90 billion dollars.

    Where it would run into problems is the fact that most investers might pull out....and then their stock would crumble taking most of the market with them.


  • I don't _use_ Windows: I'm typing this from a Mac- and MS still found ways to harm me. They systematically exterminated all the software companies they could and did everything they could to ensure that nobody would write software for anything but _their_ operating system. This _is_ covered in the findings of fact as one of the types of damage they inflicted. They did this so well that _your_ instinctive reaction is to behave like there is no software for anything else. That's how close they came to scorching the earth for the entire computer industry, and I can name off a long list of products which didn't really have to be Windows-only.
    I can quite legitimately blame Bill Gates for screwing up the market for Mac software, or indeed for Linux software or Be software: it's all the same argument, by abusing their monopoly they screwed up the normal operation of the free market. The FoF covers this, and the drying up of alternatives is considered one of the most subtly harmful results of the abuse of monopoly.
  • actually you can draw the supply/demand curves for the market given some parameters that are normally drawn from comparable industries. Hence you can determine to some extent what the price of the product would have been given other market conditions.

  • I find it interesting that there have as yet been no suits based upon the quality of the product. This one seems focused around the $89 price.

    For years now, I have been reading about unreliable servers, frequent rebooting, and people coming to all sorts of accomodations with their M$ products in order to keep them running - scheduled reboots, for example.

    Over the years, this has got to have cost a lot of companies a lot of money. If Toshiba can bend over to the tune of 2 billion because of a bug in a floppy controller that has never caused a documented loss of data to anybody, where are all the lawsuits against M$ over service outages and lost time which occur daily and are widely acknowledged throughout the IT world?

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • Well, how about putting your cute little tagline in your sig, so my no-sig setting will filter it out?
  • If /. hadn't rejected the story I submitted a few weeks back, we'd all know that a web site is getting sued for copying stories from two or three newspapers and that they lost their preliminary motion to dismiss the case citing "Fair Use" since the stories were being used to generate comments. The papers in question make a case that the web site is causing them lost revenue since they make a good bit of money selling archived stories.

    Sorry I can't be more specific but I seem to have lost the link at the moment. Linking to a story should be OK (Though some web sites don't like "deep links" either) but copying one verbatim crosses the line.

    While /. should be relatively safe from a lawsuit for a user posting a message like this, someone might be able to supoena Rob's web logs and go after the real perpitrator (And maybe even the moderators who moderated it up.)

  • but larger shops that would use OS/2 (or WinNT) probably do their own custom disk images anyway, so the market for preinstalled OS/2 was probably small enough that even IBM could afford to neglect it for a cheaper Windows licence

    Whether they could afford it or not is irrelevant. The point is that they should never have had to do it in the first place. It just proves that Microsoft has some serious monopoly power when they can make even IBM bow to their demands and forsake its own OS in favor of Windows. That's what is meant by squelching consumer choice and competition. Consumers didn't get a choice. I'm not just talking about larger shops. I'm talking about anyone who wanted to use OS/2 instead of Windows. Their choice was taken away because they were going to have to pay for Windows even if they didn't want it.

  • monopolies will usually lower their prices to kick competitors out

    That is only until they have effectively eliminated the competitors. MS-DOS 6.x+Windows 3.x was sold much cheaper than Windows 95. By the time Windows 95 came out, the Amiga and Atari were dead, OS/2 and the Mac were already in severe decline and Linux hadn't started to take off much yet. Microsoft raised the price of Windows 98 compared to 95, despite the fact that it was mainly bug fixes and window dressing on top of 95. The prices of MS-Office have also gone way up as competition has gone down.

    The traditional monopolistic pricing pattern is certainly there with Microsoft, make no mistake about it.

  • So then Microsoft should be punished for the idiocy of the American public? Please. I would say that any Joe Moron could have gone to their locally run computer store, those that did not have a contract with MS, and had them build a computer for them. Problem solved.

    The idiocy of the American computer-buying public is M$ most valuable asset. It is what has allowed them to foist a crippled bug-ridden product on millions while convincing those millions that any problems are the result of their own failure to grok the tech.

    Those idiots "know" that a Dell box is superior to a no-name white box, because (the "logic" goes) if the white-boxen were so good, M$ would have contracts with the builders of them as well.

    So, for example, Mr. Idiot #458,975,221 is faced with the "decision" to purchase "inferior" hardware without M$ OS, or "brand name" hardware with the M$ OS.

    So, yes indeed, punish M$ for the carefully cultivated idiocy of the public. M$ feeds, fertilizes, maintains and relies upon that idiocy.

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • Yes, they did! Unless you've built your own computers for the past decade and a past, not only did someone MAKE you buy a copy of Windows, they probably MADE you buy a copy of DOS 3.3, 5.0 and 6.0 as well. You may have specified that you didn't want anything on the system, but you certainly did pay for a license, whether you wanted it or not. That's one of the things the DOJ is on about (Though they spanked MS for per-processor licensing a few years back, the status quo has remained in the industry to this DAY or we wouldn't have had a Windows Refund Day a while back.)
  • by Reid ( 629 )
    Sure, you're right. I just wanted to point out the obvious idiocy of the analogy. I suppose next we'll be hearing Mr. Open Mind go on about Pepsi including a Coke in each six pack!
  • Companies are compelled to increase thier value for their shareholders, but not to the extent that they break the law. If a company could somehow gain a strategic market advantage from killing someone, and they went ahead and did it, they certainly couldn't use as a defense in court that they had to do it in order to avoid a suit by shareholders. Nor could the shareholders bring suit if the company failed to commit murder, no matter how absolutely it could be proven that such an act would increase the value of the company.

    Note, I do not claim this will continue to apply if Bush wins the presidency. Flame away.


  • ...Here's what happened in the Toshiba deal:

    1) lawyers smell blood, find glitch that could have caused up to (!) $1,000 per user x 1,000,000 users = $1e9 in damages

    2) lawyers get some stooge to file the class action on behalf of all potential "victims"

    3) big company settles for fear of bankruptcy

    4) stooge gets $20k, 1e6 users get certificate new floppy disks, lawyers get 10% x 1e9 = $1e8

    Amen! And now here we have M$, with a bug-filled unreliable product, with lots of documented harm caused in the form of outages and IT support costs, no need to find stooges, as a few days testimony by a few thousand IT admins and users will establish damages to anybody's satisfaction, and certainly no dearth of hungry lawyers.

    So where are all the lawsuits????? []

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • OK, so there have been a few other people saying that Linux/*BSD/GPL/Free Software isn't the answer to everything, and that MS products are not all useless etc, but the vast majority just slag off MS and get moderated up for it.

    Wake up and realise that just because MS have used some pretty bad corporate tactics, their products are not necessarily bad. An analogy might be Nestle. Just because their agressive marketing of baby formula in the 3rd world has caused lots of harm, doesn't mean that a Kit-Kat bar is a bad product. (I don't know if they have them in the states, so a Kit-Kat is a chocolate wafer bar thing)

    I think that win32 is a reasonably good OS for the task it sets itself. It was designed to be easy to use rather than incredibly stable and secure. If you want five nines reliability, you buy an S/390. If you want to word process and browse the internet easily, you buy MacOS or windows. If you want better stability, and lower-level acces to your machine on Intel, you use Linux. The point is that not everyone knows how to install linux, and even more people would be terrified by an x-term. Windows is aimed at people who just want to use a given set of apps without worrying about how it works, and it does a reasonably good job at it.

    NT is a good system, as was proven by the recent Mindcraft benchmarks (and before you complain about the validity, I mean the SECOND set, that were carried out with Linux techs on hand to tune the Linux system). Stop just mindlessly hammering MS products because MS isn't the most friendly corporation in the world.

    Oh yeah, according to another poster, because I don't slag off MS at every opportunity I must be "stupid". So feel free to disregard everything I say because I am "stupid".

  • This is not a flame. But please, slashdot. Lets get back to the roots of technology.

    I *beg* of this website to totally quit being a media player, and become the news site it once was. I can go to and get all this info, and the comments just aren't anything constructive for such a moot overly plaid topic already.

    Microsoft is in its own boat, so is linux, so is solaris, so is netscape. But lets move on. Get back to "news for nerds, stuff that matters" as this microsoft trial is old news, it doesn't matter, as the outcome will only effect people who use windows avidly. And frankly, if there is a disucussion, it should be how a windows user should prepare for any changes, and not talk about "the beast" itself, because they're is no right or wrong with that.

    Just my 2 cents

  • There's a reason you shoot to kill in cases of home invasion. Hard to sue if you're dead, huh?
    One does not shoot to kill in a self-defense situation, one shoots to stop. If I was going to shoot to kill, after the bad guy was down and no longer a threat I'd go over and put a round in his head. And if I did so, no only would I be charged with excessive use of force, I would probably be sued vigorously by the intruder's family.

    Of course, I may be arrested and/or sued for shooting to stop, but I have a much better legal (and ethical) position when my goal is clearly to stop the threat to my safety.

  • Slashdot should just allow all users the ability to check who moderated any post. Essentially moderators get to act as anonymous cowards in regards to their moderation. There's no accountability, so anyone who wishes to try and surpress a viewpoint through moderation, does so with no worries.

    I think this is a great idea. Also, unlike other suggestions I've read re: moderation, this would be simple to implement.

    Slash already keeps track of the moderation totals for a given message and displays this data when the CID format [] of the URL is used. Looks like it would be simple to include the moderators id in the form of a link to the moderators user page.

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • Actually, the FoF specifically states that MS could have easily sold Win98 for $49 and still made a profit, but instead sold it for $89. That's $40 per copy of Win98 sold. I think that's pretty good proof of 'damages'. IANAL.
  • When it does you begin sacrificing quality to serve the idiots, who then continue to complain "It's too hard! Make it easier!" simply because they don't want to learn. MAKE THEM LEARN

    It may surprise you, but 95% of the millions of computer users out there use computers as a tool to get their job done. This may be by using the web to research things, or by using email or a word processor. These people do not care or want to care about how the system works. They will buy whatever system puts the technicalities as far away from them as possible, because it does not benefit them to know how to configure their machine.

    There is absolutely no reason for them to learn how their machine operates. Many people drive a car, but it is not mandatory for all drivers to be experts on how their car works. They just use it to get from A to B.

    Just take some time to put yourself in the shoes of the average user, and realise that they have different expectations from a computer to you.

  • maybe windows being full of bugs isn't why microsoft still has a monopoly, but being full of (buggy) "features" kept people buying it and the bugs kept people upgrading.
  • There are already lots of us who use non-Microsoft and non-Linux/Unix systems which are far superior to either one, who hate both of them, and who chuckle at those who are involved in the Unix/Linux vs. Windows wars - why choose between a Honda and a Saturn when you can have a BMW?
  • ...yet you appear to have no problem with that.

    As for "freedom of choice" when it comes to operating systems, it has been pointed out time and time again that it is impossible to purchase a laptop computer without paying for Microsoft Windows. That blows your pie-in-the-sky freedom theory out of the water.

    Now, as to the previous poster's comment about Microsoft and your subsequent condemnation of it: I really don't know why so many people think that corporations are physical entities and, as such, should be given the same treatment as one would to, for instance, their grandmother. Why should I kowtow to Microsoft? If I think they suck, I sure as hell have every right to say so. It's not like Microsoft's feelings will be hurt -- they're not human beings! I can't piss them off; I can't punch them in the stomach, much as I'd like to sometimes. It's bad enough that corporations have been endowed with the same property rights as human beings have in this country; do we really have to start ascribing emotional attributes to them too? Some would have it that way, though, it seems... it's a shame.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • That's a good point. For example, with Standard Oil, the gas stations purchase the oil and gas through Stand...wait, they purchased it direct from the Standard Oil. Because, even if the end user was a comsumer, so what the owners of the stations themselve, and if anything, they were the ones being hurt. Opps, that was a bad example.

    Let's use AT&T. Comsumers purchase the services.. uhh..oh, they purchased the services directly from AT&T.

    How do you defined purchased. SOMEONE has to purchase directly. They are consumers also. The potential monopoly affects all levels of the chain.

    Give them a way out? Perhaps this a offshoot of the "sue 'em" way of thinking today, but anti-trust laws are not a way of providing conduits for class-action lawsuits. They may be protected from the money-hungry lawyers (yeah, those lawyers are ONLY concerned with the purchaing public, not lining thier own pockets),but they still aren't protected from any punishment that the courts themselves decided to lay upon them.

    I think lawyers like this should be sued!!!

  • I worked at Dell in tech support for over a year. Putting your own OS on the box does not void the hardware warranty. But it makes things pretty tough for the techs who are trained on troubleshooting in windows 9x/NT to figure out what the heck is wrong with your hardware if you put Linux on it. And if they don't know what's wrong, they won't replace hardware. So they'll either tell you to boot the Dell-supplied Diagnostics disk and try and troubleshoot off that (not likely if it's a weird hardware glitch), try and support you in Linux if they're familiar with it, or if you're being annoying, they'll tell you to call back when you've got Windows reloaded on the thing. But your hardware warranty is all good. Kind of, but not quite, a catch 22.
  • I haven't seen this sort of thing happening yet on any of my Linux systems. I've been through the following upgrades with SuSE Linux (I started using SuSE Linux at version 5.2): 5.2->5.3->6.0->6.1->6.2.

    I have been very careful to only install RPM packages from SuSE and RPM seems to do a very good job of updating the existing packages. It updates older packages when I do an upgrade and as best as I can tell it removes all of the files that make up the older package first before installing the newer files from the update.
  • Ddirectly after the announcement of the findings of fact, the International Herald Tribune [] (and possibly one or both of the parent papers, New York Times and Washington Post) ran a story on a connection with the legions of lawyers that served in the tobacco wars (i.e., smokers claiming damages from the major tobacco companies) and who might soon be out of work. There are some interesting parallels. The big weakness in M$ litigation would be that most of Windows has been soled through original equipment manufactorers (OEMs). The only strong case, the article stated, was for Win98 updates bought as CD-ROMs in shops.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @11:18AM (#1513729) Journal
    Several of our colleagues have observed that class actions of this kind are being brought by law firms with only $$$ in their eyes. Yea, verily this is probably the truth. Class action plaintiff firms are indeed an entrepreneurial bunch.

    But several of these messages suggested that the truth of this proposition also implies that class actions so brought do not serve the purposes of justice. Here (though I primarily practice law on behalf of commercial defendants in such actions), I will part company with my /. colleagues and will speak on behalf of my bretheren at the plaintiff's bar.

    It is not uncommon for businesses to engage in commercial activities in violation of the law and the policy set by legislatures, rulemakers and the courts. In many cases, there is no "real harm" to any one member of the public, but hundreds of thousands of dollars can be made, scattering the costs over millions and tens of millions of customers, each suffing only at most a few pennies or dollars of damage at most. A primary example occurs in the mis-collection of sales taxes from consumers.

    Indeed, few people would even monitor this conduct, least of all the government, whose enforcement resources are limited at the end of the day. Were there no enforcement by the government, why would businesses tow the line?

    The answer: because there exists a small cabal of class action plaintiff law firms who specialize in this kind of practice. They investigate these micro-violations, and bring civil actions on behalf of the consumers who were overcharged, each only pennies at a time.

    True, consumers will get a pittance back at the end of the day compared to what was taken, but they will get something they would not have gotten otherwise, and at little cost and with minimum disruption to their lives. More important, the bringing of such actions STOPS the bad practices, and deters companies from "overreaching by neglect." It is easy to look the other way when your "mistakes" are making you money.

    If such actions could not be brought, there would be no check on this kind of microviolation. Class action disputes of this kind (see also qui tam actions) are the only meaningful engine to assure enforcement of certain kinds of social policies.

    Why let lawyers get rich at the expense of a Microsoft or other company, with little revenue actually flowing to the victims? The answer is simple: so that the company will be deterred from microviolation conduct in the future. Here is where you will find the justice.

    Think ahead: a statutory class action remedy for excessive spamming by or on behalf of commercial entities!
  • If you as a company can't prevent grevious injuries from mishaps which even intelligent people will have, then you shouldn't serve coffee through the drivethrough.

    Oh come on

    Cars kill a lot more people than spilt coffee. A lot more. Even intelligent people sometimes kill themselves and other people in car accidents.

    So should we impose a ban on the sale of all cars?

    What about the customer's responsibility to prevent such accidents? Like, don't put a cup of scalding hot coffe between your legs? It's kinda stupid, you gotta admit.

  • Fuck you bitch.

    Does this require comments? It is so hard no to qualify that as a typical Linux user answer...

    But I agree, Slashdot used to be MUCH more interesting months ago. Now I read it just for the occasional funny comment. Not a good sign for a "News" site...
  • Actually, there is a free-market price for Windows; you can find it by visiting the on-line auction sites. When I wanted a copy of Windows95 for my home-built machine, I bought a shrink-wrapped (and I believe, legitimate) copy of Windows 95 for $65. This was the "full" version for new machines, which sold at retail for around $180 and which my hardware distributor was selling for about $100.

  • The trouble is, even with a homogenous Microsoft-only environment, the system is not necessarily that stable. This is partly due to inadequate testing. Under Linux or OS/2, while a sufficiently carefully coded program can break the system, by exploiting bugs or security holes, it is difficult to crash a machine by accident. Unlike under Windows. If you don't believe me, write 256 bytes of 0's to location 0000:0000 from a DOS prompt. You can even use DEBUG. Windows will almost always crash. Then try it with Linux on a PC. No crash. And this is a remarkably simple error to make. I've done it. Then I switched to Linux for development.
  • As I understand it, the EULA obliges the retailer to refund the money, not Microsoft. And they can insist that you return the complete system.
  • Sorry this is a little off-topic but it shows how ridiculous our suit-happy society has become. And that is definitely on target.
    If some greedy idiot breaks into my house and tries to hurt me or my wife or my kid I want to hurt him first, so bad that he wants to stop. He is the aggressor, where does he get the right to sue me, the victim? And if he does have that right, then why can't I go try to rob some really rich people/companies, get shot by their security forces, sue, and make lots of money? Sounds like a plan...
    The reason I don't like the system is because it only works for the bad guys. Go ahead, prove me wrong.


    McDonalds serves (served?) their coffee at a higher temperature (180 vs 150-160 degrees fahrenheit) than other drivethroughs. If you're going to serve coffee in that way, you (as a business) should take reasonable precautions to prevent these sorts of accidents, especially after HUNDREDS of other incidents. Serve it at a lower temperature, make the cups as strong and secure as possible, possibly put the cup in an additional safe container, etc. If you as a company can't prevent grevious injuries from mishaps which even intelligent people will have, then you shouldn't serve coffee through the drivethrough.
  • I recall seeing it available for the Dimension. However, their linux site is a bit of a mess now, and it's not clear what's going on.

    In the meantime, there's a ton of good linux hardware shops ( such as )

  • Perhaps I'm not explaining the mechanism very well, but it's not really a choice on the part of the monopoly. Intentional or not, they do end up with a higher price than a fair market porducer selling the same good to the same consumers. Now whether or not consumers should be re-imbursed for the damage done to them by a monoploy is a seperate issue. Personally, I think that they should. A monopoly does really bad things to the market and to development of the good. However, since monopolies aren't an everyday situation, maybe this should be dealt with as part of the final ruling. My point is just that the entire market has been hurt by this, particularly including consumers. They are right in claiming they've been hurt, but dealing with that is a seperate issue.

  • by Eccles ( 932 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @05:19AM (#1513748) Journal
    This is why its bad to hurt M$, the only winners will be the bottom feeding scum sucking lawyers.

    I'm thinking of trying to organize an anti-outrageous class-action lawyer fee system.

    Basically, the idea would be something like "The undersigned refuse to be considered the member of any class in a class action lawsuit unless the lawyers agree to the following fee schedule, based on total cash payments to class members: 30% of damages up to $200,000, %20 of damages from $200,000 to $1,000,000, %10 of damages from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, 5% of damages from $2,000,000 to $50,000,000, and 1% of damages above that $50 M. (All this working like tax schedules, so for $500,000 in damages, it would be 30% of $200,000 + 20% of $300,000.) For coupons or vouchers, fees would be based on half of the amount of coupons actually redeemed within one year of issuance."

    If very large numbers of people signed such a statement and it was given legal weight, the bottom-feeders wouldn't get so rich and would have to work towards getting actual money for their clients, not just useless coupons that no one redeems.
  • #include <disclaimer.h>

    I'd be careful about giving legal opinions if you're not a lawyer (I'd be even more careful if you are a lawyer). The facts as I understand them is that common carrier status for websites is a somewhat murky subject. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act [] makes the limits to liability much more explicit, but also requires that a service like Slashdot remove materials that they know about and which are objectionable.
  • by Ater ( 87170 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @08:16PM (#1513757)
    As a disgruntled Windows 98 user, I have suffered extreme amounts of emotional damage from using windows, and I demand compensation! Why just last night I was downloading a 200 meg Swedish teenage lesbian erotica video on my box, and the damn thing BSOD'ed on me after 6 hours, while I was 98% done! Realizing my hours of downloading were in vain, I not only sobbed uncontrollably, but I have also lost all sexual function and have been forced to undergo months of therapy to regain it. My sex life has been destroyed thanks to MS and its buggy OS, and had I not been forced to run Windows, I would be having a delicious pr0n spree right now. Running Windows has ruined my life, and it's your fault, MS! Oh, and all that little monopoly stuff wasn't that nice either.
  • All she asked for was payment of the medical fees. McDonalds refused. They got slapped. The Jury awarded punitive (that means punishment) because McDonalds had been warned and sued many times and had made no changes. The award was about 1 day's coffee receipts for McDonalds and was reduced on appeal.
  • So you're a forensic biologist now. Without proof your argument is specious. Here's the relevant facts from The Actual Facts About The Mcdonalds' Coffee Case []
    Plaintiffs' expert, a scholar in thermodynamics applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids, at 180 degrees, will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds. Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck's spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.

  • She was wearing sweatpants (which I believe is still legal in some states). Read the facts [] before mouthing off.
  • Let's see. It used to be that you couldn't buy a PC without windows installed. Even if you didn't want windows, you still had to pay for it. Hmmm.... that doesn't sound like being offered alternatives. Sounds like windows refund day.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    OK, I was naive. I thought that the idea behind class action lawsuits was to benefit large groups of consumers harmed by corporations and various other entities.

    What this lawsuit clearly shows me is that class action lawsuits are there to make lawyers rich. You just have to be there first. It's lotto for lawyers.

    If you saw Regarding Henry, you'll see that shooting a lawyer in the head makes them good and nice... I'm not advocating shooting them, but perhaps requiring a partial lobotomy upon passing the bar could restore sanity to these idiots.
  • It may not hold up, but it is based on an internal MS study, so it's more than just a guess or conjecture.
  • Does anyone know the details of microsoft's OEM pricing scheme? Besides the obvious bully tactics, what does it amount to, on average, per computer for it to come pre-installed with Windows '98?

    Would OEMs, especially the ones not in bed with M$, be able to bring lawsuit against M$ to recover damages? Or purchasers of those OEMs products?

    When I worked for a local computer store (actually worked in 2 different ones), we got maybe $10 or so less than retail, but charged the retail price to the customer, even if it came preinstalled. That IS a consumer cost. I'm not sure how big OEMs get charged, but if the cost is relegated to the consumer in ANY WAY, one would think that the consumer would be able to recover those costs.

    Of course, not many would bother if it comes down to a couple bucks/computer, triple damages, minus a third for the lawyers cut: you'd get many $10 out of it.

    Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.

  • Cars kill a lot of people. But people understand and accept the risks when they purchase and drive a car. There are substantial regulations pertaining to auto safety, which also gives the manufacturers some protection from liability. But in the end, if a company knows of a significant safety problem relative to other vehicles in the same class and does not correct it, they are potentially liable.
  • Just unpacked our first Dell Linux preloads at work today. Dell's OEM rate for NT-WS must be around $125-$150, because the price difference between NT-WS and Red Hat preloads is $75 (with Linux being cheaper). The Red Hat preload systems come with support from LinuxCare and a plastic shrink-wrap with install manual and CD/floppy kit, much like the NT OEM one in fact - figure those at $50-$75 total, hence the figure. You also get a nice pamphlet from Microsoft on how to use a mouse (yes, really) which comes with the 2.5 button rodent (little wheel) supplied.

    I think Win98 OEM's at around $30-40 in bulk, and around $75-85 for mom 'n' pop shops - many "build you own" places in the UK will resell Win98 OEM kits at this latter kind of rate, if bought with certain components (ISTR it's actually the HD, not the motherboard, that counts).

    If you check into successful MS-Tax refund stories you might get more data; when Toshiba did it I think they used to sink the full "list" price of an OEM, rather than disclose their pricing deal with Micro$oft.

  • .. this is the result of the lack of success of the people realizing the cost of buying oem copies of software they don't want, MS responding by sorta allowing refunds until they pushed it to the computer sellers. Then with this whole monopoly buisness, the time is right and more proof exists.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 21, 1999 @09:12PM (#1513842)
    Agressive consumer legal action is the most effective tools American consumers have to curtail abuse of corporate power.

    Submitted for your approval, the facts [] about the McDonald's coffee suit.

  • Great, bloated, stable-if-you're-lucky software. I've had it crash on me with excellent hardware, and with a fine setup. Tell me, how can you tell a crappy install, since 98 and NT do most of the install without asking the user anything (because it automatically assumes EVERYONE is a moron). My setup is good. It works fine, but every once in a while, something happens and windows randomly freezes. Is it the OS? Is it an app I am using? It should be able to kill bad apps, or at least leave error logs as to what caused the error. NOTHING should ever descend to the dumbass level. EVER. When it does you begin sacrificing quality to serve the idiots, who then continue to complain "It's too hard! Make it easier!" simply because they don't want to learn. MAKE THEM LEARN. As you later state: But for the average user who can't learn how to "double click" or how to "go to the file menu and click print," linux isn't the answer. Can't learn? Sounds to me like refusal to learn. Like the quote says, "Windows hasn't increased computer literacy, it's just lowered the standard". More On Hardware: A system should be able to tell you your system is bad. If your system is crapping out due to bad memory, it should be able to tell you that to your face. Until then, to most people that Bluescreen is a fault of the OS. Most system reliability problems lie with microsoft from what I've seen. Brand new PCs from the likes of HP and compaq for home users still die. I can sit here all day and say that my linux box crashes all the time, but I know deep down inside, the memory may be bad, and I probably did a bum job of installing it. You try making the same idiots who are "incapable" of learning how to double click figure that out, especially since their copy of 98/NT probably came preinstalled. Also, Microsoft, since they have "monopoly" power, should be forced to stand behind their product. They probably the only company who's product does critical jobs, yet they don't stand behind it (they have a clause stating essentially NO WARRANTY, and you have to pay extra for tech support). The ENTIRE Linux community stands behind it. They don't want it to crash, so they make it that way. Microsoft has no need to care, because according to their EULA, they don't have to! Better put some cotton in those ears, because it looks like it's going to be a while.
  • Major brand name pc without windows but with a big, corporate warranty. Sure, today you can go to VA. How many consumers know of VA? Does VA have the years of household recognition that a name like compaq has? True, I'd much rather own a VA box than a compaq anything (expect a ds10 _would_ be nice....), but we have to look at the joe average population.

    That and laptops.

  • Once again, someone who has posted a pro-MS message on Slashdot gets moderated down, although the message is no less appropriate than most of the other ones around here.

    For the record: I think MS is a band of gangsters and that both the anti-trust suit and the coming class action suits are richly deserved justice.

    Nevertheless, this guy is entitled to his opinion, and stated it with arguments and no more flamage than most of the anti-MS posters. Moderation is not meant to be censorhip for unpopular viewpoints.

    Will someone please moderate it back up? Meanwhile, I'm going meta-moderating until I can find this one.
  • I forgot one important point which is relevant here. The suit is about the fair price, not the option to purchase. Being unfairly overcharged because there was no other way to use a joe average home PC. Sorry.

  • wtf. sounds like poetry. deep down inside you're a fag.

    Dude, that's not cool. Bigotry sucks. Open your mind, life goes easier that way.

  • And in addition (aand I've said this here before), lawyer's and plaintiffs should NOT be allowed to profit from punitive damages (they are PUNISHMENTS, not rewards). The punitive fees should be distributed to the community (somehow).
  • Remember Windows Refund Day? How many people have successfully obtained their refunds for unused MS software? Is MS still throwing up barriers against collection of refunds? Are they still hoping that no one notices that they ever promised any such thing?

    I think that Linux users ought to bring a class action suit to force MS to pay their refunds.

    Judging from the posts made so far, I suppose a lot you will say, "No way, I'll never do that, class action suits and anything involving lawyers are Inherently EVIL, and I'll have nothing to do with it." I think this is ideological and naive. MS has collected about a hundred bucks from you for absolutely nothing. If you're willing to tolerate something like that, then would you please send some of your money to me, too? After all, I haven't done anything for you either.

    Seems to me that this is a no-brainer. The EULA specifically states that those who choose not to use Windows are entitled to a refund, and yet experience has shown that people trying to exercise that right are systematically hindered. MS has no right to money for nothing. If contracts are to mean anything at all in this world, then MS should be forced to pay.

  • (because it automatically assumes EVERYONE is a moron).

    Sort of like a lot of the new installation programs for the comercially popular linux distributions. Yeah, yeah, they still allow you a higher degree of control... but if you notice, the direction they are going in is to automate as much as possible. Hmm, I wonder why? Maybe its because thats what normal consumers want? Besides, neither you nor I might be the normal consumer, but I'm sure we could both still benefit from better (well... anythings better than the almost non-existant) hardware detection.

    NOTHING should ever descend to the dumbass level. EVER. When it does you begin sacrificing quality to serve the idiots, who then continue to complain "It's too hard! Make it easier!" simply because they don't want to learn. MAKE THEM LEARN.

    This doesn't make any sense, of course things should be made as easy as possible. First of all, this is what consumers want. You aren't going to be competative if you don't listen to your customers. And if you haven't noticed this is exactly the direction many linux distributions are going. And your statement that you should "MAKE THEM LEARN" also doesn't make any sense. Computers are supposed to make life easier for people, they don't need or want to sit down and learn a large set of arcane commands and formats for 50 different configuration files (well.. I like to do that, but thats just me), they just want to sit down and get something useful done.

    It might not have dawned on you, but ONE (I'm not saying its the only) major reasons why windows is dominant today, is that its relatively easy to use, even for someone who has never touched a computer before (well... macs are even more like that, but they lost for other reasons).

    What I will agree with you on, is that it is nice to have the abillity to get down and dirty with the operating system and bypass all of the dumbed down controls... maybe with a little (well... a lot) more work kde or gnome will give us just that.

    Also, Microsoft, since they have "monopoly" power, should be forced to stand behind their product. They probably the only company who's product does critical jobs, yet they don't stand behind it (they have a clause stating essentially NO WARRANTY, and you have to pay extra for tech support). The ENTIRE Linux community stands behind it.

    Okay, this is just wrong. If you take a look at Part 11 of the GPL its pretty clear that there is, I quote, "NO WARRANTY".

    The linux community might be a little more helpful when it comes to fixing bugs than microsoft, but when it comes to the court room they are not any more accountable than microsoft.
  • I'm sure everyone who's ever bought a laptop with Windows preinstalled on it simply because there was no other way to purchase a laptop will agree with you. Oh, but, yeah, they should probably just be lugging around typewriters, that's right.

    Why is it that only stupid people seem to be Microsoft apologists?

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by itachi ( 33131 ) <mwegner.cs@oberlin@edu> on Sunday November 21, 1999 @11:10PM (#1513903)
    So far I've seen a lot of comments where people are yelling at each other as to whether or not MS being a monoploy hurt consumers, and if so, which consumers. So, here's the basic free market lowdown on monopolies (Which should apply to most readers, whether you like it or not)

    In a normal market, you have supply and demand. Pretty basic. Price on the vertical axis, supply on the horizontal. S & D look like an x. As price rises, producers are willing to make more. As price falls, consumers want more. For instance, say 5 people would want a pc if it costs 1 million USD. 10 people want one if it costs 750,000 USD. etc on down to a whole lot of people if it costs roughly 2,000 USD. Same deal for supply - producers will make x pc's at price n. 2x pcs at price 2n. These two curves intersect at some point. Assuming that nobody interferes with the market, the intersection of the supply and demand curves will show you the price per unit of the good and the total production of the good. Now, if you can't differentiate between the various versions of the good (butter is butter is butter, no brand names), then the only difference is price. So one company charges more, and their version doesn't sell because it's more expensive. When brand names and quality get added in, it gets more complicated, but the same basic notions are there. It's an issue of paying for the consumer preferences. Take beer. Nobody could mistake Guiness for Bud, no matter what. Now, Guiness has a higher price per volume, but since consumer preferences for beer vs. pisswater come into play, Guiness can be sold at a higher price because some consumers are willing to pay more for actual beer rather than buying cheaper pisswater. However, bud and miller are priced pretty similarly, because the two goods are very very similar, and price can very easily be a differentiating factor.

    I'll assume everyone is following so far. So now we have our consumer market for operatin systems. Way back when, in those long ago days of the Carter years and early Reagan years, you could buy several commercial operating systems for your computer. And they were priced in a way not too different from the beer pricing I described above. Sure, server OSes might cost more, but the consumer of server OSes feels okay because they are getting a serious OS, as opposed to something like ms-dos, which fits consumer needs but certainly wont be driving your big, bad, company mainframe. Then, time goes by. For whatever reasons, the number of OSes starts to fall. Soon, we only have the MS OS family.

    Before, we had two products that were competing, and the differences between the two, as far as the market cared, were price and consumer preferences. The existance of competition kept the prices close. If consumers were indifferent to which OS they used, price was the only differentiation. Now, with just Windows left on the market, there's nothing holding prices down. So prices go up. Which means that, for any physical good, quantity produced drops. After all, putting that extra money into production just raises our costs. And, as a monopoly producer, we want to minimize costs while maximizing price. This is profit maximization. If we make software, this means skimping on the product testing while notching the price up as much as the consumers will stand. Now, our monoploy is going to set it's price based on the lowest possible production costs. Now, the lowest possible production level is going to be expensive - you build a single prototype car, you have to pretty much handbuild it from scratch. Build a limited run - you have dicounts for buying/building a part in bulk, etc. But costs scale back up as you start to use up limited resources - if you try to buy every sparkplug ever made, it's starts to get pricey. Software mucks with this, since once it's compiled, duplicating it is nearly free, so it's not entirely clear to me what the monopoly effect would have on a software company. However, there are some costs. The CD/floppy that it ships on, the manual, the box, the plastic wrap and paper with the EULA on it. So each shipped copy costs somewhere between a dollar and 10, depending on the quantities shipped. Well, it's a monopoly, so they'll make as many copies as they need to to get the lowest possible price. And they set the selling price based on that. So the consumer ends up paying more for the good than the market indicates the good is worth. Which, pardon the pun, isn't good.

    If the above doesn't make sense, I probably left something out. I don't think I did, but it's been a while...

    So, the conclusion, the whole point.
    MS is a monoploy, for whatever reasons, and abused it. Given the fact that a monopolies goods are priced higher than they otherwise would be, MS has hurt anyone who has bought a computer since MS became a monopoly. Higher prices hurt consumers - less money left to spend on other goods. And not just computer consumers, either. Because artificially high price of windows kept consumers from having that money to spend on alternate goods. Whatever the difference between the market price for an OS and the price that was charged for monoploy Windows is money that should have gone into other markets - computer games, waterskis, water buffalo, whatever. So any market that you didn't spend money in because of the inflated price of Windows was hurt by MS. Now, IANAL, nor am I an expert witness in the area of economics, but I do know economics, and I have studied economics as applied to law, and I feel relatively confident that this conclusion isn't too far out in left feild. I wouldn't try to file a class action suit on behalf of the waterski industry, but I will say without a doubt that MS has done a serious injury to free market consumers and should not be allowed to just walk away.

  • by jemfinch ( 94833 ) on Monday November 22, 1999 @01:03AM (#1513904) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure this qualifies as copyright violation. Considering that registration is free, I can't see any reason this should be supported by slashdot.

    Legally, can slashdot copy someone else's news word for word? These companies make money from banners, and slashdot is bypassing that. You guys need to watch yourselves.

  • The argument brought by this suit isn't that consumers were forced to buy windows. The argument is that the price of windows was artificially high due to the fact that MS had monoploy power. The suit simply claims that the consumers who did buy the good from a monoploy are entitled to be reimbursed now that the monopoly has been declared to be such.

  • Look at the price range for consumer pc OSes between the first PCs and the beginning of the MS monopoly. Average, then adjust for inflation. We should be left with the average consumer OS price in a non-monoploy environment. Then, figure the top and bottom end prices also. Each person in the suit can define how happy they were with windows on a 1-10 scale, 10 being overjoyed, and 1 being suicidal due to windows. Fit the prices to the 1-10 scale, and MS pays each person the difference.

  • my dell-box recently had the hardware warranty (!) voided by the fact that I removed Bills junkware and installed Linux.

    Why on earth did you buy it with "Bill's junkware" installed if you wanted to run linux on it ?

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.